Ian Silverman, Rabbi

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In our contemporary American milieu, we begin January as a new chapter, with a batch of resolutions for the New Year. Similarly, with the departure of our beloved Chazzan, we at ENJC are also beginning a new chapter. And, according to Jewish tradition, every day is an opportunity for a new chapter, a potential for teshuva–a return to the correct path and to good living. Even God starts a new chapter each day, as the siddur claims, Hamechadesh bechol Yom Maaseah beresheet–we are awestruck at our God who each day 'creates the world anew.' With this in mind, there are four resolutions we can adopt into our Jewish lives, based on major themes in the portions we read in each of our January Shabbats. Perhaps you will embrace all or some of these opportunities.


In Miketz, which we read on December 30th, Joseph is appointed vizier of Egypt and devises a way to save the Near East from drought and hunger. Through his foresight and vision, suffering is alleviated and lives are saved. Let’s resolve, this new year, to make certain to redouble our efforts in supporting major organizations like Mazon, and make a personal effort to combat hunger by working with HIHI and with Long Island Harvest soup kitchens and food pantries, so as to minimize hunger for those who live locally.


In Vayigash, read on January 7, Joseph recognizes the repentance and improvement in his brothers, and reveals that he is their long-lost brother and that they must stop beating themselves up for past wrongdoings against him. Similarly, in our lives, we may have run-ins and moments of disagreement that turn ugly. This year, can't we perhaps turn to a loved one and forgive? Can't we gain a new perspective and maturity for a feud for which we may not even remember its' origin? Years may go by and affection may grow colder. Instead, love and let live. Forgive and forget. Reveal your real face to family and friends–a face that seeks to embrace rather than to estrange.


In Vayechi, which we read on January 14, we see an acme of pure love in the behavior of one of Jacob's grandsons, Menasseh, when he receives a lesser blessing from his grandfather than his younger brother, Ephraim. Jacob crosses his arms and knowingly puts his right hand on the head of Ephraim, even though he is the younger, saying that the younger brother will be greater than the elder Menasseh. In fact, the entire book of Genesis is about the jealousy of brothers: Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac, Jacob and Esau Joseph and his brothers.  But Menasseh isn't jealous. He is happy for his brother. That is why, on Friday night, we bless our sons to be like Menasseh and Ephraim. These brothers broke the cycle of envy. May we resolve this year to break our cycle of envy, and when we catch ourselves coveting the blessings of others, let's make sure to count the many that we have.


On January 21, we read from the portion of Shemoth. We are introduced to Moses, who runs away from Egypt as a fugitive, and assumes the role of a shepherd. Moses needs to be convinced that he can be so much more. Yet he resists his calling and his talents, not believing in himself. God puts a staff in his hand and says, "Just do it." Moses finds his stride, and boy does he. This might be a lesson for all of us who are perfectionists or are too hard on ourselves. This year don't talk yourself out of trying for a new level of achievement, a new skill, or a new hobby. Don't settle for the familiar. Bring it on. You may fail but you have to believe in yourself and make that effort. You, like Moses, might surprise yourself with your talents if you do!

 


Finally, on January 28 we learn about parashat Vaera. In it, we see the plagues brought on by God for the willful disregard of God’s creations by the Pharaoh in his decimation of crops, trees, earth, air and water. These days, we are also conscious of the plagues brought upon our air, water, soil, and crop through the poor policies of leaders of many nations. The rise of our coastal waters is now beginning in Florida. Coral and algae resources in our oceans are under threat. The stability of soil is compromised by erosion, and deforestation continues. It is no longer God plaguing the planet; it is humankind and our leadership. Let us be the Moses and Miriams of the world and say, "Let my planet go." The enslavement of exhaustible resources, such as fossil fuels, both soils the air we breathe and threatens the earth, mountains, and water through mining. Let's speak out to our leadership, “truth to power.” We have the whole world in our hands. Let's bequeath it intact to our grandchildren through the policies we demand of our leaders.


I know that New Year's Day resolutions are not a part of Jewish practice, but since we partake of American customs, let’s customize them in Jewish fashion. Let's help those who hunger more, forgive and embrace more, covet less, believe in ourselves a bit more, and protect natures bounty into the future. And to this, let us say Amen.

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Israel Items of Interest

KEEP CURRENT WITH THE LATEST NEWS IN ISRAELI ADVOCACY, THE DAILY ALERT HERE.

An Israeli company has developed a means to evaluate the freshness of foods. Read about it HERE.

Israeli startup Zebra Medical Vision, offers an online software that can provide a second opinion on CT scans by analyzing the information and producing a medical report within 90% accuracy. Read about it HERE.

Film recommendation: Mekonen, the story of an Ethiopian Jew who makes peace with an emotional past and embraces his future in Israel, becoming a decorated officer in the IDF while remaining true to his African roots and culture.

Did you know that the first victim of 9-11 was an Israeli Special Forces Veteran who rushed the cockpit of American Airlines Flight 11 to stop the hijackers, but was murdered in his attempt to stop these al-Queda terrorists. Watch a quick video, HERE. 

Read about a small guitar workshop in Jaffa, creating the finest instruments, HERE.

A PhD student at Hebrew University has won an award for developing a test to detect Parkinson's Disease. Read about it HERE.

Three years after publishing an anti-Israel letter in the medical journal, The Lancet, the editor admits he has deep regrets and has dedicated the latest issue to highlighting health care in Israel. Read about it HERE.

Read an article by Chris Coons and Marco Rubio from the Wall Street Journal, "Every Senator Agrees the UN Must Change," HERE.

Israel's medical clowns- they cheer up sick kids, reduce anxiety, decrease pain, and alleviate depression. They are Jews, Christian Arabs, and others. Watch a YouTube video about them HERE.

Learn about the connection of Jews with Israel, the decades-long quest of Israel for peace with it's neighbors, the failure of Palestinian leadership to turn conflict into coexistence, and the contrast between the fate of Palestinian and Jewish refugees from the Arab-Israel conflict, HERE. 

Women of the IDF video

 

Rabbi Silverman's Suggested Sites to See

Israeli-born Natalie Portman, who was to receive the Israeli version of the Nobel prize for "outstanding achievement by an individual who has attained excellence and international renown in their chosen professional field, embodying the character of the Jewish people," has turned down the Genesis prize, thought to be because of Israel's recent deadly shooting of Palestinian protestors on the Gaza border. Read about it HERE

Organized riots continue at Israel's southern border, as Palestinians clash with IDF soldiers, now sending burning kites over the fence to set Israel's fields afire. Read about it HERE.

Now 100, Binyamin Brenzel came to Isreal from his native Lvov, Ukraine. Read a letter he wrote to his sister in New York upon the establishment of the State of Israel as he awaited news on the radio of the UN Partition Plan in 1947, HERE.

As Israel celebrates its 70th birthday, read David Harris' blog from the Times of Israel, reflecting on Israel's accomplishments and challenges, HERE.

Read a brillian analysis of the perils facing the Islamic nations in the Middle East. With so many states in a fragile condition and devoid of nation-building elements, including tose of the PA and Gaza, one wonders about the lasting nature of any brokered peace agreement with Israel, even in the unlikely event that such a deal could be accomplished, HERE.

Donate toward medical treatments for injured Israeli soldiers HERE.

Watch and important video showing the proximity of Israeli families to the Gaza border and just what is at stake in allowing the border to be penetrated. For some reason this simple information is not made explicit in press coverage. HERE.

Read David Harris' blog in The Times of Israel, highlighting the stark differences between Hamas and Israel- and that while Hamas threatens and harasses Israel, it is only Israel's response that is under scrutiny, HERE.

Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik was the keynote speaker at the Global Conference on Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem. Read about her address HERE.

Read Israeli President Rivlin's speech as he led the 30th annual March of the Living from the gates of Auschwitz to Auschwitz-Birkenau HERE.

Due to the British Labour Party's anti-Semitic statements and actions of late, Israel's Labor Party has suspended ties. Read about it HERE.

Gino Bartali was an Italian bicyclist who saved hundreds of Jews in the Holocaust. His story is being made into a film by Jerusalem U. Donate toward this effort to tell the world about his inspiring life. HERE.

Hear the REAL story behind Gaza's "peaceful" protests at the Israeli border HERE. Hamas is orchestrating the violence at the border in their latest effort to destroy Israel, yet Israel is taking all the blame. Read about it HERE. 
Read Hadassah National President Ellen Hershkin's letter to the Washington Post to urge for fair reporting on the situation in Gaza HERE.

In honor of Yom Hashoah, listent to a moving rendition by over 600 survivors and their families singing Oprah Haza's "Chai/I am Still Alive," written 35 years ago, HERE.

Stick with "Zionism" rather than running from it and letting the haters win. Read a blog from the Times of Israel, HERE.

Even the Palestinian Authority is accusing Hamas of sending children to their deaths in Gaza to grab headlines. Why doesn't the world nor the media believe these words from the mouths of Palestinians? And the irony: As Palestinians rolled burning tires toward the border, a Hamas spokesman is condemnins Israel for stopping the import of new tires to Gaza and now there is a tire shortage. Read about it HERE.

In the face of Britain's Labour Party anti-semitism, watch an uplifting Passover message in a video by Prime Minister Theresa May HERE.

Abbas' senior advisor is accusing Hamas of intentionally sendint Gaza Palestinians to "go and die" at the border demonstrations for the sole purpose of creating soundbites for TV and the media. Read and watch a video HERE.

Last week's conflict between Israel and Palestinians brought condemnation upon Israel for the killing and wounding of many Palestinians. But the Hamas-affiliated demonstration was orchestrated to use the 30,000 civilian participants as human shields with the sole purpose of triggering an Israeli response to maximize civilian casualties. Another round of these riots is scheduled, and will peak in May on the day the Palestinians term "Nakba." Read about it HERE.

Chuck Schumer's address at AIPAC brought a "reality assessment" of positions on the Arab-Israeli conflict, outlining 10 principles of a new US concensus that brings Democrats in line with Republicans. Read the article HERE. 

Jews are being murdered in France_Again! Jews are reviled on both the far right and far left. Should French Jews leave and head for Israel? Read a NYTimes Opinion piece HERE. 
France will be charging two men with the brutal anti-Semitic murder of an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor. Read about it HERE. 

 

Western European nations, claiming to be against racism and supremacism, lavishly fund Muslim Jew-hatred. Read about it HERE.

As we are mindful of slavery at this time of Passover, remember that slavery still exists in the Sudan, and that Louis Farrakhan, who has accepted millions from the Nation of Islam to keep quiet on the issue of slavery, should be decried for selling out on his own people. Read the story HERE.

Watch a couple short feel-good videos:
Reunion of Palestinian hero and the Jews he rescued HERE
NFL players visit Israel HERE

A Pakistani Muslim scholar and lecturer on the Holcaust at Manhattan College understands the need for the Jewish State and the importance of learning the many lessons the Shoah teaches. Read about her HERE.

Iceland has put forth a bill banning circumcision that may threaten the future of the small Jewish community there. Sign the petition HERE.

Israel's Arab curriculum is a crime, according to the PA Minister of Education because Israeli Arab children are missing out on why they should hate Isrealis. Read HERE.

The Women's March is losing staffers and supports because the leadership refuses to denounce a rant by Louis Farrakhan. Read about it HERE.

Congress passed pro-Israel legislation, inlcuding the Taylor Force Act. Thank members of Congress for their support HERE.

Anti-Israel campaigns on campuses are attacks on the norms and values of the university and with it, on the norms and values at the heart of Western civilization. Anti-Israelism is not about an exchange of dialogue, debate and an free exchange of ideas but rather, to silence such things. Read the article from The Tablet, HERE.

Although some argue that Jews are the alien population to Palestine, implanted by the British, in fact, Jews are the indigenous population in this area based on historical and genetic documentation. It is the Palestinians, however, who are there as a result of converts from those indigenous pre-modern Jews and Christians who submitted to Islam, Muslim invaders, and Arab immigrants. Read about it HERE. 

Congress has passed the Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act, sanctioning Hamas for using civilians as human shields. Read about it HERE.

Senators Corker and Menendez are urging the State Department to engage in a diplomatic solution with our allies to preent Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon. Urge your senator to sign the letter HERE.

Learn the proper protocol to handle Palestinian activists on campuses as exemplified by Georgetown University HERE.

A video about all the wonderful aid Israel provides worldwide, that will bring a tear to your eyes HERE.

 

 

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