friday, august 24, 2012 .
the rabbi’s turn
“Chosen by God is not so we lord it over the others. Chosen by God is, ‘Hashem, you chosethis guy? I choose him too. And You know better than me.’”– René Levy, speaking about his book, “Baseless Hatred: What It Is and What You Can Do About It.” For the full story, visit page 14.
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Rabbi shalom D. (beRRy) FaRKash
Chabad of the Central Cascades
A ew weeks ago, the chil-dren were all home aer thelast day o school, and we weregetting ready or the start o along summer vacation. Aerdinner we had a roundta-ble discussion regarding theupcoming months at home.he discussion bumpedinto a rough moment whenwe began to discuss the hottopic o “screen time.”My wie and I don’t like the ideathat our children are in love with our com-puter. We eel that being overly exposed tothe Internet is not healthy and a bit dan-gerous, especially or children who — attheir age — lack a sense o responsibility.In our home the computer is in the centero the dining room with the screen acingthe kitchen. When the children comehome rom school they each get a hal hour o ltered Internet access, when they are ree to sur websites o their choiceunder our supervision. We make sure thecontent is appropriate and positive.Our oldest son, Menachem, who isalmost 9, is a bright young man and uponhearing about the hal hour o screentime, immediately began to negotiate:Why are we so strict regarding the usageo the computer? Why don’t we give himprivate time to navigate the Internet?I answered with a metaphor. I toldhim to imagine himsel driving a car, allalone, on a very busy highway withoutany driving experience. Would that besae? Te Internet is an extremely busy road with curves, bumps, and hasty driv-ers who sometimes drive a bit too ast.One needs to have lots o guidance andinner strength to navigate the web andmake it back home saely at the end o the voyage. At his age, he needs his parents todrive him around. We are his drivers whoguide him and give him the tools to makeresponsible choices; we are responsible orhis physical and mental well-being.Whether or not he happily acceptedour words is still open or a debate; how-ever, the rules did not change here at theFarkash home.Let’s have an “adult” conversationabout that or a moment.Should we allow our eyes and ears thereedom to see and hear everything wedesire? Should we give our-selves a “hall pass” when itcomes to these two precioussenses?Kabbalah teaches that aperson’s eyes are the “win-dows o the soul” and thatthe ears are entrances to thehuman psyche. When you seeor hear something, it makesan immediate mark on yourheart and mind. On Shabbatbeore we begin reciting the Kiddush welook at the ickering Shabbat candles tobring the light and spirit o Shabbat intoour souls.Tis week’s orah portion is parshatShoim. It begins: “You shall appoint judges and police ocers or yoursel…inall your gates that God, your God, is givingyou” (Deuteronomy 16:18).“Your gates” represents the organs thatorm the interace between you and yourenvironment, like the eyes, ears, nose andmouth. “You should appoint judges…inyour gates” means that the senses (one’s“gates”) should be controlled by “judg-ment” rom the Godly soul. Our neshama(soul) should be ully in control o whatenters through the “gates.” We shouldensure that only positive and kosher inu-ences enter our psyche.Te damage o unguarded eyes andears can be so destructive that the orahgives us the mitzvah o reciting twice daily the Shema prayer, where we say, “youshall not wander aer your hearts andaer your eyes aer which you are goingastray.” Rashi explains the idea: “Te heartand eyes are the spies or the body. Tey are its agents or sinning: Te eye sees, theheart covets and the body commits thetransgression” (Midrash anchuma 15).We are now in the month o Elul, themonth o repentance and orgiveness. It’sa good time to really think about this. Letus take a moment and speak to our chil-dren and to ourselves about the decisionto tighten the security o our gates by beingcareul with what enters them, while enjoy-ing the great resources the Internet has toofer as a tool to stay connected with amily and riends, to study orah, to give char-ity and, o course, to get great online deals.Wishing you all l’shana tova umetukatikatevu vetichatemu.
Jwi millial awi iaattamt
Wayne FiRestone anD maRK J. penn
JTA World News Service
WASHINGON (JA) — Te oldergeneration always thinks o the youngergeneration as losing its traditional values,wondering “Why can’t they be just likeus?”But in a time o expanding globalism,open social networking and greater geo-graphical disbursement, a surprising nd-ing o a recent poll we conducted showsthat Jewish consciousness among millen-nials — young adults in college and grad-uate school — is rising, not alling. Asperhaps part o a global trend toward reli-gion in general, we believe the survey indi-cates that the next generation o Jews may be increasingly into being Jewish and ol-lowing Jewish traditions.Here are the surprising truths. Accord-ing to a just-released survey o 600 U.S.Jewish undergraduates and graduate stu-dents conducted by Penn, Schoen andBerland, nearly hal o all Jewish collegestudents today participate in Hillel events— a 36 percent increase rom the last timePSB did this poll in 2005. More than hal o students said they would participatein a Hillel event in the next month — uprom only 36 percent seven years ago. Andnearly 75 percent o students said they viewed Hillel and “Hillel people” avor-ably, an increase o more than 20 per-cent since 2005. Te next most importantJewish institution on campus was Chabad,which is also growing in popularity withcollege students.Te rise in Jewish activism is also tied tostrong support or Israel. Fully 78 percento Jewish students today say that supportor Israel is important to them — virtually the same percentage that says social justice(and having a sense o responsibility orthe Jewish people) is important.he success o Hillel is based ona six-year eort that started with thesophisticated deployment o early socialnetworking techniques. he idea wassimple — to use snowballing student con-nections as the path to bringing in morestudents. Hillel not only seized on thisinsight, but also took it backward rom virtual to real — training and employingnearly 1,000 Jewish students to engageabout 35,000 uninvolved Jewish peers onmore than 70 campuses across the globe.In every case, the goal was to help theunengaged students meet, explore andconnect to Jewish lie on their own terms.It turns out that peers not only can reachstudents in ways that institutions can’t,but they also can do it creatively, imagina-tively and with lasting efect.Second, Hillel hypothesized that inaddition to going broader, it also could godeeper. On 10 pilot campuses, it placedJewish educators and rabbis trained toengage students in study and conversa-tion, encouraging students to ask the bigquestions that make college such a potentplace or development and growth.As students progress in their educa-tion, they are more likely to participatein Jewish events on campuses, and suchparticipation reaches its zenith amonggraduate students. And this increase ininterest is across Reorm, Conservativeand Orthodox students, as well as thosesel-dened as “just Jewish.”Te greater success o Jewish-basedorganizations on campus is no doubt theresult o innovative work by those orga-nizations, but it also signals some realchanges going on underneath. Univer-salism may have reached its limits, withthe reassertion o a greater sense o ethnicand religious identity growing in its place.Social networking makes it easier orgroups to come together and nd theircommonality; threats to Israel and thepotential growth o nuclear weapons inthe region give an urgency to that connec-tion. Birthright Israel is also giving many an up-close and personal experience.So just when we all thought youngpeople were most likely to blend in evenurther and abandon purely Jewish insti-tutions, instead we are seeing them reas-sert their Jewish identity, their support orIsrael and, perhaps most important, seek out connections with one another to eelpart o a larger community they can calltheir own.
Wayne Firestone is president and CEO of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.Mark J. Penn is corporate vice president for strategic and special projects at Microsoft. He
was formerly CEO of the polling rm Penn,Schoen and Berland Associates, which
conducted the survey.
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