On June 27, 2016 at the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, 1,300 new cadets and their families were welcomed to the Academy for Reception Day, or R-Day. Before long, the newly-minted cadets were sent off to six weeks of military training called “Beast.” The parents were left behind flooded with all sorts of emotions; pride, enthusiasm, bewilderment, and sadness. We know because my husband and I were in that same situation in 1999 when our son Aaron kissed us goodbye and entered the Army. This was the beginning of an amazing four-year experience for us. When you have a son or daughter who is Jewish, you can add another layer of amazing experiences at West Point.
The Potomac Valley Athletic Conference Girls Basketball All Star Game took place on Sunday March 5 at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CESJDS) in Rockville, Maryland. Berman Hebrew Academy and CESJDS students pictured: Mia Raskin (second from left, Berman); Rayna Armon (fourth from left, CESJDS); Brooke Cohen (sixth from left, CESJDS); Devira Friedman (eighth from right, CESJDS).
The history of the Josh and Josh Basketball Camp isn’t a conventional one by nature, but it sure is an interesting one. Only after travelling back five years can one truly get an accurate glimpse at the true origin of the popular Maryland basketball camp.
It was September 2012 when Josh Stern and Josh Klein, both Varsity basketball players for the Berman Hebrew Academy Cougars, had the idea of starting a one-day Sukkot basketball clinic for the eager-to-learn young middle and lower school students in the area. After much thought, preparation, and strategizing, J&J came up with a detailed program that consisted of drills in the morning, games in the afternoon, and tournaments with opportunities to win mini basketballs, candies, and NBA trading cards interspersed throughout the day.
Joint KMS and YISE Purim Carnival
Pick up a Jewish newspaper (perhaps Kol HaBirah!), read a Jewish article online, have a conversation with someone in your Jewish community—odds are that you have done most, if not all, of these things within the past few months. During these activities, it is also likely that you have read or heard about people trying to break the spirits of the Jewish people.
Jacob Glassman, a Churchill High School senior and winner of this year’s Teen Leadership Award from Beth Sholom Congregation in Potomac, Maryland, was kind enough to share his Shabbat acceptance speech with Kol HaBirah. We appreciated his words of wisdom and hope you will, too.
First, I want to thank Rabbi Antine, Maharat Fruchter, and the Beth Sholom board for nominating me for this award. They are instrumental in leading our community so that I and others have many opportunities to be involved. I also want to thank my parents and grandparents for instilling in me a sense of civic duty and community participation. You are my heroes.
Taylor Force was an American hero who had his entire life in front of him. This tall, dark, handsome graduate student from Vanderbilt University had completed two tours of duty with the United States army in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ironically, Taylor come back from both of these war zones completely unscathed, only to be stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist, while he was walking close to the beach in Tel Aviv.
Taylor is not the first American to have been killed by Palestinian terrorists. He is the 69th, (plus two unborn babies), since the signing of the Oslo Accords, and he is the 144th since the 1967 War.
Taylor is no more or no less deserving of justice than any of the others, whose cases are equally compelling.
On Monday, March 13, members of Young Israel Shmorei Emunah (YISE) traveled to the Maryland State capital, in Annapolis, to urge the Senate Committee on Budget and Taxation, and the House of Delegates Committee on Appropriations to support legislation to help fund renovations of the YISE Social Hall, a venue used for a variety of community-wide events. YISE President Michael Shimoff testified before both committees, accompanied by members of the YISE.
On Sunday, February 26, Aish HaTorah of Greater Washington got into the Purim spirit with a Hamentashen Bake with gourmet baker Paula Shoyer. Over 50 women of all different Jewish backgrounds got together to bake an assortment of various flavored and colored hamentashen. They were then treated to an inspirational class with Aish Rebbetzin, Devorah Buxbaum, on achieving happiness by turning life’s challenges into opportunities.
GREENBELT (Md.) On Wednesday March 15, several organizations and affected individuals continued their legal challenge against President Donald Trump’s revised refugee ban when they presented their case in the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Among the organizations, which were represented in court by lawyers from the ACLU and National Immigrantion Law Center, was HIAS. Established in 1881 to assist Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia and Europe, since 1980 HIAS has been one of the nine refugee resettlement agencies that partners with the U.S. government to resettle refugees from around the world into the United States. Six of these agencies are faith-based organizations, and HIAS is the only Jewish one.
Students Supporting Israel (SSI) hosted the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Danny Danon, at Columbia University Monday night, February 13th. Originally open to the public, the event was ultimately restricted to Columbia/Barnard students and alumni only, due to security concerns. There were over 300 students in attendance, in addition to a lengthy waiting list. Only a few weeks prior to Israeli Apartheid-BDS week on Columbia’s campus, Danon’s visit, perhaps, foreshadowed the debate to come, escalating tensions in advance of the sure to be politically charged week.
Lately, when informed observers of U.S. Middle East policy discuss developments between Israel and the U.S., they often limit themselves to the difficulties of the eight Obama years. They forget the differences between the Israeli and American governments, specifically over policies towards the Palestinian Authority (and its predecessor, the Palestinian Liberation Organization), over the course of five successive presidencies.
Having run a news agency in the heart of Jerusalem for the past 30 years, my perspective on U.S.-Israel policy disagreements goes back 28, not eight, years.
The critical moment when a crisis of confidence became pronounced was when President Ronald Reagan recognized the PLO in December, 1988. This recognition ignored U.S. policy guidelines that made recognition of the PLO contingent on PLO acceptance of UN resolution 242, denouncement of violence, and recognition of Israel.
The new Reagan policy towards the PLO stood in sharp contrast to repeated declarations of Reagan’s Secretary of State George Schultz, who passionately denounced the PLO as an unrelenting terrorist organization that could never be trusted to make peace. With my own eyes, I watched Schultz lead AIPAC participants at the AIPAC conference in May 1987 in a chant of “Hell no, PLO.”
Within two days of Arafat mouthing symbolic words that denounced terrorism, the PLO issued continuing statements that this did not mean that the PLO would have to stop killing Jews to achieve its goals of Palestinian-Arab independence.
In December 1989, I asked Dr. Alan Keyes, a close Reagan adviser who served as Under Secretary of State for Interorganization Affairs and had an impeccable pro-Israel record, why the Reagan Administration turned on Israel in favor of the PLO.
Dr. Keyes gave a clear response: The Saudis were fearful that the PLO would organize an intifada-style resurrection in Saudi Arabia, with the PLO burning their oil fields and destabilizing the Arab and world economy.
In the interceding years, the US helped create the Palestinian Authority (PA), whose school system has indoctrinated more than one generation of Palestinian Arab children with the “values” of liberating all of Palestine by force of arms.
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