Arlene from Israel: Sound of the Shofar.

 Rosh Hashana begins Sunday night. I hope to post one more time after this, before I go into Shabbat and then the holiday, but I cannot be sure time will allow. And so I want to take this opportunity to wish my readers a Shana Tova. May this be a year of blessing for all of us. A year of peace, health, wellbeing and spiritual growth.

Credit: inspirulina.

There is a tradition that tells us that the sound of the shofar on Rosh Hashana is the wail of Sarah, on hearing that her only son, Yitzhak, was going to be sacrificed.

Last week I was taught a perspective that carries this even further.  The tradition says that Sarah subsequently died in response to the news of what was about to happen to Yitzhak. And so, according to the teachings of one rabbi, her cry – mimicked by the shofar sound – was not just a wail of anguish.  It was a call to the Almighty, telling him that there is a limit to human suffering.  It was because she had endured beyond the limit that she died.

The wail of the shofar then, is a wake-up call to us, certainly. But it is also our message to Heaven: We are at our limit, please, no more.

Pray with special devotion this Rosh Hashana.  Send this message Above: no more, please, no more.  Seal Am Yisrael for peace, and well being, and strength.


In the spirit of the shofar, and mindful of prayers for the strength of Am Yisrael, I share this moving historical video. “Echoes of a Shofar” (with thanks to Simone):


Credit: EPA.

We are in the midst of a record breaking sand storm, with yellow dust floating in the air and blanketing everything. This is coupled with intense heat. Jerusalem is getting hit the hardest.  Yesterday (pictured) was worse than today, but it is not supposed to break for a while yet.

I read that this weather pattern is the result of a storm in Syria. Wouldn’t you know it.  But there is a plus side to this.  Israelis in the Golan, near the border of Syria, who are accustomed to hearing the shooting of the war, report that all is quiet: they cannot see each other.  (Thanks, Deena)


Very often when I write about something, I subsequently discover additional information on the same subject – either because of articles that catch my attention or material sent to me by readers.  This has been especially true with regard to my focus on the refugee migrant problem, yesterday.  I knew yesterday that I would have to return to this subject.  And so, do so today with thanks to those who sent me material.

Yesterday I wrote about the picture of the body of the little Syrian Kurdish boy washed up on a beach in Turkey.  The picture that had gone viral, sparking intense feelings and greater interest in the plight of fleeing refugees.

The picture was real enough.  But the story behind it was a bit different from what had been broadly understood.  This boy, his brother, and their parents – originally from Syria – had been living safely in Turkey for three years.  They were not in the boat that capsized because they were escaping persecution: It was apparently because the father badly needed dental work and decided to bring his whole family with him to Europe when he went for this purpose.  The article below says the boat was headed for Greece, another article I was sent said his aim was to get to Germany.  For teeth, not for respite from persecution.

Sad, most certainly, that this child is dead; but there is a lesson here in terms of what appears in the media and how people interpret information and respond.


The news is awash in information about the tide of humanity flooding into Europe. The EU has an open border policy, and so once refugees enter, they can move from one locale to another.

This has alarmed London, which is trying to control the situation.  England is considering withdrawing from the EU for this reason, so that it might retain the right to control its own borders.

Whether this actually occurs or not, what is happening is that British authorities are going into the Middle East in an effort to select the refugees currently in camps that it will take in.  Not sure how well this will work, but there is an exceedingly significant point here, with regard to controlling immigration.


Right now, large groups of people, literally, walk into one EU country or another with a coastline along the Mediterranean. Italy, Greece, Spain, are common entry points. There are no check points that control their entry, they have no documents.  And that is a huge danger.  Because  – which point I have already made – it is crystal clear that undesirables are coming along with the genuinely needy. (See more on this below)

The most sought-after locale is Germany, because it is the most generous with assistance (which would be why the father needing dental work would have been headed there).  People start elsewhere in Europe and make their way into Germany.  Sweden is considered second most desirable.

This situation has begun to alarm German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  In a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, yesterday, she spoke about the need for the asylum system in the EU to be managed jointly – it is not a German responsibility, she said, but the responsibility of all 28 nations of the EU.

OK, but if Germany offers a more desirable level of assistance, the immigrants are going to flock there.  Is she talking about physically moving out some who have come to Germany, and bringing them to other EU nations that haven’t done their share?  Not a simple situation.


And when Merkel refers to the need to register the refugees, it seems that the systems in place are inadequate to this task.  We are not talking about people who apply for asylum while elsewhere, presenting documents and awaiting approval before entering the country in an orderly fashion.  We are talking about large groups that just descend.  Some ultimately apply for asylum with the legal certainty and assistance it provides; others – perhaps carry money or having contacts – simply disappear inside the country.

Laszlo Kiss-Rigo, Bishop of Szeged-Csanad in southern Hungary calls what is happening an “invasion.”

Many of them “have money,” the bishop said.  “Most of them behave in a way that is very arrogant and cynical.”

“It’s not 150,000 migrants coming that some want to divide according to quotas, it’s not 500,000, a figure that I heard in Brussels, it’s millions, then tens of millions, because the supply of immigrants is endless,” said Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. (Emphasis added)

Hungary is trying to establish a closed border policy, rushing now to complete a fence along its border with Serbia.

They are being criticized for this, but I think there is a strong case to be made for this position. European nations have a responsibility to help those suffering in Syria and elsewhere, but that responsibility does not necessarily have to encompass an open-border policy.  More attention must be paid to assistance in the Middle East.


Representatives of some 60 nations, including Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, met in Paris yesterday for a conference to address the refugee situation. Their position is more nuanced than simply saying all of the refugees must be taken in, and they are looking at ways to facilitate returning of refugees, and to providing assistance to those in refugee camps or displaced in neighboring countries (such as Jordan).  They are talking about reconstruction of infrastructure, restoring services, and training local police.

This makes vast sense.

“There is a humanitarian crisis,”

said French president Francois Hollande.

“If we do not offer more help…then not only will there be more tragedies..but there will be this exodus.” (Emphasis added here and following.)

“It’s very difficult,”

said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius,

but if all these refugees come to Europe or elsewhere, then Daesh [ISIS] has won the game.”

Uh huh.


“An operative working for Islamic State has revealed the terror group has successfully smuggled thousands of covert jihadists into Europe.

“The Syrian operative claimed more than 4,000 covert ISIS gunmen had been smuggled into western nations – hidden amongst innocent refugees.  The ISIS smuggler, who is I his thirties and is described as having a trimmed jet-black beard revealed the ongoing clandestine operation is a complete success.

“’Just wait,’ he smiled…

“They are going like refugees…”


“In Bulgaria, a search of five Albanian men trying to cross the border revealed that they were carrying Islamic State propaganda, including videos of decapitations.”


Migrants “come here with cries of ‘Allahu Akbar.’ They want to take over,” protested Bishop Kiss-Rigo, cited above. (Emphasis added)


’We are deliberately ignoring the issue as a strategic maneuver. If these refugees go and settle in the West then they will take with them the beacon of light that is Islam,’ an official from the Saudi government said.” (Emphasis added)

This last quote is from an op-ed by Jack Englehard:

“Lucky for these Syrians that they are indeed Muslims. If they were Jews they wouldn’t stand a chance. For the Jews in the same spot only a generation ago, no tears, no hugs, no welcoming arms, no open border, no cry to help these people – nothing.  Nothing but silence, the silence of complicity.

“Every door was closed. The refugee ship St. Louis tried to find an open door but was sent back.

The New York Times could not be bothered. The paper that covered the Holocaust on page 36 as part of ‘in other news,’ today lobbies and campaigns to bring Syrians into the United States – FRONT PAGE.

“That Syrian infant washed up on shore. The world weeps. One and a half million babies never even got that far (emphasis in original)…

So Dear World, spare me your tainted pieties.  I can’t remember your sweet mercies when the Jews were the storm-tossed refugees.

“I can’t remember your hugs, your smiles, your warm embrace when the few of us, the remnants, made it to shore…

“Our bad timing, it must have been, that we failed to arrive as Arabs. Yes, lucky them, doubly so because these Syrian men who left their women behind and pushed their children forward, only yesterday weren’t they stomping the American flag and shouting death to Christians and Jews?

“…For you, Dear Europe, there is no stopping ‘the beacon of light that is Islam.’  That’s called justice.”  (Thank you, Esther!)


The rally at the capitol is still going on as I complete this.  I watched the first speeches on streaming video, here in Jerusalem.

I will only say here that Senator Ted Cruz was magnificent.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.


If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


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