Archive | November 2015

Meet Ezra Schwartz.

Peter Himmelman Musings

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Meet Ezra Schwartz.

He’s eighteen and spending his gap year in Israel, just like my own children did. At least he was until yesterday. Now he’s dead.

Ezra was murdered by fanatics, on the spree of unrelenting bloodlust that’s happening right now in the Jewish State. I am troubled beyond the ability of words to express. Why aren’t the people who changed their Facebook photos to the French flag, changing it today to the Israeli flag? Changing it to Ezra’s picture? But who am I kidding? Israel isn’t France is it? No, it’s just a bunch of Jews over there and maybe, just maybe… they deserve it, right?

Every day for the past several weeks people like Ezra, who by the way, reminds me so much of my youngest son, have been murdered in Israel on an orgy of morbid extremism and spilled Jewish blood. Every time I look at…

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Let the Children Lead us. Mourning together, mourning in isolation

israelrallyLast week, the whole world – rightly so – mourned for France. 

Skyscrapers were lit the color of the French Flag. 

Many  changed their Facebook profile photos to the Eifel Tower in a peace sign. Many of you draped your faces in the French Flag or showed old photos of you perched high atop the Eifel Tower or standing in front of the Lourve

You were horrified at this act of terror. 

You cried for the victims. 

A week later? 

Maybe it is because many of you have no real connection to Israel. 

Maybe it is because you never traveled there. Have family there. Maybe it is because you do not speak the language or simply cannot identify. 

Whatever the case, when Jewish blood spills, unlike last week, you were – for the most part – all silent.

For the most part, you are all demonstrating what most of us already know: we are completely alone. 

And you should feel ashamed of that.  You have no idea how that hurts. Yes, it fucking personally hurts your Jewish friends who are sitting in their houses, stunned, functionless, to learn one of our own, a boy who could have been our own son, friend, boyfriend, brother, was murdered today just because he was Jewish.

There are not many of us. But Israel, I want to tell you what I saw in Detroit last Sunday: some of our own young sons, no more than 16, organizing a pro-peace, pro-Israel rally that was attended by hundreds. They wanted to say: israel – we are here. Our numbers are small but we care, we cry  when you cry.  We are here.

Here is my story about the Israel Rally in this week’s Detroit Jewish News: 

When three local Jewish teens recently witnessed a pro-Palestinian rally on the corner of Maple and Orchard Lake roads, they decided to counter it with their own rally for Israel at the very same spot in the low setting November sun last Sunday, Nov. 9. About 200 Israel supporters capped off a very busy “Fall Fix Up” Sunday by waving Israeli flags, singing and dancing to Israeli music, and visibly showing their support for the Jewish State.

Several weeks ago, Ben Rashty, a student at Frankel Jewish Academy said he was driving to meet some friends for dinner when he passed a “large, well organized anti-Israel rally.”

“From my car I heard them chanting very cruel things about the land of Israel and its people, said Rashty, of West Bloomfield, who has immediate family in Israel and traveled there many times to visit. He pulled into a parking lot and started calling friends to gather on an adjacent corner to counter their protest.  With only minutes to respond, Rashty was only able to get five friends to come out with Israeli flags, stand on an adjacent corner, and sing the Hatikvah.

He decided that was not enough.

“The Arabs were cheering with joy and celebration as if they had ‘won,’” said Rashty.

Rashty realized that planning a counter rally on his own was more easily said than done. So he called on the help of some of his school chums Nisim Nesimov, and Cole Levine. Together, they created a Facebook event, made flyers and spoke to leaders in the Jewish community for publicity. Rashty also contacted the West Bloomfield Police Department to notify them for planning and security, he said.

A big challenge of getting numbers to the rally was it coincided at end of the community-wide “Fall Fix Up” sponsored by Jewish Family Service.  But people came. They traded in work gloves from the day’s work assignments out on Belle Isle, the B’nai David Cemetery, or helping homebound seniors for Israeli and American flags as they pulled into Shops of Old Orchard parking lot.  Passersby in cars honked in support as rally participants waved Israeli and American flags, sang, and danced.

Debbie Szobel Logan, 57, a freelance writer from Bloomfield Hills, came to the rally with her husband Stuart Logan, 59, to “be counted and show their vocal support for Israel.”  She said she did not realize that teens had organized the rally until she arrived.

“It was so heartening and gave me so much hope to learn that teens cared enough about Israel to organize this rally,” said Szobel Logan. “I see and hear so much virulent anti-Israel rhetoric from unsurprising and surprising sources. It was important for me to contribute to the numbers and visibility of pro-Israel supporters, and it was thrilling to see all the smiles and waves from people passing by in their cars.”

Globally and across the country, pro-Israel supporters have rallied throughout the fall to show solidarity with Israel as it faces the latest wave of terror and calls to boycott Israeli products and academics in Europe.  Recently, the European Union announced it would start labeling all products created in Judea and Samaria with a special label.

“Everywhere you look in the media there is a lot of anti-Israel propaganda popping up in an effort to destroy the Jewish people and Israel,” said Rashty.  “I felt it was a vital time to hold this rally to show our community’s support.”

 

 

 

 

He Pulled the Ben Gurion Card

About two weeks ago I wrote an opinion piece in the Detroit Jewish News about the paucity of the content in Jewish congregational supplemental schools when it comes to learning Jewish history.

My son, quickly approaching his Bar Mitzvah, knows his Hebrew. Has a decent grasp on his prayers. So it is not the Hebrew content I am concerned he is not getting.

It is Jewish History. It is learning the Torah Portion of the Week. And learning about the Prophets. It is learning about Israeli history that I knew he wasn’t getting enough of.

So, I put it upon him and I to get this learning done at home.

It is November.

So how is it going?

We have read about eight stories of the prophets, each chapter making some sort of archeologic connection or finding within Israel in order to validate the prophet’s life.

We read a truncated version of the weekly Torah portion, with a little help in livening up each passage thanks to the Youtube video-making geniuses over at  G-dcast.

Needless to say, we do this in the late afternoon or the early evening. And the kid is ANTSY.

We take turns reading. One page for him, one page for me.

While I read, he spins, he dances, he bounces.

Then, as I am trying to get through a chapter of the Golden Age of Spain, he stands on his head.

Now, I get the whole learning through movement thing, but there comes a time when you just have to show this material the respect it is due. Just as I am at my wit’s end and order him to SIT his bottom down in a chair, besides me on the couch, he reminds me:

“Mom! Really! i can learn and absorb all this stuff while I am standing on my head. Standing on your head is GOOD for you. Why do you think David Ben Gurion did it all the time?? HE was VERY smart.”

How do you argue with that?

This is what Hatred Looks like on a Billboard

It is getting way close to home now. 

This month, Detroiters traveling down the Southfield Freeway around eight mile get treated to this huge billboard: 

americafirst

Why now? Why now, when Israelis are facing stabbing attacks on the streets of their cities each day? Why now when the world, as represented by the United Nations, is delegitimizing Israel further by considering and even passing resolutions that Judaism’s claims to its holiest sites are bogus and they are Mulsim sites? 

Most will speed by the billboard and only see those big words. They will not pay attention to who sponsored a group: a blatantly anti-Semitic organization that actively denies the Holocaust by refuting the claim that gas chambers existed; seeks to hold Jews in America accountable for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and promotes the lie that American Jews send American troops to their death. (http://blog.deiryassin.org/page/2/

Here is my article on the topic, including an interview with American Jew Henry Herskovitz, who has asked an Ann Arbor synagogue to remove the Israeli flag from its sanctuary and who protests outside of it each Saturday morning as his fellow Jews go to worship inside. Please sign the petition that asks Lamar Advertising not to take any more money to advertise hatred here

An intensely anti-Israel organization— whose local advisory board member has led Shabbat morning protests outside an Ann Arbor synagogue for the past 12 years — has placed a billboard at Eight Mile and the Southfield Freeway that reads “America First … NOT ISRAEL.”

“This billboard was placed to do one thing: To drive a wedge between Israel and the American people,” said Heidi Budaj,
Michigan regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. “It follows the age-old adage that falsely accuses Jews of not being loyal to the countries in which they live.”

The $3,000-a-month Lamar Advertising billboard is paid for by the advocacy group Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR) and will be on display until Nov. 15. The organization is trying to raise funds to keep it up for successive months.

Since 2012, DYR placed similar ads in 12 major cities across the country intended to, according to the ADL’s Budaj,  “unravel the legitimacy of U.S.-Israel ties.”

DYR, with an address in western New York, is headed by Paul Eisen, a pro-Palestinian British Jew who believes Israelis committed slaughter of Arabs to drive them out of their villages during the 1948
War of Independence. He styles himself as a Holocaust denier.

Henry Herskovitz, a Jewish Ann Arborite and a member of DYR’s board of
advisers, said, “While the ADL is accusing us of creating a wedge, we think the wedge
already exists.” Since 2003, he has led an anti-Israel vigil Shabbat mornings outside
Ann Arbor’s Beth Israel Congregation. Herskovitz’s main grievances against
“the Jewish supremacist state” include the lack of separation between church and
state, no voting rights for Palestinians and penalties of the Israeli court system —
including prison time — for questioning the “standard narrative of Holocaust.”
Herskovitz added, “There is no closeness between the U.S. and the State of Israel. The
only reason Americans think this is true is propaganda put out by the Jewish lobby.”

A motorist, Robert Shaw of Oak Park, spotted the ad on a recent drive, pulled
over, snapped a photo and placed it on his Facebook page. The post was shared so
widely on Facebook that it was picked up by national and international media, and
there is now a fundraising campaign to place another ad to counter the original’s
“disturbing” message, he said.

“I fully believe in First Amendment rights because that is what makes America
strong,” Shaw said. “But freedom of expression must be tempered with common
sense and dignity toward others.”

Roni Leibovitch of West Bloomfield felt the ad was not a political statement but
an attack on American Jews. He set up an online petition asking the billboard company
to take it down.

In the first five days, the petition, accessible at chn.ge/1M0niLB, got some 800
signatures. It says, in part, “Please remove this billboard which causes hatred of
American Jews, and feeds off the same kind of dual-loyalty accusations which
were leveled against the Jews by Nazis in the years leading up to the Holocaust.”

DYR, bases its name upon Deir Yassin, one of the most controversial battles during
Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. There are conflicting reports on the circumstances
that left more than 200 Arabs from this village dead.

The New York Times report said more than 40 were captured and 70 women and
children were released. No hint of a massacre appeared in the report. According
to http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org, many of the Arabs who were killed were fighters
disguised as women or civilians. The DYR website says the event was an outright
massacre of innocent Arab civilians. DYR claims it has received support from
far-leftist British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, according to London’s Jewish
Chronicle. Corbyn is running for British prime minister. *

2 November 5 • 2015

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