Ian Silverman, Rabbi

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

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

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.

Read a fascinating account of how Harry Truman defied his own State Department as he remained stalwart in his intent to declare Israel the defacto Jewish State in Palestine upon the departure of the British. HERE.

The Rabbinical Assembly has issued a statement on the Iranian Attack on Israel, HERE.

Read about Donniel Harman's (Director of the Pluralistic Religious Think Tank, Harman Institute, Israel) perspective on the Two-State Solution, HERE.

Professor Melissa Landa was fired from her teaching position at the University of Maryland for her vocal pro-Israel views and efforts to fight BDS. Please sign a petition to hold the University of Maryland accountable for this injustice, 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.

Muslim Advocacy Day takes place May 7-8 and an Egyptian specialist has uncovered ties between its organizers and delegates in the US Capitol and prominent terror operatives. Read about it 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.

The New York Times is calling for Abbas to resign, following his anti-Semitic speech to Palestinian leadership. Read about it HERE.

Read  the article "A Holocaust Lesson: It Starts with Bullying," by a survivor who talks about bullying, gun safety, and much, much more. 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.

  Although New York Times columnist Bret Stephens doesn’t necessarily recommend scuttling the Iran deal in view of the recent Mossad find, certainly there are reasons to do so–  At the very least, the US must hold the Iranians accountable for hiding vital information they had agreed to both reveal and to destroy re. their nuclear bomb project. The world hopefully will agree to delay sunset provisions well beyond 2025 and to restrict Iran’s missile programs and their proxy activities in Syria. To not do so brings a scenario between  Iran and Israel that much closer to direct hostilities. Read the story HERE.

If you wonder if Israel is becoming cynical under so many efforts to discredit her and deflate her citizens, listen to this speech. It’s in beautiful Hebrew with subtitles but well worth it. Miriam Peretz who won the Israel prize not for literature or science or a work of theology, but for her open heart and her resilience, HERE. 

A large number of Arabs and Muslims see Israel as a country to be admired. Read about it HERE.

The Palestinian claim of indigenousness is patently false according to a knowledgeable piece–a Native American. Please watch and learn HERE.

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 brilliant 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 those 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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