15 Minutes Magazine - The Magazine of Society and Celebrity

Celebrating Our 17TH Year!

Official Magazine of the Next 15 Minutes

 

 
No. 115 / 2017

 

Tim Boxer

Travel

Nina Boxer
Dan Hotels' e-Dan Club
 

Ranger Chris Wilkinson greets us at Launch Control Center Delta 1
Ranger Chris Wilkinson greets us at Launch Control Center Delta 1
Minuteman II promises "worldwide delivery in 30 minutes or your next one is free."
Minuteman II promises
"world-wide delivery in 30 minutes
or less or your next one is
free."
Commanderís launch console where prompt delivery is guaranteed
Commanderís launch console where prompt delivery is
guaranteed
SOUTH DAKOTA

The Only National Park Service Site
That Played A Role In The Cold War

D
URING the Cold War, South Dakota was on the front line in a face-off with the Communist world. The vast pristine prairie was on high alert with intercontinental ballistic missiles entrenched deep under the Great Plains, ready to strike back in any attack on the homeland from the Soviet Empire.

From 1963 to the late 90s there were 1,000 missiles underground across America from Montana to Missouri.

Since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union splintered two years later and is no longer a nuclear threat and China has grown to become an economic adversary rather than a military menace, little thought was been given to the possibility of nuclear intimidation from other quarters, such as Iran. (Iran? Who knew?)

North Korea, who has often threatened to strike the heart of the United States, in October claimed that its ballistic missiles can now reach the U.S. mainland. In December North Korea tested a long-range rocket capable of delivering a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile. Are we prepared for it?

In the recent past, new realities with a receding Iron Curtain warranted a dismantling of much of Americaís intercontinental ballistic missile defense system based in the heartland. In 1991 President George H.W. Bush and Soviet head Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) to destroy a number of nuclear weapons worldwide. The world heaved a sigh of relief as we thought the arms race had faded into history.

Chris Wilkinson in the underground dining area
Chris Wilkinson in the underground dining area
All 150 Minuteman II missiles and 15 Launch Control Facilities were removed from the plains of South Dakota. However, stockpiles of Minuteman III missiles are still scattered across Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado. Just in case.

One deactivated launch pad and control facility were left intact in South Dakota. They are located 75 miles east of Rapid City on Interstate 90 at Exit 131. Since 1999 the National Park Service has preserved this Minuteman Missile National Historic Site as a valuable Cold War history lesson and unique tourist destination drawing 25,000 visitors every year.

This is the only National Park Service site involved in the Cold War. Park Rangers offer guided tours. Check their schedule at www.nps.gov/mimi.

National Park Service manager Chris Wilkinson took me and my son David on a tour of the once-secret Delta 1 Launch Control Facility. We walked through the above-ground buildings and explored the sleeping quarters, dining facilities, recreational room and medical equipment.

Then we descended into the bunker, 31 feet underground, where officers from Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City were on duty for three decades, poised to push buttons on elaborate ICBM consoles that would launch a massive nuclear counterstrike against any Soviet attack.

After inspecting the mechanical equipment in the control room, we surfaced outdoors. We got into our rented car and drove a straight line for 10.5 miles, cutting through a sea of grass, to the subterranean silo at the Delta 9 Launch Facility. There, embedded in the prairie, a lonely missile was still standing sentry, pointing skyward. This is what kept a MAD peace during the Cold War.

Now that Minuteman has been clipped of its nuclear-tipped warhead, are we ready for the next war, cold or hot?

Launch Facility Delta 9 where the missile is maintained
Launch Facility Delta 9 where the missile is maintained
Thatís a Minuteman missile buried in the rural landscape
Thatís a Minuteman missile buried in the
rural landscape
Prairie dogs frolic in the sun
Prairie dogs frolic in the sun

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TravelCell - Unlimited Internet & Calls!travelcell.com

Students at Abrishami day school
Students at Abrishami day school
Abrishami school and synagogue
Abrishami school and synagogue
Abrishami entrance
Abrishami entrance
Prayer schedule
Prayer schedule
Waiting for the afternoon prayer
Waiting for the afternoon prayer
IRAN

Jewish Life In Persia
On Exhibit In L.A.

L
IGHT and Shadows: The Story of Iranian Jews, an exhibition of the history and contemporary life of the Jews of Iran, is at the Fowler Museum at the University of California/Los Angeles, 308 Charles E. Young Drive North, through March 10, 2013. The story unfolds over 2,700 years, beginning with the first Jews exiled from Jerusalem by the Babylonians.

This in-depth portrait of Iranian Jewry originated at Beit Hatfutsot/The Museum of the Jewish People on the Tel Aviv University campus.

I had an opportunity to investigate Jewish life in Iran four years ago, thanks to Thomas Steinmetz, chairman of the International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP) and publisher of eTurboNews. He invited me to join him to the first International Tour Operators Convention in Tehran in 2008. The convention was organized by the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) to showcase the countryís tourism potentials, which I found vast and magnificent.

Keynote speaker Esfandyar Rahim Mashaee, vice president of Iran and president of ICHTO, applauded the advancement of tourism for the sake of global security, which he maintained is more important than culture. Actually he considered the development of tourism a strategic matter.

"Iran is ready to serve, to help love and friendship materialize," he declared. "We are ready to sacrifice ourselves for that noble goal. We think of nothing but peace and friendship, dialogue, interaction and the exchange of opinion."

Mashaee, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejadís closest adviser, exhorted the global gathering of travel agents and tour operators to carry his message back to their countries: "Iranís name is associated with love, peace and friendship."

From the Convention Center I embarked on a personal detour. I asked my guide and his driver to take me to the office of the Tehran Jewish Committee, the official organization that oversees the Jewish community. The head of its cultural committee is a young man named, Farhad Aframian. I asked my guide to leave the office and wait for me in the car (so as not to intimidate by his presence).

Aframian said of the 20,000 Jews in the country, about 8,000 live in the capital. The rest are concentrated in the ancient cities of Shiraz and Isfahan.

Speaking flawless English, Aframian insisted thereís no anti-Semitism in Iran. The Jews maintain cordial relations as long as they donít have any communication with Israel or espouse Zionist feelings.

He gave me a booklet, in English and Farsi, that describes Jewish life in the Islamic republic. The Tehran Jewish Committee supervises kosher facilities in restaurants and meat markets. It maintains three cemeteries. Graves include Jews from Poland who found asylum in Iran during the Holocaust.

The booklet also states that, although many Jews fled following the 1979 Islamic revolution, the welfare and security of Jewish citizens continue "at a somewhat desirable level." Jewish authorities view "humiliations" from the mass media as a result of "actions of political Zionism and the regime of Israel." The Jewish Committee responds to attacks on Iranian Jews by affirming its separation from Zionist causes and protesting against crimes of Israeli regime and violation of human rights by this regime."

It is noteworthy that the Tehran Jewish Committee operates "under supervision of the Ministry of Interior, and Ministry of Cultural and Islamic Guidance and Endowments Organization," as the booklet puts it.

As the Tehran Jewish Committee avoids any connection with Israel, members rely on their own resources for communal needs. "We publish our own siddur [prayer book], and import from France a knife for kosher slaughtering, tallit, tefilin and mezuzas," Aframian said. There are six kosher butchers, one kosher restaurant, a Jewish library, and two Jewish day schools, one for girls and one for boys. "Jews serve freely in the army for 18 months after high school," he said. Many Jews have relatives in the U.S.

Aframian gave me the address of the prominent Abrishami Synagogue but my driver and guide both were unable to find the street. We asked directions from the traffic cop at a busy intersection. He smiled at the American visitor in the car, posed for a picture, and pointed us in the right direction.

We arrived at the synagogue and adjoining day school just as the students were coming out of class. They were quite surprised to encounter an American at a time when banners on street poles were proclaiming "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."

The kids spoke English, and one was kind enough to escort me into the synagogue. It was just before the afternoon mincha service. Two elderly men were waiting for a minyan of worshipers.

At a wooden table facing the ark, five young businessmen were engrossed in the Talmud. The group meets after work for daily study.

We also went to the Yousef Abad Synagogue but found it closed. My guide called the watchman, Rachmat Shamsion, who kindly came to unlock the door for our visit. Shamsion is a retired boutique owner who lives close by and volunteers to help the congregation. He doesnít speak English so my guide interpreted. Shamsion said his daughter Devora lives in New York. Her husband, Mehrzode Gamze Lítova is a filmmaker in Brooklyn.

On a subsequent trip to Israel I contributed digital images of Tehran synagogues to the Beit Hatfutsot/Museum of the Jewish People for the permanent collection of their Visual Documentation Center.

Yousef Abad synagogue is also fortified
Yousef Abad synagogue is also fortified

Ark that contains the Torah at Yousef Abad
Ark that contains the Torah at Yousef Abad

Yousef Abad watchman Rachmat Shamsion
Yousef Abad watchman Rachmat Shamsion

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El Al Israel AirlinesTake A Crack At Free Upgrade

E
L AL
Israel Airlines launched a parody video called "Funny Excuses Used to Obtain Free Upgrades."

The two-minute spoof features comedians who volunteered to perform short absurd skits. Youíll laugh out loud as they pretend to be President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy, a "pregnant" woman, and an extremely tall gentleman. One character even tries to bribe the airline representative.

The low budget video took two-and-a-half hours to film and is now live on the EL AL USA Facebook page. Here are the top five favorites of actual excuses used to get a free upgrade:

"I just got divorced and the guy Iím sitting next to looks like my ex."

"Can you please upgrade my mother-in-law because she is driving me crazy?"

"Can you please upgrade me so I can meet a rich husband?"

"I can breathe better in first class."

"Iím flying as an undercover air marshal so I need to be in business class."

On your next Economy flight to Israel this may help you (LOL) move up to Economy Class Plus without charge for extra comfort and more pampering in-flight experience. It usually costs an additional $150.

Tell us what strategy you used to obtain a free upgradeówhether you succeeded or not. The funnier the better. Write to Editor@15MinutesMagazine.com.

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