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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 9, 2007 / 19 Teves, 5767

More than fear itself

By Rabbi Avi Shafran



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In wake of high profile incidents involving Muslims, a "visibly Jewish man" considers those who make snap judgments — when they are right and wrong


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | You suddenly begin noticing signs bearing Arabic script in buses. What do you do?


Well, what bus riders in Richmond, Virginia did was call the local Transit Authority to find out what it might know about the signs, which had been turning up on buses and the walls of local universities.


The Associated Press and other media outlets subtly scoffed at the concerned citizens, explaining that the Arabic phrases were in fact innocuous — translating as things like "paper or plastic?" or


"paper, scissors, rock" or "I'm a little teapot." Those translations in fact appeared at the bottom of the signs, along with admonishments like "Misunderstanding can make anything scary" or "What did you think it said?"


The provocative ads were the work of the Virginia Interfaith Center, which placed them in public venues as part of an effort to change the fact that, as the center's executive director put it, "as soon as people see Arabic, they immediately make an association with terrorism."


Orthodox Jews like me have considerable experience with bias, and sympathy for good-willed, law abiding Muslims who are victims of religious prejudice. We know well what it is like to be targeted by bigots for harsh stares, ugly comments and worse. I always carry the realization that some subset of society will, when seeing my beard and headgear, associate me with Shakespeare's Shylock, Dickens' Fagin, the fictional poisoners of wells or the fantasized Elders of Zion.


And those are all, in the end, imagined characters. In this age of all-too-real and widespread Islamist terrorism — where the Muslim faith is regularly invoked by people around the world as directing murder and mayhem — innocent Muslims surely feel even more marginalized as a result of the hasty generalizations people tend to make, and bear the bitter fruit of the suspicions and fears born of their coreligionists' all-too-real words and actions.


But there are times, still, when suspicion and fears cannot be dismissed as the products of bias, and can even rightfully lead to the curtailment, at least temporarily, of the freedoms we Americans enjoy as our birthright.


Like the recent case of a group of imams who were removed from a flight about to leave Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for Phoenix.


That the Muslim religious leaders had reportedly prayed loudly in the airport before the flight was certainly no reason to consider anything amiss. But when passengers and flight attendants told law-enforcement officials that the imams had switched from their assigned seats — to a pattern associated with the September 11 terrorist passengers: two in the front row first-class seats, two in the middle of the plane in aisle seats and two in the rear of the cabin — security officials' concern was not outlandish, as later was charged by a number of American Muslim groups.


And when three of the men then asked for seat-belt extenders, despite being of average build, and proceeded to place them, unused, on the floor before them, it was hardly religious bias — or, in the words of Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee (D., Texas), "racial profiling, harassment and discrimination" — that motivated police to detain the group for questioning.


No weapons in the end were found among the imams, but that happy fact does not mitigate the less-happy one that the authorities' actions were more than justified.


As a visibly Jewish man, whenever I am on a plane or train, I always consciously try to alleviate any discomfort others might have with my own appearance or actions. Even well before September, 2001 — even before a young lady at a bus stop asked me to please tell her cowering 5-year-old that, despite my in-need-of-a-trim beard, I wasn't Osama bin Ladin — I would always make sure to apprise seatmates, with a friendly smile and a pleasant demeanor, of the fact that I was about to say my prayers, and that my swaying and whispering were only parts of the ritual. And Orthodox Jews, to the best of my knowledge, haven't ever hijacked airplanes.


It is unfortunate, but Muslims who disavow the hatred and violence preached by some of their coreligionists have to accept, with sadness but pragmatism, the burden of society's suspicion-by-association. It's a regrettable reality that actions they take in all innocence might be misconstrued at times as sinister — or that Arabic script suddenly appearing in public places might cause some alarm. But our world is, as they say, what it is.


Yes, sometimes things that seem frightening in fact turn out to be harmless. But fright can also save lives and limbs. "Fear itself," unfortunately, is no longer the only thing we have to fear.


The Virginia Interfaith Center would probably consider me in need of re-education. But, with all due respect to the group and its well-meaning efforts, for my part, I still think that when I see something, I'll say something.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America. Let him know what you think by clicking here.




© 2007, Am Echad Resources