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*** THE ALIYAH REVOLUTION ALBUM ***

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Aliyah Revolution Album gets a great review in Makor Rishon



The Israeli newspaper "Makor Rishon" (my favorite Hebrew paper by far) wrote a great review of our new album. They see it as part of the cultural revolution of the Aliyah movement, and I agree. The Aliyah Revolution will bring about a burst of cultural renewal, for as we come home, we reunite with our people, our land, and our traditions, and fuse Israel with what have learned in the Diaspora. It's all happening. (Click on the photograph to enlarge and read the article for yourself)

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Nefesh B'Nefesh Hanukkah Flash Mob








Monday, October 26, 2009

Do you think I should be allowed to make aliyah? Part II



This is the continuation of my email discussion from below:

He wrote:

Thanks for your response. I have been invited a few times to celebrate Shabbat with Chabad and actually chose to get a bris last year. However, I find life in Jesus very satisfying! I am also disgusted of the persecution of Jews by so-called Christians. Christianity in its early stages comprised only of Jews though. I may be going to Israel with Chabad this year, it should be great. I do find it ironic that you're trying to missionize me though!

I wrote back:

Nothing ironic about it - we are in the business of spreading the true faith as Abraham did. We were given a Torah and it is applicable to all mankind. Now that we are back on our homeland, the nations are turning to us and asking us about the truth. Christianity is bankrupt, and now many people are looking for the right way to serve the Lord. I hope, truly, that you will be able to shed the extraneous husk of the J-faith and that you will be able to serve G-d properly. This may be true: "However, I find life in Jesus very satisfying!" - but the question is whether G-d finds your life satisfying to Him.

He wrote:

Agree to disagree. Great talking with you!

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Do you think I should be allowed to make aliyah?



Hello,

I am a Jew (I have a Jewish mother) & was raised in a church. I am proud of being a Jew & I believe Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah. Do you think I should be allowed to make aliyah? Do you think I have the right to present my beliefs to Jews living in eretz yisrael & coexist should they choose to differ with me?

----

Dear Friend,

Israel is a Jewish state and not a Christian one. Your first goal seems to be a missionary one as you want to spread your "Gospel" to Jews in Israel. If that is your goal then maybe Aliyah is not for you. If you want to live as a Christian you can do so in many other countries - ours is not of that faith. We have suffered enough under the Christendom and we did not survive the persecution just to be finally missionized when back in our homeland.

Maybe you are ready and open minded enough to be exposed to traditional Judaism? Maybe you need a good helping of a Jewish Israel more than it needs Christmas? In any case, I wish you luck. May G-d direct you on His proper path.

Yishai

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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.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Our Klean-Up Was Awesome!



Check out Yoseph and Melody's "Love of the Land" blog for some great pictures of our amazing, and miracle filled adventure in the Tomb of Ruth and Yishai.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Am Yisrael - One big humus eating happy family





Every Pesach since I first became religious I've essentially had a repeat of the seder experience- a well groomed black hat sporting North American kiruv rabbi sitting at the head of the table spending the night sharing light-hearted parables tied into the story of Yetzirat Mitzrayim, everyone calmly getting their fill of matzah and maybe a cute performance from the kids. This year however due to me now having Israeli in-laws, I merited getting an up close view of the Moroccan and Yeminite worlds of Israel not so commonly available to those in the English speaking circles of Jerusalem.

The cultural challenges included things like trying to keep up with a table full of people who can read Hebrew 5 times faster than the speed of light and trying to reach halachik agreements over how to handle the intricacies of the Pesach laws with people who were often less then thrilled to have some yeshivish American kid come and start telling them what to do. In fact one thing I've noticed of quite a few of the non-Charedi Sephardim in Israel is that for many, opening up a Shulchan Aruch, Mishneh Breur or Yalkut Yosef and stating the halacha point blank seems to be no match in their eyes against claims of, "Who are you to tell me what to do? I was born in the neighboring town to where the Baba Sali lived!" Or, "My great grandfather was the Ben Ish Chai's milkman! You think I don't know what I'm talking about!?"

As difficult as it was at times to bridge the culture gap, I witnessed something really beautiful that put the whole idea of Am Yisrael and family in perspective for me. During Chol Hamoed one day we had a bbq up in Haifa. Here I was, wearing my frummer-than-though black and white "penguin" uniform surrounded by sabras in jeans and flip flops when my wife and I looked into a neighboring yard nearby. We saw another Israeli family quite similar to ours grilling their own food "al-ha'eish." Smack dab in the middle of the group was a man with a long beard also sporting the "uniform" with his super-tznious wife helping direct the festivities. My wife smiled and commented, "I guess there has to be one of those couples in every family!" Then it hit me, I looked at the people surrounding me that were in many ways so entirely different and yet had totally welcomed me into their family. I also looked down the street at the guy whom I'm sure had such similar Pesach experience to mine that he could probably write this post for me. I realized that's the story of Am Yisrael. As corny as it sounds, no matter how different we may look or feel we are all as Jews bound up by some common thread. What the thread is and how it works I'm not exactly sure bit it's definitely there and doing its thing. My rabbi gave several classes in Jerusalem in the last week or so and during one of them said that he never calls himself religious, just a Jew. People tell him things like, "Well look at your big beard!" He replies, "Goats can grow beards too, so what of it?" No matter how different we may look speak or act, we really are just one big family.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Being Happy When the Bad Guys Lose




Tonight I made a somewhat controversial remark on my facebook page stating my satisfaction over success of the Israeli Air Force in Gaza and the fact that some of the most vicious Jew haters/killers in the world will no longer see the light of day. An acquaintance of mine whom I know to be a somewhat liberal Jew sent me a message remarking how they were upset over me making such a comment. now it's a hotly debated issue by some as to what kind of response and how much of that response we as Jews are halachikly allowed to have concerning the downfall of our enemies. I won't speak on the details of the halacha because that is the job of qualified rabbis and not a Joe-Schmoe such as myself, but I will say this- when the enemies of the Jewish people are victorious over us and cause us harm it is a chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d's name). Why? Because people will see such a thing and falsely believe that G-d forbid the Torah isn't true and Hashem has abandoned the Jews, breaking His eternal promises to us. Conversely, when Hashem grants us victory over our enemies (one of the main factors of the Channukah festival we happen to be celebrating right now) this is a great Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d's name) because it shows that the Jewish people are truly meritorious and we have the support of Hashem on our side. One could say that Hashem gives the victory to us or our enemies based on how well the Jews behave which is true, but that doesn't negate the Kiddush/chillul Hashem aspect, for when the Jews follow Torah properly this is the greatest Kiddush Hashem they could do and if they don't G-d forbid, that's the greatest desecration, for the non-Jews will ask, "If G-d's own people don't follow His command, why should we?" With this in mind, I'd like to share my response to my more liberal minded Jewish friend...

I understand why you would feel upset. My question is do you believe that there is such a thing as actual evil in the world and evil people? If yes then we have what to discuss, but if not then no. I personally think it's compelling to believe there is such a thing as evil and evil people because otherwise one must say that a group of people like the nazis weren't truly evil and if everything is truly just all relative then the acts they committed can't be condemned because from their point of view they were justified.

Like I said, I believe there is evil and evil people in the world. Anybody who hates Jews and wishes to see them dead, and all the more so takes actions to kill or in any other way cause Jews harm simply for them being Jewish is evil. The fact is that the members of hamas, and the vast majority of residents in Gaza whether officially affiliated with hamas or not hate Jews and wish to see harm befall them. Therefore they are evil people in my eyes, and when evil people suffer and/or meet their end, that is a sign that there is justice in this world. According to reports, the vast, vast majority of these causalities have been official hamas members, so even if you want to say non-hamas gazans don't hate Jews, you would have a hard time arguing that these dead who WERE hamasniks didn't hate Jews. Pirkei Avot states that those who are kind to the cruel will end up being cruel to the kind. To take pity on those who are evil will, if that path is followed long enough, eventually lead to one supporting evil themselves against the innocent. I've seen it with my own two eyes.

I respect what I assume is your great compassion to be upset over such a thing, but I just hope that you have just as much compassion and get just as upset for your Jewish brothers and sisters who have had to suffer over 3000 rocket attacks at the hands of the people who filled up the morgues today and therefore won't fill up rocket launchers tomorrow.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Yishai Speaks at Jewish Bloggers Conference








Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rebranding Israel: FM Just Doesn’t Get It - Still!



This is not the first time Kumah has written about this.

Last week I attended the Nefesh B’Nefesh First International Jewish Bloggers Convention along with the rest of the Jblog world. One segment of the program featured Zavi Apfelbaum, the Director of Brand Management of the Foreign Ministry. At the time I did not know that she represented the State of Israel. (I didn't read the program, okay?)

(Click the video for a transcript we posted on YouTube.)

Which is why when blogger Moshe Burt (“Israel and the Sin of Expulsion”) began screaming at the top of his lungs “this is a Jewish State!,” though I agreed with him, I thought he was taking the wrong approach. But now that I realize exactly what was going on I think he was exactly right and that might be the only way to keep making the point, as Burt wrote, “until it sinks irrevocably into their consciousness.”

Let’s start at the beginning. The Foreign Ministry spent millions of shekel of taxpayer money to figure out that, guess what, the world thinks Israel is a bunch of thugs and a very cold (not weather-wise), dull, place to live or visit. Well obviously the world has branded us waaay wrong! Apfelbaum, again blaming the victim, claimed it was not the world that did it but we did it to ourselves. Perhaps I’ll grant that as a half-truth but that’s for another discussion.

So once again the Foreign Ministry plans to spend waste millions of shekel “rebranding” Israel.

Akiva, summarized it like this:

The future brand and marketing image of Israel:
1. Tel Aviv Fashion Brands
2. Tel Aviv Modern Dance Troupes
3. Tel Aviv Beach Life
4. Israeli High Technology Developments
5. Tel Aviv Night Life
6. Israeli High Technology Medical Developments
7. Israeli Wine
With the exception of 4 and 6, basically they are trying to brand Israel as Italy, France or Spain.

When will they learn? Israel is a Jewish Country!

Here’s what I wrote a year ago:

Once Israel becomes "a nation like any other" we are thrust onto a world scale we have no right being on. On that scale, Israel appears to be a pretty crummy nation with nothing special at all. Hence the post-Zionists. But if we stay on the scale we are supposed to stay on, the "light-to-the-nations" scale we are untouchable! When we promote G-d, no nation anywhere can come close in terms of history, culture, food, family life, beauty, and spirituality. Indeed we have something no other nation has.
To summarize, Israel already has an excellent – but discarded - brand. The powers-that-be in the government just don’t like it very much. But this brand has been around for over 3,300 years! Let me explain it in simple terms:

New York is to “The Big Apple” as Israel is to “The Holy Land.”

Gee, whiz. Brilliant! Why didn’t anyone ever think of that before? It’s a brand we have and it’s a brand we should use. It’s a brand that will stick because it already sticks, much to the dismay of the government. Basically the country is spending millions because we don’t want people to think of us as holy! Stop pretending to be the Europeans we are not, because the world is not dumb enough the fall for it. Start being yourself, Israel, and good things will happen. In the 60 years since she was founded Israel never got to be herself - not for one day.

And Moshe Burt is right. In terms of Holy we are talking Judaism. No Muslims are going to view Israel more favorable if we tell them Israel is important to them. And the Christians already know the real deal and love the Jewish people for it. Just talk to any Christians you meet. They know the Holy Land is G-d’s gift to the Jews and they are cool with that. Very cool with it.

So here is a small part of Pinchas’s plan for “rebranding” (that’s "re" as in repeating something not as in changing something):

Shabbat


Kotel



Jewish Tradition



Jewish Children




Holy Things



The problem is the government is working backwards. Instead of displaying the beauty of Judaism and Shabbat for the world, the government does everything it can to destroy our image as a holy nation by doing things like attempting to have buses run on Shabbat. Sometimes the only way to get the message across truly is to yell it, and to yell it again, again, and again!

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Media Wrap Up



Pentagon Finds Religious Bias In Army Probe - i.e. they are anti-Israel and anti-Jews-who-like-Israel. Washington Post

U.S. entrepreneur makes aliyah seeking 'next big invention' - cool guy! Haaretz

Presenting Matisyahu the model - is this guy cool and making a Kiddush Hashem, or is he just selling out? YNET

Utopia – Israel's Perfect Park - a beautiful picture essay of a nice place in Israel. IsraelNationalNews

Enjoy!

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Monday, June 16, 2008

The Peace of the Weak


In my previous post, I proposed a paradigm shift when it came to Israel achieving peace with her neighbors.

Today, there was yet another reminder that the current leadership of Israel still has not understood that the old model of achieving peace, through displaying weakness before one's enemies, is not working.

Israeli delegation to regional conference on economic cooperation refused entry into Jordan
The Israeli delegation to the regional conference in Jordan on the subject of economic cooperation, organized by the Netanya Academic College, was refused entry into Jordan at the Allenby crossing earlier today.

As a result, the Director General of the Tourism Ministry, Shaul Tzemach, will be unable to participate in the tourism panel scheduled for tomorrow, as outlined in the Tourism Ministry press release distributed earlier today.
Of course, Jordan is one of two Arab countries with whom Israel has signed a formal peace treaty, and little is likely to change in the wake of this insult.

In truth, Jordan;s behavior towards Israel's Director General of the Ministry of Tourism is not surprising. After all, according to Jordanian law, a Jew may not own land nor attain citizenship in Jordan.

What is surprising, however, is how the Jewish State of Israel could ever have believed it possible to have peace (normal relations / co-existence) with a country whose hatred of the Jewish people is so deeply ingrained.

If we desire the respect of others, we must first have respect for ourselves (our history, Heritage, Land and People).

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Putting it on the Line for Jerusalem




There are no shortage of people in this world who have opinions, and that is doubly true within the Jewish people.

Much rarer is the individual who is prepared to stand behind those opinions - those beliefs - when they are not popular, and when it places one squarely within the minority.

King David, who, throughout his life, embodied such a quality, wrote in Tehillim (119; 46):
I will also speak of Your (G-d's) testimonies before kings, and shall not be ashamed.
Recently, over 100 million people had the opportunity to witness a more modern example of such conviction...

Dr. Mordechai Keidar, a professor at Bar Ilan University's Dept. for Arabic Studies was recently interviewed by Al-Jazeera's top journalist, Jamal Rayyan. (The interview can be found above).

In the interview, Keidar was asked if Israel's decision to continue building throughout Jerusalem - in areas over the "Green Line" - represented the metaphorical nail in the coffin for the peace process.

Keidar responded:
"To tell you the truth I don't quite understand this. Must Israel ask permission from some other authority in the world? It has been our capital for 3,000 years. We have been there since the time your forefathers used to drink wine, bury their daughters alive, and pray to multiple gods.

So then, why must we speak about this? It has been our city for 3,000 years and will be for eternity."
Rayyan then asserted Islam's claim to Jerusalem, as stated in the Koran. To which Keidar responded that Jerusalem is not mentioned even a single time in the Koran.

Rayyan decided to try a different approach:
"Let's talk politics, please. Doesn't this decision oppose the Road Map, which determines that Israel will halt construction of the settlements in Jerusalem?"
To which Keidar responded:
"The Road Map does not mention Jerusalem. Jerusalem is outside of negotiations. Jerusalem belongs to the Jews, Period! We cannot discuss Jerusalem in any way. You return to this issue time and again, but Jerusalem is not referred to in the Road Map. My brother, go and read the Road Map...

My brother, Israel does not involve itself in housing that Qatar constructs in the Qatar Peninsula. What do you want with Jerusalem? Jerusalem is ours for eternity and no one, not Al-Jazeera or anyone else, has any say in it. Jerusalem is solely a Jewish city and no one else has any connection to it."
How refreshing to see how one can assert the right of the Jewish people to a Jewish state in Israel, not through apologetics and guilt, but out of conviction and pride. To know that our right to a Jewish state in Israel is not limited to history dating back 60 years - to the Holocaust - but that our connection to this Land predates that of the Christians or Muslims by thousands of years.

And to do so in front of 100 million viewers who don't agree with a word of what you're saying...

King David would be proud.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

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.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Audio: A Talk With Jon Voight


Malkah and I had the opportunity to speak with Academy Award winning actor Jon Voight on our show. Jon was in Israel for the state’s 60th anniversary festivities. While here, Voight joined Chabad-Lubavitch in welcoming children evacuated from the devastated Chernobyl region of the Former Soviet Union to Israel. He also toured Sderot and strengthened the people there.
)))CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO OUR INTERVIEW(((

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Envy in the Diaspora




The following is an excellent JPOST article by David Forman:

Here I am in sunny California, in the dreamlike town of Santa Barbara. I was invited to participate in the Jewish community's celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary. As I was introduced to the crowd, a loud roar greeted me. While I would have liked to believe that the extended applause was for me, I knew better - it was for the Jewish state, which I had the honor to represent.

I gazed out at the mass of people - like me, the vast majority being the oldest of the baby-boomer generation. I could not help but wonder: What is it about Israel that pulled at the heartstrings of these 60-somethings? Why would they want to assume the headaches of Israel, and the need to defend it from the onslaught of the ultra-liberal members of the local community, many of whom were affiliated with the California university system, that included the Santa Barbara campus - a hotbed, like its sister school, Berkeley, of virulent anti-Israel activism?

With Israel mercilessly and oftentimes unfairly attacked because of its continued occupation of the West Bank, one would think that Jews abroad would lower their Israel profile.

So, why such an impressive turnout to fete Israel? Jealousy.

LET ME explain. A while ago, I attended my 40th high-school reunion. The night before the main event, 15 of the Jewish members of the class gathered together. In the course of our conversations, I learned that most of my childhood friends had amassed wealth I will never approximate, live in homes so big my entire apartment would fit into their living rooms, had traveled the world, visiting places I only read about, and were engaged in important work that significantly impacted people's lives.

And yet all of them, by their own admission, were jealous of me by virtue of the fact that I live in Israel.

As children of the '60s, we were social activists - civil rights, anti-Vietnam, Soviet Jewry. More important than feeling a moral compulsion to create a new social order or espousing liberal slogans was translating our social concerns into action - being carted off to prison demonstrating against segregation in Selma, Alabama, Oxford, Mississippi and Little Rock, Arkansas; blocking entrances to army recruitment centers; and chaining ourselves to the gate of the Russian embassy.

As the activist '60s gave way to the mellow '70s and the reactionary '80s, concomitantly with the natural aging process that saw us become grandparents in the '90s, the rigor of youthful activism diminished. My friends felt a measure of guilt for their lack of involvement today, but also felt a vicarious satisfaction in knowing that their classmate in Israel was still carrying a torch of social concern. It mattered little what side of the political spectrum I was on. The fact of my engagement made them envious.

Throughout their lives they believed that to be socially involved was a central moral value, but as they grew older, they felt they had failed to fulfill their ethical obligation to remain active and pass that value on to their children. They mused about what it would be like to live in a country like Israel, where social commitment seemed to be a national trait. They wished that the requirement to serve in the army or do national service was something their kids had experienced.

I might add that of the 15 participants in our pre-reunion get together, only 13 were still married to the same person. Even though most of my friends were married to non-Jews, their sentimental attachment to Judaism was such that they preferred their children to marry Jews, as is natural in Israel, but not the case for almost all of their kids.

They rightfully believed that there is less of a generation gap in Israel, and that parents and children here share a commonality of experiences that binds them closer to one another. Virtually all the children from their blended families lived nowhere near them, unlike the normal family configuration in Israel, where kids live in a small radius of their parents and each other - another reason for my classmates' envy.

I expected my friends to ply me with questions about the occupation, Gaza, settlements, Hizbullah and Hamas, along with terrorism, war and the threat of a nuclear confrontation with Iran. Not that they were disinterested in such weighty matters or did not have their criticisms of Israel, but surprisingly that was not their focus when we talked, although they admired Israelis' resilience in the face of danger and their ability to be leaders in the fields of literature, art, medicine, technology and science.

Most interesting of all was that they were envious of the excitement that descends upon Israel, with the greatest amount of envy being directed to our living in sealed rooms during the Gulf War (the kind of excitement we could live without). They saw my life in Israel as being far more adventurous than theirs in America; as one classmate longingly put it: "You do not live a boring life."

And so, as I looked out at the crowd, I recalled my reunion and realized that with all the monumental challenges we Israelis face, we lead an enviable life. In acknowledgement and appreciation of this simple fact, throngs of people filled the public square to celebrate Israel's 60th anniversary.

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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
By Spengler

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 [1], 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 [2]. 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.

Notes

[1] 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.

[2] The countries shown in the chart are:

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Declaring Independence - On Israel's 60th Birthday




On this, the holy occasion of the 60th birthday of the Modern State of Israel, I want to share with you how truly happpy I am, with all my heart, to be living in the State of Israel today. So many good Jews have fallen prey to the cynicism and dysphoria sown by lost souls and destroyers, causing them to reject and slander the State of the Jews, decrying its birth and publicly deploring it.

I reject this attitude and practice, now and forever. I declare that the Ehud Olmerts, Dorit Beinisches, and Yisroel Dovid Weisses of this world will NOT steal this state from me, nor will they rape me of my love, joy, and hope for the future of this incredible, flourishing project. I'll be damned if I will budge one inch in ceding my country or my spirit to them, or to those who join them in their practice of shaming, violating, and quashing the Jewish people on their soil.

I declare Independence, on behalf of all the good, sweet, hard-working Jews of Israel, from the mind-control of repression, injustice, and lies perpetrated by a small group of oligarchs, and vow that I will make it my life's mission to establish the Jewish people, proudly, eternally, as a "free nation in our Land". Free to embrace our identity, to love one another, to work together, to seek justice, to serve G-d without shame or inhibition. This is MY country, and if I have to fight my own small War of Independence everyday for the rest of my life, that is what I will do.

At this time, 60 years ago, after a global attempt to annhilate them utterly, the Jewish people struggled with the last breath left in their body to wrest life from the clutches of a cruel world. Some of those whose lives were built on hardship and dreams for the future survived the camps to die on the battlefield. They did not give in to the mighty evil which had battled them for so long, in so many permutations, but rather declared their independence from fear and faced their destiny boldly and simply, fighting for the establishment of a small, precious Jewish State.

Because of these, and so many who have lived and died for the nation of Israel in the last 60 years, as well as the last 600 and before, we are here on our holy soil today. Let us not give any more power to the forces of gloom and doubt, but rather take up the torch of our fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers who carried Hashem's promise to the Jewish people deep in their hearts. Damn those who place obstacles in our path, cloud our minds, and darken our hearts. Declare your Independence today, and let's pray that together, we will live to celebrate the destruction of our enemies and the defeat of evil forces within and without. Let's pray that together, we will celebrate the 100th birthday of the Modern State of Israel on the Holy Land of Israel, the glory of the world, the rightful inheritance of our people.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Gems of Israel




While I was working on my computer today, a man from the local city council came to install a beeper in my house. Though Beit El-proper has a loud speaker which makes important and emergency announcements for people in town, it is neither particularly easy to understand (it sounds a lot like Charlie Brown's teacher), nor is it powerful enough to reach the mountaintop neighborhood in which I live. This beeper will provide us with the ability to stay well informed when we need it most.

I struck up a conversation with the installer, asking this friendly man with a flowing white beard where he was from originally. I suspected he was from South America, recognizing his accent from numerous pleasant encounters with Jewish doctors from South America in my Israeli medical plan. I was right - he was born in Argentina. However, he said, his family was originally from Lebanon - his grandfather went down to South America to be the Chief Rabbi in the early 1900s. The Succat David yeshiva in Jerusalem was subsequently established in honor of this man's grandfather, who was a noted kabbalist in his time.

"You have some great roots!" I told my guest. "Baruch Hashem" he said, modestly. He then proceeded to explain the beeper device to me, how to check it, and how to know if the message was for an emergency or just for some important information.

How great is the nation of Israel! Even the seemingly ordinary Jew you encounter at your doorstep may have a close and personal connection to the secrets of the universe, to excellence, to nobility, to divinity. Surely this should remind us to judge the Jewish people and their fledgling country for the good - just scratch the surface, and you discover priceless gems wherever you look. Indeed, we should only feel optimistic about the future of these great people in the land of their fathers.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

No Pictures This Year



So I just returned Home last night. I didn’t fly El Al (that’s for another blog post) but I flew Israir – another airline of Israel. And so toward the end of the flight, last night, the pilot came on and announced that Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) was just starting and he would now shut off the entertainment system (the movies, video games, and much of the audio selection.) There was a large group of Christians on the flight (that’s for that other blog post too.) It struck me that all those Christians were eating Kosher meals (special glatt kosher meals, by the way, again another post someday) and observing Yom HaShoah, because guess what? They were flying on our airline. Not to compare anything to Yom HaShoah, but when a Jew has to wait extra long for a bus in New York City on December 25th is it because that Jew is in their country?

And when the siren sounded at 10 O’clock this morning I found myself standing in exactly the same spot I stood one year ago, a busy Jerusalem street. Last year I took pictures (Arutz-7 wanted some for a photo essay, and it is important to share with those that are not here,) but I felt just awful snapping photos then. But this year, would be different.

I also wondered what those Christians tourists felt when they saw everything stand still as motorists stood outside their cars. And what about those Birthrighters I saw in the airport coming to Israel for the first time. (That’s also for that other post.) On the very first day they arrive the siren is the very first thing they experience? What would it remind them?

It no doubt reminded all of them this morning as it reminded me, of way too many terrible, sad and haunting thoughts. But it also reminded me of one powerfully inspiring thought. Indeed, this is our country, our Home!

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

"The Luckiest Jews in the World"



The following is a beautiful and revealing new essay written by Caroline Glick. In it she talks about her own Aliyah, the magic of Hebrew and the difficultly of leaving America. I urge you to read it to the end.

The Luckiest Jews In The World
I just published a collection of my essays in English. Each time I am asked if I am also releasing the volume in Hebrew I feel a pain deep inside me when I answer that no, right now, my publisher is only interested in an English edition. Indeed it is a shame because I wrote most of the essays in Hebrew as well.

Writing in Hebrew is a qualitatively different experience than writing in English. Hebrew is a more compact language than English. It has fewer words and the words it has are denser and more flexible than English words. A 1,200-word essay in Hebrew will be 1,800 words in English.

This is a mechanical difference. But there are deeper distinctions as well. One level beyond the mechanics is the multiple meanings of Hebrew words. The density of meaning in Hebrew is a writer’s dream. Nearly anyone can imbue a seemingly simple sentence with multiple, generally complementary meanings simply by choosing a specific verb, verb form, noun or adjective. These double, triple and even quadruple meanings of one word are a source of unbounded joy for a writer. To take just one example, the Hebrew word “shevet” means returning and it also means sitting. And it is also a homonym for club – as in billy club – and for tribe...

In 2005, the IDF named the operation expelling the Israeli residents of Gaza and Northern Samaria “Shevet Achim,” or returning or sitting with brothers. But it also sounded like it was making a distinction between tribesmen and brothers. And it also sounded like “clubbing brothers.”

As this one example demonstrates, one joyful consequence of the unique density of the Hebrew language is that satirical irony comes easily to even the most dour and unpoetic writers.

For a Jew, knowing, speaking and writing Hebrew is an intimate experience. This is particularly so for those of us whose mother tongue is not Hebrew – because as the secrets of the language slowly reveal themselves to us we feel we are discovering ourselves.

Hebrew encapsulates the entirety of the Jewish story. Modern Hebrew in particular is an eclectic amalgamation of classical Hebrew, Yiddishisms, and expressions from the Sephardic Diaspora experience. Greek, Roman, Aramaic, Turkish, Arabic and English expressions meld seamlessly into the stream of words. It is not simply that it is the language of the Bible. Hebrew is also an expression of the unique culture of a small, proud, often besieged, often conquered and permeable people.

Its power to explain that cultural experience and that historical baggage is something that often leaves a newly initiated member of the Hebrew-speaking world gasping in a mixture of disbelief and relief. It is unbelievable that a language can be so immediately and unselfconsciously expressive of feelings that have traversed millennia. Understanding its power as a tool of expressing the Jewish condition is one of the most gratifying discoveries a Jew can make.

But the experience of speaking in Hebrew and of living in Hebrew is incomplete when it is not experienced in Israel. It is one thing to pray in a synagogue in Hebrew or even to speak regular Hebrew outside of Israel. The former is a spiritual duty and a communal experience. The latter is a social or educational experience. But speaking Hebrew in Israel is a complete experience. Hebrew localizes the Jewishness, Judaism and Jews. It anchors us to the Land of Israel. Taken together, the Hebrew language and the Land of Israel stabilize a tradition and make the Jewish people whole.

I write all of this as a means of explaining why a Jew in the Diaspora, particularly the United States, would want to live in Israel. Leaving America is difficult on several levels. In my own experience, it involved physically separating from my entire family. It also involved cutting myself off from my language – English – and immersing myself completely in a tongue I had yet to master. Beyond that, it meant leaving a country that had done only good for me and for the generations of my family who fled to America from the pogroms in Eastern Europe at the turn of the twentieth century.

As someone who loves me told me 17 years ago as I packed my bags for an unknowable future, “People don’t emigrate away from America. They beg to come to its shores.”

But would it be right to characterize leaving America as an act of ingratitude? Do Jews have to reject America in order to go to Israel? No, we don’t.

Coming to Israel is not rejecting America. It is embracing a choice to become whole in a way that life outside of Israel cannot provide. That doesn’t mean life cannot be fulfilling for a Jew outside of Israel. Millions of Jews can attest to the fact. It certainly doesn’t mean that life in Israel is easier or safer or more lucrative than life is elsewhere.

Israel is a troublesome, hard, often irritating place. It is a young country that belongs to an ancient, eternal people who are all imperfect. Some Israelis, particularly those who today occupy the seats of power, are weak and irresponsible and often corrupt and self-serving.

Israelis have quick fuses. Among other things, this distinctively Israeli rush to anger makes being stuck in rush hour traffic a bit like dancing a waltz in the middle of a shooting range. Then too, service is not a concept that most Israelis – particularly in service professions – are even vaguely familiar with.

Beyond the general fallibility of Israelis, there are the wars and the hatred and the terror that make up so much of life in Israel. Being surrounded by enemies and living in the midst of jihad-crazed Arab states is like sitting on the edge of a volcano. And rather than acknowledge the danger and contend with it, Israelis – frustratingly and dangerously – more often than not blame one another for the heat while ignoring its source.

Yet once a Jew catches the Zionist bug, none of that is important. Once a Jew allows himself or herself to feel the pull of our heritage, of our language and our land, the frustration, danger and hardship of living in Israel seems like second nature – as natural as breathing in and out.

I recently moved to a home on the edge of a valley filled with forests and carpeted by wildflowers. Every day I hike for an hour or two along the trails below. A few days ago, as I walked late at night, I considered the dark and silent hills surrounding me and felt safe. They were liberated in 1948.

As I stood for a moment, I thought to myself, “These hills have already been conquered for you, by people better than yourself. Now it is your job to keep them safe for the next generation. And it will be the next generation’s responsibility to keep them safe for the following one.”

The thought filled me with a sense of privilege and peace.

People ask me all the time why I insist on living in Israel. Usually I just shrug my shoulders and smile. I, a woman who makes my living from words, find myself speechless when challenged with this simple question.

I spend several months a year away from Israel working. But every time I go away on a long trip, inevitably after three weeks or so, I begin to feel incomplete. I start to long for the smells of Israel. My ears ache to hear Hebrew all around me. I want to go back so I can walk down the streets on Friday afternoons and smile at perfect strangers as we bid each other Shabbat Shalom.

Why do I live in Israel? Because Israel lives in me, as it lives in all Jews. It is who we are. And those of us lucky enough to recognize this truth and embrace it in all its fullness and depth are the luckiest Jews in the world.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Visiting Joseph



A few weeks ago, I boarded a bus at Yitzhar, which when completely overloaded, headed to Shchem for a visit to the destroyed compound that is the Tomb of Joseph. The 30 minutes I spent there gave me a spiritual high that is still with me weeks later. When I first got there, I felt like crying at seeing the burnt remains of this holy site, one of only three which Scripture tells us was bought by our forefathers in the Land of Israel. Seeing the destroyed structure is bad enough, but there is even more pain at the realization that the state of the Tomb of Joseph is also a clear sign that the Jewish State has receded, and that to a degree, Israel is being overpowered by the Philistines of today...

Powerful prayers could be heard from the other worshipers, and I joined them as well. But a funny and unexpected thing happened. All around the compound I was sad and brokenhearted, but when I finally touched my head to the headstone of the tomb I started laughing! I had to hide my laughter so that others would not think I was nuts! Why did I laugh? Because I just had a feeling well up in mY soul that nothing, nothing, could hurt Joseph or stop the destiny of the Jewish/world project. It was just the clearest sense that Joseph was WAY above any superficial destruction and it made me laughingly happy. Eretz Yisrael is acquired through hardships and is seems that we were chosen to deal with the issues of a fledgling Jewish State and her enemies. Just as Joseph was sold into slavery but then was brought high, so too he will rise again, and with him all of Israel.

Here is a link to the pictures I took on the trip.

Below is a nice article from AFP (usually quite anti-Semitic) about our trip:
Hardline Jews Make Night Pilgrimages To West Bank Tomb

NABLUS, West Bank (AFP) — Headlights pierce the misty night as the armored bus packed with hardline Jews winds down the road from a hilltop settlement into the heart of the Palestinian town of Nablus.

Their destination is the burial place of the biblical patriarch Joseph, a pilgrimage site that has become a grim symbol of the region's intractable conflict.

Nearly 100 men wearing black hats or skullcaps and clutching prayer books huddle in the bus, some reading prayers by the light of mobile phones.

"This is a path of devotion for God. I have gone this way dozens of times and will continue doing it," says Benjamin Makhleb, a 23-year-old member of the Hassidic Breslav movement who had come from Jerusalem.

The tense silence that grips this cloak-and-dagger mission gives way to raptured singing and praying as the two buses pass through the checkpoint at the entrance to Nablus, under heavy military escort.

It is just past 2 am.

"This is the cradle of our existence as a Jewish people. Joseph's Tomb is part of every Jew and it is shameful to see us having to sneak in here like thieves in the night," says 23-year-old Nathan Azur.

"It saddens and angers me to see this," says the bearded student from a town near Tel Aviv.

Everyone makes the journey for religious reasons, but for many extreme right-wing Israelis it is also an affirmation of what they see as the Jews' right to control and govern their sacred sites in the Holy Land.

They reject the Israeli government's peace talks with the Palestinians, whose goal is to create an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip -- which would mean evacuating dozens of Jewish settlements and removing Israeli army presence from most of the occupied land .

Escorted by two armored jeeps at each end, the small convoy heads slowly through the deserted, derelict streets of this town of 150,000.

The Palestinian Authority deployed 600 policemen in Nablus after Middle East peace talks resumed in November, but they are not allowed to operate after midnight when only the Israeli army patrols the city.

Palestinian security officials told AFP they are not involved in coordinating the visits to the tomb of Joseph, the 11th son of Jacob. And one local Palestinian security official warned that these the visits could spark new trouble.

"This place has already seen a lot of violence and death, and allowing the settlers to enter Nablus and visit this site could cause more violence," said the official, who requested to remain unnamed.

A small synagogue built on the site following Israel's occupation of the West Bank in 1967 was ransacked and destroyed by Palestinians shortly after the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000. Several Israeli soldiers and Palestinian were killed in fighting at this site.

In another incident, hundreds of Jewish settlers and Breslav Hassidim defied an Israeli ban on entering Palestinian cities in order to visit the tomb, at great personal risk under cover of darkness.

After the army had to rescue several of them, the military agreed to organise regular, guarded visits with help from local Jewish settler groups.

These days the visits are "done in full coordination with the army, after appropriate preparations and in view of the conditions that allow the prayers to be carried out under the army's surveillance," the army said in a statement.

Nahman Weiss, 19, however, says he has visited this tomb and many other holy sites across the West Bank hundreds of times in recent years, often travelling with friends and without informing the army.

The risk involved is a test of his devotion to God, he says.

"Going through this is hard and sometimes dangerous, but this is the only happiness. We trust God," he says. Like other men on the bus, Weiss sports the earlocks, white skullcap and black overcoat of his Hassidic sect.

As fervent believers file silently out of the bus in front of the abandoned tomb, dozens of heavily armed soldiers fan out across the area.

Two neon lamps illuminate the limestone structure as the stench of urine and rubbish mingles with the cold night air. The stairs leading to the small domed shrine are covered with litter and dirt.

Women in headscarves get off a second bus and head to the tomb as the men enter a side room where they immediately break into rapturous prayers.

In the centre of the main chamber a ring of stones encircles the presumed grave where an Ottoman-era tombstone was destroyed in 2003.

A huge hole in the demolished dome opens out to the starry sky, and the walls are still black from the blaze that badly damaged the structure.

Young women prostrate themselves upon the grave, whispering prayers for good luck, health and strength. Others read quietly from prayer books.

After a few minutes the men enter and take the women's place in the main room. Some sink into deep meditation, swaying back and forth. Others break into loud singing in praise of God and Joseph.

Some rub their faces with dirt from the ground and the walls of the site.

"This is a source of strength and good fortune," says Ohad Ben-Ela, a 20-year-old settler from Yitzhar, his face black with soot and earth.

A megaphone calls everyone back to the buses, sparking a burst of loud singing inside the tomb as the pilgrims make the most out of the 30-minute visit. Back on the bus, some excitedly exchange impressions, others are exhausted by the intense late-night experience.

Someone uses the vehicle's PA system to urge everyone to return to the tomb, with or without the army, in order to assert their claim over the site.

"We must continue pressing the army to conquer this place from our enemies," the pilgrim said. "We must not cave in to dictates by an army that operates as a UN force between Jews and Arabs."

Back in the settlement of Yitzhar, overlooking Nablus, two more buses are ready to depart as the others return. A total of seven busloads of pilgrims will visit Joseph's Tomb before dawn.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

American, Israeli, or neither?


After spending the last four years dreaming about living in Israel I've now spent the last four months actually living out that dream. This is a place where many people come to "find themselves" and I too expected that to somewhat happen to myself. One thing I didn't consider though, is that in order to find yourself, maybe first you have to lose yourself a little bit. When most people talk about the difficulties of moving to Israel, they speak of learning Hebrew, living with the arabs, or trying to make a living. Not always do they speak of dealing with a new and not so clear identity. Though it should be obvious that coming to a place halfway across the world with a different economy, language and overall society should affect you and by being surrounded by it change you somewhat as a person, it’s something that could in the excitement of things be very easy to overlook.

Though for some it may be simple semantics I tend to think there is a certain importance to the labels we choose to apply, or not to apply, to ourselves and present to others. And while this is the land I plan on making my life in, I’m not so sure if somebody were to ask me, “What are you?” that “Israeli” would be the first word off of my lips. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made a point of traveling to places such as the Mearat haMachpela (Cave of the Patriarchs) in Hevron and Rachel’s Tomb, which has tremendously increased my connection to this land. Also as my Hebrew improves to the point where I can proficiently order a baguette of schwarma or argue with cab drivers without having to resort to English I start to feel much more like a native. Yet despite this, Israeli society and the many different mentalities of the people here can often be a far cry from what you find back in “the old country.”

So if I’m not an Israeli then I guess I’m just an American in Israel right? Maybe not. While I have no ill will towards America and wish it the best of luck so long as that doesn’t conflict with Israel’s success, in general I feel somewhat detached from it. This is my home now and I care what goes on here, how high gas prices are or who won the Super-bowl back in the States doesn’t have much of an impact on my day-to-day life in Israel. More than that, often I’ll see a bus load of American college students here on a trip making fools of themselves or American tourists doing some of the behaviors that has earned the American tourist a stereotype status around the world and I cringe while I mutter to myself, “G-d, they’re acting so American!” But wait, aren’t I American too? Does the fact I live here and not there give me the opportunity to get on a high horse and think I’m now qualitatively different?

Recently a new idea has crept into my head. What if I don’t need to be either? What if I’m just a Jew who’s come back home and while figuring out what that means doesn’t need to check either box A or B. And as I look around this country I’m in I realize that is the very essence of Israel itself. This country is only several decades old, made up of people from virtually every place in the world. In many ways the country itself still hasn’t figured out who it is. And maybe what it could use is more people who aren’t so sure of who they are yet either. There is a big comfort in the safety of staying wherever you are and however you are. Let's not kid ourselves, to go to a new place often involves becoming somewhat of a new person, which can be pretty scary. But while change can be a scary thing, it often is the best thing that could ever happen to us. It's also only through change that we ever grow. And maybe as more of us come home and find out who we are on an individual level, the fact that we are doing it together in the land of Israel will help our country and people to ultimately find out who we are as a nation.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

THANK YOU


I returned home following Thursday night's Selichot and Hespeidim at Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav completely exhausted. After days and days of Nichum Aveilim, crying, shock and hurt- who wasn't completely drained? But along with all the confusion, pain, questions, sadness, anger and despair, I am filled with respect, pride, awe and hope. Over the past week, we have been privileged to see renewed Achdut and Kavod HaTorah. Heartbreaking and inspiring expressions of Emunah, strength and Kidush Hashem. Clarity of vision, resolve and Mesirut Nefesh. Every shiva visit, interview, interaction with the mourning families, Rabbanim and Talmidim, revealed deep faith and love for Torah and Eretz Yisael.

In the days following the massacre, my shiur and I had the privilege of davening together with Rav Yerachmiel Weiss - the heroic Rosh Yeshiva and the Talmidim at Yeshiva L'Tzeirim of Merkaz HaRav. On Tuesday morning following Tefillah, Rav Weiss addressed the Beit Midrash ("I want to say a few words before the press descends on us again"), and expressed his pride in his talmidim; and while choking back tears, thanked them, praising them for their strength and resilience... he spoke movingly about the need for Achdut and the importance of continuing to be standard bearers and role models for Am Yisrael. "Our way- the way of Torah and truth- is one of love, sweetness, and patience with other Jews- especially those we disagree with... we are all struggling together; and have the zechut of being the vehicle through which Am Yisrael are united."

After davening and the sicha, I approached Rav Weiss to thank him; through tears and an unforgettable embrace, he said, "Thank YOU for davening with us..."

Throughout the week I was zocheh to cross paths with Rav Weiss a number of times; at the Yeshiva, shiva homes etc. In each brief interaction, he expressed his thanks and appreciation for everyone's support.

(BTW- in case somehow you missed it: Arutz Sheva's R' Hillel Fendel translated parts of Rav Weiss' moving interview with Ilana Dayan in his article Faith Through Tears; the interview (in hebrew) is a must see, and gives us a glimpse into the worldview of a true leader: a modest Torah scholar who speaks from the heart and addresses the most difficult questions with clarity and wisdom).

This Erev Shabbat I called Rav Weiss- just to say "Thank you".... As always, he was gracious and friendly, and refused to accept any praise, saying over and over again how "we are all in this together".
Thank you Rav Weiss. Thank you Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Shapira. Than you to all the Rabbeim and Talmidim, families and chevra- for strengthening us and giving us hope in the future of Klal Yisrael. May we be blessed with Yeshuos V'Nechamos

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Heart-Fixed



To my dear friends and family,

Daniel and I just got back form paying a shiva call to the family of Segev Avichayil, the young boy murdered in the terrorist attack Thursday night. I was expecting a terrible scene of crying and shouting, of blaming and lots of unanswered questions. What we encountered was the exact opposite.

The apartment was a modest one, the only interior design being the sefer lined living room walls. this was clearly a home of torah and yirat shamayim. at least a hundred people were crowded into the room, all listening while the father of this young man spoke with total composure and clarity.

Segev's mother and sister sat quietly listening to words which are difficult to imagine coming from a man whose son had been so cruelly torn from him. I tried to absorb every word, knowing that I was in the presence of greatness and would probably never encounter strength like this again.

Rav Avichayil was telling all the heartbroken people who came to comfort him that he was not broken. He said that he and his wife, and all of their remaining children were stronger in their faith and love for Hashem than ever.

He said that Hashem has chosen this time for the Jewish nation to return to its borders, and the terrorist was just a shaliach to test our resolve to resettle the land. Hashem had now chosen a new path for him and his family to embark on, and all he could do was thank Hashem for having been graced with such a precious neshama for the years his son lived.

Someone there asked if he had questions for Hashem.

He said that the gemara is written in a way that there are always more questions to be asked, deeper layers to reveal and understand. He said that he did not have questions of Hashem, he just knows that he can not understand everything yet. he said that he had no questions, just perhaps he felt a lack of clarity. He went on to describe his son Segev, a boy so connected to torah at just 15 years old. he loved to learn with his father, and had deep respect for his father.

He stood when his father entered the room, and always was very interested in how his father was doing. He called from yeshiva all the time to speak to his parents and siblings aways caring so much for what they were doing and how they were. He went regularly to the hospital to dance and sing and make people happy.

His father asked him once if he was embarrassed to do it, and he could not understand the question. Why should he be embarrassed to make people happy. We have truly lost a special neshama.

Segev's Rav from Merkaz Harav was there. He told us that the reason Segev had been in the library the night of the shooting and not in the Bait midrash was because the Bait midrash was crowded and he did not want to be distracted from his learning. the terrorist killed all the students who could not escape the library fast enough. Segev died with his sefer still open in his hands.

May Hashem bring a nechama to this beautiful Jewish family, who raised their son with the most beautiful torah values and love for yidishkeit. May we see the yeshuah quickly in our days. We must all continue to daven for Shalom for klall yisrael in Eretz Yisrael, and for protection from the evil reincarnation of Haman and Amalek.

Besurot Tovot, Avigail

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

What's your Jew I.Q.?



"A nation which does not know what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do."

--- Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Matisyahu the Maccabee, From the Belly of the Babylonian Beast


So I caught Matisyahu and the Wailers on the second night of Chanukah. Read about it here - check out the videos.

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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.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Forget About Baseball...



Introducing: "Religious Zionist Rabbi Cards"!

...although a pretty narrow definition of "Religious Zionist"!

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Hosha-na-na


From the sacred Hoshanas of Hoshana Raba:
Tribes of Israel
A voice - Saviors shall ascend upon Mount Zion, for Zion has delivered and given birth - heralds and proclaims.
A voice - It is heard within all your boundaries, "Expand the area of your tents!" - heralds and proclaims.
A voice - Set up your dwellings until Damasek, receive your sons and your daughters - heralds and proclaims.
A voice - Be joyous, O rose of Sharon, for those sleeping in Hebron have arisen - heralds and proclaims.

Chag sameach!

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Aliyah Is Something Only Russians Do, Right?


Jewsweek reports about The Jewish Reconnection Project which joins five young Jews in New York with four young Jews in Jerusalem. (Why not five on five? I guess Israel always does more with less!) In the series a host of issues are discussed. Naturally the one of most interest to Kumah is Israel vs. Diaspora. Some thoughts of mine follow below the clip.


When asked what "Aliyah" is, one young American Jew (or Jewish American depending on who you ask) responded matter-of-fact-ly, "Aliyah is like coming from Eastern Europe." She caught herself and very quickly added "or coming from wherever, and immigrating to the land of Israel."

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Here's something odd:

Secular Israeli guy remarks how if he grew up outside Israel he might have a stronger Jewish identity because here he takes it for granted because "everybody is Jewish." Now aside for the fact that the rate of Jewish intermarriage in America has proven that statement to be utterly ridiculous and of flawed logic, I was struck by something else I saw. On the words "[in Israel] everybody is Jewish" the film editor cuts to, if I'm not mistaken, scenes from Maron on Lag B'Omer. We see hundreds of Chassidim dancing. This is curious. When this Chiloni said he was surrounded by Jews in Israel I don't think he was thinking of Maron. He was more likely thinking of night clubs in Tel Aviv. And yet when the American producer of the video heard the words "everyone is Jewish in Israel" he thought of Chassidim dancing at the Kever of Reb Shimon Bar Yachi. Most curious indeed! Pray tell, why?

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Israel is a bad place for a Jew to live another American concludes because it's "too easy" to be Jewish and you don't have to "think about it." And here we are at Kumah using the very same logic to promote Aliyah! (Truth be told you ALWAYS have to "think about it" no matter where you are. It might just be a bit easier to find kosher pizza and falafel here. That's a bad thing?)

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Best line. "Well I find that kind of sad!" remarked by a young secular Israeli lady responding to a religious American Jew when he explains he doesn't wear his Kippa in college because he wants to hide his Jewish identity. Sad indeed.

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Other words of wisdom from the same chiloni, responding to the Americans who said how important the "Homeland" is (it's nice to visit, but they wouldn't want to live there):

"If you feel that Israel is a place for the Jews, and it should be there, then you should step up and do something about it." We, here at Kumah, agree.

---

She also (the very same chiloni) got the last word in:

"I don't love this county because it's the prettiest country or it's the nicest country, you know, I love it because it's mine, and it's the only - the only home I've got."

Excellent! But, just for the record... it IS the prettiest! :)

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Media Analysis for Rosh Hashana


Mama said knock you out!

Class, let us look at this piece in Ynet B'Ivrit, shall we?

The headline says - Soldier's Mother: "I'm Calm, the Kid Isn't Going Back to Zikim"

You see, this item and the talkbacks to it actually encapsulate much of Israel's pacifist problem, and its solution.

As we learned in the first semester of this course, the Left in Israel has been using a Cindy Sheehan "Mother" type approach very successfuly over the past 20 years. The discourse is 50% radical post-marxist feminism, 50% Yiddishe-mameh castrative.

The article's heading and the use of of the word "child/children" with regard to the soldiers doing basic training in Zikim are classic Yiddishe-feminist-pacifist defeatism. The Middle East's toughest army, the IDF, is not being bombed by terrorist scum, the subtext says. Jewish children are being bombed and their mothers/parents will save them by evacuating them from Zikim. There is no masculine army defending us, it says. There are only children who long for their mothers' comforting hug.

Sub-subtext: WE ARE DOOMED.

As of 8:15 Wednesday, the item is top story in Ynet. The lowdown on the attack on Syria is (pardon me) lower down, despite being much more significant militarily and more recent. Taking it a step further - the headline actually tries to answer the criticism that the editor (probably one of the feminist-pacifists who abound behind the scenes in Ynet) knows is coming: no, the mother says, I'm not being hysterical. "I'm calm." But my child is staying home, i.e. refusing to serve. Because the big bad men of Gaza shot a rocket at him.


Those of us old and wise enough to know how this kind of discourse took over our lives during Shelly Yechimovich's years in Voice of Israel, and how it featured in the "Four Mothers" campaign, and how IDF bases have been taken over by mothers (and fathers) with the help of Yechimovich sidekick Carmela Menashe, and how sick and weak this made the army - know what the danger is.

What I am happy about is the talkbacks. If you want to enjoy them, you'd better learn you some Ivrit.

Shana Tova - this bodes well.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"Noah's Route, Your Route,"




"Armenia is gunning for its spot on the tourist map by marketing its religious attractions. The country's current slogan is "Noah's Route, Your Route," a nod to the belief that Mount Ararat is the place where Noah's Ark landed."

Now that's a way to promote a country, not with a push for gay tourism, and not by prostituting young girls for Maxim photo shoots. The time time has come to throw away the bikini-brand in favor of Holy-Land...

"Bikini-Brand or Holy Land?" By Yishai Fleisher

In a bid to "rebrand" Israel's unpopular world image, Tzipi Livni and the gang at the Foreign Ministry are about to embark on a massive PR campaign. Livni plans to paint Israel as a sexy modern country with beautiful beaches and a successful high-tech industry to boot. Livni believes that by embarking on this "nation branding" campaign, she can move Israel's perception away from war-torn and fanatical, to an image of the great Israeli dream - normalcy.

No doubt Israel does have something to offer those looking for beaches, night life, and technology. But as the focus of a public relations campaign, this direction is doomed for failure.

The Lubavicher Rebbe told a story to illustrate this point:

After the Six-Day War, France, unhappy with Israel's grand victory over the Arabs, stopped their sales of the Mirage fighter jets to Israel. Israel, in need of fighter jets, turned to the United States with a request to buy American jets.

The US sent a delegation to Israel and the Israelis wanted to impress the American group and promptly took them to what the Israeli's thought the American's would be most interested in. They took them to Tel-Aviv, to the playhouses, to the bars, to all the modernity that Israel could muster up at the time.

However, the delegation was nonplussed. They returned to America, gave a lukewarm report to Congress, and the sale did not go through. A few months went by and again the Israelis requested the sale of fighter jets. Again a delegation was formed and was flown to Israel. This time, however, the Israelis took the delegation to the Kotel, and to the Yeshivas of Mea Shearim where the Americans saw the old study benches that were brought over from Europe.

When the Americans returned home and testified in front of Congress they said: "We saw the Holy Land." The sale, of course, went through.

The point is so obvious, yet Israel's image makers cannot grasp it.

Israel's image strength is NOT in its limping normalcy. Nor can Israel ever compare to the US's flesh-pots, Amsterdam's night life, or the beaches of South America.

Israel's real image strength IS in its unparalleled link to the Bible. Have you ever seen the ecstasy of a person, Jew or Gentile, as he or she sees the Kotel for the first time? Is it a coincidence that both Jews and Gentiles cry when they arrive in Israel? Israel has emotional impact, not because of the beaches or the Hi-Tech, but rather because this place is the Spiritual Capital of the world.

How can you beat the branding effect of the most widely read book in the world?! The Bible is the globe's all-time bestseller and Israel should capitalize on it. Israel's image makers, however, do everything in their power to distance Israel from this kind of image. Their world view is dissonant with Jewish history and religion, and therefore they do not see, nor want to see, the public relations benefit of Israel's Biblical/spiritual PR image. Moreover, they fail to see the Biblical Israel's economic potential.

Yet it is precisely by embracing and not blunting our image as the real-life successors of the Biblical past that we will create a winning PR campaign.

For example, in terms of tourism:

The festival of Sukkot should be mega-season for spiritual tourism. Sukkot is the holiday when world citizenry was traditionally invited to Jerusalem to take part in the celebrations, and this custom should be revived. While this trend has already begun, it needs to be bolstered. Instead of making flights outrageously expensive during the Sukkot season, Israel should charter flights to encourage a world-wide pilgrimage.

Hebron is the great burial place of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs and the first capital of young King David. Hebron is a must-see for anyone seeking to connect with the roots of monotheism, yet Israel's image makers couldn't get themselves farther away from it. This special place should be transformed from a neglected and governmentally-rejected "fringe" town into a bona fide tourist site. Hebron could be a big winner if Israel would rebrand itself in Biblical terms.

The Old City of Jerusalem is a natural-habitat, authentic biblical experience. In order to further this atmosphere, the Old City should be made off-limits to car traffic on Shabbat. Tourists from Israel and abroad should be able to walk the stone lined streets of the Old City with complete freedom, into an atmosphere of transcendent calm and warmth. The Kotel, the Quarters, and the Old City's diverse communities, will all benefit by the creation of a unique cultural zone in the heart of the world's most special city.

In terms of Hasbara:

In our continuing struggle with the war on terror, Israel would do well to paint its story in a Biblical context. Today's Israel and yesteryear's Israel are the same -- the same nation, the same land, and the same problems. By providing such historical perspective, we can help people reframe the conflict in the Middle East. Suddenly Ahamedinajad's Iran is akin to Haman's Persia and Palestinian suicide-bombers are not unlike to the ancient Philistine guerilla attackers. Girded with Biblical perspective the world will root for Israel, just as they do when they read the Bible.

Another important aspect of a Biblical Hasbara perspective is Tikvah, hope.

The Bible is full of hope for the Jewish people and for Israel. In today's dreary climate we need to broadcast that message of positivity loud and clear.

In the long run:

We can create a successful image of Israel abroad, but we need to start by creating the right self-image within. Israel must learn to see itself as a light unto the world, and not just as a bastion of normalcy. Israel's 'light' includes a unique blend of medicine and technology, law and spirituality. Where else in the world can you find a country that is a world leader in microchip development, in-vitro fertilization, farming innovation, Talmudic law and Kabbalah?

A practical way to sow this image in the long-run is by creating mega-schools that would teach medicine, environmental sciences, and technology to the people of the world. Israel is already an internationally respected educator in a variety of fields including counter-terror, health, and agriculture. This role should be increased into all fields of Israeli and Jewish expertise. Israel should be seen as the world's educational destination, and while foreign students study here, they will learn to love Israel and will always be its greatest ambassadors. Indeed there are thousands of ways that a Biblical Israel can flourish once this way of thinking crystallizes in the minds of our leaders and our nation.

For the last 3000 years the Holy Land has been the pre-eminent destination for all mankind - travelers and conquerors all sought this piece of real-estate. Today, maybe more than ever before, Israel can quench the world's thirst for authenticity, spirituality, and purpose -- but it has to rise to the occasion. Let's not cheapen and degrade the image of Israel by Bikini-branding it. Let us market it for what it is: the most special place on the Earth -- the Holy Land.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

'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.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Kosher Hellenism



Baseball is in Israel and it has also made it to the Kumah site. Personally I believe that pro-sports is an insidious form of American culture which has no place in Israel:

1. It promotes that fan culture, i.e. the fat America that goes to games and watches TV on a scale never seen before in the history of mankind. And don't tell me watching sports makes you play - look at the facts - America is a country of overweight watchers, not healthy players.

2. Pro-sports eventually leads to the warped societal values of paying players millions while teachers get pennies. Do Torah observant Jews feel comfortable being part of the societal ill?

3. This is a pseudo-Greek thing. Rashi writing in 10 century Provence comments that the Torah verse in Vayikra 18;3 "Bechukoteyehem Lo Teleichu" - "Do not follow their statutes" is specifically talking about going to "their stadiums" and "their theaters". "Their stadiums" is not just Roman-fighting, it is also pro-sports, the celebration of bodily ability.

4. Israel baseball poses as a Jewish thing, with Jewish names for the teams and Jewish symbols. I challenge anyone to find me a rabbinic source lauding going to or watching professional sports. The Maccabees, who fought Greek culture, would turn over in their graves if they knew how their "Miracles" have been borrowed to name a baseball team in Israel.

5. Goyyim. 60% of the players in the new Israel Baseball League are goyyim. Maybe one of them can get lucky and meet a nice Jewish girl while he is here. Certainly little Jewish kids will look up to the stick-wielding goy. I already heard of a proud dad talking about his son collecting all the signatures.

6. Ok, Ok we all need relaxation and entertainment - but do Orthodox Jews have to promote it? We all may succumb to some bittul Torah - but to promote it to the point of giving it a stamp of approval?

7. If you want pro-sports you can enjoy it plenty on ESPN and on the Internet. Why bring this thing to Israel?


My only question: if it does indeed help Aliyah - should I forgo my protestations in the spirit of compromising for a greater cause?

PS - Please do not confuse playing sports with watching pro-sports. The Israel football league is a beautiful thing. Jews go out, play, sweat, and enjoy themselves. There is no money involved. There is no excessive idolization of the players. There is no warping of societal values.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Top "Top-Ten" Lists



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

"My Israeli Top 12 List" by Avi Hein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

"Excuses, Excuses" by Orit Arfa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, June 18, 2007

The First "GOT HOME?" Family








Friday, June 15, 2007

How to Answer Back




Some one liners to answer back...










~ Have a good Shabbat!!! ~ Shulamit

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Non-Kosher Way to Think...



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

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

So far so good.

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

Simply put, what Gaydamak should have said was:

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


A provocation towards Jews!

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

40 Years Ago








Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pictures from Mea Shearim


On a short walk through Mea Shearim yesterday I had my camera out - come take a look:

Inside a Jewish bookstore, a whole section just on Shmittah, the Sabbatical year for the Land of Israel

Kid's books talk about the wondrousness of the Land of Israel and the G-dly commandments which have to do solely with Land...


This page compares the Shabbat of the week to the Shabbat of the Land of Israel


In the bookstore: tons of English book for the tons of English-speakers that loaf around


A majestic palm adorns a building in Mea Shearim


...but you can't convince everyone and at least we have a vibrant democracy...

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Recovery




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


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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

1967: A Year of Jewish Military Campaigns


The friendly folks over at Chabad are happy to point out that more than one important military campaign was launched in 1967.

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"


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Monday, May 14, 2007

Is the U.S. Really Israel's Friend?



According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a "friend" can be defined as:

1. A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.
2. A person whom one knows; an acquaintance.
3. A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade.
4. One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement
5. Friend A member of the Society of Friends; a Quaker.

According to that same dictionary, a "foe" is defined as:

1. A personal enemy.
2. An enemy in war.
3. An adversary; an opponent: a foe of tax reform.
4. Something that opposes, injures, or impedes.

Israel and the United States have always professed to be "friends" and good friends at that. Yet, a recent examination of U.S. policy toward Israel over the past several weeks, may have you checking your definitions a little more closely.

In June 1967, Israel was forced to defeat the attacking armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Israel tried to avoid war at all costs, but as diplomacy failed (as it often does here in the Middle East) Israel had no choice but to take pre-emptive action to defend its borders and protect its citizens.

In the stunning victory, Israel swiftly repossessed the Golan, Gaza, Sinai, Yehuda, Shomron, and re-unified a divided Jerusalem. The re-unification of our nation marks perhaps the highest spiritual point in Israel's brief 59 year history.

This week according to IsraelNationalNews, the United States Ambassador to Israel will not be present at celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the miraculous Six-Day War.

This week's festivities are certainly the type in which Israel would like its friends to be present. It is not that our friends are busy with prior engagements, but rather that the United States is boycotting the festivities, along with member nations of the European Union.

According to the INN report:
"The U.S. did not issue an official statement explaining why the current Ambassador, Richard Jones will not be attending the ceremonies, but Ambassador Dr. Harald Kindermann from Germany, which heads the European Union (EU) this year, specifically said EU countries will not participate because of Arab claims of sovereignty over eastern Jerusalem, which includes the Old City."

Perhaps this incident can be brushed aside as part of some grand political game the U.S. must play to appease others across the globe. But some other recent occurances are harder to overlook.

When Winograd Commission released its interim report into the Israeli government and military's mismanagement of the Summer War in Lebanon, the Jewish nation was engaged in sharp condemnation of its leaders, and calls for their resignation. Winograd dominated news coverage for a solid week, and still appears in the headlines on a regular basis.

Just two days after the report was released to the public, there was another, no less important news story in the headlines: The United States had presented Israel with a detailed timetable of commitments for Jewish State to satisfy, in line with the U.S.'s renewed push for the creation of a Palestinian state.

This seemingly important top news story only managed modest news coverage, and barely any opinion, because as mentioned, Israel was engulfed in Winograd.

One may ask whether a timetable, or the creation of an Arab state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan represent acts of friendship to Israel at all. But to present Israel with this kind of wish list when it did, was intentional.

The State Department could have easily pushed off its diplomatic attempt by a week or more, as proved by Condoleeza Rice's postponement of her scheduled trip to Israel this past week. She claimed that Israel was too busy with its own domestic issues to engage in diplomacy.

So why then was the timetable given to Israel when it was? Specifically to dodge any media criticism of the document, and to attempt to have the commitments accepted and in place, just in case Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was man enough to resign his post following the damning Winograd report.

While the timing of the document may or may not be friendly, the contents of the timetable further reveal the nature of the United States toward Israel.

The first commitment called for in the document presented by the State Department requests that Israel ease passage between Gaza and the provinces of Judea and Samaria--also known today as the West Bank.

Since the Israeli Withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, during which Israel destroyed 21 Jewish communities and forcibly expelled upwards of 10,000 residents, Gaza has turned into a terror state. Hamas has taken control of the region, sponsoring terror activities including the firing of nearly 2000 Kassam rockets into Israel. Well over 60 tons of weapons and munitions have been smuggled into Gaza via Egypt, and the rival factions in the newly autonomous area have engaged in murderous street fights that fall somewhere in between anarchy and civil war.

Now, the United States is suggesting, strongly, that Israel allow Arabs of Gaza passage into Judea and Samaria. This despite the fact that there is a large landmass of indisputed Israeli territory between the aforementioned regions, and also despite the fact that Judea and Samaria wrap directly around the borders of Jerusalem, and end within ten miles of the greater Tel Aviv metropolitan population center.

Obviously the United States knows all of these facts, particularly when you consider that they are openly arming, funding, and training members of the Fatah terror faction in their struggle for control of the Palestinian Authority with Hamas.

By the way, Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah wrote his doctoral thesis on Holocaust denial, and openly calls for the very weapons donated to his cause by the United States should be turned against the Jewish people.

So to summarize, the United States is funding and arming sworn enemies of the Jewish State and asking the Jewish State to ease their travel near Israeli population centers. They ask us to do this when the media is too caught up Winograd to rightfully comment on the request.

And the U.S. who is acting squarely against the interests of safety for Israeli citizens and security for Israel's borders, won't celebrate with as friends the greatest demonstration of Israel's independent ability to protect those interests: The miraculous Six-Day War.

Many Americans and Israelis alike believe claims by their respective governments that Israel and America are friends. But actions speak louder than words.

"Well meant are the wounds a friend inflicts, but profuse are the kisses of an enemy." (Proverbs 27:6).

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Every Jew is responsible for one another? (Kol Yisrael areivim zeh la'zeh?)


Drivers ignore dying man on road



(Click here if video doesn't download.)

Shocking.

Disturbing.

Appalling.

These are just a few of the words that come to mind.

Can it be that Israeli society has become so cold, unforgiving and apathetic (as Avi Dichter, Israel's Internal Security minister, asserts)?

Before casting blame and making sweeping judgements, it's important to place this tragic event in the proper context.

On the morning of March 13th, 1964, 29 year old Kitty Genovese was brutally murdered just outside her New York apartment.

For over 30 minutes, 40 of Ms. Genovese's neighbors watched the brutal attack, doing absolutely nothing. Only 35 minutes after the attack had begun did someone finally call the police.

In order to determine if New Yorkers were in fact cold and heartless, or, if perhaps there was another explanation as to why no one responded to Ms. Genovese's cries for help, a series of experiments were conducted.
The researchers consistently found that as the number of bystanders increased, the likelihood that any one of them would help decreased.
This phenomenon is known as the "bystander effect".
If we are by ourselves when an emergency occurs, we perceive ourselves to be 100% responsible for taking action. However, when there are 10 bystanders, we each perceive ourselves to have only a tenth of the responsibility. The higher the number of bystanders, the less obligated each individual is likely to feel to intervene.
Another explanation given is...
If we are unsure of our own perceptions and interpretations, or if the situation is ambiguous, we look to others for help in defining what is going on. If others appear calm, we may decide that whatever is happening doesn't require our assistance.
When these findings are applied to Israel society, I believe that we can better understand why this tragic event occurred, and how similar occurrences can be prevented in the future..

Frankly, over the last two decades, as corruption and deceit infected many of the seats of power within Israeli society - particularly the government - average Israelis came to feel that they were no longer able to make a difference. Israeli society was now ruled by the law of the jungle - everyone for themselves and the survival of the fittest - and whoever didn't play by those rules would come to be viewed as friers / (suckers) - the absolute worst thing you can call an Israeli.

It is not a matter of Israeli society being populated by cold and heartless individuals, quite to the contrary. However, the foreign values that have consciously been imported from abroad (courtesy of Israel's ruling elites), such as individualism and materialism have come to replace the authentic Jewish values of self-sacrifice and of caring for the needs of the community.

We are taught in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers, 5:22):
Whoever possesses these three qualities belongs to the disciples of Abraham our father: a generous eye, a humble spirit, and a meek soul.

But he who possesses the three opposite qualities--an evil eye, a proud spirit, and a haughty soul--is of the disciples of Bilam the wicked.
So, what is the solution?

I believe that each and every one of us needs to take upon themselves a sense of personal responsibility for making the Jewish State of Israel the best it can possibly be.

True, there are many challenges within Israeli society, and we can't possibly overcome all of them with our limited abilities and resources, but, returning once again to Pirkei Avot, 2:21:
It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task. Yet, you are not free to desist from it.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Explanations


I think some explanations may be due.

First, I put up a post last Friday (since edited) that was a tad uncommunicative. I'm sorry if people had no idea what I was trying to say - I got a little carried away because I was really happy with my latest article. I hadn't written anything for a while, and the article came out powerful (I thought) and I was happy so I started doing my touchdown dance and forgot where I was for a moment.

I had gotten used to having articles in the press every 2-3 weeks, and then had to go without for a long time, and so when the article came out - and unlike my previous string of articles at Ynet, was not censored - I was happy. Sorry. I just love the truth and I love getting it out. I know how much the jerks out there are pained by it.



As for women and gays. Some of my best friends are... no wait, that one's been done. Women are great. Homosexuals are also great. Being considered stupid, being treated without respect, being sexually harmed or being beaten up and then having the police take this lightly - all these things stink. Women don't deserve that. Being called a fairy also stinks. Homosexuals have a hard life. I feel bad for them.

I'm all for letting people do what they want in their bedrooms and I'm all for women getting the respect and protection they deserve. But when these groups organize politically and affect my country's defense posture - I cease to empathize and I start getting angry. When these groups adopt lying radical marxists as their leaders, and other people don't realize that this is happening under their noses, I feel the need to alert them.

Men have done everything we can be expected to do and much more in support of the women's movement. Show me a single feminist law that hasn't been passed by the Knesset, with the support of a large majority, including the knit-kippah crowd.

Groups don't normally give up power willingly. Yet the men of the Knesset are doing just that, and they have been doing it for many years: passing laws that mandate 50% female representation on state-company boards of directors, for instance. Voting for a law that would give substantial benefits to parties that have at least 30% representation for women on their tickets. Changing rape laws in a way that no longer requires the presence of the use of force or even the threat of the use of force for conviction - thus creating exceedingly fertile ground for vindictive use of false accusations. Creating the sexual harrassment law, despite the ease with which it lends itself to use in blackmail. Passing the domestic violence law that has been grossly abused by women in divorces. And much more where that came from.

The number of Israeli men in jail for crimes against women has shot up by 450% in ten years. A full 25% of the people in jail right now are in there for supposed crimes against women. I say supposed, because half of them are innocent. When a specific prison population shoots up by 450% like that - you know there's a witch hunt going on.

So the last thing that can be said about Israel's males is that they have not been bending over backwards for the women's movement, and cooperating fully with its leaders and legislators.

The same goes for homosexuals: if you read what I linked to in that Zibbi and the Homos post, you'll see that they, too, realize they are in a golden age (for them, as far as their rights and power are concerned).

But when these groups' politics cross over into defense and diplomacy, and it turns out they are working for the enemy - well, I don't have to put up with that. My posts have been about foreign policy and defense matters. When a feminist clique manages to destroy our country's defenses and bring about humiliating withdrawals in Lebanon and Gaza - only an utter fool would continue defending them in any way. When the foreign office / tourism ministry helps create a site that promotes Black Laundry - we have to ask ourself what is going on.

A poster by Black Laundry. Should the government be helping this group?



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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Orange alive in NY and FL



Hey all hope you had an amazing Independence Day.

While looking at some pictures from here and here I notices that Orange was still popping up everywhere. So I decided to check and see if we here in America still have "it" and here is what I found....









So this is to show, that even after all this time, and an ocean away, we still remember and we still support and we still believe that eventually we will get Gush Katif back, and the WHOLE land of Israel, that was promised to us. Amen!!!

Have a good one, don't forget the omer

~ Shulamit

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pride - In the Name of Love




I am really excited for this years Israel Independence Day. Why? I had a dream the other night, and I have no idea what it was about, I only remember the conclusion. The State of Israel is the greatest thing that has happened to us. Yup, the State, not only the Land. Jewish sovereignty, problematic as it is, is simply a gift.

It's beyond my mind, it's in my heart and soul. I can simply feel that Israel is the greatest blessing, and while I am understanding and sensitive, I feel awful and angry about the continued exile.

There hasn't been a day in the past 4 years where I haven't thanked G-d for letting me live in Israel, for helping me eek out a living. What did you think, that you could marry the greatest girl in the world and be filthy rich as well. No, something must give, and making a living in Israel is hard - but at least it's a really LIVING, unlike being loaded but partially dead. Lo Toda.

40 years since the Six-Day War when G-d showed His true hand, when He revealed Himself in the greatest of revelations. Man, it's hard to fathom how incredible it is when Hashem fulfills His promise. And we... why do we merit it? I don't know. All I know is, we are here, so might as well make it a good run.

Sometimes you need to put on some loud pump-up music, and go crazy, feel the energy and passion coarse through you. Sometimes you need to breath in the warm evening air and remember being young and alive. There is something so ALIVE in Israel. Life is a gift, and life in Israel is the greatest gift of all, living with this crazy government and these amazing stiff-necked brothers.

I saw a low-flying big-eagle today as I was walking my dog and I remembered two separate ideas involving the eagle in our sources:

1. "Be light like an eagle" - Don't let things get to you, fly above them, look from above, have equanimity.

2. G-d is like an eagle, brooding over His young, tending to His chicks.

The first idea is that you shouldn't let things get to you like the situation in Israel, be patient, be above it, have a birds-eye-view.

The second is that there is providence watching out for us - so have faith and DO NOT FEAR.

Happy Israel Independence Day - celebrate with pride. Mazal tov!!

Here is a great audio about a modern day Jewish pioneer - Rabbi Menachem Listman

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Yom Hashoah Thought, The Day After


As the siren blared yesterday and I stood still along with everyone else on Kanfei Nesharim Street in Givat Shaul reflecting on the immeasurable horrors that transpired upon our nation it occurred to me that I am standing on a busy street in Jerusalem looking around at hundreds of other Jews who are all also residents of the Jewish State also standing and reflecting on the immeasurable horrors that occurred to our nation while standing still on a busy street in Jerusalem.

Think about that.

I don’t know if there could be any thought that could begin to comfort the Jewish People from our loss. Still it is at least an uplifting feeling to actually be united as one nation sharing our sorrow together – if only for a minute… and something that could only be experienced one place in the world.

We must never forget our past even as we build a brighter future.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Never Forget!


Today marks 60 years since the murder of Dov Gruner, Yehiel Dresner, Eliezer Kashani & Mordechai Alkahi HY"D by the British, at the Acco gallows.

"For you should know this: there is no power in the world which can sever the tie between the Jewish people and their one and only land. Whosoever tries to sever it - his hand will be cut off and the curse of God will rest on him for ever...In blood and fire Judea fell, in blood and fire Judea will rise again..."

The full story on the official ETZEL website

In honor of the yahrtzeit, check out A Simple Jew's Photo Essay

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

America does NOT have the Answers!!!



Heyo, hope you all had an amazing Pesach, and next one G-d willing we will all be in Israel.



I have been out of the loop for a while, meaning I haven't had Internet for a week. But when I went to surf the net for some interesting info, I keep hitting a topic, that is really old, but still seems to hold clout and be really annoying. "For the first time in years the US and Israel are not seeing eye to eye regarding key issues" stated in an article on ynet


But its not only ynet that feels this way, I think its a running theme in Israel today. They no longer think or speak from themselves. Instead they look to the high and mighty America for the answers and cures to everything. Well since I don't want to sound like broken record, instead, I'm going to let you know why America not only has no answers anymore, but its a tad on the confused side itself.



As one reporter states "America's government is broken and its leaders corrupt. Our homeland security is being jeopardized as is our economy due to poor border control and unwillingness to tackle tough issues on our own soil. Before going abroad to police the world, we should get our own nation in order." Hey, doesn't this sound familiar? Isn't this what Israel is doing also? Maybe America is learning too much from Israel? America has Al Sharpton, Israel has Abbas. It seems like both countries are in the same boat... But one is Israel, a Jewish nation, that has its roots buried in the land for over 3000 years. And America is but a child compared to Israel's linage, why do we continuously feel the need to look up to them? And when we don't see "eye to eye" we start getting nervous, as if we can't stand on our own. I wish I could give out t-shirts that say " I don't look for answers, I HAVE THEM." Because if Israel continues to look to America for guidance, and continue to depend strongly on anyone but themselves, things aren't going to get better.

Okay, so its known that Olmert and his posy's are all corrupt... done. Its been established that the Oslo accords were a waste of time...check. We know relying on other counties for support is weaning thin... kapish. So now what?

Well now, we run our government, with out kissing up to anyone. We close our eyes, put our feet on the ground, know that this soil has a story to tell and that story is still being told, and we are going to be its tellers. Deep down, every Israeli knows what is right, that's not where the fight comes. The fight is when we know whats wrong, and convince ourselves and everyone else that that's right. But as Jews, like cats ( I like cats, I do a really good impression) we have second chances. Throughout history we are known for screwing up, but then, royally rectifying it.

I think its been established that we messed up. Now its our time to work our magic that has been passed down through each generation since our fore father Avraham, and as New Yorkers would say "work it."

So stop looking to America or other countries for answers, look inside, its all there, if you don't believe me, I got the oldest book in the world to prove it, the Torah.

Aight... work it...

ttfn, Dftss ~ Shualmit

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Preparing for Pesach with Matisyahu in Jerusalem



There is not much that could get my wife to leave the house just two nights before Pesach...

I was hoping Matisyahu would sing my favorite niggun: "Kol BaYaar/ Father in the Forest": a powerful dialogue between Hashem the Almighty Father and His children, the people of Israel. The Father looks for His children in the Diaspora, Galut, and implores them to return home to the Holy Land. "Where have you been that you have forsaken Me?" He inquires of His children, "Dear children, please Return Home, I feel forlorn without you." The children's answer is "But, Father, how can we return when there is a guard blocking the door?"


Matisyahu did not disapoint: half way through he sang an extended version of the niggun. Listen to the Original, classic song HERE (from Chabad.org) & Matisyahu's studio version HERE

What a night! So many Jews, from all walks of life: celebrating, dancing, praying and enjoying a powerful and inspiring(!) concert/ tefillah & performance. Great music, fun crowd; lots of joy and Jewish Pride.

Last Motzai Shabbat- while on a Heritage trip to Poland-I made Havdala with a group of students in Auschwitz, mourning the past; one week later we were surrounded by hundreds of Jews- alive in Eretz Yisrael- and look forward to a bright future.

Jerusalem VIDEO CLIP

"Indestructable"- Live Clip (from NYC) HERE

Fear nobody but His Majesty,
My spirit, you retrieved,
For You I wait silently,
It seems that you believe in me

Just a tool in the hands of the builder
Fill them with the strength to go further
Diggin deep for eternal treasure
Stay away from quicksand and false pleasure

Release me from their schemes
My distress you will relieve
Shield me on the path that's dark and slippery
They seek deception and futility

I stand with integrity
Sneak to the roof of that building
Don't want nobody here to see me
To say that I'm living in a fantasy
But I believe in find and keep

And I plead in sincerity
Wont you utterly remove the cloud hangin over me
Wont you wave that decree in the shade of your wings
Shelter me from the wicked who have plundered me
From my mortal enemies wont you shield me

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Arabic Language Academy





This is from today's news:

The establishment of an official Academy for the Arabic Language received final approval on Wednesday as the "High Institute for the Arabic Language 2007" bill passed its second and third readings in the Knesset plenum and became law.

"This is the first time an Academy for the Arabic Language is established in a country outside the Arab world..." said Knesset Education Committee Chairman Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad), who cosponsored the bill with MK Nadia Hilu (Labor).

The new Academy will also coordinate its work with the long-established Academy for the Hebrew Language, contributing to the study of the similarities, differences and connections between the two languages.

How does one say "Get the hell outa my Country" in Arabic?








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Hogan Knows Best... About the Exile and Keeping Kosher



It seems like everyone has their own reality TV show these days.

Even... Hulk Hogan.

Believe it or not, but VH1 has started a reality series about everyone's favorite professional wrestler, Hulk Hogan, entitled, Hogan Knows Best, featuring the exploits of Hulk Hogan and his family. The show has even devoted a number of episodes to Hulk Hogan (and family) learning about what it means to keep Kosher.

While the episodes are quite funny, I really don't know which is sadder - Hogan's attempts at keeping Kosher - or the many observant Jews who seem to be so at home in the Exile known as Miami Beach, enjoying their chance to be Hulkamaniacs (kind of like the Jews who had such a great time at Achashveirosh's party - of Purim fame - celebrating the end of Am Yisra'el, content to live merely as Persians of the Mosaic persuasion.)

Check it out for yourself here.

Each episode is about two minutes in length. If you can't watch them all, I recommend episodes 3 - 6, and 8.

WARNING: There are some immodestly dressed women in these episodes (namely, Hogan's wife and daughter.)

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Shocked!!!



Ok, so I still have to pack for my flight that is in an hour, but when I read this, I just had to share, sorry I can't comment too much on it, but after you read it... DO SOMTHING...

To contact the UJA Federation of New York: contact@ujafedny.org

the Long Island office: ujali@ujafedny.org

the Westchester office: ujawestchester@ujafedny.org


Have a good ShAbbaT all :-)

~ Shulamit ( dftss, ttfn)

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Street Justice in Lizhensk




Neturei Karta Beatdown!!

At the annual Hilulah / Yahrtzeit honoring Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk in Poland, Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, (chairman of ZAKA) hit Moshe Aryeh Freedman, the Neturei Karta rep. who kissed Iranian President Ahmadinejad...



Details from "The Yeshiva World" and Jerusalem Post on the beatdown HERE

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Kahonies!!!


(I saw someone spell the term that way in a talkback to an Arutz7 article.)

It is becoming clearer and clearer to people in Israel that something is wrong with our kahonies.

Not with our weapons (unlike, say, 1948).

Not with our economy (unlike any previous era in Israel's history).

Not with the world stage - to paraphrase the Muslims, there is no Superpower but the USA and Israel is the USA's Number One Ally (King David would have killed for a world stage like this. Never ever has there been anything like it. It's what we've always wanted!).

Just with one thing that can make or break everything we've been working for for three or four thousand years. Kahonies.

The Left has gone for our kahonies.

Let me remind you what kahonies do in nature. They make you aggressive and territorial. They make you proud. They make you fight. Think about it.

We are back in Bereisheet: Adam, Eve and the snake. The snake is using Eve's weaknesses to rob us of paradise.

Let's bring back kahonies. The rest will come naturally.

PS: there was an interesting TV show last night about sexual harrassment. Limor Livnat and others spoke of unpleasant episodes in which they were harrassed. What made the show different was that the panel was not composed of seven rabid feminist extremists and one bumbling male, but of one male feminist extremist (an advertising guy called Zarmon), one female feminist non-extremist (Orna Angel, an Ehud Barak protege/confidante, married to the Angel bakery family), and Shulamit Aloni on the anti-extremist side, along with Yakov Perry, ex head of the Shabak, who actually came out and said the word "castration."

There was also an interview with some lifeguards who spoke of the hardship of chatting up women - and they weren't made to look like fools, as you would expect. Video could be available soon for viewing on the Kumah uberblog.


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Sunday, March 11, 2007

On Being an Extremist: Revisited



About a year-and-a-half ago, in response to feedback I had received to a number of articles I had written, I decided to layout many of my core beliefs as they related to Israel and the Jewish People, under the heading: On Being an Extremist, leaving it up to my readers to decide, if my beliefs, were, in fact, extreme.

Well, Bradley Burston of Ha'aretz, whose lone claim to fame is his now defunct "Talkback Policy" of forbidding the use of the phrase: "There are no Palestinians," has decided to pen a list of his own, which he entitles: Far-right and wrong, or how to ruin Judaism.

Burston lists 13 principles, to my 10, of which, 5 +/- made Burston's list. I am ashamed to note that #'s 12 & 13 on Burston's list, which relate to the Jewish People's yearning for the Temple Mount and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, do not appear on my list, as I have only begun to fully appreciate the notion of "Temple Consciousness" over the last year+, and which I would include on my list today, in one variation or another.

Lastly, before re-revealing my list of beliefs, I found it rather ironic that when it comes to opposing Jews ascending to the Temple Mount (#12), Burston becomes an ardent follower of Rav Kook - who, in regards to many of the other points listed, would likely be viewed as an extremist by Burston and his ilk.

Without further ado...

The Top 10 Reasons... as to why people believe I am an extremist: (Nov. 30, 2005)
1) I believe that the borders of the Jewish State of Israel should encompass the entire area west of the Jordan River (I am not relinquishing the right of the Jewish People to other parts of its Homeland, namely: Jordan, Syria, Lebanon & the Sinai - I just do not believe that we should press our claim to them right now - so long as our neighbors behave).

2) I am against the creation of a "Palestinian State" anywhere west of the Jordan River, as I do not believe that anyone aside from the Jewish People has any right to sovereignty in the Land of Israel.

3) I am opposed to the "Peace Process" (as it is understood today - although I am very much in favor of peace), as I recognize that peace will not come through releasing terrorists from prison, arming these very terrorists, and making other "goodwill gestures" that all lead to the murder of innocent Jews.

4) I believe that Israel must come to the (painful) recognition that she is at war with the Arab world, and she must be committed to taking the required steps necessary to win that war (and not to suffice with defensive half-measures like the security fence and shelling open fields).

5) I believe that all Jews should live in the Land of Israel , as this is the only place that the Jew, both on an individual and national level, can live a complete Jewish life and it is the only place where the destiny and mission of the Jewish People can be actualized.

6) I believe that the State of Israel should be a Jewish State and not a State of the Jews (simply having a Jewish majority). I believe that the State of Israel should not strive to "fit-in" with the nations of the world and be a nation like all others, but should act to create a society that will be strongly rooted in Jewish tradition, history, identity and culture.

7) I believe that every Jewish child in Israel (and in the world) should receive a intensive Jewish education that will instill within them a sense of pride in their knowing what it means to be a Jew, where they have come from and where they are going, the reason for having a Jewish State in the Land of Israel, and a commitment to taking an active role in helping to fulfill the collective destiny of the Jewish People.

8) I believe that the ultimate values in the Jewish State of Israel should not be liberalism, pluralism and democracy (although each may have it's place within the Jewish State, under certain situations / conditions), rather values that are consistent with authentic Jewish tradition and beliefs should be given primacy above all others.

9) I believe that the Jewish State of Israel can create an exemplary society, one that is moral and just in all areas of private and public life, all while staying true to Jewish teachings and tradition, and not selling our birthright for a bowl of western, secular values.

10) I believe that if the Jewish State of Israel does all of the above, then Israel and her neighbors will be blessed with true and lasting peace, and the Jewish People and the Jewish State of Israel will earn the respect and admiration of the nations of the world, by serving as a true "Light unto the Nations" and on that day the world will recognize the Oneness of the G-d of Israel and His dominion over all.
So, you tell me... Does all that make me an extremist?

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Media Round-Up - The Jewish Suicidal Urge (Take 2)


"Then the Devil Said"

- Natan Alterman, Jewish / Israeli Poet (1910 - 1970)


"Satan then said:
How do I overcome
This besieged one?
He has courage
And talent,
And implements of war
And resourcefulness.
Only this I shall do,
I'll dull his mind
And cause him to forget
The justice of his cause.
"

Simply put, we have lost our way; lost sight of what it is that we are doing here, in the Land of Israel, and if we are not able to restore our belief in the justice of our cause, the Jewish people will not have a future here, in the State of Israel.

Consider the following recent news stories from the Israeli press:

Israeli Arabs to get greater school funding, settlements less
"The new budget formula will change the political-education map from A to Z," a senior ministry officials said, "and transfer money to the most disadvantaged communities, most of which are Arab... At the end of the process, a lot of money will be directed toward schools... mainly in the Arab sector."
In short, Israel's Supreme Court, then headed by Aharon Barak, ruled a year ago, that the current criteria used by the Ministry of Education used to determine the allocation of resources was racist and discriminatory, as it gave preference (higher allocations) to Jewish communities (some in Judea and Samaria) over their Arab counterparts.

Abolish Law of Return - Yaron London - Yediot Achronot
In my opinion the State should first and foremost act for the benefit of Israeli society and this involves accepting immigrants who wish to and are able to successfully become integrated. Their Jewishness – be what it may – is only one of the variables assuring their integration, and it is not necessarily the most important one.
Sadly, this is the natural conclusion that one must come to once they no longer believe in the right of the Jewish People to a Jewish State in the Land of Israel. Without that fundamental belief, simply put, the Law of Return is an anachronism, and seemingly racist.

Left-Wing Activists, Arabs Plan to Build Unauthorized Outposts
Israeli left-wing activists, together with foreign PLO supporters, plan to build outpost settlements and plant trees on behalf of Arab residents in Judea and Samaria... One of the latest projects of several left-wing organizations, led by Rabbis for Human Rights, is to rebuild demolished illegal homes for Arabs on state-owned lands in the southern Hevron Hills... As part of their ongoing campaign, left-wing activists have encouraged local Arabs to bring claims against Jewish or state ownership to selected lands before Israeli courts.
One of the principles that Jews have always cherished is social justice. It is natural, once a Jew no longer believes in the right of the Jewish People to a Jewish State in the Land of Israel, to fight for the rights of those who the land does belong to...

Arab students will no longer be tested on Zionism
As for the Zionism section, the official said: "The concepts that were selected aren't suited for the needs of Arab students. Not only did the Arab students not learn about their own heritage, but the section on Zionism generated a great deal of criticism. It was therefore decided to reinforce the shared basis - that is, the section on democracy - and cut down on what separates the sectors."
Why teach Arabs students in Israel about Zionism, which is all about the struggle of the Jewish People to re-establish a Jewish State in their ancestral homeland - something that will naturally lead to a sense of inequality amongst the Arabs - particularly when one no longer believes that the State of Israel should exist as a Jewish State?

It is my hope and belief that it is not too late; that this post can have a happy ending; that we can once again restore a sense of the justice of our cause to our brothers and sisters, through Israel, and the world, but we have our work cut out for us.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Last Boy Scout


Leading up to the Purim Holiday, there was much to be done at the last moment. Two days before the holiday, there was work to be done, a lecture to give, an important dinner take-out order to fill, and costumes to get for the little ones.

As I got to Jerusalem to lecture a bunch of (what's a nice word for spoiled?) Yeshiva kids on the ins and outs of Israel advocacy, from the neo-Zionist perspective, I passed by a bunch of hooligan-looking Israelis dressed in what looked to me like boy scout uniforms.



In Israel, you'll see these types of uniforms on teenagers of the various youth movements--each movement occupying their own special niche within the vast religious-political culture which of course must also include innocent and non-innocent young children.

Let's just say these boy scouts didn't look like the helpful kind. Want a smoke?

Following the lecture which I thought was inspirational, and I am sure that some of the yawns were also out of appreciation for my time and energy, I went to go take care of some of those other last minute errands.

(By the way, I know that I give a great lecture).

I got to Pisgat Ze'ev, the largest community in what is now Jerusalem, although used to be the """"West Bank"""". It is a lovely part of the city built by the Prime Minister who could both build and take away, Ariel Sharon. It is really a beautiful large neighborhood.

We like it, because it is on the way home to Bet El from Jerusalem, and has some of the infrastructure missing from a smaller yishuv, like a shopping mall, and of course Burger's Bar.



The Burger's Bar is located at this intersection at the end of Rechov Moshe Dayan. I'm not sure what that tall red thing is supposed to be.



This is a good opportunity to talk about traffic safety in Israel.

When you are coming from Jerusalem, the best thing to do is park across the intersection in one of 8 or so parking spots facing in the direction you need to drive later. Now the road you need to cross on foot has 2 lanes in each direction--a 4 lane road in total. Not so big. But here in Israel, that means that the road takes about 5 minutes to cross, stopping on 2 seperate half-meter-wide islands in between green lights.

Now I was born in NY, so I am no fool. I look both ways and cross against the light if the coast is clear. For some reason, Israelis who will break just about every rule on the road, don't really jaywalk.

I got across the road pretty fast, when all of a sudden, I hear a 35-40 year-old blind lady holding a cane and 3 young kids in Purim costumes shouting, "Selicha, Selicha."

Now she didn't know it, but she was apparently talking to me.

She told me that it was unsafe to cross such a difficult intersection, and needed some help. She was right. Whichever engineer designed the traffic pattern here, they did not have this type of scenario in mind.

Of course, I helped her and her cute, decked-out kids back across the street.

After finishing my good deed for the day, I went back across that street, to get my take-out. The owner of the Burger's Bar, who knows me quite well from my wife's 9 months of pregnancy cravings that made me a regular at this establishment, invited our family to his child's upcoming birthday party at the restaurant. What a real, yet surreal night.

And how good it all made me feel. It was at that moment that I realized, it is simple good deeds like these that make this country what it is, and what it is supposed to be.

You don't have to be dressed like a boy scout to behave like one. But if you are dressed like a boy scout in Israel, it certainly wouldn't hurt to try.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

We're Dreamin' of a Persian Purim



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

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

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


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

Click here for full story

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

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

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


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

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

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

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

I nominate Dudu.


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

David Melech Yisrael Chai Vikayam!!

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Monday, February 19, 2007

A Letter Jacket For My Wife... Israel Style




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

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

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



Check out some of my Miluim photos...

That's me!


Here are some of my buddies: this is Meyer!


This is Eran making the tea!


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


A beautiful sunset in Eretz Yisrael


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

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

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

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Re: "Goverment of Losers, Go Home"




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

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

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

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Audio Corner




Here are a few great audio selections for your weekend:

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

Click Here To Listen
Click Here To Download


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

Click Here To Listen
Click Here To Download

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

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

Click Here To Listen
Click Here to Download

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Get Your Oomph On!!!


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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


TTFN, DFTSS ~ Shulamit


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Sunday, February 04, 2007

How 'Bout a Little Jewish Pride?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our future depends on it.

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