The Unintended Effect with Rabbi Meir Soloveichik

The Unintended Effect with Rabbi Meir Soloveichik

“Whenever you present your work to the public you open yourself up to their “stuff,” was the reply I received from a friend about a negative comment to something I posted.

You never know when you do something or publish something, especially online, what will happen, what the unintended effect might be.

Where will it end up?

Who will see your words or when they will see them is impossible to predict.

The photograph of Sheryl Sandberg with women volunteers from United Hatzalah, took days until it was noticed and shared.

The blog 15 Real Photos of Arab Girls published in 2012, received close to 30,000 views in the past three years.

Rabbi Meir Soloveichik spoke in Jerusalem at the August launch of his new book Proclaiming Liberty Throughout the Land: The Hebrew Bible in the United States, at Beit Avi Chai.

Rabbi Soloveichik mentioned several of the US Presidents. John Adams is to have said that he “longed to see the Jews of Judea as an independent nation.”

Jerusalem book launch Meir Soloveichik

Harry S. Truman had a decades-long time relationship with his friend Eddie Jacobson. From their early interactions in the US Army, to their failed haberdashery business, to Jacobson going to the White House to plead with President Truman to meet with Chaim Weizmann.   Many years passed before Jacobson’s relationship with Truman would play such an important role in the establishment of the State of Israel.

Truman was presented a Sefer Torah by Weizmann as a gift which is now displayed in Truman’s Presidential library.

President Abraham Lincoln wanted to visit the Holy Land but was assassinated before he could do so.  However, his Secretary of State William Seward did visit the Holy Land and recounted a scene that he witnessed at the Western Wall.  Seward wrote in his journal that every Friday was like Tisha B’Av with Jews standing for hours mourning for the destruction of the Temple.

Those US leaders who were familiar with the Bible were influenced by it.

Soloveichik spoke for close to an hour elaborating on his theme: the Founding Fathers’ knowledge of the Hebrew Bible was important in the establishment of the new republic.

Including baseball and historical references, he thoroughly entertained the full-house audience which consisted mostly of Anglo Olim, most were familiar with the rabbi’s family and his reputation as an excellent speaker.

Jerusalem audience for book launch for Meir Soloveichik

However, one person sitting in the next to the last row did not fit this profile.   Her name is Kay Wilson. Kay is the Jewish tour guide who was hiking with her Christian friend, Kristine Luken, who was murdered by terrorists.

The two women went for a walk in December 2010, in a forest area near Beit Shemesh when they were savagely attacked.

Kay was hacked 13 times in the vicious machete attack and left for dead. Amazingly, with her hands tied, bleeding from multiple wounds, with broken bones, barely conscious and barefoot, Kay was able to travel 1200 meters to a parking lot to get help.

The night before the book launch of Proclaiming Liberty Throughout the Land,  I found out that Kay wanted to meet the Rabbi and I offered to try to make it happen.

“Wow! That’s epic!! … I hope I get to meet him, I want to give him my book and thank him for (unknowingly) helping me through stuff” was her response.

“Why do you want to meet the rabbi,” I asked? “Because of something he wrote” she responded.

In February 2003, Rabbi Soloveichik published an essay, “The Virtue of Hate.” It was this piece, which was helpful to Kay in her recovery.

“I meet a lot of people from all creeds and color, and sometimes, albeit well meaning, they suggest I should forgive – for my sake, they like to say.

When I read Rabbi S’s article, it was like the room lit up. His essay not only validated my own rage towards those who tried to murder me, it helped me understand that hating evil is the only right response.  Rabbi Soloveichik’s essay gave me moral clarity, to understand that “he who is cruel to the kind shall be kind to the cruel.”

As soon as the talk was over Kay and I worked our way to the front of the room.

Kay Wilson meeting Meir Soloveichik at book launch in Jerusalem Israel at Beit Avi Chai

The Rabbi and Kay met, smiled, and posed for photographs.

As the rabbi autographed his new book for fans, Kay’s new book The Rage Less Traveled: A Memoir of Surviving a Machete Attack was on the table waiting for him to take home.

Kay’s message of accepting the past, choosing to see light and find good, performing random acts of kindness, and surviving, is inspiring.

In this month of Elul, the season leading up to Rosh Hashana, the New Year, I am sharing Kay Wilson’s powerful presentation at AIPAC

A drop of the terrorist’s blood on her penknife led to their capture.

PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh recently wrote: “The leadership, headed by President Abbas, and the government, are committed to paying the full allowances of martyrs’ & prisoners’ families and reject receiving incomplete, deducted tax funds by Israel.”

Those who attacked Kay and murdered Kristine are paid over $3000 per month, an “execution stipend” Kay calls it. Raising awareness for the “Pay for Slay” policy of the Palestinian Authority has become British-born Kay’s social media cause.

The amount paid to terrorists, convicted murders serving life sentences in prison, the “Pay for Slay” salaries have been increased. European and British governments and media are silent on this travesty.

The beginning of a new year is a time to recall the past and prepare for a better future.

Some memories might be difficult, however, hopefully, their reflection will be used for good.

Where work and words will end up is hard to predict, and their unintended effect is beyond our imagination.

Shana tova  שנה טובה

In Jerusalem, Be the Best you can Be

In Jerusalem, Be the Best you can Be

In Jerusalem, Israel, September days seem to be cooler.

Then along comes a hot day and a humid night.

But summer is over and back to busy schedules.

This was a busy week, one of those when it was hard to decide which events to attend.

Israeli champion female football team, winning soccer players

President Rivlin hosted Israel’s best female football (soccer) players today.

The ASA Tel Aviv team, second-time champions, brought their winner’s cup to Beit Hanasi.

Beit Hanasi President Rivlin posing with women form Movilot

On Sunday, President Reuven Rivlin hosted religious women from Movilot, an organization that promotes employment for ultra-Orthodox women in Israel.

Rivka Ravitz his long-serving Chief of Staff was there for the morning event.

Later in the day, it was announced that she gave birth to her 12th child.

President Rivlin Chief of Staff Rivka Ravitz at Beit Hanasi

I hesitated and did not take a photo of Rivka in the morning, but here is one from last year.

She was always at the President’s side, but stays out of the photographer’s view.

President Rivlin GPO IDF Spokesperson photo for 80th birthday
photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)

The next day without his faithful assistant, the President received a birthday cake.

“There is nothing more thrilling than to celebrate your 80th birthday with the youngest and most daring brigade in the army. With you, I feel safe and young. In Pirke Avot (the Ethics of the Fathers), it says ‘80 years old for heroism.’ But you, you are the real heroes.”

Israel Committee Logistic Center

The September 17 election day is approaching. Before the previous election on a trip to the logistic center, we were told how the day after an election they begin to prepare for the next one.

Israeli election logistic center workers

Did anyone really believe then that indeed we would have an election again so soon?

The only thing for sure about this election is that no one really knows what will happen.

Avigdor Liberman at Israel Knesset Opening

What I can tell you with certainty is there is a new film called”Leiber-Man” directed by Nurit Kedar.  Because of election laws, it cannot be shown on Israeli TV until after the polls have closed on election day. Kedar received invaluable film footage from Alexander Gentelev before he passed away which she incorporated brilliantly in her documentary.

Avigdor Liberman arrived in Israel as a 20-year-old and started working at the airport handling luggage the next day. He has held many senior government positions other than Prime Minister. How his actions will affect the next Knesset will be more clear next week.

I am staying away from political debate and moving on to graffiti.

Jerusalem Israel graffiti

Some of the recent graffiti has been colorful.

If you want, some of the recent photos of ugly graffiti are here.

Jerusalem Israel one year in Guatemala Embassy

This sign for Guatemala was put up over vandalized Honduras thank you. 

Why mention graffiti this week?

Foot bridge near Begin Center in Jerusalem Israel

On my way to the Cinematheque for the “Leiber-man” documentary, I looked down and saw this inscription on the footbridge over Derech Hevron, Hebron Road.

Promised Land on path over Hebron Road Jerusalme Israel

I had to stop, look, think, and go back again.

View from Hevron Road foot bridge of Old City

This view from the pedestrian bridge is one I try and share with participants of photo walks. 

The walls of the Old City are across the Sultan’s Pool. Looking in this direction, Jaffa Gate is in the distance.

This area was part of No Man’s Land from 1948-1967.

View of Old City from foot bridge near Begin Center

I wonder who did this.  What will happen next in the promised land is hard to predict.

Muslim women in Liberty Bell Park in Jerusalem Israel

I do know – that nearby Muslim women were having a picnic in Liberty Bell Park.

Inbal hotel welcome banner

Next to the park at the Inbal Hotel, a large welcome sign was up for international delegates for the Declaration of Our Common Destiny.

Common Destiny meeting with Israeli President

Its lofty aim is to support President Rivlin’s challenge to engage unity within diversity. When meeting the scholars and advisors at Beit Hanasi, he said:

“The miracle of the Jewish people is not only that we survived for thousands of years. The miracle is that, despite the fact that we were spread all over the world, speak different languages and developed different traditions, we always were one people. Despite our differences, we remained bound by our shared history, our core values and beliefs, our Book of Books, and our commitment to improving the world. It helped that our enemies always saw us as one people. Our enemies don’t see any difference between one stream of Judaism and another: Secular, Haredi, Reform, Conservative, Masorti – for them we are all Jews. “

Banners at the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem Israel

I heard about a very different and special mission which was based at the Inbal Hotel.

The special Children’s Center Israel Trip sounded impressive.

I thank my friend for telling me about Yaakov Shwekey’s family and how they brought a group of special needs children on an amazing trip of a lifetime to Israel.

Oh, there was so much more, but enough for now.

Be the best you can be.