שירת שלום

Song of Peace

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  • 23 Nov 2021 8:16 AM | Shirat Shalom (Administrator)

    For those of you who don't know yet, being a grandparent is a great joy and honor. But the responsibility, I will have you know is enormous and it's not suited for the faint of heart.

    It begins when you are officially notified that your daughter or daughter-in-law is pregnant - Mazel Tov! 

    After feeling the vibes of happiness/ecstasy for awhile (or a long while) it’s time to get to work- no time to waste. 

    First thing on the agenda is coming up with the exact title you are to be referred to by the little one who was just created. So you thought this is easy? Think again. Cantor Lee for example  was agonizing with the issue for many months. She went through any possible two syllable combinations in seventy two languages and then with some strange combinations of her own - no deal.

    So I came to her with help suggesting “Babushka” or even “Baba” That's when I learned  it's not such a good idea to give such suggestions to my wife when she is struggling  with such earth shattering matters. 

    While I didn't fare any better, my repertoire  of possible names was somewhat less inclusive.  “Grandpa”? Na, it's so Passe. "Zaide?" What? Now I really cross  the Israeli line of pride and decency. If I give myself a Yiddish title, my Dad, may he rest in peace, would roll over  in his grave. Only a Hebrew name would do. “Zaide” was not even in the running. 

    What finally got the nomination was the natural choice which would honor any Israeli grandfather. “Saba”- grandfather in Hebrew it would be. 

    Owen, my now three year old grandson, learned quite quickly  that “Saba David”, the final canonized version of my title - is a very worthwhile item to commit to memory and invoke as often as possible. His cousin Skyler, my 16 month old was not too far behind in this realization. 

    You see, human babies  are born with a specific DNA implant sequence which determines the golden grandparent rules. These include: Saba will never say no to you. Saba will get you any toy you want. He will do anything for you and will be ready to play on a second’s notice including roll on the carpet, become a cat, a dog, a lion, a car, a monkey (yes- a monkey) - whatever the play of the moment is. Oh, yes, arthritis or any old back, neck, shoulder injuries are absolutely no excuse to wiggle yourself out of your playing duty.   

    If the interaction is through facetime then be ready at 6 o'clock am or for that matter, at any time of night or day to answer the call, ready to go armed with books about dump trucks, garbage trucks, baby animals, Grover, Elmo, back/front hoe loaders, birds that talk to frogs, a bunny rabbit and his loyal friend the worm … and the bit goes on.

    Then of course your duties also include singing good old Sesame Street songs all adapted to more modern versions. This includes that lovely song about the big blue thing that no doubt has a severe case of diabetes after eating cookies for more than 60 years or the song about that nice fellow who lives in a garbage  can. 

    Next is showing what I eat and how I make my food,  naming all the different food parts. Repeat the same when the second baby calls. This, according to my daughter, is an important campaign to enrich the baby’s vocabulary. 

    Then there is a special grandfather duty assigned especially to me. That duty is classified under “Languages.” Namely Hebrew. You see, my daughter Rachel  will never ever forgive me for not speaking Hebrew to her as a child. She cast a blemish and a scar on my soul for eternity. 

    However when Skyler was born and in a moment of father/daughter love she agreed to offer me a chance for redemption if Skyler would be able to speak Hebrew to me. So who in the world would pass up such an opportunity for spiritual redemption?!

    So here I am, Saba David, engaging baby Skyler with Hebrew words. Redemption does not come easy.... Any suggestions? 

    This concludes my Saba 101 presentation. 


    Rabbi David aka Saba David

    Here is Saba David in the garden with his helpers!

    Bye All! Off to the park to play with my Saba David!!

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  • 30 Sep 2021 10:45 AM | Shirat Shalom (Administrator)

    As I began telling the story I could see the smiles and nodding of heads. The children already knew this story as I have told it to them throughout the years. Some of the older teens were even there that night when Oreo Cookie needed their help.

    I also shared the story the previous evening during the Kol Nidrei service. But I was telling it again hoping it would help all of us understand how powerful our prayers can be. This was the very lesson Oreo Cookie taught me eleven years ago….. 

    That particular afternoon my sister, Susan, didn't come into our Hebrew School to teach. She needed to stay home with Oreo  who had an emergency operation a week earlier. I still remember the look that passed between us as I dropped him off at her house. We were preparing ourselves. 

    But we both had a glimmer of hope. The Hebrew School children would be praying for him. They had learned from the time they were in kindergarten how to connect to their Divine Light. How to send it as a way to pray and bring healing. Every week they would decide where they were going to send their Light. 

    The children were of course thrilled to be able to help Oreo Cookie whom they all knew and loved. And they believed they could. 

    It was 7:10 p.m. when the children sent their Light to Oreo. Exactly ten minutes later at 7:20 p.m. for the first time he perked up his head, took a drink, wagged his tail and ate some food. He went on to recover, living another five years. A few weeks later he went into the school to thank everyone. I still remember how he went up and down the aisles having a leg licking feast! 

    As I finished the story I asked everyone to please once again come together in our hearts to not only send healing to everyone we were praying for but especially to MaryEllen, one of our congregants, a mother of two teenagers, who was in the hospital struggling with the variant. 

    I shared that already from the healing prayers we sent out the evening before there was a huge shift. Her oxygen levels were able to be lowered for the entire night!

    Of course you want to know how MaryEllen has fared. The end of the story or perhaps I should say the beginning is that although it was not an easy road, MaryEllen became stronger each day and was able to be released from the hospital four days after Yom Kippur. She is continuing to heal and get stronger each day.

    When I first learned of the situation I immediately put the whole family on our daily MiSheberach list. In asking others to pray I knew the prayers needed to be absolutely pure with only the highest vibrational energies surrounding her. That meant keeping COVID related fears out of the equation. 

    I was directed to put a Bubble of Light around her. It would only let Love in but at the same time transmute any lower fears  that were bound to be stirred up. 

    I knew it wasn’t an accident that MaryEllen would still be in the hospital during Yom Kippur. Not only would we all be able to come together in a powerful group prayer- Oreo Cookie’s lesson- but with this same power on this most sacred day we would also be working on healing the divisiveness that is so prevalent in our world. 

    Maybe one day we will look back and understand that healing this divisiveness was one of the main lessons of COVID-19. But what if we could just decide to learn it right now. That would really be an amazing lesson, wouldn’t it!! 


    Cantor Lee

    Read more about Oreo Cookie

    Read Rabbi David's thoughts on COVID-19 lessons

    Watch the video to hear story and the Misheiberach

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  • 11 Sep 2021 5:39 PM | Shirat Shalom (Administrator)

    We buried him on 9-11. He had died just two days earlier. It was later that I understood that he was helping the souls who had to pass over that day.  

    Sean, my neighbor down the street, was only 16 when he died after a heroic battle with cancer. His family belonged to Shirat Shalom which was only a few years old at that time.

    I often talked to his mother afterwards of the lessons I learned from Sean. I guess the main one was that when G-d calls I need to listen.  When a month before Sean died I was told to form a healing circle with the neighbors, I argued about this. My neighbors were of all different faiths!  How was I supposed to do that! Knock on doors?  I only knew how to do Jewish healing circles! This was also twenty years ago when people weren’t as open as they are now.  

    Of course I had no peace until I took action. The opportunity came the next day when a neighbor down the street stopped to talk to me. She was a devout Christian and loved the idea! 

    So we began our prayer circle at her house which was right across the street from Sean's family. Each night as we would gather the circle became larger. We were of all faiths, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Native American. As his many friends began joining us people just seemed to come out of the woodwork. We all celebrated as Sean began to improve!  

    But then as that changed I understood the purpose of the circle. It was to help the family and all who loved him  accept that this was Sean’s time. Sean already knew. He  understood the healing circle was really for all of us. 

    His funeral was in the afternoon of that fateful day of 9-11. We wondered if everyone would still come but the chapel was overflowing with people spreading into the halls and outside. We were all there for Sean and the family but also for ourselves in response to the news. We didn’t have the full picture of what happened and were in shock still. We weren’t allowed to release the balloons at the internment due to security. This may be seen as another attack! 

    My father had called me that morning. Turn on the TV! My first reaction was to go and get my daughter from school. Many parents did.  My son was already in college. I wanted to bring him home too but talking to him had to suffice. 

    I would often feel Sean’s presence over the next few years, especially during healing circles. I would watch in amazement how there would be profound shifts in people who were grieving loved ones. And yes, his mother and I understood as we would talk how powerful he really was. We both knew without a doubt that he was there that day of 9-11 and beyond helping souls cross over. 

    Throughout the years the children have asked why his name is on the Torah cover. I explain this is in memory of Sean. Then I tell  them his story, just as I have told you..... 

    Sean's mother always tells me how the pictures of the children holding the Torah with  "Sean" so close to their hearts brings her such comfort and joy! It brings me Joy too!  



    Cantor Lee 

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  • 09 Sep 2021 6:48 AM | Shirat Shalom (Administrator)

    An Equal Opportunity Menace by Rabbi David Degani

    That dreadful feared virus which has been reeking havoc  throughout the world has become a menacing threat with no end in sight. There is no country in the world which has not felt its wrath.

    We as a congregation have been affected. Some of our members have have been infected with COVID-19. My own family was not spared from it either.  It’s no fun. 

    Who needs wars? Who needs enemies? Who needs  mega natural disasters, tsunamis, earthquakes? 

    Don’t get me wrong, Mother Nature is not giving us a break.  Hurricane Ida punished Louisiana with major flooding and misery as far north as New Jersey and New York. 

    We are already counting more than 3 million COVID victims who lost their lives worldwide. Here in the US the number is in the hundreds of thousands and keeps rising.      

    We human beings are considered to be the crown jewel of G-D’s creation. We are smart, sophisticated.  We know how to overcome challenges. We make, we  research, we invent. It only took us a year or so to manage to develop several vaccines for a complex virus like COVID-19.         

    We thought we nipped it in the bud. We thought we humans now have the ultimate answer to overcome this dreadful pandemic. We thought we won. Get vaccinated and you are completely safe. Man made  or not, this nasty virus  was not going to get the best of us, we, the most sophisticated  creatures  in the known universe!  

    Well, so far this tiny virus seems to fight back pretty effectively. There is a Famous Yiddish saying:  Man plans  and G-D laughs. 

    We produced a vaccine to fight it and Mr. Covid 19 laughed and morphed itself. Enter Mr. Variant.  

     So... according to the CDC, if you are vaccinated, you are still susceptible to the variant,  you can still get sick but hopefully it will be an easier ride, Unless G-D forbid one has some underlying serious medical condition. 

    Does anyone find this assessment comforting? 

    Well then, how long are we protected by the vaccine? No one really knows. Three months? Six months? A Year? 

    So, now we have booster shots for the rescue. They are good for how long?  Maybe once a year. No big deal, like a flu shot. One little booster shot  and you are good. They are already doing this in Israel where the COVID infection was a major problem.

    But will that be enough? Will we eventually develop natural individual immunity or maybe,  as the terms goes, herd immunity? 

    Who said ignorance is bliss?!! 

    As a dear friend who is a doctor and one of our Shirat Shalom members told me, when scientists and researchers are looking for answers they sometimes miscalculate and misinterpret data.  As hypotheses and conclusions are adjusted and reassessed, recommendations to the public changes as research continues.  

    This is just the nature of science trying to grapple with a new disease. 

    Unfortunately, in the last year and a half we have experienced bitter disagreements, even ping pong accusations among scientists and politicians on the right course of action and policies, pulling all of us in so many directions. 

    And this only makes finding solutions that much harder.    

    No doubt, the vaccine with all its unknowns has saved thousands of lives. So, should we respect peoples’ refusal to vaccinate? 

    Should we make people vaccinate against their will for the safety of the community? And what about face masks?

    Solving these issues becomes more complex than first meets the eye. Is it a serious public safety issue pinned against the sacred American principle of individual freedom?

    The delta variant as it is called is very contagious. While  most  young and reasonably healthy people recover relatively fast,  for  people with more serious health issues COVID-19 can be life threatening.  

    Do we know for sure how to prevent COVID’s transmission? Are we sure about the efficiency of a piece of cloth which covers our mouth to prevent spreading of the virus? Especially when the eyes are not covered?  

    All we hear are scientists and doctors in disagreement  about the exact way this virus behaves. All this  pulls us in different directions instead of uniting us in this fight. 

    But what is the meaning of all this? Why do  people have to suffer from such a pandemic? And why now?

    We Jewish people are always looking for reasons for things. We try to understand our universe, make sense of it. Living in an uncertain world, it helps us understand the world around us a little better.   

    Maybe this pandemic with all of the suffering is a mirror of sorts. It is a mirror which allows us to look at ourselves through this chaos.  

    Mirror mirror on the wall, do we  have the courage and the honesty to look at ourselves  and examine the way we are reacting under such a serious virus threat? To see how fragmented we are in our own country?

    These debates turn into animosity between opposing opinions. It's a ping pong of claims and counterclaims turning  disagreements into discontent. It drives a wedge between people.  

    How did the virus start? Who is responsible for it? Who should be punished? Why support such sensitive virus research in a foe like China? Is the vaccine an adequate answer? Is it effective? Should we wear masks? Should children wear masks? Should they wear them in school? And on and on and on and on…. 

    These arguments only serve to move us away from the target, from finding a real solution. For everyone’s sake we need to find ways to compromise. Fighting together is much better than being pulled into all sorts of ideological directions. We need to look beyond our differences. A unified front is the best front.

    This is the only way we will win against this dreadful menace. 

    We are all in the same boat. The Corona Virus does not care about our political affiliation, our gender or race, rich or not so rich. This is an equal opportunity menace.   

    Maybe the lesson here is that we human beings are more vulnerable than we thought. Under pressure and challenges we seem to have difficulties overcoming mistrust and cooperating with each other for the common good.   

    There is a certain level of maturity to be true to ourselves yet flexible enough to listen and consider other possibilities. We all need to get there.   

    COVID-19 reminds us that we are all human inhabitants of the same wonderful planet. We all have the same aspirations and challenges as we interact with each other. We all share a common density in ways we did not realize before. 

    And finally we have learned  that in our future world, medical challenges, working together is not a luxury.  It’s a necessity. And maybe this seed of realization has been planted within us in the last year and a half. I will pray that it is so.

    May this year of Tav Shin Pay Bet, 5782, be a better, sweeter, healthier and happier year than the  last one.  

    May it be so.

    Rabbi David

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  • 30 Aug 2021 2:16 PM | Shirat Shalom (Administrator)

    Cantor Lee beginsWhen Gabriel  finished his story I kept on saying, “But he was just a boy! A Baby! Only eleven years old when he left Romania to go to Palestine all by himself! He had no mother, no father, no one to take of him!

    Rabbi David continuesGabriel, one of our Israeli congregants, called and asked if he could meet to talk about his close friend who passed away a year and a half ago. We met a few days later...  

    The amazing story I heard is the story of a lone young child from Romania who started a new life in Israel and rose to become  one of the most admired names among the Israeli air force pilots. 

    It is the story of the state of Israel, a country which in a few short decades rose to become a world powerhouse economically, militarily and scientifically from the crematoria of Europe and from the suffering and humiliation of the Jews in the Middle East.

    It is the story of Jewish People as they survived against all evil odds. 

    It is a story of the unbroken Jewish spirit.... 

    Levy  Zur  was born and raised in Romania. His mother died when he was just a few years old. In 1947 when the war was over, Levy, now 11 years old  was forced  to leave his home and fend for himself in the chaos of post war Europe.

    Somehow  he managed to contact  the Jewish agency  representative in Romania who was looking for Jewish war orphans in order to bring them to pre-Israel  Palestine.       

    Levy managed to join a group of orphans who were put on a dingy small cattle boat with hardly any human accommodations and very limited  food and water.  The boat was caught by a British frigate and the passengers who were mostly Holocaust survivors, were taken to a  prisoner camp in Cypress. In 1947 shortly before the British left Palestine they released all the prisoners, including young Levy. Arriving in Palestine all by himself as an unattended child, he was sent to a kibbutz. 

     At first, life was challenging for the young boy with no family in a strange  new world and a strange language he didn’t understand. Slowly, in the following few years, he adjusted and began to thrive. At 18 years old  he was drafted into the Israeli Defense Force and was accepted into the most challenging training in the IDF, a pilot training school. 

    Levy was no stranger to challenges. He knew what it would take  to successfully finish this extremely strict and  uncompromising training. Being in the country for five years only he had to compete with native Israelis. But his hard work paid off.  He finished number one in his class and was sent to be trained on the most advanced fighter planes Israel had in the early 50’s. Soon he became known as an excellent fighter pilot and was sent on the most dangerous flying missions.

    As he was climbing in rank, he became the commander of some of the most prestigious fighter squadrons. The lone child from Romania, a stranger to Israeli life and language became an important protector of the state of Israel.         

    Levy  flew missions in the 1956 war with Egypt  and was one of the architects of the 1967 total destruction of the Egyptian,  Jordanian  and Syrian air forces by the Israeli  air force.

    Lieutenant General Levy Zur served in key positions in the Israeli air force including commanding the now world renown Israeli military pilot training school as well as the Israeli air force attache in South America. 

    Upon retiring from active duty Levy started a highly successful business importing medical devices to Israel. He eventually moved to the US and ran his business from Boca Raton.

    Levy passed away  at the age of 81 after a heroic battle with lung cancer. 

    I am truly honored to share the story of Levy Zur. Especially now as we enter the High Holy Days still continuing to face uncertainty in our world, may Levy’s memory be an inspiration and blessing for all of us.

    L'Shana Tova,

    Rabbi David 

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  • 29 Jul 2021 7:04 AM | Shirat Shalom (Administrator)

    The complexity of the human body is mind boggling. In addition to the countless chemical reactions that are constantly taking place and the amazing amount of neuron activities throughout the body is beyond imagination. Our brain is an organ whose true capabilities we are only beginning to explore.

    Judaism of course recognizes the uniqueness and capabilities of each human being. In the Amidah’s  “Gevurot “ prayer we bless G-D  for not only creating life on our planet  but also our ability to perpetuate it as long as our basic needs are met.  We also bless  G-D  for giving our body the ability to repair itself or in extreme cases, making its utmost effort to do so. 

    I have always looked with amazement at the reaction of our Hebrew School and B’nai Mitzvah  students when Cantor Lee and I train them to read blindfolded for the purpose of not only making Hebrew reading easier but to increase their intuition, their connection to their Divine Light which G-D has put inside each one of us.  

    Most of the students do not think there is anything special about what they were doing. They literally take their seemingly unbelievable ability for granted as if this is just normal. 

    This led me to believe that our brain has some unexplored, unused innate capabilities which are naturally understood and accepted by our children. Perhaps these capabilities while still existing have faded with evolution.  

    A recent movie, “SuperHuman: The Invisible Made Visible” shows the experiences of individuals with extra-sensory powers that seem to defy the laws of physics. Although Cantor Lee and I haven’t seen the actual movie, we find it rather humorous that we keep getting asked if our students are in it!  It seems there is a segment with children reading blindfolded. 

    But despite the fact that these  “Super Human” abilities are actually innate within all of us and just need to be accessed and developed there is the other side of such gifts endowed by our Creator. Along with our brain’s amazing abilities there are also our human vulnerabilities.  

    Whenever I talk to families whose loved ones are suffering from a serious life threatening disease or a victim of a serious accident, I am reminded of just how fragile and unpredictable life can be, and how abruptly it can change or even end. 

    We can’t predict  our future. We simply don’t know what is in store for us tomorrow, next week or next month. We can plan but G-D, as the Yiddish proverb goes, has the last laugh!

    That is why Judaism encourages us to always be in a state of gratitude for the uniqueness of life on earth in general and as human creatures in particular but also  because of the countless spiritual and mental possibilities which we all possess.    

    This awareness will serve us well as we approach the High Holy Days with hope for a better, healthier and happier New Year not only for the Jewish people but for all inhabitants of our amazing world. 

    Rabbi David 

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  • 28 Jun 2021 5:35 PM | Shirat Shalom (Administrator)

    Whenever I think about it, I am just always in awe that a "Song of Peace" has been leading us all along....

    I guess it officially began during  the gathering at my sister’s  home during the late spring of 1999. Our chavurah (small gathering of friends) had been meeting monthly since October and this particular month there were about 30 of us present.  Some of us were members of synagogues and some had no affiliation. The question was raised whether we should have High Holy Day Services together. Everyone enthusiastically said yes!  

    Well, that meant we would need a name for our chavurah! We had quite a lively discussion but couldn’t come up with one that felt right. We only knew we wanted it to express singing and peace. 

    Later that week I shared our dilemma with a rabbinic colleague. She excitedly  called me back a few days  later, “I have the name! Ruach Hakodesh brought it to me!” (Ruach Hakodesh translates from Hebrew as "the Holy Spirit.”)

    And so we officially became Shirat Shalom, Song of Peace. We all loved our name! 

    Three years later it was now my turn to receive a message from Ruach Hakodesh. We certainly had grown by then and had become a flourishing congregation. I guess G-d thought it was time for a tagline. 

    “It is through our children that a Song of Peace will be sung throughout the world.”  

    We all loved this as well!  After all, our focus was on raising children with the spiritual values of Judaism which we called Judaism of the Heart. These children would be equipped to  change the world. And that would include radiating out Peace into the world, one of the sacred responsibilities of the Jewish people.

    Approximately seven years ago, Ruach Hakodesh brought another message. Change the wording to the present tense.  “It is through our children that a ‘Song of Peace’ is being sung throughout the world.”

    I really didn’t understand the deeper meaning of our updated tagline until we incorporated our blindfold work into our education program to help children more easily learn Hebrew. The meditative focusing techniques were doing so much more than improving Hebrew reading. Children were becoming kinder, more compassionate and peaceful. And this was deeply affecting others on the energetic levels. And so the Infinite Child Institute was born. 

    We have always had a saying in Shirat Shalom that it leads and we follow. We are doing the same with the Infinite Child as we continue to go deeper with our program empowering children of all cultures and religions.

    And yes, along the way there are so many amazing things that happen including academic improvement and children utilizing their Inner Light Vision to see and read blindfolded. Even the movie, Super Human, includes a segment on this “super” ability. 

    But for Rabbi David and me the true Super Human is one who is loving, compassionate and kind, who radiates out Joy and Peace. For this is how we will transform our world. 

    On the outside it doesn’t seem that there is much progress towards our dream and yours - a world of Peace and Love. But I see things differently. 

    For I hear the ‘Song of Peace’ that not only our Shirat Shalom children are singing but the children in our Infinite Child program are singing as well. And all the other children that are joining in with their songs as well.

    On Aug. 20 - 22, we will be holding a workshop for parents, teachers and interested adults to learn the beginning methods and spiritual techniques to assist children in utilizing their Inner Light Vision and letting it develop into their Infinite Light Vision! 

    I so hope you will join us and also spread the word! 

    Infinite Child Training Workshop


    Cantor Lee 

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  • 27 May 2021 5:53 AM | Shirat Shalom (Administrator)

    The war between Israel and the terrorists in Gaza and Lebanon  is viewed  in the world in two different ways, reality and perception. For decades what has dominated opinions on the Israeli - Arab and Israeli-Terrorist wars has been the  perception created by a completely distorted picture of the reality in the Middle East. This picture is an ugly but extremely effective  propaganda. For the Arabs this propaganda is  fantasy turned perceived reality which sells very well all over the world. 

    The ability to turn a nation constantly under relentless  terror attacks into the bully is no doubt a real talent. Of course, many misinformed sympathetic news outlets around the world are a great help for the cause as well. As the  Nazi propaganda master, Joseph Goebbels used to say, even the biggest lies can be accepted by the mass as truths if they are repeated long and often enough. It is called brainwashing.

    That is why many around  the world believe that Israel is an apartheid state  who oppresses the Arab population almost to the point of enslavement.  “Them Zionists” are extremely cruel  killing Palestinian children, preventing Arabs from having  fresh water, locking them in ghettos and violating any human rights laws in the book.”

    While we certainly know better, millions around the world don't. The truth of course  is the exact opposite of these ugly propaganda claims.  

    So what really happened two weeks ago that caused the riots in Jerusalem and around the country which was the excuse for the 4,300 Hamas missiles exploded in Israel?

    As usual  the Arabs claim that the Jews were trying to evict some peace loving Arabs from their legitimate homes in an Arab town called Sheikh Jarrah  in which they have been living for generations in order to live there themselves. 

    This kind of act flies in the face of human rights. It sounds awful and it is.  The Jordanians did exactly that  when they forced  the Jews of the Old City of Jerusalem who had been living there for hundreds of years to leave and then took possession of their homes.  This actually happened to the family of our very own teacher, Morah Sima in 1948 when she was just a child. In this case, however, nothing can be further from the truth.

    To begin with, the few homes in dispute  are not in the Arab village of Sheikh Jarrah but a Jewish village called  Shimon Ha-Tzadik (Simon the Righteous) which is situated  at the outskirts of Sheikh Jarrah  but not in it. The Jewish neighborhood, Simon the Righteous which has been in existence  for more than 150 years was briefly captured in 1948  by the Jordanians  and the Jewish population was chased away.  It was recaptured by the Israelis in 1967 during the Six Day War.

    During the Jordanian possession  of the neighborhood  a few Arab families squatted in the Jewish families’ properties and settled in their homes. They continued to live there while the legal battle over the property continued  in courts for over three decades. At one point  an agreement was reached and signed  in which  the properties would be recognized as Jewish properties  and the Arab tenants would be allowed to continue staying in the properties as long as they paid rent  and maintained the properties. 

    The Arabs  then reneged on their obligation claiming that they did not sign the agreement  nor do they recognize the Jewish ownership. They refused to pay rent. At that point  the Israeli Supreme Court issued an eviction notice and the trouble began. 

    So what does all this have to do with 4,300 missiles exploding in Israel courtesy of Hamas? Nothing really.

    Officially Hamas declared  that they are helping their brethren, the Palestinians, in the struggle to wipe out the State of Israel  from the map and starting that “process” by punishing  Israel for  oppressing the Palestinians  by violating their human rights.

    But the real story is much different. According to some Israeli generals,  Iran, who is Hamas’ master and who tells Hamas exactly when to shoot, needed some valuable information  about the true capabilities of the Iron Dome which protects Israel from incoming missiles. They needed to see how the entire Israeli defense system works against a barrage of thousands of missiles exploding in  Israel  in order to reevaluate  their own strategy against Israel. 

    While Israelis  were struggling to survive in  bomb shelters for days at a time the Ayatollah and other leaders of Iran were sitting in their palaces enjoying the show, literally taking notes on the Israeli  military  and civilian reactions to the barrage, figuring  out how to inflict more damage and casualties to Israelis in the next round of hostilities.

    According to Israeli military analysis, 10% of the 4,300 missiles managed to sneak by the Iron Dome. That means 430 missiles got to their target in Israel. In the next round of hostilities Iran will most likely activate Hezbollah in Lebanon. This is a terror organization which possesses about 150,000 missiles.

    If the Iron Dome maintains 90% effectiveness (which is not clear at all considering the  huge number of missiles it will have to intercept) then at least 15,000 missiles, some with heavy explosive payload, will fall everywhere in Israel. This statistic is now well known to the Iranians who would no doubt try  to improve the capabilities of their missiles  to penetrate the Israeli Iron Dome courtesy of their terrorist friends in the area.

    Let us all understand  and remember what the Israelis are facing. Let us not pay attention to ugly Arab propaganda lies. Most importantly, let us all pray for G-D  to watch over the state of Israel as He always does, keeping her strong and vibrant.  And may G-D bless Israel and the entire Middle East with Peace.      

    Rabbi David           

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  • 15 Apr 2021 12:31 PM | Shirat Shalom (Administrator)

    There are three major Jewish events during this time of the year which we have observed this past month. They are not biblical or traditional holidays yet  they are extremely important, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day for the fallen Israeli soldiers and Israel Independence Day.  

    For the nations of the world the memory of the Holocaust  with all of its unthinkable horrors has tended to fade over the decades. For most of these nations the Holocaust is now nothing more  than a  terrible historical event that happened a long time ago - pass the salt, please. 

    The world is now too busy  with new villains and new nations fiercely competing for economical hegemony and military control over others. 

    Not Us. At least not in Israel. This year as Holocaust Remembrance  Day was commemorated  April 8th, I watched some of the many memorial events  throughout Israel that day.  I was privileged to see the grandchildren and the great grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, either as proud soldiers, regular citizens or school children standing still for a moment of silence  in the streets everywhere, in the busy highways, in army camps. It became very clear to anyone who listened to the speeches and watched the reactions of Israelis throughout the country that  the eighty years that have passed since  the early 40’s  are but a day to the Israelis. 

    While  the horrors of that time  are not talked  about or even mentioned on a regular basis they are nevertheless  embedded deep in the Israeli psyche. If we understand this,  we can see how these dark, forever fresh  memories  guide  their determination to survive and prosper,  giving them the courage and the fortitude to proudly create and maintain  the most amazing country in the world.

    As I am writing these words a week later after Holocaust Remembrance and a day after Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day for the soldiers, Israel  is celebrating Yom Ha-atz-ma-ut, her 73rd year of independence.  A free Jewish country that was born  from the Jewish ashes of Europe. A country  which is fighting for its survival day in and day out. No other country in the world  faces the kind of danger that Israel is facing .These  existential  threats are the worst  Israel has ever experienced  since its War of Independence in 1948. 

    With literally hundreds of thousands of missiles pointing at her from Lebanon in the north, Syria in the east, Gaza in the west, the mighty Egyptian army and navy in the South and a powerful Iranian army with a huge arsenal of long range missiles, we are being targeted with a deep hatred. 

    While the  IDF remains strong and is vigorously working on ways  to protect itself, these  challenges seem insurmountable, an impossible task. Israeli generals are of the opinion that  it would still take years of technological improvements and breakthroughs  as well as significantly increasing the IDF manpower, equipment as well as adopting new training and war tactics to meet such dangerous threats. And all these  while dealing on a regular basis  with terrorist attacks from Lebanon and Gaza extensively supported  by Iran. 

    Israel needs us to be aware of this new reality of the Middle East. We need to make sure that the US remains on Israel's side and supports it unequivocally.  Our beloved state  of Israel  will always overcome any existential threats  and will always thrive  and do amazing things for the betterment of the world.

    So in this 73rd year of Israel’s independence as we continue to  celebrate Jewish pride and achievements each day,  I pray that G-D Almighty keeps Israel and the Jewish people everywhere safe and prosperous as has been promised. We have survived thousands of years. May it continue as G-D gives Israel  the wisdom, the strength to overcome its many challenges.         

    Rabbi David

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  • 25 Mar 2021 6:04 PM | Shirat Shalom (Administrator)

    Over the years  we have been retelling the story of Passover as a saga of slaves running away from their cruel Egyptian masters, led by a charismatic divine-like leader, Moses. As we all know, Moses was sent by G-D  to perform  the seemingly impossible task of prying  a whole nation of slaves from the clutches of a belligerent Egyptian tyrant ruler. He was to do that without an uprising or any kind of rebellion hostility.    

    This is of course a story of a nation that was created. G-D of Israel inflicts punishment on the Egyptians  through Moses and his brother Aaron until finally the Pharaoh is forced to acquiesce and free the slaves. Under the leadership of Moses, G-D then leads the slaves through a very rough desert for forty years  and in the process gives them the most fundamental human set of laws, which any healthy society needs in order to survive and even flourish. This part of the  saga  ends  with the nation of Israel completely transformed into a well organized people with a strong belief in G-D  and the Torah. They enter and conquer the land of Canaan, establishing  their independent life there. 

    From a modern perspective  the story is much more profound. It is the emergence of freedom and the ideas of liberty in the human mind. For the first time in history slavery is depicted as evil. Just like the Israelites in Egypt,  men of all nations deserve to fulfill their basic human right to be free. While the Jewish people  have been celebrating this emerging enlightenment of freedom for millennia, it is interesting  to note the reaction of other ancient nations to the Israelites becoming free from slavery. This can be seen in the way other nations reacted to the song  that Moses and the people of Israel sang to G-D  after crossing  the Sea of Reeds  into freedom. 

    The  nations’ reaction to  this freedom song is similar and revealing. “The people hear, they trembled, Agony gripped the dwellers of Philistia. Now the clan of Edom dismayed.  All tribes  of Moab-trembling grips them” etc. 

    There was no appreciation of the amazing freedom gained by the people of Israel. On the contrary, the nations exhibit  fear of a G-D who dares to change the nature of things, the way the world should be. After all, there are slaves in the world  and they should stay slaves forever. Their suffering  is of no consequence.

    Passover's story is the bursting of the ideas of liberty  and freedom into a belligerent, unwilling to change, primitive world. The Passover story of freedom is the gateway to all the amazing moral  and human dignity laws  of the Torah of Freedom and Justice. 

    These ideas were heroically preserved over the millennia by the Jews despite all the suffering we had to go through, only to be picked up thousands of years later as a foundation of  the  American constitution. Perhaps that is why the founding fathers found it necessary to inscribe in the liberty bell the eternal words from the Book of Leviticus 25:10 “Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants  thereof.”      

    As we now begin to emerge from the restraints we have experienced since last year’s Passover, may we have a deeper understanding and appreciation of freedom.    

    And may we all be together in person at next year's seder!

    Rabbi David 

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