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19
Jul
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SHIVA SCHEDULE FOR MOSKOWITZ FAMILY

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Rabbi Morton and Leya Moskowitz will complete the observance of Shiva in their home, 6421 Hampton Road S, Seattle, WA, 98118 beginning late tonight, Thursday, July 19, 2012.

Services:

Thursday, July 19: Arvit 11:30 pm

Shachrit Services:

Friday, Sunday and Monday, July 20, 22 and 23: 8:00 am

Mincha/Arvit:

Sunday, July 22:  8:40 pm

May the Lord comfort the family amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

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17
Jul
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Passing of Shmully Moskowitz

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Funeral Announcement:

We regret to inform you of the passing of Shmully Moskowitz, son  of Rabbi Morton and Leya Moskowitz. Funeral services were held earlier today, Tuesday, July 17 at Boulevard Park West Chapels in Hewlett, New York with Internment at Wellwood Cemetery.

Rabbi and Mrs. Moskowitz will begin to sit Shiva at the home of Rabbi and Mrs. Yisroel Chait, 529 Hicksville Road, Far Rockaway, NY, 11691. Side entrance of home. Phone number: (718) 471-3479.

They will return to Seattle later in the week to complete the observance of Shiva. 

- This is a great tragedy for the Moskowitz family, for our entire community, and for the Jewish people. Menuchato B'Gan Eden.  May Hashem comfort the Moskowitzs amongst the mourners for Zion and Jerusalem - Rabbi Meyers


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16
Jul
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"Vacation Destination"

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School's out for summer
School's out forever
School's been blown to pieces

Alice Cooper's classic, "School's Out!" You may remember it from your childhood, if you grew up in the 70's.  I understand that it's still quite popular today.

 

Or how about this one?

We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the class room
Teachers leave those kids alone

Pink Floyd!

These songs influenced a generation, me included.  It was challenging to develop a positive attitude towards learning when these were the overt and subliminal messages coming at us from the broader culture.

I recall one evening as I was saying the bedtime "Shema" with our first son - he was about two at the time.  As we were reciting ושננתם לבניך ודברת בם - "...and you should teach them to your children and speak about them...", an upstairs neighbor was playing "The Wall" at full blast.

Each year, I find it challenging to reconcile the western concept of summer vacation with Jewish values.

How does our tradition view leisure time?

This past Shabbat, I quoted from a sermon given by Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm nearly five decades ago at the Jewish Center in Manhattan. It later made its way with significant changes, into the book, "Faith and Doubt":

Saadia Gaon....speaks of the excessive striving for "rest" . Granting that leisure is necessary for physical and mental recovery... it nevertheless is a vain and empty goal if taken by and for itself. It has meaning only as the aftermath of strenuous exertion, and hence is ancillary to work, but can never replace it. Taken without work, it is mere laziness......

... the authentic Jewish view is not that the Sabbath was created for the six days, thus reducing menucha to the character of a vacation, but that the six days were created for the sake of the Sabbath; that, as indicated, the menucha was itself the apex of the order of creation.

In fact, Dr. Lamm notes, the first full day of life of Adam was the seventh day - Shabbat!

What are our priorities on Shabbat and Yom Tov? Dr. Lamm:

By simply removing the distractions and the obsession with work which chokes off creativity during the week, man's innate propensity for self-creativity may come to express itself quite naturally....

Second, and more important, Judaism provides its classical answer to the ideal utilization of leisure time. It is the intellectual way: the study of Torah."The Sabbaths were given to Israel in order that they might study Torah." The Sabbath, both as a specific day and as the model for an ethic of leisure, is the occasion for study.

This message dovetails nicely with a profound observation by the great Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein:  The mishna records five tragic events that took place on the 17th of Tamuz:

  1. Moses broke the tablets at Mount Sinai – in response to the sin of the Golden Calf.
  2. The daily korbanot (offerings) in the First Temple were suspended during the siege of Jerusalem
  3. Jerusalem's walls were breached, prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.
  4. Prior to the Great Revolt, the Roman general Apostamos burned a Torah scroll
  5. An idol was placed in the Sanctuary of the Holy Temple.

RCA colleague Moshe Stavsky paraphrases Rav Lichtenstein's query:  The negation of the daily korbanot doesn’t seem as devastating as the other 4 events; it was merely the absence of the daily offering;  the Temple was still around and the situation could have been reversed.  What’s the big deal?  

A similar question emanates from a midrash, in which three prominent Tannaim debate the verse that expresses the most all-encompassing principle of the Torah:

  • Ben Zoma: Shema Yisrael
  • Ben Nannas: Love your fellow as yourself
  • Ben Pazi: One lamb should be brought in the morning, the other in the afternoon. 

The first two views are simple to understand: Ben Zoma focuses on a Jew's commitment to the One G-d of history, while Ben Nannas highlights the oneness of the Jewish people.  But Ben Pazi's view is cryptic! How all-inclusive is the concept of a twice daily offering?

Answer: Judaism is built on consistency. Those two little lambs represented the consistency required in religious life.  This explains why, when the daily sacrifice ended, we mourn.  It signaled the end of normal religious life.  The absence of these korbanot, starting on the 17th of Tamuz, broke our consistency, it broke our expression of commitment to The One who dwelled in the Temple.  Dedication and commitment to Hashem is THE all-encompassing principle of Jewish life - hence, Ben Pazi!

How many of us - especially in the environment of the American summer - carve out sufficient time for ourselves for matters of the spirit?  It's wonderful to come to synagogue on a weekly basis and to engage in both Torah and Tefilah, but how do we fare outside of the environment of the Kehilla?  How can we create a daily island in time to pursue the matters of the spirit ?  What is our personal "vacation destination?"

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10
Jul
0

Peres Has Me Pondering

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In days of yore, Israeli leaders were very careful to adhere to halacha, to Jewish law, in public, in their roles as representatives of the State of Israel.  Mostly, this involved eating kosher food and publicly adhering to the laws of Shabbat.  SAC director Leon Covitz, via facebook, directed my attention to an article in Haaretz today about Israeli President Shimon Peres; according to the piece, Peres has decided not to attend the opening ceremony of the London Olympics - because it extends into Friday (Shabbat) night and the Olympic committee is not willing to allow Peres to sleep in the Olympic village. (It's reserved for athletes).

Now, Shimon Peres is not one of my personal role models.  Though he contributed much to the building of the State of Israel, he also initiated the Oslo Process, which many of us correctly anticipated would be bad for the State of Israel.  That said, there is a concept called יש קונה עולמו בשעה אחת - a person can acquire his portion in the World to Come in one moment.  So whatever you say about Shimon Peres in general, I think that with his public display of showing reverence for Shabbat, Peres has made a powerful statement about the character of the Jewish state.

I noticed a similar concern for public adherence to halacha when I attended the AIPAC conference this past spring in Washington DC. All of the food sold and catered at AIPAC was strictly kosher.  Certainly, the increased attendance of observant Jews has led to these higher standards; still, the decision by the organizing committee to have no non-kosher options at a convention of 13,000 people conveys a powerful message to delegates and observers alike.  Here in Seattle, local federation functions also strictly adhere to these guidelines.

On a number of occasions, I have spoken of this model as an argument for every Jew to identify with, and belong to, an Orthodox synagogue irrespective of the individual's level of personal observance. The Orthodox Kehilla represents the classical Torah tradition, the Mesora, a commitment to the fundamentals of our faith.  Instead of dulling the aspirations of Jews by presenting them with watered-down templates - like spiritual leaders who themselves fail to observe the basics of Shabbat and Kashrut - Jewish communities should be setting their sights high, exposing Jews to the beauty of Torah, and allowing a Jew of any background to navigate his or her own personal path to G-d.

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10
Jul
0

2012 Guide to the Three Weeks Pt I

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sittingatkotelThe following brief guide relates to customs of Sephardic Jews. Jews of Ashkenazic background have significantly different practices for this three week period. Anyone with questions should feel free to write me at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

We have just begun the period of בין המצרים, initiated this past Sunday with the fast of the seventeenth of Tamuz.

From the start of the three weeks until after Tisha Be'av , the night of July 29, we avoid eating new fruits or purchasing the type of clothing on which we would be obliged to recite the beracha of שהחיינו – "Shehehiyanu".  The reason for this custom is that the full text of the beracha thanks G-d for sustaining us and bringing us to "this time." Since the three week period preceding Tisha Be'av is an unfortunate time for our people, the text of the blessing is inappropriate to recite. 

The laws of the three weeks intensify as we move towards the month of Av. This year, Rosh Hodesh Av falls out on Thursday night July 19th, and Friday, July 20th.  

Although the letter of the law only prohibits the consumption of meat and wine (grape juice included!) during the Seudah Hamafseket – the last meal prior to Tisha Be'av – a widespread post-Talmudic custom developed not to consume these products earlier in the three-week period.  For Sephardim, there are two main customs regarding the consumption of meat and wine:

a) One view is that the custom only applies during the week of Tisha Be'av. This year, Tisha Be'av falls on Sunday, and so practically, there would be no prohibition of eating meat or drinking wine this year prior to Tisha Be'av. 

b) Another view is to refrain from these products following Rosh Hodesh Av. Upon further reflection, I am recommending following this latter custom. One who needs to consume meat   for health reasons should rely on the lenient view mentioned in section (a)

How does custom (b) play itself out practically this year?

  • Rosh Hodesh Av is Friday, July 20th, and one may have wine and meat on that day
  • In honor of Shabbat, there is no public mourning, and we consume meat and wine, including Seudah on Shabbat afternoon, if we wish. We say Hagefen on the Havdala wine and drink it.

Therefore, this restriction begins Saturday night, July 21st, and continues until the next Friday nightShabbat Hazon, July 28th, when once again we may eat meat and drink wine in honor of Shabbat.

So the schedule looks like this:

Friday, July 20th

Permitted to eat meat and drink wine

Friday night and all of Shabbat, July 21st

Permitted to eat meat and drink wine

Saturday night, July 21st until Friday afternoon, July 27th

Custom not to eat meat and drink wine. One may consume the wine of Havdala

Saturday night July 28 until Sunday night, July 29th

Tisha Be'av – Fast Day

Sunday night, July 29th

Permitted to eat meat and drink wine

 

As we mentioned earlier, this year, Tisha Be'av is pushed off until Saturday night, July 28th-Sunday 29th;  there is no formal "week of Tisha Be'av" in which restrictions regarding shaving, laundering, washing in warm water, swimming, etc apply. We will reserve our discussion on those halachot for next year!

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09
Jul
0

Talking Animals ?

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edThis past Shabbat, I began my derasha with a TV trivia question: How did the director of the old "Mr. Ed" show get the horse to move its lips?

Before the computer wizardry of Forrest Gump, how did they manipulate the lips of the talking horse?

A confession: Until now, I had believed that the placement of peanut butter in Ed's mouth was the secret; this was the explanation I presented to the congregation on Shabbat. But as I prepared to write  this blog post, I investigated further, and found that the peanut butter story was fabricated by Director Alan Young. Recently, he changed his tune, explaining that it was in fact a nylon thread in Mr. Ed's mouth that got the horse talking . Eventually, Mr. Ed apparently learned to move his lips on cue when the trainer touched his hoof!

When you mention Perashat Balak to the average person, they fondly recall it as the Torah portion in which a donkey talks. At first blush, the story of Bilaam and the donkey has a Disney-like, cartoonish quality to it. Now, although the Torah's narratives even appeal to children, the profound depth of the episode has long been the subject of our classic commentaries.

In his "Tal Hermon", Rabbi Shlomo Aviner recalls some early psychological experiments involving monkeys. Specifically, he refers us to the work of Masserman and Wechkin: In a 1964 study,15 rhesus monkeys were trained to get food by pulling chains. The monkeys quickly learned that one chain delivered twice as much food than the other. But then the rules changed. If a monkey pulled the chain associated with the bigger reward, another “bystander” monkey received an electric shock. After seeing this occur, ten of the monkeys switched their preferences to the chain associated with the lesser food reward. Two other monkeys stopped pulling either chain—preferring to starve rather than see another monkey in pain.

Rav Aviner points to this as evidence of a very basic "mussar" or ethical element within animals. This quality is elucidated by the prophet Yeshaya (Isaiah 1:3) as he bemoans the ingratitude of the Jewish people: "Even an ox knows its owner, and a donkey recognizes its master's care--but Israel doesn't know its master."

As Bilaam sets out on his journey to curse the Israelites, his donkey seems disobedient. First, she turns off course, then she presses Bilaam's leg against a fence; finally, she crouches down under Bilaam and refuses to budge. Each step of the way, the beast is responding to her vision of Hashem's angel obstructing the path. In response to each act of disobedience, Bilaam strikes the animal. At this point, Hashem "opens the donkey's mouth" – and it delivers a full-fledged "Mussar lesson" to Bilaam:

"What have I done to you, that justifies you having hit me three times?"
"Am not I your donkey, upon which you have ridden your whole life until today? Did I ever let you down?"

The two questions are related: "Maybe there was a specific reason that prompted me to to behave this way? Why did you strike me without taking that into consideration? Secondly, given my faithfulness to you to this point, you should have given me the benefit of the doubt!"

The animal exhibits a higher sense of basic ethics than Bilaam. It sees the angel - which represents the Divine force of ethics and mussar in the world - which Bilaam, for all of his talent and sophistication, can simply not perceive. Once Bilaam admits that the donkey had in fact, never 'done him wrong', he is able to "see the angel"; he begins to have an elementary grasp of the lesson communicated by his donkey. This is followed by a harsh rebuke of Bilaam by the angel, and Bilaam finally admits חטאתי - "I have sinned...."

Rav Aviner's approach dovetails nicely with a puzzling comment by Rashi. The donkey refers to Bilaam's three beatings as שלש רגלים. Rashi, based on the midrash, explains that the donkey is critiquing Bilaam for attempting to eradicate the Jewish people, who observe the three pilgrimage festivals. The word "regalim" in Hebrew can simply mean "times" (Bilaam strikes the animal three times); alternatively, it can be a veiled reference to the Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot, when the Jewish people traditionally travel en masse to Jerusalem.

What's the connection between the three festivals and Bilaam's behavior?

The Jewish trek to Jerusalem is an expression of appreciation for the Exodus from Egypt, the receiving of the Torah, and the Divine protection in the desert during our 40 years of wandering. Jewish families thronged to the holy city to remind themselves of their dependence on G-d and His involvement in their lives.

Basic gratitude!

The beleaugered beast of the Bilaam narrative tells her master that he has no hope of vanquishing a people whose "specialty" is the ongoing refinement of their individual and national character.

Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, in his introduction to Sefer Bereshit, notes that an intrustion of baseless hatred and a crisis of character led to the destruction of the Second Temple. If ethical refinement is the Jewish specialty, failing to live up to our potential is a true crisis. 

Today is the 17th of Tamuz, a time for each of us to reflect on how we can work to refine those qaulities and bring about our long-awaited redemption....

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04
Jul
0

As SAC winds up on July 4th - a look back @ another July 4th!

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Tonight at SAC, Leon Cohen is coming out for his annual fireworks extravaganza.  It's July 4th, and residents living on Lost Lake are boating and water-skiing. It was just 36 years ago (double "Chai")
that one of the most amazing events of modern Jewish history took place - the Raid on Entebbe. Years ago, a couple of movies were produced, one in Hollywood, the other in Israel,  to retell the story.  More recently, a computerized mini-documentary recreated the events of July 3-4th 1976.  This 9 - minute film is well worth watching!

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03
Jul
0

SAC: Monday, July 2nd: Creating a Thick Atmosphere of Israel

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After a wonderful Ezra Bessaroth family wedding on Sunday evening at Tibbetts Creek Manor in weddingIssaquah (Mazal tov again to Esther and Julian Alhadeff, and Esther's parents, Amir and Gail Ben-Meir!....see the picture Michael Varon caught of me and posted on facebook -  as the Matador during the wedding dancing!) I drove back to camp this morning with three campers (my son Avraham Beryl, Eli Almo and Jacob Ben-Ezra). Not before stopping by the Hemmat home, where Rachely joined the group. Fully equipped with Israeli flags and other Eretz Yisrael props, Rachely set the tone for this wonderful day @ SAC.

israeliflagToday's theme was Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel.  Some of the highlights: blue and white decorations throughout camp, morning sessions on facts and stats of modern Israel followed by an afternoon Maccabia, Israeli dancing for the girls with Rachely, Tzizit-tying for the boys with Dr. Larry Adatto, a delectable felafal lunch courtesy of Eli Varon, Israeli music, a guest appearance by Chana Adatto's Hatan, Yonatan Shefa of the Maccabeats, a surprise visit by new Olim Leah, Yonit and Dalia Jacobson, an Israeli boot camp activity into the night...

All of today's activities created a real "thick atmosphere" of Eretz Yisrael, highlighting its centrality to Jewish identity. Counselor Ephraim Adatto said it best when he pointed out to me in a casual conversation that though in the past, there has been a day set aside for Israel at SAC, this year's program was more clearly defined and focused.

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02
Jul
0

Sneak Preview of L.O.L. Seattle's new online Jewish Educational Center

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Starting this fall in Seattle - live online Torah classes, brought to you by Ezzy Bezzy and torahtutors.org!

For more information, see the LOL website: http://lolseattle.wordpress.com/

Details to follow! For more info: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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29
Jun
0

This Week's Newsletter

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27
Jun
0

Color War Break Out @ SAC

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colorwarToday, Color War broke out at Camp SAC when SAMIS trustees entered the dining hall with a "Color War" sign.  The dramatic announcement followed an evening and tension for SAC campers, as Director Leon Covitz announced at Arvit last night that the camp was being bought out by BCMH, and was heretofore being renamed "Seattle Ashkenazic Camp" though the acronym of SAC would be maintained. Some fifteen campers from the Ashkenazic community would purportedly be joining the current session - this, combined with the buy-out - would lead to the use of Artscroll siddurim, new pronunciation of key words, and a general change in the culture of the camp. The practical joke, the halachic parameters of which were dubious, was somewhat realistic, since NCSY director Ari Hoffman a member of BCMH, was here Tuesday morning, and Rabbi Owen returned to Seattle Tuesday afternoon, apparently in a flurry of negotiations "to seal the deal".....What transpired overnight was a campers' campaign to maintain the Sephardic identity of the camp.....and relief when Samis Trustees Rabbi Rob Toren, Eddie Hasson and Jerry Cohen dramatically revealed that the joke was merely a prelude to Color War! ehassonTo the right is a picture of Elana Hasson, SAC counselor, a student at NYHS and a former student of mine at SHA. She is a member of EB, and daughter of Nate and Raniel Hasson. Hazzan Yogev and Rachely Nuna came out to camp today with their son Ori, the youngest camper.  He can be seen in his stroller, below: 

ori



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27
Jun
0

Silly Late Night Antics @ SAC

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27
Jun
0

Laptop Talmud Scholar

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urielcohenOne of my Chevruta/learning partners here at SAC, Uriel Cohen, son of EB's Leon Cohen. If you look carefully, you can see the text of the Talmud on Uriel's laptop and my laptop, in the foreground. In the background, the camp art room. We learn at 4:30 every afternoon, and I'm really enjoying it.  

Everything here is running on "camp time" which is an hour earlier than the actual time.....Leon has tried to explain this to me on a couple of occasions, but I still don't get it.  Rabbi Benjy Owen was here until this afternoon, and will be back for Shabbat.  Hazzan Nuna is slated to come out to camp tomorrow.  

on the lake

In the early evening, Rubisa Miriam and I took our 5 year-old out on the lake in a paddleboat.  Very relaxing!  Here's a picture we took of ourselves on the boat: Now, I'm not a great naval navigator.  As a junior counsellor at Bnai Brith Camp in Ontario back in 1978, I guided by cabin (traveling in canoes!) around an island three times before I realized that it was our destination! I can handle paddleboats, though...


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26
Jun
0

@ Camp SAC

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Though the camp has its very own blog, I thought it might be nice to offer my perspective on life here at Sephardic Adventure Camp 2012.  I just returned this morning with Miriam and our daugther Shani from a night in Seattle, where we visited Gail Ben-Meir in Swedish, as she recuperates from last week's urgent surgery.  Thank G-d, she is slowly recovering, but it's a long road, and we wish her a Refuah Shelema/speedy recovery.  Gail's Hebrew name is Rivka bat Sarah.

birdhousesThis morning, following our camp-wide Tefila, led by Ezra Cohanim and Albert Mezistrano, we came back to the dining hall, only to find that NCSY director Ari Hoffman had arrived with several dozen (low-cal?) Krispy Kreme donuts for the kids and staff. at 9:45 (camp time!) I led the second of a series of learning sessions with the 9-10 year old boys.  Our topic today was halacha and Mesora, and the distinction between halacha and minhag.  An energetic group of boys, including Sammy from Portland, but featuring home-grown talent such as Jo Jo Gladstein, Eli Almo, Ori Amiel, Sivan Shriki, Jacob Benezra and AJ Maimon joined me in a 45 minute session packed full of information and creative thinking. I'm really enjoying the opportunity to learn with the kids this summer! climbing

Speaking of Torah study, I have also had the opportunity for a daily Chevruta with EB's very own Uriel Cohen and SBH's Albert Mezistrano.  Uriel and I are learning Masechet Succah while Albert and I are learning Masechet Bava Metziah.

More updates to come!

(pictures: top left: building birdhouses in the art room
bottom right: "Climbing!" - thank you Rubisa Miriam!) 

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26
Jun
0

JT NEWS to Feature Rabbi Lau

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This past weekend former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, made a historic visit to Seattle. The youngest survivor of Buchenwald, in this photo he meets with Margaret Hollinger, 102, at Kline Galland. Margaret was an army nurse at Buchenwald upon liberation. Stay tuned for the whole story online and in the next issue!

thelaus with the nurse

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24
Jun
0

Reflections on the Rabbi Lau Visit

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From Thursday through Shabbat Perashat Korach, hundreds of members of the Seattle Jewish community were treated to a Shabbaton featuring Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau. It's now Sunday morning, five lectures and hours of informal conversation later, and I finally have an opportunity to process the experience.

ymlauRabbi Lau, whose personal journey from the Holocaust to the Chief Rabbinate is elucidated in his autobiography, "Out of the Depths" embodies the qualities of a true leader of  Israel. As I mentioned on Shabbat morning, in his greatness - personal, professional and moral - Rabbi Lau is able to relate to absolutely everybody. This is reflected not only through his warm personal interactions, but in his engaging and inclusive stories that speak to each and every person who attends his talks.

Rabbi Lau's effectiveness stems from his skills as an orator and his effective, nuanced use of humor.  For me, his message derives its authority from his extensive world travels.  We heard the story of Latin-American woman on a plane who, after watching him put on Tefilin reveals that she, too, is Jewish. Sadly, she was denied a Jewish education, since her grandmother chose not to reveal her Jewishness to children and grandchildren.  Rabbi Lau made a plea for Jewish unity by sharing with us a conversation between an unnamed U.S. politician who explained that cracks in the Israeli political consensus and unity is the key to appreciating US political pressure on Israel. The Rabbi skillfully weaves these encounters into profound Torah lessons; his worldly interactions, instead of weakening his strength of spirit and resolve, give his perspective authenticity and authority.

lauTo the left is a photo of Rav Lau and myself following a 4:30 am minyan that gathered at the home of Eli and Rebecca Almo prior to the Lau's flight from Sea-Tac this morning. (In the background are Avi Behar and Dovid Amsel.  Thank you to Michael Behar for the picture)

My sincere hope is that this Shabbaton can serve as a model for future joint initiatives aimed at inspiring and strengthening Jewish life in our community.

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21
Jun
0

Rav Lau as Ambassador of Peace

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Here is an excerpt from a Turkish talk show from this past fall.  Rabbi Lau is guest of a controversial Muslim personality, Adnan Oktar.  

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21
Jun
0

Rabbi Lau Visit - Details

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19
Jun
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'Son of Hamas' visits the Knesset this week

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This video features former Hamas terrorist Mosab Hassan Yousef discussing peace in the Middle East:

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14
Jun
0

Eulogy for Daniel Ben

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Today, family and friends are gathering to reflect on the life of Mr. Daniel Ben. Daniel is survived by his wife, Jeanne Ben; brother, Albert Benaltabe; son, Steve Ben; and his daughters, Claire Dingle, Maurene Wardell, Ricka Leeser, Cindy Meyer, and Tari Brown - 12 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Daniel was born Jan 2, 1925, in Seattle, WA, to Isaac and Clara Benaltabe. After graduation from Garfield High School, Daniel enlisted in the United States Navy and served during World War II on the Pacific Fleet from 1942-1945.

He returned to Seattle and opened a flowers, fruits, and vegetables stand in the University District. He loved flowers, sports, friends and family. He loved to travel with the extended family to warm places to soak up the sun and just people watch whether it be Palm Springs in the winter or Chelan in the summer. He was always up for shopping as long as there was a bench where he could sit.

Daniel was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Victoria Mayo Hodges; brother, Vic Ben; daughter, Esther Lee Ben; and of course, Lucy Ben.

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to get together with Daniel's family to survey the life of this very unique man.

How many of us in Daniel's difficult situation would have exerted themselves to hand-write a thank you note to our nurses? How many of us would have spent a moment thinking how we were going to tip our caregivers?

But this is the kind of man that Daniel Ben was. He was an appreciative and giving person. He spent his life providing for others while, in return, demanding very little for himself. Through University Fruit and Produce, many young kids of the Seattle community worked thanks to Danny.

For Daniel Ben, enduring, close relationships - triggered by his giving - were the priority. That's what provided him with life's joys and sense of satisfaction. Becky says that when her husband, Daniel's brother Albert, had surgery in back in 1993, Daniel came every day to see his brother. Daniel would always make sure that the kids were fed before him. His love for his children spilled over into his appreciation of their friends. Claire recalls that as a child, when she took the initiative of inviting friends home, her father, upon discovering the invitation after the fact, would always give the official okay…

The warmth that he bestowed on Claire and Steve carried over to all of Jeanne's daughters and their families; He was a true father to Jeannie's girls, and his generosity both in terms of his time and resources, they reciprocated most intensely in the last few weeks, when the tables turned, and he became someone in real need. Those beneficiaries of his giving, on the receiving end of his warmth and kindness, naturally wanted and needed to give back to him.

Alongside this gentle personality, Daniel had his share of idiosyncracies. Steve says that Daniel didn't trust banks too much, and at one point ensured the security of his personal wealth under the lettuce in the refrigerator. Another interesting quirk, stemming as much from his concern for safety as it did from his love of order, was his ritual of turning off appliances when he would leave home for a day in the park with the family. Halfway to the park, if there was not absolute certainty that the stove was completely turned off, he would turn around the car and go home just to make sure...

And if he did not care for what was being served for dinner on a particular night, he would cordon off the area by surrounding his place setting with cereal boxes!

Happy is the man whose life story is summarized by these kinds of reflections, a person about whom we can only critique a few quirks! Happy is the man whose personal qualities mimic those of our Creator. Chesed Olam Yibane….It was through kindness and giving that G-d created the world. Chesed Olam Yibane. And it was through kindness and giving that Daniel Ben created his world.

מנוחתו בגן עדן
May his resting place be in the Garden of Eden


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