Tonight I made a somewhat controversial remark on my facebook page stating my satisfaction over success of the Israeli Air Force in Gaza and the fact that some of the most vicious Jew haters/killers in the world will no longer see the light of day. An acquaintance of mine whom I know to be a somewhat liberal Jew sent me a message remarking how they were upset over me making such a comment. now it's a hotly debated issue by some as to what kind of response and how much of that response we as Jews are halachikly allowed to have concerning the downfall of our enemies. I won't speak on the details of the halacha because that is the job of qualified rabbis and not a Joe-Schmoe such as myself, but I will say this- when the enemies of the Jewish people are victorious over us and cause us harm it is a chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d's name). Why? Because people will see such a thing and falsely believe that G-d forbid the Torah isn't true and Hashem has abandoned the Jews, breaking His eternal promises to us. Conversely, when Hashem grants us victory over our enemies (one of the main factors of the Channukah festival we happen to be celebrating right now) this is a great Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d's name) because it shows that the Jewish people are truly meritorious and we have the support of Hashem on our side. One could say that Hashem gives the victory to us or our enemies based on how well the Jews behave which is true, but that doesn't negate the Kiddush/chillul Hashem aspect, for when the Jews follow Torah properly this is the greatest Kiddush Hashem they could do and if they don't G-d forbid, that's the greatest desecration, for the non-Jews will ask, "If G-d's own people don't follow His command, why should we?" With this in mind, I'd like to share my response to my more liberal minded Jewish friend...
I understand why you would feel upset. My question is do you believe that there is such a thing as actual evil in the world and evil people? If yes then we have what to discuss, but if not then no. I personally think it's compelling to believe there is such a thing as evil and evil people because otherwise one must say that a group of people like the nazis weren't truly evil and if everything is truly just all relative then the acts they committed can't be condemned because from their point of view they were justified.
Like I said, I believe there is evil and evil people in the world. Anybody who hates Jews and wishes to see them dead, and all the more so takes actions to kill or in any other way cause Jews harm simply for them being Jewish is evil. The fact is that the members of hamas, and the vast majority of residents in Gaza whether officially affiliated with hamas or not hate Jews and wish to see harm befall them. Therefore they are evil people in my eyes, and when evil people suffer and/or meet their end, that is a sign that there is justice in this world. According to reports, the vast, vast majority of these causalities have been official hamas members, so even if you want to say non-hamas gazans don't hate Jews, you would have a hard time arguing that these dead who WERE hamasniks didn't hate Jews. Pirkei Avot states that those who are kind to the cruel will end up being cruel to the kind. To take pity on those who are evil will, if that path is followed long enough, eventually lead to one supporting evil themselves against the innocent. I've seen it with my own two eyes.
I respect what I assume is your great compassion to be upset over such a thing, but I just hope that you have just as much compassion and get just as upset for your Jewish brothers and sisters who have had to suffer over 3000 rocket attacks at the hands of the people who filled up the morgues today and therefore won't fill up rocket launchers tomorrow.
A new group calling themselves "The 18" has formed to fight hard against US pressure toward a 2-state "solution" to the Arab-Israeli "conflict".
If you, like me, are TIRED of Big Brother United States getting into our kishkes all the time, telling us who to be friends with and how to share our toys, consider getting involved in this fight to get Obama to BACK OFF!
Here is an essay posted by Michael Fenenbock of The 18:
A MATTER OF SOME URGENCY
Barack Obama has won the American presidency. In a landslide.
His party gained considerable seats in both the Senate and the House. Led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the Democratic party commands large majorities in Congress. Democrats also added to their already substantial majority in governorships and state legislatures.
More importantly, they have a mandate from the American people. A mandate for sweeping change. President Obama and his party have complete control of all the levers of power in America. A rare occurrence in American political history. And need I mention the excited backing of a fawning worldwide media.
Elections have consequences and for the state of Israel the consequences of the Obama sweep are singular.
They make no secret of their intentions. The Obama administration’s Middle East policy will be driven by “linkage.” “Linkage” is predicated on the notion that Palestinean grievances are what fuel terrorism. The idea that if we resolve the Israeli/Palestinean dispute (and that’s how they see it, as a “dispute”) it will suck all the oxygen out of Islamic terrorism.
Imposing a two-state solution will be at the heart of their efforts.
The atmosphere is alight with warnings. And the warnings are worldwide. Nobel Peace Prize winner and former President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari, the day after Obama's election, called on the new U.S. president to immediately press the need for a Palestinian state.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke with President-elect Obama and called for the creation of a Palestinian state as the world's first priority.
Jesse Jackson just prior to the election was quoted as saying, "Zionists who control America are on the way out." "America," Jackson says, "must apologize to those we have offended by putting Israel's interest first." Jackson has set out the mindset and priorities for all to see. He has let the cat out of the bag.
Several top foreign policy advisors in the Obama camp have regularly called for imposing a two-state solution on Israel. The key word is "imposing." Look at the Obama line-up starting with Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy guru Zbigniew Brzezinski. Leftie ideologues like Robert (Sure, I advise Obama, and sure I talk with Hamas, so what) Malley and perennial two-state advocates Dennis Ross and Tony McPeak, and let’s not forget Israel’s “friend,” Samantha Power. Scary.
Tellingly, within days of the American election, President-elect Obama sent Robert Malley scurrying to Damascus and Cairo.
It gets worse. Within Obama’s foreign policy camp, “Islam” is not an issue of concern. On the contrary, they are more in sync with the notion that “Islamophobia” presents the real danger. In their view, the bad guys are those who instead of addressing legitimate Arab grievances, go off half-cocked frightening the world about Islam.
In their world view, Islamic terror is an understandable response to appalling conditions -- and Israeli aggression. The Obama forces will attack those they view as “Islamophobic” with a multicultural sword. Political correctness will rule. In that vein, witness former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s comment about Islamophobia in his statement endorsing Senator Obama.
And there is American Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who is lobbying to keep his job in an Obama administration, advising DOD to drop "Islamist" from any characterization of terrorism. Oy gevalt!
Add to the mix the sure knowledge that when it comes to shoving a two-state solution down Israeli throats, President Obama and his foreign policy team will have willing allies in the Israeli political establishment, the Israeli media, Israeli opinion makers, and the vocal support of a large swath of the Israeli and Jewish American populace. Do you doubt it?
And there’s the insiders… establishment leaders in the Jewish American community who will effortlessly be pulled into the push for a two-state solution. Why? Because for these Jewish institutional leaders protecting their “insider” status trumps all other issues.
It is instructive to remember that when the Republican Party vice presidential nominee wished to speak out in protest of a homicidal maniac who calls for the extinction of Israel, her voice was stilled by mainstream Jewish leaders. These Jewish “insiders” feared to give offense to candidate Obama’s soon to be in charge inner circle. Yipes!
Indeed the fear Jewish insiders suffer from most is the fear of becoming outsiders.
Elected officials to the rescue? Don’t hold your breath. Jewish American office holders and members of Congress will throw elbows like hockey thugs in order to secure a first-class seat on the two-state train before it leaves the station. Carl Levin anyone? Chuck Schumer?
What about AIPAC? Sustained attacks on AIPAC as “too influential” have taken a toll and they are currently tied in knots over a lingering federal prosecution for espionage. Forget it. AIPAC will be very cautious.
Still more. In this political climate, a new outfit – J Street – will loom large as a challenge to AIPAC. J Street claims to speak for mainstream American Jews and bills itself as “the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement.”
J Street is on the ascendancy and will have both influence and access in the new halls of power. Here’s just the most relevant of their statement of principles:
The creation of a viable Palestinian state as part of a negotiated two-state solution, based on the 1967 borders with agreed reciprocal land swaps. The future Palestinian state will require unprecedented levels of international economic and political support to succeed, including a resolution of the refugee issue within the new Palestinian state and in current host countries.
There is no good news. The worldwide coalition gathering to impose a two-state solution on Israel is like nothing previously seen.
Where does this leave us?
We have to face up to reality. There’s no way to sugarcoat this. The two-state solution is rapidly nearing its tipping point. Tipping point… you know, that moment when slow and gradual change – drip, drip, drip – suddenly becomes a deluge. Tipping point is the crashing sound made when ideas that have just been floating around suddenly become irreversible consensus. Irreversible. Locked in concrete.
If two-state is frighteningly near its tipping point, what does this mean for those of us who reject a two-state solution? What are the consequences for those of us who carry a Zionist vision of a Jewish homeland from the river to the sea? How does this affect those who advocate a return from exile, the unification of Jerusalem, restoration of the Temple, and await Moshiach?
Well, it means turn out the lights, the party’s over. Thanks for coming, folks. Drive carefully on the way home.
Once two-state is tipped over into irreversibility the deluge will leave Judea and Samaria bulldozed flat as surely as disengagement flattened Gush Katif; a divided Jerusalem a fait accompli; an internationalized Jerusalem a possibility; the Temple Mount in the possession of the Waqf in perpetuity; and the image of a bifurcated, ethnically neutral Israel looming on the horizon. Peace Now will be driving the bus.
And we must always factor in Arab propaganda. Holocaust denial has been joined by "Temple denial" as part of the ongoing Arab strategy to delegitimize Jewish claims to holy sites and to Jerusalem itself.
Naomi Ragen wrote recently that she feels, “helpless to stop this juggernaut towards disaster.” Yes, ma'am. I know how you feel
Is there anything we can do? Maybe.
To give ourselves a chance, a long shot maybe, but a chance, we must first recognize that the front line for the Israeli Right is two-state.
All other issues are a diversion. No matter how drawn we are to other battlegrounds we must steel ourselves to the reality that all else must be secondary to fighting two-state.
If we lose the two-state battle – and we are badly overmatched, out-gunned and out-manned – we lose the whole game. The fight must be joined on the issue of two-state. Period. We cannot let our attention wander or our resources be diverted to other fronts.
There is very little time. The window for us to act is shrinking. The fat lady is not yet singing, but if you listen carefully you can hear her warming up backstage.
How to begin?
A framework for action is available on request.
But first, we must do what all rebels do. Throw up roadblocks, slow down the momentum toward two-state inevitability. Keep the damn thing from tipping over.
Those are my thoughts. They are just words on a piece of paper. My friend Yishai Fleisher has a great line when talking about Eretz Israel. He says, “How do we fill this vessel with meaning?”. Indeed. Those who would make the rebellion are those anointed to breathe life into the vessel and give it meaning.
Can we win?
I don’t know and I wonder if at this juncture that’s the right question to ask. Will we fight seems to me more to the point. And, if we do fight, will we fight intelligently, strategically, relentlessly.
I argue that Israel is closer than we think to becoming a modern ghetto… growing smaller and weaker as the noose tightens. Will we be passive Jews? Will we acquiesce or will we resist?
The deck is stacked against those who would fight. In the coming struggle Jews who stand up against the two-state consensus will be marginalized, scorned as fanatics, extremists, obstructionists, war mongers, and deranged religious nuts. And those are the lucky ones. Some will have their heads cracked open.
I look to the hero of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising for inspiration. Mordechai Anielewicz did not stop the Holocaust, he did not stop the murder of Jews, he did not stop the trains running to Treblinka… but he did leave us a legacy.
In April 1943, this young Jew named Mordechai showed us that a fearless handful of the committed can make a rebellion and he forever laid to rest the myth of the passive Jew.
The stakes seem to me nothing less than the fulfillment of the Zionist enterprise… and for those who work to end the exile, unite Jerusalem, rebuild the Temple, and bring forth the Moshiach, the stakes are even higher.
Time is not our ally. Seconds turn to minutes, minutes to hours, hours to days…
This is a matter of some urgency.
Hillary Clinton is about to be the US Secretary of State (egads!)
A meeting between the right-of-center-and-probable-next-Prime-Minister-of-Israel Bibi and Obama (when he came to Israel to show all the Jews how incredible he will be for Israel) was described by Newsweek magazine as: polite. "As for Obama, it is yet to be seen how the dovish American would work with a hard-line Israeli counterpart. At the King David meeting, Obama smiled and tried to find common ground."
The Obama/Biden campaign website says that if Iran continues its nuclear program, it will get tough by "step[ping] up our economic pressure and political isolation." Aka: Israel v. Iran will be mano a mano.
Obama has been quoted as saying “Israel has no God-given right to occupy Palestine” plus there’s been “genocide against the Palestinian people by Israelis.”
I think it's best we do what we can to get BO off our back - don't you?
I received the following e-mail from a co-worker (who wrote it.)
Although I don't usually send out these types of emails, I would like to share the following with all of you.
Every morning I take the 35 bus line to work. It's a quick ride and usually takes no more than 12 minutes. The third stop after I get on by the shuk is directly in front of Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav. This morning I found myself a bit anxious, unsure of what I was going to see as we passed by. As I looked around, I saw death notices pasted all over the street and flowers that had been brought lined the entrance to the Yeshiva.
When the bus pulled up to the stop, the driver shut off the engine and stood. With tears in his eyes he told everyone sitting on the bus that one of the boys killed on Thursday night was his nephew. He asked if everyone on the bus would mind if he spoke for a few minutes in memory of his nephew and the other boys that were killed.
After seeing head nods all over the bus he began to speak. With a clear and proud voice, he spoke beautifully about his nephew and said that he was a person who was constantly on the lookout for how to help out anyone in need. He was always searching for a way to make things better. He loved learning, and had a passion for working out the intricacies of the Gemara. He was excited to join the army in a few years, and wanted to eventually work in informal education. (Reuters)
As he continued to speak, I noticed that the elderly woman sitting next to me was crying. I looked into my bag, reached for a tissue and passed it to her. She looked at me and told me that she too had lost someone she knew in the attack. Her neighbors child was another one of the boys killed. As she held my hand tightly, she stood up and asked if she too could say a few words in memory of her neighbor.
She spoke of a young man filled with a zest for life. Every friday he would visit her with a few flowers for shabbat and a short dvar torah that he had learned that week in Yeshiva. This past shabbat, she had no flowers.
When I got to work, one of my colleagues who lives in Efrat told me that her son was friends with 2 of the boys who had been killed. One of those boys was the stepson of a man who used to teach in Brovenders and comes to my shul in Riverdale every Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur to be a chazan for one of the minyanim.
We are all affected by what goes on in Israel. Whether you know someone who was killed or know someone who knows someone or even if you don't know anyone at all, you are affected. The 8 boys who were killed will continue to impact us all individually and as a nation. Each one of us has the ability to make a profound impact on our world.(AP)
This coming wednesday morning, I will be at Ben Gurion airport at 7 am with Nefesh B'Nefesh welcoming 40 new olim to Israel. We will not deter. We can not give up. We will continue to live our lives and hope and work for change, understanding and peace.
Here’s the spin the self-hating, murder-loving, religious-hating, Arab-loving, G-d-hating, grossly irresponsible – and frankly downright dangerous - extreme left wing media. Oh, they also happen to be exceptionally clueless. That or they just are malicious liars but I’m trying to be optimistic.
Take Amir Mizroch, news editor for the Jerusalem Post. He still just doesn’t get it!
In a nutshell Mizroch claims that those “Nutcase Religious Zionists” are going to be so “seething with anger” that they are going to run into the streets shooting wildly blowing up anything that moves!
(Parenthetically, more evidence of his sheer stupidity is demonstrated in this flatly false assertion: “Very few people outside the religious Zionist population have even heard of Mercaz Harav, let alone know somebody who studies there.”)
Mizroch continues, “There may even be some on the fringes of the settlement movement who will want to take the law into their own hands and carry out a revenge attack, maybe even against targets in East Jerusalem, where it looks like the killer came from.”
Let me give you a clue Mr. Mizroch. Have you ever looked inside the Torah? Do you even know what a Torah is? Or should we say “Very few people outside the religious Zionist population have even heard of a Torah, let alone looked inside one?”
Sir, since we know very few people outside the religious Zionist population even own a Bible I’ll just have to fill you in here.
The angel of G-d said to her, “You are pregnant, and will give birth to a son. You must name him Ishmael, for G-d has heard your prayer. He will be a wild-ass of a man. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him.” (Genesis 16:11 – 12)
Wild-ass men shoot rockets at innocent civilians. Wild-ass men blow up public buses in the middle of cities. Wild-ass men brutally murder defenseless teenage Yeshiva students in cold blood. Wild-ass men fire their weapons into the air at funerals demanding revenge and then hand candy out to their children when it transpires.
The Jews - even those “right-wing nut-job Jews” are not wild-ass men. (Wise-guy leftists are itching to yell out “Baruch Goldstein” – very good. The fact that you remember his name proves how unique he is. Now can you name even one Arab terrorist that blew himself up on a bus? What’s that? No? Why not? Oh, I see. There are just too many?)
The way Mizroch writes you would think that at the funerals on Friday all the Jews were firing their weapons into the air. Guess what? They didn’t. Jews aren’t the wild-ass men. So stop your shameful, hateful, attacks – incitement even - that claim that the Jews are something they are not!
Amir Mizroch – Wow, what a dork! (Now I’m name calling!)
Horrific And Depressing Photos Of The Attack (Graphic)
I did not take the following photos. They are a collection of various media photos and government press office photos which I found posted on a messageboard. I debated if there is any purpose in posting these here. I concluded that they are important for the sole purpose of gaining an understanding of the situation - to see it with our own eyes. To see it and to feel more connected with our holy brothers so that we could daven with the proper kavanah for a speedy redemption and an end once an for all to these atrocities. Tonight our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and indeed all of kal yisrael - since we are all the very same family.
Be warned the photos below are rather graphic and do contain blood. If you do not want to see them - don't scroll down. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 2 1 Israeli police deployed inside the 'yeshiva,' or Jewish seminary, in Jerusalem on 06 March 2008 after two Palestinians dressed as ultra-Orthodox Jewish yeshiva students entered and shot and killed at least eight Jewish students, wounding another 15, according to Israeli police. The two Palestinians were killed and one was wearing a suicide bomber's belt, which did not explode. [Later reports said 7 students were murdered, and fewer were wounded - two seriously and that there was only one terrorist. Later reports also said the belt turned out to be for more ammo.-P]
Israeli police detain a suspect as he is led down stairs with a sweatshirt pulled over his head inside the 'yeshiva,' or Jewish seminary, in Jerusalem on 06 March 2008 [I do not know who this "suspect" is or was since later reports said there was only one terrorist who was killed. -P]
Israeli medics rush a seriously wounded young Israeli to an ambulance outside The Wohl Torah Center, a 'yeshiva,' or Jewish seminary, in Jerusalem on 06 March 2008 [Please say tehillim for the wounded. As soon as we have a list of names we will post it. -P]
A handout photograph supplied by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) showsIsraeli medics hold up a prayer shawl soaked in blood that has a bullet hole as they clean up inside the 'yeshiva,' or Jewish seminary, in Jerusalem on 06 March 2008
A handout photograph supplied by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) shows bullet holes and blood stains inside and what appears to be the body of one of the two Palestinian gunmen inside the 'yeshiva,' or Jewish seminary, in Jerusalem on 06 March 2008
I woke up this morning, and as usual, asked my husband, who always gets up early to hear the news, what was going on in the world. He told me that America had suffered another shooting attack at a school, this time at an Illinois university.
So I went online to check out the story, which is still unravelling. Some alumnus came into a science class, shot up the teacher and some random students, and then killed himself. Six are dead, including the killer, and over a dozen are hospitalized. Wow.
Then came the shocker, which I will quote verbatim from the Associated Press:
The shooting was the fourth at a U.S. school within a week.
On Feb. 8, a woman shot two fellow students to death before committing suicide at Louisiana Technical College in Baton Rouge. In Memphis, Tenn., a 17-year-old is accused of shooting and critically wounding a fellow student Monday during a high school gym class, and the 15-year-old victim of a shooting at an Oxnard, Calif., junior high school has been declared brain dead.
Now I have to say, that sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the sense of violence in Israel, what with maniacal Muslims looking to murder me all the time and whatnot. But I'm starting to get the sense that America's not such a safe zone these days, either. And at least violence in Israel is related to some sort of meaning, a stated religio-cultural war, rather than the I-have-nothing-better-to-do glutted slayings which are ramping up in America.
So I'd like to wish the people of America, the people of Israel, and the people all over the world a holy, meaningful, and peaceful Shabbat. I hope we'll all do what we've got to do to end the victimization of good people.
Rav Avraham Elkanah Kahanah Shapira, 94, one of the Gedolei HaDor (Torah giants of our generation), Rosh Yeshivah (Dean) of Merkaz HaRav (the Yeshivah Rav Kook started) for the last 25 years, former chief rabbi of Israel (1983-1993), passed away on Yom Tov (the only day in Israel - Thursday) and was buried on Friday (Chol HaMoed in Israel). Click here to read more about him. Here are 5 albums of 300 pictures I posted from the funeral, which started at his yeshivah in Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem and proceeded past Binyanei Ha'Umah (the International Convention Center), up Sarei Yisrael (Ministers of Israel) Street, turned on Malchei Yisrael (Kings of Israel) Street through the Chareidi/Chassidic Ge'ulah neighborhood, past the former location of the yeshivah (Beit HaRav Kook - Rav Kook's house), along Yafo, Shlomtzion HaMalkah, Agron Streets, around the walls of the Old City, and finally to Har HaZeitim (Mount of Olives) for his final resting place, overlooking Har HaBayit (Temple Mount): Album 1 Album 2 Album 3 Album 4 Album 5
On this date 1 year ago, 3 Israeli soldiers were killed in a Hizbullah ambush. 1 of the 3 soldiers was an American whose dream was to serve in the IDF, and even cut short a family vacation back in his old home in Pennsylvania to join the army in last summer's war. Here are a few articles about Michael: JPost, YNet, a friend's memorial page, etc. I attended a memorial service at Har Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem this afternoon Yonatan Einhorn Z"L, but unfortunately had to leave before the one for Michael Levin Z"L started. Here are some pictures of Yonatan's memorial and Michael's grave:
I'll admit it, I'm a crier. It's in my DNA. My mother is a crier. My Grandmother is a crier. I'm a crier. Lot's of things can set me off. Certainly saying goodbye to my crying grandmother, not knowing when I'll see her again makes me cry. A "realistic" Holocaust film portraying the Selection often makes me cry. Avinu Malkeinu during the Neilah service of Yom Kippur is one of the most powerful moments of the year for me. As I watch the Gates of Heaven closing for the last time of the year my heart is wrent in two as I beseech, beg really, Hashem for an ounce of His endless mercy to keep me and protect me one more year. I'm usually pretty certain He'll oblige, but the Grandness of the moment always overtakes me and leaves me sobbing in my Talit.
Yom HaZikaron can have the same effect on me. Last night's ceremony on Moshav Yonatan was one of the most moving Yom HaZikaron ceremonies I've been to since making Aliyah. Moshav Yonatan is named for Yonatan Rozenman, z"l who was killed on the Golan Heights in the Yom Kippur War and is the brother of one of the founders. The ceremony, like all Yom HaZikaron ceremonies began with the shrill siren, like a mechanical, monotone shofar. After a beautiful slide show of all the family and friends killed serving our country my son got a little tired, so I picked him up and held him the rest of the ceremony. Next everyone sang the seemingly simple request from Psalms: May there be peace within your wall, serenity within your palaces. That's when I lost it. A seemingly simple request, yet we're so far from it. As I sang that Psalm and nuzzled my nose into the sweet, musky, sweaty peyot of my three and a half year old boy, it finally hit home how badly we want peace within our wall and serenity within our palaces, but what it takes to achieve it. I felt pride at one day seeing my boy defend our Homeland but immediately was struck with the horrific, unspeakable sacrifice that could entail. I began sobbing into his little sweaty head. He let me sob for a few minutes, then took my wet cheeks in his little hands, kissed my lips, said, "Daddy, I love you" and put his head back on my shoulder.
After that it was difficult to regain composure, but I tried. We then sang one of Rambam's Thirteen Priciples of Faith: I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Mashiach, and even though eh may delay, nevertheless I anticipate every day that he will come. Here is a community that does believe with complete faith in our final Redemption, but that inevitability hasn't left them paralyzed in the Diaspora. In fact, it is the opposite; this is their, our, my, true inspiration that motivates us every second of the day to make this Home of ours better, holier and ever more prepared for our destiny.
There is no doubt the future is uncertain, but the memory of my boy taking my wet cheeks, kissing me and telling me that he loves me as I cry for our difficult past and dangerous future on Yom Hazikaron 5767 will be with me eternally.
It has been a very meaningful Israeli Memorial Day. I was hoping to have time to put all my pictures on the blog, but unfortunately I only had time to add them to a Facebook album. Very worthwhile - many pictures from Har Herzl today. Read the comments for the pictures too. IY"H I'll do a more extensive photo essay here on the blog later. Click here for the pictures: Yom HaZikaron Photo Album
You can feel the heaviness of the day. It's nothing at all like Memorial Day in America - which to most Americans is simply about sales and the beginning of Summer. Here almost all Israelis know of one (or sadly more) soldier personally that fell so that Israel could be. Here it's personal.
The flag on the Knesset is lowered to half staff (above.) And the nation grinds to a halt to remember who made this all possible as the siren sounds (below.)
As the siren blared yesterday and I stood still along with everyone else on Kanfei Nesharim Street in Givat Shaul reflecting on the immeasurable horrors that transpired upon our nation it occurred to me that I am standing on a busy street in Jerusalem looking around at hundreds of other Jews who are all also residents of the Jewish State also standing and reflecting on the immeasurable horrors that occurred to our nation while standing still on a busy street in Jerusalem.
Think about that.
I don’t know if there could be any thought that could begin to comfort the Jewish People from our loss. Still it is at least an uplifting feeling to actually be united as one nation sharing our sorrow together – if only for a minute… and something that could only be experienced one place in the world.
We must never forget our past even as we build a brighter future.
Jay Litvin zt'l made Aliyah in 1993 to serve as medical liaison for Chabad's Children of Chernobyl program... and took a leading role in airlifting children from the areas contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster; he also founded and directed Chabad's Terror Victims program in Israel (see: "The Hidden Angel"). Jay passed away in April of 2004 after a valiant four-year battle with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
Reading Jay's articles is inspiring and powerful - and can (should!!) be a life altering experience.
You read about traffic accidents almost daily in Israel. They kill more Israelis each year than Arabs do. Today alone there were 97 traffic accidents. This past weekend 15 Israelis were killed on the road, 21 in the past week.
Two especially unique Jews, killed in the car above were, have left me grieving heavily, along with the rest of the nation of Israel.
Yocheved Chein, of blessed memory, died well before her time. She was 44, a devoted wife and mother of six. Well, maybe mother of eight, if I would count my wife and I. Yocheved was like a second mother to us.
This was one of the truly genuine women of our time. She was selfless, and righteous. She gave every last resource she could scrape to help others. It didn't matter if Yocheved knew you or not. If you needed something, and she heard, she was going to help. Convenience was not one of her considerations.
As the wife of a Chabad Shaliach, Yocheved's home was open 24-7. Their door was open all the time. Literally, even if they weren't home. And in Queens, that's not always advisable. I entered through their door on hundreds of occasions.
The Rabbi and Rebbitzin worked non-stop with the community of Georgian immigrants they devoted their life to. They taught them Judaism from scratch. The Georgians always knew that they were Jewish. The Chein's taught them how to be Jewish.
The Cheins were literally readying the world for Moshiach, one mitzvah at a time, and believe me, that is not an easy task.
I cannot tell you how many times the Chein family came to our assistance. Handing us a car, and giving me a second income from their community for two years--which I later found out sometimes came from their own pockets--are just a few of the memorable kindnesses they offered. We were regulars at their Shabbos table.
The Rabbi survived the crash with several broken ribs. Rabbi Chein is a Rav, mentor, and friend, in addition to a father-figure to me. How he escaped the car alive is a miracle that is overlooked amidst tragedy. The Rebbitzen and her mother passed away.
The Rebbitzen's mother, Rachel Tzedek Schneerson, of blessed memory, was a true matriarch figure. Her husband had passed away many years ago, and she raised the family. I'm not sure how many grandchildren she had, but it is in the dozens. Rachel was known to me, and the rest of the family as Bebby, or grandma in Georgian.
Bebby had a comforting smile. A glance in her eye told you that she knew something you didn't. I didn't get the chance to find out what it was.
Yocheved was a fireball. I have never seen a woman with so much energy. She was a perpetual optimist. Even when the cards didn't seem to line up aces, the Rebbitzin had no fear. She put all her trust in G-d, and didn't worry about the rest.
She had a loud voice, and was not afraid to let anyone hear her opinion. Yet, since she really was righteous, she never really offended anyone.
She cooked up a storm, Georgian-style. I am going to miss her spicy sauces, despite the fact that I am an Ashkenazi Jew who prefers that sweet European-style cooking.
Yocheved was a great wife and mother, and was without a doubt the glue that kept her fast-moving family together.
Though they were living in New York, sent there on Shlichut by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, they were Israeli at their core, and loved the Holy Land. The Rabbi and Rebbitzen came to Israel at least a few times a year to visit their family, including the Rebbitzen's mother Rachel, who lived in Kiryat Malachi.
On this trip, as they did every year, the Rebbitzen came to honor the passing of her father. On the yahretzeit (memorial day), this past Friday, the Rabbi, Rebbitzen, and her mother were on route to the cemetery to pay their respects.
They eventually made it to the gravesite, but not in the condition they had envisioned.
My wife and I, and two friends were supposed to meet the Cheins for breakfast in Jerusalem Friday morning. An hour before the rendez-vous we got a call from their daughters saying that for some reason breakfast was off. An hour later, we got the news.
I was at Yocheved's funeral Sunday night at Har HaZeitim (Mt. of Olives) cemetery. That is a spooky place at night. It is perhaps the oldest Jewish cemetery in the World, and it shows. Her grave stares straight across to the Temple Mount. It has been a while since I was at the funeral of a loved one. It is an uncomfortable feeling.
The Rabbi made it to the funeral despite the severe pain in his ribs. I know his physical pain is nothing compared to his emotional suffering. Their children flew in from NY to attend their mother's funeral. I can't imagine what that plane ride was like.
Funerals in Israel are not the same as in the states, particularly in Jerusalem.
I had never been to a funeral at night, and here in Israel, bodies are brought to the grave in just a sheet. No coffin. A member of the Chevra Kadisha (burial society) literally jumps into the grave, and lays the body down to rest.
And then it is over. Yocheved and her mother were returned to the earth and returned to their maker.
We are left to grieve in their wake. May they merit all the rewards of the righteous in the world to come, and may their memories be a blessing for the Jewish people.
May the Chein and Schneerson families be comforted among mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.