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Tuesday, October 28, 2003

still packing

Dear Lord! Will the packing never end? I think Yishai is breaking out in hives and I'd rather throw my whole wardrobe out than fold one more thing. Are there any nudist colonies in Israel?

I had a fight with my sister today - she's upset that I'm moving to Israel - everyone's known for about 2 and a half years that I'm headed in that direction, but it's somehow still a shock to the family that I'm going now. I can understand - Israel doesn't get much good press these days and there's enough lashon haRah about Israel floating around to destroy 7 or 8 more Beit HaMikdashes. My sister feels that she'll rarely see me anymore (not that she returns my phone calls!) - I don't think that's true. A trip half way around the world just isn't what it used to be. 11 hours - eyn baya (no problem). But there is some truth there - it's not a cheap flight, so it's not going to be a very regular flight for me (until I get my cushy, cushy government job). I often hear from people that they can't make Aliyah because they can't leave their family - it wouldn't be fair to the family or they'd miss them too much, etc. The thing is, someone's going to be the one to leave.
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Monday, October 27, 2003

The Worth of Jewish Life

I would like to continue an idea that Ben wrote about a short time ago. It seems like, both here in Israel, as well as throughout the rest of the civilized world, that the murder of Jews has once again become acceptable.

The headline from Today's Ha'aretz website:

"Sharon tells EU lawmakers that there is no plan to kill Arafat"

"I don't see any plans to kill
him although the man is
responsible for the deaths of
hundreds, of thousands of
mostly civilians because his
strategy is a strategy of
terror," Sharon told a group
of some 150 European
parliamentarians visiting

Why is it that these European lawmakers, the United Nations, not to mention the United States, bring heavy pressure on Israel not to harm this mass murderer / inventor of modern day terrorism, while paying little more than lip service towards the daily murder of Jews in Israel and of the neccesity to bring those responsible to true justice for their acts?
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Sunday, October 26, 2003

I'm moving to Israel!!!!!

I can't believe it, it's really happening.

I have spent the past 3 years pushing the message of Aliyah. I believe deeply as a spiritual matter, and understand it to be the right thing as a logical matter, and because I feel so strongly about this issue I have tried to share my vision (our vision) with my brothers and sisters. I meet people, I talk about Aliyah, about Israel, about the beauty and the problems and the personal issues people have and I share my absolute conviction that Israel is home.

But now it's happening to me. I'm going home and it's one of the most profound experiences of my life.

It's a very emotional time. I was born in America and have never spent more than a month and a half at a time outside of this place. I speak English fluently - and that's about it. I can ask my mother-in-law if she wants tea in Russian, but I don't think that counts. I understand and speak a miniscule bit of Hebrew, but I get exhausted trying to translate other people's conversations in my head, and it usually takes me about 60 seconds to piece a 4 word sentence together. So I'm kind of afraid. I know I'll take Ulpan, but it's just a scary notion. Of course, my grandparents didn't speak a word of English when they got off the boat from their DP camp in Germany, and they didn't use Hungarian to get around the streets of New York - they learned English! So they inspire me to become fluent in Hebrew.

Also, leaving my family is a big deal. I wouldn't say I'm closer to my family than the average person, but it's still hard. They say they'll worry about me all the time in Israel, but I'm going to worry about them too. Are they well? Is Osama coming back for another round somewhere else in America? Is everyone doing alright? The worry goes both ways. I'm also leaving a lot of friends - not for long, I hope! I ask myself what kind of lives will they achieve? Will America take care of them like Israel would? Will they be happy? Will I see them again? Deep down, I know I will. It just happens - they will come to Israel to live or to visit and I will visit the States. And let's not forget that revolutionary tool, the telephone. It's going to be alright.

And there's packing - putting everything into boxes to move to a new home in the Middle East! Wrapping up memories of a life that will never be the same, giving away appliances that can't be used in Israel - I have an alarm clock that has been with me in every home I've ever had since I was 5. American clocks don't work in Israel - bye, bye, faithful friend. It's really sad. And deciding what items are worth bringing and which should stay behind is really hard - what is worthy of coming to the Holy Land, what should stay in Galut, I actually feel like I'm hurting the feelings of the items that have to stay behind.

But on the other hand I am utterly thrilled. Landing in Israel as a citizen of the Jewish State will be one of the greatest achievements of my life, and the culmination of the dreams of all of my ancestors since the beginning of time (if my parents don't know it yet, it's their dream, too). I am ready to take on my new life and all the challenges that come with it - I'm sure it will be even better than I have ever expected.
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Friday, October 24, 2003

Dear Kumah,

Shalom - I have some news for you: with G-d's help, Malkah and I are making Aliyah Sunday, November 3rd. We are moving to Beit El, a town twenty-five minutes north of Jerusalem - it is the place where Yaakov dreamed of angles ascending and descending the ladder standing between heaven and earth. At Beit El I will take a position with Arutz Sheva Internet radio and Malkah will attend Ulpan in neighboring Ofra.


I know its pretty sudden - but an opportunity has opened up and I feel we must take it. We have been waiting for this time, and now the Kadosh Baruch Hu has answered our prayers. Don't worry, our organization, Kumah, will go on and on. We have lots of plans for Kumah in the US and Israel. I will let you know about it in the near future.

If you feel like celebrating with us and catching a bit of the Aliyah spirit, I invite you to come over to our apartment in the next few days and get your hands into the ma'ase (the act) of Aliyah. Bring some drinks and say LeChaim to Aliyah, Eretz Yisrael, and the Jewish people.

Give us a call or just come on over.
Our Address:
501 West 189th Apt. 4J
Manhattan, New York
(Take the 1/9 train to 181)

Our Telephone:

Hope to see you or hear from you soon,

Yishai and Malkah
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A trend to watch

The Economist reports (thanks to slashdot for the link) on the trend towards finding alternative energy sources. They talk about some of the work being done to produce cars that run on something other than oil, most likely hydrogen-powered fuel cells. The importance to world peace of reducing our dependence on Arab oil cannot be underestimated.

The article talks about ways that the US government can encourage this trend, but indicates that they are not doing as much as they could. This is a huge opportunity for Israel, who would stand to gain the most from reduced dependence on oil. If Israel can encourage research on fuel-cells, then it can be the world leader in something that everyone would benefit from. One way to approach this would be through the tax on cars. Give a large tax break for fuel-efficient cars, and charge no tax on no-fuel (zero-emission) cars. Finally, use the revenue from the ridiculously high car tax (I think it's 100%) for funding Israeli research into fuel-cell cars.

Perhaps in five to ten years, we'll be seeing Americans and Europeans driving around in Israeli-made zero-emission cars.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2003

This just in! No massacre!

JPost reports that the IAF has footage proving there was no massacre in Gaza. I hadn't even heard there was a massacre; I guess we learned from Jenin that we need to go on the defensive even before anyone else goes on the offensive.

Yishai once said to me, after hearing a very defensive speech about Jenin, "Please believe me! I just came from the matza factory, and I promise, no Christian baby's blood was used!" We need to stop being so defensive; in the end, it just makes us look bad, as if we really think any reasonable person could call a minor anti-terror offensive a "massacre." It also makes us sound weak, when we are always apologizing for every step in this war.

I'd rather hear more positive statements about how we are going to win the war on terror - not so that we can get back to negotiating the Oslo agreements, but so that we can actually defeat the terrorists. Isn't that the point?
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Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Arutz 7

Arutz 7 has stopped broadcasting on the radio in Israel. This sad situation comes from the fact that A7 has had to operate illegally for 15 years. The article, as expected, focuses on the anti-Right sentiment that caused the station to be shut down. But the issue seems more basic - why can't anyone get a radio permit? It's not just the right - the article mentios Abie Natan, who ran a left-wing pirate radio station off a ship. It is ridiculous for Israel to restrict radio to government-owned stations. Of course the public is going to want more than that.

Please post in the comments if you can shed some light on the broadcasting laws in Israel, and why Arutz 7 can't become legal.

Update: David Wilder of Hebron has started an online petition to reopen Arutz 7.

Another Update: JPost editorial on the issue.
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The Fastest-Growing Jewish Population

Take a look at this article from the Telegraph (thanks to Protocols for the link). Apparently, the fastest-growing Jewish population in the world is none other than Germany's. A quote from the article:
Mr Spiegel said many Jews chose Germany because they had to fight anti-Semitism in their homelands.

"The thinking is that a country with the history that Germany has is unlikely to let anti-Semitism become a danger again, so that is why they come to Germany," he said.

Seems like a pretty safe bet, right? Or, to quote the Simpsons, "No one who speaks German could be an evil man."

If people who are suffering from anti-Semitism around the world are turning to Germany as the answer, then surely we are not doing a good enough job of promoting the return to our homeland (that is, the land of our fathers, not the "Fatherland"). Unlike Germany, Israel is more than just a temporary respite from anti-Semitism, but the permanent home for Jews.
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Wednesday, October 08, 2003

The Store

Ezra Halevi once told me an interesting analogy, which I would like to expand on: Sharon has a store of actions in order to defend Israel - assassinations of terrorist leaders, destuction of bomb factories, etc. But the price for each action is a certain number of Jewish lives. 10 Jews killed buys one assassination. 20 Jews killed buys a 3-day incursion into terrorist-filled cities. The "coin" can only be used once, and expires after a few days. It is as if we have a complete "road map" of actions to completely win the war on terror, but we keep needing to get new "coins" in order to carry out each action.

Have you ever noticed that the "major" suicide bombings always seem to kill about 20 people, give or take a couple? There have been so many attacks that killed about 20 people, but none that have killed 30, as far as I know. I doubt that it is due to the limits of the Arabs' bomb-making abilities. They have many factories producing rockets and missiles. Surely they are capable of more mass destruction that they have carried out.

I think the reason is the store. The "20 Jew coin" only buys limited military action. But they know that a 30- or 40-Jew coin would buy a disproportionately large action - killing Arafat, dismantling the PA, or annexing territory. But since the coins cannot be combined, and they expire so quickly, they can kill 20 Jews as many times as they want, and we will only take limited action. Arafat knows that a 20-Jew coin bought the descision to remove him, but only a larger join can actually buy that action.

As further proof, during the "hudna," there were seven terrorist actions resulting in the deaths of individual Jews. But the "hudna" did not end until close to 20 Jews were killed in one day. Why? Because the one-Jew coin is like the five-agorot coin - its worth is apparently negligiable, and becoming more so every day.

I think it's nice that we bombed the Ein Saheb terrorist camp in Syria. But did Israel know about it last week? Why did we have to wait for 19 Jews to be killed this week to make the move? Weren't another 20 Jews just killed a few weeks ago? Do we even need to wait for a mass murder to bomb an active terrorist camp?

Apparently, we have a situation where we have placed a value on Jewish lives, and a low one at that. How can we, who cannot make military descisions for Israel, change this situation? We have to change our own judgement of the worth of a Jew. One Jew killed must be as valuable to us as the whole world. Further, we must not forget those killed or wounded one week, one month, or one year ago. And just as we see one life lost as the loss of the whole world, we also must see every Jew who is born in Israel, or who moves to Israel, as if the whole world was born in Israel today - the contribution to Am Yisrael is immesurable.
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Sunday, October 05, 2003

Erev Yom Kippur and Jews Keep Living

A few hours ago, right after Shabbat, I learned that a suicide mission had been carried out in Haifa. Jews are dead again.

A half hour later I was out on the streets of Crown Heights, I swung a chicken over my head 9 times while chanting repentance prayers. I brought my chicken to the shochet, and he cut its throat and then spilled its blood on some dirt. I made a blessing and covered my chicken's blood.

You know what? I felt so much better after that, because instead of that sick feeling we Jews get these days when we can't do anything about the horror all around us and we just move to the next topic 15 minutes after finding out about another attack - I felt that a little bit of my blood was spilled and that I took part in the pain of Israel though I was still in the Galut.

I know in my heart that more self-sacrifice on our part will save us Jews from more unholy sacrifices offered by the suicide bombers.

This year, may G-d forgive us for our apathy and may He give us strength to do so much more. May He avenge our blood and may He inscribe all of us in the Book of Life.

May we, with our own fleshy eyes, merit to witness the Third Holy Temple stand in Jerusalem, where we will offer our beautiful sacrifices and prayers and greet the face of Mashiach with joy.
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Friday, October 03, 2003

Mixed Messages

From Today's Ha'aretz website:

Bus destroyed in suicide bombing to be displayed at NY fair

By The Associated Press

JERUSALEM - A bus destroyed in one of the deadliest
Palestinian suicide bombings will be displayed at
a New York fair alongside booths promoting Jewish
culture and tourism to Israel.

(For those interested in the complete article: )

One can only wonder, when did Jewish culture come to consist of blown up buses? Further ponderings will lead one one to wonder, who in their right mind, after seeing this bus on display in NY will decide to visit Israel themselves, allow their children to come to Israel or even fathom the idea of ever living in such a place?!

Yet, fear not, fruits will come to bear from this display, as many, many Jews will open their pocketbooks and wallets to help their poor, needy brethren in Israel.

So long as our culture is one that proudly displays the struggles of the Jewish People - particularly in Israel - Aliyah will never be on the radar. Only when we are able to spread a culture of true Jewish Pride can we hope to move the masses.
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Thursday, October 02, 2003

Living in America is Stupid.

I must say that every time I see a map of Israel, video from Israel, or hear any news from Israel, I get this overwhelming understanding of how absolutely ridiculous it is that we live in America now. What on earth are we thinking, and how can we possibly correlate our perpetual yearning for the Holy Land, our 3,000 year yearning, and our cushy, cushy lives here in the States? And thanks very much, but Moshiach probably doesn't want us to cover for our own fears and insecurities by saying we're waiting for him to bring us home, as if that were ever a Jewish value. "Oh, I don't think I'll go to work today, I'll just wait for Moshiach to bring me a brisket." And those of us who aren't yet religious, no matter who you are, no matter how your non-Jewish friends love you, no matter who you're dating or what philosophies you subscribe to, you're Jewish and there's no way for you to ever change it, so you'd better start learning about who you are - life's too short to fake or avoid it.

Let's get out of here, people. It's time to go.
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