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Israel tightens demands on Gazan breast cancer patients in need of urgent care

Haaretz - 4 hours 41 min ago
Previously, Israel went according to the recommendation of doctors in Gaza to allow travel to East Jerusalem for treatment. Now the army wants proof

Israel's Coronavirus cabinet faces distressing data and difficult decisions on lockdown

Haaretz - 4 hours 42 min ago
Decision-makers are forced to confront worrisome statistics: On the one hand, there is the rise in the infection rate, On the other hand, the levels of economic freedom are narrowing

Flaunting quarantine, Netanyahu aides reveal industry of lies

Haaretz - 4 hours 42 min ago
All the problems have emerged from the prime minister and his circle – violations, lies, incitement, smears, blood libels

God, what terrible sin did we commit to deserve Netanyahu?

Haaretz - 7 hours 17 min ago
A prime minister who capitulates to every pressure group and views the long-term as the 8 P.M. news broadcast is not fit to lead Israel

Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg having a Jewish burial? Here’s what we know so far.

The Forward - Mon, 2020-09-21 23:57
“Waiting around for a funeral feels very weird.”

Haaretz Cartoon

Haaretz - Mon, 2020-09-21 23:45

Offline and in synagogue: How Orthodox Jews learned about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death

JTA - Mon, 2020-09-21 22:33

(JTA) – Shlomo Zuckier was walking out of his in-laws’ house Saturday morning to go to synagogue when he saw the newspaper on the ground. Through the plastic bag, he could read the headline with the biggest story of the previous evening: Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died.

Most Jews would have heard the news on Friday evening, not long after the 87-year-old Supreme Court justice passed away of complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. Many Reform and Conservative synagogues addressed the news in their Zoom services Friday night or Saturday morning.

But for Orthodox Jews the news arrived differently. Some, like Zuckier, a postdoctoral fellow in Jewish studies at McGill University, learned about it from the newspaper, the way one would have heard news of that sort in an earlier era. Others heard from fellow congregants or neighbors over the course of the holiday. And still others found out when they turned on their phones or checked the news online after the holiday ended Sunday evening, a full two days after the rest of the world.

I cannot believe the entire world knew RBG died for two whole days before I did.

— Elisheva Avital (@ElishevaAvital) September 21, 2020

While for some Orthodox Jews, particularly those with more progressive politics, the news of Ginsburg’s passing added to the emotions of Rosh Hashanah, for many it was just another important news story but with less emotional heft. That’s partially because of the way they found out, separated from the online news cycle and social media reactions, and partially because of the way they see their Judaism.

“The whole thing was surreal,” Zuckier said of seeing the news in the newspaper on Rosh Hashanah and later seeing the posts about Ginsburg’s death on social media after the holiday ended. “But for me it didn’t define my Rosh Hashanah. I had other things to focus on.”

Zuckier said some of that comes down to the way Orthodox Jews see politics and religion.

“It’s not a right-versus-left thing,” he said. “I think it’s just to what extent do you see politics as central to your religion.”

While for Reform and Conservative Jews, the Judaism Ruth Bader Ginsburg embodied, with her focus on social justice over traditional practice or dogma, represents many of their dearest values. Even her appearance cut a familiar figure, reminiscent of many a Jewish grandmother.

But for many Orthodox Jews, for whom traditional practice is a more central focus, the type of Judaism she represented is less resonant. While for Reform and Conservative Jews, Democratic politics are often viewed as consistent with the Jewish value of social justice, for Orthodox Jews, who have trended increasingly rightward politically over the past several years, the relationship between politics and religion is more complicated. And for haredi Orthodox Jews, many of whom do not consume popular cultural offerings like movies and documentaries, Ruth Bader Ginsburg never became the cultural icon she did in the rest of the liberal Jewish world, a status she only assumed there in recent years.

“If a big rabbi had passed in the Orthodox world, that’s what we saw in the liberal Jewish world,” said Elad Nehorai, a politically progressive writer who has written extensively about politics in the Orthodox community.

And for many in the Orthodox community, which has trended increasingly rightward politically in recent years, Ginsburg’s politics were not the cause for celebration that they were for many Reform and Conservative Jews.

Still, for some Orthodox Jews, particularly Modern Orthodox ones, her death was a serious blow.

For Maharat Ruth Balinsky Friedman, a member of the clergy at Ohev Sholom – The National Synagogue in Washington, D.C., learning about the justice’s death right before Saturday morning services from a congregant left her feeling “deflated.” But she didn’t address it at services.

“Our services were abbreviated,” she said, noting that her synagogue, like many Orthodox services, had shortened the service to minimize the amount of time people would be gathering in-person. Part of abbreviating the service was cutting out the sermons.

But even if there had been a sermon, she said, addressing the news felt like the wrong fit during a High Holiday season that was already more emotional than a typical year. And with fewer people at services – and social distancing hampering the feasibility of side conversations in synagogue – many people would not have heard the news by the time services began.

“I think it would be too tricky to deal with in shul and I knew some people would be hearing it for the first time,” said Friedman.

For Nehorai, who lives in California, hearing the news before the holiday began on the West Coast left him feeling “gutted.” But after the holiday ended, he said, he was glad he had heard about it before beginning Rosh Hashanah.

“All Jews have had this horrible experience where we come out of a Shabbos or yontif [holiday] where we find out about something…Yom Kippur last year was when we found out about the shooting in Germany,” Nehorai said of the attempted shooting at a synagogue in Halle, Germany.

“I think we’re in this age when it’s very hard to process grief and trauma because so much of it is so online so we’re constantly reacting,” he said. “It was really helpful to have two days of none of that.”

The post Offline and in synagogue: How Orthodox Jews learned about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

A viral tweet said RBG dying on Rosh Hashanah made her a ‘tzaddik.’ Is that true?

JTA - Mon, 2020-09-21 22:18

(JTA) — Within hours of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Friday evening, an obscure Jewish tradition began circulating online: Someone who dies on or just before Rosh Hashanah is a righteous person.

“A Jewish teaching says those who die just before the Jewish new year are the ones God has held back until the last moment bc they were needed most & were the most righteous,” NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg tweeted just after midnight. “And so it was that #RBG died as the sun was setting last night marking the beginning of Rosh Hashanah.”

Others had made similar claims on Twitter earlier in the evening. By Saturday afternoon, Reuters had published a story about the significance of the timing of Ginsburg’s passing, citing no less a source than Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the head of the Union for Reform Judaism.

But where does this idea come from?

“This might be part of one of those cosmic games of Torah telephone,” said Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, who validated the Rosh Hashanah righteousness thesis on Twitter after one of her many followers asked her to confirm it.

The idea seems to derive from a creative reading of a passage in the Babylonian Talmud, which relates that humanity is split into three groups on the Day of Judgment, which can be understood to mean Rosh Hashanah. The wholly wicked are immediately consigned to their fate in Gehenna, the Jewish correlate of hell. The middle-of-the-road folks are sent to Gehenna as well, but just for a time. And the wholly righteous are immediately granted eternal life.

“If you die at the end of the year, literally on the cusp, which is exactly when Ruth died, that means in a sense that you’re assured for that whole year because you’re one of the righteous people,” Jacobs told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, though he noted that he personally finds the notion theologically problematic. “That’s the only source that really gives this any kind of credibility, but it’s hardly what I’d call a matter of Jewish law. It’s in the realm of legend.”

There are, in fact, much clearer Jewish teachings about the significance of dying at particular times. Elsewhere in the Talmud, it says that dying on the eve of Shabbat is a good omen. Since Rosh Hashanah coincided with Shabbat this year, Ginsburg’s death also met that criteria.

Other sources teach that dying on one’s birthday is a mark of righteousness. According to the Talmud, Moses, the greatest teacher of the Jewish people, died on his birthday, the seventh day of the Hebrew month of Adar.

The idea that a Rosh Hashanah death is a mark of righteousness is much less explicit in traditional sources. Yet it appears to have wide currency.

Hours before Totenberg’s tweet, the author Ruth Franklin tweeted that Jewish tradition teaches that someone who dies on Rosh Hashanah is a “tzaddik,” a Hebrew word for a righteous person that shares a root with the word for justice.

Caroline Mandell, a Canadian lawyer who runs a legal consulting business, put a slightly different spin on it, tweeting that “only the most righteous” die on the eve of the new year.

And Brad Silver, who identifies himself on Twitter as a retired physician, explained that Ginsburg’s status as a tzaddik meant she had “superhuman abilities to make the world a better place.”

How an obscure Talmudic passage morphed into a belief that Ginsburg’s passing is a heavenly sign that she’s a superhuman justice spreader is anything but clear, but to some that’s in the nature of Jewish teachings.

“It is entirely possible that there is a Hasidic reading of this passage that takes us there, but I don’t know it,” Ruttenberg said. “There may be a more known Torah link that I don’t have in my hand that somebody got, or somebody’s bubbe or zeyde used to say this. Who knows? Torah gets shared in all sorts of ways.”

What’s undeniable is that Ginsburg’s death came at the start of a holiday where Jews are enjoined to contemplate ultimate matters of life and death. The liturgy of Rosh Hashanah describes it as a day when all of humanity passes before God, who prescribes a judgment for the year that is sealed 10 days later on Yom Kippur. It is a day when questions of how one lives are very much pushed to the forefront.

“Everything was teed up for there to be these associations,” Jacobs said.

He added: “What there’s no debate about is the significance of her life, the impact of her jurisprudence and the way in which the Jewish tradition was exemplified by her character. Her death on erev Rosh Hashanah sent a shudder, certainly through the American Jewish community and beyond. Her life and her legacy cast an enormous light and at the same time a shadow that we’re all still trying to make sense out of.”

The post A viral tweet said RBG dying on Rosh Hashanah made her a ‘tzaddik.’ Is that true? appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Shortened shofar blasts and last-minute sermon tweaks: How Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death changed Rosh Hashanah services

JTA - Mon, 2020-09-21 22:18

(JTA) — Rabbi Matt Soffer was leaving his synagogue on Friday evening after leading Rosh Hashanah services alone for a congregation following along online when the text came from his wife: Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. 

“The news brought me to my knees and I wept,” Soffer said.

Then the messages started coming — from his family, his friends, his congregants at Judea Reform Congregation in Durham, North Carolina — all mourning the Jewish Supreme Court justice who had come to represent the liberal American feminist spirit for so many.

By the time Soffer signed on for services on Saturday morning, he had resolved to address Ginsburg’s death with his community. He did so by revising not the words he had prepared or the prayers he would lead, but by tweaking a core tradition of the High Holidays: the shofar blasts.

Just as the Supreme Court has nine members, one of the shofar blasts, teruah, has nine short notes. Soffer halted after just eight to symbolize the fact that the court has just lost a member who made it complete and, he said, “to honor the speechlessness of our communal grief.”

Soffer’s tribute was among countless salutes made by rabbis and Jewish community members this weekend as the news of Ginsburg’s death broke over Jewish communities like a wave in the first moments of the Jewish New Year, or the last moments of the one that was just ending.

In some parts of the country, many synagogues had already launched their Rosh Hashanah services on Zoom and many families had already sat down for a holiday meal when the alert came. On Twitter, Rabbi Michael Latz reported that a colleague had “rushed the bimah” with a note scrawled on a piece of paper ripped from a spiral notebook: “RBG died.”

“I wept and shared the news,” Latz wrote. “And then called us all to bless RBG’s memory by being a force for justice and equality and human dignity.”

Further west, the news came in the final moments of 5780.

“I’ve never been so thankful to be on Pacific time before,” tweeted Rabbi Sara Zober, who leads a congregation in Reno, Nevada. “I had a few hours to cry before having to steel myself for services.”

But no matter where congregations are physically located, how to incorporate the news represented an exigent question at a time when months of planning finally seemed to be coming to a close. Rabbis and synagogues had upended every tradition to revamp their services for the pandemic, either by putting them online in non-Orthodox communities or holding small-scale, socially distanced services in Orthodox ones. Changes on the fly would not be easy.

Many clergy members determined that Ginsburg’s status required them anyway. In New York City, Cantor Angela Buchdal of Central Synagogue offered a tribute and then sang Psalm 150 to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” over a photo montage of Ginsburg’s life. In New Jersey, Rabbi Marc Katz of Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield replaced the prerecorded haftarah with a recitation of some of Ginsburg’s words set to the notes of a Torah reading. In Washington, D.C., Michigan and elsewhere, Ginsburg was the topic of conversation from the bimah.

But others chose not to alter their plans.

Maharat Ruth Balinsky Friedman, who works at Ohev Sholom-The National Synagogue in Washington, D.C., learned about Ginsburg’s death from a congregant on Saturday morning. (The Orthodox synagogue held in-person services and members largely do not use technology on holidays, meaning that they would not have seen the news online.)

Friedman said she and the synagogue’s other rabbi decided not to adjust the service, which had been shortened to exclude sermons because of the pandemic, in part because she understood the political and practical considerations of her community. 

“I think it would be too tricky to deal with in shul and I knew some people would be hearing it for the first time,” she said.

Soffer said he knew that his congregants had all heard the news and would want to process it as a community. That’s what prompted his truncated shofar blasts.

“I can’t speak for other congregations, but mine is one that regards Justice Ginsburg as an unparalleled tzaddik of our time,” Soffer said, using the term for righteous person. “Our congregants took comfort in our ritual recognition of her passing, and now we know what we have to do in the year 5781 — make her memory a blessing through our righteous deeds.”

The post Shortened shofar blasts and last-minute sermon tweaks: How Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death changed Rosh Hashanah services appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Elsztain’s control of IDB hanging in the balance

Haaretz - Mon, 2020-09-21 21:35
IDB assets set to be liquidated as bondholders seek immediate repayment of NIS 2 billion debt

L.A. congregations create a pandemic-safe ‘shofar wave’ across the city

The Forward - Mon, 2020-09-21 21:29
L.A. Jews create a ‘shofar wave’ across the city

Meet the 3 Jewish candidates on Trump’s Supreme Court justice shortlists

JTA - Mon, 2020-09-21 21:19

(JTA) — For the past decade, Jews have made up a third of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. And while that streak appears likely to end when President Donald Trump nominates someone to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday, there are Jews on the shortlist.

Of the 44 conservative jurists he has named over time as possible court choices, two are Jewish and another cites his Jewish father’s upbringing as shaping his outlook.

All three are men, making them unlikely to be Trump’s choice when the president unveils his pick, which he said would happen by the weekend. Trump has said he is likely to name a woman, and none of the frontrunners cited in media reports is Jewish.

Still, justice shortlists often act as a pool for future Supreme Court picks, so it’s worth knowing who made Trump’s cut. They are:

Steven Engel, 46, is the assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, the branch of the Department of Justice that advises the president on legal matters. He is a member of Washington Hebrew Congregation, a Reform synagogue known for its government official-heavy membership. His mother taught academically gifted students at Yeshiva Har Torah in Queens, New York. He was a leading member of the Trump transition team, focusing on the Department of Justice.

He clerked for Alex Kozinski, a Jewish judge who was known as an outspoken conservative on the liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals until 2017, when he was driven out amid claims of sexual harassment. Kozinski took part in Engel’s 2004 wedding to another clerk, Susan Kearns. A clerkship for Kozinski was a fast track to a Supreme Court clerkship, and Engel went on to clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The late Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, opposed Engel’s 2017 nomination for his current job because Engel, as a deputy assistant attorney general, had signed off on a 2007 memo allowing torture during interrogation.

Christopher Landau, 56, is the ambassador to Mexico. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and clerked for two conservative Supreme Court justices, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. In an online July 4 celebration, he told the story of his Jewish father’s flight from Vienna. His father later became an ambassador to several Latin American nations.

David Stras, who is on the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which is based in both St. Louis and St. Paul, is active in the Minneapolis Jewish community. His paternal grandparents are Holocaust survivors and their experiences helped drive him to the bench.”My grandfather talked to me about the importance of laws in a society,” he was quoted as saying by the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle in 2018 after Trump released his first list of possible nominees. “That broke down in Germany. The law protects civil liberties, preserves the structure of government, and maintains order.” (Stras, 47, also cited “Perry Mason” reruns as making an impression.)

Whoever is ultimately confirmed for the role will join six other justices, including the two remaining Jews on the court, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer. Both were nominated by Democratic presidents.

The post Meet the 3 Jewish candidates on Trump’s Supreme Court justice shortlists appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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