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What is so important about discussing domestic violence in the Jewish community? Do you know someone who lost legal rights to their children, or who had to be mandated for treatment for substance addiction? Why speak about addiction at all? At Communities Confronting Substance Use & Addiction, our mission has always been to offer support to those struggling with substances and addiction, equip them with the knowledge and skills to cope with these challenges, and to create open dialogue in an effort to shatter the stigma associated with these issues. Since our inception in 2018, we have b...
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Covid has been challenging for everyone.  It has been especially difficult for Goli. Goli Balakhani is a single, quadriplegic woman in our community, who has not been able to move for over 30 years. A few years ago, Goli lost her ability to speak.  She is confined to a bed and on a ventilator - an excruciatingly difficult situation to be in.  And then came Covid and very limited visitation, exacerbating her already painful isolation. Because of the past support from our wonderful community and others, we were able to hire an exceptional part-time aide for her who has helped offset her suffering tremendously.  Funds for this important need are almost depleted.  Please help us continue to provide Goli with this critical care. She needs YOUR help NOW! Please take...
South Carolina sheriff’s deputies arrested a 14-year-old male high school student Monday on charges that he threatened to shoot up schools in his county, authorities said.  The Lexington County Sheriff’s Office said the Gilbert High School student made a "threatening statement" while on the bus last Thursday, and another student overheard them. The student told school administrators that he heard the other student allegedly talking about wearing a trench coat the next day and shooting up an elementary school and a middle school, according to an incident report cited by the sheriff’s office. "The student who came forward should be commended for doing the right thing," Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said. "They heard something and reporte...
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Baltimore, MD - Dec. 5, 2021  - The Baltimore City Health Department will be hosting a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC on Thursday, December 9th from 12:00-4:30pm, in the Early Childhood Center wing. All three vaccine options will be available, Pfizer (ages 5+), as well as Moderna and J&J/Janssen (both for ages 18+), including boosters, through LifeBridge Health staff. Walk-ins are welcome or you can also pre-register at COVAX.BaltimoreCity.Gov. Stop in for a short time to get this important health care matter taken care of…bring your friends and family and support them in making the decision to get vaccinated now. To “sweeten” the decision, people getting 1st or 2nd doses can choose from either a $10 FREE Kosh...
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In October, the government infuriated the public by contributing millions to cat welfare but refusing to raise the miserable stipends paid to enlisted troops. Their salaries are now to be raised by 50% from next year at the cost of $300 million — the first such salary increase since 2017. Combat troops will now receive $1,012 monthly in their third year of service, combat support troops $558, and administrators $407 monthly, still short of Israel’s minimum wage of $1,060. Stipends of national service volunteers are to be raised by $180 monthly to $270, at a total cost of $20 million. Finance ministry officials were angry that Avigdor Lieberman failed to coordinate the wage increase with them, saying there was only resources to pay half the $300 million cost.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan sent a scathing letter to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres following statistics published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in which it differentiates between the murder of “Israeli Citizens” and “Settlers.” The OCHA report listed the number of Israeli and Arab casualties, either killed or wounded in hostilities, from 2008. The letter, sent Friday, was authored following the discovery that the agency’s website separates Israeli casualties into three categories – security personnel, civilians, and “civilian settlers.” Additionally, following the murder of Eli Kay in a terror attack in Jerusalem committed by a Hamas-linked terrorist...
Baltimore, MD – Dec. 6, 2021 - BJL wishes a hearty Mazel Tov to Yehuda Chaim Liebman (Baltimore) and Meira Simblist (Denver) on their engagement. יה"ר שיזכו לבנות בית נאמן בישראל. אמן!
In the daily situational assessment on the coronavirus convened tonight (Monday) by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, the policy of testing and isolation for returnees from abroad was discussed, which will be adopted when the current restrictions expire. A decision has not yet been made on when the current restrictions will end. A situational assessment will take place later this week and decisions will be made in accordance with the morbidity data in Israel and around the world. The following are the main policies that are being formulated for the period after the end of the current restrictions: Unvaccinated people returning from yellow or orange countries will be required to quarantine for seven days and to receive two negative PCR tests (on the firs...
Parsha Hashavua
Parshas Vayigash: Do You Speak Hebrew?


They couldn’t believe
their eyes- having assumed for twenty-two years that Yosef was lost to slavery
or even murdered, they could hardly imagine that he currently stood before them
as the second most powerful man on Earth. Flabbergasted and speechless they
wondered about the identity of this intimidating accuser turned "loving
brother". Could this really be Yosef? Maybe he was an impostor or perhaps
this was just another stage of his crafty manipulation.



Looks can be deceiving
but language is very reliable. The midrash reports that by speaking directly to
his brothers in Hebrew, Yosef convinced them of his true identity. Prior to the
great reveal, he communicated with them through a translator, pretending to be
Hebrew-illiterate. Hearing him speak Hebrew convinced the skeptical brothers
that this foreign-looking man was their long-lost brother. Language is that
powerful.



Our return to our homeland
and to historical relevancy has awakened a language which had been left for
dead. For centuries, Hebrew was spoken in the rooms of study and the halls of
prayer, but hadn’t been used colloquially. Suddenly, lost language was resurrected,
thereby refreshing Jewish identity. In our new world, speaking Hebrew is
essential for religious identity for several reasons:





Is it a Mitzvah?



Hebrew is termed "lashon
hakodesh" or a sacred language. Generally, language has no objective or
absolute meaning. All language is merely a convention- words and meanings
agreed upon by communities, countries or ethnicities. Language, by definition
cannot be holy and certainly can't be holier than other languages.



Hebrew is different. It
is the language of Hashem, the language He employed to create His world and to
reveal His will to humanity. Some- including the Rambam- asserted that there is
a formal mitzvah to know or even to speak Hebrew. Likewise, many applied
halachik guidelines to any texts written in Hebrew- even without Torah content.
For example, some debate the permissibility of bringing any Hebrew text into an
unclean environment such as a bathroom.



Even if there is no
formal mitzvah to speak Hebrew, this language is a gateway to greater access of
Torah. Over the past forty years we have experienced a literary revolution, as
enormous volumes of Torah have been translated into English. This has transformed
Torah study, making it accessible to countless non-Hebrew speakers. However, as
valuable as this shift has been, direct and frontal encounter of Torah in its
original language is far superior-intellectually and spiritually- to studying
translations. Additionally, from a purely practical standpoint, in the internet
age, Hebrew facility provides access to a vast world of Torah information
written only in Hebrew.





Language and Identity



The midrash depicts the
Jewish slaves in Egypt as completely abdicating religious practices and sinking
into the surrounding pagan culture. The weight of two centuries of bondage was too
difficult to bear. Yet, to their credit, by speaking and naming children in,
Hebrew they preserved their basic Jewish identity. Their core of Jewish
identity was safeguarded and ultimately served as the platform for a national religious
rejuvenation. Religion is built on national identity which forms around cultural
factors such as food, art, music and, of course, language. Hebrew language familiarity
reinforces Jewish identity, which in turn, enables religious development.



By contrast to the Jews
in Egypt, after the destruction of the first Mikdash, the exiled Jews in Babylonia
discarded Hebrew language, while deeply assimilating into the local cultures. This
abandonment of Hebrew, made it extraordinarily difficult to disengage from
Babylonian culture. Ezra is distressed by his unsuccessful attempts to separate
Jews from their Gentile wives. If only they had spoken Hebrew, it is unlikely
that many would have intermarried to begin with.



Throughout our exile we erected
language barriers to defend against cultural encroachment. The Ladino language preserved
Jewish identity among many of Jews expelled from Spain in the 15th
century. Likewise, for hundreds of years, Yiddish served to blockade Central
and Eastern European Jewry from cultural assimilation. Today, in many insular
Hasidic circles, Yiddish is employed in a similar strategy of ethnic
preservation. Our language has always been a tool for upholding Jewish identity
in a foreign, and oftentimes, hostile environment.





A Common Denominator



The Jewish world is badly
divided along ideological, religious cultural and even political lines. Across
the Jewish world, the seismic events of the past two centuries have elicited differing
responses, leaving our people badly splintered. Sometimes it feels as if what
divides us is greater than what unites us. Even opinions about our "common"
state of Israel sharply differ. There are very few broad-spectrummed unifiers
of all Jews. By definition, language is a great unifier as it enables
communication. Two Jews can communicate in Hebrew no matter how many "points
of difference" separate them. Often, by speaking common language we are
able to discover "common language". Yosef was separated from his
brothers for over two decades and, undoubtedly, looked and acted very
differently from them. Yet, language melted all the barriers and bridged across
all the lost years.





Unfortunately, many
parts of the Jewish world are still resistant to Hebrew. For some, the shift
has proven too technically challenging. Even in Israel "pocket communities"
of olim, have continually resisted broad-scale Hebrew adaptation, creating
bubbles of English language and culture within the Hebrew state. Relocation to
a foreign country is difficult enough. Switching to a different language, for
many, can be professionally and emotionally handicapping.



Traditionally, some
opposed the adaptation of Hebrew on ideological grounds. As this linguistic
revival was largely driven by secular Zionists, many feared that the language
had been ideologically weaponized. Speaking Hebrew would legitimate
anti-religious agendas. Gradually, as Hebrew language has expanded, this
concern has faded. Modern Hebrew is no longer the province of secular Jews
aiming to modernize or debunk tradition. Of course, in his sefer, Va'yo'el
Moshe, the Satmar Rebbe registered numerous ideological oppositions to speaking
Hebrew. By and large, these objections are reflective of his strong prejudice
against the state of Israel.



Others wonder whether
modernized Hebrew has been so radically altered that it bears little
resemblance to original Hebrew. It is difficult to jump–start languages which
have been dormant while human experience has evolved. Suspended languages cannot
coin words for newly developed technologies, inventions or ideas. This has
forced the introduction of many foreign words into Hebrew, diluting it from its
original Biblical version. In truth, incorporation of foreign words is natural for
any language and certainly necessary for a revived language. The Torah itself contains
numerous "foreign' words and, likewise, Rabbinic language blends words
from many different languages. In part, Hebrew is such a rich language precisely
because it is multi-layered. It draws from Biblical Hebrew to Talmudic Hebrew
to Medieval Hebrew and even includes several Yiddish'isms. Modern Hebrew is a
kaleidoscope whose changing colors represent the changing tides of Jewish
history.



Ironically, access to
Hebrew familiarity is easier and more enjoyable than in the past. Traditionally,
Hebrew was taught in classroom settings, with an emphasis upon formal rules of
grammar. This very technical training was off-putting to many, and smothered
interest in speaking Hebrew. Today, through the internet and social media,
exposure to casual Hebrew is readily available. It is more effortless and
certainly more enjoyable to "speak" Hebrew than ever before.



We have opened the door
onto the final stage of history. Will the end of history resemble the arch of
the original Egypt redemption? Will Hebrew language form the "identity
platform" upon which widespread religious revival will occur? By speaking Hebrew,
we rebuild Jewish identity, throw open new gates of Torah study and bond with Jews
across the world.



The midrash asserts that
when the world is finally redeemed, all of humanity will speak the common
language of Hebrew. It pays to speak Hebrew. It pays to get a head start on the
future.

 

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Defense Minister Benny Gantz will take off from Israel to Washington DC early on Thursday morning. His meetings will center on policy and security issues. Minister Gantz will also participate in the IAC Summit in Miami on Friday. On Thursday, Gantz is scheduled to meet with Israel’s Ambassador to the US Mike Herzog as well as with the leadership of AIPAC and with US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, at the Pentagon. He will also meet US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department and hold a meeting with think tank leaders. On Friday, Gantz will have lunch with the IAC leadership and later that afternoon (US time), will deliver remarks at the IAC National Summit.
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A wind advisory is in effect for much of Maryland Monday. The National Weather Service issued the advisory from 6 p.m. to midnight for much of central and northern Maryland due to the potential for powerful winds that could cause damage. The Bay Bridge is under limited wind restrictions, the Maryland Transportation Authority advised Monday afternoon. During limited wind restrictions, no house trailers or empty box trailers may cross the bridge, as sustained winds are 40 to 49 mph. During the wind advisory period, winds will be 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph, according to the National Weather Service. People should secure objects outside. Drivers should be careful, especially with high-profile vehicles. Tree limbs may blow down, and a few power outages could res...
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a key Donald Trump ally who was poised to be the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee if Republicans win back the House in 2022, said Monday he will resign at the end of this month to become CEO of Trump’s new media and technology company.  “Recently, I was presented with a new opportunity to fight for the most important issues I believe in. I’m writing to let you know I’ve decided to pursue this opportunity, and therefore I will be leaving the House of Representatives at the end of 2021. …” Nunes told constituents.  “Rest assured, I have not, by any means, given up our collective fight — I’ll just be pursuing it through other means.” Nunes is slated to be...
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A group of British Chabad teens who were harassed by a youth mob in London while celebrating on an open-top bus returned to the scene of the incident to light Hanukkah candles on Sunday night. The menorah lighting event was organized by Chabad and was attended by around 50 people who showed up in solidarity, the Jewish Chronicle reported. At the beginning of Hanukkah, the teens were celebrating in an open-top bus on Oxford street when they were attacked by a mob of violent youths. The mob attempted to smash the bus's windows while others made Nazi salutes and spit. Police were called to the scene and the Chabad teens returned unharmed to the bus. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime by London police. The show of defiance by Chabad and its supporte...
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