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Including baseball and historical references, he thoroughly entertained the full-house audience which consisted mostly of Anglo Olim, most were familiar with the rabbi’s family and his reputation as an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

Shabbat Shalom – Jerusalem Day

Shabbat Shalom – Jerusalem Day

In Jerusalem, Israel the temperature is rising.

The sun is blazing down as we turn the calendar from May to June.

Approaching Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, which this year begins after Shabbat.

Blue and white flags for Shabbat shalom

Blue and white flags are flying over Jerusalem streets.

Jerusalem Old City Walls

Remember from 1948 to 1967, Jews could only see the Old City from afar.

View of Western Wall, Kotel, Shabbat shalom poster

Shabbat Shalom.

Chag Sameach.  Happy Holiday.

It’s time to celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem.

12 Signs of Seasons in Jerusalem

12 Signs of Seasons in Jerusalem


Countdown time to Rosh Hashana.

Early morning, the sounds of the shofar are heard on the streets.

Late night pre-selichot musical programs are announced daily.

Pomegranates growing on tree Jerusalem, Israel

Pomegranates are a favorite sign of the season.

Lime tree in Jerusalem

Limes ready to pick off the tree are another sign.  These annual fruits shine in morning sun.

Jerusalem Mayor campaign sign

Another season of election campaigning has begun.  Yellow “Ofer Berkovitch for our  Mayor” banners hang from buildings.

Jerusalem Mayor race Moshe Lion

Moshe Lion is running for mayor again. This was one of the early signs for his campaign.

His new posters “Lion, Rosh Ha’ir Bulldozer” just don’t work in English. I missed getting a photo of the huge one on the side of a bus, but here is one on the bottom left.

Rachel Azaria, Yossi Havilo, and Yossi Daitch have announced that they are running for Mayor.

Jerusalem Mayor race Zev Elkin

Zeev Elkin, also a candidate for mayor, was bigger than life up on the side of this building near the entrance to Jerusalem.

Campaign poster for Elkin with Prime Minister

Small Elkin signs showing the support of the Prime Minister are posted. Elkin has been making appearances and speaking at Jerusalem synagogues.

Avi S running for Mayor of Jerusalem

New Year greetings from candidate Avi Salman are now on the wall near where Elkin’s huge poster had been.

Arieh King for Jerusalem Israel Mayor

And Aryeh King’s face is popping up on signs along the road.

The only sure thing about this race for Mayor of Jerusalem is that there is no sure thing.

New playground at Jerusalem Israel Liberty Bell Park

A sign of an election season?

Work is progressing on a new playground in Liberty Bell Park. A playground was on this spot, was taken down, and is finally being rebuilt with interesting cement shaped slides and more.

Zion Square dug up under construction

For many years this spot was historic Kikar Tzion, Zion Square. Now it is ripped up and a construction site.

Jerusalem Israel street sign wrong.

A fence surrounds the mess. There is a ramp to enter the bank and an arrow directing to Yoel Salomon Street.

Sign for Jerusalem Israel Gateway Project with spelling error due to being short on space

In case you could not read the small orange sign easily, here is one from another location.

I sure hope the construction in Jerusalem is planned better than these warning signs.

Some days it seems that half of Jerusalem is torn up and under construction.

Jerusalem Israel bike path construction

From Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, to Nayot Park, to Malha, sideways are under various stages of construction for a continuous bike route.

I will skip the protest signs and end with one of my favorite signs of the season, perhaps the year.

Jerusalem Israel street sign welcome to first grade in school

“Shalom Kitah Aleph.” Welcome to first grade students.

Beit Avi Chai is having a special “letters festival” for children entering first grade, with live music, workshops, and more.

The biggest sign of the season as summer ends is preparation for the new school year.