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A trip on the Rhine hides the dark past of Germany

Posted on 16 August 2018 by admin

It was all that the travel brochure promised and more. Lounging, gazing and photo- graphing as our sleek river ship cruised past ancient castles, luxurious estates, quaint villages and lush green vineyards of Germany.

Watching the vessel maneuver through the many Rhine River lochs we traveled through was another form of entertainment for some folks. Each day, local tour guides, holding up their numbered signs, led us with our hearing aids through parts of their city, describing its ancient history, historic buildings and churches.

After a couple of days of touring, I realized that the guides rarely mentioned World War II, Hitler, their Jews or the Holocaust.

In each city we visited, the tour guide said little if anything about their Jewish population, other than the fact that most of the Jews came from the Soviet Union after its collapse.

I can understand their reluctance to discuss Hitler, the Holocaust or the war, but not mentioning it in any manner is a denial that it occurred.

The next day, we were to stop to visit Cochem and its 1,000-year-old imperial castle, 15th-century church and monastery.

I asked the guide for the location of the Jewish cemetery and was told that it was in the forest below the castle, “not well marked and difficult to find.”

He offered to show me plaques about Cochem’s Jews on a wall we would be walking by on the way back to our ship.

The plaques reveal the following: Cochem’s first Jews appeared in 1242. In 1287, 17 Jews, including 10 children, were killed in Cochem.

Additional massacres occurred in 1337 and 1349. Jews living in Cochem were expelled in 1418 and again in 1589.

Jews numbered 49 in 1834, 104 in 1894 and 49 in 1932.The synagogue, built in 1861, was destroyed by the Nazis in 1938.

The Jewish residents of Cochem murdered in the Holocaust were from the Dahl, Goetzoff, Haimann, Hein, Hirsch, Mayer and Simon families.

Given the horrible treatment of Jews throughout Cochem’s history culminating in the Holocaust, the placement of two metal plates high on a street wall, where they can hardly be noticed, fails to properly honor their memory.

Shame on the people of Cochem and other German cities failing to honor the memory of their Jewish neighbors.

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Intermarriage breaks the chain of Judaism

Posted on 16 August 2018 by admin

Dear Rabbi,

 I am in love with a Catholic girl and we want to get married, although we aren’t yet engaged. My parents say, “no way,” but can’t provide me with a rational reason why not. Just because “so many Jews died to stay Jewish” or that “my grandmother will turn over in her grave” just doesn’t speak to me. I’ll still be a proud Jew no matter who I marry, and my kids will decide themselves what they want to be. I still would like to hear what you have to say since I promised my parents to do this due diligence, so here I am.

 Rodney K.

 

Dear Rodney,

I appreciate your feeling that the “guilt arguments” of your parents are not sufficient motivation to bypass your feelings and leave the woman you love.

By the same token, in my experience, generally no argument under the sun will sway you from your desire once you’ve reached this point in the relationship. When one already has fallen in love, generally the only thing which may, perhaps, give one the strength to forgo the relationship is that one’s Jewish batteries are charged with many years of spiritual energy through Jewish education and observance. Your parents should have been concerned many years ago and provided you with that opportunity.

I therefore hesitate to answer your question, as it’s almost not fair to expect you to be able to detach yourself from your strong feelings and consider these ideas with clarity. However, since you asked, I will provide you with a few morsels of food for thought. I hope you will take them to heart.

For Jews, “marrying within the faith” isn’t simply a cultural preference or a prejudice; rather it is a commandment from God. “You shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughter to his son and you shall not take his daughter for your son…” (Deuteronomy 7:3-4)

This prohibition is predicated on a core Jewish understanding that we are not the same as the other nations of the world. Our lineage through the patriarchs and matriarchs, coupled with our acceptance of the Torah at Sinai, has elevated us and altered our spiritual makeup, making us different from the other nations forever.

Throughout our history, it was the profound, heartfelt and proud understanding that we are truly different, that prevented widespread intermarriage. Jews were always proud of our unique calling to be a “light unto the nations” (Isaiah 42:6), our eternal mission to inspire the rest of the world to follow God’s purpose in life.

To see what an impact we have had upon the world despite our smallness in number, illustrating just how different we are, let us study the words of two famous Gentiles as they analyze the chosen nation.

Leo Tolstoy wrote in a 1908 edition of Jewish World: “The Jew is that sacred being who has brought down from heaven the everlasting fire and has illuminated with it the entire world. He is the religious source, spring, and fountain out of which all the rest of the peoples have drawn their beliefs and their religions. The Jew is the pioneer of liberty. The Jew is the pioneer of civilization. The Jew is the emblem of eternity.”

Mark Twain wrote in Harper’s in 1899: “If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but 1 percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine and abstruse learning are also way out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers.

“He has made a marvelous fight in the world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished.

“The Jew saw them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other nations pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

We need to take heed of Twain’s powerful words — about us. The Gentile nations have not been successful in snuffing out the Jewish flame. Only we can snuff out our own flame — through assimilation and intermarriage.

You, Rodney, are being passed the torch to continue over 3,000 years of Jewish history into the next generation. By intermarrying, with one fell swoop, you detach yourself as a link in that holy chain and sever your future generations from being part of that timeless legacy.

In Jewish law the Judaism of children depends upon their mother. Your children, if you indeed marry a Gentile woman, will not be Jewish regardless of which practices they adopt, according to the Code of Jewish Law, Even Ha’ezer 8:5. Furthermore, many studies show that when children are expected to choose between Mom’s and Dad’s traditions, many deep psychological conflicts arise, often leaving them confused. Parents often choose to raise kids in what is called an “interfaith-less” marriage — with no identity or traditions to avoid the inevitable conflicts of intermarriage. Lastly, in today’s world, a terribly high percentage of all marriages end in divorce, although none of those divorcees expected to be part of those statistics when they wed. Studies show that intermarried couples divorce at significantly higher rates, due to a number of factors.

Let it suffice to say, putting all religious and cultural considerations aside, you are putting yourself at an extremely high risk of sacrificing your own happiness, as divorce can be one of the most devastating events ever experienced in one’s life.

Rodney, we are an eternal people and the Jewish people will live on — with or without you. The chain, however, will be much weaker if it will be missing your own vital and crucial link. Please consider staying on the train, and continue to ride with us all in our trek toward the fulfillment of the eternal goals of the Jewish people. They are your family, your people, your future and your eternal destiny.

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How long till the supremacists will find us?

Posted on 16 August 2018 by admin

Open before me on my computer screen is a post from a new (at least to me) organization called “They Can’t,” based in Jerusalem. That is in very small letters. Above, in much larger letters, is this: “The Jews are responsible for all the bad that has happened in this world. They all deserve to die.”

The “signatures” are an email address and two hashtags, none of which I’d copy here. In between, in big bold white letters shot with red, I read: “We removed this post…and 73,000 other anti-Semitic posts, videos and accounts! Help us DO MORE!”

Here’s the explanation and mission statement: “‘They Can’t’ refuses to let this incitement stand! Hate online is a worldwide phenomenon and has required us to track these perpetrators in multiple languages, including English, Arabic, Hebrew, French and German. Only TOGETHER can we defeat these forces and WIN THE ONLINE WAR!”

Of course, this online business is just a newer form of the old war we’ve been fighting since Biblical times. Here comes Amalek again, sneaking up on little kids wearing kippahs, making even adult men who have covered their heads (“religiously,” I might say) afraid to honor God in public. Random acts coalesce into mob actions.

And now comes this: A little town called Ulysses, in the rural, Amish area of north-central Pennsylvania, has been identified by the Washington Post as “A haven for white supremacists.” That’s the headline of a clipping I’ve received from one of those blessed folks who send me items that I’m unlikely to see here.

In that little hamlet, there is an entire house dedicated to Adolf Hitler, where “swastikas stand on poles, and Nazi flags fly side by side with star-spangled banners.” (I’ve taken just a little liberty with these quotes from a lengthy article by Gabriel Pogrund.) Potter County, Pennsylvania, has been a haven for white supremacy for 100 years, he reports, when the KKK first took up residence there. In the mid-20th century, it hosted a gathering of Klansmen, skinheads and neo-Nazis, all joined together as the World Aryan Congress. Recently, residents received “goody bags” with candy and this message: “You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake.” The local newspaper ran an advertisement reading “God Bless the KKK.”

A 43-year-old woodcarver named Daniel Burnside owns the Hitler house. He doesn’t call Donald Trump a leader of his cause, but does say “We’re anti-Semitic. When Trump says something that aligns with us —  close the borders, build the wall, look after your own — that’s good. We’ve been saying this for 25 years, but he has made it mainstream. We’re a white nation, and I respect that he supports that…”

Why am I not surprised that a white restaurant manager recently ran away from Ulysses with his black wife? After he found a KKK flyer outside his home, this man spearheaded an anti-racism gathering right there in town. And “Those guys drove by us and gave the gun signal, like they’re gonna shoot us,” he said. (One of “those guys” had already served 10 prison years for aggravated assault upon a black man.)

A long time ago — at the time the Holocaust was first becoming something talked about out loud — my Sunday school ninth-graders wondered why German Jews hadn’t just left their homes at the earliest signs of trouble. I asked what they would think if they went home from our class to find their parents sitting around the kitchen table with some non-Jewish neighbors who were advising them to make a quick getaway. And the kids laughed at how ridiculous that would be.

I write all this after the latest gathering of white supremacists in Washington, D.C. To them, we Jews are not white, and therefore not safe. I’m a native Pennsylvanian from nowhere near Ulysses. But today, as I write this, I worry if it’s only a short time until Ulysses spreads, and may even find us.

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God gives us both natural and supernatural

Posted on 01 August 2018 by admin

One of the pervading and profound themes throughout Torah is that from one Infinite Source emanates two inherent features within all creation — light and darkness, good and evil, heaven and earth, spiritual and physical, male and female, and so forth. Our job is to, in some way, reconcile or unite these two contrasting elements.

Sometimes, this reconciliation involves moral clarification, recognizing what harmful elements to avoid or disengage from and what to embrace. Other times it may entail working to create harmony between or unite two separate entities, as in a marriage.

Today, we will discuss a spiritual application that helps to refine our mind.

A recent appearance in the Torah occurs after verses speaking about the delivery from Egypt and entrance to the land of Israel, where we encounter a fundamental verse: “You shall comprehend today and instill in your heart, that Havayah (the Eternal) is Elokim (God) in heaven above and on the earth below; there is nothing else.” –Deuteronomy 4:39

A name, in general, is only a word, an arbitrary title used by people to refer to something or someone. Divine names describe specific manifestations or attributes. Here, we have two: The name Havayah (used for God’s essential Name spelled with the four letters — yud, hei, vav, hei) appears exactly 1,820 times throughout the five books of the Torah. We refer to it as the “essential Name,” or “the unique Name.” It may only be pronounced in the Holy Temple; its correct pronunciation is no longer known today.

The name Elokim is the title first used in the opening line of the Torah — “In the beginning, ‘God’ created…”

Biblical commentaries explain that the name Havayah brings limitless revelation or kindness; Elokim enacts judicious restraint. In a mystical context, it’s the power to shield, hiding the overwhelming expansive divine energy from our perception (as reflected in Psalms 84:12: “a sun and a shield is Havayah and Elokim).”

Havayah is also the source for all miracles; Elokim leads to nature (its composition of Hebrew letters even possesses the same numerical value as “the nature”). The connection between the above characteristics — restraint/concealment and nature — is that by blocking the intensity of the “light,” Elokim makes room for independent existence and multiplicity: a created system which we call “the natural world,” with consistent predictable ways of operating.

As a general principle, the power to hide simultaneously allows for focused divulgence. If a genius instructor, for example, decides to just impart the quantity and quality of ideas — exactly as they initially appear in the mind — the overwhelmed student could never grasp the information. But by filtering the amount of information — “light” — and simplifying the concepts, according to the mental capacity of the recipient, that student can now process and integrate the teaching.

The reason that the first words of the Torah, the passage describing creation, references a name connoting concealment is because although the process comes from Havayah, it is funneled through Elokim (the screen of nature). Later, the verses in Deuteronomy instruct us to recognize how these names — with opposing traits — are, in fact, manifestations of the same essence.

Plugging in the attributes conveyed by these titles, the supernatural (Havayah) and the natural (Elokim), the most basic understanding is perhaps that the same God is responsible for both miraculous events. In addition to negating the notion that existence is only physical substance — or that the laws of nature function independently — this contemplation also extends to rethinking the boundaries of supernatural and natural.

The way the term “natural” is defined in one system is not necessarily how it applies in another. From one perspective, just because something is non-material doesn’t mean it’s supernatural.

The lower aspects of the soul’s life-giving energy invigorating the body, while immaterial, can still be classified as belonging to the natural system, possessing a defined structure. Indeed, it is sometimes referred to as “the natural soul.” Then, there are deeper aspects of our soul, more transcendent features of our being, that possess more potency and unlimited capacities.

More poetically, but no less precisely, we can create “inner miracles” when we tap into the more “supernatural” levels of the soul, which can then penetrate and influence our natural behavior (e.g., inclinations) and surroundings by allowing us to break barriers and achieve results we once thought to be impossible.

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The anguish of child separation: 1869, 1938 and 2018

Posted on 01 August 2018 by admin

The current maelstrom of child separation from parents trying to enter the United States from its southern border is tearing families apart.

Many critics of the Trump administration charge that family separation is being used as a “weapon” in an attempt to frighten would-be undocumented aliens with children from entering our country, seeking sanctuary from gangs and violence in their native lands.

Approximately 3,000 children have been separated from parents who are unaware of their child’s location. Children cry themselves to sleep at night, not knowing where their parents are.

As Jews, we cannot forget that ”child separation” is also part of our history.

Jewish families in Nazi Germany and Austria also suffered family separations soon after Kristallnacht, Nov. 9-10, 1938, when Jewish men were rounded up and sent to concentration camps, leaving mothers to consider where to send their children for greater security.

Some children were sent to Palestine while others were sent to Great Britain by way of the Kindertransport. Here too, children cried themselves to sleep, no longer able to hug their parents.

Among the Jews unable to exit Germany early enough, well over 1 million children are estimated to have died in the Holocaust.

From the Native Americans’ perspective, their post-Civil War fight for survival ended in defeat and they were forced onto lands not considered desirable by white America.

If it is wrong and heartless to separate children from their parents, then we must also not forget the more than 100,000 Native American children who were forced to attend church schools as part of President Ulysses S. Grant’s 1869 “Peace Policy.”

Children as young as 5 were shipped off to Christian boarding schools in order to learn English and get rid of their tribal heritage.

Later investigations reported numerous abuses of forced labor and widespread physical and sexual abuse throughout the entire boarding school program.

One only need to read the annual tribal statistics to see the depressing results of our nation’s mistreatment of its native peoples.

While poverty, crime and joblessness are the highest on many tribal reservations, enlightened native youth are struggling and some are succeeding in the modern world while retaining their native heritage.

Child separation is never the answer. It is an abomination.

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Try not to give up when you do a difficult task

Posted on 01 August 2018 by admin

Dear Families,

We wonder, “How do I make the world a better place? There are so many things wrong, where do we begin?”

Maybe we begin by looking at all the things that are right with the world and decide what we can do to make it better. Every one of us wants to find a way to make a difference in the world. Sometimes we stop because we think that we can’t really do anything big. However, it isn’t only the big things that make the world a place for all of us to enjoy.

Find a cause — choose something you care about. Look in your neighborhood or school; what needs to be done? Often just picking up trash, recycling newspapers or helping a neighbor with their lawn is a good beginning. We don’t need to do everything, but we do need to do something.

Text of the Week

Rabbi Tarfon was accustomed to say, “You are not required to complete the task, yet you are not free to withdraw from it.” —Pirkei Avot 2:21

• Why does Rabbi Tarfon say that we are not expected to complete the task? Shouldn’t we finish things that we start?

• Often when we think that we cannot finish a job, we don’t even want to start it. Why does the rabbi tell us that we must do something?

• Why is completing a task so difficult? Why do we want to give up when things are hard? Why is it important not to give up?

Value of the Week: Perseverance

The dictionary says that to persevere means to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose despite difficulty or obstacles; continue steadfastly. Synonyms for the concept perseverance include persistence, tenacity and pertinacity. What great words. This value means that we don’t give up because something is difficult. When we believe in something, we must work for it. When we see something that is wrong, we must try to make it right. Rabbi Tarfon knew all about perseverance.

Things to do 

• Choose a project to make a better world and set a goal. Don’t give up.

• Get one person to help you on your project and then get another and another.

• Help others to complete difficult tasks. Cleaning up is easy with friends.

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The bris reminds men to exercise self-control

Posted on 01 August 2018 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,

I have a non-Jewish co-worker who is active in his church and teaches a Bible study class. They have reached the verses where Avraham receives the commandment to circumcise himself and his household. My co-worker gets that they are forming a covenant and this is a sign of acceptance — sealing the deal, if you will. But, he is mystified about why God chose this particular sign to seal this covenant. He asked me, “Why not an earring or a tattoo or something?” He even told me that he looked up “rabbinic sources” online, but did not find a satisfying explanation. I was surprised to find myself at a loss to answer this simple question. What should I tell him that would help him and his class see the meaning of bris milah?

Steve B.

Dear Steve,

The answer to this question goes to the essence of our mission as the Jewish people.

We have mentioned in past columns that in the early days of the Catholic church, there raged a debate if it is possible to reconcile the physical and spiritual worlds. Is it possible for one to really enjoy the sweet offerings of this world and be a spiritual person at the same time? After decades of debate it was decided in the negative — to be holy one needs to separate themselves from physical pleasures and live an ascetic life. Hence, Catholic priests as well as nuns take a vow of celibacy, to ensure their holy mission in life. The holiest of all are the monks who refrain from all pleasures of life, some even from speech.

The result, of course, is what we constantly see in the headlines: scandals in the Catholic church worldwide; priests and bishops accused of improprieties of every kind with nuns, little boys…the list goes on.

Torah thought is diametrically opposed to that of the Catholic church. Not only is celibacy not a virtue, it is considered a sin. The righteous King Hizkiyahu was on his deathbed when the prophet Isaiah visited him and told him he was going to die. He wept and repented and was spared, gaining another 15 years (2 Kings Chapter 20). The Talmud explains that Isaiah castigated him and told him prophetically that he was going to die in this world and the next, because he had not fulfilled the first mitzvah of the Torah, to be fruitful and multiply. He hadn’t married and had children.

Hizkiyahu answered him that he refrained from this mitzvah because he received a prophetic vision that he was destined to have offspring who would sin and be wicked kings. The prophet retorted, that which he was obligated to do, having children, he had forsaken. What will be in future generations wasn’t in his hands, that is in the hands of God; he must do as he was commanded. Hizkiyahu wept and repented, vowing to have children if he was allowed to live, which he was, and he did sire offspring (Talmud Berachos 10a).

Similarly, we find that a Nazirite, one who takes a vow of holiness including refraining from the consumption of wine, upon completion of that vow period must bring, among other offerings, a sin offering. The question is obvious, what sin did the Nazirite commit by taking a vow of holiness? The Talmud explains that it was the “sin” of refraining from wine; “It’s enough the Torah already forbade upon you and you are adding more forbidden things?!” (Talmud Nedarim 10a).

The Torah wanted us to enjoy the pleasures of this world, in a controlled way. Certainly, one of the greatest pleasures in life is that of intimacy. God not only desired but even commanded us in the mitzvah of marriage and all that goes with it; it is incorporated into the ketubah document. Of all names, the Jewish marriage is called kiddushin, meaning holiness. Marital intimacy is the epitome of sanctity, when performed in accordance with the ensuing laws of family purity which elevate the profane to the holy.

This, the elevation of the profane to the holy, is the essence of Judaism. In this way we, indeed, fuse together the physical and spiritual worlds.

The area of life which most lends itself to misuse and lack of control is that of sexual relations. This is evident in so many ways in our culture that constantly inundate us with the messages of immorality. In order to put the sign of control in this most holy — and at the same time most potentially immoral — area of life, we were commanded to put upon ourselves a sign of control, the bris milah. Man, who needs much more control in this area than woman, was commanded to put the sign of holiness in the place that will teach control in all areas of life.

This is the sign of the covenant, the bris milah, which was given to Abraham to be the sign of his people for all time. This is the constant reminder, literally 24/7, that we are to enjoy this world — in the way the Creator deemed appropriate — thereby elevating ourselves and the physical world with us.

(A rabbi and a Catholic priest were having breakfast; the rabbi had scrambled eggs and the priest, bacon and eggs. The priest said to the rabbi, “This bacon is so delicious, Rabbi. God gave us the pleasures of the world to enjoy, not to refrain from them. When are you going to finally break down and taste this bacon?” Answered the rabbi, “At your wedding, Father.”)

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To dream the Impossible Hamburger

Posted on 01 August 2018 by admin

Is it possible to make the impossible possible? Well, if this can be done, we can count on our Jewish selves to do it. Case in point: I’ve just received a lengthy release from kosher.com that says it’s already happened. The “Impossible Burger” is now on the menus of 36 (what a happy double-chai number) kosher restaurants in the United States and Canada.

“This is not your typical veggie burger,” the website reports. “This patty looks and tastes just like a ‘real’ (read ‘meat’) burger.” Making it so is “heme,” the iron-containing compound that gives real meat its distinctive taste. It’s certified by the Orthodox Union (OU) and is vegan as well as kosher.

Dani Klein, who blogs about kosher restaurants, tried Impossible Burgers in two New York-area locations and reported that at a dairy cafe, he found his delicious: “The texture, mouth-feel and flavors were great; the first time I’ve ever had anything so similar to meat with real cheese.” And in a fleishig place, “…just a straight-up burger, so spot-on with the flavors that I left satiated and satisfied, not craving meat afterward.”

Rivi Landesman of kosher.com offers a more comprehensive take: “On first bite, I found that while it was certainly delicious, it was definitely milder in flavor than a beef burger, but nothing like the soy or vegetable patties I’ve had. Texture-wise, it had a nice chewiness, and there was a good, realistic redness in the center. It really takes on the taste of what it’s served with. One of my burgers was topped with fried onions, wild mushrooms, saffron, aioli, BBQ sauce and cheese fondue; it was fantastic! The other was a bit simpler, with avocado, tomato, cheddar, sriracha mayo and shredded lettuce.” She noted that overcooking impacts taste and juiciness, and recommends ordering these burgers medium-rare.

The stumbling block — at least for now — may be the price. Although neither Klein nor Landesman said how their burgers were listed on the menus, the latter added this to her report: “To me, the biggest deal is there’s finally a burger that doesn’t taste like soy or vegetables. However, it is extremely expensive, and I’m wondering when costs are going to come down…” Impossible Foods now charges restaurants $3 per patty, wholesale.

So — will this new burger succeed in the long run, in both the kosher and vegan markets? “I think it will,” says Charles Herzog, vice president of new business development for Kayco, a leader in kosher foods. “Interest in plant-based protein has really been growing; we see it in categories from tahini to snack bars. While there have been veggie burgers on the market for years, this burger really mimics an authentic meat burger. It has the potential to really disrupt the category.”

And Chanie Nayman, food editor of Family Table by Mishpacha magazine, agrees: “Vegetable-based foods are extremely popular now, with all the different dietary needs, and for people looking for hormone-free foods. The Impossible Burger is extremely innovative and will be helpful to many people. For kosher-observant Jews who have special dietary needs or are vegetarian/vegan, it will continue to be popular.”

But Klein does hesitate: “I think the frum community has a general hang-up about vegan food, that it could never be substituted for meat. It may take years to change this perception…” In contrast, Yussi Weisz, owner of a kosher meat restaurant, is full of praise: “Vegan, kosher, parve, looks and tastes like meat — an automatic winner! The people who don’t eat meat love it. Those that do eat meat say it’s the closest thing to a fleishig burger. Definitely the best vegetarian food option I ever tasted.”

Herzog says, “The initial buzz and excitement will wear off. But as production scales up and costs come down, I really think this can become a mainstay in everyday diets.”

Go to yeahthatskosher.com to find where Impossible Burgers are already on the menu. No places in Texas yet. But — maybe…

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Little-known Jews responsible for well-known things

Posted on 25 July 2018 by admin

Did you know that there are numerous people whose achievements are famous, but their names are generally not known? Here is a sampling of some Jewish achievers.
Jacob Youphes was a tailor from Riga, Russia, who changed his name to Davis after arriving in the United States.
His customers wanted tougher work clothes, so he invented a reinforcement process using copper rivets and reinforced stitching in cotton denim that he purchased from Levi Strauss.
Needing financial assistance for a patent and additional material as orders piled up, Davis turned to Strauss, and a lifelong partnership was begun.
People began calling the durable pants “Levi’s,” but it was Jacob Davis who made the jeans tough.
Julius Rosenwald was a poor peddler’s son who was also a tailor, eventually growing his business of producing a clothing line for the expanding Sears, Roebuck (mail-order catalog) and Company.
Rosenwald’s investment in Sears expanded as the company grew, and he eventually became president of the Sears Corporation.
After accumulating financial power, Rosenwald sought to put his fortune to worthwhile causes.
He partnered with the African-American community to improve African-American education, amounting to an investment of $70 million. Those funds resulted in the establishment of more than 5,000 schools for African-Americans, These were informally known as “Rosenwald Schools.”
Morris and Rose Michtom were a Brooklyn couple who owned a candy store. At night, they would make stuffed animals, which they displayed and sold in their store.
They saw a newspaper cartoon poking fun at a recent situation when President Theodore Roosevelt was on a bear hunting trip in Mississippi. A bear could not be found, except for a small cub that was tied to a tree.
The president refused to shoot the bear, and the newspaper cartoonist had his subject.
Rose saw the cartoon, built the teddy bear and, after writing the president, the Michtoms received permission to refer to the doll as the Teddy Bear. It was such a hit that their venture became the Ideal Toy Company. I don’t know about you, but I remember having a teddy bear when I was a little kid.
Isidor Rabi was a Polish-born American physicist and Nobel Prize winner in 1944, for his discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance, which led to microwave radar and microwave ovens.
Laszlo Biro, a Hungarian journalist originally from Argentina, worked with his chemist brother to develop the first working ballpoint pen in 1931.
Does the name Allie Wrubel ring a bell? Probably not. He was a musician who eventually moved to Hollywood, writing music for Disney.
What you will probably remember are some of his prize-winning songs of the 1940s, such as Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, The Lady From 29 Palms, Music Maestro Please, The Lady in Red, Gone With The Wind and Mine Alone.
Robert Adler, working for Zenith Television in the 1950s, took up his boss’s challenge to invent a device that can be used to tune out commercials, resulting in the first TV remote control. Of course, we still have the commercials.
The famous Barbie doll was the brainchild of American businesswoman Ruth Handler in 1959.
Samuel Ruben, scientist, accumulated more than 300 patents, including Duracell batteries. At the request of the Army Signal Corps, in 1942 he developed the mercury button cell to replace zinc carbon batteries.
Amazingly, the list of inventive Jews is never-ending.

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The wealthy may not necessarily be so rich

Posted on 25 July 2018 by admin

After a record-breaking Amazon Prime Day, the newest figures came out and the net worth of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos topped a whopping $150 billion. Of course, the internet went crazy (no surprise there) estimating how much money Bezos was making per day, per hour, per minute and per second. (Money magazine did a calculation of Bezos’ staggering net growth from Jan. 1 to May 1 of this year and found that he made $275 million a day, which, when broken down, equals $11.5 million per hour, $191,000 per minute and $3,182 per second.)
News of wealth of this proportion generally leads to mass daydreaming by the public. We all wonder what we might do, where we might go and what we might purchase with so much money at our disposal. It’s a fun game to play, no doubt, but it’s important in the midst of all the hysteria and hoopla surrounding the acquisition of physical wealth that we not lose sight of the deeper, truer wealth that remains accessible to all of us and the dangers that surround the unchecked pursuit of money.
Ben Zoma famously taught that the Torah’s definition of wealth is far different from the world’s. “Who is rich?” he asked, “One who is happy with his lot” (Pirkei Avot 4:1). True wealth, Ben Zoma taught, is not measured by how much one possesses but by how little one lacks. Someone who has attained his goal and wants for nothing is the truly wealthy individual. Whereas the individual flush with cash and possessions who nevertheless craves more and more never finds that peace of mind he so desperately seeks.
Such an individual never ceases imagining that the next new and exciting acquisition will finally provide him with that much-sought-after, illusive inner serenity. And all for naught. Ironically, it is the unending pursuit of money and the feelings of dissatisfaction with one’s current standing that often accompany the pursuit of money that causes a man to be poor by Torah standards.
How do we become the types of people who become happy with our lot? The commentaries (Chasam Sofer, Chofetz Chaim and others) suggest that the answer to that question lies in the unusual wording of the mishnah itself. For instead of utilizing the common phrasing “One who is happy with what he has,” the mishnah adopts the distinct phrase “One who is happy with his lot.” And a “lot” implies that the happiness referenced herein stems specifically from the knowledge that all that one has is allotted by the Almighty for a specific function and purpose in this world: your one-of-a-kind purpose in this world.
So, whether one has vast wealth or far less than one’s neighbors, our collective happiness depends on recognizing God’s fingerprints on our wallets and trusting that we have exactly that which we need to fulfill our purpose on this Earth. Any happiness-depriving jealousy of others would be deeply inconsistent with such a spiritual vision.
On the flip side, King Solomon warns of the intoxicating nature of money and our endless and fruitless pursuit of it: “Whoever loves silver will not be sated with silver, and he who loves a multitude without increase — this too is vanity” (Kohelet 5:9). The Sages similarly recounted, “No one leaves this world with even half of his desires fulfilled. One who has one hundred wants two hundred. If he has two hundred he desires four hundred” (Kohelet Rabba 1:34).
As for an insight into the deep-seated makings of mankind’s unquenchable thirst for money, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch Zt’’l (1808-1888) offers this following profound commentary on Pirkei Avot 4:1:
“Striving after money, the means for pleasure, has no limit; for though money in itself does not give pleasure, it makes possible all future enjoyment. Therefore, the lust for money can never be satisfied.”
The physical pleasures of this world all have a satiation point. Eat enough food and drink enough drink, and your stomach is full. One’s hunger pangs subside, and there’s hardly room inside for more. So it is with other earthly pleasures. A hunger for pleasure wells within, yearning to be quenched, and once satisfied goes silent again — or at least for a short while.
Money is different. It offers no direct physical pleasure and therefore has no satiation point. Money rather represents the capital for all future pleasures to come. And just as the possibilities for man’s future are limitless, so too is his drive to acquire the medium (money) that will help finance those prospects.
As far as Judaism is concerned, wealth is not to be disparaged. On the contrary, money in the right hands can serve as a powerful force for good in this world. The world needs more individuals devoted to significant charitable giving as it does breadwinners committed to familial self-reliance. Money, however, must always remain in our eyes as a means to such larger sacred goals, never as an end in itself, a goal to achieve. After all, one can go mad laboring to score a goal on a target that never stops moving.

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