Archive 2002


Pesach: Passing on Heritage
by Joe Bobker

The peak of Egyptian oppression occurred under the 67 year reign of Rameses 11. The Jews rejoiced at his death, prematurely it seems. For it was under the tyranny of his successor, Mernephtah, that "they cried to God," in an agonizing period of serfdom that lasted from 1522 to 1312 BC. This Pharaoh was a phony Pharaoh: according to the Midrash he would study the times of the tides of the Nile, and enter the water precisely the moment that the water began to rise, so that it should appear to be rising to honor him. (Full Story)

Vice President Cheney Speaks at the Israeli Independence Day Reception
"It’s a great honor to join you all in marking Israel’s 54th Independence Day, and in paying tribute to one of Israel’s great public servants, Ambassador David Ivry. I am here as a friend of the Ambassador, and as a friend to the people and the State of Israel…" (Full Remarks)

Condoleezza Rice Speaks at the 96th Annual Dinner of the American Jewish Committee
It is a great honor to speak to the American Jewish Committee — a group that has been such a clear and consistent voice for human dignity and such a powerful force for freedom and justice around the globe. (Full Remarks)

Presidential Visit to the Grand Choral Synagogue
On the last day of President Bush’s historic Russian tour, he made a visit to the Kazan Cathedral a Russian Orthodox church and later visited with the Chief Rabbi at the Grand Choral Synagogue in St. Petersburg. The President and First Lady Laura Bush, extended their visit to hear stories of the Synagogue’s journey since it was first built in 1893 and the great trials up until its recent reconstruction. The entrance of the Grand Choral reads Edmond J. Safra Synagogue, named after a businessman who was the victim of murder and is honored for his donations that helped with the renovation. With a local population of 4.5 million people, the Synagogue is particularly special because it is the only house of worship for Jews in the area.
     When speaking on his visit, President Bush emphasized his strong belief in the freedom of religion saying, "I’m impressed by what I’ve heard from religious leaders, Christian and Jewish, here about the state of affairs in Russia… One of my strong beliefs is that people should be free to worship… (Full Story)

Tisha B’Av: The Day of Lamentation and Hope
by Joe Bobker

Prior to World War II Polish Jews would break their Tisha B’Av fast, light a fire, throw their kinos into the flames – and dance and sing the night away convinced it was their last Tisha B’Av before the Messiah came.
     Instead, Adolf waltzed into their lives and a modern mass crucification of Jews began. The result? The worst destruction in Jewish history, the extermination of one out of every three Jews in the world, and the devastating loss of 1,000 years of traditional European Judaism, including leaders, institutions and their cumulative writings. (Full Story)

50 Years After The Night of the Murdered Poets
Fifty years ago, on August 12, 1952, 13 prominent Jewish intellectuals were murdered in Moscow on orders from Soviet leader Josef Stalin. Although the world learned of this travesty in March 1956, reports had filtered out during the prisoners’ extended incarceration that something was amiss. The Jewish world, and no less the world at large, did little at the time to investigate their status or protest their incarceration. (Full Story)

Rosh Hashana greetings from Yoram in Israel
1. ROSH HASHANA, the beginning of the year 5763, is the appropriate time to revisit our Roots, Principles and Values (RPV is also the acronym for Remote Pilotless Vehicle!). The more we distance ourselves from our RPV, the less stable is our social, economic and security climate. (Full Message)

THE WHITE HOUSE: Rosh Hashanah, 5763
I send greetings to the Jewish community in the United States and around the world as you observe Rosh Hashanah.
     As you mark the beginning of the High Holy Days, take time to reflect on the past year. In seeking forgiveness and renewal, may you again appreciate the love and mercy of the Almighty, and look to the year ahead with hope and faith. (Full Message )

Yom Kippur: "A Chance of Further Life, Gift-Wrapped With the String of Forgiveness"
by Joe Bobker

  Yom Kippur is the summit of the Jewish calendar, the annual apex of spiritual consciousness, the only day in the year when Jews spend 25 non-stop hours in search of God via abstinence. Yom Kippur is only one day (unlike the other “2-day” festivals) because of the danger of excess fasting. This uninterrupted introspective, a formidable and meticulous “reckoning of the soul,” is achieved through the Torah’s command for self-denial, a directive that, according to Rav, a 3rd century rabbi, is not intended to turn the Jew away from life’s pleasures ("In the World to Come a person will be called to account for the legitimate pleasures which he denied himself.") (Full Story)

by Joe Bobker

Four days in Autumn. That’s all there is between Yom Kippur and Succas – a back-to-back spiritual contiguity of dramatic differences: from awe-‘n-fasting to wine-‘n-feasting, a change of mood that is sudden and striking. Yet although we emerge renewed in a state of spiritual exhilaration, we must now face the hesitant reality, as the question looms large: "Where shall we go from here?"
     This brilliant rabbinic vehicle, of sharp contrast and sudden disparity, is an effective tool to jolt Jewish memory away from the Book of Death and refocus on the Book of Life. (Full Story)

Reflections On Chanukah
By Yoram Ettinger

1. THE FOUNDING FATHERS OF THE USA, as well as Paul Revere and the organizers of the Boston Tea Party, viewed the Maccabees as their role-model.
2. HISTORICAL CONTEXT. Alexander The Great – who held Judaism in high esteem and whose Egyptian heir Ptolemy II translated the Torah to Greek – died in 323BC. Consequently, the Greek Empire disintegrated into five, and thirty years later into three, kingdoms: Macedonia, Syria and Egypt. The Land of Israel was always militarily contested by Syria and Egypt. (Full Story)

Chanukah Message From President Bush
"I am pleased to send greetings to everyone celebrating Hanukkah, the festival of lights.
     "For eight days and nights, Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and the ancient story of Israel’s courageous faith. In a victorious struggle against their oppressors, the Maccabees heroically overcame enormous odds to liberate the ancient kingdom of Israel. Hanukkah reminds us that faith can give us the strength to overcome oppression. Today, the spirit of the Maccabees continues to live and thrive among the Jewish people and in the State of Israel." (Full Message)