Cooking duo eyes $100,000 prize
MELBOURNE, 3 February – Forget the stereotype of the Jewish grandmother slaving away over bubbling chicken soup and kneidlach in the kitchen,
Australia’s newest Jewish super chefs are Clint Yudelman and Noah Rose.
The culinary duo are the Victorian contestants on Australia’s newest reality TV cooking show, My Kitchen Rules.
It took some organising to catch up with Yudelman in his family’s home in Caulfield North
to talk about the show and the prospect of fame and fortune.
The quiet but confident Mount Scopus Memorial College graduate said he had found his way onto the cooking show after a friend applied to be a contestant.
Following phone and face-to-face interviews, the 24-year-old cooked a dish of seared tuna with Asian greens and Japanese sauce in 15 minutes to wow the casting agents.
And wow them he did, with Yudelman and Rose, 23, selected as the only Victorians on the Channel Seven show which premiered on February 1. In the show five pairs travel to each others’ dinner parties under the watchful eyes of celebrity chefs, and My Kitchen Rules judges, Peter Evans and Manu Feildel.
“It was a great opportunity to travel the country,” Yudelman said.
The pair ate at homes in Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth — where they stayed a few
extra days to surf and discover the culinary delights of the Margaret River region.
After the initial dinner parties, the show moved into a commercial kitchen, where contestants pitted their abilities against each other.
“It was daunting and hard to be natural,” Yudelman said of his first television experience.
“You had to pretend [the camera was] not there.”
He explained that the pair teamed up in the kitchen because they both used to be vegetarians.
“We couldn’t eat salads all the time, so we had to get creative,” he said.
Rose agreed: “You need to be creative or it just becomes boring being vegetarian. But it did
expose me to many different vegetables and spices.”
Eventually, however, they both returned to eating meat, and Yudelman — who graduated as a vet last year and has just begun practising in Brisbane — joked that he is familiar with animals “from paddock to plate”.
Somewhat surprisingly for a couple of Jewish boys, they list their favourite ingredient as fresh seafood. Rose opts for scallops, which he likes to serve seared with seasonal produce. Yudelman’s signature dish, meanwhile, is pan-fried Wagyu beef eye fillet finished in the oven, on lightly sauteed snow peas with caramelised shallots, sweet potato puree, red wine sauce and mushroom duxelle.
On a more Jewish note, though, Yudelman’s “dream dinner party guests” are mostly members of the tribe — the three lead men from the hit TV comedy Seinfeld, Albert Einstein and Woody Allen. Rose would also invite Jerry Seinfeld, as well as Napoleon Bonaparte, Oscar Wilde and Tiger Woods.
It is not celebrities, however, who the boys will have to impress to be crowned kings of the
kitchen, but their fellow contestants. And with a $100,000 prize up for grabs, the winning chefs will certainly get their just desserts.
New Jewish School opens up in Sydney’s west
SYDNEY< 3 February – A new Jewish school, the B’nai Yakov School, has opened in Sydney’s western suburbs.
Located at the Parramatta and District Synagogue, the B’nai Yakov School is registered with the NSW Board of Studies and will cater to children in years K-6.
Inaugural principal, Rabbi Yoseph Wernick, said: “Although the Parramatta Jewish community has always been small with around 100 families, it has always been a vibrant and youthful community.
“For many years, families wishing to provide their children with a Jewish day school education would have to travel to Sydney’s larger Jewish communities. Now that has changed.”
Rabbi Wernick said the school is integrating Jewish and general studies in order to provide a Jewish knowledge base, while at the same time meeting all the requirements of the NSW Board of Studies.
It caters to students of all academic levels and offers sports and physical education,
extra-curricular and social activities, as well as enrichment and extension programs for gifted students.
The school is named after the synagogue’s former minister, Rabbi Gerald (Yacov) Blaivas, who served the Jewish community as a sofer (scribe) and as rabbi of Illawarra Synagogue before heading to Parramatta. He was also an advocate for Jewish children in court.
Rabbi Wernick said: “His dedication to the youth in general, and to Jewish education in particular, is legendary.”
Countdown begins for Maccabi Games
SYDNEY, 3 February – Maccabi Australia has appointed Ellana Aarons to head Australia’s team management at the second Maccabi Australia International Games (MAIGs), to be held in December 2010 and January 2011 in Sydney.
With the tournament set to attract a healthy contingent of international competition, Aarons said her challenge is to “better that and get quality Australian teams on the field”.
In a bid to build the profile of the MAIGs and encourage Australian Jewry to support the event, Aarons plans to “keep costs to a bare minimum” to entice local participation.
Aarons’ vision is for the MAIGs to not only be a fierce international competition, but to attract such local numbers that interstate Australian rivalry can be rekindled at senior level by fielding separate sides from NSW, Victoria and Western Australia in major sports, such as basketball, football and netball.
“We would hope if there are quality athletes that would allow us to have two teams in a sport, we will be doing that,” Aarons said.
“We need to keep in mind it’s an international competition, but in many ways for us, because we won’t be able to get together [for training camps], our state-based sides will be stronger
anyway. Then you’re coming with mates, you’re going to have a good time, it’s not ripping teams apart to create new teams . it’s an opportunity to re-ignite state rivalry.”
The long-time Maccabi player and administrator’s first task is to assemble a management committee, before player nominations open in mid-April.
Meanwhile, MAIG’s chairman Jeff Houseman said that 13 countries have confirmed their
attendance, with further details to be formalised when he attends a meeting in Israel in May.
The Games will be officially launched on February 14 with a gala function at the IMAX theatre’s Star Room, in Darling Harbour, Sydney.
Heads of delegation from the US, Canada, and possibly South Africa and Brazil, will join
Maccabi Australia in launching the MAIGs, and Houseman has implored Sydney Maccabi clubs and players to support the event.
While it is still early days, Houseman has declared that preparations are “going well”.
“The sports are going extremely well,” he assessed. “It’s just a matter of countries
putting their hand up and hopefully we’ll have a better idea after the meeting. Cycling [which was not on the original list] has come on big time, which is just incredible.
“The rugby club has asked for rugby to be put on, and we’re seeing if there is any interest. If
countries put up their hands, Australia has to as well.”
Rabbi Apple reflects on a lifetime of issues
SYDNEY, 4 February – Rabbi Raymond Apple says he is “not a great believer in people writing autobiographies unless they’ve had a very exciting and dramatic life, which I really haven’t.”
So, in shaping his memoir, he resisted the idea of writing a standard autobiography.
“But to amuse myself, I started writing a series of reflective chapters about the involvements and commitments that have been part of my life. And it ended being around 100 such chapters,” said the emeritus rabbi of Sydney’s The Great Synagogue.
Sorted alphabetically, these essays, from Aborigines to Zionism, give a thematic view of
the issues that have mattered to him among them, social justice, Jewish history, the arts,
his rabbinic colleagues and sport rather than a chronology of events.
“If you want to know what I did in a particular year, you won’t find it, but if you want to know the sort of person I am, you’ll get the impression by looking at the book,” the
Australian rabbinic doyen, who now makes his home in Israel, he said.
The book, To Be Continued, will be launched by Professor Alan Crown and the Australian Jewish Historical Society at The University of Sydney on February 8.
Both Prof Crown and Rabbi Apple are honorary masters of the university’s Mandelbaum House, where the event will take place.
Describing his writing style as “light-hearted and almost self-deprecating,” Rabbi Apple
declared: “I think it’s important almost to be able to laugh at yourself.”
Rabbi Apple was educated in Melbourne, attained his s’micha in London, and took up his post with The Great in 1972.
An Australian interfaith pioneer, he was a founding member and joint president of the
Australian Council of Christians and Jews, and has spoken out on social justice issues.
As suggested by the memoir’s title, Rabbi Apple saw his departure from The Great as a chance for continuity.
Living in Jerusalem with his wife Marian, and writing there, has inspired the rabbi, who said
he spent a lifetime enhancing others’ religiosity “to work on my own soul.”
A taste of Kosher comes to town
MELBOURNE, 5 February – Kosher foodies will have the opportunity to sample the latest products and innovations later this month.
Eskal KosherFest Australia 2010, Australian kashrut’s trade fair, will take place on Sunday,
February 14 at St Kilda Town Hall, with organisers expecting around 5000 people to pass through the doors.
The exhibitors will include Australian manufacturers, importers and retailers of kosher foods and beverages.
Josh Bartak, head of the exhibition’s organising committee, said the event allows those in the industry to use their stands to demonstrate and explain the development of a particular product or company.
“KosherFest gives manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers of kosher products the opportunity to showcase their goods in a fun, family-friendly environment.”
Organisers have added rides to entertain children, while parents and grandparents can
enjoy food samples and live cooking demonstrations, Bartak said.
Organisers are emphasising the broad appeal of kosher products beyond the Jewish community, and quote figures from the Israel Trade Commission showing that the potential market for kosher foods in Australia is more than one million people.
Kosher products have attracted interest from Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist communities, as well as vegetarians, vegans and those with special dietary needs.
“This year, there is also a cheese and wine bar for consumers to rest and kibitz [chat],” Bartak said.
Among a diverse spread of 27 exhibitors this year are Fisher & Paykel, Yumi’s, Coles, the City of Port Phillip and health foods retailer Bodhi Kitchen.
New Australian ambassador to Israel
CANBERRA, 5 February – Australia will have a new ambassador to Israel with Andrea Faulkner set to take over from James Larsen in March.
Faulkner, a diplomat who has previously spent time in Tel Aviv, has extensive experience in the Australian foreign service. She recently served as assistant secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Africa branch.
She represented Australia in Vietnam, as second-in-command of the embassy in Hanoi. She
has also worked in Paris and had a previous stint in the Tel Aviv embassy.
In announcing Faulkner’s appointment, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith spoke highly of Australia and Israel’s relationship.
“Australia and Israel’s longstanding and warm friendship is based on Australia’s historical
support for Israel and our shared commitment to freedom, security and democracy,” Smith said.
Larsen leaves Israel after more than three years in the job.
Arab Bully Boy tactic threatens UN aspiration
CANBERRA, 5 February – The Jewish community is calling on the Australian Government to stick to its guns in its support for Israel, despite Arab representatives attempting to blackmail the country into changing its views or lose the chance of a United Nations (UN) seat.
As reported in The Australian this week, Arab League representative Hashem Yousseff, who is currently in the country, said Australia’s staunch support for the Jewish State will be
“taken into consideration” when Arab nations vote on whether Australia should take a temporary UN Security Council seat in 2013-14.
The Israeli embassy in Canberra issued a statement rejecting Yousseff’s logic.
“Any nation considering their support for a vote on a Security Council seat should first reflect on the merits of the nominee and the contribution that they may make to international affairs, before considering their own self-interest,” it declared.
“Australia has illustrated its dedication to upholding its values in the international sphere.”
Israel has already offered its support for Australia’s bid at a seat on the UN’s most influential body.
“We believe Australia is a nation of principle and dedication to the betterment of worldwide citizens,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) president Robert Goot accused the 22-nation Arab League of using bullying tactics.
“He [Yousseff] should know that Australians do not succumb to standover behaviour,” Goot said.
“It would be a good thing for Australia to have a seat on the UN Security Council, but not if the price for obtaining it is to abandon our principles and bow to bully-boy threats.”
Goot put his confidence in the Australian Government, saying he believes Australia’s leadership “has the moral fibre” to continue supporting Israel, a two-state solution and peace in the Middle East.
Dr Colin Rubenstein from the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council argued Yousseff’s comments were unsurprising considering his organisation’s track record.
“Unfortunately, the Arab League has rarely displayed any inclination to be a constructive
force for Middle East peace and their traditionally retrograde and unhelpful strategy
of focusing on boycotts and diplomatic posturing to isolate, condemn and debunk Israel was again on display in Mr Yousseff’s statements,” Dr Rubenstein said.
Australia, together with the United States, Canada and a number of micro-states, consistently opposes anti-Israel motions in the UN General Assembly.
Since the Rudd Government won its term, Australia has changed its decision on three unbinding votes pertaining to Israel, but it remained one of only a handful of nations last year to reject the adoption of the controversial Goldstone report on the Gaza war.
Welcome mat pulled from Israeli academic
MELBOURNE, 5 February – An invitation to an Israeli academic to speak in Melbourne has been cancelled because she heads an organisation that aided a UN report critical of Israel’s conduct during last year’s war in Gaza.
Professor Naomi Chazan, who was a member of the Israeli parliament from 1992 to 2003, was to address a fund-raiser at Beth Weizmann Community Centre next week. But her invitation by the Union of Progessive Judaism was withdrawn after it emerged that the New Israel Fund, of which she is president, has given millions of dollars in grants to Israeli non-government organistions that had spoken to a UN investigation team, led by Justice Richard Goldstone.
The president of the Zionist Council of Victoria, Dr Danny Lamm said that the invitation to
Professor Chazan was extended by an affiliate member of his organisation.. But he said that her association with the New Israel Fund was “intolerable.”
“When I became aware of the New Israel Fund’s activities with regard to the Goldstone report, I withdrew our participation. Organisations that they have funded have done damage to Israel and as a consequence we don’t want to have anything
to do with the New Israel Fund,” Lamm added.
Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World
CAIRO (WJC)–Two senior Egyptian journalists have been reprimanded by Egypt’s Journalists Union for violating the group’s ban on contacts with Israeli officials. Hussein Serag, a veteran reporter, was suspended from his job for three months for visiting Israel, and Hala Mustafa received a warning after she conducted an interview with Israel’s ambassador in Cairo, Shalom Cohen, in her office.
Mustafa is the editor-in-chief of the state-run weekly ‘Democratiya’ while Serag – an expert on Jewish affairs – is deputy editor of the weekly magazine ‘October’.
Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 but relations have remained on a mostly governmental level, and cultural exchanges and travel to Israel are discouraged by the Egyptian government.
The Journalists Union issued its ban on contacts with Israel in 1985. Mustafa is a senior member of President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party. She is also an expert on Islamic militancy and a reform advocate. She had in the past called the ban “obsolete” and out of sync with political developments in the region. She told the news agency AP that the reprimand reflected what the heavy-handedness and the meddling in politics of security agencies, as well as the country’s “ambiguous” policy toward Israel. “My field of specialty is Israel and Hebrew. If I don’t visit Israel how can I understand these people?” Serag said. “This is hypocrisy, pure and simple.”
Israeli officials said that the actions against Serag and Mustafa were evidence that Egypt was “trying to erase the presence of Israel from the Egyptian consciousness.”
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress
SAN DIEGO–“Remember the Shabbos day and keep it holy.”
The Chofetz Chaim writes that Shabbos is a sign for the Jewish people. When a store has a sign out front, you know it’s in business. When we have Shabbos, we are ‘in business.’ Faithful observance of Shabbos is part of what makes our people eternal, as the following true story submitted by Evi Reznck, Atlanta, Georgia, illustrates:
Back in the mid nineties a Jewish advertising executive in New York came up with an idea. What if the New York Times – considered the world’s most prestigious newspaper – listed the weekly Shabbat candle lighting time each week. Sure someone would have to pay for the space. But imagine the Jewish awareness and pride that might result from such a prominent mention of the Jewish Shabbat each week.
He got in touch with a Jewish philanthropist and sold him on the idea. It cost almost two thousand dollars a week. But he did it. And for the next five years, each Friday, Jews around
the world would see: ‘Jewish Women: Shabbat candle lighting time this Friday is ___’. Eventually the philanthropist had to cut back on a number of his projects. And in June 1999, the little Shabbat notice and stopped appearing in the Friday Times. From that week on it never appeared again.
Except once. On January 1, 2000, the NY Times ran a Millennium edition. It was a special issue that featured three front pages.
One had the news from January 1, 1900. The second was the actual news of the day, January 1, 2000. And then they had a third front page.
Projecting future events of January 1, 2100. This fictional page included things like a welcome to the fifty-first state: Cuba . As well as a discussion as to whether robots should be
allowed to vote. And so on. And in addition to the fascinating articles, there was one more thing. Down on the bottom of the Year 2100 front page, was the candle lighting time in
New York for January 1, 2100. Nobody paid for it. It was just put in by the Times. The production manager of the New York Times – an Irish Catholic – was asked about it. His answer was right on the mark. “We don’t know what will happen in the year 2100. It is impossible to predict the future. But of one thing you can be certain. That in the year 2100 Jewish women will be lighting Shabbos candles.
This non-Jewish production manager sensed a profound truth. Thus is the power of Jewish ritual. Thus is the eternity of our people.
“Honor thy father and thy mother.”
This commandment demands of us to be the type of parents that our children can honor and cherish. This takes much wisdom and thought, as the following words written by Rabbi
Yakov Horowitz, submitted by Getzal Segal, illustrate:
The GPS system in our automobiles, nonchalantly responds when we make a mistake or don’t follow its instructions. The same calm voice that directed us in the first place comes
back on, simply says, “Recalculating,” and helps get us back on track.
Now; imagine how we would feel and respond if the GPS was programmed to progressively inject a harsher tone of voice and raise the volume each time we missed a turn in
Would it help or hinder us if instead of “Recalculating,” we heard things like, “Would you PLEASE listen next time?” or “Don’t you know anything at all about driving?”
The affection that we all feel regarding our children is most certainly a positive component of our relationship with them. However, precisely because we love them so much, we
are often too passionate to calmly help them grow and learn from the inevitable mistakes they make.
Our chazal (sages) teach us that there are profound lessons to be learned from all new developments in our world. Perhaps we ought to take a page from the makers of GPS and
do our very best to gently, privately and constructively help our kids “Recalculate” the next time they take a wrong turn or two.
Dedicated by Dr. Scott A. Magnes in honor of his parents Dr. & Mrs. G. D. Magnes.
Rabbi Lederman is spiritual leader of Congregation Kehillas Torah in San Diego
Following is an interview with Nicole Opper about her film Off and Running, to be shown at The San Diego Jewish Film Festival’s Joyce Forum –A Day of Emerging Filmmakers
By Yvonne Greenberg
LA JOLLA, California–Nicole Opper, selected as one of the top 25 independent filmmakers to watch in the United States by Filmmaker Magazine, grew up in San Diego, graduated with honors from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
She will have her critically acclaimed first documentary feature film, Off And Running, which she directed, co-wrote and co-produced, shown at the AMC La Jolla on Monday, February 15 at 8:00 PM as part of the 20th Annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival’s Joyce Forum –A Day of Emerging Filmmakers. Off and Running will be the Main Feature of the Joyce Forum and Opper is scheduled to appear in person.
The main character in the film, Avery, a black teenager, is adopted by two Jewish lesbians from Brooklyn along with an Asian younger brother and a mixed race older one and raised Jewish. She is a talented runner who is closing in on being awarded a college scholarship. Avery’s re-connecting with her birth mother prompted by the search for her identity causes her to rebel against her family by skipping school, staying away from home, and looking for new peers. This rebelling in order to connect with her black roots also causes Avery to put at risk the loss of the college scholarship. But for the first time, she feels she is exploring her identity and deciding to make sense of her upbringing and realizes the genuine love her adopted parents have given her.
In a recent phone interview from New York, Opper enthusiastically talked about Off and Running and other subjects.
1. Why are you in New York and why are you so excited?
The film Off and Running is playing theatrically right now at the IFC Center. I am deep in the midst of press interviews and promoting the film and making sure that audiences come see it here in New York. And today we just found out it has been held over for at least one more week. So it will have a nice long run here.
2. Did you write the script and do all the filmmaking?
It isn’t exactly a script because it is a documentary, but we did write in the sense that we were shaping the film constantly in the edit room and creating outlines. I actually collaborated with my teenage subject of the film, Avery, on the writing. And she has been awarded for her work by the Writers Guild of America, so there is a degree of writing that goes on in a documentary.
3. What is Avery doing now?
She is doing very, very well running track on a full scholarship at Delaware State University and most recently she has been here in New York participating in question and answer sessions for audiences at the IFC Center. So that’s been really fun because we are always very excited to hear from her.
4. Do you decide where the film will run?
We are working with a distributor, First Rate Features. They are also based here. We collectively decide what makes the most sense, but the San Diego Jewish Film Festival committed to showing the film quite a long time ago, I think even before we had distribution, I’m not sure, but I am a long-time fan of the festival in San Diego. I love everybody who runs it. I grew up there, I’ve known the festival, and have been close to it for a long time. I grew up watching films at the San Diego Jewish Film Festival as a kid.
5. Where did you go to high school here?
I went to Point Loma High School.
6. Did any teacher have an impact on you in filmmaking and writing?
Absolutely. I would say that Priscilla Allen, who passed away recently and taught the acting program at Point Loma High School, had a very deep and meaningful impact on me as an artist. She was really the person who taught me to listen to my creative impulses and follow them and believe in my own vision, And also Larry Zeiger, who recently retired, gave me wonderful support, and he’s busy writing people to come to The San Diego Jewish Film Festival right now.
7. What about the story made you think it would work well as a feature film?
It all came down to Avery, the charisma that she exuded and her willingness to speak so openly about even the most vulnerable and private parts of her life. I really felt very compelled by what she had to share so early in life and I sensed that other young people were going to benefit from hearing her story and, in fact, we hear from teenagers all the time who thank Avery for participating in this film because they see themselves reflected in her and it is helpful to see yourself reflected in the media when you’re growing up, especially particularly when you are growing up in a kind of non-traditional family.
8. What are Avery and you up to now?
Avery is majoring in criminal justice and really just likes to be somebody on Law and Order. So she’s busy with that and still racing very regularly and doing quite well as a distance runner.
I’m traveling with the film and gearing up for my trip to Mexico where I’ll be headed in a month to begin my next documentary film about three teenage boys growing up in a home full of abandoned children in Mexico, a coming of age in a different kind of family. It’s a really special home, it’s self-sustainable, and the boys all work right there on the premises in order to support themselves and they also attend school nearby and most of them graduate and go on to lead successful lives. So we are going to explore what it is that they are doing right and why this place has created such a beautiful family.
9. Has Off and Running led to more film opportunities for you?
Yes, actually I’m developing a fiction film, a narrative film about a young African-American Jewish woman who goes to Mexico to study abroad for a semester after losing her mother in a car accident and she develops a powerful relationship with her home stay mom. And I think you will see a lot of Avery in this character.
10. Which award had the greatest impact on you?
The most important award that we have been honored with is the Writer’s Guild of America Award simply because they recognized the value of Avery’s contribution as a teenager. I got to stand there as her former teacher, because our relationship began as student and teacher, and to see her come full circle, enjoy the fruits of her labor, and watch people appreciate what she has given.
Yvonne Greenberg is a freelance writer based in San Diego.
By Ira Sharkansky
JERUSALEM–In several of these columns I have described the United States as a laggard among wealthy democracies in its support of social services. Anti-tax individualism shows itself in one of the lowest indicators among this group of countries for government outlays as a percentage of national resources. President Obama’s disappointment in health reform is only the most recent demonstration of a culture unfriendly to government programs. It is most apparent among Republicans, but it is far from absent among Democrats.
Now I am pleased to identify a significant departure from public sector stinginess. The American representative to the Palestine National Authority–Daniel Rubinstein–traveled to Bethlehem and announced another U.S. contribution, this time of $40 million, to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). According to the Palestine News Agency, “The United States is UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor. In 2009, the United States provided over $267 million to UNRWA, including $116.2 million to its General Fund, $119.5 million to its West Bank/Gaza emergency programs, $30 million to emergency programs in Lebanon, and $2.2 million to assist other Palestinians in the region.” Other Palestinians in the region are mostly those in Syria and Jordan. http://english.wafa.ps/?action=detail&id=13712
Yet another positive note in the story is the openness of the State Department to people with a name like Daniel Rubinstein. The 1940s was a long time ago.
Close to last in aid to its own citizens but first in aid to Palestinians is a mark of some distinction, but not clearly a positive mark. If any people demonstrate the folly of excessive public support it is Palestinians who have lived off their claim of being refugees through four generations and 60 years.
One can argue without end about the facts and the morality as the British Mandate for Palestine became Israel. Who did what, and who rejected what compromises are questions in the dustbin of history, along with who is responsible for African slavery, and which group may claim ownership over each part of North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and other places where migrations and bloody conquests began long before recorded history, and continued through much of the history that has been recorded. One can ponder the responsibility of Arab countries and the United Nations, along with Palestinians themselves and Israel for the maintenance of the refugee phenomenon. While individual Palestinians have left the camps and done well, UNRWA remains a vital part of Palestinian lives and international politics. Dependence is the name of the game, for the organization, the refugees, the politicians of Palestine and those of other countries who accuse only Israel of responsibility.
There is no better demonstration of the American mantra that aid breeds weakness, and cuts off individual initiative before it can develop.
The paralysis of initiative appears in politicians’ efforts to deal with the dispute, as well as the help me lethargy in the neighborhoods still called refugee camps. Palestinian leaders have learned only the language of demand and expectation. It is for Israel to make concessions, and for other countries to pressure Israel. The Palestinian narrative–supported by numerous others–is that Israel has a monopoly of blame and Palestine a monopoly of justice. Nothing offered to the Palestinians has ever been enough, and we are hard pressed to cite a concession Palestinian officials have offered to Israelis in their numerous meetings.
On the same day that I read about the latest American government donation to UNRWA I received an article from a professional journal reflecting the toughness of some Americans toward their own people. The subject is the cost of emergency service for
“Individuals who Necessitate Their Own Rescue.” That is, people who through carelessness or ignorance get themselves into situations where it is dangerous and expensive to extract them. The article ponders the legal, moral, and administrative issues involved. It notes that there are states and localities that may charge for rescue, but “Charge-for-rescue policies are a bad idea.” http://www.bepress.com/jhsem/vol7/iss1/2/?sending=10901
Israelis are familiar with the problem. Most common are overseas tourists and ultra-Orthodox youths who wander unprepared into the desert, go off the marked trails, fall into ravines, or suffer from dehydration. On our hikes we have encountered well dressed women trying to clamber down rocky slopes in high heels, and young men dressed for the study hall, without water bottles and obviously uncomfortable in the sun. During each season of flash floods there are people who try to drive through torrents that cover desert roads and must be rescued. Sending a military helicopter to such cases, or picking a lost hiker from a ravine costs the IDF thousands of dollars per hour. Politicians have raised the question of demanding payment from the careless, but none has dealt with the administrative problems or the opposition.
I recall stories from the United States of fire brigades that depend on subscriptions, refusing to fight a fire destroying the home of an owner who has not paid the dues. Should a helicopter crew refuse to pluck a survivor who cannot pay on the spot, has no receipt from rescue insurance, or left the credit card at home? Perhaps Americans can be more creative and persistent than Israelis in solving the problem.
If the person in distress could claim Palestinian status, the payment might come out of the next United States allocation to UNRWA. And will non-Palestinian welfare families be far behind?
Sharkanksy is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University
By Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal
SAN DIEGO — I meet with our Abraham Ratner Torah School students one Wednesday a month. We usually meet in our Goodman Chapel. This month I introduced them to a new addition to our chapel, the Mishebeirach tapestry that was fashioned from the creative contributions of many members of our Sisterhood and congregation.
This fabrication of this tapestry was the brainchild and labor of love of Sharyl Snyder. Sharyl had seen a similar tapestry on display on Temple Emanu-El and thought we should have one as well. Our Mishebeirach tapestry enlivens our chapel with its very personal artwork and stands as a reminder to all who are ill or in pain that they are not alone. At Tifereth Israel Synagogue they are a member of a community that cares and prays for them.
I asked the students to find the multiplicity of Jewish symbols on the tapestry. They correctly identified many of them and shared how they thought creators of each square expressed their care and concern for those who are ill.
I also used the introduction of the Mishebeirach tapestry to explain to our students the Mishebeirach prayer we say each morning at our daily minyan and on Shabbat (“May the One who blessed our ancestors…send healing to…”).
On the spur of the moment I also said the prayer with them and asked them to share the names of their relatives and friends who were ill and pray for their recovery. It was very quiet during our prayer and I found myself surprised by how it had turned our learning into a spiritual and sacred experience.
That same evening we talked about the Mishebeirach prayer at a meeting of our Ritual Committee. We all expressed the same thought: we all believed that our communal prayers for those who are ill are efficacious and powerful even though we are not sure how they work.
The next time you are in the synagogue, please stop by the chapel to see the new Mishebeirach tapestry. I also invite you to find as many Jewish symbols as you can and try to discover their relationship to Jewish healing and life. You may also want to use the opportunity to say your own prayer for those you love who are suffering or in pain.
Even though your prayer does not guarantee that those who are suffering will be healed, I am confident that their burden will be eased by your caring.
Rabbi Rosenthal is spiritual leader of Tifereth Israel Synagogue