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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Purim: "Reigniting Our Passion for Religious Nationalism"

Rav Chaim Jachter on Purim as an opportunity for Religious Zionist Renaissance (link)

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What's with the Acacia plantation?

During these past couple of weeks, we have been reading about building the Tabernacle in the Torah portion. Most of this structure was made by a special kind of wood from an Acacia tree. Many commentaries say that all this wood was planted when the Jews first came to Egypt, and was taken with them when they left. But why? Why would we plant a huge plantation of acacia trees and watch it grow for over 200 years? Isn't that a bit MUCH???

Well I found a really nice answer to this; "The reason why G-d "inconvenienced" the Jewish people so severely, requiring them to plant acacia trees hundreds of years in advance and carry them into the desert, was to give them comfort throughout the period of their exile. For at every moment during the 200 years of bondage, if their faith began to falter or hopelessness began to set in, the Jewish people had a physical reminder of their future redemption. For, together with them in Egypt, there was a small group of acacia trees planted by Yakov their ancestor, from which the tabernacle in the desert was one day going to be built ( Toras Menachem, 25:8-12)."

When I read this, it made me think of the physical connections we have in Israel, that we can connect to when our faith falters, and situations seem too hard to deal with (like that horrid MURDER of Erez Levanon) We can go to the Kotel, and remember the promise that one day, the redemption will come, and we will all be HOME for ever!!!

Have faith... we shall ya!!!

~ Shulamit

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Even Though We Ain't Got Squirrels...

So here in Israel, in the age of globalization, you can now easily procure Heinz Ketchup (In Israel it used to be Pesach year-round ketchup-wise -- you know, cinnamony), Dr. Pepper (Efrat, Raanana and even Chofetz Chaim at the shuk), Dr. Browns (ditto), Mountain Dew (only Efrat), Ortega taco shells (everywhere) and even Ben & Jerry's. But there is one thing that is totally missing: Squirrels.

So here is your pre-Purim squirrel-fix, fellow Olim. And the guy singing the song is even named Israel (though he is Hawaiian)

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Meat! Fresh Bleeding Meat! Arf Arf!

The angelic lefty loons are on a feeding frenzy again today. When aren't they? These are fat loons we have here, let me tell you.

All of the major news web outlets are feasting on MK Esterina Tartman's gaping wound: Sunday night it was Amnon Abramovich of TV Channel 1 who took the first big bite out of the newly appointed, yet to be sworn in tourism minister for the right wing (?) Yisrael Beiteinu faction, whom the Left hates for being good looking, the IDF record holder for parachute jumps by a woman, a survivor of cancer and a very bad car accident, and of course for her politics. Abramovich revealed that Tartman received 1 million NIS from an insurance company when she left her previous job at Yahav bank in 2001, following her accident.

She and her lawyers had convinced the judge that she left the job because she could only work 4 hours a day and was permanently disabled. The insurance company had claimed she was lying and that she was leaving because she was entering politics. So the question is, how can she work a full time job as an MK and now as minister, if she can only work 4 hours a day, wink wink?

The way I see it, it is quite possible that at the time she could only work 4 hours and now she can work more. In any case, it is clear that the media would never ever feast this way on, say, Supreme Court Judge Edna Arbel, who has quite a few corruption scandals attached to her name, or Dorit Beinish, even, who is also far from clean.

Today they have added a new indictment: Tartman claimed - on the Knesset website and Yisrael Beiteinu's website - to have a Master's Degree in Int'l Relations from Hebrew U., when in fact all she had was some graduate courses from Touro College.

I guess that is pretty embarrassing. But still, if you take a look at Yoav Yitzhak's website - NFC.CO.IL - you won't see the item at all. Yitzhak, on the other hand, has been the one hounding Arbel and Beinish for years about their scandals, which are worse than anything Tartman may have done. This is because Yitzhak, besides being a fighter and a nonconformist, is a Yemenite Jew and an outsider. He used to work for Maariv and then fought with them and went independent. He seems to be doing OK.

If you want to publish an opinion piece on his site, you can. He rarely censors stuff. Even if it isn't PC at all. But still, NFC's ratings are nowhere near Ynet.

Maariv's op-ed editor is also a Yemenite, Ben Dror Yemini. Yemini is a lawyer and he once represented the Yemenite residents of Pinkas St. in Tel Aviv, when fat cat landlords were buying them out for real estate development purposes. I believe he won that case and that was what launched his career in some ways, though I am not sure of the details. In any case, you will find Maariv's op-ed section is less PC conformist than others, and that Yemini attacks the "rule of law mafia" quite a lot, too.


One more:

Haaretz in Hebrew reports on a meeting between Condi Rice and Krazy Kooky Loon Spikey Haired Bee***ch MK Zehava Galon. Galon fed Rice a bunch of hyperinflated stats about the supposedly terrible situation in Israel re: exploitation of women (i.e., prostitutes).

I do not want to offend anyone's sensibilities here, but let me just say that it has been proven to my satisfaction that Galon & co. lie through their teeth about these stats. However, nobody calls them on it, and you are "not allowed" to talk about it (are you?). They make Israel look like a festering hellhole of woman abuse, when in fact it is probably the safest place for women in the entire world.

Now notice what is happening here: were it not for the feminist angle, Galon would never have gotten on Condi's schedule. However, once in there, she also went on and on about the supposedly terrible humanitarian situation in Gaza.

If the Right - and specifically, right wing women - had more sense they would understand that lefties like Galon have succeeded in creating a semi-secret ultraleftist feminist agenda through which they emasculate the entire West. If you can't see the connection between women's politics and left/right politics, well then - I think you are not trying. I always thought if the women of the Right took these women on we could have a fighting chance against the Left.

A true feminist would have pointed out the increase in Arab sexually predatory crimes against Israeli women in the past few years. Just today, five Galilee Arabs from Bir el-Maksur were arrested for allegedly carrying out a series of gang rapes of Jewish girls - as young as 13 - over the past two years for nationalistic motives. These guys apparently went around the roads of the Galilee prowling for girls, and they actually told at least one girl being attacked that this was in revenge for IDF activities.

Is this on Ynetnews in English or I don't see it. Why? Because it sends the wrong feminist message, you see. It makes Arab men look very bad, and could actually cause someone to think strengthening Jewish men is part of the solution. It could also make a lot of people very angry, and it is precisely that kind of anger which we now lack.

I personally used to think if feminist issues are so PC and beloved by the media (any and all sexual allegations are front page news, despite the very high rate of false allegations in divorce cases and by disgruntled employees, jilted lovers etc.), a group of right wing women should mount a protest against Arab sex crimes in front of Israeli police stations. However - this is not in the Right's oeuvre: it is not directly about Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem, the fence or Pollard. It is a different tack, and one that could have been very effective. Maybe they wouldn't have reported about the group the first time, but by the third or fourth demo they would have. It could have knocked some wind out of the Left, which is very dependent on its feminists for its media and moralizing power.

Yes, sex is not a modest topic. But why is it OK and progressive when broached by "Kolech", for instance, against leading rabbis? Why is the fact that there is an intentional Arab campaign of sexual molestation against Jewish women not an issue?

What women like Galon do is lobby and pass laws that make it very hard for a Jewish man to even carry a gun, because supposedly, he is likely to use it against his wife. I cannot even begin to say how twisted this is, and how central it is to the emasculation of this nation. I wish I were less alone in this belief. I think it is a central issue, and one that the Right wing media, especially right wing female journalists, should try and push onto the national right wing agenda.

There is only one figure who can save Israel: the Jewish hero. If we hate our men, we will have no heroes. If we have no heroes, we will have no leaders.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Are you ready for some... Shmittah? (AUDIO)

One of the most special things that comes along with living in the Land of Israel is the privilege of being able to keep many Mitzvot that are simply not relevant to the Jew of the Exile.

Many of these Mitzvot are known as Mitzvot HaTluyot Ba'Aretz - Torah commandments that are incumbent upon a Jew living in the Land of Israel.

This coming year, 5768, will be a Shmittah year - the one year, out of every seven, when the Jew in Israel must allow the Land of Israel to lay fallow, (it's actually much more complex that that, but we'll get to that a little later on) and more importantly, being that I made Aliyah only four years ago, this will represent my very first opportunity to fulfill the Mitzva of Shmittah.

Shmittah has additional significance, as being one of the Mitzvot that only becomes Biblically mandated once the majority of the Jewish People are living in the Land of Israel - something that has not happened since the destruction of the first Temple 2,500+ years ago, and which is scheduled to happen at some point in the next 25 years.

In preparation for the upcoming Shmittah year, I helped to organize a weekly, English language, Shmittah shiur in my community. The shiur is scheduled to run from now until the start of the Shmittah year, and I will be posting each installment of the shiur, along with the accompanying source sheets.

The shiur is being given by Rabbi Gedalia Meyer of Ma'aleh Adumim, and he welcomes any questions that listeners might have ( .

The first, weekly English Shmittah Shiur can be listened to by clicking here. (MP3 format)

Tizku l'mitzvot!

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Remembering Erez Levanon

Erez Levanon (Cedar of Lebanon) was murdered yesterday while he was praying in a forest near Bat Ayin. He was a holy Jew, a musical Jew, a good father, a good teacher.

Hear about Erez, about the search for him, and the horrific discovery of his stabbed body.
Click Here To Listen
Click Here To Download

Hear one of Erez's songs, and sounds from his funeral as his body leaves us forever, and is interred in the heart of Eretz Yisrael.
Click Here To Listen
Click Here To Download

...and here is another song and a write-up of his funeral.

May his soul have rest, may his blood be avenged.

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We're Dreamin' of a Persian Purim

Mekubal Rav Batzri has attracted the attention of the Associated Press with his organizing of thousands of Jewish children to pray for a modern Nahafoch Hu for the modern day Hamanadinejad (notice, all I switched was the first three letters - a Persian friend tells me that the local pronunciation is actually more similar to what I just wrote than Ahmedinejad). AP writes (reprinted in the Int'l Herald Tribune):

Batzri's idea came from the biblical story of Purim, whose protagonist Mordechai organized mass prayers to stop Haman, a royal counselor, from killing all the Jews in the ancient Persian kingdom. In the end, the king hanged Haman instead. Purim starts the evening of March 3.

When asked what the purpose of the current prayers was, Rabbi Menachem Bassi, head of the school, said: "You know what happened to Haman."

Jpost printed the story and had the last quote slightly different. "You know what happened on Purim," it read. Indeed, it was not just Haman who met his demise and it was not just the king who got his hands dirty.

Click here for full story

(Hmmm, Jpost has now left out that last paragraph)

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Photos of Erez Levanon, of Blessed Memory, May God Avenge His Blood

Click here for continuously updated story.

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Haaretz Deliberately Violates Wishes of Grieving Jews

(Imagined scenario of how the following insult to the mourning family of the Jewish man stabbed to death last night next to Bat Ayin took place at Haaretz):

Haaretz editor: They found a murdered settler. Tie it into the IDF's incursions into Nablus and see if you can somehow convey the message that the guy had it coming.
Haaretz writer: Well, we just got a call that the family asked that the media not publish his name. Usually we respect the family's request, at least until the funeral.
Haaretz editor: So publish his hometown and stick in his last name. Let the family suffer. They forfeited their right to grieve when they moved out there. Maybe call up the ISM and internationals staying in Beit Omar and tell them today is a great day to uproot the guy's orchard, also. Also, don't mention he was meditating right near his home, make it seem like he was out gallivanting near the Arab village.

This has been up all morning (blur added by me):

That kind of thing is inexcusable.

Update: Name has now been released. Erez Levanon, 42. He was a student of Rebbe Nachman of Breslav who went nightly to recite Tikkun Hatzot and meditate in the forest. It was there that his murderers waited for him.

: So the name was apparently released around 6 AM, leaving Haaretz in the clear legally for the article pictured above (updated at 8:06). However, they still include the line about the family's request at this time (11:09), as though to advertise the fact that they disregard such requests. Or it could be just a careless mistake. Either way, worth reporting.

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The Tale of Krazy Klan

Krazy Klan created a country for itself. It fought and fought, built and paved, dug and dried, planted and harvested. It flourished and made the earth flourish. It beat its swords into plowshares and its plowshares back into swords. It killed the lion and skinned it, and flew the furry flag high above its home.

But Krazy Klan became so sophisticated it got caught up in its own lies. Its genius was such that it could stave off its enemy with one hand, and still beat itself senseless with the other. And Krazy Klan kept self-flagellating. It was high on the hill and the sun was out and the birds were chirping, and Krazy Klan took its own sword and started beating itself on the head like a Shi'ite in Ashura, bleeding and laughing. And so the enemies all around it awoke, and circled, and drew ever nearer.

Klan knew exactly what to do in these situations. It had learned its lesson in thousands of years of persecution.

It dressed itself in a pink tutu and began dancing a polka. It did somersaults and juggled bottles in the air with its feet. As it held up a mirror, it began screaming at itself in a high pitched, nasal voice: "why must you walk so hunched up, what are you, Quasimodo?"... "why walk so erect, are you a knight in armor all of a sudden?"... "eat with your mouth closed!"... "chew your food before you swallow, you'll choke!"... "don't talk so much!"... "why are you so quiet, did somebody die?"...

Meanwhile, a worried world looked on.

(to be continued?)

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Led Zepplin Knows Purim

Led Zepplin (one of the great bands of all time) has a song - it is called Gallows Pole. I find it to be a great Purim anthem, and I shall explain.

Here is the song and here are the lyrics of "Gallows Pole":

"Hangman, hangman, hold it a little while,
Think I see my friends coming, Riding a many mile.
Friends, did you get some silver?
Did you get a little gold?

What did you bring me, my dear friends, To keep me from the Gallows Pole?
What did you bring me to keep me from the Gallows Pole?"

[What is this silver and gold that the song refers to? Could it related to the strory of Haman's attempt to destroy the Jews? Here is the text of the Megilla:

3;8. Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, "There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people and they do not observe the king's laws, so it is not in the king's interest to let them remain.
9. "If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the king's business, to put into the king's treasuries."
10. Then the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews.
11. The king said to Haman, "The silver is yours, and the people also, to do with them as you please."]

The song continues:

"Hangman, hangman, turn your head awhile,
I think I see my sister coming, riding a many mile, mile, mile.
Sister, I implore you, take him by the hand,
Take him to some shady bower, save me from the wrath of this man,
Please take him, save me from the wrath of this man, man."

[The wrath of which man? Who must the Jews be saved from?

7;3. Then Queen Esther replied, "If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request;
4. for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated. Now if we had only been sold as slaves, men and women, I would have remained silent, for the trouble would not be commensurate with the annoyance to the king."
5. Then King Ahasuerus asked Queen Esther, "Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do thus?"
6. Esther said, "A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman!" Then Haman became terrified before the king and queen.]

The song continues:

"Oh, yes, you got a fine sister, She warmed my blood from cold,
Brought my blood to boiling hot To keep you from the Gallows Pole
Your brother brought me silver, Your sister warmed my soul,
But now I laugh and pull so hard And see you swinging on the Gallows Pole"

[Who is this fine sister? You can guess...

2;15. Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai who had taken her as his daughter, came to go in to the king, she did not request anything except what Hegai, the king's eunuch who was in charge of the women, advised. And Esther found favor in the eyes of all who saw her.
16. So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus to his royal palace in the tenth month which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
17. The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.]

The song ends:

"Swingin' on the gallows pole!"

[Yes indeed, may we seen Haman swinging on the gallows pole!!

7;10. So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai, and the king's anger subsided.]

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Skiing in Eretz Yisrael and much, much, more!

Where does it look like these pictures are from? The Rockies? The Swiss Alps? No, the Holy Land! That's right - you can go skiing even in Israel! There is one mountain up north, Mt. Hermon, just by the border with Syria, where you can go skiing. There are only a few slopes, and they may not be quite as good as some other fancy skiing mountains around the world, but this is the only place in the world where you can be doing a mitzvah while skiing! My trip was with about 30 young olim, organized by Nefesh B'Nefesh, and we also spent the night in the Golan and visited the Golan Heights Winery among other places in the morning.

We left at 5 am from Jerusalem, the sun rose somewhere around the Kineret.
The Jordan Valley road is very colorful this time of year. Here you can also see some of the old brick and new buildings in Tiberias.
The snowy cliffs start peaking through...
A Golan town with Hermon in the background.
Looking out from the foot of Hermon, the structure on the left peak is Nimrod's Fortress from the times of the crusaders
The snowy Hermon peaks
Park entrance (above and below)

More skiing / snowboarding / Hermon park pictures

I decided to have fun blurring the next 2:

Only in Israel - a gun on his back, skis in his hand
Park slopes map
Some Nefesh B'Nefesh skiers
Only in Israel - Minchah after skiing
The Nefesh B'Nefesh Group

Sunset and the mountains, hills, and lakes of the Golan:

The view from the Golan Field School in Gonen, where we stayed:

Friday morning Golan views:

Cows - wandering around all over the Golan
Golan's topography - from the Kesem HaGolan (Magic of the Golan) museum-theater-display place...

The Golan Heights Winery:

Mmm... Wine tasting...

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

"You Mean It Isn't Climb-Proof?!"

Amir Peretz, after receiving his daily intelligence report ("just give me pictures - no words, please"): You mean to tell me we are partitioning the land, establishing an Islamic state in the heart of where we are supposed to be building a functioning Jewish entity based on our Sinaitic mandate and the blueprint we call the Torah and we didn't make this danged security fence climb-proof?!

Advisors/handlers: Uh, sir. We didn't know how to draw this out for you, but a memo was sent out a while back briefing the government on the fact that the security fence is actually a Partition Wall. It is actually detrimental to security due to our having to deploy on either side or abandon a ten mile radius to missile attacks, but we are pretty sure the people are onto us and this is our last chance to ditch the territories. Oh, and the fact that it is a wall - we assumed you could surmise that by looking at it. One of the interns must have left their hasbara booklet lying around your desk - you see, just because some of it is fence does not mean all of it is fence.

That whole debate was just a distraction anyway. The right was against the idea of drawing a border so we couched it in terms of security and managed to convince the Hague to come out against it. It was a brilliant plan and it worked like a Jedi mind-trick. "If the Hague's against it, I'm for it" said all the right-wingers, and voila - the holy wall was erected.

Peretz [twiddling moustache]: Um, I'm really sorry. I was not listening to a word you just said. Is the wall climb-proof or not?


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David Melech Yisrael Chai Vikayam! --or--
Dudu for President

We all know by now that Israel's government is corrupt and devoid of high moral standing, both in the eyes of Israelis and the world at large. I don't intend to go into all the sordid details now. That we can save for several upcoming posts.

But the situation is in desperate need of repair, and many argue that we need to start at the top of the political ladder and work down to solve our leadership crisis.

The President of Israel is considered Israel's highest public servant. He certainly is the highest paid. The current term of President Moshe Katzav officially ends in June, if he is not tossed out of office beforehand for sexual misconduct, possibly rape.

The Israeli populace agrees that we need to restore dignity to this position with a man or woman of exemplary character, that can well represent what the modern nation of Israel is all about.

I nominate Dudu.

When I think about all the characteristics that are necessary to make a good president in Israel, one man stands out miles above the rest.

David (Dudu) Fisher has been a model Israeli for decades, and may even be a true Jewish hero. Fisher is a performer par excellance, his star quality shines through all his endeavors.

Fisher has embraced Jewish culture. He served as the Cantor of the Great Synagogue in Tel Aviv, meaning scores of non-religious "Middle Israelis" have probably heard him belt out Kol Nidrei when they wanted their semi-yearly dose of Judaism. Dudu can sing with the best of them, reawakening the oft hibernating souls of the Jewish people.

Dudu won't buckle under pressure. He has performed on the world's biggest stage. I personally saw him play Jean Valjean in Les Miserables on Broadway. That's the biggest stage I can think of. You can be certain he won't lose his composure standing before the evil glare of the Israeli media's cameras.

And did I mention that Dudu is religious. He never performs on Friday nights or Saturdays. I can't offhand think of any other Valjean's or prominent Israeli politicians with that to their credit.

Dudu is one of Israel's top diplomats meeting with world leaders across the globe.

Fisher understands the diaspora quite well. In addition to his broadway stint, Fisher served as High Holidays Cantor at Kutshers Hotel in the Catskills for over 20 years. It doesn't get any more galut than that. Really.

And let's face it. There is no name that screams, "I'm an Israeli and proud of it," more than "Dudu."

But most of all, Dudu cares about the future of Israel. This is why he has devoted so much of his time and energy to educating our youth with his powerful and funloving DVD series that is a staple in just about every Israeli household.

Dudu has the respect of practically every child in the country. There are Israeli children who will utter the word "Dudu" before they learn to say Abba and Ima. Ask an Israeli youth who Ben Gurion was. I'm not sure they'll know. Ask about Dudu, now that's simple. Dudu is an institution, a revolutionary, a teacher and a leader.

Corrupt? I don't think so. I think all Israelis will agree. Dudu Fisher is an exemplary individual who knows how to represent Israel and Judaism throughout the entire world.

I hereby nominate David (Dudu) Fisher for President of Israel--and for that matter, Prime Minister, or Monarch.

David Melech Yisrael Chai Vikayam!!

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Enjoying the View Mr. Defense Minister?

The government needs changing - not just this government but the model in general. The way it's set up today every minister is also a member of Knesset. Did anybody stop for a second to think just how ridiculous that is!?

Let's compare this with the American government. The President's cabinet (which is the equivalent of all the ministry positions) is made up of exactly zero members of Congress. And why do you suppose that is?

Maybe it's because America wants someone knowledgeable about finance and economics heading up its Treasury Department, someone skilled in diplomacy heading up its State Department, and someone experienced in war heading up its Department of Defense. And it's an undisputed fact that politicians are no good at anything but getting people to vote for them.

So what happens when you put such individuals in positions they are woefully unqualified for is you get your Minister of Defense on the cover of papers all over the world looking through binoculars with the lens cap on! And the politician is too full of pride to bother asking someone why his binoculars aren't working. Someone more concerned about his ego than his soldiers is not someone I want anywhere near my country's defense forces.

The Knesset needs to pass a law that sitting MKs can not serve ministry posts. That's the only way to ensure a slight chance they may be filled by qualified individuals. And yes, I know the Prime Minister is a ministry post too.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

LINKavod Shabbat Kodesh

So I haven't had a TV in forever. I get all my multi-media via the Internet. Maybe I was ahead of my time a couple years back but this is quickly becoming the norm. By the time my grandkids read this they will guffaw and say to one another "Ha! Saba used a computer to watch stuff - I can't believe he didn't have it beamed directly onto his retinas like we do now!"

So in what will become a feature on this Neo-Zionist Überblog, allow me to share with you a selection of links and video clips of interest:

A call to end Jewish prayer at the Western Wall
(not by a descendant of Ishmael)
Rabbi Bar Hayyim and Rabbi Shlomo Aviner - virtual debate on following illegal orders
How to properly sit at your computer
Palestine National News Talks up the "Zohar Palace"
Ta Katom (Orange Cell) in Homesh with U2
Natalie Portman pulls a Natan Gesher with some of the most typical of Israeli news photographers
Fanta laughs at Rachav. Who is the target audience?
West Bank Story
Suha Arafat emails Jack. Hilarity ensues.
"Winkie" gives the lowdown on the Naveh-Rennert-Bina connection
David Druce launches Jewish Geography. You'll love it as much as the real sport.
Captivating and even entertaining documentary by a British dude that bunks with American Nazis for a week.

And I'll end of with a quote from Bob M. that came on randomly as I was posting:

"I'm a gonna take a just one step more,
Cause I feel like bombing a church
now that you know that the preacher is lying,
So who's gonna stay at home,
when the freedom fighters are fighting?"

-Bob Marley, "Talkin' Blues"

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Get a Home in ISRAEL!!!

So when I read THIS I just had to share with the whole crew!!! I mean, being able to getsome friends or family together and getting a house in ISRAEL is just too amazing.

All the info is in the link, but a brief run down: you buy a house in YESHA and they Amana rents it out for you. Its the coolest way to support Israel, and then when you're ready to make Aliyah, you have a house all ready for you :-)

Now the fun part is convincing my "Family" and "Friends" to chip in and buy a house, any suggestions????

~ at work... Shulamit

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Baseball in Israel and in the Bible (Wow!)

So it looks like it's really happening! Baseball in Israel. A year and a half ago I posted a Michael Freund Op/Ed piece from the a Jerusalem Post entitled "Why Israel needs baseball." At the time I really didn't think it would ever happen and certainly not so quickly.

Yet, recent headlines are being made (yes, even on ESPN) about the Israel Baseball League which has opening day scheduled for just a few months away - June 24! They even signed some former major league (as in MLB) players to Manage. (See that ESPN link above.) And no games will be played on Shabbat!

Six teams will be in the IBL its opening year. (None in Jerusalem where I am! Shucks!). They are:

The Tel Aviv Lightning
The Petach Tikva Pioneers
The Ra'anana Express
The Netanya Tigers
The Modi'in Miracle
The Bet Shemesh Blue Sox

Play Ball!

The official IBL website (in honor of Purim?) posted this humorous article:

Scholars find possible references to baseball in the Bible

Compiled by Hyman S. Baras

While baseball is generally considered a "modern" sport, there are references in the Bible that could lead one to deduce that, in fact, baseball dates back thousands of years. Along the same line of thinking as The Da Vinci Code, note the pattern of the following passages, which clearly illustrate that there were Giants in those days as well.

And Abner said to Joab, "Let the young men...arise and play before us" -- Samuel II 2:14

...and all the people rose up... -- Exodus 33:8

And Juhoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder; and Sheva was the scribe..." -- Samuel II 20:24

And they said unto Jephtha, "Come and be our Captain" -- Judges 11:6

...and he measured two lines... -- Samuel II 8:2

...and he set the bases... -- Kings I 7:39

And they stood every man in his place round about the camp -- Judges 7:21

Behold, Rebecca came forth with her pitcher... -- Genesis 24:45

Ehud, the Benjamite, a man left-handed... -- Judges 3:15

The children of Israel asked,..."Who shall go up for us first against the Canaanites? -- Judges 3:15

...Seek out a man who is a skillful player... -- Samuel I 16:16

...Judah shall go up first... -- Judges 20:18

And Judah took... -- Judges 1:18

Three times... -- Exodus 23:14

...and it was good... -- Genesis 1:4

And Abram went down... -- Genesis 12:10

...out at the base... -- Leviticus 4:18

And Moses ...smote... -- Exodus 7:20

...and (it)...was foul... -- Exodus 7:21

And Moses went out... -- Numbers 11:24

...and none came in... -- Joshua 6:1

...and there was not a man left... -- Joshua 8:17

And Miriam was shut out... -- Numbers 12:15

And the children of Benjamin went out... -- Judges 20:31

...and went into the field... -- Numbers 22:23

...and Aaron waved... -- Leviticus 9:21

And he looked this way and that way... -- Exodus 2:12

...and he delivered up... -- Numbers 21:3

...and they ran as soon as he had stretched his hand... And they fell on their faces to the ground... -- Judges 13:20

Get thee up; wherefore liest thou upon thy face? -- Judges 7:10

...for it was an error... -- Numbers 15:25

...second and third... -- Genesis 6:16

And Joseph spoke... -- Genesis 45:3

...concerning the error which he had committed... -- Leviticus 5:18

...make an atonement for thyself... -- Leviticus 9:17

Thou shalt fan them... -- Isaiah 41:16

Then Joseph commanded to fill...the...sacks... -- Genesis 42:25

...and all the people saw this and they shouted... -- Leviticus 9:24

Who can stand before the Giants? -- Deuteronomy 9:2

...and Aaron waved... -- Leviticus 9:21

...and pitched on the other side... -- Numbers 21:13

And suffered not a man to pass... -- Judges 3:28

...but...the seventh... -- Exodus 31:15

Gideon... smote... -- Judges 8:21 first... -- Joshua 8:33

And Noah went in... -- Genesis 7:7

And the young man ran... -- Numbers 11:27

...he turned and went back... -- Judges 18:26

...unto the base... -- Numbers 8:4

Noah walked... -- Genesis 6:9

Let us go and sacrifice... -- Exodus 5:8

And Moses lifted up his hand and with his rod he smote... --Numbers 20:11

...the hide... -- Leviticus 9:11

...a long blast... -- Joshua 6:5

...outside the camp... -- Judges 7:17

...for an 'omer... -- Exodus 16:36

And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted... -- Samuel I 17:52

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Music for the Revolution

Stuck in Chutz L'Aretz?

Feeling far away from Home?

Want to re-connect with Yerushalayim?

Need a boost before Purim?

Shlomo Katz Live in Teaneck
This Sunday Evening, 8 Adar /February 25

@ 7:00pm / 339 Maitland Avenue (Corner of Rugby Road) /$15
For Info.: 201-837-0723

Check out a Shlomo Katz clip HERE

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Nothing beats oleh art. I call it Olart.

("Dude, I just Olarted!")

Anyway, check out the story and the exhibit itself.

Speaking of art, here is some Tel Aviv installation art using fruit and a phonograph stumbled upon by Reb Ezra (the other Ezra - the head of the Lamed Vavnikim in the Old City and the soon-to-be opened Jerusalem Soul Center):

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So maybe the weak are strong after all?

I find this optimism-inducing. Especially the part in the end, about finding out 30 years later that the people who seemed strong were weak and the people who seemed weak were strong:

Gilbert, in Israel for the International Book Fair, described his discovery of Lawrence's Zionist orientation as the most surprising archival revelation he had come across from an Israeli perspective.

But he stressed that archival sources consistently showed major discrepancies between what is really going on in world affairs and the inaccurate way in which events and personalities are perceived at the time.

"As a historian, I'm very cautious about anyone's claiming to know what any government is doing at the present time," he said. "I study archives as soon as they are open - normally 30 years after an event; sometimes a bit less. What you see when you do this is that the people you imagined had been strong were weak; the people you thought weak were strong; and things you thought couldn't possibly be taking place were taking place."

Maybe what is going on even now is not what we think is going on? Maybe all this wall-building is just the Jews' way of playing dead while our more galutish allies in the US prepare a strike on Iran, for instance? I mean, the first Gulf War was an exercise in humiliation for Israel, but we got the f%$&er in the end, did we not?

Oh and look at these cartoons: it's nice to know the other side feels weak and overpowered, too.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

You Let WHO on the Guest List?!

On Sunday night, my mother's short one week visit to Israel came to a close. She needed to get to the airport. We needed to spend the afternoon and evening in Jerusalem finishing up some loose ends, gifts for family, last visit to the Kotel, etc.

We decided that the best way to get my mom to the airport was via a shuttle, known commonly as Nesher. The Nesher is just 45NIS per person, which is about 1NIS per minute of the trip from Jerusalem to Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv.

Not residents of Jerusalem, we needed to select a place for the Nesher to pick up my mom. Thinking of a nice, comfortable place near to both the Old City and Ben Yehuda Street, I chose the David Citadel Hotel. Its a great hotel, with plenty of parking around.

We arrived at the David Citadel about 20 minutes before the Nesher.

All the parking spots on both sides of the hotel were blocked off with police barriers. I had forgotten all about it. Our dear friend Condoleeza Rice was back in town trying to advance those blessed peace accords that have made life in Israel so simple over the past 15 years. (That's sarcasm folks!)

I dropped off my mom, wife and kids in front of the hotel, while I went to find more distant parking. I found a spot not too far off, and returned fairly quickly.

My entire family was outside one of the country's nicest hotels with together with my mom's luggage sitting on the curb. I asked why they weren't inside.

My wife Tzippy told me that security was only letting paid guests and restaurant goers inside due to the increased security surrounding Condi and Company. I said "Okay."

Then Tzippy--who has clear conviction when it comes to politics in Israel and has her own ideas about where the Palestinians can shove, err...create a state of their own--pointed to a tinted window SUV.

"You'll never guess who just came out of that car parked right there," Tzippy said.

I was stumped. "Who?"

"Mohammed Dahlan."

"Really?" I said.

"Yep, he just walked right in with his entourage," Tzippy said.

At that point, I looked at the bags and my family sitting on the curb, Jews living and visiting the Holy Land of Israel, not allowed into the hotel for security reasons. All the while, one of the greatest threats to Israeli security was allowed direct access, on an invitation from our friend Condoleeza.

Honestly, I felt quite inferior at that moment.

Until we realize who the real threats to security here are, we are going to be in for a bumpy ride. Buckle your safteybelts.

PS. Here is a bio of Dahlan, put out by the ZOA in 2002. You can bet some details have been added to his resume since then:

MOHAMMED DAHLAN Dahlan, 41, is chief of the Palestinian Security Forces in Gaza. He spent four years in Israeli prison for terrorist activities, and was a commander of operations for Arafat’s Fatah terror group during the mass “intifada” violence that began in 1987. According to the Israeli government, Dahlan is one of the primary directors of the current terrorist violence against Israelis in the Gaza region.

Masterminded bombing of Israeli bus: Israel Radio reported on October 20, 2000, that “Dahlan was behind the October 18 bombing of an Israeli bus in Gush Katif.” The Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported on November 16, 2000, that “members of the Preventive Security Force in Gaza, headed by Mohammed Dahlan, were involved in a series of attacks on Israelis in Gush Katif and Netzarim.” Ha’aretz reported on April 17, 2001, that Yasir Arafat “takes an active part in decisions regarding the firing of mortars. The general directives in this regard are passed to Mohammed Dahlan, and from Dahlan to his deputy, Rashid Abu Shabak.”

Ordered rocket attack on an Israeli bus: Dahlan is currently a defendant in a lawsuit filed by victims Arab terrorism, including an American citizen as well as three children whose legs were blown off in a Dahlan-directed rocket attack on a bus on November 20, 2000. The Israeli daily Hatzofeh has reported (April 13, 2001) that the Central Intelligence Agency has tape recordings of telephone conversations in which Dahlan can be heard ordering the November 20 rocket attack and other terrorist attacks against Israelis.

Shelters Hamas terrorists: Dahlan told the PA-sponsored newspaper Al Ayam on Oct.26, 1998 that terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad “will not be outlawed.”

Hired Hamas terrorists: Dahlan said in an interview with the PA newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah on Sept.24, 1998, that 25 more Hamas terrorists have been hired by his force, specifically in order to protect them from being arrested by the Israelis.

Praised Hamas terrorists: In an interview with the Hamas newspaper Al-Risallah (cited in Ha’aretz, June 15, 1997), Dahlan said: “The presence of Hamas on Palestinian territory is very important for building the Palestinian homeland.”

Threatened violence against Israel: On August 30, 1996, Dahlan said: “The Palestinian Authority does not exclude the return to the armed struggle, and it will then use its weapons.” (Jerusalem Report, Nov. 28, 1996)

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Progress on the Jerusalem Light Rail System (Photos)

Construction is taking place all over Jerusalem for the new light rail system that is promising us swift transportation all around town. Already much of the route is being used for busses and taxis and soon enough the trains will be joining them. Here are some pictures of the progress so far. I took these yesterday and today on Hertzl Boulevard.

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New Aron Kodesh in Me'arat HaMachpelah, Chevron

About a month and a half ago, a new Aron Kodesh was donated to Me'arat HaMachpelah (the Tomb of our Patriarchs & Matriarchs) in Chevron. I saw it for the first time when I was there a few days ago and it was beautiful. May we continue to use it forever! Here are a few pictures:

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Homosexuality and Aliyah

Jews "Steven Goldstein and Daniel Gross of Teaneck became the first same-sex couple to be granted all the state's legal rights of marriage." The picture in the article features a full-on kiss between two men, one sporting an American flag/Israeli flag yarmelka.

Click here to read the article (warning graphic picture!)

Once again Jews are leading a social-revolution, albeit, a destructive, anti-G-d revolution.

However, Tzvi Fishman has just written an article called "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover"

No, its not about homosexuality, but it's about another social revolution called ALIYAH!

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Pollard Rally in Kikar Paris

A few hundred people gathered near Kikar Paris, outside the Prime Minister's residence, in Jerusalem tonight to call for the release of Jonathan Pollard. For more information about Pollard, go to his official website. Here are some pictures from the rally:

Nadia Matar of Women in Green:

The big English sign is held by Shifra Hoffman, director of the Terror Victims Association

Here is Shifra Hoffman, Terror Victims Association, speaking:
Esther Pollard, Jonathan's wife

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Drug of Choice

So I have been sick for the past couple of days, and I realized that drugs have a good purpose in this creation. To name a couple, Tylenol cold & sinus, Dayquil, Nyquil, and my new favorite, the one pill for 24 hours, non-drowsy Loratadine-D... Now that stuff is HARD CORE.

Over the weekend my father told over this true story.

There was this guy driving his new Mercedes, just off the lot, brand new, the whole shebang. As he was driving he saw this little kid on the side of the road, the kid saw the car coming, picked up a rock and threw it at the car, SHMASH!!! The guy pulled over, with steam coming out of his ears, grabbed the kid and began yelling and screaming at him why the ____ did you do that? The little boy slowly says that his crippled brother had fallen out of his wheel chair in the road and he is too little to help him back up, and this was the only way a car would stop for him. The guy took a deep breath, and said I am not going to fix that dent, I want to remember this.

Drug of choice, when we are sick, we run to the pharmacy to get our "fix." When we are emotionally drained, we go to a good friend to get our wind back. When we are spiritually void, we go to ancient books to get a new perspective. But during our every day life, the drug of choice should be patience and retrospection. We should all give ourselves little dose's of it; since so many times, when we see things through another people's eyes, the picture looks very different.

Ya I know this is what happens when I get sick and need to take drugs, but really, I started to try it, and its pretty cool. Before I got all mad at someone, I really listened to their side of the story, and you know, it wasn't as bad as I had thought. You guys should try, something new for the month of Adar :-)

TTFN ~ DFTSS ~ Shulamit

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Monday, February 19, 2007

A Letter Jacket For My Wife... Israel Style

I never got to give my wife a Letter Jacket. I was never on one of those teams, nor did I know my wife when I had a chance to be the Yeshiva High school star quarterback.

But now, I'm an Israeli, and I go to reserve duty, and so...
Here is the Israeli version of the Letter Jacket:

The Tzahal Fleece!!! (which my reserve unit gave out)

Check out some of my Miluim photos...

That's me!

Here are some of my buddies: this is Meyer!

This is Eran making the tea!

This is Kfir (he has long hair, and he's a new guy)

A beautiful sunset in Eretz Yisrael

One last comment - even if the IDF has problems, when you go to miluim you get to:

1. Speak Hebrew with Am Yisrael
2. See Eretz Yisrael
3. Protect both Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael

No wonder that miluim is still a beloved Israeli experience. We all pray, all my buddies included, that our government will use our army properly, to fight our enemies, and protect our people, and not the other way around.

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Jewish Comedy: Rabbi Mordy Katz

Purim is coming...

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Malkah Sends Her Man to Miluim

During the latest Lebanon war, Yishai was drafted for a couple of weeks, making me an official Israeli wife. You can read about it in our archives.

I think I was a real trooper during the war. Thank G-d, my husband was not sent into Lebanon, and so I didn't suffer the terrible sleeplessness and terror that other wives were subjected to. However, my husband did call me from the makeshift bunkers of his base as bombs from Lebanon fell in their vicinity, and he was closely involved with a helicopter that was blown up with 5 of our brave brothers and sisters inside. With all this going on, I maintained a don't-freak-out-and-maniacally-cry attitude. I didn't obsessively call, and I put on a "brave face" when we spoke on the phone - I was a good soldier's wife.

That being said, I found myself extremely agitated and disinclined to send my husband for a mere two days to his latest peace-time (ha!) "tour of duty" in the reserves.

There are many reasons for my hesitation.

First, I am concerned with the disorganization of the IDF. Yishai was released from duty 3 times during his miluim (reserve duty), and called back hours later on two of those occasions. Such indecision not only robbed me of confidence in our armed forces, but was an emotional rollercoaster for both of us. Though the army called Yishai in for just 2 days for this latest miluim, I know that at any moment (and even days after he returns home), the powers-that-be could change the plans, and extend his service.

Secondly, there is something about serving in the north of Israel that frightens me now. I feel that our enemies are emboldened, and our forces confused and poorly equipped. If the IDF were drafting my man to a real fight, would they prepare him to win? Would they look after his welfare? Or would they use him as a political pawn, as an expendable resource?

Third, every woman believes that her husband is involved in productive work throughout the course of his day. Whether he makes sneakers, teaches kids, learns Torah, or tries to inspire people to love Israel, he is a productive member of society, a source of joy, comfort, and help at home, and an otherwise beloved person (hopefully). Don't get me wrong - I'm an advocate of vacation. I'm even an advocate of Israel's governmentally-imposed man-vacation, in which men are required to leave their situations for a given amount of time, to don green uniforms, and to guard, build, or help someone or something. But I am not an advocate of time-wasting. Let vacation be vacation-like. Let work be work-like. But the hurry-up-and-wait nature of the army is a waste of time for me, for my husband, and for the IDF.

I get nervous about future wars. I know that my husband will probably be drafted to real war again, that I will have to send him off again, and worry if he's staying dry and warm. My whole happiness, my whole life, and my sense of security will be put on the line again, in the name of the Jewish State. And with all this, I will continue to send my husband to serve in the IDF. I would rather suffer the uncertainty and stress of this life we live than to sit in seeming security anywhere else. I'm proud of my husband, and of all the other Jewish men who leave home to serve their people. May G-d reward you for all that you are willing to give, and protect you from doing so.

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Only Jews...

Breaking News:
Fatah and Hamas unite to form new group: "Fat-ass"!

We make humor out of EVERYTHING... kinda like a defence mechanism...

Woo hoo~~~ Shulamit

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It's the Little Things

In follow-up to Alex's description of sewage running in the wrong direction, here are some pictures of sewage going in the right direction; sewage pipes that is. As we speak, the Golan municipality is installing sewage pipes for our little piece of heaven, in North-East, Israel. Sewage is one of those little things in life that make a man happy. And there is nothing like watching those backhoes at work digging sewage trenches for your very own house. Can't wait to put those sewage pipes to good use.
Golan sewage
Next is electricity and water. Bit by bit we'll get this house in order so it'll eventually be a home.

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Live Burrowing!

Click here to watch live as we burrow beneath Al-Aksa excavate the ramp leading to the Temple Mount. Three angles!

Sometimes the archaeologists do little dances or excitedly dig something out of the dirt. I could watch this for days.

Update: After watching for nowhere near days, it seems it is a video and not a live feed. Kind of like the surveillance tape in 'Speed.' Anyway, a big thank you to the Muslim rioters who led the government to set these cameras up. We have the Kotel Kam, now we have the walkway-cam and soon there will be a Har HaBayit-cam.

Update: Hmmm. So if you reload, it gives you another twelve minutes. I guess the feed is just on a delay.

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Happy Post Month: Greatest Place on Earth!

Okay, so I just wrote up this long post on what the Meam Loez writes about the Sanhedrin in Parshat Mishpatim and why Jews are far better off with one than without one... but then I thought hey, it's Rosh Chodesh Adar! Let's get happy!

So with the power invested in me as chief-head-super-duper-ultimate-supreme-master-and-
and-kumah-webmaster-and-blogmaster-general I herby declare this month of Adar to be Kumah Happy Post Month!

I'll kick things off with this happy post.

A Tale of Three Cities

I have the esteemed privilege to be able to spend Shabbat all over this wonderful land that Hashem gave us as a gift along with his Torah. The past three weeks I spent Shabbat in Beit-El, Bnei Brak, and Ramat Beit Shemesh, respectively. And while all three places certainly have their differences I find they have some wonderful things in common.

For example in all three neighborhoods one would be very hard pressed to find a car on Shabbat. In all three one will find the streets full with many children playing and enjoying Shabbat. They are the future of the Jewish people! Can anything be more exhilarating?

In all three one will experience Shabbat on a higher more intense level than is possible in many other places on earth. Sure I could think of a handful of other places, (Tzfat springs to mind, and I've always been impartial to the Old City of Jerusalem) but nearly all of them are in Eretz Yisrael.

So attention Brooklyn Jews: when the siren goes off in Boro Park (and now Flatbush) in a futile attempt to build a "mini-Jerusalem" and "recreate" the atmosphere of the real Jerusalem, just remember you can't beat the real thing! So why risk upsetting the goyim (and make no mistake. They do get annoyed hearing the siren each week) when you are guests in their kind country when instead you can simply come home and play Jewish music over the loudspeakers for a half hour on Erev Shabbos because it's our home and we make the rules!

Take the Kumah challenge: Visit Eretz Yisrael and spend Shabbat on any Yishuv or any of the places I mentioned and you'll experience what Shabbat is really all about!

It's a little secret which we shouldn't keep to ourselves but everyone here knows that the Jews of Chu"L simply have no idea what they are missing. I thank Hashem every day that I am somehow worthy of experiencing Shabbat in Eretz Yisrael every week!

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Kaparot -or-
This Country is Going Down the Toilet -or-
My Neighbor the Angel

Well, I will spare you the pictures on this one, but all of the waste drainage for my brand new apartment was backed up at an unreachable, underground juncture. Every last water dispenser in the apartment be it sink, shower, or other, was draining itself on the floor of my bathroom. I won't name names, but let's just say that someone who lives in the apartment started flushing multiple baby wipes down the toilet.

This has not been the first kapara, or spiritual cleansing punishment, our family has faced in the past several months. In consecutive recent hail and wind storms, one could find me outside rebuilding the five-month-old Keter shed I build next to our home for extra storage. The entire roof flew off, soaking all the valuables stored within. Critical pieces of the shed broke, and were fixed with metal brackets and a great deal of ingenuity.

Much of that ingenuity came from my new neighbor, Nati. Nati has helped me countless times in several weeks. In addition to the aforementioned episodes, Nati drove me to the gas station when my car was sitting outside my apartment out of gas.

Nati is a chef, and a good one. He cooks for the girl's high school Ra'aya here in Bet El. Previous to his arrival here, he lived and worked an identical job in N'vei Dekalim before being forcibly evacuated from his home of eight years with his wife and three children.

They didn't live in Gush Katif on settlement principles. It was an affordable place to live, close to the beach, and just minutes from their family in the now battered town of Sderot.

When the government offered Nati money for his home following the expulsion, he quickly took it and invested the entire sum in an Ashdod apartment, choosing not to link his fate to the rest of the Gush Katif residents that now are dependent on the government for support.

Nati, who was not a farmer like many of his former neighbors, was able to land a comparable job as a chef here in Bet El, following a short stint in a hotel restaurant. Let me tell you, Nati is an excellent chef.

Being of Algerian descent, his wife is Moroccan, Nati's attitude to life is different than my own. Nati, who doesn't speak a word of English, making communication for me challenging, has said time and again: "We family."

It seems that lately, many of my kaparot, and there are others, have become Nati's as well. For some reason, he doesn't seem to mind.

I'm sure there is a lesson to be learned in his behavior. The kapara of one Jew is often the kapara of the entire Jewish nation. And sometimes one Jew's problem cannot be easily overcome without a little support. And with some support and empathy from our fellow Jews, particularly in times of uninviting distress(Did I mention that Nati and I were up to our elbows in sewage?) we can keep this Jewish nation from literally going down the toilet. After all, "We family."

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Even Though We Ain't Got Money, I'm so in Love With Milk and Honey

I was looking through the search terms that bring people to or and saw one continuously appearing, month after month.

It was "Even though we ain't got money, I'm so in love with you honey."

So I plugged that into Google. Lo and behold, we were number (drumroll...) 81.

81? Why would people searching for that song lyric click on the 81st link that came up? I still don't have the answer to that (maybe it was number 3 until recently) but I can tell you what post came up that used the lyrics. It was not even a Kumah blogger, but Laya, a member of the Jewlicious blog, whose post was reprinted here by Yishai.

Now Jewlicious has traditionally gotten a bit hysterical when it comes to Kumah, though Michael actually composed a Weird-Al style song for us at one point. Laya's post, however, is a Neo-Zionist ode to Aliyah that is one of the most sincere I have ever seen. It made my Shabbat to read it:

Some of the reasons I love living in Israel

Why did I come to Israel? I get asked this a lot. By Israelis who live here with me, and Americans who don't. Both, I suspect hoping for a glimmer of inspiration in my answer. Why would I leave everything I had going for me in The Land of Plenty and move to a perceived war zone?

Initially I came at the height of the intifada, with a newfound Zionism, grand ideas and dreamer's visions. I came to be with my people in their time of sorrow, with lofty ambitions of heroism. Since that time, all I can say is I've been humbled and I've grown-up.

But why do I stay?

It's as simple as this - because Love makes you do crazy things.

Sometimes I walk down the streets of Jerusalem singing love songs to it (even though we aint got money, I'm so in love with you honey?). Being in Love with Israel is like being in Love with a person; it defies all reason and logic. At some point the initial Zionistic honeymoon ends, times get tough and you go broke. Sometimes you might turn cynical and forget what you came here for. In terrifying, fleeting moments I have even considered going back to the land of hard wood floors, bank statements in English, and drip coffee.

Click here for the rest

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Shabbat Shekalim

This week's maftir (the last part of the weekly Torah reading) is Parshat Shekalim. This section (Shemot 30:11-16) talks about the mitzvah incumbent upon all Jewish adult males (women could give but were not obligated) to give half a shekel (same amount for rich and poor), which went toward providing funds for communal offerings and other specific Temple needs throughout the year. In honor of this reading revolving around money, and specifically shekalim - Israel's currency, here are some pictures from a trip I took to the Bank of Israel in Jerusalem a few years ago.
Today's coin's origins
The Bank of Israel

Remembering the Fallen Banker Soldiers
Coins from the Holy Land throughout the ages

Pictures of what paper printing looks like, including an old 1000 Shekel bill with Rambam on it.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

What is Blue and Yellow and Filled With Thousands of Israelis?

No, it is not a Beitar Jerusalem soccer match, or a Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball game. It is the true national sport of Israel: IKEA.

Consumerism at its best, sleek furniture and housewares galore, a glatt kosher cafeteria, a playcenter for children, and parking for nearly 1,000 cars, Ikea reigns as the true national sport of the modern State of Israel.

Day off from work, national holiday, summer vacation; these are all perfect reasons to go to the hip Israeli's new favorite pastime. A store unlike any other in our burgeouning material economy, Ikea features two floors and countless dunams of shopping.

Fun for kids and adults alike, only the most insulated and isolated Israelis have yet to make it to the Swedish supercenter parked firmly in the middle of Israel's population center.

The store is so popular, that two more branches of the international uberchain will be opening in Israel in the next 24 months.

I recently celebrated my third outing this year alone to the mega magnet located off Highway 2 in Netanya. It is truly an experience. For those who live outside the Gush Dan region, a few hours at Ikea gives you a taste of Israeli society, a microcosm of the state featuring citizens spending more than they can afford on items they don't need, and loving every minute of it.

We got some shelves for our kitchen and toy storage for the kids room:)

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Audio: Road Rage, Newark, and Chaim Dovid

On this week's audio selection:

On a recent drive in the Land of Israel I picked up a hitchhiker who told me that Ariel Sharon committed the worst sin that a Jew can commit - that is, ripping Jews from their burial place in the Land of Israel. In return, continued the old man, the Land has rejected the body of Ariel Sharon, and that is why he is in state of limbo. This revelation led me to think about the return of the Galut Jew, and the fight and witch hunt against bravery and brave Jews like Shai Dromi. This monologue is 23 minutes long:

Click Here To Listen
Click Here To Download

Rabbi Judah Mischel is stuck at Newark Liberty Airport, with security incessantly having its way with him. And while in LA, he yearns for Israel, while LA Jews yearn for NY. While in Exile he comments on why the foreign nations just don't fit in Israel.

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Ben Bresky, music show host on INR, recently had some face to face time with famous musician Chaim Dovid. (Ezra wrote an article about this) Now, if you want to hear a real yiddishe soul, with yiddishe soul music, this interview is for you.

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Where'd ya get all those Jews? (A Top 10 list)

A submission by by Aaron Fox:

In a previous Kumah post, it was reported in a new survey done by Brandeis University that the population of American Jews is at a whopping 7.4 million. That's 2.2 million more Jews that NJPS found lurking about. With so many more Jews than previously thought, world jewry can finally take a well deserved sigh of relief. The American Holocaust is just a myth, just like global warming. Now American Jews can continue their haphazard ways as they always have. The Jewish identity thing just seems to work itself out for the good in the end. So why try?

Still, coming up with two additional million Jews is no small feat. How did all those brainiacs at Brandeis do it? I was so intrigued, that I took it upon myself to do a little bit of research myself. I looked into Brandeis University's research methods on just how exactly they came up with 2 million extra Jews in America. I recorded my findings in a top 10 list format, because top 10 lists are funny.

Top 10 methods employed by Brandeis University to count an extra 2.2 million Jews in America: (Is there a drumroll? because I haven't watched Dave Letterman in the longest time.)

10. If you said you were Irish you were counted half-Jewish. The "ish" part.

9. Significant increase in Chinese food consumption was attributed to the population growth within Jewish community rather than per-capita consumption increase. I mean, come on, there is a limit to the amount of Chinese food one Jew can eat.

8. One question asked in the survey was what was your favorite TV show: Bill Cosby, Home Improvement or Seinfeld. Side note: if you chose Bill Cosby you were marked as an African American.

7. Counting on fingers and toes.

6. Larry Bird is suing Brandeis University for listing him as a Jew because of his big nose.

5. Tom Cruise is listed as a Jew just for working in the entertainment industry.

4. Every house not decorated with lights during Christmas time was marked Jewish. For good measure every child found on Santa's naughty list was also recorded Jewish.

3. Must have more Jews!!!

2. Brandeis University finally admitted that the actual number of Jews in America is 3.7 million. They just doubled the number to debunk the stereotype that Jews were good with numbers.

1. American Jews bought 2.2 million Jews from Thailand.

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Torat Yisrael Parshah Sheet

In Israel, there are many weekly publications that find their way to synagogues every Shabbat. Most of these "Parshah Sheets" are in Hebrew.

image of this week's Torat Yisrael weekly Parshah SheetThe main one in English has a lot of Torah, but not many Neo-Zionist nationalist issues. A friend and I recently started a new English Parshah Sheet to bring ideas from the Torah related to the Land of Israel, and look at nationalist issues from a Halachic (Jewish law) perspective. Appropriately, we are called Torat Yisrael.

This is our 3rd week and already we have had 2 members of this blog write for us, as well as people from Elon Moreh to Chevron (kind of like Avraham's journey). This week features an article about Techelet from Rav David Bar-Hayim that was referred to in an earlier blog post. Every week there is also an Eretz Yisrael Photo of the Week by me. This (and last and IY"H next) issue also features a front cover ad for this blog (see image below)! We are circulating around Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh (and RBS), maybe also some yishuvim this Shabbat. If you live in Israel and want us to distribute to your shul, let me know. In any case, you can view each week's issue on our website - Shabbat Shalom!
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Feiglin on the Misguided Arrow Missile

Moshe Feiglin, who led mass civil disobedience in Israel following Oslo and coordinated the road-blockings pre-Disengagement via proxy (not to mention inching ever closer to taking the helm of the Likud), weaves a tale that sums up the progression from Camp David to Oslo to the Wall to the Arrow Missile.

(Normally I would not reprint a whole article - but this isn't anywhere else online yet - when it is I'll link):

Happiness is a Magic Gun
By Moshe Feiglin
13 Shvat, 5767

The peaceful townspeople hoped that the new sheriff would succeed; all his predecessors had failed. Time and again, bands of robbers would attack the town, shoot in every direction, murder, rob and get away unharmed. All the people responsible for the town's security had promised to make peace with the robbers. This made it impossible to defeat them.

It was like a collective mental illness. The townspeople, after all, had built the town in an attempt to create a new, normal identity for themselves. They wanted to be just an ordinary town and live in peace with their neighbors. But the neighbors didn't like the townspeople's new identity. They fought them constantly.

And so, the town couldn't triumph. Triumph would mean that there was no peace. Without peace, the town could not be an ordinary place. So the townspeople decided that it was "impossible to defeat terror," and tried to solve the problem with protective walls, separation fences and roadblocks. No doubt about it; it was a type of mental illness.

The situation went from bad to worse. So the townspeople blamed the residents of the isolated houses at the edge of the town. "They upset the robbers," the sheriffs explained to the townspeople. "It's their fault that we don't have peace with the robbers. Why should we die for them, anyway?"

So instead of fighting the robbers, every new sheriff would fight the townspeople who lived at the edge of town. The last sheriff went one step farther. He even demolished all the isolated houses at the edge of town and threw all the poor townspeople who lived there to the dogs. The regular townspeople were very impressed with the brave sheriff's glorious victory and elected him for an additional term in office by a large majority.

But then the brave sheriff had a stroke. A new sheriff replaced him. He had already learned how to be popular in the peaceful town. "My predecessor bravely disengaged from a few isolated houses," he said. "But I will be much braver than him. I will have the entire town converge into the Town Square!"

The robbers got the idea and vigorously attacked all the remaining houses in town. This time they did more than rob and plunder; they also abducted some of the townspeople before getting away. The new sheriff tried to prove to the townspeople that he could protect them from the borders of the Town Square. He tried to fight the robbers according to accepted town practice -- from the plasma screen in his office.

The robbers laughed and laughed. They went to live at the edge of town, where the isolated townspeople used to live. From there, they would shoot at the frightened townspeople whenever they pleased. The new sheriff even shot back. After a month, though, the new sheriff understood that he could simply not win. So he announced that he won and stopped shooting. The robbers also stopped shooting. What did they care? The hostages were still in their hands, and they needed to rest and re-supply, anyway.

The Magic Gun
The new sheriff had a serious problem. The townspeople no longer had faith in him. He had become the laughingstock of the town. His loyal aides explained that he must present some sort of solution. If not, they warned, the fate of his career would be sealed.

"Do not fear," said the sheriff to the weary and frightened townspeople. "We are working on the perfect solution. We have an unbeatable plan to protect you."

While the townspeople gazed on in astonishment, the sheriff demonstrated his new Magic Gun solution. "The Magic Gun will allow us to make peace with the robbers -- even if they don't stop shooting. When the next robber comes," the sheriff enthusiastically explained, "we will do nothing to endanger peace. When the robber will provoke the townspeople, I won't even have to leave my office. That could endanger the normalization of our relations with them, you understand."

"When the robber waves his gun, I will explain that it is nothing more than a water gun. That will prevent unnecessary friction. And when the robber will point his gun straight at the heart of a little towns-girl, I will be able to continue my daily nap. And when the robber pulls the trigger, I will just turn over in my bed."

"But," the sheriff excitedly added, "when the bullet leaves the gun, everything will change. The Magic Gun will rapidly identify the flying bullet. It will jump from my belt, even while I'm still sleeping, home-in on the robber's gun, shoot a magic bullet at the robber's bullet and destroy it in mid-air. The robber will not be harmed at all, and that way we will be able to continue with our peaceful neighborly relations."

The townspeople were very excited. Finally, somebody had found the way to make true peace. Finally, they could be an ordinary town, like everyone else. There was one Nuisance there who tried to ask what would happen if the robbers would shoot more than one bullet at a time. He even reminded the townspeople that recently, the sheriff had given the robbers automatic guns. "Furthermore," the Nuisance added, "every magic bullet costs one trillion dollars. Even if the magic works, after one round of robbers' bullets, we will have to leave our town to find food for our children!"

The townspeople got very angry at the Nuisance. On their television, they repeatedly displayed the amazing new technology that was behind the Magic Gun. They were in no mood to let a few warmongering Nuisances ruin their dream of being ordinary townspeople. They let out their anger on some of the Nuisances' settlements and gave the good and pragmatic robbers more money and automatic weapons so that they could fight the bad, religious robbers.

And so, the perfect solution was finally found to restore peace and quiet to the town. Finally, the townspeople could blend in normally with their surroundings. The robbers robbed and murdered, the sheriff ruled in his sleep, the Nuisances were gotten rid of, the townspeople paid for the Magic Gun and all the damages incurred-- and everyone lived happily ever after.

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The Third Voice

There are three voices in Israeli political life.

The first is a male, Zionist voice. It is cowed and silent.

The second is an Arab voice. It has a lot of nerve, is violent, shameless and successful.

The third is a marxist-feminist*-yiddishe-mame voice, the emasculating voice of MK Galon, Yehimovich & co. It is shrill and merciless, and gets along swimmingly with the Arab voice.

Yesterday, the Knesset spoke in the first voice for an hour, when it passed the "Shai Dromi laws" in preliminary hearing. It was a moment to treasure.

*I use marxist-feminist more or less in the sense that Wendy McElroy uses "gender feminist." See also here.

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Pssst! Purim's Coming.

(You know, MoHo from the Danish cartoon.)

From a 1990 NY Times:
SHLOMO CARLEBACH AND ORCHESTRA, in a Purim concert, at Martin Luther King Jr. High School, 65th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. Tomorrow at 8:45 P.M. Information: 969-0950.

Dov Shurin, Jerusalem's Dylan, is a deep poet, but not so concerned with political correctness. He is a Purim Jew - all year round - and on Purim he just goes wild. So here is Dov live on Purim Kattan, 5763. It may offend most. If that might be you - bookmark the page and wait till Purim to watch it:

Heck, while I'm at it - check out his magnum opus:

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Where has the Israeli gone?

You know when I was younger I remember hearing all these amazing stories about the Israeli people. You know the ones that lived in Israel and worked to get the land what it is today. They were the ones I would look up to.

Always so smart and cunning. Figuring out ways to conveniently get around the problems that they were faced with. Being the best at everything and anything just because they could. I saw them as the smartest and most efficient Jews. They had the smallest army but were able to infiltrate anything and anyone that would come in their way. They had pride, they knew they were small and that enhanced their desire to be the best and do it with style. They would do such amazing covert operations that those Israelis would train the US Seals.
Where are those people? Does anyone else remember them?

I remember my parents telling me that when my brothers were younger they would try to sniff out the "secret" army personal on the El Al flights and go over to them and let them know that their disguise was crashed. I mean, this was the Israelis personality and mentality. They were the most creative and the best at getting what they wanted done with the least amount of effort and casualties.

Where are those people? Does anyone else remember them?

When I was in Israel during the Gush Katif "situation" I asked one of my friends who was in Hebrew University, how can the Israelis live with the fact that they are letting themselves lose? His response, as if computer generated was "don't worry, we don't know the half of it, I am sure Sharon has something up his sleeve, I mean look at what he has done in the past."

I feel like the Israelis are forgetting who they are and what they are capable of doing. When I read what Olmert and the Israeli "leader (wanna bes)" are up to, I think that those Israeli mentalities that I was raised looking up to were just a dream.

Did they really exist?
Were we that cunning to do all those successful operations?
Was it all luck?

I keep thinking to myself, that the IDF is planning an operation right now to go into Gaza and get back Gilad. I mean they practically know where all the "terrorist heads" live. I am sure they have internal secret information regarding our captive brothers whereabouts. I know they are just waiting for the opportune time and they will get him back. Right?

Am I right?

Is the IDF figuring out this operation? Or are they figuring out how to handle the protests that will be coming when they try to evacuate more settlements?
Where are our leaders that would listen to their commanders, most of the time and not all the time?
Where are the Israelis that know they can take anyone down... with one hand behind their backs... blindfolded... with nothing but a rubber band?

This is the Israeli I was raised hearing about. The fearless and invincible IDF, the Lion of Israel. Has the Lion turned into a little kitten? Because that's what it looks like when I read the news.

I feel like now that we have "made it" into the upscale world, now that huge companies like Google and Intel have voted Israel as a viable asset, we no longer feel small or the need to work to be something. Is this the price we pay for "making it" into the big world by losing our real world? By losing our reputation as being invincible and indivisible? Is it worth it? Can we go back? Can we become who we were/are? The Israeli that as a child I wanted to be like. My sister has her little children watch the "Victory of Entebbe", and I see it in their eyes, that same awe and admiration for those Israelis. Should I tell them that they don't exist anymore? Or do they?

Well I think they do, and they just need a little WAKE UP CALL. Remind them what they have been and still are capable of. Have them read the Exodus. Watch some old movies that will refresh their memories, or just look in the mirror.

If we believe, you know we can overcome.

We are Jews and have overcome everything thrown in our paths. We have faith in a promise that goes back thousands of generations and we hold the key to its fulfillment. The land is ours, now we have to keep it that way, and know that we have the ability to make it stay that way forever.

According, to reality we Jews realistically should have disappeared ages ago, but there is something reality doesn't know... it's that we are not held down by their reality. We believe in the Real G-d and that's all the reality for us. We don't abide by the rules of this material world. Some Israelis think that if the UN and even the US say something then that is REAL. Well, if we just take some time to think and remind ourselves how our existence in the Holy land of Israel is not according to their reality, then we will remember what is-real to us, and stop being held back by the real "fake" world, and take back our place in our nations mind as the invincible, cunning, creative, and awesome Israelis that we are. This way I can tell my little nephews that they can grow up to be like those Israelis they watch in the movies, and with G-d's help, they WILL.

That was a long one, but I had to, we really need to wake up!!! But its late here in NY so I'm off to bed,
TTFN ~ DFTSS ~ Shulamit

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sorry, no one is here to take your call right now...

When Peekvid went down recently, I began searching for other websites where I could watch the latest episodes of Prison Break and 24.

I came across one site that looked promising, and I began reading some of the "About Us" and "Disclaimer" information. I then noticed, at the very bottom of the page, the following:


This site is not run by anybody. You should therfore not try to get in touch with someone.
Kind of like the Government of Israel...

Fellow Neo-Zionists, we have our work cut out for us here, so let's get cracking... just let me finish watching 24 first.

(P.S. Peekvid is now back on-line.)

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Overheard in Los Angeles...

"When people here say: Libi BaMizrach ('My Heart is in the East'), they are really yearning to be in New York..."

Having spent two days in L.A. this week, (including Grammy Sunday) , yearning for Home...

...I couldn't stop thinking of Rebbe Yehuda HaLevy's stirring & poetic prayer (even after eating at Prime Grill on Rodeo Drive):

My heart is in the East, and I am in the furthermost west--
How can I enjoy food? Can it be sweet to me?

How shall I make vows and honor bonds, while yet
Zion is held by Edom, and I by Arab chains?

Shouldn't it be easy for me to leave all the good things of Spain --
Seeing how precious it is to behold the dust of the desolate sanctuary.

I can't wait to get back home to Eretz Yisrael... where the real movie stars hang out.

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UN might be heading out of TOWN...

So when I read this... I just had to share, even if it's just a "maybe"

You know, for those of you that know me... Well I try hard not to hate things. My father says, "Jews don't hate, we dislike." But if I had to think of one place I really DISLIKED, it would be the UN.

I mean it’s the one place that really and truly has no shame to be evil. They don't even have the decency to pretend anymore, they are just blunt and have no problem admitting their hate for Israel and America. They continuously show their true colors by inviting our arch enemies to speak in their "assembly" whom would otherwise, never be allowed on American or Israeli soil (unless to be imprisoned). But apparently Mayor Bloomberg is getting nervous that the UN might hit the exit button and get out of NY. Which I think would be a GREAT idea, and people should call Mayor Bloomberg (212-772-1081) to quite his fears, maybe sing him a lullaby or something.

I have to add here that Mr. Bloomberg is a nice guy, and just dedicated part of the new MDA Jerusalem station in honor of his father. But still, I really would have no problem letting the UN move to France, or Iran... or the best...Mars.

Anyhow, that's all for now, I'm getting ready for the "snow storm."

~ TTFN, DFTSS ~ Shulamit

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Dating Laws (or Who Would Rav Kook Date?)

These are the laws that you must set before [the Israelites] (Exodus 21:1)

This week's parsha contains many laws which Hashem gives Moshe on Sinai. As is well known some of these laws are better kept by our generation than others. Included among these well kept laws are the Halachot of dating.

Oh, where to begin! For the sake of sanity I will focus on one small law bearing in mind it is just a teaspoon in an ocean's worth of lunacy.

Did you know it is forbidden for a woman to date a guy that has a different kind of kippa from the kippa community she was born into? The reason for this is explained in a famous medrash.

G-d tells Moshe:
Moshe, I am not giving the Torah to one Jewish nation, but to many, many, small nations of different kinds of Jewish people - and under no circumstances are any two Jews from different "factions" ever to date one another or heaven forefend to marry each other - this is strictly forbidden!

At this point Moshe speaks up:
But Master of The World, surely there are some other factors that people could use when dating is concerned, like common interests, commitment to Torah, goals in life, that sort of thing?

Moshe, Moshe, answer me this: What will their friends think if they marry someone who is a different kind of Jew?

They will think that all of the Jewish people are part of the same nation!
was Moshe's reply.

Indeed! So now do you understand why we can't allow that to happen?

So baroch Hashem I find myself relieved and inspired in my quest for my bashert. Relieved that our generation has not faltered in keeping the kippa communities divided and inspired by the many examples I have personally witnessed time after time.

Now blogging about my past dates is not something I (nor I imagine any guy would) look forward to doing. But I'll swallow this bitter pill if it helps address this issue even a tiny bit.

So there we are sitting in the Coffee Shop on Emek. This was a young lady that had only dated in hotel lobbies as per another important dating halacha. The only reason she agreed to come to Emek Rafaim is because she never heard of it. See, first I suggested meeting in a cafe in the center of town but she declined since that would violate another dating halacha: she might be seen on the date! Perhaps it was do to my cynical attitude toward this halacha, but I then suggested if the center of town was too busy how about Emek Refaim? To my surprise she had never heard of it and graciously accepted.

Still I find it truly ironic (if that's the word to use, perhaps pathetic is better suited) that a religious Jew in New York City will eagerly go into a Starbucks and pick up a grande latte because, after all, "all coffees are kosher" but not order coffee in the Hillel Cafe or Coffee Shop because... well, the hashgacha is only rabbanut! What will people think?

So no, she didn't order the coffee. She ordered a Coke and looked upset when they brought her a glass with a lemon in it. She promptly removed the lemon. It was at this point that I realized she was probably not delighted about me failing to show up in a suit, tie and black hat. My blue shirt labeled me an outcast to her community.

Ahh, worried about trumos and masser? I asked. That's why you took out the lemon?

She nodded.

The date itself actually went incredibly well but after asking her out again via the shaddchin, (I couldn't ask her directly as that would violate another dating halacha!) the reply was (and I've heard this before) "she needs someone more Israeli-Charadi." In other words someone that would wear only white shirts and only date in hotel lobbies and only for an hour at a time. I broke too many rules. What would her friends think?

Then there was another fine woman I had the privilege to date. I was thoroughly impressed the moment I met her. She was enthusiastic about Israel and Aliyah like myself. She was passionate about Rav Kook. It was at this point that I realized perhaps I sinned by showing up in a suit and hat? And perhaps I sinned even greater by taking her to a hotel lobby? Regardless the date went remarkably well. The discussions were very intense. We enjoyed loads of common interests, and shared views on everything we discussed from the most mundane topics to the section of gemarah she was learning.

Rav Kook ZT"L came up several times. I shared a story I read online. I quote it here already in progress:
...Suddenly a small group of hotheaded [Jewish] extremists fell up the rabbi, showering him with waste water. The Chief Rabbi was completely drenched by the filthy water. Emotions soared and tempers flared.

By the time Rav Kook had arrived home, news of the attack had spread throughout the city. Prominent citizens arrived to express their repugnance at the shameful incident. One of the visitors was the legal counsel of British Mandate. He advised Rav Kook to press charges against the hooligans, and promised that they would be promptly deported from the country.

The legal counsel, however, was astounded by Rav Kook's response. "I have no interest in court cases. Despite what they did to me, I love them. I am ready to kiss them, so great is my love! I burn with love for every Jew."

Such was Rav Kook's attitude, shortly after the humiliating act.

And so when the time came and I asked her out again (in this case without going via the Shaddchin since I knew she wasn't machmir with that halacha) she said that she thought about it a lot "and was really impressed, and really enjoyed our discussions, but you are just not the way I pictured my husband."

Oh, I understand. You pictured your husband wearing a kippa sruga, possible sporting a beard, wearing an untucked button down shirt, jeans, and sandals. In other words, someone from your 'clan.' I understand.

I understand. What would your friends think if you married a guy who honored Shabbos (yes, not 'Shabbat') by wearing a black hat? They would think you went off the deep end! I understand.

I understand. What would Rav Kook think?

Rav Kook would be proud.

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Ehud Olmert is Logan and Avi Bieber is Jack

So if you watch 24 and know there is more to Israeli politics than meets the eye, you probably already know that:

1. Ehud Olmert is President Logan.

(Olmert photo source)

A nobody in a suit who takes his order from big-money men with their hands and hearts in all the wrong places.

2. Avi Bieber is Jack Bauer.

Bieber, whose famous words, Zeh lo Nachon, Zeh lo Tzedek, basically summed up the whole Kadimanizatzia of Israel, realized that what makes Jack so heroic is not his skilled use of weaponry, but his willingness to put his own job and self on the line for the higher purpose that job and role was created to serve in the first place. Avi refused orders under the toughest of conditions - Jack usually just hangs up his cell phone and does as he needs.

It is no coincidence that 24 is aired in Israel on Channel 10, the only channel somewhat independent of government control. Its message of refusing immoral or misguided orders is not lost on its millions of Israeli fans.

3. Graem, or Bluetooth (as we have known him until recently) is who?

I know Ami Ayalon looks a bit like him. I even think I spotted Ami using a blue-tooth headset at the Knesset the other day. But no. In Israel there are enough Graem crackers to make a whole meal out of S'mores (most of them receive their money from the EU or US Defense contractors).

4. Luckily,Israel has within it many Yaakov Bauers ("And your name shall no longer be Jack, but Yisrael"). Jack Bauer's sole extraordinary trait that makes him the noble hero he is is that same trait that led Abraham to smash the idols and Mordechai the Jew to refuse orders to bow down (most of the rabbis and certainly the Jewish leaders of his time screamed that not only was he not obligated to refuse orders, but if he did he was endangering everything the Jews had worked so hard to attain).

That trait is alive and well in the Promised Land. You see it more every day and tomorrow you yourself may be in a position where you are forced to choose between the orders of misguided men and those of the Most High.

Whether you are a company commander, a general, a simple torai (private) or a private citizen in a position to choose between good and bad. Ask yourself, "What would Yisrael Bauer do?"

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Continuation of Yishai's last post

Based on William Wallaces great speech from "Braveheart", I will address my American brothers:

Many years from now, swimming in your pools in Florida and eating Jerusalem II Pizza on Broadway, would you be willing, to trade all the days, from this day 'till that, to come here, make Aliyah, and tell our enemies that we are finally home?

We don't mind Israeli indifference, bureaucracy, underpants (we import Hanes), drivers etc. Because we're home. It is like one who can live with ugly ceramic tiles and a rotting kitchen counter top for years- because it is home, but he will complain that the carpet is stained in a hotel. Leave the swimming pools and the corvettes, come home to outrageous income tax and post offices that are never open. But come home.

As a wise man once said: "Trade your Profits for Prophets".


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Now Is This Guy a Zionist or What?

The Imbalance of Balance

The problem with the current balance of power in the Middle East is that it is too balanced. you all know how hard it is to balance a scale, or a see-saw, so one side doesn't hit the ground and the other one doesn't go up in the air. It's precarious: the slightest movement creates instability.

The same holds true for the Middle East. The sides are too balanced, too similar in strength, for peace and stability to be achieved. On one side - Israel. Technologically super-bright. A nation of geek geniuses. A country that has brought the world wonderful advances in agriculture and science, despite its small size. The place that invented the kibbutz and now, its heir, the "yishuv kehilati." Home to wonderful communities where religious Jews work and pray and live a moral, healthy life. A leader in medicine and emergency rescue. Abode of the Merkava and the best air force pilots in the world. But tiny. Tiny.

On the other - the Arab-Muslim Middle East. A lugubrious mammoth with relatively low abilities in the field of science and invention, other than the buzzing prayer rug of course. An ocean of poverty, spicy souks, misogyny and terrible driving. But also - a humungous population with great oil wealth and a fierce sense of pride, mortally injured by the Yid's presence and our ability to knock them to the ground in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982. Tens of millions of men in mustaches want us dead, and they are growing crazier and more religious by the minute.

This is a balance: a small, talented, high-tech, reasonable Jew versus 20 big low-tech, religiously zealous Arabs. And that is why the Middle East is so unstable.

Can a less balanced Middle East emerge? Can there be a decisive victory over the Arab Muslim Middle East?

Take a look at the map attached, folks. Imagine a blitz campaign in which Israel takes all the territory marked in orange, with the help of allies like India, and perhaps some sub-Saharan African countries which we train and advise. Is it possible? I guess not. But was the Six Day War possible? The Entebbe raid? 1948? Imagine us with those borders, with oil wealth and Jewish genius. And imagine the Arab Muslims back in Arabia, with little territory to the north of Mecca and Medina. That would be stable! Maybe not possible, but worth dreaming about.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Law & Order

Hello there!

This is my first post here, and my absence until now can be excused - my wonderful wife, gave birth last week to my beautiful baby daughter, Liat. (I guess that is better than: my dog ate my post...) Anyway, over the next few months, my goal here will be to bring you up to speed on some of the tough situations here in Israel, that need rectifying. This should not act as a deterrent for you on making Aliyah, but rather explain why your presence here is needed.

Here is a great example of why "Israel needs you, not your sympathy or money." We also don't have much time. The Negev as of now, is overrun by Arab Mafia, threatening and collecting "protection money" from hard working, tax paying citizens. Businesses in Be'er Sheva, pay Bedouin mafia outrageous sums of money every month, or else their work places get vandalized and robbed. Farmers all around are harassed, and many times given beatings if they refuse to pay.

The most famous story is that of Shai Dromi, who came into the limelight after he shot and killed a trespasser who came to rob and vandalize his farm, after he refused to pay his "dues." He was promptly arrested, and has been in Jail for many weeks, awaiting his trial. The Police are either in cahoots, or are just afraid/lazy/not interested (you are not limited to only choose one...). We need people who value Law & Order (not only the TV show), to change the situation here. Now your asking: But what can I (yes, little me) do? A lot. If we could only have volunteers to go down to the various farms in the Negev, and help patrol the lands and protect them against the Arab mafia, we would already be in a better place. We could make a statement, that these farmers will not give into Mafia tactics and thieves. We could help these people provide for their families, without having to pay criminals, or worry about being robbed at night. We could then prove to everyone that it is possible to restore order to these parts, and maybe this way the Police would feel pressure to actually do their job.

So, all we need: Some of you kick-ass Americans, some baseball bats, and some Jewish pride. We want our land back.

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Have You Ever Played the Game of RISK?

Have you ever played the classic board game RISK? You know, the game where you get into countless arguments and make shady deals with sole purpose of best asserting your own personal position in a quest to take over the world.

And of course you know that the only way to actually take over the world is by rolling the dice. Well, Israel's government got together for a similar foray (aka meeting), as they do regularly. Israel's top brass sat down for a friendly Israeli game called RISK: The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

For those of you that missed what went on during the game, let me review.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asserted that there is no problem with the working or non-working relationship between his office and the office of Defense Minister Amir Peretz. This despite repeated press leaks that the two never speak. Olmert assured the committee that it is not necessary for the relationship between the two offices to be rosy.

Olmert accused Opposition Leader and former (and potentially future) PM Benyamin Netanyahu of establishing the Hamas terror group by releasing Sheikh Yassin, former Hamas spiritual terror leader in 1997.

Olmert went on to assert that he would in fact take part in a 3-way summit between PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, US Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice and himself in less than a week, to discuss the conditions for the creation of a rogue Palestinian state in the holiest provinces of biblical Israel.

Olmert added that if the PA will release Israeli captive soldier Gilad Shalit, then Israel would be forced to reconsider the terrorist nature of the Palestinian Authority "Unity" Government featuring warlording factions Fatah and Hamas.

On the northern front, Olmert opined that any peace deal with Syria would have to include returning the entire Golan Heights which was officially annexed by Israel under international law in 1981. Olmert asserted that every government between 1993-2001 secretly opened negotiations with our northern enemy on the notion that we would return the Golan.

Netanyahu, PM in '93 intelligently interjected during Olmert's briefing, "That's not true!" Olmert, a lawyer, who is quite slick with his own tongue countered, "Yes it is, don't try and hide the truth."

Netanyahu, not wanting to keep the game going too long, said in response, ""This is a failed government, and there is only one thing it must do and that is to go home."

Well, not one concrete idea for strengthening the defense of the state was raised. The only thing left to do right now for the committee is to roll the dice, because the entire Jewish Nation is at RISK.

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Adam Sandler does the Temple Mount...

One finds the motivation behind Adam Sandler's classic hit, The Hanukkah Song, (aside from $$$), in the opening lyrics of the song:
When you feel like the only kid in town without a x-mas tree, here's a list of people who are Jewish, just like you and me...
Well, after reading this article in the Jerusalem Post, one might get the feeling that there exists unanimous opposition amongst Rabbinic sages towards Jews ascending to the Temple Mount.

So, following in the footsteps of Adam Sandler...
When you feel like the only Jew in town who believes it's o.k. to ascend the (Temple) Mount, here's a list of Torah sages who agree with you, none of whom should anyone discount...

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The Hidden Religious People of Jerusalem

(This post is only for those of you who are actually FAMILIAR with Israel - for those of you who want to be part of this crew but aren't yet, you know what to do :-) )

Have you ever noticed how many holy seemingly non-religious people there are in Israel? I'm not even just talking about the people who go out of their way to do help a stranger, share a kind word, or build something useful. I'm talking about the hidden religious people.

Every time I go to Jerusalem these days, I notice another one of these secret religious Jews. Recently, it was a woman in her 50s with the classic red spiked hair that has plagued so many good Jewish women in this country (many G-d grant them a full and speedy recovery), walking to the bus while reading morning prayers out of a worn-out siddur. A friend recently mentioned the woman at the automotive store who reads Rebbe Nachman's Tikkun Klali non-stop. Today, in the seat next to me, I noticed a woman in a less-than-kosher shirt and skinny jeans reading Perek Shirah ("The Song of the Universe").

Where have all these secret frummies come from? Were they always there? Does the religious community understand how deep the current of Jewishness is in this country?

While you can certainly estimate a person based on their appearance, you ultimately cannot judge the woman by the cut of her shirt. Or maybe we are all just rising higher somehow, without even realizing it....

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Re: "Goverment of Losers, Go Home"

As a response to Yechiel (Jonny)'s post (I know that's so grammatically incorrect, and I still live in America... so unacceptable, sorry) "Government of Losers go home" I would like to share who I feel would be the government of "ultra cool", or once again, grammatically incorrect "unlosers."

I can write a whole post about this, which I WILL, and that is a threat, but for now, I will allow the reader to check this
out and See for yourself. It's like empowering the reader, or something like that...

Enjoy ~ Shulamit ~
P.S. I am doing this while I'm at work... GASP!!!

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Government of Losers, Go Home!

Here's a sign I saw posted on a bunch of bulletin boards around Jerusalem over the weekend. Apparently the English word "loser" has been adopted into Hebrew. The sign reads, "Memshelet HaLoserim, HaBaytah!" which means, "Government of Losers, Go Home!" The faces pictured are (from left to right) Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz. As a Neo-Zionist, it pains me to see the government of Israel not seem to care about its land and its people, and especially be as corrupt as this one. Losers, go home, and let's pray for some true Jewish leaders to take their place!

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Becoming a "Real" Israeli

A SUBMISSION FROM BINYAMIN -- For some, becoming a "real" Israeli is voting in their first election. For others it is army service, or better yet, their first reserve duty call-up. But for me, it is buying my first pair of Israeli underwear.

You know you've really integrated into a country when you finally give up on the tighty-whities that have served you so well since high school, and decide to get some new underwear. Also, because it's easier to buy new underwear then to go to the Laundromat and wash your old ones. Some people prefer to shop at the Mashbir. But if you go there, you have to talk to the lady. You know which one I'm talking about. She's the only one working in the men's underwear department. She's been there forever. She knows your size with a quick glance. Trust the men's underwear lady. She will serve you well.

Then of course there is the underwear you buy in the store on Yoel Solomon Street at the same place you get your nargilah and flavored tobacco. You know the place. It's either playing Sarit Hadad or a rap song you heard in America five years ago. This is the underwear printed with the words "I'm Jewish, wanna check?" or "100% Kosher". My friend's girlfriend bought him a pair as a joke. He washed them and hung them out to dry on the balcony. The underwear fell off the balcony and onto the laundry of his downstairs neighbor, an older Israeli-born woman. My friend had to go downstairs and in broken Hebrew, tell this lady that she had his underwear.

But now, my fellow olim hadashim, we have integrated. We have Israeli underwear. We may not know Hebrew fluently. We may not know how to cut in line at the bus station. We may not be in overdraft at the bank. We may not know how to flirt with our secretary and then be indicted. But we have Israeli underwear and thus we are well on our way to fulfilling the Zionist Dream.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

From Gush Katif to American Idol

With the sixth American Idol season kicking off, I decided to share my experience trying out for American Idol last year (pictured, on right) a few days after protesting in Gush Katif.

I didn't know how to fight the IDF. There was no way to fight the IDF. They were my brothers and sisters.

So sitting on the lawn outside of the Neve Dekalim synagogue as an infiltrator into Gush Katif, fighting to stop the Disengagement, I found my best weapon: my voice.

As the IDF stood around the perimeter of the synagogue lawn, they looked tired, listless, and bored, yet ready for the job at hand the minute they would receive the order. Their commanders had them march around at random, calculating the right time to charge.

Thousands of Israelis and I tried to stave them off as long as we could. Some lovingly talked with them, some prayed in front of them. I plopped myself down on the grass and sang a cappella to rows of soldiers, each clad in claps and vests mercilessly imprinted with the Star of David.

I sang every loving, cheesy Jewish ballad I could remember from my Jewish day school days.

"Our brothers, the entire house of Israel, cast into sorrow and captivity, standing between sea and land…"

"God created within me a pure soul…"

Realizing they were probably not into the Jewish stuff, otherwise the popular slogan, "Jew does not expel Jew" might have made an impression, I sang "There Can Be Miracles When You Believe" from the Prince of Egypt. Some cried; some sang along; most remained stoic.

Yet, I knew that I softened them as I sang. I knew that maybe I touched a chord as I sang the chords - maybe not enough to make them refuse orders, but enough to make them really think about their actions.

But it didn't work as well as I had hoped. Eventually, they hauled me out of the synagogue, where I had continued to sing prayers with thousands of earnest, idealistic, loving teenage women.

Their songs didn't work either, and as two female soldiers dragged me out of the synagogue, I yelled to the soldiers forming human gates on each side of me, "Way to go IDF! I'm going back to America!"

And I knew I would go back to America, not forever, but at least for a well-deserved vacation.

I returned to my apartment in Tel Aviv and everything was different - or at least I was; every one else was too much the same. Most of my friends hardly cared that thousands of Jews were being torn from their home with no where to go. They hardly cared that Gush Katif would turn into a free terrorist trade network. They had bills and boyfriend problems to worry about.

The only remedy to my frustration and depression, I thought, was to join the ranks of shallowness and apathy: I booked a trip to the US in time to tryout for American Idol.

Yes, perhaps if my voice couldn't stop the State of Israel and the Jewish people from the brink of destruction, then maybe it could get me a spot in my favorite American talent contest. If I wasn't cut out to be an Israeli heroine, then maybe I was cut out to be an American Idol…

I arrived to the Gillette stadium in Boston with a friend from New York. After registering a day earlier for an audition wristband, 7,000 American Idol hopefuls and I took our seats. They would call us row by row to sing our song of choice a cappella in front of producers: first come, first sing. Those who graduated this audition would move on to sing for Simon, Paula, and Randy.

The audition was rainy, cloudy, and annoying. The producers had us all sing "Singing in the Rain" with an umbrella dance as if that was fun, while I was still debating which song to sing. "There Can Be Miracles When You Believe"? Nah, I couldn't pull it off. "Eternal Flame" by the Bangles. Maybe. Then it hit me: "I Need a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler.

Maybe the producers would feel my emotion, for I really needed a hero. I left Israel lacking hope, faith, and inspiration.

Finally, after watching hordes of Kelly, Ruben, Fantasia, and Carrie wannabes get sent home and only a handful follow the path to victory, my row was called. We would split into groups of four and line up in front of two producers divided among 14 booths. As I reached my booth, a bitter looking woman wearing sunglasses told me to go first.


I reminded myself that I sang impromptu in front of the IDF, so singing in front of strangers should be a piece of cake, right? I mustered up my courage, looked into the judges' eyes, and sang my call:

"Where have all the good men gone, and where are all the gods…"

The lady stopped me as I reached the chorus. "Thank you," she said.

Then the others took their turn to be met with the same response.

"You all have good voices, but not of the American Idol caliber," she concluded.

It became clear from talking to people that they either chose the vocalists who were phenomenally good, humorously bad, or just plain freaky. That's what gets the ratings.

I had no gimmick. All I had was the memory of Gush Katif and the faces of those soldiers egging me on. And all I had was that memory to make me realize that I wasn't an American Idol.

My heroes were not the thousands vying to become an idol. My heroes were the thousands of Gush Katif infiltrators who fought for what they believed was right. My heroes were the young women I sang with in the synagogue. My heroes were the people who justly defended their homes. My heroes were the few soldiers who refused orders.

In America there are idols in training. But in Israel there are heroes in training. And I'm privileged to remain a contestant in one of the most real, meaningful, and historic contests for heroes of the Jewish people.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

IDF Swearing-In Ceremony (Tekes Hashba'ah)

A friend of mine was sworn into the army on Thursday. The ceremony took place at the site of an important battle in the 1967 Six Day War, Ammunition Hill, in Northern Jerusalem. Here are some pictures:

Soldiers stand in formation during the ceremony

Soldiers are given a gun and a Tanach -
a worldly weapon and a uniquely Jewish "weapon"

Soldiers March In

Commanders salute next to guns and Tanachs

Soldiers shout, "Ani Matzhir" - I affirm/declare (the term "swear" is not used in the religious Nachal Chareidi unit)

Here's an American getting his gun and Tanach in the Israeli army

Holding up guns during a salute

Marching Away

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Sound Familiar? Yitro's Reasons for Not Making Aliyah

"...and Yitro went to his land" (Ex. 18:27)

Later, while in the Desert, Moshe tries to convince his father-in-law Yitro to enter The Land of Israel together with the Jewish People, yet he continuously refuses: "I shall not go! Only to My Land and my family shall I go!" (Bamidbar 10:30).

What happened?!?

After his great proclomation of faith - he is the first person to say "Baruch Hashem!" (Ex. 18:10), and after all that he has contributed to Am Yisrael: a complete overhaul of the Judicial system, his daughter Tziporah etc.- Yitro opts out of going to Eretz Yisrael.

Some opinions & perspectives of the classic commentaries as to WHY:

* Rashi: Yitro went to convert his family...("We have kiruv work to do, chinuch, saving American Jewry!")

* Rav Ovadia Sforno: Yitro felt too old to move; leaving would be too difficult because of the change in climate, food and language adjustment ("too hot in Israel! We want American meat and Tropicana!")

* The Sifri: Yitro didn't want to leave his family, possesions and familiar surroundings- so much so that Moshe offers him property in Jericho ("we have such a nice house, two cars; we like the comfortable standard of living; we love our neighborhood- we are so used to it here!")

* Rav Yosef Bechor Shor (talmid of Rabbeinu Tam): Yitro didn't want to deal with (feared?) the Milchemet Kivush/ War that would have to be fought to conquer the Land ("its dangerous there! we won't be safe in Israel! we'll have to serve in the army!)

Sound Familiar?!

It has been a while since we experienced awesome, open miracles and an ingathering of the exiles...or has it been?

Historical Patterns (and excuses!) repeat themselves... Justifications & rationalizations- legitimate or otherwise- do too.

B'Yamim Haheim BaZman HaZeh!!

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A Tale of Fiestas and Drunken Widows

Hello Jews, pro-Judeans, and undecided lookers-on!

I think there is something about my karmatological map this week that says - "you will come on new stages in the most embarrassing ways possible". One such coming-on-new-stages incident involved me and my beloved Fiesta (I forgive you, Henry Ford, you antisemitic lout! On second thought, I don't forgive you!), which smashed into someone's Mitsubishi Lancer on a rainy, slippery Sunday early afternoon, as I was hurrying to make it to Beit El on time for a work shift (The new job and Beit El are the "new stage" for this part of the metablogophor. Please ignore the fact that they are not really "stages" per se. I mean, the world is but a stage, isn't it?).

[Important note: Israel is the only place in the world where Mitsubishi markets a model called the SuperLancer. The SuperLancer is the importer's idea. He bought some tin, made a lot of "Super"s out of it, connected the "Super"s to the "Lancer" on the back of the Lancers, probably added some cheap extras to the car and whammo - there was a new Mitsubishi model, all ready for the marketing. There is a lesson to be learned here. Maybe Tzipi Livni can use it to market Israel? "Visit SuperIsrael!" Hmmm...]

So anyhow, mayhem ensued. My Fiesta - my only property, my shiny steed - is all smashed up. I have had to ride the bus - can you imagine the humiliation!? Me, on a bus?? - for several days, and I am not sure where I'll get the cash to fix my silvery love. However, I hear being a beggar at the Kotel is good business. Someone told me he overheard one Kotel beggar woman saying to another "I only did 400 this morning". That's 400 NIS of course.

Luckily nobody died, including me. I wish this dreary weather would stop already. Ugh! However (get ready, I'm going to go all Jew-loving and optimistic on you), there is nothing like a car crash to tell you where you are living. I found out that if you close your eyes (I hope the traffic court judge isn't a reader of Kumah) and randomly crash your vehicle into another vehicle in Israel, the chances are 100% that you will run into a very good hearted, hard working Russian immigrant, who will not gyp you at all even if you are uninsured and whose diabetic father is being jerked around by National Insurance and whom you can perhaps help by using your connections!

Also, the Arab guy who towed me was very nice, but I am not sure now if that niceness was not simply his very clever way of getting me to pay more than I should have for his services. I must say though, the price he charged, while 50% more than the maximum I should have paid, is not bad for combined 100 km. towing and emergency psychological counseling. The guy could have gotten the same money by being a jerk and making me feel worse than I already did. Instead, he made me feel great, painlessly eased me into the denial phase, forcefully and convincingly insisted I could accomplish my goals (sentences like these are far more convincing coming from a life-living, wild-eyed Arab who isn't just repeating a stock cultural phrase he heard on TV a million times along with a billion other people, and isn't talking to you about "life", but about you and your life) told me I think too much and at the same time told me about his own life - his sister died when he was young because of a dentist's mistake, he and his brother took knives and set out to kill the dentist, their father followed them and told them if they didn't put the knives down he would finish with them, that their sister was gone, that was what G-d wanted, that people make mistakes, and they could only make things worse now... since then he has gone to the dentist to have his teeth treated and the dentist cries whenever he sees him - and this is the end of this sentence and paragraph.

The second embarrassing stage incident involves this interview on Galia Albin's show. Albin is the widow of very rich guy called Micky, who famously committed suicide while in police custody, being interrogated about some fraud/corruption charge, sometime in the 1980s (I believe Albin's suicide is the reason police Tegart forts have metal netting over the courtyards since then. So interrogees don't die if they jump from the third story onto the courtyard).

She was dressed like a working girl and had had something to drink before the show, but she was very sympathetic to me and A., the silhouetted guy who spoke before me, who has not seen his daughters for five years, since they were 10 months old, because of the vicious anti-male slant of this country's divorce laws, welfare establishment and general culture. We had to do a retake midway through the interview but nobody cued me that the tape was rolling again so I was talking to her in the thought that we were doing between-take banter. So when she asks me what help would I like to get for the Familists' legal service for divorcing men, instead of addressing the world and her audience, I am actually seen on TV telling her maybe we can meet after the show and talk about it... oy, the vey. The upside: I was very relaxed.

My lesson from both incidents is clear. However I will not share it with you because the enemy is listening!

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Audio Corner

Here are a few great audio selections for your weekend:

Today I called the White House. I was calling about Jonathan Pollard but it turned out to be even more important. The clip is 3 minutes long.

Click Here To Listen
Click Here To Download

Here is some Rabbi Judah Torah for Shabbat! What did Yitro hear that made him come out to the desert to meet Moshe? What do the nations hear from Zion? It's about 10 minutes long.

Click Here To Listen
Click Here To Download

From Tamar Yonah: "We've all been there.... sitting at the kitchen table, reading the paper and seeing the movers and shakers of the world in print and in full color. A gnawing yearning rises from the depths of our soul, to our consciousness, telling us, "Gee, I wish I could be GREAT. I wish I could do something unique, that I will be remembered by." And then we sigh, andn turn the page of the paper and read another story, burying that yearning deep down again, so as not to disturb our comfort bale and safe, daily routine.

Recently I did a monologue on the yearning in each one of us, that longs to make a dent in this world. None of us knows how long we will be granted life, and the times we are living in demand even more attention to how we lead our lives today. Take a listen, and pass this on to others. Together, one by one, we'll make a difference. But we first have to make 'the appointment'. (about 20 minutes)

Click Here To Listen
Click Here to Download

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New Study: 7.4 Million U.S. "Jews" (Yes, I Used Quotes)

When a study claims there are 7.4 million Jews in America Neo-Zionists get scared. Why? Simple. Because previous studies have suggested two conclusions:

1. Only Orthodox Judaism is growing. All other factions are either intermarrying into oblivion or identifying less and less with the Jewish people and

2. Overall the Jewish population in America is shrinking and has no future. (Remember Zeev Bielski and A.B. Yehoshua?)

Other studies have suggested that due to many factors the Jewish population in Israel is growing. This would mean in a few years the majority of those who are halachiclly considered Jewish will reside inside Israel and therefore many halachot will become Torah obligations, not just Rabbinic ones, and that the ingathering of the exiles can be considered complete.

Yet a study just came out that makes this remarkable "7.4 million Jews" claim. Here's how the NY Post reports it:


February 8, 2007 -- America's Jewish population is far larger than previous estimates, a new survey shows.

There are as many as 7.4 million Jews in the United States, researchers at Brandeis University said yesterday.

They said the last authoritative survey was taken in 2000-01 and erroneously put the figure then at 5.2 million Jews. It counted practicing Jews; people who said they had no religion but thought of themselves ethnically as Jewish; and anyone with even one Jewish parent.

The Brandeis survey used the same categories and came up with 6 million to 6.4 million, a figure higher than would be expected by normal birth rate. But the researchers said their figure could shoot up to between 7 million and 7.4 million by adding an additional 1 million people who "might be considered Jewish" based on their backgrounds as kids of intermarried parents.

The Brandeis researchers said the earlier survey grossly undercounted non-Orthodox families, did not include "substantial numbers of young and middle-aged individuals" and was wrong to say the Jewish-American population had been in a state of decline since 1990.

"Our analyses tell us that the Jewish community is larger and more diverse than most had thought," said Brandeis Professor Len Saxe.

On the surface this new study seems to declare that:
1. Non-Orthodox Jews are doing great too, and
2. Orthodox Jews are overrated, and
3. The Jewish population in America is growing!

For those of us that follow halacha however this study does not disprove the previous conclusions, (that the ingathering of the exiles will soon be halachically complete) and may even strengthen them.

First let's get something out of the way. What is a Jew according to this study?

The same thing that was a Jew according to the NJPS.

And I quote from that study:

"For purposes of this report, a Jew is defined as a person:
-Whose religion is Jewish, OR
-Whose religion is Jewish and something else, OR
-Who has no religion and has at least one Jewish parent or a Jewish upbringing, OR
-Who has a non-monotheistic religion, and has at least one Jewish parent or a Jewish upbringing."(page 13)

The halachic definition of a Jew is one whose mother is Jewish or one who halachically converted.

The study (which you could download and read for yourself here) relies heavily on unproven assumptions. Previous studies, they claim, underestimated non-Orthodox Jews because they must be harder to reach. That's solid logic if I ever heard it. Got a lower representation than you wanted? Just say, "oh, well, obviously there are more. We just can't reach them."

Look forward to this headline: "Pinchas proves extraterrestrial life exists." See I did a study. I called beings and asked them if they are extraterrestrial life forms but since AT&T doesn't provide long distance service to other planets they are a bit harder to reach. Not wanting to underestimate them I included them in my results.

Here's how they concocted this argument. Are you ready for this?

1. "Families with several school age children, typical of many Orthodox families, have more people available to answer the telephone and may be more likely to be at home. This makes them easier to reach." (page 19)

2. "This fits with our earlier conclusion that non-Orthodox Jews may be more difficult to reach than non-Jews (particularly for telephone surveys) because of their socio-economic distinctiveness." (page 29)

Okay, okay. I know. Purim came early this year! Now after you've stopped laughing and caught your breath it gets better. These researchers are clearly disconnected from the Orthodox Jewish reality, namely that we have a life too and don't sit at home all day waiting by the phone for that survey researcher to call us.

The researchers claim that prior studies "systematically undercounted certain groups..." Namley, "...young adults (18-29 year olds). Young adults are particularly difficult for telephone surveys to reach. An increasingly serious research problem is that these individuals are the most likely to use cellular telephones as their exclusive personal telephone." (page 20)

And we all know that non-Orthodox 18-29 year old Jews use cell phones far more than their Orthodox counterparts. After all, we Orthodox Jews all have black beards and live in Lanchester, Pennsylvania and build barns and plant corn.

What this study shows is that all new studies will begin including more and more people as Jews when they are halachiclly not Jewish at all. And that in fact the halachiclly Jewish percentage of these results will continue to shrink.

Consider this:

"There is increasing evidence, for example, that more intermarried families are choosing to raise children Jewishly. If that trend continues, it portends an increase in the Jewish population." (page 31).

To me it portends an increase in the non-halachic "Jewish" population.

The paper concludes:

"Acknowledging the controversial nature of the present findings, we hope that this report will provoke productive discourse. The larger, more diverse, character of the population suggests that debate about the future of the Jewish community in America needs to encompass multiple viewpoints that address the concerns of the different groups making up the overall community. It suggests, as well, a broadened set of discussions with other Jewish communities around the world, in particular, Israel." (page 34)

In English: Israel should become (or remain) less connected to G-d because so many American "Jews" are.

"Just as Jewish identity is regarded as fluid, and may change in intensity over the lifespan, the character of the population, too, may shift as norms about marriage, child-rearing and religious practice evolve." (ibid.)

In English: Israel should accept, if not encourage, intermarriage, having less kids, and not believing in G-d.

They are the ones that are scared. They need to keep telling themselves it's safe to be a non-religious Jew in America today. They keep telling themselves their future is bright. They should know better. They do know better.

Neo-Zionism is winning. Torah Judaism is winning.

Keep the Torah! Make Aliyah!

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Planting in Gush Katif (1.5 Years Ago)

Keeping with the Tu B'Shvat theme, I decided to post some old planting pictures. These were taken 1.5 months before the expulsion (30 Sivan, 5765 - July 7, 2005). The funding for these plants came from Tzedakah because the government had stopped giving loans to farmers. If I remember correctly, these were planted in Gadid.

This is me:

All done:

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Capitalism: Good for the Jews

Yes, like Yechiel and Alex I too watched the Superbowl. And I must say during it, E-Trade aired an absolutely brilliant ad about Bank Leumi. Okay, they didn't say it was Bank Leumi but we all know that's where the thirty second spot took place - or perhaps it was at some other bank in Israel.

"On one leg," the gist of the ad (which you could view here or above) is people get robbed by their own bank in broad daylight. And that's exactly what has been going on in Israel for too long! It's like this: you could either put your money in a checking account and watch it melt, or put it in a savings account and watch it freeze.

Put it in a checking account and watch all the creative fees the banks come up with, essentially excuses not to give you your hard earned money back! Whoever heard of having to pay a bank for the privilege of withdrawing money from the ATM of the very bank and even of the very branch your account is held in?

And if you put it in a savings account, as any Israeli banker will tell you, "to offset the fees," you can kiss that money goodbye for at least 18 months, and if you are lucky with the minimal interest you earn you might just actually offset those checking account fees - maybe... Hey, it could happen.

Ahh yes, Neo-Zionism. It's not just ranting about what's wrong with the country but proposing real working solutions for improving the future of our Jewish State.

Probably the single greatest accomplishment of Bibi Netanyahu was appointing Stanley Fischer as head of the Bank of Israel. Last week the Bank Governor made headlines yet again: "Bank of Israel looks to decrease fees" declared the Jerusalem Post. "Association of Banks director: The fees issue does not justify legislative intervention," elaborated Globes.

Short term thinking has dominated, nay, plagued this State for way too long. Arutz-7 reported that several weeks ago "major banks announced they would raise fees up to 100 percent in a move that would net them additional profits amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars." But this bank-get-rich-quick-scheme ultimately would harm our economy. Not only that but according to Fischer the current fees are already harming the socialist inclined country.

"In Western countries that exhibit high levels of banking competition, a simple fee system is the norm - one that doesn't entail excessive numbers of charges and often allows clients to avoid charges on ordinary checking accounts," the Bank of Israel said.

The former Citigroup International President knows that while the Socialist model of "give me more money today" might work well to jump start a nation, one that has matured and desires long term growth needs healthy western capitalistic thinking that encourages free market competition and customer service while we're at it.

If Fischer gets his way, and it looks like he just might, you can expect your bank to finally start treating you like a mensch. And you know what? If my bank starts showing me some respect I might just show them respect back and lend them more of my money. And maybe - just maybe - they will actually get more customers and ultimately make more money this way. Everyone will have more money to spend and the economy will flourish. It's called long term thinking.

Am Yisrael Chai! Capitalism Chai!

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Translated Uri. The Grinch Who Stole Shabbat?

Uri Orbach, the one 'Doss' on Galei Tzahal, just wrote one of the lamest pieces I have ever read.

Click here and make sure you are near the terlit. (There is a great "Malkah from Beit El" talkback I suspect is from a fellow NZU-Blogger)

I mean, at first, I was sure it was a joke. Uri is funny during morning talk shows on Galei Tzahal, next to his square and usually less-educated co-hosts. I read it again and realized he was using a bit of humor to sugar-coat something that is truly one of the most jarring aspects of Israeli society today. Again, there are folks like Aussi Dave in the talkbacks who insist that it is satire and the more I think about it the more I think it must be:

Yes, some of my best friends are secular, but on Shabbat I pretend I don't have any. I love them, I cherish them but I won't call them and they don't call me.

Don't come on Shabbat, stop by on Sunday, Monday, and bring all of your kids with you. But not on Shabbat. It's too complicated. One Shabbat – two nations.

As someone who consciously lives on a hilltop where half of the people are secular (not to mention having grown up in upstate New York), I certainly am familiar with the issues that apparently drove Uri off the edge. Secular Israelis (as they've been told to call themselves, though most are actually traditional or simply less observant of the outwardly visible mitzvot) still love the Day of Rest and enjoy experiencing the religious aspects of Shabbat now and then - or just being in close proximity to those who do so as to expose their children to it as an option.

Now maybe it is because Uri lives in the world of Israeli journalists - a truly sordid bunch if there ever was one - that he feels the need to speak on behalf of the Sabbath-observant Jews of this nation and issue a grand un-invitation to our brethren. I mean, I am not sure I want Razi Barkai telling me to "sim nekuda" every time I try to get a word in edgewise at the Shabbat table - but let me speak clearly in the name of those outside Orbach's world: It is a pleasure to have visitors on the Sabbath.

He must have been kidding. Right? Maybe it's Ynet's translator's fault.

Update: Here is the Hebrew link. It seems it truly was lost in translation due to the nature of Uri's use of witty words and a certain inflection that Hebrew readers can detect in his written word. I am still not certain of the effectiveness of the satire and unconvinced that he totally feels the opposite.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Marbim B'Simcha -- Olmert Style

Tu B'Shevat is now behind us which means just one thing: Adar is right around the corner. In just a few weeks time we'll be drinking until we don't know the difference between the righteous Haman and the wicked Mordechai (ah wait, reverse that -- perhaps I started drinking too soon.

But perhaps I am not the only Jew that is confusing righteousness and wickedness ahead of the great Purim festival.

If you haven't noticed, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is scheduled to be one component of a very unholy triumverate, similar to the three sided hat Haman bedecked over 2000 years ago.

Olmert will take part in a 3 way summit with co-conspirators Condoleeza Rice and Mahmoud Abbas. This summit will attempt to bring the parties towards "final status negotiations" on the borders of a permanent Palestinian State -- within the current, though disputed, borders of Israel.

And the date for their summit: February 19th, or more correctly the first day of Adar -- a day of great joy on the Hebrew calendar.

Olmert and company will attempt to take all the joy out of this month of Adar, by meeting on how best, and when, to remove Jews from their homes in Israel's holiest cities, to create a state for the self-sworn enemy of the Jewish State.

Expect Olmert to continue in his predecessor Ariel Sharon's path of desiring to make far-reaching concessions. Such concessions will likely include the release of over 1000 terrorists from Israeli jails, and timed committments on how to move forward with bi-[read uni-]lateral withdrawals from the biblical provinces of Judea and Samaria.

Be sure that chief conspirator Condoleeza Rice has learned well from Bill Clinton's mistakes, and will not come away from this summit empty-handed. And since Mahmoud Abbas has nothing to give Israel, the only way to achieve any diplomacy at all, is if Israel gives something to the PA.

Now I know that it is customary to give 2 items of food to our brethren on Purim, but those in the upper echelons of the PA, be they Fatah or Hamas, are by no means are brethren. They are not even righteous gentiles.

We can only hope that the magical month of Adar remains true to form, and we will have reason to celebrate, despite the machinations of this unholy triumverate, just as we have an annual reason to celebrate the failed annihilation attempts of evil's predecessor Haman.

We should not be fooled for one moment this Adar, of who is righteous and who is evil. There is no single righteous virtue in any summit between Olmert, Abbas, and Rice -- three individuals that in can in no way stand next to the holy likes of Jewish heroes Mordechai and Esther.

And while I may get confused in a drunken stuper on Purim day itself, I pray for continued clarity for the Jewish people on this matter, on all days before and after.

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Are You a Liberal Anti-Semite?

Are Jews part of a global conspiracy to destroy Israel? You won't believe it, but the AJC, the bastion of pluralism, is actually going after liberal Jews who have crossed the line in the hopes of seeing Israel go down.

A funny follow up quiz and article asking whether you are a Jewish anti-Semite can be found here.

Here is one of the questions:
Which describes your view of the Holocaust?

a) The most horrific crime in recorded history
b) A tragedy that, incidentally, gets far more hype than the Turks' slaughter of the Armenians or the white man's annihilation of the Indians
c) Child's play compared with what Iran's Ahmadinejad has planned

If you are interested in this topic, Harvard professor Ruth Weiss has written a great book titled "If I Am Not For Myself - The Liberal Betrayal the Jews."

We Jews just love to kill ourselves. I think this tendency is simply a direct reaction to the Eternal Nature of this nation. Let me explain: all things in this world are created with an opposite energy to match. The Jewish people, being attached to the Eternal, simply cannot be destroyed. Only we have the power to destroy ourselves, and that is post-Zionism, a manifistation of the urge and tendency for Jewish self-destruction.

Said Mark Twain:

If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people... His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also way out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in the world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him.

The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished...

All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?

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Get Your Oomph On!!!

So, this is my second post ever UHHH, woo hoo. Everyone has written such amazing articles... sweet!!!

I just started my new job, and I don't have that much time to read the news, which I think is a good thing, considering the news that is going on right about now. I think the stomach and heart burn companies are going to sky rocket, we should invest in them!!! The really sad part is that people reading those pathetic articles (I don't think I need to give examples, just go to cnn or jpost) really believe what they are reading, its like BEYOND pathetic. I guess that's why its good there is a revolution and a kumah website :-)

So reading some good news and trying to re-do the bad news is pretty cool, but sometimes you need a little more oomph then just passive reading... ever get that way... well if you do, then I have some suggestions on how to get your oomph on!!!

1) This is an easy one which most people do already, but just in case...WRITE COMMENTS. The power of the pen... no joke. When those anti-Zionist articles are being thrown at your face, well shove it back, by writing how you really feel. Even if its just a quick "I think your article is bias" because you never know who is looking at the responses, and if they see enough opposition to the article, they might be less inclined to believe in it, like it's the holy grail (oops wrong religion)

After doing that you do feel a little invigorated, knowing that you put your thought, little or not, out there, for the internet surfers to read... so that's a little oomph ish. But remember every LITTLE bit counts, so if your not into oomphing, then start slow, and work yourself up (if you need any encouragement, listen to this)

2) Do the polls. Such as, this one and this one. I know you think they mean nothing, and they probably do, but still, it's the power of you being "one human that can make the difference" approach. Aside for the fact, that its fun to look back and see your name, and how many people signed up after you (that's only if your really bored)

But really, to see yourself getting counted and the pollster say they are going to show the numbers to someone important, can definitely get an oomph going. Like "there take that, I am the 1737th person to sign the petition" and then you go and make all your friends sign too, so its like a contagious oomph, and it's a great way to see who your true friends are... jk.

3) And yes I do save the best for last, I don't know why... But ya, I think this one is the best, and of course since it is the best Arutz Sheva got to it already, Shocker :-) But really, I think it's the best oomph drug there is. I mean, you call 1-202-456-1414 (the White House, USA)and a nice person asks you which state you're calling from, and then wham... you give it to them, you can say whatever you like, just let it all out, and the cool part is, legally they have to keep a record of what topic and what views each caller is addressing. So its like, you get some nice little American to sit and listen to your rant about... well anything, pick a topic... they will listen and record what your views are. I doubt they write up everything, but the gist definitely gets documented.

So when you feel like a whole container of Tums wont do the trick, and you did suggestion 1 and 2... then hit the white house. You never know Mr. Bush might pick up the wrong line, and you get to oomph him... Anyhow, it's a great way to get out your frustration with the stupidity of the world around us, and you might make a difference while you're at it... which is the ultimate OOMPH.

But just remember, every person can be the one to change the future (not to sound sappy or anything) But really, at an era of the neo-Zionist revolution, we don't have time to think if we are big enough or worth it enough... Because we TOTALLY ARE!!!Which reminds me of something whinny the pooh said (I'm obsessed with cartoons) "your stronger then you seem, smarter then you think, and braver then you believe" So fellow neozites... go get your OOMPH on... and make a difference!!!

As always, comments are accepted and greatly appreciated ;-)

TTFN, DFTSS ~ Shulamit

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Got the Post TU B'Shvat Greens

There is something extra Ayit Fallspowerful about the winter prayer for rain that comes from the mouths of farmers. Since moving to Moshav Yonatan in the Golan Heights just one month ago, I've tried to do my part as well, joining my prayers for rain with those of these men of the Land. We've gotten a few sprinkles here and there, but nothing like the downpour beginning last night and continuing all day today.

The rolling hills and mountains are lush with exploding greenery and the waterfalls are gushing liquid gold straight to the Kinneret. Check out this picture of the Ayit waterfull in the central Golan. Intense.

Here in the Golan, especially in the moshavim and kibbutzim, you get a constant reminder of what it means to live close to the Land. Just this past Saturday night there was a moshav sponsored Tu B'Shvat party in the brand new lul, chicken coop, that the agricultural collective here just added to their many endeavors. Lovely Leah in the LulThe party was the moshav's way of dedicating this new state of the art, massive facility, which will eventually hold up to 25,000 chickens at a time for 3-4 month cycles. Our rabbi spoke about the connection between the last week's Torah portion, the new lul and Tu B'Shvat.

He described how it was that even after Am Yisrael witnessed the miracle of the Exodus from Egypt and the splitting of the Red Sea they still complained about not having the quantity or variety of foods they had in Egypt. In other words, you can take the slave out of Egypt, but it's tough to take the slave out of the Israelite. Part of being a slave is that although life is hard and portions might be meager, at least you know where your next pot of meat is coming from. So Hashem tides them over with the manna to show that ultimately sustenance comes from Above. But it would be a tough lesson because in the Land of Israel they had to work by the sweat of their brow to produce food. This still holds true today. And it is the working of the Land, he said, that solidifies the Jews' connection to our home. This connection is weakening throughout the population, he worries, and is leading to results like the Disengagement. That said, it is because of strongholds of Jewish agriculture, like our collective, that this connection is kept alive by sowing the seeds and deepening the roots (Tu B'shvat connection) of our future here on the Land.

Speaking of Jewish agriculture, there was a powerful write up about Shai Dromi in the local Golan paper. I'll save that for a future blog.

In the meantime, suffice it to say, I'm blessed to live in a place where the water runs fast, the rabbis speak the truth and the parties are held in chicken coops.

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Picturesque Sunset in Ramat Beit Shemesh

I happened to be leaving Ramat Beit Shemesh to come back to Yerushalayim around sunset today and I caught the sun setting between the rain clouds that would hit shortly. Enjoy a beautiful Israeli sun set!

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Propaganda - My Fave

First of all, how incredibly cool is this new blog? I love the smell of Neo-Zionism in the morning. Smells like victory.

Amidst numerous calls we'll be making for a better Israel on this blog, we'll be adamantly calling for real Jewish control over the Temple Mount and the ultimate rebuilding of the Third Temple (hey - it's good for everybody).

Just in case you weren't aware, this is actually what this "second Intifada" is about - control of the Temple Mount (which is code for spiritual control over the Holy Land).

I am no fancy political analyst, but I predict major violence throughout Israel in the next 2 weeks, and onward, because of (or rather, on the pretext of) construction by Israel at the Mugrabi gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. Some of you may recall a certain destructive earthquake 3 years ago which destroyed this path to the Temple Mount, revealing an ancient arch, and significantly reducing the size of the women's section at the Western Wall. Israel built a rather ugly wooden ramp on to the Mount as a temporary fix, but is now embarking on an 8 month project to revitalize the ramp and extend it (foreboding good times of massive Jewish ascent to that area, I hope).

In response, the local Arabs are swinging from the trees. Both Fatah and Hamas have issued raging, testosterony vows of havoc and terror if Israel touches any of their mosques (remember: this is about rebuilding a bridge outside the Temple Mount, in the Jewish Quarter), creating a rare moment of Jew-hate-inspired unity between warring Arab factions.

Israel National News, JPost, Haaretz, Ynet, and all the others have articles up on this story. However, I found the real gem at a website that we Jews don't often visit: Hamas'.

I dare say that such boldly delicious propaganda is rarely found in languages you or I could read, so I invite you to the capital of Flavor Country:

Israel starts demolishing parts of Aqsa Mosque amidst world silence
Feb 6, 2007, 11:25

Occupied Jerusalem - The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) started on Tuesday destroying two rooms and a bridge leading to the Maghareba gate, one of the entrances to the Aqsa Mosque.

Two Israeli bulldozers were involved in destroying the Muslim landmarks in the early hours of Tuesday morning amidst reports revealing that Israeli settlers were actively involved in the demolition...

Israel alleged that it was constructing a permanent pathway connecting the Western Wall adjacent to the Aqsa Mosque in place of an old way, which was destroyed by snowfall.

Palestinians, for their part, belied the Israeli allegations, and accused the Israeli occupation government of conspiring to finally destroy the Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest Muslim shrine world-wide, and to install the alleged Third Temple on its ruins.

They also refuted Israeli claims that the old pathway was destroyed by snowfall, affirming that the road’s foundations were weakened by the persistent IOA excavations under it over the past years.

Palestinian Chief Justice Tayseer Al-Tamimi affirmed that the IOF troops sealed off all roads leading to the occupied city of Jerusalem and beefed up security measures in an attempt to prevent angry Palestinian masses from blocking the IOA plans.

He also noted that the Israeli occupation government exploited the recent unfortunate inter-Palestinian fighting in Gaza Strip and the West Bank to execute their plans.

"The Aqsa Mosque is in real danger and needs Muslim support to defend and spare it the rancorous Israeli conspiracies", Tamimi asserted as he urged Palestinian masses to organize massive demonstrations against the IOA procedures.

... The PA Awkaf (endowment) ministry hailed efforts of the Islamic Movement in unveiling Israeli connivances against the Mosque, adding that the Movement was the only party blocking the IOA atrocities against the Aqsa Mosque amidst unexplainable silence on the part of Arab and Muslim leaders and peoples.

... In the past, Israeli fanatic groups, which are secretly sanctioned by the IOA, attempted to storm and demolish the Aqsa Mosque, including the 1969 attempt to burn it at the hands of a Jewish settler of Australian origin, and the desecration attempt that former Israeli premier Ariel Sharon carried out in the Mosque in the year 2000, which triggered the Aqsa intifada, among other attempts.

That was cute.

Now, I want to share with you some related information, about excavations in the City of David, and the incredible finds (and the incredible lies of our enemies). Listen to this great interview with Doron Spielman, Director of Development at Ir David.

Press "Play" below to listen the interview with Doron Spielman

He speaks about the recent discovery of an ancient stairway from the Shiloach pool all the way to the Temple.

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Raising the Banner of "Temple Consciousness"

One of the things that is unique about Neo-Zionism, in general, and the Kumah - Mega Blog, in particular, is the emphasis placed on promoting "Temple Consciousness," which, in a nut shell, refers to raising awareness of the role that the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple) plays in the ultimate mission and destiny of the Jewish People, and what we can be doing today to prepare the Jewish People and State for its rebuilding.

Unfortunately, there are many forces (both Jewish and non-Jewish), who spare no effort in their efforts to crush any notion of "Temple Consciousness" from taking root, whether in a physical or spiritual sense.

In the post below, I provide some of the historical context for the struggle over the Temple Mount (from an article I wrote in Sept. 2005), and in future posts, I will focus on the present-day battle over the Temple Mount, as well as how to raise "Temple Consciousness" amongst the Jewish People and within the Jewish State.


On June 7th, 1967 / the 28th of the month of Iyar, 5727, Motta Gur uttered 3 words that shook the very foundations of the world and served as the culmination of 2,000 years of Jewish hopes, dreams and prayers: Har HaBayit BeYadeinu!!! (The Temple Mount is in our hands).

Sadly, just under 40 years later, that is no longer the case.

Today, I had the distinct privilege of ascending to Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount), and visiting the holiest site of the Jewish People. (Before any Jew visits Har HaBayit he should consult with a Halachic authority well versed in the laws concerning such a visit). Har HaBayit is the site where the 1st two Batei HaMikdash (Holy Temples) stood, and upon which the 3rd will be built - speedily, in our time. It is on this very place where the presence of G-d rests, and many central events in Jewish history occurred on this very spot (such as Akeidat Yitzchak - the binding of Isaac).

While I am thankful for the opportunity to visit the holiest of sites of the Jewish People (an act, which throughout our long Exile, so few Jews merited - and I dare not proclaim to be of greater spiritual worth, and as such more derserving), and in reality, the holiest site in the entire world, there is a sense of shame that accompanies me. When a Jew visits Har HaBayit today - specifically religious Jews - he does so as a visitor, as a guest, and not as sovereign.

After the Six-Day War, when Jerusalem was liberated from Jordanian occupation, the Jewish People had once again returned to Har HaBayit, the focal point of all of our prayers. Sadly, Moshe Dayan, then Minister of Defense, ordered the Israeli Flag lowered from the Mount, and gave the Muslim Waqf day to day control over Har HaBayit, and this remains the status quo until this very day.

As such, today, when a Jew visits Har HaBayit, he must play according to rules set by the Muslim Waqf. He is only allowed to visit during limited hours. Religious Jews are given "special" treatment, where they are instructed that if they do any act of prayer while visiting Har HaBayit, they will be forcibly removed and charges will be brought against him (this speech is given by a Jewish, Israeli police officer). These restrictions include uttering prayers, bowing, tearing clothing, singing, dancing... The powers that be ensure compliance on this matter by ensuring that all religious Jews visiting Har HaBayit are escorted by Israeli police, as well as Muslim Waqf officials. (This treatment is only given for religious Jews, tourists are able to move freely on Har Habayit without escort).

To make matters worse, Har HaBayit today is not given the respect and reverence that is befitting a place of such holiness. Arab children can be seen riding bikes and playing ball. Garbage is strewn all over the Mount. Illegal excavations continue round the clock in order to erase any physical evidence of a Jewish connection to the site. When the Arabs come to pray at the mosques found on the Temple Mount, they hear sermons filled with hatred and vitriol against the Jewish People and State, comparing Jews to monkeys and pigs, alongside calls forthe destruction of Israel.

To see pictures of Har HaBayit today, click here.

The poet, Uri Tzvi Greenberg Z"L, understood the centrality of the Temple Mount to the conflict that the Jewish People are faced with in the Land of Israel:
He who rules the Mount rules the Land.
Today, it is clear from the actions (or inaction) or successive Jewish governments since 1967, that the Jewish People do not rule the Mount, and as such, our hold on Eretz Yisrael today is tenuous.

Consider this: If the State of Israel is unwilling to stand up and enforce the right of the Jewish People to Har HaBayit, out holiest site, then for what are we willing to stand and fight for? For Gush Katif? For Hebron? For eastern Jerusalem?

The Arabs are not a stupid people. They see that we are unwilling to stand up for what is ours - in this case, our holiest site - and they understand that if that is the case, we will not truly stand up to them anywhere else in the Land of Israel either.

The time has come for the Jewish People to reconnect with our holiest site. To raise an outcry over the injustices taking place on Har HaBayit. To demand, at the very least, that Jews should have equal rights with the Muslims, and be able to pray on Har HaBayit, in accordance with Halacha. How can it be that in the Jewish State of Israel (which also claims to be a democracy) that freedom of religious worship is not extended to Jews at their holiest of sites?

Here's a better question:

How can it be that this desecration of G-d's name and sanctuary bothers so few Jews, both in Israel and the world?

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Bitter Waters: Kriyat Yam Suf & Post-Zionism

Having experiencing the open miracles at the Exodus from Egypt and the Splitting of the Sea:
"They came to Marah, but could not drink the waters of Marah because they were bitter..." (Ex. 15:23)

Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (Yahrtzeit is this Shabbat) explained that the waters only tasted bitter because "they"- the Jews themselves- were bitter. As a result of their lack of faith in God, and the fact that they were still stuck in their slave ("Galus") mentality, the Jews themselves became filled with doubt, negativity and pessimism.

If Jews were able to make such a mistake then, it should come as no surprise to us now-- not sixty years since the Return of Jewish Sovereignty to Eretz Yisrael, and less than four decades since the Open Miracles and Divine Revelation of The Six Day War-- that so many of our People are filled with such sadness and negativity, pessimism, bitterness and confusion regarding The State of Israel.
As a tzibur- we have fallen out of touch with the basic fact that the Land of Israel is our physical and spiritual Home, and that our right to its entirety is existential and unalienable.

The bitter poison of Post-Zionism has blinded so many of our brethren: "they have eyes but do not see" the open miracles and blessings that Am Yisrael have merited in this generation.

At Marah, after complaining to Moshe and crying out to God, Hashem provided us with a tree that sweetened the bitter waters, so that the Jews could survive.

Let us learn a lesson from this week's Parsha, and the episode at Marah: The only way to sweeten the bitter attitude and perspective of Post Zionism is to strengthen our Jewish Identity through a return to our Roots; a Neo-Zionist Revolution built on the solid foundation of Biblical Imperative, Jewish history, and respect for Jewish tradition and symbols.

"Its ways are ways of Pleasantness and all its paths are Peace; It is a Tree of Life for all those who grasp onto it..." (Prov.3:17-18)

Many are already tuned in; worldwide, more Jews are studying Torah than ever before. But learning Torah is not enough! What is needed are new and creative ways to infuse Torah and authentic Jewish Values into the social, educational, political and cultural life of The Jewish State: David Hazony envisions developing "a new concept...of Jewish Humanities" for Israeli University students, whose curriculum would combine "the riches of Western civilization...with those of the Jewish tradition". A great idea, and one we can only hope will be actualized.

If only there were a way to start earlier, to save the next generation of Jews from bitterness and visual impairment...

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Neo-Zionism "R" Us

Hi, my name is Yishai and I'm a Neo-Zionist Uberblogger.

To see this blog up and running is very exciting to me. I remember when Kumah first went up and how excited I was when we only had a banner up with no content - I knew then that we were beginning something big.

For many years our focus was just physical Aliyah from the Exile. Now our goal is to share ourselves more fully - to talk about Aliyah in the broader sense. Our vision of Zion is a holistic one, which sees our 'local' redemption as having grand implications to the world at large.

We are living in very exciting times, times when the majority of Jews live in Israel after 2000 years of exile. (Unreal! Why have we merited this?) We are also living in a semi-dark era when half the Jews choose to remain exiled, and even those who have been born to redemption, reject their spiritual inheritance.

Many commentators specialize in diagnosing the problem without offering much of a solution. I hope to use this forum positively - to focus on ideas and on the 'art of the possible.'

My incredible job at Israel National Radio allows me to interview some of the finest minds and souls dealing with the issues I care about, and I plan to use this forum to share with you some of those interviews.

It happens to be that today I interviewed Rabbi David Bar Chaim - a Neo-Zionist revolutionary with ideas as to how the Jewish people can fullfull the Torah more fully, more redemptivally. Recently he railed:

One of our greatest strengths as a people has been our adherence to tradition. Throughout the Galuth (Exile) our forefathers gave their all to ensure that we, their descendants, would continue to live in accordance with the Torah. To this end a strategy was developed, a central feature of which was an extremely rigid conformance to minhag (customary practice) and a sanctification of the present state of Jewish affairs. It is fair to say that in the fullness of time this came to be the essential yardstick and paramount concern of Judaism; the status quo became a mitzvah.

Present-day Orthodoxy, born in the crucible of Galuth, has no room for 'new Mitzvoth - even if they are very old. The essential article of faith of the 'frum' world - 'That which is new is forbidden' (first introduced 200 years ago as Orthodoxy's battle cry in its war with the German Reform movement) does not allow for innovation and originality, even when the Torah demands it. When faced with the task of implementing the Torah, in all its aspects and manifestations from Techeleth to trade and industry the rabbinical Establishment is, sadly, completely out of its depth. And when rabbis are unable to deal with Torah and make it work in the real world we, the Jewish people, are in a state of profound crisis.

Press "Play" below to listen my interview with Rabbi David Bar Chaim

So to sign off my first post of Kumah Reloaded I thought it fitting to quote Tank, Neo's operator in the original Matrix:

Goddamn, I got to tell you I'm fairly excited to see what you are capable of. I mean if Morpheus is right and all. We're not supposed to talk about any of that, but if you are, well then this is an exciting time. We got a lot to do so let's get to it.

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Nefesh B'Nefesh Super Bowl Party

While the Super Bowl might be anti-Zionist, there are many Olim who still follow football and like to watch the game. In fact, there are enough American Olim interested in watching the game, that Nefesh B'Nefesh hosted a Super Bowl party in their Aliyah office. Ironic, and fun. Here are some pictures:

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The Undercover Jewish Settlers of the Palestinian Authority

So I live on what the Road Map for Peace established as an "unauthorized outpost." The arbitrary date chosen in order to define such a community was the day Ariel Sharon became Prime Minister for the first time (after all, he was the one accepting the Road Map from the aptly named Mafia of nations referring to themselves as "The Quartet" [were their foreign ministers sitting together at a banquet some time and the Russian official suddenly came up with that clever name?])

Normally, life is quite pastoral in Sde Boaz. It is the highest point in Gush Etzion, overlooking all the main roads, Jerusalem, Jordan, the Mediterranean and the Ela Valley. We have very real relations with the local Arab farmers who tend old vineyards behind our homes and who, in turn, ensure that their progeny do not get involved in the local Jihad groups active in the neighboring villages of El-Khader, Husan and Nahlin.

To make a long story short (with the help of a link), this happened over Shabbat Tu B'Shvat: Click here for English, here for Hebrew (includes video)

Incidentally, one of the "Internationals," as she called herself, has a blog and blogged about her excursion to Sde Boaz.

I am excited for her reply to my hasty, unedited missive in her comments section. I am pretty sure she is going to apologize for taking part in destroying our orchard and ask if she can volunteer to do kind of a habitat-for-humanity gig on the hilltop building our first permanent house. And as she reveals in her blog, she is a Jewess.

I have this theory that the Neturei Karta folks who set up a synagogue in Ramallah, all the ISM Jews living in villages around Judea and Samaria - in Area A (full PA control) - all of them: undercover settlers. These are just folks that are sick of the bourgeoisie settlement enterprise and looking for the real Chumra of Yishuv Haaretz - the real stringent application of the Biblical mandate of settling every part of the land.

MK Davis, rock on. You have led the Jewish resettlement of Beit Oumar, under the guise of radical politics, and for that I salute you.

And thank you for the intelligence photos of the fellow in the yellow jacket who escaped arrest with help from the violent internationals (who are also depicted in the act) and other photos of a young man down by the very trees which were destroyed.

I hope I didn't blow your cover.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

To Bowl or Not To Bowl, That is the Super Question

I can honestly admit that there is probably no event in the world that is as anti-Zionist as the Superbowl. Professional sports at their best or worst, with billions, yes billions of dollars being wasted in just 4 short hours.

The Superbowl probably consumes more money in just one evening, than most countries registered in the United Nations produce in an entire year. And at the end of the night, there will be virtually nothing to show for it.

And while some cute writers like those at the Jerusalem Post will try to tell you that there are parallels between this Superbowl and Israel's political and security situation; I can assure you, no such similarities exist.

So, now I've bashed the pinacle of pro-football, alienating hundreds if not thousands of American olim and future olim, who all proclaim their Zionism, but for some unknown reason, just can't miss the big game.

Well, I have alienated myself as well.

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Pictures from Tu BiShvat Keep Making Aliyah Shabbaton in Beit El

Tu BiShvat Tree Planting for all ages...
... on the Jewish Artis Hilltop in Beit El

The almond tree blossoms, as the classic Israeli
folk song goes, HaShkediyah Porachat - תחרופ הידקשה

Some other cool trees in Beit El:

More Tree Planting:

The Group on the Artis Hilltop of Beit El, then walking down to the cave, and listening to Tour Guide Yishai:

Arutz-Sheva Studio Tour and Recording, Motzaei Shabbat:
Yishai and Zev, Arutz-Sheva radio hosts

The group listens as we record...

Never too young to be on Arutz-Sheva!

Yishai loves his live studio!

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How 'Bout a Little Jewish Pride?

A recent survey, which sought to determine how "patriotic" Israelis felt towards their country, indicated a very frightening trend that calls the very future of the Jewish State of Israel into question.

Of the many survey questions, the responses to two of the questions in particular highlight the existential threat facing Jewish State.
Jews: To what extent do you consider yourself an Israeli patriot?

Very much: 36% Great: 31% To an extent: 26% Not at all: 7%
Pretty good. Among the Jewish citizens of the State of Israel, 93% consider themselves to be patriotic to the State of Israel to some extent.

However, when the responses to the above question were broken down by age, we find far fewer reasons for optimism:

60+ years old: 84%
50 - 59: 73%
40 - 49: 64%
30 - 39: 65%
18 - 29: 51%

These figures indicate that there exists a dramatic decline in patriotic feelings towards the State of Israel the younger one is. In other words, the present generation of Jewish Israeli young adults is the least patriotic towards the State of Israel.
Jews: Would you be willing to move and live in another country?

Certain no: 58% Think no: 19% Think yes: 17% Certain yes: 6%
Nearly 80% of the Jewish population in the Jewish State has no intention of ever leaving. Great news.

However, if we take a closer look at the 25% of Jewish population in the Jewish State who expressed a willingness to consider leaving Israel, broken down by age, we find a very troubling picture:

60+ years old: 13%
50 - 59: 17%
40 - 49: 23%
30 - 39: 27%
18 - 29: 33%

Consistent with the first question, where the older one was, the more patriotic they felt towards the State of Israel, here, the older one is, the less inclined they are to ever consider leaving Israel. At the other end of the spectrum, we find the very opposite. The younger one is, the less likely they are to have patriotic feelings towards the State of Israel, while they are the most likely to consider permanently leaving Israel.

At the recent Herzliya Conference, Nobel Prize Laureate, Prof. Israel Aumann warned that the Jewish State of Israel is presently facing an existential threat. He was not referring to the specter of a nuclear Iran, but of the sword hanging over the throat of the Jewish State, known as post-Zionism.
Without motivation, we will not endure. What are we doing here? Why are we here? What are we aspiring to here? We are here because we are Jewish, we are Zionist, because of our ancient bond to this land; we aspire to realize our 2,000-year-old hope of becoming a free nation in our land, the Land of Zion and Jerusalem. Without this profound understanding, we will not endure. We will simply no longer be here; post-Zionism will finish us off.
The gauntlet has been thrown down.

Do we have the motivation to take up this challenge and fight to restore the sense of national pride and purpose to the Jewish People and State?

Our future depends on it.

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Unity is a Warm Gun. The First Shot Has Been Fired.


Ever heard of it?

It's like this: You see something that needs fixing. You have some choices:

1. Complain about it and walk away
2. Claim the entire endeavor was either a mistake or the work of the devil from the very start (post-Zionism, Neturei Karta)
3. Realize that you, as one who sees the problem, are now charged with doing something to fix it. If you believe we humans were given the power to destroy, believe that we have the power to rectify.

We Jews are a people of extremes. Our 'moderates' are the most extreme of all - so fervently clinging to their moderation that they don't dare analyze new facts as they come to light, for fear of becoming part of 'the problem' (which, of course, is extremists on all sides. Duh.).

But back to Neo-Zionism. The new, reloaded Kumah mega-blog is a place where complaints and critiques of every aspect of the Jewish State and the Jewish Project will be heard (alongside all the good stuff that the Kumah blog has always provided), but with the starting assumption is that these things can and will be fixed.

Those who have converged upon Zion - particularly from the comfortable North American corner - are an opinionated and passionate bunch. Things will get heated. There are no allies in this corner of the Blogosphere. We are looking to stir things up and shake everyone out of the boxes that exist even in the roomy expanse of the Internet.

If a think-tank like the Shalem Center (parent of Blogs of Zion) touts itself as a new voice for the Land of Israel-loyal Jewish Nation and then shut its eyes during the Disengagement, making no mention of it on their web sites or journals, we will point such a thing out and ask whether it had anything to do with its cosmetics magnate-sponsor's politics.

If a certain super-lefty mega-blog is the only other voice clearly opposing the Partition Wall - we will join forces with them, even as they happily cheer the death of Zionism - because the passion of the leftist Jewish radical is so much closer to the Biblical revolutionary than the comfortable moderate who supported Oslo, Wye, Oslo II, the Disengagement (or maybe he opposed, but felt that 'a government decision simply must be respected') and is filled with hope by Bibi's second coming.

If a delicious Jewblog embraces the sheer delight of being in 'the middle' on every issue, we will be there alongside them providing them the opportunity to take a stand ,in their snarkiest finery.

Most of all, we will remind Jews that talking about unity is useless. Our unity is in our realization that we as a people have always been tribalized. There were always tribes with different super-powers from one another. One tribe may be better at noticing the injustice while a little weak in sticking up for our peoples’ rights, another may excel at reaching out to the eternal Jewish party animal and turning him or her on, while yet another may fulfill the Jewish addiction to rationalizing inaction in the name of some lofty intellectual concept - but the unity everyone talks of only happens when those tribes duke it out with words, while managing not to hate each other and get nasty.

It isn't easy, but it is going to happen. Here, and in a blog near you thanks to our long Elders of Zion tentacles.

Speaking of which - here is a music video from Reb Shmuel Skaist, who attended and performed at the Canaan Conference, back in the day.


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Kabbalistic Tu B'Shvat

Hey All, this is my first time posting, so any sweet and kind constructive criticism would be appreciated :)

Well Happy Tu B'Shvat!!!! ( Better late then never)

So when I heard it was the new year for the trees, I was a little curious what exactly that meant. I mean, our new year, Rosh Hashana consisted of many different prayers, the prohibitions nearly as stringent as Shabbat ( no use of any electronic items...), and the like. However, the new year for the trees didn't seem as "hard core," I mean we don't even add the "yale veyavo" blessing in our daily prayers. So I wanted to know what is so special about having a new year for the trees. Soooo, I went to the Shlomo Carlebach Shul, in the upper west side (NYC) and boy did I get what I asked for!!!

Apparently Tu B'Shvat is quite a cool holiday, even though it doesn't have all the hype of our new year or other holidays. It is steeped in mystical innuendos and the combination or our material world to the higher realms above. The meal (or as you will soon find out Seder, yeh like Pesach) lasted quite a while, but I will try to give you a little taste of the Kabbalistic Tu B'Shvat.

Ready....Nice... Aight here we go.

So the Kabbalistic Tu B'Shvat Seder was created in the 1500's by the Kabbalists of Sefad, Israel which were followers of the Ari Hakadosh ( Rabbi Issac Luria). The Seder is modeled like the Pesach Seder. We drink 4 cups of wine, but they start off as white wine, and a drop of red wine is added to each cup thereafter, until the last cup is totally red. You eat a total of 21 fruits, in 3 orders, corresponding to the 3 of the 4 Kabbalistic worlds; Olam Hab'riya ( world of creation), Olam Yetzira ( world of formation), and Olam Asi'ah ( world of action). There are set phrases and blessings that are recited during each world phase, and before going from one world to the next, a slight mediation is done, to allow the participants to fully internalize the spirituality of the fruits before they internalize the physical aspect (taste) of them.

So you can ask, what can be spiritual about fruit? Well one part of the Seder discusses that each person, while participating in the Seder, should have the intention that the fruit they are eating is a way to fix the sin of Adam and Eve with the Tree of Knowledge. The fact that a little orange can have the spiritual ability to fix the first sin of this creation, was quite cool.

Anyhow, I will end with one last interesting idea. One main part of the Seder was all the various blessings over the different fruits. One reason for this is because each thing G-d created, including fruit, has a specific angel that looks over it. When you make a blessing over the fruit, you enable that angel to produce more fruit, and help the spirituality of the fruit to spread over the world. ( side note: I love angels, so I particularly liked this one).

So that's the gist of if. Hope you enjoyed, comments are encouraged :)
TTFN, DFTSS. ~ Shulamit

Question: What fruit can be eaten whole, without throwing anything away?

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Tu B'Shvat in Beit El (Photos!)

Kumah, Yavneh Olami, and Am Segula teamed up to put together an unbelievable Tu B'Shvat Shabbaton in gorgeous Beit-El!

On Friday the group planted trees in one of the highest and most breathtaking points in the region. If you weren't there here's a bit of what you missed!

Yishai shows the group the stunning view.

Everyone helped out!

Keep making a splash!

More photos are on the way!

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Friday, February 02, 2007

The Rising

"Planted in the House of Hashem, in the courtyard of our God they will blossom" (Ps. 92)

Rebbe Yisrael, the Maggid of Koznitz explained that while the physical body of The Holy Temple has been destroyed, the essence of the Beit Hamikdash, the heart of the Jewish Nation, remains vibrant and intact.
Although no longer manifest physically as a tangible structure, the spiritual reality and influence of The Temple continues pump and direct Divine Life Force to the collective body of the revealed world.

"Man is as the tree of the field": Regardless of how brittle and weak we may appear externally, to the extent that we are connected to our Roots, the tree will continue to live, be rejuvenated and thrive. On Tu B'Shvat, when the sap begins to Rise within the fruit bearing trees, the process of rebirth begins (continues?) for Am Yisrael and all of creation. After a long and difficult winter- a long and difficult Exile- we are blossoming, and signs of renewed strength, life and growth begin to appear...

Tu B'Shvat is a time for a renewed commitment and strengthening of our National Mission, and a Return to our "Roots". At the core of our identity is the Heart of Am Yisrael: The Beit Hamikdash.

While we sing, enjoy and celebrate the fruits of The Land this Tu B'Shvat / Shabbat Shira, let's renew our "Temple consciousness" and remember the focal point of our spiritual and daily lives.

This Shabbat, when the Sea is splitting once again, let us pray that we merit the fulfillment of the Divine Promise described in the Shirat HaYam, and the Ultimate Goal and Purpose of our Nation:

"You will bring them and plant them on the Mount of Your Heritage, the Foundation of Your dwelling place that You Hashem have made..."

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Kumah Reloaded!

Above is the actual promo poster for The Matrix: Reloaded. But why did they pick 5.15 to launch the film? Could it be because Shevat is the fifth month? (Count 'em: Tishrei, Cheshvan, Kislev, Tevet, Shevat.) And the 15th of Shevat is symbolic of rebirth and rejuvenation, being the Rosh Hashana of the trees?

Of course not! We Jews start counting from the month of Nissan... so tomorrow, Tu B'Shvat, would be 11.15 - not 5.15.

(Incidentally, 5.15 is Tu B'Av on the Jewish calender. Hmm.)

Still Kumah does find Tu B'Shvat to be the perfect backdrop to unveil our new look, and a whole new team of star bloggers!

(And yes, we know all about all the kinks we still have to work out on the site and will shortly finish up those renovations.)

I'm honored to be the first blogger on this new site to help you free your mind...

Enjoy the ride!

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