Ian Silverman, Rabbi

rabbi10View current news articles, commentary, videos and more that have an impact on Jewish culture, politics and religion at Rabbi Silverman's Sites to See

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

Membership of the UN Human Rights Council, elected to "uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights," includes: Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iraq, Burundi, Afghanistan among others. See the list and why it's laughable, HERE.

Read Alan Dershowitz' article recounting his debate with Professor Cornel West of Harvard on the topic of the BDS movement HERE.

The US has sent only $60 million of the its $125 million to the UN relief agency for Palestinians while re-examing the way the UNRWA operates and is funded, and to urge other nations to contrigure more. Read about it HERE.

The UN provides funding to Lebanon from the US for its Palestinian population, but nearly 1/4 of the Palestinians Lebanon claims are not there. Read the story HERE.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has contacted US Attorneys and Homeland Security following a speech by Imam Ammar Shahin in California, who used his pulpit to demonize Jews and call for their destruction. Similar screeds were delivered at mosques across the US and Canada. Read about it HERE.

On January 20th Women across the country will again march in support of basic human rights for women and all individuals, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual orientation. You are invited to march with a community of Zionists feminists, Zionists for Women's Rights, by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Read the words of Golda Meir, from 41 years ago, on the Palestinian issue. At the time, her arguments were belittled, but in retrospect, we see her incisive wisdom, HERE.

Read a Times of Israel blog describing how Christians across the Middle East are in danger from radical Islamists, except in Israel, HERE.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has created the Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team which will investigate individuals and networks providing support Hezbollah and pursue prosecutions in any appropriate cases. Read about it HERE.

The Board of Directors of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis & Psychotherapy voted to hold their 2019 international conference in Tel-Aviv, but a petition has been circulated protesting this decision and calling upon the organization to reconsider. Please sign the petition supporting academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas HERE.

US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has asked the State Department to stop referring to Israel's presence in Judea-Samaria as an "occupation," but the State Department has refused. Read why Ambassador Friedman is correct HERE.

Palestinians are destroying important sites of the Herodian era. Read the story HERE.

Are the people of Iran protesting economic and employment issues, or something deeper? HERE.

Urge your congress people to stand with the Iranian people as they oppose Iran's corruption, disregard of human rights and support for terrorism, HERE.

UNICEF is blacklisting the IDF as violators of children's rights, basing their criticism on biased information. Read HERE.

Columbia University's Center for Palestine Studies has become an "academic epicenter for anti-Israel political activism, as well as the promotion of academic boycott of Israel and its mother [BDS] movement..." Read the New York Daily News article HERE. 

Several performers have been receiving pressure to cancel their shows in Israel. It is crucial at this time that artists hear from those who support artistic freedom and the power of the arts to build bridges. Please sign the petition HERE.

Tarek Fatah writes inthe Middle East Forum that Muslims need to be more honest about Jerusalem's role in its history. Read the article HERE.

Read a Newsweek article by Rabbi Marvin Hier that explains why Abbas is telling the world that the survival of the Middle East is at stake with Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, HERE.

Imam Aymen Elkasaby, in the US (New Jersey) on an R-1 visa, is calling for all Muslims to engage in violence against Jews as a religious obligation. He should be deported. Read about it HERE.

CNN's Jake Tapper criticizes the countries that condemned the US on Jerusalem at the UN. Watch the video HERE.

Teen Vogue has shifted from its focus on fashion and become political. In an article last week, the magazine promoted Hamas and it's call for people to resist Trump's announcement about Jerusalem. Read the article from Camera  HERE. Write to voice your outrage with Teen Vogue HERE.

Linda Sarsour, the controversial Muslim activist and self-proclaimed feminist, has been accused of covering up and threatening women in her Brooklyn office who alleged sex-abuse in the office, according to the New York Post. Read about it 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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