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Jewish Ideas

Dr. Jose Nessim: In Memoriam

We sadly record the passing of Dr. Jose Nessim, one of the very impressive Jewish leaders of our generation. A medical doctor in Los Angeles for many years, Dr. Nessim devoted the time and energy to found the Sephardic Educational Center in Jerusalem. Through his tenacity, generosity, and grand worldview, he established this center in historic buildings of the Old City of Jerusalem. Thousands of students and visitors have benefited from the programs of the center in Jerusalem, as well as programs sponsored by the Sephardic Educational Center held in the diaspora.

Dr. Nessim thought big. He wanted to revitalize Sephardic life and to connect new generations of Sephardim to their heritage. An ardent lover of Israel, he wanted young Jews to experience Jerusalem and the land of Israel.

Perfect moral clarity in Gaza--by Charles Krauthammer

Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire; Hamas keeps firing. Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking.

“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.”

Message from an Embattled Jerusalem from Rabbi Daniel Landes

Response to American Friends
Rabbi Daniel Landes

I wish to thank you all for writing and expressing your worries and concerns about us, particularly after the last round of sirens in Jerusalem just several minutes ago. All of you wish to know how we are “holding up” and what is our emotional and spiritual situation.

This is a traumatic moment for the Jewish people. But this moment could very well be a long period. The tragic deaths of the three Jewish teenagers and shameful murder of the Arab boy, and now rockets falling all over Israel and Israel’s determined response… these have jarred us all. Is there a context in which we can put this?

Responding to the Immoral Calls for Boycotting Israel

Shalom, we received the following responses relating to our emailing about fighting the boycotts of Israel. None of the following should be construed as business advice or recommendations, only as information that may be useful to readers.

Spanish Passports for Sephardic Jews? a Blog by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

The Spanish government has indicated that it will offer Spanish passports to individuals of Spanish Jewish/Sephardic heritage. The ostensible motive for this gesture is the desire to redress a historic sin: Spain’s expulsion of Jews in 1492. Now, more than five centuries after this nefarious expulsion, Spain wishes to reach out to descendants of those Jewish victims and welcome them back “home” in Spain.

Some have praised Spain’s gesture of atonement. Others, though, have seen this new policy as a pragmatic move by Spain to attract Jewish business, investment and tourism.

Among Jews, some have been genuinely pleased with this show of Spanish friendship and reconciliation. Others have seen this as an opportunity to gain access to European markets and business.

The Met, "Klinghoffer", and Moral Turpitude: A Blog by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

The Metropolitan Opera of New York is planning a performance of “Klinghoffer.” In a recent column, Ben Cohen has written: “As readers doubtless know, "Klinghoffer," an opera that was first introduced to a New York audience in 1991, will enjoy yet another outing, courtesy of the Met. Most of the arguments around the opera now surfacing are, in fact, far from new. There is the accusation of anti-Semitism – shrugged off, as usual, by partisans of the work—in the way that American Jews are portrayed.

Israel Thrives; Boycotters Falter--Article by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

While there are vocal advocates of boycotting Israel, their efforts are largely failing to have any significant impact on Israel. This is not merely an economic or political issue, but a very real moral issue. Those who call for boycotting and divesting from Israel are essentially lining up with those who call for the destruction of Israel, lining up with Hamas and other terrorist operations. We must combat their immoral stance not only by arguing Israel's case in the court of world opinion, but by practically supporting Israel economically--buying Israeli products, investing in Israeli companies, contributing to Israeli institutions, visiting Israel and contributing to its tourism industry, buying Israel bonds etc.

Are Rabbis Prophets?....A Blog by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

With the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers by terrorists, the Israeli government, defense forces and police have been working tirelessly to bring the boys home quickly and safely. People throughout the world have been praying for the victims’ wellbeing.

Ugliness that Masquerades as Religion: Guest Blog by Yosef Lopez

(Yosef Lopez, a member of our Institute who lives in Jerusalem, recently wrote the following letter to Rabbi Marc Angel. The issue Yosef Lopez raises is very serious. What can be done to uproot religious fanaticism that masquerades as "Torah Judaism?")

Do Our Charity Dollars Work for or Against Our Ideals? A Blog by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

We are good-hearted people who do our best to be kind and
charitable. We want to build a better society, ease suffering, aid the
needy, support worthy institutions etc. We are barraged by those who
solicit funds for one cause or another. We may give a few dollars to
each; we may give a lot to a few; we may give more or less, depending
on our mood when we receive the solicitation for charity.

Do we have a philosophy that governs our charitable outlays? Or do
we just make contributions randomly, based on who asks us first or who
approaches us most respectfully?

I would like to suggest that we think carefully about our charitable
giving, and view our charitable dollars as a means of advancing our
vision of a better Jewish community and a better world.