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More Than 120 Members of Congress Issue Letters of Support to Leading Anti-Israel Group – Washington Free Beacon

Posted By on January 19, 2020

More than 120 members of Congress privately issued letters of support to a controversial Islamic-American advocacy group known for its involvement in one of America's most prominent terrorism financing cases, according to a copy of these official communications obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy group with deep ties to the anti-Israel movement in America, touted its support among congressional leaders during its 2019 gala conference in November in Washington, D.C. Prominent opponents of the pro-Israel community, including anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), headlined the conference.

A copy of CAIR's conference agenda, obtained by the Free Beacon and published here for the first time, includes well over 100 letters from Democratic and Republican members of Congress, all of whom expressed their support for the controversial organization. Democrats issued the majority of the letters, with only two coming from Republican members of Congress.

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The breadth of congressional support for CAIR is likely to generate concern in the pro-Israel community, which has long been at odds with the advocacy group due to its promotion of anti-Israel activists and causes.

Democratic 2020 presidential contenders Sen.Elizabeth Warren(D., Mass.), Sen.Amy Klobuchar(D., Minn.), and Tom Steyer all penned letters of support. Prominent Democrats such as Omar, Reps.Adam Schiff(D., Calif.), Rashida Tlaib(D., Mich), and Eric Swalwell(D., Calif.) also lent their support to CAIR's agenda, according to materials reviewed by the Free Beacon.

CAIR has long been central to the anti-Israel movement in America.

"CAIR's anti-Israel agenda dates back to its founding by leaders of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), aHamas affiliated anti-Semitic propaganda organization," according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which combats anti-Israel bias. "While CAIR has denounced specific acts of terrorism in the U.S. and abroad, for many years it refused to unequivocally condemn Palestinian terror organizations and Hezbollah by name, which the U.S. and international community have condemned and isolated."

CAIR is also known for its involvement in a fundraising scheme tied to the Muslim Brotherhood that sought to support the Hamas terror organization. That case, known as the Holy Land Foundation trial, unearthed evidence that CAIR and its founders sought to lend backchannel support to Hamas.

In fact, "the Federal Bureau of Investigation has distanced itself from CAIR over the years," according to the ADL. "In an April 2009 letter to the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology, and Homeland Security, the FBI explained that it suspended contact with CAIR because of evidence introduced during the Holy Land Foundation trial,demonstrating that CAIR and its founders were part of a group set up by theMuslim Brotherhoodto support Hamas."

Additionally, in 2014, CAIR was placed on the United Arab Emirates's terrorism list for alleged ties to the Muslim Brotherhood organization.

The full conference agenda, list of speakers, and congressional letters can be viewed here:

Cair PDF Full by Washington Free Beacon on Scribd

Adam Kredo is senior writer reporting on national security and foreign policy matters for the Washington Free Beacon. An award-winning political reporter who has broken news from across the globe, Kredos work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary Magazine, the Drudge Report, and the Jerusalem Post, among many others. His Twitter handle is @Kredo0. His email address is

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More Than 120 Members of Congress Issue Letters of Support to Leading Anti-Israel Group - Washington Free Beacon

UPDATE: Affidavit links former Canadian army extremist to local white nationalist group, target of murder plot was Bartow County couple – Cherokee…

Posted By on January 19, 2020

A former Canadian military engineer who had disappeared after reports came out of his neo-Nazi connections made trips to Silver Creek to meet and train with other members of a white nationalist gang.

Patrik Jordan Mathews had entered the U.S. illegally and, according to an affidavit unsealed on Friday, had been participating in paramilitary training with other members of The Base.

Jordan, along with three other members of the group, were arrested in Maryland on Thursday. A day earlier, three North Georgia men who were also reportedly involved in the same gang were picked up here.

Luke Austin Lane, 22, of 550 John Ingram Road in Silver Creek; Michael Helterbrand, 25, of Dalton; and Jacob Kaderli, 19, of Dacula, were arrested on charges of criminal attempt to commit murder and participating in a criminal gang.

According to the court document:

The plan was to kill what the group identified as two high-ranking Antifa members who are married and live in Bartow County. The couple had an affiliation with a group called the Atlanta Antifacists and were chosen because the couple had no known connection to The Base gang.

The Base and its terrorist ideology is apparently what brought the three Georgia men in contact with Mathews as well as others.

The affidavit describes The Base as a "white racially motivated violent extremist group." It says those arrested plotted to incite a race war and then establish a "white ethno-state." The group was founded in July 2018 to organize and recruit racists for a "violent insurgency" against the United States government as well as non-white groups.

Conversations on a members-only encrypted messenger application describe plans of mounting a terrorist campaign that asked members to form three-man "Trouble Trio" cells.

Members of the group met online in encrypted chat rooms to discuss recruitment and plan violent acts against minorities and rival groups -- in this case, Antifa. They also worked out plans to establish and participate in paramilitary training camps.

Group members used the encrypted chat rooms to discuss how they should react if police showed up with warrants, often stating they'd not be taken alive. They also voiced support for a man who murdered 11 people in a mass shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 2018.

Leaders of the group cautioned members to be covert and promoted terrorist strikes.

"No need to wait until all conditions for revolution exist -- guerrilla insurrection can create them. Insurgency begins as a terrorist campaign," read one post, which was accompanied by an image of a armed person watching an explosion.

The gang organized into regional chapters for security and fostered an amount of autonomy in order to have "plausible deniability" for its actions, the affidavit stated.

Previously posted on Jan. 16:

A Silver Creek man linked to the white nationalist terrorist organization The Base was arrested the day before three men from the same group were taken into custody by the FBI in Maryland.

According to arrest warrants obtained from the Floyd County Jail, Luke Austin Lane, 22, of 550 John Ingram Road in Silver Creek, was arrested Wednesday by the Floyd County Police Department on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and participation in a criminal gang.

The warrant for criminal gang participation stated Lane was associated with The Base when he conspired to commit murder between Aug. 2, 2019, and Jan. 14.

Two other North Georgia men were arrested for their part in the plot.

Michael Helterbrand, 25, of Dalton, and Jacob Kaderli, 19, of Dacula, were also arrested.

Helterbrand was in the Whitfield County Jail with a hold on him for Floyd County. Kaderli was transferred Thursday to Floyd County from the Gwinnett County Jail.

Details concerning the arrests were unavailable on Thursday.

The exhibit containing details of the charges is under seal by a Floyd County Superior Court judge.

Floyd County Police Chief Mark Wallace said he could confirm his department participated in the arrest along with other agencies but said he could not comment while the case was under seal.

The Anti-Defamation League said members of The Base and other white supremacist groups have frequently posted online messages advocating for accelerationism, a fringe philosophy in which far-right extremists have assigned to their desire to hasten the collapse of society as we know it.

The term is widely used by those on the fringes of the movement, who employ it openly and enthusiastically on mainstream platforms, as well as in the shadows of private, encrypted chat rooms, the ADL says.

The arrest appears to be in concert with the arrest of three other men in Maryland including a former Canadian Armed Forces reservist who was in the country illegally, Patrik Jordan Mathews. In addition, Mathews had reportedly made trips to Georgia to train with members of the group, the New York Times reported.

Mathews and two other men who are members of The Base were arrested on federal charges in a criminal complaint unsealed in Maryland, according to a Justice Department news release.

Tuesdays complaint charges Mathews, 27, and Brian Mark Lemley Jr., 33, of Elkton, Maryland, with transporting a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony. William Garfield Bilbrough IV, 19, of Denton, Maryland, is charged with transporting and harboring aliens.

The three men were believed to be planning to attend the pro-gun rally planned for Monday in Richmond, according to a law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an active investigation.

In encrypted chat rooms, members of The Base have discussed committing acts of violence against blacks and Jews, ways to make improvised explosive devices, their military-style training camps and their desire to create a white ethno-state, according to an FBI agents affidavit.

Mathews and Lemley were arrested in Delaware and Bilbrough was arrested in Maryland, according to Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorneys office in Maryland. All three men were making initial court appearances Thursday afternoon in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Mathews illegally crossed the U.S. border near Minnesota in August, according to court papers. Lemley and Bilbrough then drove from Maryland to Michigan to pick up Mathews before the three headed to Maryland in late August, investigators said.

Mathews was a combat engineer in the Canadian Army Reserve. Lemley was a cavalry scout in the U.S. Army, court papers show.

U.S. and Canadian authorities had been searching for Mathews after his truck was found in September near the border between the two countries. He was last seen by family members in Beausejour, northeast of Winnipeg, on Aug. 24, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The Canadian militarys intelligence unit was investigating Mathews for possible racist extremist activities for several months, according to the Canadian Department of National Defense.

Authorities say Lemley and Mathews built an assault rifle using several parts, including an upper-receiver that Lemley had ordered and shipped to a Maryland home. In December, the three men gathered at an apartment that Lemley and Mathews rented in Delaware, where they discussed The Base and its activities and members, passed around the assault file and tried to make the drug DMT, a hallucinogen, according to court papers.

A few days later, Lemley and Mathews bought 150 rounds of ammunition and paper shooting targets and Lemley was spotted by an FBI agent at a gun range in Maryland. Court papers say federal agents heard the gun firing in rapid succession and authorities allege that Lemley later told Mathews: Oh oops, it looks like I accidentally made a machine gun.

Federal agents appeared to be tracking the mens movements and set up a stationary camera near the gun range, which captured video of Mathews shooting the gun there on Jan. 5. Court documents say Lemley had also ordered 1,500 rounds of ammunition and he and Mathews visited the gun range as recently as Saturday.

Lemley also is charged with transporting a machine gun and disposing of a firearm and ammunition to an alien unlawfully present in the United States.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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UPDATE: Affidavit links former Canadian army extremist to local white nationalist group, target of murder plot was Bartow County couple - Cherokee...

Congressional Republicans are pushing an anti-BDS bill that would target the UN and EU – Mondoweiss

Posted By on January 19, 2020

Congressional Republicans continue to push legislation that targets the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and their first move of 2020 is the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. The legislation, which was introduced by rabidly pro-Israel Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), would an add an amendment to the Export Administration Act of 1979 that would prohibit boycotts against United States allies (such as Israel) and block requests for boycotts by international governmental organizations.

The bill cites the United Nations and the European Union, groups that have promoted boycotts in recent years. These calls did not encourage a commercial boycott of Israel, but an economic campaign that specifically targets Israelisettlements in occupied Palestinian territory. This means that, despite attempts to frame the legislation as an attempt to stop boycotts of Israel, its actually a bill about settlements. In fact, the act establishes that congress should view the United Nations Human Rights Councils creation of a database that compiles a list of companies doing business in the occupied territories as an act of BDS that should be opposed.

The Export Administration Act of 1979 is federal legislation that was used as a tool to combat the Arab League Boycott of Israel by prohibiting United States businesses from participating in the boycott. In a comprehensive post breaking down the specifics of Zeldins bill, Foundation for Middle East Peace President Lara Friedman points out that it looks to conflate coercive boycotts of Israel (where businesses were forced to boycott the country in order to business with certain foreign organizations) and current BDS activities meant to protest the occupation.

In a statement announcing the bills introduction, Rep. Zeldin referenced recent antisemitic violence as one of the reasons that the legislation must be passed. We have witnessed the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel hate throughout the world, in our nation, on college campuses and within the halls of Congress under the guise of the BDS movement, and whether this bigotry is brazen or its blatant anti-Semitism deceptively called legitimate we must crush it wherever it exists, said Zeldin, Too many in Congress have emboldened this rhetoric by accepting the BDS movement whose founder, in referring to Zionism, said I, for one, support euthanasia, and coming off of a Hanukkah which will be remembered for the sick amount of violent anti-Semitic attacks, we must combat this anti-Israel hate wherever it rears its ugly head. This legislation would not only reinforce Congress opposition to the BDS movement, but protects American companies from being forced to provide information to international organizations that peddle this hate-filled movement, and holds those who attempt to violate that protection accountable.

This isnt the only time BDS has come up in Congress this week. On January 15, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism held a hearing on the rise of antisemitic violence. Panelists Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, the Orthodox Unions Nathan Diament, NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism John Miller, George Mason Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich, and president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Cliff May.

In his remarks, Kontorovich admitted that the BDS movement didnt promote violence, but said that it seeks to make anti-Semitism acceptable in polite society. He then called on Congress to pass the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. To anti-Zionists, Jewish lives do not matter, Cliff May told the room.

Zeldins bill is currently co-sponsored by 58 Republicans and one Democrat, Rep. Tom Suozzi of New York. Last year, when Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-D) criticized the political influence of American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Suozzi rushed to defend the organization. AIPAC is a not-for-profit that promotes US Israel relations and specifically does not make donations to political campaigns, he tweeted, My support for Israel is based upon our shared values, our national security interests, and the history of the region.

The Senate passed a different anti-BDS last February, but it hasnt received a vote in the House. Every Senator currently running for the Democratic nomination voted against the legislation, besides Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

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Congressional Republicans are pushing an anti-BDS bill that would target the UN and EU - Mondoweiss

U.S. Government Issues Warning Over Nazis Using Bitcoin – CryptoGlobe

Posted By on January 19, 2020


U.S. Government Issues Warning Over Nazis Using Bitcoin


The United States House Financial Services Committee has issued a warning after concluding that Nazis and other domestic terrorists are using bitcoin and crypto to support their activities.

In a hearing held Jan. 15, members of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee addressed the issue of cryptocurrency and its role in funding domestic terrorism.

Congressman Brad Sherman of California (D) claimed that white supremacists were using bitcoin.

He said,

If it works for Hamas, it will work for the Nazis, too.

Jared Maples, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Director, said domestic terror groups would likely increase their use of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in the years to come. Congressional Research Service finance expert Rena Miller and Anti-Defamation League Senior Vice President George Selim supported Maples claim, predicting that the rise in popularity for bitcoin would contribute to its illicit use.

According to the report, Selim noted that neo-Nazi troll Andrew Auernheimer has already received great sums of money in donated bitcoin.

Featured Image Credit: Photo via

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U.S. Government Issues Warning Over Nazis Using Bitcoin - CryptoGlobe

Tiffany Haddish: The ‘word of God’ is the ‘best gift’ – Richmond Daily News

Posted By on January 19, 2020

Tiffany Haddish thinks the "word of God" is the "best gift" you can give someone.

The 40-year-old actress was gifted a Bible with a diamond cross on the cover from Beyonc and Solange Knowles' mother Tina Knowles Lawson during her birthday bat mitzvah last month, which she hosted to celebrate her Netflix special 'Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah'.

And although Tiffany is Jewish, she still appreciated the present she received, because she says sharing your "beliefs" with someone is a "blessing".

She explained to Us Weekly magazine: "Now that was a blessing. I think that's one of the best gifts you can ever give someone is the word of God.

"I feel like that's super special and super important. I don't care if it's a King James' Bible, a Torah, [or] a Quran - when you share your beliefs with someone, I think that's the best gift you could ever give someone because that gives them understanding and clarity."

Tiffany's Netflix special aired on the streaming service to mark her 40th birthday on December 3, and the star - whose father was a Jewish refugee from Eritrea while her mother was an American Jehovah's Witness - said prior to the release that she wanted to "honor" her heritage with the show.

She said: in a video shared to Instagram: "What do you mean you're black and you're having a bat mitzvah, Tiffany?' Well, I don't know if y'all know this about me, but I'm Jewish. I'm Jewish by DNA.

"And because of my father, I want to honor him and our ancestors, and I want to do something that represents growth and maturity. And I want to teach. That's what I've been put on this planet to do is teach, and Judaism is all about that!

"It's my black mitzvah, baby! She grown, and she ready!"

Meanwhile, the 'Night School' star recently revealed she has been learning Hebrew ahead of her bat mitzvah ceremony.

She said: "I'm going to read from the Torah and everything."

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Tiffany Haddish: The 'word of God' is the 'best gift' - Richmond Daily News

Exhibition of art by Holocaust witnesses to open in NYC – Newsday

Posted By on January 19, 2020

A new art exhibitionin Manhattan depicts the Holocaust's horrors from the perspective of the persecuted, not the persecutors.

There is achilds illustration of Jews in Czechoslovakia being deported to a concentration camp. A prisoners pencil-and-crayon drawings of Auschwitz. A woman'ssecret portrait of a fellow prisoner, made on any paper she could find.

The drawings including by the child, Helga Weissova;the prisoner in Auschwitz, Alfred Kantor; and the portrait artist, Manci Anis are among 21 workson display at Rendering Witness: Holocaust-Era Art as Testimony, which runs from Thursday through July 5 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, 36 Battery Place, at the southwest tip of Manhattan.

Its through the people who lived it. Its the way they depicted it, the way they wanted to depict it, said exhibition curator Michael A. Morris. Its not from, quote-unquote, the Nazi lens.

Many of today's historical photographs and other visual representations of the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were slain,have origins inGerman and Nazi material created for the purpose of anti-Semitic propaganda, Daniel Uziel, the head of Yad Vashems photo collection, told theHaaretz newspaper in 2018.

According to the text introducing the New Yorkexhibition, which features 10 artists: It is a miracle that this art survived. Each artwork in this exhibition reasserts the artists humanity and individuality, qualities too often obscured by Holocaust photographs that were taken by the Nazis or their collaborators."

The featuredartwas produced in Poland, Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia during or immediately after the Holocaust.

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The exhibition also features what Marvin Halye, an American soldier,depictedin watercolor and chalk after heliberated a camp in 1945 and found thousands of victims who didn't survive ("Liberation of Nordhausen" and "Civilians Covering Corpses").

There are many more artists' worksin a bookkept from 1942 and 1945 by Martha Klein von Peci, a Jewish woman imprisoned in a German ghetto. The book ison display in avitrine.She had invited fellow prisoners to contribute works about their lives to the book.

The exhibition also features the handwritten will of a Czech artist, Johann Eisler, wholefthis possessions to his girlfriend before he died at a concentration camp.

Reported crimes against Jews and vandalism of Jewish institutions has risen in New York City, according to the NYPD. Most of the incidents have been in neighborhoods where observant Jews tend to live.

"Anti-Semitism has arrived on our doorstep again, on your doorsteps in Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Borough Park, Monsey, Jersey City, here in Manhattan," Jack Kliger, the museum's president and chief executive, told a group of schoolchildren from Brooklyn visiting.

Jews have been hit, punched, slapped; a woman has had her wig pulled off her head, according to the NYPD.

Last month, there was a stabbing of Jews celebrating the penultimate day of Hanukkah at a rabbi's house in upstate Monsey, and a deadly shooting at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City.

Standing Wednesday withthe public schools chancellor,Richard Carranza,Kliger announced that all 8th and 10th grade classes 14,000 students in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Borough Park would be sent onfield trips to the museum.

Asked whether perpetrators of the crimes are ignorant of the Holocaust's history,Deborah Lauter, who heads Mayor Bill de Blasio's Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes said: "When they are interviewed many of them will say, 'Iknew Iwas doing something wrong. Ididn't understand the message that it was portraying.' That being said, we have not caught allthe perpetrators."

Carranza also announced that all families with students 12 and olderin the public schools would be able to visit free.

Also on display is the museum's multi-floor "Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away" exhibition, which features hundreds of original objects and photographs, including Heinrich Himmlers SShelmet and his annotated copy of Hitlers "Mein Kampf."

Matthew Chayes, a Newsday reporter since 2007, covers New York City Hall.

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Exhibition of art by Holocaust witnesses to open in NYC - Newsday

Broadway Movie-Musical SOUL DOCTOR to be Shown in Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day – Broadway World

Posted By on January 19, 2020

The Kwanzaa Film Festival presents a special Martin Luther King Jr. Day program, themed "A Kwanzaa Response to a Hanukkah Tragedy" with a program that focuses on African American-Jewish Relations. The feature presentation is this year's "Best Film" winner Soul Doctor - the Broadway movie-musical about the life of the 'rock star' rabbi Shlomo Carlbach and his history shaping relationship with music icon Nina Simone. The film will be shown on Monday, January 20th at 4pm at AMC Magic Johnson Harlem (2309 Frederick Douglas Blvd.) as part of their Gala Awards evening.

Soul Doctor tells the story of the beloved yet controversial father of popular Jewish music, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. A modern-day troubadour, Shlomo ignited the spirit of millions around the world with his soul-stirring melodies, transformative storytelling and boundless love. After his childhood escape from Nazi Germany, the young Rabbi formed an unlikely friendship with legendary jazz singer Nina Simone, who introduced him to soul and gospel music, and a Jewish music and cultural revival was born. Fusing his roots with his new inspiration, Shlomo created a revolutionary musical sound, writing songs that continue to be the main body of Jewish musical standards. The "Jewish Gospel/Soul" experience he introduced to the synagogue worship became the most popular synagogue services across all denominations of Jewish practice.

Soul Doctor show was originally workshopped at National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene and subsequent New York productions included an off Broadway debut at The Museum of Jewish Heritage; showcase productions at Jazz at Lincoln Center and The Roundabout Theatre Company (which featured India Arie as Nina Simone), two sold out seasons at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre, in New Orleans in 2009 and 2010, and subsequent runs at The Colony Theater in Miami in 2011, The Parker Playhouse in Ft Lauderdale in 2012, The New York Theatre Workshop in 2012, and Broadway in 2013 at Circle in the Square Theatre.

The show then played Montreal in Yiddish in 2014 and an off Broadway run in 2015. Soul Doctor was also the feature presentation at the "Israel at 70" Festival in Jerusalem, where the production was filmed.

With music by Shlomo Carlebach, lyrics by David Schechter, book and direction by Daniel Wise, and choreographed by Abdur Rahim Jackson (Alvin Ailey, Beyonce "Halo" music video and Superbowl Show), the film stars Tony Award nominee Josh Young (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita) as Shlomo and Nya (star of the recent Cleopatra, and the upcoming Broadway revival of Caroline or Change) as Nina Simone along with Charlotte Moore (Les Miz, ALW's Wizard of Oz), C.J. Tyson (Broadway's Wicked), Richard Cerato (Soul Doctor BDWY), Rebecca Kritzer (In The Hights), Yovel Moss, Emily Padgett (Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Rock of Ages), Allison Poccia (Parks & Recreation), Toni Elizabeth White (Amazing Grace) Luke Wygodny (Once), Jordan Zell and Marc Zell.

Soul Doctor's creative consultant and additional material is by Neshama Carlebach.

Of the stage musical, The New York Times raved, "Inspiring and absorbing! A joyous Leaping Roar!," and The Wall Street Journal cheered, "exhilarating! riveting! Hilarious!" Time Out New York said, "a spectacular cross between Fiddler on the Roof and HAIR," and The Examiner exclaimed, "A certifiable hit...Genius! Five stars." The London Financial Times lauded, "While libraries have been written about the similarities of historical struggle between jews and African-Americans. I have never seen them put across more eloquently than in Soul Doctor."

The event will culminate with a performance of "I Had A Dream", performed by Stephon Ferguson, the only artist licensed by the King estate to perform the historic speeches. Mr Ferguson's riveting portrayal has brought Dr. King to life in theatres, public rallies and royal palaces throughout the world, including three presidential performances at the White House.

The Kwanza Film Festival was birthed out of a need to give voice to filmmakers creating works that embrace the cultural values of African Diaspora people of color." Said Ina Norris, the festival's founder. "After last month's surge of bloody attacks on a Jewish grocery and a Hannuka gathering, we felt compelled to organize a cultural event that celebrates Dr. King's powerful voice in the fight against anti-Semitism and his unique alliance with the Jewish community. This year's Best Film award winner "Soul Doctor" highlights the message fo racial unity."

"The Kwanzaa Film Festival's mission to promote unity, harmony and peace through the arts." The festival's managing director, Billy Robinson explained. "This year's award- winning Best Feature, "Soul Doctor" elaborates the impactful influence of Gospel & Soul on the post-Holocaust Jewish cultural revival and its popular music."

"Soul Doctor's writer/director Danny Wise said, "The award winning post production team was able to create a genuinely cinematic experience while maintaining the energy of the live performance; it's exhilarating to see the movie audiences singing and clapping to the music - dancing in the aisles at the end!"

Soul Doctor was originally produced on Broadway by: Jeremy Chess, Jerome Levy, Edward L. Steinberg, Robert Beckwitt, David Haft, Ken Abramowitz, Brian Murray and Joel Kahn. In Partnership with Michael Steinhardt.

For tickets to see Soul Doctor, please visit:

Soul Doctor will screen at AMC Magic Johnson Harlem (2309 Frederick Douglas Blvd.)

Admission is free, with a suggested $25 donation to Kwanzaa Film Festival

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Broadway Movie-Musical SOUL DOCTOR to be Shown in Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day - Broadway World

Letters To The Editor – The Jewish Press –

Posted By on January 18, 2020

Photo Credit: Jewish Press

A Life-Giving Stadium

I had the zechus, together with my wife, to travel down from Canada to attend the Siyum HaShas at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. I was truly astounded at the concern of the organizers for everyone sitting in the cold weather. Hand, feet, and body warmers were provided for all the participants, as were free coffee and tea.

The person seated at my left, without asking, brought me tea and offered me some of his sushi rolls and an apple, while the fellow seated at my right offered me a can of Coca-Cola he had bought. I thought to myself, Mi kamcha Yisrael!

The morning of the siyum, I joined a Daf Yomi shiur in Staten Island. Amazingly, the daf that day, Niddah 70, had a connection with the siyum that took place later that day! The Gemara asks if the son of the Shunamite women who was resurrected by Elisha was tamei. The answer is Met mtamei vein chai mtamei A corpse transmits ritual impurity, but a living person does not. Immediately, I blurted out, MetLife!

The maggid shiur responded by saying that invariably, the daf is tzum zach, on target, with events happening in the Jewish world. Later, I realized that MetLife was the perfect location for making the siyum for another reason: The first word in Talmud Bavli, Meiamasai, begins with the letter mem. The last word, halachos, ends with the letter tav together spelling the word Met! (The Gemara also begins with the word Tanna, whose first letter is tav.)

Ki hem chayeinu Learning Shas from mem to tav is what gives us life, or, in other words, MetLife!

Mordechai Bulua

Slaughtering the Unborn

I would like to praise The Jewish Press for its excellent anti-abortion coverage. Dismembering unborn children in the womb goes against the pro-life values of Judaism, and it is an outrage that so many organizations under the banner of Judaism such as the National Council of Jewish Women, Hadassah, and the Anti-Defamation League are vocal supporters of the willful termination of innocent human life in the womb.

The Jewish people or at least moral-minded and religious Jews need to step up more and protest the massacre of innocent human lives. Over 61 million unborn children in America have had their lives ended since Roe v. Wade in 1973, and while there are many Christian groups that speak out against abortion, the Jewish community in America has been essentially silent.

With approximately a million developing humans terminated every year in America, we Jews should not be silent as many Jews (and others) were in the late 1930s and 1940s as millions of human lives were terminated.

I hope The Jewish Press will keep up its great work in bringing attention to this modern-day Holocaust.

Marcy Pernham

Rabbi Weissman Is Wrong (I)

Rabbi Chananya Weissman has a problem with women learning Daf Yomi, and Talmud in general. I wonder if he would relegate women only to Tzena Urena as was the case in the not so distant past.

Years ago, there were no female physicians or attorneys. Would Rabbi Weissman object to women studying medicine or law because it simply wasnt done years ago? Furthermore, does a female professional automatically abrogate her role as an akeret habayit because she studies something that was previously denied to her?

Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, ztl, taught the inaugural Gemara shiur at the Stern College Beit Midrash and instituted girls Gemara study at the Maimonides School in Boston. Rav Aaron Lichtenstein, ztl, supported the study of Gemara by women and noted that the Bais Yaakov movement a century ago was met with criticism just as womens Gemara study is today. Were these noted luminaries wrong?

Studying Talmud has brought countless bnot Yisrael closer to Hashem and more devoted to Yiddishkeit. It is not the threat to the Jewish nation Rabbi Weissman seems to believe it is. Women should have access to all our holy texts the same way they have unfettered access to secular knowledge and higher education today. They should have the skills to study and benefit from them as well. It will only serve to strengthen Orthodox Judaism.

To deny Jewish women this access and these skills is an affront and disrespectful on so many levels.

Bonnie Eizikovitz

Rabbi Weissman Is Wrong (II)

The article by Rabbi Weissman questioning whether we should celebrate womens Daf Yomi was deeply disappointing. Im quite frankly shocked that The Jewish Press was willing to publish an article dripping in sarcasm and deep-seated anger towards women.

The author wrote, I dont have to think hard to come up with numerous Torah sources severely discouraging Talmud study for women. If so, he should have included these sources instead of simply assuming that everybody reading his article is aware of them.

I will leave it to the gedolei Torah to decide whether women learning the daf is permitted or worthwhile. My primary issue with the author is his gratuitous attacks on women who take part in this endeavor and his questioning of their motives and integrity. It was completely uncalled for.

He characterizing these women as agenda-driven activists on the very fringes of religious Judaism who view traditional halacha and norms as being little more than burdens to be overcome. Does he know any of these women? Has he ever spoken to them?

While Rabbi Weissman may or may not have halachic sources to back up his opinion, he is in no position to judge these women or what they are doing.

From what I understand, not every woman feels it sufficient to be thanked for letting her husband study while she tends to more mundane household matters. Many of these women wish to be active participants as opposed to merely passive observers.

Steven Y. Steinhart

Rabbi Weissman Is Wrong (III)

Rabbi Weissmans missive, Should We Be Celebrating Womans Daf Yomi? was informative but somewhat disingenuous.

It is a womans choice whether or not to educate herself and become more familiar with her heritage. Its also her choice what commitments to prioritize in life.

The views on women learning Daf Yomi among the young ladies in my college classes all religiously observant range from disinterest to pedagogical enlightenment. They all, however, feel that it is their choice whether or not to pursue it.

We should not be dissuading the fairer sex, or anyone for that matter, from seeking the erudition of scholarly pursuit. Daf Yomi is not the mans domain; it is assuredly mankinds domain.

Ronald Neal GoldmanProfessor of EnglishTouro College and University System

Rabbi Weissman Is Wrong (IV)

I was interested to read Rabbi Weissmans article on the topic of womens Gemara learning as I was hoping to better educate myself on some of the rationales given against this practice.

Unfortunately, Rabbi Weissmans article provided no such rationale. Mainly, he noted that it is a relatively new phenomenon and tied it to radical leftist breakaway streams of Orthodox Judaism.

But I have witnessed many women taking to the spiritually-rewarding activity of Gemara learning not because of feminist ideology but because they wish to grow in their adherence and appreciation of the Torah.

In fact, most women I have seen taking to Gemara learning are not feminists, are perfectly fine with the age-old distinct customary roles for men and women, and can in no way be described as adherents of radical non-mainstream Orthodox movements.

Its true that Gemara learning among women was not widespread in centuries past. But then again, Torah education of any kind for women was not prevalent for most of our history (mirroring to some degree the state of womens education in general society).

By Rabbi Weissmans logic, the Bais Yaakov movement championed by Sara Schenirer in the early 1900s should be shunned because, in addition to reflecting the desire of traditional Orthodox Jewish women to study Jewish subjects on a more serious level commensurate with their intellectual capabilities, womens Jewish education happened to have also been encouraged at the time by more liberal non-mainstream revolutionary feminist elements.

This logic seems to me a perfect example of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Elliot PressBergenfield, NJ

Rabbi Weissman Is Wrong (V)

Rabbi Chananya Weissman writes beautifully and argues his position forcefully, but I take exception to his basic thesis. Rabbi Weissman categorically asserts that a gathering in Jerusalem for women who completed Daf Yomi as well as the burgeoning Daf Yomi movement for women is a manifestation of the leftist, feminist agenda.

I love a good conspiracy theory, but Im not buying this one. Rav Moshe, ztl, was asked about women wearing tefillin. He said that if a woman desires to wear tefillin because she wants to be like a man i.e., she has some ulterior motive she shouldnt wear them, but if she desires to wear them out of a sincere pure desire, its permitted.

I have a hard time believing that 3,000 women (thats the number of estimated participants at the womens siyum) got together to work out a sinister plot to undermine Judaism as we know it. Daf Yomi is a seven-and-a-half-year commitment!

There are two other points Rabbi Weissman made that I would like to challenge:

1) He makes it seem as if Daf Yomi goes back thousands of years. In fact, it is less than a century old, and its only in the last 30 years with the advent of the Schottenstein Shas that it has become fashionable for the masses to join it.

2) Rabbi Weissman suggests that learning Talmud must be at odds with halacha since its a novelty. But so is women entering the workforce (the Gemara makes it clear that a woman should ideally be at home while her husband supports the family). Yet, thousands of kollel wives work and some boast advanced degrees from prestigious universities.

Why has this been accepted? Simple. Because thats the only way to keep the kollel system functional. When the times change, we have to adapt.

Dr. Yaakov Stern

Rabbi Weissman Is Wrong (VI)

I was very disappointed to see Rabbi Weissmans disapproval of Daf Yomi for women.

He wrote that numerous sources discourage Talmud study for women, but he cites no such sources.

Thanks to the great work of ArtScroll and Rabbi Steinsaltz, the Talmud has become very accessible to the Jewish masses, and the desire to study it on the part of so many is simply a natural extension of the passion for Torah we strive to instill in our boys and girls.

Rabbi Weissman argues that women learn because they feel like it or it makes them feel good as if this were somehow bad. Men, he writes, learn even if its difficult, frustrating, confusing and boring and even if [they get] nothing out of it. I was at MetLife in 2012 and on January 1, 2020, and I know many men who have completed the Daf Yomi cycle. I challenge anyone to identify a man who completed it without enjoying it on many levels.

I thank my wife for her support, which enabled me to complete the Daf Yomi cycle in 2012. Now that our daughters are grown, she feels she has more time to dedicate to learning, and I am proud that she has started Daf Yomi and I will encourage her to stay with it for the next seven years.

Rabbi Weissman mentioned how he would respond if his daughter told him she didnt enjoy learning. I hope that if his daughter expressed how much she enjoyed learning and wished to pursue learning Daf Yomi, he would encourage her as a way of benefiting herself and all of Klal Yisrael.

Warren SlatenTeaneck, NJ

Rabbi Weissman Is Wrong (VII)

In his article on womens Daf Yomi, Rabbi Weissman describes how the daughters of Zelaphchad came to Moshe reverently and respectfully to plead their case. However, there is much more to the story. Chazal says that not only were the bnot Zelaphchad brilliant; they were learned as well. They planned for their meeting with Moshe and put together a very cogent argument that ultimately Moshe could not refute.

Hashem subsequently declared that they should inherit their father, as should any daughter in a family with no boys.

Note that the bnot Zelaphchad could only come up with their argument based on their knowledge. As brilliant as they were, without their knowledge, they would not have had a case.


Rabbi Weissman Is Wrong (VIII)

Please tell Rabbi Weissman that I found his article to be extremely offensive. I was denied the opportunity to study Gemara as a child. Thank G-d, I can study it now with the support of my father, husband, sons, and daughter. Educated women only add to Judaism.

Sima Navon

Rabbi Weissman Is Wrong (IX)

The op-ed by Rabbi Weissman was beyond offensive to all frum women who learn Talmud and are committed to studying Daf Yomi and there are many. This is not some crazy slippery slope, as the article implies.

You should be thrilled that women have this commitment and are making time for Torah. Please applaud them.

Bracha Leah Atlas

Trumpeldor Felicitous Timing

Kudos to Saul Jay Singer for his wonderful article about Joseph Trumpeldor in the Parshas Vayechi issue. His citation of Gur aryeh Yehuda (Genesis 49:9) which we read that Shabbos morning in shul was most meaningfully selected by the memorials sculptor, Avraham Melnikov.

Thank you!

Dr. Nisan Hershkowitz,Brooklyn, NY

Grace and Brotherhood

In America the Beautiful we sing, G-d shed his grace on thee, and crowned thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea. Its grace and brotherhood that I think have been sadly absent from the American experience since President Donald Trump has taken office.

It shook me to the core when I heard the president speaking some months ago at a rally in western Florida about how to stop illegal immigrants from coming in from Mexico. One attendee shouted out, Shoot them. And the president of the United States the man from whom we are supposed to take our cues from as to what our nation stands for chuckled at the remark and said, Only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement.

He repeated Only in the Panhandle, and he got laughs and cheers. No repudiation of the remark by the president. No softening. Just laughs and cheers. Good-bye grace. Good-bye brotherhood. Hello to shameful hatred. Heartbreaking.

Alan Howard

Stop Taking Trump So Literally

Its reassuring that The Jewish Press is not taken in as even some Jewish newspapers are by the claim that the most philo-Semitic and witty American president in history is somehow sending dog whistles to anti-Semites. Actions are more important to thinking human beings than words or whistles and certainly more important than whistles that can only be heard by dogs.

Too many people unwittingly fail to appreciate President Trumps wit. To quote Salena Zito, The press takes President Trump literally, but not seriously, whereas President Trumps supporters take him seriously, but not literally. Exaggerations and witticisms are not lies. Referring to the president as an anti-Semite, though after all he has done for the Jewish people is a lie.

President Trumps most outspoken and well-known lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, may not be more Jewish than George Soros, as he claimed (again, with tongue in cheek) but, as is the case with the president, Rudys public behavior and actions are more Jewish in many respects than those of many Jinos (Jews in Name [or birth] Only).

Rabbi Aaron I. Reichel, Esq.Kew Gardens, NY

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Letters To The Editor - The Jewish Press -

Progressively Speaking: Blue Monday, the year’s most depressing day – Jewish News

Posted By on January 18, 2020

The third Monday in January was designated Blue Monday by a holiday company in 2005 and has since caught the attention of the public for being the most depressing day of the year. Not only was this nonsensical pseudoscience, it was supposed to encourage people to book their holiday early to have something to look forward to.

Behind the fake news and the spin is a serious issue. Depression is recorded since Biblical times. The Psalmist asks: Why are you cast down my soul, and why do you moan within me?

Despair and a sense of isolation permeates our narrative, and no one is immune. Moses, David, Elijah they are all weighed down and despondent at times.

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Talmud engages with the problem, initially deciding that suffering is also a sign of Gods love, allowing usa different relationship with the divine, but immediately subverting this idea with stories of great rabbis.

Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba fell ill. His teacher Rabbi Yohanan visited him and asked: Is your suffering dear to you? Hiyya replied: Neither this suffering nor its reward.

Yohanan said: Give me your hand. He gave him his hand, and Yohanan helped him rise.

Later, when Yohanan fell ill and his student, Rabbi Hanina, visited, he asked the same question and received the same reply given by Hiyya. Hanina asked for Yonahans hand and helped him to rise.

Talmud asks now why did Yohanan wait for Hanina, given he could heal his student Hiyya? And the answer is powerful: A prisoner cannot free themselves from prison.

Suffering is never desirable, even if it potentially opens a door to God. From this comes the idea sometimes found in the Jewish community that it is a mitzvah to be happy, that we should never reveal depressive feelings.

But our tradition teaches that we need other people to help us out of our despair, and for this help we have to share how we feel. The stigma of mental ill health exists in our communities as it does in the wider world, something many are tryingto alleviate.

But maybe the idea of a Blue Monday, reminding us of everyones need for hope in dark times, will enable us to proffer a hand to our anguished fellows, even if we dont book the holiday its originators hoped for.

See the rest here:

Progressively Speaking: Blue Monday, the year's most depressing day - Jewish News

A Shul With A Story: Shomrei Emunah Keepers of The Faith – The Jewish Press –

Posted By on January 18, 2020

Photo Credit: Shomrei Emunah

Kedusha. That is the word that kept reverberating through my mind as I walked into the Shomrei Emunah synagogue and it only heightened throughout my visit.

I knocked on the door of the magnificent edifice at the corner of 52nd Street and 14th Avenue in Borough Park and was greeted by Mr. Shloime B. Ellner. I introduced myself and explained that friends in Florida had recommended Shomrei Emunah for an article. I could hear a shiur being given in one room. The only other person I could see was a solitary figure in a large study sitting at a table with an open sefer. Mr. Ellner told me that Rav Shmuel Dovid Friedman spends so much time learning that he has very little time to spare so I should have my one question ready for him. Mr. Ellner unlocked the door to the study and it was the beginning of an incredible one-hour experience with Rav Friedman an hour of heightened kedusha.

My one question was a generic: What can you tell me about your shul? The Rav started with a story about HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, with whom he has a close and long-standing relationship. On one particular visit to see him in Bnei Brak in the 1980s, Rav Chaim told of a man who needed a medical procedure to save his life. It was very expensive, $10,000 per week, and could Rav Friedman raise the money. Rav Friedman came back to New York not sure how he could raise that amount of money every week. He decided to put ads in newspapers. Amazingly, every single week the money was raised, $8,000 a week from the ad in The Jewish Press.

Rav Friedman then told me that all these years he had never expressed hakaras hatov to The Jewish Press and was happy to be able to thank the newspaper and its readers.

Rav Friedman continued to speak of HaRav Kanievsky and reached into his wallet where he kept a small packet with a half-shekel coin that had been blessed. I was honored when he gave it to me to keep.

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Congregation Shomrei Emunah was established in 1907 and in 1910 built a Romanesque Revival style yellow brick edifice, which it still occupies today. Numerous talmidei chachamim founded Shomrei Emunah. Over the years it has become known as The Mother of Jewish Institutions due to the offshoots that were established from it: Beth El (see A Shul With A Story, June 26, 2019), Congregation Anshe Sfard, and Bnai Yehuda. Shul members were also credited with establishing organizations such as Yeshivas Etz Chaim (Hebrew Institute of Borough Park), Borough Parks first Jewish day school and a very popular yeshiva and Israel Zion Hospital, now known as Maimonides Medical Center.

A long line of distinguished rabbis served the kehillah, which might be why the Chofetz Chaim was known to have said that Gedolim traveling to America should visit Shomrei Emunah upon arriving. Rabbi Wolf (Zev) Gold was the shuls rabbi from 1928-1935. Rabbi Gold was the founder of the Williamsburg Talmud Torah and is credited with being the first President of the Board at Mesivta Torah Vodaas and the one who chose the name of the now iconic yeshiva. During those early years, numerous esteemed rabbis visited the synagogue including Rav Elchonon Wasserman, HaRav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, and HaRav Boruch Ber Leibowitz.

Dr. Harry Wohlberg was Shomrei Emunahs rabbi from 1935-1973. Rabbi Wohlberg was also a professor at Yeshiva University during that time and later served as Vice-President of the Religious Zionists of America. Rabbi Wohlberg served on the executive committee of the Rabbinical Council of America in addition to being a trustee of Bar-Ilan University. Rabbi Wohlbergs three sons were all rabbis. Rabbi Jeremiah Wohlberg recalls going to shul in the 1950s and seeing a large contingent of emigrants, many of them Holocaust survivors with numbers on their arms. The shul was also known to be staunchly Zionist. Shomrei Emunah hosted all of the leadership of the Zionist movement prior to and subsequent to the establishment of the State of Israel. Rabbi Zev Gold, who had made aliyah at that point, was one of the original signatories on Israels Declaration of Independence.

The renowned Rabbi Yaakov Pollak, ztl, who was niftar this past May, served as the Morah Dasra from 1973-2008. Rav Friedman told of the heroic efforts and success of Rav Pollak in rescuing the manuscripts of Rav Yitzchak Eizik Krasilschikov, known as the Gaon of Poltava, from Russia. During the 1970s, Rav Pollak made numerous trips every year behind the Iron Curtain to rescue the Poltava Gaons twenty-volume dual-commentary on the Talmud Yerushalmi (twenty thousand pages) and other great works; all were transferred and removed in secret and accomplished with great humility. Thus what is recognized as the clearest and best explanation of the Talmud Yerushalmi is still learned in batei medrashim today in large part due to Rav Pollack.

Since 2008, Rabbi Aviezer Cohen has been the shuls spiritual leader. He has given a Gemara shiur, Chevras Shas, between Mincha and Maariv for over 40 years.He is a talmid of Rav Yoseph Dov Soloveitchik of Yerushalayim and of Rav Aharon Kotler.

While many in Boro Park are at the chassidishe end of the spectrum, Shomrei Emunah still offers a place for all people living in the community.It is a true makom of learning and tefillah.

This still vibrant shul has a profusion of minyanim and shiurim. There are 2-3 weekday minyanim for Shacharis, one for Mincha, and two for Maariv. Attendance numbers in the hundreds and an average Shabbos sees 60-70 women in the ezras nashim. There is a 7am minyan for Shabbos, a 9am minyan with a chazzan, and a 9:15 minyan without. The 7am Shabbos minyan was started so that family members with a relative in nearby Maimonides Hospital could daven early and then go to the hospital or nearby nursing homes. Its the earliest of its kind in the area.

In its heyday, when mainstream Orthodox Judaism was at its peak in Boro Park and Shomrei Emunah was the jewel, the shul saw 500-600 people on a typical Shabbos. My friend who recommended I visit told me that Rabbi Pollack was his mesader kedushin. He spoke affectionately of Shomrei Emunah smiling as he recalled the men wearing top hats as they sat in the seats of honor at the bima.

One sign of the vitality of Shomrei Emunah today can be seen in the success of its numerous daily shiurim. There are two daf yomi shiurim, one in English and one in Yiddish, classes on Talmud Yerushalmi, Mishnayos, and others given over in Hebrew, English, or both. The Avos Ubonim learning program draws approximately 150 participants on motzei Shabbos. Twice this year the shul was misayem Shas.

Back to my original question. The Rav shared that some years ago there was a regular shiur with about 15 men. One day, without forethought and not knowing why, he asked if there were any men who had given $100,000 to a worthy cause. Many hands went up. The Rav then asked if anyone had given $250,000 and a few hands went up. Rav Friedman said, Thats my shul. Everyday working men, attending shiurim, and no one knew the generous amount of money each had given to tzedakah.

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Rav Friedman gives two shiurim a day, and is perhaps better known for his recordings on The Rav gave me a USB drive with thousands of his lectures. Can you imagine, thousands of opportunities to learn!

Before leaving the study, Mr. Ellner showed me bookshelves of seforim written by Rav Friedman. Rav Friedman wrote close to one hundred popular seforim on various topics on the Shas. As Rav Chaim told him to write seforim on Talmud Yerushalmi, Mr. Ellner explained, Rav Friedman writes chiddushim and collects mefarshim and hes like the Artscroll of Talmud Yerushalmi.

Mr. Ellner, by the way, has a Masters degree in mental health counseling. Outside of his shul responsibilities, he works with different modalities in the milieu of holistic healing. More depth, knowledge, and wisdom emerging from the great minds of Shomrei Emunah.

It must be all of the learning that contributes to the kedusha. Not just in the Beis Medrash or in Rav Friedmans stories, it emanates from the walls themselves. There is a warmth to the smell of old leather seforim and the vintage ambience of a room long used studiously; it was a surreal and very special experience to have ruchnius transformed into tangible air. Rav Friedman said that he would like to refurbish the shul, that halacha requires a shul to be beautiful. Ahh, but the name Shomrei Emunah, Keepers of the Faith, so represents the beauty of this very special shul with a lot of stories and what is more beautiful than a shul with kedusha.

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A Shul With A Story: Shomrei Emunah Keepers of The Faith - The Jewish Press -

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