Monday, September 30, 2013

General Allenby in Jerusalem

Oldest Living Pianist Alice Herz-Sommer - 109 yrs old

Music literally saved her life! "The Lady in Number 6" is one of the most inspirational, uplifting stories of the year. 109 year old, Alice Herz Sommer the world's oldest pianist and oldest holocaust survivor in the world shares her views on how to live a long and happy life. She discusses the importance of music, laughter and having an optimistic outlook on life.

HOLY TO ISLAM? Muslims Playing Soccer on the Temple Mount!!! MUSLIM INTOLERANCE MUST BE STOPPED!

Half-Blinded US Marine Backs Israel

http://DemoCast.TV US Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Edward Schrank who visited Israel through the Wounded Warrior Project - took a "Soldier Ride" through Israel thanks to Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. He discovered an outpost of the western civilization we're trying to defend against Islamist jihadism. Stevie Wonder had cancelled his FIDF engagement to perform at an FIDF fundraising dinner on pressure from Muslims and the far-Left.

Iran Wants Peace. Rouhani Said So

Civil trial attorney Baruch C. Cohen meets Zaka's Rabbi Yehuda Meshi-Zahav at the Kotel on Hashana Rabah

Yehuda Meshi-Zahav evolved from an anti-Zionist firebrand in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood into the founder of ZAKA, a unique rescue and recovery organization.

Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, founder of ZAKA, at the site of the June 2003 bus bombing in Jerusalem.

In a special Knesset gathering in November, Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz presented an award to ZAKA Rescue and Recovery Organization founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav for raising awareness and promoting road safety.

The moment was noteworthy not just because it acknowledged ZAKA’s role in responding to thousands of car accidents and encouraging safer driving, but also because it underlined the warm relationship between Israel’s secular officials and Meshi-Zahav, an ultra-Orthodox (haredi) former anti-Zionist agitator.

Since founding ZAKA in 1995, the 51-year-old father of seven has gained a reputation as an international rescue authority and as one of Israel’s greatest champions of tolerance among both Jews and Arabs.

His post-9/11 work in New York earned him an invitation to participate in a special commemoration on the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attack, and he chose to take along Sheikh Akel Elatrash, commander of ZAKA’s Bedouin Unit in the Negev.

“We slept in the same room, ate our meals together, and toured Manhattan together,” Meshi-Zahav tells ISRAEL21c. With one sporting a black velvet skullcap and long gray sidelocks and the other in traditional Arab robe and headdress, the two caused quite a stir. “People asked if we were part of a film,” he recalls.

Though Meshi-Zahav’s life story could easily be mistaken for a screenplay, he is as real as the flesh and blood he encounters at the scenes of accidents, crimes and terrorist attacks. Brought up in the insular Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim, he was ingrained to distrust “the other” and to disdain Zionism as evil.

Arrested 34 times for anti-Zionist agitation

“The haredi community is set up with ‘walls’ to protect us from outside influences,” Meshi-Zahav says, speaking in Hebrew translated by his foreign media spokeswoman, Lydia Weitzman, and ZAKA development director David Rose. “I never knew there were Jews who act and behave differently and that they are also good people.”

The 11th generation Jerusalemite was taught that there was a correct and incorrect way to do things, “and if we did something the incorrect way, we were called Zionists.”

This same man, who proudly lit the torch ushering in the State of Israel’s Independence Day celebrations in 2003, was arrested 34 times at anti-Zionist demonstrations as a youth.

Photo by courtesy of ZAKA.
ZAKA members took part in the recovery operation at the site of the burned bus in the Carmel Forest fire.

At some point, the young Meshi-Zahav developed an affinity for the police who apprehended him time and again. “I began to see them as regular people who wanted to go home to their families after a day’s work,” he relates. “I started to see that a lot of things could be settled more easily by just sitting and talking to one another.”

With this revelation as a backdrop, on July 6, 1989 Meshi-Zahav heard the explosion and subsequent screams emanating from a bus driven into a ravine by a terrorist. He and some friends rushed to the scene, determined to help tend the wounded and collect scattered body parts and blood for burial.

Though his mother had set a volunteering example with her regular visits to terminally ill patients, Meshi-Zahav knew neither first aid nor forensics. But he knew Jewish laws regarding human remains, and he discovered that no organization in Israel was authorized to do this gruesome but sacred work.

Free access to Palestinian hospitals

His life took on a new purpose: “Even though we Israelis have different opinions about how the state should be, the time had come to live together.”

Over the next six years, he lay the groundwork for ZAKA (a Hebrew acronym for Disaster Victims Identification). The only group of its kind worldwide, it is recognized by the United Nations as an international volunteer humanitarian organization. Donations make up most of its funding; about 10 percent of the budget comes from the government.

During the Arab uprising or intifada from 2000 to 2006, Meshi-Zahav and about 600 volunteers rarely slept, constantly on alert for the next call. Working knee-deep in blood, Meshi-Zahav was fortified by his faith.

“At the time, I thought we were dealing with kavod hamet – honoring the dead. By the end, I realized that we were actually honoring the living, because a family whose loved one cannot receive a full Jewish burial has no rest.”

ZAKA developed an avenue for transferring the remains of terrorists to the Palestinian Authority. “Our humanitarian message is the key that allows us to open doors to all communities,” Meshi-Zahav says. “Even during [those years], we were going into Palestinian hospitals when we needed to.”

Today, some 1,500 Jewish, Muslim and Druze ZAKA volunteers carry out lifesaving, rescue and recovery operations in Israel and around the world, garnering numerous awards including a citation from New York City for assistance following 9/11. The organization was one of those from Israel that was active in Haiti after the earthquake. Awareness of ZAKA’s mission has grown in Israel and abroad.

I have no strikes or vacations

“Before ZAKA, if there was a traffic accident in Israel, paramedics would take care of the injured and a private ambulance would come to take the dead … but if there were body parts, nobody collected them,” says Meshi-Zahav. “The firemen would wash down all the blood and that was the end of it. Now it is in the Israeli consciousness to call us instead.”

ZAKA has also changed attitudes in the haredi community, now one of its largest pools of volunteers. In the early years, Meshi-Zahav’s children were derided at school for their father’s close cooperation with official Israeli agencies.

But even when the social pressure eased, the time pressure did not. Calls come day and night from ZAKA’s hotline or from the army, emergency services, police, firefighters, Homefront Command or foreign governments.

“My typical day’s schedule is not fixed by me, but by the angel of death,” Meshi-Zahav says. “I have no strikes or vacations.”

The Carmel Forest fire earlier this month was a case in point. ZAKA volunteers rappelled down a hill to reach the site of the burned bus carrying prison guards and sift through the charred wreckage to uncover all human remains before the victims were buried. Another team worked to identify the charred bodies. “The people of Israel owe you much gratitude for the holy work that you have been doing,” Interior Minister Eli Yishai told them.

While awaiting better times with perfect faith, Meshi-Zahav remains dedicated to his twin missions of disaster response and bettering society. “In the same way that enemies don’t distinguish between different types of Jews, we too must be for everyone,” he says. “Our guiding principle is our belief that all men were made in the image of God.”

90 years ago today, 78% of 'Palestine' was given to the Hashemites

90 years ago today, the League of Nations approved the British Mandate for 'Palestine.' As part of that approval, 78% of the country's territory was turned over to Britain's ally, the Hashemite family of Jordan.
The British Mandate for Palestine, or simply the Mandate for Palestine, was a legal commission for the administration of the territory that had formerly constituted the Ottoman Sanjaks of NablusAcre, the Southern portion of the Beirut Vilayet, and the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem, prior to the Armistice of Mudros. The draft of the Mandate was formally confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922, amended via the 16 September 1922 Transjordan memorandum[1][2] and which came into effect on 29 September 1923[1] following the ratification of the Treaty of Lausanne.[3][4] The mandate ended at midnight on 14 May 1948.
The document was based on the principles contained in Article 22 of the draft Covenant of the League of Nationsand the San Remo Resolution of 25 April 1920 by the principal Allied and associated powers after the First World War.[1] The mandate formalised British rule in the southern part of Ottoman Syria from 1923–1948.
The formal objective of the League of Nations Mandate system was to administer parts of the defunct Ottoman Empire, which had been in control of the Middle East since the 16th century, "until such time as they are able to stand alone."[5] The mandate document formalised the division of the British protectorates - Palestine, to include a national home for the Jewish people, under direct British rule, andTransjordan, an Emirate governed semi-autonomously from Britain under the rule of the Hashemite family.[1]
Note that Wikipedia has done some clever editing above. They have changed what the document said to make it sound like 'Palestine' would include a national home for the Jewish people. But this is what the preamble to the mandate said: 
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.[28]
Note - no mention of 'Palestine' 'including' a national home for the Jewish people.

Learn some history: Read the whole thing.  

Israel Matzav: Religion of rape celebrates a 'sex jihad'

Tunisian girls have been sent to Syria to have sex with opposition jihadis. And no, this doesn't have anything to do with love. It's a sex jihad
Last Thursday, during an address to the National Constituent Assembly, Tunisian Interior Minister Lotfi Bin Jeddo announced that Tunisian girls who had traveled to Syria to perform “sex jihad” had returned after being sexually “swapped between 20, 30, and 100 rebels and they come back bearing the fruit of sexual contacts [from pregnancies to diseases] in the name of sexual jihad and we are silent, doing nothing and standing idle.”
Several video interviews with Tunisian females who went to the sex jihad further testify to the veracity of this phenomenon.
For example, 19-year-old Lamia, upon returning, confessed how she was made to have sex with countless men—including Pakistanis, Afghanis, Libyans, Tunisians, Iraqis, Saudis, Somalis, and a Yemeni, all in the context of the “sex jihad, and that she and many other women were abused, beaten, and forced to do things “that contradict all sense of human worth.”
Now back in Tunisia, Lamia has been to a doctor finding that she is five months pregnant. Both she and her unborn are carrying the Aids virus (read her whole story).
Other interviewed women have told of how they were “fooled,” or how their husbands (they being one of four wives) divorced and sent them to Syria for the sex jihad, with assurances that they would be guaranteed paradise in the afterlife.  One 16-year-old explained how her fatherordered her to have sex with several jihadi “liberators.”
Due to the severity of this matter, since March, 6,000 Tunisians were banned from travelling to Syria; 86 individuals suspected of forming “cells” to send Tunisian youth to Syria have been arrested.
Back in April, Sheikh Othman Battikh, former Mufti of Tunisia, said before reporters that, “For Jihad in Syria, they are now pushing girls to go there. 13 young girls have been sent for sexual jihad. What is this? This is called prostitution. It is moral educational corruption.”
He was dismissed from his position as Mufti of Tunisia days later.
It actually gets worse. Read the whole thing. What a despicable 'religion.'

Israel Matzav: The real Naqba of 1948

ELDER OF ZIYON: Yossi Klein HaLevi's Like Dreamers

The New York Times' Ethan Bronner reviews Yossi Klein HaLevi's Like Dreamers. This is from the first link.
Mr. Halevi, an American immigrant who has worked as a journalist and analyst in Jerusalem for 30 years, has created a textured, beautifully written narrative by focusing on seven men — and they are all men — Mr. Porat among them, who served in the paratroop brigade that conquered the Old City of Jerusalem in the 1967 war. The seven took distinct paths, a few becoming settler leaders, others active on the left, and in the arts and music. One sought common cause with Palestinian revolutionaries and, after a trip to Damascus, ended up in an Israeli prison for 12 years. By accompanying these men across the decades we gain a close understanding of many of the country’s internal debates. 
[T]he men Mr. Halevi has chosen are compelling. One isArik Achmon, a secular liberal from a kibbutz who helped transform Israel’s failing statist economy into a thriving capitalist one. Mr. Achmon helped found the first private domestic airline in Israel. The story of how he stood down the once-powerful Histadrut trade union federation to keep his company alive illustrates the enormous changes that Israeli society has undergone in the past three decades. A second character, Avital Geva, one of the country’s leading conceptual artists who represented Israel in the 1993 Venice Biennale with a fully functioning kibbutz greenhouse, also illustrates a crucial sector of a dynamic society.
But the story’s real strength derives from Mr. Halevi’s portraits of three settler leaders: Mr. Porat, Yoel Bin-Nun and Yisrael Harel. Their movement has been central to contemporary Israel, yet little understood abroad. Settlers are mostly portrayed as two-dimensional caricatures. Their actions violate the world’s hope for a Palestinian state on the land they are taking, and their ideology does not lend itself easily to rational discourse. It is hard to know how to negotiate with someone like Mr. Bin-Nun who, as described in the book, believed that the “Torah was a blueprint for God’s relationship with a holy nation living in a holy land,” or with Mr. Porat, who saw “no contradiction between conquering the land and creating peace, because the return of the holy people to the holy land was a precondition for world peace.”
Yet Mr. Halevi, a religiously observant Jew with centrist politics by the standards of today’s Israel, brings us into these men’s lives and thoughts, taking us along on their journeys and making of them fully realized characters. We are with them not only for their internal meetings and personal struggles but also for their interactions with Israeli officials, who often claimed to reject settlements while legitimizing them. It is clear that if the government had wanted to stop them — if officials had seen the settlement project as an existential danger rather than as a way to expand narrow borders, send defiant messages and win close elections — it could have.
I would read this one.

ELDER OF ZIYON: Muslims claiming that Mount of Olives is not a historic Jewish cemetery

Arabic media are reporting that Sheikh Sabri Abu Diab, imam of a mosque in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood, is claiming that the Jewish ties to Har HaZeitim - the Mount of Olives - are fictional.

Diab claims that although the Ottoman government allowed limited numbers of Jews to be interred there, the hundreds of acres of the Mount are mostly filled with fake Jewish graves that were created only for Jews to grab more Jerusalem-area land.

In reality, the Mount of Olives has been a Jewish graveyard since First Temple times. Some 150,000 Jews are estimated to be buried there.

Tens of thousands of gravestones were desecrated by Jordan during the 19 years that the world considers a "status quo."

Here is a photo of the gravestones being used as stairs for an Jordanian army camp:

And here is a gravestone used to help build a latrine in Jordan:

Indeed, the only people ever to fake graves in Jerusalem to grab land are, naturally, Muslims.

But these are just competing narratives, and the Arab lies must be respected as much as historic truth, right? That seems to be the rule in the Middle East nowadays.

David Hollander, Israel from Claims Conference

David Hollander, Israel from Claims Conference on Vimeo.

Civil trial attorney Baruch C. Cohen speaks at Shaar Mandelbaum dedication ceremony at Meor HaTalmud in Rechovot with Rabbi Simcha Hakoehein Kook

Rav Kook recalled that his great grandfather on his mother`s side was Rav Boruch Mandelbaum, Rav of Tureva in Russia and had a great love for the Holy Land. On his way to settle in Jerusalem he managed to get an appointment with the great philanthropist Baron Rothschild in Paris. The result: the baron built 50 housing units in the impoverished city enabling many great sages to make their home in what came to be called "Batey Machase". The "Batey Machase" is in the old city of Jerusalem near Yeshivat Hakotel and part of it is used today as the Silberman School.  My great- grandfather wrote a book of halachot, dedicating it to Baron Rothschild in gratitude. Later, my grandfather Rav Simcha Mandelbaum who's home later became the famous Mandelbaum Gate after the war of independence, opened up a sock factory for Jerusalem women who much needed employment" Rav Kook related.

Rabbi Simcha Hakohen Kook

Finding Common Ground in Rehovot
by Moshe Shapiro 
Reprinted with permission from Yated Neeman USA
Crossing a typical street in Eretz Yisroel is much like crossing a traffic-logged avenue in Manhattan during rush hour: motorists assume that they, rather than pedestrians, have the right of way. 
Unless, that is, if you are crossing the streets of Rehovot, a bustling city with nearly 100,000 residents some 15 miles south of Tel Aviv, and 40 miles south of Yerushalayim. Residents are so polite that the city has an almost American feel to it. Motorists don't just stop for pedestrians; they occasionally even stop for drivers coming from the opposite direction angling for a left-hand turn.
But Rehovot's uniqueness isn't limited to its good manners. In fact, those manners are likely an outgrowth of what makes Rehovot truly unique-the fact that it is perhaps the only city in Eretz Yisroel where religious and secular Jews live side by side in peace.

And this isn't because the city is divided into exclusively religious and non-religious neighborhoods, as is the case in Yerushalayim and Bnei Brak. In Rehovot, the communities are mixed, with many apartment buildings housing both religious and secular residents. How is it that in Rehovot religious-secular relations are growing warmer everyday, while in the rest of the country they have soured to the point where analysts discuss the possibilities of a civil war breaking out? 
Many people say it has a lot to do with the city's chief rabbi, Rav Simcha Hakohen Kook. Over the last quarter of a century he has turned a largely ceremonial post into an active effort to bridge the gap between the city's secular and religious residents, thereby raising the level of overall religious observance in the city. 
Rehovot's Generator
Rav Kook, 70, made Rehovot his home 30 years ago. Back then, only 12 percent of the city's children were attending religious schools, and the number of kosher food stores could be counted on the fingers of one hand. 
At the time, Rav Kook's brother, Rav Shlomo Kook, served as Rehovot's chief rabbi. But in 1980, Rav Shlomo Kook was killed in a car accident along with his wife and two of their children.
The position was then offered to Rav Kook, who had been poised to accept a rabbinical position in Tiveria. His brother's untimely death made him wonder whether he should reconsider that decision. He consulted his rosh yeshiva, Rav Meir Chadash of Chevron Yeshiva, and Rav Menachem Man Schach, who had served as rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Kletzk in Rehovot years earlier, and with whom he was particularly close. Both encouraged him to accept the position in Rehovot.
One of the first things Rav Kook did in his new role was establish a local yeshiva together with his brother, Rav Avraham Yitzchak, who learned in Yeshivas Ponovezh, and Rav Chaim Zelivansky, zt"l, who learned in Yeshivas Beer Yaakov and later, in Brisk. Though a small kollel existed in the city, he says that he felt the only way to really have an impact on the city was to open a yeshiva that would serve as its spiritual dynamo. 
Yeshivas Meor Hatalmud started with just 20 students. Today it has more than 300, including a thriving kollel. Rav Kook also established a mesivta in Rehovot and two mesivtas and a cheder in Yerushalayim, which are run in accordance with Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman's personal guidance. All of these institutions, which accommodate 850 students, are part of the Generations Educational Network, of which Rav Kook serves as chairman.
Rav Kook says that visitors to Rehovot often don't realize just how great a role Yeshivas Meor Hatalmud is playing in the city. He says that many people are under the misconception that the city has a special atmosphere because it is home to the prestigious Weizmann Institute of Science and has a large Israel Air Force base nearby.
Rav Kook, however, sees things differently. "The city has a certain electricity," he says, " and the yeshiva is the generator. Like the child who flips on the light switch and fails to comprehend that there are electrical circuits making this possible, visitors come to Rehovot and are charmed by its special atmosphere without comprehending the role the yeshiva plays in it.
"The yeshiva," he explains, "is the generator humming in the background that creates this special atmosphere." 
A Two-Way Street
While being the city's chief rabbi and chairman of its yeshiva might seem like an unusual mix, Rav Kook says the system benefits everyone. First, he says, it has made the position of chief rabbi more yeshivish.
Second, not only does the chief rabbinate benefit from the yeshiva, the yeshiva also benefits from the chief rabbinate. 
"It's a two-way street," explains Rav Kook. "Because of my dual role as chief rabbi and nassi of the yeshiva, the talmidim get a better sense of what it means to have communal responsibilities and disseminate Torah among the populace at large." 
Rav Kook gives his students that sense by discussing with them his experiences as chief rabbi and the decisions he makes in that position. He even asks them how they would handle some of those situations if they were in his shoes. 
"They become keenly aware of the needs of Am Yisroel and become sensitized to what works and what doesn't," he says. "This gives them a tremendous experience that not too many yeshiva students get nowadays before they are thrust into the real world of communal leadership and rabbanus." 
Rav Kook adds that his dual role is something that Rav Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv strongly supports. He says that it is built on a similar model that has worked well in Yerushalayim, where Rav Yosef Efrati, one of Rav Eliyashiv's closest disciples, serves simultaneously as senior halachic authority of the Yerushalayim Rabbinate's kashrus department and head of a prestigious halachic kollel. 
"Rav Shach and Rav Eliyashiv encouraged me to go into the rabbinate," says Rav Kook. "They felt that my presence in the rabbinate would enable the Torah authorities of Eretz Yisroel to have a greater impact on the religious standards prevalent among the general populace. That's the main reason I did it." 
An Open House
For Rav Kook, being the city's chief rabbi means exactly what the title intimates-that he has a responsibility to serve all of the city's Jews, regardless of their background, level of religious observance or political leanings. He takes the time to listen to every question and every point of view and, as one reporter discovered, he shows every person respect-often a lot more than they expect. 
This may explain why thousands of city residents of all stripes visit Rav Kook on Chol Hamoed Sukkos, when he holds an annual open house in his Sukka.
City employees such as firemen and policemen are often among the guests, though the self-effacing Rav Kook says he believes that for the latter group, at least, the visit has more to do with an old legend than anything else. According to that legend, any police officer that visits the Rav's sukka during Sukkos will receive a promotion. 
"It's actually quite an uncanny thing-many of the officers who have come to the sukka are now in the top echelon of the police department," says Rav Kook with a chuckle, and starts counting them off on his fingers. "They see it as a sort of segula." 
But there are many others who visit the Rav's sukka even though no segulas are involved-like members of the traditionally anti-religious Meretz party. 
"I think its one of the only places in the country where members of Meretz, the NRP and the religious parties get together under one roof and just relax and talk together," says Rav Kook. "It's a very special atmosphere." 
Rav Kook also hosts American yeshiva students and seminary girls on Shabbos and Yom Tov. But for many members of the community, the most unique event of the year in Rehovot is Simchas Torah, when Rav Kook's expansive living room seems to expand even further to hold the more than 250 people who come to sing and dance there until sundown.
"We have men in one room and women in the other, and people with absolutely no religious background sing and dance together with the yeshiva bachurim," explains Rav Kook. "This is another way the yeshiva has an influence on the city-an event of this sort has a more lasting impact than most people imagine." 
The Drinks Are on the House
Rav Kook's role as chief rabbi of Rehovot is not limited to bringing religious and non-religious Jews together. It is also about the much harder task of raising the level of religious observance among all of the city's residents.
When Rav Kook first came to Rehovot, many businesses operated on Shabbos. But ever since his arrival, things have improved.
Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Rav Kook's brother and rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Meor Hatalmud, recalls how several years ago Rav Simcha Kook began his campaign to close the city's businesses on Shabbos by single-handedly shutting down a centrally located disco.

According to Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook's account, his brother the chief rabbi walked into the disco one Friday night, sat down at a table and began talking to a group of teens. It wasn't long before the owner, who was none too pleased with the effect this unexpected client was having on his business, came over to Rav Kook and politely asked him to leave. Rav Kook calmly replied that he thought the disco was open to the public and that he wasn't bothering anyone. He resumed his conversation with the teens at his table. 
When it became clear to the owner that Rav Simcha had no intention of leaving, he started threatening him, and for a moment it looked like things were about to turn ugly. But then Rav Kook drew support from an unexpected quarter-the teens sitting at his table. 'Leave him alone,' they said to the owner, 'he's not bothering anyone.' 
Rav Kook, not wanting to stir things up further, got up and told the boys, 'Look, its obvious I'm not wanted here. But I have an idea-instead of you buying your drinks here, why don't you come over to my place? Drinks are on the house.'
And that, says Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, was the beginning of the end of the disco. 
Following the showdown, the boys followed Rav Kook to his apartment and peppered him with questions. "They got everything off their chests," Rav Avraham Yitzchak recalls. "They asked my brother the usual questions: Why don't religious people serve in the army? Why don't they sing the national anthem? Why don't they hang Israeli flags from their balconies on Independence Day? They left in the wee hours of the night. And then they came back on the following Friday night, and on the next, and the next." 
Soon the disco closed down, and eventually many of the boys in that group became religious and are today respected members of Torah communities in Eretz Yisroel. 
"Even the ones who didn't do teshuva," says Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, "told my brother, 'We may not agree with you, but now we understand your point of view and respect your right to live this way of life.' 
"In Israel's fractured society," he concludes, "that is quite an achievement." 
Darkei Shalom
But Rav Kook himself concedes that his fight for Shabbos observance in Rehovot that began years ago with the disco episode is far from over. While no large shopping centers in the city are open on Shabbos-thanks largely to Rav Kook's diplomatic efforts-there are a small number of coffee shops that remain open. And that's a situation that Rav Kook, along with the city's Mishmeres Shabbos, are actively working to change.
Members of the Mishmeres, including Rav Kook, spend their Friday afternoons visiting each and every store, restaurant and coffee shop in the downtown section of the city. Their approach is straightforward-and noncombative. When Rav Kook enters a store, all he says is Gut Shabbos. Shabbos is coming soon, when are you closing? 
He explains that storeowners who close their shops on Shabbos are happy to see him, but the same can't always be said for those who don't.
"Some get a little upset with me," says Rav Kook, "but most just smile and say, 'Well, maybe someday.'"
Thanks to the Mishmeres efforts, in recent weeks, someday actually arrived for two more coffee shops, whose owners decided it was time to close on Shabbos. 
"It's an ongoing effort," says Rav Kook. "But the point is that its done with Darkei Shalom." 
Generating Trust
But aren't their cases when even the amicable Rav Kook needs to resort to something other than Darkei Shalom to fight anti-religious sentiments?
Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook could think of only one instance in which his brother took a stand against another Jew-but even then his trademark Darkei Shalom was still an inherent part of his approach. 
Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook explains that, as a rule, his brother always remains impartial in municipal elections. But during one mayoral election, one of the candidates went on an anti-religious ticket and vowed to open up the city on Shabbos, and here Rav Kook felt he had no choice but to break his long-standing policy of impartiality and back the other candidate.
"When Rav Simcha's candidate lost," recalls Rav Avraham Yitzchak, "he called the new mayor to congratulate him, and he sent him a tallis and a silver Kiddush cup."
According to Rav Avraham Yitzchak, "the mayor was so touched by the gesture that he called Rav Simcha Kook and asked to meet with him. After one conversation with Rav Kook, the mayor decided not to open up the city on Shabbos after all."
Over the years, says Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, the mayor became very close to my brother. When he ended his term of office, he dropped by the yeshiva to say goodbye. He told Rav Simcha, 'I didn't always agree with you, but you were one of the few people I knew I could trust-even more than my so-called friends and allies.' 
Well Worth the Effort
In an effort to raise the level of religious observance in Rehovot, Rav Kook has not only worked tirelessly to curb Shabbos desecration. He has also raised the level of kashrus by building his own kashrus supervision body, Badatz Mehadrin Rehovot, which has since become universally recognized by members of the Torah community.

On the local level, this means that in his hometown, which years ago had just a handful of kosher shops, the majority of stores now bear a hechsher that is among the best the Torah community can offer. And on a national level, it means that thousands of Torah Jews around the country are benefiting from products with Rav Kook's highly regarded hechsher. 
"The entire chareidi community and virtually every yeshiva in the country uses meat products carrying our hechsher," says Rav Kook proudly. "It's also our fifth shmitta, and our reputation remains beyond reproach." 
While creating the kashrus supervision system was a difficult task that took much time and effort, Rav Kook says in retrospect that, it was well worth the effort. 
From Russia to Rehovot
Because Rehovot also has a large immigrant population, in addition to his many other duties, Rav Kook also spends considerable time and effort assisting Russian Jews.
Rav Kook is an enthusiastic supporter of Shuvu, which provides social assistance and Torah schooling to underprivileged children from the former Soviet Union. Shuvu Chairman Mr. Abe Biderman, and Shuvu Director in Eretz Yisroel Rabbi Chaim Michoel Gutterman, both credit Rav Kook for being a driving force behind the recent establishment of a Shuvu elementary school in Rehovot.
"I think the Shuvu school system is a very important contribution to the Russian immigrant community," Rav Kook says, "and during my last meeting with Rav Pam a few weeks ago, I made sure to thank him for opening such a school in our city." 
av Kook also travels to the Ukraine several times a year to promote Jewish education among Jews still living in the former Soviet Union. He was instrumental in the appointment of the chief rabbis of Russia, Moscow and Ukraine, and assisted a number of organizations that established Jewish schools there, including Ohr Somayach's school in Odessa, which serves 300 students. 
Daniel Pochovitz is one of the many Russian immigrants whose lives Rav Kook has personally touched. Seven years ago Daniel came to Eretz Yisroel as part of the Youth Aliyah Program run by the Jewish Agency. Rav Kook addressed the members of this group on several occasions, and Daniel felt himself being gradually drawn to Rav Kook and his message of the importance of a Jewish way of life. Daniel began visiting Rav Kook in his home, and he soon told his counselors that he wanted to join Yeshivas Meor Hatalmud. 
The counselors response was to refer Daniel to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist, however, confirmed that Daniel was completely sane. When the counselors still refused to allow Daniel to attend the yeshiva, he threatened to convince all of the members of his group to become religious. 
The next morning a smiling Daniel arrived at Rav Kook's doorstep. Rav Kook, however, didn't return the smile until he contacted the Jewish Agency and asked for a letter verifying that its officials had let Daniel leave on his own accord. The last thing Rav Kook wanted was to be charged with kidnaping. 
Daniel's story, however, didn't end there. Though Daniel's father was a Jew, his mother wasn't, and so despite Daniel's strong religious feelings, he had to go through a lengthy conversion process. 
Today Daniel, a wiry fellow with a ragged beard and a ready smile, looks like any other bachur at Meor Hatalmud. 
"This Simchas Torah, my family went to Rav Kook's house," says Daniel, "and my father danced with the sefer Torah in a way I've never seen anyone dance before. And its all because of Rav Kook." 
All I See is a Jew
Much has changed since Rav Kook's early days in Rehovot. Today 35 percent of children in Rehovot attend religious schools. The majority of stores have kashrus supervision and most businesses are closed on Shabbos. Many local Russian immigrants are finding their way back to their roots, and the city's Jews respect each others differences.
Rav Kook has been the driving force behind these changes, though he isn't quick to take the credit. For him, it's all just part of the job. He says he's learned much over the last two decades about how to bridge the gap that is tearing apart the rest of Israeli society: "First," he says, "one has to learn to understand others-yet without compromising Torah values. And second, the best way to bring people closer to each other, and to Hashem, is by showing them respect, regardless of who they are. 
"When I see a person," he says simply, "I look for the Jew inside." 

Civil trial attorney Baruch C. Cohen meets Israeli Knesset member Rabbi Dov Lipman at Mamila Hotel, Jerusalem

Rabbi Dov Lipman (Hebrewדב ליפמן‎, born 9 September 1971) is an Israeli Knesset member of the 19th Knesset.[1] He is a member of Yesh Atid, and was placed seventeenth on the party's list for the 2013 Knesset elections.[2] Yesh Atid won 19 seats, making Lipman the first American-born to be elected to the Knesset since Meir Kahane in 1984.

View of the Temple Mount from the roof of Yeshiva Ateres Kohanim, Jerusalem

Civil trial attorney Baruch C. Cohen meets Rabbi Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Kanievsky in Bnei Brak

Sunday, September 15, 2013 Attorney for Israel - Baruch Cohen knows the art of the fight. by Judy Gruen

Attorney for Israel 
by Judy Gruen 

Baruch Cohen knows the art of the fight.

Attorney for Israel

At the end of his second year in law school, Baruch Cohen was invited to interview for a job with a Wall Street law firm. This was a total surprise, as he had not applied for a position with the “white shoe” firm, which normally courted straight-A, Ivy League waspy students. Baruch, in contrast, attended a mid-level law school, was obviously Jewish, and didn’t have a perfect GPA. The dean told him, “I have no idea why you got this opportunity but I suggest you not wear your yarmulke to the interview. And make sure those white strings aren’t coming out of your belt.”
Coming from a long line of orthodox rabbis and committed to his Judaism, Baruch was torn. “I grew up in a tough Far Rockaway neighborhood,” he recalls. “Where I come from, anyone telling me to take off my kippah was usually angling for a fight.” He asked advice from rabbis and orthodox attorneys he knew: wear the kippah for the interview or not? Everyone advised he remove it for this potentially career-making opportunity.
With his kippah in his pocket, Baruch walked into the interview feeling almost as if he were shirtless. He was stunned to see that the attorney sitting there wore a huge velvet yarmulke and tzitzit. His first question to Baruch was, “Where’s your yarmulke?”
Too shocked to speak, Baruch learned that this attorney had seen him clerking in court, noticed his kippah and decided to offer him an interview. As the young law student stood there defenseless, the elder man laced into him. “You’re a sellout,” he said. “This is a firm of leaders, not followers.” The interview ended before it began.
This event was a defining moment, sharpening Baruch Cohen’s commitment to never apologize for who he was.
This event, which took place more than 25 years ago, was a defining moment, sharpening Baruch Cohen’s commitment to never apologize for who he was. “Ever since that day, I have worn my kippah everywhere, at bench trials and any other professional venue. If someone has a problem with my kippah, it’s their problem, not mine. Orthodox Jewish attorneys should not feel like second-class citizens in the American judicial system. Our Torah pioneered all the core concepts of law.”
A successful L.A. business and litigation attorney, Baruch Cohen says that today, it’s common to see observant attorneys wearing kippahs in the courtroom, and he has never personally encountered flack from judges for it. But among the many articles he has written on the intersection of Jewish and civil law, one was based on a Texas judge who demanded an orthodox attorney remove his kippah in her courtroom or she would not allow him to argue his case there.

Defending Israel

Baruch Cohen holding a Kassam rocket that Hamas fired into SderotBaruch Cohen holding a Kassam rocket
that Hamas fired into Sderot
Baruch’s persona as an observant Jew, especially in the very public arena of courthouses, makes him a magnet for questions about Israel and Judaism. Once a Jewish colleague cornered him at the courthouse. “I can’t understand why Israel won’t make peace with the Palestinians,” the man asked.
Baruch was outraged at the man’s naiveté. “This was a stacked question, so I employed a technique to get him to see the truth. Knowing the man was around 60, I asked him if he had ever had a CAT scan or MRI.”
“That’s an invasive question,” the man countered.
Baruch repeated the question, and as he retells the story, he clearly savors the memory of the duel. His colleague admitted that he had not only had these medical scans but that a tumor had been discovered along the way.
Did you decide to make peace with the tumor or did you go to battle with it to save your life?
Baruch then went in for the kill: “Did you decide to make peace with the tumor or did you go to battle with it to save your life?” The other lawyer was so startled by the analogy that he actually invited Baruch to make a presentation on Israel to a group of lawyers, all of whom had biases against Israel.
“Lawyers are supposed to be evidence-based, which means they should be on the forefront of defending Israel,” Baruch observes. In 2010, during the Gaza flotilla crisis, he was so outraged by the drumbeat of overwhelmingly negative press against Israel that he launched a blog called American Trial Attorneys in Defense of Israel. The blog includes links to Israel-related news articles, videos (including from blog posts and other commentary, and even the occasional parody, all meant to educate and enlighten readers about Jewish spirituality and Israel realpolitik. He credits Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz’s books Chutzpah and The Case for Israel in particular as an inspiration for his own advocacy.
“In a court of law, I’d have the opportunity to impeach Israel’s defamers. My blog is a cyberspace court of law,” he says. A Jewish judge confided to Baruch that his notions about Israel had previously been formed by the reflexively leftist editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times. This judge, whose name had been floated as a U.S. Supreme Court nominee, has since done a complete turnaround on Israel in part from reading the blog, and has even taken groups of colleagues there. Baruch is satisfied that the blog is having an impact. “Besides, the attorney reading the blog today might be a senator tomorrow.” Baruch has spoken several times on the case for Israel, including on behalf of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA.)
Baruch and son Yehuda holding Sefer Torah dedicated to Hindy CohenBaruch and son Yehuda holding
Sefer Torah dedicated to Hindy Cohen
It is clear when talking to Baruch Cohen that this man loves a good fight. “I’m a student of Sun Tzu's The Art of War,” he says. “I'm tenacious like a pit bull when in fight-mode.” From his spacious ninth-floor office in midtown Los Angeles with floor-to-ceiling windows, on a clear day he can see all the way to the Pacific Ocean from one view and the skyscrapers downtown from the opposite view. Before a big case, he likes to pace the office in his stocking feet, practicing his arguments. “This is my lucky stress-reliever and helps focus my mind, like Bruce Willis in Diehard.”
It’s not surprising that a man who channels Bruce Willis and Sun Tzu would also boast of his “aggressive” legal tactics in advertisements for his practice. He was also delighted to hear that an attorney from the opposing side in one case was warned, “Be afraid, be very afraid” of going against him. Don’t these “scorched earth” tactics and overt aggressiveness feed into negative Jewish stereotypes? Aren’t they at odds with ideals of Jewish justice and sensitivity?
“Not at all,” he states. “I’m aggressive but not abrasive. When a client is pursued wrongfully, it’s therapeutic to have someone strong on their side. It is rehabilitative for a broken and downtrodden client to have someone willing to fight for them to the max. As long as it is done with honesty and integrity, I see no contradiction. And sometimes the best offense is a good defense.”
Baruch is an avid fan of “There is nothing out there in the Jewish community as vast and comprehensive as for Torah insights, history, or inspiration. When someone asks me a question about Judaism, nine times out of ten I’ll find the perfect thing on, copy the article in an email, and highlight the areas of particular interest to that person. It lends credibility to what I have said and expands on it.”

Daughter’s Death

Fighting on behalf of clients and on behalf of the State of Israel is nothing compared to the fight Baruch and his wife, Adina, fought for two and half years to save the life of their eldest daughter, Hindy. Diagnosed with cancer just days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Hindy passed away at 17. Asked about the impact of his daughter’s death, Baruch sighs heavily and momentarily hangs his head.
“Without question this was the darkest and most traumatic event of our lives. This sort of tragic death can crush a person. In my darkness, Rabbi Boruch Gradon handed me a letter from Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, written to the head of the Lakewood Yeshiva after the head of the yeshiva became a bereaved parent. I was so lost, but began to feel lifted knowing that the Torah offers strength and direction, even for this type of tragedy.”
Baruch began collecting other such letters, written by righteous and deeply knowledgeable Jews on the topic of consolation. He translated letters from Hebrew, but also collected letters written in English, including one from Abraham Lincoln, who lost two sons. Baruch became consumed by this project, eventually collecting 700 pages of letters, poems and songs that helped him grieve and heal. He published the book, called Reb Yochanan’s Bone: Inspiration to the Bereaved Parent, named for a rabbi of the Talmudic era who lost 10 children. Baruch has given away approximately 250 copies of this book to others struggling through bereavement.
Being wrapped in my grief was isolating me from everyone. I couldn’t allow the darkness to consume me.”
“If anyone had suggested when I was in the darkest point in my grief that there was ever a day I could be happy, laugh and sing again, I would have said it’s impossible. That day eventually came after years of hard work, attending a group for bereaved parents, humbling myself to learn from the writings of others, and realizing that it’s not only about me. Being wrapped in my grief was isolating me from everyone.”
“People grieve differently, at different paces. Learning to respect my wife’s space was an extremely important epiphany,” he observes. “The moment I was able to focus on how other members of my family were coping it became healing for me.”
Baruch realized that as a trial attorney, his business was about understanding other people’s causes. “I decided to be my own lawyer, to champion my own cause. Grief had become the greatest adversary of my life. It has a gravitational force of its own, and I couldn’t allow the darkness to consume me.”
“Eventually, I started to carve out a path to recognize happiness from tragedy,simcha m’toch tzara. God measures the tragedy and sends us signs that He’s still with us. God gave me many signs showing me He had not abandoned me, and that was a substantial lifeline.”
“One Friday night at shul, I was still in my own personal hell, not paying attention to the davening. Then I heard the line from Lecha Dodi, “Too long have I dwelled in the valley of tears,” and I felt that was a signal from God. I decided that was time to get my second wind. The book was finished, we had dedicated a Torah scroll in Hindy’s memory, my in-laws had dedicated an ambulance in her memory to Hatzalah, and we had founded the Hindy Cohen Memorial Fund at Bais Yaakov of Los Angeles, where Hindy went to school.” This fund sponsors an annual day of learning for parents, as well as the Halleli Song and Dance Production, produced by the school every other year. “The time had come to reclaim some happiness.”
Finally, he felt the pain migrating out of him at a healthy pace. But based on his experiences, he has been shocked at the well-meaning yet insensitive things people often say when paying a condolence call. “Don’t try to suggest to anyone in this situation that they know why the tragedy happened, or that the bereaved family was ‘chosen’ for this mission because of any elevated spiritual status. I found that maddening, and I rebelled against it all.”
At a huge price, Baruch says the experience made him a deeper person. “I had never noticed people in wheelchairs until I went to Disneyland pushing a wheelchair, and then all I noticed was wheelchairs. I used to have some envy for the trappings of the rich and famous. Now the very oxygen I breathe is different. I can sense pain in a person, and I focus on good people with good values.”
Despite his many years in an emotional wilderness, Baruch says that his daughter’s death does not define him. “I know my child wants me to be in a positive mindset. I don’t wear it on my sleeve, but will share it with people who complain bitterly about their lives. I try to convey to them, ‘I am with you in your pain. You are not alone.’”
In public talks, Baruch emphasizes what he has learned about how to trust in God, the power of imagination, learning to rid yourself of envy, and how to carve out happiness from any scenario you are in. “If you are sick in bed, okay, you are not blind. If you are blind, well, you are alive. I believe that God is always holding and supporting you.”