Nation & World Briefs


Suicide Bomber Kills 3, Injures 24 at Netanya Mall

At least three people were killed and 24 wounded in a suicide bombing in the Israeli city of Netanya on Tuesday. Islamic Jihad released a statement claiming responsibility for the blast at a shopping mall.

The 18-year-old bomber’s dismembered head and shoulders lay in the street, as shoppers rushed out of the mall, and security forces searched for other terrorists.

With competition at the 17th Maccabiah Games taking place at the Wingate Institute just north of the city, frantic Foreign Ministry officials scoured the crowd for any sign that Jewish athletes from abroad had been hurt.

An hour earlier, another terrorist tried to detonate a car bomb in the West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron, but the explosives misfired and only the driver was hurt.

There was no sign that Tuesday’s attacks had thrown the Gaza Strip pullout off track, and the 17th Maccabiah Games went ahead as scheduled.

“We will carry out the disengagement,” Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said. “Its schedule will not be changed one iota.”

However, Olmert hinted that Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas’ actions would determine whether Israeli-Palestinian contacts, which were revived after the death of Abbas’ predecessor, Yasser Arafat, could lead to a permanent peace accord.

“If the Palestinian Authority does not fight terror, we will fight terror,” Olmert said. “It will be a shame if we find we have no real peace partner” for the long term.

G-8 Pledges $3 billion in Assistance for Palestinians

Industrialized nations pledged $3 billion in assistance to the Palestinians to spur peace. The Group of Eight leading industrialized nations concluded a three-day summit in Scotland last week with announcements of aid packages to developing nations.

Palestinian Authority officials say they need a quick influx of cash to ensure a smooth transition after Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip this summer.

Lethal Force Will Be Allowed in Gaza Strip Withdrawal

Israeli forces taking part in the upcoming Gaza Strip withdrawal will be allowed to fire at settlers if they present a deadly threat.

Under a code of conduct drawn up this week by Israeli security strategists, soldiers and police taking part in next month’s pullout from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank will be under orders to try all nonlethal means to quell settler resistance, but reserve the right to open fire if they feel their own lives are at risk.

Settler leaders have vowed to mount nonviolent resistance only, but authorities fear some activists could fire at security forces to forestall evacuation.

Record Aliyah to Take Off

Two El Al flights were scheduled to take off Tuesday, carrying the largest-ever single-day aliyah of North American Jews to Israel. The flights, sponsored by Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency for Israel, will leave from New York and Toronto with approximately 500 new olim (those making aliyah).

The planes will be the first of six dedicated El Al flights this year carrying 3,200 North American immigrants to Israel through the two organizations. This will be the first year since 1983 that more than 3,000 North American Jews will be making aliyah, and the first time a planeload of olim leaves from Canada.

The immigrants were expected to be met at the airport in Israel by Prime Minster Ariel Sharon, Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Zeev Bielski, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

O.U. Assails Ruling Denying U.S. Scout Jamboree Aid

The Orthodox Union (OU) criticized a U.S. federal court ruling barring Defense Department assistance to a Boy Scout gathering. The court ruled June 22 that government support of the annual Scout Jamboree was in violation of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, because Boy Scouts are required to make a nonsectarian oath of “duty to God.”

“The Boy Scouts is clearly a nonsectarian organization, which welcomes participants of diverse faiths and backgrounds,” Nathan Diament, OU’s director of public policy, said in a statement Monday.

By providing the jamboree with temporary housing and other logistical support, Diament said, the Defense Department gains the benefit of training personnel to perform these tasks in other instances and supporting the work of the Boy Scouts.

30,000 Mark Anniversary of Rabbi Schneerson’s Death

More than 30,000 people streamed by the gravesite of the Lubavitcher rebbe to mark the 11th anniversary of his death. Many of the visitors reflected and prayed Saturday night and Sunday at Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s burial place in the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, N.Y., said Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, a spokesman for Chabad-Lubavitch.

Among those visiting the gravesite were Lubavitchers, other Chasidim, some nonreligious people and visitors from Europe.

Jewish Film Receives Six German Oscars

A comedy about German Jewish life was the big winner at the German film awards. Dani Levy’s “Go for Zucker” won six Lolas over the weekend, including best film, best actor and best director.

The movie depicts a secular, near-bankrupt German Jew trying to cope with the death of his mother.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency

 

We Make Our Own Community


He came into my office clutching an old picture of a rabbi with a long, flowing beard. He was in his late 60s and clearly in a hurry.

"Could you use the picture? We are moving and I am getting rid of some old stuff" he said.

Sensing he had little contact with the Jewish community, I asked him if he lived around here.

"Yes," he replied, but added a qualifier, "I’m not that religious."

Ah, I told him, I’m not so religious either, just Jewish. It seems my beard, yarmulke and the fact that I had some faint resemblance to the guy in the picture didn’t convince him that I wasn’t that religious. It turned out he was moving a few miles away, from Yorba Linda to distant Orange. To me, it seemed that he was making the foray into a Jewish institution to drop off the last reminder he had of his Jewish heritage.

When I asked him for his address for our mailing list, he told me he doesn’t really go to shul. He finally relented when I told him that I would send a Jewish calendar annually and it would not cost him anything.

For some, Orange County is a point of departure. Jews move here leaving old neighborhoods, shuls they were brought up in, family and friends. They find beautiful homes, good jobs and personal security. But they live in strange isolated worlds without any strong sense of community. Slowly they fade into Jewish oblivion. Their children never experience that rich Jewish communal experience, never discover the great treasure of Jewish learning and their heritage.

Thankfully, not all is so ominous in Orange County. Over recent years community has begun to spout; Jewish schools have evolved, synagogues are growing. A new Jewish Community Center is slated to be built. A mikvah is on the drawing boards. New initiatives in adult Jewish education, like the Jewish Learning Institute and the Community Scholars program, have brought important learning to Orange County. Our own Chabad network is blossoming with two new centers in the last two years in Newport and Costa Mesa, and another slated to be launched in Santa Ana — Chabad of the Foothills. There is even word that shortly that all-important Jewish institution — the kosher pizza shop — might be coming to town.

There are many Jews in Orange County who are involved in an exciting process of creating a community. The question is how to do this. Institutions are key, they represent the collective will of a community. They provide important services and bind us together. But how do we take the next step? Some will say "let the institutions do the job." But I don’t think that’s the correct answer. It needs all of us, the Jews who are engaged and involved, the ones that care.

Federation President Lou Weiss wants to create a grass-roots effort to transform Jewish life. He wants each of us to take a stake in the future of our community.

Think for a moment if each Jewish family in Orange County who makes a Shabbat dinner would invite over a family who doesn’t. Imagine if each parent of a day school child would call a friend and say, "Listen, my kid is doing great. Why don’t you consider Jewish education for your children?"

If each Jew who supports Jewish causes enlisted a friend, it would double the amount of money available to community needs.

People expect rabbis and Jewish community professionals to do the job. "Ah, the rabbi wants to increase membership. That’s why he is calling me." Lay people can accomplish much more. They can reach people on a more personal one-to-one basis.

"But I don’t know much. How can I try to draw another Jew closer to the community and Judaism when my knowledge is limited ?" you might ask.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught a remarkable concept in Jewish empowerment. He said if a Jew knows just Alef, and his friend does not even know the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet, let him teach him the first letter that he knows. Even if your knowledge may not be extensive, your enthusiasm can be.

Orange County is in its early stages of development. Much has been achieved and much more is still needed to be done. Creating a community, arresting the process of assimilation, is a task. All of us must carry part of the responsibility.


David Eliezrie is rabbi of Chabad in Yorba Linda and president of the Rabbinical Council of Orange County. He can be reached at rabbi@northcountychabad.org.

A Libel That Holds No Truth


Some Americans apparently believe that we have gone to war with Iraq "because of the Jews." Having written a book explaining anti-Semitism ("Why the Jews?

The Reason for Anti-Semitism," Simon & Schuster, 1983), all I can do is marvel at the durability of anti-Semitism and the eternality of the charge that the Jews are responsible for everything anti-Semites fear.

No group in the world has been the target of nearly as many twisted and ludicrous accusations.

Tens of millions of European Christians once believed — and tens of millions of Muslims believe today — that Jews kidnap and slaughter non-Jewish children before Passover to use their blood for baking matzah.

Vast numbers of Europeans believed that Jews caused the plague.

Much of France believed that the near-bankruptcy brought on by its failure to build the Panama Canal was caused by the Jews.

The great majority of Arabs believe that Jews knew about the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and that 4,000 Jews who worked there stayed home that day.

The great majority of Arabs and tens of millions of Muslims believe that the Jews (i.e., Israel) are responsible for the poverty, tyranny, absence of freedom and brutality that pervade the Arab world.

And now, Pat Buchanan and other Americans believe (or at least say) that America has gone to war against Iraq "because of the Jews."

Many groups have been hated in history, but their haters never made up as many lies — let alone such grandiose lies — as have Jews’ enemies.

It is worth analyzing this latest libel — if only to understand anti-Semitism and the enormous role it plays in the world.

First, the charge is demonstrably a lie. There is not a single Jew in this administration’s Cabinet, and the president owes nothing to Jews, the great majority of whom voted for his Democratic opponent.

George W. Bush is an evangelical Christian from Texas; Dick Cheney is a conservative from Wyoming (not a state with an influential Jewish community); Condoleezza Rice is of Jamaican stock with no discernible ties to Jews, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was secretary of defense under the first President Bush, in the same Cabinet as James Baker, noted for saying "F — the Jews."

Jewish support for the war against Iraq is significant only if you consider the following to be Jewish: George Will, Ann Coulter, Gary Bauer, Bill Bennett, evangelical pastors and churches throughout America, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Thomas Sowell and The Wall Street Journal editorial page — not to mention British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spain’s President Jose Aznar.

Second, Jews are some of the leading opponents of the war, especially in academia and the media.

Aside from being a lie, the libel that Jews have somehow pushed the Bush administration into war against Iraq is based on two other odious beliefs.

One is that support for the war is un-American or even anti-American, and therefore, if a particular group of Americans can be identified with promoting the war, that group must be un-American. The other belief, or at least inevitable implication, is that the vast number of non-Jewish Americans who support the war have no values or ideas of their own but are playthings in the hands of Rasputin-like Jews.

Given that neither facts nor logic support what is simply an attack on American Jews’ patriotism, what needs to be explained is not why some Jews (like members of every other faith and ethnicity in America) support a war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. What needs to be explained is why some people see Jews behind a war initiated by non-Jews.

Alas, the explanation necessitates writing a book, since the reason people blame their troubles on the Jews is complex. So let us focus on the best known American who has made this argument, Pat Buchanan.

Buchanan has seen himself and his brand of conservatism — which, in its isolationism and amoral view of America’s role in the world, more often coincides with leftist positions — rejected by mainstream conservatism. He has been rejected by William F. Buckley, the National Review, The Wall Street Journal, the Republican Party and just about every other conservative publication and institution. And he has decided, as millions have for millennia, to blame the Jews for his problems.

Let it be shouted from sea to shining sea: America is uniquely great and uniquely blessed, because more than any other country it asks, "What is right?" when making foreign policy and because it has always blessed its Jews.

Should Americans become like Europeans and remove morality from their foreign policies and start to blame Jews for their problems, it will cease to be America and cease to be great. That is why, as always, anti-Semitism threatens good non-Jews as much as it threatens Jews. If not confronted, Americans who blame the Jews will bring ruin to America, just as the Germans who blamed Jews brought ruin to Germany.


Dennis Prager hosts a nationally syndicated radio talk show based in Los Angeles. He is the author of four books, most recently, “Happiness Is a Serious Problem” (HarperCollins). His Web site is www.dennisprager.com. To find out more about Dennis Prager, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

Eulogies: Sadie Scheiner, 102


Sadie Scheiner, 102, matriarch of a family of pioneer Orthodox Jewish community leaders and ardent Zionists in her native St. Louis and later in Los Angeles, died peacefully on Oct. 22. She was the last surviving child of the Talmudist HaRav Levi Friedberg (nee Melamud), an early arbiter (“posik”) of Jewish law in the Midwest at a time when Torah scholarship was limited primarily to the Northeast and Chicago. In Los Angeles, her children and grandchildren were among the founders and leaders of Young Israel of Northridge, Young Israel of Beverly Hills and B’nei Akiva. She and her husband, Sam Scheiner, were primarily responsible for the growth of a then-small Orthodox congregation in the fledgling Pico-Robertson area — Anshe Emet (where her husband served as president for 15 years). Under their dynamic leadership, membership swelled in the 1950s and ’60s and scores of Jews were attracted to the neighborhood.

Born on May 15, 1899 in St. Louis, Mo., Scheiner was one of seven children. Her parents’ home, first in Omaha and later in East St. Louis, Ill., became a gathering place for rabbis and Torah scholars throughout the Midwest who sought her father out to make important Jewish legal (“Halachic”) decisions. Friedberg never led a congregation and never formally taught. He owned a grocery store but left the day-to-day operation to Mrs. Scheiner’s mother, Fannie Friedberg, so he could fully immerse himself in Torah study.

In later years Scheiner lived in the Fairfax area.

She is survived by her daughter Patricia Ann Macales of Northridge; son, Julian, of Los Angeles; grandchildren Jack Macales of Rehovot, Israel, Richard Macales of Ginot Shomron, Israel, Jeffery Macales of Granada Hills; Ze’ev, Danny and Yosef Scheiner of New York; and Ruth Scheiner of Los Angeles; and 17 great-grandchildren. Chevra Kadisha Mortuary. Mt. Carmel Cemetery.

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