Monday, February 29, 2016
Sunday, February 28, 2016
Professor Helfand is currently an associate professor at Pepperdine University School of Law, where he has taught Contracts, Arbitration Law, and seminars in Law and Religion as well as Multiculturalism and the Law. Professor Helfand serves as the associate director of the Diane and Guilford Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies at Pepperdine University as well a member of the faculty of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. In addition, he serves as both an arbitrator and consultant for the Beth Din of America.Professor Michael (Avi) Helfand is an expert on religious law and religious liberty. A frequent author and lecturer, his work considers how U.S. law treats religious law, custom and practice, focusing on the intersection of private law and religion in contexts such as religious arbitration, religious contracts and religious torts. His academic articles have appeared in numerous law journals, including the Yale Law Journal, New York University Law Review, Duke Law Journal, Minnesota Law Review, Boston Law Review and University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law Review. In addition, Professor Helfand often provides commentary on clashes between law and religion, writing for various public audience publications, including the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the National Law Journal and the Forward as well as recently testifying before the United States Commission on Civil Rights.
Rachelle Sprecher Fraenkel was propelled to international recognition in the worst of circumstances – when her 16-year-old son Naftali was kidnapped and murdered along with two other teens, Eyal Yifrah and Gil-Ad Shaer, in June 2014.
Fraenkel became the most public voice of the families during the three weeks of intensive searching. She addressed prayer vigils and rallies, and told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva how the mothers just wanted to hug their sons again.
She was, and remains, a symbol of the period of unprecedented social unity, prayer and faith, a period that carried on into the rocket-racked days of Operation Protective Edge.
Thursday, February 25, 2016
OUTSTANDING! IRON DOME ALLIANCE: Fighting to Win for Israel; The time has come for a new strategy. The time has come for Israel to play to win.
ה' עז לעמו יתן; ה' יברך את־עמו בשלום
G-d will give Strength to His People; G-d will bless His People with Peace
Attached is Fighting to Win, a piece that the Jewish Link of New Jersey was set to publish this week. It was submitted at the paper's request. The Link asked for a counterpoint from local AIPAC and NORPAC leaders to run side-by-side. Rather than argue the merits, these individuals chose to pressure the Link to censor Fighting to Win. The resulting campaign of threats and intimidation by AIPAC and NORPAC led the Link to pull the piece.
Fighting to Win appeared last week in the Los Angeles Jewish Home (p26) and is running this week in the 5 Towns Jewish Times (p1).
In light of BDS, the Iran Deal, and growing anti-Semitism, those who are concerned about the US-Israel relationship should read this piece and make their own decisions.
And those who care more about standing for Israel than about protecting American Jewish organizations from criticism should be troubled by their censorship of a true pro-Israel movement.
We are in a critical election year. If you agree that it really does matter which party controls Congress and who sits in the White House - if you agree that it's high time for Israel's friends to go on the offensive - then click here to learn more about Iron Dome Alliance, the only national pro-Israel super PAC.
We welcome you to join us!
Jeff Ballabon, Chairman, Iron Dome Alliance
Senior Fellow, London Center for Policy Research
Senior Fellow, ACU Center for Statesmanship and Diplomacy
Fighting to Win: Revolutionizing Israel Advocacy
Jeff Ballabon & Bruce Abramson
The final year of the Obama Presidency has not begun well for Israel. Arab assassins earn greater international sympathy than do their Jewish victims. Iran gleefully violates even the modest obligations that Secretary Kerry negotiated, and receives
$100 billion or so to fund terrorism. The BDS movements scores labeling victories in the EU and the Obama Administration reinforces them. The UN Secretary General unleashes slanderous antiJIsrael bile into a receptive global public.
Meanwhile, with America’s focus on the election, the country’s leading proJIsrael activists again boast of unshakeable bipartisan support in Congress. Never mind that a sizable majority of Israel’s Democratic “friends” just agreed to fund Iran’s ability to exterminate the Jewish State. The proJIsrael establishment insists that their hard work keeps the “proJIsrael” position a rare point of consensus in a partisan town.
Decades of polling tell a different story. The difference between Democratic and Republican views of Israel is stark, longstanding, and growing. Almost 85% of Republicans express consistent warm support for Israel. Democrats’ more tepid proJ Israel sentiment routinely polls below 50%—and even that support skews old. Young Democrats overwhelmingly take pride in their antiJIsrael politics, exacerbating the dire situation on college campuses. Astoundingly, many American Jews who know from personal experience that fullJthroated support for Israel has become contentious accept the absurd fiction that Israel’s position in Washington remains secure no matter who is in charge. Even skeptics of the “bipartisan consensus” silliness have been persuaded that vast millions should be squandered on supporting Israel’s enemies’ campaigns because they might gain power (thus actually helping Israel’s enemies gain power) as though, despite all evidence to the contrary, such contributions somehow make them Israel’s friends rather than reward bad behavior.
This denial of the obvious has been killing Israel slowly. Israel’s alleged supporters in Washington claim exemption from the most basic rule of politics: While it is nice to have friends on both sides of the aisle, control of Congress and the White House is critical. Planned Parenthood, the NRA, the Sierra Club, and the Chamber of Commerce all know it. Each of these groups champions an agenda, fights for their beliefs, rewards proven friends, and punishes enemies.
America’s “proJIsrael” establishment stands apart; its neurotic need to claim as many “friends” and as few “enemies” as possible earns public lip service but private contempt. As last year’s vote on the ObamaJIran deal showed, Congress overflows with politicians eager to court wealthy Jews, spout proCIsrael platitudes, and
cast easy votes. The moment that Israel requires a vote of conviction rather than convenience, however, they politely express regret and an intention to return as soon as the easy money resumes—because it always does.
Israel’s American supporters have confused themselves with the Israeli government. Israel is a small state surrounded by enemies seeking her destruction and the genocide of her citizens. Because Israel plays with razorJthin margins of error, risk aversion can be highly rational. The significant risks that Israel has incurred have almost all focused on securing friends and allies, rather than on securing victory. As a foreign government dependent on the United States, Israeli diplomacy compels conciliatory statements about U.S. policy and the American leadership. American activists are under no compulsion to believe such statements. To the contrary, American supporters add maximum value when championing the tough truths that diplomacy puts beyond Israel’s reach. Yet rather than pushing to expand Israel’s political playing field, Israel’s leading advocates in Washington have instead become similarly risk averse, at times even allowing their own neuroses and extraneous political priorities to further constrain Israel’s options.
The system is broken and must change. Israel deserves advocates fully committed to the cause, not ones who use it to advance their other interests. And proJIsrael activists should behave more like the lobbyists for American interests they are, and less like supplicants for an embattled state. Israel remains popular with Americans; Iran and the Palestinian Authority do not. A proJIsrael lobby that played to win would articulate basic, immutable principles for which it would fight. It would pressure Israel’s neighbors to work with Israel, while removing pressure on Israel to take risks that compromise its security. It would stop pushing Washington and Jerusalem to reward Arab incitement and terror with a PLOJled state, and instead work overtime to ensure that antiJJewish terror works against Arab interests. It would innovate on policy and narrative, promoting truths and ideas that run counter to conventional wisdom, even if such innovations remain minority positions for the years that lobbyists often need to assemble winning coalitions.
Israel’s enemies understand this strategic imperative. Temple Denial sounded crazy when Arafat first floated the idea in 2000. By 2015, the New York Times detailed the “controversy” surrounding Jewish “claims” to the Temple Mount, and UNESCO tried to declare the Western Wall a Muslim holy site. BDS began with a coalition of radical fringe NGOs in 2005. By 2015, allegations of Israeli apartheid and genocide dominated discourse among American academics and European parliamentarians. ProJIsrael activists may boast about state legislatures adopting antiJBDS legislation, but the antiJIsrael forces framed the conversation. When the debate concerns singling out Israel as the subject of an international boycott, Israel has already lost.
Not too long ago, acceptance of a Palestinian state appeared radical and anathema to America’s interests and the pursuit of peace. Jimmy Carter—hardly a proJIsrael advocate—opposed it when he was President, arguing of the destabilization such a state would cause. Yitzchak Rabin, martyred in 1995 for his dovish politics, never wavered from his opposition to a Palestinian state. In 1998, five years into the Oslo process, Hillary Clinton spoke with tentative approval of a Palestinian state triggering a furious backlash; her husband’s White House issued a very blunt official repudiation. Yet over the past fifteen years, much of the world— including many Jews claiming to advocate for Israel—has severed this “solution” from the considerations of peace, security, Arab behavior, or Arab preparedness that were supposed to have justified it. By 2011, exJPresident Clinton had adopted his wife’s views; he publicly blamed Israel for the lack of peace and supported the Obama Administration’s attempts to reward Arab intransigence and distance the U.S. from Israel.
With foresight and boldness, nimble antiJIsrael forces have solidified the “Palestinian” claim while rendering contingent Israel’s legitimacy; Israel’s sluggish advocates lament that “the ship has sailed” while it is their own hands on the tiller. On any other issue, Washington lobbyists would have sounded alarm bells, informing their members and supporters of the animosity emanating from the White House. For the proJIsrael establishment, however, mobilizing pushJback is of far lesser importance than maintaining “access” to legislators who take meetings and attend parties but evaporate when needed.
Looking ahead, France has threatened to become the 137th country to recognize a State of Palestine. Might the Obama Administration follow suit? If the ship has sailed, why delay? If proJIsrael activists living in the safety of Washington do not stridently oppose the emergence of this new JewJhating terror state, who will? If America’s Jewish leadership fails to insist that the U.S. oppose antiJJewish terror as resolutely as it does terror in general, why shouldn’t American politicians join the global chorus labeling JewJkilling regrettable, but understandable?
Israel is losing on many fronts, and those claiming to be its greatest American advocates remain stuck playing defense. Yet the success of Yasser Arafat’s delegitimization of Jewish Jerusalem, Hillary Clinton’s implicit Palestinian State, and Barack Obama’s nuclear Iran prove that drastic shifts in both the terms of debate and U.S. policy are achievable—but only to those who think strategically, risk criticism, and act fearlessly. As Winston Churchill observed, the only way to avoid making enemies is to stand for nothing. To fight for Israel is to risk the enmity of Israel’s enemies, not to wish it away. Israel’s friends do not need money
to remain friendly, and Jewish money will never buy Israel the friendship of those who wish it ill.
The absence of policy innovation within the proJIsrael establishment is palpable. When Mahmoud Abbas proclaimed that the Oslo Accords no longer bind the PA, a strategic thinker might have suggested that Israel and the U.S are similarly unshackled—setting off a debate about two decades of rewards for Arab incitement and violence. The creation of a new Arab state, the limitations on Jewish life in Judea and Samaria, and even the PA itself would all come under a microscope. Ships deemed to have sailed would reenter port. The U.S. would pursue American interests with no sense of obligation to a terrorist organization. For once, Israel’s friends would frame the discussion. Just as Israel cannot win a debate about BDS, Israel cannot lose a debate about PA incitement. The only downside would be increased risk of criticism and condemnation from those who believe that supporting Israel should be easy, comfortable, and remunerative.
Such costs are hardly negatives when exchanged for greater benefits. A willingness to forego the illusion of lockstep bipartisanship in the name of strategic policy innovation would ignite a new era of proCIsrael activism. It would educate voters for whom Israel is a priority about the real differences between the parties, helping to empower the Republican leadership necessary to turn proJIsrael innovations into American policies, while reminding Democratic politicians that only those who truly support Israel deserve to reap the benefits of Israel’s support.
The time has come for a new strategy.
The time has come for Israel to play to win.
Jeff Ballabon is Chairman and Bruce Abramson is VP and Director of Policy of the Iron Dome Alliance, America’s proDIsrael super PAC.
Monday, February 22, 2016
The 6th Vizhnitz Rebbeh, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager, gives his relative - civil trial attorney Baruch C. Cohen a bracha in Los Angeles
- The 6th Vizhnitz Rebbeh, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager, giving his relative BCC a bracha.
- He is the son of Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager, the 5th Rebbe of Vizhnitz Bnei Brak (1916-2012); who was the son of Rabbi Chaim Meir Hager, the 4th Rebbe of Vizhnitz (the Imrei Chaim) (1888-1972); who was the son of Rabbi Yisroel Hager, the 3rd Rebbe of Vizhnitz (the Ahavas Yisroel) (1860-1936); who was the son of Rabbi Baruch Hager, the 2nd Rebbe of Vizhnitz (the Imrei Baruch) (1845-1892); who was the son of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager, the 1st Rebbe of Vizhnitz (the Tzemach Tzadik) (1830-1884) (son in law of Yisroel of Ruzhin); who was the son of Rabbi Chaim Hager of Kosov (the Toras Chaim); who was the son of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager of Kosov (the Ahavas Shalom); who was the son of Rabbi Yaakov Koppel Likover (a disciple of the Baal Shem Tov).
- If you're following this, BCC's Chassidic lineage intersects and stems from Rabbi Chaim Hager of Ottynia (the Tal Chaim) (1863-1931) (pictured below) who was a brother of Rabbi Yisroel Hager, the 3rd Rebbe of Vizhnitz (the Ahavas Yisroel) (1860-1936); who was the son of Rabbi Baruch Hager, the 2nd Rebbe of Vizhnitz (the Imrei Baruch) (1845-1892); who was the son of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager, the 1st Rebbe of Vizhnitz (the Tzemach Tzadik) (1830-1884) (son in law of Yisroel of Ruzhin); who was the son of Rabbi Chaim Hager of Kosov (the Toras Chaim); who was the son of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager of Kosov (the Ahavas Shalom); who was the son of Rabbi Yaakov Koppel Likover (disciple of the Baal Shem Tov).
- BCC's maternal grandfather was Rabbi Baruch Hager of Horodenka, ABD Cozmeni, Bukovin from 1936 and then Dayan in Czernowitz, born in 1899 and died of typhus in the work camp in Warchovka, Transnitra Concentration Camp in 1941, married in 1922 to his first cousin Miriam, daughter of R. Shraga Feivel Hager of Zaleszczyki (Zalischik). He was very active in the Mizrachi movement and Zeire Mizrachi and was President of the Torah V’Avodah. She remarried in 1954/5 to R. Moshe Zvi Twersky, Admur Tolna-Philadelphia.
- Rabbi Baruch Hager was the son of Rabbi Yechiel Michel Hager, Admur Horodenka from 1892 on his father’s death, born in 1872 and died of typhus in the work camp in Warchovka, Transnitra Concentration Camp in 1941 (as did his son Baruch), married his niece, Bluma Reizel, daughter of R. Haim Hager of Ottynia.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Friday, February 5, 2016
...Professor Twerski's story of the early days of his career provides an interesting counterpoint to that of Baruch Cohen, a Los Angeles attorney I interviewed several years ago for a story in these pages.
Prior to graduation, he had received an unsolicited invitation to interview with the Los Angeles office of a very prestigious law firm, which was unusual in itself, and even more so give,n that Cohen had attended a good but non-Ivy League school.
His law school dean told him, ''I know you always wore that religious skullcap all through law school, and you still wear it now that you are clerking in bankruptcy court, and I respect that, but now you have an opportunity to get into an elite firm. The skullcap could turn them off and cost you the job."
After being told by other religious lawyers that wearing a yarmulke at work was just not done and inquiring about the halachic propriety of not doing so, he decided to go to the interview bareheaded. He entered the office for his interview and there, sitting at his desk, was the interviewing attorney, a yarmulke atop his head. Then came the next shock: The interviewer took one look at Baruch's uncovered head and said incredulously, ''Where is your yarmulke?"
Baruch sat speechless as the interviewer went on to explain. "Do you know why you got this interview? I happened _to be in the bankruptcy court where you clerk and it impressed me that someone in Los Angeles would have the conviction to proudly· wear a yarmulke in court. I researched you and found that you spent years learning in yeshivah. And now you show up to this interview without a yarmulke?! I am so deeply disappointed in you. You'll never make it in this firm -this is a firm of leaders, not followers. The interview is over."As Aaron Twerski had, Baruch Cohen wept that night, not, he said, because of the loss of the job opportunity or the harshness of the rebuke, but because deep down he felt the interviewer was right.
Taken together, the two experiences - that of a Jew who refused to give up on wearing full chassidic garb, yet ended up with a notable career in teaching law, and of another one for whom compromise itself spelled the loss of a plum opportunity in the law (yet who learned from it and went on to a Successful career, too) - merge to convey a single message: Hashem is in charge.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
On Thursday night September 17, 2015, we went to the City of Rechovot for the inauguration of "Heichal Mandelbaum" a beautiful Simcha Hall dedicated by Rabbi Uri & Bracha Mandelbaum in memory of their parents. Prior to the reception, we were escorted to the apartment of Mrs. Ben-Baruch, who houses and runs a wedding gown gemach in memory of our dear daughter Hindy. Top quality beautiful wedding gowns and accessories, and dresses for Kallah's sisters, were all on display. There's fitting rooms, and seamstresses to make adjustments. Hindy's wedding gown gemach is available to any Kallah, regardless of financial need. This way, Kallahs who cannot afford a wedding gown do not feel bad using the Gemach, since their well-to-do friends use the same Gemach as well. There is a beautiful plaque in memory of Hindy prominently placed in the fitting room, and Mrs. Ben-Baruch tells each Kallah something about Hindy once she chooses a wedding gown. I will be sending her a beautiful picture of Hindy to frame and place on the wall as well. Some of the Kallahs wrote beautiful thank you letters to Mrs. Ben-Baruch, and she read some of the thank you letters to us. It was a profoundly moving and emotional meeting.