Anti-Semitism and Jewish Europe

Belovski Articles in Jewish Action

Spring 2015

Jewish Action, the Magazine of the Orthodox Union in the USA, commissioned this articles, which have just been published:

Rebbetzin Vicki Belovski (contributer) - Do Jews Have a Future in Europe?

Rabbi Dr Harvey Belovski - Anti-Semitism: The Longest Hatred

Some may recognise my piece from Kol Nidre 2014 and a recent guest drashah in Toronto.

Praying the Festivals

A Dynamic Study of Yom Tov Tefillot

LSJS Apr-Jun 2013

From the LSJS website:

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO GOD ON THE JEWISH HOLIDAYS AND WHY?

This course looks at central prayers that we say on Jewish festivals: Who wrote them? Why were they included in the Machzor? Do we appreciate and embrace the ideas they contain? Have their meanings changed over time? Are they still relevant?

Topics include:

The structure of the Amidah for Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot

Prayers and home rituals unique to these festivals

The complex structure of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services

The nature of key prayers during these days

This course will enable you to get more out of your Machzor and develop your appreciation of each of the festivals.

And with Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur coming so early in the calendar this year, this course will also prepare you for these High Holy Days.

For the course on Shabbat prayer click here

Session 1: Shalosh Regalim 1: Kiddush and Amidah

Session 2: Shalosh Regalim 2: Hallel and Musaf Session 3: Yamim Norayim 1: Introduction and Changes to Regular Liturgy
Session 4: Yamim Norayim 2: Rosh HaShanah Amidah and Musaf (1)
Session 5: Yamim Norayim 3: Rosh HaShanah Musaf (2) & (3) & UNetaney Tokef
Session 6: Yamim Norayim 4: Yom Kippur Kol Nidrey and Viduy
Session 7: Yamim Norayim 5: Yom Kippur Amidah, Musaf and Ne'ilah


Shabbat: Prayer and the Soul

A Dynamic Study of Shabbat Tefillot

LSJS Jan – Mar 2013

From the LSJS website:

How do we talk to the God of Creation on the Day of Rest?

This course looks at seven sections of the siddur that we encounter every Shabbat: Who wrote them? Why were they included in the siddur? Do we appreciate and embrace the ideas they contain? Have their meanings changed over time? Are they still relevant?

“The Shabbat is given unto you, not you unto the Shabbat” (Mechilta 31:13).

This course will enable you to get more out of your siddur prayer and develop your appreciation of God’s great gift to us, the Shabbat.

For the course on Yom Tov prayer, click here

Session 1: Introduction and Kiddush

Session 2: Kabbalat Shabbat

Session 3: Friday Night Amidah and Zemirot

Session 4: Shabbat Morning

Session 5: Shabbat Musaf and Lunch

Session 6: Shabbat Minchah and Seudah Shelishit

Session 7: Havdalah and Motzo'ey Shabbat

Sermon Notes 29/10/11 - Noach

Noah and Becoming One's Self

If you’d wanted to hear my sermon, you’d have come to Shul, but...

This week’s parashah starts with the phrase אלא תולדות נח נח – these are the products of Noach: Noach.  Rabbi K.K. Shapira, the Piaseczno Rebbe, notes that to be spiritually successful, the product of Noach must be, well, Noach.

Making one’s unique contribution to the world by developing, within the framework of Torah and mitzvot, one’s own spiritual character, is an essential feature of a meaningful religious life.  Too often, we try to fulfil the aspirations of others, becoming clones of them, rather than ourselves.

Sermon Notes 15/10/11 - Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkot

Gilad Shalit: Rejoicing After The Deal Is Done

If you’d wanted to hear my sermon, you’d have come to Shul, but...

I have taken a couple of days to process my own feelings about the impending prisoner exchange in Israel, which will include the return of Gilat Shalit after five years in Hamas captivity.  By Shabbat Chol HaMoed I felt able to offer some thoughts on an extraordinary moment in Israel’s history.

I saw a quote from MK Yisrael Hasson which sums up my stance beautifully: הלב שמח, הראש דואג  – the heart rejoices, the head worries.  Who is not filled with delight at the prospect of Gilad’s return – a Jewish boy, a soldier captured protecting our land, will soon be freed and celebrating with his family?  Yet who is not also consumed with angst at the prospect of releasing 1000 Palestinian prisoners, many of whom were responsible for major terrorist atrocities?  And perhaps more worrying, what are the longer-term consequences for Israel of vastly inequitable deals such as this?  It is hard to escape the conclusion that this is a victory for Hamas and an incentive for further abductions.

Jewish sources have long debated this issue.  The most well-know case was that of the 13th-century German-Jewish leader, Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg, who was kidnapped in Lombardy in 1286.  Tradition has it that a huge sum was raised to ransom him, but he refused to allow the community to pay the money for fear of encouraging other abductions.  Even after he died in prison in 1293, his body wasn’t released for burial for a further 14 years.  In more recent times, the view of Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetsky, a world-leading American scholar, was solicited during a 1970 Arab plane-hijacking.  One of the passengers was Rabbi Yitzhak Hutner, a famous Rosh Yeshivah and Torah personality.  Rabbi Hutner’s students were considering raising a large ransom for his release, but Rabbi Kaminetsky opposed this move.  He argued that in wartime (and he considered the ongoing Arab-Israeli hostilities to be such a situation), the delivery of a ransom strengthens the enemy’s position, something unconscionable, no matter the alternative.

Yet in my view, this position, while compelling, is only relevant pre facto and must not determine our response to the Shalit deal post facto.  This distinction is informed by a halachic rule about what one says about a poor purchase made by a friend – while beforehand one may say that one doesn’t like the item, once he or she has purchased it, one must set aside one’s reservations and be unfailingly supportive and positive.

The agreement over Gilad Shalit’s release is done.  Whatever our misgivings about the deal and its consequences, we must all now thank God that it has happened and enthusiastically celebrate Gilad’s imminent return to his family.  Any other response would devalue the significance of his release, spurn the efforts expended by so many on his behalf and divide the Jewish people.