This article was produced as part of JTA’s Teen Journalism Fellowship, a program that works with teens across the world to report on issues that impact their lives.
(JTA) — After wearing his yarmulke all day at his Orthodox yeshiva on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Zac Jacobs takes it off before boarding the 6 train home.
“I think it helps mitigate any potential danger that I could be in,” Jacobs, 17, said. “You never know what could happen; the trains are mostly safe, but it takes one person to push you into the tracks.” Besides, he said, he knows that God is above him.
The violence hit close to home for Jacobs last November, when a man threw rocks at his school, Ramaz, damaging a window. It was the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass” when, in 1938, the Nazis orchestrated attacks on synagogues and Jewish businesses.
For some teens, showing their Jewishness publicly can make them feel self-conscious.
Sima Epstein,16, is always wary of whether people can see the star of David necklace she wears.
“I probably wouldn’t hide it [my Judaism] in a situation or a conversation, but I wouldn’t let it come up” outside of school, said the junior at Yeshivat Frisch,an Orthodox day school in Paramus, New Jersey. “I would avoid discussing religious topics all together.”
Removing their yarmulke in public can be a tough call for a Jewish teen: Halachah, or Jewish law, requires that males wear a head-covering in public. And while the Torah permits Jews to protect themselves when there is a possibility of harm, not all rabbis would agree that riding the subway presents the kind of danger that would allow someone to hide their Jewishness.
“If we are so concerned about appearing Jewish on the subway, what does that say about our ability to live in New York?” says Rabbi Aviad Bodner, a spiritual advisor at Ramaz. As an Orthodox rabbi and mentor, he often deals with students who have concerns about showing their identity in public. “I’m very troubled by the recent uptick [in antisemitism], and it is something we should all be considering when we make decisions.”
Instead of a yarmulke, Bodner wears a fedora-style hat everywhere he goes, so being visibly Jewish is not a concern for him, but he understands and empathizes with students worried for their safety. However, this doesn’t stop him from studying Jewish texts on his morning commute.
He distinguishes between Jewish teens who are not wearing their kippot for safety reasons, and those who do not want to be viewed as “different” by the general public.
“All teens desire to fit in, and sometimes showing off their cultural heritage is not the way to be seen as popular, especially on college campuses, with antisemitism rising,” says Bodner. Day school students in particular are more likely to encounter antisemitic attitudes or anti-Israel hostility at college than they are in their parochial schools.
For Oren Leitner, 16, the issue is personal. A junior at the Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck, New Jersey, Leitner was verbally attacked on the subway as an elementary school student. He was with his older brother and both wore kippot. “He started talking/screaming about how Christianity is the right religion and how we should not be Jewish,” Leitner said. “I was really young at the time, and I did not understand what was going on and was very scared.”
This and other antisemitic instances shaped his Jewish identity. Although in all other areas of his life, he wears his kippah proudly, on the subway he covers it up with a hood.
How Jewish he can look and act in public is a concern for Leitner as he considers applying to college. “It is a risk I would be willing to take if I end up going to one [that is not Jewishly affiliated]. But it is a factor my family and I will have to take into account,” he said.
Emy Khodorkovsky takes the opposite approach. He fights antisemitism by never hiding his Jewishness. “The only way we can combat Jew hatred is by being proud of our heritage,” the 16-year-old said. He understands why some of his friends decide not to display their Judaism openly. He also used to remove his yarmulke on the subway but not since the Ramaz junior became active in his school’s Israel advocacy club and recently attended the Anti-Defamation League’s “Never Is Now” summit on antisemitism.
“I was worried, like other people are, about getting attacked, but then I realized that we can not shy away from showing our beliefs just because others do not like it,” he said. He thinks about his parents who escaped antisemitism in the former Soviet Union for a better life for their children.
Khodorkovsky has never experienced aggression on the subway, and is unruffled by the curious looks he gets when he carries his lulav and etrog on Sukkot or his tefillin bag to school. “New York is a big place, and there are stranger things to look at than a kid carrying a palm tree,” says Khodorkovsky.
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Why don’t the Palestinians of Gaza rid themselves of Hamas?
By JACK LONDON I am Jewish. I am sickened by and angry about the unprovoked invasion of Israel by Hamas and its brutal murders, rapes, dissection and kidnappings of Israeli babies, children, women, and men. I am offended by the ignorance and distortion of the region’s history. I am offended by the policies of the CBC and other journalists who use the word “militants” to describe “terrorists.”.Militants do not rape, murder and amputate the heads of babies. Terrorists do. Hamas and terrorism are synonyms. They are not freedom fighters; they are oppressive cruel despots and thugs who have subjugated and sacrificed their own people. I am mortified that a group of 38 Liberal MPs, (perhaps led astray by Prime Minister Trudeau’s own jump to a wrongful judgment of Israel’s responsibility for the deaths in a Gaza hospital parking lot), have authored a demand that Israel desists from pursuing the leadership and mechanisms of Hamas’s terror these many years. Just what is the alternative when cowardly terrorists use civilian populations as shields behind which to hide, plot and act out their nefarious brutality?
Most of all, I ask myself why it is that the Palestinian population of Gaza has not itself found the desire, courage, or capacity to stand up, demand elections and exorcise its malevolent Hamas government?
I am not a Pollyanna automaton about Israel. I don’t agree with Israel’s ultra-orthodox sects whose members fail to serve their country and, replicating the past, inhibit their future. I do not support suggestions by some Israeli settlers of the West Bank to introduce apartheid-like policies into Israel’s existing principled democracy. Apartheid was, is and must remain an antonym to Israeli ethics and democracy. I condemn the recent retaliatory murders of some Palestinians by a few settlers on the West Bank. I fear and oppose the recent attempts by PM Netanyahu and his fascistic coalition partners to take uninhibited control of government by reducing judicial expertise and oversight of Israel’s basic laws. Netanyahu’s coalition has been, for the moment, sidelined by the recent formation of the Unity War Coalition, but it will be back in control. It is anti-democratic and increasingly and rightly disrespected in the Jewish Diaspora. Moreover, Netanyahu and his coalition conservatives have been so focused on their radical, self-serving, anti-democratic restructuring of the essential liberalism of Israel, they failed to fulfill their primary responsibilities: anticipation of, protection from and defense against inevitable attacks by Hamas throughout its modern existence and its allies. Tragic!
Nevertheless, Israel has been a shining light of democracy, innovation, education, science, business, progress, inventiveness, peace, humanism and a haven for Jews and others suffering persecution around the world. Absurdly, these strengths inflate the historic conscious or unconscious anti-Semitism of much of the world for whom anti-Zionism is just a synonym for anti-Semitism. But, Jews are the historical citizens and governors of the land of Israel. Read the voluminous histories and the Bible, check the archeology, and study the scholarly works. On the other hand, a Palestinian People has never existed or held governmental control of the land of Israel. Arabs have lived on the land, named Palestine by the world’s superpowers in 1929, but they were never rulers or governors of a state. The governance for centuries had been Ottoman and, later, British.
Compared with the never-ending deadly damage Arab leaders in the Middle East have imposed on their own populations, I take great pride in Israel’s development and in the two million progressive and successful Arabs who, as residents of Israel, share rights equivalent to Jewish citizens, including participation in the Knesset, its governing Parliament.
Hamas, which rules in and dominates Gaza, is a Mafia-like organization of masked (always the telltale mark of terror) soldiers, first elected to office in 2007, but never since forced to stand for re-election. The leadership of The Palestinian Authority has had legitimate governance rights in Gaza and the West Bank but has been hampered and obstructed by Hamas. Both the PA and Hamas have never had any compunction about senseless provocation of Israel, which has led inevitably to the disbenefit of Palestinians who deserve better. Their hate invokes continuing hardship, peril, death, and a Kafka-like impossibility of finding their way out to the light.
It is not the fault of the Palestinian residents themselves. Arab leaders, not Israelis, authored the wars in the region which have cost their peoples dearly. Successful, learned, intelligent, hardworking, affluent, peace desiring Arabs and Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank outnumber those who are poor and hawkish. They all are victims. They suffer never ending fear and malignant infection because of Hamas’s terrorism, the ineptness of the Palestinian Authority, and absurdly evil misinterpretations of the Koran by radical Mullahs – all of which is supported by Iran and Hezbollah. They teach hatred of Jews to Arab children in their schools, thereby victimizing yet another generation of their own people.
The Palestinians who suffer in the disputed territories and Gaza are victims deserving of our caring and support. Given its seaside port and border, Gaza, which originally was Egyptian, could have flourished when Israel unilaterally withdrew its troops and settlers in 2007. It failed because of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. The failure was not because of Israel’s insistence on a blockade at the Gaza’s border with the sea; it was because of Hamas terror and Iranian malevolence that a blockade has been necessary.
The Palestinians suffer from the shortsightedness of their leaders, terrorist or not, who consistently reject available solutions that would end hostilities and would permit peace and prosperity to reign for all. Peace and viable two state options have been open to Arab leaders for decades and not taken. The United Nation’s 1948 Partition Plan, which divided the former British mandate into two states, was rejected by the Arabs who instead chose war- twice. United Nations Resolution 242 called for a land-for-peace solution. It has been offered and refused. The 1978 Camp David Accords failed. The Oslo Accords of Israeli Prime Ministers Peres and Rabin, and PLO Chairman Arafat in 1993/95, which bore the seeds of success, were sabotaged. The generous Camp David Accord of 2000 negotiated by President Clinton between Israeli Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat was quickly renounced by Arafat. Arafat likely demurred because he feared assassination from his own if he did the right thing.
Israel’s two base line conditions for peace: acceptance that Jews are a People, not only a religion, and that Israel has the right to exist as a homeland of the Jewish People, have not been honored.
My concern for the Palestinian population of Gaza, Jerusalem, and the West Bank, stems primarily from the failure of its leaders to grab the always available opportunity to secure a new, flourishing path for their people. I bemoan their timidity and shortsightedness and I fear for the never-ending disappointment and pain of their people They deserve better from their own but their own, Hamas, are illegitimate cowards and murderers.
Abba Eban, the brilliant Israeli orator, in a speech in Geneva in 1973 famously exclaimed that “Arabs never miss the opportunity to miss an opportunity.” I wish Eban had been wrong. But, though some Arab countries have moved forward into the light, my heart tells me that in the case of the Palestinians, nothing has changed. They are doomed to suffer under the crushing heels of their immoral terrorists and incapable politicians, past and present.
Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come. Israel’s intention to disable Hamas once and for all will have unhappy side effects in Gaza, Israel, and the broader Middle East. But it has no option. It is at war begun by Hamas, which must be eradicated. It cannot allow terror to win. It cannot insult the memory of the victims of the Hamas massacre and the yet unknown fate of more than two hundred hostages held by Hamas. The side effects will be many and unhappy, but there is no choice. Israelis cannot be docile while facing the barrels of guns aimed at them. It must eradicate the shooters.
Jack R London C.M, Q.C, LLM (Harv)
Author: “Serendipity: My Path Through Life and Law” (Heartland Associates Great Books).
Former Dean of Law, University of Manitoba;
presently, Senior Counsel to a Winnipeg Law Firm
An appeal for help for under-supplied Israeli soldiers from former Winnipegger Jared Ackerman
By BERNIE BELLAN (Posted Oct. 18) first met Jared Ackerman in 2013 when I had the good fortune to interview Jared, along with 4 other students from Winnipeg, when they were all studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (You can still see that interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6k8svB2j-0.)
Jared had gone on to serve in the Israeli army. He just posted this impassioned plea for help for Israeli soldiers:
My name is Jared Ackerman and I’m an IDF veteran that served in the Paratroopers (Tzanchanim). I live in Atlanta and have come together with a group of Israelis from across the US, Canada, and Israel to provide an emergency shipment of urgent supplies to the front lines in Israel.
As of right now over 3.5 tons of purely defensive gear (ceramic plates, vests, helmets, medical kits) have been sourced and paid for. We have everything in a warehouse in Toronto, Canada ready to ship to Israel and are continuing to purchase more.
The first units to respond on October 7th have since been totally ransacked of equipment. They were the first ones to arrive at the kibbutzim and Nova on the Gaza border and they are actually withholding extra reserves from joining the warfront because they do not have enough equipment. This is particularly problematic as they lost soldiers in the battle, and many more were injured.
Our next step is to secure additional funding to fly the gear over to Israel via cargo jet.
As of today, no commercial flights are allowing any tactical gear to be shipped and the only option is private cargo planes. We are also working to secure more equipment to justify the high cost of chartering the plane.
I have attached photos and a video here of the equipment that has been sourced and ready to ship from the warehouse.
We have all relevant approvals in Israel with the Ministry of Defense and a logistics hub ready to go to distribute the protective and medical goods.
Timing is of the essence as units are already in the field with below par equipment.
100% of the funds raised are going towards the purchase of equipment and shipment to Israel and not to operational costs as everything is voluntary.
Please use the link below if you are able to donate anything and help get this gear to the front lines. Please also feel free to DM if you can help source any additional equipment or have any connections with securing a cargo plane or have any questions!
Am Yisrael Chai
What is RTP and How To Find a High RTP Casino
When it comes to online gambling, one term that often comes up is “RTP,” which stands for Return to Player. RTP is a critical concept for both seasoned gamblers and newcomers alike, as it can significantly influence your chances of winning and enjoying a positive gaming experience.
Return to Player (RTP) is a percentage that represents the expected payout a casino game offers over an extended period. It’s a statistical measure that indicates how much of the money wagered on a game will be returned to players in the form of winnings. In other words, the higher the RTP, the better your chances of winning in the long run.
For example, if a slot machine has an RTP of 96%, it means that, over time, it will pay out 96% of the total bets made on it, and the casino will keep the remaining 4% as profit. It’s important to note that RTP is a long-term average, and individual players can experience wins and losses that deviate significantly from this percentage in the short term.
Understanding the importance of RTP is crucial for any gambler. Here are some key reasons why RTP matters:
1. Player’s Advantage: A high RTP indicates that you have a better chance of winning back your wagered money over time. It provides a player with an edge in the long run, making it a crucial factor when selecting a game or casino.
2. Fairness: RTP is a way to ensure fairness and transparency in the gambling industry. It allows players to gauge the odds and make informed decisions, helping to maintain trust in the gaming community.
3. Game Selection: By understanding RTP, you can make more educated choices when it comes to choosing the games you play. Whether you prefer slots, table games, or video poker, knowing the RTP of different options can lead you to more favorable outcomes.
4. Comparative Analysis: RTP allows you to compare different games and casinos. This can help you find the best options that align with your gambling preferences and goals.
Now that you grasp the significance of RTP, the next step is to find a high RTP casino. Here are some steps and considerations to help you in your search:
1. Research and Reviews: Begin by conducting thorough research on various online casinos. Read reviews and player testimonials to get an idea of their reputation and reliability. Trustworthy and reputable casinos are more likely to provide fair games with higher RTP.
2. Licensing and Regulation: Look for casinos that are licensed and regulated by reputable authorities, such as the UK Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority, or the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority. These regulatory bodies ensure that the casinos adhere to strict standards and offer fair games.
3. Game Selection: Investigate the casino’s game library. A high RTP casino will typically offer a wide range of games with competitive return rates. Check the RTP of individual games to make informed choices.
4. Third-Party Audits: Some casinos undergo third-party audits to verify the fairness of their games. Look for casinos that display certificates from organizations like eCOGRA, iTech Labs, or TST, as these audits ensure that the games are genuinely random and unbiased.
5. Customer Support: Reliable customer support is an indicator of a trustworthy casino. If you encounter any issues or concerns, knowing that you can reach out to a responsive and helpful support team is essential.
6. Promotions and Bonuses: While bonuses can be tempting, don’t solely rely on them when choosing a casino. High RTP casinos may not always have the most extensive bonus offers, but their focus on fair gaming should take precedence.
7. Banking Options: Check the available deposit and withdrawal methods. Reliable casinos offer secure and convenient banking options to ensure that your financial transactions are protected.
8. User Experience: A user-friendly interface and responsive website can make your gaming experience more enjoyable. Choose a casino that provides a smooth and hassle-free platform.
9. Responsible Gaming Measures: High RTP casinos often emphasize responsible gaming. They should have tools and resources in place to help players manage their gambling habits and promote a safe and enjoyable environment.
10. Progressive Jackpots: Some high RTP casinos offer games with progressive jackpots, which can be lucrative for players. These jackpots continually grow until someone hits the winning combination, often providing substantial payouts.
In conclusion, RTP is a fundamental concept in the world of online gambling. It directly impacts your chances of winning and the overall fairness of the games you play. Look for casinos offering the best returns but also focus on reliability and fairness. By following these steps, you can enhance your online gambling experience and increase your odds of winning over the long term. Remember that while RTP is a significant factor, it’s not the only factor to consider.