Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The prayer asks that the vaccines being given “bring health, blessing and redemption, and protect us from suffering and terrible diseases” and asks God to bless the nurses and doctors who provide vaccines with a “long and peaceful life, financial security and success.”

Israeli health advocate pens prayer to encourage vaccination

JERUSALEM (RNS) — In early spring, as the worldwide measles outbreak was raging, an Orthodox Israeli woman wrote a prayer to encourage religious parents to vaccinate their children.

“I’ve come across a lot of people who do vaccinate, but they often feel conflicted,” said the prayer’s author, Hannah Katsman, a lactation therapist in central Israel. “I wrote the prayer to help them see vaccines as a positive thing to be grateful for and not something to fear.”

Prayer Before a Vaccination” was published in English and Hebrew by the Open Siddur Project.

Hannah Katsman, an Orthodox Israeli lactation therapist, has written a prayer on the occasion of vaccination. She wrote the prayer to help parents see vaccines as a positive thing to be grateful for and not something to fear.

The prayer asks that the vaccines being given “bring health, blessing and redemption, and protect us from suffering and terrible diseases” and asks God to bless the nurses and doctors who provide vaccines with a “long and peaceful life, financial security and success.”

Katsman said members of a Hebrew-language pro-vaccination Facebook group, where she is active, urged her to write the prayer as the number of measles cases in Israel and elsewhere — particularly in some ultra-Orthodox enclaves — began to skyrocket. Jerusalem, New York and New Jersey have had serious outbreaks.

“These outbreaks were an impetus,” Katsman told Religion News Service. “Pockets of the Orthodox community were being hit hard,” largely due to the communities’ high birthrates and higher-than-average percentage of babies too young to vaccinate.

Although a small number of rabbis forbade their followers from vaccinating their children, the vast majority of community leaders openly endorsed vaccination.

Katsman, a public-health advocate, also wanted to pay tribute to the health professionals “who are working on the front lines, sometimes under threat,” to eradicate preventable diseases like measles and polio.

She dedicated the prayer to the memory of her brother Dr. Sholom Wacholder, a biostatistician “who was instrumental in the development of the vaccine to prevent cancers caused by HPV.”

This week, an official at one of Israel’s four HMOs asked Katsman’s permission to post the prayer in well-baby clinics throughout the country.

“This is exactly what I was hoping for,” Katsman said. “I also hope the prayer will be translated into Yiddish.”

That language is spoken by many ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Katsman doesn’t expect to change the opinion of the strongest anti-vaxxers.

“My hope is that I can give comfort to those seeking it.”


Monday, May 20, 2019

At the time of his arrest, The CJN reported that Kravetsky’s LinkedIn profile said that he was an instructor at Durham College in Oshawa and previously worked at Yeshivas Binyan Hatorah High School in Toronto as a counsellor, and at Yeshiva Gedolah Zichron Shmayahu as a teacher.

Sex assault charges against Toronto therapist withdrawn

Phil Kravetsky

Criminal charges against Phil Kravetsky, who’s well known in Toronto’s Jewish community as a family mediator and psychotherapist, have been withdrawn.

Kravetsky, who was 51 at the time, was charged in March 2018 with sexual assault and sexual interference with a person under 16 years of age, after police investigated a claim that a child was assaulted in the Lawrence Avenue and Bathurst Street area of the city.

On April 24, those charges were withdrawn and Kravetsky entered into a peace bond for a period of 12 months, according to the Ontario attorney general’s office.

A court-imposed publication ban prevented the identification of the complainant and witnesses.

The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario’s website lists Kravetsky as being a registered member, with offices in Oshawa and Toronto.

His LinkedIn profile says he’s the owner of Durham Region Family Law Support Services.

At the time of his arrest, The CJN reported that Kravetsky’s LinkedIn profile said that he was an instructor at Durham College in Oshawa and previously worked at Yeshivas Binyan Hatorah High School in Toronto as a counsellor, and at Yeshiva Gedolah Zichron Shmayahu as a teacher.

He was also well known as a Jewish music DJ who would perform at bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings and other simchas.

Kravetsky had no comment on the charges being withdrawn, when he was contacted by The CJN.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Justice Ministry official told The Times of Israel in February that police had recordings of Litzman and officials in his office speaking to Health Ministry employees and pressing them to act on Leifer’s behalf....

Deputy minister accused of protecting sex offenders in at least 10 cases


UTJ leader Yaakov Litzman alleged to have pattern of aiding ultra-Orthodox convicts by pressuring corrections officials, Channel 13 report claims

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of United Torah Judaism holds a press conference after meeting with President Reuven Rivlin, April 15, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of United Torah Judaism holds a press conference after meeting with President Reuven Rivlin
Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman allegedly helped at least 10 serious sex offenders obtain improved conditions, including home visits and other benefits, by pressuring state psychiatrists and prisons service officials, according to a report Tuesday.

Litzman, who hails from the Gur Hasidic community, has been accused in the past of using his influence to protect Malka Leifer, who has been fighting extradition to Australia for allegedly abusing students at a Jewish school there.

According to Channel 13 news, Litzman is suspected of a pattern of pressuring corrections officials to be lenient with other ultra-Orthodox offenders as well.

Litzman, who heads the United Torah Judaism party and is expected to remain in his post in the next government, has been under police investigation since February on suspicions he sought to obtain a falsified psychiatric report that would have prevented Leifer from being extradited to Australia.

Leifer, a former principal at the Adass Israel school in Melbourne, has been charged in Australia with 74 counts of sexually abusing her students. Her extradition from Israel has been delayed by her claims to be mentally unfit to stand trial.

In March, Channel 13 reported on a second police probe in which Litzman and his chief of staff are suspected of pressuring a psychiatrist, Moshe Birger, to ensure that another imprisoned sex offender close to Litzman’s Gur sect was placed in a rehabilitation program.

Participation in the program can lead to home-visit rights and early release from prison.

A private investigator tagged Malka Leifer as she spoke on the phone, while sitting on a bench in Bnei Brak, on December 14, 2017.
Litzman denied the accusations in February, saying, “I have a lot to say, but I cannot speak about it. It was all for the good of the public, everything was legal.”

In March, he denied wrongdoing in both cases, saying his assistance to Leifer was part of his general effort to assist any citizen who appeals to his office for help, and calling the Birger suspicions “lies and slander that never happened.”

According to Tuesday’s report, Channel 13 has now amassed evidence in at least 10 cases, some of which are reportedly being examined by police, in which Litzman is accused of pressuring state psychiatrists and other officials in the cases of sex offenders.

The offenders include convicted pedophiles and rapists, the report said.

“Litzman and his staff reached the point of actual conflict with relevant officials, which helped lead to tensions between the Prisons Service and the Health Ministry,” Channel 13 said, adding that several psychiatrists who faced the alleged pressure have given statements to police.

Protesters demonstrate on March 13, 2019, outside the Jeursalem District Court during extradition hearings for Malka Leifer, a former girls school principal wanted for sexual abuse in Australia.

Part of the new accusations concern Litzman’s former aide and now freshman UTJ lawmaker Yaakov Tesler, who allegedly pressured the Prisons Service to allow home visits for convicted murderer-rapist Tal Tzarfati while he served a 14.5-year sentence for the killing of a young woman in Tel Aviv.

In a brief confrontation between Hamakor and Tesler in a Knesset cafeteria shown in the Tuesday broadcast, Tesler defended his actions.

“Any appeal I receive from a person asking for help, I don’t ask, are they a sex offender or not a sex offender,” he told the channel’s reporter. “Every request I receive, regardless of who it is, I take care of it.”

There was no immediate response from Litzman.

It is not yet clear exactly how many of the cases involved Haredi convicts, a key factor for Hamakor’s charge that Litzman and Tesler’s actions constitute discriminatory protection of sex offenders due to their religious affiliation.

Leifer is known to have links to the Gur community, having once taught at a school in Israel affiliated with the branch.

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman attends a conference of the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel party in the coastal city of Netanya on January 30, 2019.

A Justice Ministry official told The Times of Israel in February that police had recordings of Litzman and officials in his office speaking to Health Ministry employees and pressing them to act on Leifer’s behalf.

Concerns over Haredi community leaders protecting those accused of sexual offenses, including against children, have dogged the case from the start.

Leifer, for example, an Israeli citizen, slipped out of Australia and went back to Israel in 2008, days before allegations of sexual abuse against her surfaced, in an escape plan allegedly orchestrated by officials at the Adass Israel school where she taught.

After authorities in Melbourne filed charges against her, Australia officially filed an extradition request in 2012. Two years later, Leifer was arrested in Israel but released to house arrest shortly thereafter.

Judges deemed her mentally unfit to stand trial and eventually removed all restrictions against her, concluding that she was too ill to even leave her bed.

She was rearrested last February following a police undercover operation that cast doubts on her claims regarding her mental state, and has remained in custody since. The operation was launched after the Jewish Community Watch NGO hired private investigators who placed hidden cameras in the Emmanuel settlement, a Haredi community where Leifer had been living, which showed the alleged sex abuser roaming around the town without any apparent difficulty.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A pediatrician questioned whether Jews were being intentionally given “bad lots” of vaccines that ended up giving children a new strain of the virus....

Despite Measles Warnings, Anti-Vaccine Rally Draws Hundreds of Ultra-Orthodox Jews


Hundreds were in attendance at an anti-vaccine rally in Monsey, N.Y., in Rockland County.
MONSEY, N.Y. — An ultra-Orthodox rabbi falsely described the measles outbreak among Jews as part of an elaborate plan concocted by Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York to deflect attention from “more serious” diseases brought by Central American migrants.

A pediatrician questioned whether Jews were being intentionally given “bad lots” of vaccines that ended up giving children a new strain of the virus. And Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor whose study linking measles vaccines with autism was widely discredited and condemned, appeared via Skype to offer an almost apocalyptic vision of a world in which vaccines were giving rise to deadlier immunization-resistant diseases. 

Since the measles outbreak began last fall, the health authorities have embarked on a sweeping and exhaustive campaign, repeatedly urging people to get vaccinated and fighting the spread of misinformation. They have made special efforts in the ultra-Orthodox communities of Brooklyn and Rockland County, N.Y., where the disease has been spreading most quickly.

A pediatrician questioned whether Jews were being intentionally given “bad lots” of vaccines that ended up giving children a new strain of the virus. And Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor whose study linking measles vaccines with autism was widely discredited and condemned, appeared via Skype to offer an almost apocalyptic vision of a world in which vaccines were giving rise to deadlier immunization-resistant diseases. 

“We Hasidim have been chosen as the target,” said the rabbi, Hillel Handler. “The campaign against us has been successful.” 

Since the measles outbreak began last fall, the health authorities have embarked on a sweeping and exhaustive campaign, repeatedly urging people to get vaccinated and fighting the spread of misinformation. They have made special efforts in the ultra-Orthodox communities of Brooklyn and Rockland County, N.Y., where the disease has been spreading most quickly.

But the rally on Monday in Monsey, a Rockland County town about 30 miles northwest of New York City, vividly illustrated how the anti-vaccine fervor is not only enduring, but may be growing: Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews packed a ballroom for a “vaccine symposium” with leaders of the anti-vaccination movement. 

Organized by a Monsey-based Jewish group, the event also showed how the movement was gaining ground: Greg Mitchell, a Washington-based lobbyist who represents the Church of Scientology, attended the meeting and addressed the crowd, offering to be their “voice in the public-policy game.”
The gathering was denounced by local elected officials, health authorities and some ultra-Orthodox rabbis, who said the speakers were spreading propaganda that could cause the outbreak to deepen, risking the health of countless people. 

The event was held in a large ballroom. As is customary at ultra-Orthodox gatherings, the men were separated by an improvised wall from the women. Speakers were introduced and applauded as if they were celebrities. 

The remarks — and the rapt audience — illustrated how the anti-vaccination movement can exploit fear and anxiety within relatively insular communities, especially religious ones, to undercut scientifically sound warnings from health experts. 

“They are doubling down and increasing their messaging — capitalizing on fear,” Dr. Jane Zucker, the assistant commissioner of immunization for the New York City health department, said in an interview. “Parents are afraid of who and what to believe.”

Rabbi Handler, a 77-year-old from Brooklyn who said he was a Holocaust survivor, set the tone for the night, claiming that Jews were being persecuted as disease carriers and were being attacked on the street in New York City for sneezing. (The Anti-Defamation League has strongly objected to the appropriation of Holocaust symbols by vaccine critics.)

Mr. de Blasio has issued a public health emergency for four ZIP codes in Brooklyn where ultra-Orthodox Jews live. That decision appeared to have earned him the ire of Rabbi Handler, who described Mr. de Blasio as a “sneaky fellow” and a closet German — “Wilhelm, his real name, was named after Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany.”

(In fact, none of this is true. Mr. de Blasio was born Warren Wilhelm Jr., and later decided to take his mother’s last name as his own after becoming alienated from his father.)

The pediatrician who spoke on Monday night, Dr. Lawrence Palevsky, is regularly cited in pamphlets circulated in New York City that urge women not to get their children vaccinated. His views have no basis in science, experts said. 

At the rally, he talked at length about mutating viruses and falsely claimed that failed vaccines were producing a new strain of measles. Women scribbled into notepads as he spoke. Others filmed his comments, sending them to their contacts on WhatsApp. Essentially, he said, there were no studies available to show how the vaccine affects the human body.

“Is it possible that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine that is somehow being given in this lot to communities in Williamsburg and Lakewood and Monsey, maybe in Borough Park, is it possible that these lots are bad?” he asked, referring to areas in New York and New Jersey with large ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities. 

“It’s fascinating because we’re told how contagious the disease is, but somehow it’s centered in the Jewish community.” 

Dr. Palevsky could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. 

Mr. Wakefield, who was stripped of his medical license in his native Britain some two decades ago for fraudulent claims linking vaccines to autism, accused the health authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of misleading the public. But before doing that, he insisted on his own innocence.

“I wanted to reassure you that I have never been involved in scientific fraud,” he said via Skype from a darkened room, his face appearing eerily white as it was projected onto two large overhead screens.

“What happened to me is what happens to doctors who threatened the bottom line of the pharmaceutical companies.”

Rockland County has the highest number of recorded cases after New York City. But there are other pockets of large outbreaks as well, and not all of them in are in religious communities

The C.D.C. said on Monday that the number of measles reported across the country rose by 75 last week, bringing the total to 839 in 23 states, the highest number of cases the United States has seen since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.

New York City alone has seen 498 confirmed cases of the disease since September. In the rest of New York state, there have been 274 confirmed cases, according to official figures. About 80 percent of those cases were located in Rockland County.

Read more about parents who choose not to vaccinate their children:
New York authorities have used a number of tactics to force people to get immunized, including excluding unvaccinated children from going to schools with low vaccination rates or threatening thousand-dollar fines on parents for failing to vaccinate their children. 

The strategies have been largely successful, health officials have insisted, even though there have been setbacks. 

In Rockland County, for example, a state of emergency declaration in March that banned unvaccinated children from public spaces was challenged by parents and halted after a judge ruled that the outbreak did not legally merit an emergency declaration. 

The county executive, Ed Day, issued a new declaration last month that sought to prevent people who were exposed to measles from being in public places.

Local officials, including Mr. Day and Rabbi Chaim Schabes, expressed outrage in a joint statement at the “outsiders” who organized Monday’s rally and “are targeting our community.”

“Tonight’s event and the misinformation being shared at it runs counter to every statement from the medical experts and elected officials of our county,” the statement read.

“This type of propaganda endangers the health and safety of children within our community and around the world, and must be denounced in the strongest language possible.”

Just one of the event’s five speakers, who were introduced as “distinguished personalities” and the “cream of humanity’s crop,” was from the Orthodox community. Rabbi Hillel Handler, who has likened vaccination to “child sacrifice” in the past, told the crowd that according to “medical research,” if you catch “measles, mumps and chickenpox, your chances of getting cancer, heart disease, and strokes goes down 60 percent.” READ IT ALL:


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

One Would Think a Human Being With a Conscience Would Stand Up and Admit They Were So Very Wrong & Helped Create an Epidemic! Not These Guys!" Dual Scourges – Disease and Ignorance"

“I see vaccinations as the problem. It’s a hoax. Even the Salk vaccine [against polio] is a hoax. It is just big business.” Shmuel Kaminetzky

Trust any of these imbeciles at your own peril...and that of your community!



Vaccination is Pikuach Nefesh

By: Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt
Director, Halachah & Medicine Commission
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim


Monday, May 13, 2019

I have one perfectly healthy child and I do not want DOCTORS anywhere near her!

I Didn’t Vaccinate My Kids and the One Who Lived, Turned out Just Fine

TRUTH ALERT: I didn’t vaccinate my kids and the one who lived, turned out just fine.

You heard me. When each of my five children were born, my husband and I made the decision NOT to pump our kids full of “vaccines” and “preventative medicines” despite the societal pressure to do so. And today we have one perfectly fine child who lived to see her 13th birthday.

If you want to hear the TRUTH that the vaccine industry doesn’t want YOU to know, keep reading.
Like most mothers, I take my children’s health and well-being very seriously. When my beautiful babies, who I miss so much, were born, I went with my gut and the advice of my yoga friends and didn’t vaccinate them. Now I am asking you to PLEASE do the same.

I’m a mother and I read a lot of stuff on the internet; I know vaccines are approved by the FDA to prevent disease BUT I’M NOT CONVINCED! And I’m here to convince you to not be convinced by their “science” and “research.”

Would you rather take advice from me, a real mother who raised five kids and still has one wonderful, beautiful teenage daughter? Or would you rather listen to the BIASED media, or worse, the corrupt doctors?
The choice should be simple.

Don’t even get me started on those death peddlers. At best, doctors are snake oil salesmen trying to pump our kids full of vaccines they don’t need. At worst, they are actively trying to kill our children.

  MY children, my friends’ children, and if you’re not careful they’ll come after YOUR children.

I have one perfectly healthy child and I do not want DOCTORS anywhere near her.

As soon as my first baby was born, which I’m ashamed to say happened in a hospital, the doctors immediately tried to vaccinate him. They said they wanted to prevent the spread of diseases that I’m pretty sure they were making up! Is anyone fact-checking doctors these days? 


Besides, if doctors were so smart, why couldn’t they cure my oldest son when he got measles?  Or my second daughter when she got cholera? Where’s their science when we really need it?

Exactly. If they really knew about the immune system or any of these diseases they’d know how to fix them and not just try and fill our babies with chemicals AND LIES.

Vaccines are the number one killer of all children on the planet. THEY don’t want you to know, but it’s the truth.

So please, as a mother, THINK before you vaccinate your child. I’ve raised plenty of kids, one all the way to the age of 13.
Trust me when I tell you the vaccines aren’t worth the risk.

My beautiful daughter wasn’t vaccinated and she’s just starting high school. She has lots of friends and gets awesome grades (B’s and C’s, proud mama!). And we just found out she has polio so she may very well be the next Stephen Hawking.


Friday, May 10, 2019

Just How Dumb & Crazy Does It Get? The ‘top doctor from Oklahoma’ said that doctors are all bought out by the pharmaceutical companies. To which Dr Wertzberger replied ‘ how much did you get paid to come here!?

Satmar Rebbe & R’ Elya Ber met physicians to discuss vaccinations, read what happened


Teitelbaum & Wachtfogel

There was a two hour heated debate at the home of the Satmar Rebbe of Kiryas Yoel, on the topic of vaccinations. R’ Elya Ber Wachtfogel was in attendance as well. R’ Elya Ber is reportedly an Anti-vaxxer.

The anti-vaxxers brought a physician from Oklohoma, who made four points.
  1. vaccinations are dangerous,
  2. It is against the Torah (I don’t think they brought a DR for that)
  3. Doctors are bought by the pharmaceutical companies
  4. The health department is wrong
The pro-vaxxers had Dr Wertzberger & another doctor (some Hatzolah member were there as well).

Related: GL Exclusive: Anti-Vaxxers responses – Part 1

When the Oklahoma physician said the Torah doesn’t allow it, the Rebbe said ‘leave the Torah out’ just stick to medical facts. After several questions, they realized this ‘top doctor from Oklahoma’ never dealt with Kids. He was not a pediatrician.

Dr. Wertzberger said he was a pediatrician and has been seeing children for 30+ years and vaccinated over 10,000 children. He said of course vaccinations are a good thing etc. and he has the stats from his own patients to show it.

The ‘top doctor from Oklahoma’ said that doctors are all bought out by the pharmaceutical companies. To which Dr Wertzberger replied ‘ how much did you get paid to come here!?

During the exchange, some anti-vaxxers in the room started screaming that kids die from vaccines. 

The Rebbe said people died from heart surgery should we not do heart surgery? People died from the needle at the dentist, should we not go to the dentist anymore? The Rebbe said the bottom line is we will not force you to vaccinate but don’t put us in danger. The Anti-vaxxers should open their own schools, shuls, camps & playgrounds.


Thursday, May 09, 2019

In a matter of seven decades, the Jewish state has risen from a poverty-stricken backwater to the status of a First World economy and a regional military superpower. And it did so despite the predictions of doom and gloom.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is about this one day

The celebration of Israeli independence is more than a holiday. It’s a time to take stock of the country’s incredible achievements, as well as the reason why peace still eludes it.

Much of the discussion about Israel and the Palestinians revolves around one question: Why does the conflict continue? Most of those who offer answers, especially veteran Middle East “experts” who have been advocating for and helping to promote the peace process for decades, spin a complicated tale in which Israel’s unwillingness to make concessions is put forward as just as much, if not more, responsible for the lack of peace than Palestinian intransigence and terrorism.

But though the region’s history during the course of the last century is complex, the answer to the question is actually quite simple. The conflict continues because the Jewish state exists.
That’s a daunting thought as Israelis spend Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) watching fireworks, and enjoying barbecues and other holiday activities. It would be much easier to think that the conflict, which Israelis can’t evade because they spend the day right beforehand marking the solemn observance of Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day), when those who fell in defense of their nation and victims of terror are remembered. The two days are not something that can be neatly cordoned off.

But while it might be easier to live with if the ongoing struggle could be merely blamed on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s supposed hard line or something else that might be remedied by the people of Israel, the truth is that the endless debate about how best to advance the cause of peace essentially boils down to a single equation. As long as the Jews are celebrating the rebirth of their sovereignty in the land of Israel, peace won’t happen. It won’t happen until their Palestinian neighbors come to grips with the fact that this fact will never be reversed.

This is easily forgotten amid much of the rhetoric heard from those who say that Israelis are sliding away from democracy by electing leaders American liberals don’t understand or like. However, the events of the past year, during which weekly “Marches of Return” have continued along the border with Gaza aimed at promoting the idea that the last 71 years of history can be erased, are a reminder that in the eyes of the Jewish state’s opponents, what is going on there is a zero sum game.

That’s a grim reality that a clear majority of Israelis have accepted. The fourth consecutive victory of the Netanyahu-led Likud Party coalition reflected the Israeli people’s rejection of those who have failed to comprehend the consequences of recent failed attempts to trade land for peace. That grim equation in which peace is not merely a difficult problem, but also out of reach, is the sort of thing that leads some Jews to despair. The notion of a generational conflict continuing for another generation is hard to bear. So perhaps it’s understandable that some prefer to cling to myths about settlements being the cause of conflict or shortsighted Israeli leaders missing opportunities for peace. To many, the fact that Israel can’t solve the conflict with a bold conciliatory stroke or even a long negotiating process leaves them feeling helpless. It also contradicts some of the precepts that the early Zionists clung to, in which they felt that they could determine events, rather than being forced to depend to some extent on the actions of others.

Nevertheless, this should actually serve to remind us not only of the incredible nature of Israel’s achievements during the last 71 years, but also that its ability to thrive isn’t dependent on the good will of the Palestinians.

In a matter of seven decades, the Jewish state has risen from a poverty-stricken backwater to the status of a First World economy and a regional military superpower. And it did so despite the predictions of doom and gloom.

Prior to 1948, Zionists were told that there was no way a Jewish state could be created. As Israelis are now often reminded, the numbers and time itself were against them. The staying power of anti-Semitic hate fueled resistance to the Zionist project then as it does now. But in spite of that, in spite of the refusal of the Palestinians to accept territorial compromise, Israel has gone from strength to strength.

What is needed on Yom Ha’atzmaut is not a day of cheering for modern Israel, though it deserves plaudits for its economic achievements, military valor and vibrant culture. Rather, what is called for is an appreciation of how extraordinary the mere fact of its existence is in the context of Jewish history. Its rebirth and ability to defend itself and thrive in the face of continued hate and terrorism is something previous generations of Jews would have considered a miracle. It’s also something that was achieved by the determination of the Jewish people to persevere, no matter the obstacles and opposition.

Like any human creation, Israel is imperfect and faces problems. But what its people have done in the last 71 years is something few rational people would have imagined possible. In our own time and with our own eyes, we have seen 71 years of miracles as the Jewish state survived, thrived and enriched the lives of all Jews, even if they resided elsewhere. That should give us confidence that problems that seem impossible to surmount will be overcome, as they have been throughout the last seven decades. Though the very fact of its existence continues to spur the enemies of the Jewish people to go on fighting, it is no reason to despair or to succumb to the lies of those who slander it. 

To the contrary, Israel’s strength and survival in the face of continued opposition is even more reason to celebrate.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS‑Jewish News Syndicate. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.


Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Full time manned video surveillance in & around Jewish schools is no longer optional...with armed guards at all the entries and patrolling the premises...

School Shooting in Colorado Leaves 1 Student Dead and 7 Injured


Mahesh Anandan picked up his three children after a shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch near Denver, where eight students were shot, one fatally, on Tuesday

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — Last month, as the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting approached, STEM School Highlands Ranch joined hundreds of schools near Denver in closing temporarily amid security concerns. The anniversary came and went, and schools returned to their routines.

But on Tuesday afternoon, the STEM school’s worst fears were realized when eight of its students were shot, one fatally, and two fellow students were being held as suspects.

“We know two individuals walked into the STEM school, got deep inside the school and engaged students in two separate locations,” Sheriff Tony Spurlock of Douglas County said at a news conference.

At 6:45 p.m., about five hours after the shooting, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office released a statement confirming that one of the eight who had been shot, an 18-year-old man, had died.

Sheriff Spurlock said the suspects, who were armed with a handgun and other weapons, confronted law enforcement officers when they arrived. He said the suspects, one adult and one juvenile, were not injured.

“I can tell you that there were shots fired,” he said. “Our officers went in and engaged the suspects. We did struggle with the suspects to take them into custody.”

Sheriff Spurlock said neither suspect had been on law enforcement’s radar before the shooting and that the motive was unknown.

The sheriff said he would not release details about the injured students, their ages or their injuries on Tuesday night.

Students who were not injured were taken to Northridge Recreation Center in Highlands Ranch, where hundreds of anxious parents gathered to look for their children on Tuesday afternoon.

Law enforcement officers directed parents who were picking up their children from Northridge Recreation Center after the shooting

“I heard a gunshot,” said Makai Dixon, 8, a second grader who had been training for this moment, with active shooter drills and lockdowns, since he was in kindergarten. “I’d never heard it before.”

Makai’s parents said they joined thousands of others in rushing to the school as news blazed through this suburban community.

“We’re more messed up than they are,” Makai’s mother, Rocio, said as they walked to their car.

The shooting at the Highlands Ranch charter school is the latest at an educational institution, rattling communities nationwide because young people have been put in mortal danger in places long considered safe havens. One week earlier, a man with a pistol shot six people on the last day of spring classes at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, killing two.

On Tuesday, as wave after wave of classes were released from the recreation center in Highlands Ranch, high schoolers began walking out in tears, reaching for their parents’ arms and hugging their teachers.

Tyler Rush, 17, a junior, said he had been on the second floor of the school, just above where the shooting occurred. He said that it began during the day’s final period and that the school announced a lockdown in the middle school portion of the building. He and his classmates gathered in a corner and turned out the lights. Some cried. Some sat paralyzed.

He heard two gunshots.

“I was in a state of shock,” he said.

Littleton Adventist Hospital in Colorado said five people were transported there after Tuesday’s shooting. Two are in serious condition while three have been discharged, the hospital said. Sky Ridge Medical Center said two children were transported there and were in stable condition. Children’s Hospital Colorado said one victim had been treated at its south campus and then released.

While details of how the shooting happened remained sparse, one parent said students had tried to stop the attack.

Brad Bialy said his oldest son, Brendan, a senior, told him that he was in class when gunfire erupted. Mr. Bialy said his son told him that two students entered the classroom and one pulled a gun out of a guitar case.

He said his son and two friends tried to tackle the gunman but one of the boys was shot in the chest. Other students tried to stanch the bleeding by putting pressure on his chest, Mr. Bialy said.

Fernando Montoya told a local television station that his 17-year-old son, a junior, was shot three times. He was taken to a hospital but was going to be released.

Students got off buses after being evacuated from STEM School Highlands Ranch, a charter school that has about 1,800 students in kindergarten through 12th grade

“Thank God he’s fine,” Mr. Montoya said.

He said after news of the shooting broke, he could not reach his son and was in a state of shock until they were able to talk to each other.

“We are so lucky,” Mr. Montoya said.

Sheriff Spurlock said the school, which has about 1,800 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, had no police officer assigned to it and used private security instead, but he did not say what actions that security service may have taken during the shooting.

The sheriff said that the school alerted law enforcement “almost immediately after the first gunshots were fired” and that deputies arrived roughly two minutes later.

“I have to believe that the quick response of officers that got inside that school helped save lives,” the sheriff said.

Earlier in the day, local news media showed video footage of tear-stricken parents gathering near the school as at least two air ambulance helicopters arrived at the scene after the shooting, which was reported before 2 p.m.

Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado said the state government was monitoring the situation.

“We are making all of our public safety resources available to assist the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department in their effort to secure the site and evacuate the students,” he said on Twitter. “The heart of all Colorado is with the victims & their families.”

Douglas County is an affluent area south of Denver with about 350,000 people. It sits next to Jefferson County, home to Columbine High School, and students there are already primed to watch for gunmen.

Last month, hundreds of schools in the Denver area were closed as law enforcement searched for a Florida woman who they said had made threats ahead of the 20th anniversary of the deadly shooting that claimed 13 lives at Columbine High School, which is about seven miles from the site of Tuesday’s shooting.

The woman, Sol Pais, 18, was found dead on April 17 of an apparent self-inflicted shotgun wound in the mountains west of Denver.

Douglas County is more conservative than traditionally blue Denver, and like much of the region has been at the center of the national debate over gun violence.

“I have to believe that the quick response of officers that got inside that school helped save lives,” Sheriff Tony Spurlock of Douglas County said.

Last month, Mr. Polis signed into law a so-called Red Flag bill, allowing authorities to take guns from people deemed a threat after a court hearing. The bill divided the state, and some sheriffs said they would not enforce it, while some counties began calling themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries.”

In Douglas County, the county commission criticized the bill, saying they feared it threatened constitutional liberties, while Sheriff Spurlock emerged as one of its most vocal supporters.

The area’s history of gun violence was front and center in last year’s election for its United States representative. Jason Crow, a Democrat, unseated Mike Coffman, a five-term Republican incumbent supported by the National Rifle Association.

Mr. Crow campaigned openly on gun control — including universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and restrictions on high-capacity magazines — and the issue dominated the race.

He was one of several public figures to express his sorrow on Twitter on Tuesday.

“It is with broken hearts that we respond to the news coming out of Highlands Ranch,” he wrote. “We still don’t have all the details regarding the situation at STEM school, but we do know this: we have a public health crisis on our hands. This cannot continue.”

Patrick Neville, a Columbine survivor and the top Republican lawmaker in the Colorado House of Representatives, said in a statement that the shooting was a reminder “of the need to secure our schools.”

He said armed security guards and facility upgrades were the best way to keep students safe.

“School safety programs which include armed security and safety upgrades to school facilities are the best way to stop these criminals from harming our children,” he said.

There have been several high-profile shootings in Colorado in recent years.

In 2010, a man shot two students with a high-powered rifle at a suburban middle school near Highlands Ranch.

In 2012, 12 people were killed at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., about 20 miles northeast of Highlands Ranch.

In 2013, a student in Centennial, Colo., killed himself after he fatally shot another student in the head.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Kahane stood for the idea of not accepting the status quo, of not swallowing "the wisdom” of being quiet and waiting for the great people who will maybe, perhaps, be able to do something behind the scenes if they are given enough kovod and endless time....

Why They hated Rav Kahane: Some truths are too Harsh

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of having my article “No, Rabbi Kahane was not a Racist” published in the Jewish press.  In that article, I argued that not only was Rav Meir Kahane הי"ד not a racist, but certainly the leaders of Otzma Yehudit, whose platform is far milder than some of the more controversial things Rav Kahane said, are not racist, the Supreme Court of Israel notwithstanding.  I received several comments which I would like to respond to.  In particular, some asked me to explain why I thought it was important to defend Rav Kahane’s reputation, given that the vast majority of the Jewish world, both left and right, religious and secular, rejected him and his views.

I want to begin by referencing an insight of Dr. AJ Heschel (probably not a Kahane fan) in “A Passion for Truth,” his treatment of the holy Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (and, lehavdil Søren Kierkegaard).  In introducing him, he said that the extreme, total and unforgiving passion for truth by the Kotzker was too much for almost everyone, who could not live with that standard of absolute rejection of anything not absolutely true, given the weaknesses and foibles of most humans.  Because of this, the Kotzker could not tolerate most people and they could not tolerate him, and he ended up spending many years towards the end of his life locked up in a room in solitude.  Nevertheless remains a vital and important influence in this:  anyone who studied his teachings, and heard of his stories in any serious way, will never be able to allow his ego to grow too large – the memory of the Kotzker and what an authentic man of truth he was serves as instant needle to prick the balloon of any overblown sense of self, and make one realize what a flawed, incomplete and pitiful creature one really is.

That quote has stayed with me and haunted me often throughout the years.

I start with this as a way of talking about what Rav Kahane meant to me and continues to mean for so many people.  He was fearless and extreme; he seemed to care not a whit what people thought of him. He was deeply insightful, and he spoke and stood for many truths that so many deep down agreed with, but were afraid to say openly. (This has been amply documented). And while they were either afraid to stand with him, or felt that pragmatically the time was not right for his message, they appreciate that – like a lighthouse – he was there shining the light of truth, which may have been too powerful for others.  He was there to remind us that political correctness and social veneer was hiding a large deep and dangerous reality – that liberal Judaism and the secular Zionists and the intellectual elites were, literally, spiritually killing many  more Jews than Hitler ימ"ו ever did (a fate arguably worse than death) and that we lemmings are too nice and polite and genteel to protest or do anything about it.

He initially gained fame by starting the Jewish Defense League and defending Jews who no one stood up for. But his main contribution was not that Jews should defend themselves -- he was far from the only one who advocated this (Jabotinsky, the partisans, Abba Kovner, Menachem Begin and many others come to mind). His main ideology – his Raayon HaYehudi – was that Jews should have pride in who they are, and stand up for themselves and unabashedly stand for Torah values and our rights.  That the time of cowering before the Goyim was over.  That we should no longer be held back worrying about “it’s a Shanda – what will the goyim/elitists/intellectuals/opinion-makers/establishment politicians/etc. say!”.   It is time that we were no longer afraid to stand up for who we are, without apologies.   And that message is crucially important.

His first – and probably most important – book, “Never Again,” was most understood. I remember hearing a mussar schmooze from one of my Rabbeim in my yeshiva days. In which he exclaimed, “Never Again is Apikorsus!”  Who are we to think that we can shout that!  Our fate is in the hands of the Ribbon Shel Olam – Does Kahane think he could have prevented the Holocaust?”   

Of course, this just proved that said Rebbi, LIKE VIRTUALLY ALL of Kahane’s critics, didn’t bother actually listening to him or reading his words, but rejected the soundbite out of hand as מוקצה מחמת מיאוס.    He said no such thing in the book.   What he argued was that the AMERICAN Jewish establishment, with rare exception, was guilty of doing virtually nothing to get Roosevelt to bomb the tracks to Auschwitz, to allow the St. Louis and Sturma to come in, or to otherwise help save what could be saved. Too enamored of the Rasha Stephen Wise and his cohort who assisted Roosevelt in doing virtually nothing for the Jews.  Too frightened of being seen as worried about their own parochial interests, at the expense of the larger war effort. Too worried about “What the goyim would say.”

Kahane stood for the idea of not accepting the status quo, of not swallowing "the wisdom” of being quiet and waiting for the great people who will maybe, perhaps, be able to do something behind the scenes if they are given enough kovod and endless time.

And so it was with his “Why Be Jewish,” an incredibly effective reflection on the question of why should a typical American Jew Bernie should not chase after Bridget, given the Judaism that most Reform/Conservative/secular and many Orthodox young Jews are presented with. (It included the best chapter title ever – “Artists, Intellectuals, and Imbeciles”).

Kahane stood for the idea of not accepting the status quo, of not swallowing "the wisdom” of being quiet and waiting for the great people who will maybe perhaps be able to do something behind the scenes if they are given enough kovod and endless time.  He knew that Jews needed to be defended – NOW.  He knew that the time to save the remnant of Soviet Jewry was NOW, not in another thirty years when nothing would be left.  He knew that Israel had to stand up for itself – NOW.

Kahane was not a rabble-rouser who was just interested in making trouble, (although unfortunately, he did attract followers who were that type whom he was not always able to keep in line.)  He was a deeply devout Jew, a serious Talmid Chochom, who loved other Jews with every fiber of his being, perhaps to a fault, and could not stand what was being done to them, most often by their fellow Jews.  He hated how the leaders of reform and conservative and some orthodox were ripping out the neshama of young Jews.  He hated what the Israeli government had done to Yemenite Jews, and Yaldei Teheran and so many Sephardic Jews – his real connection and understanding of their pain was a great source of his political base in Israel.  Kahane was about waking up the sleeping Jews, and asking “Uncomfortable Questions for Comfortable Jews.”   He wanted to get us out of our apathy and laziness and irresponsibility and stand up for other Jews.

Later, in Israel, he became consumed with the Arab question, and wrote “They Must Go”, in which he detailed his plan to bring about a transfer of the Arab population out of Israel, while paying them compensation, except for those who were willing to become a loyal minority (more than had been offered to the hundreds of thousands of Jews who had been forcibly evicted from Arab countries in 1948).   

Was he right about the need to get rid of all Arabs in Israel?   I don’t know.  As I write this, three pleasant Arab women are cleaning my house downstairs.  We talk to each other and exchange pleasantries.   I am not worried that they will do anything to my family or me. I know, and they know, that they have it good in Israel compared to any of the neighboring countries.  They are not like the Arabs of East Jerusalem and towns in Yehuda and Shomron, whom I would be very wary of allowing in my home, raised and fed as they are on hatred and incitement.   I do agree with the stated position of Otzma, who stand for the banishing of all Arabs who are proven disloyal enemies of Israel but allowing those who desire to live in peace to stay, although they do pose some degree of danger.

Many, many in Israel saw him as a voice of truth, of standing up to the pie in the sky starry-eyed dreamers who gave us Oslo and peace plans that brought intifadas, and who gave back the Har Habayit to the waqf for NOTHING, and who were too busy worrying about what the goyim in the UN will say to allow Israeli soldiers to defend themselves and us properly.   Many say that if we had listened to him, then many of today’s problems would have been obviated.

Why was he so rejected?   Why did the Knesset routinely walk out on him?  Partially because they hated him for pointing out the truth.  Even more so, because it was easier to pursue the ultimately successful course of ostracizing him to the point that he would be disqualified from the Knesset on the pretext that he was a racist.   He was predicted to get up to 10 seats in the next election; they joined forces to take him out of the game.

I do want to publicize what he once told me personally on one of the very few times that I had the privilege of speaking with him.  I attended a talk that he gave for yeshiva bachurim in Yerushalayim.  After his very stirring remarks, I came to him and asked, “Everything you say sounds true and persuasive, but as far as I know, none of the Gedolim agree with you or your Derech – is that not a problem?”

He said, “First of all, many of them do agree with me privately, but for one reason or another will not say so publicly.”  (see list cited above).  “But more importantly, it is true that we have Gedolim today, but we do not have Manhigim.   They speak out, but only reactively, never with a proactive approach to anything outside the limited concerns of the frum community.  Given that they refuse to lead, במקום שאין אנשים, השתדל להיות איש (When there is no man who will stand up, you be that man - Avos 2:5) .  That is why I do what I do.”

In summary, he was a unique and great person.   He was a fearless leader who taught true pride in Judaism, the Torah, and the Jewish people.   He believed, as I do with all my heart, that we are living in a new time when the old excesses of the Golus are over, and it is time for the Jewish people to proudly assert themselves.  In Israel, they continue to slander him and his supporters – what the Supreme Court did to Dr. Ben Ari, while allowing rabid haters of Jews to sit in the Knesset is unconscionable – but the truth will ultimately prevail.

In closing, I was given great hope by a Bris Mila that took place recently, after Rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva Achiad Ettinger was killed by a terrorist a week ago outside Shiloh.  After fatally stabbing IDF Sgt. Gal Keidan at the Ariel Junction, the accursed degenerate grabbed Keidan’s gun and opened fire at passing vehicles, hitting Rabbi Ettinger. Rather than fleeing, the father of 12 turned his car around, and pursued the terrorist. When Rav Achiad saw the cretin pointing his gun at more innocents, including a pregnant woman, Rav Achiad drew his gun and started shooting at the villain, who turned and shot and Rav Achiad Ettinger, instead of the woman.

The next day Rav Achiad succumbed to his wounds and died. The same day the pregnant woman who he saved gave birth to a baby boy. The other day was the Brit of the baby, and the sandak was Rav Achiad’s son. He was also given the honor of naming the new baby after his father who was murdered while saving the baby. You can watch the bris at https://tinyurl.com/achiad-brit

I found it particularly moving when he read the verse from Yechezkel 16:6
וָאֶעֱבֹר עָלַיִךְ וָאֶרְאֵךְ מִתְבּוֹסֶסֶת בְּדָמָיִךְ וָאֹמַר לָךְ בְּדָמַיִךְ חֲיִי וָאֹמַר לָךְ בְּדָמַיִךְ חֲיִי

And I passed by you and saw you downtrodden with your blood, and I said to you, 'With your blood, live,' and I said to you, 'With your blood, live.'

The blood of the martyr with the blood of the covenant.

מִי כְּעַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל גּוֹי אֶחָד בָּאָרֶץ

“Who compares to the nation of Israel ...the unique nation of the world” 
(Shabbat Mincha prayer)

Am Yisrael Chai!!