Words of Thanksgiving

“Giving is not the essential thing, but to give with delicacy of feeling.  Scripture does not say ‘Happy is he who giveth to the poor,’ but ‘Happy is he who wisely considereth the poor.'” PIRKE AVOT, “Ethics of the Fathers


On this Thanksgiving Day, we take a moment away from our usual focus to express our joy and gratitude for living in a country based on the Biblical principle that the law is above Man.

Having just gone through an electoral process with tension but no violence which produced an orderly continuation of government, we give thanks.

We are grateful for our emergence from a long and unprecedented painful and costly economic crisis without major acts of violence.

We are hopeful that our government will meet our expectations by helping those who are left behind economically to reach a decent level of livelihood.

We hope and pray that those who suffered psychological and physical damage after Sandy will recover as speedily as humanly possible.

Wishing you all a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving.



Welcome to Not Complacent

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I look forward to a productive ongoing conversation.

Moshe Baran

What does hate speech look like?

WORDS THAT KILL: Hateful speech has roots in hatred for specific groups that sometimes goes back centuries. But in some ways, how that hatred is expressed has not changed much. Here are two examples of hate speech in the public arena, one from 1881 and one from 2001:

“One does not have dealings with pests and parasites; one does not rear and cherish them,; one destroys them as speedily and thoroughly as possible.”  PAUL ANTON DE LAGARDE, speaking about the Jews in 1881 [1]

“Here is a small sample of what has recently come across my screen: Ahmad Ragab, in his daily column in the Egyptian government-sponsored newspaper Al Akhbar, April 20: “Thanks to Hitler, of blessed memory, who, on behalf of the Palestinians, revenged in advance against the most vile criminals on the face of the Earth. Although we do have a complaint against him for his revenge on them was not enough.” And Hiri Manzour, columnist for the Palestinian Authority-controlled newspaper, Al Hayat al Jadida, April 13: “The figure of 6 million Jews cremated in the Nazi Auschwitz camps is a lie for propaganda.” YOSSI KLEIN HALEVI, “The dance of death.” LA Times, May 15, 2001

WORDS THAT HEAL: Fortunately in the same timeframes, there have always been reasonable non-Jewish voices who speak in ways intended to foster peace and understanding:

“As long as the world lasts, all who want to make progress in righteousness will come to [the people of] Israel for inspiration as to the people who had the sense for righteousness most glowing and strongest” MATTHEW ARNOLD, 1822-1888, British poet and critic

“The next time you are [in a synagogue for a bar or bat mitzvah], notice what the object of veneration is – it is the Torah, the law itself.  At a point in the service it is carried, lovingly, around the congregation, greeted as an old friend. I am convinced that it is this veneration of the law – with its status above the ruler – that is at the heart of anti-Semitism.” R. JAMES WOOLSEY, former CIA Director “We are all Jews,” The International Jerusalem Post, October 10, 2003

The Talmud says:

Rabbi Shimon ben Gamaliel taught: The world rests on three principles: On justice, on truth and on peace.  And all three are intertwined.  When justice is done, trust is served and peace ensues.”  Y’rushalmi Ta’anit 4.2