Monday, July 31, 2006

Orthodox synag in Boynton finds a home/where are red cross visits for Israeli soldiers held as hostages ? 7/31/o6

I am so happy to pass the word along that after a difficult year,the Boynton Beach fl
orthodox congregation has a new permanent home.Cong Anshei Chesed,will be the first ashkenazic shul in Boynton and after some renovations, will be open for services for the HIGH HOLIDAYS.
Not only have they acquired a building that is in walking distance to all the housing complexes that are off El Clair Road,they have also been accepted as a member synagogue in the OU (Union of Orthodox Congregations of America).Next on tap will be a Rabbinic intern , and a series of guest scholars-in-residence for the year.
Since that region is the fastest growing Jewish community in S. Florida,I predict that within five years, the orthodox component of the community will rise to the level of Boca.Especially since housing is somewhat more reasonable (and newer)than other areas such as Miami Beach ,Boca and Delray.The latter two areas are within 10 minutes and 20 minutes respectively by car from Boynton.
The leadership of the new synagogue deserve great credit for perserverance and steadfastness.The president of the synagogue is Adam Rosen,and one of the vice-presidents is Elie Francis(he lives there year-round)and they can be reached for information.


The Human Rights Committee of the UN (an oxymoron)attacked the US for its treatment of prisoners who fought in Afghanistan without uniforms,and should be exempt from the Geneva Convention.Did anyone read a word about the three Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hamas and Hezbollah?
Any word on the Red Cross visiting them?


When Hezbollah intentionally uses civilians to protect their guerillas hoping that when innocent civilians will be hurt or killed the world will attack Israel,the outcome is predetermined.For Israel to react and cut off major air attacks even for a short period of a result of these unfortunate incidents is a major blunder.
The clock is running,and if we don't see a major move forward,even Pres Bush will
not be able to indefinitely prevent a cease fire sans an Israeli victory.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Sadness ! 7/29/06


This morning in the Talmud class that I teach to mature senior physicians in Good Samaritan Hospital (Suffern NY ) those feelings were palpable.
Israel is not winning the war!
Israel is running out of time to correct her strategic errors.
If the war ends with only a mile or km buffer ,and Hezbollah's rockets intact, Israel will have lost its deterrence for future conflicts.
Israel tried to win this war on the cheap, pitting 2,000 ground soldiers against an equeal number of entrenched well armed and well motivated opponents.I learned enough in my officers training, and through general reading as well as listening to the talking heads on tv,to understand that the ratio for an attacking army in these circumstances should be closer to 10:1 and not 1:1. Airpower alone,as we learned in Korea and Vietnam ,and as Israel has previously experienced, has its limitations.

I personally am concerned regarding the makeup of the Israeli security cabinet.Among the seven are:
Eli Yishai of Shas -Military experience ?
Min of Defense Peretz-military experience ? ( anti-war in his previous life )
PM Olmert -military experience- military correspondent
Shimon Peres
Ophir Pines-Paz

Mofaz and Dichter have solid backgrounds

Perhaps its time to add a non-political element to the group such as Uzi Arad of the Herziliya think tank,( among others) with an understanding of the geo-political considerations.It seems that the facts on the ground are beyond the grasp of Olmert and Peretz .

Caroline Glick in her JP column last nite raises the question of whether the IDF generals should be replaced because they are using tactics designed for Gaza ,here in Lebanon.
Secondarily when the fighting ceases, someone must be resposible for the poor intelligence of the IDF regarding Hezbollah.

Finally, I fear that if Israel fails to win (release of prisoners, cessation of rockets,and a major deployment of Lenanese units to the South with NATO or EU troops that will disarm Hezbollah and prevent resupply from Syria and Iran ),the next war in 4-6 years could be nuclear with Iran truly involved.This war has diminished the ability of Israel to unilaterally destroy the Iranian nuclear facilities , if that becomes necessary.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Say it ain't so Ehud ! 7/24/06

In the midst of the difficulties the IDF is having against Hezbollah ,the PM is quoted as publicly telling west bank settlers that he will still evict them as soon as possible.


Hamas,has shown that they are not a partner for peace.Abbas is marginalized.Every inch of returned land will be used to lob rockets into Israel.

RES IPSA LOCUTOR -let the matter speak for itself.

It is time Olmert stop taking advice from his wife and kids,and wake up and smell the coffee.
Israelis are dying ,and his disengagement as a supreme act of weakness is partly to blame.
In the north the cowardly retreat of Ehud Barak from Lebanon in the middle of the night,stranding our SLA friends sent a similar message of weaknes to Hezbollah and Syria.
Perhaps it will take katushas on the Knesset building for Olmert to wake up.
In the meantime, the battle in the north shows that the Israelis have become unaccustomed to a tough enemy buried 100 feet in bunkers.They have been wasting some time fighting with Israeli settlers, and poorly trained palestinians, at the expense of preparing for Hezbollah.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A pre-shabbat thought 7/21/06

Isn't it amazing!
For well over six years, Hezbollah has acted as a state within a state in Lebanon , and has built secure neighborhoods in Southern Beirut closed to all but their own shiites.They have constructed bunkers and with the aid of Syria and the Iranian guard have taken over the southern part of Lebanon.Despite UN Security Council resolution 1559,and the withdrawal of Israel to recognized international borders ,they have built up a stockpile of 12-13,ooo missiles pointing at Israel.All of these actions threaten Lebanon and the ME.
Despite it all the Lebanese government sat quietly without public criticism of Hezbollah.
But now, as Israel threatens in a defensive mode to enter Lebanon to dislodge Hezbollah, and save the independence of the Lebanese democracy,we see the Prime Minister of Lebanon threatening military action against Israel.
I must have missed something, but one thing is clear...Anti-semitism is alive and well.It is 1936all over again.Luckily we have George Bush as our Pres, and not Gore or Kerry.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Press Coverage 7/19/06

Isn't it amazing.Each hour the tv and radio announce the casualties in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.
On the Israeli side, so many military, and so many civilians have lost their lives.
In Lebanon, amazingly there are no Hezbollah deaths,only INNOCENT CIVILIANS.
The campaign to villify the IDF is surely enhanced by CNN.Yesterday I spent a good deal of time going from channel to channel.I could not objectively tell you if CNBC,MSNBC or Fox tilted their coverage in one direction or the other.In the case of CNN however, it was crystal clear, as their correspondent was taken on an exclusive tour by a Hezbollah tour guide.
Not one difficult question was asked as the terrorist spokesman yelled about the civilian housing damage.Here in an area where no outsider was allowed ,the leadership of Hezbollah resided and weapons stored in homes, schools hospitals and bunkers.
It was not enough to hold this distorted interview, CNN saw fit to run it over and over again all day.
Indeed the CNN emphasis was on showing that U.S. inaction was causing great harm to peace,rather than an opportunity to destroy a terrorist organization.
The choice of John Bolton as our UN representative cetainly has been shown to be a great choice.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The end of an era 7/16/06

This shabbat I served as scholar-in-residence at the Homowack Hotel,as I had done three times a year for the last 12 years.I had mixed emotions as I finished my last lecture.
Apparently there will be a sale of the hotel to New Square for use as a housing project,boys school and girls summer school.While no one is talking officially ,employees are making plans for other employment.
If true, it will mark the end of an era.namely,the closure of the last year -round kosher hotel.
When I was in College, the Catskills had the Hotel Fiurst,Pioneer,Pineview,Lakehouse and a few smaller etablishments, all strictly kosher.
At the same time,Lakewood had a few hotels ,and Miami Beach had The Sterling, Waldman, Saxony, Carribean and a handful of others.
In the summers,young men and women would serve as waiters,busboys and counselors.The guests would come for a weekend ,or a few weeks.Pesach was a crowded time,and we waiters could make what was for us a small fortine in tips.
In winter ,well-to- do would visit the Florida hotels.
Cheap airfare,kosher cruises,travel to Israel and the economics of keeping a hotel up to date and competitive was an impossibility.Also many of the old timers have passed on and the lure of the Catskills or a hotel im Miami Beach is just not there.
It is more than the closing of a hotel,but the end of an era.For people such as myself and my wife ( who I met in the Pineview)it brings back such wonderful memories.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Pitfalls of Democracy 7/14/06

In general I support President Bush when he articulates the values of liberty and democracy as a path to world peaceThere is a major caveat.
A democracy requires that there be guarantees for free speech,free press,womens rights,transparency in government,the rule of law,freedom of religion and other such modalities.When they are absent ,or if they are not inculcated within the body politic, a free election is only the road to the rule of extremists and fundamentalists.Certainly when the governing group artificially seperates into a military and political wing which threatens the security and independence of the the state, you wind up with Hamas, and Hezbollah.Not that a fledgling democracy requires 100% attainment of those goals, howevever that must be the path that the people and governmental institutions are headed for.
Both Algeria and Turkey have in the past worked successfully to prevent Islamist takeover of their governments.

Elections have consequences! The election of Omert and Peretz illustrates the point.Daily,weekly and monthly rocket attacks on Israel with minimal and ineffective responses have sent the message of weakness to the bad guys.As late as two days ago the leadership ,while divided ,has not given up on "convergence".
As late as two weeks ago the U.S. warned Lebanon regarding the consequences of Hezbollah activity on the border.Beirut will now pay the price,unless and until they clean out the borderarea.

In his op-ed in the WSJ on Tues 7/11/06 ,entitled "In defense of disengagement"Bret Stephenswrites that Israel's northern border "has been relatively quiet,depite Hezbollah and its thousands of medium-range missiles".Stephens,former Jerusalem Post editor,and now on the editorial board of the Journal,is usually a sophisticated analyst.It only proves the old saying "there are no experts on the future.only on the past".

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A "halachic" check of Hotels for conventions = 7/9/06

Prof. Marshal Breger tells a story relating to his tenure as assistant to President Reagan in charge of the Jewish desk.
The leadership of the Reform movement had an appointment with the President,scheduled for a limited period of time.During the meeting the leadership discussion was primarily focused on Aid to Dependent Children.Thus, when the meeting was over little or no time was spent on Israel or other "Jewish" topics.When the group left, the President turned to Breger and said "I didn't know that ADC was of such importance to the Jewish community."
That story came back to me when I read page 1 of the Forward which announced that the Reform and Conservative movements will be investigating the working conditions of the workers in the hotels where their conventions are planned to be held.They have subscribed to a program sponsored by the NAACP,Sierra Club and others so that the choice of hotels will "align with our Jewish values."
Of course,any student of those two movements (especially the Reform) understands that they have become a religion of social activism(it doesn't hurt to attack Bush,the war on terror, wiretapping Al-Queda in the name of liberalism and civil rights.)
That's fine and fair in our democracy!
Just one wish-WOULDN'T IT BE NICE if the same in-depth analysis was used on the the Kashruth standards,shabbat observance standards,family purity standards,Jewish knowledge (or illiteracy) standards,intermarriage and so on,of their members and friends, as they plan to do to make sure the Marriotts or Hiltons are treating their workers fairly.
Liberalism is interesting and topical,but falls far short of Torah from Sinai.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Smoking ban-long overdue 7/8/06

The decision of the Rabbinical Council of America to ban smoking is welcome, but as they agree long overdue.
In 1960, as a medical student I wrote a paper for Pathology that summarized the current knowledge of smoking and its effects on the heart,lungs etc and even on those who inhale second hand smoke..Even then, the proof was overwhelming.
When I became President of the Union in 1994 ,one of my first articles in Jewish Action was a plea to the Rabbis to ban cigarette smoking to the same degree we prohibit unkosher products.
Sadly ,it is not uncommon to diagnose lung cancer on individuals who gave up smoking many years earlier.Therefore it it vital that we prevent young people from ever taking that first puff.
Hopefully,all of the Yeshiva world will follow suit There is no excuse to pass by a yeshiva or kollel and see young men smoking.
All of this in no way absolves parents from teaching their children the dangers of tobacco and drugs at an early age.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

N Korea- our patience is not endless 7/06/06

Imagine how history might have been changed, if Pres Truman had listened to Gen McArthur in the Korean war.Of course, the General was insubordinate, and the President had no choice but to fire him.
Nevertheless,had Truman accepted the plan to cross the Yalu River,and destroy the Chinese Communist invaders,perhaps -just perhaps there would be no N. Korea today.No maniac who threatens the world with missiles and nuclear, war but cannot feed his people.Who knows if the face of Communist China would be more open and democratic today,had we destroyed their air force and tanks.
Of course we might still be at war with China,and one can never second guess the past.
Certainly when Iran unloads a shipment of N. Korean missiles,we can ask ,What if....

We are told that the N Korean leader simply wants some one on one attention.That may be so, but in no way lessens the threat to world peace.We need not act as psychiatrists.
The Chinese oppose sanctions because they are concerned that the collapse of N Korea might bring an avalanche of hungry immigrants fleeing across the border.However ,as the prime supporter of N Korea ,they can place the type of pressure on the North that can be meaningful.
Russia is up to her old tricks.We should recall that only a Soviet walk-out at the Security Council allowed, UN troops to be dispatched to save the South in 1950.
Yes, it is true that diplomacy takes time,however we must let the Russians and Chinese know that there will be a price to pay for refusing to join the Japanese sanction resolution.
The actions taken here (or lack of same) SURELY WILL NOT BE MISSED BY IRAN.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ashkelon-What Next? 7/05/06

  1. The Ashkelon attacks,elevate the terror problem to a new but unfortunately not unexpected level.That no Israeli has been killed, or major infrastructre damaged is irrelevant.
    No country in the world would tolerate such daily attacks on its soil without a masive response.Of course we understand that terror can never be 100% prevented, but this is state sponsored and approved, and is intolerable.
    Whether the immediate goal is to create a buffer zone that will keep the rockets beyond their range into Israel,or some other military solution,the citizens of Ashkelon and Sderot were promised security after disengagement-and didn't get it.
    Already Switzerland and S. Africa have attacked the Israeli limited response.(How many Jews died or were cheated of their financial property because of Swiss "neutrality"and "integrity"?)
    Why is the S African UN civil rights investigator only charged to investigate Israeli violations, but not HAMAS, HIZBOLLAH, ISLAMIC JIHAD and AlQueda?
    The stirrings of Hizbollah in the north ,with a threat to open a second front are of course serious developments,to which the Beirut government has been warned of.
    Israel has the military might and its political leadership must show the will.
    The enemy will quickly understand Israel's weakness if it fails to carry out its mission.
    I am usually no fan of Tom Friedman,but he hits the nail on the head when he notes that the Palestinians had the power to take the Gaza settlements that Israel abandoned, and create a model society.Alas,once again they have blown it,and with it any trust or credibility that mght have accrued.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Senator Joe Lieberman 7/03/06

Todays announcement by Sen. Lieberman that if he loses the Ct. Democtaic primary in August, he will run as an independent, confirms the polling that seems to indicate that he indeed wll not win the primary.
I spoke to him on Thurs,and he seemed confident that he would at the end be victorious.Political insiders that I spoke to yesterday seem to confirm that impression.
It is quite amazing that Democratic party voters would defeat an individual with such an oustanding Senate record, who only four years ago was the party standard bearer for Veep.
Like Cong. Chris Shays (R-CT) , they are in trouble because of their support of Pres. Bush and the war on terror.
Hopefully both will be returned to Congress.What is even more upsetting is that Jewish supporters of Chris,(in his district) do not appreciate the key role he has played in the pro-Israel leadership in the Congress.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The demise of Edah-RIP 7/02/06

The announcement that the officers of Edah have voted to close its doors is not an unwelcome step.
From its inception, I was opposed to its creation not because I am a right -winger, but beacause I believed it was harmful to modern Orthodox unity.The turn to the right is real,and can best be answered by working within the organized community-namely the OU,RCA and YU.
For a long time, I objected to the motto " the real modern orthodox" as though my weltaanschung and those like me are pseudo-MO.
I have the same feeling for Chovevei-Rabbi Avi Weiss's liberal rabbinic seminary.The RCA (Rabbinical Council of America) will have to decide whether its graduates will be eligible for membership.
In truth Edah was an invention of the Jewish Week and its editor.If they had not written stories and puff pieces the organization would have died years ago.
The huge annual conventions appeared to be impressive.However, like the feminist orthodox conventions,they were a creation of a subset of liberal Manhattan Jews.The formula was simple=great sessions with outstanding lecturers,babysitting,low admission costs and lots of Jewish Week advertising.You can get 1000 or 2ooo yuppies to attend,but that is not a national movement.
When I was OU Pres.,on two occasions,I decided to test the waters.In Teaneck I was guest speaker at a modern Yeshiva HS dinner,and talked about Edah.At the end (and during my presentation) there was zero audience interest in this topic.On a second occasion while serving as a scholar-in-residence in the mid-west,I informed the Rabbi that I would spend a few moments in my talk on the Edah-feminist topic.He told me that it was a non-issue in his city. I was always convinced that the Edah phenomonon was artificially developed by the anglo-Jewish media.
Having said that,I always urged the leaders of Edah to bring these issues into the mainstream without dividing our small modern orthodox community.To my recollection,many of their leaders were also leaders in the Union and YU.
A great underlying problem in the turn of our community to the right,is the choice of Yeshivoth that we send our chldren to.It is also the lack of modern orthodox teachers and rebbes, forcing our schools to turn to black hat teachers for faculty. It speaks to our support of non-zionist charities .We have brought this upon ourselves.