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June 19, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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June 19, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 19, 2009 By Rabbi David N. Young The poet Marcia Falk adapt- ed a poem ascribed only to the name Zelda, called "Each of UsHas a Name, "which reads in part: Each ofus has a name given by the source of life and given by our parents Each of us has a name given by our stature and our smile and given by what we wear Each of us has a name given by our enemies and given by our love Two weeks ago in Wichita. Kan.. a man whose name is known to many in the politi- cal, social action, and medical communities was shot and killed in his church. He was serving as an usher, handing out programs much like our Shabbat greeters do here at Temple Sinai. His wife was singing in the choir when a man walked in. shot and killed Dr. George Tiller, and ran away. Dr. Tiller made a name for himself, given to him in many forms. He was named a friend and supporter of Kathleen Se- belius, our current Health and Human Services Secretary. He was dubbed "Tiller the Baby Killer" by Bill O'Reilly. He was labeled hero by the hundreds of cards and let- ters that line the walls of the Women's Health Care Center. He was named "Godless Mur- derer," and "Church-Going Martyr," in the same article of By Mitchell Bard In every adminjstration a point comes when the Secre- tary of State will either assert themselves and define U. S. Middle East policy or allow the Eulogy for Dr. George Tiller He was called father to four, and grandfather to 10. I have been to Wichita only once--April 9 to 15, 2006. Natalie and I met Dr. Tiller, and spent time with him in his clinic for a week. We did not want to go, but to us there was no real choice. About a month before our ordination and investiture from Hebrew Union College, Natalie was 34 weeks pregnant, and we discovered that the baby had microcephaly and lis- sencephaly. In plain English, the head was too small, and the brain was not developing. The first, second, and third opinions all told us the same thing. Our baby would not live outside the womb. So Natalie and I made the dif- ficult decision to terminate the pregnancy. In the United States. abor- tion is legal, but it is up to the states" to determine limita- tions or restrictions on these laws. The Women's Health Care Center in Wichita is one of three locations in the U.S. that legally performs late- term abortions, or abortions after the 21st week of preg- nancy. Dr. Tiller was referred to us as the best of those three, so we quickly made plans to fly to Wichita. Though I do not wish this experience on anyone, I can say that Dr. Tiller deserves his designation as a caring, compassionate professional the Wichita daily newspaper, in his field. My memory is weak about our time there, perhaps subconsciously as a defense mechanism. I re- member fake Wood paneling on the wails, worn couches in several different waiting areas, and sympathetic faces on everyone on staff. We were there with three other couples, all going through the same thing, though for different reasons. Not one person was there because of an unwanted preglaancy. All of us were distraught that our babies could not survive outside the womb. Dr. Tiller and his staff guided us gently an~ honestly through this incredibly pain- ful process. Throughoutourweekthere, Natalie spent a lot of time asleep or in a drug-induced haze, so I had a lot of time to sit in our hotel room and think. I kept a journal when I could handle it emotionally, and I read. I read e-mails and magazines, and Studied a little Mishnah. I took in the words of Tractate Niddah (5:3) which says, "A day-old son who dies is to his father and mother like a full bridegroom." This phrase stuck in my mind, especially the use of the word "bridegroom." There are many words the Talmud uses to distinguish different stages of life. It could have said elderly man, full-grown son, or young man with equal grav- ity to describe a parent's loss. Using "bridegroom" must be intentional, and it works on two fronts. The first is independence. A bridegroom is clearly of an age where the parents have completed raising the child until he is ready to be on his own. They know who he is. the kind of person he is. what interests he has, and what his aspirations are. Their loss equals the loss of a fully developed human being, no matter what age he is. The second speaks to emp- tiness. Even before a woman gets pregnant, she is mak- ing plans for the child's life. When a couple discovers that they are going to have a child, the plans begin. If this is the birthday, then this will be the bar mitzvah. This will be graduation, and hopefully around here is the chuppah. Who knows, maybe by this year we'll be grandparents! Describing the loss as "like a full bridegroom" reminds us that we are going to miss out on every simcha that might have been, from birth to the wedding and beyond. Dr. Tiller had an under- standing of this pain, perhaps better than anyone who has never gone through it person- ally. As a doctor he was upfront about everything he was about to do and everything we needed to do to make things go well. When we arrived, he sat all four couples down and told us everything that was going to happen. He showed us the instruments he was going to use. He told us how the drugs would make the women feel. He told them fiat out that it was going to hurt and she needed to be ready. He was brutally honest. He told us- that he had losta patient about a year and a half prior to our visit. He asked if we had ques- tions, and when challenged, he answered respectfully and honestly. He also asked about us. He wanted to know who we were, what we did. and how we lived as couples and families. When it came out that Natalie and I were about to become Jewish clergy, he mentioned that his on-staff chaplain was not Jewish. but he wrote down the name and number of a local Reform rabbi who we might want to talk to. Admittedly, we did not use the number. So the next evening, that rabbi called us in our hotel room. He said Dr. Tiller had called the synagogue, let them know we were in town. and said he suspected w~ weren't in a place where we could make the first move. He invited us to Passover Seder at his home two nights later, and said we could decide anytime up to - dessert being served that we wanted to show up, and that he would understand if we wanted to keep to ourselves. All because Dr. Tiller cared enough to make sure someone was reaching out to us. Clinton's first misstep in Mideast policy Netanyahu was going to insist that the Iranian issue be re- solved before pursuing peace talks with the Palestinians. In fact, Netanyahu has made clear that he is prepared to negotiate with Palestinian expressed the well-worn, and long-discreditedview of State Department Arabists who believe the Arab states care more about the Palestinians than their own self=interest. and that U. S. support for attempting to spread Shia Islam in the nation where 99 percent of the population is Sunni Muslims. Note that these disputes are unrelated to the Palestinian issue. Fear of Iran has grown, department, however, that she is feeding the obsession with the Palestinian issue at the expense of broader U. S. interests. In doing so, she is following the missteps of her predecessor, Condo]eezza PAGE 5.~ Judaism acknowledges that life is sacred. Dr. Tiller per- sonified the value of pikuach nefesh, saving a life, putting his own life at risk every day in order to fulfill this value. Jewish tradition dictates that before Kaddish we do not say the name of non-Jews unless they fall under the category of gerei tzedek, the righteous gentiles who live ethical and valiant lives. ~n that vein we will add Dr. Tiller to Temple Sinai's Kaddish list tonight, honoring him as a ger tzedek. In the words of Dr. Cheryl Gutmann, Chair of the Com- mission on Social Action of Reform Judaism: "As our hearts and prayers go out to Dr. Tiller's family, we think of his personal heroism and that of the other brave and courageous providers and professionals who are part of reproductive health centers across this country." Zelda's poem closes: Each of us has a name given by our celebrations and given by our work Each of us has a name given by the sea and given by our death Zichrono livrachah: May his name be remembered for a blessing. Rabbi David N. Young is the assistant rabbi at Temple Sinai in North Miami Beach, Fla. This post originally aP- peared on his blog, http:// rabbiyoung.blogspot.corn/ on June 5. andwas unwiiling to confront Iran. The Palestinian problem has persisted for more than a century. It is hot going to be solved anytime soon no matter how much effort the Arabists in the State Depart- ment to seize the agenda and set it on a path that misplaces attention on the Palestinian issue and seeks to solve it by one-sided pressure on Israel. The test has come early in the Obama Administration and Secretary Hilary Clinton ap- pears to have failed by adopt- ing the illogical view that the Palestinian issue must be solved or the Arab world will not cooperate in the effort to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, but that the Iranian threat is the overarching concern for his government. The Obama administration is determined to push a peace process that at the moment has no chance of success because the Palestinians are deeply divided and cannot speak w!th one Voice and the Israeli public is tired from nearly a decade of terrorist and rocket attacks directed at them from territories they gave up in the hope of peace. Israel undermines U.S.-Arab relations. Even Jimmy Carter revealed in 1979. "I have never met an Arab leader that in private professed the desire for an independent Palestin- ian state." Arab leaders are far more concerned with their survival, and that is threat- ened by Iran. Iran's Arab neighbors now accuse Tehran of threatening the sovereignty and inde- pendence of the Kingdom of Bahrain and territories of the United Arab Emirates. especially as Arab states have become more skeptical that the international community will prevent Iran from devel- oping nuclear weapons. One indication of regional anxiety is that at least 12 countries have either announced plans to explore atomic energy or signed nuclear cooperation agreements. Only the naive would believe they all sud- denly decided they need to generate nuclear power. Our Arab allies desperately want us to take measures to Rice. who caved in to the administration devotes to Arabists and persisted in a quixotic last-minute quest for peace that predictably achieved the same result as the prior 60 years' of State Department-inspired peace initiatives failure. A major consequence was to convince the Arab states that George W. Bush had lost his nerve pressuring Israel. The Arab states agree with Israel, how- ever. that the Iranian threat must be confronted now. Mitchell Bard, Ph.D, is the author of Willlsrael Survive? (Palgrave) and 48 Hours of Kristallnacht: Night of Destruction/ Dawn of the HolocauSt (Lyons Press). Dry Bones THE- EAT IV .,-OTIATOR Clinton's statement that Until confidence is rebuilt Egypt is fulminating after stop Iran's drive for regional Arab officials "believe that to the point where Israelis discovering Iranian-backed hegemony.UnliketheArabists (~ ~TS TO ~ ~0 PO~ H~ ~g~ Israel's willingness to reenter believe they will get peace Hezbollahagentsinthecoun- at State, they are clear-eyed t~'~TIATE , 1 THE ~ OF / intodiscussionswiththePal- ratherthanterrorinexchange tryplanningattacksonIsrael, enough to recognize the ~[~ Of: I~RA~'LS ] [~ ~ ~T [ estinian Authority strength- for land, it isunreasonable to Moroccobrokediplomaticties Palestinian issue will not be "r~E~ ~Tk~, [~ [ ens them in being able to deal expecttheNetanyahugovern- with Iran after accusing the solvedbeforethedangerfrom 'r~[~ [~ v[~ /~ with.Iran" was prompted by ment to Offer new territorial Iranian diplomatic mission Iran reaches critical mass. misleading reports from Israel concessions, of interfering in the internal Clinton is apparently so (~ I,~A~'~ [~,t thatPrimeMinisterBenjamin Clinton'sstatementonIran affairs of the kingdom and anxious to show fealty to her There s a new girl on the block and--- yippee!--her name is Rebecca By Rachel Freedenberg the cover. The title: "Meet one.Iwas so obsessed, in fact, den, colonialgirl Felicitv'stea ['' ~OW ~I~D H~ "~ [ j. the Jewish weekly of Rebecca" .... that to thisday I can remem- boycott and Kirsten's strug- [ ~'~P~ THEIR \ ] Northern California ~t,ons,asc, wenavea~ew- bersome otthe mostminute gles as a Swedish newcomer [ ~T~ ~.0~'~/~ ~ [ ish American Girl. details about the characters to the Minnesota prairie, but I Of: T~ ~ / [ SAN FRANCISCO Last I've been a fan ofAmerican lives. When one of my co- ultimately, noneofthesesto- month something arrived in Girl for nearly 20 years. In workers, seeing me squealing ries felt lik~my own I lonaed the office mail that nearly the late '80s and early '90s, over the Rebecca book, asked for an American Girl whose brought me to tears. Itwasn't Pleasant Company published me about the series, I began grandparents spoke Yiddish, bad news. In fact. it was very, the first set of American Girl to babble on about Kirsten, who celebrated Chanukah very good news--news I had books, following the lives of Molly, Samantha and Felicity instead of Christmas, who been waiting for since I was four fictional girls living in as if they were old friends, took matzah to the movies 7 years old. different parts of the United Butwhile IlovedtheAmeri- during Passover. Itwasathinpaperbackbook States at different times in can Girls, there was some- Ireadplentyofbooksabout with a smiling, brown-haired history, thing missing. I enjoyed the girl in a burgundy dress on I devoured each and every stories of Molly's Victory Gar- Rebecca on page 19A