Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Day the Pope Lost His Nose

-- Guest blog by Rabbi Elan Adler (reprinted with permission)


We knew it from various clues during his trip here [to Israel]

...holding his hands on a security barrier and closing his eyes in prayer, likely not for Israelis whose lives were saved because of the barrier

....his disinterested and disengaged looks when meeting with our Prime Minister, even when being told about Nazi atrocities against Jews

...his embrace of the Mufti of Jerusalem as his "brother" while Sheikh Muhammed Hussein says that Jews are subhuman and the enemies of Allah....

So we're not totally shocked that now Pope Francis has used the "State of Palestine" for the first time on an official Church document.


I spoke with someone today who is a clown. He goes to parties and weddings and juggles and puts on his costume and makes people laugh and forget their worries. In passing about the fun he has as a clown, he mentioned that he has to worry the entire time about one thing: never dropping his foam nose.

"What's wrong with that?" I asked.

He said, "If your nose falls off, there is no more illusion. You're no longer a clown. You are just you."

In supporting the so-called Palestinians by dignifying their wretched Jew-hatred and depraved indifference to human life and "giving" them a State, in giving his imprimatur to a group of thugs headed by a man who flatly denies the Holocaust, the Pope has lost his nose.

There is no more illusion of a man of God or a spiritual leader who fights for the highest ideals of the universe. He is a fraud and a sham, he is just another human being, stripped of moral authority and not entitled to the respect suggested by the rest of his clothing. When you side with the murderers and haters and bombers and torturers, you may be a clown, but you're not a Pope.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What Doesn't Make the News

Elie dropped me off this morning to catch the train. He was going to run an errand, park the car and catch the train as well to come to work. Two hours later, he still wasn't here and so I called him. He told me he would call me back...strange...

He called a while later to say he'd be here soon...

What didn't make the news today was that a short time ago, in a school for Arab girls, a platform collapsed, injuring somewhere between 15-20 Arab girls. Elie was across the street, just pulling into the parking lot of the train station when he saw the first ambulance drive in, and heard many sirens approaching.

He grabbed his first responder vest from the car and ran to the first ambulance driver to arrive. He immediately identified himself and offered to help. This is how it works in Israel. Like Elie, this other man was an Orthodox Jew. Neither hesitated to go inside an Arab school to help Arab children. The service they gave, the aid they brought was professional, prompt...Israel.

On scene, they found that one girl was complaining about her back and would need to be moved very gently. Unfortunately, the people on the scene had already moved the children away from the platform, risking further injury. Elie and the driver carefully securer her to a board for transportation to the hospital. Several others girls had hurt their legs as the platform collapsed. They picked the three worst and transported them, as nearly 10 other ambulances and their drivers arrived to lend a hand.

First on the scene...first off the scene...Elie and the first driver loaded the first ambulance with the four girls. The uncle of one of the girls was there. He was needed because although these were all "Israeli Arabs" - meaning they are full citizens of the State of Israel, with all rights and privileges, these girls have been raised to speak only Arabic and were therefore unable to communicate with most Israelis.

"English? Hebrew?" Elie asked. Nothing. No common language; no ability to communicate.

Luckily, the uncle was able to speak Hebrew and went along as translator. The school had prepared a list of the injured girls - in Arabic. He took that, asked the girls their names, and circled the lines that matched these girls.

When they arrived, the uncle translated these names for the hospital. As is typical in Israeli hospitals, upon admission, the admissions office generates a large number of labels with name, ID number, date, etc. These are usually affixed to each page generated during treatment. Today, they put one label on each girl so that Israeli doctors and nurses could identify their patients. I have no doubt Arabic speaking doctors and/or nurses were quickly called in to assist in communicating with these and others that were likely brought in by the other ambulances.

Israeli doctors checked them over; Israeli nurses assisted; Israeli medical equipment was used to x-ray and check them over.

Elie returned to the parking lot and caught the train...several hours late. I've checked the news...nothing. What Elie did this morning will be lost by this evening - the amazing dedication of the volunteers, the ambulance drivers, the doctors and nurses  - all taken for granted. Don't brag about what should be a common place incident.

This is a scene that repeats itself countless times every day in Israel. The Israeli medical responders are well trained and offer their time and knowledge readily and quickly. From here to Haiti to Jew, to Christian, to Arab.

It doesn't make the news and yes, I understand in the United States, no one would think to record that today fireman saved a Chinese family, that ambulance drivers rushed to assist a Black family, that doctors and nurses struggled to save the lives of a Latino child. It would not be reported in most European countries either. So why is it right that we document this?

Simple - we are at war with the Arabs...even, to our sorrow, with many of the Arabs that live within our borders, and even some that carry Israeli ID cards. Outside my office window at this moment, is Halal...he greets me every morning, we speak of his work and his family. He listens while I complain about the horrible way this building is maintained and I thank you daily for doing what he can to make it nicer. This is the way it should be...but it isn't the way it is.

In the midst of war, a Jew cannot safely walk into most Arab neighborhoods. It's hit or miss whether the Jew will walk out unharmed. Two days ago, firefighters rushed to put out a fire in a building...and were bombarded with rocks. The trains travel through Arab neighborhoods and are stoned on almost a daily basis. In a normal world, people don't throw stones at firetrucks, ambulances and passenger trains - most especially, firetrucks that come to their neighborhood to help, ambulances that are helping their neighbors, and trains that they use daily to get to work, medical treatment, etc.

Without hesitation, once again, my son walked into a situation where he was surrounded by Arabs (yes, Arab girls, but also their parents and school workers and others). It isn't fair to brush this off as normal in a place where normal is so different than other places. How many Arab countries flew rescue workers to help in Nepal?

One hundred percent of the first responders that ran into that school to help those Arab girls were Jewish and they didn't hesitate.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

24 Hours Flashed in a Minute

In less than 60 seconds, you can get a sense of what it was like in Israel's field hospital in Nepal. Twenty-four hours a day - the numbers, the action....just staggering.

The best comment, by far, was this one,

"i did not see the Iranian delegation......where are they?"

BBC Actually Acknowledge Israel

One friend suggested this could go in the Guinness Book of Records, another suggested we check to make sure the sky isn't falling.

The sky's a bit hazy here, but it seems to be holding...

So lots of people complaining on my Facebook page that Israels mission to Nepal isn't getting covered by the mainstream media. The IDF mission is not the story, the people of Nepal have suffered a devastating tragedy, the story is them and how they will be picking up their lives and putting the pieces back together again is. Never the less, here is a short piece (one of many) by the BBC. Our mission is not determined by the media coverage, it is the right thing to do, we have the professional experience and people need the help. Shabbat Shalom
Posted by Lt. Col. Peter Lerner on Friday, May 8, 2015

Medical Personnel Snapshot

Here's another comparison - this only covers the medical personnel sent to Nepal to help. Not included here, obviously, are about another 140 Israelis - likely those directly involved in other areas of aid, for example search and rescue.

Following Israel (122), comes China (37). According to this, the United States sent fifteen people. For those who asked why Israel was "bragging" - I'm still waiting for your recognition that we certainly had every right to express our pride. Or, maybe I shouldn't hold my breath. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Shame of Virginia

I received this email from the husband of a friend...I asked if I could share it because I am disgusted by the first letter and incredibly proud of the second. If I had to add anything, it would be to say that if you live in Virginia and you agree with the first letter, shame on you. If you don't agree with it but do nothing, I would remind you that silence to injustice can only result in greater injustices.

The single point I would add to the second letter is a request that in the future, this Martingayle person consider including the reason WHY Israel "discriminates" - which really translates as checks carefully some people who enter our country as opposed to others. When my mother was in Germany, they stopped her because she was "the fourth in line." In England, they randomly checked my backpack for explosives.

For the record, the grand total of Jewish grandmothers who live in Israel that have blown up planes, automobiles, restaurants, etc. is exactly ZERO. But sure, go spend your time checking them while other threats walk by unchecked. An Israeli security expert, upon hearing from an American official who claimed that "in America we check everyone," responded, "then you check no one."

But rather than come for themselves, the Virginia State Bar chose to boycott the only real democracy in the Middle East, the country...the only country in the Middle East that regularly sends hundreds of relief workers to save lives...any lives...all lives. So Virginia lawyers, shame on YOU!

The first letter - by Kevin E. Martingayle dated March 27th, 2015
Dear Fellow Members of the Virginia State Bar,

Certain members of the Virginia State Bar and other individuals have expressed objections to the VSB's plan to take the Midyear Legal Seminar trip in November to Jerusalem. It was stated that there are some unacceptable discriminatory policies and practices pertaining to border security that affect travelers to the nation. Upon review of U.S. State Department advisories and other research, and after consultation with our leaders, it has been determined that there is enough legitimate concern to warrant cancellation of the Israel trip and exploration of alternative locations.

Undoubtedly, this news will disappoint some VSB members. But we are a state agency that strives for maximum inclusion and equality, and that explains this action. Fortunately, we still anticipate being able to find a suitable location for the November seminar trip, and we will send out further news very soon.

Finally, we are pleased that our members and citizens feel able to express concerns and look to us to protect rights. In the end, we are all part of the same team, and the VSB will continue to stay focused on advancing its primary objectives-public protection, access to justice, and improvement of the profession.

As always, I appreciate having the honor of serving as your president.

Best regards, Kevin E. Martingayle,
President, Virginia State Bar

The very correct response by David Michael, MD (reprinted with permission and with my gratitude), dated March 30, 2015

Dear Mr. Martingayle,

I am an American physician, living and working in Jerusalem. I moved here at the age of 43, with my wife and five kids, after living my whole life in Chicago.

We are Jews, people of the book, the chosen people…the people of Israel.

We are the people who introduced to the world the concepts of G-d, social justice, law as we know if today, and so much of what humanity has to offer.

Boycotts of the Jews is nothing new. Jews have been singularly boycotted well before there was Israel—for thousands of years in fact. Boycotts are when we are treated nicely, since expulsions and massacres have been much more common than mere boycotts. Ever consider why there are only 12 million Jews left in the world, when we were the first major religion to appear on earth?

Now that there is Israel, people can boycott the Jewish state, and “hide” their anti-Semitism as a political act, so that fine, respected, educated people like you can perform anti-Semitic aggression, without being overtly accused of anti-Semitism.

A lot of people are truly misinformed, and I cut them more slack. I too would believe the media, had I not been so educated, had I not lived here myself, been in the hospital among Arab doctors, Arab patients alongside Jews, and see how everyone is treated equally, just like in America. Nowhere in the Arab world do Arabs get to experience the level of judicial and social justice as in Israel. However, given your level of education, access to information, and assumed intelligence, I cannot make for you the excuse that you are ignorant, rather than anti-Semitic. You can deny anti-Semitism, but your actions cannot deny it. The Nazis were also a very educated group of people.

To be fair, I do personally experience discrimination in Israel—as a Jew. For instance, while Muslims are free to ascend and pray on the holiest place for the Jewish people, the Temple Mount (where the Jewish first and second Temples once stood and now you find the Golden Dome), I as a Jew have strict limitations to visit, and may not pray, nor show any sign of prayer on the Temple Mount. Jews are discriminated against by the Jewish police, for fear that any Jewish presence will incite Arab aggression.

So perhaps it is a worthy cause that you boycott Jerusalem, so that the Jewish people will one day be fully accepted and respected by their Muslim cousins, the same way that the Jews accept them, and respect them as fellow human beings.

In the meantime, while Iran is openly calling and planning for the annihilation of the Jewish state, consider having your meeting there, since you are trying to achieve maximum inclusion and equality. Just tell them that you are boycotting Israel, and I am sure that they will treat you like royalty.

I just don’t understand where all this hatred of Jews comes from, when we as a people have only love and respect for all of humanity in our hearts, and have demonstrated that time and again throughout history.

Sincerely, David Michael, MD

A Sense of Humor Gone Wrong

Have you ever written something in a moment of...melancholy, maybe? A moment of irony. A moment when you want people to say, no...really, it isn't like that.

I posted something to Facebook and apparently people really liked it. Dozens liked the post, several thanked me for the laugh. Yeah, it's funny...but it's also kind of sad.

Israeli news sites often "play" on the irony. They post something wondering if the world will see the absurdity, connect the dots. It rarely does. Bibi Netanyahu went to the United States at the direct invitation of a senior member of the Congress to address that important branch of the United States government. As protocol would suggest, our government informed the White House and requested a meeting. The childish Barack Obama not only refused the request, he set about attempting to humiliate and punish not just Bibi, but all of Israel.

In the ultimate irony, Obama's spin team claimed that the refusal was not only logical, but perhaps even ethically required. Obama did not want to interfere in the Israeli elections (I have an eight letter word for starts with B...ends with T and contains a notable four letter word that I'd raise an eyebrow to, if one of my kids said it), and so would not meet Bibi. His government then met with other candidates, but never mind.

So Bibi went to Washington as planned. He gave a stunning speech, heard through the halls of Congress, around the United States, and throughout the world. No deal is better than a bad deal. Logical in every business, especially when dealing with Iran and nuclear weapons. The US made fun of that; Obama lied to America...again.

And Obama continues to plow towards giving Iran billions of dollars while allowing it to continue onwards towards their much desired bomb.

In the meantime, Obama in the weeks that followed, continued to suggest all manner of punishment. And then yesterday, confirming what everyone in Israel knew, John Earnest confirmed that Obama's refusal really had nothing to do with the elections and everything to do with the petty nature of King Obama.
White House Spokesperson Josh Earnest told journalists yesterday that he doesn't expect to see a meeting between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the near future.
That's okay, we don't expect to see much more of Obama anyway...the days, they are passing...and I'm counting down EVERY second!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Still Say We Have Nothing to Brag About?

If yes, you might try examining why you feel that way, not why we feel we have a right to be so proud...

Interestingly enough, CNN doesn't include the huge amount of medical equipment that Israel brought to Nepal. In Haiti, when we left after weeks of working to save lives there, we donated the equipment quietly to the people of Haiti and more than a year later, Israeli aid organizations continue to work there.

Switzerland donated no money, but sent 6 people...what did they do? Did they look for their own people or did they help others. France sent no money, but sent 11 people. Why isn't India listed? They sent aid.

No, the following list is not completely clear and up to date, but what is clear is that the European Union sent money...which is helpful in the future, but did nothing to save the lives of those trapped. Norway sent money...the Pope prayed. The UK sent 68 people, the US sent 54, and China sent 62. much smaller than all those nations, sent 260 people and 5 planeloads of aid weighing almost 100 tons...(not listed on the CNN graph below).

We have, as I said from the very beginning, every right...every brag and what I'd like to see is the nations of the world take notice. WE were there. WE saved lives...babies that would not have been born alive, people pulled from the rubble...if the nations spent one quarter of the time they spend condemning Israel actually noticing what we do...the world, the entire world would be different.

I heard John Kerry worry about how we treat the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel...I didn't hear a word of praise from him about our massive aid to Nepal.

Who's helping Nepal? I guess that depends on how you rate it the Pope praying? Is it sending money? Or is it about getting those "boots on the ground" in the critical first hours when lives can be saved?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

How much time is your life worth?

Well, I just saw a sign that the Israeli army has seems I've lost a minute and a half and I have to tell you, I'm not happy about that. I really needed that minute and a half. It's the difference between panic and concern and, God forbid, for someone, it could be the difference between life and death.

The last map showed that my home was in the 3 minute zone. My knee has been bothering me...yeah, I'm getting old. It cracks sometimes when I get up and it needs a few steps to sort of get unstuck when I've been sitting too long at the puzzle on the table.

I'm sure it's temporary and my knees will come back to normal...but at my might be something else. I'm luckier than bomb shelter is not that far away - just down the hall, and because of where my home was built, the lower part is very protected because the original owners had to dig down into the bedrock to chisel away room for the building.

But a minute and a half? What if the kids are upstairs with earphones on and they don't hear a siren and I have to run upstairs?

What if...

What if...

And the silly, absurd part is that's me, way on the right center of the map in the light green, not even the lime green, or yellow, or orange, or red, or worst of all the dark maroon.

Dark maroon has the ominous title "immediately" - but they don't mean immediately get up and go to the bomb shelter, they mean, be in it NOW. You have no time at's like what happened to one family living near there - a family with three children...only now they have two because the two parents each grabbed one of the youngest children, one just a baby...and called to the four year old to run.

And usually he was the first one there...he knew already at the young age of four that he had to run as soon as he heard the siren...only that time, he didn't make it.

Red - well, they have 15 seconds...I have several friends in that area...but one just had a heart attack...she shouldn't be running!

Orange is 30 seconds...still too short. Impossible. What do they want from us?

So I can't complain that I've got a minute and a half...even though it's a minute and a half less than I had before.

How much time is my life worth...your life...the lives of your children and everyone you love? It's right there on the map...not because that's what it's worth...just because that's all they're going to give us.

Ever Wonder What 5,000 Books Looks Like?

Well, it's that time of year - tonight and tomorrow night, my city will once again break all records. It's a simple concept. Simple and brilliant. Simply brilliant.

You get people to donate books that they've already read. Books they no longer need and would like to get rid of so that they have space for more books. Books from people who have children who have grown and so they are moving to a smaller apartment. Books from people who love to read, can't fall asleep at night without reading (like me).

You collect them in a large room with many tables...sort of like this:

Then you sort them by genre, kids books placed in the middle, extra room between tables for people to move around.

Store empty boxes under the tables and sometimes, like last time and this time, you sort more books because even with 19 tables, you still don't have enough room...(even when you put them on the window ledges).

If you're really neurotic, you even create a "master map" so you remember last time what works and what doesn't.

And then, at the appointed hour (and not a minute before, even though you can hear there are dozens of people there waiting), you open the door and have people pour into the room.

And at the end of two nights, you try to remember to take a picture of what remains. You pack up what's left, recycle what won't sell ever...count the money and give it away to some amazing charities...

And you thank the amazing friend who thought of the idea, the amazing volunteers who picked up books from all over, the amazing people who donated - more than 70 families. You thank the people who sorted, the cashiers who collected money, and the ones who walked around and re-organized after books were picked through.

And after two days, you wonder if you can do it're so so tired. And you wonder if you could ever walk away from it...and you meet people in the street who tell you what an amazing event it was...and you think...

wow...just wow. What an amazing community I live in; what amazing concept. And most of all, you's May...and thank You, God...that the next one won't be until next November!

But that's what I'll think tomorrow night. For now, I'll sit with my feet up and rest and look forward to Round 1 tonight.

May it go well. May everyone find the books that will entertain them, inform them, enlighten them for the next six months. May God give each of the volunteers the strength to do this as we've done it 8 other times in the past and may we accept whatever amount we raise was the best we could have done...each time, we've beaten the last amount. I keep saying it can't friend Rivkah reminds me, "you say that every time."

For the last two times, if not more, I've been so overwhelmed by the generosity, the love, the ease with which we have found so many volunteers that I have, quite literally, had tears in my eyes. Each time, I say we have to be satisfied with what we raise and each time, satisfied doesn't come close to what we accomplish.

So, tonight at the Pnei Shmuel synagogue's Social Hall (a room that the community has generously given us for free for THREE nights), we will hold the first night - every book is 10 shekels...that's about 1/8th of what it costs brand new. Tomorrow night - every book is 1 shekel (that's...we'll...usually less than 1/90th of what the books cost new).

Join us for:
 The 9th Great Ma'ale Adumim English
Book Swap and Sale

All donated books will be on display by category. You can buy books for 10₪ each. 

All proceeds from this swap benefit Regavim which helps protect Israel's land from illegal use and local amutot in Ma'ale Adumim, including Keren Nevo and Keren Yishi.

Sunday evening, May 3, 2015
7:30-9:30 PM
Social Hall - Pnei Shmuel
"The Down Shul" Rechov Mitzpe Nevo 102
Egged Ta'avura bus #174

All remaining books available for 1₪
Monday evening, May 4, 2015
 7:00-8:30 PM
Social Hall - Pnei Shmuel
"The Down Shul" Rechov Mitzpe Nevo 102
Egged Ta'avura bus #174


May 3 and 4, 2015


Social Hall - Pnei Shmuel
"The Down Shul" Rechov Mitzpe Nevo 102
Egged Ta'avura Bus #174

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