Hamas War

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid Switch Hats


Unlike when Bibi Netanyahu had promised Benny Gantz to "switch hats" and hand over the office of Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett kept his promise to Yair Lapid and followed the coalition agreement they had made just over a year ago. Within a few hours Yair Lapid will be Prime Minister of the State of Israel, and Naftali Bennett will be at his side helping him get acquainted with his new position, again unlike Bibi's abominable behavior a year ago.

Outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

Last night Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke to the nation on television and internet, since live TV can be accessed there, too. He announced that he's taking a leave of absence from politics and does not plan to run in the next Knesset elections on November 1, after summer vacation and Jewish Holidays. I have no idea what his plans are, but I'm sure that his family will enjoy the relative quiet after this difficult year. Bennett is extremely wealthy, so he doesn't need to look for work.

Minister of the Interior Ayelet Shaked will head Yamina at this point. I'm not making any predictions nor quoting rumors. When there's real news, I'll probably blog my opinion. As I've written before, I considered the coalition to be  wonderful attempt for Israelis of all stripes to work together, and it reminds me of the Holy Ketoret.

My husband and I made aliyah in 1970 when the Labor Party and Histadrut held all power in the State of Israel. The country hadn't yet fully absorbed the broad implications of the 1967 Six Days War victory. The IDF took credit for the miracle, and then three years later on Yom Kippur the Arabs attacked, and it took a too long and too many Jewish lives to push them back. Even after that it took almost four years for Labor to lose power and the Likud to take over. Too many Israelis couldn't imagine any other party and leadership running the country... Sounds familiar; doesn't it? I see deja vu. Been there done that. Within a few years Likud as we now know it will be history or a shadow of its present self, just like Labor today...

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Ketoret Government Incinerated By Political Prostitutes

No doubt some people won't like or get this title.

Ketoret Government:

The Bennett-Lapid coalition, which did manage to govern for a year and pass budgets is made of rather conflicting political parties. These parties decided to look for what they agree on for the common good. This reminds me of Ketoret:

“God said to Moses: Take fragrances such as balsam, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense, all of the same weight, as well as other fragrances. Make the mixture into incense, as compounded by a master perfumer, well-blended, pure and holy.” (Ex. 30:34-5)

Some of the ingredients of Ketoret are sweet and others bitter. There may even be some which are poisonous, but together they are holy. The Ketoret was necessary for prayer in the Mishkan Tabernacle and later in the Holy Temple. 

Watching the coalition MKs Right, Left and Center, Jews and Arabs working together reminds me of the Holy Ketoret. Honestly I would have preferred a more ideologically Right coalition, but the MKs weren't willing. Bibi and his henchmen held tight to the mafia of Likud and chareidi MKs, plus the rabble-rouser Right prefer the bullhorn to the nitty gritty of administration. 

As the Bennett-Lapid coalition was sworn in a year ago, we heard two things. The expert political pundits predicted that the coalition wouldn't last a month, and the opposition showed their true antidemocratic stripes by cursing and mocking, rather than accepting their defeat.

I have no doubt that Bibi Netanyahu could have cobbled together a viable coalition if he had wanted to, but he and his mafia had begun to enjoy the perks of office as "interim," "caretaker" government, which can't be voted out of office. They just keep calling periodic elections, no checks and balances, just POWER.

This past year Yemina MKs, not part of the strong Ketoret ideology were targeted and "urged" to break from their party. Instead of acting like moral people, they took their "seats" with them. Here in Israel there aren't personal elections. Those of us who voted Yemina got our votes stolen. If they wanted to leave, they should have resigned their Knesset seats. And because the fault of the government's demise was from them, we now have Yair Lapid as Prime Minister. Bennett didn't do any dirty trick like Netanyahu did to Gantz.

It's going to take a few more years to truly push Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu and his mafia out of power. Remember, or if you're too young- please listen, it took almost six full years after the horror of the "conceptizia" which almost caused our defeat in the Yom Kippur War for Labor to be voted out of office. Gd willing it won't take so long for Israelis to realize the dangers of the Bibi-chareidi rule. 


Back to Elections

Monday, June 13, 2022

Rabbi Pinchas Stolper, ZTz"L, Plugged the Assimilation Leak


NCSY National Convention 1967
That's me receiving Standards Award from Rabbi Stolper

Rabbi Pinchas Stolper passed away a few weeks ago. If you google his name, you'll find information and a number of obituaries. None of them touches on the man who was instrumental in introducing me to "Torah True Judaism" as he had called it, during my years, mid-late 1960s, in NCSY National Conference of Synagogue Youth of the OU.

Immediately upon reading an email announcing his death and planned burial in Jerusalem, I contacted a few old friends from NCSY who live here in Israel not far from me. It was clear to me that I had to attend his funeral. According to Jewish Tradition, attending the funeral honors the dead person, and a shiva visit comforts the mourners. From the announcement there wouldn't even be a shiva in Israel.

Who, you may be wondering, was Rabbi Stolper? And how close was I to him? To be perfectly honest, I'd never been invited to his home and don't remember much in actual personal conversations, except when we were preparing posters for the NCSY marchers in the 1967 Salute to Israel Parade, just after the Six Days War. Rabbi Stolper couldn't contain his joy at Israel's miraculous victory. Rabbi Stolper did attend my wedding in 1970 where he spoke about Israeli History from the vantage point of a Betari, which we had in common. See my husband's blog post about Rabbi Stolper on the Betar blog.

In 1963 when I first got involved in NCSY I was just looking for friends. We had just moved to Great Neck a few months before, and I didn't fit in at all. My family ended up joining the Great Neck Synagogue, an Orthodox shul which may not have been a good fit religiously, but the price was right. Orthodox we weren't, nor Sabbath observers nor kosher. 

Post World War Two most people considered Orthodox Jewry a dying breed. Considering the attraction of assimilation, poverty of the Great Depression, the trauma of Holocaust and the Jewish men who spent years away from home, the UOJCA, now called OU was desperate to keep Jewish teens Jewish. In the early 1950s they established NCSY. Member synagogues were encouraged to establish chapters and have activities for the youth. At that time there were few Jewish Day Schools, and not all the families could afford to send their children. Also, many member families were like mine, not at all religious. So NCSY had a dual aim:
  • Keep the religious kids religious.
  • Introduce Judaism to the non-observant and encourage them to follow the mitzvot
NCSY wasn't a Zionist youth movement. The term "aliyah" wasn't heard officially at all in the 1960s, though quite a few of my NCSY friends are living here in Israel now.

I'm not sure of the exact year, but sometime before my joining NCSY, Rabbi Pinchas Stolper had been appointed as National Director. He must have succeeded, because there was soon an Assistant National Director, Rabbi Chaim Wasserman. 

Rabbi Stolper was a Zionist activist and a Betari. He had been Natziv, Head of North American Betar in the very early 1950s. He and his wife tried living in Israel but went back to New York. Rabbi Stolper built an amazing youth organization with chapters, grouped by regions, all over North America. He was an amazing administrator. NCSY events went like clockwork; each session started and ended on time. Chapters hosted regional Shabbat programs. For teens like myself, this was our first introduction to Shabbat. Even those from religious homes learned to enjoy Shabbat even more than they had. We sang Jewish tunes and danced and sang and danced. I'm convinced that Torah True Judaism entered my heart and mind via my dancing feet and loud singing, not that I understood the words of the songs. The educational "sessions" were led by some brilliant people. There are things I remember to this day. 

At National Conventions, held in a large hotel, The Pine View, only Shabbat ended late. But that was the plan. Rabbi Stolper led the Havdala, and some of us girls were given lit candles to hold high. We were told that the higher the candle, the taller our future husband would be. Rabbi Stolper was most inspiring during Havdala.

The key to the success in reaching Jewish teens like myself was the tolerance of the staff of advisors. We were given time and acceptance while learning and experiencing Torah True Judaism. In those days, tzniyut modesty was rare, even religious women wore sleeveless and Orthodox synagogues hosted dances. Some OU member synagogues didn't have a mechitza separation and even had mixed seating. The OU was in a "war for Orthodox survival," and Rabbi Stolper was assigned to save Jewish youth. Yes, he and his staff worked hard stop the flood of assimilation, and they succeeded. The terms "outreach" and "baal teshuva movement" came afterwards. In the 1960s Yeshiva University Youth Bureau also had activities for teens on Shabbat and weeklong Seminars late summer and during winter vacation. It wasn't a national organization; I went to some of their events, too.

The Friday of Rabbi Stolper's funeral as one of my NCSY friends and I waited with his Israeli relatives for the bereaved children and body to arrive from the states, I wondered why there weren't mobs of people. From my perspective, Rabbi's Stolper's influence on North American Jewry was humongous, but it was half a century ago and more. Or can we say that his great success in strengthening Torah Judaism in teens has produced a generation that is incapable of fully comprehending what a miraculous success he had accomplished?

יהי זכרו ברוך

I wrote the following blog posts which also mention Rabbi Stolper and NCSY:

Thursday, June 2, 2022

What They Didn't Burn, Mel Laytner's Search for His Father's Holocaust Secrets, Book Review

What They Didn't Burn: Uncovering My Father's Holocaust Secrets by Mel Laytner is an amazing, riveting story. Laytner, an extremely talented writer, reveals a lot as he tracks down his father's secrets. Laytner, the elder of two brothers, discovered that his quiet father was not only a Holocaust survivor, but he had been a canny and successful black market wheeler dealer

I must admit that the author and I first met in the mid-1960s when I joined Betar. We've seen each other very infrequently over the years, but when I heard that he had finally published his father's Holocaust story I wanted to read it. Laytner gave me and my husband a copy.

Among our Betar friends, there are two distinct types, those like me and my husband whose parents were American born and raised, and there were those whose parents were survivors, or had left just in time. We whose parents were American raised can never really imagine what our friends had lived with, which frequently meant that their parents kept many secrets from them. 

Laytner's quest to discover the truth about his father took him many years. By the time he had the time to devote to it, few sources were still alive. He had to travel a lot to talk to people and see old government records in Europe. A few times his brother accompanied him, but mostly he did it alone. Laytner used his journalist skills to interview and research. His success and the subsequent book couldn't have been accomplished by someone without those skills.

Laytner's parents were both Holocaust survivors who worked hard day and night at all sorts of jobs, trying all sorts of businesses, too, when they got to New York. At one point they owned a candy store open seven days a week. That was the same drive that got them through the Holocaust, but during the Holocaust Laytner's father even traded diamonds on the black market, among other things. I'd say that Laytner inherited that drive, since he needed similar smarts to discover his father's true story.

Think of What They Didn't Burn as an exciting treasure hunt, and Mel Laytner takes us along for the ride. I highly recommend the book for readers of all ages.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ SparkPress (September 21, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1684631033
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1684631032