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Nagar: India’s reversal of farm reforms a victory for non-violent protesters and the diaspora – Calgary Herald

Posted By on December 5, 2021

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In his famous and immortal novel Kanthapura (1938), Raja Rao, one of the Big Three of Indian-English novelists (the other two being R. K. Narayan and Mulk Raj Anand), says, Then the wind comes so swift and dashing that it takes the autumn leaves with it, and they rise into the juggling air, while the trees bleat and blubber. Then drops fall, big as the thumb the earth itself seems to heave up and cheep in the monsoon rains. It churns and splashes, beats against the treetops, reckless and wilful, and suddenly floating forwards, it bucks back and spits forward and pours down upon the green, weak coffee leaves, thumping them down to the earth.

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The protagonist of this novel, Moorthy, can be seen in every single farmer participating in the agitation, sitting at the border of New Delhi opposing new agricultural laws.

This was the biggest post-Indian independence non-violent movement. The Moorthies won. Bade Khan and Bhatts lost. The Kanthapura of Raja Rao in the 1930s is the Sighu and Tikri Borders of the farmers in New Delhi in the 2020s.

On the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the first master and founder of Sikhism, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on Nov. 19 declaring he would repeal three contentious agricultural laws that sparked more than a year of protests, in a rare apparent climb down ahead of pivotal provincial elections.

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In a previous column , I said this agitation had divided the Indian diaspora in Canada. The Punjabi news media outlets in Canada overwhelmingly supported farmers, whereas other language media chose to align itself with New Delhi by promoting pro-India rallies.

In Ontario, Hindu Forum Canada sponsored billboards overseeing major highways thanking Modi for sending COVID-19 vaccines. The timing of such advertising conflicted with ongoing protests causing more tension on religious lines within the diaspora.

Sikhs alleged provocation on part of those supporting Modi. Canada also received COVID-19 vaccines from Germany and the U.S. Why no billboards to thank those countries? they wondered.

Polarization on religious, ideological lines has no place in Canada. Sadly, the widening gulf between Hindus and Sikhs, moderates and radicals, did damage the multicultural fabric of our adopted home.

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But with the new declaration, the diaspora is happy again. The Sikhs are happy the contentious laws are repealed. The Hindus are happy the BJP government in India has won the hearts of the people of India and people of Indian origin all over the world. The previous clear divide seems to have faded away, luckily.

Meanwhile, more than 600 farmers lost their lives. The diaspora in Canada, Australia, U.S. and U.K. overwhelmingly supported this agitation. If doctors of Indian origin from different countries camped there with the agitating farmers, the local artists (singers, lyricists, actors) threw their support for the farmers. Everybody had the farmers backs.

Some Indian provinces are going to elections early next year and this farmers agitation was a major hurdle for the Modi government in winning those elections. The prime minister in his address to the nation apologized, though Prof. Sukhpal Singh , the principal economist of the Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana (Punjab) calls it a half-hearted apology.

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No doubt the agricultural reforms are direly required, but the way the government intended to do so was not accepted by the majority. The biggest democracy in the world should have taken care of that.

Now, when these agricultural laws are on the verge of going back to the suitcase of the central agriculture minister, farmers and labourers have shown a new path to the new generation of India that big battles can still be won non-violently. The diaspora is happy!

Rishi Nagar is the news director at Red FM 106.7 in Calgary and a member of the City of Calgarys Anti-Racism Action Committee and the Calgary Police Services Anti-Racism Committee.

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Nagar: India's reversal of farm reforms a victory for non-violent protesters and the diaspora - Calgary Herald

The Hellenic Initiative Gala to Raise Funds for Greek Causes – Greek Reporter

Posted By on December 5, 2021

Michael Psaros and Archbishop Elpidophoros during the last in-person THI gala in 2019. Credit: The Hellenic Initiative

The Hellenic Initiative (THI) will host its Annual Gala in New York aiming to raise funds for pandemic crisis relief and economic recovery in Greece on Saturday, December 4.

The 9th Annual Gala will be held in person, after last years virtual-only event, but the festivities will also be available to stream live online. Titled Moving Forward Together, it will highlight stories of Greek resilience in the face of adversity.

Since its founding, THI has raised USD $17 million for grants supporting NGOs and economic development projects in Greece.

At its annual London Gala on September 30, THI raised more than $270,000 for charities that benefit and protect children in Greece. At the renowned Dorchester Hotel, 300 Diaspora Hellenes and Philhellenes raised funds for ELEPAP, one of the oldest charitable organizations in Greece, and the ELIZA Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Greeks have always come together to aid those in less fortunate situations, THI Board President and Gibson Dunn Partner George P. Stamas said. This was true of immigrants who left the homeland at the beginning of the last century and continues today. The spirit of philotimo () interpreted as helping others and pride in community is alive and well. Were proud to be the catalyst that helps the diaspora continue this proud tradition.

THI, the leading group uniting the Greek diaspora and philhellenes internationally, will honor Johnson & Johnson Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky during the event.

From 1983 to 1984, Gorsky was stationed in Drama, Greece as part of his military service and he learned to speak Greek at the Defense Language Institute.

A philhellene, he was instrumental in developing a relationship between Johnson & Johnson and THI. Johnson & Johnson has been an essential hiring partner for THIs successful ReGeneration program since the programs inception.

Launched in 2014 to train, mentor, and place highly qualified millennials in internships at top Greek and multinational companies, the program has created more than 1,600 youth job placements, unlocking more than 11.5 million in salaries. Recognized as the top internship program in Greece, more than 80 percent of participants secure a contract extension or are hired.

The event will be emceed by one of Greeces most popular recording artists, Sakis Rouvas.

At the same time, THI is offeringan array of auction items that focus on giving to those in need. Charitable auction items include those that support programs for hunger relief, health and social welfare support, and vocational training.

As in prior years, Greek artists, food and wine purveyors, luxury destinations, and fashion and jewelry designers from around the world have come together to donate items. A bidding website is under development and will be available online soon.

The Hellenic Initiative is a global nonprofit organization that brings together Diaspora Greeks and Philhellenes to invest in the future of Greece through programs focused on crisis relief,entrepreneurship, and economic development.

THI was founded in 2012 by Greeks of the diaspora and philhellenes to provide direct philanthropy and aid to Greece and the Greek people.

For more information on the event please follow this link.

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The Hellenic Initiative Gala to Raise Funds for Greek Causes - Greek Reporter

Political compromise is the work of patriots – Armenian Weekly

Posted By on December 5, 2021

Demonstrations in Yerevan calling for the unification of Karabakh with Soviet Armenia (Photo: Ruben Mangasaryan, circa 1980s)

Most people who pursue public service believe their perspective on policy is essential. When accompanied with the interpersonal dynamics of political life, we sometimes find ourselves unable to compromise. Its commonly referred to as partisan politics. Party loyalty is admirable, but it also contributes to legislative and governing gridlock. When does a parochial view begin to limit whats in the national interest? The easy part is forming a view. The hard part is implementation. The only time in politics when compromise is not required is in a dictatorship. I always find it interesting when a politician wins an election by, say 52 to 48 percent, they declare they have a mandate. A mandate for what? To govern or to push their agenda? The mandate is that you have been entrusted in a democratic society to govern the entire population. They certainly have no issues with the 52 percent that supported them, but what about the responsibility to the 48 percent? Successful leaders know how to bring everyone along for the journey. That requires compromise without abandoning the national interests.

Some call compromise a betrayal to the ideals (the 52 percent), while others view it as a process of inclusion. At one point, we will all be on either side of that distribution, yet we tend to change our perspective depending on which end we reside. Patriotism involves always working truly in the best interests of the nation which requires us to closely examine the views of those who did not vote for us. It is challenging to find consensus, but with power of authority comes the responsibility to find solutions.

This is a theme that bears repeating for our dear homeland and the worldwide diaspora. We can safely make two assumptions about the political climate in Armenia and Artsakh. The first is that there is no greater priority today than the national security of the Armenian homeland. The other is that the instability of the political environment is weakening Armenias ability to address that priority. The climate of conflict is toxic. Endless arrests, investigations, political undermining and staffing changes only lead to the perception of aimless governing and bitter adversarial relations. How can Armenia improve the political landscape? Private and discreet negotiations between the parties are certainly important, but for too long the message of inclusion and compromise has been missing in public discourse. The public has been encouraged to take to the streets, use the media and express hopelessness to promote personal attacks and divisive rhetoric. Regardless of your perspective, it is difficult to defend this as helpful for Armenias future. Most of the attacks center around forcing the resignation of Pashinyan. This is the same tactic used prior to the June elections. Now with a mandate to serve, the same approach is wasteful. It creates more animosity and more division, further weakening our position. Can Armenia survive the turmoil connected to regime change? Our enemies view this as an open invitation to attack Armenia and further pressure the government to subscribe to unfavorable peace. Pashinyans people likewise respond with charges of past corruption from previous administrations (now opposition) which has the same negative impact. Is it that difficult to understand the futility of this approach or is patriotism now defined as synonymous with partisan positions?

Last week, we broached this matter with some suggested actions to break the apparent gridlock. It starts with the authority structure which is the current government. In this chess game, they have the first move. No one should be exonerating past corruption, but the country cannot endlessly continue a process that began in 2018. On the back of the Velvet Revolution, there was a place for anti-corruption. What began as standing up to the faces of corruption and a public cry for justice continued with political overtones. Exonerations added to this perception. The war of 2020 simply added to the feeling of anxiety that fueled public opinion.

The gridlock and political civil war are not in the interests of a sovereign prosperous Armenia. The answer in Armenia always seems to be demanding the replacement of the government. It has happened with the Ter Petrosyan, Kocharyan, Sargysyan and now the Pashinyan administration. Whether its street demonstrations, elections or other forms of pressure, the exit of one government has rarely improved the climate. Poverty remains a critical issue. Population migration is crippling, and now national security is threatening sovereignty. We have seen many leaders with different styles over the last 30 years in a variety of landscapes. One approach that has not been attempted is a comprehensive national reconciliation and political unity movement. The reconciliation is required to enable the healing caused by the bitter internal conflict. Political unity can only happen when there is a common unifier. In this moment of porous borders and huns at the gates, can there be any greater purpose than overcoming the nefarious intentions of our enemies? Many Armenians today have abdicated their impact by claiming that the future of the country is in the hands of others. We are all too familiar with Armenias dependency on Russia, but sovereignty starts with a spirit of self-determination. Once that is lost, the decline is significant.

What can Armenia do to protect its sovereignty? We can start by acting as one nation. Division always reduces the whole, and we need every ounce of the whole at this time. Political debate can certainly be an important part of the democratic process, but not when it is motivated by acquiring power or making change that does not inspire confidence. Armenia is at a point where the inability to find consensus and work together has become the major obstacle. In a divided political society, one group takes power and discounts the others. Change in this environment simply rotates the chairs with the same result. At the end of the day, this political process does little to improve the lives of the citizens.

Bold action is required to bring our nation together. But how? Pashinyan has spent considerable effort bringing charges against former government officials. The list is long. Supporters say it is tedious work because the problem is rampant. My observation is that this process has not been particularly successful. Some have been released, and others have been found innocent. On the other hand, this has fueled an opposition that views this as revenge. The truth has become almost irrelevant as the country sinks into civil conflict. Perhaps a conditional general amnesty is a better way for the nation. A good friend of mine who is active in Armenian politics suggested that rather than endless investigations, we should consider a conditional amnesty where individuals would compensate the nation in return for amnesty. These funds would be substantial and would be directed toward the national security of the nation. A conditional amnesty should be declared to relieve the country of the atmosphere of investigations and arrests that have gained a perception of political motivation.

Fortifying both sides of Syunik and improving armament and military research are just a few uses for this funding. The nation receives compensation for the past, and the individuals start with a clean slate. I cannot think of any more significant change to reduce the internal political conflict. We must find a way to put these conflicts behind us. Patriotic expression should be encouraged and valued. Let those who refuse to participate in a national reconciliation movement be isolated. This will take incredible will on the part of the political elite, perhaps more than they may believe they are capable of. We must also appeal to the egos of the elite. One possible opening to convince these individuals may be in appealing to their legacy. At some point, most influential individuals care about how they are perceived, remembered and how their impact is sustained. It will require all parties to subordinate their personal feelings and embrace a sense of national collaboration. Are patriotic values stronger than the cultural norm of disunity? This approach has the possibility of de-escalating the domestic political firestorm and focus our resources on the external threats instead of being dissipated in partisan conflict.

Pan-Armenian behavior has become prevalent in the diaspora as old wounds heal and the need for collaboration becomes essential. The lack of such in the homeland is a dark cloud hovering over our people and represents a significant threat. It has taken many painful years to come to this realization. Armenia needs a similar epiphany and the catalyst may be the national security crisis.

A wounded bird unable to fly cannot protect the nest. Most major wounds heal from the inside. The rhetoric expounded about patriotism and the homeland has little practical value unless it leads to recovery. An engine with cylinders misfiring is not very effective and will probably break down. The pain and suffering of the Armenian nation requires unprecedented action by the powerful to reconcile those in conflict and to restore hope in the citizenry. Are we expecting perfection? Of course not. Conflict is part of human nature. Civil discourse can be valuable as long as it does not impede decisiveness and stays below the threshold of dysfunction. No one should be above self-reflection. We should all examine our approach during this critical moment in our history. One of the greatest expressions of patriotism is to subordinate oneself to the needs of the nation. Our people will follow a path of reconciliation, self-sacrifice and the compromise required to survive.

Stepan was raised in the Armenian community of Indian Orchard, MA at the St. Gregory Parish. A former member of the AYF Central Executive and the Eastern Prelacy Executive Council, he also served many years as a delegate to the Eastern Diocesan Assembly. Currently , he serves as a member of the board and executive committee of the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR). He also serves on the board of the Armenian Heritage Foundation. Stepan is a retired executive in the computer storage industry and resides in the Boston area with his wife Susan. He has spent many years as a volunteer teacher of Armenian history and contemporary issues to the young generation and adults at schools, camps and churches. His interests include the Armenian diaspora, Armenia, sports and reading.

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Political compromise is the work of patriots - Armenian Weekly

Each of them program Diaspora program systemizes all computes that caused by internet based talk in conjunction with health suggestions – ADOTAS

Posted By on December 5, 2021

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Each of them program Diaspora program systemizes all computes that caused by internet based talk in conjunction with health suggestions - ADOTAS

Rabbi Neil Hirsch: The importance of kindness in the season of light – Berkshire Eagle

Posted By on December 5, 2021

Recently, while driving from Great Barrington to Stockbridge, another car went to pass me. I was in the narrow stretch heading north after passing Windy Hill Farm. I was driving the speed limit and had my 4-year-old son in the backseat. As the other vehicle passed by, instead of zipping by, he slowed down and came up next to me, holding that position for several seconds. The other driver stared me down, holding up an obscene hand gesture. I was stunned, especially as I eyed the oncoming traffic moving headlong toward him. I slowed down, forcing him to pass. As my nerves settled, my son asked what that person was doing. He had never seen someone do that before.

Not only did I have to explain to my son what the rude hand motion meant, but the interaction with this other driver also shook me. Retracing my driving, I tried to imagine what I had done to warrant such a reaction from him, but I came up short. I had been in his way, and he let me know he was angry about it. The other driver probably forgot about the interaction a few minutes later. To me, it was an insult that I am still carrying.

Public expressions of anger and aggression are becoming more common the longer we live under pandemic conditions. Over the last several months, airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration have all reported an increase in passenger violence. In major urban areas, road rage shootings are becoming more common. The pandemic has isolated us from one another. No longer are we neighbors with one another, but strangers. Couple our anonymity with the isolation we have all experienced, along with the everyday pressures we each carry, and I better understand the formula that creates the aggression. Explaining road rage, University of Wisconsin psychologist Ryan Martin writes, Everyone is anonymous to us, and we are to them. We do things we wouldnt normally do give people the finger, yell at them, cut them off. If Im walking down a hallway at work, I wouldnt do these things. Being on the road brings out and exacerbates anger. The man who passed me might have had good reasons to be angry. Still, nothing justifies the way he treated me, a drive-by stranger.

As we move through the holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year, our celebrations are reminders to draw ourselves close to one another, fighting against anonymity. We gather at candle lightings, tree lightings, holiday parties and worship services all to be in community, to be known by one another.

Right now, in the Jewish community, we are closing out Chanukah, our Festival of Lights. Chanukah is the eight-night celebration of the Maccabees victory over the Seleucid Empire. We commemorate their success by lighting a Chanukiyah, a unique candelabra. The candles we light each night symbolize the miracle the Maccabees experienced during their struggle. When we light these lights, our tradition also instructs us to put them in our windows, to remind passersby about the miracle we celebrate. Chanukah is a holiday celebrated primarily in our homes, but by placing the lights in our windows, we fight against anonymity, seeking to connect and share with our neighbors the warmth created each night.

Moreover, sharing the light at this time of year reminds us that the darkness does not last forever. Soon, the solstice will pass, and we will add light each day. The ancient rabbis debated how to light Chanukah candles, wondering whether to add a candle each night or take one away. They decided that we should add a candle every night because, when it comes to sacred matters, we are only to increase joy. We never willfully diminish that which is holy. I have come to believe that we put our Chanukah candles in our windows just like many put their Christmas trees in the window: to communicate hope and joy.

My heart breaks for that other driver because he changed nothing. He successfully spread ill will. His anger is understandable but far from the holiday spirit. In this holiday season, we seek to increase joy and sanctity for ourselves and others. I hope we each give and receive kindness, that leads to a hopeful and joyous life, for ourselves and for our neighbors, during these holidays and every day.

Rabbi Neil Hirsch serves Hevreh of Southern Berkshire, a reform synagogue in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

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Rabbi Neil Hirsch: The importance of kindness in the season of light - Berkshire Eagle

When my rabbi took me to the mikvah – The Times of Israel

Posted By on December 5, 2021

An Open Letter to My Fellow Educators

Dear Colleagues,

I remember the first time my rabbi took me to the mikvah.

It was the early 1970s, and I was ten years old, living in a small town in Massachusetts. Our small, homey synagogue had recently hired a new rabbi before the holidays. Its customary for Jewish men to immerse in a mikvah (ritual bath) before Rosh Hashanah. The rabbi, who often drove me to prayer services during the week and to other Jewish events to help me learn more about Jewish practices, asked me if I want to go with him to the mikvah. I was ten and didnt know what a mikvah was, and I trusted the rabbi. Also, the rabbi was a really fast driver, which was so cool. So I said yes.

There was no mikvah in our town, so the rabbi drove us to the nearest large city. Along the way, he explained what a mikvah was, and what it was for. My ADHD was in high gear, so I dont remember much of what he said. What I remember was that he drove really, really fast. Somewhere at around 80mph he said that you get undressed, and dunk three times completely under the water. Now I was listening. That seemed strange, the whole naked thing.

The mikvah was in an old house. To me it looked creepy and even haunted. There was a dimly-lit waiting room with a few people and a washing machine. It was very quiet.

When it was our turn to use the mikvah, the rabbi said Im going into this room here to get undressed. You wait here, and Ill call you.

The specific moment that he called me to join him in the doorway of the preparation room is seared into my memory, because up until now I had only ever seen my rabbi in a suit and tie. He wore a suit in school, when we played kickball, even when he mowed the lawn. And now he was covered only in robe and a towel. It was a shock.

I know what you might be thinking and fearing that the rabbi took off the towel and molested me. But thats not what happened. Instead, he showed me another door to the mikvah room, explained the dunking procedure, and made it very clear that I was not to enter the mikvah until he himself had finished dunking and had left the room. Only come into this room when I am finished, he said. I remember those words. They meant that we were not going into the mikvah together. It was crystal clear. I was not, under any circumstances, to enter the mikvah at the same time as the rabbi.

The rest of my story is memorable not because of what the rabbi did next, but because of what I did next: I started following all the Mikvah Preparation Guidelines written and affixed to the wall. If you have any questions, call the attendant, it said. But the instructions seemed straightforward enough, so I cut and filed my nails, combed my hair, flossed and brushed my teeth . . . how was I supposed to know the instructions were only for women? Around the time that I was on the floor giving myself a breast exam, the rabbi knocked on the door and asked me what was taking so long, and said I should just get in the mikvah and lets go.

As a rabbi and educator, I think often of this incident, which happened nearly 45 years ago, because it taught me something about setting boundaries. And over the last 45 years, it has also taught me about how boundaries can change.

At the time, when sexual abuse by rabbis was more hidden and my parents, and I, and all of us had the luxury of naivete, my rabbi did everything exactly right: he took me to the mikvah, set a line that, at least according to that time, was a healthy one that his student should not see the rabbi in any state of undress and stuck to it. I had been afraid of the mikvah building, but at no time was I afraid of the rabbi. And I knew everyone in our community knew and everyone throughout his illustrious rabbinic career knew, that this rabbi understood and respected boundaries. No one could ever suspect him of inappropriately touching a child, because his standard was uncompromising, and the boundaries he set were clear, and have remained clear to all.

Today that standard is impossibly low, so low it seems quaint at best and dangerous at worst. But just as my rabbi knew how, according to 70s culture, to draw lines, we too must draw lines though now the lines have shifted. For the sake of both our students and ourselves, it is crucial for rabbis, teachers, youth group leaders, and anyone for that matter, not just to not-abuse, but to never put themselves into situations wherein anyone could think or suspect that they could have been inappropriate.

In 1993 I was appointed Regional Director of New England Region of NCSY. My wife (who is a therapist) and I immediately implemented a mandatory training program for all staff. Our college-age volunteer counselors learned lots of fun things: educational techniques, halachic Q & A, issues around group dynamics.

Staying above the fray. Rally for Israel, Washington D.C. April 2002

We also talked about boundaries how to create them, and how to maintain them, to create a safe environment. Never be alone with any child, not even a child of the same gender. If you must meet with a child individually, leave a door open. Dont talk with kids about your own emotional baggage. And more, much more, rules that now seem obvious but in 1993 were novel, or even considered absurd. We told them that if they ever crossed the protective boundaries defined by Halacha (Jewish Law) or by our written guidelines they could not remain on our staff.

I wasnt talking only about the safety of the children. I was also talking about the safety of the counselors themselves. Of course, our highest priority were the teens in our charge. My second-highest priority was making sure our staff never put themselves into a situation that could be misinterpreted. I urge you, my rabbinical colleagues and friends, to do the same.

We have all heard of rabbis wave away warnings about their dangerous behavior because of course I would never abuse anyone. Its true, they would not. It is also true that we live in an age when perception becomes reality. We live in an age when clergy are often accused of molesting children. We live in an age when, unfortunately, many rabbis who abuse remain un-accused. And, equally unfortunately, many rabbis who have not abused are nevertheless accused.

To be a good rabbi or mentor, its not enough to inspire children and take care of them. We also need to take care of ourselves. Part of being a mature, responsible person is showing good judgment by creating boundaries, and sticking to them consistently. Part of being a brave leader is accepting that we live in a time when people are afraid of what their clergy might do and never, ever giving anyone a reason to even suspect that we might be among the bad apples. Ultimately, if a rabbi isnt able to protect himself, why would anyone believe he can protect others?

The boundaries have moved over the last 50 years, and the times have changed as well. Accept that. Embrace it. Behave consistently on the right side of the new boundaries.

And, I might also add, try to drive within the speed limit.

With best wishes for success in all your holy work,

Ari M. SolomontAshkelon, Israel

Rabbi Ari Solomont is the Director of International Admissions for Yeshiva University in New York. Prior to making aliyah eighteen years ago, Ari was a licensed nursing home administrator and the executive director of New England NCSY. (National Conference of Synagogue Youth) Well known as an expert in the field of informal education, Rabbi Ari has been a sought-after consultant for several national and international educational initiatives. Rabbi Ari's warmth, humor, love of people, and compassion have inspired generations of Jewish youth. Rabbi Solomont is an off road cycling enthusiast who can often be found riding through the Hills of the Holy Land and along trails across the globe. He and his wife Sarah Beth live in Ashkelon, have 4 children and 6 grandchildren. Their youngest daughter is currently serving in the Israeli Air Force. [The views and opinions expressed by Rabbi Solomont on this blog are his own and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any organization or institution to which he is affiliated]

Excerpt from:

When my rabbi took me to the mikvah - The Times of Israel

US Jewish weddings are back along with rising prices, staff shortages, uncertainty – The Times of Israel

Posted By on December 5, 2021

New York Jewish Week via JTA After 18 months of barely performing any weddings at all, Rabbi Howard Buechler of the Dix Hills Jewish Center on Long Island found himself with not just one but two requests to officiate on a recent Saturday night.

So he enlisted his daughter, Rabbi Yael Buechler, to officiate at one of them. The bride, Pamela Rosen, and her parents knew her because she has led an alternative service at the synagogue during the High Holidays.

Meanwhile, one of the senior Rabbi Buechlers sons, Rabbi Eli Buechler, assistant rabbi at The Jewish Center, an Orthodox synagogue in Manhattan, was officiating at still another wedding that weekend in the city.

This is the first time we ever had a Buechler trifecta, Howard Buechler said.

The unusual feat was driven by an explosion of weddings this fall as couples scheduled the big nuptials that were unsafe during the height of the pandemic. Along with growing guest lists, the trend has put pressure on rabbis, caterers and vendors across the New York City area who are working their way through a backlog of weddings.

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No one suggests that the pandemic is over, and the uncertainty of case surges, new variants and gaps between who is and isnt vaccinated brings with it its own anxiety. (At all three November 13 weddings, Buechler said, he believed guests were required to be fully vaccinated.)

Still, families have been scrambling to reschedule postponed weddings and dealing with rising prices, limited venues and ever-changing medical recommendations as they do so.

The number of weddings this year is off the charts, said Bill Vidro, the owner of Azure Limousine in St. James, New York, in Long Islands Suffolk County. People are getting married this year who rescheduled their wedding from last year. There are weddings now from 10 am until 3 or 4 pm because the venue was already booked for the night. We are picking up brides and grooms as early as 6:30 in the morning. They go for pictures and then for an afternoon wedding. Its insane. And people are getting married during the week because weekends are booked.

The wedding blitz is a microcosm of a global economy still mired in a pandemic, from shifting medical protocols and rising prices to staffing shortages and supply chain disruptions.

Ariel Bick, 28, said that when she and her husband Steven Victor married on November 6 at The Beekman hotel in Manhattan, they followed city regulations requiring all her guests to be fully vaccinated. Guests were asked to email their vaccination records to her before the wedding; those who didnt had to show them at the door.

When Ariel Bick and Steven Victor married, on November 6, 2021, at The Beekman hotel in Manhattan, they followed city regulations requiring all guests to be fully vaccinated with at least two shots. (Ariel Bick/ via JTA)

Some 350 guests were invited; 220 attended. About 10 to 15 didnt come because they were not vaccinated, she said.

One challenge: the rising price of flowers. Flower growers were very conservative when they planted this year because of the losses they sustained last year when many events were canceled, explained Jay Riether, an owner of Fleurs du Mois in Manhattan.

That has created a shortage, he said. The New York wedding scene is now like what it was pre-pandemic, but flowers are scarce and costs are inflated and the more esoteric flowers are impossible to get. As a result, prices have gone up 20 to 50 percent.

That was Bicks experience. We booked the flowers a year before the wedding and as we got closer to the date, they told me that the price was going up and that they had to pass along the increase, she said. We paid about 20% more because of what they said was an increase in the cost of labor and materials.

Employers across many industries say they are having a hard time finding willing workers, a dynamic that is fueled by a number of pandemic-related factors. The hospitality industry, which includes caterers, has been hit particularly hard, and Gayle Wilk, an owner of Gala Event & Food Artistry in Melville, Long Island, said costs are going up also for wait and kitchen staff.

It is very difficult getting help and we are paying them a lot of money, Wilk said. We pay a premium for dishwashers everybody is getting paid more.

Wilk said her staff wears masks and that there are special precautions in place because of COVID-19. Frankfurters in dough blankets are usually served with a communal bowl of mustard; instead, Wilk serves the finger foods with a plastic syringe filled with mustard that guests can squeeze themselves. (COVID-19 spreads in the air, not on surfaces.)

Rabbi Yael Buechler (center) officiated at the wedding of Pamela Rosen and Jared Daniels, on November 13, 2021, a weekend in which her father and brother, both rabbis, also officiated at Jewish weddings. (Pamela Rosen and Jared Daniels/via JTA)

Guests dont take anything by themselves, everything is served to them, Wilk said.

Heather MacLeish, manager of Deborah Miller Catering & Events in Manhattan, said next year promises to be even busier because we will be seeing three years worth of weddings in one year. There will be brunch weddings, two weddings in one day and more Sunday weddings and weekday weddings. Thursday is going to be a big day. And we are already booking 2023 weddings because a lot of dates next year are filled up and we are seeing people who are already married and want to have a party.

People are anxious to put the pandemic behind them and turn to some semblance of normalcy, said Wilk.

People are trying to forget about COVID and they are inviting big numbers again, she said, adding that some invited guests decline because they dont want to travel or are not back mentally.

As a result, she said, parties for 300 end up with 250 because 50 are afraid to come.

But 250 is a bigger crowd than the handful who attended weddings held during the worst of the pandemic. Marlene Kern Fischer of Armonk, New York, said her son and his fiancee had planned a wedding for 220 to be held at a hotel in July 2020. The pandemic forced them to cancel the hotel and the party and Fischer said the couple, Eric Fischer and Danielle Clemons, held their wedding July 2, 2020, in her backyard with just 14 people.

Eric Fischer and Danielle Clemons held their wedding on July 2, 2020 in her familys backyard in Armonk, New York with just 14 people. (Eric Fischer and Danielle Clemons/via JTA)

It ended up being so beautiful, so intimate and special that now my middle son says he wants a small wedding, she said. I feel like the pandemic has given people license to do things differently now. Weddings dont have to be in a hall and the couple may not want to share the intimate thoughts they were able to express in their vows before 220 people.

Fischer noted that the brides parents drove to her home from Maryland and, because they did not want to stay in a hotel, rented an RV that they parked in her driveway.

The newlyweds had thought of having a large party after the pandemic, but Fischer said the bride decided against it because she did not want to insult her beautiful little wedding by having something else.

The event proved so special, Fischer said, that she wrote a book about it, Gained a Daughter but Nearly Lost My Mind: How I Planned a Backyard Wedding During the Pandemic.

For all the hassle, however, the months of waiting to get married have made the wedding day all the more special, according to Rabbi Jack Dermer of Temple Beth Torah in Westbury, New York.

There is real gratitude to be able to be together, he said. I officiated at weddings for couples who postponed their marriages for close to two years. Their marriage now is so much sweeter and holy.

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US Jewish weddings are back along with rising prices, staff shortages, uncertainty - The Times of Israel

Men spitting at Hanukkah party bus a bigoted antisemitic attack, says rabbi – The Independent

Posted By on December 5, 2021

A rabbi who was on board a bus that was spat at by a group of men in central London has described it as a bigoted antisemitic attack.

Shneor Glitsenstein, director of the Chabad Israeli Centre Golders Green, was with around 40 young Jewish people on the open-top party bus in Oxford Street on Monday when the men shouted and made obscene gestures at them.

He said: Let me be clear: on Monday evening we were attacked on the streets of London for being Jewish and celebrating Hanukkah

This was a bigoted antisemitic attack in the heart of London

Rabbi Shneor Glitsenstein

While our bus contained no references to Israel, we were clearly a Jewish group.

The young men who surrounded us were not engaged in political protest; this was a bigoted antisemitic attack in the heart of London, seen by dozens of others, who stood by silently.

Video shared online appears to show the attackers making Nazi salutes at the passengers and banging a shoe against the side of the bus.

The rabbi said the men approached the group while they were dancing in Oxford Street.

The bus had stopped at the famous shopping destination as part of a city tour to mark Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights.

He said: They quickly became aggressive, and began making profane gestures and yelling Free Palestine!'

Just as everyone returned to the bus, the young men began shouting profanities at the group, throwing at least one projectile on the top of the bus, spitting at the bus, and banging on the windows with their shoes.

The bus then drove off and the Hanukkah party on wheels continued, according to the rabbi.

The bus tour from north-west London was organised by the religious organisation Chabad, which arranges public menorah (candelabra) lightings and events to celebrate Hanukkah.

This years festival runs from November 28 to December 6.

The Jewish festival of Hanukkah is celebrated with lighting eight-armed candelabras, or menorahs (Aaron Chown/PA)

(PA Wire)

In the video, people on board the bus can be heard saying We are Jewish and We need to go.

When the vehicle eventually pulls away, one of the men can be seen running alongside the bus and smashing his arm against the windows.

The Metropolitan Police are investigating the incident, which is being treated as a hate crime.

Officers were called to Oxford Street at around 8pm on Monday, but met the bus at another location after it moved on to avoid any further confrontation, police said.

The Met said: The group shown in the video could not be located at the time of the incident and there have been no arrests.

The attack was also reported to the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity which monitors antisemitic incidents and is working with the police to support the victims.

Dave Rich, CSTs director of policy, told the PA news agency: They were quite frightened that the group who were threatening them were going to physically assault them, they were spitting at them.

They were pretty scared and they definitely felt it was because they were Jewish that theyd been targeted, there was absolutely no doubt about that.

In a statement, CST said: London is a city where Jewish people must be able to celebrate our festivals and enjoy an open, confident Jewish way of life.

This disgusting incident goes against everything this city stands for and should be condemned by all.

Antisemitism has no place whatsoever in society and I utterly condemn these disgusting acts

London Mayor Sadiq Khan

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: Antisemitism has no place whatsoever in society and I utterly condemn these disgusting acts. No-one should have to experience this.

Mr Rich said there has been an increase in antisemitic hate crimes in the UK.

In the first six months of this year, we had the highest number of antisemitic incidents ever reported to CST in the first six months of any year, he said.

Police urged anyone who recognises the men in the video, or who has any other information, to call 101 with the reference 6187/29NOV.

Information can also be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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Men spitting at Hanukkah party bus a bigoted antisemitic attack, says rabbi - The Independent

Jewish center on the Plaza heavily vandalized during Hanukkah – fox4kc.com

Posted By on December 5, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo. A Jewish organization in Kansas City is recovering following the discovering massive damage at its facilities.

Rabbi Yitzchak Itkin arrived at Chabad on the Plaza on Thursday morning to find papers and books thrown about, electric wiring ripped out and plumbing cut with water pouring everywhere.

The rabbi said its devastating to have this happen especially as Hanukkah is going on.

Hanukkah is really all about light, adding one more candle every day, Itkin said We start with one, add a second one, a third one, a fourth one, a fifth, a sixth until the eight night. Tonights the sixth night, and at a time to have so much light added to the world, to have some of that light taken off and this place made a little dark hurts a little bit.

Fortunately, the Torah and other important religious texts were left intact.

The rabbi said police currently believe this wasnt a targeted hate crime.

Meanwhile, Chabad on the Plaza is looking to raise $54,000 in 54 hours. The Jewish education and community center had already raised over $76,000 as of 2 p.m. Friday. With the help of generous supporters, every dollar donated is being matched three times.

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Jewish center on the Plaza heavily vandalized during Hanukkah - fox4kc.com

Every ‘I Love Lucy’ Episode From Spring of 1952 to Winter of 1953 Involved a Rabbi, Priest, and Minister – Showbiz Cheat Sheet

Posted By on December 5, 2021

Virtually everyone alive today has seen I Love Lucy. The award-winning television sitcom made its debut in 1951 and has been on the air in one form or another ever since. So, you probably know who Lucy, Ricky, Ethel, and Fred are. You may even recall some of the shows hilarious plot lines. What you might not know is the reason why every episode from the spring of 1952 to January 1953 involved a rabbi, a priest, and a minister.

When Lucille Ball and her then-husband, Cuban-born bandleader Desi Arnaz, found out they were expecting a baby, the couple figured that their hit television would go on hiatus or be canceled altogether. Instead, scriptwriters worked Balls impending bundle of joy into the plot.

They were, however, reined in by a litany of demands and restrictions imposed by the shows sponsors and CBS executives. According to HuffPost, Arnaz satisfied one of those demands by agreeing that religious advisors, including a minister, a priest, and a rabbi would be on-set to approve any and all episodes that featured a pregnant Lucy.

Television in the 1950s adhered to strict codes and standards. Many of those regulations are gone now, but it was considered nothing short of scandalous for a woman to be seen on TV with a proverbial bun in the oven back in 1952. Nobody on a TV show was allowed to utter the word pregnant, either, and the rabbi, the minister, and the priest were on the set to make sure it didnt happen on the I Love Lucy set.

I Love Lucy introduced plenty of firsts to American TV viewers. For one thing, the screwball comedy was the first television show to use three cameras. It was also the first TV show to feature a real-life husband and wife. I Love Lucy was also the first TV show to write an actual pregnancy into the script, explains A Line from Linda. That barrier-breaking move paved the way for future on-screen pregnancies, including Emily Deschanels character, Temperance Brennan, on Bones, Chelsea Perettis character, Gina Linetti, on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Lisa Kudrows character, Phoebe, on Friends.

In the spring of 1952, I Love Lucy became the most-watched show in television history with more than ten million viewers tuning in every week. By the time Ball gave birth to Little Ricky on the January 19, 1953 episode, the show boasted an unheard of 67.3 rating, according to Pop History Dig.

Ball gave birth to her real-life baby by scheduled C-section on the same day her on-screen character had hers. Interestingly, Desi Jr. was not Balls first baby. In fact, says AV Club, the bodacious redhead was pregnant during the filming of the pilot episode, but the situation was never addressed.

Ball and Arnaz founded Desilu Productions in 1950 and remained united at the helm until their divorce. Desilu produced a number of popular shows, including The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Mission: Impossible. When Ball bought Arnaz share of the company in 1962, she became the first female to head a Hollywood television studio, explains the Lucy Desi museum in Balls hometown of Jamestown, New York.

Twins Michael and Joseph Mayer played the newborn Little Ricky in 19 episodes. According to IMDB, they are both alive at the time of this writing. Richard Keith, who portrayed Little Ricky from 1956 through 1957, currently manages a ballet company in Jackson, Mississippi.

Lucy and Desis real-life son, Desi Arnaz Jr., started a popular rock band, Dino, Desi & Billy when he was 11 years old. Today, Desi Jr. owns a theater and directs a non-profit ballet company in Boulder City, Nevada.

RELATED: I Love Lucy: Which Cast Members Are Still Alive?

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Every 'I Love Lucy' Episode From Spring of 1952 to Winter of 1953 Involved a Rabbi, Priest, and Minister - Showbiz Cheat Sheet


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