Ian Silverman, Rabbi

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It is hard to believe, but Pesach is upon us, with Yom HaShoah and Israel Independence Day soon to follow. We make our way on our calendar, from these holidays, through the counting period to Shavuoth. Their rapid fire succession has sparked these thoughts–

There is a wonderful hymn that we sing at the end of the Passover Seder, in the English, “Who knows One.” It teaches us of two and three and four, etc, just like the succession of holy times in our Jewish calendar. Let me explain. An insightful sage asks the question, "Why is it that the second verse and the tenth verse are so similar? After all, the refain for two tells us it's the two tablets of law, and the tenth verse, asking "who knows ten?" answers it's the Ten Commandments. Aren't they really the same thing? The tablets are the Ten Commandments! How is it that the author of the hymn could have been so repetitive?

The sage answers his question by saying that they are not the same. The two tablets of law refer not to the two tablets of one set, the Ten Commandments, but the two sets of tablets of law. The first tablets were smashed when Moses saw the golden calf. He went up again to get a second set! The second verse celebrates the phenomenon of second chances in Judaism–the ability of a people to recognize its mistakes and to get a second break from the God of Israel. God is always willing to give us a second chance.

Thinking more deeply about this, however, the coming of the Israelites into the land from Egypt was actually a second chance as well, for Abraham had dwelled there, but the people needed to pass through the “furnace of fire” to become a people of character and unity. Jacob went down to Egypt, a second return. But wait a minute, that too was followed by a blown chance. The first generation muffed it when they heeded the pessimism of the spies and were condemned to die in the desert. One could say that the second generation of freed Hebrews getting in was the third chance that God bestowed on them. Unfortunately, that effort, too, was lost when the Babylonians destroyed the first Temple. We were granted yet a fourth opportunity when Cyrus and Darius got us back to the Holy Land and we built yet a second national home. Alas, the Romans exiled the Judaen State in 70Ce and quashed its rebirth in 135 Ce, during the era of Bar Kochba.

Now along came a fifth chance, granted by Heaven. It started with a dream, in the book The Alte Neue Land, written by Theodore Herzl, more than a century ago. Many make the point that this effort was driven not by heaven above, but by people from below. The Zionist Movement organized, and a society in the making emerged by the hard work of statesmen, philanthropists, industrialists, scientists, dreamers and followers that made facts on the ground. Herzl said “if one wills it, it is not a dream.”

Now we stand 70 years in the aftermath of that fifth opportunity, granted to us by the dedicated, brazen and innovative Israeli population. Beset by adversity, Israel has become a military power and entrepreneurial, technological society. She has emerged as a world leader in medical, botanical, technological and scientific achievement. She stands poised to share her know-how with the world around her, and I believe is diplomatically prepared for compromise with a Palestinian leadership that will give up its dream of dismantling the Jewish State. This fifth opportunity is one that all of us should share by visiting Israel and supporting her. Israel has made mistakes, as has all nations. The rebirth of a national existence has its share of complicating elements and moral challenges. But we should be unbelievably proud of the State of Israel as she stands on the precipice of 70 years. May the Zionist State go from attainment to attainment, aided by the support of nations of good will. She has only just begun to share of her bounty and be the light unto nations that is her mission. (Stay tuned for more on the celebration of the 70th anniversary in the coming month).

 What is true for a nation is true for individuals. Judaism and the Bible hold that second chances–third, fourth and fifth ones–are what life is about. All of us make mistakes and sometimes go off in wrong directions. It doesn't mean we should do whatever we want, always knowing that God will take us back. But Judaism holds that God is ready to take us in when we return and are ready to start anew–sincerely anew. And it it means that we must never give up on each other or on ourselves. May Pesach be sweet for you and yours. And may we always be conscious, in our lives, of second and third chances when failure strikes. May we always remember our resilient nature as individuals and as a people.

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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

A NJ mother has sued her school district because her son was forced to watch Islamic conversion videos. Read about it HERE.

The way to fight BDS is to fight fire with fire and make BDS the pariah that it seeks to make of Israel. Read Evelyn Gordon's article in the Jewish News Syndicate, HERE.

Read an insightful article on new efforts, funded by Sheldon Adelson, to tackle campus bias against Israel in a non-partisan and effective way, HERE.

Palestinian security savagely beat Palestinian women journalists in recent days, yet these incidents weren't made public on the international stage. This follows a pattern of instances demonstrating how the PA mistreats women, verbally and physically. When people argue for a 2-state solution, they should consider that "brutal, authoritarian and deeply misogynistic regime" that would be formed alongside Israel, says Stephen Flatow, in his Jewish News Syndicate article, HERE.

Should the Hatikva be sung at Israeli University graduation programs, when some of the graduates are Israeli Arabs? Daniel Gordis argues that it absolutely should. Read why in his blog HERE.

An open letter to NY Democratic Primary winner Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez HERE.

South Africa is downgrading their dipomatic presence in Israel. Sign a petition to call on South Africa to maintain its Israeli ties HERE.

Israelis came together at Sapir College near the Gaza border to find creative solutions for the weaponized kites and balloons from harming the environment and people. Watch the video HERE.

The Palestinian mother of five murderers of Israelis has been highly honored by PA officials and Chairman Abbas, endorsing her as a role model. She has been awarded with over $1M in payments from the Palestinian Authority. Read about it HERE.

Read more evidence of growing anti-Semitism in New York City's public school system, HERE.

Watch a video explaining why anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, HERE.

A bipartisan group of 4 House members have introduced new legislation that holds Palestinians accountable if they use US funds for disseminating inciteful educational materials in West Bank and Gaza schools run by the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA. Read more HERE.

A group of Arab-Germans attacked a Jewish teen in Berlin who was listening to Israeli music, saying "Berlin in ours now..." Read about it HERE.

Weigh in on a proposed ruling to clarify federal law regulating bump stocks HERE.

The work of JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the mIddle East and North Africa) is vital in reclaming ancient artifacts and religious objects. Learn of their work HERE.

Israel has a heart and fixes hearts, HERE.

The Orthodox Union (OU) honored Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week. Posing in a picture with the AG give the sense that as long as the OU's intersts are met, they are behind his policies; and the OU's educational values are undermined. Read the story HERE.

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis told the UN that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) keeps its citizens in refugee camps as ammunition to claim a status for "right of return," even though many have obtained citizenship elsewhere, they include descendants of refugees, and that prolonging a population's refugee status indefintely is unlawful. Read about it HERE.

The Deir Yassin Massacre, which purportedly took place on April 9, 1948 when Israeli troops attacked the Palestinian village and killed 107 people, is a myth which unfortunately has shaped attitudes toward Israel today. Read about it HERE.

Hear directly from Arab-Israelis about the quality of their lives i na free and domocaratic Israel–very enlightening! HERE and HERE.

The most vociferous anti-immigrant voices are products of chain migration from failing countries from past generations. Read about the great-grandfather of Stephen Miller HERE.

A Palestinian family has been paid by Hamas to claim a Gaza baby was killed by Israeli tear gas, causing world-wide condemnation of Israel, when she in fact died of a blood disease. Read about it HERE.

Anti-Semitism is becoming pervasive in Chile's small Jewish community, HERE.

The anti-Israel group IfNotNow plans to infiltrate Jewish summer camps to train campers and counselors about the "occupation." How do you take action? Read HERE.

The USCJ has signed a letter condmemning the US Zero-Tolerance on Immigration Policy, HERE.

Read a complicated but excellent treatment of the complexity of anti-Zionist harassment on the college campuses HERE.

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. Former Ramah campers and IfNotNow members tell a different story. 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. See the damage in photos 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.

 

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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