Beyond the Cusp

September 30, 2015

Historic First Tashlich Observed at the United Nations

 

There should be joy simply that such a Jewish custom as Tashlich, which literally means to toss, was being observed with a ceremony at the United Nations attended by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and United Nations Ambassadors from over ten countries and other dignitaries presided over by Rabbi Arthur Schneier of the Park East Synagogue. But there is so much more to find as a blessing than this event having taken place, and the bread cast into the East River may be a blessing to any fish sturdy enough to reside in these waters, as this idea was not a result of anything done by the Israeli United Nations staff or by the Jews of the United States but by a group of Europeans who call themselves the Forum for Cultural Diplomacy (F4CD). The ceremony was held in the resplendent Rose Garden of the UNHQ, and allegorically threw the bread of their “sins” into the East River, may the waters of the East River ever survive and recover from the shock of such a casting of sins. The real miracle is the Forum for Cultural Diplomacy which is a pro-Israel European Christian group and is wholly responsible for this miracle of so many dimensions. Probably the best ways to reveal the scope and breadth of this not so minor miracle might be to allow the video of the event speak for itself.

 

 

 

 

There were two founding members from the F4CD, Dr. Gregory Lafitte and Tomas Sandell, who spoke and told of their reasoning behind their initiative. Dr. Gregory Lafitte spoke clearly and succinctly demanding that, granting the Jewish People “Tolerance is not the answer. It is not enough to ‘tolerate’ the Jewish people, but we need to honor and celebrate their culture and their many contributions to mankind.” Dr. Lafitte went so far as to conclude his speech with a rendition of the Avinu Malkeinu prayer. It is nested here in the declaration by Dr. Lafitte that we come upon the miracle, the gem in the center of this entire event, the demand by Righteous European Christians for humankind to not simply tolerate the Jews but to thank them for the basis for so much of our modern society, the Jews contribution to not only justice but to justly work towards justice with no regard for wealth or lack thereof, position of importance or one of meager standing, king or pauper, man or woman, elder or the youngest amongst you, to justly apply justice with complete blindness to the petitioner or the petitioned, with only the inward seeking eye of fairness and impartiality, this amongst all the gifts societies have garnered from the Bible and its lessons. Dr. Lafitte also alluded to the rising groundswell of anti-Semitism sweeping Europe and that at the United Nations there is the “Isaiah Wall” featuring the verse from Isaiah, Chapter 2, prophesying a time when “swords will be turned into plowshares.”

 

Outgoing Israeli Ambassador Prosor addressed the gathering stating, “We are here today to participate in a unique tradition – Tashlich, which literally means to toss. It’s an opportunity to symbolically cast off the sins of the past and let the flowing water carry away the shortcomings of the previous year. As we mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations this is an opportunity to reflect off this institution where it has fallen short and where we have not done enough to alleviate human suffering. Seventy years on, it is time for voices of reason, of tolerance and moderation to reclaim the public space.”

 

Rabbi Arthur Schneier stated, “The fact that we are gathering here at the UN shows the respect that the United Nations has for all faiths, their holidays and for their stress on human dignity. Day of Atonement means to be at one – at one with God and one with man.”

 

The reason this struck me as being so meaningful is because there is now a balance with the F4CD group of Christians in Europe added to groups such as CUFI (Christians United for Israel) in the United States that maybe the world will have finally found the track which will grant the Jewish People the respect for their existence, their homelands and their contributions which continue to this day in so many fields of endeavor contributing to the advancement of human knowledge that perhaps the waves of anti-Semitism can start to be turned back and not just contained but eliminated. I have known that even if the Jewish People were to stand with one voice and demand as proud and loud as possible for their being tolerated and given what is due them even if not respected in all manner of dealings; such would be as a whisper in the hurricane that is modern society. The Jews pleading their case is but a weak cry from deep within the wilderness, a sound which can never carry the fury to demand to be heard as we are barely one-fifth of one percent (0.2%) of the world’s population.

 

If the Jewish People are ever to be allowed to live even vaguely resembling normal lives treated as equals with guaranteed rights it will take voices supporting the Jewish People, and by extension, Israel, from outside the Jewish communities. It literally comes down to a game of numbers and in the world we Jews are far too few to make our own case without outside support, and it needs to be unwavering and unconditional support. With these Christian groups willing to stand with us, or almost basically for us, we then have one obligation which we owe these wonderful people willing at last to risk alienation and rejection to stand with us, to stand with the Jew, both as a people and as a nation, Israel, and that is to remain honorable, upright, caring and most of all deserving of their support. Yes there exists the need for those who have wronged the Jews throughout history, and that list is a virtual list of who’s who of nations and backgrounds stretching from one side of the globe through to the other, with hatred of Jews and by implication, Israel, almost the constant which ties the world as one and to be in the Jews corner at long last.

 

 

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon celebrating Historic First Tashlich Observed at the United Nations

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon celebrating Historic First Tashlich Observed at the United Nations and United Nations Ambassadors from over ten countries and other dignitaries presided over by Rabbi Arthur Schneier of the Park East Synagogue. The Forum for Cultural Diplomacy facilitated the ceremony which was held in the resplendent Rose Garden of the UNHQ where the diplomats and attendees cast their bread upon the water an thus rid themselves figuratively of their sins.

 

 

Having Christians willing to stand for Israel and for the Jewish People is a very healthy start and we can only pray that these groups gain in strength and numbers as those are the things which grease the skids upon which all civilization rests. The Jewish People, often as individuals, have contributed so much to the modern limited government concepts through the limitations placed on a King or other sovereign against their gathering unto themselves riches at the expense of their subjects and instead demanded of each sovereign to write their very own Torah Scroll such that their everyday is another lesson in humility and sacrifice for the betterment of the people. All too often Jewish and Israeli leadership has seemingly lost their way and thus lost their perspective and gathered themselves riches in direct contravention of the Biblical directives. This new group of friends needs to be cultivated and worked alongside with to provide them a clearer picture of the state of the world, the anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist and anti-Israel NGO, government or other grouping all of which can be competed against utilizing simple facts. These very same facts require our assistance in defining the areas where their assistance can produce the greatest return on their efforts.

 

These groups need be armed with facts and the reality and ramification of the San Remo Conference, the Mandate Systems, the Churchill White Papers, the occupation of Judea and Samaria by Jordan, the Golan Heights by Syria and Gaza by Egypt. The rightful demands of the Israelis need to be heard above the cacophonous din of lies, half-truths, innuendo and outright deceit spread far, wide and loudly. These allies will need to study research of the past in order to form an unbiased decision, one that is probably not going to rest well with those demanding that the Jews have no claim for visiting the Temple Mount or that there need be another nation called Palestine, let alone replacing Israel with such a state. Still, it is of paramount importance that Jews and Israel continue to cultivate acceptance where possible and true friendship with those who know Jewish history and support Israel in her struggles for peace, a just and true peace which will last forever. The reality is that in Europe, as in the rest of the world, Israel and the Jewish People have some very staunch supporters and a general support amongst those who understand the problems Israel faces daily and must find means of dealing with a very vocal minority in most instances whose incessant demands often in the form of the BDS movement such that they lose the support of those who still regard Jews as an evil blight to be wiped from the face of what they consider their planet. These are the flies in the ointment which must be isolated, something Prime Minister Netanyahu claims he can accomplish by speaking at the United Nations this week. If only his words were sufficient to drown out the raucous few who largely occupy the extreme ends of the political spectrum, both extreme right and left. If only his words would suffice.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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March 23, 2015

Never Seen the Problem so Plainly Stated

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Often we hear about how people are surprised when an obviously conservative candidate wins an election where nobody has ever remembered reading a pro-conservative editorialist or especially a news columnist. Nobody knows of any conservatives where they work, at their country club or social club, nor are there any in their union, bowling league, classic car club etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I found the problem which stands behind this situation described by Rabbi Professor Dov Fischer titled Conservative “Marranos” and the Absurd Charge of Racism. Below is the last part of the first paragraph which left me in shock and feeling a sharp pinch of sadness and emptiness as one might hope that such a respected Rabbi could hold conservative positions, especially on many social issues where Torah and the laws of Judaism would give him the backing and freedom to at least express such views with impunity and free from the affects others of us have suffered when speaking our minds similarly.

Throughout the West, we conservatives must be careful when we speak, toe political lines that are drawn for us, hide our true political beliefs and voting preferences, and basically live the life of political Marranos or Conversos. We must join unions that we do not wish to join, must advocate programs and leisure activities that we do not wish to advocate, and we must hide furtively until, once every two or four years, we can vote in secrecy.

 

Once my initial shock and sadness passed, I was left with a sense of anger as, oddly enough, I have always had the exact opposite reaction when presented with false boundaries and leftist expectations that, under peer pressures, all will wilt and obey the societal bounds and act as those self-labelled all-compassionate expect and enforce, lest one transgresses at risk of ostracization. I decided to read the remainder of Rabbi Fischer’s article where he described the reactions in the United States and especially in the great White House and around the world where Israel has become the great apartheid state replacing South Africa who having defeated the real apartheid now leads the anointing of Israel as the new enforcer of apartheid politics, after all did not the Bibi again win against the great reformers who accept the European credo and would blindly obey and follow their betters down the path to oblivion. The meat of the article went to explain how politics is a different animal in Israel than it is in the United States, Europe and other citadels of freedom of the Western world. There is the explanation that in Israel we allow a political party whose defined aim in their declarations of principles is to dissolve the Jewishness of Israel and expel or subjugate the Jews and put in place the very Palestinian Arab state which is at its very core not far distant from the same madness that engulfed the continent of Europe and almost the world in the last great conflagration. When at the end of a brilliant description explaining that the phrase Bibi utilized to rally any last vestiges of support from the Zionist, nationalist and right wing voting blocks to get out and vote as a measured grass roots effort financed and manned by leaders from outside of Israel were attempting to hijack the elections and seize power and influence in order to command Israeli obedience to their desires which would in short time mean the end of Israel as the one and only Jewish state, the last refuge the Jewish people have for a safe place, a refuge and blessed haven to which they will be able to escape as the world once again turns mad with red shot eyes and an inner rage for Jewish blood and from there who knows the next victim of the coming madness, perhaps religious Christians who remain dedicated to ancient and outdated parchments and even still believe that the Constitution and the Bible were written in stone and not living, breathing documents whose interpretations depend on the end desire to redefine all norms to fit their unholy societal demands. The article explains that there is a force in the darkness which does desire to squelch all opposition and extinguish the flames of freedom and compassion in the world and install in the place of liberating doctrines a religiously enforced straightjacket which will break the will and end the dreams of the millions who lead the assaults on the battlements of Israeli society as that is the identified instigator that has unsettled an old, dormant, expellent force which seeks dominance over all societal norms and the final implementation of their holy order, though which form is still being debated, by force of arms. The point was made that none of these paragons of all that is fare and knowledgeable were to expound their doctrines in any of the societies such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran or many others of similar ilk that they would soon be meted out their just rewards for thinking beyond their canonical precepts meant to place all societies under its order. Then he relates how after expressing our honest desires we will again have returned to our basements and reassumed our placid facades we use in our daily excursions in the public eye.

 

It has always been my experience that it is best to exhibit those exact traits which best and most deeply depict standing on what is defined as the right wing, conservative or sometimes even Neanderthal behavior and risk the immediate recoil as if close proximity might cause them to be infected as if your political and societal beliefs are akin to a disease which one must quarantine for the health of their society. Does such an initial reaction make existence somewhat difficult initially, of course it does and must be expected. Once you have exhibited that you are quite comfortable existing within their space though an orbital radius is placed around you into which none initially and eventually only the brave dare be seen entering, let alone such trivialities as conversing or even sharing a joke or relating an anecdotal experience from the weekend as such interactions risk contamination. This cannot last indefinitely and slowly but inexorably your societal peers will find that you are not a monster and will not cause them contamination or other afflictions but that you actually share many of the beliefs they themselves accept as we are all raised in the same society which has rules which are universal, it is just that such rules are mostly about conduct and politeness which makes society possible. With extended exposure your fellow travelers will inevitably realize that what you consider right and just is very similar to those things they once believed but have since slid down that slippery slope which you have often warned about and upon realizing this some may even attempt to climb back from their proximity further down the slippery slope which actually will eventually be the death of their society as at the bottom of that slope nothing is worth defending and complete surrender to the great call of empty nothingness where every act no matter how perverse, iniquitous or reprehensible can be condemned lest you be condemned for the bottom of the slope is a society with no standards and nothing is enforced as being beyond acceptance. No society so defined can continue to exist as it becomes a society completely enthralled with self-indulgence to such an extent that even the idea of sacrifice of the self to raise the next generation becomes too burdensome that the idea that it takes a society to raise a child finally becomes simply the society must raise the child and children are given over to specially trained teams who know the best manner for raising the child and every child is molded or forced to obey the rules of inclusiveness and to abhor those who claim that some actions are beyond acceptable behavior as the self-indulgent new define morals and conduct such that nothing is too much or against acceptance except maybe having expectations that all have self-respect and a code of conduct which does limit behavior and set standards, real standards and not an anything goes unbounded limitless standards-free society. Those who are right wing are simply the morals which are necessary to restrain society from swinging so far from center that any hope of a return to those basic beliefs which once produced a society which was productive and functional believing in itself and the ideals which were worth extending to the next generation and knowing that it was the greatest of all accomplishments to raise children instilled with values which guided them to exceed the accomplishments you attained and built a better and more compassionate society which had structure worthy and even beyond what you might have hoped for. There is nothing more honorable than raising a child who exceeds your accomplishments and is making a better parent than you were when raising your child as they took those things that were right and true and took a different path avoiding many of the errors you committed and you realize they are in fact committed to doing what you had strove to do, be a better parent than your own parents and by producing a greater grandchild that they too can be proud and feel they too contributed to that wondrous hope for the future. Does such a society go off the rails, of course that is a possibility which is why as parents we never stop teaching and hopefully we never stop learning for learning is the first step to teaching.

 

The truth of being a right wing, religious and attempting to lead a righteous life is something which it is never too late to start. Many of us who are on the right were leaders of the charge down that slippery slope but had an epiphany and realized that the bottom of that slope was a waiting disaster and where we should be headed is back to the top of the hill. Of course we who have taken this path realize that the top of that hill awaits the fact that it is but a foothill and beyond is another slightly higher foothill and in the distance is a mountain that so very few of us ever even reach the bottom of its craggy and high cliffs which are seemingly impossible to scale. I am hopeful but unfortunately uncertain that there are those still alive today who are somewhere upon those stratospheric heights holding fast to those principles which all too many of us have little knowledge or understanding of such thoughts. The truth we do know is that to have such thoughts must be wondrous and fulfilling. It is that knowledge which guides those who hold conservative standards and believe in that higher truth which we have realized is atop the hill and not at the bottom of that grassy, wet, slippery slope no matter what the promises of ecstasy and unlimited freedom for even freedom must be limited by boundaries, even if the only boundary one recognizes is that their freedom stops at the next person’s nose. One can punch the air, punch the heavy bag, punch the light bag, but one may not punch the person next to them as that infringes on their freedom. Thomas Jefferson once stated about a neighbor’s religious beliefs but can be more generally applied very simple truism, “If it doesn’t break my arm or pick my pocket I don’t care which religion a person pursues.” If only everyone today could apply that to political beliefs instead of initially treating any conservative as a leper, a societal pariah, as for the most part it is all we would ask or expect as decent behavior of a group of people who pride themselves with their so-called acceptance of others with different beliefs for is that not exactly what a conservative is, a person who believes differently, or is it that we arise in you a twinge of conscience, a pang of guilt of something dear that is now misplaced or a hunger to be able to return to your lost values; whatever it may be, listen to that call and find a direction which leads more efficiently to that fulfilling satisfaction that you have a craving but have become lost in the direction to best for which to find it.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

April 18, 2013

Israel is Our Only True Sanctuary

The pattern is as old as Jewish history itself. The prototypical mold was cast from our days in Egypt. When our family first came to Egypt times were uncertain and difficult but soon resolved and placed us in positions of power, respect, and acceptance. The initial years, decades even, were years of plenty where we reaped the rewards of our acceptance thus being allowed the fruits of our labors. Things began to change with a new Pharaoh who no longer remembered the times and qualities of our previous service to the people and leaders of Egypt, to the former Pharaoh. Then everything changed bringing upon us years of bitterness, of slavery, of persecutions, and of suffering under evil edicts. All of these were the results from suspicions and false charges of our having loyalties which may have influenced us to revolt and raise our hand against Egypt. The fact that there had been little or no indication of such even being discussed, being suggested, or any evidence that we meant anything but to serve the good of Egypt which had become our home was of absolutely no consequence. But the misgivings arose and we came under suspicions and thus were placed under the yoke of slavery and suffered the bitterness of unfounded jealous hatreds against us. This was the very first epoch of our being separated and exiled from our true homelands and placed in the original Diaspora. This was to be the same sequence that was to become our history for every time we were to suffer the yoke of foreign rule which could be referred to as the “Cycle of Egypt”.

Babylon was an enemy from the very outset. There were times at the start in which the Jewish nation had peaceable and mutually advantageous relations as our nation was of sufficient power that the kings of Babylon feared a war between our nations. It should be noted that when we possessed such strength we chose not to attack or take up arms against those neighboring nations and tribes and simply chose to live on our lands enjoying peace, security and the wealth of our toils and serving the L0rd our G0d. When we turned from the path of righteousness, our strength sapped and our defenses failed, the neighboring Babylonians wasted little time before setting out to conquer our lands. Again we were in exile suffering the bitterness of being forced from our lands. When the Persian conquest defeated the Babylonians many of us returned to our lands and we enjoyed a period of peace and security despite being a part of the Persian Empire and thus under their rule. Initially the Persian rulers allowed us a fair amount of autonomy but that eventually evaporated eventually leading to Haman and the threat of annihilation simply for being what we were, Jews. We faced persecution under the Greek Empire after an initial period where we were granted some autonomy. The final occupation was the current one, which we have the opportunity to bring to an end, which began with the great dispersion inflicted upon us by Rome in an attempt to dissolve and destroy our very existence as a people, removing the Jews from all of history.

After the fall of Rome the Jewish people were no longer a single community as we had been intentionally dispersed to every corner of the empire, intentionally separated into small and insignificant communities intended to die within a generation or two. The saving grace was Torah which kept our identity viable and with time tied our dispersed communities together in a loose confederation which has lasted through to modern times. During this Diaspora we faced the “Cycle of Egypt” continuously with some of our dispersed far-flung communities under persecution even if most of our communities lived lives of serenity and marginal independence. The communities of Jews found themselves in the near two-thousand-year exile repeatedly having to flee from one place to another sometimes even finding necessity to flee entire countries as royal edicts demanded our departing under pain of death. Often we found at the end of such persecution driven resettlements that our new homeland received us willingly and with acceptance. Unfortunately these favorable conditions would always deteriorate until we found ourselves once again fleeing for our lives, often literally. Our lives became a continuous string of desperate times where the fulfillment of the final curses depicted in Leviticus 26:37-8, which reads

“And as for those of you who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; the sound of a shaken leaf shall cause them to flee; they shall flee as though fleeing from a sword, and they shall fall when no one pursues. They shall stumble over one another, as it were before a sword, when no one pursues; and you shall have no power to stand before your enemies. You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.”

This brings us to the current times. The Shoah was the latest end result of the “Cycle of Egypt” which began with our fleeing the pogroms and persecutions in Czarist Russia, a state of persecution which carried over to the Communist rule which followed the Czars. Many of the Jewish people fled westward from Russia back into Eastern Europe with large numbers choosing to reside in the first areas where they found an accepting community. This placed a very large population of Jews in Poland and also increases of Jews also residing in Germany. My father’s family was among those who fled Czarist persecution and my great-great-grandfather made a wise decision and continued to flee westward through Poland, Germany, Belgium and France eventually stopping in London. Still, my family lost members to the ravages of World War II as one of my uncles died flying over Europe with the British Air Force. My mother’s family being Sephardic was spared from the curses which befell European Jews but faced their own persecutions which afflicted the Jews of the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Iran during the same time period. Both sides of my family have been extremely reluctant in discussing the particulars even among family members such that I was never a recipient of their experiences or educated as to the hardships they survived.

After World War II the world changed drastically for the Jewish people as Israel was restored making it possible for Jews to once again live in their own homeland under self-rule. With the reestablishing of the country of Israel the Jewish people have a safe haven where they can defend themselves as an independent nation and people. Despite the facts which depict Israel as a nation under continuous siege, Jews still have an advantage in Israel which had been denied them for much of the past two millennia, the option of self-defense. This has caused some uneasiness for those who are more comfortable with the idea of the Jewish people as a small minority living within their states completely defenseless against their persecutors whenever and wherever they arise. The concept of Jews with tanks, fighter jets, naval ships, missiles and all kinds of combat arms securing their lands and fellow Jews from attempted persecution and annihilation is a concept which many appear to prefer to deny the Jewish State which is exemplified by their condemnations of any use of force by Israel in the defense of her people. There are many who oppose allowing the Jewish State to defend itself and wish to deny Israel’s right to exist, yet the same people also wish to expel the Jews from within their countries as well. Where these haters are powerless to dissolve Israel by edict, it is only their hatreds for the Jews residing outside of Israel where they deleterious desires can be actualized and it is these desires that need be addressed.

With the formation of the State of Israel in May 1948, we saw the dispossession of their Jewish populations by numerous Arab and Muslim nations over the next decade. Those Arab and Muslim nations who did not forcibly expel their Jews often did make the lives of their Jews difficult. There were the occasional pogroms, riots, confiscations of property and vandalizing of businesses, homes, synagogues and schools which belonged to or were operated by Jews. Some of these countries went to the radical ends by making being Jewish a crime punishable by death such as in Saudi Arabia. Europe experienced a guilt driven reprieve from its long, consistent history of recurrent, sporadic anti-Semitism after having their conscience assaulted by the revelation of the horrors of the Holocaust. Unfortunately, this suspension of Jew hatred was more of a suppression than an elimination which is now rapidly coming to an end. Once again as the European economies hit difficult times there are some in the masses who are turning to an old hatred on which to place the blame for their difficulties. The destruction and defacement of Jewish cemeteries, synagogues, schools, businesses and other easily identifiable places has become more prevalent with time. There have been actual physical attacks on Jews wearing readily identifiable clothing and items. The demonstrations against Israel have become larger and more hateful. The levels of hatreds and attacks have culminated in the assassination of a Rabbi, his two young sons and the daughter of the administrator at the Ozar Hatorah Yeshiva in Toulouse, France. Adding to the sickening reality of this horrid incident was the fact that anti-Semitic acts greatly increased following this hateful act. Adding to the ever growing problems and hatefulness in Europe has been the fact that the United States also has had an increase in acts against its Jews and those places and buildings which can be identified as Jewish. The acts in the United States may not currently rival those in Europe, but they appear to have a similarity to the situation in Europe of about a decade ago. Should these trends continue to increase and grow then the return to Israel of the world’s Jews may become a reality sooner than any expected when Israel was founded in May of 1948. This may be a sad reason behind forcing the return to Israel of the Jewish people but it may become result in a blessing upon its completion. For all that we can know these realities which may result in driving the Jewish people to return to their homeland and the Promised Land could be the result of a hidden hand forcing history to mold to a greater plan. It is said that there are no consequences and all things will play out as they are intended. Time will tell.

Beyond the Cusp

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