The Voice of the

Pelham Jewish Center

February 2024/Shevat-Adar 1, 5784


Learning Center

In This Issue

Leadership Messages

Rabbi Benjamin Resnick

Education Director

Ana Turkienicz

PJC President

Lisa Neubardt

HaKol Editor

Barbara Saunders-Adams

Congregant News

& Donations

Book Notes

Barbara Saunders-Adams

Congregant's Corner

Lori Weber

Efrem Sigel

Food For Thought

Share a Simcha

Tributes & Donations

Rabbi Benjamin Resnick

Dear Friends,

Several years ago, just before havdalah, I went into the lobby of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. I can’t recall why I was there. I was likely planning to meet a friend somewhere in the neighborhood after Shabbat or maybe I was heading home from seudah shelishit. It’s always curious how certain moments, often absent their context, rise above the waves of the past. The lobby of the King David Hotel as Shabbat was ending, many years ago now, before my children were born. 

It is a singular experience, walking along Jerusalem's darkening streets late on shabbos afternoon, sharing the road with the cats, the pious, the not-so-pious, the ghosts, the eternally-blooming bougainvillea. You can’t see them at night, the bougainvillea. The ghosts you can see if you squint because they are everywhere in Jerusalem, and the cats as well because there are just so many of them. And you can see the gray, roiling masses of the bougainvillea vines, climbing this or that building, but you can’t see the lurid pink of their papery flowers and that’s the same as not seeing them at all. But you do know they’re there and it matters that you know, especially in Jerusalem where there are so many unseen things, especially, perhaps, at the end of Shabbat, when, so say the mystics, holiness is at its peak, having gathered in intensity throughout the day. Maybe it's really true. Then the restaurants will open. Then the ancient city, having slept, will reawaken, which is to say it will come alive because sleep is a forshpeis of death. In any case, in Jerusalem you don’t have to worry–in the morning you’ll see the bougainvillea. It’s a sure thing, if you’re lucky. So, hoping for luck, I sat in the lobby of King David Hotel, drinking whatever was complimentary, waiting for the sky to give up the last of its color. 

The hotel first opened in 1931. Green moldings, Jerusalem stone, oriental rugs, wide chairs that almost-but-do-not-quite evoke Frank Lloyd Wright, soft gold light that comes from everywhere. It was built to evoke the grand hotels of modern Europe (where Jews were probably never entirely welcome) and the mythical majesty of David’s palace in ancient Israel (where, one must assume, we were welcome indeed). For those attuned to Jerusalem’s half-wild, eternal vibrations–which is to say for anyone who is really paying attention–it is impossible to see the colonnades in the lobby without thinking of Ya’akov, rising from his dream, setting up a pillar and anointing it with oil. “This is,” he said, “none other than the gates of heaven.” 

As a building, the hotel stands as a monument to miracle, a vision concretized in stone. As a symbol, it gestures beyond itself, to an uncertain future. God only knows if Ezra Mosseri, the Jews from Egypt who financed the project, knew just what he was creating. 

The building, of course, has quite a history. Once upon a time it stood on the Green Line, dividing Israel from Jordan, like a sentry in service of it’s ancient namesake–the warrior-king, poet-lover, raving mystic who would give his name to many many things. The hotel is not the greatest among them but neither is it the least, and, unlike the king, the hotel (though most assuredly a myth) is most definitely real–a vessel for violence, dreams, and illustrious guests. Unlike King Charles, Winston Churchill and Madonna, I cannot count myself among them. But I have more than once enjoyed the lobby, which–perhaps against incredible odds and despite some discernible fading–still possesses the unmistakable, gilded magic of a Grand Old Institution. It is always (or at least very often) the case that storied places–our memories, our dreams, our lives–retain their inner luster long after their outer shine has dimmed. So it is with the lobby of King David and (I can only imagine) with Ya’akov’s pillar, somewhere out there in the wilderness. It still wields its power. It still enchants. 

That particular Shabbat, like this past Shabbat, was also Rosh Hodesh Adar, the month during which the ancient sages enjoin us to take concrete steps to increase our joy. And, like this year, it was also a leap year, during which we traverse two months of Adar rather than one. 

I’m not sure if I was thinking about Adar or about how to increase the joy in my life as I sat admiring the colonnades. Unquestionably, I should have been. If you ever have the good fortune to be a Jew in modern Jerusalem–sitting in a wide chair and drinking complimentary cucumber water while admiring the colonnades in the lobby of the King David Hotel–-well, you should most definitely be tuned in to the possibility of lavish joy in your life. Probably I wasn’t, though, and I am ashamed to admit it.

Eventually, a group of tourists gathered in the lobby and in the center of the group was a chabadnik, who made havdalah using a sprig of mint for the besamim. I had never seen this before and I have not seen it since and I remember how green it looked, this little spring of mint, amidst all that gold, and it reminded me of the mint tea that I would have that night and every night in Jerusalem. The chabadnik spoke in English–unaccented apart from the transnational sing-song common to all chabadniks everywhere–and before lighting the havdalah candle he shared a teaching in the name of the Rebbe about how during leap years we have nearly sixty days of Adar, rather than the usual twenty-nine, which means all of our sadness in those years is batel b’shishim, less than one part in sixty, and therefore insubstantial, nullified like a drop of milk in a meaty broth. 

I have remembered that moment for quite a while–for long enough that I think I will always remember it, if I’m lucky. But who really knows? Memory is one of God’s secrets and God does not give up secrets easily. Meanwhile I’ll pray for luck. 

Meanwhile I did see the bougainvillea the next morning. They really are impossibly, ludicrously pink and when you see them ascending an ancient wall it’s hard to believe that there is so much sadness in the world. And in Israel. And among the Jews. And in my life. But it’s true that there is. It’s also true that it can be nullified, only at intervals but always and forever. 


Rabbi Benjamin Resnick


Education Director

Ana Turkienicz

“Let the good in me connect with the good in others, until the world is transformed through the compelling power of love.”

– Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

On the inaugural Shabbat of February, we joyfully marked the first Bat Mitzvah of 2024 at PJC. Upon entering the Sanctuary, I eagerly searched for familiar faces among our regular Shabbat daveners, only to discover that many were absent on that particular morning. Even families who have shared countless Shabbatot with the Bat Mitzvah family seemed elusive.

While the Sanctuary was brimming with the Bat Mitzvah family, guests, and a delightful group of kids from the local public school, the absence of many PJC members was noticeable. The prayer service was filled with song and joy, honoring our Bat-Mitzvah Sofi Schneider and her beautiful family for reaching this important milestone in their Jewish Journey.

In a community like ours, where we may be small in numbers but mighty in spirit, overlooking the chance to celebrate significant milestones in the Jewish journey of our families feels like a loss for us all. What defines a community if not our shared celebrations and support during pivotal moments in each member's life?

In the face of growing anti-Semitic attacks worldwide and our Israeli community grappling with survival amid profound losses, it becomes imperative for us to unite and commemorate every individual who commits to stand together for our people. We must gather to applaud each milestone in our community, viewing it as a triumph against the forces seeking the opposite outcome. Witnessing a young soul ascend the bimah to pledge their commitment to the Jewish people is a profoundly special and crucial moment for every one of us.

Throughout 2024, we have the privilege to cheer for our teens and congregant families on five more occasions, celebrating the Bnei Mitzvah of seven young individuals. Sofi Schneider's Bat Mitzvah was the first on the initial Shabbat of February. Next in line is Naomi Schwartz on Shabbat February 17, with a slight gap until Reese Cohen’s Bat Mitzvah, on June 22. Zach Glick, celebrates his Bar-Mitzvah on September 14, followed the next week by Dov and Rosalia Eliezer on September 21. Our 2024 Bnei Mitzvah dates conclude with Callie Novick’s Bat Mitzvah on November 16. Kindly mark your calendars for these dates and make a concerted effort to attend. Do not be discouraged if you “hardly know this family”. Even if the names of the children and their families are unfamiliar, I hope you will seize this opportunity to acquaint yourself with the youngest members of PJC and express what our community truly represents. Please be sure: you are certainly invited - because you are! You are invited by the strength of our community. You are invited by the power of the Jewish Spirit. You are invited just for being part of the amazing PJC community, who has invested in the Jewish education of each of our children along the years. Let us unequivocally affirm that the Jewish people are here to stay, standing together in joy and sorrow. In these challenging times, let's demonstrate the profound meaning of community by showing up for one another. 

May we fortify our hearts and minds through the celebration of our children and their families.

Happy month of Adar I!



From left to right:

1st row: Rabbi Benjamin Resnick, Melanie Stern, Zachary Ehrenreich, David Eliezer.

2nd row, from left: Dov Eliezer, Rosalia Eliezer, Naomi Schwartz, Callie Novick, Morah Ronit Razinovsky, Reese Cohen, Zachary Glick, Aviv Eliezer, Madison Glick, Jason Glick, Tracie Cohen, Irina Dynov.

On Sunday, January 21st, the B’nei Mitzvah class and their families had a poignant experience at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Melanie Stern and Zachary Ehrenreich graciously joined the group at Battery Park to recount the harrowing tales of their parents, Holocaust survivors. Additionally, they shared artifacts that their parents brought with them to the United States, coincidentally displayed together in a Museum exhibit.

Zachary shared his mother’s Passover Haggadah, a testament to resilience, hand-written from memory during her time in the concentration camp where she spent the final months of the war. Melanie, on the other hand, presented her father’s mismatched set of tefillin, discovered in the same concentration camp.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Zachary and Melanie for generously sharing these deeply moving Holocaust stories with the B’nei Mitzvah class, leaving an indelible impression on this new generation of Jewish young adults. Your narratives not only serve as a powerful reminder of the past but also inspire pride in being Jewish.


Lisa Neubardt

“I think the two least considered small words in the English language may be ‘over’ and ‘next’. When something is over, it’s over. We’re onto next.”     

--Norman Lear

Norman Lear said the “over and next” philosophy allowed him to stay present and focused. Living to over 100 years old, he would know something about this. We tend to get so bogged down in all the “what ifs”’, “why nots” and “how comes”. Recognizing that something is over and something is next is tough. Healthy, but tough. 

We have a new office administrator starting at the PJC this week. Her name is Kathy Tchorni and I encourage you to introduce yourself in the next few weeks ahead. She has a diverse background in administrative support, design and sales. Kathy has great energy and enthusiasm; she will be a great next step for the PJC.

As you may recall, last October, the PJC was selected to receive a Community Security Initiative (CSI) sponsored and funded security guard coverage. This four-week program was extended through December and now that it is over, it has been up to us to secure new help on our own. Thanks to Jon Kasper, we have hired Jeff Granowski, a former NYC officer with specific experience in community watch. Jeff will be at the PJC during LC hours, Saturday Shabbat services and other events as needed. Again, I encourage you to introduce yourself to Jeff if you see him around the building. He is kind and approachable, another great next step for the PJC.

Finally, we are approaching the time of year when a Nominating Committee made up of Board and non-Board members will nominate a slate of candidates for the PJC Board of Directors for the 2024-25 year. Certain Director terms are over, and the next group of volunteers will be recommended and then voted on by the membership at the annual meeting in June. Barry Goldenberg has agreed to lead the committee again this year. Not only is Barry’s effort and assistance meaningful, but I encourage you to

to reach out if you are interested in a Board position or have any questions or suggestions. We are only as strong as our efforts and participation allow. Change seems to happen incrementally and then at full speed. I think about the over and next philosophy a lot. It’s helpful and positive; certainly right now this is the best kind of over and next opportunities for our community.


HaKol Editor
Barbara Saunders-Adams

"Get yourself a teacher, find someone to study with and judge every person favorably".

Pirkei Avot 1:6

Dear Friends,

When I think of February, the cold, lonesome month, I think of the importance of friendship and learning. Both bring companionship.

Pirke Avot, the Ethics of Our Fathers, encourages us to form chevruta by choosing a companionable study partner. Studying in chevruta makes learning fun and reinforces what we learn. Our tradition says that Jewish study is both a sacred act and a religious obligation. The give and take of

learning with a friend you trust enables questioning and encourages one to think through one's ideas. In Jewish tradition, this is the ideal way to learn. And, we are urged to keep an open mind - listening carefully - before judging another person. Chevruta can serve as the basis for enduring friendship. At PJC there are many opportunities to form study partnerships and acquire new friends. I have found that a weekly, one-hour chevruta sweetens my week. Choose a partner, choose a topic and go forth to learn.


Book Notes

Stranger in the Desert

A Family Story

by Jonathan Salama

In his second book, Stranger in the Desert: A Family Story, Jordan Salama, a Learning Center alumni, describes his family's amazing Arabic-Jewish-Spanish story spanning continents, languages and cultures. As an adolescent, Salama was captivated by his paternal grandfather's scrap-book detailing his great-grandfather's escapades as a wandering salesman in the Argentine Andes. As an adult, Jordan traveled in his great-grandfather, Selim Salama's footsteps. His fascination with his family origins became an adventure that turned into this book.

Grappling with his multifaceted identity looms large for Salama. He notes that being a Jew with ancestors from Arab lands, notably Syria and Iraq, has a negative connotation for European Jewry, especially in light of the current Israeli-Hamas. His cultural identity is closer to Arabia but his ancestry is undeniably Jewish.

Salama writes to his abuelo (grandfather) "Why does a person only have to be one thing? So many of us are, at once, a little bit of everything, and all the while we are made to feel like we are nothing in particular."

Combining travelogue, history, memoir, and reportage, Stranger in the Desert transports readers from the lonely plains of Patagonia to the breathtaking altiplano of the high Andes; from the old Jewish Quarter of Damascus to today's vibrant neighborhoods of Buenos Aires.

Jordan Salama will be at the PJC to discuss his book on Sunday, February 25th at 11:00 am. Copies of Stranger in the Desert: A Family Story can be purchased and signed.


Congregant's Corner

The Weber Family Trip To Israel (December 21, 2023 - January 8, 2024) 

by Lori Weber

Before the events of October 7th, our family had a very different plan in mind when booking our trip to Israel. Our oldest son, Sammy was preparing to go on his gap year with the Kivunim program - to study in Israel for the year and travel to 10 other countries experiencing Jewish life in the diaspora. We decided that our family would visit him during his winter break and that we would do some volunteer work together as a family. 

The plan was to volunteer at a place called “ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran. This facility is an amazing rehabilitation village located in the South, (about 10 miles from Gaza). It provides residents with disabilities and special education students with a wide variety of services such as Music Therapy, Art Therapy, Hydrotherapy, Equine Therapy and much more. Our intent was to stay onsite at the facility and volunteer with the students. However, the horrifying events of October 7th left many people in the surrounding areas displaced from their homes, and ADI-Negev took in as many people as was possible but for this reason we needed to find other volunteering options. We are very hopeful that we can go back sometime in the future as this sounds like incredible work at an amazing one-of-a kind facility.  

As sad as we were to learn that we were unable to volunteer at ADI-Negev, we were determined to help Israel in some way. My husband Rob is a board member of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and had gone to a JNF conference in Denver in November. He told anyone who would engage in conversation with him that we have strength and talents to share with Israelis. When it seemed like he’d exhausted his inquiries, a lovely woman named Shoshi offered to help. Shoshi works for an organization called “Makom” which is supported by JNF. Makom is a volunteer organization which provides countless necessities for those in need in Israel. When she learned from Rob that I are able to offer music to grade school children, she suggested that I pack my guitar for the trip. I also packed the one children’s story I owned that was written in Hebrew: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. 

Upon arriving in Israel, Shoshi gave me a list of schools and hotels where I would play music for displaced children and adults. My first job entailed playing for three groups of third graders. These classrooms in a public school in Jerusalem provided a safe learning environment for children who were displaced when their homes were destroyed by Hamas. The children spoke very little English and we came together by singing songs in Hebrew such as “Hine Mah Tov” and “Todah.” I explained to them in Hebrew that I know that it’s such a difficult situation outside of our classroom both in the South and in the North. And yet, within these walls it is so wonderful that we are together sharing music. We can be thankful that we have each other, that we can see each other, that we have friendship, that we have laughter and and all the simple things in life. I then asked them if they know any songs in English? They shouted out “BINGO!” They had an incredible time singing with me and and replacing each letter with a hand-clap. It was so amazing to see these kids who had been through so much be transported to a joyful place even for a few minutes with a happy song!  At the end of each group I handed out cards that were made by young children with inspirational messages written in English. The Israeli children were so excited to receive these cards and asked with excitement what each card said. It was amazing to see how much the American messages meant to them.  

While we were in Jerusalem we also had an incredible opportunity to tie Tzitzit for Tzahal; tying the Tzitzit onto green shirts that met uniform requirements. We were part of a whole room full of volunteers making stacks of these garments in all sizes and it was amazing to be a part of this much needed mitzvah. No one needed to worry if they did not know how to tie tzitzit because there were people at each table training everyone.  

Another organization that JNF supports is knows as “Special In Uniform.” This program was designed to give individuals with special needs a way to make a difference and be part of the Tzahal. Part of their training is taking part in Therapeutic Horseback Riding which builds character, strength and confidence. We had the privilege to visit this very special horse ranch and see the individuals as they trained on the horses. We were given a tour by the director of Special in Uniform, Tiran Attia and when he learned that my guitar was in the car, he welcomed me to play for the staff and participants. Since it was an extraordinarily beautiful day - clear blue skies and abundant sunshine- I chose to sing “Wonderful World” in Hebrew and in English. By the end of my song I had people smiling, enjoying and singing along with me. It was one of the most wonderful impromptu experiences I’ve ever had. Tiran expressed his gratitude and shared the importance of our visit because immediately following the events of October 7th, Israelis felt all alone and felt that the whole world was against them. By us being there and sharing music we proved that Israel is not alone… that Americans do care! We are here to help and support.  

After Jerusalem we drove to Ein Gedi and there I volunteered in a preschool which was also set up for displaced children. The preschool existed in a white tent which was set up outside the hotel. Parents and children (from Sderot) were given shelter in the hotel  because it was not yet safe to return to their homes. I taught 3 music classes there - a class of babies and of 1 year-olds, a class of 3 year-olds and a class of 4 year-olds. One of my classes had two soldiers working as teachers because they could not handle being in combat. One of the soldiers looked at me and said “What are you doing here?” I said I’m just here to help.. to volunteer. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “I thought the world hated us.” I just looked at her through my own tears and asked if I could hug her and she embraced me. I assured her that the whole world does not hate Israelis … after all… my family and I are here! I sang songs like “Yonatan Hakatan” and Ladod Moshe”(The Hebrew version of Old MacDonald) and read “Hazahal Haraev” The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle) in Hebrew to the children. They loved filling in the phrase “Aval adayin haya raev” (but he was STILL HUNGRY!)  

We headed back to Jerusalem and I was given the address for another hotel that contained displaced preschoolers and there they set up makeshift classrooms in the basement of the hotel. We sang “Ladod Moshe” and read “Hazahal Haraev” and there was wonderful singing and participating on the part of the children as well as the staff. Everyone was grateful to be cared for and yet longing to be home. In this hotel I also had the opportunity to sing and play for some displaced Seniors citizens who were originally born in Algiers, had moved to France due to persecution, then as young adults had relocated to Sderot. They were so grateful that I was there to sing with them and we sang classic songs together by Naomi Shemer and Arik Einstein.

We didn’t have a room to go to and so we sang right there in the hotel lobby! And after the music we had some lovely conversations in both Hebrew and French! 

The next day I was given the address for another hotel but this time I was asked to arrive at 8:30 pm. In this hotel I met group of women who were displaced from The North and each one was living with 3 or 4 children in one hotel room without a spouse there with them to share the burden. It was unimaginable to think of what they were going through, being “on” all day with their young children with little respite. At night, when they put their children to bed, the women came together in a room to recite tehillim (Psalms) together and have some bonding time. I greeted them, with my guitar in hand, humming soft niggunim (wordless melodies) under their prayers. As they slowly began to finish, I hummed a little louder and finally started singing softly and then with more energy - songs like Gesher Tzar M’od (meaning: The world is a narrow bridge and the main thing is not to be afraid) and Al Kol Eileh (a song about the need to have both the bitterness and the sweet in our lives in order to be complete). When they eventually joined in the singing and it seemed to be a very cathartic time - a wonderful release for these women. They could not believe that an American just showed up in their circle and came there to support them and to sing with them. I answered them in the language at the end of Psalm 90 which says “Uma’aseh yadeinu kon’nah aleinu, Uma’aseh yadeinu kon’neihu” (May HaShem establish the work of our hands, may the work of our hands be firmly established) I told them that I was just here to give what I could with my hands, and that my hands are able to play music. They seemed deeply touched by this. 

While I was teaching music, Rob and our two sons, Sammy and Zachary and a friend of Sammy’s from his program were able to make themselves available to do other mitzvot such as picking fruit and vegetables for farmers who needed agricultural help and these jobs were suggested to us by out tour guide from the summer of 2022. An old friend of Rob’s, Jeff Seidel (who is involved with outreach and connects college students with host families for Shabbat), ran and funded a huge BBQ dinner in order to feed the soldiers at Tze’eilim which is an Army Base only a few miles outside of Gaza. We helped serve and feed hundreds of soldiers offering them a plethora of BBQ’d food. I brought with me more cards from American children and gave them out to the soldiers. The handwritten messages and drawings were those of strength, courage, hope and love to each soldier - the children were telling them not to give up and to stay strong. The soldiers were so incredibly touched by this effort. 


At the end of the evening we were given a semi-private tour of “Mini Gaza” in which we could see soldiers training with laser guns and practicing patrolling at night in the pitch blackness. On our tour, we were told to turn off our phones and to get rid of any light that we had. While doing so we were climbing stairs in the pitch blackness which simulated what the soldiers may have been going through each evening as they were patrolling the areas/going inside the buildings. It was truly scary, and this was only a simulated situation. We learned that the soldiers are allowed 2 days of training at Mini Gaza before they are actually sent to Gaza.  

Although I had to head back earlier to take Zachary back to school, Rob was able to stay with Sammy and his friend in Israel for another week. During that time they did something incredibly emotional. The visited Sderot because we have a connection to Rabbi Ari Katz (from our visit in 2022) who is the head of outreach for the Hester Yeshiva. In Sderot, they all stood at the top of the building looking out over Gaza which was now completely destroyed. (In 2022 it was intact).  

After a tour of Sderot, including the now destroyed police station, Rob and the boys drove to the site of the Nova Festival. When they arrived they saw, through smoke from the bombs, a group of soldiers arm in arm singing Hatikva and Acheinu accompanied on guitar by a leader draped in an Israeli Flag. They could hear the sounds of airplanes and the bombing as they stood there. They were surrounded by photos of the victims of the attack mounted on posts. There are no words to describe the emotions flying through the air.

While it’s difficult to truly put our emotions into words, this experience went beyond anything we could have possibly imagined in anticipation for this trip. Our take away was that it was so necessary to be in Haaretz (The Land). It was necessary to spread the message that we care and that Israelis are not alone…that they most definitely have friends here in America.  

If anyone is considering going to Israel… make it happen! Do it! Just going there and supporting businesses, buying Shawarma (and we bought and ate a lot!!), buying groceries, gifts for loved ones, buying towels and beachwear at the Dead Sea, telling the people of Israel in person that we are here for them means more than you can imagine. We are already planning our next trip in March and cannot wait for the new opportunities that await us!

Three Lies About Israel and the Truth

by Efrem Sigel

(as appeared in the NY Daily News, Jan. 25, 2024 p. 20)

The worldview of the pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel, anti-Jew protesters massing daily

in New York and around the globe, rests on three lies about Israel. No matter how

fervently protesters believe these these lies, wave them on signs and chant them in unison, such beliefs fail the simplest test: the test of truth.

Lie number 1: The Jewish citizens of Israel are “settler colonialists” with no historical

ties to the land of Israel and no right to reside there.

The truth: The Jewish presence in Israel precedes the arrival of Islam by 1,600 years.

The kings of Israel, beginning with Saul, David and Solomon reigned in these areas from 1050 BCE on. Even after the Roman defeat of the Bar Kochba revolt in 135 CE, which led to the dispersion of Jews throughout the Mediterranean, Jews continued to live in Jerusalem and environs. The Arab armies spreading Islam by force didn’t arrive

until the seventh century CE.

Lie number 2: Israel has been oppressing and maltreating Palestinians (and denying

them a state) for 75 years.

The truth: This lie turns reality on its head. On November 29, 1947, the UN General

Assembly approved the creation of two new states, one Jewish and one Arab, to replace the British Mandate. Rather than accept their own state, the Arabs set out to destroy the Jewish state. Azzam Pasha, secretary-general of the Arab League warned of “a war of extermination and a momentous massacre.” Immediately following November 29, Arab militias began attacking Jewish towns; on May 15, 1948, a day after Ben-Gurion proclaimed the state of Israel, forces from Egypt, Syria and Iraq invaded. Some 600,000 Arab residents fled the hostilities, a departure the Palestinians call the nakba, or catastrophe. The real catastrophe was refusing to accept a state alongside Israel.

Since Israel’s victory in 1948, terrorists from Arab countries, Gaza and the West Bank

have regularly infiltrated Israel to murder Jews. Between 1949 and now, including the

intifadas of the 1990s and early 2000s and the October 7 atrocities, 4,890 civilians have died in terror attacks.

Could there be worse “maltreatment” than Palestinians killing Jews by shooting,

stabbing, car ramming, bombing, and most recently, rape, dismemberment and

mutilation? Arab armies also fought two major wars, in June 1967 and October 1973.

Instead of annihilating Israel, they suffered disastrous defeats, losing the West Bank,

Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. Arab leaders squandered opportunities.

In 2000, Yasser Arafat spurned Israeli Prime Minister Barak’s offer of a Palestinian state encompassing most of the West Bank and Gaza. In 2008, Mahmoud Abbas declined an even more generous offer. By rejecting their own state in favor of trying to destroy the Jewish one, Palestinian leaders tolerated, nay, encouraged, violence rather than coexistence, at a horrendous—and pointless—cost in lives.

Lie number 3: Israel is an apartheid state.

The truth: This is the easiest lie to refute. The 2.1 million Arab citizens of Israel have rights denied to Arabs in neighboring countries: the right of free speech, the right to

education and healthcare, the right to vote Arab students constitute 20% or more of

enrollment at leading Israeli universities. Arab doctors are 17% of all Israeli doctors. Two of the 15 judges on the Israeli supreme court are Arab citizens. And Israel’s Muslims worship freely in 1,600 mosques across the country. The UN Human Rights Council is notorious for lambasting Israel for alleged human rights violations while ignoring much more egregious violations by Cuba, China and others. Yet even Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has acknowledged the truth:

Israeli Arabs have “freedom of speech, freedom of religion and participation in political life.”

Mansour Abbas, head of the Israeli Arab political party Ra’am, rejects labeling Israel an

apartheid state. “Our fate is to live together,” he says, and to choose “peace, security and tolerance” over “fights, conflict, hatred.”

It's understandable, if infuriating, that Palestinians indoctrinated in hatred for Jews accept lies as truth. But what excuse is there for Rep. Rashida Tlaib slandering Israel as an apartheid state? For professor Joseph Massad at Columbia praising Hamas’ barbarism as “awesome”? As for those blocking roadways while chanting “From the river to the sea”—how many know even the basic geography and history of Israel? In a survey of 250 U.S. students, 86% of whom approved the chant, only 47% could correctly name the Jordan river and the Mediterranean. Some thought the river was the Nile, that the sea was the Atlantic. Fewer than 25% could identify Yasser Arafat. When asked about the 1993 Oslo Accords, a quarter said no such agreement ever existed. As Ron Hassner, the UC-Berkeley professor who commissioned the survey, writes in the Wall Street Journal, those orchestrating calls for Israel’s destruction count on “the political ignorance of their audiences” to spread their message of hate.

The truth cannot bring back the Israelis slaughtered by Hamas or the thousands of

Gazans killed in Israel’s response. But when the fighting ends, honoring the truth and

rejecting lies would be a vital first step on a very long road to peace.


Sigel is the author of the memoir, “Juror Number 2: The Story of a Murder” and the

forthcoming story collection, “Let There Be Light.” He lives in Manhattan.

Food for Thought


by Mary Oliver


is the instructor.

We need no other.

Guess what I am,

he says in his

incomparably lovely

young-man voice.

Because I love the world

I think of grass,

I think of leaves

and the bold sun,

I think of the rushes

in the black marshes

just coming back

from under the pure white

and now finally melting

stubs of snow.

Whatever we know or don't know

leads us to say:

Teacher, what do you mean?

But faith is still there, and silent.

Then he who owns

the incomparable voice

suddenly flows upward

and out of the room

and I follow,

obedient and happy.

Of course I am thinking

the Lord was once young

and will never in fact be old.

And who else could this be, who goes off

down the green path,

carrying his sandals, and singing?

Share a Simcha

"Share a Simcha" allows congregants to share their news with our PJC community. Please submit news about family members -- engagements, births, job updates, kid achievements, community acknowledgements and any other milestones -- to the HaKol Editor, Barbara Saunders-Adams.

. Mazal Tov to Steven & Heather Schneider on the occ asion of Sofia's Bat Mitzvah

. Mazal Tov to Tim Schwartz & Irina Dynov on the occasion of Naomi's Bat Mitzvah

. Mazal Tov to our February birthday celebrants: Andrea Rothberg &

 Barbara Saunders-Adams

Share a Simcha is a regular HaKol feature, so keep your news and updates coming!

Tributes & Donations
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Did you know you can make tributes and donations online? Click here to learn more.

Donations to the PJC

Jordan Beloosesky

Max Fink in memory of his parents

Adam and Jennifer Gerber

Jerry and Romina Levy

Richard Pine and Cheryl Agris in memory of Cheryl's mother Rita Agris

Ruby Vogelfanger in honor of Naomi and Marshall Jaffe

Donations to the Rabbi's Discretionary Fund

Alec Cecil & Diane Zultowsky

David Eliezer and Heather Glickman

Jerry and Romina Levy

Benjamin Resnick and Philissa Cramer

Audrey Stein

Gary and Evelyn Trachten in memory of Joe and Gussie Olensky

Gary and Evelyn Trachten in memory of Morris and Shirley Trachten

Ana and Neco Turkienicz


Billing statements are emailed monthly. 

Checks made out to the Pelham Jewish Center can be mailed to Pelham Jewish Center, P.O. Box 418, Montvale, NJ 07645. Credit card payment instructions are on your monthly emailed billing statement, or go to https://thepjc.shulcloud.com/payment.php

If you are interested in paying via appreciated securities or IRA distributions, please email Mitch Cepler.

It is the policy of the Pelham Jewish Center to make every effort to assist members experiencing financial challenges. Financial challenges should never be a barrier to being an active member of the PJC community. You can reach out to President Steve Martin, Treasurer Mitchell Cepler or Rabbi Benjamin Resnick to speak confidentially concerning your ability to pay PJC dues and Learning Center tuition.

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