Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Articles written by Uri Pilichowski


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  • It's time to review international law

    Rabbi Uri Pilichowski|May 31, 2024

    (JNS) — The International Committee of the Red Cross explains the purpose of the rules of war by stating, “The rules of war or international humanitarian law are a set of international rules that set out what can and cannot be done during an armed conflict. The main purpose of international humanitarian law is to maintain some humanity in armed conflicts, saving lives and reducing suffering. To do that, international humanitarian law regulates how wars are fought.” “The rules of war are universal,” it claims. “The Geneva Conventions (which are...

  • Israel isn't going anywhere

    Rabbi Uri Pilichowski|Apr 5, 2024

    (JNS) — Trying to understand current events in the Middle East without knowing its history is doomed to failure. Trying to understand Israel without an understanding of Jewish history and Zionism is equally futile. Over 100 years ago, the Jewish people began to realize they would never be safe without their own land, government and army, along with the power to determine their own future. For its entire history, the State of Israel they founded has been under attack. Although Israel has extended its hand in peace to its enemies from the b...

  • Together, we are winning

    Rabbi Uri Pilichowski|Mar 8, 2024

    (JNS) — It’s challenging to remember life in Israel before the Simchat Torah massacre of Oct. 7., but it’s possible. We can remember the horrid Yom Kippur, just 12 days before the massacre, that required police to control and then stop a prayer service. For over a year beforehand, Israelis were at each other’s throats over proposed judicial reforms. Lines were drawn between right and left, religious and secular, north and south, the center and the periphery. On Oct. 7, however, we realized that in a divided society everyone is distrac...

  • Israel from the river to the sea

    Rabbi Uri Pilichowski|Feb 2, 2024

    (JNS) — The Zionist community isn’t used to being accused of hypocrisy. Usually, it feels that it is held to a double and hypocritical standard. But there is one issue on which Israel is seemingly guilty of hypocrisy. Palestinians and their advocates often chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” They display maps of a Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. This erases Israel and implies the expulsion or slaughter of Israeli Jews. When Zionists condemn such maps, they are accused of having similar...

  • The world must re-evaluate its values

    Rabbi Uri Pilichowski|Nov 24, 2023

    (JNS) — After 75 years of a successful Israel, it’s hard to imagine that in its early years, Zionism garnered less than 10 percent of global Jewry’s support. Many Jews preferred to assimilate into the nations in which they resided. Others were afraid that advocating for their own state would inspire antisemitic attacks. It was only after the Holocaust that global Jewry, especially American Jewry, came around to supporting Zionism. As Germany transformed into an antisemitic killing machine, world Jewry witnessed the great powers refuse to admit...

  • Invincibility shattered

    Uri Pilichowski|Oct 13, 2023

    (JNS) — My neighbor doesn’t work in an office. He created a niche company that offers adventure experiences to Israelis and visiting tourists. His experience in the outdoors have taught him certain life skills that are needed by the IDF during emergencies. When he drives off in a rush, especially on a quiet Shabbat, there’s no need to check the news to know something has happened. We returned from prayers on Saturday and one of our children told us our neighbor had rushed off early in the morning. That was the first sign something was wrong...

  • Israel and halachah

    Uri Pilichowski|Sep 1, 2023

    (JNS) — The role of halachah in the State of Israel was a point of contention even before the state was founded. In his landmark book The Jewish State, modern Zionism’s founder Theodor Herzl wrote, “Shall we end by having a theocracy? No, indeed. Faith unites us, knowledge gives us freedom. We shall therefore prevent any theocratic tendencies from coming to the fore on the part of our priesthood.” “We shall keep our priests within the confines of their temples in the same way as we shall keep our professional army within the confines of their...

  • We don't have to ask 'will you hide me?' anymore

    Uri Pilichowski|Feb 17, 2023

    (JNS) — The names Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler, Johan Voskuijl, Bep Voskuijl, Jan Gies and Miep Gies should be well-known, but very few Jews know them. They were Otto Frank’s friends who, during the Holocaust, prepared a secret apartment at 263 Prinsengracht Street in Amsterdam for his family to hide from the Germans. They smuggled food and clothing to the Franks, including their daughter Anne, during the family’s two years in hiding. Miep Gies also had the presence of mind to keep Anne’s diary and presented it to her father upon his ret...

  • An attack against the civilized world

    Uri Pilichowski|Feb 10, 2023

    (JNS) — One month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, U.S. President George W. Bush held a prime-time news conference to update the American people on his administration’s war on terror. He said, “One month ago today, innocent citizens from more than 80 nations were attacked and killed, without warning or provocation, in an act that horrified not only every American, but every person of every faith, and every nation that values human life. The attack took place on American soil, but it was an attack on the heart and soul of the civilized world...

  • I'm an Israeli settler-this is why I spoke with J Street's first 'alternative Birthright' group

    Rabbi Uri Pilichowski|Aug 2, 2019

    MITZPEH YERICHO, West Bank (JTA)—On July 8 in Psagot, I addressed the first group of participants on J Street U’s “Let My People Know” Israel trip, their new alternative to Birthright aimed to give American Jewish college students meaningful engagement with key questions related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I was there ostensibly to share my perspective as one of three “settlers,” but also, it seemed, to give the participants a chance to vent at us for perceived injustices we were perpetrating. We explained to the group that Judea... Full story

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