Highlands, Blanche Ely win titles

Posted on 05 May 2016 by LeslieM

sports050516By Gary Curreri

Blanche Ely and Highlands Christian Academy raced to their respective regional track championships last week.

For Highlands Christian, it was the first regional track championship in school history, and, defeated defending state champion Westminster Academy. The Knights boys and girls teams will send 15 state qualifiers in 20 events.

Highlands Christian’s Ryan Szklany was a double winner as he captured the 1,600 (4:31.23) and 3,200-meter runs (10:04.18) in the Region 4-1A meet. Highlands Boys placed first with 113 points over defending state champs Westminster Academy, who finished at 88.

Highlands Christian runners that placed second included Hunter Walton (800), Delimar Martina (high jump), Scott Bush (pole vault), Chris Julien (100). Placing third for Highlands was Kenny Armstrong (shot put and discus) and Jake Petersen (110 and 300 hurdles).

On the girls’ side, Sara Carroll won four events (high jump, triple jump, 100 and 300 hurdles). Abby Simpson placed third in the 300 hurdles, while Sydney Blackburn placed third in both the shot and the discus. Highlands girls placed third (72 points) behind South Florida Heat (133 points) and Westminster Christian School (Miami) (98.5 points).

I am very proud of both the boys and the girls,” said Highlands Christian coach Jarod Ebenhack. “We knew at the end of last year that our boys would be as strong if not stronger than Westminster coming into the season, but we also knew that the athletes at Westminster are seasoned competitors and champions who would not be easy to beat.

We conditioned hard all year long to make this a reality and we faced some adversity,” added Ebenhack, who lost their top 400-meter runner, Steven Ludwig, to a collapsed lung, and then Elijah Kerr to a broken foot the weekend before regionals. “Those two represented a large amount of points to our team. The team took on the challenge of filling the holes left by the loss of these two senior leaders. Our field events, in particular, rose to the challenge, and scored more points than I was expecting.”

Host Blanche Ely ran away with the boys’ crown in the Region 4-3A meet as it finished with 118-1/2 points. The Tigers’ boys’ 4×800-meter relay set the tone early, as Sueil Foucha, James Walker, Syvenson Noel and Roderic Wilson ran an 8:02.11.

I’ve got a lot of 12th-graders that really worked hard to get to this point,” said Blanche Ely coach Anthony Jordan. “Last year a few that got to state, they got to state and didn’t do anything. This year they are focused on winning it.”

Blanche Ely senior Jacee Simon won the high jump with a leap of 6 ft., 6 in., while University of Cincinnati football signee, senior Thomas Geddis, won the 200 in 21.54. Ely senior Arthur Forrest placed second in the 100 with a time of 10.88, while Wilson also took second in the 800 (1:56.57).

The top four competitors in each event qualified for the state meet, set for May 6-7 at IMG Academy in Bradenton.

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FLICKS: Captain America: Civil War

Posted on 05 May 2016 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

Since his Marvel debut on the big screen four years ago with Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers has become my favorite superhero. When he was chosen to receive the super soldier serum, Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) selected Steve Rogers because he was a good man; it is Captain America’s best trait.

When Captain America: Civil War was announced, one wondered if Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) would still retain his goodness. Captain America’s adversary would be Tony Stark, alias Iron Man, (Robert Downey Jr.), the superhero who started this Marvel Cinema Universe eight years ago. In the comic book universe, the Captain America/Iron Man Civil War was a statement about Post-911 America, with Tony Stark and Steve Rogers representing the sides of security and liberty, respectfully.

The new movie opens with an incident from Dec. 16, 1991. The film flashes forward to the present day, in which Captain America leads the Avengers against the terrorist Crossbones (Frank Grillo). When there is collateral damage, the United Nations decides that the Avengers need oversight by an outside agency, and to be registered. While Tony Stark decides to go along to get along, Steve Rogers sees these new restrictions as destroying civil liberties.

To complicate matters, the Winter Soldier is loose. The Winter Soldier, alias Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) is a childhood friend of Steve Rogers. As the United Nations debate superhero registration, an explosion occurs – causing more collateral damage. While the Winter Soldier is blamed, Steve Rogers suspects his old friend is the patsy.

Captain America: Civil War builds to a logical showdown. The movie lives up to its comic book visualization when the superheroes battle each other in a German airport. While there is much humor, there is an aggression we have not seen before in a Marvel Comic Books movie.

This aggression leads to more collateral damage, which forces this film into more serious territory.

Given previous visual epics, this Civil War ends with personal fight based on painful motives. We see sides to Tony Stark and Steve Rogers that we have not seen before. To directors Anthony and Joe Russo’s credit, this big revelation feels truthful.

Given this wild political year, Captain America: Civil War is a timely commentary about the present day. Captain America’s final words provide much wisdom, and he is still my favorite Marvel Comics superhero.

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CLERGY CORNER: A Passover Seder narrative “This is the bread of affliction…”

Posted on 05 May 2016 by LeslieM

It is easy to miss the revolutionary idea behind the annual Passover Seder, in which we actively commemorate our slavery in Egypt and our subsequent redemption. In it, we attempt to turn hurt into a positive force.

We know that the parents most likely to abuse their children are those who were themselves abused when young. People who have been hurt tend to hurt others. The Seder came to reverse this instinctive response.

When the Jews had just been released from Egyptian slavery, the Torah commands, “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Because you were in Egypt and felt the pain caused by abuse, learn from it not to oppress the stranger, the orphan or the widow. You experienced injustice, therefore practice justice. You know what it is like to be a slave; therefore, do not enslave others. You have been hated; therefore, love your neighbor.

The Israelites could have well derived an entirely different lesson from their slave experience: “Do unto others as they did unto you.” Yet, the opening of the Seder is right in the beginning of the Haggadah; we declare, “This is the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat.” Wait a moment! If I was given bread of poverty, I might give the same to others. The Seder says otherwise: We know the taste of poverty. What’s the conclusion? We will ensure that others don’t go hungry.

All of us have been hurt. What do we do with that hurt? This is the question which distinguishes between the free man and the slave. The free man uses the hurt to know how not to treat others, to empathize with others; the victim continues to perpetrate what has been perpetrated on him.

The Wounded Puppy

A store owner was tacking a sign above his door that read “Puppies For Sale.” Signs like that have a way of attracting small children and, sure enough, a little boy appeared by the store owner’s sign.

How much are you going to sell the puppies for?” he asked.

The store owner replied, “Anywhere from $30-$50.”

The little boy reached in his pocket and pulled out some change.

I have $2.37,” he said. “May I please look at them?”

The store owner smiled and whistled; out of the kennel came Lady, who ran down the aisle of his store followed by five teeny, tiny balls of fur. One puppy was lagging considerably behind.

Immediately, the little boy singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, “What’s wrong with that little dog?”

The store owner explained that the veterinarian had examined the little puppy and had discovered it didn’t have a hip socket. It would always limp. It would always be lame. The little boy became excited. “That is the little puppy that I want to buy,” he said.

The store owner said, “No, you don’t want to buy that little dog. If you really want him, I’ll just give him to you.”

The little boy got quite upset. He looked into the store owner’s eyes, pointing his finger, and said, “I don’t want you to give him to me. That dog is worth every bit as much as all the other dogs and I’ll pay full price. In fact, I’ll give you $2.37 now, and 50 cents a month until I have him paid for.”

The store owner countered, “You really don’t want to buy this little dog. He is never going to be able to run and jump, and play with you, like the other puppies.”

To this, the little boy reached down and rolled up his pant leg to reveal a badly twisted, crippled left leg supported by a big metal brace. He looked up at the store owner and softly replied, “Well, I don’t run so well myself, and the little puppy will need someone who understands!”

When we experience pain in our life, we can become more bitter, or more empathetic. We can either say: I had this pain let me make sure you have it, too. Or we can say: I had this pain, I know what it feels like, I will ensure you don’t.

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches located in Lighthouse Point. For all upcoming programs and events, please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Mother stuff and more

Posted on 05 May 2016 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

This is about mothers and sons, and aging and mental health, and who knows what else. Sometimes stuff comes up when I write a column and I get surprised at how it ends.

Today, I received the following email from my son, who is very edgy as he approaches his 60th birthday this month. In the subject line, he wrote, “For Your Next Column.” How fortuitous! In his usual cryptic tone, he wrote, “The concept of ‘How could this come back to haunt me in the future’ only seems to come with age.”

And in my very cryptic tone, I responded, “What are you talking about?”

To which he responded, “When you’re young, you don’t think of the consequences of your actions.”

Well, duh! Did he think he discovered the origin of life?

There followed some reminders to him of his youthful follies, and a subtle vague response which led me to believe that he actually did not want to follow that path. Why then, did he bring it up? Perhaps, his Peter Pan persona is faltering as he faces the reality of actually coming face-to-face with being twice the age of the hippie slogan “Never trust anyone over the age of 30”.

You might remember from your history books, or from real life, what it was like to live during my son’s “coming of age” – in the turbulent 1960s – the burgeoning of Rock & Roll, the explosion of the drug culture, Woodstock, Vietnam protests, civil rights upheavals, political and racial assassinations, convention riots, all of which make today’s political porridge seem tame by comparison (so far). And so, we never went much further than his musing about youthful poor judgment (a mild description of the blatant behaviors of his and too many other kids of that era.)

But time slogs on at its sure-fire pace – slow or speedy depending on your vantage point, and there are different, though, in some ways, similar, triggers fueling the behavior of young people today. The major difference, however, is that everything they do is indelibly recorded for eternity – and, sure as shootin’, they are not thinking that some of it ‘will come back to haunt me’.

All of which makes my participation in the support group called My Generation held at the Faulk Center For Counseling in Boca Raton (www.faulkcenterforcounseling.org) such an enlightening experience. With a mix of high school teenagers and older adults sharing their stories, and many of their now extinct (adults) or current (kids) customs, experiences and relationships, the interaction results in a greater understanding and acceptance of each other, and provides an educational and emotional high for each age group.

And, since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, this is a reminder that physical health is dependent on mental health, and that society needs to recognize and respond with equal drive to the concerns of each.

Since Mother’s Day is upon us, another reminder, that mothering (indeed, parenting) is the most important job any of us have, and as the stimuli around us become ever more potent, the job becomes ever more difficult and more demanding of attention. So, let’s hear it for the moms, as well as the kids who actually consider the consequences of their actions – now or whenever.

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Highlands hopes for regional title

Posted on 28 April 2016 by LeslieM

SPORTS042816By Gary Curreri

Highlands Christian Academy head track coach Jarod Ebenhack laughs at the notion that the school should invest in a track.

With the success the boys and girls varsity teams have had the past several years, at the very least, it makes for some lighthearted discussion.

It’s a matter of funding,” said Ebenhack, who has been at the school the past four years and guided the team to three boys district championships in the past four years (2014 they were second) and district titles for the girls in 2013 and 2015. The team was runner-up in 2014 and this year. The girls’ squad this year is composed mostly of middle schoolers, while the boys are made up of mostly upper classmen. “To build a basic track would cost around $300,000.

If we wanted a really good track, it would run about $700,000,” Ebenhack added. “We have everything else – shot put, pole vault and high jump pits, along with long jump and triple jump pits. We practice on various fields around campus and I actually paint a 400-meter track with all of the marks for hurdles and exchange zones around the football field. I think it makes it easier for us because we train in the grass and on the sand, that we go even faster on a track because we are running on a faster surface.”

The boys’ team suffered a tough blow this weekend as soccer standout Elijah Kerr, who runs the leadoff leg for the region’s second ranked 4×100 relay and is the anchor leg for the top-ranked 4×800 relay, broke his foot playing soccer and is out.

We have good replacements, but it definitely affects the certainty of our performance when you are putting two guys in there who haven’t practiced it regularly,” Ebenhack said. Until 2013, the boys had never won a district championship in track before.

Sophomore Ryan Szklany is the school’s top distance runner with school records in both the 1,600-meter run (4:28) and the 3,200-meter run (9:44). Senior Hunter Walton just eclipsed the school record in the 800-meter dash (2:03).

Senior Chris Julien, the school record holder in the 100-meter dash (11.07) who finished seventh at state last year after winning the regional title in the 100, could win both the 100 and 200-meter dashes at the regional meet.

Junior Justin Ebenhack is on three relays that have school records and is the district champion in the 400-meter dash; Senior Kenny Armstrong won the district titles in both shot put and discus.

Junior Sara Carroll qualified in four events for states the past two years and is hoping to do the same this year. She is also the school record holder in those events – 100-meter hurdles (15.9), 300-meter hurdles (47.99), triple jump (35-10) and high jump (5-4).

I think the future is really bright for the girls and they can really be dominant for years to come if they stick together,” said Ebenhack, who had started an elementary school track program a couple of years ago. “The majority of our girls team is middle schoolers.

We have a lot of really good young athletes. We are just going to get better.”

The boys were the top-ranked team headed in the regional. The other teams expected to contend for a regional title are Westminster Academy and the South Florida Heat. The girls were expected to finish in the top 5.

It’s awesome to see them perform,” said Ebenhack, whose boys cross country team has won four consecutive district titles. “They have caught the vision of what kind of work ethic it takes to do it.

Originally, I really had to push them,” Ebenhack said. “In the past I really had to push them. I am at the point now where I just give them a workout for the day and they will push each other. They will be cheering on each other. It is exciting to see.”

The team has about 70 athletes in the overall program, including middle school and high schools. They are taking 26 to the regionals. Last year the team took 14 to state, which represented about 10 percent of the student body. There are about 160 students at the school this year.

I’d like to take most everybody to state this year,” Ebenhack said. “Everything will have to fall into place.”

 

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FLICKS: The Huntsman: Winter’s War, plus special screenings of Purple Rain

Posted on 28 April 2016 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

As I prepared for my screening of The Huntsman: Winter’s War, I had to compliment Carmike Cinema’s management [Broward 18 in Pompano] for their bustling box office and concession sales. Over the concession bar were two television screens dedicated to sports channels, so I was able to keep track of the Heat, Panthers and Marlins. Cinemas are becoming more timely and intimate. This concept really hit home when the manager informed me that he was redoing the weekend schedule to insert special screenings of Purple Rain, starring the late singer Prince [like many other national theaters].

Modern technology has made mass entertainment more impulsive. While tonight is supposed to present the final screenings of Purple Rain, if box office is good, one can predict this film being held over until Captain America: Civil War opens next week (May 6).

While The Jungle Book dominated the latest box office figures, the much maligned The Huntsman: Winter’s War opened with a respectable box office sum of $20 million. A prequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, which starred Kristen Stewart as Snow White, this new film focuses on the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and the supposedly dead evil queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron).

It has been a Leap Year since Snow White and the Huntsman was last seen on the big screen. In that time, television shows like Grimm and Once Upon a Time have provided much reinterpretation of the ancient fairy tales. Given the cultural and financial success of Disney’s version of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”, (Frozen), it was only a matter of time before Freya (Emily Blunt) replaced the mythology of Snow White.

We learn that Freya and Ravenna were sisters. With her nasty disposition concealed by her two-faced charm, Ravenna manages to cook Freya’s child.

Heartbroken, Freya goes north, freezes her heart and wages war on all mankind.

As Freya assembles her military and develops her military academy for orphans, we meet the Young Huntsman, who is infatuated with a red-headed archer named Sara (who grows up to look like Jessica Chastain). The Huntsman and Sara share swashbuckling adventures together and eventually get caught in the snare of the evil queens. Will anyone live to be happily ever after?

Based on the poor rating on RottenTomatoes.com, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is likely to be nominated for multiple Razzy Awards. However, there is a sense of fun about this movie and the actors appear to be having a good time swashbuckling. While this film is too dark to take impressionable children to, the crowd really warmed up to the action sequence in which the Huntsman, Sara and some dwarfs steal the magic mirror from a Minotaur guardian. The Huntsman: Winter’s War will be a bigger hit on DVD.

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CLERGY CORNER: Life after Resurrection

Posted on 28 April 2016 by LeslieM

The film Miracles from Heaven recounts the real life story of Anna Beam. Suffering from an incurable condition, the 10-year-old girl has a near death experience (NDE) that dramatically changes her life. Made on a modest $13 million budget, the heartwarming story has delighted audiences worldwide and earned about $70 million at the box office. In recent years, there have been increased accounts of people who reportedly had a NDE. Studies focused on the after effects of such an experience have revealed common traits among those who supposedly died and came back to life. An amazing ability to live in the present, an abiding sense of deep confidence, decreased interest in material possessions, a strong sense of life’s purpose and a greater spiritual awareness are among those traits.

Though all survivors do not exhibit all of these traits, they possess enough of them to show how life-changing a NDE is. One’s outlook may change, his disposition may be significantly altered, and life is not lived in the same way as before. In some instances, one may even be completely different after having died and come back to life.

A similar change can be noted in the lives of true Christian believers. Spiritually, they have experienced death and now possess a changed outlook on life. Believing in Jesus Christ means that we have died to sin and have been raised to new life. Paul, the apostle, confirms this in Romans 6:4, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

There should be a distinct difference in our motivations, focus and prospects compared to what they were before we experienced new life. Many believers have attested to the change that following Christ has made in their lives, and to their lives. The late gospel singer/songwriter Walter Hawkins had a popular song on one of his albums that proclaimed, “a change, a change has come over me; He changed my life and now I’m free.” In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul puts it this way, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

This change is revealed in the interactions of the risen Savior with His disciples in the gospels. In the 40 days between His resurrection and His ascension, the Lord confirmed for His followers back then, as well as for those who follow Him now, that salvation is more than just the restoration of fellowship with God, it is a call to service, an assignment in the kingdom, and life’s purpose is now to live in such a way as to bring glory to God.

Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances to His disciples were deliberate and intentional. They confirmed that He was indeed alive, but also included specific instructions about the ministry His disciples had been preparing for. He commissioned them to take His message to their people and ultimately to the nations of the world. Their obedience to the Lord’s directives brought about the establishment of the Christian church and way of life, which has impacted the world for 21 centuries.

Having celebrated the annual observation of Jesus’ death and resurrection, believers must now engage in self-examination of their own lives. The truths of our faith must be lived out and validated in our witness to the world. Then, others will know that there is not just life after death, but there is life after resurrection as well.

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. Call 954-427-0302.

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Cohn wins inaugural triathlon event

Posted on 21 April 2016 by LeslieM

sports042116By Gary Curreri

When Gus Cohn tells his friends that he competes in triathlons, he gets strange looks.

First,” said the freshman at Pompano Beach High School, “they ask me what it is. Then, I guess they dismiss the idea. “I prefer to be on my bike. I guess they find it strange, a little bit.”

Cohn recently placed first in the Boys 15-17 Division of the inaugural Boca Raton Youth Triathlon with a time of 19:29. The event featured 123 athletes ranging in age from 5 to15 and took place at the Peter Blum Family YMCA in Boca Raton. Cohn used to play basketball and football and eventually turned to triathlons.

I think it’s fun,” he said. “It’s three sports in one and you don’t get bored too much. Seeing yourself get faster is probably the most fun out of everything.”

There are simple goals when he competes, and considering he has only been racing for 2-1/2 years, he has been pleased with his progress. Cohn said he is not surprised at his success because he trains a lot and gets faster each time he goes out.

First, I am trying to beat everyone on the team,” said Cohn, who is a member of the South Florida Lightning Youth and Junior Triathlon Team, which trains locally. “I just give it all that I’ve got and see what my time is.

I think I am going to do this as a side hobby and an amateur sport,” Cohn said. “I am not looking to do this as a living. If I really, really enjoy it, maybe I will go to Ironman. I think the best part of the sport is that it builds character, and I like the biking.”

Youth and Juniors Triathlon is a rapid growing sport,” said South Florida Lightning Youth and Junior Triathlon Team coach Racheal Wood, of Deerfield Beach, who started the program in 2011. “It is perfect for young athletes, providing them with the chance to be well-rounded and develop a high level of physical fitness.”

Athletes on both teams are expected to attend practices on a regular basis. If you are interested in being a part of the team, contact Wood at rachealwood@gmail.com or 954-263-4588. You can also visit the website at www.sflightning.com.

Pompano hosts day at Marlins game

The City of Pompano Beach Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department has planned an event to see the Miami Marlins Baseball Team take on the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, June 21.

The all-inclusive event includes a pre-game BBQ party beginning at 4 p.m., tickets, and transportation to and from the game. The bus will depart from the Herb Skolnick Community Center at 5 p.m. All ages are welcome and an adult must accompany children.

Tickets are only $50 per person and include the food party, round trip transportation and a home plate box seat (handicapped accessible).

Tickets can be purchased at the Herb Skolnick Community Center located at 800 SW 36 Ave., Pompano Beach, FL 33069. Tickets must be purchased by May 13. For more information, call 954-786-4590.

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FLICKS: The Jungle Book

Posted on 21 April 2016 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

Two decades before Edgar Rice Burroughs created Tarzan, an orphan raised by apes, Rudyard Kipling created Mowgli, an orphan raised by wolves. While Tarzan headlined his own series of African adventures in 25 novels, Mowgli is the main human character from an ensemble of characters featured in Kipling’s The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book, which is set in the mysterious jungles of India.

Released in 1967, Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book was the last animated film influenced by a dying Walt Disney. The film is best remembered for its bouncy tunes (“Bare Necessities”) and optimism, which Disney insisted upon. However, Kipling’s original tales contain stark lessons about jungle law, mortality and dark truths.

Director John Favreau manages to balance the scary and the humor in the newest incarnation of The Jungle Book. From the breathtaking opening scenes to the final closing credits, this 105-minute family film needs to be seen on the big screen.

Kipling’s original The Jungle Book is a series of short stories in which Mowgli’s rite of passage is the narrative core. From alpha wolf Akela (voiced in the movie by Giancarlo Espositio), we learn the Law of the Jungle. From Baloo the sloth bear (Bill Murray), we learn the importance of letting the bare necessities of life come to you. For Mowgli (Nell Sethi), each encounter prepares this feral boy for his showdown with Shere Kahn (Idris Elba), the lame tiger who killed Mowgli’s parents.

The character animation is superb and expertly matches the vocal talent. Baloo the bear shares DNA with Murray’s lackadaisical Ghostbusters character. Elba’s voice is suitable for the villainous menace of Shere Kahn. In a cameo role, Scarlett Johansson’s vocal intonations provide slippery seduction as Kaa the Snake.

During the 2017 awards season, expect The Jungle Book to achieve many awards for visualization.

Pay the extra couple of bucks and see this film in 3-D, and the bigger the screen the better. The Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science IMAX Theater will screen this film through Thursday, April 28.

Breathe deep, dear readers, the Summer Blockbuster Season has begun. Before Captain America Civil Wars, X-Men Apocalypse and Independence Day Resurgence start crowding each other, go see The Jungle Book on the big screen.

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CLERGY CORNER: The First Commandment

Posted on 21 April 2016 by LeslieM

The Biblical account of the Jewish Exodus from Egypt has been one of the most inspiring stories for the oppressed, enslaved and downtrodden through out history. From the American Revolution to the slaves of the American South, to Martin Luther King’s “Let Freedom Ring,” the narrative of the Exodus provided countless peoples with the courage to hope for a better future and to act on the dream.

Moses’s first visit to Pharaoh demanding liberty for his people only brought more misery to the Hebrew slaves; the Egyptian monarch increased their torture. The Hebrews would not listen any longer to the promise of redemption. Now, let us pay heed to this strange verse in Exodus, in the Torah portion Vaeira:

So G-d spoke to Moses and to Aaron, and He commanded them to the children of Israel, and to Pharaoh the king of Egypt, to let the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.

G-d is charging Moses with two directives: Command the people of Israel and then command Pharaoh the king. However, the verse is ambiguous: What did G-d command Moses to instruct the people? The message for Pharaoh is clear: Let the children of Israel out of Egypt. But what is it that Moses is supposed to command the people themselves?

The Jerusalem Talmud says something profoundly enigmatic:

G-d instructed Moses to command to the Jewish people the laws of freeing slaves.

The Talmud is referring to a law recorded later in Exodus: If a Jew sells himself as a slave, the owner must let him go after six years. He is forbidden to hold on to the slave for longer. This was the law Moses was to share with the Israelites while they were in Egyptian bondage.

Who is free?

The answer to this question is profoundly simple and moving, and is vital to the understanding of liberty in the Biblical imagination.

Before Pharaoh can liberate the Jewish slaves, they must be ready to become free. You can take a man out of slavery, but it may prove more challenging to take slavery out of a man. Externally, you may be free; internally you may still be enslaved.

What is the first and foremost symptom of bring free? That you learn to confer freedom on others.

The dictator, the control freak, or the abusive spouse or parent, does not know how give others freedom. He (or she) feels compelled to force others into the mold that he has created for them. Uncomfortable in his own skin, he is afraid that someone will overshadow him, expose his weaknesses, usurp his position or make him feel extra in this world. Outwardly, he attempts to appear powerful, but, inwardly, his power is a symptom of inner misery and confinement.

Only when one learns to embrace others, not for whom he would like them to be, but for whom they are, then can he begin to embrace himself, not for whom he wishes he was, but for whom he is. When we free those around us, we are freeing ourselves. By accepting them, we learn to accept ourselves.

Who is powerful? He who empowers. Who is free? He who can free others. Who is a leader? He who creates other leaders.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power,” Abraham Lincoln said. Ask yourself, do you know how to celebrate the soaring success of your loved ones and constituents? Do you encourage them to spread their wings and maximize their potential? Can you allow others to shine?

Pharaoh may set you free physically. But former slaves can become present tyrants. People who were abused often become abusers themselves. It is what they know about life; it is the paradigm they were raised with. They grew up in abuse and slavery, so they continue the cycle with others. The first Mitzvah the Jews had to hear from Moses, before even he can go the Pharaoh to let them go free was: One day you will be free. Remember that freedom is a gift; use it to free others.

Celebrate Passover – The Holiday of Freedom – with Chabad. We have a place for you at our Seder. To reserve, call Rabbi Tzvi at 347-410-1106

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the Director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches. New location soon. For all upcoming events please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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