Thursday, August 27, 2015



For three and a half hours this past Saturday night, Rabbi Amram Vaknin, a 76-year-old Israeli mystic, fell to the floor as he received a warning from the next world.

From approximately 9 PM until 12:30 AM, in his modest home in the port city of Ashdod, Rabbi Vaknin was cautioned that war is coming to Israel very soon, the rabbi’s student revealed to Breaking Israel News

The most recent revelation from Heaven was given over to the rabbi from a small group, including the prophet Elijah and his own deceased rabbi, Rabbi Moshe Zrihan, along with Rabbi Vaknin’s father and grandmother.

As previously reported by Breaking Israel News, Rabbi Vaknin receives periodic messages from the Next World, warning about events in Israel. Gil Nachman, a close student of Rabbi Vaknin’s, told Breaking Israel News, “Pray that it’s not going to be today, tomorrow or in two weeks.”

Nachman recounted the specifics that Rabbi Vaknin received in the message. “The Muslims are going to contaminate the water, the fruits and vegetables.They are going to damage the electricity,” he said. “And there are going to be people dying in the streets, thousands of people all over Israel.” 

Nachman urged that the Israeli water company, the electric company and food importers should be prepared for these attacks.

According to Nachman, Rabbi Vaknin was told that Arab citizen of Israel and Member of Knesset Hanin Zoabi is the one planning it. Vaknin stated his belief that Zoabi is a spy for ISIS and Hamas and is providing the terror groups all the information they need to plan the attacks.

Why is this happening? According to Nachman, it is because the leaders of the generation “don’t want to do teshuva (to repent). They aren’t waking up. Hashem (God) wants to lead them in the right path. We all need to do teshuva.”

Nachman said that in the past, Jewish leaders such as Moses and King David knew about decrees against the Jewish people before they happened. These great leaders took it upon themselves to repent first, but the leaders of today are telling others to repent without doing it themselves. 

“Our weapon is not Tzahal (IDF), not Netanyahu, nobody. Only teshuva,” Nachman urgently told Breaking Israel News.

When asked what Rabbi Vaknin said people should concentrate their repentance on, Nachman mentioned four things. Repent for “the inner sins that you hide away from people and the sins that people see. And kibud av v’eim (honoring your father and mother) is one of the most important things. And always say the truth of what’s in your heart. Be real. It’s all about emet (truth).”

Rabbi Amram Vaknin giving a blessing. (Photo: Gil Nachman)
Rabbi Amram Vaknin giving a blessing. (Photo: Gil Nachman)
“The war is very close. We have no choice. The teshuva of Am Yisrael (the Jewish nation) will determine the rachamim (mercy). But war is definitely coming,” Nachman insisted. “We beg Am Yisrael to do teshuva as soon as possible, because we don’t want to see people dying. Stop thinking about material things. That’s not going to give you life. When Moshiach (Messiah) comes, material is not going to mean anything to anybody.”

“We’re getting close to the big day of Moshiach. Before that happens, Hashem wants us to do teshuva. We have to be ready and prepared,” pleaded Nachman. “When we do real teshuva, Hashem will fight for us.”

Nachman concluded by recounting a teaching from the Talmud, the primary source of Judaism’s rabbinic tradition. The eagle approaches his baby eaglets in the nest very slowly. He makes sure that they notice him gradually, so as not to shock them, because they can die from such fear. Similarly, God does not want to hurt us. He’s warning us to wake up because He’s about to rule the world, so He’s warning us little by little, in order that we recognize His approach. Every earthquake, every terrorist incident, every battle, is a warning to wake up. 

Through previous messages from Heaven, Rabbi Vaknin accurately predicted the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” in May, 2010, the deadly fire in the Carmel forest in December of 2010 as well as Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 and Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

Read more  http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/47613/message-from-the-next-world-comes-to-israeli-mystical-rabbi-warns-of-imminent-war-jerusalem/#kEqx0gWot7PHlPtR.99

Friday, August 21, 2015

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Why not Jewish plumbers against the deal and Jewish lawyers for the deal and Jewish doctors against the deal and Jewish teachers for the deal and Jewish hairdressers against the deal and Jewish gardeners for the deal?


Imagine the following headline: 340 Jewish plumbers urge Congress to disapprove Iran Nuclear Deal

The US Congress (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

I have nothing against Rabbis. In fact, some of my best friends, and some of the wisest people I know, and many other good people, are Rabbis. I also have nothing against plumbers, even though, one must admit one’s shortcomings, I don’t have any plumber friends. But I have employed more than my fair share of plumbers, and some of them were fine people, smart and funny, efficient and useful.

 Truth must be told: when there’s a leak, a plumber is more useful than a Rabbi. Here's proof:

There are also times – so I’m told – when  a Rabbi can be more useful than a plumber (Not quite sure about this). 

One thing is quite certain: Rabbis have no advantage over plumbers when it comes to understanding and assessing the agreement with Iran.

 They have no better professional qualifications and no more relevant experience. Thus, when 340 rabbis signed a letter urging Congress to approve the Iran nuclear deal I shrugged. So what if they did?

Let me say it again: I have great appreciation for Rabbis. I talk to a rabbi every week to learn about the weekly Parsha. I study the Talmud with the assistance of Rabbis. But when I need to fix something in my bathroom I do not consult with a Rabbi. And when I need to understand the ups and downs of an agreement with Iran I do not call a Rabbi – nor should you, nor should Congress.

I understand why the Rabbis signed the letter to Congress. They wanted to demonstrate to the public and to the legislators, that the Jewish community is split on the Iran deal, that many within the community support the deal. They signed the letter as leaders of the community. And this raises a serious question: should Rabbis play the role of political leaders in the Jewish community?

Of course, no one would doubt that Rabbis should be spiritual leaders of the Jewish community, and educational leaders of the Jewish community. This is what they are trained to do. But politics is a different field. Politics is the field of, well, political leaders. Is it not?

The questions about the role of a Rabbi in a community are quite serious and interesting. Take Israel as an example, and test your own views on this matter: do you think that it is good for Israel to have political parties that get their marching orders from Rabbis? Or does it seem annoying to you that Israel has such parties and such Rabbis?

I suspect that many of the Rabbis who signed the letter to Congress – generally speaking we are talking about Rabbis associated with progressive streams of Judaism – would not really hesitate to also sign a letter denouncing the Israeli parties that adhere to Rabbinic rule. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they would only sign a letter denouncing the policies of these parties, and not their habit of adhering to Rabbinic rule. Namely, maybe they would argue with the rulings of these politically engaged Rabbis but not with the fact that Rabbis are the ones that dictate the policies of political parties.

And what if we find 1500 Rabbis in opposition to the deal and only 1300 Rabbis supportive of the deal – would that be counted as a definitive Rabbinical decision? And what if we find that most Rabbis support the deal but most Cantors oppose the deal – would that make any difference?

340 Rabbis is a lot – but I don’t think it should be a problem to find 340 Rabbis who oppose the deal. In fact, some Rabbis who oppose the deal – Rabbis who belong to the OU and the RCA – have already expressed their views. I should say that their negation of the deal has no more merit than the more recent support expressed by the group of 340.

To conclude:

We know that the Jewish community is split on the issue of Iran. We know it from surveys and from articles. We know that many liberal Rabbis, and congregants (some of whom, perhaps, are plumbers), “fully support this historic nuclear accord”. The Rabbis’ letter did not much add to our knowledge.

We also know that there are arguments with which to support the deal: the Obama administration has made these arguments known to the public, and experts of all types have been volunteering additions and variations to these arguments. Here, again, the Rabbis’ letter does not add much to our knowledge.

Rabbis in America and in Israel are used to speaking about political issues. They do it all the time. Do I want Rabbis in America – not that it matters if I do – not to speak about Israel from the pulpit? Not to encourage their congregants to support Israel in certain times? Not to speak for human rights? Not to speak against BDS or anti-Semitism?

Rabbis in America and in Israel talk about political issues all the time, and maybe it is appropriate to ask whether that is a good policy for them and for the community.

Of course, it is somewhat suspicious that I tend to this issue following a letter that supports a view with which I do not agree. I plead guilty: the content of the letter was annoying, and that is why I began thinking about the role of Rabbis in debates about political issues. I also admit that it is not easy to argue that Rabbis should never speak about political matters. It is not easy for a practical reason: because Rabbis have the habit of doing so and would be hard pressed to give it up. It is not easy for a more inherent reason: because all matters are political matters. Even a Dvar Torah is – in some way – political.

Then again, why should it be just Rabbis? Why not the members of other professions? Why not Jewish plumbers against the deal and Jewish lawyers for the deal and Jewish doctors against the deal and Jewish teachers for the deal and Jewish hairdressers against the deal and Jewish gardeners for the deal?

You might say: because Rabbis are special. And I agree – they are special? But one might argue that hearing them speak about issues on which their knowledge is limited to what most other people also know makes them less special, not more special.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bronx Rabbi Who Took Boys Naked to Sauna Will Keep His Job

A (prominent) Orthodox rabbi in the Bronx who was the focus of scrutiny for having taken young boys naked to a sauna will keep his job, after his synagogue’s board changed course and decided not to seek his removal.

The rabbi, Jonathan Rosenblatt of the Riverdale Jewish Center, had fought efforts to remove him and apologized for lapses in judgment (decades long) , and seemed to have the support of most of the 700-member congregation.

“After carefully considering various scenarios over the last several weeks, we firmly believe that the approach laid out by Rabbi Rosenblatt is an effective and appropriate way forward,” the board’s president and chairman wrote in an email to members last Thursday. The rabbi, the board said, had “shared his vision” about strengthening bonds among members and maintaining the synagogue’s financial stability.  (Moral and ethical conduct be damned)

The email was reported on Monday by The Times of Israel.

 Many of the congregation members are unhappy with the process and have begun holding services at each other’s homes instead of at the synagogue.

Some of those congregants from the late 1980s and early ’90s said he gawked at them in ways that they found disturbing. Another said that in clothed chat sessions the rabbi often touched him in a manipulative and seductive way. The rabbi was never accused of sexual misconduct. He eventually agreed to stop taking congregants to the sauna.

In the wake of the article, at least 45 members signed a petition urging Rabbi Rosenblatt to step down. But more than 200 members signed another one urging him to stay.

In early June, the board voted to try to buy out Rabbi Rosenblatt’s contract, and he initially agreed to negotiate. Two weeks later, though, in an emotional and contrite speech to the congregation, the rabbi said, “I still believe I have contributions to make and surely, with God’s grace, I am ready to serve you.” The congregation applauded the speech.

A lawyer for Rabbi Rosenblatt, Benjamin Brafman, said on Tuesday, “We are obviously pleased with the board’s decision, and it was clearly the right decision as there were never any grounds for his removal.”
But one board member, who did not want his name published because of the inflammatory nature of the issue, said that the about-face was forced on the board by the president and chairman.

In June, the board voted by a wide margin — 34 to 8, reportedly — to seek the rabbi’s removal. At a board meeting last Wednesday, though, the member said, the chairman and president presented the decision to keep the rabbi as a done deal and would not allow a vote. The board member said he resigned after the meeting.

 Another member, who also did want her name published, said she did the same. Both board members said that at least three others had resigned. The president, Samson Fine, and the chairman, Donald Liss, did not return voice mail messages on Tuesday.

Some rank-and-file members, too, have decided that if Rabbi Rosenblatt stays, they will leave. A group has been holding services at each other’s homes for the last six weeks or so; two people who have been attending said the services typically attract 50 to 80 people.

One of them, Steven Bayme, a program official at the American Jewish Committee, worshiped at Riverdale Jewish Center for 38 years and had given lectures at Rabbi Rosenblatt’s invitation.

“He’s caused a schism in the congregation that he aspires to lead,” Mr. Bayme said. He called his decision to leave the congregation “extremely painful.”


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz zt"l - In Memoriam - His Yahrzeit - The Third Day Of Elul

Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz was born in the town of Willig in Hungary in 1886 into a family of G-d-fearing Sanzer chassidim. At a young age -- when he was already studying Shulchan Oruch Yore De'ah with Shach, Taz and the Pri Megadim -- he had acquired a name as a scholar who brimmed with deep religious passion. He studied under the Arugas Habosem, the B'eer Shmuel, and the Shevet Sofer, Rav Simcha Bunim Sofer --the three leading gedolim of Hungary at the time, and received semichah from them.

A person of deep complexity and contemplation, he pursued Jewish philosophy and mussar privately, and at a young age had completed the entire works of the Maharal, Kuzari, Mesilas Yeshorim, and works of chassidus. He avidly studied the works of Rav Samson Rafael Hirsch in the original German. He saw Rav Hirsch as his ideal because Hirsch had successfully devised a religious Jewish weltanschauung that could stand up to the challenges of modernity. (Nothing showed his diverse interests more than the fact that he spent his entire wedding dowry on buying a set of Zev Yaavetz's history books.)

Although Rav Shraga Feivel appeared an unassuming young man, he had a rare strain of boundless idealism running through his fabric. When he came across the statement in the gemora that, "Were Israel to keep two Shabbosim in a row, the Redemption would immediately come" he promised himself then and there that he would work to draw the hearts of Jews back to their Father in Heaven.

In the early years of the twentieth century, when Jews all over the world were blindly rushing to embrace enlightenment, communism, socialism and every other "ism" besides their ancestral heritage, his dream appeared as unpractical, wishful thinking.

At age 22 he married, and settled near his father's home in the town of Humina. In 1913, he decided to leave for the U.S. for reasons never clearly defined by him. Before he left, he received a brocho from Rav Yeshaya of Krestira, who foretold that he would accomplish great things in America.

The first few years in the U.S. Rav Shraga Feivel spent trying his hand at different professions. Although an expert at the laws of shechita, he saw after a day that this profession did not suit him. He taught in talmud Torahs in New York, Bridgeport and Scranton, before he returned to New York and opened an ice cream business.

Although he still dreamed of opening a yeshiva, he had discovered that in the U.S., all the power was concentrated in the hands of a talmud Torah's president and board of directors, and the principal and teachers were viewed as merely low level servants. He dreamed of succeeding in his business and with the funds, opening his own yeshiva. However, his business was not succeeding as planned, possibly because his head was more in his Torah studies than in ice cream.

Kashruth and educating the public

Rav Shraga Feivel was a lover of Jewish liturgical music; he and chazzan Yossele Rosenblatt became friends and together created The Jewish Light (Dos Yiddishe Licht) newspaper. The intent was to inform the Jewish public about the awareness of their heritage, shmiras hamitzvas, the importance of keeping the kashruth laws; and they wanted to give their secular brothers an alternative to The Forward (and The Workmen's Circle/Bund). He was way ahead of his times; the public was not interested for the most part in their message, and the paper folded leaving them deep in debt.

Rav Shraga Feivel, realizing that his business enterprises were failing, in the summer of 1921, after being pursued by various members of the board, he finally agreed to take a teaching job at Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, which at the time was a "talmud Torah" rather than a yeshiva. Many of the teachers were not shomrei Torah and mitzvos, a very sore spot in the side of Rav Shraga Feivel, and added to his hesitancy of joining the school. He was certain that the Torah could only be learned, if taught by frum teachers. A series of illnesses that struck him didn't allow him to take the job until Elul 1923, when he was appointed to teach the eighth grade class.

Rav Nesanel Quinn, a student who had arrived the year before and later became principal of Jewish studies in the yeshiva, recounts, "In the first days after he came to the yeshiva, even the worst students began to feel more positive about their Jewish studies. He tried -- and succeeded -- in making Torah study beloved to them, and in giving them the feeling of closeness to Hashem. They began to keep mitzvos not out of habit but out of deep feeling. He imbued one with pride to study Torah, and that nothing in this world could compare to Torah study."

The Yeshiva Leaps Spiritually

The board hired Reb Shraga Feivel for just six months on a trial basis instead of a year, as they had done with all the previous principals, and if they weren't satisfied, they could fire him. To their surprise, Reb Shraga Feivel told them that he wasn't even interested in a six-month contract. He offered that they could hire him on the basis that if at any point they were dissatisfied, they could fire him on the spot. All the previous principals had insisted on a detailed contract for an entire year.

Rav Shraga Feivel began the next day. He found a group of cool, impassive teachers whose resentment of him bristled under the surface. The teachers too were all of Polish or Russian extraction, and they could not respect the Hungarian man who "lacked up-to-date scholastic and educational training" and proudly sported a beard and payos.

But as the following weeks unfolded, and each teacher had the occasion to meet and discuss topics with him, they soon stood open-mouthed before Rav Shraga Feivel's vast knowledge. The teacher who was expert in Hebrew grammar soon discovered that Rav Shraga Feivel was a giant in dikduk. The teacher whose specialty was Jewish history soon discovered that Rav Shraga Feivel knew far more than he.

Within a few weeks, the entire staff was united in their reverence and respect for the new principal who each admitted towered far above him. Rav Shraga Feivel began his innovative program right away.

On his first day as principal, Rav Shraga Feivel dictated a letter to the members of the board. He wrote them that a person cannot be balabos (board member) over a yeshiva unless he appreciates Torah. He demanded that every one of them attend a Torah shiur at least twice a week. The board members were astonished -- but they complied.

Rav Shraga Feivel gave a shiur in the home of Reb Benzion Weberman where he impressed the committee members with his deep religious, educational and personal ideals. They began to understand that it wasn't sufficient for a child to have a Jewish education only until his bar mitzva years, which was the standard in America until then.

In addition to winning over the rebbes and the parents, Rav Shraga Feivel soon was idolized by the students. They had never seen a principal who taught with such heart and neshomoh. On holidays he made assemblies and parties, and would dance with the students. He would sing soulful songs "Kadsheinu" and "Vetaheir libeinu" with such ecstasy that all the students were swept up with the same emotion.

"It isn't the slightest exaggeration to say that Rav Shraga Feivel blew a new soul into us, of a natural Jewish approach to our Torah. We could clearly sense how the Shechina was present in every class. A new spirit blew in the life of the yeshiva -- and all this he did quietly, without noise, without giving orders."

Torah Vodaath's name began to spread far and wide in New York. There was no longer any need to recruit bochurim for the yeshiva and the problem now became how to find enough room for all the boys. The crowding forced the committee to open classes in rented apartments around the district. Classes were held in the Keap Street beis hamedrash, the Lincoln business school, and the Beis Aaron shtiebel on Division Avenue. At the same time, the spiritual growth fostered by Rav Shraga Feivel kept pace with the physical growth of the yeshiva.

The Mesivta is Founded

The idea of a Jewish high school was still far-fetched. When the end of the year drew near, Rav Shraga Feivel persuaded the parents of the eighth-grade boys to keep their sons in the yeshiva for "just one more year." Rav Shraga Feivel arranged for the youths to study in a local high school at night where courses were offered for adults who had not completed their high school diploma. He knew such a school would have less of an influence on his students than learning in a public school with youth their age. Besides the hours at night devoted to secular studies, the boys studied Jewish studies from early in the morning and even late at night after they finished their secular studies.

When the end of the year came around again, Rav Shraga Feivel convinced the parents to agree to just one more year. And when that year finished, the parents were willing to agree to another year. At that point, he found himself with a group of high school youths whose dedication to Torah study remained strong and unswerving.

Says Rav Nesanel Quinn, one of the students of this group, "Our study day was long and exhausting, but Rav Shraga Feivel pushed us to study Torah additional hours, on our own initiative, as it were, until late at night. I remember that he sat and studied Torah with us every Thursday night until almost midnight, and we felt that Torah study was so sweet that we almost didn't feel tired. Our load of studies was not easy, particularly if you compared it to the study program in a public school. But none of us ever complained. The frequent recesses of course helped to release the tension, but mainly what helped was that in our society, everyone was working hard and no one had it easy. So the heavy load on us wasn't viewed as anything extraordinary. We were so busy with our studies that we virtually had no time to spend on small talk."

When Rav Shraga Feivel was ready to implement his next educational endeavor -- the Mesivta -- he already had a group of older boys who had spent 12 years in intense Jewish education and the idea of continuing Jewish studies after elementary school was becoming more palatable.

When Rav Shraga Feivel asked to open a full high school division, with structured Jewish and secular studies offered within the format of the school in 1927, his request met with resistance from the board. The board, truth to tell, had nobly maintained the elementary school through unflagging and exhaustive efforts, but to undertake the support of a high school on top of that was a burden that the members saw as overwhelmingly difficult and perhaps unjustified.

Mr. Avrohom Lewin, a board member backed Rav Shraga Feivel. Despite the failure of Mr. Lewin's business during the growing Depression that hit America in those years, he staunchly agreed to buy a building at 505 Bedford Avenue for the Mesivta (as Rav Shraga Feivel called the high school to differentiate it from the elementary school, which was called "the yeshiva").

Shortly after Mr. Lewin purchased it, taking out large loans in his name, a real estate agent offered to buy it back from him at a much higher price -- that would have landed him a profit equal to three years of livelihood. But Mr. Lewin passed the difficult trial, and made the building available to the yeshiva. Eventually, the committee board agreed to take the Mesivta under its wing and pay for its cost. However, the burden of running and maintaining it fell upon Rav Shraga Feivel.

It must be emphasized what an immense achievement this was. Not only had Yeshiva Torah Vodaath acquired a sterling name as a yeshiva with undiluted Torah values, but it was the only yeshiva at the time with an excellent high school program. The other yeshiva schools, such as Rabbeinu Yaakov Yosef, Rav Shlomo Kluger and Tiferes Yerushalayim, were only elementary schools with at best afternoon programs for public high school students.

Rav Shraga Feivel's concept of the Mesivta program had no parallel in any yeshiva in the world -- and not just because he incorporated secular studies and a high school degree into the yeshiva. This in itself was an act of genius. He understood that for American Jewry to flourish, yeshiva boys must have a secular education. He insisted that his talmidim excel in the secular program as well. When he asked the European gedolim about the issue of secular studies in the yeshiva, the only shaila was could it be housed in the same building as used for limudei kodesh.(There were fanatics on the board, that insisted the yeshiva change its name from Torah Vodaath to a name that did not imply that there was daas outside of Torah. He strongly disagreed with that premise, as did Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch)

Besides gemora being taught on a high level, he insisted that the curriculum include Chumash and Novi with their commentaries, the meanings of the prayers, knowledge of the 613 mitzvos, Jewish law, and sifrei yirah and mussar such as Sha'arei Teshuvah, Mesilas Yeshorim, and for select students, even Doros Harishonim, the detailed Jewish history book written by Rav Y. Halevi. Many of the latter courses he personally taught. He saw the utter importance of giving his students a solid foundation in Jewish faith and hashkofo that was taken for granted in the European yeshivos.

The atmosphere of the yeshiva was an unusual mix of Litvish learning taught by great Litvish scholars some of whom he brought over from Europe, with chassidic enthusiasm and soul which he himself injected. He integrated different approaches from various groups in Klal Yisroel and knew how to create a harmonious synthesis that appealed to his American students.

Although his influence permeated the yeshiva and every student in it, he humbly kept himself to the sidelines and refused to accept the title of "Rosh Mesivta" or even the more routine title of "Rabbi." He could not be found at the Mizrach of the beis hamedrash during prayers. He was the hinge on which the entire yeshiva turned, but to the unknowing eye, he seemed just an unassuming person filling a nondescript role. Who had ever heard of a man who built an entire yeshiva with mesiras nefesh -- only to refuse to take the mantle of honor it would bequeath to him?

In the shiurim Rav Shraga Feivel gave to the classes of the Mesivta he spoke constantly of Eretz Yisroel and the negative effect of college (he later altered his opinion, and asked Rabbi Hutner to apply for a college charter from New York State, under changing circumstances and an evolving necessity for many talmidim). Had he lived,  a college would have been built under the auspices of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath.


Courtesy of the Mendlowitz Family Archives and Philip Fishman
 MORE: http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2014/02/in-1946-americas-top-non-hasidic-haredi-rabbis-wanted-to-combine-their-yeshivas-to-form-a-jewish-university-567.html

 In one shiur, to the astonished eyes of his students who didn't know if he was hallucinating or really meant it, he said that the day would come when he would found a kollel avreichim for them to continue their studies in Eretz Yisroel after their weddings. No one in their wildest dreams at the time even considered continuing their Torah studies after their weddings. Each student felt that his hands were full with just remaining in yeshiva for high school despite the disapproval of his parents, the mockery of his neighbors, the haughty looks of his more Americanized friends, and the spirit of materialism and heresy that blew in powerful gusts all around him.

The Mesivta grew, and Rav Shraga Feivel realized his dream of creating knowledgeable, deeply religious and committed Jews. Years later, he created Beis Midrash Elyon in an "unknown" town called Monsey near Spring Valley, where hand-picked married students engaged in high-level Jewish studies and where Torah students went in the summer for a combined program of summer relaxation and Torah study. This was the first kollel of its kind in the United States.

Wellsprings of the Mesivta

Rav Shraga Feivel created soldiers who went forth to Jewish communities outside of New York and founded yeshivas and saved the remnant of religious Jews from going lost. He sent students to found new yeshivos: Lakewood, Telz, and the Nitra Yeshiva, and he gave up his own sorely-needed supporters instructing them to help support new yeshivos that were opening up elsewhere. He founded Beis Midrash Elyon, for advanced Torah study at a kollel level. One of his greatest dreams came to fruition when Torah Umesorah, whose goal was to create day schools and yeshivos all over the world, was founded.

By the time Rav Shraga Feivel passed away in 1948, American religious Jewry was still small and tender, but had deep and strong roots. Yeshivas Torah Vodaath had sprouted numerous rabbis and activists that helped create the prominent religious Jewish communities that we see today spread out throughout the U.S. and Canada.

With the mighty personality of Rav Shlomo Heiman, the rosh yeshiva who taught the older bochurim of the Mesivta from the years 1933-1943, Rav Shraga Feivel produced the first team of Torah scholars of stature on American soil, all of whom had incubated in the classrooms of Torah Vodaath. They continued to reinvigorate Jewish religious life around the globe throughout the twentieth century.

The fabric of the American Jewish community began to change in the 1950s. The flood of survivors and the local religious community opened new yeshivos, the religious community burgeoned, a new religious-American weltanschauung developed which enabled a religious Jew to face American society with confidence and independence.

His love for his fellow Jew was expressed best by Rabbi Weissmandel in his book "The Unheeded Cry." "(Paraphrased) There was no rabbi in the U.S.A. that cared for the plight of European Jewry more than the saintly Rav Shraga Feivel, and helped greatly in the fundraising and hatzoloh efforts to save every Jew possible."

Rav Shraga Feivel took seriously ill in 1948. He was an ardent zionist; he urged his son in-law, Rabbi Alexander Linchner, to go to Israel and save the Sephardi children from secularism. Boys Town Jerusalem was established in 1949, the largest yeshiva/trade school of its kind anywhere in the world.

He asked that he be buried in a non-monumented grave in the Arugas Habosem cemetery on Long Island until the situation in Israel would enable his burial there. He was laid to rest in his final resting place in Bnei Brak. Rav Eliyahu Dessler zt"l, in his will, requested that he be buried next to Rav Shraga Feivel. Until this day, the Kehillas Arugas Habosem has left his original grave empty.

It is not an exaggeration to say that there was no man that impacted the American Jewish landscape with such purpose, clarity of thought, and vision, as the saintly Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, zecher tzaddik v'kadosh levracha.

(Much of the material was taken from Shlucha DeRachmana (written in Hebrew) by R' Aaron Suraski who interviewed many family members. Mr. M. Samsonowitz gathered and had written much of the material. Although this piece had other important figures mentioned in the establishment of the American yeshiva movement, upon extensive research, I had discovered that they were greatly exaggerated to the point of being fabricated, and could not at all discern the true from the false, so I eliminated that material entirely. The above edited piece, is accurate, although not the entire story.)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Obama's Lap Dog Barks --- Obama's Latest "Trade Deal" - Op Ed by Lew, Goes To Western Wall Incognito...

The High Price of Rejecting the Iran Deal

WASHINGTON — THE Iran nuclear deal offers a long-term solution to one of the most urgent threats of our time. Without this deal, Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, would be less than 90 days away from having enough fissile material to make a nuclear bomb. This deal greatly reduces the threat of Iran’s nuclear program, making Iran’s breakout time four times as long, securing unprecedented access to ensure that we will know if Iran cheats and giving us the leverage to hold it to its commitments.

Those calling on Congress to scrap the deal argue that the United States could have gotten a better deal, and still could, if we unilaterally ramped up existing sanctions, enough to force Iran to dismantle its entire nuclear program or even alter the character of its regime wholesale. This assumption is a dangerous fantasy, flying in the face of economic and diplomatic reality.

To be sure, the United States does have tremendous economic influence. But it was not this influence alone that persuaded countries across Europe and Asia to join the current sanction policy, one that required them to make costly sacrifices, curtail their purchases of Iran’s oil, and put Iran’s foreign reserves in escrow. They joined us because we made the case that Iran’s nuclear program was an uncontained threat to global stability and, most important, because we offered a concrete path to address it diplomatically — which we did.

In the eyes of the world, the nuclear agreement — endorsed by the United Nations Security Council and more than 90 other countries — addresses the threat of Iran’s nuclear program by constraining it for the long term and ensuring that it will be exclusively peaceful. If Congress now rejects this deal, the elements that were fundamental in establishing that international consensus will be gone.

The simple fact is that, after two years of testing Iran in negotiations, the international community does not believe that ramping up sanctions will persuade Iran to eradicate all traces of its hard-won civil nuclear program or sever its ties to its armed proxies in the region. Foreign governments will not continue to make costly sacrifices at our demand.

Indeed, they would more likely blame us for walking away from a credible solution to one of the world’s greatest security threats, and would continue to re-engage with Iran. Instead of toughening the sanctions, a decision by Congress to unilaterally reject the deal would end a decade of isolation of Iran and put the United States at odds with the rest of the world.

Some critics nevertheless argue that we can force the hands of these countries by imposing powerful secondary sanctions against those that refuse to follow our lead.

But that would be a disaster. The countries whose cooperation we need — including those in the European Union, China, Japan, India and South Korea, as well as the companies and banks that handle their oil purchases and hold foreign reserves — are among the largest economies in the world. If we were to cut them off from the American dollar and our financial system, we would set off extensive financial hemorrhaging, not just in our partner countries but in the United States as well.

Our strong, open economic relations with these countries constitute a foundation of the global economy. Nearly 40 percent of American exports go to the European Union, China, Japan, India and Korea — trade that cannot continue without banking connections.

The major importers of Iranian oil — China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey — together account for nearly a fifth of our goods exports and own 47 percent of foreign-held American treasuries. They will not agree to indefinite economic sacrifices in the name of an illusory better deal. We should think very seriously before threatening to cripple the largest banks and companies in these countries.

Consider the Bank of Japan, a key institutional holder of Iran’s foreign reserves. Cutting off Japan from the American banking system through sanctions would mean that we could not honor our sovereign responsibility to service and repay the more than $1 trillion in American treasuries held by Japan’s central bank. And those would be direct consequences of our sanctions, not to mention the economic aftershocks and the inevitable retaliation.

We must remember recent history. In 1996, in the absence of any other international support for imposing sanctions on Iran, Congress tried to force the hands of foreign companies, creating secondary sanctions that threatened to penalize them for investing in Iran’s energy sector. The idea was to force international oil companies to choose between doing business with Iran or the United States, with the expectation that all would choose us.

This outraged our foreign partners, particularly the European Union, which threatened retaliatory action and referral to the World Trade Organization and passed its own law prohibiting companies from complying. The largest oil companies of Europe and Asia stayed in Iran until, more than a decade later, we built a global consensus around the threat posed by Iran and put forward a realistic diplomatic means of addressing it.
The deal we reached last month is strong, unprecedented and good for America, with all the key elements the international community demanded to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Congress should approve this deal and ignore critics who offer no alternative.

Jacob J. Lew is the secretary of the Treasury.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Judaism's Power Struggle

Should the Jews have a pope? For most of the last 2,000 years, the answer has been “no.”

 Rabbinic authority has been decentralized, with each community choosing its own religious leaders to follow.

But now Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is seeking to monopolize and centralize control over Jewish law through the power of the state of Israel. A few Orthodox rabbis are fighting back, like those who announced a new conversion court this week. Because Israel won’t recognize the court, the battle is going to be joined in earnest.

And the stakes are big for 300,000 Israelis, descendants of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who identify as Jews but whose religious status under Orthodox Jewish law remains in question.

Start with the historical reasons Judaism doesn’t have a central authority like the Roman Catholic Church or a central leader like the pope. The answer isn’t in the Hebrew Bible, which has kings and high priests aplenty and envisions a functioning state, albeit one divided within a couple of generations into the separate kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

Decentralization within Judaism goes back to the rabbis who came to take a central position in Jewish religious life after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D., and the end of long-term Israelite sovereignty over what the Romans called Palestine. From the start, the rabbis had no Jewish state to call their own -- and if one had existed, they wouldn’t have ruled it.

With no state to enforce unity, it’s pretty hard for a religious authority to establish definitive control over believers. One of the brief moments in Jewish history in which rabbinic authority was somewhat centralized took place under the Abbasid caliphate in Iraq, where non-Jewish authorities recognized two chief rabbis, called Geonim, as the Jewish religious authorities. But it’s no coincidence that even then, there were two rabbis, not one, each the presiding authority over a separate Talmudic academy.

Thus, the rabbinic culture of disagreement and debate both fueled the diffusion of religious authority and also was shaped by it. Over the centuries, groups of rabbis would sometimes come together to issue collective legislation. But for the most part these were temporary coalitions.

In the 16th century, reacting to the Jewish expulsion from Spain in 1492, a handful of rabbis gathered in Safed, Israel, and dreamt of unifying Jewish religious authority. They hoped to re-establish a chain of rabbinic ordination that they believed would enable them to exercise universally accepted authority. But their dream never became an accepted reality, and their efforts were met with as much rabbinic opposition as approbation.

The modern state of Israel created a new opportunity for centralizing religious authority -- at least in theory. The state acknowledged two chief rabbis, one Ashkenazic (European) in origin, the other Sephardic (roughly, Mediterranean). More important, the state by legislative act created a “Chief Rabbinate” and gave it legal authority over marriage and divorce for all Jews, regardless of whether they were devout or secular, Orthodox or free-thinking.

To this day, no Jew in Israel can marry without the permission of the rabbinate. This real-world power gave the Chief Rabbinate a crucial foothold. Because the rabbinate doesn’t recognize or acknowledge marriage between Jews and non-Jews, the power over marriage is simultaneously a power over defining who counts as a Jew for the purpose of making this most basic life decision.

For the first several decades of its existence, the rabbinate faced ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) opposition to the idea that it had this overarching authority. Haredi rabbis were often skeptical of the state’s claims, and sometimes even opposed the Zionist project itself. Their insistence on controlling their own marriages (not to mention kosher supervision, another big business) ensured that the Chief Rabbinate wasn’t the only game in town.

Gradually over the past 20 years, however, the situation has been changing. Haredi attitudes toward the state of Israel have been softening as Haredi political parties have gained greater power and the Haredi population has grown. Haredi rabbis now play a far more significant role within the rabbinate and through influence from the outside. Rather than ignoring the Chief Rabbinate, prominent Haredi rabbis would now like to control it.

The Chief Rabbinate has never acknowledged the validity of conversions to Judaism performed by Reform, Reconstructionist or Conservative rabbis, a source of dissatisfaction among those denominations, which remain small and peripheral in Israel even as they make up the majority of Jews in the U.S. But it was some source of relief to know that even within the Orthodox fold, the rabbinate didn’t have total control.

Now that, too, is changing as the rabbinate, with Haredi support, asserts greater control over conversion.

Recently Israel was on the brink of adopting a slightly more liberal conversion process, intended to make it easier for the children of Soviet-origin immigrants to undergo conversion. But Haredi parties successfully blocked the move, ensuring that all conversion in Israel be centrally controlled by the Chief Rabbinate.

A group of more moderately oriented Orthodox rabbis have responded by creating their own independent conversion court, an exercise of the rabbinic diversity that has predominated in Jewish history. But because the rabbinate won’t recognize its conversions, people converted to Judaism by that court still won’t be able to get married in Israel.

Obviously, a liberal democratic state shouldn’t be giving any group of rabbis final say over who can get married. But liberalism isn’t the only reason to think that the Chief Rabbinate should be disestablished. Even from the standpoint of traditional rabbinic Judaism, the rabbinate is violating the spirit of rabbinic equality and diversity.

As a diaspora religion, Judaism survived and even prospered because of its lack of central authority. The existence of the state of Israel shouldn’t be used as an excuse to quash that diversity and the religious creativity it fostered.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners. (or this Blogger).

To contact the author on this story:

Noah Feldman at nfeldman7@bloomberg.net


Thursday, August 13, 2015

14 Questions Democrats Should Consider on the Iran Deal

As Congress adjourns for its summer recess, Democratic lawmakers will be forced to assess and evaluate the Iran nuclear deal and its consequences. The Obama administration assured us on countless occasions that no deal was better than a bad deal, but in the words of Charles Krauthammer, the deal reached in Geneva with the mullahs represents the worst agreement in American diplomatic history. Here are some substantive and procedural points that congressional lawmakers will need to address when considering the merits of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

1) Under the JCPOA, Iran is permitted to have 24 days of advance notice before suspected nuclear sites can be inspected, giving them ample time to sanitize nuclear sites slated for scrutiny; does that sound intrusive?

2) Under the JCPOA, Iran is entitled to have access to intelligence information which leads analysts to suspect that the Iranians are cheating.  Will the Iranians be able to utilize that sensitive intelligence gathering information to circumvent detection methods in the future?

3) Article 10, Annex III of the JCPOA provides two clauses that compel the world powers to assist Iran in protecting its nuclear facilities against sabotage or other forms of attack. Does that mean that the United States must act to defend Iran against Israel if Israel decided to initiate a cyber or conventional attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities? And if the U.S. decides not to defend Iran, can Iran claim that the United States is materially breaching the terms of the JCPOA and unilaterally abrogate the accord, a scenario suggested by Senator Marco Rubio?

4) Secret agreements between the IAEA and Iran allow Iran to collect and hand over to the IAEA its own samples. Does that not materially taint the chain of custody?

5) Under the terms of the JCPOA, "snapback" sanctions can only be implemented after a lengthy and cumbersome procedure culminating in a UN Security Council vote and companies already doing business in Iran are retroactively exempted; does that sound like a "snapback" and is the U.S. willing to impose snapback sanctions for “minor,” incremental breaches or will it reserve its snapback sanctions for all but the most egregious violations?

6) Considering Iran’s past and its record of transferring of missile technology to Hezbollah, Syria and North Korea, why is Iran being entitled to sanctions relief from its ICBM program after 8 years? Why does Iran need ICBMs? What strategic purpose do ICBMs serve for Iran’s defense needs other than delivering a nuclear payload?

7) What will Iran do with the 150 billion dollars it receives when the JCPOA is implemented?

8) Have you considered the fact that Iran has been caught cheating during the interim accords on no less than four occasions and that Iran maintains a lengthy record of deceitfulness and treachery?

9) Have you considered the fact that Iran is currently sanitizing the Parchin nuclear site and claiming they're doing "road repair"?

10) Now that Charles Schumer, Eliot Engel, Steve Israel, Kathleen Rice, Nita Lowey, Grace Meng, Brad Sherman, Ted Deutch, Albio Sires as well as other Democrats have decided to vote in favor of a resolution of disapproval, does that mean that Democrats who are opposed to the JCPOA are caucusing with Iranian hardliners, as Mr. Obama implied about Republicans?

11) Now that Iran's military chief, Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi has issued his approval for the JCPOA, does that mean that Mr. Obama is caucusing with Iran's military chiefs?

12) Assuming Iran doesn't cheat, what will prevent Iran from legally becoming a threshold nuclear power after 8 to 10 years when most of the JCPOA's restrictions against Iran are lifted?

13) Mr. Obama referred the JCPOA for approval at the UN Security Council before Congress had a chance to review the accord; does that not demonstrate Mr. Obama’s contempt for Congress, the legislative process and the constitutional system of checks and balances?

14) The administration will not commit itself to following the law if Mr. Obama fails to override a congressional resolution of disapproval; see question thirteen.

Individually, each question raised presents serious flaws in the JCPOA and would justify voting in favor of a resolution of disapproval. Collectively, however, the issues raised present a damning indictment of a flawed negotiating process – some might classify it as a capitulation process – that gave the Islamic Republic everything it wanted on a silver platter and more. Questions surrounding the JCPOA also present a disturbing pattern demonstrating a level of contempt for the law, the legislative process and our constitutional system of government not seen since the Nixon administration.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Landmark! Private and Parochial Schools NOT Required to Admit Unvaccinated Student By Attorney General of MD

Be on the lookout for an exclusive BJL interview on the subject of vaccinating children with world renowned Dr. Paul Offit, Chief of the Division of Infectious

A private or parochial school is not required to admit “an unvaccinated student simply because the student asserts a religious exemption,” according to the Office of Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.

Baltimore, MD - Aug. 11, 2015 - In a landmark clarification of Maryland law requested by the State Delegates serving much of Baltimore's Orthodox Jewish Community, Sandy Rosenberg and Shelly Hettleman, the Office of Maryland's Attorney General has advised our Delegates that a claimed "religious exemption" to the requirement that a child be vaccinated against specific childhood diseases is not applicable to private religious and other schools.

Be on the lookout for an exclusive BJL interview on the subject of vaccinating children with world renowned Dr. Paul Offit, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

This legal advice, in a letter to Delegates Shelly Hettleman and Samuel Rosenberg, addresses concerns raised by the Orthodox Jewish day schools in the metropolitan Baltimore area.  (Letter attached.)

A private or parochial school is not required to admit “an unvaccinated student simply because the student asserts a religious exemption,” according to the Office of Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.

This legal advice, in a letter to Delegates Shelly Hettleman and Samuel Rosenberg, addresses concerns raised by the Orthodox Jewish day schools in the metropolitan Baltimore area.  (Letter attached.)
“If the State were to require non-public religious schools to accept the religious exemption claimed by a parent of a child who is not vaccinated, the State would be requiring the religious school to go against its own religious convictions,” declared Hillel Tendler an attorney for the religious schools.  “A parent’s religiously based anti-vaccination views should not be forced on a non-public religious school which does not share those beliefs.”

The Attorney General’s Office agreed, writing that the General Assembly did not intend that non-public schools be included in the requirement that schools allow an unvaccinated child to be admitted if the child’s parent or guardian claims a “religious exemption” to vaccinations.  Furthermore, the letter states, if a parochial school would be required to accommodate a religious belief and practice in conflict with its own, there is a risk that a court would find that to be in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

“This is a very important health issue for the students, parents, teachers, and administrators in our schools,” stated Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, Annapolis representative for Agudath Israel of Maryland - Mid-Atlantic Region.  “Delegates Hettleman and Rosenberg understood the gravity of the concerns expressed by the schools and enabled them to convey those concerns directly to the Attorney General’s Office.”

 “Allowing an unvaccinated student to come to school poses a very serious health risk to everyone else in the school building and their families as well,” stated Delegates Hettleman and Rosenberg.  “We were glad to assist in making the case to Attorney General Brian Frosh that the existing policy should be reversed for private and parochial schools.”

 For further information:
Delegate Shelly Hettleman    410-608-8016   shelly@shellyhettleman.com
Delegate Sandy Rosenberg   delsandy@aol.com
Read the clarification below or click here


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The myths the anti-vax movement is infamous for spreading....

Vaccines: Making strides in converting deniers

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
Credit: American Academy of Pediatricians

August is National Immunization Month which seems as good a time as any to evaluate how we are doing at getting the science based message about vaccines out to the public. Numbers actually show we are doing a good job in converting anti-vaxxers. A poll conducted by the University of Michigan found that:
  1. 34 percent of parents think vaccines have more benefit than they did one year ago
  2. 25 percent of parents believe vaccines are safer than they were one year ago
  3. 35 percent of parents report more support for daycare and school vaccine requirements than one year ago
These data show that in the last year alone a lot of parents have changed their views on vaccines. A recent Pew study found that two thirds of the public supports mandatory vaccines. Although to some, this may sound high, in reality even one anti-vax can do too much damage. Look at the effect Andrew Wakefield has had on rejuvenating the anti-vax movement.

It’s therefore important to understand how these changes in the public perception of vaccines have occurred.

 One recent study found that the best way to change opinions on vaccines is to focus on the risks of not vaccinating, instead of focusing on correcting directly the myths the anti-vax movement is infamous for spreading.

Researchers working at the University of Illinois polled subjects on their vaccine views and then separated them into three groups: one received literature challenging the anti-vax group, one received literature focused on the diseases vaccines protect against and one received literature on a non-vaccine topic. After after parents read their respective literature, they were re-polled and the researchers found that many in the second group changed their opinions on vaccinations.

Lead researcher Zachary Horne said of their results: “We found that directing people’s attention to the risks posed by not getting vaccinated, like getting measles, mumps and rubella and the complications associated with those diseases, changed people’s attitudes positively towards vaccination — and that was for even the most skeptical participants in the study. Actually, the largest effect sizes were for people who were the most skeptical.”

This idea is not new and is often put in a historical context. People stood in long lines in the mid 20th century to get themselves and their children vaccinated against the flu and polio, but this was a time when both of these diseases caused very visible epidemics. Yet the last case of polio in the United States was in 1979, almost 40 years ago, so it is understandably harder for people under the age of 40 to grasp the risks of acquiring one of these vaccine preventable diseases.

Think about the aforementioned Michigan study in light of last year’s Disneyland measles outbreak. Measles became a more public, tangible disease to many people, in particular young parents. This outbreak and the publicity it garnered may explain why the Michigan study found such a drastic movement away from anti-vax views among parents.

With this idea in mind and in the spirit of National Immunization Month, the American Academy of Pediatrics has started a month long campaign to remind people of the risks of not getting vaccinated. The campaign, entitled “Medicine Before Vaccines” features a collection of stories from physicians who remember what pediatric medicine was like before vaccines. It should serve as a lesson to many young parents that vaccine preventable diseases are something to be feared, as they have been for most of human history.


Monday, August 10, 2015

That’s the best we can do to negotiate a deal (which the Iranians have already said they will break anyway) on which the life and death of Wendy’s people, the Jews of Israel, depends?

  by Ben Stein -

Ben Stein: I'm Not Sure Obama Is 'In Good Mental Health'

My mother, God rest her soul, went with my father to Red China in the mid 1970s, before the capitalist Revolution there. Mom and Pop were taken around the country by Communist Party cadres who lectured them about how great Communism was. Of course, this was after Mao had murdered about 80 million Chinese civilians.

My mother, an extremely astute observer politically, and a fervent anti-communist, wrote to me a letter noting that the look on the faces of the Chinese Red women cadres was extremely similar to the looks on the faces of the leftist women at Columbia in the 1930s and in Silver Spring in the 1940s and 1950s.

Since then, I have noticed that I can always, and I mean ALWAYS, tell a woman’s political orientation by her facial features, expression, hair, jewelry (always silver), and clothing.

I point this out because last night I watched C-SPAN and saw a woman named Wendy Sherman testify before a Senate committee about the Iran sellout. This woman, aged roughly fifty something, maybe a bit older, was cut from the cookie cutter mold of wealthy Jewish leftists, thought I as I watched. She looked like the identical twin of an extremely leftist close friend of my wife here in Beverly Hills.

I looked her up, and sure enough, she was a big time leftist, big time anti-life, big time community organizer, close pal of Hillary Clinton and Barry Obama, with long experience fighting for the “right” of women to murder their children. From a rich Jewish family.

Of course, she defended the sellout to Iran. She lied about every single detail, including about the notorious fraud of “inspections anytime, anywhere” and the secret protocols with the IAEA which supersede anything in the agreement with the USA. She was a pitiful, weak liar, though, and started to cry at one point when a Republican questioned her closely.

I had the horrifying thoughts go through my head: This is who we had negotiating for us in Austria? An American Princess named “Wendy” who cries when she is confronted? Who is acting explicitly as an advocate for the Iranians? Who is the Edward Bennett Williams of the Mullahs? That’s the best we can do to negotiate a deal (which the Iranians have already said they will break anyway) on which the life and death of Wendy’s people, the Jews of Israel, depends? This is just plain pitiful. Heart breaking.

Today, I felt ill most of the day. My wife has been extremely ill for days and maybe I have caught it. But I went all over town to fetch things for my wife, especially various kids of milkshakes. That’s all she’ll eat when she’s sick.

As I was coming back from a store called Millions of Milkshakes, I took a short cut through a Chase bank. I stopped to cash a check. An attractive blond woman stood near me and asked the teller if he would let her pay her bill in Serbian money.

I asked her if she were kidding. She said she wasn’t, that her father was just back from Serbia and she had dinars she wanted to use. I offered to lend her money for a taxi.

In the meanwhile, a homeless man came in and overheard the conversation.

“Serbia,” he said. “That’s where World War II began. The people there are all Nazis.”

“No, it was World War I and the Serbs were mostly anti-Nazis. The Croatians were close to the Nazis.”
“Well, then Communists,” he said. He glowered at the girl. “Is your father a Communist?” he asked.
“That was a long time ago,” I said.

“No. Once a Commie always a Commie,” he retorted, with some truth. “They killed the Archbishop of somewhere and that started the war.”

“No, the Archduke,” I said.

“Well, whatever, some big Arch something and now they’re all Communists.”

As I walked out of the bank with the young woman, I said to her, “This town, this whole town, is one big outdoor mental hospital.”

She agreed.

Okay. Topic A. The GOP debates. Fox should have kicked Trump’s pompous ass right off the stage as soon as he would not pledge to support the party and the candidate. Once he said he would consider running as a third party candidate, he proved what everyone is saying, that he’s just a hireling for the Clintons, just signed on to make trouble and get publicity.

Then, later he bragged about putting some of his companies into bankruptcy. Just so you know, he didn’t just do that because he lost his job. He didn’t just declare BK because Atlantic City was in trouble.

He went to great lengths to snooker his own stockholders, to whom he had a fiduciary obligation, and to be a deadbeat to his lenders, to whom he owed a contractual obligation. (I wrote about it in Barron’s in 1989.) This was fine, he said, because it made his family rich.

What a loathsome man. To even consider him as a President is deeply disturbing.

Everyone else was great. I especially like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee. Outspoken. Sensible. Fine men. Serious about standing up to the Russians and the terrorists.

The problem is that none of them has a solution. None has a plan. None will come out for higher taxes to pay for an adequate defense. The GOP has been hijacked by the tax cutters and it’s killing the national defense as the sequester bites ever deeper into the muscle and bone of the military.

“An idiot with a plan can beat a genius without a plan,” says Warren Buffett. And we in the GOP have no plans at all. Mr. Obama has plans for national suicide. We have words, but no plans, for national salvation.

No one said a word, not one single word, about the catastrophe in the black world. The black male kids are largely illiterate, almost totally unable to use math, for the most part unprepared for modern life, addicted to drugs and crime. They are our brothers and fellow Americans, and our politicians — especially Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton — whip them up to anger, but do nothing to prepare them for real life. Something has got to give or we are heading for anarchy.

Oh, by the way, this afternoon we had the lower-ranked GOP candidates debate, and they were great.

Especially Lindsey Graham and Rick Santorum. But they also said not a peep about raising taxes and not a peep about raising the lives of our black men from misery to prosperity. Is it possible there is nothing to be done? No, because blacks were making real progress until the mid 1960s. Then the attitudes of entitlement, blaming whitey, drugs, and a culture of irresponsibility set in. Mr. Obama could have done something about it. He didn’t. They say he plans to be the first billionaire ex-President.