NACHES SHEPPERS

Pooh pooh Purim if you must. Dismiss the likelihood of Jews gaining an upper hand to such an extent that, in the city of Shushan, our people executed 300 of the enemy and then proceeded to annihilate 25,000 Persians throughout the rest of the country, if you are so inclined. Just don’t tell me that there is nothing to be learned from the Book of Esther.

Instead, I ask that the following three realities resonate over the raucousness of centuries of cacophonous graggers:

As Jews, we take great comfort in the fact that we have never handed the enemy complete and total victory. As a people, we have become intoxicated with soundbites such as: “They wanted to exterminate us. They couldn’t. They lost.  We won. Let’s eat.” When it comes to the enemies of our people, the sobering reality is that just as they failed to obliterate us, so too did we fail to obliterate them. As a result, the descendants of Haman are still very much alive. One in particular is Haman’s 21st century grandson, Sayyid Al Hosseini Khamenei, the current Ayatollah. And yes, every time he speaks about launching nuclear missiles aimed at Israel, I cannot help but feel that Haman sheps nachas.

As Jews, we delude ourselves with an attitude of “it can’t happen here” or “it can’t possibly happen to me.” Knowing that his ward possessed such an attitude, Mordechai minced no words when he told Esther: “Do not think that you will be able to escape in the King’s palace any more than the rest of the Jews…you and your father’s house will perish.” Esther wasn’t the first to think that she was safe, even though her people were not. Rarely, if ever, does the enemy draw distinctions when it comes to Jews. Prudent Jews, in my opinion, will always have a valid passport (I have passports from two countries) with at least one thousand dollars cash at hand. If my Israeli cousins living in Dolev (known as occupied territory to the rest of the world as well as to some Jews) own an apartment in Petach Tikvah because they fear that the time may come when they are uprooted by the Israeli government, then what makes us so smug? There are those who believe that all Jews – regardless of where they reside – live in occupied territory. Governments change, times change, and moods of the people change.

As Jews, we make noise. Our parents and grandparents hesitated to speak up, fearing anti-Semitic backlash, but we – their children and grandchildren –  make ourselves heard – often louder than any grogger. We champion causes. We sign petitions. We demonstrate. As praiseworthy as exercising the freedom that is ours as Americans is, it behooves us to prioritize our causes. Are the causes that we take up in any way harmful to us as Jews in the long run? Have we examined these causes to make sure that they are not in any way antithetical to Judaism? Do we realize that social justice should not always be viewed as an absolute, in that social justice is not in any way impervious to the zeitgeist? However noble it is to “hammer out danger,” it’s equally if not more noble to ascertain that danger truly exists, and to fully understand the ramifications of hammering out that danger. It’s quite possible that a more insidious danger lurks to replace the danger that is being hammered out.

The Purim costumes and masks have served their purpose. The graggers have been put away. The megillahs are once again stored for another year. But the realities remain:

Haman is alive and well in the body of Sayyid Al Hosseini Khameinei of Iran.
Governments are as fickle as their leaders. Ahashuerus is alive and well in the body of any number of rulers who stand for nothing but will listen to anyone.

As Jews, we have been silenced for so long that there are those of us who appear to be intoxicated with the need to speak up and be heard. As Jews, let us remind ourselves that the obligation of discernment must supersede demonstrations, petitions, and taking up causes. Let’s make sure Haman sheps no nachas. Let’s do everything in our power so that the naches is shepped by Mordechai.

OF BOMB SCARES AND BOMB CARES

Bomb scares called in by phone to Jewish institutions such as JCCs and synagogues are deplorable; vandalism at Jewish cemeteries even more so. As macabre as this may sound, bomb scares pale in comparison to actual bombs going off without any warning. As macabre as this may sound, cemetery desecration pales in comparison to Jewish homes being vandalized and “Jude” painted on the windows or front door.

As one whose maternal grandmother was widowed at the age of 25 when her husband was murdered along with all the other Jewish men – all victims of a pogrom in the Bessarabian shtetl where they lived – bomb scares and even cemetery desecrations don’t throw me into a panic.

Instead, I draw strength because leadership of Jewish communities speaks out. From time immemorial, there have been Jewish communities, yet, only within the last century in this country has there been any semblance of Jewish communal leadership. In the Ukrainian town of Berdichev, there was no Jewish leadership. Berdichev was known for its great rabbinic personality Levi Yitzchak, not for its JCC or its Jewish Community Relations Council – neither of which existed during Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s time. When Jews of Berdichev suffered indignation or even calamity from those who despised them, they had absolutely no recourse. Even in this country it wasn’t until the last half-century that American Jews, along with their leaders, finally abandoned their “shah shtill” attitude when it came to Jewish issues.

I draw strength because the American Government listens. Close to 75 years ago, a group of 400-plus American rabbis gathered courage and traveled to the nation’s capital three days before Yom Kippur to draw President Roosevelt’s attention to the destruction and annihilation of European Jewry. The President avoided meeting with the rabbis not only because of concerns of diplomatic neutrality, but because some of his Jewish aides and several prominent American Jews felt that the delegation (the vast majority of  whom were Orthodox as well as recent immigrants to this country) were not representative of American Jewry, and that such a meeting would stir up antisemitism.

FDR is long gone. So too are those American Jews who were concerned lest they appear “too Jewish.” Now we have Chanukah celebrations as well as Passover Seders at the White House. No longer are Jewish delegations – rabbinic or lay – turned away.

I draw strength because our politicians make an attempt to address the situation. While I personally fail to see any connection between hastily planned whirlwind visits to Israel and bomb scares to JCCs and synagogues, in no way can I look askance at a governor from the state of New York boarding a flight to Ben Gurion airport.

What would really give me reason to draw strength will occur when pastors and priests throughout this country make it a point to speak out against bomb scares and desecrations of Jewish cemeteries. It would be a marvelous mitzvah for pastors and priests throughout this country, as they find themselves at the beginning of the Lenten season, to speak out against bomb scares and desecration of Jewish cemeteries, and to remind their parishioners that anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness.

I would hope that Christian leaders will begin to speak up and speak out about what is taking place. When that takes happens, I will ask that you join me in drawing strength. Chazak! Chazak!

NO ACCOSTIN’ IN AUSTIN

Tiferet did it again. Ed Jerome and I, who were part of last week’s visit to Austin, arranged by our local Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council, were the only President/Rabbi duo – I dare say – at the entire State Capitol.  As one who has not participated in such a mission in over a decade, the trip to Austin stirred in me a number of positive reflections.

The State Capitol was jam-packed with any number of groups and organizations meeting with their elective representatives, awakening their interest and asking for their support on any number of issues. Contrary to what many of us believe, there are a good many people in this country who care enough about issues and concerns to take the time to meet with government officials, so that changes can be implemented in the way Austin does business. If we want our elective officials to care about issues that are important to us, we have to show them that we care ourselves. Otherwise, any State Representative has the right to say, “I would have gladly voted for (or against) this proposal or law, but nobody cared enough to bring it to my attention.”

In my office, I have an information packet similar to the one we were given for our day in Austin. It was left over by another group that chartered the bus on a previous trip. The sticker on the packet reads:  Texas Muslim Capitol Day. I sincerely doubt that Muslims were concerned about Israel’s well being.

There were three items on our agenda; only one was directly concerned with Israel. We were asking that funding whether it be through subsidies, investments or contracts, no longer be allocated by the State of Texas to companies as well as other entities that support Boycott, Divest and Sanction when it comes to Israel and either refuse to purchase products made in Israel or cancel orders on such products. When someone in the group (we joined with the  Houston, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin delegations) asked what early child care and care for special adults had to do with our mission (the other two items on our agenda) a certain rabbi spoke up. He said “If Representative Phil King from the 61st district of Weatherford, which in all likelihood has nary a Jewish constituent, can be so passionate about Israel and speak so strongly on its behalf, the very least we can do is take up issues that are for the good of the general public.” As far as I’m concerned, we Jews owe Representative King and others like him “big time.”

Those of us who are second and third generation Americans, especially those of us with Eastern European roots, can well identify with the question memorialized in Fiddler on the Roof:  “Is there a blessing for the Czar”? The answer given was: “May G-d bless the Czar and keep him far away from us.” There are no (openly) anti-Semitic Czars in contemporary American government; there are no (openly) anti-Semitic Congressmen, Senators or other officials in contemporary American government. Call me hopelessly naïve, but I cannot help but feel that the majority of our elected officials want to see a safe and strong Israel. Let’s not take the freedom that is ours or the government we are blessed with for granted. Let’s thank HaShem for the democracy that is ours. Let’s show our gratitude by participating in the democracy that is ours. How many seats on the bus would you like me to secure for you on the next trip to Austin?

SPRECHEN SIE DEUTSCH

David M. Friedman, President Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Israel, recently committed a faux pas with possible disastrous implications. While speaking about J Street, the American liberal Jewish group that claims to know what’s best for Israel, Mr. Friedman said that its supporters are worse than kapos (inmate Concentration Camp Jews who did the dirty work for the Nazis such as transporting dead Jews from the gas chambers into the crematorium).

Whether we like to admit it or not, the post -Holocaust generation of Jews, and in some cases non-Jews, has permitted Holocaust references to infect their speech. In the 1971 black comedy The Hospital, written by Paddy Chayefsky, Herb Bock, the irate Chief of Staff of a Manhattan Hospital, played by George C. Scott, explodes at a head nurse with the following: “The incompetence at this hospital is radiant! I mean, where do you train your nurses, Mrs. Christie, Dachau?” Shtisel, an Israeli weekly television series that exposes Black Hat Jerusalem Jews in a similar fashion to the way HBO exposed the Mafia with its hit series The Sopranos, has Ruchama Weiss, a teenager who is wise well beyond her years, scream “Nazi!” at a poster she made of her father Lipa, whom she more than suspects of having betrayed Judaism as well as her mother. Personally, I have it on good authority that there is a rabbi here in Dallas who mutters Gestapo every time he sees a speed trap set up by the police.

Such speech cheapens and demeans the Holocaust. Because of its inhumanity that had no limits, its evil that was without end and its diabolical design, the Holocaust is sui generis. There is no equal. By design, Holocaust terminology has an exclusivity about it that must not and dare not be shared. Shame on those who use Holocaust terminology for dramatic effect or to make comparisons! If it’s in the poorest and most reprehensible of tastes to ask: “What did he fill his car up with, Zyklon B (the poison used in the gas chamber in the Death Camps)?” while sitting behind a car that that is belching noxious fumes into the atmosphere, why is it acceptable to refer to a fellow Jew as being worse than a kapo? One would be hard pressed to justify “Nazi speak” as an attempt on our part not to forget the Holocaust.

Although there were many of my parents’ generation who recoiled when hearing German being spoken, German is a most valuable language. Aside from Latin and French, the English language is comprised of thousands upon thousands of German words. Words such as craft, laugh, folk and friend are all of German or Germanic origin. Rather than latch onto Arbeit Macht Frei or Sieg Heil, why not enrich our vocabulary with words such as Schadenfreude (finding joy at the distress or hurt of another person) Angst (feeling of dread or anguish) or Gemutlich (pleasant)?

Justifiably, although not quite often enough for some, we Jews exclaim: “Look what Hitler and his Nazis did to six million of our people.” The next time we hear leaders or lay people, Jew or non-Jew, Israeli, American, or any other nationality for that matter, make flippant comparisons as well as take stabs at hyperbole or poor attempts at humor by resorting to words that are associated with Hitler and his war machine, perhaps we should exclaim: “Look what Hitler and his Nazis did to us!”

DENIERS AND DEFACERS

As one of literally a handful of rabbis who met with Professor Deborah Lipstadt last Friday morning, I should have been more attentive. While Ms. Lipstadt was explaining the difference between soft core Holocaust Denial and hard core Holocaust Denial, I couldn’t help but realize that Holocaust deniers and those who spray-paint Heil Hitler and swastikas on buildings are really two sides of the same coin. Both groups want to infuriate Jews by touching upon a most sensitive and volatile subject. Every time Jews respond (typically through contacting the police and reaching out to the media), the deniers and defacers are granted a victory. Accordingly, whether Ms. Lipstadt agrees or not, Jews must totally ignore both the deniers as well as the defacers. It’s high time that a completely different modus operandi be embraced.

Wiedergutmachung is the German term for reparations. Literally translated as making good again, Wiedergutmachung came to serve as the German word for reparations in 1953. It was an attempt on the part of the German government to reach out to Jews worldwide who somehow managed to show contempt to Hitler by surviving the Holocaust. Tens of thousands of Jews led by Menachem Begin staged a massive protest at the time. They were adamantly opposed to “blood money.” I would like to believe that I would have been one of those protesters – for a different reason, however. True Wiedergutmachung must not be limited to any financial arrangement. In retrospect, the nascent Israeli government should have extracted a pledge from German people throughout the world to confront deniers and defacers throughout the world.

“We love Israel” is the contemporary mantra taken up by countless Christians – Evangelicals and others. Personally, I embrace the Evangelicals and others and love them in return, regardless of the real and ultimate reason for their love. Christian lovers of Israel must bear in mind, however, that Israel was established as a homeland and a haven for the Jews while the chimneys at Auschwitz were still warm from turning our people into smoke. True love for the Jewish people is a sine qua non for true love for Israel. The two are inseparable. If Evangelical and other Christians truly love Israel, then they must take up the cudgel against deniers and defacers. Recent events in Whitefish, Montana serve as a case in point. Once again, anti-Semitism reared its ugly head when White Nationalist Whitefish resident Richard Spencer planned an armed march through the town of just over 6,000. Governor Steve Bullock, Attorney General Tim Fox, Senator Jon Tester and Senator Steve Dalnes immediately denounced Spencer and his planned march. Evangelical Christians, along with others who profess strong love for Israel, should have descended upon White Fish delivering the following message: Either Spencer, leaves taking with him his vitriolic poison, or we stay and proceed to infuse mega doses of Christian love into Whitefish.

Americans are up in arms over refugees seeking to cross into this country. As a result, there are marches and demonstrations from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Regardless of how one feels about the topic, one would do well to ask the marchers and demonstrators, where is their concern for humanity when Holocaust deniers and defacers rear their ugly heads and carry out their despicable acts? Isn’t protesting acts of Holocaust denial, as well as demanding that justice be meted out for the defacing property with Nazi slogans, equally as necessary as the current cause in which they have involved themselves?

Germans and Evangelicals, as well as other Christians and concerned Americans: In addition to the status quo of Wiedergutmachung, love for Israel and marching and demonstrating for refugees, I ask that you speak out against the deniers and defacers. You might very well be surprised at what you are able to achieve.

CRYING IN MINNEAPOLIS

Carole Horne was my second and third grade teacher in the early 1960’s. During that same time, Miss Horne served as the first and second grade teacher for my kid sister, Michele. All of the students called her Miss Horne. Miss Horne was single and remained single throughout life. Miss Horne is now well into her eighties and is in the last stage of her life. Carole Horne is dying.

Unlike her big brother, Michele keeps in touch with her childhood connections. Recently, Michele sent Miss Horne an “I’m Thinking of You” card. A short time after, Michele received a most lovely note from a couple who was assisting in providing palliative care to Carole during her final months or weeks of life.

I learned about the “I’m Thinking of You” card as well as the lovely note last week, while speaking to my sister by phone while I was between flights in Minneapolis. As my sister was reading the lovely note to me, she quickly sensed an ominous silence on my part. “You’re crying, aren’t you”? She asked. “Yes,” I managed to respond.

My crying was not over Carole Horne’s dying. My crying was over my sister’s care and concern; my crying was over the fact that my sister took the time to send a card to Carole Horne. Despite what my sister wrote in that card to Miss Horne, the card delivered the following message: You made an impact on me early on in my life. Because of that impact, I will never forget you.

Much energy and acrimony has been expended on the recent vote for Secretary of Education. However important this vote is, we all too often lose focus on the real role of the teacher. “Why Johnny can’t read or write” is a perennial question that will remain with us as long as there are Johnnies, teachers and schools. Depending on the zeitgeist, the blame shifts from the teacher and the education system to Johnny and his parents and his home life… if there is one.

Perhaps the wrong question is being asked. Instead of asking whether or not teachers are actually teaching, perhaps society should be asking whether or not teachers are actually touching. Perhaps society should be asking whether or not teachers, along with our education system are impacting upon our youth. Personally, I believe that the vast majority of six year-olds through eighteen year-olds in our culture are quite capable of learning and absorbing information. At the same time, I fear that so many of those same six year-olds through eighteen year-olds are not being impacted upon.

It was a Talmud professor who was far from being fluent in English – and not any professor teaching homiletics or practical rabbinics – who showed me the mechanics that went into delivering a D’var Torah and the most effective way of speaking before a congregation. It was in all likelihood the least popular professor on faculty who kept track of me when I was between pulpits and made that phone call to me over ten years ago, when Tiferet Israel of Dallas was in the offing.

Perhaps the Internet is onto something. When presenting us with security questions, it asks: who was your favorite teacher? I pray that that are more students than I realize, who attended the same Jewish Day School that I attended, who will answer “Miss Horne” when entering the name of their favorite teacher. I also pray that when Carole Horne meets her maker, she receives the very best heaven has to offer. Because of the way she impacted on her students, Carole Horne deserves the very best.

Cheap Jew

A resident of a shtetl east of Terrell came up to me as I was standing at a display in the Perot Science Museum last week (my grandchildren were visiting). What developed into a most interesting conversation for both of us began with his approaching me and initiating the it in the following manner: “I have a question I would like to ask you and I don’t know how to phrase it. I hope that you don’t take any offense.” After I encouraged him to ask me whatever he had on his mind and assured him that no offense whatsoever would be taken, he proceeded to inquire about the uncut strands of hair that my two older grandsons wear in front of their ears. Five minutes later, we were still talking, as I handed him my card and offered to drive out to his church and speak about Judaism and or Israel.

Despite wearing a kippah on my head at all times, I find it hard to believe that I’m the only one who has been approached by a non-Jew. Chances are that a goodly number of us have been approached by a total stranger who asked: “Are you Jewish?”
Please don’t take offense at such a question. I beg you!

Unless a non-Jew accosts us or even approaches us with “Why are Jews so cheap?” or “Why do Jews have all the money?” let not our hearts be troubled.  “Why are so many Jews, doctors, lawyers or accountants” ought not to be interpreted as being anti-Semitic. This is a legitimate question which deserves a legitimate answer. I highly doubt that any disrespect is meant by asking such a question. And a legitimate answer is that our European ancestors were forbidden to own land (farms) and work the land. Instead of concentrating on our brawn or manual dexterity, as Jews, we concentrated on our brain and our mental acuity. Incidentally, David Klein – whom I have known since I was fifteen – is a plumber in Oak Park, Michigan.

By virtue of our being Jews, we are all ambassadors to the outside world. It’s a position we never asked for or in all likelihood never wanted. But that’s life. As such, getting our noses out of joint when we perceive that there is some anti-Semitic undertone to a comment or question coming from a non-Jew can only make us look bad. Somebody asked us a question. Chances are that nothing was meant by it. And even if the question or comment reeked of anti-Semitism, we can only lose by lowering ourselves to the standards of the one who asked the question or made the comment. If we really want to make a statement, then let’s do so by ignoring the question or comment. No one likes to be ignored.

Anti-Semites rarely sound off at Jews. Anti-Semites typically sound off at other anti-Semites. That way, their views are validated. At best, anti-Semites mutter under their breath. Such was the case some twenty years ago, when I took the train into Manhattan to attend the annual Salute to Israel parade. The train was packed with scores of others traveling into New York for the very same purpose. As we walked out onto Seventh Avenue, a middle aged man walked toward us. It was clear that he knew who we were and where we were headed.  He so much as said so, as he muttered “f*****g Jews” while passing us on the sidewalk. It’s highly doubtful that he would have extended that very same “greeting” to our faces.

According to recent studies, 9% of Americans harbor anti-Semitic views. Stated differently, 91% of Americans harbor no such views. As a Jew, I can’t help but feel that it doesn’t get much better than that. As for that 9%, few if any of them have any desire to engage us in conversation. Anti-Semites have little, if anything, to say to us. Let’s not ruin it by being overly sensitive to the other 91% who mean no harm and no disrespect.

BOMB SCARES

No one likes bomb scares – especially Jews who are at their local JCC. A phone call is placed by either a lunatic or Jew hater … or both, to a local JCC, alerting it that a bomb has been planted. The entire Jewish community remains on red alert long after the premises have been declared to be bomb free. For Jews, bomb scares and anti-Semitism are inextricably intertwined.

As serious as bomb scares are, there are other bombs waiting to go off in our very midst, to which the vast majority of American Jews seems to be inured. How ironic! Yet that very same Jewish community that has been shaken to its core because of a bomb scare ought to be alerted to bomb scares of a totally different nature that threaten our existence as Jews.

Jewish communities throughout the nation have consistently refused to acknowledge that our very Judaism is at risk. This too is a bomb scare. Close to four decades ago, Morris Arthur, later to be known as Moshe Yess, was very much aware of the bomb scare which confronts American Jews. Accordingly, he included the following lyrics in his song My Zaidy: “I don’t know why it came to be – it happened slowly over many years, we just stopped being Jewish like my Zaidy was. And no one cared enough to shed a tear.”  Moshe Yess was far too kind. He should have said: “And no one cared enough!” Period! American Judaism does not need tears. American Judaism needs a wake-up call, a red alert. The best of sermons dealing with this bomb scare have fallen on deaf ears; the most revealing of sociological studies concerning this bomb scare leave no impact whatsoever. The vast majority of American Jews appear to be totally apathetic to any and all alarms of the bomb scare concerning our Judaism, while those who do sit up and take notice seem to adopt a “What can we do?” attitude and consequently do nothing while the bomb scare of Judaism disappearing remains a most serious threat.

American Jews who profess to care a great deal about Israel from a political standpoint have every right to be smug. We are living at a time of a pro-Israel Congress. Yet when it comes to Israel, Congress is also a bomb scare in the making. To believe that Congress will always remain staunch in its unwavering support toward Israel is both delusional and dangerous. Today’s college students are tomorrow’s members of Congress. Today’s students are being brainwashed by college professors who consider it a mitzvah of the highest order to inject politics into their curriculum and infect the minds of impressionable students. “Inject and infect” is the motto of a good many professors, so that students are ultimately “convinced” of the draconian steps that Israel adopts against the poor Palestinians. “Inject and infect” is the motto of a good many  professors, so that today’s college students are taught to view Israel as an apartheid state run by a supremacist government. “Inject and infect” is the motto of a good many  professors, so that Congress of tomorrow will no longer remain Israel’s “amen corner” in Washington.

Golda Meir once said that “One must not try to erase history merely because it does not fit the present.” However, history has a life expectancy of its own and in time fades into the past, only to be supplanted by events far more “attention grabbing.” We are living at a time when for so many of us, the Holocaust is the sum total of our Jewish history. Whether we are prepared to admit it or not, there will come a time when our focus on the Holocaust will have run its course, as difficult as this may be for so many of us to accept.  And neither Holocaust museums nor Holocaust curricula will be able to combat this change. Meaning no disrespect whatsoever, our interest in the Holocaust is a bomb scare. And sad to say, our leaders, both religious and lay, do not appear to be working on any contingencies to deal with that scare.

Lagophthalmos is a condition where one’s eyelids are unable to be shut. As a result, there are those who actually sleep with their eyes open. “Jewish lagophthalmos” is a requirement as well a necessity for us as a people. As Jews, we need to keep our eyes …and ears open at all times, not only to ensure that our future is safe and secure, but -equally important – to be alert to bomb scares that require our immediate attention as well as our top priority.

THE PLAGUE OF DARKNESS

Palestinians living in Gaza taking to the streets is no longer newsworthy. Palestinians living in Gaza taking to the streets to demonstrate against their own corrupt leadership causes one to sit up and take notice. Such was the case a few days ago, when 10,000 Palestinians protested on the streets of Jabaliya for having being kept in the dark by Hamas. The protesters were speaking out against the three to four hours a day of electricity that they receive in their homes. “I cannot read or study in my home”, lamented a 19-year-old student. What the student neglected to mention is that in his house he also cannot take his coat or jacket off, because there is no electricity for the space heaters.
Electricity rationing aside, so many Palestinians living in Gaza have been kept in the dark for as long as the State of Israel has existed. Corrupt Palestinian governments – whether it is the current Hamas government or any other group of thugs that preceded Hamas have always kept so many Palestinians in the dark, as well as in abject poverty because it suits their purpose. Hamas, along with its various predecessors have consistently refused to appeal to their own Palestinian population to improve their lives. Hamas, along with its various predecessors has consistently refused to shed light on an attainable better lifestyle that is within reach of its own Palestinian population. Instead of encouraging its people, instead of providing its people with the necessary resources, instead of showing its people how they can improve their lot in life, Hamas as well as previous Palestinian leadership in Gaza has deliberately poisoned the minds of so many of its people against the Zionists and what the Zionists have done to ruin the lives of poor Palestinians.
To be sure, there are roughly 100,000 Gazans who have managed to see the light, despite the attempts of Palestinian leadership. On a daily basis they cross into Israel, where gainful employment awaits them. Working for Israelis, they earn over fifty dollars a day. Others, who for whatever reason do not or cannot make their way out of Gaza into Israel, end up earning a mere 45% of that amount. Added to these obvious economic benefits, those who do work in Israel for Israelis, tend to focus on building better lives for themselves and think about  things such as bigger and better homes, nicer furniture, a car or if they already own one, trading up to a newer model. They have plans of sending their children to college, so that the next generation of Palestinians will be a generation of professions and not be limited to entry level jobs. Rarely if ever, do these gainfully employed 100,000 Palestinians think about terrorism. Their minds are much too occupied with constructive thoughts.
The Hamas government, as well as the similarly corrupt governments that have ruled the Palestinians ever since the establishment of the State of Israel, must at all costs keep their people in darkness. To do otherwise, would shed light on the fact that the real enemy is not Benjamin Netanyahu nor any other Israeli Prime Minister, but Ismail Haniyeh along with all his predecessors. So many Palestinians in Gaza cannot see that no different than all previous Israeli Prime Ministers, Benjamin Netanyahu has everything to gain if Palestinians are gainfully employed, looking forward to receiving their paycheck and focusing on improving their standard of living. Without government brainwashing and incitement, Palestinians are no different than any other people. Similarly, so many Palestinians in Gaza cannot see that no different than all previous Palestinian leaders in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh has everything to gain if Palestinians are kept in darkness. The more Palestinians are deprived of hope for the future, the more Palestinians are taught to despise the Zionist enemy, the more Ismail Haniyeh along with his corrupt leadership can abuse the masses and abscond with funds earmarked for the people. Hatred directed towards the Zionist enemy displaces hatred directed towards  the Palestinian thug.
For Jews, the plague of darkness took place over 3,000 years ago in Egypt. For so many Palestinians living in Gaza, the plague of darkness remains a daily event.

SWASTIKA STORIES

You would think that we Jews would be used to it by now. As long as Jews walk the face of this earth, there will be those who abhor us. Yet, we seem to possess this innate need to focus in on Anti-Semitism. It’s as though we aren’t happy unless we are upset by incidents of Jew hatred. It came as no surprise therefore that a Jewish website began the New Year by reporting the Top Ten Worst Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel incidents of 2016.

Perhaps it’s time that those in the media begin reporting stories where the non-Jewish world goes out of its way to be there for us. That way, we can go through the day without being brainwashed by what we read, what we hear and what we watch that everybody hates us.

A few months back, Israel sustained substantial damage because of raging fires that were out of control. The Moriah congregation in the Ahuza neighborhood of Haifa fell victim to those fires, with its entire second floor and its roof going up in smoke…literally. Those in charge were fortunate to secure the services of a construction person who offered his services pro bono. As far as materials and supplies, the congregation was on its own. When the construction person went to get a quote for wood from Walid abu-Ahmed and Ziad Yunis his suppliers, the two Arab gentlemen took it upon themselves to donate enough wood to replace the ten tables that had been destroyed in the fire. “Jews and Arabs live together in Haifa and there is no discrimination. We must continue this coexistence and promote peace,” explained Walid abu-Ahmed.

Soon after I arrived in New York, my great-aunt was moved (against her will) from her Bronx apartment into her son and daughter in law’s home in Suburban N.J. In addition to having been cut off from her friends, my great-aunt was pretty much cut off from the world in that both her son and daughter-in –law worked full time. Unlike the Bronx, the Kosher Butcher, the grocery store and the pharmacy are not down the block in suburban N.J. But a newly retired Italian (Catholic) couple was down the block. And that couple always made sure to see if Mrs. Weinstein (my great- aunt) wanted to come to the super market with them. And that couple would call Mrs. Weinstein and make a special trip to take her to the kosher butcher so that he could get what she needed as far as chicken and ground meat and flanken (look that one up). Apparently, non-Jews going out of their way to help Jews is not news-worthy; non-Jews spray painting anti-Semitic graffiti is newsworthy.

Many years ago I received a 2 a.m. phone call on a Sunday morning from a nurse at a hospital where I served as the volunteer Jewish chaplain. An elderly Jewish man had just died and the services of a chaplain were requested. Truth be told, I was not a happy camper. But I got dressed and drove over to the hospital. When I entered the hospital room, here is what I saw: The patient lying on the bed, his wife totally distraught and Mary and Chris, neighbors of the elderly Jewish couple trying to provide comfort. Mary and Chris were newlyweds in their early to mid-twenties. Mary and Chris brought the wife to the hospital and sat with her until she was ready to leave. Mary and Chris then took the distraught wife back home but would not let her stay alone. Mary called me Sunday afternoon to ask me for guidance with regard to Shiva. Mary also wanted to know what foods would be both appropriate as well as kosher.

Anti-Semites are a fact of life. So too is the fact that there are everyday Christians and Moslems as well as all other non-Jews who go out of their way for Jews. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had some friends in the media who just might like printing stories about the latter? Wouldn’t it be nice if we had some friends in the media who do stories on non-Jewish contributions to local Federations, UJA and Israel? Who knows? It could very well plant a smile in our souls to replace that pain in our hearts that they are responsible for, thanks to their “swastika stories.”