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Riverdale Mother-Son Talmud Team Rocks Talmud Israeli Finals – Jewish Link of Bronx, Westchester and Connecticut

Posted By on January 16, 2020

By Judy Berger | January 15, 2020

Riverdales Yardaena Osband and her son Yonah Glazer. (Credit: Yardaena Osband)

Osband and Glazer on stage following the festivities. (Credit: Talmud Olami)

Osband-Glazer team competing on Jerusalem Theater stage. (Credit: Talmud Olami)

On Sunday, December 15, Riverdale residents Yardaena Osband and her eighth-grade son, Yonah Glazer, participated in Jerusalem in Talmud Israelis Chidon Olami.

Osband first learned about the contest in the Riverdale Minyans weekly bulletin. I personally love to learn Talmud, explained Osband. I thought it would be a fun thing to do with my middle child. If we won, we would get an opportunity to go to Israel. I told him about it and we decided to do it together.

Yonah added, I thought it was very powerful learning with my mom. We had a great experience together, learning every night and then having a mother-son trip to Israel.

To reach the finals, hundreds of entrants worldwide completed a 20-question multiple-choice exam, followed by another 60-question exam. The next round was a Skype interview with Talmud Israeli. Fifteen finalists were selected to compete in Israel. Only three were foreign and coincidentally all from the New York metro region.

It was a lot of fun! exclaimed Osband. We got to learn together 30-40 minutes each night. A trip to Israel and getting to spend four days with one child is not something I normally get on my list. What is really fabulous about the Talmud Israeli program is it was developed as a program for parents to learn with their children. It is a short blurb on each Daf, sort of following the Daf Yomi cycle, and gives a short nugget which could either be something about Jewish law, a tana or emorah, or a moral/ethical lesson. What is great about this is it encourages parent-child learning. For people who dont have a lot of background in Talmud, it makes Talmud very accessible to them. It shows that Talmud is our book and it is meant to be learned by everybody and can be learned by everybody.

After this experience, Osband and an Israeli friend started a daily 10-minute podcast called Talking Talmud about something on the Daf. It is not a review of the Daf, but the idea is to spark conversation on the Daf. We have received nice feedback, she said.

One person wrote, I dont think I could do the Daf; that is not for me. But I can listen to something for 15 minutes each day, which talks about something on it, and that should be peoples goals.

Osband added, The concept Rabbi Meir Shapiro started in 1923 when he created Daf Yomi was to formalize learning, particularly for people who are busy. I dont think Daf Yomi is for everyone. Rather, it is making the commitment to say learning Torah is important to me, to our family, and carving out time each day. In todays world, we have podcasts, sefarim and all these tools. Osband also revealed that she just started the new cycle of Daf Yomi.

Osband and Yonah felt great support from the Riverdale and SAR communities. First of all, David (Osbands husband) hosted a viewing party where a lot of people came to our house to watch the competition, Osband noted. Many people from my shul told me they watched the whole thing! I felt we had my shul community and my school community really rooting for me and Yonah.

Yonah echoed his mothers sentiment: I felt very excited and privileged. I couldnt believe that I was actually there participating in this event. I felt grateful to SAR for having started Gemara in sixth grade.

Osband continued, The other thing that was special was the opportunity to represent a mother learning with her son. I credit the education I received growing up in Boston. I went to Maimonides, which always gave equal education to both boy and girl students.

Osband added, The moment I was proudest of Yonah was during an interview by an Israeli reporter who said how unusual it was learning Gemara with his mother, something people learn with their fathers. Yonah responded his Gemara teacher is a woman! I credit SAR for creating a culture where not just learning Gemara is an acceptable norm by girls and women, but teaching it is, also.

I would do it with another kid. It was a great experience! stated Osband. I am now doing the Talmud Israeli Daf Yomi together with my 10-year-old son. My 16-year-old went to the Siyum HaShas and he decided to learn Mishna Yomi every day. I think it is great for high school students to learn two mishnas a day.

Yonah added, I already joined an ongoing competition that Talmud Israeli is having between the schools.

Osband summarized, I am excited to see how this experience has permeated the entire household.

By Judy Berger

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Riverdale Mother-Son Talmud Team Rocks Talmud Israeli Finals - Jewish Link of Bronx, Westchester and Connecticut

Does the Talmud Contain a Hidden Anti-Epicurean Treatise? – Mosaic

Posted By on January 16, 2020

Tractate Avot (Fathers) is unique within the Talmud in that it is composed of a series of rabbinic moral teachings and aphorisms without any discussion of Jewish law. While the first two chapters follow a clear chronological order, moving from teacher to disciple, from Moses until the end of the 2nd century CE, the fifth and final chapter begins by listing things of which there are ten, then things of which there are seven, and so on. As for the third and fourth chapters, they jump from one sage to the next in little discernible order.

Yaakov Jaffe detects in the second half of the fourth chapter a common theme: a series of attacks on Epicurus, the Greek philosopher of the 4th century BCE whose teachings were quite popular in the eastern Mediterranean at the time that Avot was redacted. For Epicureans, there is no immortal soul, and life is best spent pursuing worldly pleasures in judicious moderation. Thus, Jaffe notes that a number of these seemingly disjointed rabbinic statements refer to divine retribution and the afterlife, while others touch on yet other aspects of Epicurean teachings:

Epicurean philosophy is also known for the importance placed on friendship; indeed the 27th saying of Epicurus notes, Of all the things which wisdom provides to make us entirely happy, the greatest is the possession of friendship. Two teachings in the middle of the chapter also focus on friendship in general, and in particular on the importance to live in communities with colleagues and peers.

For Epicurus, if life was to be lived in youth, and if there was no future reward after death, it naturally followed that the pursuit of pleasure would be a major drive for human beings in this world. [By contrast], Rabbi Eliezer ha-Kapar teaches that jealousy, desire, and [the pursuit of] honor remove one from this world. [Thus he] stresses Judaisms focus on striving toward higher ideals and away from the pursuit of pleasure.

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More about: Hellenism, Judaism, Philosophy, Talmud

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Does the Talmud Contain a Hidden Anti-Epicurean Treatise? - Mosaic

At MetLife Stadium, Jewish World Celebrates the Siyum HaShas – Jewish Link of Bronx, Westchester and Connecticut

Posted By on January 16, 2020

Rabbi Steven Weil and Rabbi Menachem Genack on the floor at the siyum.

(Credit: Moshe Gershbaum and Chaim Schwartz, Agudath Israel of America)

It was an extraordinary and beautiful spectacle to witness the 13th Global Siyum HaShas of Daf Yomi, held on Wednesday, January 1, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Hundreds of community members took the day off to celebrate with shul friends or their learning partners, with many entire families joining together to celebrate. Of course, they ended up celebrating with 90,000 of their newest friends as well.

Passaics Rabbi Yitzchok Eisenman wrote in an article widely distributed online in the days before the siyum that all should be careful to thank and wish a happy new year to the MetLife Stadium employees for working on a legal holiday. He must surely have been thrilled to have heard the many echoes of thank you and Happy New Year! greetings that community members offered the stadium staff, the New York State Police, the Shomrim, the CSS, and all those who worked to make the event a success. The siyum was, in essence, completely congenial, safe and friendly, with all those in the audience united in celebrating those who study the Talmud and the pleasant ways of Torah.

With 2,711 pages in the Talmud, one Daf Yomi (literally Page of the Day) cycle takes about seven years and five months. The Talmud is the exposition of the six tractates of the Mishnah, written by Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi (Judah the Prince) in the beginning of the third century. It is considered the oral law of the Jewish people. Shas is an acronym for shisha sedarim (the six orders).

Speaking at the Siyum HaShas were many Torah giants associated with Agudath Israel of America, including rebbes of various chasidic and haredi sects. Speaking memorably from the Ner Yisroel community of Baltimore was Rabbi Yissocher Frand; Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, of Lakewood, spoke movingly as well. The simcha is even for the Yid who does not learn Shas, he said. Every one of us is enriched by the learning of klal Yisrael.

Its a collective Siyum HaShas, but a person who learns even a masechta inherits an entire world, said Rabbi Kotler.

The completion of one tractate is typically celebrated with a small siyum, or celebration, but the completion of the entire cycle, a much larger project, should certainly be celebrated on a grander scale. Individuals who complete such a vast daily commitment often must make a great effort to include the Daf Yomi in their lives, often getting up early or staying up late to finish their page for the day; their family members notice and are often inspired by their commitment.

Abby Cooper, of Bergenfield, told The Jewish Link that she was inspired by her husbands completion of the last cycle, and joined him for this one. We had the privilege of attending the siyum with our five children. We decided to bring them because my husband and I have been doing Daf Yomi together for the past 7.5 years, and we thought it would be meaningful for them to attend, she said.

Jewish Link contributor Andrea Nissel of Teaneck was there to support her husband, Yosef, who completed the cycle. His mother, as well as the entire Nissel family, were there to celebrate. So proud of Yosef for completing the Daf Yomi cycle. Truly an amazing accomplishment culminating in an incredible siyum at MetLife Stadium, she wrote on Facebook.

The Daf Yomi concept was presented at the First World Congress of Agudath Israel in Vienna on August 16, 1923, by Rabbi Meir Shapiro. The idea was greeted enthusiastically, including by many Jewish leaders in Europe and America, and the first cycle of Daf Yomi began on the first day of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah that year, September 11, 1923.

Ever since then, Jews participating in the program cover one page a day, studying the text by themselves, with a partner or group, or by listening to a tapeor today, with a podcast. A typical daily Daf Yomi lecture takes less than one hour.

Rabbi Moshe Elefant is one such podcaster, whose daily Daf Yomi lectures now appear on the OUs new app AllDaf and on Apple Podcasts. As I complete my fourth cycle of learning the daf, I am astounded by how far daf learning has come, he told The Jewish Link. From shiurim in shuls to the use of technology, learning is more accessible than ever before. And now, we have many supplemental materials to the dafwhether it is history, Halacha, Tanach, inspiration, review, memory aids and more. Modern technology has made learning Torah accessible, interesting and enjoyable.

On the AllDaf app, Rabbi Elefants daily lecture is available alongside those of Rabbi Shalom Rosner, Rabbi Sruly Bornstein, Rabbi Shloimy Schwartzberg and Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz. Supplemental clips by Rabbi Yaakov Trump and Jewish History and the Daf by Dr. Henry Abramson are also offered, as well as outlines, reviews and lectures that go deeper in depth into a specific daf or commentary. Those with a specific learning level in mind, as well as preferences of speakers who talk fast or slow, certainly can peruse the choices offered and select a teacher best suited for them.

Daf Yomi podcasts also abound on the YUTorah app, with featured lectures by Teanecks Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman, Hewletts Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt, Englewoods Rabbi ZevReichman, and many others. A podcast called Daf Yomi 4 Women, is also available on Apple Podcasts or Facebook, given by Michelle Cohen Farber, but it should be noted that all Daf podcasts are suitable for both men and women. Farbers podcast, however, is, at this moment, the only daily Daf Yomi podcast that features a female teacher. For those interested in a book about the experience of a woman doing the Daf Yomi, If All the Seas Were Ink by Ilana Kurshan is a great read.

The plethora of supplemental materials today has popularized the learning of the Talmud, which is written largely in Aramaic. Specifically the popular ArtScroll Schottenstein Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, an English-language and Hebrew-language translation and elucidation, has been credited with its accessibility, vastly increasing the number of participants in the Daf Yomi program. That translation, and many other resources for the Daf Yomi participant, has made learning the daf a reasonable avenue for Talmud study for any Jew who would like to participate in this unifying program.

The Siyum HaShas marks both the end of the previous cycle and the beginning of the next, and is characterized by inspiring speeches and lively singing and dancing.

Since 1990, attendance at the main Siyum HaShas in America, organized by Agudath Israel of America, has increased dramatically, necessitating the booking of larger arenas and stadiums. The 12th Siyum HaShas, on August 1, 2012, took place at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey with a sellout crowd of over 90,000. Other celebrations took place across the United States, Israel, Canada, Europe and Australia, attracting hundreds of thousands.

Approximately 3,300 women attended a first large-scale Siyum HaShas for women in Jerusalem as well, which honored approximately 40 women who stood when asked who had completed shas. The reaction was thunderous applause and support. It was organized by Hadran, a group co-founded by Daf Yomi 4 Women podcaster Cohen Farber, who is American born but lives in Raanana.

By Elizabeth Kratz

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At MetLife Stadium, Jewish World Celebrates the Siyum HaShas - Jewish Link of Bronx, Westchester and Connecticut

Maayanot Alumnae Inspired To Give and Achieve – Jewish Link of New Jersey

Posted By on January 16, 2020

By JLNJ Staff | January 16, 2020

Maayanot graduates are empowered to achieve in any field, be it engineering, medicine, law or education. Many Maayanot alumnae are also inspired to give back to Maayanot, both as fellows during their college years and as part of Maayanots stellar faculty.

College-age alumnae visit Maayanot every other Friday to enhance the Torah classes. Avigayil Keiser (17), who loved the alumnae fellows when she was a student, is grateful that Maayanot faculty want to continue to connect with alumnae, and wants to show appreciation for Maayanot by giving back. Leora Adler (18) enjoys giving lessons tailored to the interests of students in each grade. I had a great experience at Maayanot, and I want to pass on appreciation of Torah to the students, especially in the younger grades.

In November, 10 alumnae from the class of 2018 attended the Maayanot shabbaton in a happy homecoming for them, and to the benefit of the current Maayanot students, who enjoyed connecting with young women who had so recently walked their path. Seniors appreciated the opportunity to discuss their questions about Israel seminary programs with alumnae who had returned just a few months prior.

Maayanot is also proud to count seven alumnae as current faculty. Science and STEAM teacher Sara Resnick (11) explained, My love for science began at Maayanot, where I was lucky to have passionate, intriguing science teachers. I was excited to come back to the place where I developed my passion for the subjects I now teach. Chava Lerner (04), Talmud department chair, explained, Maayanot supports Talmud study for women as one of the most significant ways to connect to the Mesorah, a mission I support wholeheartedly. Added Talmud teacher Gabrielle Berger (09), I am excited to pass on to my students the Torah, values and skills that have been imparted to me.

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Maayanot Alumnae Inspired To Give and Achieve - Jewish Link of New Jersey

Framing and Creating a Brilliant Context for the Book of Exodus – Jewish Link of New Jersey

Posted By on January 16, 2020

When it comes to an understanding of a subject, context is vital. If someone lacks context, their ability to understand is severely limited. For example, the late Professor Yaakov Elman of Yeshiva University produced a series of studies that considered the impact of Persian culture on the Babylonian Talmud (Bavli). Elman created the scholarly field known as Talmudo-Iranica, which seeks to understand the Bavli in its Middle-Persian context. Anyone who studies the Bavli and wants to understand the bigger picture of the text and context will indeed find Elmans writings an invaluable reference.

As we start reading the book of Shemot (Exodus) this week, even the experienced reader may lack significant context. For a reader to truly understand and appreciate the narratives here, they need to understand the social and political realities in which they occurred in ancient Egypt. In The Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel: Exodus, editor-in-chief David Arnovitz has created an utterly extraordinary work that brilliantly explains the stories in the context of the milieu in which they took place. This commentary does a superlative job of exploring and explaining the Egyptian context of the stories and narratives here.

Arnovitz and his team of 10 academic contributors have expertise in Egyptology, Assyriology, plants, animals, geology, ancient Near East, Tabernacle, and priestly garments biblical scholarship and biblical Israel. Moreover, here he has laid out explanations based on the following eight categories: archaeology, Near East, language, flora and fauna, Egyptology, Mishkan, geography, and Halacha. The result is such that the reader is provided with a much deeper and more meaningful understanding of what occurred in ancient Egypt.

The authors bring to light fascinating revelations within Sefer Shemot, and their explanations bring to light countless new insights to the text via their use of modern scholarly research, ancient Egyptian inscriptions, and archaeological finds, all in order to explore the Egyptian context of Sefer Shemot.

In the 21st-century, when many legal realities match what the Torah says, it is easy to lose appreciation for how revolutionary a legal system the Torah is. To which the authors compare it to prior legal systems, they show that many of the Torahs laws revolutionized concepts of workers rights, slaves rights, care for the poor and resident alien, womens rights and much more.

A few of the many insights the authors bring include:

The story of the midwives Shifra and Puah mimic many practices Egyptian midwives did. Understanding these customs helps explain the Torahs depiction of Shifra and Puah.

God tells Moshe that the ground he is on is holy ground and to remove his shoes. The concept of a space that is holy was common throughout the ancient Near East, where any place in which a god was believed to be present was deemed holy. When Moshe heard Gods description of the area as holy ground, he would have understood this to be an indication of Gods presence.

The Egyptian workweek was 10 days long. Workers could then request time off to participate in a religious ritual or holiday. When the Jews asked Pharaoh for a three-day holiday, this made perfect sense to him.

When it comes to the 10 plagues, some have tried to show that they were far from miraculous and attempt to give scientific explanations for them. The editors show that each of the 10 plagues was explicitly directed toward Pharaoh, and then the entire episode was explicitly directed to him based on his own set of beliefs.

For example, the plague of darkness was particularly terrifying to the Egyptians. The ancient Egyptian fear of chaos must be read into this plague. In the eyes of the ancient Egyptians, the fact that the sun did not rise meant that the sun god failed to cross the netherworld, and chaos prevailed. That would have been one of the most frightening and disturbing thoughts ancient Egyptian could have.

The book reveals a lot, but there is still a lot to be answered. As with all that, there is still no direct evidence from within Egypt, or in the Sinai Peninsula, that testifies to an Israelite sojourn in the desert. The editors note several plausible explanations for the lack of evidence.

Countless biblical commentaries explore myriad aspects of the biblical text. Nevertheless, this volume is singularly unique in that it is the first to bring these topics to the general audience. These topics were, for the most part, unknown until now and offer a radically new view into the biblical texts.

The Chumash was a radical and revolutionary text in its time that, in essence, told the ancient world to go jump in the lake. The Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel: Exodus eloquently and brilliantly shows how radical and revolutionary a work the Torah truly is.

Ben Rothke lives in Passaic.

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Framing and Creating a Brilliant Context for the Book of Exodus - Jewish Link of New Jersey

‘Religious Zionism agrees with us on most issues’ – Arutz Sheva

Posted By on January 16, 2020

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MK Yoaz Hendel of the Blue and White party spoke to Arutz Sheva on Wednesday about the values that are shared by both his party and the national religious public which, he claims, make the Blue and White party a home for this public.

I think that Blue and White represents a perception of the people of Israel and the land of Israel. We agree on most things and I suggest to my friends from religious Zionism that they look at who truly represents them on issues of religion and state, who represents them on economic issues and on other issues, and I think theyll find a true home here, said Hendel.

Im not convinced, he continued, that the moderate religious Zionism, lets call it that, feels comfortable with [Itamar] Ben Gvir or with [Bezalel] Smotrich or others, and therefore I call on them to join us.

Hendel hinted at a possible partnership after the election between his party and Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, saying there would have been a spot for them on the Blue and White slate.

I think that their true positions are not far from those of Blue and White, both on the unity in Israeli society and also on political issues. I havent seen until now that the Bennett-Bibi government annexed even one centimeter [of land], I havent seen them taking any big right-wing steps, Ive mostly seen them disgracing themselves in the face of Hamas in Gaza and freezing construction in Jerusalem, but I think that the belief in the unity of the people of Israel and the fear of a civil war is enough to move people towards forming friendships in politics, and I hope that the day after the election, we will be able to form a real, serious Zionist coalition, he said.

Hendel tried to calm the fears that a narrow government supported by the Joint List will be formed.

"We will not sit with the Joint List in the same government. Our government will be a Zionist one composed only of parties that recognize the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and therefore we will not sit with the Joint List which provokes separatism and not with the Kahanists either, he stressed.

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'Religious Zionism agrees with us on most issues' - Arutz Sheva

New Right, Bayit Yehudi and National Union unite, leaving Otzma out – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on January 16, 2020

On a day of high political drama, the three parties of the right-wing, religious-Zionist sector New Right, Bayit Yehudi and National Union finally came together in a last-minute deal Wednesday night, despite deep personal and ideological differences between them.The far-right, Kahanist party Otzma Yehudit was left out in the end, after New Right leader Naftali Bennett refused to accept the extremist party into his political union despite massive pressure from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to do so.Netanyahu, the heads of the right-wing religious-Zionist parties except Otzma, and senior religious-Zionist leader Rabbi Haim Druckman were locked in discussions right up to the deadline for filing electoral lists to the Central Elections Committee on Wednesday night.The day saw high political drama among all the right-wing religious parties, as New Right leader Naftali Bennett categorically refused to accept Netanyahus demand to include far-right Otzma Yehudit in his emerging right-wing, religious political union.Over the last few days, Netanyahu brought huge pressure on Bennett to allow Otzma to join, to avoid right-wing votes being wasted on a party, or two parties, that will not pass the electoral threshold.Earlier on Wednesday evening, however, Bennett strongly rejected the possibility of allowing the extremist Otzma to join the right-wing union he was forming, and strongly criticized Netanyahu for pressuring him to take the Kahanist group on board.I will not include someone on my electoral list who has a picture in his living room of a person who murdered 29 innocent people, said Bennett in a statement on Facebook Wednesday afternoon.He was referring to Otzma leader Itamar Ben-Gvir, who infamously has a picture of Baruch Goldstein, who carried out the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in 1994, on his living room wall.This should be so self-evident that I am shocked that I need to explain it, continued Bennett.Imagine a US congressman who had a picture of someone on his wall who killed 29 Jews in a synagogue. Does this sound logical?I dont care how much I am pressured; its not even an option; it wont happen. This is my final decision.Netanyahu has strongly pressured Bennett to accept Otzma, similar to the events of the April and September elections, when the prime minister also exerted heavy pressure on the right-wing parties to accept the extremist Kahanist party in its joint list.Bennett tweeted later Wednesday evening that if Netanyahu was so anxious to have Ben-Gvir in the Knesset, he should offer him a reserved seat on the Likud list and cease his pressure on New Right.The religious-Zionist political parties have been riven by internal fighting and factionalism in recent months.New Right, led by Bennett, initially refused to unite with any of the other religious right-wing parties, but on Tuesday acquiesced to Netanyahus demands to run together with the National Union Party.This decision was taken due to internal Likud polling showing that Bayit Yehudi, National Union and Otzma would not pass the electoral threshold together, leading Netanyahu to panic and insist that Bennett bring in the rest of the religious-Zionist parties.National Union then split from its longtime, natural partner, Bayit Yehudi, to join New Right, because of a fight over the leadership of a joint Bayit Yehudi-National Union list, and joined New Right.Peretz had united Bayit Yehudi with Otzma in December to outflank Smotrich and reassert his position as head of the traditional religious-Zionist parties, but was forced to back down since a Bayit Yehudi-Otzma list would be hard pressed to pass the electoral threshold.Despite his pledge to Otzma, Peretz was forced to abandon his far-right ally in order to save his political career and the political life of Bayit Yehudi.Blue and White MK Yair Lapid responded to the announcement, saying: "I address the religious Zionism, the true religious Zionism. The formal, Zionist and non-extreme one. The one that believes in building bridges and not segregation and hatred. The one who won't vote to the list that united with a messianic and homophobic bunch against all promises. The one who won't vote for Bibi because it is against corruption. Tonight, you only have one alternative in the national camp: Blue and White" Otzma Yehudit's leader Itamar Ben-Gvir responded to the right-wing unity, which means that he will have to run independently in the coming elections, and said: "The leadership of the religious Zionism has reached a now low. The man calling himself the minister of education has stabbed me in the back. Me and 84,000 other voters. And not just him, but Bennett and Shaked and Smotritch. To save the right-wing government I took down the photo in my living room. But they don't care about anything. The education minister who lies. This is not a group worthy of leadership.Gantz responded on his twitter to the right-wing unity agreement and wrote that: "The voters of the religious Zionism have lost their political home. Racism, homophobia and segregation are not Jewish values. The right is not the promise of a personal immunity to a defendant of bribery."Smotritch responded to the agreement, saying: "I bless my partners in the agreement. The religious Zionism is walking this path together. We will put the deeds of the past behind us and go on this new path. It is our duty to work hard and restore public trust in its representatives. Throughout this journey I thought the right and the religious Zionism didn't have the privilege to run in separate lists. I happily gave up my place for Rabbi Raffi and for unity and maintaining his honor as I have done before. It is good we have reached this agreement.Head of Bayit Yehudi Rabbi Raffi Peretz wrote in his twitter account: "there are moment in the life of a man where he has to decide against all odds. With a heavy heart, I have received one of the toughest decisions of my life for one reason only: the religious Zionism, the Jewish identity and the state of Israel are the only things I thought of. I have decided to run in one list which will save the state of Israel from a left-wing government which will destroy every Jewish identifier of the Israeli people and which will negotiate with terror supporters. Coming from a huge responsibility to the values of the bible, the religious Zionism and the right-wing bloc, I made the difficult decision that will save the entirety of the bloc in the coming election. "It's true that we are in the political playing field, but first I must be loyal to myself and that is why I will ask the forgiveness of my friend Itamar Ben-Gvir for having to cancel my agreement with him" Perez added. "When the left-wing is closing ranks in order to form a government, a painful decision has to be made. The gravity of the task necessitates that we unite" Eric Bender and Maariv Online contributed to this report.

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New Right, Bayit Yehudi and National Union unite, leaving Otzma out - The Jerusalem Post

This Student is Taking on Columbia in First Test of Trump’s Title VI Order – Atlanta Jewish Times

Posted By on January 16, 2020

In the charged campus debate on Israel, many activists see a reed-thin line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

For Columbia University student Jonathan Karten, that line was erased altogether in November when he read about a speech by Professor Joseph Massad, who has written extensively on Arab nationalism. In the speech, given at the Palestine Center in Washington on Nov. 8, 2019, Massad asserted that the armed resistance of the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades to Israeli invasions in Gaza is among the only things standing in the way of Israeli settler colonialism and racism. The speech was first reported by The Algemeiner.

Karten counters that Izz al-Din is the military wing of Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization that has killed more than 650 innocent civilians, including Kartens uncle.

Massads words, the complaint argues, amount to discrimination against Jews. And not just because for Karten, a Jewish Israeli, the speech was personal. The complaint alleges that Jewish and Israeli students at Columbia are being viciously targeted under the guise of political advocacy. That is, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is used by faculty and student groups to legitimize discrimination against Jews and Israeli students because of the latter groups race, religion and national identity.

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But for champions of a free and robust exchange of ideas, however odious, on campus, Massads speech helps illustrate one of the hallmarks of a college education: to be exposed to, and perhaps challenged by, ideas you disagree with and even detest.

The complaint, filed on Kartens behalf by the Lawfare Project, is a high-profile one, coming on the heels of President Donald Trumps executive order last month that protects Jews against discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The order embraces the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliances (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which suggests how certain criticism of Israel can be regarded as anti-Semitic.

Under the order, the Department of Education could withhold funding from schools that it finds in violation of Title VI.

In the complaint, Karten alleges pervasive and ongoing discrimination against Jewish students by other students and faculty at the school. It asks the U.S. Department of Education to investigate and consider pulling all federal funding from the university.

The universitys director of media relations, Caroline Adelman, said the school had no comment at this time.

Columbia Professor Joseph Massad is at center of new Title VI complaint. Wikimedia Commons

In a redacted version of the complaint obtained by The Jewish Week, Karten said that in April 2019 a professor of Arabic literature, who is unnamed, approached him while he was having a conversation and yelled, Dont believe a word he is saying. He is Mossad [Israels intelligence agency].

The racist nature of this accusation cannot be overstated, said the complaint.

Karten posted about Massads November speech on his personal Facebook page, saying that this smut from Massad was being passed as an education. Afterwards, articles in the Jewish media were written about the incident and a letter was sent by a pro-Israel group at Columbia, Students Supporting Israel, to Lee Bollinger, president of the university, asking that the university distance and disassociate itself from the comments.

Neither Bollinger nor any other representative from the university responded, the complaint said.

Massad did not respond to a phone call and two emails from The Jewish Week seeking comment.

A banner protesting Israeli policies at Columbia University during Israel Apartheid Week in 2016. Hannah Dreyfus/JW

Pro-Israel groups and websites have frequently sought scrutiny of Massad over his comments on Israel and Israelis. Karten quotes a number of these, including a May 2013 essay in which Massad alleges an affinity between Nazis and Zionists and a report from 2002 that Massad told an audience at Oxford University that the Jewish state is a racist state that does not have the right to exist. Karten also cites a students 2004 complaint, which Massad denied, that he ordered her to leave his classroom after she said that Israel provides civilians with advanced warnings before attacks.

The complaint also alleges that a group of Israeli and Jewish students has been the subject of a targeted harassment and discrimination campaign by the on-campus groups Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD), Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace. That includes the defacing of flyers promoting Jewish events, SJP students screaming intifada next to a Holocaust commemoration, and CUAD and SJP students disrupting a speech by Israels United Nations envoy.

Brooke Goldstein, executive director of the Lawfare Project, which funds legal actions challenging anti-Semitism, told The Jewish Week: What happened to him [Karten] is appalling. He was called names and targeted by professors because of his ethnicity, religion and national identity, and he was the brave one willing to put his name to the complaint.

Goldstein said it is up to the Department of Education to investigate Kartens complaint, but that given the grievous nature of the unlawful discrimination against Jewish students, they will act.

That opinion is shared by Thane Rosenbaum, a law professor at Touro College and author of the forthcoming book, Saving Free Speech From Itself. If the Department of Education follows the direction of the executive order, there is no question Columbia will lose its federal funding, said Rosenbaum. If the definition is applied strictly, every single example [cited in the complaint] violates the working definition of anti-Semitism.

Ideas need to be open for discussion, and you dont have free speech to shut down someone elses speech. For too long, anti-Zionism has been disguised as a human rights issue rather than Jew hatred and anti-Semitism.

Ideas need to be open for discussion, and you dont have free speech to shut down someone elses speech, he continued. For too long, anti-Zionism has been disguised as a human rights issue rather than Jew hatred and anti-Semitism.

But Kenneth Stern, director of the Bard Center for the Study of Hate and lead drafter of the IHRAs working definition of anti-Semitism, to which Rosenbaum refers, said the remedy for the kind of campus speech attributed to Massad is not a lawsuit, but more speech.

I agree that the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades are a terrorist group and I disagree with what he [Massad] said, but it was said in a political speech and the remedy is what the student is doing saying why he disagrees, said Stern, author of the forthcoming book, The Conflict Over the Conflict: The Israel/Palestine Campus Debate.

Regarding the SJP shouting and disrupting a Holocaust commemoration, Stern said that is a violation of the basic premise of what a campus is supposed to be. Whether it is enough for a Title VI violation is a question.

Stern wrote recently that the working definition was written to help European governments collect data on anti-Semitism, but was never intended to be a campus hate speech code.

Asked about Massads claim that Israel does not have a right to exist, which the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism said is anti-Semitic, Stern told The Jewish Week: As much as I disagree with anti-Zionism, people ought to be able to articulate anti-Zionist points of view. The complaint reflects a desire to have the university sanction or condemn speech that the complaint disagrees with.

But for Susan Tuchman, director of the Center for Law and Justice at the Zionist Organization of America, the issue is not one of shutting down free speech but making sure Jewish students are protected from harassment and intimidation.

You have students who are being disparaged, cursed at, subject to name calling and marginalized because they are supportive of Israel, Tuchman continued. Jewish events are being disrupted and the university apparently isnt saying anything about it. If any other groups were targeted in this fashion, we would all demand that [the university] address the problem. Why is it OK for the administration to tolerate the very same problems when Jews are the targets? Its not OK.

This Student is Taking on Columbia in First Test of Trump's Title VI Order - Atlanta Jewish Times

New Right, National Union Agree to Joint Run in Elections – Algemeiner

Posted By on January 16, 2020

Yemina political alliance members Ayelet Shaked, Rafi Peretz, Naftali Bennett and Betzalel Smotrich seen during the launch of a housing project in Elkana, Israel, on Aug. 21, 2019. Photo: Ben Dori/Flash90. Israels New Right and National Union parties announced on Tuesday that they will be running together in the countrys March 2 elections.

The two parties also called on the Jewish Home Party to join them, according to a report inArutz Sheva. Talks between National Union head Bezalel Smotrich and Jewish Home head Rafi Peretz broke down on Monday night.

According to the terms of the deal, New Right leaders Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked will take the first and second slots on the list, respectively, followed by National Union leader Smotrich, according to the report. National Union will also get the fourth spot, for Knesset member Ofir Soffer, while the New Right will get the fifth and sixth spots.

The deal leaves an opening for the Jewish Home with the second and eight slots.

January 16, 2020 1:02 pm

We have reunited the family. Weve made a large alliance in the ideological right and in Religious Zionismfrom the traditional [non-Orthodox] to theharediZionists, from the knittedkipahsto those withoutkipahs, from Tel Aviv to Kedumim, said Bennett.

I call on my friend, [Jewish Home leader] Rabbi Rafi Peretz, to join us immediately to form a single united party, for the victory of the national camp, he added.

However, Bennett noted that the invitation did not extend to the far-right Otzma Yehudit Party, which has a unity agreement with Jewish Home.

No way will we run with [Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar] Ben-Gvir. This would color religious Zionism in Kahanist colors and cause damage for generations, said Bennett, according toYnet.

According to IsraelsChannel 13, New Right Knesset member Matan Kahane told Bennett that he would leave the party if Bennett agreed to a joint run with Otzma Yehudit.

If [Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar] Ben-Gvir is in, Im going home, said Kahane according to the report.

For its part, the United Jewish Home-Otzma Yehudit alliance harshly criticized the unity deal, theTimes of Israelreported.

The true face of Bezalel Smotrich and Naftali Bennett has been exposedthe shattering of religious Zionism, the party said in a statement, according to the report. The party went on to accuse New Right and National Union of having hurt the entire right-wing camp.

All alliances for the upcoming elections must be finalized by Wednesday night.

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New Right, National Union Agree to Joint Run in Elections - Algemeiner

Podcast: Neil Rogachevsky on the Roots of Israel’s Political Crisis and How to Fix It – Mosaic

Posted By on January 16, 2020

This Weeks Guest: Neil Rogachevsky

Israels electoral politics are a mess. One election last April failed to produce a governing coalition; so did a second one in the fall. Now Israelis are scheduled to head back to the polls in March for the third time in a single year. Israel has faced many problems in its short history, but this kind of political crisis is a first.

And yet its seeds may have been planted at the founding of the state.

Since its very first election, Israel has chosen leaders through a system of proportional representation. That is, Israelis vote for parties rather than for individual candidates as in, say, the United States. From there, seats are distributed in the 120-member Knesset in proportion to the share of the vote each party wins. The system is simple and democratic, but, argues Neil Rogachevsky in a recent articleinTablet, it is also the source of Israels political instability and its recent electoral chaos.

In this podcast, Rogachevsky joins Jonathan Silver to discuss his argument and make the case for reforming Israels electoral system. He explains why proportional-representation systems routinely fail to produce political stability, how they make lawmakers less accountable to the public, and why a first-past-the-post system would make Israeli politics healthier and more representative.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as We Are Your Friends by Mocha Music.


For more on the Tikvah Podcast at Mosaic, which appears roughly every Thursday, check out its inaugural post here.

If you have thoughts about the podcast that youd like to share, ideas for future guests and topics, or any other form of feedback, just send an email to

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Election 2019, Israeli Election 2020

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Podcast: Neil Rogachevsky on the Roots of Israel's Political Crisis and How to Fix It - Mosaic

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