​KOM Monthly Message August 2016

The monthly message hasn't been so very "monthly" for a while now.  It's been a time of personal growth for me. 

Seems that one of the outcomes is that I'm getting more connected to the mundane aspects of living in Israel. I'm slow .. that takes me longer than most .. certainly longer than the other members of my immediate family.  

I'll share further about this personal growth in a bit. I'm hoping you'll share as well on our facebook page.  Kehillat Ohel Moed. 

Till then .. blessings abounding to you and yours.

Rabbi Jonathan Magidovitch

KOM Monthly Message November 2015

This recent Tuesday hundreds of us formed a line holding hands and olive branches. We stood along Highway 805 at rush hour, the road connecting Sakhnin and Misgav in the Western Galilee: Muslims, Christians, Jews, Druze and Bedouin all together.  

I met Omar there. He and his five brothers have a restaurant in Sakhnin. It was started by his uncle. I’ll check but I think it’s the place that delivers lunches to my wife’s office. 

Point being that this was hundreds of people .. and not a “cartoon character” among them. That is, real, three dimensional people who live and work among each other decided that the best way to spend this hour was demonstrating respect.  

Here, in these words I am responding to many of you who have asked “how are you doing” given the current violence going on in Israel. Thank you for your concern. It’s tense but mostly OK.  

Omar and I retain hope and have realistic basis for that hope. We’re asking you to join in that hope.  
Here’s how. A. Be informed from multiple sources. B. Avoid falling into the trap of extreme beliefs including that one side is 100% correct and the other 100% wrong.  

And this, from Song of Songs (8:6): “Set me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thine arm; for love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave; the flashes thereof are flashes of fire, a very flame of the LORD.” ← hold this mantra, love is stronger than everything. Love will win.

Rabbi Jonathan Magidovitch and Omar

Kehillat Ohel Moed
Monthly Message
August 2015
Rabbi Jonathan Yosef Magidovitch

Dear Friends of Kehillat Ohel Moed, 

Israel is a strong country in so many ways. We are all schooled in the mantra of Israel’s prominence in high-tech Start Ups. We have seen Israel’s military strength.  

Israel is in a storm of social upheaval. Now. And, it is painful.  

There is homophobia and racism and intolerance for other’s Faith. The Jerusalem Gay Pride parade was attacked by a knife wielding zealot leaving one murdered, several wounded. A Muslim family’s home was firebombed leaving a murdered baby and injured family members.  

Decades ago my Grandmother Ethel, a proud early resident of the city of Tel Aviv, went out to bring her laundry in off the line. It was gone. When grandfather returned home, she proudly told him, “We are a Normal People. We have thieves.”  

What is “normal?” Stolen laundry one can make jokes about. The ills of Israeli Society today are off the scale; more dangerous than any external enemy. We are tearing ourselves apart from within.  

Now. We in Israel are marching in the streets for a better, more loving, more inclusive society.  

You, outside of Israel. Join us. Lovingly.  

If you are concerned that Israel needs to be coddled about internal affairs due to externals, please show us the respect that we have sufficient strength to work on ourselves while protecting ourselves. Actually, doing our internal work will make us stronger. It could even give us new perspectives on our foreign affairs. 

Now, please watch Rabbi Benny Lau give a moving speech (English Subtitled) on our responsibility to be proactive in loving others and in giving each their full due of respect and security.

Now, please read Rabbi Aaron Panken, President of Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion as he calls for An end to Israel's state-sanctioned religious intolerance.l 

Rabbi Jonathan Yosef Magidovitch 

Monthly Message KOM Kehillat Ohel Moed, The Congregation in the Cloud
July 2015

I am so proud of the State of South Carolina. Governor Nikki Haley just gave a leader's speech. She is calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the Statehouse. Me, I'm a graduate of Sumter High, Sumter, SC class of '75. My classmates were the first students in the Sumter school system to have integrated (black and white together) education all the way from first through twelfth grade. Yes. Yes. Yes.  

I posted the above on my FaceBook feed on June 22, 2015.

My personal history includes that I grew up in the South: born in Leesville, LA, high school in Sumter, SC and college in Charlottesville at U.Va. 

As for my personal experiences, after having lived in the South and moving to Illinois, I found the Chicago area shockingly racist. Beyond in-your-face expressions of racism, were the constant references to a person's race, religion or ethnicity. It seemed like every news item included the protagonist's tag: "Two black youths were seen...," or "Hispanic activists in Pilsen ...".

Even where I lived, in “liberal” Highland Park, there was huge racism. This wealthy suburb had three elementary school districts. One of them served military kids from Fort Sheridan and hispanic kids from Highwood and it was going under financially. Unifying to one school district did happen however the racist, classist venom along the way was horrifying.

Point being, that racism is everywhere and is just as bad or worse in areas where the Confederate flag never flew.

That flag. It was, literally, the flag of the defeated. Seemed to me that the people I grew up with who waved that flag were shouting, “I am here. I matter.” They created space for themselves with the tools they had. The flag was one of them.

No apologetics. The flag has to come down.  

However, those people who held it up are here. Those people have to matter.

What SC Governor Nikki Haley did on June 22 was leadership. She defended her state and all its citizens and she laid out a process to work together to work this out.  Click here for her speech.  (http://www.ibtimes.com/full-text-gov-nikki-haley-confederate-flag-speech-8-quotes-video-calling-removal-1978479)

So, no finger pointing and no legitimacy in plastering the South as filled with Neanderthals, then patting ourselves on the back for our “progressiveness.” We are all Southerners. Or to put it another way, there are no innocent bystanders. ( ← see Dietrich Bonhoeffer.) https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/STALKING-A-MADMAN-Dietrich-Bonhoeffer

Symbols matter. The Confederate flag matters but our actions matter more. What did we do? Were we passive or active in the face of racism? Did we ask someone else to do our job? Did we foist our responsibility onto our government? ( ← from conversation with my priest, Lynnette Fuller.) 

In conclusion, this confession; I am a social liberal as in liberty ... as in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I believe this is core to what the US is about and what draws people to our shores.

I also believe that there is a lot of work yet to do and we have friends and potential friends everywhere with whom to do this work. These friends are in South Carolina and Illinois and everywhere. And, the work is our work to do .. and it is building bridges for peace. 

Rabbi Jonathan Magidovitch

KOM Kehillat Ohel Moed
Monthly Message: June 2015
Rabbi Jonathan Roth Magidovitch

I read an article: Do we think differently? Linear vs. Non-linear thinking  
That got me going about how we humans think differently from each other and One+One=More.

In Sunday school we were taught about the Tower of Babel. Before then, humans had all spoken one language so working together was easy. They got the idea to make themselves famous by building a Tower. Think Sears (Willis) Tower. And, God came down and said, “No, that is not how humans are supposed to make a name for themselves.” So God changed everyone’s language. No one could talk to the other. Building ceased.  

And, in Sunday school, that is as far as it went. But, there’s more …

It’s omnipresent fact that human to human communication is tough, so we tend to stay on our side of the language barrier.

However, when we take on the challenges inherent in communicating with others even across barriers of language, styles of thinking, culture, gender, race .. all those serious dividers of people, then barriers come down. We have more people rowing in the same direction and we become larger than ourselves in common cause.

And, this time, as we reach across barriers we can decide on a shared project more valuable than being famous for the sake of fame.  
Amos 3:3 “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?  

Blessings of health and happiness to you and yours.

Monthly Message Kehillat Ohel Moed KOM 
May 2015
Rabbi Jonathan Magidovitch

Two Conversations that should cancel each other out .. but don’t .. .

FIRST conversation:
me: Thank you. I really enjoyed your recent posting.
him: What in particular did you enjoy?
me: That broader understanding of that point of Jewish Law.
him: That wasn’t mine. I was just quoting someone else.

me: .. but you knew whom to quote!

“There is nothing new under the sun.” אין חדש תחת השמש So said wise King Solomon.  
We’re always quoting; always borrowing. 

And, if we can pinpoint from whom we’ve borrowed then we cite that. 

If we can’t pinpoint, it’s good to be humble and understand we’re always standing on someone’s shoulders.  

SECOND conversation:
me: we’re getting together a committee to go over the role of Hebrew in our congregation
him: quit beating a dead horse; we’ve done that a dozen times over the years 
me: so should we give up?!

“Blessed is the One who in goodness renews each day the work of creation.” ובטובו מחדש בכל יום תמיד מעשה בראשית So is written in our morning prayer tradition.

Every day is a clean slate and with each day possibility is born.  

FIRST and SECOND .. are like a note in each pocket.  
When we need grounding .. FIRST: nothing is new. Everything has precedent.  
When we need freedom .. SECOND: everything is new. Clean slate.

Which note are we reading today?

kol tuv  כל טוב

KOM March 2015 Monthly Message

Dear Friends of Kehillat Ohel Moed, 

Of the 13 million Jewish people in the world, about 7 million live in Israel and about 5.5 million live in the United States.  

Today, the Prime Minister of Israel is giving a speech in the Congress of the United States.  

Given the places we call “home,” no surprise then that this speech matters to Jewish people. It matters to a lot of others as well because of the geopolitics of Israel and the US, especially the US. Lives and ways of life are at stake. Therefore, as KOM’s March Monthly Message I share here the well considered thoughts of George Friedman on “the speech” and the US - Israel Relationship.  

For those of you receiving this message via email, please let us know if you would prefer not to be on the mailing list. 

Rabbi Jonathan Magidovitch

Netanyahu, Obama and the Geopolitics of Speeches
Geopolitical Weekly
March 3, 2015 | 08:49 GMT
By George Friedman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting the United States this week to speak to Congress on March 3. The Obama administration is upset that Speaker of the House John Boehner invited Netanyahu without consulting with the White House and charged Boehner with political grandstanding. Netanyahu said he was coming to warn the United States of the threat of Iran. Israeli critics of Netanyahu charged that this was a play for public approval to improve his position in Israel's general election next year. Boehner denied any political intent beyond getting to hear Netanyahu's views. The Obama administration claimed that the speech threatens the fabric of U.S.-Israeli relations.

Let us begin with the obvious. First, this is a speech, and it is unlikely that Netanyahu could say anything new on the subject of Iran, given that he never stops talking about it. Second, everyone involved is grandstanding. They are politicians, and that's what they do. Third, the idea that U.S.-Israeli relations can be shredded by a grandstanding speech is preposterous. If that's all it takes, relations are already shredded.

Speeches aside, there is no question that U.S.-Israeli relations have been changing substantially since the end of the Cold War, and that change, arrested for a while after 9/11, has created distance and tension between the countries. Netanyahu's speech is merely a symptom of the underlying reality. There are theatrics, there are personal animosities, but presidents and prime ministers come and go. What is important are the interests that bind or separate nations, and the interests of Israel and the United States have to some extent diverged. It is the divergence of interests we must focus on, particularly because there is a great deal of mythology around the U.S.-Israeli relationship created by advocates of a close relationship, opponents of the relationship, and foreign enemies of one or both countries.
Building the U.S.-Israeli Relationship.

It is important to begin by understanding that the United States and Israel did not always have a close relationship. While the United States recognized Israel from the beginning, its relationship was cool until after the Six-Day War in 1967. When Israel, along with Britain and France, invaded Egypt in 1956, the United States demanded Israel's withdrawal from Sinai and Gaza, and the Israelis complied. The United States provided no aid for Israel except for food aid given through a U.N. program that served many nations. The United States was not hostile to Israel, nor did it regard its relationship as crucial.

This began to change before the 1967 conflict, after pro-Soviet coups in Syria and Iraq by Baathist parties. Responding to this threat, the United States created a belt of surface-to-air missiles stretching from Saudi Arabia to Jordan and Israel in 1965. This was the first military aid given to Israel, and it was intended to be part of a system to block Soviet power. Until 1967, Israel's weapons came primarily from France. Again, the United States had no objection to this relationship, nor was it a critical issue to Washington.

The Six-Day War changed this. After the conflict, the French, wanting to improve relations with the Arabs, cut off weapons sales to Israel. The United States saw Egypt become a Soviet naval and air base, along with Syria. This threatened the U.S. Sixth Fleet and other interests in the eastern Mediterranean. In particular, the United States was concerned about Turkey because the Bosporus in Soviet hands would open the door to a significant Soviet challenge in the Mediterranean and Southern Europe. Turkey was now threatened not only from the north but also from the south by Syria and Iraq. The Iranians, then U.S. allies, forced the Iraqis to face east rather than north. The Israelis forced the Syrians to focus south. Once the French pulled out of their relationship with Israel and the Soviets consolidated their positions in Egypt and Syria in the wake of the Six-Day War, the United States was forced into a different relationship with Israel.

It has been said that the 1967 war and later U.S. support for Israel triggered Arab anti-Americanism. It undoubtedly deepened anti-American sentiment among the Arabs, but it was not the trigger. Egypt became pro-Soviet in 1956 despite the U.S. intervention against Israel, while Syria and Iraq became pro-Soviet before the United States began sending military aid to Israel. But after 1967, the United States locked into a strategic relationship with Israel and became its primary source of military assistance. This support surged during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, with U.S. assistance rising from roughly 5 percent of Israeli gross domestic product to more than 20 percent a year later.

The United States was strategically dependent on Israel to maintain a balance of power in the eastern Mediterranean. But even during this period, the United States had competing strategic interests. For example, as part of encouraging a strategic reversal into the U.S. camp after the 1973 war, the United States negotiated an Israeli withdrawal from Sinai that the Israelis were extremely reluctant to do but could not avoid under U.S. pressure. Similarly, U.S. President Ronald Reagan opposed an Israeli invasion of Lebanon that reached Beirut, and the initial U.S. intervention in Lebanon was not against Arab elements but intended to block Israel. There was a strategic dependence on Israel, but it was never a simple relationship.

The Israelis' national security requirements have always outstripped their resources. They had to have an outside patron. First it was the Soviets via Czechoslovakia, then France, then the United States. They could not afford to alienate the United States — the essential foundation of their national security — but neither could they simply comply with American wishes. For the United States, Israel was an important asset. It was far from the only important asset. The United States had to reconcile its support of Israel with its support of Saudi Arabia, as an example. Israel and the Saudis were part of an anti-Soviet coalition, but they had competing interests, shown when the United States sold airborne warning and control systems to the Saudis. The Israelis both needed the United States and chafed under the limitations Washington placed on them.

Post-Soviet Relations
The collapse of the Soviet Union destroyed the strategic foundation for the U.S.-Israeli relationship. There was no pressing reason to end it, but it began to evolve and diverge. The fall of the Soviet Union left Syria and Iraq without a patron. Egypt's U.S.-equipped army, separated from Israel by a demilitarized Sinai and token American peacekeepers, posed no threat. Jordan was a key ally of Israel. The United States began seeing the Mediterranean and Middle East in totally different ways. Israel, for the first time since its founding, didn't face any direct threat of attack. In addition, Israel's economy surged, and U.S. aid, although it remained steady, became far less important to Israel than it was. In 2012, U.S. assistance ($2.9 billion) accounted for just more than 1 percent of Israel's GDP.

Both countries had more room to maneuver than they'd had previously. They were no longer locked into a relationship with each other, and their relationship continued as much out of habit as out of interest. The United States had no interest in Israel creating settlements in the West Bank, but it wasn't interested enough in stopping them to risk rupturing the relationship. The Israelis were no longer so dependent on the United States that they couldn't risk its disapproval.

The United States and Israel drew together initially after 9/11. From the Israeli perspective, the attacks proved that the United States and Israel had a common interest against the Islamic world. The U.S. response evolved into a much more complex form, particularly as it became apparent that U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq were not going to pacify either country. The United States needed a strategy that would prevent jihadist attacks on the homeland, and that meant intelligence cooperation not only with the Israelis but also with Islamic countries hostile to Israel. This was the old problem. Israel wanted the United States focused on Israel as its main partner, but the United States had much wider and more complex relations to deal with in the region that required a more nuanced approach.
This is the root of the divergence on Iran. From Israel's point of view, the Iranians pose an inherent threat regardless of how far along they are — or are not — with their nuclear program. Israel wants the United States aligned against Iran. Now, how close Tehran is to a nuclear weapon is an important question, but to Israel, however small the nuclear risk, it cannot be tolerated because Iran's ideology makes it an existential threat.

The Iran Problem
From the American perspective, the main question about Iran is, assuming it is a threat, can it be destroyed militarily? The Iranians are not fools. They observed the ease with which the Israelis destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981. They buried theirs deep underground. It is therefore not clear, regardless of how far along it is or what its purpose is, that the United States could destroy Iran's nuclear program from the air. It would require, at the very least, special operations on the ground, and failing that, military action beyond U.S. capabilities. Aside from the use of nuclear weapons, it is unclear that an attack on multiple hardened sites would work.

The Israelis are quite aware of these difficulties. Had it been possible to attack, and had the Israelis believed what they were saying, the Israelis would have attacked. The distances are great, but there are indications that countries closer to Iran and also interested in destroying Iran's nuclear program would have allowed the use of their territories. Yet the Israelis did not attack.

The American position is that, lacking a viable military option and uncertain as to the status of Iran's program, the only option is to induce Iran to curtail the program. Simply maintaining permanent sanctions does not end whatever program there is. Only an agreement with Iran trading the program for an end of sanctions would work. From the American point of view, the lack of a military option requires a negotiation. The Israeli position is that Iran cannot be trusted. The American position is that in that case, there are no options.

Behind this is a much deeper issue. Israel of course understands the American argument. What really frightens the Israelis is an emerging American strategy. Having failed to pacify Afghanistan or Iraq, the United States has come to the conclusion that wars of occupation are beyond American capacity. It is prepared to use air power and very limited ground forces in Iraq, for example. However, the United States does not see itself as having the option of bringing decisive force to bear.

An Intricate U.S. Strategy
Therefore, the United States has a double strategy emerging. The first layer is to keep its distance from major flare-ups in the region, providing support but making clear it will not be the one to take primary responsibility. As the situation on the ground deteriorates, the United States expects these conflicts to eventually compel regional powers to take responsibility. In the case of Syria and Iraq, for example, the chaos is on the border of Turkey. Let Turkey live with it, or let Turkey send its own troops in. If that happens, the United States will use limited force to support them. A similar dynamic is playing out with Jordan and the Gulf Cooperation Council states as Saudi Arabia tries to assume responsibility for Sunni Arab interests in the face of a U.S-Iranian entente. Importantly, this rapprochement with Iran is already happening against the Islamic State, which is an enemy of both the United States and Iran. I am not sure we would call what is happening collaboration, but there is certainly parallel play between Iran and the United States.

The second layer of this strategy is creating a balance of power. The United States wants regional powers to deal with issues that threaten their interests more than American interests. At the same time, the United States does not want any one country to dominate the region. Therefore, it is in the American interest to have multiple powers balancing each other. There are four such powers: Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel. Some collaborate, some are hostile, and some shift over time. The United States wants to get rid of Iran's weapons, but it does not want to shatter the country. It is part of a pattern of regional responsibility and balance.

This is the heart of Israel's problem. It has always been a pawn in U.S. strategy, but a vital pawn. In this emerging strategy, with multiple players balancing each other and the United States taking the minimum possible action to maintain the equilibrium, Israel finds itself in a complex relationship with three countries that it cannot be sure of managing by itself. By including Iran in this mix, the United States includes what Israel regards as an unpredictable element not solely because of the nuclear issue but because Iran's influence stretches to Syria and Lebanon and imposes costs and threats Israel wants to avoid.

This has nothing to do with the personalities of Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu. The United States has shown it cannot pacify countries with available forces. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. If the United States is not involved on the ground in a conflict, then it becomes a problem for regional powers to handle. If the regional powers take the roles they must, they should balance against each other without a single regional hegemon emerging.

Israel does not want to be considered by the United States as one power among many. It is focused on the issue of a nuclear Iran, but it knows that there is no certainty that Iran's nuclear facilities can be destroyed or that sanctions will cause the Iranians to abandon the nuclear program. What Israel fears is an entente between the United States and Iran and a system of relations in which U.S. support will not be automatic.

So a speech will be made. Obama and Netanyahu are supposed to dislike each other. Politicians are going to be elected and jockey for power. All of this is true, and none of it matters. What does matter is that the United States, regardless of who is president, has to develop a new strategy in the region. This is the only option other than trying to occupy Syria and Iraq. Israel, regardless of who is prime minister, does not want to be left as part of this system while the United States maintains ties with all the other players along with Israel. Israel doesn't have the weight to block this strategy, and the United States has no alternative but to pursue it.

This isn't about Netanyahu and Obama, and both know it. It is about the reconfiguration of a region the United States cannot subdue and cannot leave. It is the essence of great power strategy: creating a balance of power in which the balancers are trapped into playing a role they don't want. It is not a perfect strategy, but it is the only one the United States has. Israel is not alone in not wanting this. Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia don't want it, either. But geopolitics is indifferent to wishes. It understands only imperatives and constraints.
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February 2015  
Kehillat Ohel Moed Monthly Message

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo and kosher market attacks in Paris, I share this quotation from a January 6, 1946 speech by Protestant Pastor, Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Maybe Pastor Niemoller gets it right. But as I read this now, I wonder if he is saying that it is not our compassion for the plight of others that drives us to stand implacably against terrorists. It is self-interest.

If so, then I stand near the pastor but not 100% with him.  

Sure, there is self-interest. We want to live; ourselves and our children and on.  

We, Jews, Israelis, are perennially the coal mine canaries, more vulnerable so we get attacked earlier and more often. And, each time, when some other than Jew, other than Israeli gets attacked, we feel part of that other and that the other feels part of us, or we hope they do. 

However, terrorists are coming for anyone who does not follow their agenda. More so, that radical agenda is not consistent and therefore is not actually follow-able. 

The at-risk “us” is neither tribe nor nation and what is just dawning on many is that there is precious little affinity among “us, “ e.g. neither Obama nor proxy showed up to march in Paris. But, we share this thing detested by a common enemy .. so we have common cause in stopping that enemy. 

However .. and this is big .. there is another reason guiding our actions: we are human beings with a mission .. Jews, yes .. Israelis, yes .. all-human-beings, yes. The mission: we are created to love our fellow human beings as ourselves. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lev 19:18; Mark 12:31)

And what does this command require?

* That we love and do not permit the actions of others to sway us from loving.

* That we protect our capacity to love by protecting our lives for it is the living who bring love into this world. Sometimes protecting life is defensive and sometimes offensive. 

* That we study the fullest meaning of love and share that study, that “conversation” with others and bring the fullest understanding of love actively into our life.  

* That we find others who feel this same mission and join with them and vote for them so we all can fulfill our mission: to love our fellow human beings and ourselves. 

All Good Things, Kol Tuv, כל טוב,
Rabbi Jonathan Magidovitch 

Monthly Message KOM Kehillat Ohel Moed
January 2015

​Respecting Multiple Perspectives

The best leaders do more listening and less telling.  

But to what do they listen?

We all are accustomed to hearing multiple accounts of the same events. What parent hasn’t heard, “But, Mommy, he started it.” What “boss” hasn’t heard that the problem comes from another guy.

To deal with multiple accounts of the same event, there are tools to guide parents and all leaders. 

From Jewish culture, we have the adage “two Jews, three opinions.” It is our nature to disagree, often vociferously, on everything, and at the end of the day, everyone is still part of the family. (If someone is removed from your family, please call your rabbi.)

As leaders, it is our job to hear out various perspectives and process the entirety into an overall understanding.  

There is a caveat: this processing is not just about facts. The leader’s job is not as simple as determining who is correct. Perceptions and feelings and agenda are significant parts of the picture. As leaders we understand that each perspective represents some element of the target population for whatever product or service our business is offering. As parents we understand that each perspective is part of the unified vision for our family. We may personally differ with what we hear, but choosing to hear it anyway makes our decisions robust.  

The leader’s job is to hear multiple perspectives and understand from them how to proceed with real actions in the real world.  

The leader responds to each voice with respect and gratitude. Having been part of the conversation is what matters about the family or team members. The leader is ultimately responsible for making the decision. That decision being correct or not accrues to the leader having properly understood the various inputs.

Furthermore, it is the work of a good leader to make sure that the voices around the table do actually represent crucial aspects of the target population. Ten voices saying one thing could signal unanimity in the target population. However it could also mean that there is something wrong with the team or the management processes. That is, “Is dissension allowed? Have people with various perspectives been brought to the table?”

Not all voices get heard and that is an issue. It may be a moral issue or a validity issue. And, there are procedural issues here as well.  

Who gets to speak at our table? That is the question. 

A fact of human capacity is that we don’t have time or treasure enough to hear all the possible voices. How we determine who gets to our table matters. Here are some considerations:

Is someone knocking on our door? If someone has expressed a desire to speak in our group why have we declined them? If it’s racism or sexism or any other “ism” this is a moral failure which will lead to a business failure or family rupture.

Have we searched for team members broadly enough? In business we have a sense of our target audience. It is important that audience is represented in the thought process of our business. To assume we know people’s thoughts and preferences especially across cultural lines is taking on unnecessary risk. 

Furthermore, have we understood our target audience? Maybe people in addition to those we’ve already identified could be in our target population. Find ways to discover new segments. For example, look at your sales records for outliers and find out who they are. Or, talk with other leaders or experts. 

Are we listening only at certain times and in certain places? Being a leader is 24/7 work. Listening at meetings matters but it also matters that off chance of hearing something in a song lyric or in a phrase caught from the conversation of passers-by.  

All Good Things to You and Yours,
Rabbi Jonathan Roth Magidovitch

Kehillat Ohel Moed
December 2014 Monthly Message

Just got back from a visit with my brother in Nashville. About six months ago he was diagnosed with lung cancer, already stage four. He decided, no medical care, just treat the pain.  

In July, the visit was all three Magidovitch kids. Now just the boys. Sister visits him in a couple of days.  

All along his attitude has been amazing. He said he wanted to be with his love. She died three years ago.  

He said, “I was anxious about this visit. What would we say to each other for three days?” We talked at my hotel and in the car. 

He said, “I put up a brave front” but he said now, “I’m scared.” We talked about it and I shared some things that scare me like being able to take care of my family.  

He said it was almost time for him to move from home into a hospice facility.  

He took me and a friend of his to dinner at “Outback.” Next day was with his daughter and her family. Last day a social worker came by. She had been helping him decide which hospice he would move into. That move will be tomorrow.  

Then I said, “Goodbye” and got into my rental car and called my wife in Israel. And, then I sobbed body shaking sobs. I apologized to her and she said she loved me.  

Two of the three Magidovitch kids were adopted. All of us married and had kids.

I’ve heard people say “blood is thicker than water.” Maybe, but water has a way of changing into blood. (See Exodus 7:20) It did in my family. Through adoption we became family. Through marriage we became family. 

Family is a miracle of choice. Today it hurts, and it’s worth the pain. Family has been a good choice.

Rabbi Jonathan Magidovitch

KOM Monthly Message 
November 2014

Today the message is about humanity. It’s irreplaceable. 

A friend who is the CEO of a bank was talking about how his bank cannot lend as they would before 2010 even to good customers who have history and have paid the bank back already on lots of prior loans. 

Because .. 
.. in 2010 the Dodd Frank regulation passed and instead of human to human now all bank loans, by law, can be made only according to pre-set criteria. It’s robot-like. 

The human element is gone and humans are suffering. 

And then there’s Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla (electric cars) and Space-X: “He told an audience at MIT on Friday that "we should be very careful about artificial intelligence (AI)," warning it may be "our biggest existential threat." http://money.cnn.com/2014/10/26/technology/elon-musk-artificial-intelligence-demon/

The threat of AI is that we can’t program humanity into machines. The AI creations are powerful and heart-less.  

There is very good news in this. Future jobs.  

Against a backdrop of increasing mechanization we will need the human touch more and more. Artists and artisans, coaches and nurses, marketers and actors, scientists in all branches, physics, chemistry, medicine etc. Humans, and we are already hiring humans precisely because we can follow a hunch. .. because we can understand what humans need because we are human.  

That banker. He’s human and we need to find a way to let him do his job and when we do that we will make more jobs building the houses and washing machines humans want.

This message is NOT a call to break the machines.  

This is a call to self-respect by human beings of the value of being human.  

All Good Things, 
Rabbi Jonathan Roth Magidovitch

KOM Kehillat Ohel Moed
October Monthly Message

Most of the time we beat ourselves up for procrastinating.  

This message comes to you between our High Holidays. It’s a time that I keep thinking I should be doing more now. But, then remember, “..time for everything under the sun.”  

Yes, sometimes we should push ourselves to get moving. 

But, also there are times when that feeling of not being able to do something is a true message from somewhere inside telling us we’re not supposed to do that thing .. or not do it now .. or not do it the way we had planned to do it.  

These are valid options and if we check ourselves on them we could save a lot of “inefficiency.”  

Jewish Tradition sets these “days of teshuvah” aside for us to take stock of ourselves in just this kind of way, ie are we doing the right things in the right time and in the right way?  

And, when these days are over, we can still do “teshuvah” .. and should. Think of these particular 10 days as a communal reminder of that inner work rather than as the only time for it. 

all good things,
Rabbi Jonathan Roth Magidovitch

Follow this link for KOM Holy Day Guidance: http://www.ohelmoed.com/Holy-Day-Guidance.html

September 2014 
KOM Monthly Message

I was skyping with a friend and we got onto the fighting in Ferguson, MO. She was talking about how every summer in some hot city there’s a flare up. She got seriously wise in the most common sense way: “For all the money spent better to buy everyone an air-conditioner and pay their electric bill … and a movie.”

I’m with her.

she added:

“Can you imagine if instead of bringing in tanks they brought in pizzas. And, people sat down at card tables and talked with each other.”  

Yes. I can imagine that. And, it could have worked.
And it still should, could work.  

Tanks(*1) never bring back the dead. Talking doesn’t either. But, in a way it does, if in their memory we get to the human concerns of each other.  

… yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’meh rabbah … speedily and in our day may peace come.  

All Good Things, 
Rabbi Jonathan Roth Magidovitch

 (*1) Still getting my head around that they brought tanks into Missouri .. I mean, it’s not Gaza. And, I’m also having a hard time figuring out how to bring pizzas into Gaza. That’s not likely; however conversation in other venues by the same stakeholders .. that works.  

August 2014 
KOM Monthly Message

In war, I see too much news. Because I want to know if my family is OK which I learn on Facebook better than on CNN but I still watch .. to make sure.  

I listen for names; people and places. I receive with that, lies. Which is probably why I woke up in the middle of last night. I had a political nightmare.  

What woke me up is the disrespect all around. Leaders lie to us and those lies get rebroadcast as news. They try to shape reality with soundbites and photo ops.  

In war there are lies of all sizes. The biggest lies are about the value of life itself. Those liars must have read the infamous propagandist of the Third Reich, Joseph Goebbels: 

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

Telling the truth would be good. 

Telling the truth means finding the truth. That takes research and thought. Truth leaves a trail. There are documents and artifacts and testimony. There are emails and video. There are tools for finding truth .. forensics, archaeology.  

Truth telling is risky. Awkwardness among friends. And, there are liars in the mix. Truth telling means reaching over liars, even as they murder, in order to work with decent peers on all sides.  

Telling the truth is tough work. Worth it. For the end of that task is peace.  

Rabbi Jonathan Roth Magidovitch

July 2014
Monthly Message 
Kehillat Ohel Moed

This month, again, a very personal message.

But, first, here is some factual information about Jewish views of afterlife (heaven).

My brother was recently given an end stage cancer diagnosis. Our sister and I will be visiting him soon and that brings some thoughts and emotions front and center. 

There are practical concerns. Family, social worker, chaplain, doctors .. we each have a place around him. It’s a community my sister is good at weaving together.  A gift for which I am grateful.  

Our brother is handling his illness very well emotionally.  Another gift for which I am very grateful. 

Our tradition does speak to what lies ahead for us after death. But, it’s not a clear picture as you can see by checking out the link at the top of this message.  

As for me; I have hopes about heaven. For me, heaven is the place where you are with
everybody you have ever loved and you never, ever have to say “goodbye.”

​Rabbi Jonathan Roth Magidovitch

June 2014, Monthly Message
Kehillat Ohel Moed

Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD said unto Abram: 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee.

12:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing.

12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.'

About 4,000 years ago, Abraham was blessed for having listened to God and left his home, friends, family, profession. His blessing is printed above and the blessings includes both his well being and a blessing for every family who blesses Abraham; they will be blessed, too.  

You may have noticed how much of news coverage is about things Jewish such as the State of Israel. You’d think Israel was huge but it’s actually only the size and population of Greater Metropolitan Chicago. Blessing.

You might have noticed the huge percentage of Jewish Nobel Prize winners. Blessing.

Jews could pat ourselves on the back. But, careful. Blessing is not a spectator sport.  

Abraham had to “do” in order to receive blessing. He took a huge risk and went to a new place and, having “done” that, his blessing flowed.  

All of us can participate in that blessing. We are children of Abraham: Jew, Christian, Muslim, Baha'i .. when we move to the “place” that God will show us, blessing flows.  

That blessing is material. Below are links about investment in the State of Israel. 

That blessing is also of the heart .. the blessing is having a heart that understands what life is about .. which is being in our right place and doing our right thing.

All Good Things, 
Rabbi Jonathan Roth Magidovitch

India - Israel  //  China - Israel  //  USA - Israel

May 2014, Monthly Message
Kehillat Ohel Moed
Rabbi Magidovitch

This is a very personal message and I pray it has meaning for you as well. 

My sister is in the country visiting us. She asked to go visit Jerusalem .. which would be the first time she has been to that city. 

Specifically she wanted to walk the ramparts. She wanted to visit the Western Wall and offer prayer there. 

The rampart walk is a path built into the top part of the ancient walls. It is possible to walk almost the full circumference of the Old City. My first time to do this walk, too. It was NOT touristy and even dull at times as we were seeing the "backs" of things. Things as mundane as piles of construction material. A woman hanging her wash on a line. Kids and their teachers. That was looking into the Old City. Looking out was possible through slits in the stones and through somewhat wider openings .. openings built as you would expect from seeing old city walls and castles in movies. 

As intense as Jerusalem is, what with all the competing ideas, it was quiet up on the walls. It was normal life. People doing what people do. 

​We walked down to street level at the Damascus gate and it was packed. A mix of locals and tourists. We walked El Wad street all the way to the Western Wall area. We got there and I saw what was familiar to me as the Men's prayer area left and the Women's prayer area right. 
Since my last visit to the Wall, a new prayer section has been opened​
​and it's a place where men and women and children can pray together. Had to ask where it was. A guard told me and then asked me what the "criteria" were for praying at that place. Did you have to be Reform? I answered, anyone can pray there. He said he would go there to pray. 

Another guard, closer to the entrance of the new prayer area, I asked him if this was the place. He said, "yes," but it's just for prayer. I told him that was our intention. Maybe other people come for politics?

My sister and I went to the place. It was also quiet. Just the two of us, then a tour group walked by and their guide explained this new place. The Wall is the same Western Wall just further south along it.

I've been to the Western Wall many times. This time was the simplest for me. Maybe this prayer place is too new to this purpose to have taken on characteristics. At least for yesterday, it was quiet and beautiful and simple, simple. 

The rampart walk and this newly designated prayer section, it's a Jerusalem that is new to me. I like it. 

Perhaps we will be able to visit this Jerusalem together. 
Jonathan Yosef 

April 2014, Monthly Message
Kehillat Ohel Moed
Rabbi Jonathan Yosef Magidovitch

Pay yourself first.
This was a lesson I learned on how to include savings in the budget. Then give charity. Then handle everything else.  

There’s more here than a savings account. There is also a view of how life works. In order to be helpful to others we have to be stable. That’s why the flight attendant says, “Put on your own mask then help others.” 

Being financially stable .. attending to that .. creates our freedom. A beholden person is not free. They are obligated to their debtors.  

Emotionally we also have to pay ourselves first. We have to take care of our needs. Which means understanding our needs. Which means really seeing what is going on with us.  

Not always easy to look in that mirror.  

On that, this story about Passover and the people who got out of slavery in Egypt.  

It took 40 years to get to Promised Land. Which was an 11 day walk from Egypt to Israel. Why so long .. because that generation physically got out of slavery but not emotionally. No mirrors .. no self-reflection. They whined. They demanded miracles. Which they got and they demanded more. 

That’s not freedom. That’s more of making someone else responsible for us. Was Pharaoh; now God. 

Freedom is “I am responsible for my life.”

As we will say at the Passover Seder, “ ארמי עובד אבי .. my father was an Aramean slave but I am free” We knew bitter slavery. Freedom tastes better. At the Seder meal we provide witness to freedom’s sweetness.  

Sweet Passover to you and yours.  

And to our Christian siblings, The Last Supper was a Passover Seder meal. It is the self-same lesson in taking responsibility and gaining freedom. Sweet Easter to you. 

Jonathan Yosef 

March 2014 Monthly Message  
Kehillat Ohel Moed
Rabbi Jonathan Yosef Magidovitch

First heard the Beatles “Let it Be” in 7th grade.  The mother Mary I thought meant Jesus’ mother. Though, I just now read online that Mother Mary was Paul McCartney’s mother who came to him in a dream. 

Sometimes "Let it Be" just comes out of me. Strikes a deep chord.  

So hard to just “let it be.” I’m not the only one. 

This is about faith. Looking for the right path. Deciding without being sure because life keeps on going .. ready or not.  

And, then it comes to me, the part in Bible where Moses asks God’s name: אהיה אשר אהיה “I am that I am” (Exodus 3: 13 -15)  Strange name. Strong role model. God is what God is and from that complete acceptance comes all the goodness of creation. 

This is where we want to be. The place where we “let IT be” and IT is what is real. Not our hopes, fears or agendas. That’s the wisdom which comes in mothers’ arms and broken hearts and whispers.  

Let it be. 

Jonathan Yosef 

February 2014 Monthly Message
Rabbi Jonathan Magidovitch
Kehillat Ohel Moed

Yehoshua ben Perachia said: Make for yourself a rabbi, acquire for yourself a friend, and judge every person fairly." Pirkeh Avot Chapter 1, Mishna 6(a)  
במשנה אבות (פרק ראשון) יהושע בן פרחיה אומר "עשה לך רב, וקנה לך חבר, והוי דן את כל האדם לכף זכות."

I’ve been known to say: “Everybody needs a rabbi and every rabbi needs a priest.” As a rabbi, I am blessed to have both a rabbi and a priest. Yes, that is sounding a lot like the beginning of a joke, “..and we all walked into a bar, and . . .” But, it’s no joke and it is a really important part of my life. Having both of them enhances my vision.

This message then is a suggestion of how important it is to have someone in our life who can read us back to ourselves. Who can speak to our acts, our warts and our dreams.  

And, if you are a giver of advice, get that part of yourself checked by someone who checks such things. 

This because we are not perfect when we are alone — unsteady as a one-legged stool. In relationship with a guide (a rabbi, a priest, a friend) we are stable. We are humbled to the point of being human by the very fact that we accept guidance. 

Lucky us who have a rabbi. 

All Good Things
Jonathan Yosef 

January 2014  Monthly Message
Rabbi Jonathan Magidovitch
Kehillat Ohel Moed 

Ever wondered why your wife, husband, kids didn’t come with an instruction book?

Would you have read it if they did?  

Which type are you:

Type 1: I always read the manual. I want to know how life works so I can work Life right. Preventative: like insurance; like vaccinations.  

Type 2: I never read the manual. This is Life. Doesn’t come with a manual. I learn to work Life by working with the person or situation at hand. Me and them. No manual. No two situations are alike.  

Type 3: I only read the manual if something goes wrong, and then only at the page “simple solutions for simple problems” and/or the page with the (800) number for help. But, where DID I put that manual?

It’s a question of what kind of “learner” we are .. of how we like to take our “risk”. 

That person you want to know how to “work” with .. they learn differently than you. Not better. Not worse. You are, say, Type 1 and they aren’t.  

And that “instruction book” .. we got it at Sinai. (Torah, Bible, Scripture) Use it or not. And, even if not, it’s super life helpful to understand how we relate to instructions. And, why.

All Good Things
Jonathan Yosef

December 2013 Monthly Message
Rabbi Jonathan Magidovitch
Kehillat Ohel Moed 

Joseph was a man on a mission: food supply manager; worldwide.

Joseph did not know his mission until he was doing it.  

Every step along the way, he used his God given skills and doing that put him where he next needed to be.  

(1) He was honest which his father loved and his brothers hated. They sold him into slavery.

(2) He was a good manager so he got hired to CEO Egyptian Lord Potiphar’s estate from where he got sent to prison in which he soon became prison manager.  

(3) He was a good dream reader so he interpreted cellmates’ dreams and that got him into Pharaoh's court to read His dreams.  

Which got Joseph to be Pharaoh’s CEO. Which is where he got the power to manage the crops and food storage of Egypt. Which allowed Egypt to stave off worldwide famine. Joseph. One foot in front of the next. Faithfully doing the work that was put in front of him. 

The message:  There is a reason you are good at particular stuff; do that stuff.   That will take you where you need to go.  That will make you the blessing you were born to be.

all good things
Jonathan Yosef 

November 2013
Monthly Message
Kehillat Ohel Moed
Rabbi Jonathan Yosef Magidovitch

Do the Right Thing:

At some point, we face a big decision. 

We sort of know what to do and the bigger our “indecision” the bigger that’s a sign we’re getting in our own way.  

No fear.  

If we can’t decide because we’re afraid of causing a bigger problem then push through that fear. Never let fear stop us from doing the right thing.  

No shame.

If we can’t decide because we’re ashamed of changing course and admitting we were wrong, make the change. It’s better to get it over and bear the shame than to keep on down the wrong path. 

Check yourself.

If we can’t decide because we’re just not sure, ask questions. Check in with experts, friends, books, sites. Do your research. At each check, check in with yourself and ask “How is this advice sitting with me? Did it clarify or confuse me? Am I really checking or am I trying to bolster my own agenda?”  

Set a decision time.

Avoid the trap of endless questions. There is a time for everything under the sun especially decisions. If you miss the time, someone else will make your decision for you and that’s like slavery where you put the shackles on yourself. 

Be confident.

Jeremiah 31: 32 This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the LORD, I will put My law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Which is to say, we’ve got the rule book inside us. It’s a matter of using it.  

Jonathan Yosef 


October 2013
Monthly Message
Kehillat Ohel Moed
Rabbi Jonathan Yosef Magidovitch 

In Talmud Ketubot 17a, rabbis Shammai and Hillel are arguing about how to describe a bride. Shammai says, “as she is,” Hillel says, “beautiful and graceful.” Shammai’s point being that one cannot lie. Hillel’s point that every bride is beautiful. 

Hillel is correct. He understands the power of love; when a person is loved, they become beautiful.  

A Torah proof text for that is Genesis 12:14: “and it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman (Sarai) that she was very beautiful.”

Sarai is elderly. The couple is met by Egyptian border guards who send word to Pharaoh, “there is a woman here beautiful enough to be your bride.” Abram’s love for his wife makes Sarai beautiful not only to him but also to the guards and to Pharaoh. Love creates an objective reality; beauty.  

It’s the 21st century and we understand that a wife’s love also makes her husband handsome. Key here is that our love creates what we see. Not a fantasy but a reality that others also see.  

When we see beauty be grateful for having a healthy capacity to love. When we see ugliness it’s a breakdown in our love. 

That breakdown first takes away our love for ourselves and then it makes things look ugly to us. That is why Scripture commands us to love our bride as our self. (Leviticus 19:18; Ephesians 5:28-33) It alerts us that in order to love another we must first love ourselves.  

Our bride is beautiful. (Groom, too) If not, there’s work to do. Unsure how? Find a teacher.
Jonathan Yosef 

Kehillat Ohel Moed קהילת אוהל מועד
Monthly Message