Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Truth About Jerusalem In Islam [Video]

 Photo by Jonas Hansel

This video is related to a posting on Globe Tribune.Info It is posted here to avoid its getting deleted from You Tube. It deals with the place of Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in Islam. Because of reports that the video is offensive to Mulslims, I screened it with extreme sensitivity to the issue of incitement. On this web site, and Globe there is a clear policy against bigotry and incitement. This video passes those tests. Indeed, it is most informative.

Read an article based on this post on Globe Tribune.Info

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Announcement to Readers

Both and have been in existence since January of 2008. Both sites have followed an eclectic path, poth poliically and topically. The fact that both names are easily misspelled, as well as other technical issues have limited the growth of both sites. In response to this, a new site has been in existence since November of 2010. It is called, and it can also be reached by the url "

Globe will supersede and, which will both remain on line. and should really be considered the forerunners of GlobeTribune.Info.

The graphics of GlobeTribune.Info look a lot more like a news web site. Despite this, it will continue to encompass the mission of and, with an editorial policy against cutting and pasting articles from elsewhere, and instead introducing content with leadovers to original sources.

We will be producing a lot more articles than and, with the help of additional authours and editors. This is a promise we have kept since November, during which time our circulation on GlobeTribune.Info is well over double what the combined circulation of and were.

In short, this announcement does not mark the end of or, but a new chapter in the life of both sites. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bully Video goes Viral

      Youtube has been repeatedly taking down this video, in which a bully finds out that it is payback time. I am posting it here, where it will be free from Youtube censorship

GlobeTribune article Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Wartime Memories of a Jewish Boy in Uzbekistan

The former rabbi of my shul, Rabbi Laufer, told a story of his boyhood in Uzbekistan.  He teaches a class every week to a Bukharian congregation of orthodox Jews in Brooklyn. (Bukharians speak a dialect of Persian, not Yiddish.) In addition, he makes financial contributions to the upkeep of their synagogue. One day, one of the Bukharian congregants asked Rabbi Laufer as follows.
“You are from Poland. You speak Yiddish. Why do you come here to a congregation of Jews from Uzbekistan? What is your connection to us? Rabbi Laufer told them the following story

At the age of seven in 1939,   I was living with my  family in Poland. When Germany and the Soviet Union split Poland up( due to the Soviet German friendship treaty of 1939), we were on the German side. To save our lives, we escaped to the Soviet half of Poland. Our entire family was deported to Siberia. As presumed enemies of Germany, which was  then a friend of the USSR, we were deported to Siberia. In 1941, when Germany attacked the USSR, we were transferred to Uzbekistan, where food was scarce but the climate far more benign than that of Siberia.
As religious Jews, we immediately started a secret synagogue in a basement. We had no  sefer Torah( Torah scroll) and one Jewish book. It was the book of Leviticus, with the  weekday prayers bound in together with it. With time, the congregation was able to acquire a few prayer books. Going to synagogue was dangerous. One Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year) my father was arrested in front of the entire congregation, taken away in his talis and kittel. (Prayer shawl and white robe) Congregating for prayer was illegal, and there was plenty of room in labour camps for those who didn’t care that it was.
Before Purim, we always tried to read Parshas Zecher, preferrably from a Sefer Torah .(The portion dealing with wiping out Amalek, the sworn enemy of the Jewish people) We had no Torah scroll. A few short years ago, we had been back in Poland, with an openly functioning kheder (Jewish school) and a synagogue full of seforim. (Jewish books) It felt bleak.

Click here to read complete story on GlobeTribune.Info Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Obama Whispers Support For Iranian Protests [Video]

It is interesting to contrast President Obama’s actions towards Egypt during its protests with his tepid support of protesters in Iran. Towards the end of Hosni Mubarak’s time in office, President Obama made it abundantly clear that he wanted Mubarak to step down. When asked at a press conference, President Obama stated that he felt that protesters in Iran should have the same rights as Egyptians have to voice opposition to their government. He qualified this statement of support with the statement that America did not have the right to the the Iranian government what to do.

Click here to read the rest of the article on Globetribune.Info Sphere: Related Content

Public School Teachers: Not My Kids

A big source of opposition to state tuition vouchers comes from unions representing public school teachers. From New Jersey to Wisconsin, any challenge to benefits and pay received by teachers is countered by a media blitz of opposition.
Where do public school teachers send their kids? The answer might surprise you. According to a study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 25 percent of teachers in Baltimore and Washington send their kids to private schools. Nationwide, one in five public school teachers sends their child to a private school. In some large cities, the percentage of public school teacher’s children in private aschools was way above the nationalaverage of 20%. The  Washington Times notes as follows.

Click here to read the rest of the articl e on GlobeTribune.Info Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Needed: A Conservative Alternative to NPR

Right now there is a division in the broadcast media into spheres of influence. Television news, outside of Fox News is mostly well left of centre. Talk radio on the other hand is a medium in which the right has an upper hand.

There is one area that is solidly to the left, and that is National Public Radio. Despite its political orientation, it is a pleasure to listen to. They go into depth on a topic and provide background behind the issues as they see it. They will sometimes go totally off the beaten path and cover an endangered language or popular music other than American music. They can and do get their listeners interested in things they didn't know existed.

The problem with National Public Radio is that it tends to have a left leaning bias. If someone is anti western, they are very likely to get an abundance of sympathy from the program directors. There is to be expected. Even when you present the news, what you leave on the cutting room floor can be a subconscious political decision.

There is not a single politically conservative equivalent of National Public Radio. We have the National Review, the Hoover Digest and Hillsdale College making their own unique contributions to political discourse coming from the right. The list of conservative publications is considerable. But there is not one politically conservative equivalent of NPR, despite the fact that there is charm, allure and value to the tone and format of NPR.

NPR attracts not only government subsidies but corporate sponsors and "listeners like you".If "Conservative Public Radio" wrote off government subsidies and went exclusively for private sponsorship, that could attract a lot of public support. Conservatives attack NPR for taking government money. If CPR could make a successful launch without milking the taxpayers, it could be a challenge to NPR to do likewise

It is time for the political right to challenge the boundaries we now have in news programming. Imagine the slogan. "CPR. Reviving political discourse in America with intelligent news programming." It has a nice sound, doesn't it? Sphere: Related Content

Monday, January 31, 2011

What Makes a Country and What Keeps it Together?


  What does it take to make a country last? On one side of the Aisle, you have France, Italy and Germany, which are all composed of regions with distinct identities and in some cases distinct languages. France has Alsatian, Provencal, Breton and Corsican, to name a few local languages. Italy has Piedmontese, Sicilian, Sardinian and Barese, to name a few. Germany has Bavarian and Plattdeutsch, and even a Slavic language known as Sorbian.Switzerland goes further than any country in making its very diversity the core of its identity.

In all of these countries, there is a firm commitment to remaining one country, despite strong regional identities and loyalties.

On the other side of the aisle are Yugoslavia, which had an explosive divorce, and Czechoslovakia, which had such a civilised breakup that it was more like an Ingmar Bergman movie. Like many civilised divorces, one was left wondering why they couldn't have put the same effort into staying together as they did into breaking up.

It was almost understandable why the USSR broke up. You had seething local resentments at being eclipsed culturally and economically by Russia. The Baltic nations were forced to join the USSR. And the Ukraine had the bitter memories of the forced famine of 1932-33.

So why do some nations break up and others stay together. Yugoslavia was more a state of mind than anything else at the end of World War I when it was founded. Slovenia and Croatia were loyal to teh Roman Catholic Church. Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro were more Eastern Orthodox. Then there was, of course the Muslims, who generally practiced a very assimilated and Western form of Islam. Maybe Yugoslavia was built on too many ethnic and political fault lines.Perhaps it took an emperor or a strong man like Tito to pull them all together.

Countries like Iraq, Syria and Lebanon owe their borders to colonialism. After independence, Kurds Arabs and Assyrians in Iraq ask themselves what they really have in common. Iran has Turkmen, Arab, Baluchi and other minorities who together make up about half of Iran's population. What will keep Iran together. Will it be a dictator or will they need an enemy like the US or Israel?

The US has various competing historical narratives. The north and the south, black and white, English speakers and Spanish speakers all have had different experiences in America and therefore different historical narratives. What will it take to keep us together as a nation.

A great deal went into forming the different pieces in the map of the world. countries that we see on the map as one colour actually incorporate a great deal of diversity. What brings these nations together and what keeps them that way?

The following are Catalonian and Basque anthems. The last song is a patriotic song recorded by the Corsican Liberation Front

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Disorder In Class: A Look At Three Classrooms


Three scenarios of classroom disorder flashed through my mind today. All were very different, yet shared a common denominator.

   The first location is the English class in a yeshiva. Not all English classes in Yeshiva are disorderly. Some yeshiva administrators have high behavioral and academic expectations. In those yeshivas where this is not the case, students quickly pick up the message that they are not to take English seriously. Gerry Albarelli tells the story in his book "Teacha Teacha" of his year teaching in a chassidic yeshiva and paints a vivid picture of the experience.

The second scenario of classroom disorder was one that I experienced personally, that of  a CCD class. CCD stands for "Confraternity Christian Doctrine" and it is a class that is taught once a week for a couple of hours. The class deals with all aspects of Catholic teaching.
When I was in such classes, they were taught by nuns whose clerical garb was melting into the sartorial mainstream like the vestiges of snow in early March. The best way to describe such classes is that they were exercises in crowd control.

In one class, a boy I remember as Kevin suggested that we be allowed to tell jokes.

"As long as they are suitable for a nice Catholic boy." the sister primly replied,

"In that case, forget about it." Kevin answered.

That was one of the quiet moments. Most of the time you could hear the classes outside the building.

The last example I heard of persistently disorderly education was afternoon Hebrew school. I heard about it from my friends who belonged to synagogues. I always felt sorry for them missing three afternoons of play a week. It seemed to me like they were being kept after school for being Jewish. A Jewish day school with afternoons free for play made a lot more sense to me.

I heard occasional stories from kids who were motivated to Hebrew literacy and Jewish commitment through their day school experience. I heard a lot more stories about boredom and acting up. In many cases, a bar mitzvah marked the end of a Jewish education.

One friend of mine told me of his life back in the 1930's he took a brick in his jacket one day to brandish at his Hebrew school teacher who had hit him one too many times. Although that was his last day in Hebrew school, he still grew up, appropriately enough to be a Jewish militant, dishing out the same pugnaciousness to anti semites who thought that Jews were an easy mark.

One common denominator to all of the experiences I have summarised is that each class had been labeled as secondary in importance. In yeshiva, English studies were secondary and in after school religious instruction, both Jewish and Catholic, it was clear that secular studies took priority.

In any recipe, you have a list of ingredients. When you bake bread, flour and water figure most prominently. If you leave out yeast or eggs, if they are called for in the recipe, you will have something that can be referred to as bread that might be barely edible.

A religious Jew who neglects secular studies may well find himself stuck in a lower paying job that soaks up time that could have been spent learning Torah or with his family. Failure to learn secular studies ultimately results in diverting time away from learning Torah.

Conversely, a person who is adept at secular studies but cares nothing for his or her faith and traditions does not pass these traditions on to the next generation. The achievements of such a person are far less likely to strengthen a faith community. At the extreme, they could become a money making machine divorced from a moral foundation.

While working in a bookstore years ago, I helped sort out the library of an old German doctor. His medical textbooks had pictures of burn and frostbite victims and a copyright date in the early 1940's. It was clear that these were the infamous photos of Nazi medical experiments, in which prisoners were burned and frozen. It was a chilling and graphic illustration of what happens when secular knowledge is detached from morality.

There are three dimensions to education.

The first is practical knowledge, reading writing, math and science, that one needs to earn a living and function in the world.

The second is education that enables one to appreciate the world, its beauty and the origins of its civilisations. A person who is properly educated in this regard is never bored. For them, every tree is a lesson, every word on the printed page is an artifact in a museum.

The third and most important dimension of education is moral. Freedom from fear of one's neighbours comes from internalised restraints. A society in which a Seeing Eye is a factor is a society that has far less need of undercover and secret police. Societies in which public order, with its roots in  moral restraint prevails is a society in which wealth can be accumulated without fear and enjoyed. Moral behavior is tied to public order, which is tied to prosperity.

Education does not end in school. Ideally, the classroom is like training wheels on a bicycle, it is a means of support until one can learn on one's own.

Whether one places a higher value on religious or secular studies should be immaterial. Just because something is less important does not mean that it is unimportant. It is far better to think of the various sorts of knowledge as ingredients in a recipe, none of which should be left out and all of which should be added in the proper manner and sequence. Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Memorable Conversation From Shul

There is a panhandler who comes to my morning minyan who looks to be well past the age of retirement. He speaks a beautiful Yiddish with a slight slavic accent, the kind of Yiddish that was not learned in America. Rather than work the crowd, he lingers in shul. He's polite in response to small donations and gives a warm expression of blessing to someone who gives him paper money.

Friday morning, my curiosity got the better of me, and I asked him where he was from, that he spoke such a beautiful Yiddish. He said that he was from a small town in Ukraine. His parents spoke to him in Yiddish, but he winced in embarrassment when his mother called out to him at dinnertime.

"Chaimke kum a kaim."

In his small village, he dis not want to advertise his Jewishness on the street.He went to communist schools, but his grandmother told him as much as she could about Judaism. He and his family were relocated to the Urals far to the east before the Germans reached his shtetl. It was one of the few kindnesses of Stalin's regime to the Jews, and it saved his life.

After the war, the climate changed. Contacts with relatives abroad became dangerous. His mother had two brothers in the US. They wanted to send money to their sister and her family. She wrote back and told them not to write anymore. She was afraid that a contact with Americans could mean trouble for her and her family.

Chaim tells me that the things he learns in shul and the atmosphere he absorbs means more to him than the few dollars he collects. Speaking with him is a vivid reminder to me that history and local politics touch real human beings.

I always check what I read in the papers and the books against the recollections of flesh and blood human beings. Each human being is a library, and there is much knowledge to be gained from passers by. I look forward to speaking to Chaim again, to learning some new Yiddish words and to read some new pages of history not found in books. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Prison Librarian Shares His Experiences In “The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian”

Particularly among crime victims and their families, the issue of prison can evoke a visceral response. The desire to put together a forbidding punitive environment for society’s malefactors is a compelling drive for many. Avi Steinberg worked for two years as a librarian in the Suffolk County House of Correction at South Bay, Massachusetts, running the library and supervising prisoners who assisted in its operation. In his book, “Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian.”, he provides many humanising portrayals of prisoners who ran and used the library that he ran.

The library in prison had the feel of its counterpart in the free world, with the notable difference that it lacked internet connections. Steinberg portrayed various people whose lives were touched by the library, such as Fat Kat, a man who was serving time for drug dealing who ended up developing a side of himself as a librarian that was instrumental in his rehabilitation. Another inmate he portrayed was a woman with a child who was living with relatives who had never been to a library outside of prison. So inspired was she by her experiences as a library patron that she promised to make a weekly visit with her daughter to the library upon her release.

Steinberg also portrayed other more peculiar aspects of the prison library, such as prisoners leaving each other messages in between the pages of books. Some people only came for movies and pimp biographies. Despite some of the less inspired uses for the prison library, Steinberg showed clearly how the world of the written word could elevate people who had forfeited their freedom to the state.

Most prisoners will return to society, and Steinberg makes a compelling case for introducing rehabilitative influences into the prison environment.

Read more about Steinberg and his book on Sphere: Related Content