Religious Ownership

Sometimes it’s important to step away from the desk and walk the streets. I find that there is an growing disconnect between the Chief Rabbinate in Israel and the people they are suppose to represent.

Image result for jewish nation unity

In Israel there are some interesting trends taking place. Its been years since the Guttman Institute (part of the Institute for Democracy in Israel) reported a shift in Israeli religious identity from secularism to traditionalism. In 2012 the Israel Museum produces one of its most successful exhibitions called, “A World Apart Next Door: Glimpses Into the Life of Hasidic Jews” where approximately half million guests visited during the six month exhibition to learn and see how Hasidic Jews live. As I have written previously (My My, How Things Have Changed), groups of religious pioneers through Rosh Hayehudi and Shalve HaTorah continue to develop new religious communities in cities throughout Israel including Ramle, Lod, Bat Yam, Tel Aviv, Yaffo and Akko, all which have been embraced and even supported by local municipalities and Ministry of Finance. “They are good people, hard working and move things to a new standard” said one council member from Lod. “In a sense they are reviving the community without imposing anything on anybody”.

In 2005 I participated in the Pidyon Haben of Elena’s son. They immigrates from the former Soviet Union with hopes of claiming that which was denies them for so long. Elena was part of a program created by Machon ITIM to help Russian immigrants navigate the Rabbinate in Israel when she discovered that her son qualified to be redeemed as a first born son. At the ceremony she told the guests, “when we came to Israel we were offered housing, education, money, cars and employment all of which we had in Russia. But the one thing we were not given was that which was denied to us in Russia – Jewish tradition and the Torah”.

It’s ironic that the most popular T.V. series in Israel include Srugim – a drama series which deals with the life of religious bachelors from Jerusalem; Shtisel – a fictional ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jewish family living in the Geula neighborhood of present-day Jerusalem and Shababnikim, features a group of four Haredi students who study at a yeshiva in Jerusalem.

The Jewish nation is curious and interested in their heritage if only presented correctly.

Yet when I listen to the Chief Rabbis of Israel they seem to be at war. At war to save Judaism and God from everyone and everything. They talk about mandatory Shabbat observance, monopoly over conversion and the rejection of Conservative and Reform Jews. These are but a few issues in the headlines these days. But their absolutist approach has caused Jews in Israel to consider civil marriage in Cyprus, systematic discrimination against Ethiopian Kessim has forced the Supreme Court to intervene and the alienation of North American Jewry who don’t fit their subjective standards have all led to the Rabbinate being put under the Prime Ministers Office for supervision.

The main reason they fail to lead the nation is because the Rabbinate in Israel has no written mission statement or vision published anywhere. They merely advertise themselves as a service provider similar to a plumber or construction company.

I think we are at a new tipping pointing in Jewish history. In the past Jews broke away from tradition to find a better life outside the shtetel, poverty and anti-semitism. Today the Jewish people live a different reality which should serve as a unique opportunity to unite a fractured nation. The State of Israel should be viewed as the playing ground to actualize this reality. I think that the Chief Rabbinate will either have to be dismantles or find a new approach that speaks to the hearts and minds of Israelis and world Jewry. There is no reason why the Chief Rabbis of Israel should be so suspicious of everyone’s intentions. God and Jewish tradition does not need soldiers. It needs a voice that speaks to the concerns of the individual and community. Elijah the prophet was rejected because he was too stern and critical of the people. He was therefore succeeded by Elisha who was characterized as warm and accepting of all people.

I believe that we are here today in the merit of strict Jewish observance but I support alternative certification for kashrut, women involvement in areas of religious law and the responsibility of the Rabbinate to unite the diaspora and Israel and Jews of all beliefs. Israelis love Judaism but dislike religious authoritarianism and political pettiness.

Last week we witnessed a tragedy turn into one of the greatest miracles of the year. Navy Seals struggled and triumphed to save twelve Thai soccer players trapped in a cave.  Armed with attitude, international cooperation and the will to succeed, they pulled off one of the greatest rescue efforts ever. The Chief Rabbinate needs to behave more like Navy Seals and learn from their motto, “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday”, “It Pays to be a Winner”!


Jerusalem Day

How fortunate I am to live in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel! In honor of Jerusalem Day I would like to share a few brief thoughts.

In the last eighteen years I have watched how this city continues to grow physically and spiritually. I watch the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities struggle to achieve understanding and respect in all areas of life. If it wasn’t for Iran, the BDSM and terrorism, their would already be peace. I recently spent one week in Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital and the respect between the Arabs and Jewish people was so special. Several times Arab workers and staff referred to me as ‘Ani’ brother. If the United Nations only knew!

I also watch how Jerusalem is struggling to unite the Jewish fractions towards a common good. It will be in this city that the Reform, Conservative and the many Orthodox work together to achieve a deeper appreciation and cooperation.

No one said it better then Israel diva Netta Barzilai, this year’s winner of the Eurovision, “Thank you so much for choosing difference, thank you so much for accepting differences between us… I love my country, next time in Jerusalem!”

Please share in the comments why you think Jerusalem is special!

Below are two Time Magazines I dug up in my Omi’s basement years ago. They are dated 1967. They tell a story of survival and triumph. I show them to my kids each year.

Roll Over And Die No More

My humble blessing to Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg and the many students who plan to take on the NRA – I wish you many enemies! People will try to stop you at every turn and tell you that you are the problem. But this is a sign that you are doing something right.

Never in American history have adults been forced to debate with teenagers! The days when gun control, legislation, regulations and campaign funding belonged to the adult world might be at a crossroad. Parents might have to give better answers to their children!

Finally, teens from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida are taking on the NRA (National Rifle Association) with the goal of dismantling them forever. Their argument is simple – if adults won’t take care of their kids and keep them safe then they will do it themselves. The adults have been asked to choose – guns or children! Life or death and you can’t have both. The first amendment or second amendment. For the first time in American history, the survivors of the Florida school massacre don’t want others to suffer the same fate. Let this be the last!

Make no mistake, Dana Loesch, spokeswoman for the NRA was very polite during the CNN Live Debate but the next day she showed her true colors. And the same for Wayne Lapierre. His speech at CPAC paralleled almost identically to some of the worst dictators and criminals who I prefer not to mention by name. His comment, ‘NRA members are the true patriots and real Americans while everyone else are socialists’ delegitimizes anyone who thinks different.

To understand the true nature of the issue you need to go to the beginning. I recently found this video that explains the issue of the second amendment. Its very honest and necessary to understand.

Tragically politicians, die hard gun lovers and adults continue to move like chickens without heads. Here is a brief summary why adults think guns are not the issue – viewers discretion is advised.

Emma Gonzalez has made her mark in history. The victims for the first time have a voice and I hope and pray that elected officials will stop taking blood money from the NRA.

I live in Israel where we have lots of guns. Its not for sport, gaming and all the fun activities that NRA members enjoy. We don’t hunt because we have no urge to kill. We desire only life and we pray for a time without guns.

Some ask if they will succeed? Its always been the young who save the adults from por governance and this time will be no different.

May this massacre be the last for all people and may we merit to see today, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks” Isaiah 2:4

Is This Your City?

Learn why the drug cartel and terrorists support the BDSM

תוצאת תמונה עבור ‪drugs neighborhood‬‏

Victoria made the decision to finally move. How could such a good neighborhood get caught up in drugs? Why weren’t the police doing enough to apprehend those distributing drugs to minors? Victoria saw what was happening long before most and was successful for a time in setting up a task force of community oriented people to address the growing fear that drugs and crime were quickly seeping in. They approached the police and efforts were made for a time. Clemen suggested to the committee to look at studies and articles about success and failures of other communities who faced similar threats. It was at that point that things went cold. The police were no longer interested.

But here is part of the story that was never told.

This particular police precinct supports the BDSM against only the State of Israel and the Jewish people. When Clemen along with his neighbors presented the police department with their suggestions it included technology and know-how from Israeli police and tactical squads and Israeli start ups. This was not an option. From that point onwards the police broke all contact with these caring and concerned citizens. As far as the police chief was concerned, better to loose a community to drugs and crime then recognize the State of Israel.

We now begin to see the effects of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against only Israel and the Jewish people. Good citizens were denied a better quality of life because of hatred.

Make to mistake, the Jewish people and the State of Israel suffer from the effects of the BDSM but so do you!

And guess what, your hatred hasn’t helped the Palestinian people.

Hope For Spinal Injury – Not

This post focuses on the effects of the BDSM on individuals who suffer from spinal injuries. They deserve a voice…
Roland understood his bitter predicament without being told. His wife had not left his side for over two weeks hoping for a miracle. The doctors told her that recovery is rare with a 1% chance of returning to normal functioning. Spinal injuries are devastating and in Roland’s case will force him to be completely dependent for every activity.
But there is another story that is not being told. How would you feel if you found out that hope was purposely taken away? Roland is being treated in a hospital that supports the only Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) in the world against one country, the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Several Israeli doctors have developed a new therapy that rehabilitates the injured section of the spinal cord. The future success of this breakthrough therapy depends on the join efforts between academics and researchers from Israel and abroad. Roland doesn’t know that in any other hospital he would have qualified for experimental treatment to repair his spinal damage. In several trials patients with similar damage have made a complete recovery. But his doctors refuse to acknowledge any treatments, medical research that originates from Israel. So Roland and others like him including their families will suffer the big lie.
What people don’t realize is that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against only Israel is a game of Russian roulette. Spinal cord therapy is being developed in Israel with the hope of exporting to the world to give them a second chance at life.

Next Post – Why terrorists and drug cartels support the BDSM….

Please see my previous post on the effects of the BDSM: What U.K. women need to know…

Label Me Not

In recent weeks I have been labeled a liberal, progressive and feminist. Although no harm was meant I realize sometimes it’s difficult discussing issues that have so many facets. Some of the issues included a woman I knew from my youth who recently became an Orthodox Rabbi of a synagogue, bridging the gap between Orthodox and Reform Jews and the continued negligence of the Chief Rabbinate in Israel towards the unaffiliated, North American Jewry and more.

Perhaps it’s my nature to be curious and rarely do I feel threatened by those that are different from me. My spiritual mentors remind me that categories are limiting and most often prevent growth. I think its important to engage with the Women of the Wall and communities that are outside my way of thinking. To ignore or refuse to except their presence is foolish.

Today we have new issues that need working in particular the polarization of views in the Jewish community. It seems that nobody likes to hear about other peoples’ community. When I recently talked about the Reform and Women of the Wall, my peers were quick to label them as angry, troublemakers and heretics while questioning my religious observance.

These comments doesn’t fly. Its the equivalent of saying that the Venezuelan people fighting for social democracy are troublemakers and Iranians fighting for freedom as angry and all without cause. I find that people insecure about their own personal ideology generally feel threatened by those that are different.

Although there is a real divide I find that there is more that binds us together then separates us. That was Natan Sharansky’s first impression as he arrived in Israel for the first time after being freed from prison. On his first day in Israel he was welcomed to the Israeli Parliament. The House Speaker opened by saying welcome to the Jewish Homeland. Within seconds member of parliament accused the Speaker of racism claiming that this country was the home to Arabs, Jews, Christians and more. Sharansky recalls thinking at that moment , “if they only understood how much more we have in common”. (Taken from his book Fear No Evil)

The second area is inspiration. We all need a bit of inspiration to move us forward. Why shouldn’t women have women leaders? Why can’t women advise women on religious matters? Why can’t a women lead a community? I fully support women to lead and inspire. Look around, we men haven’t done such a remarkable job with assimilation still relevant as ever.

People have grievances! In many instances they have a right to be angry and sometimes being a trouble maker is the only way to solve the problem. The Chief Rabbinate isn’t being attacked and disassembled because of their efficiency; its their contempt and abuse of their religious authority that people will go so far as to marry outside of Israel rather then to recognize the Chief Rabbinate.

Lead rather then react. This would be my suggestion to the Chief Rabbinate in Israel, Orthodox Union and RCA. Stop worrying about the effects of sharing your title with women and be leaders. Lead the people. Nishmat didn’t wait for the approval or blessing of the Orthodox establishment regarding the Yoetzet Halacha. Nishmat saw a need and led the people without compromising Jewish tradition. This seems to be the reason for the growing success of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and Yeshivat Maharat while Yeshiva University Rabbinic program is lagging behind.

Why do we assume only the negative? Why must their intentions be destructive and harmful? I believe that if we pay a little bit more attention to what they are saying and less to our ego we will become better listeners and better problem solvers. The days of pushing away are over.

I think we need to stop labeling people and start addressing important issues. Ultimately we are all family so lets work things out.

New Year Resolution

Perhaps we should change the way we talk!

One of the things I enjoy most about the approaching new year is seeing the replays and highlights of the previous year. Ironically this year I noticed something that I think needs to change quickly. I find more and more the media and social media are becoming an outlet for discrediting people more than anything else. Tragically social media has become the stomping ground for insulting, discrediting and tarnishing other people’s credibility without justification.


Israel bashing in the United Nation, Trump bashing in the news and religious bashing are only a few on a long list. The difference between being concerned and bashing someone because you don’t agree with their opinion runs a fine line. It reflects our personal inept, hate, intolerance and lack of respect. Because we are people we are all prone to falter at least once in our life. Our approach to calling out a misdeed is correct but it should reflect sensitivity, respect and a chance to improve. Blogs, social media and news outlets continue to make the world a smaller place but there should be an equal amount of sensitivity. Tragically too many people are using it to destroy decent people. Condemnation without due diligence is unacceptable and needs to stop. All people have feelings just like you.

So here are some possibilities for the new year. If you see an issue:

Join or start an association to tackle the problem. There are many lobby groups that would appreciate your support. Use constructive criticism because we all want to be better people. Remember that what we write or say can not be erased. And yes, words kill! People are killed every day because of what people say and write so be very careful.

Free speech is wrong and used more often to hurt others. Fair, just, honest, sensitive respectful speech should be the correct ammendment.

When in doubt remember the following:

Wise men, when in doubt whether to speak or to keep quiet, give themselves the benefit of the doubt,and remain silent. Napoleon Hill