On the first Shabbat after the attack on Chabad of Poway, I read about the tremendous outpouring of support the Shul received from many people that was not seen before, which made it standing room only when services began. A very special moment for Chabad of Poway, and a clear message that what happened in Poway, as it was said before, “Is Not Poway”.
And then it was mentioned Peter Yarrow from the group Peter, Paul and Mary came, and sang a special version of the song many of us remember “Blowin in the Wind” and the congregants sang along. I was always a fan of classical music, but did remember a few things about the songs of the 1960’s, one of which was that the song I thought made Peter, Paul and Mary famous was Puff the Magic Dragon. Another artist named Bob Dylan was the one who originally wrote and sang Blowin in the Wind as I understand it.
Bob Dylan was originally from Minnesota and I kept hearing about the many times he learned with Rabbi Manis Friedman. I did some research and came up with a very interesting story which was titled – Bob Dylan and Me by Shoshanna Silcove posted on the Beyond Teshuva website June 9, 2015-
In December 1984, Shoshanna came to Lubavitch House from where Bais Chana operated in St. Paul to confront as she puts it “myself as a Jewess for the first time”. The Lubavitcher shluchim at Stony Brook University, where she was a student, said there was a certain Rabbi Mains Friedman who specialized in answering questions for girls like her.
Feeling lost and aimless, she was one of the first to arrive for that winter session. Then suddenly, she saw none other than Bob Dylan, and did not know he was a regular visitor to Bais Chana during those years because he would study privately with Rabbi Manis Friedman.
She said, Bob Dylan stood, right in front of her, wearing his signature faded jeans and black motorcycle jacket. He said to her softly, “ Hi, ‘How are you doin’?”
Her first impression of Lubavitch and Beit Chana was that she was going to learn in a place that would take her back in time like her grandmother, and instead she said the king of all things hip and cool, the master of rebellion against the establishment was standing right in front of her.
After Shoshanna answered in a meek “I’m fine, Bob Dylan came over to her and said ”Its cool, don’t worry, everything is cool. It’s going to be alright”. After Bob Dylan walked away, she called her friend and said “Bob Dylan is here! And he talked to me” Bob Dylan walked away, through the hallway and disappeared as fast as he had come.
Her friend said, “that must be a cool place” and they both decided to follow each other to Crown Heights. She then thought that if one of her teen idols was studying there, then she would stick it out too. She made the observation that Bob Dylan travelled a very zig zagged road in and out of a number of religions. But with a few kind words, Bob Dylan showed her the correct path when she was facing a fork in the road.
From that same Lubavitch House I also want to tell another true story that connects with Rabbi Goldstein’s White House speech where he mentioned the day that President Reagan was shot-
This story had a real impact on me as a young married father and husband, that I firmly believe G-d controls the world, we just have to open our eyes to see it.
I remember that day very well, because my wife and I were only married for about two years. My parents stayed in St. Louis Park and I had not been back to Minnesota since being married in Johannesburg. My wife, our son Yaakov, who was 11 months at that time, and myself all flew to Minneapolis from Johannesburg, a few days before Reagan was shot.
As the news spread of the shooting, everyone was glued to the TV. We stayed at my parents which was around 20 miles from Lubavitch House and Mindy Feller invited us to spend Shabbat there. We received a very nice welcome from the Fellers and I felt strange staying in the same building that housed Beit Chana. Especially since Rabbi Feller told me before I was married that Lubavitch House was off limits when Beit Chana was in session!!!!
For anyone who stayed there, the Shul we went to on Shabbat morning was called Adath Israel and Rabbi Asher Zeilingold was very warm and welcoming. The shortest path to the Shul was across a wide stretch of open land. On Shabbat morning we had to be aware of flying objects, which could cause injury if you were in their way. Those objects were golf balls which many times came close to hitting me as I was walking to Shul through the golf course.
On this visit like many others, when I would walk in, Rabbi Zeilingold would start singing to me “Et Tzemach David Avdecha” after we had not seen each other for many years. So on that Shabbat I was in Shul and Rabbi Feller got up to speak, and this is what Rabbi Feller told all of us, which I will never forget.
Rabbi Feller asked a question before he began which was – we have just seen a miracle, the gunman was standing near President Reagan at point blank range and emptied his revolver which contained six shots, and the only bullet to strike President Reagan was one that bounced off the armored door of the presidential limousine. In contrast, on the day President Kennedy was assassinated, his assassin, according to all the evidence, was firing from the 6th floor of a building which was far away and the limousine was moving. If you saw the Zapruder film, you would know that there was no way President Kennedy could have survived. As we all sat silently, Rabbi Feller asked why was the outcome for Presidents Reagan and Kennedy the exact opposite of what logic dictates. And none of us knew why.
Rabbi Feller then told us a story about President Reagan’s father, who was a travelling salesman. One evening he had been travelling for hours and needed to find a hotel to sleep in. It was late and he was very tired, and unfortunately for some reason, in this town, most of the hotel rooms were full. Finally he walked into a hotel where the clerk told him “they had a few rooms” available. So while President Reagan’s father was standing at the desk, filling out his guest card with personal details to give the hotel clerk, another couple walked in asking the clerk the same question. It was quite obvious to President Reagan’s father that they were Jewish, and so before the clerk gave them an answer, to be sure, he asked for their names, which confirmed they were Jews. The clerk went to the back for a minute or two, and then came out to inform the couple that the hotel was totally full and he was not able to give them a room. That couple left, and then President Reagan’s father approached the desk and gave the clerk back his guest card. The desk clerk looked at the card and it was mostly blank. So the desk clerk asked why he did not fill out the card, and President Reagan’s father said, he knows that the hotel was not full because you just told me you had a few rooms left. Whereupon President Reagan’s father turned around and walked out of the hotel. He never tried to look for another hotel to sleep in because he was too tired, so he slept in his car the whole night, and when he was well rested, he continued on his way.
Rabbi Feller explained that the reason he felt President Reagan survived that attack was because of Zchus Avot, because of his father, while in the case of President Kennedy, he was not so fortunate to have such a father.
Rabbi Goldstein, it appears quite obvious to me that what happened in your Shul and the fact that the gunman was ready to kill you, was a display of a clear miracle for all to see. And in the zchus Avot of your father, it confirms that Hashem is always there no matter how bad things look in the beginning, evil will always get defeated one way or another. And at the end Emet,, Betochen, Emuna always wins.
I’m not a Rabbi, just a simple Jew who loves Hashem and is very grateful to Chabad for allowing me to benefit from everything and experiencing many things I would not have had the opportunity to do living in Minnesota, where very little in the way of Yiddishkeit was available to me at that time.
And then we have the story about the exact number of bullets – 50 that the gunman wanted to use to kill more innocent people. But the gun jammed, and so instead of continuing to fight because he now lost his weapon, the gunman ran because he had lost the only thing that made him brave enough to kill. But what is shocking is, as I have heard, is that the gunman himself calls 911. Terrorists don’t call 911, so why did this person? Perhaps he was a person that is basically good, only influenced in the darkness of his room and with his computer on with teachings that are against the value system of even his own parents, hence his parents were shocked to see it was their own son that did this.
Now why did that not happen in New Zealand, why was the gunman successful in killing 50 precious souls in a Mosque which took him 15 minutes and he himself filmed it. Where were the police, security, and who was to blame?
Rabbi Goldstein told everyone at the White House that he learned from the Rebbe to stand up and fight, and he instinctively did and most probably would have died had it not been for Lori’s bravery. And the fact that the gun jammed at the very second with most probably the next bullet heading for Rabbi Goldstein. It seems a similar story to President Reagan, who was saved in his father’s zchus so to Rabbi Goldstein was saved in his father’s zchus.
Lori in a split second jumped in front of the Rabbi and saved his life. Dr. Howard her husband says she went “straight up” and did not suffer like a Korban. She truly was called by Hashem because he needed her up in Shamayim, and Rabbi Goldstein now realizes Hashem needs him here.
During the funeral, there were at least two people who spoke about Lori’s checkbook. It seems Lori had a checkbook that she kept on writing checks for Sedaka. In other words, whenever she had the opportunity, Lori would write a check to give away for charity. And then it was also mentioned that Lori would constantly be on the run always doing a mitzvah of kindness delivering packages for the needy, giving away her own home baked challah, and many other things. I always remember a saying that when all of us are living here on earth, it’s our opportunity to do mitzvahs, because we never know when the call will come from Hashem that our time on earth is over. Lori was one of a kind, and it could be now that Hashem is ready to bring Moshiach. If that’s the case then it would seem Hashem needs a good assistant and I can’t think of a better person to meet those job specifications. I always remember the story that goes as follows – In the World to Come, Hashem only accepts receipts, not checks. So I assume Lori’s checkbooks were found, but nothing was said of her receipt books, which she probably has herself and it will take much more time for her to show them to Hashem before Hashem gives her the next task to do.
The key factor in my opinion is the date of Lori’s birthday. I previously pointed out that the Nazi who spread the terrible Loshen Hora about the Jews hung 22 years after beginning publication, and since Omar’s favorite song was released 22 years ago, on August 12, 1997, which was Tisha B Av, then this year marks 22 years since that song was released. According to the information I have Lori’s birthday is August 10, which this year also is Tisha B Av. Therefore exactly 22 years after that song was released, will be Lori’s birthday on the Hebrew calendar.
But for myself and my family, as I mentioned, we have been in Israel for 22 years. Growing up in St. Louis Park was good for my family and friends who went through the St. Louis Park Public School system, and were satisfied what education was being taught, but for me, I must have been religious from birth or as we are nicknamed Frum From Birth. I was always asking myself questions about why people were working on Shabbat or why people would eat non-kosher food if the Torah spoke against it.
Rabbi S.I. Levin served the Congregations Sharei Tzedek and Sharei Chesed for more than 63 years in Minneapolis. He was the highly respected dean of Minneapolis Orthodox rabbis until his death in 1984. Gemelus Chesed and the merged Sharei Chesed congregation built and dedicated a new synagogue at 2734 Rhode Island Avenue in St. Louis Park and it was there that I received my initiation into Orthodox Judaism. We lived at 2509 Rhode Island but there were railroad tracks that sat between our house and the Shul. Nevertheless, I would walk there every Shabbat and it was close for me to drive to Shul to daven Mincha and Maariv. I kept on asking Rabbi Levin question after question and eventually he told me to buy a Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, which means an abbreviated version of the Code of Jewish Law, that I still own today.
Suddenly, my questions were being answered and I began to realize what those dusty books on top of the shelves in my Conservative Shul were. Rabbi Levin and I became great friends and he would always call me “Stevie”, because my English name is Stephen Joel. I enjoyed talking to Rabbi Levin zt”l, because it showed me what a true Torah scholar is and represents. I even remember being invited to his home where daughter Rose would greet me warmly, and it was a nice feeling knowing what being Orthodox was all about.
So when I was visiting my parents around the time Reagan was shot, my wife, Yaakov and my parents were invited to one of the founding members of that Shul. His name was Jacob Liss and his wife Saidie, my mother’s Uncle, who we called Jake. They were so proud to have us visit their home where they made sure everything was kosher and made us feel like royalty, which is what Leah’s accent sounds like being originally from South Africa.
One of the most striking memories I will always have, is when my Uncle Buddy “Red” Goldstein who along with Auntie Irene ran Flowers Inc. on Nicollet Ave. Mall passed away. I went to visit my Aunt Irene and my cousin Vicki, who was born only a month after me at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Uncle Buddy was suffering from the worst, in the brain, and I tried to be there for them at that time. I never knew the laws of visiting the sick, I didn’t have to learn them, it was the right thing to do. And so when Uncle Buddy passed away, his funeral was attended by so many people at that Shul Jake Liss helped to build and where I davened with Rabbi Levin was overflowing.
And then suddenly outside the door I spotted someone who was larger than life. They called him Mr. Basketball and if you were a basketball fan before the formation of the current NBA or even followed sports in the 1950’s, you would know that I was talking about George Mikan. Yes, George Mikan had come to be at Uncle Buddy’s funeral. He was so tall, that I will never forget how low he had to duck just to get into the doors of the Shul. That’s why today the LA Lakers still go by their original name of the Minneapolis Lakers, where George Mikan was the star.
So when I was married and lived in South Africa, I was now fortunate to have the benefit of living in a city that had a Beit Din (Rabbinical Court), many places to get kosher food, restaurants, schools, shuls, etc , compared to Minneapolis where the choice was quite limited. I was also involved with so many Rabbis’ that it was like coming to Target (which began as Dayton-Hudson) compared to a small retail store down the block. In Johannesburg I had a large choice of places to gain an increasing amount of knowledge which most probably prepared me for the most difficult test I had in my life and I’m not talking about anything you learn in University.
This was an experience similar to Rabbi Goldstein, only in my case there was not one gunman I was facing but rather three black gentlemen with guns pointed right at me. This incident happened in June, 1996, in the driveway of my home in the Johannesburg suburb of Sydenham. I had just dropped of my children at the Torah Academy School which was run by Chabad and located about three quarters of a mile from our house. I would then pick up Leah’s mother Anne, whose Hebrew name, is also Chana, and took her to our house where she would babysit our two year old daughter Tamar.
I would then get ready for work, and go to the driveway, open our gate, and drive out of the driveway, close the gate and drive off. On this morning, when I got back into the car after opening the gate, just as I was ready to start the engine, I looked to my right, and saw a gun pointing straight at me. I knew that I had to remain calm, so I got out of the car, and to my right I saw two more guns pointing at me. The leader of the gang told me to hand over my wallet and watch and then they demanded I start the car, before they got in and drove off. This whole time, they had smiles on their faces, did not become aggressive as was happening to other people that were hijacked, so I considered myself very happy to be alive and well. And at the end, I came to the conclusion that, like everything else, they were my 3 melachim sent by Hashem.
I phoned my wife who rushed over from the girls high school where she worked, and since her sister worked as the secretary to the boys high school, Leah notified her and she notified the Rav of the Shul, which was attached to the school complex where I davened. The Rav was at my house within a half hour, and when I answered the door, he expected to see me as a very shaken and distraught man, instead I greeted him with a big smile and he asked me if I was alright. I told him I was fine, and after spending a few minutes together with him, Leah had arrived so he was on his way back to the Torah Academy.
I was told to seek counseling but to this day I never had to go. The reason being that a year earlier, my wife and I had gone to Israel on a fact finding tour, to see how we would fit in if we made Aliyah. We even went to the Kolin Stalin Rebbe to ask him a Shaila and he told my wife and I we should consider going. I was convinced, but my wife wasn’t since she would be leaving her whole family behind, with whom she was very close.
For me, I wanted to make Aliyah with our family, and had visited the Aliyah Dept. to get the process going. But when I saw how difficult it would be for my wife to leave her family, I just didn’t have the heart to insist we go. That is, until my hijacking. Because while I was being confronted by these three people, I was thinking all along that since this had never happened to me before in my life, including in the US Army Reserves, when we would go to the firing range many times to practice with our M-16, but never did I have a rifle or gun pointed at me.
Therefore, why did Hashem cause this to happen now, what message was he sending me? During that moment, I felt that now Hashem had given me clearance to make Aliyah with my family, and therefore it would make sense that something like this would have to happen before I would have the courage to do so and inform my wife that I really think it’s the best thing for us all.
Nelson Mandela was just elected President in historic elections, during 1994. Our children began to learn the language of Zulu, which was now a requirement in all schools throughout South Africa. They were originally required to learn Africaans, which is a derivation, of Yiddish. But for my kids to come home from school and recite what they had learned in Zulu, was a bit out of this world.
When I told Leah that I wanted to make Aliyah, she really could not disagree with me. I was just between jobs, and had collected my pension money, but it really wasn’t going to be enough to continue supporting the family with Leah’s salary unless I was able to find a way to earn a living. And then there was the problem of finding schools for all the kids, having to sign up for the health fund, National Insurance, and opening a bank account, among all the things a new Oleh has to do. Luckily a place for us became available on Parshat Lech Lecha, in the absorption center of Mevaatzeret Zion right outside of Jerusalem. It was the only one available to house a family of 9.
Because all the organisations making your life easier when making Aliyah, were not available then. It was clearly going to have to be Hashem that would help us along the way, which he did many times over. Upon our arrival our children took one look at our new accommodation and were very unhappy. They did not want to leave their friends behind, but now are forever grateful since they all know Hebrew much better than Leah and I. And they also know that Israel is the place to be which offers more of a choice than the largest shopping center in the world, which if my information, is still correct, the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. On that ground stood Metropolitan Stadium home of the Minnesota Twins when they relocated from Washington DC. It was also on the site that the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers played in the 1965 World Series, the first game of which, Sandy Koufax refused to pitch because it was Yom Kippur. In an upcoming blog I will do an analysis of Sandy’s reward for refusing to pitch in that game.
On the English calendar, Yom Kippur in 1965 was October 6, but in 1943 Yom Kippur was not on October 6, but on October 9. Again we come back to the number 22 years earlier. But something else more important happened on October 6, 1943. It was the date and year 400 Rabbis marched in Washington DC and wanted to present a document to President Roosevelt, who never saw them. It is my dream that we can call another march for October 6, 2019 and I am sure President Trump will be happy to greet the marchers.
I am sure Rav Moshe Feinstein would have given his full backing to go ahead with this second march on October 6 this year. Why am I so sure? Very simply put, according to my sources which again include Wikipedia, Rav Moshe Feinstein was among the 400 Rabbis that participated in that first march
The Rabbis marched to call the Nazi slaughter to the attention of the President, and because nothing further came of this attempt by the Rabbis the slaughter continued. That was exactly 76 years ago and since the Hebrew calendar repeats itself every 19 years, the Hebrew and English dates correspond this year exactly as they did in 1943. Keep this in mind.
Before I go any further, I must add a few more things that you should know. When we made Aliyah, I had the attitude that since we had come to the largest and best place in the world for our children to grow and learn as Jews, that they must have the ability, as my wife puts it, to spread their wings and since we had made every effort as parents to provide our children with the right schooling and value system, it was up to them to decide for themselves the next road they would be traveling.
None of our children decided to continue follow the path that Leah and I had been blessed with from Chabad, except for one exception, which has nothing to do with how our daughter Shani and her husband BJ teach their children. But it has to do with BJ’s family name Mermelstein. For everyone who visited the Rebbe, on Kingston Avenue, for many years, there has been a store called Mermelstein Caterers. It was BJ’s grandfather that established that store. I even ate there sometimes while learning at Hadar Hatorah, which was the yeshiva for Baal T’shuva men, right down the street from 770 Eastern Parkway.
For BJ and Shani, when their oldest son Yoni was born in Shaarei Tzedek Hospital, he had a condition called intestinal malrotation, meaning his intestines were twisted which is a life threatening condition. We all prayed for Yoni’s recovery and it took 6 weeks, but BH Yoni is a very active boy today.
A more serious condition at birth was experienced by my son Dovid and his wife Devorah. Devroah was born in Moscow and made Aliyah with her family when she was 6 months old. Dovid today lives in Rechovot and gives a Daf Yomi shiur to a group of lawyers every day. But he didn’t get his learning from me, instead we ended up in Neve Yaakov where he went to Rav Avrahom Yona Scheinberg’s yeshiva. Rav Scheinberg’s sister is married to Rabbi Yanes who helped Dovid with his learning. They had a sister who recently passed away in Minneapolis married to Yanki Roberts, and where I spent many Shabbas meals.
Yanki Roberts’ father and mother were Shepsel and Tiba Roberts. Shepsel was my mohel, and while searching for answers I ended up davening in Kenesseth Israel one Shabbat where Shepsel also davened. I was called to the Torah for an aliyah and gave them my name as Shimon. Why? Because in the Talmud Torah I went to when I first started Hebrew school my teacher asked me what my Hebrew name was and I told her I didn’t really know for sure, so she gave me the name of Shimon because it sounded the closest thing to Stephen.
So when Shepsel heard that he came to me later on in the week and showed me the card he had written when I had my Bris. Shepsel did over 13,000 Brises he kept a card on each one and to him my name didn’t sound correct, which was another sign that when you go searching for Hashem you will find him and Hashem will find you and answer your questions.
Now getting back to Dovid, their first child was a much more challenging situation that Shani’s. They saw with the scan that the baby did not have a diaphragm on the left, so the doctors were giving the baby only a 2 percent, that’s right, I will repeat 2 percent chance to survive. One doctor even went so far to say that given these circumstances they should consider having an abortion. So when faced with this devastating news, Dovid and Devorah immediately went to consult with their Rabbi, who spent his whole life in learning and has great Ruach Hakodesh.
This Rabbi told my son Dovid something I could not understand at first but when I thought about it for many more days and weeks, it began to make sense. The Rav said don’t concentrate on the 98%, but concentrate on the 2%, because 2% is better than zero percent. The Rav also said we must get a minyan of 10 men together and go to the gravesite of the Chozon Ish and say the whole book of Tehillim together. So on that Motzei Shabbat myself, my sons, son’s in law and Devorah’s relatives travelled to Bnai Brak and I stood for three solid hours with the minyan saying Tehillim. We arrived at midnight, motzei Shabbat and did not leave until 3 in the morning.
The Chozon Ish was a great Rav and wrote a book entitled “Emunah & Betochen” which was translated into English carrying the title “Faith and Trust”. This provides a good explanation of how your thinking should be when faced with extraordinary challenges such as that of Chabad of Poway and any other similar experience. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more, or who has been affected by such an incident.
Then the Rav recommended going to the Kotel and again with a minyan saying the whole book of tehillim a few days later, so off we were again and spent another 3 hours davening for that precious neshoma.
The time for the birth arrived, Leah and I travelled to Schneider Children’s Hospital in Petach Tikva and were there when Devorah gave birth. The doctors knew that one lung had not been formed properly so when the baby was born it was blue. Dovi came back with tears in his eyes and said they would not let me hold my baby, which was a boy, he was blue and they had to rush him into a special lung breathing machine after birth to give him any chance at all to survive. We waited many hours to see the baby’s progress as they said the first 48 hours were critical. He needed another operation after a few weeks to reconstruct a new diaphragm.
Miracles of miracles, as the days went by the baby became stronger, and then the day for the pidyon ha ben arrived. We came to Schneider Children’s hospital and Rav Simcha Kook, the Rav of Rechovot, who was a Kohen, officiated at the hospital bed of our grandson, who still didn’t have a name. When many more weeks went by he was finally well enough to have a bris. The place was packed with many people all over Rechovot who had heard of the miracle that Hashem did. I was near the baby who was named Simcha Zissel after a very famous Rav known as the Sabba of Kelm and today Simcha Zissel is a very active boy.
After thinking about what the Rav said for many days and weeks, I realized what the Rav was saying was not to think about the 2 percent in relation to the chances of our grandson surviving, but think about the 2% in terms of the Jewish population. We have survived despite all efforts to destroy us and we will continue to survive, since Hashem continually watches over all of us.
So I would normally end my Blog here but I just want to make one more point which I hope will convince all of you that Hashem really runs the world.
I am holding in front of me two items.
One is a document which is folded over into four sections, and the front page reads as follows-
Sixty-Eighth Commencement Exercises
St Louis Park Senior High School – Wednesday, June 7, 1967 or Thursday, June 8, 1967 At Seven O’Clock P.M.
This was the year I graduated from High School, and the same time period that the movie – A Serious Man produced by Joel and Ethan Coen- was set in.
A small sample of The Commencement Program listed the following-
Star Spangled Banner ….. ……. ……. …….. Francis Scott Key
(Audience will remain standing until after the invocation)
INVOCATION ………………………………………… RABBI MOSES B. SACHS
B’nai Abraham Synagogue
Our Separateness and Our Dignity Robert Eder
To Dream the Impossible Dream Gail Turner
Tradition Versus the New Morality Ronald Kaufman
The ceremony was held on the High School Football field because our graduating class numbered over 800 alone. This document listed all of the graduates, not one had any Arabic names. Our class at that time was estimated to be made up of roughly 25 – 30% Jews. When we received our diplomas, we were told it would be blank since they didn’t want to have a problem with any mix-ups.
YOU MUST ALSO NOTICE THAT THE SIX DAY WAR BEGAN ON JUNE 5, WE AWOKE THAT DAY LISTENING TO REPORTS ISRAEL WAS UNDER ATTACK, SO WHILE THE CEREMONY WAS TAKING PLACE NO ONE KNEW IF ISRAEL WOULD SURVIVE AS A COUNTRY. AND THE MOST AMAZING THING IS THAT MY RABBI WHOSE SHUL I HAD BEEN BAR MITZVAHED WAS GIVING THE INVOCATION.
Now we turn to the second item which is a pamphlet with the following on the front cover-
54th Commencement – June 12, 1967
Talmud Torah of Minneapolis
Again a selected few entries follow-
The Star Spangled Banner
Invocation ……………………………….. Rabbi Jerome Herzog
Class Theme – SO THAT WE REMEMBER
In that pamphlet there are 12 pictures showing graduates of three different levels in the Talmud Torah. I am pictured in the last photo of the Senior Graduating Class with a graduate cap like everyone else. Next to me was Ronald Kaufman, who gave one of the three speeches at our High School Graduation. He was given that honor because he was one of the top 12 students. I stood next to him because I was one of the tallest in the class and he was about my height. Nothing to do with my academic skills.
In that same picture were some of my teachers – Mr. Joe King, who was very kind and would always try to cheer us up by using his name as a play on words – JoKing.
Max Weiss who always would talk to me about all sorts of things related to current events and he was kind and considerate.
Rabbi Jerome Herzog – Rabbi at the Shul where I met Shepsel Roberts and also led a fact finding tour group to Israel, where I mentioned I saw Yoni Netanyahu’s grave.
Dr. Gabriel Davy – Always willing to give me a listening ear, and I travelled to Israel on that tour group with his son.
On the third picture from the front was the 1967 Graduating Class – Elementary Dept. and in that picture is Abraham Ettedgui, who took over the leadership of the Shul Uncle Jake Liss helped to build.
On the next page, shown with another graduating class in the Elementary Dept. is Mr. Lawrence Bornstein who was Shepsel’s son in law married to Shepsel’s daughter Gita. I have a special place in my heart for Lawrence and Guita as they were always there for me to invite me over for Shabbat when I travelled the 3 miles from my parents’ house, and would sit with me discussing what being Orthodox and Shomer Shabbat really meant.
So now I flip over to the next page which is entitled Graduating Class 1967 – Elementary Department – St. Louis Park Branch – Group I
Two teachers are pictured – One on the left is Mr. Hanitai Alyagon and on the right Dr. Mordechai Sochen. Standing on the top row to the left is Sharon Sachs , then Gary Nact and finally Judith Lazarus. But I left out who is standing between Sharon Sachs and Gary Nact, none other than – Joel Coen.
Since Joel has his birthday listed in 1954 then this would be around the time of his Bar Mitzvah. So it seems Joel, Ethan and myself went through the same type of schooling when we were younger, judging by the message the film gives over, according to Rabbi Benjamin Blech, we are coming out with different interpretations of what all of our younger experiences meant. On October 11, 2009 Rabbi Blech wrote an opinion for the Aish website. He pointed out that the film A Serious Man does not mention the six day war which was taking place at that time.
Obviously, G-d was sending strong signals, similar to a radio frequency. If you tune into the proper frequency then you will hear everything, but not tuning in equals a big problem. That’s why today I consistently wear my tefillin during morning prayers, because unlike the black boxes your find on an airplane that are really painted orange, at least that’s what I see when they are recovered, tefillin are our genuine way of communicating with Hashem. They are really black boxes, our prayers are transmitted directly to Hashem when we say them, instead of waiting to find them in case of an airplane crash, which requires they be recovered before taking them to the lab to have them analyzed.
So one last thing, I would like to request Joel and Ethan to consider making movies which are more family oriented. Good clean fun for the whole family, which was the case when we grew up when the movies were kosher, but the theatre food in the lobby was not kosher. Now it’s the other way around.
In fact I have two ideas for you that might be of interest, why don’t you consider a remake of “The Fiddler on the Roof” to be remade with the name “If I were a Religious Man”, or perhaps a remake of the film “The Music Man”
But if you both still insist on making a movie which will attract people because they are rated “R”, then I have another idea for you which will most probably be given a rating much worse than “R” by the majority of the smart critics.
This is a story about someone who does something to get herself arrested in 2013 and she is shown undressed (from the neck up) when she is booked by the Minneapolis Police Department for trespassing and booked at jail. She then fools everyone into thinking she is a very religious person, and makes it all the way to Congress despite the terrible things she says about Jewish people, Israel and the USA. Congress is also making a new movie which is to be renamed the “Wizards of Ozzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
I have received permission from Alpha to use the full story that I refer to so please look at the following link-
Since I am now living in Israel, with my family I want to make it clear to all of you, that we are under constant death threats and attack 24/7 from the Palestinians. This is a fact, and I myself feel those responsible by talking against our President and country must be brought to justice. I say this as a father, grandfather, American, Jew and have the belief that we all should have the right to live in peace. .
In June, 1967 I was listening to WCCO radio constantly broadcast the 6 day war and now I’m living on that very ground that war and many wars have been fought. The State of Israel will remain strong, defiant and refuse to bow or bend to any enemy. At the end of the day, if you think about it, Muslims and Jews both believe in only one G-d, so if Israel has won all the Wars that have been fought, what makes the Palestinians think that is going to change.
I summarize points from an article Alan Dershowitz wrote for the Jerusalem Post on May 10-
Israel ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005 when it removed every soldier and settler from that area. Gaza could have become the Singapore of the Mediterranean, with its port and location. The Israelis left behind greenhouses and other facilities. Europe and Qatar poured money into the Gaza Strip. But Hamas – which forcefully took over the area from the Palestinian Authority – decided to turn it instead into a large scale rocket launcher. The conflict in Gaza will only get worse if terrorism is encouraged by the lies of commission and omission told by Omar, ACD and other supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad The world should also recognize that if Israel’s enemies stopped attacking its citizens, there would be peace – but if Israel stopped defending its citizens, there would be genocide.