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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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Playing Politics

While I agree with the general tenor of Jonathan Tobin’s op-ed on American’s lack of outrage at recent terror attacks (“A Distinct Lack of Jewish Outrage,” December 20, 2018), I think his arguments are very weak and unconvincing. He attributes the complacency to a number of different reasons, including assimilation, general numbness after 70 years of struggle, the policies of the Netanyahu government and opposition to Jewish settlements on the West Bank. However, these are all problems which have been ongoing for many years and do not explain the sudden lack of interest to the most recent attacks. His most remarkable statement is that “for most Jewish voters, the security of the Jewish state has always ranked rather low on their list of vital issues, if it made the list at all.”

I don’t know where Mr. Tobin has been for the last 70 years, but during that time I personally witnessed the concern and active support American Jews gave Israel in the years up to and including its War for Independence, when it faced the massed armies of five Arab nations, without a visible army of its own. I remember the fear Americans had going into the Six-Day War when Israel again faced the combined onslaught of massed Arab armies, and again rejoiced in its overwhelming victory. I remember the agony and losses during the Yom Kippur War, when the fate of the Israeli state was literally hanging on a thread, before it finally emerged victorious. I remember the concern, support and reciting of Tehillim by Americans during the many Lebanon Wars, Gaza Wars, intifadas and terror attacks. And I remember the agony of Americans watching Saddam Hussein hurling Scud missiles at Israeli cities during Desert Storm, when Israel wasn’t even an active combatant.

Amazingly, Tobin manages to ignore the 800-pound gorilla in the room when he almost completely avoids mentioning politics in his discussion of the present situation. He timidly dips his toe in the water with his mention of “politicians like Barack Obama” but then takes it back out when he says the apathy is not due to political disagreements.

No, Mr. Tobin, it is exactly due to politics. Almost all Democrats, and also many Republicans, despise President Trump with a passion, and hate anything he says or does, and anyone he associates with, even if it is favorable to Israel. If any other president had moved our embassy to Jerusalem, chastened Iran, stood up so boldly for Israel in the U.N. and was so supportive of Israel and its prime minister, he would have been lionized as a saint. However, since it is Trump and his partner Netanyahu, any expression of support for Israel among these Jewish Trump-haters is against their agenda.

Sadly, these days, politics trumps concern for Israel.

Max Wisotsky
Highland Park

 

The Legacy of the Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe

Hakarat Hatov to Rabbi Pruzansky for his erudite, informative lecture at Bnai Yeshurun on December 24 on the Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe as part of his lecture series on great rebbeim throughout our history

As the rabbi portrayed, Rabbi Halberstam, who lost his family, wife and 11 children due to the atrocities of the Holocaust, was determined to ensure continuity of the Jewish people. From the ashes of the Holocaust, the Rebbe was determined to achieve his aspirations of establishing the Laniado Hospital in Netanya to service the medical needs of the entire community as a direct result of being injured during a death march in Poland.

His goals and dreams were realized with his tenacity and love for Am Yisrael. An interesting anecdote was that the Rebbe encouraged all the Jews to eat whatever they can for survival during the war, but for himself he refrained from eating except for kosher food and meat that was available to him. He encouraged all around him to do whatever needs to be done for pikuach nefesh, while keeping himself to a high standard of struggle he was willing to endure.

The strength of the Klausenberger Rebbe was outstanding and his perseverance remarkable.

To this day, the Klausenberger community has made the enclave of Union City their home as well. Our neighboring county, the Hudson County community, was thriving during the ‘40s, ‘50s and early ‘60s, yet the vibrancy dissipated over time. The Yeshiva of Hudson County, the Rosenbaum family who founded the yeshiva, now migrated to become the Yeshiva of North Jersey in Bergen County with well over 1,000 students. Its origin and roots in Hudson County will forever be recognized.

My father, a”h, Rabbi Harold Hirschman, the rabbi of Temple Israel Emanuel for over 40 years in Union City whose building is a replica of the Touro Synagogue, welcomed the Klausenbergers to take over the shul and community center due to the realization that eventually barely a minyan attended on the Yomim Noraim in its waning days. To this day it is inspiring that Union City is host to the Sanz-Klausenbergers who are the most welcoming, warm, sincere group of people. Their hearts and doors are open for anyone en route to and from New York City via the Lincoln Tunnel to stop and catch a minyan, join in shofar blowing, the reading of the megilla, davening and even matzah baking for all to enjoy.

Interestingly, in reflection of the rav, Union City is a paradigm of cultural acceptance whereby there exists peace and acceptance living alongside the Cuban community. Each group accordingly respects their space and facilities and is a paradigm of cooperation for many communities facing adversity between polarized groups of people.

It is due to the personalities of the community, with the domain of the Rebbe for everlasting spiritual guidance, that the Klausenbergers are a unique group we as Yidden can all be so proud of! They are an inspiration to klal Yisrael both here and Eretz Yisrael.

Ruby Kaplan
Teaneck