Vanished In The Wilderness
Six years ago the story of a family that vanished during a blizzard made national news and captured the hearts of everyday Americans. A father, mother and their two young children had disappeared without a trace. Millions held their breath while hundreds of rescue workers combed the snow-covered mountains of southwest Oregon, an area notorious for black bears. Time and brutal winter weather were playing against them. Would they find the missing family in time?
Our designation as a “light unto the nations” refers to the spiritual and moral illumination that the world has absorbed from us and our Torah. Nevertheless, Jews have also left their imprint on the material daily lives of billions of people. The list of patented inventions attributable to Jewish minds is very long, and includes everything from flexible straws to the cure for polio. Read about common, everyday items as well as uncommon, world-changing discoveries that all share one thing: their invention is traced back to a Jew.
Jaws In Jersey
Panic swept over the New Jersey and New York coast. It had come under attack — from sharks! In less than two weeks during the month of July 1916, close to 100 years ago, five shark attacks occurred along the New Jersey shore. Four of the victims died and the fifth was seriously injured. Beaches lay empty as swimmers stayed far away fearing the danger that lurked beneath the waves. In the end, they caught the killer shark… or did they?
It rises above the lush landscape and provides a majestic ornament to a picturesque scene. However, the beauty of its snow-capped glaciers conceals the sleeping destruction that lies within. In the spring of 1980, a massive volcanic eruption from Mount St. Helens caused devastation on a scale so unimaginably vast that it revised the way scientists who study volcanos think about them. Everyone within a several-hundred-mile radius remembers when and where he or she was at the time it occurred.
Disaster In Benghazi
A terror attack on the American consulate in Benghazi this past September 11 cost the lives of the US ambassador and three other Americans. That was humiliating enough, but then it emerged that the catastrophe could have been averted. The fact that the Obama administration tried, initially, to falsely paint the incident as a spontaneous protest only made matters worse. Was it a case of incompetence on the part of the White House? Was it outright treachery? Find out why the Benghazi debacle has the potential to turn into a scandal of Watergate proportions.
Murdered US Ambassadors
It came as a rude awakening to Americans when Christopher Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, was murdered in the attack on the US consulate this past September 11. It was especially troubling because the last time a US ambassador was killed in the line of duty took place over 30 years ago. Here are the stories of the five other American ambassadors murdered by terrorists while serving abroad.
When Islam erupted onto the tapestry of history about 1400 years ago the monumental upheaval it caused changed the face of civilization with astonishing speed.
Even while Mohammed lived, Muslim armies swept up from the Saudi Arabian peninsula through Eretz Yisrael into Babylonia and Syria, all the way up into Turkey. Then they swept east into what is today Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Next, they swept west into what is today Egypt, Sudan and the northern coast of Africa, including Libya, the subject of this month’s cover story.
Our cover story is fascinating for numerous reasons, not the least of which is that it is told through the eyes of Raphael Luzon, whose family roots in Libya stretch back to shortly after the expulsion from Spain and Portugal in the 1490s. Almost five centuries of history were wiped out in 1967 when Arab rioting forced all but a few thousand Jews to leave Libya, including Luzon’s family. In 1969, when the other main character in this month’s cover story, Muammar Qaddafi, ordered the destruction of virtually all remaining vestiges of Jewish life the job was complete. Libyan Jewry had become an echo of the past, a rumor.
Or so he thought.
Hashgachah worked it so that almost a decade before he met his well-deserved demise, Qaddafi felt he needed to make contact with a prominent former Libyan Jew and make amends. Whether he did so exclusively for selfish political motivations or also for some spark of humanity buried deeply in his troubled soul (President Reagan had dubbed him the “mad dog of the Middle East”) is irrelevant. In an impossible-to-predict way that only the Playwright of history could author, Hashem planted in one of modern Jewry’s worst villains the idea to reach out to Raphael Luzon.
Luzon saw the invitation — first to correspond by letter and later to personally visit Qaddafi — as an opportunity to advocate for the return of stolen Jewish property, and the protection of the remaining Jewish historical sites in Libya.
It’s a fascinating story told with Zman’s characteristic depth, one you are sure to enjoy and learn much from.
As we go to print, the headlines are dominated by turmoil in the Middle East. The “Arab Spring” has not brought prosperity, stability or real change to any of the countries swept up in the fervor of the past months. Even Libya, whose overthrow of Qaddafi was widely heralded as a triumph for democracy, is beset by political unrest and the ever-present threat of militant Islamists taking over. Having been ruled by despots for centuries, and with corruption and cronyism endemic to their societies, the “Arab Spring” is looking much more like just another bleak and bloody chapter in the “Arab Winter” of their discontent.
Be that as it may, there is only one piece of information we need to know to maintain our equilibrium: The same Playwright who manipulated Qaddafi into listening to Raphael Luzon orchestrates all events. Whatever else we may think we need to do, we first and foremost need to address our concerns to the King of Kings. Our cover story reminds of that in the most profound way.