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Arabs and the Holocaust – The Jewish Press –

Posted By on February 8, 2020

Photo Credit: courtesy AJC via Twitter

{Originally posted to the BESA website}

Muslim World Society chairmanSaudi Sheik Muhammad Issavisited Auschwitz on January 23 with a delegation of leading Muslim clerics. One of the most prominent was Lebanese Shiite leaderDr. Muhammad Ali Husseini, chairman of the Supreme Islamic Council, who made a statement condemning the murder of the Jews in the Holocaust.The visit to Auschwitz is an expression of Islamic condemnation of Nazi crimes in the Holocaust, he said. These are crimes against humanity. We refuse to accept any kind of religious suppression whether in the past or in the future.

Husseini could pay a heavy price for those statements. The day after uttering them, at the most recognizable scene of the Nazi attempt at mass extermination, a group of Lebanese journalists close to Hezbollah filed a complaint with the Lebanese courts against him. They accused him of, among other things, contact with the Zionist enemy, contempt for the Islamic religion, and inciting war between Muslims.

All because of his visit to Auschwitz.

Why did it take 75 years for some Arab leaders to acknowledge the Holocaust, even as most of the Arab world still denies the genocide of the Jewish People? Before delving into this phenomenon, it is instructive to examine the definition of Holocaust denial.

Holocaust denial is not necessarily denying that the Holocaust ever occurred. Rather, it is the spreading of lies or half-truths, and using them as a means of harming the Jewish People and the State of Israel. These lies include showing contempt for the Holocaust, minimizing the numbers of victims, or spreading false claims about the circumstances of their deaths, notably denial of the existence of gas chambers.

The most severe kind of denial is to accuse the Jews of being responsible for the Holocaust. Adolf Eichmann tried to do this when he was a fugitive in Argentina, and many Arabs have since adopted his twisted narrative. The Nazis were of course the first to deny the Holocaust when they refused to accept responsibility for their crimes.

As a rule, it is forbidden in the 20th century Arab narrative to express pity for the Jewish enemy or sympathize with Jews over the Holocaust.Many if not most Arabs are only able to see the genocide in terms of the problems it ostensibly caused Arabs, namely the Palestinians loss of the country they never had when the Jews fleeing Europe returned to their ancient homeland.

One of the first cases of public Arab denial of the Holocaust was when they put pressure on West Germany over the issue of German reparations to Holocaust survivors and the State of Israel. In a rare show of unity, the Arab states demanded that Bonn not compensate individual Jews or Israel but instead give the money to the Palestinians.

The Arab League even threatened to sever ties with and boycott West Germany, claiming the Jews were responsible for WWII. West German Chancellor Conrad Adenauer was not swayed by the threats and signed the compensation agreement in September 1952.

Many conspiracy theories concerning the Holocaust still make their way around the Arab world today. The first and most insidious is the idea that the nations of Europe asked Adolf Hitler to destroy the Jews because of their treachery and evil influence on local society, manifested in such wickedness as prostitution, gambling, and usury.

Then there is the idea that the Jews after WWII promoted inflated numbers of victims to win favor with the international community and blackmail Germany financially.

A third conspiracy theory comes from Muslim extremists like the elder cleric Yusuf Qaradawi, who justifies the Holocaust by defining it as proper punishment meted out by Allah on the Jews because of their foul deeds throughout history, not least of which is their refusal to convert to Islam during the time of Muhammad.

The fourth and most common theory belongs to the school ofMahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority (PA). In the 1980s, while a student at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, Abbas wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Holocaust. What resulted was less a dissertation than a piece of Soviet propaganda aimed at maligning Israel.

The title of Abbass grotesque dissertation is The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism. In it, Abbas claims that the Holocaust was a Jewish conspiracy that began when Israels first PM, David Ben-Gurion, collaborated with Hitler to kill as many Jews as he could in order to justify the establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. He then proceeds to belittle the number of Jewish fatalities to less than a million and claims they died not as a result of a Nazi-inflicted Holocaust but as a normal corollary of war (i.e., through disease, starvation, etc.)

Sadly, in the absence of proper education, many Arabs believe at least one of these conspiracy theories. In Arab countries, not only do they not teach the truth about the Holocaust but they encourage suspicion toward all books and histories that deal with the subject.

The Muslim delegations visit to the death camp was considered impossible just a few years ago. There is no doubt that the new openness in Israels relationships with the Gulf States contributed to making this historic event a reality.

Irans regional aggression is, to some extent, encouraging Arab leaders to draw closer to Israel and the US.The Arab world is also beginning to lose patience with the Palestinian leaderships intransigence and corruption, and no longer sees the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as reason to avoid relations with the Jewish state. Some Arabs are starting to see Israel as an example of Western success in their midst and are no longer blind to the enormous contributions Israel and the Jews can make to the region.

These developments combined to pave the way for the historic visit to Poland. As for the legal ramifications for SheikhHusseini in his home country of Lebanon, Western countries should immediately grant him and his family political asylum, as he is in danger of paying a heavy price for his attempts to achieve peace and coexistence between Jews and Arabs.

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Arabs and the Holocaust - The Jewish Press -

Phillips: Is criticism of the failure of Holocaust education valid? – Canadian Jewish News

Posted By on February 8, 2020

In recent weeks, much has been written in the press about the perceived failure of educating about the Holocaust. But is this critique about the shortcomings and the so-called muddled state of education fair or even accurate? The answer perhaps lies in how one defines education, the methodologies it employs, and what one perceives as the outcomes. As someone actively engaged in several educational spheres and specializing in teaching about the Holocaust, I would like to contribute the following reflections.

Holocaust education, particularly at the high school level, is about offering a thoughtful and well-planned balance between historically accurate information while engaging learners students in the deeper meanings of history in other words how the Holocaust happened and why it matters.

Survivor testimony has been an essential component to help students understand how the Holocaust affected individuals, families, and entire communities. Additionally, providing students with core historical information that helps them develop an understanding of the historiography of the Holocaust is another essential component.

It creates the foundation upon which the enduring understandings that can be derived from a study of the Holocaust are established. This requires us as educators to use developmentally and age appropriate material that encourages students to be active learners in the process while respecting that the use of graphic images depicting the horrors of the Holocaust may trigger emotional reactions from some students. Conversely, it may discourage others from wanting to engage critically with the material.

The latter approach was what I experienced in my high school years and it was not until my undergrad when I studied the Holocaust through a literary approach that I felt comfortable engaging with the subject which as it turned out shaped my graduate studies. Being cognizant of the emotional vulnerability of learners should guide the pedagogical choices that educators make.

Similarly, responsible pedagogical methods avoid simulations or any other activity that aims to helps students feel or experience what it was like during the Holocaust. While such endeavors may engage students during the moment they are participating, there is no evidence that it contributes to a deeper learning experience. It may in fact leave students with the false impression that they can comprehend or feel what Holocaust survivors experienced.

Effective and responsible pedagogy provides the framework with which students feel empowered to question how the Holocaust could have happened, to critically analyze the choices that were made, and to arouse their curiosity to want to learn more.

Remembrance is but one element of the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centres work as a leader in Holocaust education. It is also a critical component in helping provide the human dimension of history; the human face of all that was lost in the Holocaust.

Indeed, the Jewish value of remembering is deeply ingrained in many of the volunteers and speakers affiliated with the centre. However, the work of the Neuberger extends far beyond remembrance and includes exploring issues of civil society, citizenship and democracy, while being infused with a social justice approach that seeks to create a better society, and a better world, for everyone.

Whether it is our professional development seminars for teachers, our public programming throughout the year, our symposia for students, or our Holocaust Educators Study Tour, we are guided by the principles that knowledge and thoughtful education is the best counterbalance to unawareness, Holocaust minimalization and denial.

Responsibility for teaching the Holocaust has fallen largely to the Jewish community in the absence of a national strategy to disseminate pedagogical expertise and historical information about the Holocaust. As a result, it has been primarily urban areas across Canada that have benefited from the commitment of their local Jewish community in ensuring that students, educators and the general public have access to relevant Holocaust education resources.

Few national organizations have had the capacity to work interprovincially and the Neuberger centre is proud to have partnered with the Azrieli Foundation whose Holocaust survivor memoir program has been enormously important in ensuring not only that survivor narrative remains accessible, but also is an important educational tool.

Can more be done? Of course, and it must be done. The Neubergers approach rests on the foundation that Holocaust deeply affected the Jewish people, and humanity as a whole. Although anti-Semitism and the Holocaust affects Jews, it will require a concentrated effort from multiple aspects of Canadian society to effectively counter Holocaust denial, distortion, anti-Semitism and a general lack of knowledge about the Holocaust.

Success will require the involvement of all levels of government, religious institutions, cultural, and civic organizations. In the end, how we as a society values education about the Holocaust and anti-Semitsim will define us as a nation. It will define our Canadian values, and what it means to be a Canadian, regardless of our religious, cultural or ethnic heritage.

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Phillips: Is criticism of the failure of Holocaust education valid? - Canadian Jewish News

Letter: Recognition of the Armenian genocide is long overdue – MetroWest Daily News

Posted By on February 8, 2020

The Senate joined the House in rejecting Ankaras gag-rule against U.S. remembrance of the Armenian Genocide overriding the largest and longest foreign veto over the U.S. Congress in American history and is another example of foreign interference in U.S. politics.

The Daily News verifies and reviews all letters to the editor we receive. The letters represent the views of the letter writers, not those of the Daily News.

The past several weeks in Washington, D.C., have been busy for many reasons. One is the recent success for the U.S. Senate recognizing the Armenian genocide. Although this had been blocked three times by the Trump Administration, it strikes a blow against Turkeys century-long obstruction of justice for the 1915 Armenian Massacres now called the Armenian Genocide. It locks in U.S. recognition of this heinous crime.

Oddly, Turkish President Erdogan has not withdrawn his representatives from the U.S. as he has done earlier or with other countries that recognized the 1915 Armenian Massacres as Genocide. Following the Senates action, President Erdogan threatened to recognize the mass-killings of Native Americans in North America as genocide.

The resolution is identical to one passed in the U.S. House last October. Both Resolutions establish a U.S. policy that rejects Armenian Genocide denial, ongoing official U.S. government recognition and remembrance of this crime and support for education about the Armenian genocide in order to prevent other atrocities.

The Senate joined the House in rejecting Ankaras gag-rule against U.S. remembrance of the Armenian Genocide overriding the largest and longest foreign veto over the U.S. Congress in American history and is another example of foreign interference in U.S. politics. Turkey's government, as well as its business alliances, built a strong lobbying effort that opposed any acknowledgment of what Ottoman Turkey/Young Turks did. There is nothing similar from Germany for Holocaust matters.

The unanimous Senate action shines a light on Donald J. Trump who continues to enforce President Erdogans veto against remembrance of Ottoman Turkeys extermination and exile of millions of Christians at the time of the 1915 Armenian Massacres, all the while Trump supports this deceitful lie. This is aided by some Jewish people swayed by Turkeys political influence. It is time for the Executive Branch and Congress to end U.S. complicity in Ankaras lies.

There are 27 countries that have recognized the Armenian genocide, 11 are NATO allies. None of them have broken their relationship with Turkey after recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

While there are some senators who enforce Erdogans gag-rule, they should not prevent the will of the Senate on a bipartisan resolution that speaks to the U.S. commitment to genocide prevention, human rights, and religious freedom if such truly exist.

Henry Morgenthau, U.S. ambassador to Turkey from 1913-16, fully understood what was happening at the time. He organized and led protests by officials of many countries against what he described as "a campaign of race extermination," and was instructed by United States Secretary of State Robert Lansing that the "Department approves your procedure ... to stop Armenian persecution." He left his post in early 1916 because, as he later recalled, "My failure to stop the destruction of the Armenians ... had made Turkey for me a place of horror." Some believe this was a forerunner of the Holocaust.

An Armenian priest, Krikoris Balakian, recorded some massacres of innocent Armenians. The killing was done with "axes, cleavers, shovels, and pitchforks. It was like a slaughterhouse; Armenians were hacked to pieces. Infants were dashed on rocks before the eyes of their mothers. It was indescribable horror.

This article is not to bad-mouth Turkey, no more than Holocaust matters bad-mouth Germany, but rather to try to prevent future genocides. We must recognize past atrocities, educate the public, and uphold human rights. Passing this resolution aligns the U.S. with Canada, France, and Germany and the other nations that have recognized the Armenian Genocide.

This official recognition of the Armenian genocide and Turkey's role is long overdue. It is imperative that we overcome objections from those who seek to obscure the facts and the United States should not be a party to the denial of genocide.

Martin Demoorjian


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Letter: Recognition of the Armenian genocide is long overdue - MetroWest Daily News

Congressman Keating Introduces Anti-Semitism Resolution – Cape Cod Today

Posted By on February 8, 2020

Washington, DC Congressman Bill Keating, Chairman of the Europe, Eurasia, Energy and the Environment Subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced a resolution reaffirming the need to combat anti-Semitism in Europe. This resolution comes a week after Chairman Keating held a hearing on the rise of anti-Semitism and hate in Europe with numerous notable witnesses including Dr. Alfred Mnzer, who is a Holocaust survivor.

According to the Keating Resolution:

Said Congressman Keating:

Last week, we recognized International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. But 75 years later, it is incumbent upon us to acknowledge that anti-Semitism and hate did not begin with Adolf Hitler and it did not end after the Holocaust. Never before have I been in or chaired a hearing like the one in our Subcommittee last week. The unity, the sharing of stories, and the genuine interaction between the Members and our witnesses was so powerful because combatting anti-Semitism and ensuring that crimes against humanity like the Holocaust never happen again is something that brings us all together.

We must also acknowledge that it is not just in Europe that we are seeing the disturbing trends in anti-Semitism and xenophobia, but in the United States as well. Because we cannot wait until it is too late and because discrimination is a scourge we cannot ignore, we must do the difficult work of changing laws and policies as well as the language we use so that innocent people are not killed and harassed because of who they are. We must also meaningfully engage communities, civic leaders, and educators to bring about critical change at the grassroots level. And we must do it together because our strength lies in our partnership to root out this evil. In that respect, the role of our State Departments Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism has been so critical in our governments efforts towards one day eliminating anti-Semitism in the world by serving as a point person and coordinating force behind these efforts. I hope that going forward the US Special Envoy will be able to work closely with similar counterparts across Europe. This resolution reaffirms our commitment to working together and will serve as a further springboard for our work on this issue in the Subcommittee.

A copy of the Keating resolution, which is supported by the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, is below.

To watch last weeks hearing, please click on this link. This witnesses at the hearing were:

1. Dr. Alfred Mnzer

2.Mr. Ira Forman

3. Ms. Christie J. Edwards

4.Robert Williams, Ph.D.

5. Rabbi Andrew Baker

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVESMr. KEATING submitted the following resolution; which was referred to theCommittee on lllllllllllllllRESOLUTIONReaffirming the need for transatlantic cooperation to combatanti-Semitism in Europe.Whereas anti-Semitism in Europe is widespread and increasingaccording to many studies, including those conductedby the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights,the Pew Research Center, and media outlets;Whereas 89 percent of Jews living in Austria, Belgium, Denmark,Germany, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands,Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdomfeel anti-Semitism has increased over the past decade;Whereas 85 percent of European Jews consider anti-Semitismto be the biggest social or political problem in theircountry;VerDate Mar 15 2010 16:43 Jan 30, 2020 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 6652 Sfmt 6300 C:USERSMMCROTTYAPPDATAROAMINGSOFTQUADXMETAL7.0GENCKEATIN_04January 30, 2020 (4:43 p.m.)G:M16KEATINKEATIN_049.XMLg:VHLC1302013020.276.xml (750573|8)2Whereas 28 percent of European Jews experienced anti-Semiticharassment at least once during the last year;Whereas 34 percent of European Jews avoid visiting Jewishevents or sites because they do not feel safe;Whereas 79 percent of European Jews have said they do notreport anti-Semitic incidents, with 48 percent giving thereason that nothing would have changed had they doneso;Whereas Congress passed the Combating European Anti-Semitism Act in 2018 to require increased Departmentof State reporting on the scope and severity of anti-Semitismin Europe;Whereas many European governments and the EuropeanUnion have adopted the International Holocaust RemembranceAlliance working definition of antisemitism;Whereas 38 percent of European Jews have considered emigratingbecause they did not feel safe as Jews in Europe;Whereas one-third of 7,000 Europeans surveyed said theyknew just a little or nothing at all about the Holocaust;andWhereas the global rise in anti-Semitism should be cause forserious concern on both sides of the Atlantic: Now, therefore,be it1 Resolved, That the House of Representatives2 (1) reaffirms the strong transatlantic alliance3 between the United States and Europe and our long4 history of addressing shared challenges;VerDate Mar 15 2010 16:43 Jan 30, 2020 Jkt 000000 PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 6652 Sfmt 6201 C:USERSMMCROTTYAPPDATAROAMINGSOFTQUADXMETAL7.0GENCKEATIN_04January 30, 2020 (4:43 p.m.)G:M16KEATINKEATIN_049.XMLg:VHLC1302013020.276.xml (750573|8)31 (2) recognizes the need for the United States2 and Europe to work together to combat anti-Semi

3tism;4 (3) calls on all European governments to take5 all necessary measures to ensure the safety and se6curity of Jewish communities;7 (4) recognizes the European Commission and8 the Organization for Security and Cooperation in9 Europe have taken action to increase education and10 inclusion and to criminalize anti-Semitic crimes and11 Holocaust denial;12 (5) encourages European leaders to provide ro13bust political leadership to reassure Jewish commu14nities and to speak out against manifestations of15 anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance across16 the political spectrum;17 (6) encourages European governments to en18sure that school curricula include education about19 the Holocaust, modern-day anti-Semitism, and inclu20sive antibias training, and to mandate hate crime21 prevention and response training into law enforce22ment education; and23 (7) calls for increased cooperation and partner24ship to address the scourge of anti-Semitism.

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Congressman Keating Introduces Anti-Semitism Resolution - Cape Cod Today

17 Facts Everyone Should Know About Hasidic Jews – Essentials

Posted By on February 8, 2020

1. The Hasidic Movement Is About Love, Joy and Humility

Hasidim belong to a movement that was founded by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov,who taught love, joy and humilityboth in our service of Gd and in our treatment of fellow human beings.

In the early 1700s, in the area today known asthe Ukraine, a young orphan boy named Israel ben Eleazar loved to wander into the forest, even sleeping there overnight. Hisfathers last words echoed in his mind, Fear nothing, fear no one, but GdHimself, and love every Jew as you love yourself.

Eventually, he met up with a network of hiddentzadikim (righteous ones), whotraveled throughout Eastern Europe, encouraging Jews to be better Jews andlifting their spirits. Israel rejected the harsh reproaches that had becomestandard fare of traveling preachers. Instead, he spoke of Gds love for everyJew, and how much He treasured their every good deed.

By 1740, he was known as the Baal ShemTov (Master of the Good Name), and settled in Medzibuz, wherethousands came to hear his teachings. The Baal Shem Tov taught that every Jew,scholar and simpleton alike, could connect with Gd through learning Torah anddoing mitzvahs with love, joy and simple, earnest humility.

This painting by Hasidic artist Zalman Kleinman shows an early Hasidic master sharing inspiration with simple folk in the market place.

The teachings of Hasidism are an extension of the Kabbalisticwritings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, Rabbi Isaac Luria and others. The Hasidicmasters made these mystical teachings accessible and practical for theeveryman.

A Hasid will study in-depth and reflect uponhow these teachings bear upon our relationship to Gd, His relationship to theworld and of how the mitzvot intensify that relationship. That study is calledHassidus.

A Hasid, then, is one who strives to become abetter person and a better servant of Gd through studying, contemplating, andinternalizing Hasidic teachings.

Hasidic girls during prayer Mushka Lightstone

Every Hasidic group has its own unique flavorand focus. For example, the Hasidic groups influenced by the masters ofPshischa and (notably Gur Hasidim today) value simplicity, austerity and adevotion to the stark, unvarnished truth. Breslov Hasidim place supreme valueon maintaining a joyful disposition, hitbodedut(private conversation with Gd), and a trusting faith in Gd at all times. Andyet other Hasidim place their focus on kindness to others as the overarchingquality.

Many hasidic groups today have taken aninsular approach to self-preservationsome more than others. Chabad Hasidim, onthe other hand, take personal responsibility for every Jew, with totaldisregard for denomination or lifestyle.

Hasidic Jewish men in Jerusalem Norman Frankel

Hasidim use mobile phones, drive cars and useother forms of technology. Why not? After all, the sages taught that All thatGd created in His world, He only created for His honor. (Avot 6:11)

Chabad Hasidim in particular say that this appliesespecially to the scientific discoveries of recent yearstheirpurpose is to add honor to Gd by using them for holiness, Torah and mitzvot,and bring the world to its ultimate, messianic state.

At the same time, Hasidim are very wary ofInternet use, as should be anyone concerned about their moral and psychologicalwell-being. Television is also considered off limits.

In virtually all Hasidic communities, minorsare allowed zero or very limited access to the Internet. Those who use Internetfor business are advised to employ filters and other safeguards. The principleconcerns are exposure to pornography, FOMO addiction and other forms ofcompulsive behavior associated with unguided Internet use.

In the Hasidic enclave of Meah Shearim, Jerusalem Norman Frankel

Rebbe is simply the Yiddish pronunciation ofrabbi. However, it has come to refer to the leaders of the various Hasidicgroups.

There is no formal job description of a rebbe,nor is there an application or selection process to become one. So what is arebbe?

In all times, there were people who devotedtheir lives to union with Gd and to His service. But they often removedthemselves from the common folk, so as to immerse themselves in study,contemplation and prayer.

The original leaders of the Hasidic movementassigned such people the task of providing guidance and inspiration to eachmember of their community, so that every person could feel close to Gd andserve Him with love, awe and joy.

The relationship between a hasid and his orher rebbe is a close and intimate onemuch more than that of teacher andstudent. The hasid must make his own decisions and work hard to achieve hisgoals, but the rebbe is there at every stage to guide and assist.

A couple in conversation with the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Its for good reason that contemporary Jewishmusic is often referred to as Hasidic music. The great Hasidic master, RabbiSchneur Zalman of Liadi, taught that music is the pen of the soul. SomeHasidic music is rousing and invigorating, and some is contemplative andsobering, each giving expression to another facet of the human experience andthe man-Gd connection.

Hasidic girls Mushka Lightstone

The Hasidic tale can take many forms. Often itis a parablecarefully crafted to deliver a lesson. In other instances, the Hasidic storyrecounts the deeds, piety or adventures of rebbes and Hasidim of pastgenerations. Lovingly told and retold, Hasidic stories from a rich oraltradition and an endless font of inspiration.

In this painting Hasidic artist Zalman Kleinman shows the farbrengen, a Hasidic gathering that features song, stories, Torah teachings and inspiration.

Hasidim are disproportionately represented involunteer ambulance corps and other communal organs of kindness. The bikur cholim (hospital visitation) ofthe Hasidic community is legendary, as are the gemachim, free loan organizations foreverything from porta-cribs to to wedding gowns. The early Chabad Hasidim wouldsay,this piece of bread is yours like mine, placing the yours before the mine,since the focus was on the other.

A Hasids headgear and clothing might be anindication of the group to which he belongs. A wide velvet hat is the hallmarkof a Hungarian Hasid, a taller velvet hat worn backwards (so that the bow sitson the right) is a giveaway for a Vishnitzer Hasid, a rounded felt hat denotesa Gur Hasid, and a pinched fedora generallybut not alwayssits atop the headof a Chabad Hasid.

Yet, the external trappings are justthatexternal trappings.

Really, there are two ways to define HasidicJews: as sociological groups, or as adherents of a certain ideology and way oflife.

So you might be sociologically grouped as ahasid, but not ideologically. And vice-versa: You could be a sociologicaloutlier, but a true hasid.

Really, to be a hasid, theres a very simpleformula: If you study the teachings of the Hasidic masters and bond stronglywith one of them, show love to every Jew, strive to do Gds mitzvahs and learnHis Torah out of love and joy, then you are a hasid.

A winding Jerusalem street scene Norman Frankel

When Hasidim came into being in the latterhalf of the 18th Century, many viewed the new group with suspicion. Were theHasidic Jews truly pious? Would they remain faithful to Torah and mitzvahobservance? Some overzealous people took it upon themselves to harass andintimidate Hasidic Jews.

In 1798, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi wasarrested by the Czarist authorities based on trumped-up charges ofrevolutionary activity concocted by jealous opponents. His release from prisonon the 19th day of Kislev is marked in Chabad as the New Year ofHasidism.

Years later, in Communist Russia, Hasidimrisked their lives to uphold Jewish life in the Soviet Union. While manyHasidim met their deaths at the hands of the Soviet Authorities and others endureddecades in the gulag, they were victorious and the flame of Judaismburned bright even in the darkest of times.

In this drawing, Hasidic artist Hendel Lieberman (who lost his wife and daughters to the Nazis) depicts his brother, legendary Reb Mendel Futerfas, who spent 14 years in Siberian gulags.

As far as Hasidic Jews are concerned, they're just Jewish people trying to do things right and keep Jewish tradition in the best way possible. Many find the term "ultra-Orthodox" to have a pejorative connotation.

So what is a better term? Hasidic (or Chasidic) Jews. Or the Hasidic communities can be included within the larger umbrella of Hareidim, a term referring to all who are truly concerned about keeping Gds Torah to their utmost capability.

Or just call them Jews.

Assembling for the group photo after Shabbat. (Photo: Michal Weiss)

By the mid-19th century, at least half ofEastern Europes Jewry considered themselves Hasidimand most of the worldsJewry lived in Eastern Europe.

But in the 20th century, the anti-religiouscommunist regimes, together with the devastation of the Holocaust, almostcompletely wiped Hasidic Jewry off the map. Yet today the Hasidic community isburgeoning in ways in which the Holocaust survivors who planted the roots oftheir shattered European youths in Israel and North America could not even haveimagined.

How did such a miracle occur?

For one thing, strong-willed, charismaticleaders worked hard to lift up the spirits of these refugees from Europe, tobuild up neighborhoods with schools and jobs.

For another, Hasidic Jews tend to marry young,have large families and remain within the fold.

Hasidic teachings are rapidly catching ontoday. Although not all who study these teachings join a Hasidic group, theynevertheless often take on a Hasidic way of life.

A group of Hasidic boys Mushka Lightstone

There are no censuses on Hasidic groups, andit would be pretty hard to determine in many cases. For example, estimates ofthe number of Chabad Hasidim range from 50,000 to 200,000. Altogether, countingadults and children, the number of Hasidim worldwide as of 2005 was estimatedat 400,000 and rapidly growing due to a high birth rate. Most likely, half livein Israel, another 30-40% in America (mostly Brooklyn and New Jersey), and therest spread out throughout the world, particularly in Great Britain, Antwerpand Montreal.

Hasidic groups are generally named after thetown in which their rebbes held court. Some of the largest and most conspicuousgroups today (in no particular order) are:

A group of spodik-wearing Gur chassidim (Photo: Ouria Tadmor/flash90).

This is not unique to Hasidim, as Jewish lawrequires this from all married women. While some Hasidic womenprefer kerchiefs or snoods, the Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged women to use a wig.Often made of human hair, a well-crafted wig can be elegant and attractive.

The full beard is not either unique toHasidim, as Jews have been sporting beards since Biblical times. In twoseparate places, the Torah forbids a man to cut his facial hair. In addition,Kabbalah attaches great importance to the beard, teaching that the thirteenlocks of the beard are representative of Gds thirteen supernal Attributes ofMercy.

A Hasidic man in Uman, Ukraine

The Hasidic Movement began in Eastern Europe,where the vast majority of Jews spoke Yiddish. Even today, Yiddish is thelanguage of choice among many Hasidim. Since Hasidim is an openmovement, which is constantly gaining new adherents, many Hasidim speak Modern Hebrew,English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Hasidic women in conversation in Los Angeles Mushka Lightstone

Dont get thrown off by the garb. Hasidim areunique individuals with their own predilections, dispositions, likes, dislikes,hobbies, interests, and life experiences. Like you, they have bad days, gooddays and in-between days. Some are shy, some are boisterous; some are diligentand others are daydreamers; some are leaders and some are followers.

So next time you meet a Hasid, remember thathe or she is a regular human being trying his or her best to serve Gd in theworld He created for us all.

A Hasid in introspective prayer Mordechai Lightstone


17 Facts Everyone Should Know About Hasidic Jews - Essentials

When the Attacker Is Ruthless – COLlive – Chabad News

Posted By on February 8, 2020

Motzoei Shabbos Story: One day, a group of thugs arrived at the home of Dovid Itkin, a real estate broker in Warsaw. The gang read from a prepared paper that demanded the large sum of 200 gold rubles. The Rebbe Rashab said to make peace with them... Full Story

By Dovid Zaklikowski for COLlive and Hasidic Archives

During the Polish Revolution, which began in 1905, peasants and workers revolted against the government and aristocracy, demanding political freedom and improvements in their living conditions. The government resisted, and an armed struggle ensued between the army and a loose coalition of ruthless gangs.

The gangs supported their fight through robbery and extortion: They would show up at the home of a well-to-do citizen and demand a certain sum by a specific date, under threat of death. Most complied, and respectable Poles lived in constant fear of receiving one of these visits.

One day, a group of thugs arrived at the home of Dovid Itkin, a real estate broker who served as the custodian for several apartment buildings in Warsaw. The gang read from a prepared paper that demanded the large sum of two hundred gold rubles.

Sign on it now, they commanded. Mr. Itkin, who had a short temper, became angry, ripped up the paper, and chased them away. A short while later, one member of the group returned with a new thug, who asked, Where is he? His friend pointed to Mr. Itkin, who found himself looking down the barrel of a gun.

Mrs. Itkin began to wail at the top of her lungs, momentarily distracting the thugs. Mr. Itkin seized the opportunity and tackled the man with the gun. Clearly unprepared for such resistance, the two men became frightened and ran off.

Once their initial relief subsided, however, the family realized they were still in grave danger. One of Mr. Itkins nephews suggested that he consult the fifth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneersohn (Rebbe Rashab), about what he should do. Mr. Itkin accordingly traveled to the town of Lubavitch and related the entire story.

You need to meet them, the Rebbe said, referring to the thugs, and make peace with them.

Mr. Itkin was baffled. The gang was not an organized group with a central office where he could schedule a meeting. The family returned to Warsaw, but Mr. Itkin could not resume his former life. He remained at home, frightened to leave his house.

One day, his wife came home and said that she had seen one of the members of the gang sitting in a nearby bar. It was decided that the couple should go meet him there. First, Mrs. Itkin approached the man, who was already half-drunk. He clearly wanted some more drinks, and Mrs. Itkin told him that she and her husband would pay for the drinks if the gang would forgive them. The man agreed, and the Itkins were left in peace thereafter.

Find Hasidic Archives latest books on Dear Rebbe and The Edifice: Dating, Marriage and an Everlasting Home, also available on Amazon Prime.


When the Attacker Is Ruthless - COLlive - Chabad News

Jewish Federation invests $350000 in security for St. Louis institutions – St. Louis Jewish Light

Posted By on February 8, 2020

When Jewish Federation of St. Louis hired Scott Biondo as community security director in August 2017, it was on a part-time, interim basis. The St. Louis Jewish community had experienced a year with bomb threats against Jewish institutions and vandalism at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery. (Neither of the perpetrators motives turned out to be anti-Semitism.)

More than two years later, Biondo now works full time for the Jewish nonprofit umbrella organization. He has plenty to keep him busy following the recent attacks at Jewish communal spaces in Pennsylvania, California, New Jersey, and New York.

Its a continuous process, and we are always looking for what we can do to bolster security in the community, said Biondo.

That has amounted to Federation allocating $350,000 in December 2019 to enhance building security at local Jewish facilities, according to the organization. That was the largest grant the nonprofit made during that funding cycle.

The local organization, like other Federation chapters around the United States, is placing an increased emphasis on security because of growing concerns about the threat of attacks.

When Federation hired Biondo, he was one of about 25 such Jewish community security directors, according to the organization; now there are about 40.

The $350,000 investment is a major commitment, but its also a realization that this is a necessary part of our role in protecting the community, said Don Hannon, Federations chief operating officer.

In June, Biondo, a longtime security consultant, started doing vulnerability assessments at local Jewish institutions.

We took a look at a broad sweep of things across the board and recognized that there is a disparity in the community in terms of security, Biondo said.

Improvements include strengthening or adding physical barriers outside buildings and upgrading audio-visual equipment at entrances.

Everything we do in terms of our response to threats is to delay the ability of the [attacker] to get to victims until first responders arrive, Biondo said.

The focus on security is not only connected to infrastructure but also in training for people at Jewish institutions. (For example, In the event of an attack, people should first try to run; if they are unable to escape, hide, and as a last resort, fight.) And more Jewish organizations are also hiring police officers to protect the buildings.

In January, Anita Feigenbaum, executive director of the Chesed Shel EmethSociety where vandalism has taken place alerted funeral homes that until further notice, the cemetery would be hiring police officers for all funerals.

This move comes after two assailants entered a kosher grocery store in Jersey City, N.J. in December, and shot and killed three civilians. Later that month, on the seventh night of Hanukkah, an assailant entered the home of a Hasidic rabbi in Monsey, N.Y. and stabbed five people with a large knife.

The cost of police at the cemetery has been passed along to the people paying for funerals. Other local institutions have applied and received security grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or done fundraising where a donor paid for security for one Shabbat, according to Biondo.

The cost is something I think the whole community understands, Feigenbaum said. We have to be very diligent. We have to be very observant. We have to be on our A-game all the time. We have to make sure that we follow our protocol, even during funerals.

Biondo and Hannon said they expect that the current investment in security will just be the first in a number of phases to enhance security in the St. Louis Jewish community.

I imagine this is going to be an ongoing thing because we are continuously monitoring (security issues) and the threat landscape changes. You see different kinds of players out there, so we have to be aware of that, Biondo said.

But will the synagogues in St. Louis and the rest of the United States eventually become like those in Europe with metal detectors, bulletproof fences and pat downs for entrants?

I really hope not, Biondo said. I would like to see society change so were not headed in that direction. But heres the reality: a synergy has to exist. Synagogues are houses of worship, which means people come there to express their faith. They have to be able to do so in a way that they are not in fear the entire time they are there. So much of what we do is to enhance their ability to worship.

Despite future uncertainty, Biondo and others working in security at Federation have received positive feedback from community members. A security vehicle now patrols the Millstone Campus near Creve Coeur, and Biondo said have residents who live in the senior housing there have said, what a joy to be able to go out and walk at night and know that there is that patrol out there, that there is someone else out there with us.

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Jewish Federation invests $350000 in security for St. Louis institutions - St. Louis Jewish Light

Our Arab neighbors have always rejected any kind of so-called peace plans – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on February 8, 2020

I met earlier today one of the leaders of Judea and Samaria standing outside Beit Hadassah. He does a tremendous amount of work for all of the communities in Judea and Samaria. I asked him if they had determined what kind of an answer they were going to give as to acceptance of the Trump plan, including some kind of Palestinian state together with sovereignty over the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, or whether to reject them both. He answered that they had not yet determined their policy decision. I said that the answer is easy.Its really very simple. What can we expect from Donald Trump and even from Jared Kushner who dont live in Israel and are willing to accept creation of a Palestinian state, when there are so many Israelis who also back creation of such a state? If Israelis who have lived through intifadas, terrorist attacks, wars following the expulsion and abandonment of Gush Katif, including the current continuing rocket fire and explosive balloons, still back the idea of Palestinian state, what can we expect from people that dont live here such as Trump and Kushner?So whats the answer?There is an expression thats used in the Talmud, which in Hebrew is palginan dibora, which means you take what is said and divide it into two, accepting one part and rejecting the second. Thats exactly what we should do at present. We should say that we accept the Trump plan as far as it backs sovereignty for all of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and at the same time reject the idea of creation of Palestinian state. That must be our policy.Then, of course, everyone is going to ask how could we possibly do that? And that answer is also very simple.If we start from 1947, our Arab neighbors have always, but always rejected any kind of so-called peace plans that were put on the table. We dont have to go back to 1947. We can go return to the year 2000 when Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat well over 90% of Judah and Samaria, including east Jerusalem. He said no and started a war. We can talk about the numerous times that Olmert offered PA President Mahmoud Abbas more than Baraks offers. He rejected one after another. As a matter of fact, the last time that Olmert spoke with him about some kind of a settlement, he put a map on the table and said that he wanted an answer, which hes still waiting for.AS FOR KUSHNER, he referred to the Palestinian Authority as a police state. His final remarks during the CNN interview, very telling remarks, were that a situation worse than at present, is a failed state. That would be catastrophic both for Israel and for the United States, and for all the other the Sunni Muslim countries around us.Such a failed stated could quite easily turn into an Iranian-Hezbollah-Hamas proxy. And that would be a major issue, not only for Israel, but for Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and for all the other Sunni Arab countries in the region.So, we have every right in the world to accept what we think is positive and good for us, and reject whatever is not. That must be our answer, our policy.We certainly cannot say no to sovereignty, but the on the other hand we certainly cannot say yes to a Palestinian state. We have to accept whats good and reject that which is bad. And that seems to me very very simple. Thats what has to be official policy of the communities in Judea and Samaria.As Trump said, the ideas that he put on the table are open to negotiation. And we have to be the first to put our position on the table. And thats what our policy should be. Those who dont like it, thats their problem. We already know that were never going to reach a stage where a Palestinian state, according to the Trump doctrine, will ever come to fruition because they will never ever ever be able to meet the conditions that Trump has laid down for recognition of such a state.But that doesnt make any difference. Right now we have to express the truth as we see it and know it. And that is that Israel has a historic right to all our land. And finally, after so many years, the United States, which moved its embassy to Jerusalem, has recognized that we have right to our land.Our rights to our land should not and will not be contingent in any way shape or form as to whether we agree to the creation of another enemy state which could definitely be an existential threat to the continued existence of the State of Israel. Thats what has to be said and thats what has to be done.No question about it.The writer, a Hebron resident since 1981, is the former international spokesperson for the Hebron Jewish Community.

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Our Arab neighbors have always rejected any kind of so-called peace plans - The Jerusalem Post

Philly Faces: Ben Zauzmer Predicts the Oscars – Jewish Exponent

Posted By on February 8, 2020

Ben Zauzmer on the red carpet (Courtesy of Ben Zauzmer)

Theres much fun to be had in arguing about who should win an Academy Award. Joker or Little Women for Best Picture? Quentin Tarantino or Bong Joon-ho for Best Director? The arguments are endless.

But Ben Zauzmer has a different question in mind: Who will win? And its one he answers correctly, just about every time.

Zauzmer, 27, a Dresher native, is a Harvard University graduate and a baseball analyst for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Since he was an undergrad, hes been developing an algorithm to predict each years Oscar winners. Last fall, he even released a book on the subject: Oscarmetrics: The Math Behind the Biggest Night in Hollywood.

How would you describe your Oscarmetrics project?

In a nutshell, I use math to answer questions about the Oscars. Most notably, I predict each years Academy Awards using data and statistics. But I also write articles exploring all sorts of questions about the Oscars through a mathematical lens, and I recently wrote a book called Oscarmetrics to tell stories about the Oscars and classic cinema via math.

How did you come to start analyzing the Oscars in this way?

This all began in the months leading up to the 2012 Oscars, during my freshman year of college. I am an avid follower of statisticians who use data to predict other fields like baseball and politics. Being a movie fan as well, I assumed that someone must have done the same for the Oscars. But when I went to Google and couldnt find any such predictions, I decided to try it myself. I spent a month in the library gathering data and building models, then put my predictions up online and this whole project has blossomed from there.

When did it become apparent that people were really starting to pay attention to this? And what was that like?

My very first year, I began to get press coverage from around the world. I was predicting the Oscars in a novel way, and people were very curious to know what the predictions said (that year, the math correctly identified The Artist as the favorite to win Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor and got a very close Best Actress race that Meryl Streep won for The Iron Lady). But this work really took off in my junior year of college, when The Hollywood Reporter invited me to begin writing for them, a relationship that continues to this day. Since then, Ive done TV, radio and print interviews for publications across the globe, and written additional freelance articles for The New York Times, The Washington Post and others.

How would you compare the challenges of your Oscarmetrics work to those of your work for the Dodgers?

Baseball statistics can be challenging because of how much data there is; Oscar statistics can be challenging because of how little data there is. In baseball, a single game provides more data than all of Oscar history. So the challenge in my day job is finding the signal, the part of the data that has a pattern, or tells a story, or helps us to make a better decision. With the Oscars, the challenge is to build models that dont overreact to small amounts of data.

Do you feel that there is an overlap between your work as a mathematician and your life as a Jewish person?

Something I love about both mathematics and Judaism is how rational they are. The arguments in the Talmud for why Jews follow certain practices are often very lawyer-like, very rational and very mathematical. We as Jews and we as mathematicians are always encouraged to ask why? We want to engage in the discussion and learn for ourselves why something is the best practice. And in both subjects, we rely on the wisdom of teachers who have already studied these questions to help guide us along, and then we are free to agree or to find alternative rational arguments that make more sense.

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Philly Faces: Ben Zauzmer Predicts the Oscars - Jewish Exponent

Beshalach: Song from the womb – Arutz Sheva

Posted By on February 8, 2020

Judaism Merkaz Harav Yeshiva

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The psalmist describes the outburst of joy and thanksgiving when God delivered Israel out of Egypt and led them across the wilderness:

What does this phrase - from the source (makor) of Israel - mean?

The Talmud offers a curious interpretation. Rabbi Meir explained that even the fetuses in their mothers wombs sang Gods praises at the Red Sea (Berachot50a). What is the significance of this puzzling statement? Did the Jewish fetuses really sing?

Innate Holiness

There are several factors that deepen our feelings of love and awe of God. Certainly, Torah study and the performance of mitzvot play their part. A good education cultivates the souls loftier sensibilities and emotions.

But beyond these didactic efforts, the soul has an innate source of holiness. This natural holiness does not need any specific actions or external influences for the soul to be uplifted in song and joy in Gods kindness. It is enough to appreciate the simple fact that we come from the source of Israel, that we belong to this remarkable nation that God watches over and protects.

When did the Jewish people first experience the privilege of Gods favor as a nation? At the Red Sea. Based on their deeds, the Jewish people at that time was no better than other nations. They had not yet received the Torah. The Midrash says that the angels were unable to distinguish between the Israelites and their Egyptian persecutors: these are idolaters and these are idolaters.

Nonetheless, the Israelites merited seeing Gods great hand deliver them. Physically, they were rescued from their enemies. And spiritually, their souls were uplifted to sing songs of praise and thanksgiving.

As soon as babies are born, they are influenced by what they see and experience. But a fetus in its mothers womb has never experienced any form of education, formal or otherwise. A fetus only has awareness of its immediate surroundings - its origin.

The Jews who witnessed the miraculous deliverance at the Sea gained this fetal awareness of the source of their souls. Struck with the true significance of this unique gift, they broke out in jubilant song and thanksgiving.

In full assemblies, bless God. Individuals can deepen their feelings of love for God via external efforts, but the potential for this love exists equally in all. Scholars and simple folk, together in full assemblies, sang their feelings of gratitude and love. They were elated by this sudden awareness of the great privilege that their souls were rooted in the source of Israel.

(Adapted fromEin Eyahvol. II, p. 228, sent to Arutz Sheva by Rabbi Chanan Morrison,

See also:Beshalach: This is My God


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Beshalach: Song from the womb - Arutz Sheva

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