Thursday, September 17, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Why did the truck driver cross the road?
So I was walking down King George St one day when I spotted a lady crossing the street. She had a bag over her shoulder and was wheeling a stroller while a toddler was pushing his own riding toy beside her. There was nothing unusual about that. She was crossing the street perpendicular from where I was waiting at the red light. (A policewoman recently warned me not to cross against the light just near this intersection so I wasn’t going to press my luck.)
Right smack in the middle of the street the toddler apparently resented his mother holding his hand and became very uncooperative. This forced mom to pick him up with one hand, and wheel the stroller with the other, all while still having the bag over her shoulder. Inevitably, that yellow riding toy was left behind right in the middle of a very busy intersection. The red light that kept the long line of cars from smashing it to pieces was about to turn green.
There was nothing the mother could do, as she wasn’t about to abandon her children for this toy. As I was about to cross against the light to help her out, policewoman’s warning or not, something truly unexpected happened. Sitting in front of this long line of cars that were waiting for the light to change was a delivery truck. The truck’s driver side door flew open and down jumped the truck driver who happily rescued the riding toy from its precarious position and deposited it safely on the corner. With a wave, nod, and a smile he jumped back in to his truck.
As I stood there watching I was awed. I was wondering what exactly would happen if the same scenario played out in New York City. Would any NYC truck driver ever abandon his vehicle to help a mother in need? Would any NYC truck driver even bother driving around the toy rather than simply running it over?
Who knows? But one thing I know. Here in Israel when people see that help is needed – they help! Because after all, we are all part of the same family.
Full post and comments...
Monday, August 24, 2009
What's in your backyard?
There was a small news bite in the Israeli media which most people may not have even noticed. Today, there was a court hearing to decide the fate of a grave that was recently discoverd.
The story goes something like this. Mitch Pilcer owns a bed and breakfast in Tzipori in the lower Galilee. Business was going well so he decided to expand the hotel. But when they started digging in his yard they discovered something extraordinary.
Right there in his backyard was the grave of none other than Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi ! It's still being investigated to see if things pan out and it really is the grave of the important Amora sage. But it just goes to show you that when you are living in a land that contains thousands of years of our history you'll never know what you'll discover right in your own backyard! Full post and comments...
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
A Sad Day for Nay-Sayers
I want to apologize to all you Israel nay-sayers out there, this is going to be one irritating post for you.
You know who I'm talking about - those people who get all puckery and condescending, ranting on about the shameful state of affairs in our Jewish State ("it's hardly even Jewish!", they'll say). They pull out crusty old anti-Zionist rationales (that's, like, so 19th century!) and doomsday predictions, and poo-poo the attempts of good folks to get good things done in Israel. It's all a pathetic failure to them.
Well not today! Two articles were posted on Israel National News illustrating just how hard it is to keep a good chosen people down.
The first is about a reflourishing of Zionism at Jerusalem's elite Hebrew University, with a pro-IDF student union and the whole works. Grumbling curmudgeons who swear by the corrupted soul and moral decay of Israelis will have to soothe themselves with the hope that the inspiration of Jewish pride and pro-Israel sentiments won't pass to other institutions of higher learning.
The second, by our own blogger Gil Ronen, is about REALLY cool new developments by the IDF Rabbinate’s Halacha (Jewish Law) and Technology Department, instituted last year to find kosher solutions to Tzahal's operational issues. Some examples in the article include a kosher-for-shabbat car ignition for army jeeps and a special refrigerator-oven for the Israeli Navy. I know, I know - some of you LOVE to hate Israel's army. At least you can always say they helped in the expulsion from Gaza. Full post and comments...
Monday, April 20, 2009
A Nice Article about Israel in the NY Times? Mashiach must be coming...
On my 12th visit to Israel, I finally had my baptism by traffic accident. I was sitting at a red light, when a bus turning the corner honked at me to back up. When I did, I scraped the fender of the car behind me.
The driver — a young, hip-looking, alt-rocker dude — came running out of the car in a fury. He ran up to the bus driver and got into a ferocious screaming match. Then he came up to me graciously and kindly. We were brothers in the war against bus drivers. Then, as we were filling out our paperwork, another bus happened by and honked. The rocker ran out into the street and got into another ferocious screaming match with this driver. Then he came back to me all smiles and warmth.
Israel is a country held together by argument. Public culture is one long cacophony of criticism. The politicians go at each other with a fury we can’t even fathom in the U.S. At news conferences, Israeli journalists ridicule and abuse their national leaders. Subordinates in companies feel free to correct their superiors. People who move here from Britain or the States talk about going through a period of adjustment as they learn to toughen up and talk back...
Ethan Bronner, The Times’s Jerusalem bureau chief, notes that Israelis don’t observe the distinction between the public and private realms. They treat strangers as if they were their brothers-in-law and feel perfectly comfortable giving them advice on how to live.
One Israeli acquaintance recounts the time he was depositing money into his savings account and everybody else behind him in line got into an argument about whether he should really be putting his money somewhere else. Another friend tells of the time he called directory assistance to get a phone number for a restaurant. The operator responded, “You don’t want to eat there,” and proceeded to give him the numbers of some other restaurants she thought were better.
We can all think of reasons that Israeli culture should have evolved into a reticence-free zone, and that the average behavior should be different here. This is a tough, scrappy country, perpetually fighting for survival. The most emotionally intense experiences are national ones, so the public-private distinction was bound to erode. Moreover, the status system doesn’t really revolve around money. It consists of trying to prove you are savvier than everybody else, that above all you are nobody’s patsy.
As an American Jew, I was taught to go all gooey-eyed at the thought of Israel, but I have to confess, I find the place by turns exhausting, admirable, annoying, impressive and foreign. Israel’s enemies claim the country is an outpost of Western colonialism. That’s not true. Israel is, in large measure, a Middle Eastern country, and the Israeli-Arab dispute is in part an intra-Mideast conflict.
This culture of disputatiousness does yield some essential fruits. First, it gives the country a special vividness. There is no bar on earth quite so vibrant as a bar filled with Israelis.
Second, it explains the genuine national unity. Israel is the most diverse small country imaginable. Nonetheless, I may be interviewing a left-wing artist in Tel Aviv or a right-wing settler in Hebron, and I can be highly confident that they will have a few things in common: an intense sense of national mission, a hunger for emotionally significant moments, an inability to read social signals when I try to suggest that I really don’t want them to harangue me about moving here and adopting their lifestyle.
Most important, this argumentative culture nurtures a sense of responsibility. The other countries in this region are more gracious, but often there is a communal unwillingness to accept responsibility for national problems. The Israelis, on the other hand, blame themselves for everything and work hard to get the most out of each person. From that wail of criticism things really do change. I come here nearly annually, and while the peace process is always the same, there is always something unrecognizable about the national scene — whether it is the structure of the political parties, the absorption of immigrants or the new engines of economic growth.
Today, Israel is stuck in a period of frustrating stasis. Iran poses an existential threat that is too big for Israel to deal with alone. Hamas and Hezbollah will frustrate peace plans, even if the Israelis magically do everything right.
This conflict will go on for a generation or more. Israelis will keep up their insufferable and necessary barrage of self-assertion. And yet we still dream of peace and the day when I am standing in line at an Israeli cash register and an Israeli shopper sees a chance to butt in front of me, and — miracle of miracles — she will not try to take it. Full post and comments...
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
For Thus Saith The L-RD
The following prophecy from Amos 1:6-8 is circulating in email in Israel and around the world:
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Sunday, November 09, 2008
The "Nuclear Option?"
There's an age old expression that's apparently big in the news industry: "Follow the money." Well if you follow the money behind most muslim violence and the training and propoganda networks that fuel it, it will usually take you to two places- arab/persian oil and the U.N. While I have my opinions of how to handle the U.N. I doubt any of these genius plans will be put into practice anytime soon. But in the meantime this article shows a possible solution, at least in part, to tackling muslim oil dominance in the world-wide energy market.
Full post and comments...
Nuclear power plants smaller than a garden shed and able to power 20,000 homes will be on sale within five years, say scientists at Los Alamos, the US government laboratory which developed the first atomic bomb.
The miniature reactors will be factory-sealed, contain no weapons-grade material, have no moving parts and will be nearly impossible to steal because they will be encased in concrete and buried underground.
The US government has licensed the technology to Hyperion, a New Mexico-based company which said last week that it has taken its first firm orders and plans to start mass production within five years. 'Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a watt anywhere in the world,' said John Deal, chief executive of Hyperion. 'They will cost approximately $25m [£13m] each. For a community with 10,000 households, that is a very affordable $250 per home.'
Deal claims to have more than 100 firm orders, largely from the oil and electricity industries, but says the company is also targeting developing countries and isolated communities. 'It's leapfrog technology,' he said.
The company plans to set up three factories to produce 4,000 plants between 2013 and 2023. 'We already have a pipeline for 100 reactors, and we are taking our time to tool up to mass-produce this reactor.'
The first confirmed order came from TES, a Czech infrastructure company specialising in water plants and power plants. 'They ordered six units and optioned a further 12. We are very sure of their capability to purchase,' said Deal. The first one, he said, would be installed in Romania. 'We now have a six-year waiting list. We are in talks with developers in the Cayman Islands, Panama and the Bahamas.'
The reactors, only a few metres in diameter, will be delivered on the back of a lorry to be buried underground. They must be refuelled every 7 to 10 years. Because the reactor is based on a 50-year-old design that has proved safe for students to use, few countries are expected to object to plants on their territory. An application to build the plants will be submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission next year.
'You could never have a Chernobyl-type event - there are no moving parts,' said Deal. 'You would need nation-state resources in order to enrich our uranium. Temperature-wise it's too hot to handle. It would be like stealing a barbecue with your bare hands.'
Other companies are known to be designing micro-reactors. Toshiba has been testing 200KW reactors measuring roughly six metres by two metres. Designed to fuel smaller numbers of homes for longer, they could power a single building for up to 40 years.
Monday, November 03, 2008
Okay, Gil, Now For My Prediction
The winner of the 2008 election for the next United States President will be none other than G-d, himself. (No, wise guy, I don’t mean Obama!) It will be our father in Heaven. See, we here at Kumah have a tradition of not endorsing any candidates for U.S. President.
Why? Don’t we feel that one candidate is far better for the State of Israel and for the Jewish people in general, than the other? Of course we do. Don’t we feel that one candidate’s rise to power will actually put Jewish lives at danger? It may sound like hyperbolic talk, but frankly, yes. Do we feel that every Jew has to do everything he or she can to prevent a calamity from befalling us? Certainly.
But that’s not our focus. Our focus is getting the Jewish people to return Home. Furthermore, we also realize one important reality. Every occurrence in life, whether a large world event or the smallest personal incident, is completely in G-d’s hands and more importantly, everything, large or small, that G-d orchestrates in his world is for the best. Period.
Make no mistake. G-d still demands we do our best to influence his world in the way we think will lead to the best outcome. But all the while we must acknowledge that G-d is in the driver’s seat. And that is a good thing.
So if one candidate is more of a catalyst for Aliyah. So be it. And if the other helps Israel defend herself, excellent. Whatever G-d decides is best. Nevertheless, one truth remains. The great Shofer is sounding calling Jews from around the world to return to the land of our heritage. And that Shofer will not stop sounding regardless of who G-d chooses to elect on Tuesday night. Full post and comments...
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Google Translate Now Has Hebrew
Friday, September 05, 2008
Israel, At Last, Gets On the (Google) Map
Now you can make Aliyah, because google has mapped out Israel.
One small point, the street names are only listed in Hebrew, and can only be searched in Hebrew.
No word on whether or not English maps are on the way, though knowing google I'm sure they are.
Hat Tip: BigToe
Full post and comments...
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Inspiriation on the Number 2
You've probably heard that one about the rabbi and the Egged bus driver who both die and go up to heaven. The Egged driver is rewarded with a posh mansion complete with three car garage and swimming pool while the rabbi is placed in a dilapidated shack. Figuring there must have been some sort of mix-up the rabbi consults the Heaven Housing Authority. They inform him that there was indeed no mix-up explaining, "When you spoke in shul everybody fell asleep... when he drove the bus everybody cried out in intense prayer!"
Regardless of our, or at least my own, ideas about what to expect on the average Egged ride, recently I've had several trips on the #2 line that have been quite surprising if not touching. The number two goes between Har Nof and the Kotel, hitting up many other Charedi areas in between. The other night I got on the one that leaves the kotel at 1 AM and to say it was crowded would be an understatement. As I squeezed on in between waves of bearded chassidim I expected the worse. I knew I would be in for about 45 minutes of getting shoved around, people rudely staring at each other and a highly probable chance of riding next to one or more people who would be... how to say this politely... "deodorant-ly challenged." The first blessing was there were no B.O. problems, thank G-d. Secondly everyone politely shuffled in and tried to make space for all who wanted to get on. But the truly amazing thing was, though the bus was packed to the gills, there was one lone empty seat available. The man in the seat next to it kept inviting somebody, anybody, to come occupy it. Yet there were no takers. All those within access to the seat turned down the opportunity to sit and sacrificed their own comfort so their fellow Jew could relax instead. The seat remained empty until about a third of the way into the trip when quite a few other seats became available as well and it was no longer the only one available. Upon returning to yeshiva and discussing the occurrence with my roommate though, we both realized that somebody may have quite possibly been in the seat the whole time- Eliyahu HaNavi.
Another beautiful moment happened tonight after shabbos had just gotten out. As I got on the number two and started riding home, a boy probably in his late teens, and who seemed to suffer from some sort of mental disability, suddenly stood up on his seat and started speaking to everyone on the bus. My conversational hebrew still isn't so incredible so I can't be sure what he was saying, but it sounded to me like he was quoting a passuk of Torah or something of the like. Though he stuttered a bit that didn't interfere with his beaming smile as he tried to get out his thought. If this happened on any bus I've ever ridden on in America I'm sure this would evoke mocking laughter and scowls. Yet the passengers of the number two were respectably silent, pausing their conversations to give him the floor and seemed to be waiting for a new chiddush to learn. Afterward a father of three sitting next to him gently motioned to help him sit back down. So often I see such people treated negatively, yet everyone on the bus was treating him like they would any other normal person even though his behavior was quite out of the ordinary.
If the tourist ministry is looking for any ideas for a new campaign, I suggest they put the Jerusalem Number Two bus on their ads from now on.Full post and comments...
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Video Blog: Witness NeoZionism - 43 New Members of Israel and the IDF
At Kumah we call it NeoZionism. It's that spirit of giving it all to rebuild our Homeland. Witness it yourself in this video. 43 young adults (age 20, plus or minus - usually minus - 3 years) gave up the "good life" in America to join the IDF. The ingathering of the exiles is well in progress as our Nation is infused with this new energy, this new passion, for returning home and contributing to the growth of the Jewish Nation.Full post and comments...
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Weapon of Choice
It's amazing the beautiful Jews you're guaranteed to observe during late-night trips to the Kotel. A couple of nights ago I was posted up near one of my favorite spots for nights at the Kotel, towards the back right corner (the other being in the tunnel tucked right into the front left corner closest to the Kadosh Kadoshim). There are two main reasons this spot is so great. First of all it's usually the least crowded and if you plan on spending a long amount of quality time with Hashem it affords you the opportunity to have your space and avoid distractions. Secondly it will seat you next to a nightly shiur given by a quite fiery-voiced rav, the passion for Torah of which can really be inspiring. A third reason for any single guys out there is the thought that you never know... your zivug could be davening at that exact moment just a mere several yards away from you on the other side of the mechitza and you don't even know it. Anyway, several evenings ago while I was enjoying a particularly good session of Kotel time, a soldier walked in. He was carrying his weapon strapped over his shoulder and walking hand in hand with his young son. He pulled up a chair and a shtender, sat down, and his son said something inaudible to him. He smiled and gave his weapon to his son at which point he put the barrel up to his mouth. Several moments later he took it and put it up to his own mouth.
You see, this wasn't a normal soldier. His uniform wasn't green with reddish brown boots and a beret. It was a large white kippah, flowing white shirt and pants, and bright orange crocs. And his weapon was an M-16 or the like, though it had a strap attached to it like one. This weapon was his extra large shofar... this man was a soldier of Hashem. It's hard to describe how beautiful the notes sounded coming out of his horn as he blew it proudly. He we all were, at the sight of our two destroyed holy temples, thousands of years without them, and during the nine days leading up to the anniversary of their mutual destruction. Yet even in a time of seeming despair and mourning such as this, this man sounded the shofar's cry of our redemption and, if for just a few seconds, reminded us that we may be mourning now, but that will soon come to an end. The geuala is on it's way, and if you need proof, just take a late-night trip to our holy Kotel and wait for Hashem to give you a sign.Full post and comments...
Monday, July 07, 2008
Watch Aliyah LIVE!
Today Nefesh B'Nefesh announced that for the first time ever everyone all over the world will be able to watch an Aliyah flight arrive in Israel! NBN will be web-casting the historic event for the world to see.
"We wanted to enable those close to the people making Aliyah to get a better idea of the excitement and the Olim experience upon arrival in Israel," said Nefesh B'Nefesh's VP of Operations Danny Oberman. "This new technological addition will allow them to follow the arrival of their loved ones, almost as if they were there."
Check out the The Live Webcast this Thursday, July 10th at 12:10 am EST/7:10 Israel time right here. ( www.nbn.org.il/2008arrival )
Count how many Kumah bloggers you can spot there. And spread the word!
Full post and comments...
Monday, June 23, 2008
Jerusalem's bridge striking some "chords" with the public
Anyone who's been paying attention to Jerusalem has noticed the Chords bridge, the "uniquely" designed suspension bridge being built over the entrance to the city. I personally thought for quite a while that it looked utterly ridiculous until somebody showed me a specific angle from a specific spot under the bridge at which you can see the support cables forming a beautiful spiral. I think that's an apt metaphor for the situation described in the following article on Ynet News by Ronen Medzini- at first glance it looks like a bunch of Jews finding yet another thing to fight over. Look a little closer and you can find the beauty in the ruckus... Where else in the world does the public get vocally offended by a construction project that ends up breaking Shabbos? And where else would the company and government actually express regret and do something to hold people accountable? Even amid the bickering and problems here one can see the people of Israel inching closer to Moshiach.
The construction of the new Chords Bridge leading into Jerusalem caused controversy in the city's municipal meeting Sunday, as several of City Hall's coalition members were enraged by reports suggesting several construction workers were spotted working on Shabbat.Full post and comments...
The bridge, which is supposed to carry the city's new light train, has been under construction for the past three years. Jerusalem's coalition members believed the some of the work was done on Shabbat in order to finish it in time for Wednesday's inauguration ceremony.
"Not only is it not worth it, it offended many people's emotions, both religious and secular," Shmuel Yitzhaky, a Shas Jerusalem councilman told Ynet Monday.
"The fact that the Jerusalem municipality sponsored this work is very grave. For what? For a ceremony? There is no reason what so ever to finish it of Shabbat."
Yitzhaky also said he believed the work was sanctioned by Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski. The people in City Hall, he added, "are only concerned with their jobs and don't care about the coalition."
Yehoshua Mor Yosef, spokesman for the Moria Company, which was tasked with the bridge's construction and who issued a statement on behalf of both Moria and the Jerusalem Municipality, said that the company sees the incident as severe.
Moreover, "The company has decided to immediately relieve the project's foreman and the construction's supervisor of their duties in order to make sure this kind of mishap never happens again."
Mor Yosef further denied Lupolianski's involvement in the decision to finish the project on Shabbat: "The mayor had no knowledge about any activities which were carried out in violation of the building contract, which clearly stipulates that, no work should be done on the bridge on Shabbat. The construction workers involved were Arab's hired by a sub-contractor, who sent them to the site against orders."
The inauguration ceremony itself has encountered some objections in the city council: Nir Bareket, who heads the municipality's opposition, slammed the costs – estimated as NIS 2 million (approximately $600,000) as unnecessarily extravagant.
"These public funds should have found their way to more important causes, such as schools and the city's beautification," he said.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Sefer Torah procession in Beit HaKarem
Recently there was a ceremony to celebrate a new sefer Torah being brought to the retirement home in the Beit HaKarem neighborhood in Jerusalem. The procession from the center of the neighborhood to the retirement home in and of itself was a great time as there were people of all ages, men and women, frum to secular, coming to join in as well as a live band and much dancing. Unlike America in which our elderly are unfortunately too often put away in the cupboard to be taken out and visited at our convenience so to speak, the residents of the retirement home benefited from all sorts of members of the community taking part in their simcha. But what made this event really incredible? The fact that when the Beit HaKarem neighborhood was founded in 1922, its charter forbade any buildings of a religious nature from existing in the neighborhood. It may have taken several decades, but now this once "devoutly" secular community is home to both a synagogue as well as a yeshiva. In a beautiful twist of irony, the procession of the sefer Torah went right past the building that still houses this charter, almost slapping it in the face with the reality of how times have and continue to change. The land of Israel and its people are waking up to the Torah, come join the excitement.Full post and comments...
Merkaz HaRav - a flame that can't be extinguished
This last March Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav was the site of a gruesome arab attack against the heart and soul of religious Zionism. Yet just a few months later throngs of people showed up for their annual Yom Yerushalayim celebration. At one in the morning people filled the streets as the block was closed off and the sounds of singing and dancing could be heard in all the surrounding neighborhoods. No matter what tragedy our enemies may hurl at us, people like those at Merkaz HaRav show that the Jewish people are dedicating their lives to Hashem and our land and we won't be stopped or intimidated. Kol hakavod to all the bochurim and rebbeim there, may you only hear good news from now on.Full post and comments...
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Yom Yerushalayim- Come Join Us!!
Yom Yerushalayim Celebration @ Beit HaRav Kook (next to Ticho House) in Jerusalem! Join the Kumah chevrah, yeshiva students and new olim for a song-filled Tefillah Chagigit & Musical Hallel led by R' Shlomo Katz this Monday at 8:30am. Divrei Torah, great music, & free breakfast too! Marking 41 years since the open miracles of the Six Day War!Full post and comments...
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Trivia Game and New Birthright/Masa Aliyah Grants
In honor of Israel's 60th Birthday Enhanced NBN Grants are available for Birthright and Masa Alumni Who Make Aliyah in 2008. Read about it here.
Tell all your Birthright and Masa friends about the trivia game and the grant! And make Aliyah together!
Full post and comments...
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Welcome to The Happiest Place On Earth!
Guess what? Israel is the happiest place in the world! So concludes noted Asia Times Online columnist Spengler after compiling the number of suicides in counties against their fertility rates, arguing that those choosing to create life and avoid death must be happy. And not only does Israel score higher than everyone else, she scores leaps and bounds higher, simply blowing away the competition.
It this fantastic article Spengler explains why this is so. And in a nutshell it's about Jews keeping the Torah together as a nation. He explains how we declare in the Aleinu prayer "G-d did not make us like the nations of other lands, and did not make us the same as other families of the Earth. G-d did not place us in the same situations as others, and our destiny is not the same as anyone else's."
On her 60th birthday Israel remains a nation UNLIKE any other. And that is precisely the secret of her happiness.
The articles is below and I have bolded important portions.
Hat Tip: DQ
Why Israel is the world's happiest country
Envy surrounds no country on Earth like the state of Israel, and with good reason: by objective measures, Israel is the happiest nation on Earth at the 60th anniversary of its founding. It is one of the wealthiest, freest and best-educated; and it enjoys a higher life expectancy than Germany or the Netherlands. But most remarkable is that Israelis appear to love life and hate death more than any other nation. If history is made not by rational design but by the demands of the human heart, as I argued last week , the light heart of the Israelis in face of continuous danger is a singularity worthy of a closer look.
Can it be a coincidence that this most ancient of nations , and the only nation persuaded that it was summoned into history for God's service, consists of individuals who appear to love life more than any other people? As a simple index of life-preference, I plot the fertility rate versus the suicide rate of 35 industrial countries, that is, the proportion of people who choose to create new life against the proportion who choose to destroy their own. Israel stands alone, positioned in the upper-left-hand-quadrant, or life-loving, portion of the chart . Those who believe in Israel's divine election might see a special grace reflected in its love of life.
In a world given over to morbidity, the state of Israel still teaches the world love of life, not in the trivial sense of joie de vivre, but rather as a solemn celebration of life. In another location, I argued, "It's easy for the Jews to talk about delighting in life. They are quite sure that they are eternal, while other peoples tremble at the prospect impending extinction. It is not their individual lives that the Jews find so pleasant, but rather the notion of a covenantal life that proceeds uninterrupted through the generations." Still, it is remarkable to observe by what wide a margin the Israelis win the global happiness sweepstakes.
Nations go extinct, I have argued in the past, because the individuals who comprise these nations choose collectively to die out. Once freedom replaces the fixed habits of traditional society, people who do not like their own lives do not trouble to have children. Not the sword of conquerors, but the indigestible sourdough of everyday life threatens the life of the nations, now dying out at a rate without precedent in recorded history.
Israel is surrounded by neighbors willing to kill themselves in order to destroy it. "As much as you love life, we love death," Muslim clerics teach; the same formula is found in a Palestinian textbook for second graders. Apart from the fact that the Arabs are among the least free, least educated, and (apart from the oil states) poorest peoples in the world, they also are the unhappiest, even in their wealthiest kingdoms.
The contrast of Israeli happiness and Arab despondency is what makes peace an elusive goal in the region. It cannot be attributed to material conditions of life. Oil-rich Saudi Arabia ranks 171st on an international quality of life index, below Rwanda. Israel is tied with Singapore on this index, although it should be observed that Israel ranks a runaway first on my life-preference index, whereas Singapore comes in dead last.
Even less can we blame unhappiness on experience, for no nation has suffered more than the Jews in living memory, nor has a better excuse to be miserable. Arabs did not invent suicide attacks, but they have produced a population pool willing to die in order to inflict damage greater than any in history. One cannot help but conclude that Muslim clerics do not exaggerate when they express contempt for life.
Israel's love of life, moreover, is more than an ethnic characteristic. Those who know Jewish life through the eccentric lens of Jewish-American novelists such as Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, or the films of Woody Allen, imagine the Jews to be an angst-ridden race of neurotics. Secular Jews in America are no more fertile than their Gentile peers, and by all indications quite as miserable.
For one thing, Israelis are far more religious than American Jews. Two-thirds of Israelis believe in God, although only a quarter observe their religion strictly. Even Israelis averse to religion evince a different kind of secularism than we find in the secular West. They speak the language of the Bible and undergo 12 years of Bible studies in state elementary and secondary schools.
Faith in God's enduring love for a people that believes it was summoned for his purposes out of a slave rabble must be part of the explanation. The most religious Israelis make the most babies. Ultra-Orthodox families produce nine children on average. That should be no surprise, for people of faith are more fertile than secular people, as I showed in a statistical comparison across countries.
Traditional and modern societies have radically different population profiles, for traditional women have little choice but to spend their lives pregnant in traditional society. In the modern world, where fertility reflects choice rather than compulsion, the choice to raise children expresses love of life. The high birthrate in Arab countries still bound by tradition does not stand comparison to Israeli fertility, by far the highest in the modern world.
The faith of Israelis is unique. Jews sailed to Palestine as an act of faith, to build a state against enormous odds and in the face of hostile encirclement, joking, "You don't have to be crazy to be a Zionist, but it helps." In 1903 Theodor Herzl, the Zionist movement's secular founder, secured British support for a Jewish state in Uganda, but his movement shouted him down, for nothing short of the return to Zion of Biblical prophecy would requite it. In place of a modern language the Jewish settlers revived Hebrew, a liturgical language only since the 4th century BC, in a feat of linguistic volition without precedent. It may be that faith burns brighter in Israel because Israel was founded by a leap of faith.
Two old Jewish jokes illustrate the Israeli frame of mind.
Two elderly Jewish ladies are sitting on a park bench in St Petersburg, Florida. "Mrs Levy," asks the first, "what do you hear from your son Isaac in Detroit?" "It's just awful," Mrs Levy replies. "His wife died a year ago and left him with two little girls. Now he's lost his job as an accountant with an auto-parts company, and his health insurance will lapse in a few weeks. With the real estate market the way it is, he can't even sell his house. And the baby has come down with leukemia and needs expensive treatment. He's beside himself, and doesn't know what to do. But does he write a beautiful Hebrew letter - it's a pleasure to read."
There are layers to this joke, but the relevant one here is that bad news is softened if written in the language of the Bible, which to Jews always conveys hope.
The second joke involves the American businessman who emigrated to Israel shortly after its founding. On his arrival, he orders a telephone, and waits for weeks without a response. At length he applies in person to the telephone company, and is shown into the office of an official who explains that there is a two-year waiting list, and no way to jump the queue. "Do you mean there is no hope?," the American asks. "It is forbidden for a Jew to say there is no hope!," thunders the official. "No chance, maybe." Hope transcends probability.
If faith makes the Israelis happy, then why are the Arabs, whose observance of Islam seems so much stricter, so miserable? Islam offers its adherents not love - for Allah does not reveal Himself in love after the fashion of YHWH - but rather success. "The Islamic world cannot endure without confidence in victory, that to 'come to prayer' is the same thing as to 'come to success'. Humiliation - the perception that the ummah cannot reward those who submit to it - is beyond its capacity to endure," I argued in another location. Islam, or "submission", does not understand faith - trust in a loving God even when His actions appear incomprehensible - in the manner of Jews and Christians. Because the whim of Allah controls every event from the orbit of each electron to the outcome of battles, Muslims know only success or failure at each moment in time.
The military, economic and cultural failures of Islamic societies are intolerable in Muslim eyes; Jewish success is an abomination, for in the view of Muslims it is the due of the faithful, to be coveted and seized from the usurpers at the first opportunity. It is not to much of a stretch to assert that Israel's love of live, its happiness in faith, is precisely the characteristic that makes a regional peace impossible to achieve. The usurpation of the happiness that Muslims believe is due to them is sufficient cause to kill one's self in order to take happiness away from the Jewish enemy. If Israel's opponents fail to ruin Israel's happiness, there is at least a spark of hope that they may decide to choose happiness for themselves.
Why are none of the Christian nations as happy as Israel? Few of the European nations can be termed "Christian" at all. Poland, the last European country with a high rate of attendance at Mass (at about 45%), nonetheless shows a fertility rate of only 1.27, one of Europe's lowest, and a suicide rate of 16 per 100,000. Europe's faith always wavered between adherence to Christianity as a universal religion and ethnic idolatry under a Christian veneer. European nationalism nudged Christianity to the margin during the 19th century, and the disastrous world wars of the past century left Europeans with confidence neither in Christianity nor in their own nationhood.
Only in pockets of the American population does one find birth rates comparable to Israel's, for example among evangelical Christians. There is no direct way to compare the happiness of American Christians and Israelis, but the tumultuous and Protean character of American religion is not as congenial to personal satisfaction. My suspicion is that Israel's happiness is entirely unique.
It is fashionable these days to speculate about the end of Israel, and Israel's strategic position presents scant cause for optimism, as I contended recently. Israel's future depends on the Israelis. During 2,000 years of exile, Jews remained Jews despite forceful and often violent efforts to make them into Christians or Muslims. One has to suppose that they did not abandon Judaism because they liked being Jewish. With utmost sincerity, the Jews prayed thrice daily, "It is our duty to praise the Master of all, to acclaim the greatness of the One who forms all creation, for God did not make us like the nations of other lands, and did not make us the same as other families of the Earth. God did not place us in the same situations as others, and our destiny is not the same as anyone else's."
If the Israelis are the happiest country on Earth, as the numbers indicate, it seems possible that they will do what is required to keep their country, despite the odds against them. I do not know whether they will succeed. If Israel fails, however, the rest of the world will lose a unique gauge of the human capacity for happiness as well as faith. I cannot conceive of a sadder event.
 There are many ancient nations, eg, the Basques, but no other that speaks the same language as it did more than 3,000 years ago, occupies more or less the same territory, and, most important, maintains a continuous literary record of its history, which is to say an interrupted national consciousness.
 The countries shown in the chart are:
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Monday, April 07, 2008
Woodmere Making Aliyah?
Perhaps the best model for North American Aliyah (or all Aliyah in general for that matter) is mass Aliyah. Making Aliyah as a community. Rabbi Riskin proved it could be done in 1983 when he founded Efrat by making Aliyah together with many of the congregants from his Lincoln Square Synagogue. Kumah has always be a strong promoter of mass Aliyah.
Well, today, Rabbi Shalom Rosner of Congregation Bais Ephraim Yitzchak in Woodmere New York, plans to follow in Rabbi Riskin’s footstep and will bring a whole community on Aliyah together. Nofei Hashemesh – located in Beit Shemesh in central Israel - is the name of this new community. You could read more about it on their website.
May this be the first on many new “Aliyah communities” to come!
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Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Video: American Olim Rock!
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Words Can't Add Anything To These Photos!
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Jerusalem Event - Screening of Movie on Jews of Uganda
Screening of SABC (South African Broadcasting Corp) documentary entitled
PEARLS OF AFRICA – THE ABAYUDAYA JEWS OF UGANDA
Produced by Marion Segal and Directed by Guy Lieberman
who will be in attendance to present the documentary while he is visiting Israel.
Thursday 27th December, 7 pm
(Doors open at 6.45 pm, all those non-reserved will be first come, first served. Limited seating)
TICKETS : 20NIS
3rd Ear Screening Room
8 Emek Refaim
German Colony, Jerusalem
This film documents a unique community of Jews living in a remote corner of Uganda, close to the border with Kenya. Called Abayudaya, which means "Jews" in the local language, these peasant farmers practice a home-grown form of Judaism which harks back to biblical times. Claiming no ancestral or genetic connection to Judaism, Chief Kakangulu and his followers chose to adopt the Jewish faith about 90 years ago, despite opposition and even persecution.
Produced by Marion Segal, the story of the Abayudaya is told through the eyes of South African director, Guy Lieberman. Journeying to an area known as the Pearl of Africa, Guy's encounter with the Abayudaya raises questions of faith, identity, devotion and belonging amongst a peoples living in isolation from the rest of the Jewish world.
"It is a remarkable story of hardship and profound faith, prayer and the promise of deliverance, told with humour and joy."
- excerpt from the South African Jewish Report article, attached.
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Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Is it worth it?
Reading the news these days and seeing the repetitive cycle of events make you wonder. Do we really have a say towards the outcome of the State of Israel? Or is it all pre-determined by greedy, pompous, money hungry human wannabes? Do the rallies help? Do the online petitions catch anyone's attention? What about the new outposts springing up all over Judea and Samaira? What about the mass aliyah from all over the
world? Do any of these things have any significance in the portrait of Israel's future?
A couple of weeks ago, while driving, a friend of mine told me that he doesn't see the point in the state of Israel since he feels it will no longer exist in 10 years. What to say back? The way politics are headed, from an unbiased view, he might have some validity in his statement. I can say "we are trying to get new leaders in the government that aren't corrupt and want to build Israel's future not the Arabs" But who am I joking, to me it seems the Israeli people are not willing to do what it takes to eradicate corruption from its political spectrum and the sympathy towards the Arabs doesn't seem to bother many (I am not going to get into the news aspect, that's just too frustrating).
Next, rallies, petitions, strikes... well that didn't work with Gush Katif and with Homesh, and with Hevron, so how will I convince this guy that this time a rally will have a profound effect?
Persecution? Well I don't think I want to throw that idea out, since I think that Israel persecuted the Orange youth more then I care to remember ( 12 year old girls being thrown into jail) and the fights going on between who should be getting more money from the government the frummies, or the ultra frummies?
As I rummage through my brain trying to give this friend a feeling that Israel has a point and should and will exist until the coming of the redemption, a song begins to play. I know the song well, its part of one of my favorite Jewish cd's "Destiney." The words are self explanatory, its talking about a Jewish Russian army pilot that steals one of the planes and tries to fly to Israel to gain his freedom. Using the song as an excuse for my delayed response to his comment, I began to sing with it. There comes a part where the Israeli air force commands the Russian plane to identify itself and the pilot says the only Hebrew words that he knows "Ani Yehudi I'm fighting for my freedom, I'm just one Jew alone, and I'm on my way back home."
And there it was, my answer. Israel has a point, Israel has to exist, if not for all the reasons in the world, then for this one Jew, that was fighting for his freedom. It says when you save one life, you save the world.
~ Shulamit ~
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The Abayudaya - Jewish Zionists in Rural Uganda!
You heard right!
This is one of the most inspiring stories of our time. It is a story that takes place in rural Uganda, in Putti village, where 160 people have been practicing Judaism for nearly four generations.
The organizations, Putti Village Assistance Organization as well as The Committee To Save Ugandan Jewry are working to gain them an Orthodox giur (if needed) and economic self sufficiency. Their ultimate goal? To resettle in the Land of Israel and join the Jewish People.
You have to check out this amazing story: The Jews Of Uganda
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Sunday, November 18, 2007
And she shall be called in Israel...
With much thanks to Hashem, I am happy to share with you that at 10:10am Shabbat Morning, the 7th day of the month of Kislev, 5768 (November 17, 2007), Annie gave birth to a baby girl. Both Annie and our new daughter are doing well - and Hodaya is excited to be a sister.
Being Shabbat, we had the opportunity, a few hours later, during Mincha (afternoon service) to name our daughter.
And she shall be called in Israel... Eliana Racheil.
Eliana means: (My) G-d has answered - a combination of the two Hebrew words, Eli: (My) G-d, and Ana: has answered.
On the most elementary level, It is the hope and prayer of every couple to be blessed with children, and that, in the aftermath of childbirth, that both baby and mother should be well. It is all too easy to forget or take for granted that not every couple has yet to be blessed with children, and not every pregnancy ends well, either for the mother or baby (or both).
So, on this most basic and human level, Eliana - G-d has answered our prayers - and we have been blessed once again with a beautiful baby girl, and that both she and her mother are healthy and happy, if not a bit tired, understandably so.
Racheil comes from our Biblical matriarch Rachel, who happened to be one of the central figures from this past Shabbat's weekly Torah portion - Parshat VaYeitzei.
The Talmud (Niddah 20b) teaches us that when a baby is in the womb, "he / she is taught the entire Torah...". It is not surprising then, having already become familiar with this past Shabbat's Torah portion that Eliana Racheil chose to enter this world specifically on Shabbat Parshat VaYeitzei.
The Hebrew word VaYeitzei means: to go out - and that is precisely what Eliana Racheil did this past Shabbat - she went out of her mother's womb and entered into the world.
Additionally, one of the central themes of Parshat VaYeitzei is that of childbirth. Over the course of the Torah portion, 11 of the 12 sons of Jacob - the Tribes of Israel - are both born and named (another motivation for naming Eliana Racheil over this particular Shabbat), and in addition to the 11 boys born to Jacob, a daughter is also born to him - bringing the total to 12 children born to Jacob over the span of a single Torah portion.
However, in order to fully appreciate and understand the name, one must look at both names together.
There is a Midrash found at the beginning of the Book of Lamentations (Eichah) which recounts the following (copied from www.Chabad.org):
As the Temple lay in ruins and the Jews were being led into exile as slaves, Abraham came before G-d and said: "Master of the universe, when I was 100 years old, you gave me a son, and when he was 37 years old you told me, 'Raise him as a sacrifice before Me.' I overcame my natural mercy and bound him myself. Will You not remember my devotion and have mercy on my children?"
Next, Isaac approached. "When my father said, 'G-d will show us the sheep for a sacrifice, my son,' I did not hesitate but accepted my fate and extended my neck to be slaughtered. Will You not remember my strength and have mercy on my children?"
Then Jacob beseeched: "I worked for twenty years in the house of Laban and when I left, Esau came to harm me. I suffered all my life raising my children. Now they are being led like sheep to the slaughter in the hands of their enemies. Won't you remember all my pain and suffering and redeem my children?"
Moses rose up and said: "Was I not a loyal shepherd of Israel for forty years? I ran before them in the desert like a horse. When the time came to enter Israel, You decreed that I would die in the desert. Now they go into exile. Won't You listen to my crying over them?"
Before all these virtuous defenders, G-d remained silent.
Then Rachel lifted her voice, "Master of the Universe, You know that Jacob loved me intensely and worked for seven years in order to marry me. When the time of my marriage came, my father substituted my sister for me. I did not begrudge my sister and I didn't let her be shamed; I even revealed to her the secret signs that Jacob and I had arranged.
"If I, a mere mortal, was not prepared to humiliate my sister and was willing to take a rival into my home, how could You, the eternal, compassionate G-d, be jealous of idols, which have no true existence, that were brought into Your home? Will You cause my children to be exiled on this account?"
Immediately, G-d's mercy was aroused and He responded, "For you, Rachel, I will bring Israel back to their place."
This Midrash is based on the verses found in the Book of Jeremiah (31: 15 - 17):
So has the Lord said: In Ramah there is a sound of crying, weeping and bitter sorrow; Rachel weeping for her children; she will not be comforted for their loss. The Lord has said this: Keep your voice from sorrow and your eyes from weeping: for your work will be rewarded, says the Lord; and they will come back from the land of their hater. And there is hope for the future, says the Lord; and your children will come back to the land which is theirs.
Returning to the name, Eliana Racheil...
Eliana Racheil is our 2nd child, and our 2nd child to be born in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish People. Annie and I have been blessed to make our home and start our family here, in the Land of Israel, and have our children born in Jerusalem, something which, today, is also something, B"H, that is easy to take for granted.
In response to our matriarch Rachel's tears on seeing the Jewish People led into exile, G-d promised her that "your children (the Jewish People) will return to their borders (the Land of Israel)".
Annie and I, along with Hodaya Leah and Eliana Racheil (and the many other Jews who have returned to the Land of Israel - who have returned home) are the living fulfillment of G-d's promise to Rachel - Eliana Rachel - G-d has answered Rachel's prayer - the Jewish People are coming home.
It is our hope and prayer, in giving our new daughter this name, Eliana Racheil, that she follow in the footsteps of her namesake, Racheil Imeinu, who serves as the embodiment of dedication and self-sacrifice on behalf of the Jewish people, and that our Eliana Racheil devote herself to bringing about the redemption of the Jewish People - may we merit to see it speedily in our - and Eliana Racheil's - lifetime.Full post and comments...
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Guess What I Spotted On My Way Home?
(Thank Ezra for teaching me to always carry around a camera.) It was a Hachnosas Sefer Torah - a dedication for a new Torah scroll - and it's a very ordinary occurrence in Yerushalayim and all over Eretz Yisrael! Borach Hashem!
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Wednesday, October 17, 2007
The Rainbow Connection
Why are there so many songs about rainbows? And why does it always rain on the week of Parshas Noach? Those are questions people always ask. And sure enough the first two Parshas Noachs after I made Aliyah it poured! So this past week as the sun shined brightly we thought we were in trouble there. But have no fear! Sure enough clouds moved in later in the afternoon and delivered a light but steady sprinkle which I guess could be considered the very first rain of 5768 in Yerushalayim.
Tonight however I walked home from work surrounded by an awesome lightening show. The rain, very heavy at times, started falling as I got home. We started praying for rain just a few weeks ago on Simchas Torah! Rain in Israel in the winter months is a sign of blessing and a great simcha (joy)! What a country where we videotape the rain falling!
In a related note all this rain and Parshas Noach remined me of Kermit the frog and his words of pure genius! This song is SOOOO deep! Enjoy!
The Rainbow Connection
Written by Paul Williams and used by Kermit the Frog, of The Muppets, Jim Henson Productions
Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
when wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that
and someone believed it,
and look what it's done so far.
What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing?
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.
All of us under its spell,
we know that it's probably magic....
Have you been half asleep
and have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it.
It's something that I'm supposed to be.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.
La, la la, La, la la la, La Laa, la la, La, La la laaaaaaa
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Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Hoshana Rabbah: More Water at the Kotel?
Tonight, Hashana Rabbah, I visited the Kotel for Mishna Torah - where we read the entire sefer Devarim. Standing in one spot for so long I couldn't help notice something a little unusual.I was standing inside the section known as Wilson's Arch and every ten minutes or so a drop of water would fall from the ceiling. There was one poor guy sitting there that kept getting hit by these drops looking up and wondering where they came from. On my way out I saw another drop fall from another spot in the arch area closer to the exit. Don't get me wrong. It was just a few drops over a long time but considering we haven't had rain in six months it is strange.
Where could these drops be coming from?
Two years ago I remember reading in the Jerusalem Post a story complete with photos of water flowing out of the Kotel. Reb Lazar wrote about it and explain that it was no doubt water from the Gihon river (which gets a cameo appearance in the Torah reading this Shabbos) which lies directly beneath the Dome of the Rock. That wouldn't be too far from the Wilson's Arch area at all - and water would flow down toward there as water always flows down.
Reb Lazer explains:
As mentioned in the previous post on this subject, by Islamic tradition, if the Gihon spring begins to rise on the Temple Mount, it signifies the beginning of Jewish redemption; if Yisrael must rise, then Yishmael must fall. By our own tradition, the moisture at the Western Wall of the Holy Temple indicates the impending redemption of the people and land of Israel, the rebuilding of the Temple and the coming of Moshiach ben David, speedily and in our time, amen.
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Tuesday, September 04, 2007
One Flight Closer to Redemption
Another plane full of Nefesh B'Nefesh Olim landed this morning, the last charter flight of the 7 this summer. Former Chief Rabbi of Israel and current Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau was there to greet the olim, along with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and many others. You can read more about it here. Here are links to my 6 photo albums:
A Torah Scroll also made aliyah:
Chief Rabbi Lau:
Prime Minister Olmert:
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Sunday, September 02, 2007
Doing Kindness - Sderot Shopping Spree
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Those Donuts Better Be Badatz!
In case you missed it, last week the Jerusalem Post had a story about a very interesting Jerusalem Police Officer - a Satmar Chussid! Read on...
Gail Lichtman reports:
Black and blue
Joir (Yair) Lew is probably the last person you would think of as a uniformed volunteer in the Israel Police. It's not because of his age (he's only 31), or his state of health (he's obviously hale and hearty), or even the fact that he is a new immigrant (he speaks Hebrew fluently). But because he is a Satmar Hassid - a member of a haredi sect known for its opposition to secular, political Zionism and the State of Israel, as well as being vehemently against serving in the Israeli army.
So what is Lew doing as a member of Jerusalem's special uniformed volunteer police unit?
"I was brought up in England to be openminded and to love my fellow Jews," explains Lew, who was educated in a Satmar yeshiva and made aliya from London with his wife in 2002.
"Just as I want people to respect me as a human being, so I respect others. I hate the fact that people in Israel break Jews down into categories. All Jews are brothers whether religious or secular, Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Russian, Moroccan, or the like. I joined the police because I want to serve my fellow Jews."
In April 2006, Lew, who was unemployed at the time (he has since started working in a kibbutz factory near Jerusalem), was walking in downtown Jerusalem when he saw police officers recruiting for Yasham (the Hebrew acronym for police volunteer unit).
"The officers were really nice," Lew recalls. "And I was looking for something to do. So I took the information and called the unit. I went for the interview, filled out the forms, passed the background check and was accepted."
Naturally, before joining the unit Lew consulted both his father in England and a rabbi. "I asked if joining would be a problem," he says. "Both the rabbi and my father said essentially the same thing: There is a difference between serving the citizens of this country and serving the State of Israel. Serving Jews as a police officer is okay; serving the State of Israel as a soldier is not."
To some this may seems to be splitting hairs but to Lew it was the answer he needed to join Yasham.
Satmar Hassidim, who originated in an area on the Hungarian-Romanian border, base their opposition to the state on their belief that the creation of a Jewish state by Jews runs counter to God's will. However, they are taught to love the Land of Israel and the Jewish people.
Today, the majority of Satmars live in the US. Only about 900 families live in Israel, mainly in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak. Because of their opposition to political Zionism, they do not serve in the army and refrain from taking money from the State of Israel.
"During the Second Lebanon War, our rabbi, Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, told us to say tehilim [psalms] for Jewish soldiers fighting and being injured," Lew relates. "We said them for Jews not Israelis. All over the world, Satmars prayed for the health and peace of our brothers."
Yasham is a unique Jerusalem phenomenon and is the only police volunteer unit not part of the Civil Guard (Mishmar Ezrahi). Set up five years before the Civil Guard in 1969, to answer Jerusalem's special needs, Yasham currently has about 120 volunteers. This is down from some 250 at the height of the second intifada, but recent months have seen an upswing in interest and recruiting.
"The Yasham attracts volunteers from all walks of life - we have in our unit doctors, lawyers and professors, as well as street cleaners," says Yasham's chief operations officer, Maj. Robert Mountwitten. "But Lew is our only Satmar. In fact, he is currently the only haredi in the unit, although we now have another haredi volunteer who is in the vetting process."
Volunteers range in age from 18 to 65, and include both men and women. They must pass a security check, cannot have a criminal record and must be in good health.
"Those in our unit have to do at least 16 hours a month or four hours every week of volunteering," Mountwitten explains. "In the Civil Guard, volunteers usually do one shift a month. We are in uniform and armed. The unit operates in accordance with the powers extended to police officers by the Knesset. We do patrols, roadblocks, ticketing, etc. We basically have the same authority as regular police officers."
"The Yasham is important in that it gives a lot of extra man-hours to the police and fills in the gaps," he continues. "All of us feel that we are doing something for the security of this city and its people. And if bombs are not going off, it just shows that what the police and the army are doing is working."
Lew is proud of his service, which generally concentrates on security issues. "But we can and do stop vehicles if we feel that the way the driver is driving or something else could be harmful to the public," he says.
In the course of his service, he admits to encountering a few genuine humdingers. "I once pulled over a van that was driving on a main Jerusalem road at night without lights," Lew recalls. "The driver turned out to be a Palestinian who did not have a driving license, did not have an Israeli ID, did not have a registration for the vehicle and was transporting 10 illegal Palestinians in the van. This was a free man in a free world. I couldn't believe that he was driving an overloaded van filled with illegals, without a driving license, registration or ID and was dumb enough not to put his lights on."
On another occasion, Lew stopped a car that seemed too heavy and overcrowded. "The driver thought the whole thing was very amusing. But I was really serious. The man had a car full of children - there were five in the back seat. But when I had him open the truck, I was amazed to discover he had two more children in there. He said that if there wasn't an engine under the hood, he would have put some more children there."
Lew was on patrol in Mea She'arim and Geula during the protests preceding the gay pride parade. "I was driving in my car with the police light on top," Lew recounts. "I had garbage and rocks thrown at me. If I had been foolish enough to get out, I would have been beaten. The fact that I am a haredi man would not have helped. These protesters did not care. But once they were arrested, they quickly started to ask for a frum officer.
"When they were throwing stones, they didn't care if I was a frum cop or not. However, I don't think I can criticize them because once I was part of these demonstrations. When I was studying in yeshiva, I used to join all the protests, no matter what - no autopsies, no Shabbos traffic, modesty, etc. But I was never violent or threw stones."
On protest-free days Lew says he gets an entirely different reception on the streets of the city's haredi neighborhoods. "When I drive through on duty, in uniform, people stop and tell me how proud they are to see a haredi officer. They often ask how they can join the police."
Lew, who is fluent in English, Yiddish and Hebrew, understands German and speaks a little Hungarian, Romanian and French, has started learning Arabic. "I assume it will help me with my police work," he says.
As an Englishman, used to police traditionally armed with nightsticks, Lew is glad that he has never had to draw his gun. "I sincerely hope that I never will have an occasion to use it. And one day, I hope that police in Israel will not need weapons either," he says.
For more information on Yasham, call 050-563-3121.
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Tuesday, August 21, 2007
More Nefesh B'Nefesh Olim!
Mazal Tov to the latest Nefesh B'Nefesh Olim! The 6th charter flight of the summer landed today with 225 new Olim! Click here for an article with lots of my pictures. For the full set, check out my 4 Facebook albums:
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Thursday, August 16, 2007
Israel's Dancing Robots
No, I'm not talking about the current Israeli government.
I'm talking awesome, Bukharian-Jewish, young-religious, Robocup-scoring genius machines that make Israel look GOOD!! Don't you just love good news?
Israeli students shine at international robotics dancing competition
Three students of robotics from the Or Avner Yeshiva High School were congratulated by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week for their victory in Robocup, the Robot World Cup Initiative Dancing Challenge held in Atlanta, Georgia last month.
Gabriel Yisraelov, Itzik Yalizerov and Alex Chaimov beat 50 teams from 23 other countries with their creations Mommy, Mafrat and Brownie the dog.
Olmert was treated to an exclusive performance in which the robots, dressed in the traditional Bukharian dress of their creators' native land (all three immigrated to Israel from Bukharia, Uzbekistan), twirled to a slow song about the coming of the Messiah. Olmert was as impressed as the Robocup audience in the US, which gave the Israeli team a standing ovation.
Moti Meir, the winners' teacher, said that "Or Avner nurtured them and dedicated all of its resources toward helping them."
The 11th RoboCup tournament, held at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, consisted of two challenges, explained Chaimov. In one, each country's team competed against all the others. In the second, three teams had to work together to program a new dance for all their robots.
Teamed with Japanese and American students, the Israelis proposed a wedding. Dan the American robot would marry Mafrat - to Mommy's disapproval. Brownie would come to the lovebirds' rescue, barking at Mommy. The Japanese robot would join in the dancing when the couple finally got married.
Chaimov, 16, who built Mafrat, arrived from Bukharia just two-and-a-half years ago. The Bukharian natives' interest in robotics began before RoboCup. Chaimov created a "smart room," where motion sensors trigger lights to turn on when people enter the room and off when people leave. He hopes to develop a breakdancing robot next year - in the 11th grade.
Yisraelov devised a menora that lights up with realistic flames, which turn on and off in the correct order. Yalizerov invented a robot that is able to sense the color black, following any thick black line.
Diamond billionaire Lev Leviev, the Bukharian-born supporter of the Or Avner schools, called the three students his "dearest diamonds."
"None of this would have been able to happen if the school hadn't paid for our materials and our flight to Atlanta," said Yisraelov.
RoboCup is an international research and education initiative, and the first official games were held in Nagoya, Japan in 1993. Since then, the annual games were hosted by different countries around the world including France (1998), Australia (2000), Germany (2006).
You can view another article on this story at the Chabad website - apparently, Ohr Avner is a Chabad school. Way to go!
Full post and comments...
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Baseball Players Greet Olim
This post isn't about Baseball. It's about Aliyah. The IBL (however you feel about them, Yish) did its part to support Aliyah by welcoming the NBN Olim on Tuesday and here was the reaction of the baseball players as described by Beit Shemesh Blue Sox outfielder Alan Gardner:
The IBL contingent all were surprised by how emotional the experience was for them. Jason Bonder will be attending the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan this fall. For Jason, it was an extremely touching experience to see family upon family exiting the buses dedicated to raising their children in Israel and becoming a part of the fabric of the larger Jewish community that makes up most of Israel. Scott Perlman noted the contrast between how people generally immigrate to the United States to pursue the opportunity for greater financial and other material rewards while the people we met had generally left financial success to come to Israel for a greater purpose, to share a national community in the homeland of the Jewish people...to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Ben Englehart felt such a strong feeling of unity, family and belonging that he wished he'd already packed his bags to join the newcomers. Steve Raab was awestruck by the joy and happiness he saw on the faces of the Olim as they embraced family and friends waiting to greet them. Dan Saltzman's brother made Aliyah last year. He was reminded of the emotions of his brother and his family as he watched families leaving the buses with their children and picking up their luggage to start their new lives as Israelis dedicated to preserving, serving and improving the Jewish homeland.
Read the full article with photos here.
Full post and comments...
Friday, July 13, 2007
Today is my two year anniversary. Two years ago, today (secular date) I came home. So what's it like two years later? Well I feel at home, that's for sure. The Rechavia neighborhood now feels familiar to me. I know all the shortcuts that tourist will never know about. I know the Rambam was given a much nicer street than both the Rif and the Ramban. In fact I think it's the most beautiful street in all of Yerushalayim while Radak and Ramban remains my most favorite intersection. It's nice living somewhere where the streets are named after Rishonim. Every time I walk up my block I'm reminded of Shabbos Zemiros (the block nearby being named after an author of one.)
But what's even more amazing now is what I see when I visit America and see it now through the eyes of somebody who hass been living in the homeland for the past two years. I am even more amazed than ever at how American Jews could live their lives without giving any sincere consideration toward returning to their true home. I have often maintained there are legitimate reasons for postponing Aliyah (while there are also poor excuses) but I don't see how a truly Torah observant G-d fearing Jew can wake up each and every day without making some sort of effort to return to where we really belong. How such a Jew can live life fully content with the status quo as if living in chutz l'aretz was the ultimate destiny of the Jewish people is beyond me.
The question remains why is it this way? Why in 1948 after Israel independence was declared and permission for every Jew to return home granted (or did that happen in 1917) didn't the floodgates of Aliyah open? Was it too soon after the war? Were we too devastated after the horrors of the Shoah to realize the opportunity that G-d had presented us?
What about in 1967? After the world witnessed open miracles and Jerusalem was reunited under Jewish sovereignty for the first time in 2000 years! Certainly then the call for the Jews to return home was louder than ever. And the shofer has been sounded just as loudly ever since.
Every Frum Jew living in America has to ask himself if the true purpose of our nation here on earth is for every Jewish family to have a five car garage, a swimming pool, a manicured lawn, and a fireplace. For if acquisition of wealth is the Jewish People's purpose than certainly America is the Promised Land and we are living up to our mandate.
But when people say they can't earn a parnussa in Israel are they really saying they can't acquire wealth here? When did we forget the difference between earning a respectable living and getting rich. (Again I understand that there are circumstances where one can't even earn a livelihood and that is a valid heter not to make Aliyah.). But actually I’ll tell you on every trip to America more and more people come up to me and tell me they are making Aliyah. So the truth is maybe we didn't forget the difference at all...
NBN brought three flights of Olim to Israel this week. Perhaps we are starting to get it.
Full post and comments...
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Aliyah Summer 2007 Begins: Photos Tell The Story
'The Good Olim of Our Times'
In my lifetime, I have seen the passing of several notable Gedolim, or greatest scholars-leaders of our time: The Baba Sali, Rav Soloveitchik, The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rav Kadouri, just to name a few.
It remains to be seen whether our generation can replace these beacons of Torah and leadership with Rabbis and leaders of equal status. This is a great loss for our nation, in our generation. It is hard to pinpoint now exactly who are the Gedolim of our times.
But when leaders are no longer present, that doesn't mean that leadership ceases. Someone or someones need to take the bull by the horns, and lead the Jewish people forward. Today, Israel and the Jewish people were blessed with the arrival of 200 plus Jewish immigrants, or Olim, adding onto the 3,000 or so that have been arriving from North America each year.
I think we should praise these good olim. They (heck, myself included) have made bold steps to lead the Jewish people against all modern conventional wisdom, to return to our biblical heritage. This cannot be overlooked. These courageous leaders can definitely be considered the Good Olim of our times.Full post and comments...
Saturday, July 07, 2007
On Monday a group of NBN olim from Canada will be arriving. That will be followed up on Tuesday by a full NBN chartered Aliyah flight due in on Tuesday morning from New York's JFK. There will be a huge ceremony greeting them at the airport! And to top off the week on Wednesday night a group of NBN olim will be arriving from the UK.
Of course as always, Kumah plans to bring you all the action so stay tuned. Or better yet come take part in it yourself. Unfortunately registration for this week's ceremony is already closed but the good news is there are FIVE more ceremonies planned this summer!
Another week like this won't happen again for... like another three weeks!
Full post and comments...
Literally Everybody is Making Aliyah. (Google's AliyRSS-Feed)
The excitement? Yeah, lately I would call it that. On a daily basis local papers around the US are publishing human interest stories about the local Jews coming home. Here are a selection:
* Danbury, CT's NewsTimesLive.com:
American-born Giliah Ruth Librach, who was conceived in Israel and grew up always feeling it was her home, is pulling up her roots this month and going there for good.The Feed also brought to my attention to this story, though I have reserve duty with her daughter (a mashakit chilutz) in the near future:
* JPost: Woman rabbi flies to US to preach aliya [Jpost hates capitalization -ed.]:
Shiryon's trip to the US to encourage Reform Jews to perform the ultimate Zionist act and make aliya marks a break with the official Reform stance, which could be best described as "lukewarm." Now the Reform Movement is actively encouraging its members to consider immigration to Israel.
"It has nothing to do with fears of intermarriage," said Shiryon. "The Reform Movement is very open to welcoming mixed couples. It has to do with living a full Jewish life."
* The Toledo Blade: Rabbi Heading For His Spiritual Home: Israel:
Looking back at his three years at B'nai Israel, a Conservative congregation in Sylvania, he said the life cycle numbers are not very positive.
"I've officiated at 51 funerals, 27 b'nei mitzvah, and only two weddings, and one of those weddings was for an out-of-town member," he said.
"It reflects the demographic changes in the community. The congregation is shrinking," Rabbi Leff said.
"The state of Israel is the most exciting thing to happen to the Jewish people in 2,000 years," Rabbi Leff said. "The fact that we can live in a Jewish country is truly miraculous."
* Haaretz has even took a break from getting anonymous Jewish Agency sourpusses to badmouth Nefesh b'Nefesh to note the 33-year record Aliyah from North America.
* And in case you doubt the value of an Aliyah/Aliya RSS feed, you now know that the President of Kazakhstan named his daughter Aliyah.
There really is an Aliyah revolution afoot.
Full post and comments...
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Baseball in Israel
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
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.
Dovid & Sara Baila Akselrud
Full post and comments...
Monday, June 18, 2007
I Graduated Machon Lev!
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:
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.
Full post and comments...
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Neozionist Role Model: Stanley Fischer
"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..
Full post and comments...
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Calls to Re-settle Gush Katif
Sunday, May 20, 2007
BREAKING: Elders Hold News Conference
A spokesman for the Elders of Zion, Mr. Larry Elder, is holding a news conference in which he is stating the Elders' recommended course of action in Sderot. I am liveblogging, here goes:
LE: ... the Elders recommend the following:
a) we get a normal Prime Minister instead of this meshugener shaygetz.
b) the new PM gets the IDF to build The Gazanator.
c) the new PM holds a news conference in Sderot in which he unveils The Gazanator.
d) The Gazanator is a computer connected to some Howitzers on one end and the Color Red incoming rocket alert system on the other. Basically, what it does is confirm that there is an incoming rocket and have a Howitzer fire a shell into a randomly selected point in Gaza's populated areas.
e) The PM then proceeds to load the Howitzers with shells himself, so as to make clear the responsibility for any "war crime" is his and his alone. He explains that once the Gazanator is turned on, the only thing that will make it fire shells are incoming rockets from Gaza, and the only thing that will make it stop firing shells is a cessation of incoming fire from Gaza.
f) PM turns on The Gazanator. End of story.
(silence, then commotion)
Full post and comments...
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Once again, Blogging from work... Gasp uh.
Anyhow, so as you know from my last post, I am a bit disappointed in the people that are honored by living in Israel, but are not getting rid of their government that everyone in the world knows is incapable of governing.
But there is always hope. After reading the below article, I have hope. I know there is a sense of movement going around and sooner rather then later, it will brake into reality. This kind of pride and centered thinking is very simplistic and contagious, since it's secure in its validity and when spoken out loud, is understood to be true.
What am I talking about...? Read... Comment... Pass it on!!!
The Jerusalem Knock Out: By Moshe Feiglin
Translated from the Makor Rishon newspaper.
28 Iyar, 5767
May 16, 2007
"Shalom, this is Gideon Levi from the Ha'aretz newspaper," said the voice on the other end of the phone line. "On Sunday, I will be moderating a symposium on the topic of Jerusalem. Health Minister Yuli Tamir will be there, Faisal Husseini from the Palestinian Authority will speak, and I will be happy if you would also come," he says.
The Jerusalem Theatre is filled with Jerusalem Leftists -- all sorts of "human rights" types. A film depicting the suffering of Jerusalem's Arabs under the Israeli occupation is screened. At the end, the audience is palpably angry.
"I am honored to present the Jerusalemite who holds the Education portfolio in the Palestinian Authority, Dr. Faisal Husseini," says Gideon Levi. Loud applause accompanies Husseini as he ascends the steps to the stage and seats himself near the small coffee table at center stage. "Our second guest is Health Minister Professor Yuli Tamir." The honorable minister also enjoys loud applause as she sits next to Husseini. "And our third guest, Mr. Moshe Feiglin." I don't hear any catcalls, but the absolute silence shouts even louder. I walk between the rows of seats to the stage. But before I could ascend the stairs, Husseini gets up, stands at the top of the steps and greets me with his outstretched hand. His hand remains in the air. I ignore him and seat myself next to Yuli Tamir.
"Before we begin our discussion," Levi says, "I must ask you a question, Mr. Feiglin. A respectable, mature person gets up in your honor and wishes to shake your hand. Why don't you respond in kind?" "Mr. Husseini is my enemy," I answer simply. "He wants my Jerusalem. Would you shake the hand of someone who demands your home?"
The discussion begins. Husseini speaks about his family who has lived in Jerusalem for 600 years. He speaks of the good neighborly relations between the Arabs and Jews, depicting the pastoral Garden of Eden that existed in Jerusalem before the Jewish conquest. "When the occupation will end," he concludes his words to the vigorous nodding of Minister Tamir, "we will once again live in peace."
"You know what, Faisal?" I turn to Husseini in a friendly tone. "We have something in common that nobody else in this auditorium shares." Husseini looks at me in surprise. The audience becomes alert, waiting for peace to break out in the hall. "I think that you and I are the only people in this entire auditorium that believe in G-d," I continue. "You do believe in G-d, isn't that correct, Mr. Husseini?" Husseini nods his agreement. "Now look," I continue. "I have brought a Bible with me. This is my holy book." I take a Bible out of my briefcase and place it on the coffee table. "Jerusalem appears in my holy book more than 800 times. You can count if you would like." Husseini nods his head, looking confused.
"I also brought another book," I continue as I pull a Koran that I had borrowed from the library out of my briefcase. "This is a Koran. It is your holy book. Is that correct?" Husseini nods his agreement. I place the Koran on the coffee table next to the Bible. "Can you please count how many times Jerusalem appears in your holy book? You will not have to work hard, because it doesn't appear at all. Now tell me -- to whom does Jerusalem belong? To the People of the Bible or the People of the Koran?"
To my surprise, the audience begins to applaud. This is the language with which we will retain our sovereignty over Jerusalem. www.JewishIsrael.org
~ I think you get what I am talking about... Enjoy, Have a good one
~ Shulamit TTFN uh
Full post and comments...
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
1967: A Year of Jewish Military Campaigns
According to Lubavitch, 2007 marks the 40 year anniversary of the great Rabbi General Menachem Mendel's Tefillin campaign, which also has helped the nation and people of Israel expand their spiritual borders.
Check out this 1 minute video in honor of the anniversary, entitled "The Tefillin Booth"
Full post and comments...
Thursday, May 10, 2007
A Neo-Zionist Challenge: Shmittah & The Living Torah
Next year is going to a be a Shmittah year - the one year in every seven, where the Land of Israel must be left to lie fallow.
Since the destruction of the 1st Holy Temple in Jerusalem, until present times - over 2,500 years later - Shmittah has been only Rabbinically mandated. However, within the next 25 years, when the majority of the Jewish People will be living in the Land of Israel, Shmittah (along with all of the other Mitzvot HaTeluyot Ba'aretz - Land of Israel dependent commandments) will return to Biblically mandated status.
Below are two article presenting differing perspectives as to how modern Israeli society should be relating to Shmittah - each with their own set of pros and cons:
1) Chief Rabbinate to Reduce Use of Special 7th-Year Dispensation
2) The ground beneath our feet
Equally important as the solution that will ultimately be agreed upon and implemented is the discussion in itself.
For 2,000+ years, this discussion did not take place - could not take place - in a manner that had any practical relevance. With the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel the Torah of Israel has returned to life.
Rabbi Yotav Eliach puts it best:
The Torah sets up a constitutional blueprint for the running of a Jewish society which is anchored in a Jewish state. Parashat Mishpatim, most of Vayikra and Bemidbar, and all of Sefer Devarim, make this point very clear. Judaism is not merely interested in the ritualistic aspects of our lives. It is rather a framework for running a Jewish republic, one complete with a court system, government, army, welfare and tax system. Finally, this constitutional blueprint is not meant for implementation in any piece of territory in which the Jewish nation may happen to be the majority, but primarily in the one country whose boundaries are clearly outlined geographically in the Torah: The Land of Israel.Thank G-d for the challenges that go along with living in the Land of Israel!Full post and comments...
One of the striking ways to reinforce these points is by showing that there are four basic areas of mitzvot in the Torah that are dependent upon the Land of Israel in one way or another:
a) All mitzvot connected to the Beit Hamikdash in any shape or form;
b) All mitzvot connected to having a Sanhedrin court system functioning;
c) All mitzvot connected to the soil of Israel;
d) All mitzvot connected to the running of the government, army, and taxes.
Taken together, these four areas make up approximately 50% of the 613 mitzvot. Another graphic way to make the point of Israel's centrality to Jewish life is by looking at the Shas. Two of the six sedarim of Shas, Kodashim and Taharot, are totally dependent upon the Land of Israel, as is Seder Zera'im (with the exception of Masekhet Berakhot).
The fourth, Seder Mo'ed, is also very dependent upon the Land of Israel. All the special sacrifices associated with each holiday are dependent upon the Beit Hamikdash in Israel, as is aliyah la'regel, bikkurim, and the bringing of the omer. The fifth, Seder Nezikin, is also connected, to a large extent, to the concept of a functioning Jewish legal system existing in the land of Israel, headed by the Sanhedrin. Only the sixth seder - Nashim - can be kept almost in its entirety (the exception being Sotah) outside the boundaries of Israel.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Kumah Nominated For 8 JIBs + 6 more JIBs!!!
The 2007 JIB awards are here and Kumah is very honored to be nominated EIGHT times. Round one voting starts Sunday night (Israel time) so check back here for details on how to vote.
Kumah was nominated for the following awards:
- Best Group Blog
- Best Pro-Israel Advocacy Blog
- Best Slice of Life in Israel Blog
- Best Jewish Religious Post
- Best Humor Post
- Best Live Event Coverage Post
- Best Designed
- Best Contribution / Blog that Made a Difference
Aside from those, Kumah bloggers (blogging elsewhere) were nominated for another 6 awards.
Malkah's Eyshet Chayil was nominated for Best Kosher Food/Recipe Post
Ze'ev's Israel Perspectives was nominated for Best Right-Wing Political Blog
And your's truly's Point of Pinchas was nominated for Best Personal Blog, Best Photo/Graphics Blog, Best Series, and Best Picture or Video in a Post
Congratulations to the whole team on these well deserved nominations and good luck to everyone!
Full post and comments...
Monday, April 02, 2007
Found: Real Israeli ish
You know when you're looking for something and no matter what you do, you can't find it, but when you're not looking for it, poof it appears... Well during one of my rants, I spoke about the Israeli that I was raised looking up to, and desiring to emulate, and how I can't seem to find them any more. Well I found ONE!!! A real one, the one that has no clue about politics or what "should" be done, instead, just does what he feels is right for his nation and his people, and asks questions later. The one that can take you down, with one hand behind his back, blindfolded, with a rubber band. The invincible lion of Israel.
So it all started when I needed a car service to the airport. I knew there was going to be a snowstorm over the weekend, so I didn't want to park my car in long term parking, because I don't do well with shovels and cold. After calling some places, the lowest price I got was $25 to JFK. My roommate told me about one more car service that is run by Israeli's, and I decided to give them a shot.
Me: "hi, how much is it to JFK"
Car Guy: "eh where you coming from"
Car Guy: "eh ok ok, for you 35"
Me: "um well I just called safe way, and their price is 25, can you do better"
Car Guy: "eh, what, no way, the lowest 32"
Me: "hum, well they said 25, I can make a conference call with you"
Car Guy: "eh, um, ok, hold on"
New Car Guy (way worse accent): "What you want?"
Me: "um, a car to JFK for 25"
New Car Guy: "listen, we are Jews, we keep kosher, we don't get subsidized by the government, the lowest I can give you is 30"
Me: (my Jewish consciousness kicking in) "ok fine, but you have to come on time"
Okay, so the conversation should have told me something about this car service, but that was nothing compared to the guy that came to pick me up... As suspected, he was 10 minutes late, first sign of a true Israeli. He pulls up in a huge SUV, while yelling at someone on the phone. He motions for me to come, and realizing that he wasn't going to help me with my luggage, I began lugging it myself. He told me I had to sit in the front seat, since he didn't have a license for taxi service to an airport, second sign. So I get into the car (it was green, so that made me happy), he asks me how I am going to pay, and I said I gave the dispatcher my credit card already. I can tell he was upset, so I asked if everything was okay, he said he doesn't like to take credit, only cash. So I'm like, well, he already charged my credit card, but I'll give you a tip in cash; that perked him up little.
We started making small talk, nothing major. He was being very cautious with his questions, and I was like, I don't care, just get me to JFK on time, and it's all good. But then he asks where I'm from, I say "FL what about you?" He responds with an astonished "What you mean, Israel of course." I respond with a sarcastic "Yeh okay, so what are you doing here?" And here comes his excuse "well I have to be here for a couple of months, but I am going back soon, there is no place like Israel, its my home, its where you can really live." Humm, I think, maybe this guy has something there, let's have some fun.
"Okay so if you say you can only really live in Israel, what do you think about the current government; I don't think they let people really live there." He looks at me, long and hard, then says, "you know what, I'll tell you something, I was in the Golani brigade, I was positioned in Beirut for 3 years, this government is nothing, they will be behind bars soon, they have no military experience, they are little toys, like nothing" and he flicks his fingers to demonstrate this nothingness. So I respond, "Yeh, okay, they might be little toys, but they are the ones in power, I don't see you commanding any troops". I can tell I was pushing the right buttons, because I can see some steam coming out of his ears (third sign he is an Israeli) He responds in a stern voice "listen to me, you don't know what is going on, you will see, we will take back power, the people know this is not a real government, they will take it over, you will see, trust me, I know, I have seen, I know." So I'm still not impressed, "words are nice" I said, "but action, is what New Yorkers look for, and right now, all I hear from you is words. You say that this government has no military background, but look at Sharon, he had military background, and he gave back Gaza, look how much problems we are getting because he allowed this to happen." Okay, I think to myself, I got him, what is he going to say now? I mean, I am right, I cornered him, see, I am more of an Israeli then him!!! However, to my surprise, my comment make no effect on him, he just looked at me and said, "do you know what Sharon said when he gave Gaza back? Well he said I am giving this (Gaza) to you, but whenever I need it, I will take it back, just know that when I want it, I can get it back in a second."
And there it was, staring me in the face, that look that he didn't care, didn't care about politics, didn't care about what everyone thought, didn't care what people would say, just cared that when he would need it, he would get it back. He didn't have the look of "I will fight and get it back" it was the look "I will get it back, that is the only option." At that point, I took out my camcorder, and wanted to interview him, because I wanted to show what I saw, since I was not sure I would be able to relate it as it was. But the fourth sign of him being an Israeli, he refused to be in any photography, saying he wasn't allowed to be "seen." Nice I thought, just what I would expect him to say.
The rest of the ride was amazing. We talked about how he envisioned Israel, and how he knows without a doubt in his mind, that it will come to be. He told me to trust him, and know that there are people in Israel that know how to fight and get what they need, without being bogged down with policies and bureaucratic procedures.
Maybe I was being unrealistic when I believed him, and maybe not. Maybe they are there, living quietly in Israel and when the time comes, will take over the military, and finally do it right, get it right, and have Israel be the right place for Jews. Run by Jews, for Jews.
Be strong, we shall overcome, and we will get our captive soldiers back (faster if we let this taxi driver take command) they exist, I met one, and where there is one, there has to be more!!!
Have an AMAZING Pesach!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
~ Shulamit, DFTSS, TTFN uh
Full post and comments...
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Ariel Zilbers Sings of Homesh, Kumah and Returning Home
Monday, March 26, 2007
Finally, some hard core media coverage...
Hey all, life has been a little hectic, jet blue and FedEx lost my luggage, but that's for another post. Now about the Truth of Radical Muslims ( which we all KNOW already, but now its on CBS so Woo Hoo!!!)
I just read this, which can also be WATCHED, and I am amazed that it is getting such nice media coverage.
The gist is about a look into the inner workings of the global jihad system, especially in London and how they used the British Government to enhance their terrorist training and activities. 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon interviews Hassan Butt who states "There is a violent streak within Islam. We need to be able to discuss and counter these arguments so that we don't have any more Mohammad Sadique Khans." Its quite informative, and semi reassuring that some people might be coming to their senses ( but I'm not getting all jumpy yet)
Anyhow enjoy, have a good one and DFTSS :-)
Full post and comments...
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Kumah Does Facebook
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Being a Jew, and choosing System Restore
So I was suppose to go to the Manhighut Yehudit annual dinner in NY Last weekend. I was all dressed up, and prepared to go and be part of one of the most amazing groups around today. I even brought a little note pad in my little purse, to take notes, so I could write a really cool post about how Moshe Feiglin and Manhighut Yehudit is the best hope Israel politics have today.
However, Life happens...
While driving on the belt parkway toward the dinner, running a bit late, but still on time according to Jewish clocks. I got a call from my friend. She was hit by a car, and Thank G-d she was fine, but the Hatzolah guys wanted her to go to the emergency room just in case. Even though she was fine, its quite traumatic to get hit, and have to go to an emergency room by yourself. So although I was all ready to be inspired and have a blast at the conference, I did some illegal u turns, and went zooming to the hospital.
Now, although I was unable to make the conference, I realized, that by turning around, I was walking in the Manhigut Yehudit leadership footsteps; being a good Jew, and doing what is right. The right thing was to turn around and be there for my friend, and not to go to a conference that I have been looking forward to for a month, because, this is being a Jew. Taking a step forward, and doing not necessarily want we want, but what is right and what we know we should in our gut.
Every Jew, somewhere inside, maybe way deep down, but somewhere in there, we all know that the Land of Israel is ours. We come from generations of believers. We have a spark, that when ignited, can defy reality and overcome any odds that exist in this worlds reality. We are the chosen people, and we are meant to be a light onto the nations. Its part of our internal hardrive. Many of us override it with ideas that the UN and EU make the rules, and we are obligated to follow them, and not ourselves. But like any computer, when too much has been overridden, it crashes, and needs a system restore (like what happened to my dell). Which means, we go back to the manufactures default programs.
By default, we can overcome anything this world throws at us.
By default, we have the courage to conquer any fears we have.
By defalt we have the G-d that created this world on our side.
By default, the land of Israel belongs to US and if we back proper leaders, that have faith in the Torah and G-d, by default Israel will be secure, will prosper, and will be a real light onto the nations, and become our everlasting home.
By default, this will happen, eventually, but its our choice when. The leadership of Manhigut Yehudit, I feel is our system restore button, and I encourage everyone to come and press it.
( As a side note: I am not really into politics. I don't follow the lasts scams, and newest elections. But I am sure some people have issues with Moshe Feiglin's views. To this I will give a very simple answer, "please remember, that he is not perfect. He does not have all the right answers. He is human, just like you and me. But know, that he is the best out there right now. He may make mistakes with some of his views, but that makes him human. If he did everything the way everyone liked, we should all get scared, because being perfect is not a human trait. Working on yourself, through trial and error, is. Give someone room to be human. Accept the things you don't agree with, as part of his human trait. And really notice all the things he is so on track with, that he is causing quite a stir in the lefties groups.
So please, don't expect a leader to be perfect, and do everything YOU feel he should, just expect him to be honest, follow Torah values, and have the desire to turn the state of Jews, into the JEWISH STATE!!!")
Full post and comments...
Saturday, March 10, 2007
NYT: Choosing Israel, Not the Hamptons
The following excellent piece appeared in yesterday's The New York Times. (You won't see me typing a sentance like that often!) It appears online here and a slideshow is posted here.
Now because articles on the NYT website have the habit of disappearing after a few days we cut and pasted the whole thing here.
The nutshell version is that American Jews are starting to opt to buy their second homes in Israel instead of traditional US vacation spots. And, it gets better, many of those Jews eventually move here for good!
Full text follows...
March 9, 2007
Choosing Israel, Not the Hamptons
By DAVID KAUFMAN
AS an associate professor of clinical surgery and chief of high risk programs at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Dr. Freya Schnabel is an unlikely international real estate pioneer. But as one of the first buyers in Eden Hills - a planned community 15 minutes southwest of Jerusalem - Dr. Schnabel, who is 49, is emblematic of a new breed of visitor to Israel: the foreign vacation-home buyer.
Indeed, from downtown Tel Aviv to the heart of Jerusalem, foreigners - especially Americans - searching for second homes are redefining Israel's high-end real estate market. Part of Tel Aviv is, in fact, in the midst of a mini-Manhattan makeover with the recent arrival of New York-style residential projects designed by the likes of Philippe Starck and Richard Meier. Even Donald Trump has entered the Tel Aviv marketplace with plans for a 70-story residential and commercial tower - Israel's highest - in the suburb of Ramat Gan.
Real estate analysts estimate that while foreigners made up less than 5 percent of total home buyers in Israel last year, they snapped up a third of the luxury properties - roughly defined as those priced above $500 a square foot. Taking advantage of a decrease in terrorism and property prices still far below Western levels, foreigners bought over $1.2 billion in Israeli real estate in 2006, according to the Israel Central Bank, more than double the $445 million in sales just three years earlier.
While deals like the $13 million purchase of a Tel Aviv triplex by Shari Arison, the Carnival Cruise Lines heiress, illustrate the upper end of the market, most foreign buyers are far more modest. But their desire for larger properties appears to be growing.
"The Americans have shifted from buying one- to two-bedroom to four- to five-bedroom apartments over the past half decade," said Werner M. Loval, managing director of the Jerusalem office of Anglo-Saxon Real Estate in Jerusalem, one of Israel's largest real estate agencies. "But they're still usually spending from about $400,000 to $1 million."
Davyd Tal, the Welsh-born owner of the real estate agency Jerusalem Homes, said that about 65 percent of all foreign buyers are Americans, most of whom are in their 40s and 50s. In Jerusalem, a quarter of all homes sold in 2006 went to foreigners.
Such statistics are credited with helping to boost average per-room prices throughout the capital by 27 percent last year - to just over $88,000 - even though the majority of foreigners remain concentrated in several city-center neighborhoods. These include Rehavia, the German Colony, old Katmon, Kiryat Shmuel, Mamilla and Talibeh, areas where roughly half of last year's home sales were to foreigners.
These areas are mostly within walking distance of major religious sites - the Old City, the Western Wall and the Great Synagogue - fulfilling the needs of the mostly religious Americans who are increasingly calling the neighborhoods home for at least part of the year.
"They want to be here because Jerusalem is the holy city and they are prepared to pay for this privilege," said Yaron Tzuberi, marketing and sales director for Africa Israel, one of Israel's top residential real estate developers.
Mr. Tzuberi notes that almost none of his American buyers live in Jerusalem full time, visiting instead during major Jewish holidays like Passover and Sukkot and perhaps for a few weeks each summer. Such buyers may eventually retire in Israel, but for now, he adds, "the apartments are just empty the rest of the time."
Nonetheless, along with their personal reinforced-concrete bomb shelters, Mr. Tzuberi's clients demand amenities like parking and central air-conditioning and heating - still premium services in much of Israel.
Some buyers are even opting for American-style gated communities - like the 600-unit Eden Hills - to further cushion their landing in the Levant.
"I hate sounding like an ugly American," said Dr. Allen Josephs, a 56-year-old New Jersey neurologist and future Eden Hills resident. "But I want my creature comforts while still being in Israel."
American buyers also covet the sights and sounds of Jerusalem itself. "Views of the Old City and of the Dome of the Rock are a must," Mr. Tzuberi said, "even though they can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cost of a home."
Properties within the walls of the Old City itself, meanwhile, are so rare that they regularly come with multimillion-dollar price tags, including one historic gem near the Western Wall that real estate agents said was shown to Madonna in 2004, though she did not buy it.
IT'S a simple case of supply and demand," says Mr. Tal of Jerusalem Homes. "When homes enter this market, they move fast."
Mr. Tal cited a $650,000 property in the Old City that sold within weeks. Another there was recently resold after just a year, with a markup of $450,000, to $1.45 million.
Views of the Mediterranean - rather than of historic sites - are among the key selling points in Tel Aviv, Israel's second-strongest market for foreign sales. Barely 90 years old, Tel Aviv's skyline is dotted with boxy, 1950s-era apartment blocks, along with an increasing number of sleek new luxury residential towers. They're a far cry from Jerusalem's low-rise, stone-clad houses.
"While Jewish, Tel Aviv buyers are almost never religious, and tend to visit far more often than their Jerusalem counterparts," said Mr. Tzuberi, adding that second-home buyers there are mostly American, British, Russian, French and ex-patriate Israelis looking for a part-time residence back home.
Spas, swimming pools, doormen and heavy security are standard offerings in Tel Aviv's newest developments, which include Mr. Starck's Yoo Tel Aviv - twin 40-floor cylinders opening later this year - and Mr. Meier's 30-story residential tower on posh Rothschild Avenue, which will open in 2010.
Such perks are expensive, however. Prime homes have risen roughly 30 percent over the last year to at least $650 a square foot at benchmark projects like the Akirov Towers - also called the Treetop Towers - in northern Tel Aviv; the 168-unit Rova Lev Ha'ir complex in the city center; and the beachfront Opera Tower. They go up to $1,000 a square foot by the sea.
Ms. Arison's $13 million downtown triplex is in Project G, a 31-floor tower still on the drawing boards.
"We were surprised by these prices, but we actually just purchased a second, larger apartment in the same building," said Margaret Amouyal, who bought into Rova Lev Ha'ir three years ago and visits Tel Aviv six times a year from Brussels.
For many foreigners in Tel Aviv, such standards increasingly include elements of the city's Bauhaus past. Known as the White City and declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 2003, Tel Aviv's historic core includes 4,000 Bauhaus buildings - the largest single concentration in the world - many now the target of design-minded American and European second-home seekers. Designated for conservation, Bauhaus apartments usually cover entire floors and offer the feel of a private home in a city that conspicuously lacks detached housing.
As a recent $26 million deal for five historic Tel Aviv Bauhaus buildings suggests, buying into this unique architectural heritage is not for the meek. Landmarked buildings command at least 30-percent premiums over conventional structures from the same era, according to Itzik Ben-Shoam, chief executive of White City Buildings, a real estate agency specializing in Bauhaus residences.
Whether purchasing along Israel's coast or in its spiritual heartland, one thing has been common among almost all foreign home buyers in Israel. They are generally not investment purchases.
"They're intended to be true second homes and not sold or rented for a quick profit," said the developer Alfred Akirov, whose eponymous trio of towers helped start Tel Aviv's luxury skyscraper boom in the late 1990s.
WHILE foreign sales are providing a much-needed boost to Israel's overall economy - battered earlier this decade by almost five years of bomb attacks on civilians - Israelis themselves have not necessarily been so welcoming.
Secular, middle-class Jerusalemites who can no longer afford to live in many areas of their city have been the most vocal in their anti-outsider sentiment. What's more, with foreign buyers often absent for months on end, some areas of the city can seem like luxury ghost towns.
In response, developers have broadened their marketing strategies to include local buyers, as well as voluntarily capping foreign ownership, as in a 30 percent limit at a new seafront tower in the resort city Netanya. While government-mandated restrictions remain unlikely, urban development organizations like the Futura Institute have suggested supplemental property taxes for non-Israeli owners or incentives for developers to include affordable housing aimed at local residents in luxury projects.
One firm, Nam5, is constructing a 120-unit residence offering free housing to recently discharged soldiers in a Tel Aviv suburb, as well as a new luxury tower in Tel Aviv.
For buyers like Dr. Schnabel and Dr. Josephs - who expect to move to Eden Hills by 2009 - rising prices and edged-out locals seem a world away from their still-pristine slice of ancient Judea. With homes ranging from $400,000 to well over a million, Eden Hills is priced to appeal to buyers accustomed to living among the parks, tennis courts, artificial lakes, bike trails and tree-lined pedestrian malls typical of high-end American subdivisions. Such attributes, along with numerous synagogues, are designed to lure Eden Hills's wealthy, Orthodox American target audience - and keep them there.
Dr. Schnabel is already practicing for her new, part-time life in Israel with monthlong stays in Jerusalem apartments to gain a sense of the country off the typical tourist track. And Dr. Josephs is so bullish on Israel that he has bought four separate Eden Hills lots for himself and his children.
"I am actually thinking of Eden Hills as my primary residence," Dr. Josephs said, adding that, eventually, "I will live in Israel, and then visit my second home - in New Jersey."Full post and comments...
Friday, March 09, 2007
Dell, and being A Jew
So I got a new dell computer, and my luck, with in 24 hours, I had a list of problems. So I called tech support, and even used my "daytime" minutes on my cell, in case they closed early or something, and you know when you get something new, you want it to work perfectly, like immediately.
Dell reps are really sweet, and after 20 min, I was directed to the right place. A lovely lady got on the phone, and I told her all my problems. She notified me that she would have to log into my computer to get a hands on look.
Now, why would I mind if she logged into my computer, I have nothing to hide. So I logged off AIM and let her in.
The first thing she did was open Internet Explorer. Even though I had the computer for less then 24 hours, my home page was already set to www.Arutzsheva.com. And then, the weirdest thing happened, when the site loaded, and I knew that at that moment this lovely dell person knew I was a Jew, I felt embarrassed. I wanted to close the screen, or at least put a different website on. I actually felt bad that she now knew, that I was a Jew, and a political, right wing one; since the main topics were, well... about Livni not kissing up to the EU...
Why should I feel ashamed to be a Jew? To someone I never met, and never will? I wanted her to think i was just an average American, But I'm NOT, I'm a Jew, and should not have to feel bad, when others find out. I couldn't believe that I was getting all uptight and nervous that she wont fix my computer properly, or she will add a virus or something ABSURD like that. Then I thought, well if I felt it, other people do also, but why?
Sometimes I feel like its a secret that we are Jews. Like we are the big green elephant in the corner, that no one talks about, but we all know is there. I don't want to have to hide who I am, to a DELL TECHNICIAN!!! Its my right and my heritage to be proud being a Jew.
So after the 2.5 hour convo, with Fahara, from Asia, I am getting a new Dell shipped over to me, and made myself promise that I will not become embarrassed or ashamed next time someone finds out I am a Jew. In fact, I told her how much I loved Israel, and that one day I will be living there, and then as a good Jew, I invited her over if she ever came to Israel to visit :-)
The funny thing was, I felt so much better after. I felt that she knew I was a proud Jew and even if she was a Muslim, she now knows that there is a Dell customer that Loves Israel so much that within 24 hours, made her home page relate to it.
So all of you out there... go tell someone that might not know your Jewish, that you ARE and your one of those PROUD ones, that doesn't hide, but lets themselves shine, in every aspect!!!
Good night, dftss, ttfn.
Full post and comments...
Friday, March 02, 2007
Israel Sends Sderot Band to Eurovision to Stick it to the (Ha)Man
The people of Israel - and I'm talking the TV watching, Eurovision-caring majority everyone is always trying to pander to and mind-read - have sent the world a Purim message: We are fixing to hang Hamanadinejad from a pole and are sick of slicing up our tiny birthright.
Well, after having the Defense Minister as a resident and after the government enacted a one-sided treaty over the heads of their young, most had given up hope in the people of Sderot rising up and taking to the streets. It turns out, a few of them have: Tipex - the band (who insist on spelling their name Teapacks, which they explained in their famous interview with Jewish music radio guru Ben Bresky.)
Teapacks, representing Israel in this years Eurovision (a competition usually consisting of annoyingly messageless songs that cross borders due to the common meaninglessness of pop music in most countries) submitted songs for the approval of their fellow countryman.
The song that won is called "Push the button" and ridicules Jihadists worldwide, starting with Hamanadinejad. The Scandinavian Nazi (the great thing about blogging is you can call whoever you want a Nazi!) organizers are already himming and hawing about the song - but the funny part is that should they disqualify it - an even better one is waiting in second place.
Salaam Salami is that song. It is a hilarious, yet dead focused indictment of the Oslo Accords and their Land-for-Peace successor the Road Map. It is also all in Hebrew, unlike Push the Button, which is in English and French as well.
In honor of Purim, a song representing Queen Esther has been chosen to enter Europe's pathetic kings' court. Instead of sending a Yemenite Jewish she-male to sing an ode to Cleopatra and Aphrodite (in 1998, when Israel had its third and last Eurovision victory) - Israel is sending a band of good-humored dudes from Sderot with a message to the world: The nation not only lives, but will no longer bow down.
Salaam Salami comes straight out and calls for en and to the policies of shaving off salami slices of the Jewish homeland, ending: לא כולם רוצים שלום - אז אולי מספיק
Teapacks's Koby Oz also always acknowledges the Most High.
(Thanks to Kikar Israel for the streaming songs linked above)
Here are the live versions voted upon by Israelis:
After seeing this video of Salaam Salami, I am hoping the Eurovision folks ban the first one - this one rocks!:
And here is Tipex, back in the day expressing the non-Sabbath observant Israeli's affinity for the restful nature of Sabbath in Israel and giving a shout-out to Arutz-7:
Full post and comments...
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
What's with the Acacia plantation?
During these past couple of weeks, we have been reading about building the Tabernacle in the Torah portion. Most of this structure was made by a special kind of wood from an Acacia tree. Many commentaries say that all this wood was planted when the Jews first came to Egypt, and was taken with them when they left. But why? Why would we plant a huge plantation of acacia trees and watch it grow for over 200 years? Isn't that a bit MUCH???
Well I found a really nice answer to this; "The reason why G-d "inconvenienced" the Jewish people so severely, requiring them to plant acacia trees hundreds of years in advance and carry them into the desert, was to give them comfort throughout the period of their exile. For at every moment during the 200 years of bondage, if their faith began to falter or hopelessness began to set in, the Jewish people had a physical reminder of their future redemption. For, together with them in Egypt, there was a small group of acacia trees planted by Yakov their ancestor, from which the tabernacle in the desert was one day going to be built ( Toras Menachem, 25:8-12)."
When I read this, it made me think of the physical connections we have in Israel, that we can connect to when our faith falters, and situations seem too hard to deal with (like that horrid MURDER of Erez Levanon) We can go to the Kotel, and remember the promise that one day, the redemption will come, and we will all be HOME for ever!!!
Have faith... we shall prevail...boo ya!!!
Full post and comments...
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Get a Home in ISRAEL!!!
So when I read THIS I just had to share with the whole crew!!! I mean, being able to getsome friends or family together and getting a house in ISRAEL is just too amazing.
All the info is in the link, but a brief run down: you buy a house in YESHA and they Amana rents it out for you. Its the coolest way to support Israel, and then when you're ready to make Aliyah, you have a house all ready for you :-)
Now the fun part is convincing my "Family" and "Friends" to chip in and buy a house, any suggestions????
~ at work... Shulamit
Full post and comments...
Baseball in Israel and in the Bible (Wow!)
Yet, recent headlines are being made (yes, even on ESPN) about the Israel Baseball League which has opening day scheduled for just a few months away - June 24! They even signed some former major league (as in MLB) players to Manage. (See that ESPN link above.) And no games will be played on Shabbat!
Six teams will be in the IBL its opening year. (None in Jerusalem where I am! Shucks!). They are:
The Tel Aviv Lightning
The Petach Tikva Pioneers
The Ra'anana Express
The Netanya Tigers
The Modi'in Miracle
The Bet Shemesh Blue Sox
The official IBL website (in honor of Purim?) posted this humorous article:
Scholars find possible references to baseball in the Bible
Compiled by Hyman S. Baras
While baseball is generally considered a "modern" sport, there are references in the Bible that could lead one to deduce that, in fact, baseball dates back thousands of years. Along the same line of thinking as The Da Vinci Code, note the pattern of the following passages, which clearly illustrate that there were Giants in those days as well.
And Abner said to Joab, "Let the young men...arise and play before us" -- Samuel II 2:14
...and all the people rose up... -- Exodus 33:8
And Juhoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder; and Sheva was the scribe..." -- Samuel II 20:24
And they said unto Jephtha, "Come and be our Captain" -- Judges 11:6
...and he measured two lines... -- Samuel II 8:2
...and he set the bases... -- Kings I 7:39
And they stood every man in his place round about the camp -- Judges 7:21
Behold, Rebecca came forth with her pitcher... -- Genesis 24:45
Ehud, the Benjamite, a man left-handed... -- Judges 3:15
The children of Israel asked,..."Who shall go up for us first against the Canaanites? -- Judges 3:15
...Seek out a man who is a skillful player... -- Samuel I 16:16
...Judah shall go up first... -- Judges 20:18
And Judah took... -- Judges 1:18
Three times... -- Exodus 23:14
...and it was good... -- Genesis 1:4
And Abram went down... -- Genesis 12:10
...out at the base... -- Leviticus 4:18
And Moses ...smote... -- Exodus 7:20
...and (it)...was foul... -- Exodus 7:21
And Moses went out... -- Numbers 11:24
...and none came in... -- Joshua 6:1
...and there was not a man left... -- Joshua 8:17
And Miriam was shut out... -- Numbers 12:15
And the children of Benjamin went out... -- Judges 20:31
...and went into the field... -- Numbers 22:23
...and Aaron waved... -- Leviticus 9:21
And he looked this way and that way... -- Exodus 2:12
...and he delivered up... -- Numbers 21:3
...and they ran as soon as he had stretched his hand... And they fell on their faces to the ground... -- Judges 13:20
Get thee up; wherefore liest thou upon thy face? -- Judges 7:10
...for it was an error... -- Numbers 15:25
...second and third... -- Genesis 6:16
And Joseph spoke... -- Genesis 45:3
...concerning the error which he had committed... -- Leviticus 5:18
...make an atonement for thyself... -- Leviticus 9:17
Thou shalt fan them... -- Isaiah 41:16
Then Joseph commanded to fill...the...sacks... -- Genesis 42:25
...and all the people saw this and they shouted... -- Leviticus 9:24
Who can stand before the Giants? -- Deuteronomy 9:2
...and Aaron waved... -- Leviticus 9:21
...and pitched on the other side... -- Numbers 21:13
And suffered not a man to pass... -- Judges 3:28
...but...the seventh... -- Exodus 31:15
Gideon... smote... -- Judges 8:21
...Israel...at first... -- Joshua 8:33
And Noah went in... -- Genesis 7:7
And the young man ran... -- Numbers 11:27
...he turned and went back... -- Judges 18:26
...unto the base... -- Numbers 8:4
Noah walked... -- Genesis 6:9
Let us go and sacrifice... -- Exodus 5:8
And Moses lifted up his hand and with his rod he smote... --Numbers 20:11
...the hide... -- Leviticus 9:11
...a long blast... -- Joshua 6:5
...outside the camp... -- Judges 7:17
...for an 'omer... -- Exodus 16:36
And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted... -- Samuel I 17:52
Full post and comments...
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Drug of Choice
So I have been sick for the past couple of days, and I realized that drugs have a good purpose in this creation. To name a couple, Tylenol cold & sinus, Dayquil, Nyquil, and my new favorite, the one pill for 24 hours, non-drowsy Loratadine-D... Now that stuff is HARD CORE.
Over the weekend my father told over this true story.
There was this guy driving his new Mercedes, just off the lot, brand new, the whole shebang. As he was driving he saw this little kid on the side of the road, the kid saw the car coming, picked up a rock and threw it at the car, SHMASH!!! The guy pulled over, with steam coming out of his ears, grabbed the kid and began yelling and screaming at him why the ____ did you do that? The little boy slowly says that his crippled brother had fallen out of his wheel chair in the road and he is too little to help him back up, and this was the only way a car would stop for him. The guy took a deep breath, and said I am not going to fix that dent, I want to remember this.
Drug of choice, when we are sick, we run to the pharmacy to get our "fix." When we are emotionally drained, we go to a good friend to get our wind back. When we are spiritually void, we go to ancient books to get a new perspective. But during our every day life, the drug of choice should be patience and retrospection. We should all give ourselves little dose's of it; since so many times, when we see things through another people's eyes, the picture looks very different.
Ya I know this is what happens when I get sick and need to take drugs, but really, I started to try it, and its pretty cool. Before I got all mad at someone, I really listened to their side of the story, and you know, it wasn't as bad as I had thought. You guys should try, something new for the month of Adar :-)
TTFN ~ DFTSS ~ Shulamit
Full post and comments...
Sunday, February 18, 2007
It's the Little Things
Next is electricity and water. Bit by bit we'll get this house in order so it'll eventually be a home.Full post and comments...
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
UN might be heading out of TOWN...
So when I read this... I just had to share, even if it's just a "maybe"
You know, for those of you that know me... Well I try hard not to hate things. My father says, "Jews don't hate, we dislike." But if I had to think of one place I really DISLIKED, it would be the UN.
I mean it’s the one place that really and truly has no shame to be evil. They don't even have the decency to pretend anymore, they are just blunt and have no problem admitting their hate for Israel and America. They continuously show their true colors by inviting our arch enemies to speak in their "assembly" whom would otherwise, never be allowed on American or Israeli soil (unless to be imprisoned). But apparently Mayor Bloomberg is getting nervous that the UN might hit the exit button and get out of NY. Which I think would be a GREAT idea, and people should call Mayor Bloomberg (212-772-1081) to quite his fears, maybe sing him a lullaby or something.
I have to add here that Mr. Bloomberg is a nice guy, and just dedicated part of the new MDA Jerusalem station in honor of his father. But still, I really would have no problem letting the UN move to France, or Iran... or the best...Mars.
Anyhow, that's all for now, I'm getting ready for the "snow storm."
~ TTFN, DFTSS ~ Shulamit
Full post and comments...
Monday, February 12, 2007
The Hidden Religious People of Jerusalem
Have you ever noticed how many holy seemingly non-religious people there are in Israel? I'm not even just talking about the people who go out of their way to do help a stranger, share a kind word, or build something useful. I'm talking about the hidden religious people.
Every time I go to Jerusalem these days, I notice another one of these secret religious Jews. Recently, it was a woman in her 50s with the classic red spiked hair that has plagued so many good Jewish women in this country (many G-d grant them a full and speedy recovery), walking to the bus while reading morning prayers out of a worn-out siddur. A friend recently mentioned the woman at the automotive store who reads Rebbe Nachman's Tikkun Klali non-stop. Today, in the seat next to me, I noticed a woman in a less-than-kosher shirt and skinny jeans reading Perek Shirah ("The Song of the Universe").
Where have all these secret frummies come from? Were they always there? Does the religious community understand how deep the current of Jewishness is in this country?
While you can certainly estimate a person based on their appearance, you ultimately cannot judge the woman by the cut of her shirt. Or maybe we are all just rising higher somehow, without even realizing it....Full post and comments...
Re: "Goverment of Losers, Go Home"
As a response to Yechiel (Jonny)'s post (I know that's so grammatically incorrect, and I still live in America... so unacceptable, sorry) "Government of Losers go home" I would like to share who I feel would be the government of "ultra cool", or once again, grammatically incorrect "unlosers."
I can write a whole post about this, which I WILL, and that is a threat, but for now, I will allow the reader to check this out and See for yourself. It's like empowering the reader, or something like that...
Enjoy ~ Shulamit ~
P.S. I am doing this while I'm at work... GASP!!!
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Marbim B'Simcha -- Olmert Style
Tu B'Shevat is now behind us which means just one thing: Adar is right around the corner. In just a few weeks time we'll be drinking until we don't know the difference between the righteous Haman and the wicked Mordechai (ah wait, reverse that -- perhaps I started drinking too soon.
But perhaps I am not the only Jew that is confusing righteousness and wickedness ahead of the great Purim festival.
If you haven't noticed, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is scheduled to be one component of a very unholy triumverate, similar to the three sided hat Haman bedecked over 2000 years ago.
Olmert will take part in a 3 way summit with co-conspirators Condoleeza Rice and Mahmoud Abbas. This summit will attempt to bring the parties towards "final status negotiations" on the borders of a permanent Palestinian State -- within the current, though disputed, borders of Israel.
And the date for their summit: February 19th, or more correctly the first day of Adar -- a day of great joy on the Hebrew calendar.
Olmert and company will attempt to take all the joy out of this month of Adar, by meeting on how best, and when, to remove Jews from their homes in Israel's holiest cities, to create a state for the self-sworn enemy of the Jewish State.
Expect Olmert to continue in his predecessor Ariel Sharon's path of desiring to make far-reaching concessions. Such concessions will likely include the release of over 1000 terrorists from Israeli jails, and timed committments on how to move forward with bi-[read uni-]lateral withdrawals from the biblical provinces of Judea and Samaria.
Be sure that chief conspirator Condoleeza Rice has learned well from Bill Clinton's mistakes, and will not come away from this summit empty-handed. And since Mahmoud Abbas has nothing to give Israel, the only way to achieve any diplomacy at all, is if Israel gives something to the PA.
Now I know that it is customary to give 2 items of food to our brethren on Purim, but those in the upper echelons of the PA, be they Fatah or Hamas, are by no means are brethren. They are not even righteous gentiles.
We can only hope that the magical month of Adar remains true to form, and we will have reason to celebrate, despite the machinations of this unholy triumverate, just as we have an annual reason to celebrate the failed annihilation attempts of evil's predecessor Haman.
We should not be fooled for one moment this Adar, of who is righteous and who is evil. There is no single righteous virtue in any summit between Olmert, Abbas, and Rice -- three individuals that in can in no way stand next to the holy likes of Jewish heroes Mordechai and Esther.
And while I may get confused in a drunken stuper on Purim day itself, I pray for continued clarity for the Jewish people on this matter, on all days before and after.Full post and comments...
Get Your Oomph On!!!
I just started my new job, and I don't have that much time to read the news, which I think is a good thing, considering the news that is going on right about now. I think the stomach and heart burn companies are going to sky rocket, we should invest in them!!! The really sad part is that people reading those pathetic articles (I don't think I need to give examples, just go to cnn or jpost) really believe what they are reading, its like BEYOND pathetic. I guess that's why its good there is a revolution and a kumah website :-)
So reading some good news and trying to re-do the bad news is pretty cool, but sometimes you need a little more oomph then just passive reading... ever get that way... well if you do, then I have some suggestions on how to get your oomph on!!!
1) This is an easy one which most people do already, but just in case...WRITE COMMENTS. The power of the pen... no joke. When those anti-Zionist articles are being thrown at your face, well shove it back, by writing how you really feel. Even if its just a quick "I think your article is bias" because you never know who is looking at the responses, and if they see enough opposition to the article, they might be less inclined to believe in it, like it's the holy grail (oops wrong religion)
After doing that you do feel a little invigorated, knowing that you put your thought, little or not, out there, for the internet surfers to read... so that's a little oomph ish. But remember every LITTLE bit counts, so if your not into oomphing, then start slow, and work yourself up (if you need any encouragement, listen to this)
2) Do the polls. Such as, this one and this one. I know you think they mean nothing, and they probably do, but still, it's the power of you being "one human that can make the difference" approach. Aside for the fact, that its fun to look back and see your name, and how many people signed up after you (that's only if your really bored)
But really, to see yourself getting counted and the pollster say they are going to show the numbers to someone important, can definitely get an oomph going. Like "there take that, I am the 1737th person to sign the petition" and then you go and make all your friends sign too, so its like a contagious oomph, and it's a great way to see who your true friends are... jk.
3) And yes I do save the best for last, I don't know why... But ya, I think this one is the best, and of course since it is the best Arutz Sheva got to it already, Shocker :-) But really, I think it's the best oomph drug there is. I mean, you call 1-202-456-1414 (the White House, USA)and a nice person asks you which state you're calling from, and then wham... you give it to them, you can say whatever you like, just let it all out, and the cool part is, legally they have to keep a record of what topic and what views each caller is addressing. So its like, you get some nice little American to sit and listen to your rant about... well anything, pick a topic... they will listen and record what your views are. I doubt they write up everything, but the gist definitely gets documented.
So when you feel like a whole container of Tums wont do the trick, and you did suggestion 1 and 2... then hit the white house. You never know Mr. Bush might pick up the wrong line, and you get to oomph him... Anyhow, it's a great way to get out your frustration with the stupidity of the world around us, and you might make a difference while you're at it... which is the ultimate OOMPH.
But just remember, every person can be the one to change the future (not to sound sappy or anything) But really, at an era of the neo-Zionist revolution, we don't have time to think if we are big enough or worth it enough... Because we TOTALLY ARE!!!Which reminds me of something whinny the pooh said (I'm obsessed with cartoons) "your stronger then you seem, smarter then you think, and braver then you believe" So fellow neozites... go get your OOMPH on... and make a difference!!!
As always, comments are accepted and greatly appreciated ;-)
TTFN, DFTSS ~ Shulamit
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Another Slam Dunk for the Seven Species!
In your face, diseases of the world! The Land of Israel is your arch-nemesis!
Appears that G-d didn't pick our beloved Seven Species just for their prettiness and yumminess. Rather, they are merciless health warriors provided especially for the service of the Jewish people (and their friends). Looks like the holy Pomegranate is standing in the spotlight yet again:
Israeli study: Pomegranate juice could benefit diabetics
By ISRAEL21c staff August 24, 2006
Researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology say that pomegranate juice may provide important health benefits for diabetic patients.
According to results published in the August 2006 issue of Atherosclerosis, subjects who drank 180 ml (6 oz.) of pomegranate juice per day for three months experienced a reduced risk for atherosclerosis, a condition that leads to arterial wall thickening and hardening. Atherosclerosis accounts for 80% of all deaths among diabetic patients.
The researchers also found that drinking pomegranate juice reduced the uptake of oxidized LDL ("bad" cholesterol) by large, versatile immune cells known as macrophages. Oxidized LDL uptake by macrophages is a main contributing factor to the development of atherosclerosis.
One surprising finding, said lead researcher Professor Michael Aviram of the Technion Faculty of Medicine, was that the sugars contained in pomegranate juice - although similar in content to those found in other fruit juices - did not worsen diabetes disease parameters (including blood sugar levels) in the patients, but in fact reduced the risk for atherosclerosis.
"In most juices, sugars are present in free - and harmful - forms," explained Aviram. "In pomegranate juice, however, the sugars are attached to unique antioxidants, which actually make these sugars protective against atherosclerosis."
The findings of this small (20 subjects) study are part of Aviram's ongoing research into the effects of pomegranates on cholesterol oxidation and cardiovascular diseases. In his previous widely published studies, Aviram was the first to prove that consuming red wine reduces cholesterol oxidation and arteriosclerosis, which leads to heart disease, a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the Western world. His later studies confirmed the antioxidant and anti-atherosclerotic benefits of licorice, olive oil, onions and pomegranates.
According to the American Diabetes Association, 20.8 million people in the United States have diabetes. Both type I and type II diabetes are powerful and independent risk factors for coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral arterial disease.Full post and comments...