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Neil Armstrong's Greatest Steps

Aug 27, 2012 at 11:30:46 PM

Neil Armstrong passed away this week at age 82 – a global iconic hero who became the first man to walk on the moon, uttering those immortal words, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

What many don't know is that Armstrong was a lover of Zion. Thomas Friedman's book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, describes a visit that Armstrong made to Israel after his trip to the moon. He was taken on a tour of Jerusalem by Israeli archaeologist Meir Ben-Dov.

"I have to tell you," Armstrong remarked while walking near the Temple Mount. "I am more excited stepping on these stones than I was stepping on the moon."

Truly immortal words.

Visitor Comments: 3

(1) Shoshana-Jerusalem, August 28, 2012 1:35 PM


When they were circling the moon just before the famous landing. he quoted from lthe book of Bereishis (Genesis) and said, " In the beginning G-d created the heaven and lthe earth and the earth was void and the spirit of G-d hovered above it."

Jimbo Salsa, August 29, 2012 7:26 PM

I think you're confused.

Actually, it was the astronauts of the Apollo 8 who read from Breishis on 24 December 1984.

Anonymous , August 29, 2012 8:13 PM

Reading from Genesis was genius

Interesting comment. Considering that this was the cold war, reminding the atheist Soviets that there is a G-d who created the world was genius and very appropriate. These days, if an astronaut were to read from the bible. people would be screamig "separation of religion and state, etc." and the ACLU would probably shoot him down with a missile.


Madonna in Israel

Jun 3, 2012 at 07:39:23 AM

The big news in Israel last Thursday was the Madonna concert attended by 40,000 fans in metropolitan Tel Aviv. Because this was the opening gig of her new world tour, media coverage was vast and global.

Welcome to Israel 2012.

Nineteen years ago I authored an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post entitled, "Madonna: Do We Really Wanna-Be?" It coincided with the pop star's first-ever concert in Israel.

At the time, Madonna was pushing the limits of public lewdness: promoting her album "Erotica" and a book entitled simply, "Sex."

My article bemoaned how Madonna's very un-Jewish values were being imported into Israel.

It is a myth that Madonna is the "great liberator." Rather, she has fostered a climate where sexism is the norm, and has thus set the women's movement back 30 years. She has built a career on obscenity, and admits to cultivating a reputation as "a tramp, a harlot... proud of my trashy image."

Jewish communities throughout the ages have always stood against such behavior. The Jewish people are the inventors and leading exporters of core human values such as dignity, modesty and discretion.

Israel in particular is a living workshop where lofty Jewish ideals can become reality. We have built our land so beautifully and have achieved so much. But to chase after the lowly elements of Western society? Is this the expression of "light unto the nations?" Is this the culmination of 2,000 years of struggle and suffering? Is this what IDF soldiers died for? Is this being "free in our land?"

Not so long ago Israeli society still held itself to a higher standard. In the 1960s when British rock legend Cliff Richard performed in Israel, parents protested the negative effects of the raucous atmosphere. No, I’m not a prude. But the point is that Israel – the model of morality for world Jewry, and the model for all humanity – had drawn a line.

Achad HaAm called Israel "the historic center of a roving spiritual idea." When Madonna kicks off her world tour and the world watches so closely, we have to wonder: Is this really what we want them to see?

Visitor Comments: 6

(5) Anonymous, June 5, 2012 2:12 PM

I agree with the commentors that Madonna is praiseworthy for coming to Israel

in face of the strong anti-Israel bigotry in Hollywood. But still, the PR gain for Israel is definitely not worth the tsunami of immorality that accompanies such a woman into our holy land of Israel.

(4) Moishe Montreal, June 4, 2012 6:16 PM

YES we want Madonna in Israel

With all the anti-semetic coward artists cancelling their shows in Israel due to fear of death from a-rubs, Madona shows stregnth and (here it comes) a love of Israel. Some of her Kaballah learning, traif as it is, has to have rub off in a positive way. Chazak to Madonna. PS its just a rock show and there are many worse influences in Israel today- like the atheist lefties.

(3) Lisa, June 4, 2012 3:51 PM

In defense of Madonna.

I would submit that Madonna has done more to present Israel and Judaism in a positive light- and reverse knee-jerk Israel-hatred and Jew-hatred- than any other one person, or private or public entity in recent times. To refer to her as "the lowest element of Western society" is to engage in ignorant, self-righteous, slander. Madonna's "art"- music, lyrics, choreography, costumes and concert themes have been in evolution for decades. She's a class A humanitarian advocating peace and understanding between all people, love of spirituality, celebration of sexuality, independence of thought and strength of character. As a woman, I don't feel demeaned by her colorful (and accurate) presentation of female sexuality one iota. While Orthodox Jews scoff at her interest in Kabbalah or taking the moniker "Sarah", her interest is sincere, and has created incalculable goodwill towards Jews, Judaism and Israel.

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Vidal Sassoon: Defender of Jews

May 12, 2012 at 11:17:14 AM

Iconic hair-dresser Vidal Sassoon died this week at age 84. What many don't know is that Sassoon, a Sephardic Jew who grew up in London, had a long history of fighting anti-Semitism.

At age 18 he joined the "43 Group," a Jewish defense organization working against post-World War II anti-Semitism. Sassoon and compatriots scoured the streets of east London breaking up fascist gatherings -- a legacy that later earned him the title of "anti-fascist warrior-hairdresser."

Of those early years in London, Sassoon recalled:

Anti-Semitism was absolutely rife. I mean, it was nothing for another kid to say to you, "Dirty Jew." And although England was a good place to be, especially with Churchill and the fight against the Nazis, there was always that sense of the Jews being second-class citizens.

In 1948, at age 20, Sassoon jumped at the chance to stand up as a proud Jew and volunteered to fight in Israel's War of Independence. He later described that experience as "the best year of my life":

When you think of 2,000 years of being put down and suddenly you are a nation rising, it was a wonderful feeling. There were only 600,000 people defending the country against five armies, so everyone had something to do.

Sassoon described how he

"took a hill and attacked at four in the morning, took them by surprise. It was a hill overlooking a main road where the Egyptian heads of the army were heading. If they had passed this spot they would have been in Tel Aviv in a few hours but we took them. Many Egyptians died trying to get up that hill."

Sassoon continued his fight for Jewish causes throughout his lifetime. In 1982, he founded the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.Robert S. Wistrich, director of Center, writes:

Insistently, Vidal dwelt on his Jewish roots. He told me that ever since he could remember, he had carried within him this seemingly inexplicable and mysterious sense of Jewish difference. Though he remained a Universalist who passionately believed in the oneness of mankind, for him Jewish uniqueness was simply a fact.

Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Phyllis kessel, May 13, 2012 1:06 PM

Vidal Sasson

I had interviewed Vdal on my regional radio program ,as well as his then wife Beverly. We had a long lunch and discussion about Israel and his dedication to its survival. This was soon after the '67 war H e was a fne man.


Mel Gibson Strikes Again

Apr 15, 2012 at 11:34:19 PM by:

Mel GibsonMel Gibson, the Hollywood star whose repeated anti-Semitic tirades have offended people of conscience, is at it again.

Joe Eszterhas, who wrote a screenplay for Gibson about the Chanukah hero Judah Maccabee, claims that Gibson

  • frequently spews "looney, rancid" derogatory epithets against Jews
  • falsely claims that the Torah refers to sacrificing Christian babies
  • engages in various forms of Holocaust denial, and
  • refers to Jews as "oven-dodgers," a vile allusion to the millions of Jews incinerated in Nazi crematoria.

That’s some rap sheet. But that’s not all – for years Gibson has incensed Jewish groups, who protested anti-Semitic elements in his controversial film, The Passion of the Christ.

In 2006, when Gibson was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, his real feelings slipped out and he ranted to the police officer – who happened to be Jewish – that "Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."

Mel’s father, Hutton Gibson, raised his son on a steady diet of conspiracy theories, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic dogma, which consigned all Jews to hell (as well as anyone else who doesn’t buy into his specific brand of radical Catholicism). For rejecting Jesus, Gibson reportedly described Jews as “either Satanic or the dupes of Satan.”

At this point, it looks like the end of the line for Gibson’s involvement in the Judah Maccabee film. That is surely a relief to all those who honor the memory of this great Jewish hero. And especially given that Gibson, according to Eszterhas, had planned to use the Judah Maccabee movie as a way to “convert Jews to Christianity.”

Who knows – when Steven Spielberg gets through with his movie about Moses (or when Russell Crowe finishes filming "Noah"), maybe he’ll pick up the Judah Maccabee idea.

Visitor Comments: 19

(17) Anonymous, April 30, 2012 6:28 AM

enough his enough

When is this anti-semite going to be boycotted for the bigot that he is! He has enough money to retire on forever! Even his wife had enough of his disgusting ways.

(16) Lloyd Bergner, M.D., April 24, 2012 4:16 PM

Boycott Mel Gibson's Flicks

The seltzer bottle doesn't fall far from the truck His father taught him well

(15) Rose Mclemore, April 22, 2012 10:46 PM

so much hate

Mel stars in Great Movies, great actor...... bad apple that fell as close to the tree as possible. I've never understood all the hoopla about these people on our TV screens, thinking their opinions matter.

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Glen Campbell: Forgetful But Not Forgotten

Feb 13, 2012 at 01:27:12 PM

Speaking of popular singers, this item caught my attention:

Glen Campbell, the five-time Grammy winner of "Wichita Lineman" fame, picked up a Lifetime Achievement award this week at the Grammy Awards.

And he has Alzheimer's disease.

Yet Glen is continuing to perform live in concert. When he has a spell of forgetfulness onstage ― losing his place in a song he's played thousands and thousands of times before ― the audience is totally supportive. They simply sing along in his place.

Glenn, at age 75, doesn't seem to mind.

"I just take it as it comes," he tells CNN. "I know that I have a problem with [forgetfulness], but it doesn't bother me. If you're going to have it handed to you, you have got to take it, anyway."

This got me thinking about how we treat people who have aged and are waning in their abilities. Judaism maintains a strong value in giving honor to those who no longer possess full mental faculties. As a recent article pointed out, the tablets of the Ten Commandments ― which Moses shattered ― were kept alongside the new tablets in the Ark of the Covenant. This teaches that we must always respect the elderly, even when they may be intellectually "broken."

As technology keeps us constantly focused on what's ahead, this news about the "Rhinestone Cowboy" is a gentle reminder on the importance of looking back, too.

on the yahrtzeit of my beloved Grandmother, Rose Gess

Visitor Comments: 2

(2) David Korman, February 14, 2012 3:21 PM

Thank you

Thank you for this commentary. As I deal with answering the same question for my father for the tenth time in an hour, may this column, and HaShem help me remain patient, understanding and appreciative.

(1) Michal, February 13, 2012 10:09 PM

just for you:

I really enjoy your blog!!! Your book I have ordered. Will come soon. How Judaism thinks about elderly, gives me a happy feeling.I once and again look into the mirror and get really frightened. Soo many wrincles.- But then I am happy that I can walk. And my voice comes back. I take my guitar and sing more often. D"sh cham to Keren.


Whitney Houston and Israel

Feb 12, 2012 at 03:13:46 AM by:

Whitney Houston, the pop sensation who died on Saturday, was many things to many people. She was one of the first black women to achieve international superstardom, and raised awareness of two issues that she experienced personally: domestic violence and drug addiction.

Another side of Houston is less known: in 2003, she visited the Jewish state for what she called a "spiritual retreat."

Houston met with Israel's Prime Minister, and spent time with the controversial Black Hebrews, a group of nearly 2,000 black Americans who moved to Israel in the 1960s and believe they are descendants of the ten lost tribes.

For her "crime" of having visited Israel, anti-Israel activists conducted an unrelenting smear campaign against Houston. Yet Whitney's support held tight, in contrast to the chorus of musicians (Elvis Costello, the Pixies, Gil Scott-Heron, Carlos Santana, to name a few) who have succumbed to pressures and cancelled tour stops in Israel.

Houston will long be remembered as a friend of the Jewish state. While in Israel, she said: "I've never felt like this in any other country. I feel at home."

with thanks to Yvette Alt Miller

Visitor Comments: 19

(16) Betty Silberman, December 18, 2012 2:20 AM

Whitney's meeting w/prime minister

Whitney snubbed Netanyhu on her visit to Israel, not accepting his offer of a handshake. I'm not sure her trip to Israel was so much about wanting to connect with Jews or Israelis...but rather to connect with her Christian roots.

(15) Anonymous, April 29, 2012 4:03 PM

She willalways be remembered


(14) jojo, March 23, 2012 8:36 PM

I read and viewed Whitney's visit to Israel and witnessed her distain at shaking Ariel Sharon's hand because he did not recognize those who she was visiting as "black" Jews coming back to their homeland. In fact, the people she visited were Americans from Chicago with no historical roots to that country.

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