Ian Silverman, Rabbi

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Purim will soon be upon us, beginning February 28th, when we will read from the Megilla. We will also read early Thursday morning, and all are invited on Thursday, following the service, to join Rabbi at Bagel Boss in enjoying a bagel breakfast.

 Purim, of course, is the redemptive story of Esther and Mordecai overcoming the plot of Haman to destroy the Jewish people. The central symbols of the Purim season make certain that every sense is involved in experiencing the holiday. Aside from the sight of so many in costume and the mitzvah of hearing the Megillah, word for word (ear and eye), the raashan, or grogger, allows us to feel the noise and vibration of drowning out Haman's name. The hamantaschen also involve our senses of taste and smell, but these symbols can teach us even more.
 
The grogger makes a loud noise from above, but it is propelled from below. The Purim story stresses that miracles are not just in the domain of heaven–God is not mentioned even once in the entire story! The heavens, mystics teach, are stirred from below. Miracles are often driven by our resolution to help ourselves and act in the moment to change the reality on the ground. 
 
The hamantaschen has something to each about appearances. The outside of each pastry looks the same. But the inner filling is what is "paramount" in determining the quality. So it is with the Jewish people. On the outside, we can assume some of the customs, fashions and manner of the environment in which we dwell. But the inner core is what is key. Esther did not find her greatness until she let her inner identity breathe outward. May all of us assume the roles we must, to get by in modern American life. But may we never neglect the sweet core within our inner spiritual life as part of a greater Jewish people.
 
Come celebrate an important victory of good over evil; the victory of the Jewish people over those who hate! Happy Purim! 
 

 

Drinking on Purim: do so with caution and moderation

It is well known that there is a statement in the Talmud that encourages Jewish folks to celebrate Purim not only with festive meal, but also with drinking, even to the point of intoxication. The way the Talmud puts it, Chayav Adam levasame, “A person is obligated to become inebriated to the point of not knowing (adsheloyada) the difference between “Cursed it is Haman and blessed Mordecai.” Some in the sources and codes through the ages have taken this at face value.

However, a closer look at sources shows this to be foolhardy and dangerous behavior. One sees, in the Esther story of the Megillah, the dangers of drinking. It is because Ahashverush is a partier and a lush that he cedes actual governing control to others, which almost dooms an entire population.

The story that follows Rabba’s suggestion in the Talmud to “party hearty” is what is most telling. Rabbah travels to celebrate Purim with Rabbi Zeira. In an inebriated state he slaughters Rabbi Zeira, presumably mistaking him for a cow! In the morning, when he realizes what he had done, he prays for Zeira's resuscitation, which miraculously happens. The next year Rabbah invites Rabbi Zeira over again. Rabbi Zeira, however, declines, saying “miracles don’t always happen.” Maybe this means that Rabbah almost killed his guest with strong drink, or it means he actually attacked him in a drunken state. Either way, we learn that drinking may well get you to the point where Haman wanted you–dead. The meaning of this follow up story is to drink, not recklessly, but in moderation. Either one can die of binge drinking or end up killing somebody.

 

Many sages have, through the ages, condemned the idea of reckless drinking. Drinking goes against the tenet of guarding one’s health, shemirat nfesh vaguf. Needless to say, in the case of underage drinking, local laws are defied (which is a violation of Torah law), imperils our youth and community, and violates the fifth commandment to “honor your father and mother.” Purim should never override these important Mitzvoth.

Two centuries ago, an important sage, the Chatham Sofer, made the point that only a moderate amount should be imbibed–just enough to get a little drowsy. For In that moment of dozing you don’t know the difference between the curse of Haman and the blessing of Mordecai.

With this in mind,

May all of us have a joyous and most importantly safe Purim.

 

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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

An Algerian blogger, who interviewed the Israeli Foreign Ministry's spokesperson for Arab-speaking media, was convicted for purportedly working with the Mossad in gathering foreign intelligence. Read about it HERE.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has apologized for naming Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz in a "Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists." Read about the report HERE.

Canada's Ontario premier-elect will take action to ban the anti-Israel rally that takes place in Toronto each year. Read about it HERE.

Read the blog of a young Israeli with comments of American Jews on Israel's actions against Gaza rioting HERE.

The group IfNotNow, which encourages fellow Jews to be sympathetic to the Palestinian plight, has been tolerated by the Conservative Movement, which seeks to provide a balance on Israeli and Palestinian "narratives." But USCJ has now issued a statement saying that it does not welcome anti-Zionist or anti-Israel rhetoric. Read about it HERE.

The General-Secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Supreme Council in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim organization, appeared at the American Jewish Committee's Global Fourm in Jerusalem and stressed that religious people should embrace compassion and caring for people. Read about his inspirational words HERE.

The media is ignoring the extensive damage to crops and livelihood caused by the mass arson "fire kites" by Palestinians. Read about it HERE.

Campus students should go on the offensive, rather than defensively and cerebrally defending Israel against BDS promoters and resolutions. Read this important article HERE.

Learn about the anti-Semitic behavior of Columbia University's Muslim professor Hamid Da Bashi HERE. anti-Semitic Professor Hamid DaBashi from Columbia University HERESign the petition to condemn and remove him HERE.

In Amsterdam, a courageous Michael Jacobs Jewish activist takes on the BDS movement. Read about him HERE.

Far-right Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz visited the Western Wall, unique to European leaders. Read about his visit to Israel HERE.

Jeffrey Herf, of Middle East Forum, argues to accept that the awful, lying, Donald Trump, who is wrong about most everything, is right about the Iran deal. Read Herf's justification HERE.

As we commemorate the life of Robert F. Kennedy, 50 years after his assasination, we know that he knew the truth about the 600,000 refugees in Palestin that were not indigenous. Read about it HERE.

South African radio and television personality Gareth Cliff has come out on the side of Israelis, saying they have a right to protect themselves and their borders from Palestinians "hellbent on violence." Read about it HERE.

A Kuwaiti Arab of Palestinian descent says "enough with the incitement and shackles of hate! The Jews are not our enemy and they don't hate us– they desire peace." Watch the video HERE.

Watch a video showing that the primary cause of Plaestinian flight on the cusp of the War of Independence was that the Arab and Fedahin troppos ordered that they leave, framing it as temporary until the armies could destroy the fledgling State of Israel. See it HERE.

Get a better understanding of the Israel-Palestinian conflict by understanding the history of the region from the time of the 6-Day War. Read the blog by Ed Harris of the Times of Israel, HERE.

The Trump Administration is putting financial pression on Iran to desist from supporting terroriasm, human rights abuses and destabilizing activities. Read about it HERE.

Students at a Gaza preschool performed a mock hostage-taking of an Israeli solder for their graduation cerelmony. Read about it HERE.

The loss of all human life is a tragedy, and Judaism teaches that it is wrong to celebrate and dance even at the death of enemies. It is also misguided to mourn and ennoble them. Jewish parents were thus outraged when children at a New York public school were instructed to observe a moment of silence for Palestinians killed at the Gaza border. Read about it HERE.

Hebrew Union's Commencement Speaker, author Michael Chabon, demonized Israelis. Read about it HERE.

What lessons can we take from Rosanne's firing by ABC. HERE.

Hamas has plunged the Gaza Strip into poverty and despair, corruption and violence. Bring Hamas to justice at the Hague by signing a petition HERE.

Deir Yassin is a myth which describes the murder of 254 people in a Palestinian village by Israelis in 1948. Professor Eliezer Tauber of Bar-Ilan University debunks the massacre that never really happened HERE.

Linda Sarsour was put in her place by an israeli mother who called out Sarsour's lies in this video.

Students for Justice in Palestine at Stony Brook University have accused their chaplain of betraying the Palestinian people for his support of the campus Hillel. In response to an information table set up for Israel's 70th Independence Day, pro-Palestinian students chanted and held up anti-Zionism signs. Read about it HERE.

Please sign a petition requesting Food & Wine Magazine to stop supporting terrorism and violence against Jews. The magazine recently named an Oakland California Arab bakery to their list of 2018 Restaurants of the Year, painting it as a place where Jews and Arabs can come together to enjoy a meal in peace. Yet the restaurant has a wall-sized mural of a terrorist who has been convicted of two Jerusalem bombings that have killed Hebrew University students. It is irresponsible for this bakery to be chosen by the magazine. Sign the petition HERE. 

Beware of "social justice" trips to Israel. Currently, a goup of self-proclaimed social-justice advocates are touring Israel and the West Bank, but they are made up of anti-Israel members that promote BDS and are involved with efforts to delegitimize Israel. Read about it HERE. 

Our friend from neighboring Cold Spring Harbor congregation Kehillat Shalom, Judy Davis, writes in her latest blog for The Times of Israel of the media's unasked questions about the Gaza riots, HERE.

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers will be introducing legislation to define anti-Semitism in the American education system, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act. Read about it HERE.

Watch a film showing the contrast between the spin and reality of the Gaza riots HERE.

We are experiencing a challenging time of "overlooking" and "mainstreaming" anit-semitism, HERE.

On campuses across the world, anti-Israel groups cover up flyers/notices advertising Jewish for Israel information. Watch a video highlighting this practice at Columbia University, HERE.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Nashville will be hosting the Southern Poverty Law Center's co-founder for a discussion on hate speech. While the SPLC claims it fights hatred, it ignores anti-Semitic expressions of radical Islamists. Read the article HERE.

Israel's Prime Minister wishes the Islamic world a meaningful and successful Ramadan. Let's look to a day when Arab leaders do the same for Jews at Yom Kippur. Watch the video HERE.

Read a piece by Daniel Sugarman, who initially condemned Israel's actions in shooting Gazans rushing Israel's border. Learning that over 80% of those killed trying to breach the border were Hamas operatives, however, he acknowledges that the only viable option is to shoot at the people running at you with the stated aim of killing you and your family. In the light of day, he says, he cannot see how Israel could do anything different. Read his article HERE.

Listen to former Muslim extremeist Maajid Nawaz, who now stands up against radical Muslims, HERE.

Read an article by Alan Dershowitz: Why Does the Media Keep Encouraging Hamas Violence? citing the tactic employed by Hamas to deliberately provoke Israel into actions that result in deaths of Gazans for the anti-Israel headlines they produce. Read the article HERE. 

Instead of trying to destroy Israel, Palestinians should learn from their neighbor– their "miseries" are of their own making. Read Bret Stephens' Opinion Column from the New York Times HERE.

Read and article from The Forward that is perhaps the best, most concise summary of the core issue in the Palestinian conflict, HERE.

Link to a primer on what caused the Palestinian exodus in 1948 HERE.

American Indian Chief Joseph RiverWind recently visited Israel with his wife and noted the common passion of each for freedom and a willingness to fight for and defend their sovereignty. Read about it HERE.

Sign a peititon urging school presidents and chancellors nationwide to implement "The Equity Pledge," calling for equal treatment of all students on campus, HERE.

BDS calls for Israel's destruction, but the world ignores this. Watch this video.

Take a look at the Social Media Public Service Announcement put out by Hamas for the Nakba Day Riots, HERE.

Read the views of "Arabs with Israel" member Bassem Eid, who congratulates Israel on its 70th anniversary and promotes recognition of the State of Israel, HERE.

MIT's Israel program is an example of an American campus getting it right. Their cultural exchange and internship program will have a huge impact with capable and brilliant students in future years. HERE.

Fallout by Jewish women's groups from the Women's March continues as anti-Semitism seems to be emerging from the March leadership by Mallory and Sarsour. HERE. 

Hamas seeks the destruction of Israel and that is the aim of the latest demonstrations. The media forgets to mention this. Watch a video HERE

The Rhode Island Women's March has broken ties with the national Women's March, which continues to work with Tamika Mallory. Mallory is co-president of the March and has refused to denounce anti-Semitic statements made by Louis Farrakhan. Read abut it HERE.

Yet another cause for concern–the BDS 's new target is Israeli banks, HERE.

See a disturbing comparison of anti-Semitism from the Nazi era and how current BDS era HERE.

Read an excellent article by Yossi Klein HaLevi about how Israelis react to the international condemnation of their country for their tough military resonse to the Second Intifada and the attemps to breach Israel's borders HERE.

Mahmoud Abbas' incendiary speech, where he blamed the Jews for their own murder in the Holocaust and denied any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, not only vindicated claims made by Netanuyahu over the years, but more importantly revealed that the Palestinians have no credibility as partners in establishing peace in the region. Even the New York Times seems to have shifted its consistent support of the Palestinian cause. Read about it 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.

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.

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.

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. 

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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