L.A. grad Max Levin survives attack in Gaza by ‘a quarter of a millimeter’


At 2 a.m. on July 23, Bud and Judy Levin were awakened by a call from Israel to their home in Los Angeles. It was their son, Max, a 21-year-old paratrooper in the Israeli army — calling from a hospital.

Just a few hours earlier, he had been securing a three-story home in Gaza with other members of his unit when a booby-trapped explosive planted by Hamas detonated, killing three soldiers, seriously wounding at least four others and lodging a piece of shrapnel above one of Max’s eyes.

If the shrapnel had struck “a quarter of a millimeter” in any other direction, Max likely would have been killed, Bud Levin told the Journal. Following the explosion, Max was airlifted to Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva for surgery. He has since been released. 

Speaking from Los Angeles recently, Max’s father said that he had just returned from a brief trip to Israel, where his wife remains with their son.

A 2011 graduate of New Community Jewish High School, Max Levin made aliyah in 2012 and is serving out the army’s mandatory three-year service for citizens. His unit’s July 23 operation in Gaza was part of Israel’s ongoing effort to find and destroy Hamas’ dwindling cache of weapons and explosives, and its network of underground tunnels, which the terrorist group has used in recent weeks to attempt to kill and kidnap Israeli civilians and soldiers on the other side of the border.

Jonathan Price, a cousin of Max Levin’s and his only relative in Israel, wrote in an email to friends and family that a “steady stream” of people Max didn’t know paid him visits bearing food, balloons, flowers, letters and pictures drawn by Israeli schoolchildren for wounded soldiers.

“They offered Max their prayers and blessings, sang songs, told him stories, asked him about himself, and most of all, just said, ‘Thank you,’ ” Price wrote.

That evening, Price added, Israeli officials cleared the room of visitors so that an army psychologist could inform Max of the deaths of his three fellow soldiers and the serious wounds inflicted upon the others.

According to Price, Max was particularly close with his commander, Lt. Paz Eliyahu, who was killed in the explosion. “[He] is said to have been an extraordinary person, and to have helped Max in a personal way through the many difficulties of his army service,” he wrote.

Bud Levin said that even though his son probably won’t be in any shape to go back into combat for at least a month, he’s eager to return immediately.

“Everybody says no, including the army,” he said, adding that when he asked Max if, just maybe, he would consider returning to California to recover, his son responded:

“No. Somebody’s got to keep up the memory of my three buddies who we lost.”

Poll: Majority of Americans say Israel’s Gaza offensive is justified


A majority of Americans believe Israel's military action in the Gaza Strip is justified, according to a CNN poll released on Monday.

The CNN/ORC International poll indicated that 57 percent of Americans support Israel's offensive against Hamas, while 25 percent of U.S. citizens believe Israel's attacks on Gaza are unjustified.

Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense entered its sixth day on Monday. The IDF attacked more than 1,350 targets in the Gaza Strip since the start of the operation, while more than 1,000 rockets were fired at Israel.

Read more at Haaretz.com.

Reform leader Rick Jacobs slams Israeli gov’t discrimination against non-Orthodox


Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said American Jews should no longer acquiesce to Israeli state-sanctioned discrimination against women and non-Orthodox Jews.

“I would fight passionately for the right of Orthodox Jews to pray freely at the Kotel or anywhere else, so I can’t understand why we acquiesce when the rights of non-Orthodox Jews are denied by the Jewish state,” Jacobs said to wide applause in a speech Tuesday at the closing plenary of the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, where Jacobs served as the scholar in residence. “This is a moment that calls for Israel and the world Jewish community to address equality for all streams of Judaism by the government of Israel.”

Jacobs cited the case of activist Anat Hoffman, head of the Reform movement’s Israel Religious Action Center, who was arrested last month at the Western Wall for leading a women's prayer service while wearing a tallit prayer shawl — an act that contravenes an Israeli law that has survived Supreme Court challenges.

“Yes, the Israeli Supreme Court has the authority to restrict the prayer of women and non-Orthodox prayer at the Western Wall. But why is this holy Jewish site run like an Orthodox synagogue? Why can’t there be space and time for both egalitarian prayer and for more traditional forms of prayer at this holy place?” Jacobs asked. “So long as Israel remains the only democracy that legally discriminates against the majority of Jews who are in the non-Orthodox streams, the Zionist dream of the ingathering of the exiles in a Jewish state for all Jews cannot be fully realized.

“It is time to end this discrimination once and for all,” he said, adding, “When women are subjected to discrimination at the Kotel, it feeds other forms of discrimination by the ultra-Orthodox against women — on buses and in other public facilities.”

Jacobs also called on American Jews to ensure that Israel not become a partisan issue, saying the Jewish community's traditional bipartisan consensus on Israel must be restored following a divisive U.S. election campaign.

“The pro-Israel community must be large enough to include the IDF veteran campaigning for peace on the college campus, the AIPAC activist lobbying members of Congress, the human rights activist protesting unlawful seizure of Arab homes in Jerusalem, the West Bank settler and the Jew who protests the lack of religious freedom in the Jewish state,” he said.

Approximately 3,000 people attended this year's GA held in Baltimore Sunday through Tuesday.