Israel: On fringes of peace confab, rare prayer service brings Bahrain synagogue to life

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

On fringes of peace confab, rare prayer service brings Bahrain synagogue to life

Afterward, worshipers break out in song, hear Torah sermon as Houda Nonoo, a Jewish woman who served as Bahrain’s US ambassador, marvels: ‘It’s a historic moment’

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MANAMA, Bahrain — Businessmen, reporters, five rabbis and a senior White House official held rare morning prayers at the only officially declared synagogue in the Gulf Wednesday, on the edges of a peace conference being held in the tiny gulf kingdom that was once home to a thriving Jewish community.

At the end of the service, which took place on the sidelines of the US administration’s economic peace workshop held in Bahraini capital Manama, the men, clad in prayer shawls and phylacteries, broke out in song, walking around the bimah and singing “Am Yisrael Chai” — the people of Israel live.

The rare service was organized by this Times of Israel correspondent, with the help of Bahraini diplomat Houda Nonoo, who is Jewish, and the approval of authorities in Manama.

Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center led prayers. After the service, one of the worshipers gave a sermon about the weekly Torah reading.

Prayers are not held on a regular basis at the synagogue, and are usually even closed for holidays and opened only for special occasions. The building housing the synagogue is unmarked.

Worshipers, including Trump administration Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt (left, seated) attend morning prayers at a synagogue in Manama, Bahrain, June 26, 2019 (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

Among the worshipers were Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special adviser for Middle East peace; interfaith activist Rabbi Marc Schneier; Middle East scholar David Makovsky; New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief David Halbfinger; and a handful of Israeli businessmen and reporters attending the conference.

Greenblatt wrote on Twitter that he prayed for his family and for peace. “This is an example of the future we can all build together,” he wrote.

Jason D. Greenblatt

@jdgreenblatt45

A special opportunity to daven(pray) this morning with a minyan(quorum) in a synagogue in Bahrain. Great way to start today. I was asked what I prayed for- two things: my family, who I miss deeply and of course for peace. This is an example of the future we can all build together

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“That’s the secret of the Jewish people — whenever you step into a shul, wherever you are in the world, you feel like home,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, also from the Wiesenthal Center.

The Manama synagogue was built in the 1930s. It was ransacked in 1947 in the wake of the United Nations Partition Plan that called for the creation of both a Jewish and a Palestinian state within British Mandatory Palestine.

The unmarked entrance to the synagogue in Manama, Bahrain, June 26, 2019 (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

Nonoo, who served as Bahrain’s US ambassador a decade ago, and arranged for the synagogue to be opened on Wednesday, said that the prayer service was an emotional occasion for her.

“I was very moved. It’s a historic moment. For the first time in my life, I saw a prayer service with a minyan in my synagogue,” Nonoo told The Times of Israel, using the Hebrew term for the quorum of 10 men required for a full Jewish service.

The synagogue, located on Manama’s Sasaah Avenue, was renovated in 1997 and counts 34 members in its community. Prior to 1947, at its peak the community counted 1,500 Jews, mainly of Iraqi origin.

A shofar in the synagogue in Manama, Bahrain, June 26, 2019 (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

“I was very moved by the united sense of Jews from all over, getting together in a synagogue that hasn’t had a minyan in close to 75 years, and singing together Am yisrael Chai,” said Canadian businessman Mayer Gniwish, who is also a rabbi.

Bahrain has the only indigenous Jewish community in the Gulf, though Jewish businessmen, mainly from the US, frequent the region in increasing numbers.

Ten years ago, the Dubai Synagogue began operating as the sole institution of the Jewish community of the Emirates, welcoming veteran and temporary residents, as well as those on visits for business and pleasure.

The Trump administration kicked off its Israeli-Palestinian peace bid in Manama Tuesday, hoping to drum up billions of dollars to support a vision of a thriving Palestinian economy should a peace deal be reached.

The White House invited no Israeli officials, but Israeli members of the press, businessmen and civil society representatives are in attendance.

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COMMENTS

Poway And The Struggle For Americas Soul

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHABAD.ORG)

 

If you’re a Jew in America today, there’s a good chance you’re concerned. First, the largest hate-driven massacre of Jews in American history occurs in Pittsburgh. Then, precisely six months later, with an almost identical fingerprint of hatred, a deadly attack on a synagogue in Poway, California.

Whose problem is this?

The Jewish people are no weaker for these attacks. Synagogues are not about to empty out because of a handful of disturbed, poisoned minds—and much to the contrary. As for those whose lives were taken, all very special Jews, all missed terribly: Don’t call them victims. There’s an honored title in Jewish tradition for any Jew who lost his or her life simply for being a Jew: A Kadosh. A holy Jew. Jews don’t die as victims, we die with dignity. That is why we are still alive.

My contention is that this is not a Jewish problem. It’s the World’s problem. Both these attacks, along with many other violent crimes of hatred in recent years are symptoms of a malicious disease spreading unabated in America, in Europe, and in the world at large.

But that’s a problem that we, as Jews, are going to have to assist in healing. For our own best interest, as well as for the interest of this country, and for the entire world.

America is suffering. According to FBI figures, hate-crimes rose 17% last year, with similar increases over the previous two years. All this while other forms of violent crime continue to decrease. Something’s wrong.

Jews are an obvious target. Like the canary in the coal mine, we tend to get hit the hardest. And yes, these are acts of rabid antisemitism. But if we want to solve anything, we need to take a broader perspective. Muslims, Christians and others have been under siege as well. Just a few days before the Poway shooting, a young war veteran plowed into a crowd crossing the street in Sunnyvale, California. He told police he thought they were Muslims.

Is there a medicine for this plague?

In the sixties, seventies and eighties, violence was increasingly on the rampage in America in a way not seen since the days of the Wild West. Ideas for quick fixes and long term solutions abounded. The Rebbe’s prescription, unique and counterintuitive, was this: Fix the education system. How? Introduce a moment of silence every day into the school curriculum, and take it seriously.

Why do I think that’s a good fit for today’s plague of hate-driven violence?

Think about it: America is divided over gun law restrictions, yet there is one point that enjoys universal consensus: Gun restrictions alone are not enough. Because the problem is not the gun. The problem is the mind of the person that holds the gun.

What has the American school done for the mind of that criminal?

We taught him how human beings first appeared on the planet. Did we teach him to be a human being? Did we teach him to respect another human being?

We taught him to use his mind to solve problems with numbers. Did we teach him to apply his mind—rather than his fists—to solve problems with people?

We taught him anatomy. Did we teach him that a human life is more than the sum of blood, guts and bones? Or did we, perhaps inadvertently, teach him that the notion of a human soul has no place in the educated mind?

We taught him about laws and prisons. Did we teach him that even if you’re so smart that you don’t get caught, you’re still wrong? Did we give him a conscience?

Did we ever demonstrate to him that these are the things that really matter in life—more than math, more than science, even more than the niftiest technology? Did we ever give him a chance to stop and think about himself, about his life, about his family, about everything that bothers him in life? Is there a space and time for thinking about life in his school?

That’s all that a moment of silence in school is about. And, yes, it works wonders. Ask those who work in schools where it’s been implemented. They will tell you that a moment of silence means that a child will go home and ask Mommy and Daddy what he should think about. It means that a child will share with his teacher the troubles he’s going through. It means the school becomes a place not just for the child’s mind, but for his heart and his soul.

Or take it from this 2013 report on the Moment of Silence program at Paul Robeson High in Brooklyn, N.Y., that described it as “an ongoing, transformative experience.”

“…The Moment of Silence provided the students an opportunity to become more mindful and reflective of their experiences inside and outside the classroom. The students have become more introspective in their writing and have a greater appreciation, empathy, and understanding of their peers . . . Students have also gained a greater understanding of educational objectives.”

Jews have to adapt to the times. The knee-jerk reaction, reinforced through thousands of years of history, has been to huddle down and strengthen the internal steel grid when under attack. But America in 2019 is not Shushan, not Rome, not medieval Spain, not Poland.

It’s that attitude that prompted some Jews to believe that if Judaism were to be safe in America, G‑d had to be kicked out of public school. They failed to realize that, in the times we live in, the opposite is true. A moral society demands a notion of an objective, supreme Judge, an “eye that sees and an ear that hears”—even if you don’t get caught by the police or the media. When that notion is lost, so is America’s soul. And that’s when the madness begins.

A moment of silence doesn’t impose prayer or belief in a Creator on anyone. But it opens the child’s mind to search for meaning, and hopefully, for G‑d’s presence in the world. And there’s a good chance the child will talk to parents and grandparents and discover that they once had faith in their lives.

True, anti-semitism never died, even in America. But here we have a voice, a well-respected voice, and therefore a responsibility to our host country. Isn’t this why we were given a Torah? Isn’t this is the core mission of our people here in this world—to be a light to the nations, who will finally come to realize that the world has a Creator who cares about how we treat His world?

We can use our voices to heal America. Let America’s schools nurture the humanness of America’s children. Let children know the meaning of silence, just enough silence that they can hear their own hearts pounding inside. Let America have a soul again.

Chabad shooting victim named as Lori Gilbert-Kaye, said to have shielded Rabbi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Chabad shooting victim named as Lori Gilbert-Kaye, said to have shielded rabbi

Friend says 60-year-old mother jumped between gunman and rabbi at Poway Chabad center; Israeli girl and her uncle injured in rampage

Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in a shooting at a San Diego County synagogue on April 27, 2019 (Facebook)

Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in a shooting at a San Diego County synagogue on April 27, 2019 (Facebook)

The US woman killed in a shooting at a San Diego County synagogue was named late Saturday as Lori Gilbert-Kaye, a 60-year-old mother.

Gilbert-Kaye was attending Passover services at the synagogue when a gunman opened fire with an assault rifle on worshipers at the Poway, California, synagogue, local authorities said.

Three other people were injured, including Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 57, who was leading services at the time and was shot in both hands.

The other two were Noya Dahan, 8, a girl originally from Sderot in Israel who was hit by shrapnel in the face and leg, and her uncle Almog Peretz, 31, who was shot in the leg as he ushered children in a playroom to safety, according to media reports. Israel’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the two were injured, adding that the consul in Los Angeles, Avner Saban, had spoken with the girl’s mother and offered help.

Authorities said all three were in stable condition.

Gilbert-Kaye was described in media reports and by fellow congregants as a mother of one.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of Chabad of Poway, California. (Facebook)

Her friend Audrey Jacobs, a community activist, said Gilbert-Kaye had jumped in front of Rabbi Mendel Goldstein — Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein’s son — “to take the bullet and save his life.”

“Lori you were a jewel of our community a true Eshet Chayil, a Woman of Valor,” Jacobs wrote on Facebook. “You were always running to do a mitzvah (good deed) and gave tzedaka (charity) to everyone. Your final good deed was taking the bullets for Rabbi Mendel Goldstein to save his life.

“Lori leaves behind a devastated husband and 22-year-old daughter,” she added.

Witnesses said the injured rabbi continued his speech calling for unity and peace despite suffering gunshot wounds to both index fingers.

“The rabbi said, ‘We are united,’” said congregation member Minoo Anvari, who said her husband witnessed the shooting.

“He prayed for peace,” she said, according to the Chabad website. “Even in spite of being injured he refused to go to the hospital until he spoke. And he finished his speech and he then left the synagogue.”

“We are strong; you can’t break us,” Anvari said.

Rabbi Goldstein also serves as a Jewish chaplain at the local San Diego police department.

He underwent surgery and would have to remain hospitalized for several days, according to Dr. Michael Katz, trauma chief at Palomar Medical Center, according to the San Diego Jewish World.

According to Jacobs’ Facebook post, the family of the injured Israeli girl and her uncle “moved to San Diego from the Israeli city of Sderot to get away from the terrorism and the constant attacks on their community.”

Sderot has been targeted by thousands of rockets fired by terror groups in the Gaza Strip over the last 15 years.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore addresses the media in front of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue after a shooting on April 27, 2019 in Poway, California. (Photo by SANDY HUFFAKER / AFP)

Rabbi Yonah Fradkin, executive director of Chabad of San Diego County, said in a statement that “in the face of senseless hate we commit to live proudly as Jews in this glorious country. We strongly believe that love is exponentially more powerful than hate. We are deeply shaken by the loss of a true woman of valor, Lori Kaye, who lost her life solely for living as a Jew.”

“Lori Gilbert-Kaye is a Jewish heroine, and will be remembered as a heroine in Jewish history,” said Israel’s minister of diaspora affairs, Naftali Bennett. “She sacrificed her own life, throwing herself in the path of the murderer’s bullets to save the life of the rabbi. But it is clear that such heroism and good deeds are not only characteristic of dear Lori in death, but that this was the way she lived her life — constantly doing charity and good deeds for those in need.”

Police have named the suspect in the shooting as John Earnest, 19, from San Diego, and have said they are reviewing an anti-Semitic white nationalist manifesto allegedly posted by a user with the same name.

“We’re looking into digital evidence and checking the authenticity of an online manifesto,” the office of San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said.

Earnest surrendered to police after leaving the synagogue and calling to report the shooting, according to authorities.

Gore declined to say what the motive for the crime was, but Poway Mayor Steve Vaus and others have said it appeared to be a hate crime.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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Pittsburg: Hundreds at funeral for 97-year-old Synagogue victim

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Wounded daughter joins hundreds at funeral for 97-year-old synagogue victim

Rose Mallinger, the oldest person killed in worst anti-Semitic attack in US history, is the last of the 11 victims to be laid to rest

This undated family photo provided by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) shows Rose Mallinger, 97, who was one of the people killed on when a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. Her daughter, Andrea Wedner, was among the wounded. (Courtesy of the Mallinger family/UPMC via AP)

This undated family photo provided by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) shows Rose Mallinger, 97, who was one of the people killed on when a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. Her daughter, Andrea Wedner, was among the wounded. (Courtesy of the Mallinger family/UPMC via AP)

Pittsburgh bid farewell Friday to 97-year-old Rose Mallinger, the oldest person killed in America’s worst anti-Semitic attack in history and the last of the 11 victims to be laid to rest.

Mallinger was shot dead by a gunman who reportedly yelled “All Jews must die” after bursting into the Tree of Life synagogue during Shabbat services last Friday. Her daughter, Andrea Wedner, 61, was shot and wounded.

Wedner attended Friday’s funeral with a nurse, said Rabbi Aaron Bisno. She has  been hospitalized since the massacre Saturday.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald were among the many hundreds who attended Mallinger’s funeral.

Rose Mallinger, right, was 97 when she was killed in the Tree of Life synagogue attack on Oct. 27, 2018. Her daughter Andrea Wedner, left, was wounded. (Katie Couric/Facebook via JTA)

“I’ve known Rose a long time, and it was always going to be that she was so vibrant and bright and sharp-witted that she would live past 100,” said Michelle Organist, who also knows Wedner. “You knew something was going to take her eventually, but it wasn’t going to be gun violence.”

Born in 1921, Mallinger may have been just three years shy of 100, but for the former school secretary, “age was truly just a number,” her family said.

The final resting place of Rose Mallinger, 97, lays ready for her casket in the Tree of Life Memorial Park on October 31, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mallinger, a mother of 3, grandmother to 5, and great-grandmother of 1, was among the 11 victims killed in the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP)

“She retained her sharp wit, humor and intelligence until the very last day,” they said in a statement. “No matter what obstacles she faced, she never complained. She did everything she wanted to do in her life.”

She was a devoted member of Tree of Life in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, a center of Jewish life in Pittsburgh and home to a thriving, liberal and diverse community.

“Her involvement with the synagogue went beyond the Jewish religion… It was her place to be social, to be active and to meet family and friends,” said her family.

A mother of three, Mallinger had five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. “She loved us and knew us better than we knew ourselves,” the family added.

Pittsburgh has been holding funerals since Tuesday for those killed in the attack. A 46-year-old gunman, who was injured in a shootout with police, has been charged with crimes that could see him sentenced to death.

On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania visited Tree of Life to pay their respects to the victims.

Visitors walk past the hearse as they gather for the funeral of Rose Mallinger, 97, at Congregation Rodef Shalom on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in Pittsburgh. Mallinger was one of the eleven victims killed in the deadly shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood last Saturday. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Around 1,500 people took to the streets to protest against the visit, holding Trump at least partly responsibility for the shooting through his inflammatory language and demanding that he renounce white nationalism.

AP contributed to this report

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At Least 8 Dead At Pittsburgh Synagogue Execution, Many Injured

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWSPAPER)

(THOUGH I HAVE LITTLE TO NO FAITH IN PRESIDENT TRUMP AS A PERSON OR AS A LEADER HE IS STILL SOMETIMES CORRECT ON THE ISSUES FACING ALL OF US IN OUR DAILY LIVES, THIS IS ONE OF THOSE TIMES. SHOOTERS LIKE THIS ALWAYS GO TO TARGETS WHERE THEY KNOW THAT THERE WILL BE NO GUNS AVAILABLE TO SHOOT BACK AT THEM. THINK ABOUT IT, SYNAGOGUES, CHURCHES, SCHOOLS. THESE ARE SHOOTINGS DONE BY PURE COWARDS, THEY ARE CALLED SOFT TARGETS.) (THIS COMMENT IN RED IS BY TRUTHTROUBLES.WORDPRESS.COM ,OLDPOET56) 

Trump says Pittsburgh shooting has ‘little’ to do with gun laws, armed guard could have prevented tragedy

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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump responded to the shooting in Pittsburgh, which left at least eight dead inside a synagogue, telling reporters that an armed guard could have prevented the tragedy.

As Trump boarded Air Force 1 heading to Indianapolis, he told reporters he was monitoring the events unfolding near the Tree of Life Synagogue and said “something has to be done.”

But, Trump rebuffed questions about whether now was the time to examine gun laws.

“This has little to do with it if you take a look,” Trump said on gun laws. He continued, explaining armed guard could have prevented the tragedy.

“If they had protection inside the results would have been far better,” the president said. “Maybe it could have been a very much different situation.”

Police have a man in custody after the attack, which left at least eight dead and multiple people injured, including four police officers. Multiple media, including CNN, CBS and KDKA, identified the shooter as Robert Bowers.

Hello! We’ve got complete midterm election coverage right here. Let’s begin!

Teams of armed police swarmed the Squirrel Hill neighborhood near downtown Pittsburgh just before 10 a.m. Saturday. Residents were urged to shelter in place as armed law enforcement agents canvassed the neighborhood.

More: What we know about the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh

More: Shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue: Politicians, local leaders react to tragedy

Pittsburgh television station KDKA-TV and NBC reported that eight people have been killed and a number of others injured at Tree of Life synagogue. A male suspect has surrendered to police and three police officers were also reportedly shot, according to KDKA-TV.

Trump said he was monitoring the shooting and said the U.S. needed to “stiffen up” its death penalty laws.

“They should pay the ultimate price,” Trump said. “It’s a terrible, terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country, frankly, and all over the world. And something has to be done.”

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The Book Of Revelation: Chapter #3

 

Revelation Chapter #3

Today in this article I would like to discuss the third chapter of the Book of Revelation, to discuss the words written so that we can understand their meanings. Chapter #3 is a lot like chapter #2 was in that it is directed at three particular Churches back at the end of the first century A.D.. In the last chapter of this Book, #22 in verse #10 the Lord told the Apostle John “Do not seal the sayings of the Prophecy’s of this book: for the time is at hand.” There are those who teach in today’s Churches that this Book is not meant to be understood, that it is just a bunch of signs and symbols. I grew up in a Church which taught this, yet such a belief is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ who dictated the contents of this Book to the Apostle John. Some of the teachings within this Book do go contrary to the teachings of the Church I grew up in, I wondered even back then if this is the reason they wanted to keep this a ‘closed’ book. This Book is like all books in the sense that you must slowly read it if you are to have any hope of understanding it. Yet, at least in my own personal opinion, I believe that a person needs to read all of the other 65 Books of the Bible first before you can grasp the understanding of some of the issues written here in the Bibles last Book. The Book of Revelation has 404 verses in it, of those 404 verses 278 contain references to the Old Testament. True understanding of the Scriptures of God are given to people through the eyes and heart of the Holy Spirit. If a person reads God’s Scriptures through ‘the eyes of the flesh’ there is very little chance that the person will understand what the Holy Spirit is actually saying.

After this third chapter ‘the Church’ will not be mentioned anymore here in this Book, the reason is that after this time ‘The Church” will no longer be here on the Earth, it will be in Heaven. Now I would like to get into these last three Churches of the seven the Lord was addressing in chapter number two, then we will be done talking about these seven Churches. These three Churches that this chapter are revolved around were located in Asia-Minor, they were located in Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Sardis is located in modern-day Greece, the other two are in modern-day Turkey. First let’s look at what The Lord had to say to the Church in Sardis. The Lord told John “To the Angel of the Church in Sardis write; these things saith He that has the Seven Spirits of God and the Seven Stars. I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are really dead.” “Be watchful and strengthen the things you still have that are about to die. For I have not found your works complete before God.” “Remember therefore how that you received and heard, hold fast to that, and repent. For if you do not pay attention, I will come unto you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I come unto you.” “There are a few among you even there in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in White: for they are worthy.” “He that overcomes this world shall be clothed in White Raiment; and I will not blot out their name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His Angels.” “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.”

Friends there is no great mystery what The Lord is saying to the people at the Church in Sardis, nor in what He is telling us. The Lord in this letter is pointing out these folks good and their bad points. On the things that they are doing that are good and pleasing to Him, He tells them to continue in these ways. Yet on the things they are doing which are displeasing to Him, He tells them to stop doing those things, to correct their ways. Now here is the ‘kicker’ to those who believe in the fallacy of “once saved always saved.” Chapter three verse number five where The Lord said “and I will not blot out their name out of the Book of Life.” After we die and go before God at our judgement our names must be in ‘The Book of Life”, or we will be cast into Hell at that time. This verse makes it rather plain that one’s name can be removed from this Book. Please do not fall for the Demonic teaching of once saved always saved, it simply is not true, that teaching is not the teaching of God.

Let’s move onto the second Church, the one in Philadelphia that is in modern-day Turkey. The Lord said “To the Angel of the Church in Philadelphia write; these things says He that is Holy, He that is True, He that has the Key of David. He that opens and no man can shut, He that shuts and no man can open.” “I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it. For you have a little power and have obeyed My Word and you have not denied My Name.” “Behold, I will make them of the Synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews and are not, for they do lie. Behold I will make them come and worship before your feet, then they will realize that I have loved you.” “Because you have kept the word of my patients, I will also keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall which shall come upon the whole world. To try them which dwell upon the Earth.” “Behold, I shall come quickly. Hold fast to that which you have so that no man can take your Crown.” “To he that overcomes I will make him a Pillar in the Temple of God. He shall no more go out, and I shall write upon him the name of God, and the name of the City of God which is the New Jerusalem which shall come down out of Heaven from God and I will write upon him My new name for him.” “He that has an ear let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.”

Philadelphia did not receive the rebuke that almost all of the other Churches received because God was pleased with the work that they were doing. Philadelphia was a Church that wasn’t just attending  a once a week service then sitting on their hands the rest of the week doing nothing to help save those that were living their lives around them, they were getting God’s Word out, outside of the Church walls. Yet if you will notice The Lord did warn them about becoming lazy, complacent in their work for Him. Just as with the other Churches we are shown the fact that we can ‘lose’ our Crown if we are not careful. Remember God’s teachings, there is no such thing as once saved always saved!

Now let’s go onto the seventh of the Seven Churches on the Lord’s list here at the beginning of the Book of Revelation, this last Church is the one that was at Laodicea. “To the Angel of the Church in Laodicea write; these things saith the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the beginning of the Creation of God. “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I wish that you were one or the other.” “So then because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” “Because you say you are rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing, you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” “I advise you to buy from Me gold that is tried in the fire so that you may be rich and clothed in White Raiment so that you may be clothed so that the shame of your nakedness does not appear, and anoint your eyes with eye salve so that you might see.” “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefor and repent.” “Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him and he with Me.” “To him that overcomes this world I will grant him to sit with Me in My Throne, even as I also overcame and have sat down with My Father in His Throne.” “He that has an ear let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.”

My friends, is there really anything that is written in this letter that is too difficult to understand? The Church at Laodicea had become large and filled with people who were wealthy and they felt safe in their size and their wealth. You know, if there was no such thing as a ‘God’, if all that humans did was live and die and then, there was nothing, this loving the dollar thing might actually be of some value. But, there is a God, and that God is not a person’s bank account. Even if we are a person who goes to Church every week and call ourselves a Christian, if we do not do ‘the works’ of Jesus, we are nothing but lukewarm water. ‘Christians’ who live their lives like this are really nothing but dead men/women walking and they are to blind and self-absorbed to know that they are walking on a plank above an active volcano. These Churches are teaching what I call “feel good religion.” To many Churches here in America have become businesses first, if Preachers teaches things that are uncomfortable to the people sitting in the pews many of those people will quit going to that Church and when this happens the money they were putting in the ‘offering plate’ leaves with them. To many Churches ‘Leaders’ are afraid to teach messages that are uncomfortable to ‘the flock’ for this reason. I have a question for every one of us, which do we fear more, a reduction in our income, or the wrath of God? The Lord’s Church (His Bride) must be a House of Worship and a House of Prayer first for it to be a God-fearing and God-loving Church/Bride.

I am going to close this article tonight with the words that are inscribed on the wall of a Church in Lübeck Germany. It is only 13 sentences but I think it is an excellent way to close this article tonight. My question to you is, what do you think of them?

Thus Speaks Christ our Lord to us:

You call Me Master, but you do not obey Me.

You call Me Light, but you do not see Me.

You call Me The Way, but you do not walk with Me.

You call Me Life, but you do not choose Me.

You call Me Wise, but you do not follow Me.

You call Me Fair, but you do not love Me.

You call Me Rich, but you do not ask of Me.

You call Me Eternal, but you do not seek Me.

You call Me Noble, but you do not serve Me.

You call Me Gracious, but you do not trust Me.

You call Me Mighty, but you do not honor Me.

You call Me Just, but you do not fear Me.

If I condemn you, do not blame Me!

Lukewarm Christians turn away would be Christians by how they live their lives. When we say we are Christians but we walk after the ways of the Devil these would be Christians see this and they turn away from Christianity. These lukewarm actions cost more than just your own Soul to be condemned, it costs the Souls of those around us who see our ‘works’ and flee from the teachings of God because of our evil ways.

Yom Kippur Haftorah: Black Lives Matter

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHANDRA PRESCOD’S WEBSITE)

 
The opening chapter of a handwritten Book of Esther. source: Wikipedia

Yom Kippur Haftorah: Black Lives Matter

You shall love people — including Black people — with all your heart

I shared this with my synagogue during Yom Kippur 5777 Shacharit services.

To grow up Black in America is to know that your humanity is always in question.

I have a lot of memories of this from my childhood, but one stands out in particular.

When I was 15, I was thrown out of a New Year’s Eve party because Black people — or as they repeatedly shouted at me, N-words — were not welcome.

Later, when I was an 18-year-old college sophomore, a white Jewish leader of Harvard Hillel yelled at me that I was an anti-Semite because I was at a peace rally organized by Arab students. She could not imagine that someone my color was an Ashkenazi Jew too.

Now at 34, every time my mother calls me, I think it’s to tell me one of my cousins is dead. Or in jail. A couple of weeks ago a phone call from a cousin was in fact about another one who was in jail, falsely accused by a white person who wanted to teach her a lesson.

In 2016, I assume that every conversation with one of my Black friends and family members may be our last one. My friends and family are located close to the places where Black people have been the victims of extrajudicial police murders. Whenever I hear the news, I wait — in complete terror — for a name. And I have given instructions to my husband about what to do if it’s me.

I find too often that white Jews hear stories like this and think, “That’s sad for them. I will act in solidarity when I can.” As we think about making the world whole, about Teshuvah and our commitment to Tikkun Olam and respecting and loving G-d, the G-d that we make together, I believe this approach should be questioned.

Why? Because Black people are People. What is happening is an affront to all of us, not just those of us who are Black. It is time to stop treating this like it is a grief that only Black people can feel and understand, as if Blacks are somehow a different species.

In fact, it is hard to be Black and Jewish in a community that does not see how alienating this approach can be. I have thought many times, in the last two months especially, about walking away from Judaism because I did not feel fully acknowledged as a fellow human.

I don’t believe this outcome is fated though. Albert Einstein — my theoretical physics hero — said that racism is a disease of white people, and he included himself in this grouping. He didn’t write this during the Days of Awe, but I think it is a good framing of what matters during this time.

As we end the days of awe, I want my fellow Jews who are not Black to consider that repentance means in part to take responsibility and repair what you can.

Part of this repair in my view is recognizing that Black Lives, Native Lives, Latinx lives are your people’s lives. Not just because there are Jews of all of those races but also because part of tikkun olam must be recreating the wholeness of humanity.

The message of Tikkun Olam is clear to me: Black Lives Matter can’t just be a movement you support. It has to be personal for you, like your family’s life depended on its success.

Think of the times you have imagined early Nazi Germany and the terror Jews felt walking down the street, Jews like my uncle’s family. We, your fellow Americans, your fellow human beings, are terrified, walking down the street. And we are, too often, terrorized in the name of whiteness, in the name of white safety.

It’s time to reject that and say: Black Lives Matter, like they are the lives of your family members.


Read more about Black Lives Matter Jewish mourning rituals.

Anti-Racism as a Sacred Jewish Value by Rabbi Brant Rosen

Jewish solidarity with Black Lives Matter by Rabbi Brant Rosen

“Let us not value property over people; let us not protect material objects while human lives hang in the balance.” — Dr. Yolanda Pierce, A Litany for Those Who Aren’t Ready for Healing

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