Navigating heartache when a marriage ends


Jerusalem-based writer Avigail Rosenberg — who goes by her pen name — had been divorced for nearly nine years when her book “Healing From the Break: Stories, Guidance, and Inspiration for Anyone Touched by Divorce” was published last year. The tome shares the stories of men, women and children affected by divorce as well as advice from professionals.

Rosenberg’s own divorce was traumatic, and she recently remarried someone who also went through a painful divorce. In the aftermath of her experience, she was inspired to create an informal support system that lends books on topics such as divorce, single-parenting and remarriage for adults and kids; she calls it the Divorce Resources Gemach (free-loan association). 

The Journal recently interviewed Rosenberg about her take on divorce within Jewish culture in light of her book and personal experience. What follows is an edited version.

JEWISH JOURNAL: What did you take away from the stories in your book?

AVIGAIL ROSENBERG: The stories in my book were all carefully selected to portray people who overcame their challenges and grew from the process. No one gets through life without facing challenges; the question is whether a person can focus on the positive and come out stronger, or will they get stuck in the anger, bitterness and frustration. My goal was to show that, yes, there is life after divorce, and even despite the curveballs, we can all reach fulfillment.

JJ: What would you say to someone who is staying in a loveless marriage to avoid the stigma of divorce? Are such pressures greater in certain Jewish communities?

AR: The first question I would ask is whether the person has children or not, as that makes a big difference in whether I’d recommend staying in the marriage. The second question is what’s their definition of loveless? If it’s simply two people who no longer find themselves compatible but are willing to stick it out for the sake of the children, that would be ideal, at least until the children are grown and out of the house. If one partner is truly miserable, feeling misunderstood, under attack, battered (physically or emotionally), and unable to function because of his or her pain, they should consider their options seriously, and take a look at how they want to move forward. In my experience, stigma is no longer as much of a factor as it used to be, at least not when there’s no hope of the couple having a future together.

JJ: Children are obviously affected by divorce. How can shalom bayit (peace in the home) be upheld in the wake of a divorce?

AR: If a divorcing couple makes every effort to put their children first, the children will only benefit. Using children as weapons or pawns in a divorce battle isn’t going to make for very happy, well-adjusted children. Many couples go to therapy sessions pre-divorce simply to keep things as civil as possible for the sake of the children. I highly recommend not bad-mouthing your children’s other parent to them; whatever you say will only end up rebounding on you. 

JJ: What do you find is the most common myth about remarrying?

AR: Many people who don’t get along with their spouses indulge in a daydream of: “If only I could find someone more understanding/put-together/what-have-you.” I have news for them — remarriage doesn’t happen so fast, especially if there are now children involved, as well. Don’t use the dream of remarriage as an excuse to break up a home.

JJ: What aspects that are uniquely Jewish in the practice of divorce do you think are helpful? Which do you think could improve?

AR: In the Orthodox community, divorce is considered a last resort, an option only when the marriage is truly untenable. Studies have shown that children growing up in an intact home for the most part do better than their peers, and married men and women tend to live longer than their contemporaries. Putting marriage first is an important value that I believe the rest of the world can gain from. The flip side of this is that people occasionally stay in a marriage way past the point of no return, enduring shame and humiliation from an abusive partner. There’s no reason for this, and young people should be taught when it’s time to get out.

JJ: One of the more controversial practices is that of the get (a Jewish divorce decree). Do you see any real movement to reform the practice?  What are your thoughts on agunot (women without a get who cannot remarry)?

AR: I would just say that as an Orthodox Jew, I don’t believe the problem is with the system but rather with people who abuse the system. Both husband and wife have to agree to a divorce; a get can’t be given if the wife refuses to accept it. So using the get as a weapon is something that both spouses can do. A person who is in this unfortunate situation should look for the spiritual/emotional guidance they need to deal with it in the best way possible.

JJ: We thank God when a couple comes together in marriage. What is God’s role in divorce?

AR: The Talmud tells us that the altar weeps when a couple divorces. On the other hand, divorce is a valid option in Judaism, and there’s an entire tractate dedicated to its laws. I don’t think anyone goes into marriage expecting to divorce, but if that’s where they find themselves, and they’ve done their best, they can look to God to hold their hand in the challenges to come.

JJ: What can engaged and married couples learn from the cases of Jewish divorce?

AR: Make sure you have a solid base to your relationship before jumping in. Do you share the same values, hopes and dreams? Do you have a healthy sense of respect for one another? Do you have open communication? If yes, you know that marriage isn’t easy street for anyone, and if you put the effort in, you’ll create something that you can look back on with pride after 25 or 50 years. On the other hand, if you’re already married and your marriage isn’t doing well, don’t give up just because everyone else seems to be. Go to therapy if necessary, and get the help you both need to survive and thrive. 

American ideas boost bid to get Israelis to work



One advocacy group’s look at the problem
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Eti Sharabi walked through the glass doors and marveled at the shining hardwood floors and the walls splashed with green and orange, making this space feel more like a sleek advertising or architectural firm than an office to help the unemployed.

She found herself in the headquarters of STRIVE, after not working outside the home since her first child was born 15 years ago.

“I lost faith in myself and thought I would never find it again,” said Sharabi, 38, now a mother of four. “Here they have given me so much strength.”

Sharabi is part of the expanding Israeli underclass — a populace that includes the unemployed, the underemployed and the destitute. Many are casualties of what some consider draconian economic policies.

STRIVE, an intensive work-readiness program, is modeled after an initiative of the same name that began more than 20 years ago in New York’s Harlem in an effort to help women on welfare overcome their severe difficulties in finding and keeping meaningful jobs.

The program’s core message: Participants are important as individuals and therefore are worthy not just of make-work employment but of fulfilling careers.

That message of personal empowerment and tough love is underscored, its organizers explain, by the professional and pleasant look and feel of the STRIVE offices, as well as the intensive personal guidance that the organization provides its clients for more than two years after they enroll.

Participants are counseled in everything from how to pay off personal debts and find creative childcare solutions, to discovering and pursuing an ambitious career path that suits their interests and abilities.

STRIVE is one of at least two programs operating in Israel that are patterned after American-originated efforts to boost employment among the economically struggling and longtime unemployed; it is funded by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Israeli government.

Another such American transplant is called Mehalev, Hebrew for “from the heart,” based on the state of Wisconsin’s welfare-to-work plan that was unveiled in the mid-1990s after the U.S. Congress revamped welfare regulations.

One STRIVE participant is Tsivka Ben-Porat, 36, who spent a decade working in hotel kitchens as a cook — he had been unemployed for several months before finding STRIVE. With the help of its counselors and coaches, Ben-Porat is now working at a media company editing video, a steppingstone in his new chosen career: communications.

The program, he said, “is like being given a key to life, professionally and personally.”

Another STRIVE participant is Hanan Jaffaly, 32, an Arab Israeli single mother of two who had been in and out of what she described as dead-end customer service jobs for years. She supports her children on her own, with no assistance from her family.

Through STRIVE, Jaffaly is hoping to realize her goal of becoming a social worker and finally creating a stable, middle-class life for her family.

Mehalev was designed as a two-year pilot program in four Israeli cities. Launched in 2005, it was aimed initially at getting at least half of the country’s 150,000 welfare recipients off the public rolls and back to work. Participants are required to report to employment placement centers for 30 hours a week or lose their welfare income, which averages about $380 per month for an individual.

Safi Sasson, 40, now has the first job he’s ever held, thanks to the program. He had spent the majority of his adult life involved in petty crime and spent a total of eight years in prison, off and on, for offenses that included selling drugs and theft.

Sasson never imagined he could be a salaried worker, but for the past three months he has held down a job as a construction worker. He’s doing so well, his boss is planning on giving him a raise.

“I was apprehensive about working; I had never done it before,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot, most of all that I am capable of working. In the past I thought no one would ever hire me because of my criminal past.

“I wake up in the morning and I have somewhere to go. I’m feeling great, and it’s all because of the work.”

Is Mehalev Working?

The program, however, has met with mixed results. It has been widely denounced in the Israeli media and by social welfare advocates, who maintain that Mehalev has backfired. Rather than increase employment, detractors charge, the program has swelled the ranks of Israelis who receive neither paychecks nor public assistance.

A recent report by the National Insurance Institute of Israel found that the program saved Israel $1.43 million in welfare payments since it began, but that relatively few of its participants had found work, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported.

The savings in welfare payments apparently stemmed from people who had dropped out of the program and had their payments cut off.

More than 80 of the Knesset’s 120 members signed on to proposed legislation recently that called for a major overhaul of the program. The bill calls for, among other things, canceling the stipulation that all unemployed people — such as single mothers or those with part-time work — participate full time in the program or lose their welfare benefits.

The bill also would provide alternative arrangements for the disabled, those nearing retirement age, people who speak little or no Hebrew, and others who activists say are hurt by the program in its present form.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert approved the establishment of a government committee that will work to make major changes in the program to address some of these same issues.

According to Dorit Novack, until recently the administrator of Mehalev, in the program’s first year 11,000 job placements were found for participants. About double that number initially reported to the centers.

Not all the participants stayed in those jobs, however. The figure of 11,000 job placements includes those who have been placed in several jobs successively, Novack noted. But those figures, she said, do constitute progress.

“I am not saying the project has not made mistakes,” Novack said. “But the main point of this program is trying to help people change their future. If they are now working a minimum-wage job, that is double what they were making on welfare. I would prefer to see every person work as long as they are able physically.”

One of the main differences between the Wisconsin Works program in the United States and the Israeli version is the demographic profile of the participants. In the United States, the focus is predominately on young black single mothers. But in Israel, the clients are men and women, often older than 40, many of them immigrants or Arabs. Some have physical or mental disabilities or limited Hebrew-language skills.

All told, many participants were funneled into the program by the National Insurance Institute without an adequate assessment of “who might be a good fit,” according to Sari Revkin, executive director of Yedid, a Jerusalem-based social welfare organization.

“The idea [is] not to get people to change their motivation and skills,” Revkin said. “It’s to get them into a job quickly. With the population of new immigrants and Arabs this is very, very problematic.”

One of the four program centers in Israel is located in Nazareth, the largest Arab city in Israel, where some participants are women older than 50 who have never held jobs and have rarely traveled beyond their home villages. Now they are expected to find employment that may carry cultural baggage, in the form of their husbands’ or families’ disapproval over them working at outside jobs, critics say.

Meanwhile, many workplaces in Arab locales pay below minimum wage. And those Arabs who seek work in predominately Jewish areas, such as west Jerusalem, sometimes encounter discrimination and are refused employment.

However, Roy Newey, group board director for A4E, the British company running the pilot Mehalev program in Jerusalem, said he has seen some success in placing Arab women in jobs. He cites 15 women who found work on a mushroom farm near Jerusalem for about $830 a month, the Israeli minimum wage.

“They have self-esteem, finances, purpose in their lives,” Newey said. “It’s a real success story.”

Of the 8,000 participants who have come through the Jerusalem Mehalev, 3,000 have found and kept jobs since they joined the program in the past year and a half.

Role Playing for Success

At the STRIVE office in Tel Aviv — others are planned for Haifa and Jerusalem — a class in how to undergo a group interview is taking place.

In keeping with the STRIVE emphasis on nurturing long-term careers rather than landing stopgap jobs, participants are urged to dress for success. As a result, the Tel Aviv role players are wearing proper business attire — dark pants, skirts and button-down shirts.

In preparation for the group interview, a common hiring exercise used by Israeli firms, half the class is given a problem to solve collectively. The other half observes and provides feedback on how their classmates performed. For example, they evaluate who displayed leadership qualities, who was a good team player, who knew how to set priorities and who failed to participate sufficiently.

“The enthusiasm is catching and they start believing in themselves, and we see people with very limited desires jump to much wider horizons,” said Amir Natan, 33, a former high-tech executive who directs STRIVE in Israel.

Nearly 90 percent of STRIVE participants have found jobs.

One is Sharabi, who said she plans to start work as an office clerk, with hopes of eventually becoming an accountant.

“My oldest son said he has such fun watching me do homework and seeing me interested in something,” she said.

Sharabi then politely excuses herself from talking about the program to continue participating in it. The assignment: A role-playing workshop aimed at familiarizing clients with the ins and outs of office jobs.

There is still a lot to learn, she says with a smile.

STRIVE Israel:
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Yedid:
Israel poverty videos test

Online social scene clicks with younger set


OK, admit it. You’ve breathed a guilty sigh of relief that your kids are still too young to have been bitten by the MySpace bug. You’ve relished the reprieve (if only temporary) from the mounting worries of parents of virtual-social-networking-obsessed middle and high schoolers.

But just because your child is still a few years short of acne and raging hormones doesn’t mean he or she isn’t involved with online social networking. In fact, tens of millions of elementary-age kids (6-years-old and up) have posted personal pages on Web sites that are — for all intents and purposes — mini-MySpace.coms.

On the wildly popular ‘ target=’_blank’>Millsberry.com (as in General Mills cereals), kids create cartoon-like “buddies” and custom-built homes, and then meander around town socializing with Millsberry’s bottomless bowlful of citizens.

On ‘ target=’_blank’>ClubLego.com members build Lego self-representations and then schmooze to their heart’s content about the plastic interlocking cubes.

Inching closer to prime-time MySpace in terms of logistics and curb appeal, Time warp again? Take a step toward tradition

To comfort me, first comfort yourself


People have been generous.

During the past two decades I have assisted in creating caring communities that extend themselves to people in their midst at
profound turning points.

These times of need include both times of tragedy and times of great joy. Baby namings, weddings, illnesses, communal catastrophes, and shiva minyanim, call forth different emotions. All of them have their share of anxieties. All of them take a village.

During these months of cancer treatment, I have been blessed with a village, giving me rides, food and comfort when I am in need, and respecting my privacy when I crave solitude.

“How can I help?” people ask. Aside from the practical help that is often needed, there is the less tangible assistance that often creates anxiety on the part of the ones who seek to help. People often stay away for fear that they will say the wrong thing.

That unease is unnecessary, to paraphrase the Torah, for the right thing is as near to you as breathing. If you help appropriately, you, and those you help, will benefit greatly.

The wisdom to help others is not privileged information. It is taught to all of us through our life experiences.

Hearts that are both caring and helpful, marry self-knowledge and the ability to attend to others. Therefore, when we seek to provide comfort, we look into our own lives for guidance.

I’d like to explore some of these deeper aspects of bringing comfort.

Bikur cholim is the sacred obligation of visiting the sick. Its principles apply to any outreach to people at vulnerable times.

Performing this mitzvah is not about helping the less fortunate.

It is not about doing a good deed.

It is a way of cultivating a relationship with the deep and rich nature of what it means to be human.

If you do this effectively and with compassion, it will help others. It will also make your life more meaningful. It will open your heart. You will live more fully. Ironically, the more you receive from your visits, the more skilled you become in the art of helping others.

A good visitor is more than a well-meaning person who comes with urgent good intentions, whose need to find just the right words can communicate anxiety more than care.

We all want to make things better. We want to do the right thing or find the phrase to transform the difficulties.

But guess what? We can’t fix it. We can’t take away the pain of loss. We can’t heal a chronic illness, bring back the dead or force family members to behave appropriately.

We can, however, make a difference.

A first step in learning to comfort suffering is to come to terms with our own powerlessness. Ironically, this relieves suffering. Struggling with this understanding gives us access to the paradoxically profound and simple skill of visiting. Understanding that we can’t do the impossible takes away some of the urgency. We can focus not on changing what can’t be changed, but on being present.

Knowing that we don’t have to rescue makes it easier to help. Knowing that caregiving has limits makes it less threatening for those who want to help but stay away in fear of not knowing what to say. We’re off the hook with regard to performing magic tricks of healing. All we can really do is to create a place where those to whom we offer comfort feel heard and protected.

The most important thing we offer as comfort is our own comfort. When we are fluent with some of life’s profound issues and communicate this either in words or in silence, we are helpful. We communicate that we are present and unafraid. The irony is that we become capable of serving in this way, by taking care of ourselves. We do this by cultivating our own soul and exploring our own relationship to life’s challenging questions.

Think back on your own difficult challenges. What helped you get through them? What did not help? Was there anything said that made it easier for you to get on with your life?

Over and over, I hear from people that what helped was not a cogent bon mot or profound piece of advice. It was the gift of compassionate attention with which someone validated the experience and provided presence and lack of judgment. This was offered without intruding into the person’s private world or forcing them to move beyond their comfort zone. It can happen in silence.

It can come with a light touch or the subtle expression of care. Above all, the feeling is communicated that the person being visited had permission to be exactly as he or she needs to be, be it tearful, angry, cheerful, silent, or confused. Rarely are these reassurances expressed verbally.

This kind of presence says more about whom the visitor is than about what he or she says, does or knows.

It reflects the visitor’s own work on the deep issues of his or her own life, which makes it possible to comfortably reach out to others.

That comfort gives comfort.

Knowing that we don’t have to rescue makes it easier to help.

Anne Brener is an L.A.-based psychotherapist. She is the author of “Mourning & Mitzvah: Walking the Mourner’s Path” (Jewish Lights, 1993 and 2001), a fourth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and a faculty member of the Academy for Jewish Religion.

Keeping the SAT Drama to a Minimum


As if getting myself into college hadn’t been difficult enough, now I’m embarking on the adventure of navigating my son through the process. I call it an “adventure,” because it truly is nothing less — a roller-coaster ride fraught with sudden turns, unexpected pitfalls, one-mistake-and-you’re-doomed scenarios. I’m sure there’s a spine-tingling reality show possibility here, something between “Survivor,” “The Apprentice” and “Extreme Makeover: How to Survive Getting Your Kid Into College Without Getting Fired and Still Looking Fabulous.” You start with 20 Jewish mothers and see who’s not in therapy by the time acceptance letters arrive.

Luckily, I know plenty of moms who have treaded these waters before — many of my friends have kids who are already in college or at least thoroughly enmeshed in college entrance preparation.

“Are you signing Mickey up for the PSAT next month?” my friend Ginny asked. (Mickey is a high school sophomore).

“He just took a PSAT a few weeks ago,” I said.

“That was the practice PSAT,” Ginny explained.

“There’s a practice, practice PSAT?”

“No, a practice, practice SAT.”

“OK,” I got a pen and paper to draft a quick flowchart. “So, first they take a preliminary test to practice for the Practice-SAT.”

“That’s right! And then they’ll do better on the PSAT, which is important because that one counts.”

“But it’s just practice. What does it count for?”

“I don’t know, but it does. Or maybe it doesn’t. Well, it doesn’t now, but it will later.”

“Does he have to take it now?”

“No.”

“Then when would he take it?”

“In his junior year, right before the SAT. In fact, he probably should wait because he’ll do better on it next year after a year of practice.”

“Practicing what? He already took the practice PSAT. If he doesn’t take the PSAT, what’s he going to practice?” I ripped my flowchart into pieces.

“He’ll take a practice course at school.”

“He will?”

“Or you’ll get him a private SAT tutor.”

“I will?”

“If you want him to get into a good college….”

“Hold on,” I said. I stuffed three Oreos into my mouth and washed them down with cold coffee. My tentative grip on teenager management was about to come loose, sending me plunging into a deep chasm where all my accomplishments as a mother would wither, and my son’s life would unravel, because I couldn’t understand the structure of college entrance exam signups.

Ginny could hear the panic in my voice.

“Julie,” she said, “you’re eating cookies again, aren’t you?”

“Uh-huh,” I mumbled, trying to keep the chocolate crumbs in my mouth.

“Listen,” she said reassuringly, “it’s not that complicated. The kids can pick up the information in the college center at school. And I’ll tell you what, I’ll let you know what I’m doing as I do it, and you can just copy me….”

That was exactly what I needed — a virtual guidance counselor who could tell me what to do and when to do it. Then I would just cooperate and follow along.

Applying to college was not this complicated 25(ish) years ago. I think I took a PSAT. I know I took the SAT. I took it one time. I did relatively well. I got into UCLA. But times have changed. If I packaged up my high school transcripts and SAT score today, UCLA probably would laugh my application right out of the admissions building.

While everyone agrees that getting into college is more difficult and complex than it was a generation ago, most acknowledge that parents and kids need to step back, set realistic goals and try to relieve some of that SAT trauma and drama.

No one sees more distress over scores than Wendy Gilbertson, a partner with Coast 2 Coast College Admissions, a certified college consulting company.

“Scores are important,” Gilbertson said, “but students have much more to offer than just a test score. Most colleges seek well-rounded kids, and they look at many other factors when considering applicants.”

If a student is concerned about improving his or her score, then a prep course is very helpful.

“But it’s usually best if parents are not overly involved in that process,” Gilbertson said. “Kids will be more motivated if they are accountable to a third party and not to mom or dad.”

Students should be open-minded when considering where they want to submit their applications. Marc Mayerson, an assistant dean at UCLA, explained that a narrow band of elite colleges, including the Ivy Leagues and several UC campuses, are overwhelmed by the number of applications they receive.

“When a college receives 35,000 to 50,000 applications for only 5,000 freshman spots or even much fewer, the admissions staff must weed out applications with gross measures, and those measures often include SAT scores,” he said.

The good news is that there are hundreds of excellent colleges and universities throughout the United States and abroad that do not weigh entrance exam scores as heavily as the larger, more well-known schools that many California kids have their hearts set on.

“One of the biggest mistakes high school seniors make is that they convince themselves that only an Ivy League or a particular university is the right school for them,” Mayerson said. “By considering a few more schools, they can alleviate much of the stress and anxiety for themselves and for their parents.”

Feel better? I know I do. But I suggest you keep a few packs of your favorite cookies in the cupboard, just in case.

For information on test schedules and other things to keep you up at night, go to

The Hebrascope: Signs of the Jewdiac


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Fight the Minotaur in the Tax Labyrinth


This past September, the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Los Angeles, the Zimmer Children’s Museum and representatives of more than 70 other organizations attended a seminar for nonprofits that I conducted at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Like many taxpayers, nonprofit organizations need guidance to comprehend the labyrinth of federal and state tax laws. With the exception of accountants and attorneys, few people absorb the millions of words that make up state and federal tax codes, including rules and regulations. In addition, many nonprofits cannot afford the expense of maintaining counsel to steer them through the thicket of tax laws.

To facilitate seminars that provide vital tax information to nonprofits, I enlist experienced speakers from various federal, state and local agencies to break down our complex tax system into easily understood component parts. At The Federation seminar, experts discussed provisions of the state and federal tax codes that apply to nonprofit organizations, as well as laws that specifically govern their activities.

A rabbi who attended the meeting was unaware that an exemption from sales tax exists for sales of meals and food products furnished or served by any religious organization at a social gathering it hosts. To his delight, the rabbi discovered that the synagogue was eligible for a refund of hundreds of dollars of sales tax reimbursement paid to several restaurants (Revenue & Taxation Code, Section 6363.5).

Marina Arevalo-Martinez, an accountant at the Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic, took a particular interest in raffles. She heard one presenter say that under Penal Code Section 320.5 “no eligible organization can hold a raffle unless it has registered with the [state] attorney general’s office to hold raffles.” Arevalo-Martinez also learned that an eligible organization must use at least 90 percent of all gross receipts from raffle ticket sales for charitable or beneficial purposes.

The Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic constantly looks for ways to raise money, and Arevalo-Martinez said the information will enable the agency to sponsor raffles while adhering to the letter of the law.

Federation President John Fishel said, “The seminar provided the staff of The Jewish Federation and the staff of our affiliated agencies with vital information on reporting and compliance.”

But the reality is that in today’s fast-paced environment not every nonprofit organization or charitable contributor has the time to attend a seminar. With this in mind, here are some tax tips from the Board of Equalization and the Franchise Tax Board you might find useful.

Franchise and Income Tax Tips for Donors

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• Confirm that the recipient of your gift is a valid charity before you give. You can do so by looking up the charity on the IRS Web site (” target=”_blank”>www.boe.ca.gov, which features sales and tax rates by county, frequently asked questions, a list of publications, and an online tutorial for sales and use tax.

John Chiang is chair of the California State Board of Equalization and member of the Franchise Tax Board.

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After the Miscarriage


When my doctor informed me, in the seventh week of my first pregnancy, that I had miscarried, he accompanied the news with what he surely thought was a comforting idea.

He told me that God wanted perfect children, and this was His way of making it happen.

It was the first of several inappropriate and unhelpful comments that people would offer me. I drove off from the appointment sobbing, ran a red light and smashed my car.

The pain and anguish of infertility has been passed down from matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel to women today. But while our traditions have given us words to say and ways to act during other lifecycle events — death, birth, marriage — there is little guidance for how to help a friend or loved one deal with the loss of a pregnancy or the pain and despair of infertility.

When, after a second miscarriage, my husband and I reached out for support to friends and family — many of them in the happy throes of birthing and raising their own families — we were surprised by some of the comments we got in return.

On several occasions, friends advised, “Perhaps reducing stress by relaxing more could be helpful,” implying that stress had caused these miscarriages.

“I know so many people who have adopted and then gotten pregnant.”

Uh, OK. This helps me how?

Then there was this chestnut: “Covering your hair leads to healthy babies” — except, of course, for the countless healthy children born daily to those with uncovered hair.

From others I got: “It was meant to be,” or “it will work next time” or “at least it happened early.”

Everyone surely intended to be helpful, but they missed the mark.

What I really needed were people who were there just to listen, and fortunately I had friends and family members who understood this. Some realized the importance of calling to say hi, perhaps while their children were napping, rather than when they were crying or playing in the background. I appreciated the friends who would call on a spur of the moment and invite me to coffee, just the two of us, knowing I still found larger groups somewhat intimidating.

Miscarriage and infertility can be as isolating as they are painful.

Raising a family has always been a desire and priority of mine. After my first miscarriage, I picked myself up and quickly regained hope. I knew that this was quite common. Surely this was just a small bump in the road, and nothing to be too concerned about.

After a couple months of healing, physically and emotionally, I became pregnant again. My husband and I were filled with renewed hope and joy. But my new doctor informed me that a certain hormone level of mine, one that is a good indicator of a healthy pregnancy, was lower than normal.

I was convinced that this pregnancy would be strong and there was just something that seemed right about it, but after several week I miscarried again.

This time I was overcome with a grief that lingered. For a long time, I would cry for no apparent reason. I had trouble facing my friends, walking into my synagogue or being around pregnant women. I felt scared, ashamed, lonely and angry. I wondered whether I had done something wrong, been a bad person or perhaps had been lacking in faith.

Throughout this time, many of my friends were announcing their pregnancies, having children and announcing second pregnancies. Pregnancy and motherhood began to dominate the conversation. I felt as though I had been excluded from a club that all my friends were joining.

Pregnancy began to take over my thoughts. I felt as though this aspect of life was becoming unattainable.

Yet time has a way of healing wounds. Slowly, my husband and I have picked ourselves up and prepared for the process once again. Sure, there have been times that I retreat, avoiding contact with my peers and preferring to stay home alone. But we are now seeing a fertility specialist, and while it adds to our stress and poses different problems, we are optimistic.

If you have friends or family members in my situation, you can provide solace and support. Don’t blatantly avoid the topic, which just makes it the elephant in the room. Don’t play the cause-and-effect game (i.e., “Perhaps if you just relax and let things happen it will work out”). And don’t make empty promises: “It will all turn out OK.”

But absolutely do call periodically just to say hi and chat. And look for ways to hang out one-on-one or in small groups (e.g., coffee, dinner). And you can say things like: “I know it’s been hard lately. Please don’t hesitate to ask if I can help in any way.” By saying this, you already have.

Infertility and miscarriages remain largely taboo within the Jewish world, but there are ways that you can help a loved one through those difficult times.

Andrea Lesch Weiss is a social worker who lives in Los Angeles with her husband Jonathan. She can be reached at andreaweiss@gmail.com.

 

Play It Again, Sam


We are in kickoff month for the ’05 divorced model year.

Yes, all those splits during this year are now on the

market, in search of (pause for the sigh) soul mates.

This is the perfect time to look into the latest and greatest, and many new faces will appear on the Internet. Don’t believe all the hype, my friends. Despite what they are saying in the “brochures,” most are sporting the exact same profiles.

As a divorced man, I’ve watched this scene many times. And being the public servant that I am, I’ve decided to lend my guiding hand to those re-entering dating and those contemplating one of the ’05 models.

My guidance comes with years of experience following industry trends. Prior to my own divorce, my previous dating experience was during the Carter administration. I was shocked to learn that the dating rituals of my youth were no longer relevant to the new models and styles.

But you’ll do better, because you have me.

Here are some time-tested tips to aid you in your search.

1. Watch out for the Instant Beshert. Be careful of anyone who on the first coffee meeting or meal declares you the person they have been looking for their entire lives. Twice this has happened to me. In both instances, they were wrong. Once, a woman told me as soon as she saw me enter the lobby, (pause for the sigh) “she knew.”

“Knew what?” I asked, “that I was paying for dinner?” Basic rule No 1: no emotional entry until after the entrée.

2. Who is emotionally available? After years on this topic, I’ve boiled it down to only three categories of people: 1) those who will never be available; 2) those who are available, but not to you; and 3) those who are available to you. Try spending your time with No. 3.

3. Don’t forget to pick. I mean, don’t forget it’s your choice, too. Mere interest in you is not a sufficient reason to be with someone.

4. Psych yourself up for online dating. A huge number of responses to your online personal isn’t always a good thing. Every single person who pens you a note is convinced they are the only person writing to you. Note: The entire process has all the dignity of hiring day laborers at Home Depot with eager applicants pushing their way toward your truck door.

5. Create a winning profile. Be positive without being syrupy. Show some gravitas without sounding like Eeyore. For God’s sake, spell check and, if need be, convene a focus group on this topic. A winning profile is authentic and not laden with clichés. The old adage applies, “You can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar,” but as someone once reminded me, “Who the hell wants to attract flies?”

6. A good question to ask on a first date: “When you go to a football game, and you see the team in a huddle, do you ever wonder if they are in there talking about you?”

7. Conduct a post-conversation analysis. After you hang up, reflect on what percentage of the call was about: your past, your present, the other person’s past or their present. Then ask how you felt about that. That’s your first indicator of reciprocity in the relationship.

8. Feed them. As a foodie and an accomplished cook, there is nothing more nurturing than feeding someone you care about or care to get to know. Dining works.

9. Who pays what? I don’t mind if a woman at some point offers to pay, but I feel it obligates me to put out. But if I don’t like her, I just won’t do it well. I suggest instead a simple rule of “the host pays.” It’s clean, it’s understood and there is no awkwardness.

10. When to have sex. A female friend, Marilyn, told me she tells all her online dates upfront that she won’t have sex with them until the sixth date. Then, she puts out on the third. Marilyn claims the performance she is able to get out of these guys is awesome — like a miniature schnauzer at mealtime. Marilyn highly recommends this approach.

11. Women: Be careful of men who claim they are into “the outdoors.” This is often a code word for the fact that they are homeless. Many homeless people who get into dating mask their status this way.

12. Men: If you must break up, do it early in the day. If a guy doesn’t break up with his woman by 11 a.m., he runs the risk of not being emotionally ready to date that night.

13. Leave the trail the way you found it. You do not have a right to negatively alter the emotional, psychological or self-esteem path of the people you meet. Treat everyone with dignity as if they were going to be your only reference for the next person you’ll meet.

14. People who are interested will pursue you. And, conversely, if they don’t pursue you, they are not interested. Don’t worry. Everyone is just living his or her priorities. You will not run out of datable people in this town. There is always the ’06 model year.

Good luck. I raise my half-filled glass to you.

Sam Shmikler is a writer living in Los Angeles. He can be reached at sam@shmikler.com. A version of this article appeared on

Monk Could Be Way to Mideast Peace


Next week, I am sponsoring a group of Israelis and Palestinians to spend a few weeks in a small village in southern France with a Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh. These two disparate groups of people do not know each other, but often feel hatred toward each other. Some of them have been hurt in the war.

But by the end of the two weeks, under the guidance of the monks, the Israelis and the Palestinians will learn to listen to, understand, forgive and maybe even like each other. They will be at peace.

Could this work on a larger scale for their respective countries? I think so.

There are only two ways to ever make peace in the Middle East, and both are extreme. One is for one side to obliterate the other in a military conquest. The other, far more favorable approach, is for an unrelated third party to broker peace. For this to succeed, this person must come with absolutely no agenda — not one of country, religion, politics or money. Just peace.

That’s the one we are going for, because we have found such a person.

Nhat Hanh is a world-renowned Vietnamese Buddhist monk, scholar, poet and peace activist who lives in Plum Village, France. Martin Luther King Jr. nominated him for a Nobel Peace prize. He has written almost 100 books. All over the world, he teaches what he calls mindfulness — peaceful, joyful living.

He is in a unique position to help the world now. We are trying to help him.

I met him because I read one of his books and it really helped my life as a movie producer. I learned to listen more, scream less, appreciate everything around me and focus. I even learned to "de-multitask." And now I get more done, and am happier and calmer about it.

I figured if it worked for me, it could work for my friends in the entertainment business, who could sure use his help. So I offhandedly suggested he do a seminar in Hollywood.

Three months later, he called and said, "How’s next Tuesday?" I had Nhat Hanh and 15 monks over to my house to meet about 50 agents, producers, directors, studio executives and actors. I love these people, but they would stab themselves in the back if they could.

In one night, he changed some of their lives. Nhat Hanh does not try to convert people to Buddhism or get them to shave their heads. He teaches them how to listen to others and appreciate life more.

I thought it amazing what he did in Hollywood, but there are people with a lot more to be angry about than their TV series getting cancelled. He has done this for senators, cops, prisoners, people battling AIDS, victims of prejudice and hate crimes. And for Palestinians and Israelis.

Every summer people come from all over the world to Nhat Hanh’s retreat center in France to learn from him and his spiritual sidekick, Sister Chan Khong. A few years ago, they invited some Israelis and Palestinians — a few severely wounded in their war with each other. They forgave.

That gave me the idea to try this on a larger scale, and to tell the world about it. If everyone sees what can happen next week in Plum Village, it could then be done on a much larger scale. I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do, so I asked friends, advisers and mentors — some of whom run charities. What really convinced me was their answer.

They all said, "No, don’t do it."

They said don’t bother. It will never happen. They hate each other too much. It’s too late. One person even argued that if it cost a Palestinian more to fly to France than an Israeli, it wasn’t fair. Everyone was so far into their anger they didn’t even want to try.

That convinced me that we have to.

Nhat Hanh has no agenda other than peace. He has a great expression: There is no way to peace; peace is the way.

Something extreme must be done and will be. I vote we try extreme peace before the other alternative.

I hope the world watches what happens at Nhat Hanh’s village next week. Who better to do this, who could be more agenda-less than a peaceful Buddhist monk with unique gift for teaching people to listen and be mindful, who has no country, no desire for wealth, no stake in politics?

This is not about who is right or wrong or who started it or who is hurt the most. It is about peace.

It can happen.

Watch.

Film producer Larry Kasanoff is chairman and CEO of Threshold Entertainment.

Monk Could Be Way to Mideast Peace


Next week, I am sponsoring a group of Israelis and Palestinians to spend a few weeks in a small village in southern France with a Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh. These two disparate groups of people do not know each other, but often feel hatred toward each other. Some of them have been hurt in the war.

But by the end of the two weeks, under the guidance of the monks, the Israelis and the Palestinians will learn to listen to, understand, forgive and maybe even like each other. They will be at peace.

Could this work on a larger scale for their respective countries? I think so.

There are only two ways to ever make peace in the Middle East, and both are extreme. One is for one side to obliterate the other in a military conquest. The other, far more favorable approach, is for an unrelated third party to broker peace. For this to succeed, this person must come with absolutely no agenda — not one of country, religion, politics or money. Just peace.

That’s the one we are going for, because we have found such a person.

Nhat Hanh is a world-renowned Vietnamese Buddhist monk, scholar, poet and peace activist who lives in Plum Village, France. Martin Luther King Jr. nominated him for a Nobel Peace prize. He has written almost 100 books. All over the world, he teaches what he calls mindfulness — peaceful, joyful living.

He is in a unique position to help the world now. We are trying to help him.

I met him because I read one of his books and it really helped my life as a movie producer. I learned to listen more, scream less, appreciate everything around me and focus. I even learned to “de-multitask.” And now I get more done, and am happier and calmer about it.

I figured if it worked for me, it could work for my friends in the entertainment business, who could sure use his help. So I offhandedly suggested he do a seminar in Hollywood.

Three months later, he called and said, “How’s next Tuesday?” I had Nhat Hanh and 15 monks over to my house to meet about 50 agents, producers, directors, studio executives and actors. I love these people, but they would stab themselves in the back if they could.

In one night, he changed some of their lives. Nhat Hanh does not try to convert people to Buddhism or get them to shave their heads. He teaches them how to listen to others and appreciate life more.

I thought it amazing what he did in Hollywood, but there are people with a lot more to be angry about than their TV series getting cancelled. He has done this for senators, cops, prisoners, people battling AIDS, victims of prejudice and hate crimes. And for Palestinians and Israelis.

Every summer people come from all over the world to Nhat Hanh’s retreat center in France to learn from him and his spiritual sidekick, Sister Chan Khong. A few years ago, they invited some Israelis and Palestinians — a few severely wounded in their war with each other. They forgave.

That gave me the idea to try this on a larger scale, and to tell the world about it. If everyone sees what can happen next week in Plum Village, it could then be done on a much larger scale. I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do, so I asked friends, advisers and mentors — some of whom run charities. What really convinced me was their answer.

They all said, “No, don’t do it.”

They said don’t bother. It will never happen. They hate each other too much. It’s too late. One person even argued that if it cost a Palestinian more to fly to France than an Israeli, it wasn’t fair. Everyone was so far into their anger they didn’t even want to try.

That convinced me that we have to.

Nhat Hanh has no agenda other than peace. He has a great expression: There is no way to peace; peace is the way.

Something extreme must be done and will be. I vote we try extreme peace before the other alternative.

I hope the world watches what happens at Nhat Hanh’s village next week. Who better to do this, who could be more agenda-less than a peaceful Buddhist monk with unique gift for teaching people to listen and be mindful, who has no country, no desire for wealth, no stake in politics?

This is not about who is right or wrong or who started it or who is hurt the most. It is about peace.

It can happen.

Watch.


Film producer Larry Kasanoff is chairman and CEO of Threshold Entertainment.

Court Fence Ruling Upholds Rule of Law


In 1832, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the United States government could not force the Native American Cherokee tribe out of its Georgia homes and into reservations in Oklahoma. President Andrew Jackson, appalled by the court’s interference in a jurisdiction he considered exclusively his own, vowed that he would ignore the court’s decision with the words: "[Chief Justice] John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it."

The court could not. Jackson pushed ahead with his implementation of the Indian Removal Act, and the Cherokees were force-marched westward. Some 4,000 died along the way.

Jackson’s decision to ignore a Supreme Court ruling is considered a low-water mark in America’s history as a nation governed by the rule of law. But, fortunately, the Jackson precedent did not stand.

By the time the Supreme Court ordered President Richard Nixon to surrender those infamous Watergate tapes, there simply was no possibility that Nixon would respond with a Jacksonesque, "Come and get ’em. I dare you." Today, rulings of the Supreme Court are supreme, although it took many years for us to get to that point.

It has not taken Israel quite as long. Last week, Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that the route of the security barrier would have to be altered, at significant cost to the state, to eliminate the negative impact the fence had on the lives of some 35,000 Palestinians living adjacent to it. The case was brought by a group of Palestinians, led by the village council of the town of Beit Sourik, just outside Jerusalem.

The unanimous decision stated, "The fence’s current path would separate landowners from tens of thousands of dunams [quarter acres] of land … and would generally burden the entire way of life in the petitioners’ villages."

Adding significance to the ruling is the fact that the court in no way ruled against the concept of the barrier, itself. On the contrary, it endorsed the barrier as a legitimate self-defense measure.

It even conceded that the alterations it was recommending could conceivably reduce security for some Israelis. But, the judges said, "This reduction must be endured for humanitarian considerations."

The judges wrote: "Our job was a difficult one. We are members of Israeli society. Although judges sometimes dwell in an ivory tower, this tower is located inside Jerusalem, which has suffered from unbridled terror. We are aware of the killing and destruction that the terror against the state and its citizens brings. We recognize the need to defend the state and its citizens against terrorism. We are aware that, in the short term, our ruling does not ease the struggle of the state against those who would attack it. This knowledge is difficult for us. But we are judges. When we sit on the bench, we ourselves stand trial…. We are convinced that there is no security without law. Upholding the law is a component of national security."

This decision not only does credit to Israel. It provides a beacon of guidance for all nations struggling to balance security needs and individual rights in the post-Sept. 11 era.

And so does the response of the rest of Israel’s government to the court’s decision. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz both responded that the court had spoken, and that was that. The route of the fence would be altered.

Sharon even addressed the humanitarian considerations that produced the ruling, touching on the justices concern about the olive groves that were being uprooted to make way for the fence.

Speaking to Cabinet ministers, he said, "I don’t know how many of you are farmers. It is very hard when one harms these groves. People invested hard work and sweat here. People invested all of their lives in these groves."

Then, referring to the possibility of legislation overturning the court’s decision, he said, "There will be no law to bypass the High Court of Justice. Forget about it."

So the route of the barrier will be changed. And, the likelihood is that there will be more cases brought to challenge any portion that unnecessarily interferes with the lives of Palestinians. That probably means that the barrier will move closer to the ’67 border, the Green Line.

That is probably good. The barrier that will best accomplish Israel’s security goals — while simultaneously guarding the rights of the Palestinians — is not one that meanders hither and yon through the West Bank, but one with the shortest (and most defensible) lines. A barrier that adheres fairly closely to the Green Line is also the route that defends Israel’s demography to the greatest extent.

The more it strays from the Green Line, the more Palestinians who are included against their will in the Jewish state. That is why the Palestinian leadership says that a Green Line wall is fine with them.

One Palestinian expressed the common sentiment when he said, "Let them build the wall on the Green Line. That is Israel, and any country can build anything it wants on its own territory. But keep it away from my parents’ olive trees."

But all that is commentary. The most significant aspect of the court’s ruling is the ruling itself, and the fact that it will be implemented. The precedent established, for Israel and for all democracies, is a gift to us all.


M.J. Rosenberg, director of policy analysis for the Israel Policy Forum, is a long-time Capitol Hill staffer and former editor of AIPAC’s Near East Report.

Beth Sholom’s New Siddur


For some, synagogue choreography is as mystifying as opera.
To enjoy an opera, though, aficionados know to review the scenes in a libretto
before the curtain rises. Yet the typical siddur prayerbook provides no such
guidance. “The prayerbook, rather than help them, becomes an obstacle,” said
Rabbi Shelton J. Donnell of Santa Ana’s Temple Beth Sholom.

To address the needs of congregants not fully comfortable
with Hebrew liturgy, Donnell, along with a group of lay leaders, spent eight
years developing a new siddur. “Tfeelat Shalom,” the sum of that effort, will
be introduced Dec. 13.

In it, prayers in Hebrew are accompanied side-by-side with a
phonetic transliteration. “I made a 180-degree turn,” said Donnell, who
initially opposed the transliteration’s inclusion. For the Hebrew illiterate,
he believes the transliteration builds familiarity and eventually a thirst for
greater knowledge.

The siddur also provides clear instructions on the service’s
choreography, such as when to rise on tiptoe or bow. For example, “you’re not
supposed to bow with the leader, but in response,” Donnell said. Footnotes
provide historical insights, such as commentary excerpted from “Siddur Rav Amram
Gaon,” a recognized ninth century rabbinic authority.

English translations are purposely typeset like poetry. The
intent is to suggest to the worshiper, like a reader of verse, to supply their
own personal interpretation. “We have been trained to look differently at
text,” said Donnell, whose editing was influenced by Lawrence A. Hoffman,
author of “The Art of Public Prayer: Not for Clergy Only,” and a professor and
dean of liturgy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Currently in use at the synagogue is the Reform movement’s
“Gates of Repentance,” last revised in 1972.

Why Are We in Kosovo?


I always thought that historical perspective helped sharpen the mind by illuminating the choices that loomed ahead. But when I look at the awful state of affairs in Kosovo, I am not so certain that history offers much guidance. Maybe, though, if we try to look at the past freshly and innovatively, we might just find a better solution for Kosovo and its moslem victims than the one President Clinton is offering. More about that later.

Of course, we know from history that the relations between Serbs and Kosovar Albanians are bitterly divided along lines of religion, ethnicity and nationalism. We know as well that the Serbs of Yugoslavia, who comprise only 10 percent of Kosovo’s 2 million population, have mythological feelings about Kosovo: It is their Jerusalem. Not auspicious.

Also, if we look back to the eve of World War I, we can discover a curtain raiser for today’s atrocities. In 1912, the Serbs overthrew their Turkish rulers (for more than 500 years) and set about gaining revenge on a population self-identified as Turks or Albanians, nearly all of them moslems. Their villages were burned; about 20,000 were killed; and some moslems were forced to convert. We can hazard a guess as to what had occurred during the 500 years of Turkish rule.

Now we have new players: President Clinton, the United States and NATO…. Having brokered a peace with Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic four years earlier in Bosnia (which is holding up, albeit with the presence of NATO troops), Clinton is trying again with Kosovo. His hope is to secure autonomy for the Albanians within Yugoslavia, with NATO troops present to enforce the peace over a three-year period.

At first, the Kosovo Liberation Army was an unwilling participant. Although clearly on the defensive, the rebels held out for independence. The KLA at various times has been described as a state of mind, and on other occasions as a ragtag band of guerrilla fighters spread throughout Kosovo’s villages. Today, they number about 30,000, hiding in the mountains and beyond the reach of Milosevic’s security forces. They were pressured to accept Clinton’s terms about a month ago.

Not so, Milosevic. NATO troops on his territory were too much for him to swallow. They could lead to his political downfall, and so he stalled. In the interim, his security forces began to seize Albanian homes and drive out Albanian villagers. When NATO moved in with planes and bombs about 10 days ago, he stepped up the pace. It now looks as though he is intent on purging Kosovo of its Albanian population.

In the face of his aggression, the United States and NATO are now clearly embarked on a humanitarian mission — save the Kosovar Albanians, whose tragic situation may have been accelerated, ironically, by our own course of action. Our policy is to bomb Yugoslav forces and not send in ground troops. The premise is that, in the long run, bombing will cost the Serbs more than they are willing to tolerate for the sake of a bleak stretch of land. That approach has thus far proved unsuccessful in Iraq.

In Yugoslavia, however, even the bombing is restricted and is almost “humanitarian” in scope. It is aimed mainly at air defenses and military units. We are avoiding civilian targets, refraining from any devastation to cities, transportation systems or the Yugoslav economy. It is a tactic that is calculated precisely not to bring the Serbs to their knees…or quickly to the bargaining table. But it is humane — or as humane as bombs raining on a populace can be.

Meanwhile, Milosevic’s security forces are changing the conditions on the ground in Kosovo. They are murdering Albanian leaders; sending vast numbers into refugees camps outside of Kosovo, minus papers, money, belongings; and, in short, creating a stateless people.

What is our goal? And, if uncertain, as I think it is, what should it be? Perhaps we are moved by the fact this is taking place in Europe. Perhaps we are shamed by our ignoble behavior with regard to the Jews in this self-same Europe 60 years ago. We are following a Churchillian path and avoiding the appeasement road taken by Britain’s Neville Chamberlain in the 1930s. We can congratulate ourselves that we have embarked on a morally correct policy. Why, then, am I uneasy about that policy and its possible/probable outcome?

In part, I suppose I am dubious about the effectiveness of our air campaign. It is designed to prevent — or at least limit — the devastation of Kosovo and the elimination of its population. That seems to be failing, and time looks as though it favors the Serbs rather than our humanitarian bombing policy.

I also have difficulty imagining that day down the road when some face-saving rapprochement is finally arranged. We have demonized Milosevic — who is perfectly cast for the role — so that it will be difficult not to try him as a war criminal. In which case, why should he negotiate with us? And even if we all swallow our wounded pride and end this callous struggle by feigning ignorance, what will follow? Written agreements aside, what will become of the Kosovo Liberation Army? Taking the past as prologue, either the KLA or some new Albanian nationalist group will soon search for ways to even the score. And who then will we support?

Most likely, we will edge silently away, as we did in Somalia. Our dilemma is that in order to prevail, we need to ignore domestic politics and humanitarianism, and, for obvious reasons, we cannot take those necessary steps. We are engaged in a war, no matter what we call it, and if we are to win, we have to be willing to do the unpalatable: to send in ground troops; to be hardhearted and bomb Yugoslavia into the early stages of ruin. Who among us is willing to embrace such policies? Certainly, not I.

What then? Perhaps some imaginative replay of history. We could have accepted the Jews from Germany in the 1930s, but did not. Today, there are all the NATO countries, including the United States, whose immigration policies might expand to accept refugees from Kosovo, and support them until they are on their feet economically. Even 1.5 million refugees. After all, tiny Israel has taken in more than half that number of Russians. Would the budgetary cost be that much more than our bombers and the lives of troops on all sides of the battle?

And we could demand that Yugoslavia pay settlement costs. If Milosevic refuses, there is still the option of sanctions on everything from his economy to the exclusion of Yugoslavia from the Olympic Games. No nation is comfortable in the role of pariah — we saw that with South Africa.

The fact remains that Yugoslavia’s policy toward Albanians in Kosovo, while reprehensible, even genocidal, is, nevertheless, national policy. Unfortunately, we still live in a world where tyranny exists, where nation states treat some of its citizens abominably, and where collective action is probably still best exerted in a nonviolent manner. By all means, let’s save those Kosovar Albanians who wish to be rescued — in precisely the way we could have, and failed to, rescued the Jews of Europe: Accept them as new citizens in our new NATO world. And, until the Yugoslavs shape up, ban them from joining the civilized world in which we are struggling to live. — Gene Lichtenstein

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