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This is an awesome video about Israel.  Definitely a must see!

 

Yesterday was Yom HaZikaron – the day where Israel remembers the 22,684 fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terrorism are remembered.  A solemn day of remembrance in Israel.  The below YouTube video is an excellent expression of the grief that is remembered by all Israelis on Yom HaZikaron

And today is Yom Ha’atzmaut!  Happy 62nd Birthday Israel!

I am reminded of two quotes by Golda Meir:

“Above all, this country is our own. Nobody has to get up in the morning and worry what his neighbors think of him. Being a Jew is no problem here.” (Meir, Golda, interview with International Herald Tribune, May 11, 1978, found at WikiQuotes

and

“Peace will come to the Middle East when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.” (Meir, Golda, quoted in Media Bias and the Middle East, 2003, found at WikiQuotes)

As a Jew (and a Modern Orthodox Jew at that) I am deeply saddened and shamed by Bernie Madoff. Of course I realize that what he did was not my fault. But what I am particularly disgusted and ashamed of was who he stole money from. Of course stealing money in his Ponzi scheme was bad enough (and $50 billion dollars at that!) but what makes it that much more egregious is that he stole it from charities and other organizations that rely on their endowments and investments to help fund their work to help other people. He’s sort of a perverted Robin Hood — he stole from everyone to spend on…?

I recently read a good letter from Rabbi Marc Gellman in the latest issue of Newsweek. Rabbi Gellman does an excellent job in summing up the betrayal that Bernie Madoff has wreaked everyone. However, what I really feel he quantified best was the damage that Mr. Madoff has done to Jews everywhere. As Rabbi Gellman notes

You are responsible for reviving the “Jew game.” I heard of the Jew game from a boy who became a man last Saturday. I asked him once if he had ever experienced anti-Semitism in school. That is when he looked at the floor and told me about the Jew game. The game, played by anti-Semitic kids in school, was one in which they would hide around a corner, throw a quarter down the hall, and then when somebody picked up the quarter, they’d run at the person, shouting, “You’re the Jew!”

You did not cause the anti-Semitic insults about Jews and money, but you caused them to be revived.

(Gellman, Marc, “A Letter To Madoff,” Newsweek, December 23, 2008 )

Yes, Mr. Madoff…you have revived not just anti-semitic insults but you, personally, have revived the ancient bigotry and accusations that Jews are untrustworthy and greedy (Gellman, Marc, “A Letter To Madoff,” Newsweek, December 23, 2008 )…you have given new life to the slur “dirty Jew” that flows from the mouths of the bigots and hate-mongers who despise us. You, Sir, have done this single-handedly. The Aryan Nation couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas present than you and you will assuredly be cursed for what you have done.

I am reminded of a story a friend of mine told me one time about a Professor at Yeshiva University who taught accounting. It seems that some time after he taught a particular class a few of his students were arrested for embezzlement. When asked why they did it (especially since they studied at Yeshiva University) they said that they were never told not to steal. So, in response, this professor would make sure that every semester he would tell his students “oh, by the way, don’t steal!” Now, as to how accurate this story is, I cannot say but it seems to sum Bernie Madoff pretty well. “Do not steal” is one of the Ten Commandments given to us at Mt. Sinai…it’s not like this was some obscure commandment…this was one of the Ten that were on the tablets Moses brought down! How could you not know this one Bernie?

I find it interesting that Yeshiva University professors are now trying to find a lesson in what Bernie Madoff has done. In a New York Times article is a story of how the students of Yeshiva University struggle to find lessons in this and to understand the short and long term implications for the Jewish community. We are all sullied by the actions of this man and many within our own communities and our own institutions were impacted by the thievery of Mr. Madoff…some will never recover.

I am ashamed of Mr. Madoff…but he doesn’t represent Jews worldwide. What he has done, though, has awakened and reinforced the old stereotypes that we had hoped would die away with the Nazis and the communists. For that, Bernie, there has to be a special place in Hell for you. May your name be blotted out from memory.

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