Grandmotherly Advice

June 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War (June 5-10, 1967) between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries. The war altered Israel, the Middle East and Jewish history, and some of its ramifications remain unresolved. As the War’s anniversary approaches, we will see this topic in the public debate. The discussion may focus on contemporary issues such as Jerusalem’s unification, the negotiating stalled peace process, or the future of the West Bank and the settlement movement. However, the historical context of the Six Day War — which is critically important for understanding why the war took place and why subsequent events unfolded the way they did — is often missing from today’s discussions. 

I am pleased to announce an educational partnership between The Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Israel Action Network, Jerusalem U, and the Center for Israel Education regarding the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War. This effort consists of 12 short films produced by the Jerusalem Post and Jerusalem U, with their historical content supervised by Professor Kenneth W. Stein of the Center for Israel Education at Emory University.  Based on archival footage and academic research, these films will provide you with the opportunity to experience the events of May and June 1967 as they unfolded “50 years ago today.” The first four films will be released one per week, starting the week of May 14, and the remainder daily beginning on June 4.  These short films – along with other reference and source materials – will appear on the Jerusalem Post’s homepage and The Center for Israel Education’s homepage.

Many will recall Israel survived an existential threat, passing through the most anxious period in its 19-year history. Two hundred thousand Arab troops and 1,000 tanks surrounded its borders to eliminate the Jewish state. Cairo Radio openly threatened Israel’s destruction. Israeli communities prepared by refitting bomb shelters, practicing air raid drills, preparing thousands of hospital beds, and digging thousands of graves. Jews around the world were glued to their radios fearing for Israel. The tense, emotional experience leading up to the Six Day War shaped many people’s understanding of Israel’s security needs. Wherever one stands in viewing the war’s extraordinary outcomes, its unfolding is worth understanding in greater depth.

It was a dramatic week. As J.J Goldberg wrote , Israel “had seemed a tiny, helpless outpost, surrounded by powerful enemies that might destroy it at any moment. Now, in less than a week, it seemed to transform into a superpower.”

This educational initiative sheds light on the players, motives, and miscalculations that led to the war and its stunning aftermath. We hope you appreciate this opportunity to deepen your knowledge and understanding. Learn more by clicking here.

 Some quick personal thoughts:

• Mazel tov to Josh Frankel and Evan Bernstein, both young leaders involved in our Jewish community, for being recognized by the Portland Business Journal as two of their 40 Under 40

• I have written about my son’s travel hockey experiences. My favorite place for him to play is Boise, Idaho. On our first trip there we discovered the incredible Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial located right next to the main library as you enter downtown Boise. It is truly beautiful and quite meaningful.

Sadly, this outdoor memorial built by the Idaho Human Rights Education Center in 2002, was vandalized with anti-Semitic and racial slurs on Tuesday. It is the first incident of vandalism in its 15 year history. A shame that these types of incidents continue to happen across our country.

• Join us on Wednesday, May 17 at 7:00 p.m. at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center and hear Dr. Steven Windmueller, Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service-Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, discuss Jewish communal challenges in today's political climate. Dr. Windmeuller is an excellent speaker and we do hope you will come and hear his remarks.  

• Beginning Saturday night we celebrate Lag B’Omer, a minor holiday that occurs on the 33rd day of the Omer, the 49-day period between Passover and Shavuot. A break from the semi-mourning of the Omer, key aspects of Lag B’Omer include holding Jewish weddings (it’s the one day during the Omer when Jewish law permits them), lighting bonfires and getting haircuts.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day and also happens to be the yahrzeit of my maternal grandmother who passed away 18 years ago. She lived a few miles from my home in Orlando and we would see each other 3-4 times per week. She had a tremendous influence on me, was “super cool” and very open.

As we celebrate Mother’s Day (and thank you to all the mothers out there!) I will be thinking about her (and my own mother (z”l)) and the important lessons she taught me. It ties into the release of Rabbi Eve Posen and Lois Shenker’s book, Pirkei Imahot: The Wisdom of our Mothers, The Voices of Women. At their book launch earlier this week, Lois asked a series of questions to the audience that made them reflect on whether as we grow older we become more and more like our parents. We all have those tendencies to repeat what our parents used to say to us or act with their mannerisms.

As I was listening to Lois, I thought about my grandmother. The most memorable advice (Note: R rated) my grandmother ever gave to me was on my wedding day. She called me over before the ceremony and (shockingly) said to me, “Always remember, everything goes great with onions except sex.” (Hey, just checking to see if you read until the end!) Important words to live by.

Happy Mother’s Day, especially to my wonderful wife, Sarah, who is an incredible mother and partner.

Shabbat shalom.



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