Archive for February 23rd, 2010

Abortion Language in White House Health Care Proposal Worries Some in Washington

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

No surprise here.

The 11 page White House proposal on health care has hit some snags in Washington, with outside groups complaining the language in the plan does not go far enough in explicitly banning the use of federal funds for abortions. Americans United for Life (AUL) is asking President Obama to re-evaluate the wording in his proposal regarding abortion, saying he had previously promised no federal dollars would be used to fund the procedure.

Charmaine Yoest, the director of Americans United for Life (AUL), has said repeatedly that her organization, which has met with various officials at the White House, would only be satisfied with a bill that strictly limits federal funding of abortions, language included in the Stupak-Pitts amendment to the House legislation, but not clarified in the Senate version. “The President promised the American people that ‘no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.’ Incredibly, his health care proposal doesn’t contain a single mention of the Life issue,” Yoest said in a statement. “As I made clear to the White House in a meeting last fall, unless they include specific legislative language banning the use of federal funds for abortion, they will be establishing taxpayer funding for abortion. Today was the President’s opportunity to keep his word.”

President Obama’s proposal on health care, published on Monday on the White House website (www.whitehouse.gov) specifically deals with the Senate legislation and not the House passed legislation. White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer says the proposal is only an “opening bid” for a meeting Thursday at Blair House between Republicans, Democrats and the President and is seen as a way to bridge the differences between the House and Senate passed legislation. When asked about the abortion language during a telephone briefing with reporters, Pfeiffer said the language in the Senate bill was what the White House would be using for their proposal.

AUL argues the Senate bill’s funding restriction is too narrow and allows insurance plans that cover abortions to receive federal subsidies. “Any health care reform measure must explicitly exclude both federal funding for elective abortions and subsidization of insurance plans that cover abortions, and ensure that no government entity may mandate abortion coverage,“ Mary Harned, AUL’s Staff Counsel told Fox. “The abortion funding restriction in the Senate bill is narrow and explicitly allows insurance plans that cover abortions to receive federal subsidies. There are also loopholes in the Senate bill that could allow government entities to require private insurance companies to cover elective abortions. Therefore, the Senate bill needs language mirroring the Stupak-Pitts amendment, such as the Nelson-Hatch-Casey Amendment that was offered and tabled on the Senate floor. ”

The Stupak-Pitts amendment in the House legislation would prevent coverage for abortions in the so-called public option. The amendment also prevents private plans from offering coverage for abortion services if those plans accept people who receive government subsidies on health care. However, the Senate backed legislation does not have a public option as the House legislation does, and it has various other differences that need to be reconciled between the two houses of Congress, as well as the White House before any agreement can be reached on the overall bill.

Meanwhile, in advance of a protracted argument and potential filibuster on the entire bill, the White House is urging Republicans in the Senate and House to have an up or down vote on health care reform. “Our proposal is designed to give ourselves maximum flexibility to ensure that we can get an up or down vote if the opposition decides to take the extraordinary step of filibustering health reform,” Pfeiffer said.

The health care meeting between Republicans, Democrats and the President will take place Thursday and will be broadcast live on CSPAN.

Original Link.

Israeli Archaeologist Digs Up [More] Proof That Bible is True

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Still more proof that Bible accounts are true. Awesome!!

JERUSALEM — An Israeli archaeologist said Monday that ancient fortifications recently excavated in Jerusalem date back 3,000 years to the time of King Solomon and support the biblical narrative about the era.

If the age of the wall is correct, the finding would be an indication that Jerusalem was home to a strong central government that had the resources and manpower needed to build massive fortifications in the 10th century B.C.

That’s a key point of dispute among scholars, because it would match the Bible’s account that the Hebrew kings David and Solomon ruled from Jerusalem around that time.

While some Holy Land archaeologists support that version of history — including the archaeologist behind the dig, Eilat Mazar — others posit that David’s monarchy was largely mythical and that there was no strong government to speak of in that era.

Speaking to reporters at the site Monday, Mazar, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, called her find “the most significant construction we have from First Temple days in Israel.”

“It means that at that time, the 10th century, in Jerusalem there was a regime capable of carrying out such construction,” she said.

Based on what she believes to be the age of the fortifications and their location, she suggested it was built by Solomon, David’s son, and mentioned in the Book of Kings.

The fortifications, including a monumental gatehouse and a 77-yard long section of an ancient wall, are located just outside the present-day walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, next to the holy compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. According to the Old Testament, it was Solomon who built the first Jewish Temple on the site.

That temple was destroyed by Babylonians, rebuilt, renovated by King Herod 2,000 years ago and then destroyed again by Roman legions in 70 A.D. The compound now houses two important Islamic buildings, the golden-capped Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Archaeologists have excavated the fortifications in the past, first in the 1860s and most recently in the 1980s. But Mazar claimed her dig was the first complete excavation and the first to turn up strong evidence for the wall’s age: a large number of pottery shards, which archaeologists often use to figure out the age of findings.

Original Link.

“A SPECIAL BAR MITZVAH FOR A VERY SPECIAL BOY” by Fern Sidman

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

For most Jewish boys, the months prior to their 13th birthday are rife with anticipation as they immerse themselves in the preparations for their upcoming Bar Mitzvah. It is this rite of passage into manhood that marks a very special day for the entire family and community. The guest list, the caterer, the musicians, the photographer, the new suits and dresses are all top priorities, as the family buzzes with excitement and a flurry of activity takes place. Clearly, everyone wants the memories of this momentous day to be emblazoned in their hearts and minds forever.

Sunday February 14th, which also happened to be the first day of the Hebrew month of Adar (signifying a time of joy and gladness for the Jewish people as they prepare to celebrate Purim), marked the day in which one very special boy with special needs had his most unique bar mitzvah celebration. Baruch Shlomo HaLevi Gershbein was diagnosed with autism as a toddler and while his severely limited verbal and comprehensive skills may militate against his pronunciations of the appropriate blessings, his family was determined to afford him the same opportunity as other Jewish boys of his age.

“Baruch Shlomo is quite close to being non-verbal at this point. We have hope that he will speak more in the future, but his vocabulary – other than words related to eating – is probably no more than a score of words”, said his father, Steven (Shmuel) Gershbein, a noted Brooklyn attorney specializing in representing the civil rights of the handicapped community as well as a rabbi dedicated to opening up the riches of Judaism to special needs individuals. “I practiced the B’rachot (blessings) with him nearly every day for the past three-and-a-half years. We missed rehearsing perhaps two or three days a year. I knew that he would memorize the melody for these blessings because he has quite a gift for recalling tunes. I was impressed with his courage when he actually attempted to say about two or three of the words with me when the Torah (Scroll of The Law) was on the Bimah (table) and we shared an Aliyah (elevation to the Torah)” he said.

The 50 plus guests including family and friends gathered at Congregation Khal Bnei Yisroel, located in the Midwood section of Brooklyn to partake in the glorious celebration. As Baruch Shlomo completed his stalwart attempt to recite the blessings, a palpable joy filled the synagogue as the congregation burst forth with strains of “Siman Tov u’Mazel Tov” the traditional words sung at a simcha (joyous occasion). “I have known Baruch Shlomo since the day he was born and I can sincerely say that he is a simply adorable boy who radiates a certain “Chein” (charm and love) and his infectious smile lights up the world” said Frimet Tzirel Rosenblatt, a close family friend. Among those thanking the assemblage for their unwavering support and encouragement were Baruch Shlomo’s parents, Rabbi Steven Gershbein, Baruch’s mother Chaviva Gershbein, his paternal grandparents, Stanley and Carol Gershbein of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and his great Aunt Lila of Oceanside, New York.

“We are all very proud of Baruch Shlomo and on his behalf I wish to thank each and every one of you for coming today and helping to enhance this joyous day” said the exuberant grandfather, Stanley Gershbein. Several prominent speakers were also in attendance including Rabbi Tzvi Mandel, the officiating rabbi at Cong. Khal Bnei Yisroel and nephew of the founder of the legendary Yeshiva of Brooklyn, Rabbi Manis Mandel, ZT”L and New York State Supreme Court Justice for the County of Kings, Judge Leon Ruchelsman. “Our shul (synagogue) is privileged to host the bar mitzvah of Baruch Shlomo Gershbein and we are deeply impressed with the love that everyone assembled here today has for this incredibly sweet neshoma (soul). May his parents, grandparents, extended family and friends always derive a great deal of nachas (joy) from him”, said Rabbi Mandel as he embraced Baruch Shlomo.

During his speech, the boy’s father, Rabbi Steven Gershbein spoke of the joys and challenges of raising a special needs child. “Baruch Shlomo have never given me a moment of sorrow. He gives me no pain. He has only given me joy. Raising a special needs child is hard. It is challenging and anyone who tells you that it is not an arduous, back breaking and soul crushing task is not telling the truth. While the challenges are indeed far greater than in raising a non-special needs child, so too are those moments of intensified sweetness when you make eye contact with an autistic child and your heart swells with love”, he said.

Judge Leon Ruchelsman, a close family friend said of the magnanimity of Baruch Shlomo’s father, “It seems that each time I meet Rabbi Gershbein, he is on his cell phone immersed in a conversation pertaining to helping someone. He is consistently involved in helping to relieve the pain of others and is not mired in self pity. With everything that he has to deal with concerning Baruch Shlomo, he still has time to perform acts of loving kindness and I am always deeply moved and so greatly impressed by that”, he said.

The entire Gershbein family wishes to extend their deepest thanks to those who made this bar mitzvah a reality. “Firstly, we praise and thank the Almighty G-d of Israel for allowing us to reach this day. Praise G-d for He is good; His kindness is forever. The Talmud in tractates Berachot and Sanhedrin note the importance of gratitude and our sages of blessed memory say that ingratitude is akin to idol worship, so we wish to thank everyone who showed up today and we thank every person who ever performed a single kind deed for Baruch Shlomo” said Rabbi Gershbein.

He continued, “Chief among these are: the Mora D’Asra, HaRav HaGaon Rabbi Tzvi Mandel for permitting us to have this event in his shteibel, small in size but large in the eyes of heaven. We also thank his holy rebbetzin, Chaya Shaindel Mandel, a therapist in private practice and the head of a division of Ohel. We thank my Rebbe, HaRav Perlow, for his years of instruction relative to how to live in this world and how to be worthy in the world to come. We also thank Baruch Shlomo’s grandparents Stanley and Carol Gershbein, who raised me with honor and integrity and taught me how to appreciate the good in life.

Very special thanks go to Baruch Shlomo’s wonderful and exceptionally dedicated mother Chaviva Gershbein, my dear friend and my son’s adopted uncle, Frank Vasile, who does just about everything you can think of to make Baruch Shlomo’s life a happy and productive one. This event would not have come to fruition without his constant help and tireless devotion. We also would not be here today if it were not for the hard work and incredible organizational skills of Sam and Francine Schloss, Rob and Susie Kaiserman and countless others. May Baruch Shlomo learn the lessons of kindness, integrity and dignity from these individuals and may G-d grant him the ability to go from strength to strength.”

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Fern Sidman holds a B.A, in political science from Brooklyn College. She was the educational coordinator for the Betar Youth Movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She was national director of the Jewish Defense League from 1983-1985. She was a researcher for several books written by Rabbi Meir Kahane, ZTK”L. She was the managing editor of the publication entitled, The Voice of Judea, and is a regular contributor to its web site. She is currently a writer and journalist living in New York City. Her articles have appeared in The Jewish Press, The Jewish Advocate, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, and numerous Jewish and general web sites including, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Pipes and Michael Freund.
We are delighted to have Ms. Sidman as a regular contributor to the Jesus is Lord, A Worshipping Christian’s Blog.