The following article, which recently appeared in the Jerusalem Post,
was written by Cherna Moskowitz, who, along with her husband Dr.
Irving Moskowitz, are long-time friends and supporters of Yeshiva Har
Bracha. The importance and timeliness of the article speaks for
This is Our Place, So Mind Your Manners
By Cherna Moskowitz
When my husband Irving was a young man he would go door-to-door around
Milwaukee with a Jewish National Fund blue box collecting money to
redeem property in the Land of Israel. Although it was during the
Depression, everyone put in what they could afford: pennies, nickels
In the 19th century, wealthy Jews like Rothschild were purchasing
large tracts of land for Jews to settle in the Holy Land. The
synagogue Ohel Yitzhak in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City,
abandoned in 1938 after waves of Arab violence – which we recently
rebuilt – was originally built and paid for by European Jews in the
1880’s. For thousands of years Jews dreamed of Israel and in the last
centuries all Jews took part in the effort to reclaim the land and
support Jews who lived there.
This is a part of the Jewish tradition: charity for the poor and
reclaiming the land of our country. It was perfectly normal for Irving
and me to continue to fulfill these mitzvoth. It was the driving force
behind Irving’s quest to work hard to continue the tradition.
How did this become world news, fodder for riots and outraged
pronouncements from foreign leaders?
We were both born in the United States and experienced anti-Semitism
while growing up. However, we were secure in the knowledge that our
government would ensure our equal rights to live in any neighborhood
in any part of the country we wished. We believed that if it was
legal, the full force of the government would protect us regardless of
the fact that we were Jews.
How is it then that President Barack Obama demands that the Israeli
government disallow the Shepherd Hotel a building permit because Jews
would live there? Christians and Muslims yes, Jews no. This is clearly
racist. Furthermore, this would deprive us as American citizens of our
constitutional rights to equal protection of the law.
It seems to be a continuation of a 2,000-year-old habit of Jews being
told where they can and cannot live. This spanned from the ghettos of
medieval Europe, to severe zoning restrictions in czarist Russia and
finally to the edicts of Nazism, where we were eventually told that we
could not live at all.
Can it be possible that we will accept any part of that today in our
own nation? Jews should be able to live anywhere in the world. The
question should be: “Is the purchase legal and are the permits in
order?” Not “what faith do the families living there follow?”
The British Consulate, located near the Shepherd Hotel, also objected
to Jews building on our property there. This while construction on
several nearby Arab-owned buildings is currently in progress. Someone
should remind the British Consulate that there is no longer a British
Mandate. I don’t mind if they don’t come over with a pot of tea, but
at least they should remember that they are guests of the Jewish state
and behave in a civilized and neighborly way.
The writer is the president of the Irving I. Moskowitz Foundation and
serves on the board of numerous prominent organizations both in Israel