One year ago today, I stood at the pro-Israel in Fort Lauderdale and was told to “go back to the ovens” by an anti-Israel mob….Today’s rally, one year later, was much more peaceful….Here is a link to the rally: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/fort-lauderdale/fl-courthouse-demonstration-brf-20091230,0,1929045.story
Archive for December, 2009
Posted in In the news, Islamic Extremism, Israel, tagged Adopt-a-street program, Broward County, CAIR, Council for American Islamic Relations, davie, Islamic Extremism, rabbi andrew jacobs on December 18, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
My words at the December 18th rally against CAIR’s (Council for Islamic American Relations) “Adopt-A-Street” sign in Davie, Florida (Broward County).
Background: Broward County and the City of Davie are each asserting that the other is responsible for permitting CAIR to sponsor an “Adopt-A-Street” sign in Davie, Florida. A rally took place before the Broward County Commission Building in downtown Fort Lauderdale on December 18th during which government officials were asked to remove the sign.
“Night after night, I see Muslim national organizations like the Council for American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, cry out over and over about anecdotal victimization while saying and doing absolutely nothing about the most vile hate-speak and actions” (M. Zuhdi Jasser is chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy – his words are quoted in article below*)
As we stand here today, it must be pointed out that this is not the first time that CAIR has been exposed for what it truly is – an organization with close ties to HAMAS, an organization that was labeled by the US government as an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas funding trial, an organization that gives a platform to anti-Israel and anti-Semitic individuals who preach hatred.
In late 2008 the FBI formally cut off relations with CAIR.
And, just recently, the FBI stepped in with a warrant for documents obtained by the authors of the book Muslim Mafia, documents which supposedly present firsthand evidence that CAIR is a front for a well-funded conspiracy of the Muslim Brotherhood (the parent of al-Qaida and Hamas) to infiltrate the U.S. and help pave the way for Saudi-style Islamic law to rule the nation.
Under investigation by the FBI. Linked to the terror group Hamas – an organization that has murdered scores of innocent people – including teenager Daniel Wultz z”l who called Broward County his home. And they can adopt a street here in Broward County and have their name publicized for all to see as if they were some wonderful organization!?
Over the past few weeks, we have watched as the names of powerful members of the Broward County community have been stripped from buildings and removed from organizations because of alleged financial scandals. Yet, when asked to remove a sign publicizing an organization linked to terrorism – the answer received from the Public Information Officer of Davie was “no”. Why, you ask? Because of CAIR’s right to “freedom of speech”.
Freedom of speech?
This is an interesting argument given by the town of Davie which was just recently sued by the owners of the Davie based Club Eden, an adult entertainment establishment. The Club alleged that the town’s zoning rules were unconstitutional in that they banned adult establishments from all of Davie and, in essence, denied them the freedom of speech.
Personally, as a father and a teacher, I understood the town of Davie’s attempt to try to limit the adult entertainment industry’s freedom of speech. The current location of Club Eden is, in my opinion, too close to a school bus stop, residential neighborhoods, and popular shopping malls that I regularly visit with my children.
Under federal law, Davie had no choice but to allow the club to stay in business. However, the Davie Town Attorney said that while the club was a legal business under the First Amendment – which includes the freedom of speech – the city wanted to take them off one of the busiest streets in town and put them in a more appropriate location. A city should certainly be able to control what goes within her limits and where it goes on…And I guess the lawyers involved in the case agreed with this as it seems that a compromise has been reached. As was recently reported in the Sun-Sentinel, Club Eden will be moving to a new location in Davie, way off the beaten path.
So for those officials in the town of Davie who say that CAIR’s sign cannot be removed because of freedom of speech – I say to you: you have shown us that if you think it is in your city’s best interest, you will challenge an organization’s right to free speech as you did with Club Eden.
And, as you felt it was necessary to challenge an adult night club – I ask you: are you not obligated to challenge CAIR – an organization linked to the terrorist organization Hamas, an organization under investigation by the FBI?
I had hoped that your answer would be “absolutely!” But, alas, your answer is “no…freedom of speech!”
What exactly is going on here!?
Let’s be honest, we are not here because people are fighting like crazy to protect CAIR’s right to freedom of speech.
No, we are here today for the same reason that Iran has been able to ignore the sanctions imposed by the international community and continue building her nuclear weapons.
We are here today for the same reason that Iran was able to launch a missile earlier this week that has the ability to reach Israel.
We are here today because we have dismissed the threats by the President of Iran to annihilate Israel and each day we do so, Iran gets closer and closer to making those threats a reality.
We are here today because we have been afraid to publicly connect the dots that appear to connect the shooter at Fort Hood murdered innocent soldiers because of his connections to radical Islam.
We are here today because we have not raised our voices and said “ENOUGH”. Whether it is out of fear, the desire to be politically correct, or simply out of laziness – our silence is dangerous. Because it empowers those who are committed to wage jihad against us.
I don’t want to be here today. I am deeply troubled that I have to come before my government officials who we elected to protect us and keep our community safe and once again teach them about CAIR. We’ve done it before. We’ve stood before the School Board. We’ve protested the signs on the buses. This is not new.
But we obviously need to be louder, stronger, more committed. We are here today because too many people have remained quiet about their concerns over Muslim extremists – whether it be concerns pertaining to events on the other side of globe in Iran or right here in Broward County, Florida. The time for remaining silent is over. It is time to stand up for our freedom of speech and use our words to express our alarm and get our elected officials to hear us and take action to keep us safe.
Tonight, in the Jewish world, we light the last candle of Chanukah as we celebrate the victory of the Maccabees over those who were attempting to silence them and crush their Jewish culture. But, the Maccabees refused to give up. They stood up for what they believed. They took action. They cared. They were not afraid.
Today, I call upon every member of this community, no matter what your religious or cultural background – because this is an issue that affects us all – every single one of us – to rally together to say once and for all that the promotion and growth of Islamic extremism must be stopped globally and this can start locally right here in Broward County. We need to say loudly and clearly – take the sign down. The time for remaining silent, of turning a blind eye, of being afraid to speak up….that time is over.
CAIR, a group linked to HAMAS, a group under investigation by the FBI – CAIR should not be entitled to publicize their organization on our streets.
If Club Eden, an adult nightclub – with no connections to terror organizations – can be pushed to the deep dark corner of the City of Davie – the CAIR sign can and should be removed immediatey.
press release pertaining to Town of Davie and CAIR sign: http://www.americansagainsthate.org/press_releases/PR-Braulio_Rosa.php
article pertaining to Club Eden: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2009-11-03/news/0911020418_1_club-eden-strip-club-town-officials
article pertaining to CAIR and FBI: http://www.actforamerica.org/index.php/learn/email-archives/1728-fbi-turns-up-heat-on-cair
letter from FBI: http://www.wnd.com/files/FBIletter-CAIR.pdf
related blog post: http://blogshalom.wordpress.com/2009/11/14/a-genuine-condemnation/
ADL’s statement on CAIR: http://www.adl.org/Israel/cair/default.asp
*very important anti-CAIR piece written by a prominent Muslim American: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2006/mar/29/20060329-084827-8739r/
CITY OF DAVIE REFUSES TO REMOVE HAMAS-RELATED CAIR STREET SIGN
KAUFMAN CALLS ON DAVIE AND BROWARD COUNTY NOT TO BE WEAK-MINDED AND TO DEAL PROPERLY WITH TERROR
(Davie, FL) This week, the Chairman of Americans Against Hate (AAH), Joe Kaufman, had a telephone conversation with the Public Information Officer (PIO) of Davie, Florida, Braulio Rosa, explaining to Rosa why his city should act immediately to remove a sign that Broward County and Davie awarded to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a terrorist-associated organization. Kaufman told him that, at this Friday’s upcoming Fort Lauderdale rally about the CAIR sign, Kaufman and his group would rather praise the city for removing the sign, than criticize the city for refusing to do so, as is planned. However, Braulio said that, on the grounds of free speech, the sign would not be removed, and he used the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) as an example. Kaufman told him that it is not an issue of free speech, but an issue of terrorism, because, while CAIR is a hate group like the KKK, it is also a group that was founded by Hamas, an organization that has targeted and murdered innocent civilians, including Americans, with the most violent of means. According to the U.S. Justice Department, CAIR has been involved in the financing of Hamas. Kaufman sent an e-mail to Rosa detailing CAIR’s ties to Hamas and global Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook and called on Davie not to be weak with regard to the subject of terrorism. In his correspondence, Kaufman stated, “Please remove the sign, as it a symbol of Broward County’s and the city of Davie’s weakness and reluctance to deal properly with the issue of terrorism.” All are invited to attend Friday’s event, where AAH will demand action from Broward and Davie. When: Noon on Friday, December 18, 2009 Where: Outside the Broward County Commission building, at 115 S. Andrews Ave., in Downtown Fort Lauderdale AAH asks that attendees bring their American flags. All signage will be provided by Americans Against Hate. Joe Kaufman is available for interview. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
While I am not a fan of the New York Times, this is a great op-ed written by David Brooks…
Posted in Action, In the news, Islamic Extremism, Jewish Holidays, tagged Broward County, CAIR, Chanukah, Council for American Islamic Relations, Islamic Extremism, rabbi andrew jacobs, Ramat Shalom on December 11, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
Tonight, we light the first candle of Chanukah in honor of the Maccabees’ triumph over the Greeks who were determined to annihilate our ancestors. Many focus on the “miracle” of the oil that burned for the eight days of our Festival of Lights. While the oil remains an integral part of our Chanukah rituals, Chanukah is ultimately a holiday that remind us of the courage of our ancestors who took a stand against those who sought to do them harm.
Today, especially in America, Chanukah is filled with candles, menorahs, gifts, latkes, and, most importantly, joy. The reason our contemporary version of Chanukah is celebratory is because the generations that came before us stood up and protected Judaism from forces that were determined to bring an end to our faith. While we have so much to be thankful for this Chanukah, it is important to point out that there are still individuals, groups, and nations determined to do us harm. While we must celebrate the victory of the Maccabees with joy – we can’t go through the eight days without acknowledging that the work of the Maccabees is not done. There are still people we have to stand up to.
Next Friday, as we prepare to light all eight candles on the Chanukiyah (Chanukah menorah), I will be joining many others at a rally against the Broward County government for giving a public street sign to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Hamas-associated organization that I have worked to expose for the past few years. The sign, which is located in Davie just outside Broward Community College and Nova Southeastern University, is part of Broward’s “Adopt-A-Street” program.
CAIR was created by Hamas operatives in 1994 and was recently named by the U.S. Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator for a Hamas financing trial that took place recently in Dallas, Texas. Since the trial, the FBI has refused formal contact with CAIR. In a letter to the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology, and Homeland Security, the FBI explained that it suspended contacts with CAIR because of evidence introduced during the trial in Dallas. “Until we resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and Hamas, the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner,” the letter read.
CAIR supports Israel-bashers and outright anti-Semites. For example, as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reports on their website: “CAIR’s Florida chapter operates a Web site that makes anti-Semitic material available for visitors interested in learning about Islam. CAIR also organizes anti-Israel rallies during which protestors and speakers engage in anti-Semitic rhetoric, use offensive Holocaust imagery likening Jews and Israelis to Nazis, and express support for terror groups.”
Below are just a few links that will give you more information on CAIR:
On Friday, December 18, at Noon, outside the Broward County Commission building, at 115 S. Andrews Ave., many of us will rally against CAIR’s street sign, calling upon the Broward County governement officials to remove the sign immediately. A group that is linked to Hamas and takes an active role in bashing Israel and Jews does not deserve a street sign in Broward County. And we have an obligation to let our local government know how we feel. And what a better time to do it than during Chanukah when we celebrate the strength and courage of the Maccabees. This is our opportunity to follow in our ancestors’ footsteps and play a role in stopping a group that is committed to our demise.
I invite you to join me next Friday. It will be a powerful and meaningful way to live the Chanukkah story.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah!!!
Tiger Woods, the once “perfect” sports hero, has proven that he is human and, thus, far from perfect. His actions appear to have repetitively violated the sanctity of his marriage and have caused great pain to his wife. Infidelity violates trust, undermines commitments, and shatters hearts. Sadly, picking up the pieces of a marriage after one partner violates the bonds of marriage is often impossible. The deception destroys the spark that served as the glue and the marriage dissolves. No one can fault Mrs. Woods if she done with her marriage.
Tiger and his wife certainly have many challenging days and weeks ahead of them. This is a private matter. One that does not belong on the golf course, in the newspapers, or on the front cover of the gossip magazines. This being said, we have not heard the end of the Tiger Woods scandal. Tiger Woods was “perfect” – and now he is flawed. There is a lot of “material” here for the media to analyze and interpret and spin. And we will be fascinated by it. Sad – but true.
One of the things that I have heard a lot over the past few days is how sad it is that all of our great celebrity heroes get caught in not so flattering situations – even the perfect Tiger Woods. For the past several weeks we have been reading the Book of Genesis which tells the story of our famous patriarchs and matriarchs, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Rachel and Leah. These men and women are seen by many as the epitome of righteousness. They are our biblical heroes, ancient role models that still have much to teach us. What many fail to realize, however, is that our patriarchs and matriarchs are very flawed. They were part of a very dysfunctional family. They often made very poor choices and behaved in less than flattering ways. Yet, they still hold a very important place in Judaism and other religious traditions.
The Torah teaches us that our biblical heroes are far from perfect. They sin. But, somehow, they seem to learn from their mistakes, pick up the pieces, and move on with their lives. Just recently, we read in the Torah as Jacob comes face to face with his brother Esau. The last time these brothers were together, Esau wanted to kill Jacob for stealing his birthright and taking everything from him. Now, however, things have changed. We witness a peaceful reunion as Esau no longer holds a grudge against his brother and Jacob has paid the price for his deception. Thus, the Torah teaches us that heroes are not perfect, rather they are individuals who work to overcome their flaws and, because of this work, become better, although imperfect, human beings.
So, Tiger Woods is far from perfect. Does this mean he can no longer be a sports hero? This depends on how he handles himself in the weeks and months ahead – not on the golf course – but in the privacy of his own home and in the depths of his heart and soul. He has a lot to repair. For Tiger’s sake and the sake of his wife and children, he needs to start by showing his family the respect that they deserve.
No matter what Tiger will be able to accomplish at home, he will not be able to recapture his perfect image. It is gone forever. But, as our tradition teaches us, perfection does not make us a hero. Rather, how we rebuild what we ourselves have destroyed – this is what determines our heroic status. If he is able to respectively resolve his private life, Tiger will need to regain the trust and respect of his fans. This will not necessarily be done on the golf course – but in the way he publicly addresses this issue and guards the privacy of his family. The rebuilding will be slow – but if done with sincerity, care and compassion, Tiger could very well follow in the footsteps of our flawed patriarchs and matriarchs and reemerge once again as a hero. Only time will tell.
Posted in Jewish Parenting, tagged Jewish Parenting, parents kids Judaism Rabbi Andrew Jacobs Ramat Shalom Hebrew School on December 1, 2009 | 2 Comments »
One of the most important responsibilities that comes along with being a rabbi is insuring that the next generation of Jews grows up to be committed to and knowledgeable about their Judaism. I enjoy spending many hours each week studying Torah with our bar/bat mitzvah students, exploring American Jewish history with our 7th graders, engaging in incredible conversations about contemporary issues with our post-b’nai mitzvah students, and hanging out at Dunkin Donuts with our high school kids. I am proud of our youth groups and youth programs and the involvement of many of our teens in these as well as programs in the larger Jewish community. And, I have been lucky enough to travel with many Ramat Shalom children and teens to places like the Reconstructionist Movement’s camp in Pennsylvania and the US Holocaust Museum in D.C. I consider myself very lucky to be able to teach and, in turn, learn from Ramat Shalom’s children and teens.
While I truly love doing my part to insure that our children will be passionately connected to their Judaism, I must admit that engaging our children and teens, particularly after the bar/bat mitzvah, is often a very frustrating process. It is not the kids who make it frustrating. It is the parents. So many of them see those of us who work at the synagogue to be their children’s primary Jewish teachers. These parents want us to expose their kids to Hebrew, Jewish history, rituals, and prayers. They invest a great deal of resources into making certain that their children can chant their Torah at their bar/bat mitzvah. And they expect us to make the Jewish experience entertaining, exciting, even amusing, because they don’t want to fight with their kids to get out of the car as they roll through Torah School carpool on Sunday mornings. You might be reading this saying,”this is exactly what I want you to do!” If so, please keep reading.
Without a doubt, the education and youth staff at Ramat Shalom provides top notch Jewish education, prepares children very well for their bar/bat mitzvah, and even makes the experience engaging. But, for the parents who just want to drop their kids off at the synagogue and have them Jewishly trained and educated, it doesn’t matter how great our staff is – most of these parents are raising children who will not have a deep and meaningful connection to Judaism. In the Ve’Ahavta, the first paragraph that follows the Shema, we chant words from Deuteronomy which say, “you shall teach them (the morals and values of Judaism) diligently to your children.” While Judaism certainly encourages us to get good teachers for our children – our tradition teaches us very clearly that the primary and most important Jewish teacher for a child is his or her parent or primary caregiver. Parents must teach their children about Judaism.
I often tell people that I know if a bar/bat mitzvah student will be successful as soon as the child walks into my office for the very first tutoring session. I don’t need to hear the child read Hebrew. It doesn’t matter if he or she understands his/her Torah portion or s/he can write a d’var Torah (speech). The telltale sign for me is if a parent accompanies the child to the appointment. If a mom or dad or grandparent comes in with the child, I know, without a doubt, that the bar/bat mitzvah experience will be meaningful and the child will develop a wonderful connection to Judaism.
It doesn’t matter if the parent or grandparent who attends knows Hebrew or the prayers or has any formal Jewish training. What matters is that they are there, with the child, sending the message that this experience is important – so important that I (parent) have taken the time to join you (my child).
Why should a child feel that coming to the synagogue on Sunday morning at 9:30 is important if his/her parents never set foot in the synagogue? Why should a child have a desire to attend a Friday night service or a youth event if his/her parents have no time to attend a service or another event at the synagogue? In the fifteen years that I have been working as a Jewish educator and the eight years that I have been a rabbi, I have learned that if nurturing a connection to the synagogue and, thus, to Judaism is important for mom and dad – it will be important to the children. On the other hand, if the synagogue is a place where a kid gets dropped off on Sunday mornings and Wednesday afternoons to learn a foreign language and some prayers – and that is the extent of the family’s involvement in the synagogue and, thus, Judaism, a child will most likely not develop a meaningful connection with his faith. This should not surprise anyone.
Quite often, after a bar or bat mitzvah, a parent will call me and say: “Rabbi, will you please talk to my kid and tell her she has to continue going to Torah School even though the bat mitzvah is over? Will you make her come to youth group?” Sure, I am capable of talking to your children and encouraging them to attend (I have no magical rabbi powers that can make them attend!) – but if remaining involved after their bar/bat mitzvah is so important to you as a parent, I need you to ask yourself: “Why is it a choice? Why is it not an expectation? Why is Judaism an option?” Sadly, the reason Judaism is often not that important to our kids is because it is not all that important to us. Are you actively involved in the synagogue, Jewish learning, or the larger Jewish community? Why on earth would a teenager think he needed to study with me twice a month or go have donuts with me a few times a year or attend a youth group event at the synagogue if his own parents have little to no involvement in Jewish life? Can you blame him? Even in their rebellious teenage years, our kids look to us as role models. If you are not involved in the Jewish world, why should they be?
As your rabbi, I will promise you that Ramat Shalom will always offer meaningful Jewish programs for children and teens and the best staff will be leading these programs. We will be happy to reach out and encourage your children and teens to get involved. But, we can’t do it alone. I ask you to join me in making certain that the next generation of Jews is strong. Your job: get yourself connected. I am not saying you need to become a “super-Jew”. I am, however, asking that you volunteer, take a class, learn Hebrew, attend a shivah minyan, make a meal for an ill congregant, come to services, join the book club, help in the office, attend a social event – develop a relationship with the synagogue that shows your children that Judaism is important to you. It is only after you do this that you can expect your kids to get involved. And it is okay to tell them that you expect their involvement – especially if it is clear to them that Judaism is not a choice, it is what we do as a family. Let’s work together to insure that the next generation of Jews will have a powerful connection to their faith.