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Monday, August 30, 2010

Feisal A. Rauf, Iman: Who is He and What Does He Stand For?

by Nadene Goldfoot

Iman Feisal A. Rauf was born in Kuwait. He's the son of an Egyptian Iman, Muhammad Abdul Rauf. Together they created and opened the first mosque which opened in 1991 in NYC. He's an Iman in New York who is behind building the 15 story mosque a little ways away from the 9/11 Twin Towers bombing. It's to be called "Cordoba House." He wants to open it on September 11, 2011. It's to hold from 1,000 to 2,000 Muslims in prayer.

There are two mosques in Lower Manhattan that have firm roots and one was founded in 1970. The Cordoba Mosque is supported by some Muslim American leaders and groups including CAIR, and criticized by some such as Sufi mystic Suleiman Schwartz as it is inconsistent with Sufi philosophy of simplicity of faith and sensitivity towards others.

Many New Yorkers feel that this is a pretense of using it as a community center for all faiths. The Sharia Law has been insidiously spreading into institutions like Harvard U. They now have separate hours for male and female swimmers in the pool. I have to laugh as this is a wonderful thing for orthodox Jews, since they share this same problem, but it hardly makes them peers in the rest of the religion. This is one law of Sharia that I like. Plump women of all religions would benefit from this, too. They could swim without embarrassment and get some good exercise. I can't say the same for the rest of the law, however. They are against women's issues, gays and lesbians among other things such as Jews and Israel.

Many people are up in arms over this. The Muslims just so happened to let their feelings be known to New Yorkers by the naming of this mosque. Cordoba, Spain is the capital of Muslim conquerors who symbolized their victory over the Christian Spaniards by transforming a church there into the world's 3rd largest mosque complex. Most people have studied history and have learned that history often-times repeats itself. This is a good reason to study history. However, many haven't and think that Islam has the same background as any other religion. Islam won ground by conquering by the sword. The World Trade Center was rammed by jihadists crying out "in the name of Allah!" They were radical Muslims attacking American values. In doing so in this act of violence they managed to kill over 3,000 Americans of various religions and destroyed our famous landmark.

No one is against Muslims building mosques. They just don't want this particular mosque where it is to be built because of sensivity to the families who have lost someone in the attack. Newt Gingrich is against the Cordoba House at Ground Zero. Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, students of the Quran, are against it. Noni Darwish, a former Muslim, is against it.

Now this Iman is saying that the mosque is a symbol of interfaith cooperation. A Cordoba House is a symbol of Islamic conquest to radical terrorists and to many New Yorkers. America is certainly different in tolerance from Saudi Arabia, the major center of Islam. You won't find any churches or synagogues there. You won't find any Christians or Jews there, either. They're not allowed. It's true that our values are not their values, thank goodness. In the meantime, Muslims are spreading all over the world.

Rauf is a problematic figure. You only have to pay attention to his comments. He was interviewed by Ed Bradley on CBS 60 minutes on September 30, 2001 when he commented about the USA financing Osama Bin Laden and strengthening the Taliban. Columnist Jonathan Rauch thought he gave a mixed, muddled and muttered message. He had said on 60 minutes that fanaticism and terrorism have no place in Islam, but when asked if the U.S. deserved the attacks, Rauf said that he wouldn't say that but our policies were an accessory to the crime. When asked how we were an accessory, he said that we had been an accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. Rudy Giuliani, Peter King, Rick Lazio and Sarah Palin have expressed concern about these remarks.

On June 2010 in a radio interview, Rauf would not say if he agreed with the US State Dept.'s calling Hamas a terrorist organization. He copped out by saying that he wasn't a politician and that terrorism is a complex question. He called himself a peace builder. Giuliani thought that Rauf had supported radical causes sympathizing with Islamic terrorism. He might know more than the average Joe being he was mayor of New York. Mayor Bloomberg, being Jewish, has sidestepped the issue by going along with the Iman. He cites the 1st amendment.

I can see why this Iman feels he needs more mosques. Islam is now the 2nd largest religion in Europe. Most EU nations see the presence of radical Muslims as a threat to state security and the fabric of life. The Muslim population in Europe is rapidly growing and may now have 15 million followers. This is because of a high birth rate and continued mass immigrations. What happens in Europe can happen in the USA.

The bad thing is that hatred is on the rise between the two cultures. Pamela Bone writes that most anti-Semitism in France like burning Jewish schools, defacing graves and attacking people is coming from young Muslim immigrants. An anti-Muslim feeling is not coming from France's Jewish community as it is an old established community and its people have better things to do than deface mosques.

Right in the Arab world you will see hatred of Jews. It's on TV, in newspapers and mosques. They blame Israel for everything. The Holocaust is either a lie or they didn't go far enough. They call out the ancient Christian "blood libel" that Jews kill their children and use their blood for Passover bread. This is found in their newspapers. You can't imagine that people today would believe such things, but they are. We Jews are also blamed for ramming the Twin Towers on 9/11. Of course it was the Jews who caused America to invade Iraq.

Calls to Jihad are heard on the streets of Europe. Extremists openly make seditious speeches, even inciting young men to suicidal violence. This is finally causing Catholics in Europe to stand up to this revival of Islam. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger spoke of a severe decline in European culture. He's calling for a revival of Christian culture. It looks like Glenn Beck is right in step with this, and he isn't even Catholic. Mecca

Friday, August 27, 2010

Racial and Religious Hatred in the United States

by Nadene Goldfoot
This was written before Obama became president.

Along with Pastor Jeremiah Wright’s racist problems in the United States are the problems I see of antisemitism.

The first thing I notice is from a recent report from The Anti-Demfamation League (ADL)’s October 2007 national telephone survey which found that 32% of African-Americans hold strong anti-Semitic beliefs, which is three times more than the 10% for whites. This has been shown from castigations by Al Sharpten, Farrakhan, and even Pastor Jeremiah Wright himself.   Jews make up only 1.7% of the American population. We certainly do get a lot of hatred from our fellow Americans who complain about racism in America.

I salute Sammi Davis Jr who not only was a Black entertainer, but chose to convert to Judaism. Instead of a double mitzva,"good deed' he took upon him a double surrus 'trouble'.

It was found that 18% of men hold strong anti-semitic views.
13% of women do.
29% of foreign-born Hispanics living in America hold hardcore anti-Semitic beliefs.
15% of Hispanics born in the U.S. are anti-Semitic.
21% of Americans with high school degrees or less hold strong anti-Semitic views.
10% of college graduates are anti-Semitic.
8% of the post-graduate degreed are anti-Semitic.

By 2007 the ADL found that 15% of Americans are anti-Semitic. That’s an improvement from 1992 which found 20% of Americans were anti-Semitic. What is the complaint of Americans?

27% believe that Jews were responsible for the death of Christ. They hold it against Jews of today.31% of Americans believe Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America.15% of Americans believe that Jews have "Too much power in the U.S."20% of Americans believe Jews have "Too much power in the business world."18% of Americans believe Jews have "Too much control/influence on Wall Street."In other words, they find Jews very influential in the business world and they resent it.

One thing they may not understand is how small a group we are. Our sermons in synagogues are not about damning the USA for hurts, but about doing good deeds. We were the first liberals interested in the good of all. We believe in education. Our parents sacrificed by pinching their hard earned pennies so that their children could gain not only an education, but an outstanding education. Jews have had to run for their lives so often that they have learned the hard way that the thing most prized to take with you are your brains. That’s what’s needed for survival. So many of our few Jews are well educated and become lawyers, doctors, educators and businessmen in their communities. I imagine we are noticed and envied by others. Our romance with education began thousands of years ago and just hasn't stopped.

In the 60's some Jewish young adults worked very hard on racist problems in the South with their Black friends. A few even died in the cause. I believe the Black leadership felt the Jews were running their organization and asked them to leave it. I fear that stymied the relationship between the two groups. It must continue at some level.

Whether or not Obama becomes the president of the USA, it seems to me that we have more repairing to do between the Jewish and the Black Community. My thought is an interchange of culture education. We’ve got to understand where each other is coming from more. We have to study the history of the 60's and find out why our Black-Jewish Alliance fell apart.

Religion has its share of responsibility to repairing the relationship between Jews and others. Damning Jews in church for killing Jesus is not helpful today. We’re on the defensive because we know we didn’t do that even though we do not accept Jesus as G-d. We feel our ancestors didn’t do it then and we wouldn’t do it today. We feel that every religion has its merits and fits that particular group of people. I would like to see respect of all religions as long as a religion is not out to hurt, maim or kill others who do not belong to it.

We feel that all good people will go to "heaven." It’s not restrictive to sex, race, color or religion. It’s sad to see that religion has been the cause to divide and kill people for so long. You’d think that people would be wiser by now.

I propose a council to commence between Rabbis and Church leaders that will talk about reasons why people are anti-Semitic and what they can do to rectify the situation. The same thing could happen between the Black Community and the White Community and the Jewish Community.
Where should all this start? I feel it should start with parents and their children. Children learn to hate from their parents. The environment they live in should reflect the goals of a loving community. Obama aptly showed us this with his white grandmother’s reaction to Black men on the street. A few cutting words have lasted forever in his mind and have colored his feelings for whites.
Imagine a time in the future where children learn to judge others on their merits and not on the past judgements of their family’s hatreds. Just how long will it take to reach this utopia? One generation could do it. Let’s try.

Reference: Anti-Semitism in America in 2007-Anti-Defamation League surveys

Friday, August 20, 2010

Who Cares What Iran Can Hit?

Iran is now capable of hitting anyone within its 1,500 mile radius with chemical or biological ballistic missiles, and will soon be capable to hit with nuclear ones. This includes Russia, Israel, Lebanon, our energy sources and of course, our U.S. troops. (See Map below.) All the Arab , Greece, and the Ukraine. Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece are also in its range as well as the west coast of China. Everyone will be devestated with this weapon in the hands of the heads of Iran, not only just Israel. Map of Iran and who can be hit

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Palestinians Accuse Israel of Apartheid

The favorite accusation of Palestinians has been to call Israel an apartheid state. Noam Chomsky is one of the writers who has joined in with many in the UN linking Israel with South African practices. This was even repeated in a recent meeting in Olympia of a Food Co-op who voted to boycott Israel's products because of their practice of "apartheid". They said they felt it was useful against South Africa. (see my previous blog on this)

Nothing could be further from the truth. According to international law of 1973, the U.N. defines apartheid as "inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group....over another racial group...and systematically oppressing them...including racial segregation and discrimination as in southern Africa.

Israel contains over one million Arab (Palestinian) citizens. They are in the knesset (the government). They are citizens with the same rights as the Jewish citizens. Nothing is restricted to them like our black citizens endured in the United States such as water fountains, bathrooms, schools, etc. An example is a hospital. Jewish and Arab babies are born in the same delivery room with the same doctors and nurses. In one case cited, the surgeon was Jewish, the anaesthetist was Arab, nurses were both. My apartment in Safed had Muslims speaking Arabic and Hebrew as well as Israelis speaking both. Schools teach Hebrew, English, and a choice of either French or Arabic. The children take three languages at the same time and think nothing of it. Arab and Jewish children help each other with their language lessons.

Israel is home to people from more than 70 countries. It is a small melting pot. Israeli Arabs are in politics, legal and medical professions and sports. In 1999, Rana Raslan, 21 years old, became the first Israeli-Arab woman to be named "Miss Israel."

Israel is made up of Jews that have lived outside of the Middle East called Ashkenazim, and Jews from the Middle East called Sephardim. Since its inception, as in the USA, they are inter-marrying. Not only did Arabs flee Israel, but Jews were pushed out of the Middle East countries into Israel.

Israel is a majority-rule democracy with equal rights for all citizens. Palestinians are Arabs who did not leave when Israel was created a state in 1948. Others, who left at the call of their leaders, were told that the Arab soldiers would win the attack which would allow these that fled to return and live in the homes of Jews if they wanted. It didn't happen and they wound up in camps in Gaza, primarily. Some also lived in Judea and Samaria. Actually, there were very few compared to the numbers of today. One reason is Muslim law that allows 4 wives per man, and they are having unlimited numbers of children.

I am a Jew and lived in Israel from 1980-1985. My girlfriend from our Hebrew class in Haifa was able to tour Egypt during our Spring break in 1982. This became possible after the War of 1972, another time when all the Arabs attacked Israel only to lose again. However, I could not tour in other Muslim countries. They did not allow Jews at all. Jordan's workers had been coming into Israel for jobs, and then they would go back. However, I couldn't go there as a tourist either, as I'm Jewish. It wasn't until October 26, 1994 that Hussein I of Jordan and Rabin signed a peace treaty which included an article 17 promoting tourism. How about Saudi Arabia? Forget it. I'm quite sure they wouldn't allow me in, even with my blonde hair. Luckily, we had signed a peace treaty with Egypt.

After the war of 1967, Gaza and the West Bank fell into Israel's hands as a result of their winning the war after a huge attack of all Arab countries. Gaza had been under Egypt's rule. Israel tried to make it better for the people, but they were more interested in killing Jews. This is why walls were put up in Judea/Samaria, and roads had to be monitored in Gaza. Israel even pulled out all its Jewish citizens from Gaza, but this only allowed the Hamas terrorists to take over and chase a more moderate but ineffectual Abbas out. He sought refuge in Judea/Samaria where he lives now. He was a leader replacing Arafat.

The Palestinian charter is definite in its goal to destroy Israel. We have offered the olive branch but it has been stomped on. It's hard to put up with people who only want to kill you, demonstrating their belief by rocket-shelling your land for over the past 6 years which continues today.

The Nazis found that by repeating something over and over, most people start to believe it. The Arabs were on the side of Germany in the WWI. That's when the Ottoman Empire of Turkey went kaput. They've taken into their own practice this idea of repetition, and keep crying that Israel is apartheid.

This problem is not one of racial hatred. It's a problem of religious intolerence of the Arabs refusing to accept a Jewish state back in its rightful place in their midst. Jews were in this ancient land before there was a religion of Islam or even Christianity. Jews have been the ones injured in this, not the Arabs. The U.N. has done nothing to prevent this type of action. It was the U.N. who baptized Israel as a state and accepted into the U.N. family, yet they side with Israel's accusers as they have money, power and oil.

Gaza and the Judea/Samaria area are not part of Israel and the people there are not Israeli citizens. Arafat maintained that distance long ago. Barriers have gone up for one reason, to protect Israeli citizens from physical harm from people who want to kill them. People in these areass are governed by Palestinian Authority, carry Palestinian I.D. cards issued by Palestinian Authority with Israeli permission and elect members of the governing Palestinian Authority.

Palestinian citizens in Israel would not be happy living under Abbas or Hamas's regime at all. They've been enjoying too many freedoms. By continuing to hate Jews, the rest in Gaza and Judea/Samaria can only blame themselves, not Israel, for any discomforts.

Israel is the only Jewish state in the world, created as a haven for Jews who have suffered from persecution ever since 70 A.D. I was a part of this ingathering of Jews from all corners of the world. This is a period of time prophesized about in the Bible. We have finally returned to our own land. There are 47 Muslim states in the world. Indonesia , the country President Obama lived in with his step-father and mother, ranks according to IMF's world Economic Outlook database for 2007 as #1 with 228,582,000 people and 86.1% are Sunni Muslims. Of Israel's neighbors, Egypt is #5 with 77,100,000 people and 90% are Sunni Muslims. Iran, though not really close, is in striking distance. It is #6 and has 71,517,100 people and 98% are Shi'a Muslims. Syria, on the border, has 19,405,000 people with 90% Sunni Muslims. Jordan , right next door on the Eastside, is #30 with 5,568,565 people and is 95% Sunni Muslim. That's about the size of Israel of about 6,000,000 Jews and a million Muslims. Lebanon in the North is #35 with 4,196,453 people at 60% Shi'a/Sunni. Their Major Hadad of the Christian Militia had been Israel's friend. In 82 we had a war with Lebanon over the Christians attacking the Muslims. That's another story.

We, of all people, are not practicing apartheid. That term applies a racial component and this isn't the case with Jews versus Palestinians. Because this doesn't fit the description of South Africa's Apartheid, in 2002 the Roma Statute of the International Criminal Court came up with an identifiable national, ethnic or cultural group instead of a racial group. Their 2009 report continued with socially constructed groups distinguished by ancestry or descent as well as nationality, ethnicity, and religion.

These may be the reasons Palestinians have been fighting us, but this law is turning the tables of who is to blame. The minute Israel was declared a state the Palestinians and other Arabs attacked us. This has been going on intermittedly for the past 62 years. Their religious intolerance has not allowed them to abide by international law in accepting us as a new state in the neighborhood. What is left to do but defend ourselves and hope for better times.

Dry Bones in the Jewish Review today says it all. Two people are talking. One says, Gaza is firing missiles again at Israeli cities and towns, But it's no big deal. The other fellow says, "It's no big deal?" "Nope", the first retorts. "And it won't be a big deal until Israel fires back." And that's the way it has been going. When we try to defend ourselves, everyone yells and complains.

The same paper headlined with Israel's right wing is now pushing for a one state solution, which would bring in over another million and a half Arabs in Judea/Samaria as citizens. The reasoning is that most Jews in Israel have been coming around in seeing that the two-state model won't happen because the obstacles to an Israeli-Palestinian agreement are insurmountable. Moshe Arans, former Israeli defense and foreign minister is behind this idea. He feels Israel would still have a 60% majority and still be a Jewish state. I say nope. It would only last for 9 months. The Muslims would quickly outnumber us, and might even bring in all their relatives on the outside. It's too risky. I just wish that Obama would see that he and the quartet are pushing for the impossible. Logic shows it isn't workable.

Free the Palestinians, they chant. Only they can free themselves by changing their intolerance and their charter. Perhaps then they will become productive citizens and have a better life.
Stand With Us publication- Israel Is... Diverse.
Jewish Review, August 15, 2010. Page 1 (front page) & 19 Israelis debate one state.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Heading for Israel: Oregonian Leaves Out Major Detail About Murderer

The news was far better on CBS's TV last night about the possible murderer, Elias Abuelazam, who is suspected in the killings of five people and stabbings of 13 others in three states. That news told listeners who Abuelazam was. The Oregonian neglected to say that he is a Christian Palestinian from Israel. All they mention is that he was born in Israel and tried to board a plane to Israel.

We don't need people in Oregon to think that an Israeli Jew has been out killing black men in Virginia, Michigan and Ohio. We have enough problems to deal with like boycotting Israeli goods. People need very little provocation to show their anti-semitic feelings and their dislike of Israel.

This person has a list of criminal charges and officials consider him desperate and very dangerous. I wonder how he was ever admitted into this country. Though he has been killing black men, those involved say there's insufficient evidence that he was singling out blacks. It sounds like shades of Chelm to me.

Is he just out to give Israel a bad name? I really have no idea why a Palestinian would come to the USA and attack black men. It is bizarre. Then again, most murders are just that. Logic is something rare to come by these days.

Reference: Oregonian Newspaper 8/13/2010 page A2. Top suspect in killings is arrested at airport.

Olympia, Washington Food Boycott Against Israel

On July 15th the Olympia, Washington 10 member board of their Food Co-op made a decision to boycott Israeli-made products. They speak for their 15,000 to 20,000 active members. Their board met last night and had a debate about their decision. About 115 people wanted to speak. Many said that the board's decision was a "beacon of hope" for the Palestinian people. Dr. Muhammad Ayub, an early arriver, spoke in support of the boycott. Ayub spoke and said that "the boycott will be good for Israel in the long run, just as an international boycott was for eliminating apartheid in South Africa." He went on to say that "we don't tolerate bullying in schools; why should we tolerate it in world politics?" The board had said their decision was a way to "compel Israel to follow international law and respect Palestinian human rights,"

Therefore, this propaganda stunt is to benefit Palestinians, meaning either Hamas terrorists in Gaza, or Fatah governed by Abbas, one of their own, in the Judea/Samaria area. Note that Abbas has been unwilling to speak with Netanyahu who has asked repeatedly for talks with him. They are also calling Israel bullies although it is the Gazan terrorists who are shelling Israel. I note that since January of this year till July 120 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel, so who is the bully? I ask, just who is respecting Israel's right to endure and not be destroyed as the Hamas charter's goal remains as such.

This food co-op has just joined forces in denying Israel's ability to survive economically by eliminating a cog in the wheel of their exporting food products. They've joined the side of people against this small state that is trying to survive against tremendous odds of Nazi-style propaganda meant to destroy Israel. They say they are not targeting Jews, but the Israeli government. Well, yes, the knesset has Arab representatives, but Israel is a Jewish state and created as a haven for Jews in a world that had been against Jews. They may not all have been at war and participated in killing Jews, but many nations did nothing to prevent it, either. To me, they are against Jews by being against Israel. Half of the Jews of the world live in Israel. I have a feeling that most co-op members have never even met a Jew, being they are living in Olympia, which does not have many.

The only thing that Israel is guilty of is in defending their citizens. They have not laid down and died. They have fought back against their adversaries who want them to decease and desist. Muslim Arabs are fighting against Jews. There are millions of Muslim Arabs and only about 6 million Jews in the Middle East. The odds are against Jews, yet the Jews have prevailed. I'd like to think it is the hand of G-d who is assisting Israel. It's G-d who brought us there in the first place long long ago.

Palestinians have never had a need for their own state being there are at least 22 Arab states in the area that they came from in the first place. They've been offered their chance to have a state since 1948 and keep refusing the chance. Their goal is to wipe out Israel, and that only. It's too bad that these ten board members haven't studied the issue more deeply instead of impulsively gone ahead and voted against Israel.

The co-op was not carrying many Israeli products. They have removed gluten-free crackers, ice cream cones and moisturizing cream. The cream is something I'd surely want to buy as I can't find a good moisurizing cream around here that I like. They donated these items to the Thuston County Food Bank.

The South Sound Jewish community protested. Harry Levine, one of the ten board members, chose not to vote with the other board members because not all staff members agreed with the decision of the board.

Every vote of disapproval against Israel becomes a rocket that may take a life. It's ridiculous for this board to delude themselves in thinking that they are helping. The only way they could possibly help is in telling their "friends" to stop shelling Israel and change their charter.

In the meantime Palestinians are planning a boycott of Israeli products at New Seasons in Portland. See:
Amid all this negativity, the US and Israel have signed an agricultural collaboration agreement in that they will work on research to alleviate the world's food and fiber needs and other important agricultural issues. This is a 5 year agreement. Climate change, international food security, energy, etc, will be worked on. We are sharing our efforts. Here we have people who refuse to deal with us because we are Israelis right here in the USA. These are people who will benefit from our research but they are refusing to buy any goods.

Reference: The Olympian Newspaper, Rolf Boone, staff writer of article:

Monday, August 2, 2010

Jews in China Today

We only have around 12 million Jews in the whole world. 10,000 of them live in China. Beijing is just getting kosher milk due to Chabad being there. Chinese patrons may be interested in also buying kosher milk as they have had problems with watered down and chemically laced milk.

Beijing also sports a kosher restaurant. This is good for Jewish tourists to know about as well. China is friendly with Israel and has dealings with her. Let's hope it continues. It is showing TV programs about Israel's history and other facts about Israel. Hopefully these are not programs produced by Christine Amapour. I've seen her program, and it was very slanted.

I believe it was Rabbi Joshua Stampfer of Portland's Neveh Shalom Synagogue who discovered Jewish descendents in China. My own Y dna shows a connection 1,000 years ago to a man who came from the area of Siberia, Mongolia and parts of Turkey. People at that time were probably traders with China, traveling on the Silk Road, so we go way back in history with China. Marco Polo was a late-comer.

As late as the WWII, I heard a first hand account of a Jewish man escaping Russia by putting platinum in the legs of a table he took with him. (He had turned all his possessions into platinum). Then he managed to find safety in China. There have been several synagogues found there.

Research: Chinese TV Features Israel, China Gets Kosher Milk

Annual Hadassah Picnic

Hadassah held its 5th annual Hadassah Barbecue Picnic yesterday in Lake Oswego's George Rogers Park. Of course Hebrew National hot dogs were grilled and were so delicous. The aroma got to us all. The day was cool and overcast earlier, but when the picnic started the sun came out and the time was glorious. We all brought out coins to fill a jug to help build the Sarah Westman Davidson Tower. This place is part of the Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem. Here they treat Macular Degeneration, MS, Parkinson's Disease, Diabetes, do Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research and more with laboratory research. The best physicians are attracked to this center. By the way, you don't have to be Jewish to be a Hadassah member, just a woman who is interested in the interests in Israel. Our big interest there is the Hadassah Hospital. It was a nice time to visit with old friends.