Friday, August 31, 2007

My Opa’s Jarhzeit
by: Schvach Yid

Today, the 17th of Elul, is my paternal Opa’s (grandfather’s) jahrzeit. He died in 1968 at the age of 77 years of a cerebral hemorrhage. It seems all the men in my paternal line of descent suffered strokes. Opa developed a thrombocytopenia, stroked, and that was that. Regrettably, it was also my bother’s birthday – oy!

My grandfather was a native of Bremerhaven, Germany, descended from Gd-knows how many generations of German Jews. He served in the German coastal artillery during the First World War, and was shipped off to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp the day following Kristallnacht (Nov 10, 1938), on the eve of the Second World War. Them Deutschen! Fortunately, their entry visas to America came through in just a few weeks, and Germany, being in a slightly more altruistic frame of mind toward its Jewish populace (their German citizenship had previously been revoked) allowed my father, uncle, and paternal grandparents to sail to America.

My Opa’s wife, my Oma, was also a native German, born in Steele bei Essen. She died in 1996, at the age of 103 years (unberufen!).

My paternal grandparents had two children, both sons; my father is the younger. His older brother, my one and only uncle, died in 1990 of metastatic lung cancer at the age of 69 years; he was a life-long cigarette smoker, beginning in his early teens.

My father, nebich, suffered the fate of is paternal inheritance; three years ago he suffered a stroke. His stroke was preceded by the onset of senility. Two years ago, at a moment of neglect by his caretaker, he fell to the ground, knocking his crown, and the three neurological insults – progressive senility, the stroke, and the closed head injury – have left my father significantly debilitated, both physically and mentally.

There is almost nothing my father utters that is coherent. Rarely he recognizes a family member and answers the person by name. Other than that, not much. He’s confined to a wheelchair, with the exception of very brief walks with the aid of a physical therapist or caretaker.

Well, the other day I visited my folks and stayed for dinner. My father ate his dinner with the assistance of my mother. In the middle of the meal, as my mother reached for another spoonful of food to deliver to my father’s mouth, he paused and began to sing Avinu Malkanu.

Mind you, he almost never attended schul, although he was far from areligious.

He must be aware of the time of year. Good Shabbos!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Upping the Ante
by: Schvach Yid

Not so long ago, carried a story that reported King Abdullah of Jordan has announced plans to obtain a nuclear capability for his kingdom (,7340,L-3442222,00.html) the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (not to be found in any old Negro spiritual, I’ll have you know!). This, says the Jordanian king, is exclusively for ‘peaceful’ purposes, eg., desalination.

The ruse is obvious and the current Israeli leadership should learn the lesson well. When faced with intransigence, raise the stakes. Make your adversary pay. The King of Jordan knows this ploy of brinksmanship.

Israel’s great mistake following its victories in the ’67 War was to place the conquered ‘territories’ on lay-away for eventual reclaim by the Arabs. The Arabs knew, and know, this, so they proceeded to play ‘rope-a-dope’ games with Israel. And why not; after all, Israel offered the Arabs a freebee. Just what did the Israelis demand in return from the Arabs? Peace? ‘Be good and you can have your toy back’, Israel condescendingly chided the conquered Arabs. ‘When you learn how to behave yourself, you can come back into the house and have your dinner’. The Arabs aren’t children, and they aren’t playing games.

Not so long ago, the American TV chef and jockey of Epicurean pursuits, Anthony Bourdain, chose to commemorate Israel’s fiasco of August 2006 with a replay of his experiences in Lebanon during that event, where he had located himself and his crew for a TV shoot (no pun intended) just prior to the onset of military festivities. After having been ushered around warring Lebanon by Israelis (‘Mr. Wolf’, et. al.) he and others were scooped up by a detachment of rescuing US Marines (Halls of Tripoli – Lebanon – is a US Marine ‘thang’), Bourdain narrated a telling truism; he commented (quote approximate): ‘it was so nice to be spoken to as adults again’.

The condescensions of Israel’s foreign policies have been self destructive for the Jewish State. Once conquered in 1967, ‘the territiories’ should have been annexed into Israel proper. There is not, nor would there have been, a ‘Greater Israel’ (this rubric sounds like a fabrication of the fundamentalist Left). Israel should have built settlements galore, as well as a couple of cities. Nabalus and Ramallah should have been ‘moved’ to Jordan. Then and only then, when the Arabs had been informed in no uncertain terms that they really had lost, would they have had a reason to negotiate in earnest with Israel concerning ‘peace’.

The same held true for the ‘status’ of Jerusalem. That the prospect of the presence of Jews on the Temple Mount constitutes, for the Moslems, anathema should define for Israel, and for the rest of the non-Moslem world, the identity of the problem for the absence of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. How and why can the presence of Jews on Har HaBayit antagonize Moslems, and how can the Moslems ever expect peace with Israel if they adhere to this. A Jewish religious presence as source of antagonism for the Moslems means that peace can never exist between Jew and Moslem. This being the case, why should the Jews – Israel – capitulate by self-negation? Why should Judaism concede to Islam?

This was mistake number two committed by Israel’s vision-limited leaders upon their military victories in 1967. The keys to the Temple Mount belong in Jewish hands. ‘But this will lead to violence’, the anti-Jewish Jews will proclaim. So what, let the Jew-hating Moslems pay.

Israel is now faced with the prospect of a redemption-ushering event. Israel may now be able to do t’shuva for its error of 1967. has posted another article at,7340,L-3443895,00.html, and this time a Sheik has given Israel the key. Complaint doesn’t work; demands do, as do more substantial measures. Rubber bullets are like banishment to one’s room. They just don’t count, and they don’t achieve anything other than to inform one’s adversary that the rubber bullet shooters don’t mean business. The Arab Moslems do.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mr. Carter, Read This Wall
by: Schvach Yid

Last week CNN aired (cabled?) a 3 part series titled Gd’s Warriors. Former President of the United States James (Jimmy) Earl Carter was briefly interviewed and reference was made to his recent literary contribution to the world of Jew hatred, Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid (how dare he!). I haven’t read the book; I doubt I’ll ever bother to, but I’ve heard so many interviews in which he’s discussed his book that I feel like an expert.

Mr. Carter has made a positive reputation for himself, and deservedly so, for his efforts at international peace via his organization The Carter Center, as well as for his humanitarian work via his other organization The Jimmy Carter Work Project, affiliated with Habitats For Humanity International.

I thought his book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid was over and done with, but alas, CNN has resurrected it, so here I go.

Mr. Carter makes no secret of his religious faith, and has pursued a life as a Gd-fearing, Bible-believing person. He claims to have taught Christian Sunday school years ago. Perhaps having been born and bred in the briar patch of the American Bible Belt, Mr. Carter might recall a ditty from the Book of Deuteronomy (for us, Parshas Ki Tavo, for him Deut. 27:2): As soon as you have crossed the Jordan into the land that the Lord your Gd is giving you, you shall set up large stones, coat them with plaster and inscribe upon them all the words of this Teaching.

Yo, Jimmy! Israel, ie the Jews in Israel, are commanded to construct a physical wall between themselves and everyone else, display the writing of the Sefer Torah on that wall, and live according to its contents. It’s not apartheid Mr. Carter, it’s the Bible. Get it? It has nothing to do with the now extinct Berlin Wall.

More than a decade ago, when he was still a vital individual, Ariel Sharon came to the United States on a speaking tour. I had the good fortune of being in town when Mr. Sharon made a local appearance, and so I attended his talk. His knowledge of the English language did not serve him well on that occasion, but his message was, nonetheless, loud, clear, and appreciated by all in attendance. Ariel Sharon eventually left Israel’s Likud Party and founded Kadima, which instituted the construction of the partition wall (so lambasted by Mr. Carter) between Israel and the marauding Jew-murdering Arab Palestinians (who are so lauded by Mr. Carter). I can’t quote statistics, but I believe this wall, implemented by Kadima but commanded by HaShem in the Chumash (but perhaps not in its current location – maybe a bit farther East), has resulted in a drastic reduction in Arab homicidal bombings against the Jews of Israel.

Perhaps I’ve trespassed upon turf about which I’m not qualified to comment, but it seems to me that former President Carter’s remarks about Israel and the Palestinian Arabs are a bit uncalled for. You know, he’s wrong!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Good Shabbos
by: Schvach Yid

Arutz Sheva, the Israel National News service web site and radio source, has reported ( that the IDF held a workshop for some of its commanders this past week to prepare for, among other scenarios, the possible overthrow/demise of the Hashemite Dynasty of Jordan, placed into power by Britain during the 1920’s as the sovereign rulers of the then British-established (concocted) Kingdom of Trans Jordan, since renamed the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Should this occur, be’ezrat HaShem, the Palestinian Arabs will ‘at last’ have and enjoy(?) their own homeland. Needless to say, this would neither abate in the least their rabid campaign against the Jewish State, nor slake the assertions of their masters in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere (I wonder what England and Russia would contribute to this new construct of Middle Eastern horse jockeying – King Abdullah would then certainly have lost his bet, but undoubtedly not his credit standing in Monte Carlo). Poor King Abdullah. Life for him in Paris or Monaco would be such a bore. What a lovely prospect, and what a wonderful note on which to usher in Queen Shabbos.

One last note. A mere 10 days ago (I've never claimed to be current) announced in her blog the posting of this year’s Jewels of Elul III ( , established by Craig Taubman, and featuring an aphorism a day for the entire month of Elul, to aid us in our introspective preparation for the Chagim. She was honored with the posting for 1 Elul, and her posting is class A - the Yenta certainly deserves to have initiated this year’s contributions to the site. Have a read, you’ll like it.

Good Shabbos.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

America Foist
by: Schvach Yid

It has occurred to me that Ehud Olmert isn’t his own boss, nor for that matter is Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, nor was Menachem Begin, nor is any other dependent of my country, the USA. It has occurred to me that where our State Department’s policies are concerned, the marionettes dance aplenty. This is good for my country, America; it’s not so hot (oh yes it is!) for the recipient country of America’s foreign aid, supportive influence, and non-belligerence.

It’s not about altruism and never has been. Some countries are able to make it worth their whiles (wiles?). England, for instance; Saudi Arabia and China; Jordan. Others are more vulnerable and have few or no options. Israel qualifies for this second category.

Face it, dependency stinks, especially when the needs of the dependent are at odds with the insistencies of the provider. That which rules the American social/political scene not only is in opposition to the needs of Israel, it’s overtly injurious to the maintenance and existence of the Jewish State.

Anyone who works for a living, ie., goes into the American workplace every day, who enters the American marketplace, who watches and pays attention to the major American cable TV news channels knows what’s going on. This demand for Israel’s compliance with American social/political priorities passes the buck to a country for which such demands are ruinous. Foisting America’s social needs onto the Jewish State has to result in the termination of the Jewish State, since a single identity nationhood, based on a religious identity, is anathema to America’s national anthem, and to America’s laws - the US Constitution.

Israel’s Constitution is the Hebrew Bible – Tanach. Israel’s accession to demands for its abandonment of the Jewish way – Judaism – in favor of an artificial construct of people at loggerheads ‘getting along’ ain’t a solution for Israel, simply because no one wants to get along with Jewish Israel. Everyone wants to replace/obsolesce/destroy/ Israel.

This is the plaque of hatred – of being the object and subject of hate, and the demands of other interests that lie outside Israel and Judaism offer the antithesis of a Jewish State that will live in peace.

The demands stipulated by detractors and opponents snowball quickly. We’ve seen this with the Palestinians: first, the release of prisoners (terrorist murderers of Jews); then, once accomplished, additional and varied demands: land, a return to the pre-1967 borders, demands for military training (disclosure of Israel’s military strategies and tactics), money, even the Dead Sea Scrolls. It doesn’t end until the enemy – Israel – is gone. Ally to this the demands made by Israel’s only ‘friend’ and benefactor in the world – demands for social structuring that will ensure the eradication of Jewish Israel, and the future of Israel is bleak indeed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

By: Schvach Yid

We all know the old quip attributed to perhaps the greatest of all Jewish heroes, Albert Einstein (just kidding folks): ‘Gd doesn’t play dice with the universe’, and in an ‘einsteinian’ have-to-be sort of way, it seems that the political leadership of Israel should stop gambling with the prospect of Israel’s future existence.

Haveil Havalim, hosted this week by Soccer Dad , has provided links to Israel Matzav and YID With LID, both of whom have posted blogs about Ehud Olmert’s newest piece of brilliance – supposedly he’s considering relinquishing authority of the Temple Mount to the Palestinian Authority (I thought the PA/Jordan were given possession of Har HaBayit five minutes or so after the IDF chased the Jordanians off the Mount in ’67). What some people will do for a photo op with President Bush and Secretary of State Rice. Of course, many Israelis undoubtedly schmerchl from ear to ear upon seeing their PM on TV in the company of Bush and Rice, and at no small price. After all, prestige rules, and down the pike – the Palestinian ‘right of return’.

Under Yasser Arafat it was the ‘return’ of the Dead Sea Scrolls – I thought that was chutzpadik, but Jewish surrender of Har HaBayit, which occurred decades ago, is intolerable. So too is the surrender of Hevron, the cave of Machpalah, Yesha.

Olmert has good company in Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Congress, who appeared on the PBS production Three Faiths, One Gd, where Rabbi Rosen declared that Islam is the final recipient of Gd’s last revelation. I thought that people who accept Islam’s claim of revelation are Moslem.

Here’s a blast from the past, a photo of Ariel Sharon in 1967 as a Major General in the IDF laying tefillin at the Kotel upon the IDF’s victory in re-establishing Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem (well, not quite all of Jerusalem). His schmerchl may be an expression of joy, or it may instead suggest that laying tefillin was a somewhat unique experience for one of Israel’s future Prime Ministers (no LH intended). No matter. The sages of the Talmud teach us that a person who wears tefillin even only once in his life is assured a place in the World to Come (Olam Habah).

Ariel Sharon went on to other feats in his life, one of which was the founding of Israel’s Kadima Party in 2005. He then served as his party’s first PM until his devastating stroke in 2006. He was replaced by Ehud Olmert (does he daven with tefillin each morning?). The new President of Israel is Shimon Peres. Boy, this is old.

So what’s the point? Rabbi Nathan Lopes has written an open letter to Shimon Peres on the on-line edition of Arutz Sheva encouraging him to serve by example, and that the needed example is Judaism. Bravo! Not politics, not kitch, not me-too prestige chasing, not surrender to the demands of foreign powers, and not capitulation to the Jew haters. The answer to Israel’s melancholy is in its (our) religion. No kidding! Israel means Jewish, and Jewish means Torah. It’s not an option – just look what’s happened to Jews as conformists and placation artists. The big news is that Jews without Judaism are miserable.

If you don’t want to listen (read) to a rabbi, just read Dennis Prager’s columns in Moment Magazine, in the current Aug/Sept issue and in the April 2006 issue. As far as I know he’s not frum, but grew up attending yeshiva. He’ll tell you all about the worth of being Jewish, and it’s based on Torah. His columns can be accessed free on line at the Moment Magazine website.

So what’s the problem? Simple. The Israeli voters vote for their national leadership, and their leadership isn’t ‘into’ Judaism. The Jewish Homeland is about living Jewishly in the only Jewish environment on planet Earth. Living Jewishly doesn’t mean locking oneself away with a minyan in a basement in Brooklyn to the exclusion of non-Jews. It means living lives of Torah and mitzvot in a place where living this life is normative and self governed, rather than in a place where it is merely tolerated. Without this, the Jewish people have nothing, and that’s exactly where Israel is headed. We’re barreling headlong into Jewish oblivion chutz le’aretz (out of the Land of Israel), and now it has arrived in Israel.

My unqualified opinion of Israel’s political and social tzuris is that Israel is in the midst of a giant crap-shoot and doesn’t realize it. Their leadership, elected into office by the Israel’s Jewish electorate, has ‘lost its way’. The compass, of course, is Torah, not international competition, emulation, and surrender.

Another Death in the Family
by: Schvach Yid

Thanks to the New York Jewish Week, to which I have a print subscription (rather than an on-line subscription, and I hate newspapers – go figa), I’ve just learned (yesterday) of the death of Raul Hilberg on August 4, 2007, at the age of 81.

Dr. Hilberg was renowned for his study and analysis of the Holocaust in his famous 2 volume work The Destruction of the European Jews (1961), which was followed by a 1 volume student

paperback edition. He appeared as an analyst and commentator in Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah, which aired in the US on PBS in 1987.

Viewing his interviews on that TV series (actually a film divided into segments for TV broadcast) I took an instant liking to Prof. Hilberg’s style. It wasn’t until a later date that I learned he was a native of Vienna, like my mother. Evidently, some sort of personality vibe courses along with the TV broadcast signals between the Jewish Viennese and their immediate descendents.

Prof. Hilberg was a graduate of Lincoln High School (Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY), and Brooklyn College. He received a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

May his memory be for a blessing.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Shabbat Shalom
from Schvach Yid

To all the ‘queens of Judaism’, I offer flowers for Shabbat.

It’s an Israeli custom I learned when I visited the Jewish Homeland back in the mid-‘80’s. I hope it’s still in practice; if not, then it should be. Good Shabbos.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Hell On Earth
by: Schvach Yid

For all my fellow Jews who believe Buddhism, and its progenitor Hinduism, are religious faiths of peace, love, understanding, self-fulfillment, enlightenment, illumination, self-actualization (a term given to us by Abraham Maslow), and everything else that is about self-discovery and self-improvement, I offer this blast from the past. Contrary to the ways of salesmanship, mass media marketing, and hype, the truth ‘will out’ (Chaucer – sorry!).

Back in the days when Vietnam was a key name in upcoming American political concerns – second only to The Soviet Union, but not yet America’s number 1 political ‘challenge’ (as was the USSR) – American TV viewers were treated to this on-screen view. It killed the TV commercials of the day.

This piece of social/political protest schtick passed quickly from the American public view, but established in the American mind a picture of the then up and coming Vietnam (then two countries – North and South) as a place where ‘I’ would rather not be. This photo didn’t belong on a travel brochure, but it did make it onto a page of Life magazine, which back then was ‘numero uno’ among weekly picture mags. Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish film director and writer who passed away just a couple of weeks ago in July, found this televised drama sufficiently convincing that he included this scene in one of his movies (I don’t recall which one), as the actress Liv Ullman watched in horror as her character viewed it on TV.

And just a few years later, Eastern religions became all the rage. And guess who jumped onto the bandwagon like crazy. Yup, Jews - teenagers and young adults. They should have probed a bit further.

Self immolation is okay in a Wagnerian opera - but in real life?

The burning gentleman’s name was Thich Quang Duc. He was a monk, folks, an acolyte. Do you know what that means? An underling, a subordinate – disposable. He wasn’t a priest, and he certainly wasn’t the head (roshi?) of a Buddhist temple. He wasn’t big and powerful and full of authority. If you want to read a fictional account about those, just read Yukio Mishima’s The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, or take a job with my former place of employment – you’ll meet some of them there. You can also read Roger Kaminetz’s The Jew in the Lotus, but you’ll have to be alert, for it’s only the very rarest of lines in that book that hints at some of the ‘realities’ of Buddhist life.

If my memory serves me well, and it rarely does, this human candle-for-protest at first sat very still, and then slightly ‘lost it’ – he fell sideways, righted himself again - and then collapsed. And no napalm was used. We Americans used that stuff to similar effect a little later on, in the same place.

I wish all my fellow Yiddin who dabble in various Eastern religious pastimes, and who sing their praises, would consider the flip side of Buddhism. It ain’t pleasant. A woman who splatters boiling oil onto her face for the purpose of obviating the desirous advances of hungry men, in her attempt to attain super-human spiritual status, has in fact chosen the wrong ‘path’ in life.

It goes way beyond silly - it’s self abusive. It’s the emotional/spiritual analog of tattooing one’s skin. It isn’t the smart thing to do. And it’s a lousy paradigm for emulation.

May Thich Quang Duc rest in peace. He should have attended yeshiva instead.

Here’s the piece from Wikipedia:

Thich Quang Duc, 1963
Thích Qung Ðc photographed during his self-immolation. The photographer Malcolm W. Browne won the 1963 World Press Photo of the Year for this image.[1] Another reporter that witnessed the event, David Halberstam, remembers "As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound".

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

When It’s Your Conscience That Comes Knocking
by: Schvach Yid

Tamar Yonah, a contributing blogger to Arutz Sheva, has posted a doozy at, titled I Had A Dream.
Perhaps the current leadership of
Israel should note the progression of the graphics displayed in this piece - I doubt they ever bother to take the time to read.

In the mid 1980’s I spent a lengthy period of time on a kibbutz – a member of the TAKAM kibbutz movement - a kibbutz movement that's secular and non- communist. Present on the kibbutz was a small group of non-Israelis who were affiliated with the Conservative Movement of Judaism; basically, they were pariahs among the non-Dati (non-religious) kibbutz members. Basically, in Israel, plenty of the non-religious Jews hate the frumies. These Conservative Movement Yiddin were no where close to frum, and basically, they weren’t wanted just the same. The Christian kibbutz volunteers from Europe were pretty-much ‘in’ on that kibbutz – the kibbutz men got to ‘schtup’ the volunteer women, and so all went well with that community. The situation for the semi-religious Jews from abroad was entirely different.

The number one lesson I learned in Israel concerned domestic politics: the non-religious despise the datim. It’s an odd lesson to be learned by a Jew who traveled to the Jewish State of Israel – the ‘Holy Land’. The rules of group dynamics combined with Israel’s public relations propaganda had me hooked on Jewish brotherhood, and mutual support and love based on our common Jewish identity – having had the shit kicked out of us during the 2nd World War.

Well, in Israel, it seems, (well actually, it’s overtly stated by enough Israelis) this kind of Jew or that kind of Jew is responsible for this or that. So the embittered Holocaust survivors had it out for those who hadn’t paid their price for Jewish existence and the establishment of the Jewish State. The non-religious weren’t coy in the least for blaming all of Jewish experience during our millennia-long sojourn on the Jewishly religious. They were not to be emulated; they were not to serve as the paradigm for Jewish existence in Herzl’s version of Brave New World - Der Altneuland (sorry Aldous). Don’t you know, in a sick introvertedly directed reversal of Jew hatred, there appears a pathological distain for frum Yiddin levied by a not so small proportion of non-religious Israelis. Go figa!

The Jew who hates his fellow Jew for being ‘too Jewish’ needs to have his/her head examined.

Ehud Olmert and company need to make clinical appointments – pronto. On their current tack, not too much time remains for them to reverse course and avoid another Jewish catastrophe – no Ehud, not a religiously frum Israel – that’s not a catastrophe. Far from a catastrophe, frumkeit is the way Israeli life should be. Among the comments I heard in Israel about the Datim was that they’re ‘crazy’. I think any Jew who thinks about Jewish commitment in this way is the crazy one. Regrettably, this seems to be the opinion of Ehud Olmert and his pals.

Perhaps Olmert’s wish may come true. When US Secretary of State Rice finally realizes her dream of becoming the manager of a professional football team (American football), Olmert may obtain a new position of self-perceived importance for himself here in America. Waterboy sounds about right. Cheerleader might be even better, but I think he lacks the required physical attributes for this position.

When a Jewish government sets its Jewish military against its Jewish populace, then crazy has been achieved, and that Jewish government needs therapy.

Photo credit: Arutz Sheva