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New York bans display of Confederate flag and other hate symbols on state grounds – WDJT

Posted By on December 22, 2020

By Leah Asmelash, CNN

(CNN) -- The state of New York will no longer sell or display anything considered a "symbol of hate," including the Confederate flag, according to a bill just signed into law.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill, which goes into effect immediately, on Tuesday. Introduced earlier this year, the bill prohibits the "selling or displaying of symbols of hate or any similar image, or tangible personal property, inscribed with such an image" on public property.

"The term 'symbols of hate' shall include, but not be limited to, symbols of White supremacy, neo-Nazi ideology or the battle flag of the Confederacy," it continues.

The Confederate emblem has long been a divisive symbol, with some claiming it represents heritage and pride, and others arguing it represents racism. Regardless, it has become popular among White supremacist groups and is considered a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.

In his approval memorandum, Cuomo highlighted growing attitudes of intolerance and hate as a reason for the bill.

"The horrific rash of anti-Semitic, anti-African American, anti-Hispanic and anti-LGBTQ behavior spreading across the United States is repugnant to our values as New Yorkers and Americans, and a new generation now bears witness to a rising tide of discrimination, hatred and violence that threatens generations of progress," he wrote.

"By limiting the display and sale of the confederate flag, Nazi swastika and other symbols of hatred from being displayed or sold on state property, including the state fairgrounds, this bill will help safeguard New Yorkers from the fear-instilling effects of these abhorrent symbols."

It's been a year of reckoning for the Confederate battle flag. As Americans began to grapple with systemic racism, the flag has increasingly fallen out of favor.

Earlier this year, the US Navy and the Marines banned displays of the flag. Voters in Mississippi, whose state flag used to include the Confederate battle emblem, approved changing the flag to one incorporating a magnolia flower.

NASCAR announced in June it would prohibit the display of the Confederate flag at all events after Bubba Wallace -- the only full-time Black driver on the cup circuit -- said racetracks shouldn't allow them.

The-CNN-Wire & 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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‘We’re against everything they stand for’: LGBTQ-owned clothing company Verillas pushes back after Proud Boys wear its kilts – USA TODAY

Posted By on December 22, 2020

The Proud Boys were seen wearing kilts made by LGBTQ-owned clothing company Verillas. Here's how the company responded. USA TODAY

The photo sparked horror among Verillas employees.

It was a picture that showed members of the Proud Boys, designated as a hate groupby the Southern Poverty Law Center, a liberal advocacy organization, wearing black and yellow kilts designed by the clothing company.

Justin LaRose, the brands vice president, said he feared the LGBTQ-owned companys clothes were being co-opted by a group whose message Verillas is directly against.

Verillas responded to the photo on Twitter. The company said it was disgusted to see the Proud Boys wearing its clothes during a rally against the 2020 presidential election results last weekend in Washington, D.C.. It also pledged to donate $1,000 to the NAACP after seeing about$750 worth of its merchandise in the photo.

We're against everything they stand for, Verillas said about the Proud Boys in a tweet.

What followed was an outpouring of support.

LaRose said he originally feared Verillas a small Virginia-based company with 10 people thats been around since 2014 wouldnt have the voice or the reach to stop the Proud Boys from getting the first say about their clothes.

Almost immediately, like within an hour, people were behind us and they were amplifying our message because they recognized how small we are and how little power and how little say we had in the situation to begin with, LaRose told USA TODAY on Wednesday.

'Reclaim our pride': Gay men take over Proud Boys hashtag on Twitter

He added, It was relieving, it was empowering and it felt amazing.

Kilts on Verillas range in price from about $45 for a half kilt to roughly $500. The brand has several LGBTQ+ Pride designs, too. Other things for sale include hoodies, boots, a tunic and fairy wings.

We want as open and inclusive as possible about fashion, La Rose said, adding We want to represent all forms of the human body in an amazing and flattering way and we want to be as inclusive as possible for anybody who identifies any which way they please.

Members of the Proud Boys, wearing kilts, gather outside of Harry's bar during a protest on Dec. 12, 2020, in Washington, D.C.(Photo: Stephanie Keith, Getty Images)

Another clothing company has already denounced the Proud Boys. Members frequently wear black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirts, according to the Anti-Defamation League. In September, the brand released a statement saying it does not support and is in no way affiliated with the Proud Boys.

Verillas owner Allister Greenbrier told the BBC that Verillas has removed the yellow and black kilt design from its website.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Washington DC on December 12 to show support for President Donald Trump. Storyful

Who are the Proud Boys?Far-right group has concerned experts for years

"I can't control who buys my product, but if they're buying our product, they're putting their money towards a good cause and I think they won't be too happy when they find out they accidentally bought from a company that's really fighting for the opposite of what they believe in," Greenbrier told the BBC.

Verillas is thankful for the support, LaRose said.

What were working on now is, now that we have this support and we have this voice, how to use it in the right way," he said. "We just hope we have some time and can do some good.

The Proud Boys gained notoriety during the presidential election. President Donald Trump, when asked to denounce white supremacists during the first debate against Democratic nominee Joe Biden, told the Proud Boys tostand back and stand by.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, members of the Proud Boys have been known to engage in violent tactics; several members have been convicted of violent crimes."


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Thomas O’Brien on Boston’s Newest Luxury High-Rise Residential Tower, Bulfinch Crossing Development, Pandemic and 2021 – Boston Real Estate Times

Posted By on December 22, 2020

BOSTON In an exclusive video interview with Boston Real Estate Times, Thomas OBrien, founding partner and managing director of Boston-based The HYM Investment Group, LLC, talks about the citys newest luxury high-rise residential tower The Sudbury,his vision for the Bulfinch Crossing Development in Boston, overall market conditions, impact of current pandemic on both commercial residential markets and his take on 2021.

To watch the full interview, please click here, or on the image below:

The Sudbury contains 423 Residential Units (368 apartments for rent, 55 condominiums for sale) and totals 45 stories (480 feet). Condo sales are being managed by Campion and Company, and apartment leasing is being managed by Bozzuto.

Part of the larger Bulfinch Crossing development, no other residential building offers the exclusive views that The Sudbury does, with a breathtaking perspective of Boston Harbor, The North End, The Charles River and the Boston skyline.

Centrally located in the heart of downtown, The Sudbury gives residents close proximity to the restaurants of the North End, the Boston Public Market, the TD Garden, and the open space and public art of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

Mr. OBrien previously served as a Managing Partner for JPI, a national owner of multifamily communities, and as a Managing Director in Boston and New York for Tishman Speyer, one of the worlds leading real estate firms.

Mr. OBrien also led the Boston Redevelopment Authority as its Director and Chief of Staff, overseeing the development of over 12 million square feet of projects in Boston, from 1994 to 2000. He has served as Chairman of The Greater Boston Real Estate Board and currently serves on the Board of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at Harvard University and as Vice Chair of the Board of Overseers of The Anti-Defamation League of New England.

In 2011, the Governor of Massachusetts appointed Mr. OBrien to the Board of the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency. In 2016, Mayor Martin J. Walsh appointed Mr. OBrien to the Board of Trustees of the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy. He is a graduate of Brown University and Suffolk University Law School, and is a member of the Massachusetts Bar.


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Hasidic rapper Nissim Black on his creative process and Covid recovery – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on December 19, 2020

Nissim Black is passionately, assuredly, confidently in love with God.

Not in love with Judaism, though hes fastidious in prayer and observance. Not in love with spirituality, though most mornings, you can find him meditating in the Israeli hills after sunrise. Not in love with ritual, though hes a devoted Hasidic Jew.

No, Nissim Black is in love with the creator of the universe, with whom he has an intimate and fierce connection. Hes faced no shortage of adversity, experienced myriad modes of connection with the divine. Yet hes unapologetically who he is, doing what he loves rapping with the undeniable gifts perceiving and conveying clear-eyed truth hes been endowed with.

Days after his 34th birthday, on which he released The Hava Song, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency spoke to Black at length about his music, his faith and his communities.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. The word Hashem, literally meaning the name, is a Hebrew word for God commonly used by Orthodox Jews in everyday speech.

JTA: You just released a totally transformative version of Hava Nagila. Walk me through how that happened.

Black:It was really a story of divine providence. Thank God, I have been out there enough that producers send me beats all the time [musicians frequently utilize sample tracks to layer under their own lyrics]. My brother-in-law is my producer. Hes really a tzaddik [righteous person], so I let all of the beats go to him. Because if its good, hes gonna tell me.

So this particular producer sent me a WhatsApp message I used that when I didnt have management. My wife and I were driving home from the grave ofShimon HaTzadikin Jerusalem. And we got in the car, were driving for a little bit, and she just starts putting on beats. My wife never just puts beats on!

And Im like, whered you get those beats from? And shes like, somebody sent it to you! And the Hava Nagila beat came on, and I was flipping out over it.

He had a lot of good stuff on there. But thats not my normal way of getting beats. So that one kind of slipped through the cracks. It was supposed to get to me.

I went home I have a studio now in my house because of Covid and I think within a few days, I had the song.

I can only imagine that with six kids at home, your day-to-day life is so crazy right now.What does it look like?

Thank God, everybodys back in school except for my two youngest, but my wife manages that department and Im either in the studio at my house or out running around handling other stuff that I have to handle musically.

I have a Blackout serieson YouTube, so whenever Im out, I have something to do. I have a camera guy that follows me around, or meetings or whatever else that comes along with it. But thank God, even when my kids were at home, I spent a lot of time inside the studio.

I dont know how that happened, my kids were downstairs and I just gave a few hours, went up and worked on music, and then came back down.When I got sick with Covid, I came back home and was self-quarantining. But still, looking back, Im like, how did I get that done? Even though theyre in school, now I cant get anything done!

Whendoyou find the time? Do you work in between day-to-day life? Are you more of a morning person, night person?

Yeah, I have an issue. Im a never-go-to-sleep person.

I try to do everything now during the day, normal hours. I have to be ready to get the kids down for sleep around, you know, 5 or 6 oclock by then my wifes all ready. Im not getting the call, Im getting the look. [laughs]

So I try to really go into the studio from noon or so, and I learn [Torah] in the morning hours. Right now Im releasing one song a week. I actually haveanother songcoming out in like two days, which I dont know how Im gonna manage. I just shot the video for The Hava Song also. Theres going to be a content overload coming up.

So the awesome part about it is that my wife is very supportive. The hard part is balancing my learning schedule with the father schedule. But Hashem gives us strength, He gives us power.

What is your learning schedule these days?

Im actually looking for a new kollel [Torah institute] to learn in. But usually I get up very, very early. In a normal week this week has not been normal I usually get up to pray at sunrise, the earliest you can daven [pray].

I usually daven with an early morning minyan, and then I usually learn for a while. And then I go out to the field and meditate. Im aBresloverHasid, so I go out to the fields and go talk to Hashem. I go out to a lot of beautiful open meadows and forests here in Beit Shemesh.

Then after that, I get to work. And then after Im done with the kids and speak to my wife, late at night, Im also working. Ive either got a Zoom, some type of interview, some type of something, usually at night to 2, 1, something like that. Aint no rest for the weary.

After I had Covid, I was drinking way too much coffee. I think I had a caffeine overdose a little bit. I stopped for a while. But now Im doing it more slowly. Plus, Im doing keto right now. Its really not that bad. Like, youre telling me I can eat meat and fat? Thats not really the worst. OK, so Ill skip out on the doughnut, but I can have the steak. Not the worst thing in the world.

I havent really been able to maintain it, but I think its really helped me out because I wasnt feeling so well. I think I was having some aftermath symptoms. The combination of pounding caffeine and not getting enough sleep didnt help. After Covid, my body really needed to recover. I was having some other issues affecting me. But Baruch Hashem [Thank God], Ive been doing a lot better. I lost a lot of weight on keto. And its getting my energy levels back to normal.

Your family immigrated to Israel from the United States in 2016. What was the adjustment to Israeli life like for you?

Its been a lot of adjusting. Obviously, right? None of your favorite products are here. Nobody really stands in lines. Depending on the neighborhood you live in, you know, people may bump into you, step on your shoe, and if you take a problem with that, then they look at you like, whats wrong?

Normal Israeli life is very, very hard. But when two taxi drivers start yelling at each other, it doesnt mean that its going to end with gunshots.

So its just cultural differences. Everybody accepts the fact that Israelis all stare. Me, my wife, all the kids, everyone is just going to stare at us, which I just was raised that you never do. Those things have been very hard to adjust to. I have it twofold because also Im very, very known here. So I never know why theyre staring. Sometimes it gets a little out of hand, you know?

In 2018, you met withRabbi Chaim Kanievsky[a leading haredi rabbi in Israel]. It seemed like a very inspirational meeting, but unfortunately, you were there because your children were not being allowed into haredi schoolsdue to racism. What was that meeting like for you? And has the Orthodox community gotten any better on these issues since then?

I was having issues getting my kids into the cheder [religious elementary school] when I was in Jerusalem. My boys were actually in schools, but my daughter was not in school. We tried for a year and a half to get her into [a haredi] school. We could have gotten her into a different school, but getting into one that matched the religious level of our home was much more difficult.

One of the biggest issues is misconceptions. A persons skin color, or their career choice, doesnt always necessarily have to reflect your prejudices.

That definitely played a role. And its unfortunate its like that with any system, right? Once theres a system that people have accepted, its very, very hard for people to ever really get out of the box of that way of thinking that keeps them stuck inside of that system.

So unfortunately, it was very hard for us there. But very fortunately, it was good because we ended up moving toBeit Shemesh[a growing Orthodox community outside of Jerusalem]. We were able to get the kids into school in Beit Shemesh, which ended up being a way better choice for our family.

There are some places where its going to be very, very hard for them to ever change. And at the same time, you just sort of have to move where its going to fit your situation a little bit better. And I feel like we did that. It was a tough thing because nobody ever wants to leave Jerusalem. But at the end of the day, it turned out to be the best decision we could have made.

My kids are in school now. Theyre all happy here. Baruch Hashem, they have tons of friends. And two of every type of color and shade come to my house on Saturday. It gets a little annoying, the house is loaded with kids, but Baruch Hashem, the kids are happy.

And we still live in a very haredi neighborhood. It was so shocking to my kids to feel accepted. My son, when he first got invited to a tehillim group [recitation of Psalms] on Shabbos from a bunch of yeshivishe boys, he was tripping out. Because that just never happened in Mea Shearim. Theres just just every type of love and acceptance over here.

Wow, that sounds like it ended up being for the best. You mentioned that your brother-in-law is your producer. And he also converted, right?

Yeah, weve been best friends since kindergarten.

Thats amazing. Are you close with other people in your family? How did you and your wifes choice to become Jewish and become a part of the haredi community affect your other relationships?

In the beginning it was hard for everybody for my wifes family, her accepting a new faith was a rejection of their faith. My biological father was actually very, very supportive. Hes actually aChristian theologian, a professor. He used to sell a lot of drugs back in the day, but now he runs an addiction program. If you met him, you would never think he had the past that he had. Its a different religion, but I think because he made such a drastic change and has become a different person, he was just very happy and cheering me on.

My stepfather and all the rest of my family took it as a sort of a hit because my growth included me having to separate myself for some years. And so that was very, very tough on them.

But I think it was a necessary move at that time. And slowly but surely, Ive been back in touch with my family. I talked to my stepfather I call him my dad because hes been my stepfather since I was 2 years old. I was just fortunate enough to have him in my life. But it was tough. Because the drug and street life were still very much still a part of that world at the time I was making my transition. And especially when I found out that I was going to have a child, I was like, no way in the world Im going to raise them back in that same environment that I grew up in. Thank God Id had a change of mind and a change of heart at a time already.

I was listening to one of your Blackout videos, and you mentioned that Judaism isnt about religion to you, its about the spirituality and the personal relationship with Hashem. Your religious journey has beenwritten about, but Im curious to hear more about some of the big shifts in your own spirituality over the years and how that impacted your music.

I think the main thing is, Im one that really believes youve got to live with Hashem. I never signed up for Judaism because of everything you cant do. I didnt go, oh man, I cant wait to not be able to do anything on Saturday, to not be able to eat what I want.

It was all of the things that you can do in the beautiful relationship that Hashem had with the Jewish people. So naturally, [growing up Muslim and Christian], I didnt have any knowledge of the Oral Torah, or Jewish law. When I started, all I had was aJPS Tanakh, and I read it from cover to cover looking for the behavior that God had, looking for Gods behavior, and peoples behavior, and what that relationship was supposed to look like and what it was supposed to be.

The interesting thing is, you never find that Moshe Rabbeinu [Moses] had a major problem and his solution was to go learn a tractate of Gemara. Thats not what happened he cried out to Hashem. King David was going to lose his son, so he fasted and afflicted himself and cried out.

So this is what I was seeing. You have to understand, to me, this is what Judaism wants. As opposed to today where theres more systemizing. Theres Batei Midrashot [Torah study halls] and beautiful things birthed also. But one of the things you lose about that organic spirituality in relationship with Hashem, its like you almost missed the boat on what were supposed to be doing in the first place, you understand?

I think because I fell in love with Hashem, so to speak, it was easier for me to make my transition. Shabbat wasnt an I have to. It was an I get to, you know what I mean?

I get to eat kosher. I get to. And I think because I started off with that type of relationship, Im looking at the religious lifestyle as a relationship much less than I am as a strict mandate of what has to happen. Because Im already in love with Hashem.

I go toUmanevery year for Rosh Hashanah. Its Judgment Day on Rosh Hashanah, so its a very interesting thing. You go to Uman, you dont feel that at all. People are dancing, smiling, happy, you know, cant wait for the moment of judgment.

So they tell a beautiful story. There was one Litvish guy and one Breslover Hasid staying in adjacent rooms. Rosh Hashanah was coming, and the Litvish guy was very strict on himself. He was doingviddui, confessing, and preparing himself for Rosh Hashanah because its Judgment Day.

And he looks over, and he sees the Hasid dancing and hes singing.

He asked him, whats wrong with you? Why are you so happy? Its Judgment Day; all your deeds are coming before Hashem!

The Breslover Hasid turns to him and says, You know what, youre right. But my father is the judge.

And I think that type of attitude changes the whole entire relationship with Yiddishkeit, with Judaism. And I think because I started off with the relationship aspect, its much easier to do whats required of me.

That expanded into my music. I didnt fall into the trap of like, OK, now that Im Jewish, lets make traditional mainstream Orthodox Jewish music. Thats not what I know how to do. I know how to use what Hashem gave me.

I did leave music for a while because I thought that it was the right thing to do. But I got to come back. Because I have a strong relationship with Hashem, I can be very confident in myself that Im doing what Hashem wants me to do because I have a relationship, as opposed to having to check with the rabbi. Now I did, I did do all of those things. But once youre sure, theyre only going to confirm what you already know. Because youre already in touch with the boss. And I sort of feel like thats the way that Ive been able to move and do other things.

When people call me and say, wow, howd you get away with that? How did you like [laughs] its because Hashem is running it, not the system!

I feel like because of that, Im able to go against the grain and I can talk about and say more and do more. I can say things other people are not going to say because I know at the end of the day, Im not held down by a systemized thing. Im held down by Hashem. So I feel like thats affected my music and how I move in my music.

Your rabbi in Seattle, Rabbi Simon Benzaquen, oncetolda reporter that rap gets a bad rap, and that its an authentic expression of African-American life.Do you feel that people see that your message is authentically Jewish? Has there been pushback?

I think that there is some pushback. But it rarely ever comes to me; I always hear it from somebody else.

And it hasnt been formal. Theres been musicians over the years that have hadherem[excommunication] put on them by a community that felt like the music was not Jewish enough. But theres been a lot of big singers that today are super accepted, that are the mode of what Jewish music is, who also had to go through very, very similar types of things.

We have to realize that even as a people, we dont always get it right. Ive spent so much time in Tanakh and reading Jewish history. Theres been many prophets who have come and were slain all throughout Jewish history. And these were people that Hashem sent!

Sometimes we get it right and its not the right guy. But there have been many times where Hashem has sent prophets, and it was the religious leaders who were against the person, who either killed them or tortured them. So looking at that, I try to always stay neutral and try to stay out of it. But other people dont necessarily feel that way.

Every once in a while I get negative feedback. And I will say every time it happens to me, I cant think of a time where I didnt get something very encouraging and the opposite right afterwards.

I think the majority accept my music because its authentic to me. Im not some yeshiva kid who was listening to Drake and then decided to rebel against the way I grew up. I internally know how to use this weapon that I have. Because Ive been using it my whole life.

I loved yourmaskthat you posted on Twitter. [It said, in Hebrew: Dont speak lashon hara, evil speech, to me.] Theres a lot of divisiveness within the Jewish community. Whats your message to Jews who strongly disagree on politics or community issues?

Theres a whole lot of ego. I was in the hospital with Covid. I didnt have the best oxygen, and I was on oxygen. And I was thinking while I was there. You start to think about life, and like, how much time do I spend on things that really dont matter?

How much time am I wasting on issues or talking about things that just have no significance? If I was on my deathbed, would this be a major issue for me? When you evaluate it, youll see that a lot of these arguments have nothing to do with anything.

Most people that are having a dispute about politics, or this or that rabbi in the community, and all the other stuff is just like, its so easy to not get involved in stuff that people just have no idea how easy it is. [Laughs]

Once you just really put in your head that Im not gonna get involved, its very easy to do that. So I think the main thing is just knowing Hashem and really thinking about, like, is this a matter that Hashem cares about? Because a lot of it is not. Its not a big deal. And one of the most beautiful things the Gemara [Talmud] talks about is that Hashem wants unity over other things.

Like, even if we were to and I used this line in a rap awhile ago even if, God forbid, we were all given over to idol worship, but we were together, Hashem was willing to concede. He was willing to allow that if there was some unity. The Talmud said because there was no unity, He was willing to destroy the people.

Anybody that has had a near-death experience, one of the things that Ive seen most of the time is that people are shown how theyve treated other people. And when you look inside of the Tanakh, and you look inside the Navi [Books of the Prophets] especially, what is Hashem screaming about? How weretreatingthe widows and the orphans, how are we treating each other. Like thats the main thing, more than everything else. Like Hashem was willing tosay, I dont want your Shabbos, your Yamim Tovim, I dont want any of that. Because I dont even have your heart. If your heart is impure. The first time the Temple was destroyed, we were doing a bunch of avoda zara [idol worship]. The second time the Temple was destroyed, everybody was frum [religious]. So whats the problem?

Nowwere mad at everybody over here. This person is not religious, Bibi is this, that one is this.

Listen, when we were all religious, we didnt have it right. Everybody was fighting about who was what and whatever. Hashem also destroyed the Temple. So like, now what? You know? So I think the biggest thing is, were going to be judged mostly on how we treated other people.

There was a lot going on in your latestBlackout episode: A Black Orthodox Jew shares an incident of racial profiling, you cut off someones dreads and youre given a speech about how much your work matters. What is going on in that scene for you?

[Laughs] Theres a lot going on there. My first Shabbat dinner in Seattle was actually with Yakov Lemon, one of the men in the video, whom I affectionately call uncle. He immigrated to Israel about a year after we did.

He wanted to cut his dreads because he felt that it was hindering his ability to be as effective as he wanted to be inside of the community. Obviously, people see dreads, its not traditional, Jewish not that there are too many haircuts he is going to get that are going to be traditionally Jewish, whatever that means.

But it was something that he really felt that it was time for him to do. And he had had that before he had long dreads, and in order for him to make his conversion, he also had to cut them.

Really? Why, was it considered chatzitza [something that prevents water from touching all of ones body during immersion in a ritual bath] or something?

No, just because, you know, it wasnt a Jewish haircut. You know, the system, go back to the system.

So I think he grew them back spitefully years later, but he decided he wanted to cut them again. And so he asked me, he wanted me to be the one that cut them. So I did it.

He was getting racially profiled. The police went up on him, asked him for his passport, and he told them, Im Israeli. But I think the beautiful part that I wanted to highlight was Im Israeli, just like you are. Just the fact that he has pride in it.

Thats one of the biggest things also in America with all of the racial issues, and all of the social issues that are going on over the last year but at the end of the day, youre an American. You know what Im saying? That has to be the overriding thing. Its not my color. Im an American.

So I just sort of felt like that was his way of saying and I cut out a lot more of what he was saying most African-American converts, and other converts, because of the limited amount of us that there are, have had some point where you felt like you were the only one.

So I think for him, I think he feels pride in watching us grow, in the fact that more and more of us Black Jews have moved to Israel its a good amount of guys. We have a group chat just to support and keep each other up.

Its something that Ive been trying to be more conscious of also, to show the diversity withinside of Judaism. Because I think showing that Judaism comes in all different types of shades is going to have a powerful effect on the Jewish people and on the rest of the world. Its just something thats not known, especially to the Western world.

Whats next? It sounds like youre producing music at a really impressive rate. Who are you hoping to reach? And what are you thinking about as youre making your music?

Ive really opened myself back up. I have to spread my wings a little bit more, and spread my reach to include people who maybe dont feel so connected to traditional Jewish music or traditional Judaism.

I want to be able to have an effect on the African-American community. I grew up not being able to have a lot of great wholesome content, but it was way, way better than whats going on today.

I feel like thats been one of the biggest things plaguing the Black community the violence and disrespect to women inside of the music, and thinking that you have to have that message in order to sell.

I just dont support any type of system like that.

Im going to be just as good of an artist without doing all of that. Im gonna unapologetically be happy about my relationship with Hashem, be happy about my religious choices, be happy about all of those things. And Im going to make just as good of music or content or better.

The yeshiva bochurim and the seminary girls have me all day long because Im in their environment. But I feel like the way to affect what happens to the little kids like me is by being somebody that doesnt fit inside of that traditional box. I jumped out of that completely, in many different ways. I think having positive role models can be very effective for young Black kids growing up, and Black people in general.

As I was leaving the community, they had already started taking a lot of funding out for a lot of programs that were actually helping, and they started giving it to the gang unit. Obviously, youre going to create more violence when you have fewer recreational things in the community. And money isnt going to those types of things, which we actually had.

People need positive role models to look up to. And I think its also important for minorities inside of Yiddishkeit, inside of Judaism, also to feel like, wow, we have a voice, were represented. Like, what things from our previous life, our Black culture, can we bring in?

Everything is a product of its culture that it had when it was not in Israel, right? Ashkenazi Jewry is, you know, Im pretty sure that we did not invent gefilte fish and other things these are cultural things that were in the place, same thing in the Sephardi communities and different things like that. So theres a lot of things that culturally I had a friend, and he said, you know, on Shabbat, he never makes cholent, he never has gefilte fish. He said, I grew up eating fried chicken and collard greens. So thats what I have on Shabbos.

Not to feel like we have to get rid of all of that because thats the first thing we all do. Thats the first thing I did let me get rid of everything I ever knew, and try to conform and fit in. But am I really happy doing it? Or is it so wrong for me to have fried chicken? Probably from a health standpoint, but cholent isnt any better!

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Hasidic rapper Nissim Black on his creative process and Covid recovery - The Jewish News of Northern California

From ‘The Crown’ to ‘The Last Dance,’ 11 of the year’s best TV shows and films inspired by real people – The Spokesman-Review

Posted By on December 19, 2020

What a strange, tragic and pivotal year 2020 has been. Its somewhat fitting that in a period when truth was stranger than fiction, some of the best TV and film efforts were based on real-life events.

The list below includes a range of works from biographical films and documentaries to TV shows based on real people released this year that we recommend.

Unorthodox: Deborah Feldmans 2012 memoir inspired this acclaimed miniseries a requisite entry on best of 2020 lists about a young woman who abruptly leaves an arranged marriage and the strict Hasidic sect in which she grew up. Shira Haas (Shtisel) earned an Emmy nomination for her turn as Esther Esty Shapiro, whose departure from Brooklyn leads to exhilarating self-discovery in Berlin. (Streams on Netflix)

Mrs. America: This FX miniseries takes a unique approach in depicting the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment, which was almost passed in the 1970s: focusing on Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett), the late right-wing activist who campaigned against the proposed amendment.

As such, the series is more than a retelling of the womens rights movement, but it does honor its pioneers, including Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne), Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman) and in a particularly standout portrayal that earned Uzo Aduba her third Emmy Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to serve in Congress and run for president. (Streams on Hulu)

The Crown: Netflixs royal-inspired drama excels at taking highly publicized events and imagining how the residents of Buckingham Palace dealt with them away from public glare. The shows fourth season tackles Margaret Thatchers tenure as prime minister of the United Kingdom, with Gillian Anderson as the Iron Lady. The most prominent story line, though, is the brief courtship and subsequent marriage of Prince Charles (Josh OConnor) and Princess Diana (Emma Corrin).

The Netflix series has generated a considerable amount of discourse over its approach to their relationship and Charless affair with Camilla Parker Bowles (Emerald Fennell), who would decades later become his second wife.

Earlier this week, Netflix declined to add a disclaimer labeling the series as fictional in response to appeals from the British government. Controversy aside, Corrin is a captivating Diana, and the season is clearly resonating with viewers, having consistently been in Netflixs (self-reported) top 10 list since its Nov. 15 premiere. (Streams on Netflix)

Shirley: Elisabeth Moss plays writer Shirley Jackson, best known as the author of The Haunting of Hill House, in Josephine Deckers largely fictional drama. Adapted from Susan Scarf Merrells 2014 novel of the same name, the film imagines Jackson during a period of severe depression and social anxiety while trying to complete her 1951 gothic novel Hangsaman.

When a young newlywed couple, Rose (Odessa Young) and Fred Nemser (Logan Lerman), come to live with Jackson and her husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman (Michael Stuhlbarg), the two women develop an intense connection that subtly weaves its way into Jacksons work. (Streams on Hulu)

The Last Dance: This Emmy-winning documentary, produced by ESPN and Netflix, goes deep on Michael Jordans final season with the Chicago Bulls. Despite its accolades and record viewership, some including filmmaker Ken Burns criticized the 10-part series because it was produced in partnership with Jump 23, a production company owned by the basketball legend himself. (Streams on Netflix and ESPN Plus)

Ill Be Gone in the Dark: Veteran documentary filmmaker Liz Garbus, along with a team of producers, directed this six-episode series recalling true-crime writer Michelle McNamaras quest to solve a decades-old cold case. The authors search for the violent criminal she dubbed the Golden State Killer was chronicled in a book by the same name, released two years after her death from an accidental overdose in 2016.

As Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever noted in his review of the docuseries, the project is as much about McNamara as it is about the Golden State Killers crimes. Garbus and co. feature interviews with the writers siblings, friends and husband, comedian Patton Oswalt, who shed light on how McNamaras pursuit of justice consumed the last few years of her life. (Streams on HBO)

The Vow: Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amers well-received docuseries goes inside NXIVM, a multilevel marketing company federal prosecutors later said was a cultlike organization that enabled founder Keith Raniere to prey on young women. Stuever lauded the nine-episode project for its haunting insight into what drew NXIVMs members actresses and socialites among them into a criminal enterprise.

For a more straightforward account of NXIVM and Ranieres chilling hold on his followers, there is Starzs also well-received four-part series, Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult. (Streams on HBO)

The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart: Stuever had high praise for Frank Marshalls HBO documentary about the famed pop/soul/disco trio (brothers Maurice, Robin and Barry Gibb) and their enduring influence on popular music.

Its less of the usual tract (we had them all wrong!) and more of a reckoning with the profound degree of artistry and accomplishment that should be the last word on any Bee Gees story, Stuever wrote in his review. The movie is also a unique consideration of the phenomenon of rise and fall and how one learns to live with it. (Streams on HBO)

Tiger King: Easily the most controversial documentary of 2020, Tiger King unpacks the decades-long feud between zoo owner Joe Exotic and animal rights activist Carole Baskin. The eight-episode series is full of characters (Baskin was a contestant on the most recent season of Dancing With the Stars) and offers an eye-opening look into the world of big cat ownership. (Streams on Netflix)

Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker: This Shondaland-produced documentary follows multihyphenate Debbie Allen as she stages her nonprofit dance academys annual Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. Directed by Oliver Bokelberg, the 80-minute doc doesnt just showcase the production and Allens demanding rehearsals, but also zeros in on the representation that makes it groundbreaking.

Allens company largely consists of people of color, with many of the dancers on scholarship, and the film traces Allens own history in dance dating from her childhood in segregated Houston, where she was not allowed in theaters putting on productions of the Christmas classic. (Streams on Netflix)

Veneno: Journalism student Valeria Vegas (Lola Rodrguez) meets her idol former trans sex worker turned TV star Cristina Ortiz Rodriguez, aka La Veneno (Daniela Santiago) and begins to find her own identity while reporting on La Venenos life. The series, based on Vegass 2016 biography of the trans icon, became a hit in Spain upon its release in March. Stateside reviews are scarce, but the few that exist are effusively positive. (Streams on HBO Max)

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From 'The Crown' to 'The Last Dance,' 11 of the year's best TV shows and films inspired by real people - The Spokesman-Review

Hanukkah Takes On Special Meaning As COVID-19 Vaccines Begin To Distribute – Wyoming Public Media

Posted By on December 19, 2020

The holiday season is upon us and with it comes the Festival of Lights, better known as Hanukkah. Folks around the country are lighting their menorahs, including here in Wyoming. Cooper McKim spoke with Seth Ward, University of Wyoming professor of religious studies, about the holiday's special meaning this year.

Seth Ward:Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days. According to the Jewish calendar, it usually occurs in very late November or in mid-December. The holiday celebrates the rededication of the temple in the times of the Maccabean revolt in approximately 167-264 BCE, and is largely celebrated by lighting the Hanukkah lights. And in fact, as time went on, the rabbi said that the main thing that was celebrated was a miracle associated with the oil. Oil that was supposed to last for only one day provided life for eight days. In addition, the festival celebrates, you might say, the independence of the Jewish state, back in those days. And here in America, we very often talk about this as a victory for religious freedom and religious liberty, and a revolt against oppression by the Hellenistic Greeks, based in Syria by the Seleucid Empire.

Cooper McKim:So how have you seen Wyoming celebrate the holiday this year, and has it been different than past years that you've seen?

SW:This year, almost everybody is doing Zoom. So normally, one would expect to have a number of Hanukkah parties. There are organized congregations in Laramie and Casper, in Cheyenne, and in Jackson Hole. Most of these organizations would have had Hanukkah parties of some sort, or get togethers. There was a Hanukkah lighting in Laramie on Sunday night and the Chabad of Wyoming had took part in lighting of candles at the Governor's office, with the governor as they almost always do and I think it was live.

CM:What messages of Hanukkah are particularly relevant in this unique year?

SW:This year is very much unique. And I think every year, the message of a famous saying, which I have seen attributed to the Baal Shem Tov, a Jewish leader and the traditional founder of the Hasidic movement. The message of the Baal Shem Tov about Hanukkah was "a little light dispels a lot of darkness." And I think the idea of light dispelling darkness is good every year, but this year, I think, is especially relevant. We have a little bit of light that came during Hanukkah, the beginning of inoculations against the coronavirus, against the COVID-19. And in the historic Hanukkah, there were miles and miles to go and things didn't really work out as well historically for the Maccabees as the story seems to tell, but on the whole, there was a little light, and it did dispel an awful lot of darkness at that time. I think the idea of standing up for principles and going forward is always relevant and I think it's particularly inspirational at this time.

CM:Anything else relevant to add in this conversation before we sign off?

SW:Well, that's a good question. One of the things that I've seen an awful lot of people doing for Hanukkah is Zoom cooking, and Zoom singing. In terms of other things this year, the COVID virus, I think has made us aware of the importance of community and Hanukkah typically is one of these holidays that is a family and a community affair. Many communities have parties or they have opportunities to get together. And I think that the presence of Zoom activities during this time of darkness is a beacon of light that tells us how important it is to keep up our ties with our communities.

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Opinion/Keep the Faith: Hanukkah reminds us of light and hope, even in dark times – Worcester Telegram

Posted By on December 19, 2020

Rabbi Aviva Fellman| Telegram & Gazette

Yesterday, as it became dark, we ended our eight-day celebration ofthe holiday of Hanukkah,a festive holiday that commemorates the 165 BCE victory of a small band of Jewish fighters, theHashmonaim, over the foreign forces that ruled the land of Israel. TheHashmonaimrestored the sacred Temple for worship and reinstated Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem.

When I was little, I was taught that the Hanukkah story was about the miracle of oil that lasted foreightdays in the rededication of the Temple the amount of timewe were told thatit took to make more pure oil and get it to the Temple for use.

When I was older and read throughtheFirst and SecondBook ofMaccabees in the Apocrypha, I learnedthatHanukkah was based on the holiday of Sukkot. Because the Jews were busy fighting and the Temple was desecrated, they could not celebrate the fall pilgrimage festival. When the Temple wasonce again in their hands, they celebratedboththe last holiday that they had missed,and the last one that they had celebrated in the Temple two years prior, Sukkot (the Festival of Booths), hencethe reason that Hanukkah is eight days.

Recently, I read a story in the Talmudabout the first winter after the creation of the world.WhenAdam,the first human being, saw that the days were getting shorter and shorter, he said: Oy! Woe is me; maybe because I have sinned the world is getting dark and is going to return to chaos! … He got up and spent eight days in fasting and prayer.When he saw that the winter solstice had arrived, and that the days were getting longer again, he said: this is just the order of the world. He went and celebrated a holiday for eight days.(BabylonianTalmud,AvodahZarah8a)

The Talmud then tells us thatthe next year, he celebrated this ritual again. We know thatthe winter iscold, long, anddark and that it is easy to give up hope but just as soon as the days reach their shortest and darkest, they start getting lighter and longer.

Just here, in this brief article,I have shared three truths about why we celebrate Hanukkah: The miracle of the oil, theconsecration of Sukkot, and an annualmarkingof the dark time of year bythefirst human.Regardless of the reason that we celebrate,the point is tocelebrate,and the narrative textsabout the origin storiesall seem to emphasizethat the people (not God) declared that we should celebratethisholidayto offer praise and thanksgiving.As Rabbi Irving Greenbergwrote, Not as tightly knit in paradigm, theme, and practice as the other holidays, Hanukkah lends itself to being a type of holy day Rorschach test. Every community and generationhasinterpreted Hanukkah in its own image, speaking to its own needs.

Every major religion has a winter holiday that centers around light and hopeandHanukkahisno different.Each of the truths about the origin and reason for observing the holiday arestillbasedon and connected tobringing hope and light into the darkest season.And this year, when there is much to hope for,especially as we watched the first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine be distributed and administered,we can reach within and find that light, that patience, that joy and bring it out into the world.

As part of ourobservance of the holiday, we light an increasing number ofcandles each nightas a way toincrease the light overeach of theeight days.But even with theseincreasing number of candles and flames, we further increase the light each night bylighting a shamash, a helper candle. Thisshamashis the one that we use to light the other candles, it is the onewhose lightweuseso that the candles of the holiday remain sacred for sharing about the beauty and miraculous nature of the holiday. What lighting this candle also means isthat the candles of theHanukkiyahare never alone.

We are never alone, even in the deepest dark of winter. Whenwe light one additional candle, the shamash,on each night of Hanukkah, it brings justa littlemore lightintoour lives. It helpsusto acknowledge that there is light out in the world too, there is reason to hope. May ourlights, our hope, our celebrations, and our hearts be open and bring joy to our lives and the lives of those in our community and our world.

Rabbi Aviva Fellman is the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel in Worcester. She is also an active member of Worcester Interfaith, teaches in W.I.S.E., and is a married mother of 4.

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Opinion/Keep the Faith: Hanukkah reminds us of light and hope, even in dark times - Worcester Telegram

Opinion: The true meaning of Hanukkah (hint, it’s not about joy) – The Detroit News

Posted By on December 19, 2020

David Harsanyi Published 10:28 p.m. ET Dec. 16, 2020

In a recent Parents magazine piece headlined, "How to Explain the Hanukkah Story to Kids," we are informed that, "this year more than any other is a great opportunity to take extra time to teach your family about the Jewish holiday that celebrates the power of light and miracles." Hanukkah, Parents goes on to explain, "means dedication in Hebrew, and the Jewish holiday, also known as The Festival of Lights, represents joy."

Joy? This kind of insufferably vacuous, anesthetized, consumerist celebration that American Jews have concocted to compete with Christmas is stripped of any genuine theological or cultural meaning. It's a shame because, from a historical and cultural perspective, Hanukkah might be Judaism's most fascinating holiday. It's a story about roiling political upheavals of the ancient world, nationalism, assimilation, civil war, religious zealotry, martyrdom and corruption.

In short, the first two books of the Maccabees detail a revolt led by the patriarch Mattathias and his five sons against the Hellenistic king Antiochus, who had barred Jewish religious practice, desecrated the Holy Temple, levied high taxes and forced the population to adopt Greek rituals and norms.

Hanukkah is a story about roiling political upheavals of the ancient world, nationalism, assimilation, civil war, religious zealotry, martyrdom and corruption, Harsanyi writes.(Photo: Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel via AP)

The first book is written from the perspective of those in the countryside, where the Maccabees conducted a guerilla war against the Greeks while taking ample time to slaughter Hellenized Jews along the way. Nowhere in this blood-soaked tale is there any mention of oil or the "power of light or miracles," and there is definitely very little on the topic of joy.

It is true that Hanukkah "means dedication in Hebrew" a dedication that predates any mention of a miracle of light. It is a dedication to the installation of the Hasmonean Dynasty by the Maccabees after they finally subdued all of Seleucid's Jewish allies, taking control of the priesthood, Jerusalem and the future of Israel.

The tale of the Maccabees taking back the Holy Temple and finding only one day's worth of blessed oil that miraculously lasts eight days was added hundreds of years later in the Talmud. I am no religious scholar, but it very much feels like an afterthought meant to soften the tale and inject some theology.

Certainly, oil is not the point. There is little celestial interference. In the second book of Maccabees, for example, the narrator instructs Jews to remember not oil or miracles but the "woman with seven sons" "the most remarkable of all" and deserving of "special honor."

In this gruesome tale, our mother and her children are arrested by Antiochus, who attempts to force them all to eat pork as a test of loyalty. With the encouragement of their fanatically pious mother sometimes referred to as Hannah all of the brothers refuse to partake and are tortured to death in front of her. Finally, with only the youngest left, the king, shaken by the scene, implores the mother to come to her senses and instruct the child to comply. Instead, "she reinforced her woman's reasoning with a man's courage" and tells her only remaining child to suck it up. They both die, leaving Antiochus with nothing but frustration and blood.

Not exactly a parable of light and joy, and no miracles here. Then again, I admit that giving your kids one present for every child murdered by Antiochus wouldn't have the same festive lure as, say, a dreidel per candle.

If anything, this martyrology feels more Christian than Jewish, which might explain why the Books of the Maccabees are canonical in the Catholic faith but not the Jewish one (though there are many theories on this question). Another reason for this might be that rabbis codifying the Jewish Bible weren't keen on celebrating stories of zealotry generally frowned upon in Judaism. Or, for that matter, stories of mass Jewish fratricide.

Christianity and Islam, of course, see themselves in universal terms. Jewish tradition is tied to a place. Ancient Jews see themselves as a nation, not as merely faith, or rather, they see no distinction. Hanukkah is, then, a thoroughly Zionistic holiday. Not exactly a popular ideology in certain quarters these days, either.

Sometimes contemporary scholars will argue, probably because the story itself is so jarring, that Hanukkah is really about "religious freedom" as if those peasants who took up swords in the Judean foothills had entertained liberal conceptions of this idea. The Maccabee revolt opens with Mattathias slaying a Hellenized Jewish official who didn't share his theological outlook and ends with the subjugation and ejection of the population of the last Hellenized town. Even after the Seleucids granted the Jews freedom of worship after Antiochus' death, Judah the Maccabee continued his war to gain political power.

Hanukkah, after all, is a celebration of a military victory waged in a complicated and harsh world. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The miracle these days is that people have somehow made it tedious and uninteresting.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer at National Review and the author of the book "First Freedom: A Ride Through America's Enduring History With the Gun."

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Opinion: The true meaning of Hanukkah (hint, it's not about joy) - The Detroit News

Is the Temple Menorah Hidden in the Vatican? – Questions & Answers –

Posted By on December 19, 2020

There is much controversy and misinformationsurrounding this question, so lets begin by clarifying the facts of the story.

After laying siege to Jerusalem, the Romans, led byTitus, finally breached the walls of Jerusalem, and on the 9th of the Jewishmonth of Av, in the year 69 CE, destroyed theHoly Temple and plundered it.

In the year 81 CE, shortly after the death of his olderbrother Titus, the emperor Domitian had an archbuilt depicting the triumphal procession after Tituss victory over Jerusalem. The Arch of Titus, which stands in Rometo this very day, depicts the procession carrying a number of items plunderedfrom the Jewish Temple, including the silver trumpets, the Table of theShowbread, and most prominently the golden Menorah.

Thetreasures plundered from Jerusalem were housed and displayed in the so-calledPeace Gardens of Rome, which were built using the booty acquired through thesacking of Jerusalem.

Thestory is told in the Talmud of how Rabbi Eliezer, son of Rabbi Yossi, together with Rabbi Shimonbar Yochai and other sages, went to Rome to try to rescind some of the harshdecrees against the Jews. While in Rome, they were miraculously given theopportunity to heal the caesar's daughter, who had fallen ill. Aftersuccessfully healing her, they were given the opportunity to see some of Rome'streasures. These sageslater testified to seeing various items looted from the Holy Temple, including the goldentzitz (golden band worn by the high priest), Parochet (Curtain)and the Menorah.

Basedon these stories, one can understand why many claim that the Menorah, as wellas other items plundered from the Temple, was taken to Rome and may be foundthere to this very day.

However,as we examine this theory, things get a bit murkier.

Theso-called Peace Gardens of Rome were damaged or destroyed a number of times,including in a fire in the year 191 CE. While the garden was subsequentlyrestored, it is not clear if the vessels remained there or perhaps were takento some other place in Rome.

Additionally,Rome itself was sacked and plundered many times, including in 410 CE, by the Visigoths under Alaric I, andmore significantly in 455 CE by the Vandals and Moors under King Genseric, whospent 14 days looting Rome of its treasures.

Sowhat happened to the Menorah?

Someclaim that the Menorah may have been hidden or lost in the Tiber River in Romeduring one of the sackings. Some claim that the Menorah may have eventuallybeen melted down for the gold. Others say that, according to legend, when King Alaric of the Visigoths died shortlyafter the sacking of Rome in 410 CE, the Visigoths buried him togetherwith the Menorah they looted.

Yet others opine that the Menorah was taken from Rome by the Vandals inthe more significant sacking of 455 CE and taken to Carthage (modern-dayTunisia). When Carthage itself was sacked, it ended up in the hands of theByzantine Empire. However, Emperor Justinian, due to the superstition that theMenorah was cursed, sent it off to Jerusalem, where it disappeared (destroyedor stolen) when the Persians captured Jerusalem in the 7th century CE.

And then, of course, there is the claim, mentioned at the beginning ofthis article, that the Menorah has remained in Rome and is currently hiddenaway somewhere deep in the Vatican. Indeed, over the years, various people haveclaimed to have seen various Temple vessels in the Vatican.

Allof the above theories, however, are based on the claim that the Temple Menorahwas brought to Rome in the first place.

Althoughwe have cited the depiction of the Menorah in the Arch of Titus as well asRabbi Shimon Bar Yochais testimony as evidence of the Menorah having beentaken to Rome, these proofs in and of themselves are questionable.

Onthe Arch of Titus, although the upper half of the Menorah can arguably be adepiction of the actual Temple Menorah,the bottom half is not. It depicts the Menorahs base as being similar to a two-tiered cake, while the TempleMenorah had a tripod base. Andthe Menorah on the Arch is decorated with images of eagles, a sea lion andmythological creatures, including a dragon, while the Temple Menorah didnthave any of these images (some argue that the base itself may have been damagedand replaced).

Based on this, some explain that either the Menorah brought to Rome was,in fact, one of the other lamps in the Temple, or the depiction was based off aMenorah that was made to resemble the Temple Menorah.

Similarly, the sages disagree with Rabbi Eliezers description of thedesign of the tzitz, implying that hedid not see the actual tzitz, or atleast it was a tzitz that wasnt madein the usual manner. Thus,the testimony of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai regarding the Menorah may bequestionable as well.

Although there is much ado about the Menorah possibly having beenbrought to Rome, it is important to keep things in perspective.

The Midrash lists the Temple Menorahwhich was originally made by Mosesfor the Mishkanas oneof a handful of vessels of the Holy Temple that were hidden by the Jews beforethe destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians.

Later, during the Second Temple, the Menorah went through a number ofdifferent iterations. In the words of the Talmud:

[In the time of the Hasmoneans, theMenorah was fashioned from] spits [shappudim]of iron, and they covered them with tin. Later, when they grew richer, theyfashioned a Menorah out of silver. And when they again grew richer, theyfashioned the Menorah from gold.

Thus, even if the Menorah was indeed taken to Rome, ultimately thatMenorah isnt the one we need for the Third Holy Temple. As the Midrashregarding the hiding of the Menorah concludes, ultimately, when Gd will turnHis mercy to build His Temple, He will also restore the vessels that werehidden (including the Menorah) to their place and cause Jerusalem to rejoice.May it be speedily in our days!

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Circumcision, Berzerkeley, and the Power of Five Minutes –

Posted By on December 19, 2020

Rabbi Chanan Feldwas a towering fixture of my childhoodmy friends father, and my fathersfriend. He had the cuddly torso of a teddy bear, the magical beard of a wizard,and the twinkling eyes of a rebbe. This is how I remember him.

Chanan was a mohel, trained in brit milah - Jewish ritual circumcision. He was the best mohel Ive ever known. Ill never forgetwhen he performed the procedure on my younger brother. I wanted to punch him inthe throat. And when he opened his mouth and spoke to us afterwards, I wantedto hug him with every fiber of my being. Thats how easy it was to see that hecared.

I remember thetime he was driving our carpool home from school. Quick, dont look to theleft. Of course, what do all the children in the 15-seater van do? We all lookto the left. After some silent moments of puzzled scrutiny, we looked away fromthe windows and said, But Rabbi Feld, theres nothing there! With histrademark wry smile, he replied, Oh, thats OK. There was something you shouldnot have seen on the right.

He dressed in thegarb of a Chabad chassid and lived in Berzerkeley,California, a city garbed with iconic radical political tradition. But thatwasnt all that was surprising about him. From the way he spoke, carriedhimself, led the Hallel prayers on Jewish festivals and taught Torah daily, youwould have thought he was some scion of a multi-generational Chassidic dynasty.But he had been raised humbly as Cary Feld on the north side of Chicago.

Beforehe began working for tips (how he scorned that brit joke), Rabbi Feld hadplayed soccer semi-professionally in the NCAA Soccer league. Under hisgoaliship, the Indiana Hoosiers had made it to the 1976 NCAA finals. His coachTom Yeagley called him the man with the golden hands. His skills were lauded inthe New York Times and Sports Illustrated, and he was even offered a spot in aprofessional league.

Photo courtesy of IU Athletics

Then one day -through Divine serendipity - he walked through the doors of the Berkeley ChabadHouse and asked Rabbi Ferris, Is anybody here studying Torah? It was 1981. Rabbi Ferris recalls thinking,We got a live one! though the rabbi didnt realize at the time how aliveChanan would become. Years later, when asked by hisson Daniel if he ever had regrets about not pursuing the professional soccerpath, Rabbi Feld replied that once he found the world of Torah, he never lookedback, not even once.

Soon after hebegan studying Torah with Rabbi Ferris, Chanan met his bride-to-be at a Chabadevent, moved to Kfar Chabad, Israel, to study Torah, and eventually returned tosettle in Berkeley, where, many years later, his own firstborn son ended upmarrying Rabbi Ferriss daughter. Asmy mother taught me, They say its a small world. But its really a bigGd.

But let me cutthis saga short. (Another brit joke. I hear Chanan groaning). I said beforethat he was the best mohel I haveever known. I wasnt the only one to give him that title. The 8,000circumcisions he conducted over his 20-year career speak for themselves. In fact, as word spread of the kind and talented (andquick! don't blink or you might miss it) mohel,calls came from Hawaii, Alaska, the cannabis-growing forests of NorthernCalifornia, and other far-flung corners of the country. And Rabbi Feld would bethere, ready to do a bris for any Jewish baby.

Rabbi Feld wassteady with the hand and soft with the voice. He was a storyteller par excellence; I was enthralled by thestories of the many unconventional circumcisions he had done. But Chanan wasmore than just a mohel. His agendawas to bring spiritual warmth to those in need, whoever they may be.

Once, after doinga brit milah at the home of a singlemom, he noticed that there was no food in her refrigerator. He had broughtalong a friend to be the sandek and asked him tostay with the mother while he left for a short while. Leaving his black,leather medical bag in the womans apartment, Chanan left and returned half anhour later, his arms laden with food and groceries.

A young Chanan Feld. Daniel Feld

Ahomeless man came to our house asking for money, his daughter Rachelremembers. Abba [Daddy] had no money on him, so he took the man in his car toa nearby ATM machine to give him money."

He was a Torah scholar and spiritual mentor to hundreds. He always had a sefer (Torah book) in his hand or, as he crisscrossed NorthernCalifornia doing brit milahs, a cassette player blaring some Torah-tape or complexanalysis of Scripture. He was a road sage and his holy of holies was abeat-up old blue Honda civic. He saw himself nodifferent to anyone else, and once signed a letter, "from the Jew wholoves you, Chanan."

Feld did not golooking to become a mohel, it came tohim. He was often the first Torah-observant Jewish man many of the families hevisited, and their guests, had ever met. His trick for putting people quicklyat ease was to exude love. He often traveled with mezuzot in his trusty black bag, to put on doors of homes thatdidn't have any. Many of the families called upon him later in life during theirtimes of crisis and joy.

He was just puregoodness, Rabbi Ferris told Jweekly magazine in 2009. He touched more peoplein the community than anyone else. The Feld Shabbat table was a mosaic ofJewish life, with guests from all over the world and from all differentbackgrounds.

He co-founded the(now-defunct) popular East Bay center for Torah study, Beit Midrash OhrHaChaim. And he taught me my favorite Torah teaching about Purim, the one Ivesince repeated to everyone else.

Ill never forget how it happened.

It was the night of Shavuot, when we stay up all night and study Torah. So the JewishCommunity Center in North Berkeley hosted an all-night Torah-learning programwith guest speakers, workshops and classes. One of them was being offered byChanan. My father brought me along as he made the three-mile trek, across townto attend.

I was young at the time, maybe 11 or 12 years old. I dont rememberthe topic or even the title of his class. All I remember is one snippet towardsthe end (once again, I hear Chanan groan). Rabbi Feld started talking about thestory of Purim. After reviewingthe basics of thestory behind the holiday, he concluded, So Gd saved us from the plotof the evil Haman and everyone lived happily ever after. Correct? Everyone inthe audience responded in the affirmative.

Wrong, he said softly. There was one person who never got to livehappily ever after, who never got to celebrate as joyously as the rest of ourpeople, and who never got to taste sweet liberation?

I racked my mind. Who is hetalking about?

Chanan leaned forward in his chair. He stroked his magical beard. Hepaused the perfect beat before giving us the answer. It was Esther, he said.She never got to return home to her family. She remained imprisoned, as Ravateaches in the Talmud, Megillah 14a, as a servant of Achashverosh, all the restof her days. And she did it all for five minutes.

I straightened up in my chair. So did everyone else. Chanan continued,Sometimes, redemption can happen in five minutes. Redemption for you.Redemption for the other. Redemption for the entire world. Chanan closed the sefer (holy book) he was teaching from,and kissed it, as he concluded his lecture. Esther willingly gave away the joyof the rest of her life for those five minutes when she entreated the king andbrought redemption to her entire people. Dont give up your life in death. Giveaway your life in service. Thats a Queen. Thats a heroine. Thats why theentire Megillahis attributed to her name. She teaches us that we too can change theentire worldeven the lot of our destinywith just five minutes. Although heused no microphone, Chanans full-throated voice could be heard throughout thelecture hall.

He tragicallypassed away less than a decade later after a terrible battle with throat cancer. He was 53 years old. Ashis body was lowered into the ground on Mt. Olives in Jerusalem, the heavensopened and cried. There are moments in life when words are of no use. At thatmoment, the rain poured down upon us and I stood silently next to my father,who had never been to the Holy Land, as we escorted his beloved friend to theend.

Chanan was morethen a friend, he was a luminary.

His prematuredeath shook my faith to the core. But his life of service was a mature tapestryof time well used. Five minutes to bring a child into the covenant of Abraham.Five minutes to stick a Torah tape into his cassette player. Five minutes tochange the world.

He definitelychanged mine.

The rest is here:

Circumcision, Berzerkeley, and the Power of Five Minutes -

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