SAN DIEGO (SDJW)–Howard Wayne, the former Democratic state assemblyman running in the 6th City Council District, has been rolling up the endorsements. In his bid to succeed Council member Donna Frye, he has received the blessings of the San Diego Democratic County Central Committee, the San Diego Labor Council, the San Diego Democratic Club, and the Chicano Democratic Association as well as those of a host of current and former elected officials.
Wayne, a member of the Jewish community who has been active in the Latino-Jewish Coalition, also has received endorsements from these Jewish officeholders: State Senate President pro tempore Darrell Steinberg, Assemblyman Marty Block and San Diego City Councilwoman Marti Emerald.
On the Republican side of the ledger, San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who also is Jewish, has joined a group of San Diegans endorsing Meg Whitman for govewrnor. She is listed as an honorary chair for a fundraising gathering for Whitman on December 2 at the Rancho Santa Fe home of Joel and Ann Reed. The special guest at that shindig will be former Massachusetts governor and unsucessful Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
Preceding compiled by San Diego Jewish World staff
By Jennie Starr
SAN DIEGO (Press Release)–With an abundance of energy, and instant engagement with her audience, Israeli children’s author Mirik Snir captivated the children and adults of the Tarbuton and Kef Li San Diego on Monday, November 11 in classes in the Carmel Valley neighborhood and afterwards in a Shaat Sipur (Storytime) that was open to the general public.
Mirik Snir is a prolific author with over 80 books to her name and four more coming out this coming month. She has worked with more than 40 illustrators to create a rich set of stories that Israelis young and old can recall and recite in many cases from memory. While the majority of her books are in Hebrew, and a few in Spanish, her first English book has been selected to be included in the PJ Library collection for young children which San Diego families are lucky enough to take part in through a generous grant by the Viterbi Family Foundation.
When my daughter was 2, on a visit to Israel we picked up our first two books written by Mirik Snir: Miryam v’Ha Yam and Kufsat Karton; two books with beautiful illustrations and simple but engaging stories. I read both books to my children’s pre-school and Kindergarten classes at Congregation Beth Am and at the San Diego Jewish Academy, and now enjoy watching my daughter read them to her younger brother with great animation and heart.
Mirik’s stories bring great fun to the experience of learning Hebrew. They are filled with every day experiences in the lives of young Israelis, they can be told through short plays and with activities. Kufsat Karton, a story of several young children using a cardboard box to create a home, was the ideal platform for an activity in the classroom in which we quite literally had the children act out the story with their own cardboard boxes.
“You have to teach Hebrew so children will love Hebrew. Love all that is related to Hebrew. It’s important.” Snir said to a group of adults in our Tarbuton Ulpan on Monday night. In the group of Ulpan students were parents of children in our Tarbuton classes as well as several Jewish educators. Snir takes time these days to visit Jewish Schools outside of Israel to help share the value of classic Israeli children’s stories in teaching Hebrew. She shares her stories, and works with students, teachers and Jewish educators world-wide. The experience is sheer magic. The kids respond beautifully, fully engaged, and enjoy the active role playing and performance. If they begin with trepidation, it quickly melts as they work with Snir and begin to enjoy the imaginary world she takes them into. And they happily, even enthusiastically learn to speak Hebrew. Snir hopes this is a model teachers will adopt bringing fun into the experience of learning Hebrew.
As night fell, Snir gracefully finished out the evening with a group of primarily Israeli parents and children living in San Diego. As the kids gleefully stepped forward to participate in her reenactment of several stories, and a few parents too, I was struck by the audience’s ability to recite the stories along with Snir by memory. Her stories were ingrained in their hearts and in their minds and we relived them with our children. We were for a moment, all of us, in Israel but together and with a very special visitor transporting us home.
With gratitude to the San Diego Jewish Academy who brought Snir to San Diego to work with their teachers , we know the teachers who attended the AJE’s workshop, the parents who attended an informal gathering in a private home, and the faculty and students of the San Diego Jewish Academy all were blessed with a treat this week.
If you’d like to see her in action with the children and adults in the Tarbuton visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlqP5lVnnCg Visit her web site to learn more about her at: http://mirik-snir.com/pages/hebrew/english.php You can purchase her books online at her web site as well.
Anyone interested in providing facility space and/or support for the Tarbuton can reach me at jennie@Tarbuton.org or 858-245-9375. The Tarbuton is a CA non-profit. Anyone interested in our programs can find more information, videos and pictures on our web site: http://www.Tarbuton.org
Preceding provided by The Tarbuton.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release) –Jewish public officials had mixed reactions Friday to the announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder that suspects in the 9/11 terror attack on the United States would be brought to trial in civilian court.
Among those issuing statements favoring the move were:
U.S. Senator Russell Feingold (Democrat, Wisconsin), a member of the Senate Judiciary, Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees: “I’m pleased that after more than eight years, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks will finally be brought to justice. I commend the Obama administration for deciding to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York, which shows the world that this country stands firmly behind its system of justice and its Constitution. As we saw with Zacarias Moussaoui, Richard Reid, and Timothy McVeigh, our system of justice is more than capable of securely, fairly, and effectively prosecuting alleged terrorists. I remain skeptical that it is necessary to use the controversial military commission system for cases such as the USS Cole bombing. Despite the changes enacted by Congress this year, that untested system does not have the track record of fairness and justice that our criminal justice system has. Nevertheless, today’s announcement is long overdue.”
U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (Democrat, New York), representative of Ground Zero and Lower Manhattan as well as Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties,said:
“I thank the Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder for their diligent efforts to bring to justice those who have committed acts of terrorism against the United States. In particular, I applaud the decision to bring those individuals responsible for the attack on the World Trade Center to New York to face trial in our federal courts. New York is not afraid of terrorists, we want to confront them, we want to bring them to justice, and we want to hold them accountable for their despicable actions.
“It is fitting that they be tried in New York, where the attack took place. On that day almost 3,000 innocent men, women, and children were murdered, and New York has waited far too long for the opportunity to hold these terrorists responsible. We have handled terrorist trials before, and we welcome this opportunity to do so again. Any suggestion that our prosecutors and our law enforcement personnel are not up to the task of safely holding and successfully prosecuting terrorists on American soil is insulting and untrue. I invite any of my colleagues who say that they are afraid to bring detainees into the United States to face trial to come to New York and see how we handle them.
“Trying these alleged terrorists in New York also will allow family members of 9/11 victims to see these trials and confront these defendants in open court. These families deserve that opportunity, and I thank the Department of Justice for providing it.
“Finally, however, I am disappointed that the Attorney General has decided to pursue cases against other Guantanamo detainees in military commissions. While Congress has reformed some aspects of that system, the military commissions are no substitute for trials in our federal courts or through courts-martial. We must ensure that these commissions are not simply used as a lesser vehicle for cases in which the evidence is not sufficient.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman (Independent, Connecticut) was opposed to the decision, explaining: “The terrorists who planned, participated in, and aided the September 11, 2001 attacks are war criminals, not common criminals. Not only are these individuals not common criminals but war criminals, they are also not American citizens entitled to all the constitutional rights American citizens have in our federal courts. The individuals accused of committing these heinous, cowardly acts of intentionally targeting unsuspecting, defenseless civilians should therefore be tried by military commission rather than in civilian courts in the United States.
“The military commission system recently signed into law by the President as part of the National Defense Authorization Act provides standards of due process and fairness that fully comply with the requirements established by the Supreme Court and the Geneva Conventions. Earlier this year, when passing the National Defense Authorization Act, the Senate also passed language expressing its clear intent that military commissions rather than civilian courts in the U.S. are the appropriate forum for the trial of these alleged terrorists. I share the views of more than 140 family members of the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks who recently wrote to the Senate urging that the individuals charged with responsibility for those attacks should be tried by military commission rather than in civilian courts in the United States: It is inconceivable that we would bring these alleged terrorists back to New York for trial, to the scene of the carnage they created eight years ago, and give them a platform to mock the suffering of their victims and the victims’ families, and rally their followers to continue waging jihad against America.”
Senator Lieberman urged the Administration to reconsider its decision and to try those charged with responsibility for the September 11, 2001 attacks using the military commission system that was created by Congress and recently signed into law by the President for that very purpose.
Preceding incorporates press releases from Senators Feingold and Lieberman and Representative Nadler
SAN DIEGO (Press Release)–The Anti-Defamation League is delighted to announce the appointment of Rick Barton (at right) as ADL’s National Chairman for Education
Barton is a partner at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP, a leading San Diego law firm. He serves as litigation counsel and consultant to health systems, hospitals, physician groups and individual providers in business, class action, professional liability, fraud and
abuse, and administrative matters in both Federal and State court.
In 1992, Barton began working in a volunteer capacity for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in San Diego. He served as the Chairman of the San Diego Regional Advisory Board from 1998-2002. In 2000, he was named an ADL National Commissioner and in 2002, became a member of ADL’s National Executive Committee. In 2005, he was named National Vice Chair of nternational Affairs. He then served as National Chair of Leadership from
2007 to 2009 which included responsibility for managing ADL’s prestigious
annual Shana Amy Glass National Leadership Conference in Washington D.C.
The San Diego Regional Office is honored and proud to announce his
appointment as National Chairman for Education at ADL’s Annual Meeting in
New York this November.
As part of his involvement with ADL, Barton has traveled to the Middle
East and Europe for meetings with officials of the Israeli Government, the
Palestinian Authority, the United Nations and European Governments. He has
served as a contributor to the San Diego Union Tribune on the Israeli
Palestinian conflict and Anti-Semitism. He has lectured and is a regular
speaker on the conflict in the Middle East, Anti-Semitism, Holocaust,
Religious Freedom, and Church-State issues. He is a recipient of ADL’s
Torch of Liberty Award, ADL’s highest honor for its volunteer leadership.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading
organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that
counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.
Preceding provided by the San Diego Regional office of the Anti-Defamation League
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)–Following is a transcript of a statement made Friday by Attorney General Eric Holder in which he announced that the Justice Department planned to bring a number of suspects in the 9/11/2001 terror attacks to trial:
Good morning. Just over eight years ago, on a morning our nation will never forget, nineteen hijackers working with a network of Al Qaeda conspirators around the world launched the deadliest terrorist attacks our country has ever seen. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in those attacks, and in the years since, our nation has had no higher priority than bringing those who planned and plotted the attacks to justice.
One year before, in October 2000, a terrorist attack on the USS Cole killed seventeen American sailors.
Today we announce a step forward in bringing those we believe were responsible for the 9/11 attacks and the attack on the USS Cole to justice.
Five detainees at Guantanamo have been charged before military commissions with participation in the 9/11 plot: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Muhammed Salih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, Ali Abdul-Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Al Hawsawi. Those proceedings have been stayed since February, as have the proceedings pending in military commissions against four other detainees accused of different crimes. A case in military commissions against the alleged mastermind of the Cole bombing, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was withdrawn in February.
For the past several months, prosecutors at the Department of Justice have been working diligently with prosecutors from the Pentagon’s Office of Military Commissions to review the case of each detainee at Guantanamo who has been referred for prosecution. Over the past few weeks, I have personally reviewed these cases, and in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, have made determinations about the prosecution of ten detainees now held at Guantanamo, including those charged in the 9/11 plot and the alleged mastermind of the Cole bombing.
Today, I am announcing that the Department of Justice will pursue prosecution in federal court of the five individuals accused of conspiring to commit the 9/11 attacks. Further, I have decided to refer back to the Department of Defense five defendants to face military commission trials, including the detainee who was previously charged in the USS Cole bombing.
The 9/11 cases that will be pursued in federal court have been jointly assigned to prosecutors from the Southern District of New York and the Eastern District of Virginia and will be brought in Manhattan in the Southern District of New York. After eight years of delay, those allegedly responsible for the attacks of September the 11th will finally face justice. They will be brought to New York to answer for their alleged crimes in a courthouse just blocks from where the twin towers once stood.
I am confident in the ability of our courts to provide these defendants a fair trial, just as they have for over 200 years. The alleged 9/11 conspirators will stand trial in our justice system before an impartial jury under long-established rules and procedures.
I also want to assure the American people that we will prosecute these cases vigorously, and we will pursue the maximum punishment available. These were extraordinary crimes and so we will seek maximum penalties. Federal rules allow us to seek the death penalty for capital offenses, and while we will review the evidence and circumstances following established protocols, I fully expect to direct prosecutors to seek the death penalty against each of the alleged 9/11 conspirators.
In his speech at the National Archives in May, the President called for the reform of military commissions to ensure that they are a lawful, fair, and effective prosecutorial forum. The reforms Congress recently adopted to the Military Commissions Act ensure that military commission trials will be fair and that convictions obtained will be secure.
I know that the Department of Defense is absolutely committed to ensuring that military commission trials will be consistent with our highest standards as a nation, and our civilian prosecutors will continue to work closely with military prosecutors to support them in that effort.
In each case, my decision as to whether to proceed in federal courts or military commissions was based on a protocol that the Departments of Justice and Defense developed and that was announced in July. Because many cases could be prosecuted in either federal courts or military commissions, that protocol sets forth a number of factors – including the nature of the offense, the location in which the offense occurred, the identity of the victims, and the manner in which the case was investigated – that must be considered. In consultation with the Secretary of Defense, I looked at all the relevant factors and made case by case decisions for each detainee.
It is important that we be able to use every forum possible to hold terrorists accountable for their actions. Just as a sustained campaign against terrorism requires a combination of intelligence, law enforcement and military operations, so must our legal efforts to bring terrorists to justice involve both federal courts and reformed military commissions. I want to thank the members of Congress, including Senators Lindsay Graham, Carl Levin and John McCain who worked so hard to strengthen our national security by helping us pass legislation to reform the military commission system.
We will continue to draw on the Pentagon’s support as we bring cases against the alleged 9-11 conspirators in federal court. The Justice Department has a long, successful history of prosecuting terrorists for their crimes against our nation, particularly in New York. Although these cases can often be complex and challenging, federal prosecutors have successfully met these challenges and have convicted a number of terrorists who are now serving lengthy sentences in our prisons. And although the security issues presented by terrorism cases should never be minimized, our marshals, court security officers, and prison officials have extensive experience and training dealing with dangerous defendants, and I am confident they can meet the security challenges posed by this case.
These detainees will not be transferred to the United States for prosecution until all legal requirements are satisfied, including those in recent legislation requiring a 45 day notice and report to the Congress. I have already spoken to Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg and am committed to working closely with them to ensure that all security and related concerns are properly addressed. I have every confidence that we can safely hold these trials in New York, as we have so many previous terrorism trials.
For the many Americans who lost friends and relatives in the attacks of September 11, 2001 and on the USS Cole, nothing can bring those loved ones back. But they deserve the opportunity to see the alleged plotters of those attacks held accountable in court, an opportunity that has been too long delayed. Today’s announcements mark a significant step forward in our efforts to close Guantanamo and to bring to justice those individuals who have conspired to attack our nation and our interests abroad.
For over two hundred years, our nation has relied on a faithful adherence to the rule of law to bring criminals to justice and provide accountability to victims. Once again we will ask our legal system, in two venues, to rise to that challenge. I am confident it will answer the call with fairness and justice.
Preceding provided by US Justice Department
YEMIN ORDE, Israel (Press Release) — As part of a recent visit to Israel to address the
Israeli Presidential Conference hosted by President Shimon Peres, US Ambassador to
the United Nations Susan Rice spent an enlightening afternoon at Yemin Orde
Youth Village near Haifa, home to at-risk and disadvantaged youth from around the world.
Ambassador Rice listened to songs from Yemin Orde’s acclaimed choir, addressed the community and toured the grounds with Chaim Peri, the visionary educator under whose guidance Yemin Orde has become a model for residential education in
The children of Yemin Orde, who came there from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union among other places, welcomed her warmly and listened raptly as she
expressed enthusiasm for what she experienced in their company. Especially notable
given her extensive world travel was a sense that Yemin Orde is unique. “A microcosm of Israel and humanity as it should be”, she commented.
Located just south of Haifa in the Carmel Mountains, Yemin Orde is home to more than 500 disadvantaged, immigrant and refugee youth from over 20 countries around the world. The Village’s success in integrating children from diverse cultures and backgrounds, cultivating their self-esteem through innovative educational and community outreach programs, serves as a model for residential education for at-risk youth in Israel.
Yemin Orde Initiatives, a rapidly growing national movement launched in 2006 at the urging of the Ministry of Education, has the potential to transform the entire youth village system through dissemination of the Village’s unique methodology and philosophy.
Preceding provided by Friends of Yemin Orde (www.yeminorde.org) which supports fundraising efforts in the United States for Yemin Orde Youth Village and Yemin Orde Initiatives.
By Cynthia Weisfield
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — I’m going to share some memories with you. One took place in1968, one in 1974; both were in different cities, but both involved a request by a black Jew to take part in synagogue-sponsored activities: services and a social event. In both cases, there was much discussion before he was let in. Women clutched their purses a little closer to their bodies. Men stiffened. The black man generally sat alone. Full disclosure: I did try to make conversation at the social event, but the gentleman was as nervous as I. In each instance, when the man left, there was an audible sigh of relief. My emotions were mixed, but they circled around feeling unsettled.
The above should not really be surprising. We all thought then of Jews as being white Ashkenazi, right? Or maybe white Sephardic. Perhaps we’d give a thought to the Moroccan or Yemeni Jews who were air-lifted into Israel in the ‘forties and ‘fifties. But black Jews?
All of that was about B.K.E., Before Kulanu Era. Now we – that is, Jews everywhere — know that there are black Jews, Indian Jews, Chinese Jews, Jews around the world of all stripes and nationalities. We embrace them. Or do we?
French black Jews would say otherwise. They speak about feeling the discomfort in French mainstream synagogues. Of seeing astonishment, sometimes incomprehension on the faces of their white coreligionists. Sometimes there’s a feeling of rejection, of “mockery.”
Enter Nduwa Guershon of Paris. Nduwa was a Congolese who converted to Judaism at age 28. He is the leader of a group of black Jews, the FJN, Fraternité Judéo-Noir or Jewish-Black Fraternity, which he founded in 2007. FJN was formed not as a statement of separation but to become another component of Judaism along with Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews.
Theirs is a group where all Jews are welcome. To emphasize the point, this is a committed group of Orthodox Jews who are seeking full meshing with the “customary” Ashkenazic/Sephardic communities while maintaining their own presence. In that sense, they are just participating in the time-honored Jewish practice of forming synagogues, for whatever reason. They do have rabbis coming from Israel and London to assist.
Sidney Davis, a Master’s Degree student in Jewish Studies at Hebrew College in Newton Center, MA, and a black Jew, has corresponded with Nduwa. Davis puts the case eloquently.
Nduwa Edouard Guershon seeks to raise the consciousness as well as the conscience of the broader Jewish community to the plight of the black Jewish community in France and the pan African Jewish community at large. He seeks to do thiswithin the context of Judaism’s ethical ideal of social justice by forging alliances with Jews of goodwill everywhere in addressing racism and anti-Semitism. His organizing effort connected with the Fraternité Judéo Noire is an effort to bring African Jews out of the religious and social isolation that they have experienced historically as the result of their perception as the “ultimate other” and to present them alongside the rest of the diverse Jewish community as one people.
There are now 170-250 FJN members of whom 50 are children; there is no Sunday school as yet. Although some members still attend established synagogues, the group typically meets at members’ homes.
It is interesting to take a moment to consider why there is a certain prejudice against blacks in Judaism. Guershon reasons that much of this prejudice stems from the story of Ham, who saw his father, Noah, naked. The descendants of Ham were said to be black because of their sins — in reality, the sin of their father.
Laurence Thomas, a member of FJN who flies between his homes in Paris and Syracuse, NY, where he is a professor at Syracuse University, has found anti-black biases in religious texts. Yet as he points out in his article “Social Justice and Jews” on the FJN Web site: “The Torah does not designate skin color as even a remote indication of who counts as a Jew. It is time that we stop doing so.”
There is no absolute theory about why blacks are not fully accepted as Jews. The Torah tells us that Moses married an Ethiopian or Kushite woman. That has been interpreted by Nduwa as Hashem frowning on discrimination.We also remember that the Queen of Sheba was black and well regarded by King Solomon.
The French have a longstanding history of anti-Semitism which, although quiescent for many years, is never far from the surface. They are still debating the Dreyfus Affair. The anti-Semitic “comic” Dieudonné has a large following. An increase in Muslim population and influence has cracked the quiet, as it has throughout Europe. The American Jewish Congress has reported an increase in attacks on Jews.
Shirli Sitbon, who writes in the Paris-Chronicler, reports on a rising tide of gang warfare against Jews in mixed ethnic neighborhoods.
Young men such as Rudy Haddad and Mathieu Roumi were beaten and tortured; Ilan Halimi died after his torture of three weeks’ duration. French Jews are worried. Indeed, my husband and I spoke with a Parisian couple who said that they figured they would have to emigrate to the United States at some point.
In this French cultural context, FJN efforts are courageous. Not only are they reaching out to mainstream Jews, who themselves may be afraid, but they are vocal in their various activities. A recent fundraising concert was held at l’Espace Rachi, a major venue in Paris.
They have a vibrant Web site (fjn-123.fr) that also has an English section) where they speak out vociferously on all manner of topics related to Judaism. They participate actively in demonstrations related to Israel, such as demanding the release of Gilad Shalit.
Despite the obstacles, Nduwa has great hopes. “We think…that we are in a favorable juncture where one can reconstruct a certain united community around important points such as questions linked to the Torah, study and life together,” he said. He realizes that it’s a long road, but he is committed to the journey of making all Jews comfortable with each other.
The community would welcome any religious materials, including texts in Hebrew or Hebrew/French for worship, or children’s’ education.
Yarmulkes, taleisim, menorahs and other ritual objects are also needed. The address is: M. Nduwa Edouard, 20 rue Cadet, 75009, Paris, France.
This is reprinted from the fall issue of Kulanu (http://www.kulanu.org/newsletters/2009-fall.pdf), a newsletter devoted to keeping Jewish groups throughout the world ware of each other. Cynthia Weisfield is retired and into a new career as a freelance writer with special interests in art, food and Jewish topics. She has been the Kulanu correspondent with French speaking groups for several years.
By Rabbi Baruch Lederman
SAN DIEGO–Avraham & Sarah, Yitzchok & Rivkah all lived their lives with faith and dedication to Hashem. They understood the power of mitzvos and prayer, and they realized the Hashem runs the world. This is an inheritance to their descendents as the following true story illustrates:
There was a chareidi (religious) family that took a vacation to Teveria. The wife and two daughters went down to the Kineret to go swimming. The girls started to wade in the water.
The older daughter steps too far in and is swept into a current, but she couldn’t swim, and begins to go under. The mother is watching as the daughter is pleading for her life, but the mother can’t swim.
The mother runs onto the highway, desperately trying to flag down cars for help. Finally an elegant car stops and a well dressed man asks what’s happening. The mother screams my daughter is drowning. He throws off his coat and runs and dives into the water.
He comes up with the little girl. The mother breathes a sigh of relief for a moment, until she realizes that this was the younger daughter who must have
jumped in to save the older daughter. She screams “I have another daughter there!” He jumps back in and screams “Where is she? Where is she?” The mother is pointing “Over there, over there.” He dives to the bottom and begins to drag her limp body to the shore, but now there are people on the shore, who are screaming “Her head is still in the water! Her head is still in the water. Lift it out!!!” He lifts her head and puts it on his shoulder and brings her ashore.
They called the ambulance, but her head was in the water too long, there’s nothing they can do. They go off to the hospital, and the doctors say there’s no hope. The family began davening for a miracle. They’re waiting and waiting, davening. The Doctor took an MRI, and when he saw the results, runs back in and said, “I can’t believe it, regular brain activity resumed”. The daughter finally wakes up and leaves the hospital two days later. The doctors said they never saw anything like it, she was deprived of oxygen for so long.
A few days later, the family made a Seudas Hod’ah (meal of thanks) to thank G-d for the miracle, and wanted to invite the man who rescued their daughter. They couldn’t find him, so thought maybe he called into the hospital to see how she was, and they were right. They found him. He was an attorney from a non observant kibbutz, with no connection to yiddishkeit his whole life. They invited him to the seudah and he told them this story. He was recovering from a heart attack before this incident, and he and his wife were headed up North for a vacation, when he saw this chareidi woman in the street.
He told the family that he had been sick for awhile, and used to be an Olympic swimmer, but hadn’t swam in YEARS. But just last month, as part of his therapy for the heart attack, he started to swim laps. He told them that If he hadn’t done this he wouldn’t have been in shape to rescue their daughters. “As I was pulling your second daughter to shore, and realized during those crucial last few moments, I didn’t bring her head above the water, I was going out of my mind.”
Afterwards, I came home and cried to my wife, “I killed that girl.” My wife said what are you talking about, you saved her. You risked your life. “But I’m so stupid, I didn’t take her head out of the water.” No, she said, you just didn’t realize. “NO, She died because of my stupidity” I said, “It was my fault, she would have lived!”.
I ran back to that place, and climbed to the top of a mountain, and I said, “Ribbono Shel Olam (Master of the Universe), never in my life did I pray to you. I was raised on a kibbutz, and laughed at prayer. I wouldn’t be caught dead praying; I would have been so embarrassed. G-d, this is the first time in my life I’m praying to you. I’ll never be able to live this down. I won’t be able to go on. PLEASE, Hashem, consider it as if I prayed to you my whole life, and combine all those prayers that I could have said, and use them to save this girl. Please G-d”
“I went back home and called the hospital, and they told me that an hour ago (as I was saying this prayer) she woke up!”
This story was told by Rabbi Fishel Schacter who pointed out that instead of falling to despair, he took that broken heart, and instead of letting it turn into depression and sadness, he converted it into Tefillah. A tefillah that he never had before in his life. And miracles came from it. There are moments in life that we think we blew it. Those very moments, if used correctly, are the seeds for redemption.
Dedicated by Avraham & Roz Dimenstein in memory of Rabbi Henry & Rebbetzin Esther Soille.
Rabbi Lederman is spiritual leader of Congregation Kehillas Torah in San Diego
By Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal
SAN DIEGO–The great opera diva Maria Callas once famously said: “Love is so much better when you’re not married.”
Our patriarch, Isaac, would not have agreed! The Torah tells us that Isaac was taking a walk in a field when Eliezer returned from Aram-naharaim with Rebecca: “…looking up he saw the camels approaching…Isaac then brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he took Rebekah as his wife. Isaac loved her, and thus found comfort after his mother’s death.” (Gen. 24:64-67)
Rabbi Menachem Beker writes that many Jewish sages noted the superiority of early Jewish culture to contemporary mores in matters of love and marriage. Today most people think that a couple should fall in love before they decide to marry. The result is that this type of love, which is more infatuation, soon fades and couples may argue or split up if this is all that bound them.
Rabbi Beker continues that our ancestors, ‘from whose wells of wisdom we drink and through whose lives we are blessed,” thought differently. The Torah tell us that Isaac acted directly opposite of today’s custom. First Isaac married Rebecca and then only afterward did he come to love her.
I do not belittle romantic love, but the excited infatuation that one feels at the beginning of a relationship usually cannot sustain it for long. Romantic love must evolve into a long and faithful commitment to one’s partner and marriage.
Dr. Morris Mandel, a columnist in The Jewish Press, wrote in his column: “Fidelity is rooted in love. The object of love is not only “union” but unity. It represents a life of truth, such as loving husbands and wives can perceive and share. It is unity in the full sense of the word. To reach that stage of complete oneness calls for unreserved absorption, both physical and spiritual. It is the job of a lifetime.” (May 23, 1977)
Golde in Fiddler on the Roof put it even more plainly, though less poetically, when she sang to Tevye: “For twenty-five years I’ve lived with him, fought with him, starved with him. Twenty-five years my bed is his. If that’s not love, what is?”
Perhaps John Lennon wasn’t completely right when he sang: “All you need is love.” To sustain a marriage you do need love, but also a lot of hard work and compromise.
Rosenthal is spiritual leader of Tifereth Israel Synagogue in San Diego