Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Good evening, and a Gutten Moed.

I usually speak to judges and juries in my professional capacity as a civil trial attorney. Tonight, I am speaking to you in my capacity as a neighbor, as a Shul member, as a Kohein, and as a friend.

For years, I have sat next to Rabbi Yehuda Feigen at the Shabbos morning Kiddush in Shul and at the Shabbos afternoon Shalosh Seudos. We schmoozed about small talk, anything and everything.

Many times, his son Dovid would sit between us, and little by little, I got to know this young man. At first, he was a bit quirky, sharing with me his corny jokes and exploits (with parking tickets, social media, and the laws). But for the most part, he sat in between his father and I as we schmoozed about stuff.

But one Shabbos afternoon during Shalosh Seudos, as I was doing my thing - monopolizing the conversation with other men at the table, advocating my unique brand of pro-Israel positions, when suddenly, this cute kid to my right, chimed in, joined the conversation, and offered his astute and accurate observations and commentary about the successes of Iron Dome, about the integrity and morality of the IDF, about arab atrocities and human rights violations, about the UN’s hostility towards Israel, and about President Obama’s ambiguous and confusing support for Israel.

My jaw dropped, and I did a double-take as I took in Dovid Shimshon’s articulately worded commentaries. I suddenly stopped in my tracks monopolizing the conversation and took serious heed of what this ‘kid’ was saying.. I was absolutely floored and impressed with him and his message. I mentioned to him that I have a blog entitled American Trial Attorneys in Defense of Israel, and the next thing I knew, he asked for my business card because he wanted to check it out for himself.

And since then, I have looked forward to my weekly encounters with Dovid at the Shabbos Kiddush and Shalosh Seudos, because his keen insights on Israel and her neighbors were, and are, 100% on the money. He is very well-read young man and very proficient in this area. His facebook postings about Israel (which I have read) reflect his strong values and his stronger commitment to a safe Israel.

When I learned that Dovid is volunteering to serve in the Tzahal - the Israel Defense Forces, as part of it’s Lone Soldier program, I was not surprised and was in absolutely in awe of the man that this ‘quirky’ joke-telling kid has become. The child has become a man and a leader and an example to us all.

I’m in awe of him, and for good reason. Dovid could easily live in the lap of luxury, and enjoy life like a happy go lucky teenager; with solid financial and emotional from his loving parents: my good friends: Rabbi Yehuda & Simi Feigen. But Dovid seems to be made from a different clothe. He is far more altruistic, far more driven, far more focused, and not seemingly interested in living a “soft” idyllic life in LA. He wants to serve his People and he wants to protect Klal Yisroel and he wants to protect the Land of Israel. If that does not floor you, I don’t know what would. This kid is amazing. His parents are also amazing for supporting him fully. But his parents are not the focus of tonight’s gathering and I’m sure that they will forgive me for passing on their praise and rather focusing on their son. But they deserve the praise as well.

While other Israeli kids look desperately for ways to get out of this kind of public service, to dodge the draft to the IDF, Dovid is reaching out from the other side of the world, from the relative safety and security of Hancock Park, to be one with his People and is volunteering to serve.

Make no mistake, this is not an adolescent whim nor a crazy teenage joy-ride. This is very serious business and Dovid is as focused as ever on doing this well. Because he wants to make Aliyah and live in Israel, he wants to do his share and serve. This is beyond honorable.

Tonight's Seudas Pereida is loosely translated as a Celebration of Separation. But I will not agree with the definition. I will be praying for your welfare everyday and will remain connected to you in my Tefilos sending you good thoughts awaiting your safe return.

In honor of Dovid Shimshon, I thought it would be befitting to read to you an amazing letter by IDF Colonel Ofer Winter, the commander of the IDF’s Givati Brigade; which is an infantry brigade of the Israel Defense Forces, and serves as its amphibious force. Givati soldiers are designated by purple berets. The Brigade's symbol is the fox, alluding to Shualei Shimshon (lit. Samson's Foxes), a unit in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Ofer Winter’s letter was official dispatch sent to battalion and company commanders on July 9, 2014 and it came came as Israel geared up for possible ground operations against Hamas in the Palestinian territory in Operation Protectiver Shield in Gaza. The ground incursion involved the Givati Brigade. Ofer’s letter inspired and gave moral clarity to our entire people:

“We have been bestowed a great privilege to command and serve in the Givati Brigade at this time. History has chosen us to be on the cutting edge of the war against the terrorist enemy, the “one of Gaza” [cf. Yehoshua 13:3] who curses, reviles, and defames the G-d of the battalions of Israel. [Cf. Dovid’s encounter with Golias, the Plishti, Shmuel I 17:10, 26, 36, 45.] Let us prepare and ready ourselves for this moment when we accept upon ourselves this mission with a sense of agency and complete humility and with a readiness to put ourselves in danger or give up our lives in order to protect our families, our nation, and our birthplace.

Let us work with resolve and strength and with initiative, strategy, and hard work in our encounter with the enemy. We will do everything we can to fulfill our mission to cut down the enemy and to remove fear from the people of Israel. Our credo is “We do not return before the mission is done.” Let us work and do everything we can to bring back our boys in peace by utilizing every means at our disposal and with any effort that is required.

I am relying on you, on each and every one of you, to do your duty in this spirit, the spirit of Jewish warriors who go out in in front of the camp. “The spirit which is called ‘Givati.’”  I lift up my eyes to Heaven and say with you, “Shma Yisrael, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad.” May Hashem, the G-d of Israel, bring success in our mission in which we stand to do battle for the sake of Your people Israel against the enemy who curses Your Name.

In the name of the warriors of the IDF generally, and in particular, in the name of the warriors and commanders of our Brigade, may Hashem act and fulfill in us that which it says in the pasuk, “Hashem your G-d goes out with you to do battle with your enemies for you to save you” [Devarim 20:4], and let us say Amen.

"Together, and only together, will we be victorious."

Ofer Winter, Aluf Mishneh, Commander, Givati Brigade”

I mentioned that I am a Kohein, and as such, I would like to bless Dovid with a Birchas Kohein, and I ask that Dovid come up and allow me to bless him