Apple, Rabbi Dr. Raymond, Jerusalem, Israel, contributing columnist
Burg, Rabbi Steven, contributing columnist
Mollette, Glenn, Washington, D.C., contributing columnist
Reuben, Liz editor
Sackett, Shmuel, contributing columnist
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AGUDATH ISRAEL STATEMENT ON TERROR ATTACK
Agudath Israel of America is horrified by the news of terror attacks in Jerusalem, Israel. The terrorist placed bombs, filled with nails and shrapnel, to kill and injure as many people as possible at bus stops, detonating them at a time when children and adults are making their way to school. The bombings left 18 people injured and a 16 year old boy – on his way to Yeshiva – killed.
We join our Jewish brothers and sisters, and all people of good faith, in mourning the innocent victims of these murders and we wish their families comfort among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. We pray for a speedy recovery for those injured.
May Hashem, the Guardian of Israel, protect His people.
MAKE THIS NEXT SEASON OF LIFE A GREAT ONE
By DR. GLENN MOLLETTE
Enjoyable weather is coming soon. For many parts of the country September through November offers many pleasant days. Don’t waste them by spending all your time starring at the television or Facebook. You still have some life to live. Spending four or five hours a day watching what everyone else is doing is a waste of your time.
There are programs you enjoy and news events that grab our attention. There are a few people you enjoy keeping up with via social media. After this, get a life. Do you want to spend the rest of your life with your head bent down starring at a tablet or a cell phone? You might get to a point where all you can do is sit in your chair and stare at the television. I’ve seen many good people who at the end of their lives who could do nothing but watch television or stare into space. Often our bodies get to where that’s all we can do. Is this all you can do now? Consider your daily options.
Stop throwing your life away doing nothing. Have verbal conservations with people on the telephone. You can overdo this as well but it’s at least human interaction. Keep moving, stretching and exerting yourself. Plan your meals and eat as healthy as possible and don’t overeat. Save some for your next meal. You’ll live till the next one.
Go somewhere when you can. Going someplace is better than no place. A change of pace and being outdoors is mentally good for you. Your travel may be across the street but the key is to move and get out.
You will get depressed if all you are doing is eating, starring at your cell phone and flipping television channels. If you are physically able, work ten to twenty hours a week. Somebody will hire you.
Everyone needs something to do, someone to talk to and something to look forward to doing. You also need someone to love and first you always have God. God loves you now and if you’ll open your heart, he will fill your life with his love. There are people to love. Love your family, love friends, love people at work and church. Love the people with whom you socially gather. Some people aren’t easy to love and some are impossible. Keep in mind that all things with God are possible. Keep your heart filled with God’s love. Love yourself. You can’t love others very well if you don’t love yourself. Forgive and take care of yourself. You’ll then have something you can give others, love and kindness.
It's sad to be around bitter people who have never resolved life’s issues and embraced their own lives. Everyone has potential to excel and achieve. Too often people get bogged down with failures and are totally destroyed. Some failures are just events in your life in which you will learn about you and others. You can use failure to grow, reposition and redevelop your life.
You know what the political candidates are saying. You don’t have to spend hours watching political ads, unless you are bored stiff.
Enjoy the season. Make this next one a great one.
WILL LESS THABN 2% OF AMERICANS FIX OUR
By DR. GLENN MOLLETTE
According to the IRS, a $400,000 or more annual household income represents America's top 1.8% income-earners. Per IRS Publication 6292, there were 154 million tax returns filed in 2019, thus approximately 2.8 million people earn over $400,000.
330 million people live in the United States. (2020 Census) Millions of illegals have and are coming so this number is on steroids.
69.1 million people received benefits from programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2019. 5.7 million people were newly awarded Social Security benefits in 2019. (SSA)
2.8 million people making over $400,000 a year cannot solve the financial problems of America’s government. Telling Americans that we are going to stick it to the rich or 1.8% of our country to carry 70 million retirees and millions of illegals flooding into our country is just political rhetoric.
Most people aren't doing great when it comes to saving for the future: A 2020 SSA study found that 40% of Americans rely on Social Security as their sole source of retirement income. The average annual Social Security benefit for a worker is nearly $20,000, hardly enough money for most retirees to subsist on. (CNBC)
The United States Department of Labor data shows that there were 113,062 pension plans in 1990, but only 46,869 in 2018. The average private pension in the United States today is about $10,788, according to data from the Pension Rights Center.
In 2023, the year in which the legislation will increase tax revenue most, individuals making less than $10,000 per year will pay 3.1% more in taxes and those making between $20,000-30,000 per year will see a 1.1% tax increase, the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) analysis showed. Tax revenue collected from those making $100,000 per year or less would increase by $5.8 billion in 2023 under the Inflation Reduction Act.
In addition, the share of tax revenue collected from all Americans making more than $200,000 per year would remain at the current percentage, according to the JCT. Taxpayers with an annual income of $200,000 or greater pay more than 57% of all federal income taxes.
Will America’s seniors eventually pay more in taxes? Currently retirees may pay income tax on up to 85% of benefits if your combined income is more than $34,000. Combined incomes between $32,000 and $44,000 may be taxed up to 50% of the total, and above $44,000 may be taxed up to 85% of the total. if you're married and filing a joint return. Do you think these numbers will go down? There is only one way that taxes have gone in America – up.
Our problems cannot be fixed by one small group of America’s people. We must have a flat tax for eveyone making over $50,000. We have to stop the influx of illegals. We must be self sufficient in energy and manufacturing. Many retirees who are physcially able may have to go back to work to survive inflation.
In the meantime Government must help us by elminiating the billions of dollars wasted each year. Also, they need to stop trying convince us that they are going to fix our problems by only going after 1.8 percent of the America people.
Dr. Glenn Mollette
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PALESTINIAN ARAB TERROR AGAINST ISRAEL
According to a report released this week by the Israel Defense Forces, there have been 280 terrorist incidents in Israel so far this year, compared with 91 in 2021. In addition, 500 attacks were thwarted by Israeli security.
On Tuesday, a female IDF soldier was seriously injured when she was run over by a terrorist on Route 60, just north of Jerusalem. Shooting attacks on Israeli military in Judea and Samaria have risen sharply this year, with 110 recorded since January, compared to 25 in 2021.
Zionist Organization of America National President Morton A. Klein stated, "The administration must abide by the Taylor Force Act, American law which prohibits U.S. funds from being used to pay Palestinian terrorists who kill Israelis and Americans. The terrorist dictator of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has refused to stop paying bounties to these murderers in a 'Pay to Slay Jews and Americans” program. Since the Biden administration keeps providing $800 million in U.S. funding to the PA, terrorists and their families are being paid for life by U.S. taxpayers."
Klein continued, "The Zionist Organization of America demands that President Biden immediately halt the $800 million in aid to the terrorist dictatorship of the Palestinian Authority and the $700 million in aid to UNRWA who run schools and training camps where Hamas members teach Arab students to hate and violently attack Jews."
The Zionist Organization of America
DO WHAT YOU ENJOY WHILE YOU CAN
By DR. GLENN MOLLETTE
Life and the world are always changing. What you can do today is not guaranteed for tomorrow. Do what you enjoy while you can.
None of us want to face every day filled with fear. Worry about tomorrow only messes up today. Watching the news keeps our minds churning about what will happen next. When will China invade Taiwan? How much will it cost America in lives, money and hardship?
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is of course, costing us. We have spent over 54 billion dollars on aid to Ukraine. Many of us want to help Ukraine. Yet, we struggle to cover the cost of our country’s government. Here we are again spending money we don’t have while we go into further debt to countries like China who is buying up our debt, land and businesses. Who operates a business like this? Only America.
The latest word is that thousands of additional IRS agents will be hired. Agents will need something to do and that means auditing your tax returns. Instead of hiring 87,000 new agents we need to hire some security guards for our schools. Further, the IRS needs to simplify the tax code. Americans need a few deductions like business expenses, interest paid on mortgages, healthcare and educational costs. Better yet, make it a 15% flat tax on everyone and eliminate all federal taxes on those earning under $50,000.
Does the prospect of being harassed by the IRS inspire you to work harder, make more money and be entrepreneurial? Americans are already beat down by the high cost of groceries, gasoline, housing and rising interest rates. Emotionally, this planet has been in a dark place for two years with Covid-19, now Monkey Pox, financial strain and always, always an ongoing war that we are involved in or supporting.
America’s universities continue to stick it to young families who want their children to have a good education. State funded universities and private colleges continue to increase tuition. Do you really have $160,000 to send your child to college? Most likely, the institution being consideration charges even more. The only hope for many American families is the two-year community college. Many teenagers would benefit greatly to have two more years to grow up, some before landing in a dorm room 200 miles from home. The prospects of making it academically, socially, and financially will be greatly increased. This gives them time to seriously consider the right institution to go to for the junior and senior years. They will still have the degree and save some money.
Finally, don’t live in despair. Life goes by quickly even if you are young. Study, work, make money, be innovative, love people and be kind to everyone. Do some things you think you might enjoy. If you don’t enjoy them, then move on to something else. Enjoy life and do what you can, while you can.
Dr. Glenn Mollette,
A MESSAGE ABOUT UKRAINE FROM JERUSALEM
By ANDREW REHFEL, Ph.D.
I am at our campus in Jerusalem this week, sharing in our community’s collective outrage and horror at what is unfolding some 2,200 miles to the north in Ukraine.
My great-grandfather Benjamin Schwartz arrived in the United States on August 6, 1906, having travelled from Tzabritz, a small village that was near Nikolayev, Ukraine, northeast of Odessa. His wife, Rachel, and their children would arrive a few weeks later. They were fleeing anti-Semitic laws that made them aliens in the land of their birth, increasingly violent pogroms, and military conscription that would have drafted their eldest child.
Many of you have similar origin stories that make you feel connected to the situation in Ukraine. For HUC-JIR alum Rabbi Yoshi Zweibeck, the connection motivates a call to action. And as HUC-JIR Governor Emeritus Rabbi David Gelfand observed in his own beautiful Shabbat message, “But for the grace of God, there go I.”
At times like this, we can feel helpless. I hope you will consider supporting any number of humanitarian efforts to aid those in need.
Our partners at the World Union of Progressive Judaism have launched the Ukraine Crisis Fund to support the Jewish Community of Ukraine. The link includes a joint briefing with the URJ on the crisis with leaders from the community.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is working on the ground to deliver social services to the Ukrainian Jewish community and their neighbors. You can give directly through the JDC website, or through a contribution to your local Jewish Federation, many of which have created local crisis funds.
The crisis reinforces an important reason why we cultivate a love of Israel and the Jewish People at HUC-JIR. When we strengthen our connection with Jews around the world, by learning our history and through shared experiences, we develop a feeling of collective responsibility for one another that motivates us to act when our people face harm. This is not some abstract argument. It’s a core reason we are committed to our Year-In-Israel Program and newer Weitzman-JDC Fellowship Program – for the unique opportunities they afford to cultivate these personal connections.
In a recent email to his congregation, Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, NJ, our alum Rabbi Marc Katz described his experience this way:
“…one of my most formative experiences during rabbinical school took place in Ukraine. In 2008, I was tapped to travel to Odessa and Kirovograd to lead Passover Seders for the community. It was there that I watched a community still struggling with the legacies of WW2 and communism… these nascent Reform communities were relearning what it meant to foster vibrant Jewish life. They were sending their first leaders to rabbinical school, sending their first teens to American Jewish summer camps, and raising funds to purchase their first buildings…
“In a way, it was a return to the rich and vibrant Jewish history that Ukraine has always had… It was the birthplace of the first Hebrew novels, of major Zionist thinkers like Ahad Ha’am and Leon Pinsker, and great western writers like Isaac Babel. …I write about this now, not only to tell the story of an amazing community, but so we understand the cost of the latest violence abroad. If we don’t know anyone in Ukraine, it’s easy to see it as a conflict between two far-flung nations. But there is a human element to all this. This is happening to real people…. And it involves a Jewish story that is only half told, that is once again threatened.”
Thanks to the work of our leadership in Israel, and donors like Jane Weitzman who sponsors our JDC Fellows Program that makes experiences like Rabbi Katz’s possible, HUC-JIR is cultivating this sense of collective responsibility in our students. And thanks to your support, our students and alumni are in a position to bring comfort and support to their communities, whether in Colleyville, Texas, or Kyiv, Ukraine. May peace descend swiftly upon our world. Shavua tov from Jerusalem,
Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D.