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*** THE ALIYAH REVOLUTION ALBUM ***

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Baseball in Israel








The Real Jewish Conspiracy



From the The Forward by David Chinitz:

There is a Jewish conspiracy at work. It is not the one portrayed in the pernicious "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." It is not Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust hoax, or a Zionist plot to undermine Islam. Nor is it Jewish control of the media or the world economy as Jihadists, Ku Klux Klanners, neo-Nazi skinheads and Mel Gibson conjure up for themselves. It is not even the so-called apartheid security wall that so inflames Britain's self-righteous, hypocritical, antisemitic academics and labor unions.

No, the only real Jewish conspiracy is the one aimed at undermining the future existence of Israel, and, consequently, the survival of the Jewish people worldwide. Iran, Holocaust deniers, the British left and all the rest of the mosquitoes carrying the antisemite bacillus are child's play compared to this threat.

There is a Jewish conspiracy to prevent massive immigration of North American Jews to Israel.

The plot began when the word Zionism was hijacked by the professional Jewish and Israeli world and applied to every possible Jewish enterprise other than aliyah. Need a term for Jewish education in the Diaspora? Why not use Zionism? Need a word for patriotic Israeli spirit? Zionism. Need a word for Jews who contribute money, use Israel as a booster program for Jewish identity, or even just for tourism? Call all that Zionism, too. Nice, concise and misleading.

In a way exceeding the machinations of George Orwell, the word Zionism has morphed into newspeak to the point of losing its core meaning and providing an umbrella for any old thing that functionaries, bureaucrats, fundraisers and Jewish identity wonks can use to make a living. Having obfuscated the term's meaning, the conspirators have set about suppressing the notion of aliyah.

What are the motivations? On the North American side it is simply to prevent the kinder from considering aliyah as an option and threatening the vitality of golden Diaspora. Birthright participants can see Israel as a museum, a Holocaust memorial, a refugee absorption center, the home of soldier-heroes and a catalyst for Jewish identity. They can meet generals, prime ministers and suffering Ethiopian immigrants.

But God forbid, don't let them meet with people exactly like their parents who actually moved to and live in the real Israel, because they might get some ideas.

Israelis have preferred taking in American Jewish money over taking in large numbers of strong competitors laden with human and financial capital. The vested interests here are fully aware that many patterns of behavior would be very difficult to maintain if another half-million North American Jews made aliyah.

How would Moshe Safdie's backward, environmentally unsound plan for developing West Jerusalem even emerge from committee? How would the Orthodox establishment hamstring conversion processes? How could politicians behave corruptly, impervious to notions of accountability? How could the education system continue to teach rote knowledge and base admission to university on psychometric puzzles, rather than on the skills of independent thinking, broad horizons and competent writing skills? How could the World Zionist Organization have its annual meeting and dream up all kinds of fatuous programs but not once mention aliyah?

Aliyah is the Occam's Razor for so many problems, and yet it is the only solution not considered for any of them.

The Reform movement decries the conditions of its members in Israel? Send money, but sending more members, forget it. North American Jews have identity problems? Invest billions in convoluted educational programs that lead nowhere, but don’t give every American Jew a direct link to an actual cousin who lives in an actual Jewish state.

Jerusalem Day is conducted under the cloud of a lost Jewish majority in the city? Disenfranchise the Arabs of East Jerusalem, but don't change the balance by actually getting more Jews here. Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust and says it was an excuse to create Israel? Hold conferences, speak indignantly, give him attention he doesn't deserve, but don’t disabuse him and make his claims irrelevant by proving that masses of Jews want to live in Israel by choice, and not only as refugees.

When the history of Zionism is written, it will become clear that post-Zionism started when the word "Zionism" became an instrument of this conspiracy.

Unless organizations dedicated to - and only to - aliyah garner the lion's share of Jewish philanthropy in place of expenditures on Jewish identity fetishes and continued waving at post-Zionist windmills, these philanthropic efforts will fail every cost-effectiveness test one can imagine. Unless young Jewish minds in North America are exposed to the idea that aliyah is a realistic option that can ensure the future of Israel and the Jewish people everywhere, the next century will find the Ahmadinejads, Ismael Haniyehs and Ken Livingstones of the world wondering why they worked so hard when the Jewish conspiracy succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

And no one will be left to read the Book of Lamentations.

David Chinitz, a senior lecturer at the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health in Jerusalem, made aliyah from Washington in 1981.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Great Find!


Warning: It is impossible to sit stationary while watching/ listening to the music of Groyse Metsieh!

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Good Info!!!



Heyo,

Life is getting hectic, but my friend just emailed me this, and its a GREAT and informative slide show about Israel and its history.

CLICK HERE TO GET INFORMED!!!!

Enjoy :-)

~ Shulamit

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Brainwashing a Nation



Former KGB agent and Soviet defector Yuri Alexandrovich Bezmenov explains Communist psychological warfare methods and results - does this sound familiar?

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Finding Your Home



Dear Yishai,

When you called me, I was on my way to Tekoa. I was totally amazed with the place. I'm not really sure what you mean about it being liberal ideologically, I think that that is a bad rap. What it is, which is totally unique in Israel, is a very open minded place where different types of people live togeather in a spirit of true Ahavat Yisrael. At the same time, I saw at least 4 or 5 guys with guns on their belt on Shabbat. There is also a very special Hesder Yeshivah there run by Rabbi Steinsaltz.

I saw something in Tekoa that I have never seen before in Israel. We were walking to Shul on Shabbat and a car came by us. We had to kind of part to let the car go by. As we parted, the car stopped, rolled down the window, and the people inside started to talk to the people I was walking with everyone wished each other Shabbat Shalom and asked how everyone else was doing. There were no dirty looks or judgmentalism. I think that if there was more of that kind of attitude in Israel, there would be a lot more people observing Torah.

I spent most of the rest of my time in Israel checking out Tekoa and getting to know the people there and the schools etc. I am very impressed and I hope to move there with my family in August. We can't wait.

Hope to see you in Israel soon,

Moshe

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sun in Jerusalem



For those keeping track, today is the summer solstice. In honor of that, here are a few sun related pictures. Some are from a nice sunset viewed from Rechov Agripas last week, some are from a sunset viewed from Har Nof on Purim 5765 (2005), another is the sun through sand and haze. Others are from an old synagogue across the street from Shuk Machaneh Yehudah which is famous for it's sundial. It's called the Rays of the Sun Synagogue, or in Hebrew - Zoharei Chama. It was founded in 1908. From what I understand, as the new city of Jerusalem was built up and the Shuk opened as the general marketplace, the workers and shoppers needed a place nearby to pray. The synagogue still functions today and it is a "minyan factory" (Jews pray in quorums of at least 10 men, and in this building, there are a few rooms so every few minutes, a new prayer quorum starts) at least for the afternoon service, Minchah. There is also a Beit Medrash (Jewish study room) on the 2nd floor.

More pictures:












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Did You See Venus and the Moon Together?



On the Rebbe's Yartzheit, Monday night, there was a rare and beautiful astronomical phenomenon known as the 'moon's occultation of Venus'. I called Malkah out immediately to see it. I took a few shots and I found a few pics on the web as well...

As seen from Amman


As seen from Cairo


As seen from Bahrain


This is what the Gulf Daily News "the Voice of Bahrain" wrote:

This is the moment shortly after the planet Venus was obscured by the moon on Monday evening. Engineer and astronomer Premjith Narayanan took the photograph at around 8pm. "Astronomically speaking, this is called occultation," said the Alstom employee yesterday.

"The word occult means literally to hide. This is what occurs when the moon obscures a bright planet or a star for a brief period of time."


This is my long exposure, hand shaking shot


Here is the article from Sky and Telescope: "The Moon hides Venus" by Sean Walker

Monday mornings occultation of Venus behind the Moon was a beautiful sight for those lucky enough see the event.

Although residents from the Middle East to Europe had the best locations where the event took place high in the sky, North Americans living in the northeast were able to catch at least the reemergence of the the planet at roughly 9:45 EDT, give or take a few minutes depending on where you were.

Observing from the shores of Saint Froid Lake in northern Maine, Dave Dickinson was able to witness the entire event. He noted that Venus vanished over the span of 10 seconds shortly before 9:05 EDT. Although the Moon was about 6 degrees above the horizon at the time, it was invisible to the naked eye.

Conditions were less favorable in Massachussetts, as Joe Monju of Arlington, MA. describes: "Despite a cleansing rain storm on Sunday night June 17, 2007 the horizon was still too hazy to see any faint objects below 10 degrees. I finally found the Moon about 10 minutes before Venus reappeared, and watched the final stages at about 9:45 AM EDT through my 11x80 Swift binoculars".

A group of editors here headed across the street to the highest point in Danehy Park in Cambridge, MA, where we had no luck finding the Moon before first contact. About 5 minutes before Venus slipped out from behind the Moon, senior editor Dennis DiCicco managed to spot the Moon through the haze with 9x63 binoculars. I managed to find it also by standing over Dennis and copying him as he shouted "here it comes!", and we were able to observe the final moments of the event.

My visual impression was that of a glittering diamond emerging from the southern limb of the faint crescent Moon. Quite a site to behold! If you missed the event, have a look at our readers images here.


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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Overheard in Five Towns




Lady #1: Oh, I would make Aliyah.

Lady #2:
You would? [Surprised look] Why?

Lady #1:
Well, were gonna be living in Israel anyway eventually. Might as well go now.

[Silence.]

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Top "Top-Ten" Lists



Lately there have been a few ROCKIN Top-Ten type articles extolling the virtues of Israel and Aliyah. I thought I would bring you three of them:

"My Israeli Top 12 List" by Avi Hein

This week, Jews read the Torah portion Shelach Lecha, which recalls the sin of the spies. These were the 12 men that Moses sent to scout out the Land of Israel before entering. When they returned, their reports were distorted and negative and caused a 40 year delay before the children of Israel could enter their land.

Today, despite the challenges that come with living in Israel, we - who have decided to make Israel our home - are witness to all that is good and special about living here. We're able to have influence and be a part of Jewish history and not merely a spectator. To 'rectify' the sins of the ancient spies - and modern day spies - this message serves to shed light on just a bit of the good of life in Israel.

Just as the Torah portion recalls the sin of the 12 spies, I'd like to share 12 good things about living in Israel. Too often, the positive side of Israel 'beyond the conflict' is obscured.

12. The entire Jewish world focuses on us. When Jews around the world pray for dew, rain, or peace, it is not for weather in America or peace in Zimbabwe - but rather in the land of Israel. When you pray for peace, it is for peace in Israel and Jerusalem - my home. When Jews celebrate Jerusalem Day or the three pilgrimage festivals (Passover, Sukkot, and Shavuot), they focus on the city I live in.

11. Safety. Despite fear mongering or the misrepresentation of the news, Israel is a safe country. I feel much safer walking the streets of Jerusalem at one in the morning than I feel in Washington, DC even in the middle of the afternoon. Random acts of violence are very rare in Israel. In addition, in Israel, we live long lives. The life expectancy for an Israeli man is 77.44 years and 81.85 years for a woman but in America, it is shorter - American men live over two years less (75.15) and women a year less (80.97).

10. Innovation and ingenuity - Israel ranks third in ingenuity in the world, second in quality of university education, and first in R&D investment. Only the US has more start ups in the world - yet Israel is only a fraction of the population. But, what does that mean in reality? It is an Israeli-developed processor that powers your computer, Israeli technology makes your small speakers give quality sound, it is Israelis that invented voice mail, Israeli doctors that find cures to diseases - Michael J. Fox is looking to Israel for a cure to Parkinson's disease. When Warren Buffet looks for a good investment outside of America, he looks to Israel. These are my countrymen that are improving the world.

9. Israel is real - The Talmud says that mitzvoth (commandments) performed outside of Israel are just for practice for when the Jewish people return to Israel. Today, when I put on tefillin, or say a prayer, I know it's for real - and God is a local call. Life isn't just about catching the next dollar or empty meaningless lives. In Israel, it's about making the world a better place, it's about being a part of Jewish history and not just a spectator. It's about LIVING LIFE. I don't need to scuba dive or bungee jump to feel alive. I can do that every day in Israel.

8. Great food and wine - It's not Manischevitz here! - Israeli wineries make some of the best wine in the world (Domaine du Castel - praised even by the French, and the one thing they know is wine - and Golan Heights Winery, for example). Restaurants from around the world - Mexican, Chinese, Thai, American, Italian, Brazilian, and Japanese, among others - make some of the tastiest food in the world. Even better - most of it is kosher!

7. It's my history - Not someone else's history, Israel's holidays are my holidays and Israel's history is my history. Whether it's King David settling Jerusalem, the sights in which Biblical events took place, or modern Zionism and the building of the State of Israel, it's the history of my ancestors. The founding of Tel Aviv? It was my family who was doing the building. When the American founders were reading the Bible for inspiration, they were trying to duplicate my people - not the other way around. When the president wishes the country a happy holidays, or when the supermarket cashier does, it's my holidays. No December dilemma for me! And that means more vacation days as Jewish holidays are national holidays here.

8. A caring community ' 'How are you doing?' isn't just a formality. In Israel, whether it's the man or woman on the street, or the supermarket cashier, the people care how you are. It's not cold, impersonal living.

7. Kosher food courts in the mall. Kosher restaurants in the street. - Business lunch? No problem!

6. The fulfillment of Biblical prophesy - When a bride and groom get married in Israel, it's a fulfillment of the words of Jeremiah. When Jews from all over the world - Ethiopia, North Africa, Europe, America, and the four corners of the globe - live in one area, it's Kibbutz Galuyot - the ingathering of the exiles we pray for in our daily prayers and mentioned numerous times in the Bible is happening every day here.

5. A country that mourns together, a country that celebrates together - Memorial Day isn't an excuse for a long weekend, a trip to the mall, or a barbeque. Rather, an entire country comes together to remember those who died so we can be a free nation in our land. Independence Day isn't just an excuse for a barbeque (although it is the national pastime on this day) but a day to celebrate together as one nation. We don't watch the fireworks on TV in our own homes, but in our streets and neighborhoods as a country.

4. 180 miles of beach - Who needs an expensive Mediterranean vacation? We are that vacation! On the shores of the Med, Israeli beaches are world class. There's no place in the world quite like the Dead Sea. Who needs an expensive vacation? Just take a day off and go to Tel Aviv or Netanya or Eilat. The world's best scenery and beaches. And, above all - no jetlag!

3. The language of the Bible and the Jewish people is our everyday language - Atem medebrim Ivrit? Ani medeber Ivrit. No need for translations - this is the original. Israeli children speak the same language as Abraham and Moses. The language of the bank, of the court, and, yes, of the criminal is the language of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. Who needs translation? Here, it's the original! Shalom!

2. It's the fulfillment of a 2,000-year old dream. Who says dreams don't come true? Ever since being exiled from our land, the Jewish people have prayed to return. Ever since losing sovereignty thousands of years ago, we have prayed for its restoration. Every day, every moment, every Jewish event has contained a dream to return to the land of Israel under Jewish rule. In the Grace after Meals, we prayed for an end to exile. For thousands of years, being in exile was not a choice. In 1948, being an exile became a choice. In 2004, my exile ended and I chose to be a free person in my land.

While our ancestors were mourning Jerusalem, today, I can celebrate Jerusalem at home, under a Jewish and democratic government, as a sovereign person in my land.

1. It's home. ONLY in Israel are the words of Hatikvah true. Lihiyot am chofshi b'Artezenu - To be a free people in our land only happens in Israel.

Home may not always be fun, but it's always home! And, as Dorothy says in the Wizard of Oz, 'there's no place like home.'


=====================

"Excuses, Excuses" by Orit Arfa

People make excuses for anything and everything: why they're stuck in their dead-end job; why they're stuck in a bad relationship; and, of course, why they're "stuck" in America.

Excuses are not "reasons," which are carefully identified and examined causes for refraining from taking a specific action. Excuses are blank, empty statements that hide laziness, fear and some other crippling emotion. Usually, they speak of a lack of desire. Often, they smack of dishonesty.

American Jews who believe in the mitzvah of settling Israel provide a stock of excuses for not consummating this Jewish calling. Here's my top ten (notice they begin with the word "but"):

10. But I can't leave my family members.

This convenient excuse pardons your life in exile with your great sensitivity. Have you spoken with them? Maybe they'd resist at first, but eventually support your decision. Who knows? Maybe they'll even follow? Unless a serious effort has been made to confront family members, blaming them remains an easy way out.

9. But I can't make a living.
Without seriously checking career options in Israel, this is an excuse. Israel is not without good jobs. I know many people in my hometown of Los Angeles who are struggling there as much as they'd be struggling in Israel. It's true they have a support system of family and friends, but Israel is equipped with an automatic support system: fellow olim who band together to help each other succeed. Furthermore, there are plenty of companies hungry to hire English-speakers.

Until you find or create your profession in Israel, work for less and live frugally. You may not enjoy the comfortable American lifestyle right away, but it can be achieved with hard work and determination. If there is a will, there is a way.

8. But I don't speak Hebrew.
It's called ulpan, and it's offered free to olim. Hebrew is not difficult to learn if you do homework and practice. I recently met an oleh who made it a point to read Hebrew newspapers everyday, and he is now reading high Israeli literature.

In addition, it's easy to get by with minimal Hebrew. English is practically a second language here, and Israelis love to exercise English with olim.

7. But I'm afraid for my life.
This past year, car accidents have been the cause for more deaths than terrorist attacks, but Americans continue to ride Israel's highways.

Life can't be lived in fear. There's that well-known story about the Israeli who moved to London to escape terrorist attacks only to get blown up in a London bus. We all take precautions, and while there is a constant risk of war, isn't that why we are here? To fight Israel's battles head-on. Chazak v'amatz.

6. But I don't like the mentality.
It's hard to argue with this excuse, because it speaks of preference. It says: "I prefer the American mentality," i.e., the American life. Whoever makes this "excuse" really doesn't want to live in Israel, and that's legitimate - if you'd only say so.

The Israeli mentality can be abrasive at times, but I've learned to love it. People aren't fake; they tell it like it is. I don't like to be called "ma'am" all the time and constantly have to wish everyone a good day. So, in response to this excuse, I say: "Have a good day."

5. But I don't want to live under Olmert and Peretz.
Well, neither do I, but at least I'm here to help change that.

If people lived in a country based on their approval of the current leadership, than half of Americans would be leaving the US. We get bad leaders once in a while, but we weather them and work to get better ones - or become better ones.

I agree that America's (relatively) free-market, presidential system is superior to Israel's socialist, parliamentary, Jewish concoction. But I believe that if more Jews steeped in positive American principles moved here, we'd consist of a serious mass poised to influence the political and intellectual landscape of Israel.

4. But I can do more for Israel in the US.
And you are making plenty of sacrifices as well: your six-figure salary, three-bedroom house, Volvo, and friends from shul.

We don't need your favors, please. Unless you are a gazillionare supporting other olim, host a successful radio show, or raise money for pro-Israel organizations, we don't need your letters to the senator or your rallies at the United Nations. Change has to occur within Israel. We can't constantly beg the American administration or people to support our cause. We must influence the leadership and people on our soil.

We have a great many Christian and conservative friends who will fight our cause in the US, and that is their rightful place. Let's be their allies from the land we're fighting for.

3. But my spouse doesn't want to go.
Is that really the case, or is it a convenient excuse? Why should your spouse be the one to decide, while your vision of Israel remains suppressed? A word to the wise: before getting married, agree on Aliyah.

2. But I'm a rabbi or Jewish educator bringing hundreds of Jews closer to Yiddishkeit.
What is the value of teaching Judaism if you side-step the one theme that permeates the entire Torah: settling the Land. It would be better to go on shlichut (missions) from here to the galut. Or better yet, bring your great talents to the exiled minds of the rabidly secular Tel Avivians. They need lessons in Judaism far more than the average, unaffiliated American college student. American Jewry is one big revolving door: for every Jew that enters the fold, another out-marries. Jewish continuity - and physical and spiritual survival - begins in Israel.

Orthodox Jews who stay in the US are, in some ways, "pick and choose" Jews. They wiggle their way out of Aliyah with fancy interpretations of halachot, pitting Aliyah against Torah study, making a living and other such ideals. Rabbis and educators who claim to believe in Aliyah but remain in the US are often the excuse-generators par excellence, the perpetuators of the galut.

What better way to educate Jews than to lead by example?

1. I'm sure the above list is not exhaustive, so feel free to share your favorite or come up with your own.
In the meantime, I ask Aliyah-dodgers to please stop offering excuses, and instead offer real reasons, even if some of them may reveal your clash of values or lack of integrity. It would be much more honest and praiseworthy if you submit: I like Israel in theory, not in practice; I don't want to give up my comfortable life; it's too hard and I don't want it bad enough.

At least we'll understand that we live with two different value systems, that American Jews who remain in the galut may just be another Jewish sect. And we should respect each other, even though we disagree, just as the Chabad, dati-le'umi, Haredi, Reform and Conservative should respect each other. But let's get one thing straight: you claim America as your true Promised Land, not Israel.

===========================

"The Human Spirit: 59 More Reasons Why I love Israel" by Barbara Sofer

1. ABC's Good Morning America chose Jerusalem as one of the Seven Wonders of the world, and they were right. 2. There's more to unearth. King David was the first king to rule Jerusalem, but his palace was only revealed in the City of David this year. 3. JNF forest rangers remained in the forests to put out fires while Katyushas were falling. 4. Twenty-five thousand volunteers helped replant the forests that did burn. 5. Six thousand spunky Israelis who left their homes during the war pretended they were vacationing on the beach. 6. While Intel Haifa workers were working in an underground shelter, Intel announced the new multi-core processor developed there. 7. During the Lebanon War, a northern kids' butterfly center was moved to Tel Aviv. 8. Russian-speaking immigrants in the Haifa shelters offered hospitality to the American tourists who came to show solidarity. 9. We ask tourists why they don't move here (even when the bombs are falling). 10. Banners on tourist buses reveal where the tourists hail from because we care.

11. OUR national bus company Egged was named by National Poet Chaim Nachman Bialik. 12. We have a national bus museum which features a bus called the Tepele (a pot in Yiddish). 13. The Children's Museum in Holon offers a program on experiencing blindness. It's booked months in advance. 14. In the archeological park in Caesarea you can ask a virtual Baron Rothschild questions, but he won't give financial tips. 15. A rabbinical couple in Caesarea offered seminars on how to get through Pessah without family quarrels. 16. A school in central Israel offered an afternoon class on how to steal the afikoman. 17. A cheese called "blintzes filling" is marketed only before Shavuot. 18. Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) allowing us to speak internationally without phones was pioneered in Israel. 19. Two hundred thousand Israelis communicate without phones by lighting fires and singing in Meron on Lag Ba'omer, also pioneered in Israel. 20. Pizza parlors and felafel stands put up booths for Succot.

21. NOT JUST oranges. Researchers are developing edible flowers that look like marigolds and taste like radishes. Go figure. 22. You can buy kosher sushi in Jerusalem's Mahaneh Yehuda. 23. We send SMSs in the language of the Bible. 24. Youngsters routinely travel to the cemetery at Kvutzat Kinneret to visit the graves of poet Rahel and national song laureate Naomi Shemer. 25. The driver in the horse cart in Kvutzat Kinneret sings Naomi Shemer songs for tourists. 26. Aviv Matzot exports its unleavened bread to Egypt. 27. We have sex symbols named Yehuda Levy and Pnina Rosenblum. (Thank you reader Carol Clapsaddle.) 28. An Israeli start-up wants to turn our ubiquitous olive pits into fuel. 29. An Israeli stand-up comedian turns brit mila into humor. 30. A diamond salesman from Bnei Brak invented a computer program to identify the handwriting on Torah scrolls in case they're stolen.

31. NEWS Web sites graph the daily level of the Kinneret. 32. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reportedly came up with the name for the popular romantic comedy Pretty Woman. 33. Beersheba, capital of the Negev, has the greatest number of chess grandmasters per capita in the world. The town has cricket and rugby teams, too. Also a camel market. 34. Some of the fanciest wedding halls are run by kibbutzniks who rode to and from their own huppot on tractors. 35. The rise in matza sales is reported annually on the financial pages. 36. We turn our salty water in the desert into sweet peppers and mellow wines. 37. We're turning our southern shooting ranges into potato fields and exporting the potatoes to Europe. 38. Tourists from the South Pole arrived on Pessah and were puzzled that there was no bread in the supermarkets. 39. No wonder foreign coffee chains fail. Even in a Golan Heights strategic site you can get a cappuccino to go called "Coffee in the Clouds."

40. DESPITE the tensions and political dissension, Israel has the highest Jewish birthrate in the world. 41. Nine months after the war in Lebanon we had a baby boom. 42. Everyone in the park shares bags of Bamba. 43. Yad Vashem is so important there's no entrance fee. 44. Our pilots fought over the honor of taking part in the fly-by over Auschwitz 60 years after liberation. 45. A popular mall in Haifa features an art gallery. 46. Cafes offer delicious Israeli breakfasts all day long. 47. We carry gifts of soup nuts, jellyfish repellent, sandals and jewelry to friends abroad. 48. How many countries have a tourist program that lets you hunt for the snails to make your own blue ritual fringes like those in the Bible? 49. The IDF has developed Shabbat-friendly pens, telephones, computer mice, electronic gates, and even sensor-activated faucets and urinals. Hi-tech or low tech? 50. "Push the Button," the Israeli entry in the Eurovision song contest, will be performed by Teapacks, a group formed in beleaguered Sderot.

51. YOU can buy an alarm clock that sings "Modeh ani lefanecha," the Jewish wake-up prayer. 52. In America, Dora the Explorer speaks English and Spanish on TV. In Israel, she speaks Hebrew and English. 53. Our top Broadway star plays the nursery-school teacher in a series of educational musicals for preschoolers. 54. Hamburger joints serve matza buns on Pessah. 55. We're finally remembering to turn off our cell phones. 56. Sealy hopes to install an Israeli sensor in its mattresses to help control snoring. 57. We were always techy. A sophisticated steam room and bathing pool were uncovered on Masada in the middle of the desert. 58. The Red Sea resort town of Eilat is promoting a new birdwatching festival featuring laughing doves and Palestine sunbirds, also a belly-dancing festival. 59. "Hatikva" still gives me goosebumps.

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Letters from Home!




Dear friends & family,

We made Aliyah from Woodmere, N.Y. in August '05. My brother, Yudie, and his family made Aliyah with us on the same flight, making our klita that much more special.

All is well here, Baruch Hashem. The kids are finally adjusting in school and are making nice friends. Life here in Ramat Beit Shemesh has certainly taken a different pace than back in the States. Friday is a great day to have off from work. It gives me the opportunity to pursue my new hobby of mountain biking in the morning, help with the household chores in the afternoon and still have menuchat hanefesh going into Shabbat. I remember, not too long ago in New York, jumping on the subway, fighting the weekend crowds, sprinting through Penn Station to catch the last train, walking through the doors of my house within 20 minutes of candle lighting, and that was a good Friday!

I still can't get over the fact that the Kotel is only a half hour away. Ma'arat Hamachpelah is forty minutes away, and Harei Yehuda are my front vista. Kivrei Shimon Hageebor and Dan ben Yaakov Avinu are down the road from us too. There are too many tiyulim here to count. We have nature trails two minutes from our house.

We hope the friendships we forged in Woodmere will, B"H, act as a springboard for others to join us in Eretz Yisroel.

B'ahavah,
Dovid & Sara Baila Akselrud

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Monday, June 18, 2007

The First "GOT HOME?" Family








The Rebbe: 13 Years Later


Tonight marks "Gimmel Tammuz", the yahrtzeit of The Lubavitcher Rebbe.
"The Ohel" (pictured above) will be my first stop after landing in New York for our summer-long shelichut...

The Rebbe on "Jewish Outreach"

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I Graduated Machon Lev!


I graduated college in Israel!

First of all, I would like to apologize for posting so infrequently lately. I've been quite busy the last few weeks, but I hope to start posting a lot more often now. My excuse (among others): I graduated college last week! And my parents were in town to celebrate for the last week and half so I was busy with them.

Since I graduated from a college in Israel, I thought it was worthy of a Kumah post. The school I graduated from is a college, not a university, as it only offers undergraduate degrees at this point. It offers a variety of engineering and business majors. However, it is a very unique institution in that the school requires at least 3 hours of Judaic studies in the Beit Medrash with a choice of a number of Rabbis in the morning, in addition to the secular classes in the afternoon. Think Yeshiva University in Jerusalem.

My school is located in the Givat Mordechai neighborhood of Jerusalem. It is called Machon Lev (Lev Institute) and is only for men, but it is under the umbrella of The Jerusalem College of Technology, which includes Machon Naveh (night school on my campus), and campuses for women called Machon Tal in Givat Shaul, Jerusalem and another called Machon Lustig in Bnei Brak. My degree is a Bachelors of Technology and Applied Sciences in Computer Science. The school also has an English Speakers' Program for the first year (which I started in and became madrich of for a few years), which includes an Ulpan to help you learn Hebrew so you can integrate into the school and life in Israel, and it also provides tutors to help you when you move into Israeli classes.

If you have any questions about the school, please feel free to ask me. The website for the English Speakers' Program is: http://esp.jct.ac.il and for the school itself is: http://www.jct.ac.il. I highly recommend it for the 1st year to any English speaker (during the post-high school year in Israel or after some time in Yeshivah in Israel or even as a transfer/study-abroad student from America), and as a college for any religious student interested in a major it offers. Here are some pictures from the ceremony:

Diverse crowd of family and friends fill the amphitheater on campus
Ethiopians, Americans (my parents, 2nd row), Israelis, and more

Marching in (not quite as organized as a fancy American ceremony)

Some graduates wear white and blue, others are in a special program in the army where they work in the fields they studied. Those people come to the ceremony in uniform. No caps and gowns.
The Valedictorian speaks. At the dais are the president and Rosh Yeshivah among others.
My fan club - all English speakers (most from America) who have moved to Israel and are studying or teaching at the school or other colleges in Israel.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Who Will Prevail?



In a poll conducted for the B'nai B'rith World Center 46 percent of the respondents, believe every Jew should make aliya, while on the flip side, 41% expressed agreement with the statement that "Jews should live dispersed in various communities in the world, as diversity and global support is the only way Israel and the Jewish people will be strengthened." [Read Article]

The sentiment that all Jews should live in Israel was particularly strong among soldiers, National Union-National Religious Party voters and Sepharidim; 63% of each of these groups held this view.

People who voted for Kadima (57%), Gil Pensioners (55%) and United Torah Judaism (52%) were the biggest supporters of a Jewish Diaspora.

So post-Zionists, retirees, and chariedim see the Galut as a valuable phenomenon, while soldiers, religious-nationalists, and salt-of the-earth folks believe that Israel is the home for all Jews. 41% of Israelis are pro-Galut, 46% are pro-ingathering.

These numbers represent yet another facet of the underlying split we have here in Israel. The split is about vision - how we perceive ourselves, and through which prism. This split is clearly NOT about Torah values and is seen by the Chariedi vote. Even the Torah can be seen through this prism.

The prism is about the redemptive process. The pro-Galut crowd does not see Israel as the final ingathering, while the pro-Aliyah people see the Israel as the "final-stop" on the long train-ride of Jewish history. Kadima, Gil, and UTJ do not believe we are in a redemptive process. Kadima folks would love to move to the US (as have Olmert's kids have), Gil folks are are not ideological, and UTJ folks have a powerful presence in the Diaspora and an ideology of waiting for Messiah. Soldiers, on the other hand, do not want to die for nothing, they want to believe that Israel is a core value. Sefardim have "kishkes" Judaism, and they sense that Israel is the home of the Jews. NRP has an ideology of redemption, ingathering, and third Temple.

How we see the Diaspora is a reflection of how we see Israel. If you see the Diaspora as an important part of Judaism, then Israel's centrality is diminished. If we see Israel as central, then the Diaspora is something we hope dies out. Furthermore, the question of Aliyah vs. Diaspora rests on the attractiveness of Israel. When Israel is a winner, more people see Israel's miraculousness, and when Israel is a loser people distance themselves, and become attached to the Galut.

There is also a very important economic factor to this theoretical discussion. If you believe that the exile is "over" - then you put money into Aliyah-education and "saving" whoever you can. If you think the Diaspora is an important component of Judaism, you will spend money trying to maintain Galut-Jewry.

Some theorize that we need a good galut to run to if Israel fails, or we need a remnant of Jews in the US in case Israel's Jews get nuked. Others point out that soon, the majority of Jews will live in Israel, and the Galut will continue to diminish. Intermarriage, low-birthrate, and Aliyah will naturally end the Diaspora. Which view of Israel will pervail?

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Friday, June 15, 2007

How to Answer Back




Some one liners to answer back...










~ Have a good Shabbat!!! ~ Shulamit

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Gaza Caliphate Established Thanks to Jewish Nihilists


Hamas fighters kiss the ground before entering the Preventative Security headquarters in Gaza City in this image taken from TV Thursday June 14, 2007. The Hamas fighters overran one of the rival Fatah movement's most important security installations in the Gaza Strip on Thursday. (AP Photo/Al Aqsa TV Via AP Television)

You, the believers in the end of Abrahamic religion, really thought you could spread your shallow bagels-and-Khanafe religion to the proud Muslim descendants of Abraham's first-born living in the Land of Israel?

You really though that you could create Palestinian Kapos, bribed and blackmailed to perpetrate your fraud that their justice ends at the Green Line? Jews who have traded their birthright long ago for red lentils are flabbergasted that their Muslim cousins are not taking the same bait.

"Don't you see - forget about your foolish Koranic halacha that says we can't even live as non-dhimmi sovereigns here and we will make you prosperous beyond your wildest dreams."

The most bizarre part of this whole situation lately is that Al-Aksa Brigades, fully controlled and run by Fatah, has been carrying out attacks on Jews regularly, with the trickled down funding and weapons supplied by Israel and the US. "Well, they have to maintain their street cred," says some senior government strategist with no relatives in Sderot.

Though b'nai Yishmael are currently at war with us and currently our grave enemies, it is a good day when our murderers execute each other in the streets.

It is interesting that the day Shimon Peres finally rises to power is the day the Islamic Caliphate of Gaza is founded, armed with the arms he handed over, dancing on the smoldering coals of the Jewish towns he torched.

Welcome to the New Middle East. Buckle your phylacteries, it's gonna be a wild ride.

See you in Homesh within the month. Stay tuned.

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Cherry Festival - A Must Go








COME ON!!!!



Okay, so now what's your excuse?

Peres is your new President

Peres = SNAKE, Israeli's wake UP!!!

Or at least fake it, but really.....

~ Shulamit

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sweet Cherries


Yishai & Malka recently compared life in The Land to a bowl of cherries. According to the holy Zohar, had the Meraglim tasted the fruits of Eretz Yisrael, they never could have spoken badly... Here are some pics of our humble effort to fix the sin of the spies:

P.S. I'm well aware that not everyone in the world is interested in seeing pic from our cherry-picking tiyul in Gush Etzion, but at least our family will enjoy!


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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Israel is Not Israel


1906, Zionist Congress. Pic is clickable.

When you think about making aliyah, bear in mind that Israel is not Israel.

Let me explain.

Israel is not a Middle Eastern country you land in when you reach Ben Gurion Airport. It is not the country you read about in the Jerusalem Post, where people use shekels as money and evacuate Jews from hilltop communities. It is not the country from which Yishai and Alex broadcast to you and inform you that Shimon Peres may be elected president tomorrow, or where Arutz7 tells you that terrorists are lobbing rockets at civilians on a daily basis. It is not even where your brother lives and dines at Cafe Hillel.


So if you are thinking of making aliyah because we need you in the army or at a hilltop community or at a demonstration or as part of our economy, my very personal take is that you are thinking wrong, and may my esteemed Kumah colleagues forgive me.

I was 17, and had finished high school in the US, when I decided to return to Israel, where I was born and raised until age 7. I did this for different reasons, but one of them was definitely this: I want to change the world. I believe the world can be fixed. It's difficult but doable.

In order to fix the world what you need is a strong, large, economically well-off Israel in the middle of it. And that Israel needs to be respected, and it needs to have enlightened leaders who love and fear Hashem. The rest will come naturally: the cures to diseases, the end of African famine, the solution to the depressing boredom of living in Greenland - you name it - there's nothing a 60 million strong Jewish nation can't fix. And maintain over generations.

However, in order for this to happen, a good group of Jews, the right group of Jews, needs to lead Israel. And this is doable. Why? Precisely because this is a small country. Because this is a small country, a small group of people can really make a difference. It is very easy to become famous in Israel. And when you become famous in Israel, you can become famous worldwide. Because this is the country with the most camera lenses and microphones trained on it at any given time, in the entire world.

Let me give an example of what I mean, and forgive the telegraphic and somewhat mysterious nature of some of my posts - it's just that Kumah actually deducts from our pay if we write posts that are too long.

I decided at a certain point in my life to fight against an ideology which I thought was harming our nation. I started with a local pamphlet which I distributed in my community. Then I started bombarding the websites with talkback items. Then I wrote in Arutz7. Then I wrote in Maariv. Then I wrote in NRG and then in Ynet. Then I started appearing in TV shows. In the end I wound up semi-famous. Maybe even notorious, which is kind of better than famous in some ways. But most important: I made a difference. I influenced people. I had something to say, I said it and people heard. And things changed: a ministerial-level committee was formed to discuss one of the main issues I raised, an issue which had been taboo before. The op-ed sections of Maariv and Ynet changed, in ways I won't go into. Subjects were raised in the Knesset and a new committee may even be formed.

I am not saying this to say how great a guy I am. I am saying this because I want you to know that Israel is small enough, that one person can make a difference. And it's not just the size: it is a country full of Jews. The Yids are a stiff-necked race and when they are bad they are very bad, but they are ideological folks. When an ideology sweeps them up off their feet, and it matters not in this respect if the ideology says "Techezena eineinu beshuvcha letzion berachamim" or "workers of the world, unite!" or even "let's create a movie town and call it Hollywood" - there is no limit to what they (the Hebes) can do. This is a proven fact, and only a fool would dispute it.

Also, Jews are probably the world's most communicative and hyperactive people. If you have a better explanation of why there are twice as many active cellphones as people in Israel, please let me know. This creates an atmosphere that is very conducive to ideological change. People listen to you. Of course, after they listen to you, some of them call the police, but still - at least they have listened, and they have listened with Jewish ears. The ones you have convinced will process what you told them in a Jewish way and then disseminate it further, and/or act upon it.

So what I'm saying is this: think of Israel, not as a country, but as a Zionist Congress. This is the 107th Zionist Congress, folks. You come here, you become a delegate. Think of the delegates in the original Zionist congresses, voting on the Uganda plan. Does anyone doubt that every single delegate made a difference? If it weren't for the enthusiasm of the Russian delegates for the original Zion, so I once read, the Congress would probably have voted in favor of Uganda as our homeland. And the world would be a different place now.

As an Israeli, you can change Israel. And Israel can - and will, I believe - change the world.

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A Non-Kosher Way to Think...



This past week, Israeli (Russian) billionaire businessman, Arkadi Gaydamak, bought the Tiv Ta'am supermarket chain, which, until now, was one of the largest suppliers of pork products in Israel.

Gadamak has declared his intent to make the Tiv Ta'am supermarket chain kosher, dramatically reducing the number of places selling pork product in Israel.

So far so good.

Things get a bit complicated, however, when Gaydamak explains his reasoning for turning Tiv Ta'am kosher.
"I believe that in a Jewish state, in which there is a large Muslim minority, selling pork is a provocation."
If Israel is a Jewish State, then why does it matter how large or small the Muslim population is?

Simply put, what Gaydamak should have said was:

"I believe that in a Jewish State, selling pork is a provocation."


A provocation towards Jews!

If any animal serves as the symbol of all that is non-kosher and anti-Judaism, it is the pig.

However, there is an additional reason why we should be troubled by Gaydamak's remarks. Namely, his remarks serve as an indictment against the Jewish People.

Gaydamak knows that Muslims won't accept pork being sold in their community - and he is not interested in offending their sensibilities, as is made clear by his statement.

Gaydamak doesn't seem to be overly concerned of offending the majority of Jews living in the Jewish State of Israel, and that reflects shamefully both upon Gaydamak and all Jews who call the Jewish State home.

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Neozionist Role Model: Stanley Fischer


Fischer said he intends on completing his five-year term, but hasn't decided what to do after that. He said he has a "strong attachment" to the U.S., but now considers Israel his home.

"Social life here is very warm, very friendly. It has an intimacy and a warmth that is possibly much greater than that in the United States," he said. "Despite the fact that public life is very tough in Israel, I would say I'm enjoying it."


Read the full article here..



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Monday, June 11, 2007

Olah Olot Strike Back at Der Forvard ('The Forward' - so this will be Googlable)


A new immigrant resident of Neve Daniel figured, hey, this nice girl from Der Forvard wants to come do a story on Aliyah - let me welcome her into my home. Foward's Orly Hapern, bothered by the specter of settlers taking a little bit of Teaneck with them, writes this article (a fun read - possibly even recruiting some olim from Teaneck - but not very nice to her host family and an obvious case of creative quote-bending).

Olah Lara Kwalbrun strikes back:
Dear editors and writers of The Forward,

My name is Lara Kwalbrun and I am a resident of Neve Daniel who was interviewed by Orly Halpern for her June 6th article. I am writing to say that I am both insulted and disgusted by Ms. Halpern's opportunistic use of my hospitality as a means to misquote me and misrepresent the lifestyle my family and I live in Yesha.

To start, our home does NOT "boast" a jacuzzi, fireplace, or a manicured lawn. Neither is it "surrounded by Arab villages" but overlooks the city of Beitar Illit on one side and Efrat (with over 8,000 Jewish residents) on the other. Ms. Halpern asked me if this life isn't better than what we left behind in New Jersey and I told her that we had a nicer and easier lifestyle in America but believe strongly in yishuv haaretz.

In addition, what Ms. Halpern pens as a direct quote is nothing short of a fabrication. She writes, "'Before we found Neve Daniel, my husband told me, 'I love you and I want to live in Israel, but I'm very materialistic and if I don't have a nice house, we're not moving.'" Actually we moved to a rental in Alon Shevut in August of 2005 with no plans to buy for a while. We only purchased the house after realizing that there was very little real estate in the area that we had grown to love that was available. Our moving to Israel had absolutely nothing to do with buying a house; rather, when my husband got a job in Israel we felt that we had no good reason to stay in America regardless of the good lifestyle. We left our jobs, home, families, friends, and native country to move to Israel and Yesha where we felt that our presence makes a difference in what is the ancient heartland of Eretz Yisrael; my family and I resent what we consider to be a libelous and fictitious representation of our goals and the words I used to define them. In addition the openness with which we greeted Ms. Halpern was returned with an attempt on her part to trivialize and reduce the American-Jewish struggle to leave what is easy and safe and re-cast themselves as immigrants in a land that is both strange and wonderful.

My family and I expect that The Forward will take some sort of action to rectify the egregious errors and misrepresentations that make up Ms. Halpern's article. At the very least she should apologize to my husband whose decision to move here was out of love and responsibility despite the fact that he speaks no Hebrew and cannot yet practice medicine in this country.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
Dr. Lara Kwalbrun


Her neighbor, Laura Ben-David, wrote:

I was excited to read the article "Suburbia Sells Settlers on the West Bank" by Orly Halpern (June 6) as it is about Neve Daniel, the place that I've called home for the past five years. I'm sorry to say that I was utterly disappointed. We, too, moved from a lovely home, ours in beautiful Boca Raton, Florida. Your article suggests that we are a bunch of rich snobs looking for a great real estate deal. Nothing could be further from the truth. We left Boca Raton and its green, manicured, country club-like atmosphere for something real. We left what was physical and material for something genuine and spiritual. We left what had merely been our home to create a new life in our homeland. A wonderful, meaningful, and truly enjoyable life. One that is not bound by the trappings of "keeping up with the Joneses"; A burden that we were only too happy to be rid of.

Once we chose to make the big move to Israel, choosing where to live was huge. We made several pre-Aliyah trips, and did a lot of research. In the end we chose Gush Etzion for one main reason - neither materialistic nor political in nature. We chose the Gush for its excellent education. Yes, education. Having brought four kids with us, from 7th grade down to kindergarten, we wanted to make sure to meet their needs. So we chose Gush Etzion. As for Neve Daniel, we chose it for the weather, the amazing people and the truly unbelievable 360 degree views.

Our life is nothing like it was in Boca. Like many of our friends who made Aliyah, we sacrificed lots of things like a second car and a swimming pool. Plus, we need to watch our budget much more carefully than we did in America. Is it worth it? And how! We are no longer in the "rat race". Our lives are so much richer than ever before; our happiness is deeper; I can honestly say that we are content. My "take home message" is that Israel is not about a standard of living - it is about living to a higher standard.

Laura Ben-David
Neve Daniel, Israel

Author of "MOVING UP: An Aliyah Journal"


My take? It is a blessing that comfortable communities like Neve Daniel exist. Folks like Ms. Halpern are always looking for different ways to mock or mourn the return of Jews to Judea. The moral of the story (for those who didn't know already): The Forward operates under the same ethical assumptions and directives as Haaretz - it ain't your grand-daddy's yiddish paper no more.

There is a tendency among Israel news readers to sometimes be dismissive of Arutz-7, due to what is seen as its obvious 'bias'. The truth is that there exists no Israeli news site without a bias - the problem is dishonesty and lying about the facts. A news agency's responsibility is to be honest about its underlying assumptions: whether they be that UN resolutions and a leftist interpretation of international law are Divine, or whether the Jewish people's right to the Land of Israel is both historically and Biblically mandated; Arutz-7 operates under the latter assumption. The other news agencies operating in Israel are not honest about their underlying assumptions, but far worse, have no compunctions about playing with facts, quotes and statistics to bolster the editorial line. I am not saying A7 never makes mistakes, but I truly believe it is as close as you can get at this point in time to honest journalism in Israel (this is without even going into the corporate ownership and state-control of Israeli media and the Federation and Big-Leftist-Jewish money bolstering papers like the Forward).

Update: Laura Ben-David's letter is due to be printed in The F, albeit they changed her home country from Israel to the narrow strip of land holding the west side of the puny Jordan River from spilling over (hat tip: NG, who would never miss and opportunity to accost such offenders)

Another letter sent to the Forward (and then to me):
To the Editor,
It is too bad Orly Halperin was so focused on the materialistic aspect of the high standard of living found in Yesha communities in Israel. This fact is not really "news", as all over the world communities outside of major cities are more affordable and more spacious. Suburbs in America are always about a better materialistic standard of living. Although I would not exagerrate to the extent that Ms. Halpern has, making Neve Daniel sound like the "Bel Air" of the settlements, when in most cases families still sacrifice much to come here, such as a second car, or a pool, and lets not forget that "jacuzzi and fireplace" which is not standard equipment in homes even in Neve Daniel; it is still true that it is an easier transition for Jews from U.S. suburbs to move to places like Gush Etzion. However, a much more important story would be to focus on the clear improvement in the more spritual aspects of living in a community. No matter how wonderful the Jewish communities of Cedarhurst, Teaneck or in my case Los Angeles, it is another world here in our "gated communities" more aptly described as "yishuv kehillati", or "Congregational Community". On a yishuv, such as Neve Daniel, or Alon Shvut where I am from, there is a spirit and social cohesion which is impossible to create in an American suburb. This is the true reason many American Jews seem to be coming to the 'burbs here in Israel. This enormous improvement in the spiritual quality of life which is attained by coming to yishuvim is the real story and is worthy of an article in the Forward, and not the trivializing of the true nature of "yishuv ha' aretz" (settling the Land) which Ms Halperin's article so deftly does. I invite Ms. Halpern to come visit Gush Etzion again, for any holiday of her choosing, or Shabbat, as my guest, and I and my family and my community will show her the true appeal of Yesha and Israel.

Donna Zeff
Alon Shvut
Gush Etzion
Israel

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Friday, June 08, 2007

How to See the Beauty of The Land








Sin of the Spies Continues




Just in time for Parshat Shelach (Part II):

Newsflash: Eretz Yisrael Rejects Avraham Burg!


Shortly after the end of World War II, at a Shabbat table in Jerusalem, the discussion turned to the regrettable phenomenon of visitors who tour the Land of Israel, and then return home badmouthing the country. "These tourists complain about the heat, the poverty, the backwardness, the government - and discourage other Jews from moving here," lamented one of those present. The room became quiet. Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook, son of Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, the first chief rabbi, responded by relating the following parable.
"There was once a wealthy man who desired to marry a certain young lady. She was the most beautiful girl in town, and was blessed with many talents and a truly refined character. Since her family was not well-off, they were eager about the possible match with the wealthy man.

The young woman, however, was not interested in the match. Rich or not, the young man was coarse and ill-mannered. She refused to meet with him.

The father, anxious that his daughter should get married, pressured her to meet with the young man. 'After all, one meeting doesn't obligate you to marry him!' To please her father, the young woman agreed.

The following Shabbat, the fellow arrived at the house as arranged. A few minutes later, the girl made her entrance: her hair uncombed, wearing a crumpled, worn dress and shabby house slippers. Appalled at her disheveled appearance, it didn't take long before the young man excused himself and made a hurried exit.

"What everyone says about this girl - it's not true," exclaimed the astonished young man to his friends. "She's a hideous old hag!"

Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah then explained his parable. Superficially, it would appear that the young fellow had rejected the young woman. But in truth, she had rejected him. So too, the Land of Israel does not display her beauty to all who visit. Not everyone is worthy enough to merit seeing the special qualities of Eretz Yisrael. It appears as if the dissatisfied visitors are the ones who reject the land - but in reality, it is the land that rejects them.

[Rav Chanan Morrison- Adapted from "Malachim Kivnei Adam" by Rabbi Simcha Raz, pp. 227-278, 230

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Just in time for Parshat Shelach




Hi Yishai,

My wife and I have been discussing Aliyah for a while now, and I think we are beginning to get serious about making a plan. We do have some serious questions, though, that we need to address. I am hoping that you and Malkah can give us some good pointers as you did for the listeners on Thursday's Aliyah Revolution radio show. Here are some of our more significant circumstances. I am a recent convert and my wife is a recent Ba'al Teshuvah. We have a son who is almost 15 and a daughter who is 12. While we are among the most observant in our tiny community, we are very conscious of how much we have to learn in living an Orthodox life. We are quite stringent in kashrus and we are shomer Shabbos. We have been learning from two Chabad rabbis (and the rebbetzins, of course), so our thinking tends to the Chareidi part of the spectrum. Other parts of our observance have been slow to develop, though. We have concerns about being accepted in a Chareidi community and/or a Chareidi shul.

Another factor is that we are struggling financially. It will be difficult for us to come on a pilot trip, but we are trying to save money to that end. Because our resources are limited so we think it would be best to live in a city where we do not need a car and would have easy access to areas for potential employment. I have been employed as a home automation and audio video system programmer (not traditional computer programming) for the last six years and my wife has been trying (with limited success) to start a home based kosher baking business. I am very willing and able to learn new skills for employment and I have diverse kinds of experience and education on my resume (including a BA in English and experience as a nuclear power plant electrician in the US Navy).

A final factor that I will bring up is that we have mixed levels of motivation in our family. My daughter is very excited about the idea of making Aliyah (as only a pre-teen girl can be) and my wife is motivated, but cautious. My son is hesitant about making Aliyah, though. His hesitance probably derives from all the instability we have experience over the last five years (we left an evangelical xian church, spent about a year in a messianic group, rejected JC as messiah and/or deity, and became orthodox Jews). We all lost a lot of so-called friends in the transition. I think my son is feeling more than a little burnt by the whole experience. What I'm looking for here is suggestions on how I can encourage my son's interest in Israel, and allay the concerns he has about making another big change.

Asher

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Israeli Good Product Alert


No matter how well you manage to span the cultural distance between your country of origin and Israel, no matter if you learn to really roll those guttural "r"s, get a nice middle eastern tan, truly develop a love for Boaz Sharabi, and vie for Most Complicated Headscarf Tying Procedure, immigrants to the Holy Land always harbor a certain preference for some of the things they knew in the Old Country.

American Jews, particularly those on the coasts, have a certain cream cheese snobbery. Not to say that any of us get much fancier than Philadelphia in the silver box, but nonetheless - certain sandwiches and spreads cannot be truly enjoyable without the smooth whiteness we have been raised to love.

Coming to Israel, you have likely noticed that milk products are FAR better than in the United States - except for cream cheese. For Americans, the concept of "grainy" cream cheese may seem gross and even impossible (on the first count, it totally is, and on the second, I wish it were). Yet many new Israelis have forfeited the idea of a truly enjoyable lox sandwich in their new home, or have begun purchasing the very expensive imported cream cheese. No longer! Introducing: The Totally Decent Substitute.


This is not a new product. This is simply a new product TO ME. I haven't tried baking with it, so I can't vouch for it's cheesecake-ability or lack thereof. I just know it tastes really good on a cracker, and drop kicks another little bit of my American nostalgia (by the way, it also comes with dill bits - yum). Enjoy!

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Kumah's Pro-Hebron Demonstration




Yesterday's anti-"Peace Now" protest in Hebron was awesome. Our Kumah bus, sponsored by National Young Israel - USA took us to Hebron where "Peace Now" came to mark 40 years since the Six Day War by calling for Jewish Hebron to be destroyed. We came to let them know that "This Land Is Our Land" and that we will now let this horrific demonstration go unchallenged. Though the day was hot, and the mood tense, we had a great time raising the flag of Israel in Hebron, speaking with the media, meeting the brave folks of the area, and of course, visiting the holy sites, and even eating a pizza in Gutnick Hall outside the cave of the Patriarchs. Check out the pictures by clicking here.

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40 Years Ago








Just When You Thought The Sin Of The Spys Was Just An Old Fairy-Tale




From IsraelNN: German Jewish Leader Threatens to Ask Gov't to Prevent Aliyah

Germany's Jewish establishment has demanded that Israel not advertise the invitation for German Jews to immigrate to the Jewish state.

Stephan J. Kramer, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, sent a letter last week to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert saying he would request the German government’s help in preventing Israel from encouraging Jews to make Aliyah (immigrate to Israel) from Germany, according to Haaretz.

Does this sound familiar?

Numbers 14, this week's Torah portion, the Jewish leaders were against Aliyah as well:
"Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt? So they said to one another, "Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt."

These folks would stay in the desert or in Germany, rather than come to the "exceedingly good land." Moreover, they want to fight those who advocate Aliyah: "But all the congregation said to stone them with stones."

Germany continues to be unhealthy for Jews. But thank you G-d for bringing this story out this week to make it so clear that the Sin of the Spies is alive and well today. Does American Jewry suffer from similar psychosis?

By the way - don't get confused - this is NOT the sin of the spies:

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Glenn's History of the Middle East... in a Couple of Minutes



Glenn Beck is perhaps the only thing worth watching on CNN... This is an oldie but a classic!

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Monday, June 04, 2007

EVENT - HEBRON COUNTER DEMONSTRATION AND TRIP



Tomorrow, Tuesday June 5th, "Peace Now" is having a rally in Hebron calling for the destruction of Jewish presence there. You are invited to join a counter-protest in Hebron tomorrow. We will be leaving Binyanei HaUmah at 9:00AM and we will make a stop to pick up folks at Tzomet haGush on our way to Hebron. We plan on returning to Jerusalem at about 5:00PM

While in Hebron we will spend part of the time protesting the "Peace Now" demonstration and we also make time to visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs and other sacred spots.

The bus is free, first come first serve.

Contact: Yishai yishai@kumah.org

Remember: this week's Torah portion is Shelach where the great sin of the rejection of Eretz Yisrael took place. Of 12 spys, only Joshua and Caleb yearned for the Land. Caleb received his strength from the forefathers buried in Hebron as it says "and he came unto Hebron."

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

You Just Don't Get It!




My Sefardi former roommate used to tell me that Ashkenazi Jews have no idea how to deal with Arabs. That only the Sefardim understood how to because they lived with Arabs for hundreds of years and understood the Arab mind set. And so when a Torah Giant like Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, shlita, (former Sefardi Chief Rabbi) implores the Prime Minister to carpet bomb Gaza to stop the Arab attacks - he is not only speaking with the full wisdom of the Torah but also from an intimate knowledge of Arab culture. But when Western thinking people hear this they will cringe - like shooky who commented on this very blog - "And last time I checked, killing of innocents is forbidden by Judaism." Yet anyone who feels this way and can't understand how a great rabbi could advocate such "an evil notion" feels that way simply because they are clueless as to Arab culture and to Arab ideology.

My Rebbe back in Queens, Rabbi Shafier, (www.TheShmuz.com) discussed this in depth. If you want to truly understand the middle east conflict in a new light you must watch this video. It will be an hour very well spent. It gets really good 20 minutes into it - though I strongly recommend listening to the whole thing as the first 20 minutes are necessary to explain the last 10 minutes.

Here are some excerpts:

...and the fact that the United Nations doesn't have a clue, the fact that the European Union doesn't get it, is a rather curious fact. But what is even more astounding is the fact that most secular Israelis don't get it. They don't get it. They assume it's our fault. Clearly we've been too oppressive. Clearly we're a totalitarian regime. We've occupied their land - even though again, there was no Palestinian people before 67 - Jordan is their place - they're not oppressed - the Arabs in Israel have a better standard of living than the Arabs in all the other Arab countries. But we're too oppressive and the average secular Israeli feels guilty and has a real problem dealing with our participation in the "Palestinian oppression."

...There is no answer to anti-Semitism. There's no logical reason, no sociological factor, no logic based on history, it's a very different sort of animal you are dealing with.

...If you'd like to understand why is it that western culture can't get it it's because the Palestinian people, what they speak about, what they dream about, has no basis in Western culture. You see, if you live, eat, sleep and drink the acquisition of wealth, if making it means a bigger house, a fancier car, and you assume everyone is like you, you have a very difficult problem understanding why a 20 year old will strap 20 kilos of explosives to his chest, to destroy himself just to take a few Jews with him. And because there is no logical answer within the context of your ideology the answer clearly has to be that Israel is doing something so heinous to them, so criminal, that we can't even understand it, but it's clear that they're being oppressed.

But the Palestinians make no beef about it. They say clearly. It's not about the homeland. It's not about occupation. It's about religion. It's about God. It's about the Jews. Their charter says it. They say it. And no one gets it. And the reason why no one gets it is because it doesn't fit in to Western culture.

Because you see, when you talk about God I get a bit uncomfortable. I'm not really sure I believe in God to being with, and to believe that people actually give up their lives for God? It doesn't make sense!

And rather than believe what they say, rather than listen to their words, the UN, the European Union, the vast majority of the population of the world, believe some very, very silly ideas.

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Dissing the American Government



From Dan:

The American GOVERNMENT IS ISRAEL'S NUMBER 1 ENEMY. Yes, the Arabs like nothing better than killing Jews, but without the required diplomatic cover from the U.S., the game couldn't be played.

American Jews prefer things simplified: In the white hat, George W. Bush, defender of Israel and in the black hat, Osama Bin Laden, arch-terrorist.

But the so-called defender of Israel sends money and weapons to the terrorist Philistine authority. (oh, I'm sorry, that's to support the good terrorists of Abu Mazen against the bad terrorists of the Hamas).

Besides, in Tehillim, midrashim, etc., it says that Edom and Yishmael will attack Israel, Edom being the West and Yishmael the Arabs. In fact, the Abravanel says that Yishmael will do this under the command of Edom.

If these American Jews recognized that America is the real problem, then they would have to choose sides: stay in America and support Israel's demise or move to Israel.

What is the diplomatic game: The Arabs attack Israel, then Israel tries to defend itself and Condoleeza Rice is rushed to the region to "manage" the problem, thus equating the victims to the attackers.

Or Israel is forced to fight an "asymmetrical war of attrition," a concept invented by the mandarins at the State Department, against the terrorists, instead of doing what any normal country would do and carpet bomb the Philistines.

People say that it's "our" fault because Israel's leaders give in to the US. But the Israeli people have lost control over their government. This was proven when Olmert, number 33 on the Likud list and no big favorite of Sharon, was chosen as Ariel Sharon's Vice Prime Minister (perhaps, because he had the most vice).

Why would Sharon chose an unpopular politician whom he couldn't stand. Olmert was probably chosen because the U.S. ordered Sharon to do so. Then, a putsch was carried out, when Sharon remained in control of the gov't after leaving the Likud and forming Kadima. Sharon was not elected personally, the Likud was elected, whose MK's are chosen by the Likud party institutions so there was no precedent for taking the gov't away from the Likud. But why didn't Bibi challenge this, perhaps he's also controlled ...

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What the Rebbe Said (and Didn't Say) About the Holocaust


From today's Haaretz.com:

Holocaust scholar Yehuda Bauer on The Lubavitcher Rebbe's approach to understanding /dealing with The Holocaust.
Bauer claims that: "The (Lubavitcher) Rebbe's stance is clear: The Holocaust was a good thing because it lopped off a disease-ravaged limb of the Jewish people..."

What the Rebbe ACTUALLY Said (and Didn't Say) about the Holocaust

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

What Israel Can Learn From the Arabs...



Through the early 90's, Israel was considered to be the worlds foremost expert on fighting terror.

Today, not so much.

Perhaps Israel can learn a thing or two from her Arab neighbors, as to how a state combats terror - particularly during those instances when the terrorists place themselves within civilian population centers - and once again restore her "no one messes with the Israelis"* (Passenger 57 - 1992) image in the eyes of the world.

*(OK, OK, you got me. In the movie, Wesley Snipes uses a word other than messes...)

Lebanese helicopter strafes militants
A Lebanese army helicopter on Saturday fired missiles and strafed suspected positions of Islamic militants on the edge of a Palestinian refugee camp with machine gun fire in the first air force involvement in nearly two weeks of fighting...

The air force's first involvement came on the second day of an offensive the army launched to defeat the militants and force their surrender from the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp where they have been holed up.
Keep in mind that we are talking about a densely populated refugee camp, with civilians all around. Also, consider how Lebanon is dealing with all the human rights activists who are itching to get inside the area to "help":
The deaths raised to 37 the number of soldiers killed since fighting between the army and militants began on May 20. At least 20 civilians and about 60 militants had also been killed in the fighting before Friday's offensive. Civilian casualties could not be determined in the latest fighting since relief organizations were not allowed inside the camp.
And what of the media?

The situation on the ground was unclear as journalists were pushed far away from the military zone, and media reports were conflicting on the military's achievements the previous day.
There you have it folks, the Arab 2 pronged approach to combating terror:

1) Strike the enemy wherever they are - and strike hard.

2) Keep relief organizations and the media out of the picture until the mission is completed.

Were Israel to adopt this approach, it could be the second greatest contribution of the Arab world to the Jewish People, ranking a distant second to hummus.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Recognize A Family Member?


Ynet in cooperation with Bitmuna publishes a weekly dive into Israel's past with sepia photographs from a long time ago.

This week they are featuring photos of the dedication and construction of Hadassah hospital on Har Hatzofim (Mount Scopus).

The above photo shows Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold, future PM David Ben Gurion, journalist / Zionist activist Nachum Sokolov (I think he is the second one to the right of BG, clasping his hands) and future president Yitzchak Ben Tzvi (my guess - smiling lanky guy on the left) in 1936. The other people's identities are not known and the Bitmuna folks are asking the public to help identify them.

This is a photograph of two of the builders - identified only as 'sons of Jerusalem.' I imagine they are Jews.





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