Jewish Passover: 4 Steps To Breaking Bad Habits

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHADBAD.ORG)

Passover’s 4 Steps to Breaking Bad Habits

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During the Passover Seder we recount in detail the plight of the Israelites as slaves in ancient Egypt, and we celebrate their eventual salvation. However, the Seder is not just about commemorating past events.

The Talmudic sage Rabban Gamaliel II called upon us to include a personal element in the rituals of the Seder. “In every generation, a person must see themselves as if they personally left Egypt,”1 he instructed, leaving it to us to figure out how to make this ancient tale of redemption relevant to us today.

One suggestion was offered by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn of Lubavitch, the third Rebbe of Chabad, also known as the Tzemach Tzedek. He viewed the rabbinic instruction to drink four cups of wine (or grape juice for those who avoid alcohol) during the Seder as a framework for achieving personal freedom.2

Each cup was instituted to reflect another expression G‑d used to promise the Jews that they would be rescued from Egypt and become a nation with the power to determine their own destiny.3 If we follow this path, the Tzemach Tzedek writes, it can lead us on a personal journey towards freedom from any negative practices that hold us back.

Here is my personal understanding of those four 4 steps to breaking bad habits, based on G‑d’s 4 promises:

1. Stop

G‑d’s first expression of redemption to the Israelites was, “I will take you out” of Egypt. Before you get clean, you must get out of the mud. The first step to breaking free from a habit is to simply stop doing it. Medieval Jewish scholar Maimonides says, “A sinner should abandon his sins,” and suggests that you control your thoughts before they trigger a repeat offence.4 Immediately stop, even if you have already gone at it again.

2. Adopt

After the Israelites left Egypt, they were ill at ease with their new identity. G‑d promised: “I will save you,” and supplied them with protective clouds of glory and manna from the sky. The second step on the path to breaking free is to immerse yourself in an alternative, positive reality. When dropping an old habit, adopt a new one to take its place and fill the void. Happiness researcher Gretchen Rubin says that it is much easier to form new habits after a change in life. Adopt your new activity steadily and continuously so it becomes the new you.

3. Rationalize

G‑d gave the Israelites the holy Torah on Mount Sinai as a roadmap to living a meaningful life. The expression, “I will deliver you,” alludes to the study of Torah, which spiritually and intellectually transforms you. The third step on this journey is to establish the ethical reasoning of your decision and an understanding of the new person you are trying to become. As the Israelites said after receiving the Torah, naaseh v’nishma (“we will do and we will understand”). After you “do” by adopting a positive activity, the next step on the journey to change is learning and understanding.

4. Internalize

As the Israelites wandered through the desert, G‑d promised them that He would bring them to the Promised Land. Knowing that they would have a place to call their own allowed them to establish an emotional connection with their new selves. This positive emotional bond is reflected in the expression, “I will take you as a nation.” The fourth step on this path is to not only rationalize and understand the person you want to become, but to also fully internalize the change within you, because emotion plays a big part in influencing the decisions we make.

“Through the story we are redeemed from Egypt,”5 the Tzemach Tzedek once commented. You have the power to make the Passover narrative your own success story.

FOOTNOTES

1.

Pesachim 116b.

2.

Ohr HaTorah, Shemot, vol. 1, p. 185.

4.

Mishneh Torah, Laws of Teshuvah, 2:2.

5.

Rebbe Rayatz, eve of 20 Kislev 5692; Sefer Hamaamarim 5710, p. 197.

Rabbi Yehuda L. Ceitlin is the outreach director of Chabad Tucson, and associate rabbi of Cong. Young Israel of Tucson. He coordinates the annual Yarchei Kallah summit of Chabad scholars, and was on the editorial staff at Chabad.org.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org’s copyright policy.

If The Haggadah Has Got It Correct Then Western Education Has It All Wrong

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHABAD.ORG)

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What’s So Wise About the Wise Child?

They say the Haggadah never ends. That makes sense, because the Haggadah is the classic Jewish guide to education, and education never ends.

So now that we’ve done our Seder for the 3,329th year, and while it’s still Passover, I’d like to open a discussion on how we educate our kids. And I’d like to start by listening to what the Haggadah is telling us.

It seems it’s telling us we’re doing it all wrong.

Here’s evidence: How do we test, monitor and measure the success of our students? By asking questions, right? (Like I just did.)

And indeed, the average middle-grade teacher asks around 400 questions a day. That’s about two per minute. After 15 years, a teacher has asked at least one million questions. The student has asked if he can go to the bathroom.After 14 and a half years, that’s a million questions. The average student, however, generally only asks two or three questions a week—most commonly, “Can I go to the bathroom?” In high school, not much better, with about ten questions a day. Compare that to preschool kids, who ask an average of 100 questions a day.

Some will tell you that’s the Socratic method. We’re attempting to elicit intelligence from students by battering them with questions they never thought of asking.

But the Haggadah does the opposite. Rather than evaluating children by their ability to answer, it identifies them in four categories by their ability to ask.

Questions Are Rich

That turns everything around.

For one thing, from a child’s correct answers, you often know very little. Maybe he simply has a good memory. Maybe he’s good at guessing what you want to hear. At very best, a child’s answers only tell us what that child knows.

But theA child’s answers tells us what he knows. A child’s questions tell us who he is. child’s questions provide a window into the child’s mind and soul. A child’s questions tell us who that child is.

Every child is on a critical mission to make sense of things, to find the meaning behind everything, to put the pieces together. But each child sees a different world, through different eyes. So each child discovers that meaning in his or her particular way.

So that only once we know what this child is looking for, and how he is looking for it, only then we can assist him to find it. And that is education—assisting the child on his or her particular journey of discovering meaning.

Ask! Please Ask!

Let’s start from the beginning: The Haggadah is designed to incite questions.The Haggadah is designed to incite questions. How does it do that? By breaking the routine.

Generally, a festive Jewish meal begins with a blessing on the wine. We then all proceed to wash our hands, return to the table, and say a blessing on the bread.

On the Seder night, we also start with the wine. And then the hand-washing. And we return to the table. And then we take small vegetable and dip it in some sort of liquid, and eat it.

Why the change?

You’ll hear all sorts of reasons, but there’s one definitive answer cited in the Code of Jewish Law: We do it so that someone will ask a question.

And if they ask, what do we answer? We answer that they got it right. They asked a question.

Which means that the question is of prime value, even when there is no answer. As the ancient rabbis said, “Even though we have no answer for this question, once the child is asking, he will ask more questions.”

And why is that important? Because, to those ancient rabbis, it’s obvious that you can’t teach a child a thing until the child has a question.

Passing by a ninth grade classroom in a yeshiva, I hear the teacher lecturing: “Okay, so the ultimate reason for the creation of all things is…”

The diligent students take notes. The rest stare into empty space. The teacher may as well be speaking about the average rainfall in Indonesia.

You can’t teach a thing until you have first awakened a question.

A question creates a vacuum, a space in the brain to fit new knowledge. Just like a car is useless if you live in a big city where there’s no place to park it, and a meal goes in the trash if there’s no one to eat it, so the most satisfying answer in the world is meaningless to the child who never had the question. He has no place in his skull to store it. It’s just a distraction and confusion for his mind from its true quest—to find meaning.

Yes, in case the child has no questions, we provide some, in the form of the Ma Nishtana—”Why is this night different from all other nights?”

But that’s Plan B. Plan A is that the children will ask questions of their own. And you, the parent, will wrack your brains finding answers for them.

Answering the Children

That brings us to another vital lesson from the Haggadah: We don’t answer the question.Don’t answer the question. Answer the child. We answer the child.

“The wise child—what does he say?” Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitchwould point out that in Hebrew, with just a slight change in punctuation, those words can read quite differently: “The wise child—what is he? He says…”

Through the question, we see the child. And that is who we answer.

The wise child articulates his question. He’s obviously thought it through well and knows exactly what he’s looking for.

If he’s wise, why does he ask? Why doesn’t he just have faith, like a good religious boy, and accept all his parents and teachers tell him?

He asks because he has faith. Like a scientist who believes that there will always be an explanation if we will just dig a little further, he believes that there will always be meaning, and deeper meaning, and yet deeper. His mind is not fettered by faith, but driven by it. And his faith, in turn, is enriched by his questions.

Something neat Rabbi Avraham Altein just pointed out: If there are no children to ask, no guests, nobody, the halacha is that you have to ask the question to yourself. According to Maimonides, even if the children have asked the questions, the parents must also ask.

Get that? You know the answer, but you have to ask again. Really ask. Revisit the darkness of “I don’t know”—as though you never knew. Because last year’s answer no longer satisfies you. That’s how you get to a new light. And that’s what it means to be wise.

All the Children

Which all explains why the Wise Child often ends up getting all the attention, while the others are left out.

But no, there are three more children in the room.There are three more children in the room. They are also our children. They are also our children.

Like the Wicked Child. He’s next in line in expertise at asking questions. After all, he has identified exactly what it is that is bothering him. Problem is, he’s not interested in an answer.

But he’s still number two, because something bothers him. The whole Seder bothers him. Which means he’s alive and kicking. Which means there’s something there to work with.

The Simple Child asks, but he’s not sure what he’s asking. He’s the one that is too often ignored. Since you don’t really get his question (because neither does he), he never gets an answer. In the times we live in, that’s a precarious situation. Because that may one day mean to him that there is no answer. And if so, he will have a different question: “Why am I doing all this if there is no answer?”

So the Haggadah instructs you to tell him stories of wonders and miracles. That is his world, that is what he sees. He is in wonderment. Go with it—take that wonderment and nurture it, all the way. Don’t give him any less than the Wise Child, or the Wicked One. And don’t demand that he become the Wise Child—lest you push him towards his cynical brother.

As for The Child Who Doesn’t Know How To Ask—In illustrated Haggadahs, he’s always a baby with a pacifier in his mouth. But that’s nonsense.The Inquisitively Challenged Child got 100% on his Haggadah test. I’ll bet he got 100/100 on his Passover Haggadah finals.

You know why I think that? Look at the answer we give him: “For the sake of this, G‑d did what He did for me when I left Egypt.” That’s a deep answer to an intelligent person.

So what does it mean that “he doesn’t know how to ask”?

Many of the ideas I’m writing here were sparked years ago by a conversation with an Israeli researcher, a student of renowned educational psychologist, Benjamin Bloom, who visited our school along with many high schools across North America. At each school, the researcher would ask the principal, “Give me your best students, one by one, in a private room.”

When the student would enter, she would just sit there for a minute or two. Then she would ask, “Do you have any questions?”

Silence.

Then: “I’m visiting from Israel.”

More silence.

“I’m doing research.”

You get the gist of it.

But then, she would ask the principal to bring in the troublemakers, one-by-one. They would enter, and immediately break into, “Why am I here? Who are you? What is this all about? Israel? What’s that like?”

Open For This Child

So this child #4, a bright child who excels in school, why does this child not ask? Why is he not in search of understanding and meaning? What went wrong?

My guess? He went to school. There he was rewarded for answering questions just the way the teacher likes. But he was never rewarded for asking the really good ones that might disrupt the class, or the questions that the teacher might not have the answers to.

So Teach him, by example, that it’s even ok to question the most basic assumptions.for this child, “You must open for him.” Open his mouth. Teach him to ask. Teach him that it’s ok to ask. Teach him that it’s even ok to question the most basic assumptions. How? By example. By showing him how you yourself question assumptions.

That could explain another one of those Seder tidbits that should spark a thousand questions—or at least some annoyance. Immediately after the episode of the four children, a heavy chunk of Talmudic exegesis plops down upon us, seemingly telling us nothing of the Exodus narrative or the people sitting here.

Here’s the classic translation:

One may think that [the discussion of the exodus] must be from the first of the month. The Torah therefore says, “On that day.” “On that day,” however, could mean while it is yet daytime; the Torah therefore says, “It is because of this.” The expression “because of this” can only be said when matzah and maror are placed before you.

But Rabbi Don Yitzchak Abravanel (15th century) tells us it’s actually as relevant as you can get. It’s a response to that Inquisitively Challenged Child. It’s about opening his mind with a question that challenges the most unquestioned assumption of the entire ritual: Who says it’s Passover tonight?

Try reading it like this:

You: Hold on, maybe we were supposed to do this Seder on Rosh Chodesh—15 days ago on the first day of the month!

Child: Umm. Why then?

You: Because that’s when God told Moses about the mitzvah of Pesach.

Child: Okay, so we messed up.

You: Nope, it says on that day.

Child: Okay, so let’s get on. What do we say next?

You: Not so simple. Because then we should be doing it during the day. Now it’s night already.

Child: So it’s over. Let’s eat.

You: Not so fast. You see, it says, for the sake of this stuff. Meaning this matzah and bitter herbs that we eat on the night of Pesach. So we have to wait until we’re supposed to eat that stuff—and that’s tonight.

Child: Why on earth do we have to tell a story to food?

See? It worked!


So here’s what I’m taking from my Seder into the coming year:

Torah comes to us in a beautiful package, wrapped and tied. The only way to untie those knots and open up its treasures is by asking the right questions whenever and wherever they come to mind, and asking them without fear or shame.

How do we get ourselves,How can we teach the faith and courage it takes not to fear a good question? our children, other Jews, and everyone else who can benefit, to ask? How can we teach the faith and courage it takes not to fear a good question?

If we can find answers to those questions, we will have half of education nailed.

What’s So Wise About the Wise Child?

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman’s writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org’s copyright policy.

Why I Choose To Operate A Diversified Website

 

I know that there are a lot of folks who choose to stay very narrow in the material they publish on their websites and I do totally understand that line of thought. There are many people who are by their nature very narrow-minded in the way they choose to live their lives, some would say they are very ‘focused’ and I do not doubt their sincerity, our lives after all is a personal thing. Some people are wildly diversified in their beliefs yet choose to be very narrow in the material they will post in their blog, that is understandable to me also. There are a lot of people who when they get onto the internet in search of material to read they want to go to sites that totally and only agree with their personal points of view. This is understandable to me if a person is looking for a certain venue like muscle cars, farm equipment or clothing fashions. There are some folks who run websites who know their targeted market and the people who visit their site so the author’s stay on that narrow path so that they don’t lose readership, in my opinion that is a safe way to operate your site. Yet there are subject matters in this world we live in that are diversified by their very nature.

 

I know that there is an old cliché about never mixing religion and politics into a conversation unless you are wishing to start a war, or to get everyone to leave your party. Yet these are two genre’s that affect our lives whether we wish them to or not. So, this is why I add them into the things I write about and that I reblog for other writers. I try to be a bit eclectic on purpose hoping that I can get people to think outside their norm. I want my readers to search out this website each day for the purpose of liking some things and getting upset about other things they find on this site each day. I do not agree with everything I reblog from other writers, some I very much do not agree with. Yet I do this to broaden my own area of knowledge and hopefully broaden the knowledge of some of my readers.

 

Before I went to college I did not write anything at all except maybe an occasional letter to a family member. While in school I was forced into taking a class called Creative Writing, one that I am positive many of you folks also had to labor through. I found that I actually liked writing during the time I was in those classes though. I survived by writing a lot of poems that a lot of people seemed to like and I was pleased to be able to pass the course. As many of my readers know I still post one of my poems once in a while just to break a routine from serious articles. In the political arena I am a registered Independent voter who is sick of both the Republican and the Democratic parties yet on this site I post articles that are for and against both of these parties as well as other parties and groups of people like Nazi believers, Communists believers and even Socialists believers. Do I do this because I wish to start a war? No, not at all, what I am trying to do is to help start a conversation between these different ideologies. You know, sometimes this conversation I am trying to facilitate is even one that is between one’s own ears.

 

Another genre that a person will find on this site is about religion, or should I say religions. Personally I am a fundamentalist Christian that does not agree totally with any of the world’s main denominations doctrines. There are many ‘Christian’ religions and many people through the past two thousand years have died fighting against other ‘Christians.’ In my personal opinion this violence toward each other is anti-Christian. Then as you know, there are many other ‘religions’ here on this planet that have nothing to do with Jesus (Yeshua) or God the Father Jehovah (Yahweh). There are billions of people who believe in Gods that are not found in any version of the Bible such as Buddhist, Hindu and Islam to name just a few. Yet you may ask why I will forward writings from other bloggers on to this site that are not fundamentalist or even Christian at all and this is a fair question. If you have ever read my homepage article you know that I was brought up in the ‘Church of Christ’ as a kid and as a teenager. I was taught that only people who were members of the Church of Christ would go to Heaven and that everyone else on Earth would go to Hell. Yet there were many questions I had that the Elders would not or could not answer so I started digging into other religions, Christian and otherwise. The Church taught that we were correct and every other religion was wrong yet I was expected to go around the neighborhood knocking on people’s doors telling them that their version of Christian worship was wrong without knowing what they were wrong about. How does one do that? Yet the Elders told me it was evil to be reading materials about religion that wasn’t from the Church of Christ. My opinion then was as it is now, how do you tell someone they are wrong if you don’t even know what they teach?

 

These are the reasons why I post a different type of articles and opinions on this website, to get people to think, to read, to question, to understand. Do I believe in everything I post up each day? Of course not. In editing this site I have learned so very much from what other writers have written. I have learned many things about other cultures, religions, jobs, economies, militaries, and about other countries, some of which I did not even know existed. Friends this is why I do what I do on this site. No one is paying me anything at all to write what I do or to reblog what I choose to reblog, I have never earned one penny from this site and I do not ever expect to. I write and read these articles to educate myself and hopefully to help broaden the understanding and knowledge of others. I do have things that I will not put over onto this site that other WordPress bloggers who read me write about though. I do not put anything I consider to be pornographic nor do I put over articles with filthy language onto this site. That is just a personal choice, just as I hope it is your personal choice to stop in each day to see what range of genre I have posted for you to consider. Until we can meet again, Shalom my friends, may God bless you and your loved ones always.

The Land: Israel And The Palestinians: And The U.S. And The Native Indians

 

Most people in the ‘wired’ world of today know about the struggles in the Holy Lands of Israel between the Nation of Israel and the displaced Palestinian population. For those of you who do not know the back story of this issue I will try to condense this issue into just a few sentences so as to not make a book out of this article. When World War Two broke out the Ottoman Empire ruled the current land of Israel. After the war the British took control of that region but in the U.N. in 1947 a resolution was passed to recreate the Nation of Israel so that the displaced Jewish population could have a Nation of their own again, and this came about in 1948. Because of all the turmoil in the U.N. about this issue the Jewish people were only given a small sliver of the land that they used to call home for over 2,000 years. The British had made an agreement with the U.N. that they would pull out of Palestine in May of 1948 and then give this land to the Jewish people for their homeland. It is sad that the people who lived there were displaced, these folks years later became known as the Palestinians, refugees, a people with no ‘home’. These ‘Refugees’ were eventually taken in by Jordan but were kicked out in 1967, again making them homeless. The Islamic people of the Middle-East own about 99% of the land in this region of the world yet none of them (except for the short stint in Jordan) would let them into their countries. Either this issue shows that the ‘Palestinians people’ are very lousy guests, and/or the Islamic countries of the region are really lousy hosts, or possibly both? I say that because a brother is suppose to take in and to help when their brothers and sisters are in need but the Islamic Nations have not done that.

 

In 1948 on the day that the British completed their pull out the tiny newborn Nation of Israel was attacked by all of their Arab neighbors in an attempt to push all of the Jewish people into the Mediterranean Sea. To make a long story shorter, the people of Israel won that war but just 19 years later the Arab Nations of the Middle-East attacked Israel once again in what has become know as the Six Day War. In this war which Israel won they captured a lot more land from the Arab population who had attacked Israel. Among the lands captured was the Golan Heights in the north and they captured the rest of Jerusalem, to the south they also captured the West Bank and Gaza all the way down to the border with Egypt. The people who started the war who were in the lands that Israel recovered were also now displaced adding to a lousy situation for the Islamic people who caused the war. By my understanding it is the land that Israel recaptured in that six-day war of 1967 that has been causing the biggest conflict with the U.N. (among others). It is this land that has become known as the “occupied territories”. Some world leaders think that Israel has no rights to this land and should not build anything on it.

 

Israel was given a much larger piece of the land by God Himself somewhere around the human year of 1,800 B.C.. They lived on this land until about the year 630 A.D. when Mohammad’s army murdered their way through many countries including the land that belonged to Israel. So, here is where I want to start making some comparisons with land issues inside the U.S.. The Islamic people in Palestine had lived in what is now Israel for about 1,400 years before the U.N. gave some of it back to Israel, it is easy to understand why the ‘displaced’ people are mad at the people who now live on that land. Yet they refuse to accept the fact that there was ever a Nation of Israel before the time of Mohammad no matter how much evidence they are shown. What I am saying is the people of Israel simply took back some of what was their own in 1948 and then again in 1967. In 2005 the Israeli government in an attempt for peace gave back the ‘West Bank’ and the Gaza Strip so that the Palestinian people could have a home of their own since none of the Arab countries would ever allow them to settle in any of their countries. Land for peace is what this event was called, that concept failed, all it did was to give Israel’s haters closer Bases in which to attack Israel from. I have often wondered why if there is going to be a ‘two nation’ reality why can’t the ‘West Bank’ be given “Statehood” status? With Hamas ruling the Gaza Strip there is no way to allow them to become a State. So, who’s land is it in your eyes?

 

Now I would like to talk about the Native American ‘Indians’ and their rights to the land that we call America. A little over 500 years ago Europeans discovered North America and started settling it as if the land was barren of other human beings. Most Europeans did not consider the Indian people who were already here, and had been for thousands of years, as being humans, they demonized them as nothing but Savages. For the next 400 years Europeans kept marching west, killing the Indian people and taking their lands. By the late 1800’s America reached from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and the Native Americans had almost been exterminated. When the newspapers in the east started showing and telling the people what was being done to the Indian people they raised such a ruckus that the extermination concept ended and the concept of Reservations began. The Indian people were ‘given’ the worst of the worst lands to be exiled upon, these were lands that the white man didn’t want, so the Indian people were forced to live there.

 

I am going to make a small example for the purpose of easy clarity. There is a large Navajo Reservation in southwest New Mexico and part of eastern Arizona. I am going to use them in this example. When Europeans discovered what is today the State of New Mexico less than 300 years ago they began ‘settling’ it by removing the Native Americans who had lived there for thousands of years. If today the Navajo people decided that they were tired of living on their Reservation and told the white, black and Mexican people to move off of their land or they would be removed by the Navajo Nation, what do you think would be the result? I know this would not happen, it’s just a conversation point, but what if the U.S. Government said, okay we agree with you so all non-Indian people have to leave the state of New Mexico, what do you think would happen? Now put that concept to all of the 50 States, if the United Nations and the World Court ruled in favor of the Native Americans and they told all of us non-indigenous people to pack up and get off of the Native Americans land, where would we all go? I honestly believe that the Native American people do have the right to tell us all to get off of their land, after all it was stolen by the end of a gun from them. Now back to Israel and the Palestinian people, the Islamic people stole the land  from the Jewish people at the point of a blade, they either had to leave their homes or die. What I am saying is that there is no such thing as Israel’s “occupation” of Arab lands, there is no such thing as Israel building on occupied lands. Just as the correct thing to do here in North America is to give back the occupied lands to its rightful owners because they were well established here long before Europeans crossed the Atlantic, the people of Islam should give back all of the land that was Israel before they were stolen from them. Here in North America there is an occupation” going on right now and has been for about 500 years. In Israel the only “occupation” going on is in the lands where believers of Islam are occupying land that belongs to Israel, it is not the other way around. I hope you liked the article, I am just trying to get people to think and to consider the truth of history.

Do The 3 Abrahamic Religions Pray To The Same God? That Answer Is Simple, No they Do Not!!!

 

Here in the U.S. I have heard people make the statement that all ‘these religions’ pray to the same God, they just call Him/Her by a different name, so why can’t they all just get along? This statement would be nice, if it were true, but it isn’t at all correct. Mostly the people I have heard say this nonsense have been the Hollywood types or talking heads from the NYC area. People who make this assumption tend to be people who have no knowledge of what the different religions teach and usually have no knowledge of even the teachings of one religion. I know that here in the U.S. that the majority of the population tend to say that they are Christians simply because they were brought up with their families who were or said they were. Here in the States there are a lot of different Christian religions. Religions where they say that Jesus Christ is whom they believe in, even if they have not stepped foot in any Church since they were children, or maybe even never. You hear the divisions of ‘Christ’s’ Church a lot here in the form of the questions like, are you a Christian or a Catholic? Or, Catholic or Protestant. As almost all of you know there are many divisions of Christian Churches like Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Pentecostal and so on and on and on. Then there are the ‘Born Again’ Christians and groups like the Church of Christ, the Church of God and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, O, and let us not forget the Mormon Church. It is easy to see why people who have no religious upbringing or very little of it could think that all ‘Religions’ serve the same God. Even though the Catholic Church doesn’t teach exactly what I believe I honestly haven’t found a ‘Church group’ that does. Yet I am not going to stone any believers in Jesus Christ whether they are Protestant or Catholic. One of the many things I have never understood in life is how groups that believe that Jesus Christ is our Saviour and King can raise their weapons against another person who believes the same thing, in the name of Religion, in the name of Christ! This confusion isn’t just among Christian Churches, let God be the Judge, we are not qualified.

Now, let us go onto non-Christian Faiths for a moment. This article is about confusion and understanding, and hopefully, clarity. I know that this article is really going to upset some folks, that is not my intention. My intention is simply to speak the “Honestly Of God’s Truth” as I see it, understand it, and believe it, too you. The only real Truth is God’s Truth and His Truth is 100% pure Truth. Humans tend to dilute God’s Truth in an effort to make it fit what they want the Truth to be, that is why only God’s Truth is pure Truth, He doesn’t need to dilute anything.

I don’t know how much knowledge each person who is reading this has concerning Old Testament Scriptures so I will be as direct and short as I can in an effort to help people understand the connections. In the Old Testament (which was written as ‘The Law’ to the Hebrew/Jewish people) the first of the 3 ‘Founding Fathers’ of Israel was Abraham, then there was his son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob. God would later change the name of Jacob to Israel. The 12 Tribes of Israel are named after Jacob’s/Israel’s 12 sons. Since the Book of Genesis but especially in the Books of Isaiah and Daniel the people of Israel are told of a Messiah/Christ/Redeemer/Saviour/Promised One, that will come and elevate Israel to the premier Nation on Earth and this Messiah/Christ will rule the Earth from a new Jerusalem that will come down from Heaven. It is believed that ‘The Christ’ will rule from His Throne upon The Temple Mount. I as a devout Christian believe this exact same thing. The big difference is that as a Christian I believe that the Hebrew/Jewish Messiah has already come in the form of Jesus (Yeshua) but the Jewish folks do not believe that Jesus was ‘The Christ’. You see, when Jesus came to the Earth in 4 B.C. to fulfill Scripture the Jewish people were looking for the ‘Messiah’ to come and remove the Roman Rulers from Israel and to set up His Kingdom then. When the people realised that Jesus was not here to do that many of the people turned on him. Jesus was simply here to fulfill what the Scriptures had to say about Him. Christians should not be at all mad at our Jewish brothers, sisters and friends for their ancestors killing Jesus as they did. First, God hardened their hearts so that they would do so and there is the reality that if Jesus had not done what He did and the people had not done what they did, none of us ‘Gentiles’ (anyone whom is not 100% of Hebrew blood) would have no chance of salvation at all. We would be no better than the dogs or pigs as far as salvation is concerned. (This is exactly what Islam does think of us Christians and Jews by the way.)

The Jewish faith and their beliefs are correct in that the Messiah will come from the skies and put an end to this corrupt and violent world that we all live in. Christians call this the ‘Second Advent of Christ’, in the Jewish faith they are looking for the Messiah to come for the first time. When Jesus comes for the Second time He will put an end to this sinful world and the ‘New Jerusalem’ will come down from Heaven and The Messiah will rule the whole World from the Temple Mount just as the Jewish people believe. The Jewish faith believes that all of us Christians are ‘lost’ and that we nor anyone else have any chance of salvation, only the Jewish people do. The Jewish faith does not believe that the ‘New Testament’ is the word of God. They believe in the Torah which are the first 5 books of the Old Testament that Moses authored and the rest of the Old Testament which is called the Books of the Prophets, some major Prophets, some minor.  The New Testament and the teachings of Jesus make it very plain that the ‘only way to the Father is through Him’ also that those who deny Him, deny the Father. As Christians we pray to The Father through Jesus and believe that this is the only way that our prayers have any chance of getting to the ears of The Father. Jewish folks do not believe in Jesus as the Messiah/Christ so they do not pray to Jesus and by New Testament teachings the Jewish people’s prayers have no chance of reaching The Father’s Ears. This would make the prayers of the non-believers of Christ worthless, just the same as someone who prays to Allah, Buddha or the Dali Lama, a dollar bill or as if a total atheist  prayed because they would have no faith in Jesus, nor do they believe in Him. Those statements are hard I know, but they are not meant to be hateful at all, they are just pointing out the honest differences. God has made it very plain that He will never ever abandon Israel nor His people. God is always looking out for the Nation of Israel and He always will. Salvation is to the Jew first, then to the Gentile. We as Christians as well as all other people of the Earth if they have any sense at all should always make sure to stand by Israel and Her people for they are sacred to God Himself.

The third of the Abrahamic Religions is the religion of Islam. As Abraham is the Father of the Jewish Nation and people he is also the Father of a boy called Ishmael through his Egyptian Servant woman Hagar. Abraham’s wife was barren until she was 100 years old so being Abraham had no heir his wife Sarah told him to lay with his Servant Hagar to obtain a son and heir. Not long after Ishmael was born God opened up the womb of Sarah and she had a son called Isaac. Sarah got jealous of Ishmael so she had Abraham chase him and his Mom away. Ishmael is the father of the Muslim people and he was of the loins of Abraham so yes, they are Abraham’s descendants. About 600 years after the death of Jesus in Jerusalem a man called Mohammad arose from the deserts of what is now Saudi Arabia and started a new religion in the cities of Medina and Mecca. Mohammad died in the city of Mecca in the year 632 A.D. but his teachings are the religion of Islam. The followers of Islam refer to God by the name of Allah. Do not be shocked that almost all religions other than Islam do not believe that the ‘Allah’ that they are praying to is actually ‘God’. Just as the Jewish believers believe that Christians are not praying to God when we pray to Jesus the Jewish people don’t believe that the Islamic people are praying to a ‘God’ when they are praying to Allah. Also, the Islamic believing people do not believe that the Christians or the Jews are praying to ‘God’ because they are not praying to Allah. Islam calls the Christian and Jewish people the ‘people of The Book’. In this they are correct, just as they know that Islam does not believe in the teachings of ‘The Book’ (The Bible). So folks, it is obvious that the people of the Islamic faith when they are praying to Allah that by the Christian and Jewish beliefs these people are just praying to the open air at best and at worst, they are praying to the Devil Himself. I am not trying to be hateful here in this article, I am just pointing out some very obvious truths between the three Abrahamic Religions where the issue is prayer.

Пожар в Перми 14 сентября 1842 года

Folks, please consider this article, it is quite the read.  http://пожар-в-перми-14…нтября-1842-года/

Книжные памятники Пермского края

Источник: https://uraloved.ru

В сентябре 1842 года в Перми вспыхнул крупнейший в истории города пожар. Ему предшествовали находимые в разных местах города загадочные записки-предупреждения с указанием точной даты пожара… (Смышляев Д. Д. Пожар в Перми 14 сентября 1842 г.: из юношеских воспоминаний // Пермские губернские ведомости. — 1866. — № 48.)

Лето 1842 года было очень засушливым, что способствовало двум крупным пожарам: в Казани и в Перми. Пожар, уничтоживший в августе месяце 1842 года значительную часть города Казани, произвел странное впечатление на пермяков. Почему-то большая часть их стали высказывать опасении и за Пермь. В первых числах сентября, весь город был встревожен слухами о найденных в разных местах анонимных записках, заключавших в себе предуведомление о том, что 14 сентября город Пермь будет выжжен. В некоторых записках жителям даже предлагалось заблаговременно принять меры по спасению имущества.

Пожар 14 (26) сентября по одним данным начался в тёплое солнечное утро, когда многие горожане были в церквях по…

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My Views On How ‘To Fix’ Israel’s ‘Broken’ Political System

 

For those of you who do not know me, I am a 60-year-old white American man who is a fundamentalist Christian who is also a huge fan of the Nation of Israel. I am a person who is not an anti-Muslim or anti-Persian. Even though I do believe that the Jewish people are missing the reality that Yeshua (Jesus The Christ) and Yahweh (Jehovah The Father) I have no doubts about Israel and the Hebrew bloodline being very special to God The Father and The Son. The Christian faith is born out of the Jewish faith and the Arab people are descendants of the Father of Israel, Abraham through his son Ishmael. Whether it is a Nation, a people, or a singular person, it is a great sin to fight against the Nation of Israel. It is an old saying and a truthful one that I have heard several times throughout the years that the Palestinian people would have peace any time they decide they actually want it by simply laying down their arms and quit fighting against Israel. It is also a true saying that if Israel was to lay down their arms, there would be no Israel. The majority of Israel’s politics is based around the security issues of its people and of the State from attacks by people who believe that Allah is God. Think about it, who else is attacking Israel?

 

This article tonight is one I thought of as I was reading the Times of Israel News Paper online. The names and the math figures are ones that I gleaned off of those articles so hopefully they were correct. As I said earlier, the single biggest issue in Israeli politics seems to always be about security issues. Within any government there is always many other issues that the leadership is responsible to make sure are addressed and taken care of for their people. There is always the issues of jobs, housing, power grids, transportation, garbage pickup and disposal and the list goes on and on. If the Leaders of a Nation or of a group of people are channeling their time into one issue like lets say President Putin is doing with Russia’s military, the people of your own Country suffers. For any Nation, any People to flourish the Leaders need to address the issues that affect the daily lives of their population. Just look at the situation in the Gaza Strip with Hamas as their ‘Governors’! The people of the Strip could have their own Country and be living in peace but Hamas will not allow it. They spend the majority of their income on military issues in their ‘struggle’ with Israel yet it is a ‘struggle’ that they themselves create.

 

In Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, you have some members who would build a very high wall to block off all of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and I am sure that there are some who would take all of this land they were given in the Land for Peace deal of  2005 if they were allowed to by Israeli law. The only way for that to happen is if these ‘hard lines’ can gain political control of Israel’s Government and elections are the only way to do this. There are other issues that would have to get involved in their Democracy like Israel’s Court system as well as considerations of U.N. sanctions and the such. In the Knesset Isaac Herzog who is the leader of the ‘Zionist Union Party’ (which is the second largest party as far as members of the Knesset) spoke yesterday of his opposition to Israel’s current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu perceived plan to partition off the West Bank or at least big sections of it as being a mistake because of the issue that in doing so would bring in millions of Arab voters thus giving them more control of Israel’s political system. You need to remember that there are Arab Islamic believing members of the Knesset, if Israel partitions off the West Bank, there will become many more Islamic believing members of the Knesset.

 

The Chairman of the Likud Party, which is the Party of the Prime Minister, Mr. David Bitan said that he would like it if Israel’s Arab population were not allowed to vote. This brought many critical comments toward him because he said this but his response, in my opinion, was appropriate. Think about this for a moment before you judge him. He said that any political party would like it if their competition were not allowed to vote. Don’t you think that Hillary Clinton would have liked it if no Republicans had been allowed to vote last month in the U.S. elections? Was what Mr. Bitan said actually racist? I don’t know, I don’t know this man’s heart, do you? If you do, you may have a more informed opinion.

 

Before I make a book out of this article via giving too much time to the ‘set up’ material I am now going to address the political operation of the Knesset and the election of their Prime Minister’s position. Yesterday the Leader of the Yair Lapid Party Mr. Yesh Atid was calling for early Elections in an attempt to over through the current Government led by the Prime Minister’s Likud Party. Mr. Atid was using a recent poll showing that He and his Party were even with the Prime Minister’s Party in the poll. The next National election is scheduled for November 5th of 2019. In the Knesset for a Bill to pass it must get a majority of the votes which is a minimum of 61. Israel’s Governments require a Ruling Coalition to have at least 61 Seats. This gives very small political parties a large amount of power if they are part of the Ruling Party Coalition. As an example, the ruling Likud Party  currently has 67 Seats through their Coalition. In this coalition you have the Jewish Home Party with 8 Seats and the Kulana Party with 10 Seats. Under the current political setup if either one of these Parties decided to leave the Coalition, the Government of Prime Minister Netanyahu would fall and a new election would have to quickly be set up, the November 5th of 2019 date would mean nothing.

 

Here is my suggestion that I wish Israel would consider because the people of any Nation need to know that their Government is secure so that the people themselves can make long-term decisions in their own lives. Here in the U.S. we the people know that our next Presidential election will be in November of 2020, it is set every 4 years, no matter what. I believe that for the Nation of Israel the people would be better served if the next elections aren’t held until the scheduled date in 2019. From that election forward I believe a better system would be that they keep the 61 votes for the purpose of passing any Bill’s yet drop the 61 Seat requirement for the Ruling Party. Hold your election in November of 2019 and if no Party gets above the 50% level (61 Seats) then have another election about 3 days later where only the top 2 vote getter are on the ballot. This election must be by the people, not the Politicians doing backroom deals. Then the Party who gets the most votes of the 2, wins. But, before the elections each Party must put forth who their Leader is so that the people decide whom they want to be their next Prime Minister. Even if the Ruling Party only has lets say 30 Seats like what Likud has now this leading vote getter will be the Ruling Party. Instead of the Prime Minister having to have 61 Seats they would only have to work with all the Members of the Knesset to get the other votes to help pass the Bill. I believe that this system would give the Government of Israel and the People of Israel more stability. Any economy, any people, need stability to be able to live in physiological peace and any Country that has ‘snap elections’ reeks of weakness which is never a good thing for the people the Government is supposed to be representing.

The Ridiculous B.S. Jewish Families Had To Deal With Growing Up In Russia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF DOLLY AT ‘KOOLKOSHERKITCHEN’

Hi, my name is Dolly. Actually, I am Devorah Yentl, but when I was born, clerks in communist Russia were not allowed to record names like that on a birth certificate. So the woman said to my mother, “Little girl, go and come back with a good Russian name.” My mother was little, that much was true, and at 4’11” she did look like a teenager. She wasn’t timid, though, and she did come back with a good Russian name, Dolly. As you can see, it starts with a D and ends with an L. To the clerk’s exasperated whisper, “But it’s still foreign!” she calmly opened a book she brought with her. Leo Tolstoy, the Russian classic, had Princess Dolly among his main characters in Anna Karenina. You couldn’t argue with Tolstoy, and thus it was duly recorded, in memory of my two great-grandmothers. Lest you think it only happened to Jews, I will refer you to a documentary about a famous Russian actress Lyudmila Gurchenko whose father wanted to name her Lucy. The clerk flatly refused to record a foreign name, suggesting “modern soviet names” Lenina, Stalina, Lelud (Lenin Loves Kids), or Dazdraperma (Long Live May 1st). They finally settled on an old Russian Lyudmila, but throughout her long and eventful life she was known as Lucy.

It wasn’t easy to keep kosher in communist Russia. You couldn’t go to a kosher store and buy anything, from soup to nuts, with a Hecksher,  the way it is in the US.  Here, chicken is already shechted for you, and cows conveniently label their own parts as “beef for stew.” As Yakov Smirnov used to say in the eponymous TV sitcom, “What a country!” For us, Cholov Israel meant my Zeide actually watching the milking process.  And when the shoichet was retired because his hands were shaking, Zeide would buy live chickens and shecht them himself. Since childhood, I was taught how to salt a chicken to drain all blood out of it, to make it kosher. When I bought my first kosher chicken in a Jewish store in America, I brought it home, cut it open, and to my horror, found a small clot of blood! I salted it and left it to drain as I had been taught. For quite a few years after that, I kept “kashering” kosher meat, just in case.

I am semi-retired, I love to cook, and I now have time on my hands to share my recipes and exchange new food ideas. My recipes are different from traditional American Jewish food. I invite you to explore, to experiment, and by all means, to get your kids involved in the magical fun of transforming this-that-and the other into something delicious to grace your table. This is truly better than I-pad, so what’s a little mess made by little hands, when there is lots of love and laughter!

This blog is dedicated to my children who have been incredibly supportive throughout an ordeal of my father’s illness and – Acharon, acharon… – to the memory of my father, a beautiful person loved by all.

Jewish Culture Surviving In The Amazonian Rain Forest

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

After their ancestors journeyed across an ocean from the edge of the Sahara to the center of the Amazon, their current numbers have dwindled in the wake of grim economic prospects and geographic isolation. Yet the pulse keeps beating for the Jewish community of Iquitos, Peru.

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“We as a community in Iquitos are trying to create a Jewish life, which is not easy, because the conditions for it do not exist,” said community leader Rebecca Abramovitz in an interview in Spanish.

Located in Loreto, Peru’s northernmost region, Iquitos is the largest city in the world unreachable by road. Visitors must either fly in or arrive by boat along the Amazon River.

Jews constitute only a fraction of a percent of the city’s population, which numbered just under 440,000 last year. The Jewish community of Iquitos consists of about 70 individuals, led by president Jorge Abramovitz, Rebecca’s husband. (There is also a smaller population of under 40 Jews in the city of Pucallpa to the south.)

The Iquitos community does not have a rabbi, and meets for worship in the Abramovitz house. Its members represent a fraction of the hundreds of people who once practiced Judaism by the banks of the Amazon.

Yet if their numbers are small, their story is compelling. They are the descendants of entrepreneurs who left Morocco for the promise of riches in the Amazon rubber boom in the late 19th century. Their Judaism has been revived by visits from rabbis elsewhere in Peru, as well as Argentina, the United States and Israel. Some have even undertaken another journey, to Israel, where they have made aliyah or are striving to do so.

Rebecca Abramovitz, wife of the president of the Jewish community of Iquitos, Peru, prepares a traditional Peruvian pastry called ‘bolitas’ as members of the community watch, in this April 2015 photo. (Facebook)

Earlier this year, a media report had forecast a bleak future for the community. But those members who stay in Iquitos continue to practice Judaism together, and regularly convene for events such as High Holiday services. In so doing, they preserve their ties with their ancestors who arrived in the Peruvian Amazon almost 150 years ago.

The first Jew to immigrate to Loreto was Alfredo Coblentz, a German Jew who arrived in the city of Yurimaguas, southwest of Iquitos, in 1880. In 1885, the first year of the Amazon rubber boom, the Pinto brothers — Moses, Abraham and Jaime — immigrated to Iquitos itself. While they only lived there for five years, “they opened the road for the arrival of new immigrants,” Abramovitz said.

The rubber boom caused a mass migration of people representing different countries and religions.


Rabbi Ruben Saferstein, of Buenos Aires. (Facebook)

“It brought businessmen and rubber workers from distinct regions of the world [to Iquitos], and among them, Jews from Morocco came,” said Rabbi Ruben Saferstein of Buenos Aires, who has been assisting the Jews of Iquitos for 15 years.

It was not an easy journey. Jews from Rabat, Tetuan, Tangier and Casablanca arrived in the Brazilian coastal city of Belen do Para and trekked along the Amazon — the second-longest river in the world, after the Nile — further inland to Manaus.

From there, Abramovitz said, “they scattered throughout the Peruvian Amazonian rainforest.”

Iquitos: Peru’s rubber boom town

“There was a tremendous amount of money to be made there, in the rubber industry in the Amazon, in Peru and Brazil,” said Rabbi Andrew Sacks, Jerusalem-based director of the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel for the Masorti Movement, who visited Iquitos last Pesach.

Luxurious mansions soon lined the streets of Iquitos, including the Casa Fierro (Iron House) designed by Gustave Eiffel, whose namesake tower in Paris earned architectural immortality. The Casa Fierro remains an Iquitos landmark.

But the rubber boom also had adverse effects. One Iquitos-based company with a British board of directors, the Peruvian Amazon Company (PAC), was the subject of critical reports by Roger Casement, the British consul in Peru. Casement found that the PAC abused its indigenous workers. After public outcry, the company closed in 1913.

The Amazon rubber boom itself had collapsed by 1912, owing to several factors, including a drop in the price of rubber; the emergence of larger zones of production, such as Indonesia; and the arrival of synthetic rubber.

Many Jews in Iquitos returned to their countries of origin — but not all.

By January 1909, enough Jews had begun residing in Iquitos to establish a formal community, the Sociedad Beneficencia Israelita de Iquitos.

In Iquitos, Jews achieved success in both business and public life. Several became mayors of the city, including Victor Israel (who was also the first community president) and Joseph Dreyfus. Some founded businesses — La Casa Israel, Khan, and Cohen, along with Solomon Joseph and E. Strasberger.

The Jews who stayed after the boom were in an uncertain position. The rubber industry that fueled their commerce with Europe had vanished, and their legacy as Jews was in question.

“The great majority of Jews who came [to Iquitos] were men who could not leave Jewish descendants because they could not take Jewish women as wives, and settled down with women of the region,” Abramovitz said. However, she added, “they undoubtedly tried to keep their Jewish identity and pass it on to their children.”


The community celebrates Purim, 2016. (Facebook)

Each year, she said, the Jews of the region celebrated Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with religious services.

But their numbers plummeted.

Abramovitz said that emigration to the capital of Lima was “massive” in the 1950s, and by the 1960s, centers of Jewish life in almost every Peruvian province had disappeared.

“Our community stayed dormant for many years,” she recalled.

A sleeper community awakens

It was not until the 1980s that the community of Iquitos was able to reawaken.
When several community members traveled to Lima, Peru’s capital, for medical treatments in 1987, they made contact with Rabbi Guillermo Bronstein, chief rabbi of the Asociacion Judia. Lima has the largest population of Peruvian Jews (3,000), and with about 223 families, Bronstein’s synagogue is the largest in the capital.

In a Skype conversation from Lima, Bronstein told The Times of Israel he felt “curiosity” and that he exchanged letters with the community of Iquitos before deciding to visit in 1991. Then, Bronstein found a community of people who wished to identify as Jews but were not recognized as Jews.


The community lights Hanukkah candles with Rabbi Ruben Saferstein. (Facebook)

As Sacks described it, “there is a large percentage of people in that town who have a Jewish grandparent or great-grandparent, [and are now] practicing Catholics, who have recently connected to a Jewish community or to the Jewish world.”

When Bronstein made his first visit to Iquitos, he laid the groundwork for the community to formally confirm its Judaism — individually and collectively. Members organized themselves as a kehila, a Jewish community of partners recognized by the Republic of Peru. They achieved this status about a year and a half later, in 1994.

Bronstein then helped the kehila prepare for a formal conversion by a beit din, or rabbinical court. This process took much longer.

“It was 11 years after [my first visit],” he said. “It was very difficult. I couldn’t visit there [more than] two or three times in 11 years. I sent them materials, siddurim [prayer books]. They wrote to me with their [preparation] work.”


Rabbi Guillermo Bronstein speaks at a 70th anniversary gathering of the Peruvian Biblical Society. (Facebook)

These were not the only challenges.

“Circumcision was the hardest of all,” Bronstein said. “The adults did not have a mohel [circumciser].” And, he added, a mohel he located in Lima “was not going to go for less than a month for 40 to 50 people.”

‘Circumcision was the hardest of all’

By August 2002, Bronstein had found a qualified mohel willing to travel to Iquitos. A beit din followed, assisted by Rabbi Claudio Kupchik of Temple Beth El of Manhattan Beach.

“If we had not had the help of Rabbi Guillermo Bronstein, the community of Iquitos would not still exist,” Abramovitz said.

About a century after Jews had first arrived in Iquitos, the kehila and its members were formally recognized. Over the next few years, the congregation benefited from outreach by rabbis from other countries.


Rebecca Abramovitz holds the Iquitos Torah scroll in 2010. (Facebook)

In December 2004, Bronstein presided over a second beit din with his brother Marcelo, who serves as a rabbi in New York, as well as Saferstein, of Buenos Aires. Over three days, they evaluated around 180 candidates from Iquitos and neighboring regions.

In February 2009, the kehila received a Torah scroll over 100 years old from Rabbi Fabian Zaidemberg of La Asociacion Israelita de las Pampas in Argentina. David and Nilma Igdaloff, an American Jewish couple, had donated the Torah to Zaidemberg after it had been rescued from Nazi Germany.

A third beit din was held in 2011. And, as the Jews of Iquitos continue to rediscover and reconnect with their roots, there is an increasing interest in making aliyah.

Obstacles toward immigration to Israel

The story of the Amazonian aliyah is an unfolding one and includes community members now living in Israel as citizens, members who would like to make aliyah, and individuals in Israel who are not currently recognized as Israeli citizens.


The historic Jewish cemetery in Iquitos, April 2013. (Facebook)

The Interior Ministry has recognized Iquitos as a Jewish community and its members as eligible for aliyah, but it took a “long battle,” said Sacks, the director of the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel.

The majority of olim from Iquitos live in Ramla.

“The mayor was happy to receive them,” Sacks said. “There were social, employment programs. They were absorbed in order to be more successful.”

However, Sacks is unhappy with the Interior Ministry and its treatment of Jews from Iquitos who wish to join their fellow Iquitenos in Israel.

“The pace of aliyah has slowed to a trickle,” Sacks said. “There have been all sorts of excuses. I found it to be a problem.”

 

Petitioning the Supreme Court

The Legal Aid Center for Olim, a project of the Israel Reform Movement, has petitioned the Supreme Court to hear a case involving two sisters from Pucallpa who converted to Judaism in Iquitos in 2011. They have been in Israel since February 2014.

“At the moment one of the two sisters from Pucallpa has a working visa after she began a serious relationship with an Israeli and in fact has given birth to his child,” said Nicole Maor, a lawyer with the Legal Aid Center for Olim. “The other sister is here with no status at all, under the protection of a Supreme Court order preventing her deportation.”

The Interior Ministry “has argued that the community in Pucallpa was not a ‘recognized’ community at the time of the conversion and therefore although the conversion itself was performed in Iquitos, they refuse to recognize them,” Maor said.

‘The great majority of Iquitenos have gone to live in Israel’

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the petition in January 2017.

Asked how strong the current desire is to make aliyah among the Jews of Iquitos, Sacks said, “Almost all of the young ones desire to leave. The opportunity to advance professionally and socially is very limited. They seek a second chance everywhere in Latin American countries. Many have gone, and in fact would go, to Israel.”

“The jungle is not a pleasant place to live,” he said. “The opportunities are rather limited. People realize, they are the third generation of a Jewish grandfather, grandmother, and eligible to make aliyah. Many did, many converted to Judaism and ultimately made aliyah. About 150 left for Israel.”

Indeed, he noted, the current community in Iquitos is “much reduced, owing to aliyah.”

“The great majority of Iquitenos [people from Iquitos] have gone to live in Israel,” Saferstein said. “There are some other people who are waiting for their conversion process, and desire to go to Israel, as well, to live there.”


The Jews of Iquitos wave an Israeli flag. (Facebook)

Saferstein expressed hope for another beit din to visit Iquitos in January 2017, but said that economic assistance is needed for this.

Despite gloomy predictions for the future of Iquitos’s Jews due to their shrinking population, Bronstein, who led the first beit din 14 years ago, is more hopeful.

‘They will continue with their Jewish identity. Even if three, four, five people remain, they have the structure, the community’

“They will continue with their Jewish identity,” he said. “They already have an organization. They are smaller, but I believe they will continue. Even if three, four, five people remain, they have the structure, the community.”

Last year, Sacks experienced this community firsthand.

“When I arrived at the airport, probably most of the community, around 40 people were there, with Israeli flags, singing, welcoming me,” he said.

Asked whether the community identifies as Sephardic, he said, “Many of them have a great-grandparent who was Sephardic (usually from Morocco), but the Jews are removed from many of those traditions. They have been Jewishly educated, primarily by Masorti rabbis. So, while they have some Sephardic tunes, it is very much a mix.”

On Shabbat, he said, “The davening was identical to pretty much any other synagogue.”

He joined the community for a Passover seder in the Abramovitz house, with fish and vegetarian options, “no bread on the table” and locally-flavored charoset.


The community gathers for holiday dinner this past Rosh Hashanah. (Facebook)

“They kashered everything,” he said.

He noted a community custom. An Israeli flag is displayed atop a table “every year till the last Jew from Iquitos who wishes to make aliyah is able to do so,” he said.

More recently, the community has been busy again, this time for the High Holidays.

In an October 3 photo of the Rosh Hashanah dinner, over 30 community members are sitting down to eat at tables, welcoming the new year 5777. There are national and international symbols — Peruvian and Israeli flags — as well as religious and cultural decorations such as cutouts of shofars and a glowing Star of David.

As the Jews of Iquitos celebrated the new year, it showed that even in the isolation of the Amazon, a Jewish community can survive. Though its numbers may be diminished, inextinguishable sparks of communal life continue to be stoked on the edge of the rainforest.

Do All 3 Abrahamic Religions Pray To The Same God? That Answer Is Simple: No!

 

Here in the U.S. I have heard people make the statement that all ‘these religions’ pray to the same God, they just call Him/Her by a different name, so why can’t they all just get along? This statement would be nice, if it were true, but it isn’t at all correct. Mostly the people I have heard say this nonsense have been the Hollywood types or talking heads from the NYC area. People who make this assumption tend to be people who have no knowledge of what the different religions teach and usually have no knowledge of even the teachings of one religion. I know that here in the U.S. that the majority of the population tend to say that they are Christians simply because they were brought up with their families who were or said they were. Here in the States there are a lot of different Christian religions. Religions where they say that Jesus Christ is whom they believe in, even if they have not stepped foot in any Church since they were children, or maybe even never. You hear the divisions of ‘Christ’s’ Church a lot here in the form of the questions like, are you a Christian or a Catholic? Or, Catholic or Protestant. As almost all of you know there are many divisions of Christian Churches like Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Pentecostal and so on and on and on. Then there are the ‘Born Again’ Christians and groups like the Church of Christ, the Church of God and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, O, and let us not forget the Mormon Church. It is easy to see why people who have no religious upbringing or very little of it could think that all ‘Religions’ serve the same God. Even though the Catholic Church doesn’t teach exactly what I believe I honestly haven’t found a ‘Church group’ that does. Yet I am not going to stone any believers in Jesus Christ whether they are Protestant or Catholic. One of the many things I have never understood in life is how groups that believe that Jesus Christ is our Saviour and King can raise their weapons against another person who believes the same thing, in the name of Religion, in the name of Christ! This confusion isn’t just among Christian Churches, let God be the Judge, we are not qualified.

 

Now, let us go onto non-Christian Faiths for a moment. This article is about confusion and understanding, and hopefully, clarity. I know that this article is really going to upset some folks, that is not my intention. My intention is simply to speak the “Honestly Of God’s Truth” as I see it, understand it, and believe it, too you. The only real Truth is God’s Truth and His Truth is 100% pure Truth. Humans tend to dilute God’s Truth in an effort to make it fit what they want the Truth to be, that is why only God’s Truth is pure Truth, He doesn’t need to dilute anything.

 

I don’t know how much knowledge each person who is reading this has concerning Old Testament Scriptures so I will be as direct and short as I can in an effort to help people understand the connections. In the Old Testament (which was written as ‘The Law’ to the Hebrew/Jewish people) the first of the 3 ‘Founding Fathers’ of Israel was Abraham, then there was his son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob. God would later change the name of Jacob to Israel. The 12 Tribes of Israel are named after Jacob’s/Israel’s 12 sons. Since the Book of Genesis but especially in the Books of Isaiah and Daniel the people of Israel are told of a Messiah/Christ/Redeemer/Saviour/Promised One, that will come and elevate Israel to the premier Nation on Earth and this Messiah/Christ will rule the Earth from a new Jerusalem that will come down from Heaven. It is believed that ‘The Christ’ will rule from His Throne upon The Temple Mount. I as a devout Christian believe this exact same thing. The big difference is that as a Christian I believe that the Hebrew/Jewish Messiah has already come in the form of Jesus (Yeshua) but the Jewish folks do not believe that Jesus was ‘The Christ’. You see, when Jesus came to the Earth in 4 B.C. to fulfill Scripture the Jewish people were looking for the ‘Messiah’ to come and remove the Roman Rulers from Israel and to set up His Kingdom then. When the people realised that Jesus was not here to do that many of the people turned on him. Jesus was simply here to fulfill what the Scriptures had to say about Him. Christians should not be at all mad at our Jewish brothers, sisters and friends for their ancestors killing Jesus as they did. First, God hardened their hearts so that they would do so and there is the reality that if Jesus had not done what He did and the people had not done what they did, none of us ‘Gentiles’ (anyone whom is not 100% of Hebrew blood) would have no chance of salvation at all. We would be no better than the dogs or pigs as far as salvation is concerned. (This is exactly what Islam does think of us Christians and Jews by the way.)

 

The Jewish faith and their beliefs are correct in that the Messiah will come from the skies and put an end to this corrupt and violent world that we all live in. Christians call this the ‘Second Advent of Christ’, in the Jewish faith they are looking for the Messiah to come for the first time. When Jesus comes for the Second time He will put an end to this sinful world and the ‘New Jerusalem’ will come down from Heaven and The Messiah will rule the whole World from the Temple Mount just as the Jewish people believe. The Jewish faith believes that all of us Christians are ‘lost’ and that we nor anyone else have any chance of salvation, only the Jewish people do. The Jewish faith does not believe that the ‘New Testament’ is the word of God. They believe in the Torah which are the first 5 books of the Old Testament that Moses authored and the rest of the Old Testament which is called the Books of the Prophets, some major Prophets, some minor.  The New Testament and the teachings of Jesus make it very plain that the ‘only way to the Father is through Him’ also that those who deny Him, deny the Father. As Christians we pray to The Father through Jesus and believe that this is the only way that our prayers have any chance of getting to the ears of The Father. Jewish folks do not believe in Jesus as the Messiah/Christ so they do not pray to Jesus and by New Testament teachings the Jewish people’s prayers have no chance of reaching The Father’s Ears. This would make the prayers of the non-believers of Christ worthless, just the same as someone who prays to Allah, Buddha or the Dali Lama, a dollar bill or as if a total atheist  prayed because they would have no faith in Jesus, nor do they believe in Him. Those statements are hard I know, but they are not meant to be hateful at all, they are just pointing out the honest differences. God has made it very plain that He will never ever abandon Israel nor His people. God is always looking out for the Nation of Israel and He always will. Salvation is to the Jew first, then to the Gentile. We as Christians as well as all other people of the Earth if they have any sense at all should always make sure to stand by Israel and Her people for they are sacred to God Himself.

 

The third of the Abrahamic Religions is the religion of Islam. As Abraham is the Father of the Jewish Nation and people he is also the Father of a boy called Ishmael through his Egyptian Servant woman Hagar. Abraham’s wife was barren until she was 100 years old so being Abraham had no heir his wife Sarah told him to lay with his Servant Hagar to obtain a son and heir. Not long after Ishmael was born God opened up the womb of Sarah and she had a son called Isaac. Sarah got jealous of Ishmael so she had Abraham chase him and his Mom away. Ishmael is the father of the Muslim people and he was of the loins of Abraham so yes, they are Abraham’s descendants. About 600 years after the death of Jesus in Jerusalem a man called Mohammad arose from the deserts of what is now Saudi Arabia and started a new religion in the cities of Medina and Mecca. Mohammad died in the city of Mecca in the year 632 A.D. but his teachings are the religion of Islam. The followers of Islam refer to God by the name of Allah. Do not be shocked that almost all religions other than Islam do not believe that the ‘Allah’ that they are praying to is actually ‘God’. Just as the Jewish believers believe that Christians are not praying to God when we pray to Jesus the Jewish people don’t believe that the Islamic people are praying to a ‘God’ when they are praying to Allah. Also, the Islamic believing people do not believe that the Christians or the Jews are praying to ‘God’ because they are not praying to Allah. Islam calls the Christian and Jewish people the ‘people of The Book’. In this they are correct, just as they know that Islam does not believe in the teachings of ‘The Book’ (The Bible). So folks, it is obvious that the people of the Islamic faith when they are praying to Allah that by the Christian and Jewish beliefs these people are just praying to the open air at best and at worst, they are praying to the Devil Himself. I am not trying to be hateful here in this article, I am just pointing out some very obvious truths between the three Abrahamic Religions where the issue is prayer.