This might surprise you, but I have a lot to say about what’s going on in the world right now — and I’m going to share it all with you each Shabbat for the next four weeks!
· Shabbat, August 30: Ferguson: It’s as Clear as Black and White
· Shabbat, September 6: Look Who’s Talking
· Shabbat, September 13: From Here to Eternity
· Shabbat, September 20: No One Wants to Hear the Truth
These sermons will cover topics ranging from Pope Francis to Ferguson, from Joan Rivers to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, Ocean City to Israel, Gaza war to “selfies,” Charles Darwin to the Pentagon.
Services begin at 9 am in the Dahan Sanctuary and 9:30 am in the Epstein Chapel. I look forward to seeing you in shul!
Barack Obama – friend or foe? Let me give my answer and then, if you would like, you can give yours.
There is no doubt that there has been – and there is – a strained relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu. The fact of the matter is, anyone who was paying attention should have known that this would be inevitable. In 2008 in a meeting with 100 Cleveland Jewish leaders, Obama – who was running for president – said the following: “I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says: unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel, that you are anti-Israel and that can’t be the measure of our friendship with Israel. If we cannot have an honest dialogue about how do we achieve these goals, then we’re not going to make progress … because of the pressure that Israel is under, I think the U.S. pro-Israel community is sometimes a little more protective or concerned about opening up that conversation.”
What he said was not so terrible and I have to tell you that I respected him for having said it. He was very honest about his feelings. What he was basically saying was that he does not agree with the policies of a Likud government and that American Jews should be more prepared to debate those policies. READ MORE
I really don’t like to speak during the summer, but what can I do when everyone seems to be speaking about the matzav – the situation in Israel. I cannot wait for the war to be over so that Israel can clean out the tunnels … and I can clean out the inbox on my computer! I have been inundated with people sending me articles about the matzav. Most all of the articles focus on how the world has been reacting to the war; the on-going criticism of everything Israel does. The world’s reaction is disgraceful … from John Kerry’s sarcastic “open microphone” comment regarding Israel: “Some pinpoint operation … some pinpoint operation …” Last year a group examined six drone attacks the U.S. conducted in Yemen. It discovered that at least 57 out of 82 people killed were innocent civilians! “Some pinpoint operation” … and the 133,000 civilian casualties in Iraq, also “some pinpoint operation. And then there is the United Nations Relief Works Agency, UNRWA, being shocked to discover that rockets were found in two of its schools and then turning the rockets over to their rightful owners – Hamas! Remember who this Hamas is – as one writer, Chemi Shalev, described them: “Hamas is a cruel, fanatic, fundamentalist, reactionary, totalitarian, misogynistic, Holocaust-denying, human rights abusing, anti-democratic, anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Christian, anti-Zionist, and anti-Semitic movement that embraces terror, sanctifies martyrdom, glorifies death and condemned the killing of Osama bin Laden.” That is the people that people in the West cry for, protest on behalf of, and condemn Israel for trying to protect itself from. And the crazy part is, even the Arabs themselves seem to have come to grips with what Hamas is. You don’t see many rallies on Hamas’ behalf on the streets of Arab countries; most all the pro-Hamas rallies come on the streets of the Western countries – the so-called “civilized world.” READ MORE
There is one word – a Hebrew word – which over the years has taken on a specific meaning. The word used to be considered neutral but now it’s considered a negative. The word is “matzav” – literal translation: “situation.” The word used to be used quite innocently. One person would say to another, “Mah hamatzav – what’s up?” It’s a question that didn’t even need an answer! Or, one Israeli would say to the other: “Yesh matzav” which can mean, “Something’s going on.” If an Israeli Prime Minister were to deliver a State of the Union address, it would be called “Matzav ha-umi – the nation’s situation.” But today, the word “matzav” refers to only one situation … and that is Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. According to Ruvik Rosenthal, a language columnist for one of Israel’s newspapers, “The word “matzav” is a word with a negative connotation … according to the dictionary definition it is a neutral word, but in daily usage it has a connotation of tension, sadness, problems.” READ MORE
It was the Gentile prophet Bilaam who proclaimed those immortal and, unfortunately, true words regarding the Jews: “Hein am levaded yishkon – behold they are a nation destined to dwell alone.” In many ways the state of Israel is the most isolated one on earth. It is surrounded by neighbors, many of whom do not recognize its right to exist, and who have no economic or diplomatic relations with it. And even with the two neighbors with which Israel does have a peace treaty, very few of their people visit Israel. On the international scene there is a movement to boycott Israel. Well known entertainers like Dustin Hoffman, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, Elvis Costello, Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana and, of course, Jane Fonda refuse to step foot in Israel. No member of Britain’s royal family has ever paid a state visit to Israel. So when popular international icons do visit, that is big news in Israel! In recent weeks, Israel has had three such visitors … there was Justin Timberlake, who immediately won over the hearts of all Israel when he paid a moving visit to the Western Wall and began his jam-packed Tel Aviv concert with the words, “Yalla balagan” – slang words known to all Israelis as meaning, “Let’s go for it … let’s get the show on the road!” And you don’t get much bigger than the Rolling Stones, and they won over the hearts of all Israelis when they delayed the start of their show, which took place on the first night of Shavuot … they delayed it so that their Orthodox fans would have time to drive to the concert when Yom Tov was over, and they introduced themselves by saying: “Anachanu ha-avanim hamitgalgalot – we are the Rolling Stones!” READ MORE
There are some things you just don’t say! It’s as simple as that! Donald Sterling is learning exactly what I mean. Donald Sterling, born to Jewish parents named Tokowitz, is the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. He was caught on tape telling his girlfriend not to come to basketball games with black people. This is not the first time that Sterling has gotten into trouble for what he said, but this may very well be the last time. Barack Obama – from Malaysia – issued a condemnation of what Sterling said! And Sterling is to be condemned for what he said! It matters not that next month he was supposed to be honored by the National Association of Colored People. It matters not that what he said was said “off the record” in a private conversation and his words were taped without his knowledge, perhaps violating his privacy. It doesn’t matter! Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion but when your opinion is ugly there are certain things you just don’t say! READ MORE
Question: Who is the most criticized person in the whole world? Who has been called “a disgrace to humanity,” “a murderer,” “a coward?” Let me help you: what captain abandoned his sinking ship? You may not know his name but now you know who I am talking about! Lee Jun-Seok was the captain of the South Korean ferry Sewol, which sank last Wednesday with Captain Jun-Seok walking to safety while close to 300 of his passengers went to their deaths. The abandoning of the ship by the captain was labeled by the President of South Korea “a murderous act that can never be understood or forgiven.” Now I ask you a more serious question: What would you have done if you were the captain of that sinking ship? READ MORE