Archive for the ‘Chanukah’ Category

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, December 24, 1954, Part 3

August 15, 2010 Leave a comment

 Compiled by San Diego Jewish World staffSouthwestern Jewish Press, December 24, 1954, Page 9

Lasker Lodge News

By Lou Levitt

Congratulations to our newly elected officers for the year 1955.  They are: President Milton (Mickey) Fredman; 1st v. pres., Dr. Milton Millman; 2nd v. pres., Marshall Zucker; 34d v. pres., Edward Herman; fin. Sec. Joseph Kaplan; rec. sec., Lawrence Rubenstein; warden, Samuel Bennett; guardian, Hyman Kobernick; trustees Ted Brav, Jeremiah Aranoff, Harry (Ziggy) Kessler, Lou Levitt, Edward A. Breitbard, Sid Rose, and Jack Spatz.

Our annual installation ceremonies will be held at the Mission Valley Country Club on Sunday night, January 8, 1955. The installation will be combined with a dinner dance, and all members are urged to make reservations as quickly as possible, as we have to have a close approximation as to the number attending. Guests are cordially invited. Contact Dr. Millman, or Mickey Fredman. Dinner will be $5.00 per plate and this includes a very fine steak dinner and tax and tip.

Bay City Initiates New Members January 10

Southwestern Jewish Press, December 24, 1954, Page 10

Monday, January 10th, 1955, at the regular scheduled meeting at Tifereth Israel Center, at 8:00 o’clock p.m., a special program dedicated to the initiation of new members will be held. Mrs. Harold Garvin, chairman, and her committee of Mesdames David Cohen, Abe Hollandersky, Morris Cahan, Robert Palash, Eugene Sacks, Charles Juster, Wilbur Robbins and Max Felsman have planned a most interesting ceremony.


The Chanukah Story (Editorial)
Southwestern Jewish Press, December 24, 1954, Page 11

The root of the word “Chanukah” is “honoch” which means “to dedicate.”  Historically, King Antiochus, a demagogue, was determined to deprive the Jew of his religion.  He was clever enough to see that if he was to succeed in crushing the Jews, he must aim at their Judaism, the source of their vitality.  But he miscalculated the strength of the Jew’s attachment to his faith.

An aged priest named Mattathias thought if the Jew had to die for his religion he ought to die for it fighting.

He and his gallant sons, the Maccabeans, few in number, and worse still, without military training, went into battle with a prayer on their lips and with the thought of God in their hearts. The result is well known. The Jew regained possession of Jerusalem and the Temple. The Greeks had defiled the Sanctuary by idolatrous worship.  It was rededicated to theservice of God, on the 25th of Kislev, in the year 165 B.C.E.

It is to commemorate this glorious story that the Feast of Chanukah has been instituted.  The festival lasts eight days, and the traditional explanation is that when the sc red lamp was about to be kindled at the reconsecration of the Temple, only a small flask of oil undefiled by the idolator could be found. But a miracle happened, and it lasted for eight days.

The story of Chanukah is such an inspiring one. But the deeds of heroism are not all that make Chanukah such an important occasion. Throughout the history of our people, we have found similar feats of heroism and valor. For over 2,000 years have we struggled against overwhelming odds against the rage of man and nature, of beast and storm. But the Macabeans taught the Jew to dedicate himself to fight for the holiest causes.

Chanukah cherishes not so much the memory of glorious victories on the battlefield, but rather the triumph of right over might, mind over matter, justice over injustice.  The Maccabeans encouraged the pent-up desire for independence  of countless people over the history of the world. But for them Judaism would have perished. They held aloft the torch of true religion at a time when thick darkness was covering the nations. They set an example of fighting and sacrificing for the principle of religious freedom.

A Balanced Press (Editorial)
Southwestern Jewish Press, December 24, 1954, Page 11

The sale of the Daily News in Los Angeles leaves the entire Southern California area without a Democratic voice.  In this situation we see a danger, not only because a one-sided Press is not a healthy condition for the Press itself, but the news and opinions expressed in these papers tend to be taken as public opinion.

We have seen many occasions when the Press has been out of step with public feeling and opinion.  Some of the most recent examples were seen during the Roosevelt and Truman administrations.

A Press listening only to its own voice, will hear only what it wants to hear. If there is no other organ to print the deliberate omissions of a slanted press, and point out differences of opinion and interpretation of events, then news published by a biased Press will be accepted as gospel. What will happen to our vaunted “Free Press?”

There is no doubt that rising costs are forcing more and more newspapers out of business, and there is an alarming trend all over the country of consolidation of papers and elimination of competition.

We hold no brief for the Republican newspapers. They have merchandise to sell—that is their own particular point of view—and most of them do a pretty good job at it. What is needed now is a balance to that kind of selling, in order to give the readers an opportunity to judge what is best for the greater number of people.

Will it be necessary or small “splinter” groups to publish newspapers at their own expense, in order to get all the facts before the public?  We hope this is not the answer to the problem of a balanced Press.

Chapter 48: More About Three Hundred Years in America~Jewish Contributions to American History
Southwestern Jewish Press, December 24, 1954, Page 11

By Philip L. Seman, University of Judaism

Continuing from the last installment of this series on the Jewish Ethical Code we note that voluntary societies and  institutions for the proper fulfillment of the “Camiloth Hasodim”  prevailed. The Burial of the dead stood highest on the list, because the most purely selfless in its propmpting; as far as the dead are concerned no reward can be obtained.  In this connection the writer cannot resist citing one of the most beautiful of these ancient customs. It is depicted in Martha Wolfenstein’s Classic “The Idylls of the Gass.”

When a death occurs, whether in the home of the rich or the poor, the Burial Society sends two locked boxes to the bereaved. One contains the funds of the society, and the other is empty.  The fund must then be transferred from one box to another, and in the process one may add to it or take from it, or leave it intact. The boxes are then returned locked and no one knows or can know who made a donation, or who has been the beneficiary of a charity funeral.

There is every evidence that customs of this character, and the living of this kind of life must have a background, and none needs only to search into the lore of the Hebraic past to learn of this background.

In examining the concepts which were laid down, and which further developed into a social ethics code by which the Jews have through all the centuries guided their lives as far as their relationship of one to the other was concerned we find that if you are a man of distinction and entitled to a prominent seat at an assembly, seat yourself, nevertheless, two or three seats lower, for it is better to be told to  go uip than to be asked to go down.  Hillel said: “If I condescend I am exalted, but if I am haughty, I am degraded.”

Better for you to have no more than two zuzim, which is equivalent to about a quarter, as a means which to gain a livelihood, than to be a man of large capital and employ it in usury.

The Book of Deuteronomy is a veritable source book or code of Social Ethics.  In Deuteronomy laws of justice to all and particularly to the poor, are more detailed and elaborate than anywhere else in the Bible. There are, besides, many regulations that tend to foster the growth of kindness and forebearance to others in our relationship of life.

Jewish social service in a modern sense, particularly as it has been developed during the last fifty years is highly specialized and departmentalized, as by necessity it must be, is quite a contrast to the social services described in the foregoing. I our next installment we will discuss The Background of the Jewish Community Center Movement.

These Public Officials Send Chanukah Greetings
Southwestern Jewish Press, December 24, 1954, Page 11

Sincerest wishes for a happy holiday – Arthur C. Eddy, County Tax Assessor

Greetings – Don Keller, District Attorney

A Very Happy Holiday—Frank Thornton, Collector of Customs

My sincerest holiday greetings – Dean Howell, Supervisor, 5th District

Wishing you a happy holiday – Clair W. Burgener, City Councilman

Holiday Greetings – Charles C. Dail, City Councilman

Greetings from William L. Morrison

Greetings from Frank A Gibson, County Supervisor District No. 1

Greetings from Senator Fred Kraft

A happy Chanukah to all my Jewish friends – Oscar G. Knecht

Greetings – A.E. Gallagher, Coroner & Public Administrator

Holiday Greetings – John Bate, Port Director, Port of San Diego

Season’s Greetings – Jean du Paul, City Attorney

Best wishes for a happy holiday – Chester E. Schneider, City Councilman

Best wishes for the Holidays – James Robbins, County Supervisor

A joyous holiday—San Diego Civic Center

Holiday Greetings – David Bird, County Supervisor

Holiday Greetings – George Courser, Chief, San Diego Fire Dept.


Southwestern Jewish Press, December 24, 1954, Page 11

Irving Stone

As the Psychologist Sees You

By Irving R. Stone, Psychological Consultant

What’s Been Accomplished This Year?

If you observe a researcher at work you will notice that at all times he seems to be accomplishing nothing, but just sits and contemplates the many notes he has accumulated as part of his project. Strangely enough, an important phase of his research is going on for he is taking stock either of what previous research has been performed by others or else he is studying what findings he has been able to make during the early phases of his own work.

Just as the researcher must study the past, so must we take stock of ourselves. “What’s been accomplished this year?”: As part of our customs, the end of one year and the beginning of a new one seems to be the period devoted to this soul searching.

Perhaps, although we made many resolutions, it may be a strange thing to find that only one or two of them have been kept. We always start out with good intentions but somewhere along the way we get side-tracked.  Maybe it was because the things we resolved to do did not seem to be very important as the year progressed.  Perhaps it was because some unforeseen event or situation made it impossible to attain fulfillment of our purpose.

Sometimes, we make a resolution only half-heartedly, never really intending to carry it out. If that is so, we only kid ourselves and put ourselves in a worse light than we should.   If may have been important to someone else to see that we carried through with this resolution, even though it was unimportant to us.

Possibly, what we planned to do was important enough, but because of our own lack of drive or initative it was never accomplished.  This year that passed can never be regained and there is no opportunity to make fantasy a reality. All that we can give ourselves for our resolution is a large zero—not even a score for effort.

Unfortunately, our scorecard of accomplishments for the year may not be a pleasant sight if we take the trouble to add it up.. Too often, we leave the tally for the end of the year, or else do not even bother to take an accounting. It we were to take a subtotal as we went along, we might find that like the researcher, we could see what has gone before, and in that way avoid making continued mistakes and omissions of purpose.

Let’s make our new resolutions realistic ones, those that can be attained and those that we intend keeping.  In that way we can eliminate the disappointments and guilt over resolutions not kept and at the same time enjoy those accomplished.

Salzburg Puppets To Show Here Jan. 15
Southwestern Jewish Press, December 24, 1954, Page 12

Wonderful music accompanies the elaborate Salzburg Marionette Theatre when the troupe presents three performances at Roosevelt Auditorium on Saturday, January 15.  At the matinees, 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” will be shown, while a Johann Strauss evening will be presented at 8:30 p.m., including the complete opera, “The Fiedermaus” and “The Blue Danube Pantomime Ballet.”  The dolls are up to 3 ½ feet tall and pay on a revolving portable stage, 27 feet wide, 13 feet deep and 12 feet high. Tickets are available by mail order at the deLannoy & Howarth box office, Room 230, U.S. Grant Hotel.

City of Hope
Southwestern Jewish Press, December 24, 1954, Page 12

They’re going like hot cakes – order your copy of Samuel Golter’s book “And They Called It The City of Hope” – published by G.P. Putnam Sons—you will find the story exciting and thought provoking!

You can order it through your own favorite dealer at $3.50

Pearl Rubin (JU-2-2482) is in charge of the rental library – the line forms both left and right!

Save your Rummage for our March Sale!!

“Adventures in San Diego Jewish History” is sponsored by Inland Industries Group LP in memory of long-time San Diego Jewish community leader Marie (Mrs. Gabriel) Berg. Our “Adventures in San Diego Jewish History” series will be a regular feature until we run out of history.  To find stories on specific individuals or organizations, type their names in our search box.  

Moldovan church indirectly blames Jews for anti-Semitic incident

December 23, 2009 Leave a comment

CHISINAU, Moldova (WJC)–The Russian Orthodox Church in the former Soviet republic of Moldova has indirectly blamed the Jewish community for the recent anti-Semitic march by Christian fundamentalists in the capital Chisinau in which a public menorah was dismantled.

A church statement said: “We believe that this unpleasant incident could have been avoided if the menorah had been placed near a memorial for victims of the Holocaust.”

On Chanukah, some 200 fundamentalist Christian protestors, led by a priest of the Orthodox Church, marched through Chisinau and removed the 5-foot-tall menorah, using hammers and iron bars from a major downtown square. “The Jews can try to kill us, to traumatize our children, but Moldovan Orthodox believers will resist,” the priest told the crowd, many of whom carried large crosses. Moldova, he said, was an Orthodox country, and Jews were trying to “dominate people.” Allowing the menorah to be set up had been “a sacrilege, an indulgence of state power today.”

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Wiesel, Gov. Patterson join celebration of Kermaier installation as president of the New York Board of Rabbis

December 21, 2009 Leave a comment

By Jeanette Friedman

NEW YORK–Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Prof. Elie Wiesel and New York Governor David Patterson participated in the installation of Rabbi Yaakov Kermaier, spiritual leader of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue, to his new post as President of The New York Board of Rabbis. Congregants and well-wishers packed the East 62th Street sanctuary on the seventh night of Chanukah as Kermaier and the other NYBR officers and members of the Board of Governors were installed. Master of Ceremonies was the humorous and highly-regarded Rabbi Joe Potasnik, Executive Director of the rabbinical board.  Potasnik’s wit and wisdom are familiar to fans of his WINS and WABC radio programs. The Chanukah candles were blessed by world-renowned Cantor Joseph Malovany.

The New York Board of Rabbis, the largest interdenominational rabbinical organization in the world, includes rabbis from many Jewish pathways who focus on matters of common interest.  The Board’s extensive chaplaincy program provides rabbis wherever needed – in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living centers and centers for the disabled. Additional programs involve professional development seminars, advocacy for social justice and community education.

As he bid farewell to past-president Rabbi Charles Klein of Dix Hills, Potasnik thanked him for “turning the silver he had been given into gold.” Concluding his term, Rabbi Klein explained the history of the interdenominational organization.  He carried out the ceremonial “changing of the guard,” by handing Dr. Walter Molofsky, President of Fifth Avenue synagogue, the Torah Mantle that resides in the Board President’s home synagogue.  Throughout Rabbi Kermaier’s term, it will remain in the Holy Ark of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue. Klein applauded Potasnik for his leadership and recognized the valuable work of Rabbi Diana Manber, founder of Dayenu, the group’s domestic violence prevention unit.

As keynote speaker, Prof. Wiesel delivered a Talmudic inquiry on the role of a rabbi and his followers, wondering aloud if the rebbe is a friend to the chassid, or if the chassid is friend to the rebbe. Speaking in parables and scriptural and rabbinical anecdotes, he pointed out that the rebbe is a teacher who deposits in his students wisdom received from heaven, history and knowledge. Weisel spoke about rabbis as leaders and members of the community, noting that the quest for truth does not remove them from humanity, and emphasized that Torah knowledge used without fear of God may be considered evil and abusive.

Wiesel also spoke of the suffering and the challenges we face when history is too turbulent, when people of all religions lose faith in the economy, in the political system, when ideals and values are ridiculed and wisdom is downgraded. He said it means that we are more challenged than ever to be good people, to care about others. He also spoke about the need for a strong Jewish State, and the importance of its survival to the Jews in the Diaspora.  He recalled his first meeting with the Dalai Lama, who asked that Wiesel teach him how to teach his people how to survive in exile.

The key to Jewish survival, said Wiesel is continued study of the knowledge of Torah, “The Book” that has kept the Jewish people alive for millennia.

In his inaugural address, Rabbi Kermaier, who was the rabbi in Hong Kong before his appointment to the Fifth Avenue Synagogue, spoke of how Jacob’s favoritism of Joseph ripped the brothers apart. He noted that the opposite of such schisms was characteristic of the NYBR, where rabbis spend time working on programs, using the vast expanse of their common ground to pursue the goals of Knesset Yisrael, talking amongst themselves as brothers. He underscored the importance of a safe Israel, and spoke of the perils of a nuclear-capable Iran and Ahmadinejad’s efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel. 

The rabbi recalled the ancient Greeks, who viewed fire as the dominant, all-powerful element in the world.  He said that the late Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Shlomo Goren, saw important symbolism in the fact that fire could not consume a small, pure cruse of oil. He concluded by saying that a united House of Israel with moral clarity and a sense of mission is represented by this cruse of oil. Even an inferno of hatred cannot consume it.

The Israel Defense Forces Choir performed Chanukah songs and an Israeli medley that included a memorial to fallen soldiers of the IDF.  All joined together in singing Jerusalem of Gold. A celebratory buffet, complete with latkes and sufganiot, capped the evening.

Friedman is the San Diego Jewish World bureau chnief in the greater New York City area.

How dreidel and other games led to a boy’s piety

December 18, 2009 Leave a comment

By Rabbi Baruch Lederman

SAN DIEGO–Shimi Gerber (name changed) was a boy with lots of unfulfilled potential – which is putting it mildly. His parents sent him to an excellent yeshiva in New York, but he was more interested in anything  but learning. During parent-teacher conferences they always heard the same thing; “Shimi is a very bright boy, but he just doesn’t apply himself.”  It broke his parents hearts to see  their boy frittering away his days.

He wasn’t mean or malicious. Typically, during Gemora shiur, when his rebbe was teaching the intricacies of Talmudic logic, Shimi would be endlessly engrossed in a comic book hidden inside his Gemora. He wasn’t a bully. But he was a bad influence in the school because he liked to fool around and involve others in his high jinks – much to the consternation of his parents and his Rebbeim.

One year, it reached a point where the yeshiva decided that if things didn’t change, they were going to be forced to approach Shimi and his parents with the stark reality that the  yeshiva couldn’t keep a boy who acts this way. They decided they would wait till Chanukah before issuing any harsh ultimatums.

As Chanukah approached, it didn’t look like Shimi was making any progress whatsoever. Finally, the day after Chanukah, the Rebbe knew that this was the day of the showdown. As  he was coming to yeshiva, he knew that that day, he was going to have to call a very unpleasant meeting with Shimi and his parents.

That was the plan, but when the Rebbe saw him at the morning minyan, Shimi had a look of sincerity and seriousness that the Rebbe never saw in him before. The Rebbe waited. 

Later that morning, Shimi was totally focused in the Gemora. He even participated and asked some thought provoking questions. The Rebbe was flabbergasted. This was a new boy. The meeting was never called. No ultimatums were ever issued.

Shimi’s remarkable transformation did not escape the notice of his parents. They asked him what caused this extraordinary turnaround. Shimi told them that it was based on a speech that their Rabbi gave in shul.

Shimi began, “Rabbi Lamdan (name changed) explained the dedication that the Jews had in the days of Chanukah. How they understood that Torah was their lifeblood. They needed Torah like a fish needs water, and continued to learn despite the risks and hardships involved.”

Shimi continued, “Then the Rabbi said something which really opened my eyes. He explained in vivid detail how the Jews would gather to learn Torah; but when the soldiers would come by, they would take out their toys and act as if they were gathering to play a game (this is where the draidel comes from).  This hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that I
was the exact opposite. I would be engaged in games or comics, while pretending to be studying Torah whenever the Rebbe was looking. My ancestors would engage in Torah, while pretending to be playing games.”

The purity on Shimi’s face was evident, like the pure oil of the menorah.

“My ancestors sacrificed so that I could have a life as a Jew; and I was throwing all that away. Twisting it around like a dreidel. I don’t want to be that way. I want to learn Torah like  they did.”

“The Rabbi gave me the greatest Chanukah gift ever.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Yavanim tried to take away three mitzvos from us: Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh, and Bris Milah. These three mitzvos are embedded into every Chanukah:

1. Every Chanukah contains at least one Shabbos. This is always the case because Chanukah is over a week long.

2. Every Chanukah has a Rosh Chodesh. Rosh Chodesh Teves always falls out in the middle of Chanukah.

3. Chanukah is 8 days, reminiscent of the 8 days for the Bris Milah.

Dedicated by Linda & Ron Holman in honor of their twin grandchildren Gavriel and Yonah Mordechai Saida.


Rabbi Lederman is spiritual leader of Congregation Kehillas Torah in San Diego

Judaism’s balance between tradition and modernity

December 18, 2009 Leave a comment

By Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal

SAN DIEGO — In Parashat Miketz we learn that when Joseph’s brothers first appeared before him in Egypt: “Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize Joseph.”  {Gen. 42: 8}

How was this possible? The Talmud explains that Joseph was sold into slavery he was young and did not have a beard. Now that he was older and had grown a full beard they did not know who he was. Joseph’s brothers, on the other hand, had beards when they sold Joseph into slavery so they looked the same.

In the European town of Radzin a young man once set out to make his mark on the world. He traveled to Berlin and other cities but did not meet with success. He did, however, adopt the customs, manners, and dress of the places he visited. He eventually returned to Radzin but wore modern clothing and had shaved his beard and peyot (forelocks).

Having failed at everything else, he applied for a teaching job with Rabbi Gershon Henich of Radzin. Rabbi Henich declined to hire him because he would be an “upside down” teacher. The young man did not understand what he meant and asked Rabbi Henich to explain.

Rabbi Henich told him: “The Talmud says that when Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers he did not have a beard and so they did not recognize him when he had grown one. With you, it is the reverse! You left your brothers with a beard, and returned without one…and that’s why we do not “recognize” you, and that’s why you would be an “upside down” teacher.

Rabbi Henich was not subtle! He believed that to be a good Jew one must reject modernity and refuse to change with the times. One must remain frozen in time. The holiday of Chanukah, which concludes at the end of Shabbat, teaches a much different story about Jewish history.

The war of the Maccabees was as much a civil war between Jews as it was between Jews and Greeks. The Jewish community was far from unanimous in its rejection of Hellenism, the adoption of Greek culture, customs, and religion. Many Jews supported Antiochus and were glad to see the ancient rituals and outmoded ideas replaced by the new, modern, and more up to date Greek philosophy, arts, and science. They were glad to give up the worship of the God of Israel in order to embrace the “modern world.”

The Maccabees and their followers rejected the path of assimilation. They clung to the Torah, observed Jewish holidays, and performed mitzvot. They defied Antiochus’ attempt to extinguish Jewish life and battled their countrymen who had betrayed the faith, as well as the Greeks.

It would be a mistake, however, to believe that even those Jews who rejected Hellenism were not influenced by it. When we read the Talmud and other ancient sources, we see many Greek ideas, laws, and even language reflected in our sacred texts. The Maccabees and their followers clearly learned much from the Greeks. But the Maccabees were not assimilationists. They knew where to draw the line. They adopted and adapted those parts of Greek culture which would improve their lives and expand their world view, but stopped short of giving up the essential Jewish principles they held dear.

Some Jews today, like the Rabbi of Radzin may condemn the modern world, but even the most extreme Orthodox Jews still take advantage of its benefits. Even in Meah Shearim you find automobiles, computers, and modern appliances.

But because of their isolation and the point at which they draw the line, there is no question that they will remain Jews. The choices and opportunities they allow themselves and their families are extremely circumscribed and limited.

For most of us the problem is the opposite: after opening our lives to all that the modern world offers, the concern is that we will soon forget how to “draw the line.” For most of us the question is not how much modernity we embrace, but how do we remain Jews?

If Judaism is to survive, those of us who are committed must continue to make those choices that enhance Jewish observance, learning, and life. We need not reject modernity, but must not allow modernity to overwhelm a faith which gives meaning and purpose to our lives. We need to strike a balance between tradition and change.

Rabbi Rosenthal is spiritual leader of Tifereth Israel Synagogue in San Diego

The Jews Down Under~Roundup of Australian Jewish News

December 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Compiled by Garry Fabian

NSW opposition calls for racial vilification law review

SYDNEY— NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell has called for a review of laws in all states to combat racial vilification on social networking and blog websites.

“We must ensure that the laws are up to date,” he told Jewish leaders gathered at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s annual meeting last week.

“Unless we’re conscious of the threat and adapt those laws to meet the varied ways in which  vilification can be pursued in this age, we will fail those who rely on us.”

O’Farrell’s comments came immediately after a report, released at the same conference,  indicated anti-Jewish propaganda in fringe publications and from extremist organisations remains an “ongoing concern”.

Earlier this year, O’Farrell called on Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard to take a stance against anti-Israel messages posted on the taxpayer-funded blog Khaldoun, which is run by  academic staff at Sydney’s Macquarie University.

So far, however, no action has been taken, and the site continues to operate without any review.

O’Farrell said it was an ongoing dispute and content on such sites was “just as evil today as it was in 1938 in those dark days in Europe.”

O’Farrell appeared at the conference as a last-minute replacement for former federal Liberal head Malcolm Turnbull, who was forced to
remain in Canberra longer than expected.

The embattled leader was ultimately ousted by  Tony Abbott in a party room ballot.

O’Farrell reassured the audience that Australian Jewry and its interests wouldn’t suffer under a new leader.

“The Jewish community doesn’t lose because [the  leaders of the] Liberal Party are strong friends of Israel and supporters of the Jewish community,” he said.

In that same spirit, he reaffirmed his own support for the State of Israel.

“Until we see those who oppose the legitimacy of  the State of Israel and understand the only solution is a two-state solution, there is frankly no great optimism that can be held as to what’s happening in the Middle East,” he added.

New Roof Body for Australian shulesMELBOURNE- A national system of dinei  Torah (Jewish courts) and liaising over kashrut  issues are two areas that the newly launched
Council of Orthodox Synagogues of Australia (COSA) is hoping to explore.

The roof body for shuls across the country was established in Sydney earlier this month, timed to coincide with the Executive Council of
Australian Jewry’s (ECAJ) annual conference.

A national body for Australia’s Orthodox shuls has been in ferment for a number of years, according to COSA’s founder and inaugural president, Romy Leibler.

Ros Fischl, former president of The Great Synagogue, was elected vice-president, Mark Cohen from South Australia was chosen as treasurer,
with Adam Levine from Perth as honorary secretary.

Leibler said COSA will partner with the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia (ORA) to improve services to the Orthodox community, and
will seek representation on the ECAJ.

He said in Victoria and NSW, there is no shortage of community organisations providing services.

“Through a national body, there is scope to engender cooperation and leverage from each other’s experiences to create more efficiency and
transparency in the manner in which services are provided.

“In addition, a state such as Western Australia is maturing in size and there is scope to see it develop and refine its own institutions with the assistance of a national body.

“There are also the challenges to assist the smaller communities of South Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.”

Leibler said availability of dinei Torah as an alternative to mainstream courts in commercial disputes should not be limited to Victoria, as it
is now, but should be accessible nationally.

On kashrut, “one can argue that having one kashrut authority might be more beneficial. I don’t know the answer to that, but the most
important thing is that one has to work with the incumbent organisations and individuals,” Leibler said.

COSA will also help Orthodox shuls draw greater funding for security, Leibler said.

Following COSA’s inaugural meeting, a cocktail reception was held at Central Synagogue, attended by a large number of rabbis, presidents and leaders of communal organisations.

Title fight honours in kick boxing

MELBOURNe-  After only seven fights as a kick boxer, Alan Gocs won his first Victorian championship in an International Kick Boxing Federation bout late last month.

Gocs, 22, of Glenhuntly, took up competitive kick boxing a year ago after colleagues at the Martial Mix gym in Glenhuntly encouraged him to take up the sport.

Gocs is the inaugural winner in the 62-kilogram division for Full Muay Thai kick boxing, which allows competitors to use their feet, knees and elbows.

The title bout was held in Hoppers Crossing, west of Melbourne, on November 27 before a crowd of about 1500 people and Gocs was introduced by the MC as the Hebrew Hammer.

“I had fought my opponent earlier this year, but lost to a split decision, so I was confident going into this fight that I could go one better,” said Gocs.

“This match went for four rounds before I was declared the winner. Each round goes for two minutes, but when someone is kicking you in the leg it seems a lot longer.”

Gocs has now won five of his seven fights, but until the title bout he fought most of his events in a higher weight division.

He has to defend his title within a year, but whatever the outcome he will always keep the championship belt.

Gocs is studying for his Bachelor of Education at Victoria University and is an assistant instructor in street defence at the Martial Mix gym.

Among the kids attending his classes are students from the King David School.

At secondary school Gocs was a champion springboard diver, but it was while teaching body combat classes that he tried out kick boxing.

“I fell in love with the sport and as I progressed my trainer at the gym said I was good enough to start fighting,” he said.

“The sport is very popular in Thailand and is growing in popularity in Australia.”

Peacemaker role for Rabbi Rosen

MELBOURNE – Visiting  interfaith guru Rabbi David Rosen has revealed that people often question why he would rather spend time making
peace between non-Jews than fostering peace among Jews.

The rabbi, who is visiting Australia with the support of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, is speaking at a number of community events, including at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, which began in Melbourne last week.

With the Orthodox battling the Progressive, the secular battling the religious, and the Left battling the Right, Rabbi Rosen would have his
work cut out for him bringing peace among Jewish people.

“People have to determine where their role is most appropriate and I think there are plenty of people who can contribute very well to bridging
the gulfs among Jews, but few have the experience I have in terms of reaching out to other communities and the knowledge of other
communities and being able to authentically represent one’s faith to other communities,” Rabbi Rosen said.

The head of the American Jewish Committee’s Department for Inter-religious Affairs said the key to interfaith relations is the motivation of the participants.

“Paradoxically, if you go into a relationship for the purpose of exploiting it, that relationship will not last very long, but if you go into a relationship on the basis of genuine mutual respect, you will actually find you will be able
to get much more long-term advantage.”

Four new faces on Jewish roof Body

MELBOURNE-  Four new Victorian councillors have been elected to the board of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).

Elections took place at the Jewish Community Council of Victoria’s (JCCV) annual general meeting late last month.

The new councillors are University of Melbourne academic Dr Dvir Abramovich, Mount Scopus Memorial College principal Rabbi James Kennard, Monash University academic Dr Philip Mendes and lawyer Alon Cassuto.

They join existing Victorian councillors Anton Block, Ron Finkel, Dr Danny Lamm, Ian Samuel, John Searle and Sharene Hambur.

At the meeting, JCCV president Searle said he regretted the gender imbalance among the councillors, with Hambur the only female out of 10 representatives.

But he added that a number of Victorian women are involved in the ECAJ in various other capacities, including education and social welfare.

These women include former ECAJ president Nina Bassat, National Council of Jewish Women of Australia federal president Rysia Rozen and B’nai
B’rith president Adrienne Perch.

Victorian Parliamentary Secretary for Justice Brian Tee also addressed the AGM.

Tee said he expected the amendments to the Sentencing Act to pass the Upper House. This would mean judges would have to consider whether
there was any prejudiced motive by the offender when sentencing.

“[This amendment] makes it crystal clear that hate crimes have no place in Victoria,” the Upper House member for the Eastern Metropolitan region said.

He also spoke about changes planned for the Equal Opportunity Act, which will alter the way religious organisations can discriminate against prospective employees.

“The Government has a clear view, and that is eroding religious freedom does not make us more tolerant,” he said.

According to the proposed changes, religious organisations, including schools and community groups, will be allowed to deny employment on the basis of sex, sexuality and parental status, but will not be allowed to continue discriminating on the grounds of race, age or political beliefs.
Rock stars join Jewish House celebrations

SYDNEY  – Sydney’s Jewish House celebrated its silver anniversary with a star-studded line-up of celebrities.

With the theme, “The Stars Align”, the event on December 1 featured a duo performance by Jimmy Barnes and his son David Campbell, along with
other entertainment from Hollywood Chassid Yisrael “Izzi” Lifschutz, Irish comedian Paul Martell, “Piano man” Scott Finnie and The Quintet.

Other highlights included medical practitioner and public commentator Kerryn Phelps as master of ceremonies, and an address by NSW politician Eric Roozendaal.

Roger and Anthony Clifford were also honoured for their dedication to charity for the past 25 years.

Founded in 1984, Jewish House provides immediate crisis intervention and prevention to those suffering depression, alcoholism, domestic
conflict, unemployment, business difficulties,
homelessness and other critical problems.

ADC Lodges complaint over TV joke

MELBOURNE  – THE B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) this week lodged a complaint with Channel Nine over a joke made during a Today show report about the wedding of Dr Geoffrey Edelsten and Brynne Gordon.

Describing the decorations, reporter Richard  Wilkins said the florists of Melbourne had an early Christmas and sent a congratulations note,
adding “of course the Jewish word for congratulations, ker-ching”.

ADC executive director Deborah Stone said the “joke was a racist and offensive slander on Jewish people, drawing on an age-old stereotype
of Jewish people as rich and money-loving”.

“Casual racist remarks fuel anti-Semitism and all forms of racism. When prejudice sneaks into popular discourse under the cover of humour in a
lighthearted entertainment report, it legitimises an unfair and dangerous view of Jewish people to mass audiences.”

But Today show producer Tom Malone said the joke was in no way intended to be offensive to the Jewish community.

“It was a specific reference to the florists of Melbourne who would have made a fortune off the wedding because there were so many flowers. In no
way was this a reference to any stereotype of Jewish people being obsessed with money. It was the exact opposite ­ that no expense had been
spared. At all times Richard and Karl and Lisa were respectful of the Jewish faith,” he said.

Stone referred to the producer’s comments as “disingenuous”.

“There is a very simple test for whether a joke is racist. You substitute a different race or religion and see if the joke still stands. Is Mr
Malone seriously asking us to believe that if it had been an Anglican wedding with lavish flowers Mr Wilkins would have said, ‘the Anglican word for congratulations, ‘ker-ching’?” she said.

Local park to light up for Channukah

MELBOURNE – Thd Festival of Lights got underway on Friday December 11 and Melbourne’s Jewish community has gone Chanukah-crazy, with events being held across the city for everyone from the oldest to the youngest.

The annual Chanukah in the Park celebrations took place as usual on Sunday evening (December 13) coinciding with the lighting of the third candle.

Held at Caulfield Park, the festivities included the famous Chanukah fireworks, in addition to pony rides, an animal farm, entertainment and food.

Also on Sunday night, Child Survivors of the Holocaust hosted a dinner and auction with special guest Rabbi Gornisht ( a well known Jewish comedian and satirist)  at Kadimah Reception Centre, and Soul Fusion held a celebration for singles.

Earlier on Sunday, Emmy Monash Aged Care hosted its largest annual event -­ a Chanukah party for residents and their families with lunch,
entertainment, candle-lighting, singing and dancing.

Monday evening (December 14) was a busy night, with Premier John Brumby hosting Chanukah at Parliament House, Campus Chabad celebrating Chanukah on Wheels at Dandenong Skate Park, and
the Jewish Russian Community Centre, FREE, going ice-skating for the festival.

Also on Monday, Chabad of Glen Eira created a white Chanukah with five tonnes of real snow being dumped on the congregation’s grounds for a carnival and barbecue.

To complete its so-called “Chanukah Wonderland”, Glen Eira had an ice sculptor carving  a two-metre-tall chanukiah which, when completed,was  lit.

Down the road at Spiritgrow, Chanukah was celebrated through ancient Australian traditions, including didgeridoo-playing, indigenous dancing
and art, and latkes. Hamayan will host kids’ activities, doughnut-decorating, music and food.

Central Shule Community Centre marked the festival with a breakfast on Tuesday morning (December 15),that honoured outgoing
Member for Caulfield Helen Shardey.

Later that evening, Elwood Talmud Torah Congregation celeberated with hot latkes, doughnut-making and eating, a dreidel games table
and a special chanukiah-lighting ceremony, where the five candles were lit by families representing the past, present and future of the shul.

The North Eastern Jewish Centre, East Melbourne shul and Open House  also all hosted  celebrations on Tuesday.

Wednesday  night will see Caulfield Hebrew Congregation’s giant kids’ party, complete with a flamethrower, hot dogs and doughnuts, as well as
a “soulful” candle-lighting ceremony.

Thursday night (December 17) will see the candlelight cast a glow on Federation Square for Chanukah in the City, with a jumping castle, the
Access Inc Drum Ensemble and community performances including the St Kilda Shul Choir, Klezmeritis and special guest Renee Geyer.

Hagshama will also mark the festival on Thursday night with a Bolly­wood-themed party in St Kilda. Kew Hebrew Congre­gation will celebrate the
eighth night with a Greco-Syrian-themed Shabbat dinner.

Religions can be unifying force in mid-east

MELBOURNE – Prominent dovish Israeli Rabbi Michael Melchior says that religion, which is often seen as a source of tension between Israelis and Palestinians, has the potential to be a unifying tool for coexistence.

Rabbi Melchior, head of the dovish Israeli religious Zionist faction Meimad, has been in Australia for the Parliament of the World’s
Religions. He said that the international faith gathering in Melbourne was an opportunity to see, up close, how interfaith dialogue can cultivate
understandings between Jews and Muslims.

The Meimad leader asserted that most Israelis are willing to make peace, even if it means “giving up what is ours and what we seriously believe is
ours”, implying territorial compromise.

However, he said, Israelis have lost confidence that a real peace is attainable.

This, he said, is another example where religion comes directly into play.

“One of the reasons that people in Israel don’t think that peace is a plan [is] because we say if we make peace with the Palestinian Authority .
[but subsequently] if Islam won’t make peace with us, then what’s the point? We won’t have real peace,” Rabbi Melchoir said.

The rabbi continued that if peace is reached “in a way which is [religiously] acceptable” to Islam, then Muslim leaders would “be willing to live with a Jewish state in this area. And I think that the trust and the process among Israelis would be much greater.”

Rabbi Melchior said that he knows of “strong elements” in Muslim society that are prepared to explore this and that even among the more radical
Muslim voices, such as those affiliated with Hamas, there are “strong forces” that “understand they need to come to terms with Israel”.

This is “not because they have become Zionists” he explained, but because they acknowledge that Israel isn’t going anywhere and must be dealt
with on a practical level “for the good of their people”.

“I myself have spoken in a lot of the Arab world, as a staunch Zionist [and] as part of the Israel political rabbinical establishment, and have seen
that it is very possible to get quite far if we use a new approach to this issue,” Rabbi Melchior said.

As for the future of Meimad, while the party failed to reach the electoral threshold for representation in the current Knesset, Rabbi
Melchior noted that it fared better than expected, and he expressed confidence that it would remain an important voice on the Israeli political scene.

“I am sure that before the next elections we will be back on the map,” he said.

Conference of Presidents, Israel tourism co-sponsor Chanukah promotion for trip to Israel

December 14, 2009 Leave a comment

NEW YORK — The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has launched a unique website with Israel’s Ministry of Tourism dedicated to Chanukah. The site,, allows virtual “travelers” to log on and light candles for each night of the holiday.

With each candle “lit,” visitors to the Chanukah website will be able to access more information about travel to Israel.  At the end of the holiday, site visitors who have lit all eight candles will be entered to win a free trip to Israel aboard EL AL Israel Airlines, to experience the country’s many areas of cultural, religious and historical interest for themselves.

“The ‘Light Your Way to Israel’ website helps the virtual traveler celebrate Chanukah while sparking their interest in exciting destinations throughout Israel. We are proud to partner once again with EL AL and Israel’s Ministry of Tourism on this Web site as part of our long-term efforts to promote tourism to Israel. Our collective efforts continue to stimulate American Jewish and general travel to Israel, and we hope this Web site will produce similar results. Beyond its positive economic impact, tourism is critical in uplifting the mood in Israel, demonstrating our solidarity during both peaceful and challenging times, and enhancing Israel’s image,” said Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein.

For more information, please visit:

Preceding provided by Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Hebrew Day School students buy Chanukah presents for 10 needy families

December 14, 2009 Leave a comment

SHOPPING SPREE–Students and parents of Soille San Diego Hebrew
Day School purchase presents for needy children.
SAN DIEGO (Press Release)–Ten San Diego needy Jewish families’ Chanukah wish lists were granted on Sunday thanks to the generousity of the students from Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School.

Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School wanted to bring to life the values of giving tzedaka (charity) and doing chesed (acts of kindness) for their students so they partnered with the Jewish Family Service to adopt 10 families through their “Embrace a Family” holiday wish list program.  T

he students held a “Penny War” and on their own raised $1,400 and then their proud parents matched their donation. Last Sunday morning the entire school went shopping at Target with the money they raised and fulfilled the Channukah wish lists of the 10 adopted families.

The students were deeply moved to learn how other families struggle and were so proud to have personally helped families in need.  Soille Hebrew Day School was very grateful to partner with Jewish Family Service and help that organization’s efforts to brighten the holidays for 543 needy families.

Preceding provided by Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School

Links to recommended viewing and reading #3

December 11, 2009 Leave a comment

David Brooks, “The Hannukah Story” in The New York Times (a different take)

Keith Darce, “Scripps Hospital in Encinitas Gets $10 million donation (from Leichtag Foundation,” San Diego Union-Tribune

Daniel Gordis, “A Real Miracle or the Doing of Extraordinary People,” in the Jerusalem Post

Phil Jacobs, “Sharansky comes to Baltimore,” in Jewish Times of Baltimore

Barry Rubin, “The Palestinians Tell the World Their Strategy: Why Make Peace with Israel When We Can Get Everything from You Instead?” in Rubin Reports

Reza Soltani, “Peace Song–Arabic and Hebrew” on YouTube

John Wilkens,Make it yourself menorahs,” in San Diego Union-Tribune

President Obama extends Chanukah greetings

December 11, 2009 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)–The following Chanukah greetings were issued on Friday by President Barack Obama:

Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to all who are celebrating Hanukkah around the world.   The Hanukkah story of the Maccabees and the miracles they witnessed reminds us that faith and perseverance are powerful forces that can sustain us in difficult times and help us overcome even the greatest odds.

Preceding provided by the White House

Hanukkah is not only a time to celebrate the faith and customs of the Jewish people, but for people of all faiths to celebrate the common aspirations we share.  As families, friends and neighbors gather together to kindle the lights, may Hanukkah’s lessons inspire us all to give thanks for the blessings we enjoy, to find light in times of darkness, and to work together for a brighter, more hopeful tomorrow.