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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Job Fair in Tourism

(courtesy of Israel National News)
The Tourism Ministry, together with all branches of the tourism industry, will hold an employment and training fair from 3:30 to 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, as part of the International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM), taking place in the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds through Wednesday. About 2,000 jobs from about 40 employers in the hotel and tourism industries will be available, according to a ministry statement.

Colleges offering professional courses in tourism will also be represented. The ministry will also hold an employment and networking fair for tour guides on Wednesday from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the IMTM. It will feature work opportunities for veteran and newly qualified tour guides, as well as those finishing their studies.

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Monday, February 08, 2010

$15,000 Grant for Studying About Israel

March 1 is the deadline for the annual Schusterman Israel Scholar Awards. Five $15,000 awards will be given to students studying for academic careers in Israel-related fields. Here's the info:

The Israel Scholar Development Fund of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise is pleased to offer awards to encourage students to pursue academic careers in fields related to the study of Israel. Awards will be available to undergraduates and college graduates who have already been accepted to a graduate program, graduate students who have received master’s degrees in Middle East related fields who wish to pursue a doctorate and doctoral students who are writing dissertations related to Israel.

Each award will be for $15,000. The grants are renewable if funding is available based on the following benchmarks:

1. Undergraduates and college graduates who are accepted into MA programs related to Israel (paid in the fall of entering the MA program).
2. Acceptance into a Ph.D. program (paid in the fall of entering the Ph.D. program).
3. Passage of comprehensive exams.
4. Approval of dissertation topic.
5. Grant for research in Israel after either presenting two conference papers or giving two public lectures.

An individual may receive only one award in a calendar year.

Doctoral dissertation awards may be used for tuition, books, living expenses, travel costs, and other expenses to enable dissertation research. All other awards will be for tuition and books (any excess received over qualified tuition and related expenses may be taxable income to the recipient).

Only five new awards will be offered each year, so the process will be highly competitive. Award recipients will be invited to participate in two conferences each year for Schusterman Visiting Israeli Professors.

Proposals from candidates in all disciplines are welcome.

The competition is open only to U.S. citizens.

To be eligible, undergraduates and college graduates must:
Demonstrates an interest in Israel studies
Be accepted into a graduate program offering Israel-related courses..
Show proof of graduation before receiving the award.

To be eligible, Masters students must:
Show proof of receipt of a master’s degree before receiving the award.
Show proof of acceptance to a doctoral program.

To be eligible, Ph.D. candidates must:
Plan to do research primarily in original source material.
Write the dissertation on a topic that relates to the Middle East and specifically includes research on Israel.
Show proficiency in Hebrew and/or Arabic.
In addition, Ph.D. candidates must:

*Show evidence of passing the comprehensive exams OR
*Provide evidence of approval from their doctoral adviser or committee for the subject of their dissertation OR
*Present two conference papers or public lectures AND submit a plan to conduct research in Israel with documentation of approval by an Israeli institution.

Selection Criteria:
Applications will be judged on a number of criteria, including:

*Candidate’s record of achievement and leadership potential.
*Commitment to scholarship and an academic career.
*Originality and creativity of the research proposal (for doctoral candidates).
*Importance of the proposed dissertation to the applicant’s field (for doctoral candidates).
*Competence of the applicant to complete the dissertation (for doctoral candidates).
*Extracurricular activities related to Israel.
*Language skills, with a preference for knowledge of Hebrew.

Application Process:
Complete application form
Submit transcripts
Submit two letters of recommendation that evaluate the student's potential to contribute to Israel studies.

*Undergraduates and masters students must also submit a 1,000 word essay that explains how they plan to translate their background and interests into an academic career in Israel studies. The essay should discuss why the student wishes to pursue an advanced degree, what area of research they are interested in, and what they hope to do with this knowledge.

*Doctoral students should write an essay that describes their dissertation topic and methodology and how their research will advance the field of Israel studies.
Submit evidence of proficiency in Hebrew and/or Arabic.

Complete applications including transcripts and references must be received by March 1, 2010. For application in MS Word, click here. For application in HTML, click here.

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Phat New Anti-Israel Film!

I am a sucker for a good piece of political propaganda. I have been continually impressed with the way the Dark Side slams Israel - sometimes war-making, sometimes victimized. I don't know about you, but I always fall for a little Good Cop, Bad Cop, and so I have to give this one some props for:

1. Awesome use of music from the hit film "The Matrix". WE ALSO LOVE THE MATRIX! Sweet!

2. Cool typing. The reading/picture changes factor is mesmerizing, and gives me that Israel-loathing high I've been looking for.

3. Novel angle. "I am Israel". I like it - so definitive.

4. Wily promotion. Who isn't interested in seeing a "documentary" about Israel? Maybe I'll spend an hour making my own counter-"documentary" on Powerpoint.

5. Smatterings of history. Hell, this person has used Wikipedia, people! Step off! If that a documentary does not make, I don't know what does. Little misrepresented allusions to complex historical events makes this a dependable account of yore.

6. Ahmadinejadian rhetoric. Where have I heard "Jews from Europe pounced on the land of highly photogenic people who had been living there for thousands of years" before? It's right on the tip of my tongue... give me a few minutes, I'm sure it will hit me like a nuclear bomb.

7. Re-heroization of failed Zionists. Begin and Sharon are back, and better than ever!

8. The Zionist Wishlist. Control of America AND the UN?! Ken Yirbu!

9. World class production. If it's on Youtube, it has to be true.

I want to give this one two keffiyahs up. Inshallah.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Kumah's Amazing, Unbeatable, Crunchy Munchy Tu B'Shevat Seder

We offer for your Tu b'Shevat-dining pleasure, written with our own dirt-encrusted hands, the Totally Awesome Kumah Tu B'Shevat seder! May it help you dig deeper roots in the Land, and taller branches in the Heavens.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Weirdest Ever Shoe Name

Winner of the "Uh, What?" Award:

For your galavanting pleasure

The so-comfy-it's-a-crime Sota Water. Walking where you should have never tread before!

By Aerosouls - I mean, Aerosoles.

Stay Faithful, Stay Orthopedic, Stay Aerosoles.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Video: Kosherfest with Yishai and Malkah

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Study: North American Olim Huge Boost to Israeli Economy

(Published by moi at IsraelNN a couple days ago)

A new first-time study conducted by accounting and consulting firm Deloitte Brightman Almagor Zohar and commissioned by the Nefesh B'Nefesh aliyah organization shows the overwhelming contribution North American immigrants to Israel have made to the country's economy.

The analysis was conducted based on accumulated data provided by Nefesh B'Nefesh (NbN) about 18,000 immigrants who made Aliyah through the organization between the years 2002-2008.

According to the study, households of NbN immigrants "pay back" the Israeli government's investment in them within the first year of their arrival, and are already a significant source of income for the country within five years.

The 6,493 households which made aliyah through NbN between 2002 and 2008 have yielded a whopping 989 million shekels, with the cost of absorbing them standing at only NIS 528 million, leaving the immigrants' contribution at NIS 461 million so far.

Visiting friends and family of NbN olim have also given their boost to the economy by supporting the national tourism industry to the tune of NIS 347 million. Adding this to the tally, NbN olim are accountable for a total GNP contribution of NIS 808 million (over $212 million). Considering the passage of another year and the continued employment and success of North American olim, that number could be higher than NIS 1 billion (almost $262.5 million)

Education and assets
Tali Barda, director of the Department of Strategic Consulting of Deloitte Brightman Almagor Zohar says the success of North American olim can be tied to three key factors:

1. The high level of higher education found among NbN immigrants. Their level (75% have a bachelor's degree or higher) is significantly higher than the average in Israel.

2. NbN immigrants tend to arrive with a lot of valuable assets.

3. Many tourists are attracted to Israel by NbN olim, whose families and friends have pumped hundreds of millions of shekels in tourist dollars into the economy.

Other interesting findings include the considerable number of children immigrating (46%), the high employment eligibility of immigrants (81% of adult immigrants are at the age of employment), and their overwhelming success in finding a job (almost 90% are employed within 1 year of arrival).

Immigration from the United States and Canada "is contributing qualitative strength to the state," said Chairman and Founder of Nefesh b'Nefesh, Tony Gelbart. Over 150 doctors have come to Israel through the organization, said Gelbart, as well as hundreds of high-tech businesspeople and 1,500 new soldiers.

Nefesh B'Nefesh was founded in 2002 by Tony Gelbart (a Jewish businessman and philanthropist from the USA) and Rabbi Yehoshua Fass. Working in conjunction with the Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel, they have brought over 23,000 new immigrants to Israel from the US, Canada, and England in the last 8 years. To learn more, visit their website at

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Kipling's 'Zion'

While the most recent noted Nobel Prize winner would have us give up on Zion, a more veteran winner (although not for Peace, but rather for Literature) advises a more tenacious approach.

by Rudyard Kipling

The Doorkeepers of Zion,
They do not always stand
In helmet and whole armour,
With halberds in their hand;
But, being sure of Zion,
And all her mysteries,
They rest awhile in Zion,
Sit down and smile in Zion;
Ay, even jest in Zion;
In Zion, at their ease.

The Gatekeepers of Baal,
They dare not sit or lean,
But fume and fret and posture
And foam and curse between;
For being bound to Baal,
Whose sacrifice is vain,
Their rest is scant with Baal,
They glare and pant for Baal
They mouth and rant for Baal,
For Baal in their pain!

But we will go to Zion,
By choice and not through dread,
With these our present comrades
And those our present dead;
And, being free of Zion
In both her fellowships,
Sit down and sup in Zion --
Stand up and drink in Zion
Whatever cup in Zion
Is offered to our lips!

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

H1N1: My Totally Freaky Biblical Sick-Day Revelation

Last week I got sick. Nothing exciting - just a decent fever, exhaustion, and a pretty sore throat.

But with all the craziness over Swine Flu, and my propensity for Ashekanzi-style worry and out-of-proportion-blowing, I started to wonder - did I recently have any contact with anyone who had recently been in Mexico? Could I have *gulp* SWINE FLU?!? Aaaaaaaaah!!!

After a few minutes of talking myself into the plague-like illness, I came to grips with the likely reality - I didn't have swine flu.

I lay there for a while, in between hot flashes and chills, thinking about this crazy sickness which has consumed the world with concern, tortured summer camps and expectant mothers, and scared a whole lot of people out of plane tickets this year.

H1N1 Swine Flu Virus. Yishai ruffled some feathers by suggesting that the Pope's anti-Israel Israel visit might be accountable for this terrible illness rising from a Catholic country (Google search: Pig in a Pope).

Yet lying on my sickbed, Hashem allowed me to decode the real impetus behind this virus. When I realized Hashem's message, and how well it fit into the concept of a plague, I got chills which were not due to my fever.

Sitting down?

H1N1: Hashem is 1, and his Name is 1.

Scary, huh?

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Monday, July 13, 2009

How Returning a Can of Tuna Made Me Realize I'm Rocking the Hebrew

Recently, I borrowed a can of tuna (fascinating, I know).

Because my neighbor is a native English-speaker, my request for tuna went something like this: "Hey - can I borrow a can of tuna?"

A couple days later, I went to the local grocery to buy a replacement. As I walked out with my can of tuna, I suddenly imagined myself borrowing a can of tuna from a Hebrew speaking neighbor, and wondered how to say it correctly.

Chavilat tuna? No, it's not really a package. Kufsah? Nope, that's more of a box. Bakbuk? No. Cancan - not exactly, that's more like a Diet Coke. Then I caught it - Pach. It's a pach of tuna!

After nailing the right word, I suddenly realized - look how many words I know for packaging! I AM THE BEST HEBREW SPEAKER IN THE WORLD!!!

Okay, maybe not. But little victories are what it's all about in the quest to Israelify. Feelin' good.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Rebbeim told us moving to Israel would be a mistake"

Hi Malkah,

I don't know if you remember me, but I'm X's wife, we met you at Y's house in Z-ville USA for dinner, before your husband spoke at the Shul here.

So, we put our house here up for sale, and we want to make aliyah. We were just there for my sister's wedding, and I miss it so much! For the first time, I came back to the US, and felt truly in my neshama that this is not where we're supposed to be. Yes, it's beautiful here, but it feels, all of a sudden, temporary - like a stop on the way to our real home - Eretz Yisrael!

Anyways, the reason I'm emailing is you is (besides saying hi) to ask you something: Many people (including our Rebbeim) have told us moving to Israel would be a mistake. That we (as charedi) wouldn't fit in with Israeli charedi, but that the other side would be too "modern" for us, and for our kids. My husband is Israeli, so that would definitely be a big plus to fitting in, but there would be many issues with our kids and schools. For example, most likely we would want to send our kids to a charedi school, but we wouldn't fit in, so then we would have to change also, so they'd fit in. And that Israeli kids in schools usually don't want Americans to mingle with them, so they have separate classes. And Israeli charedim don't like how the American charedim come and have barbecues and stuff. (Just superficial stuff, but to illustrate that it might be hard to feel accepted.)

I know your daughter is young, but where do you plan on sending her to school?

It's intimidating hearing our Rabbis tell us this, but I also feel that if G-d wants us (and the entire Jewish people) there, He will make it work.

Any thoughts?


Dear X,

Shalom! I'm so glad to hear from you - of course I remember you! Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns. I'll try my best to answer them.

First, let me say that you are contacting me just after the most Israel-fear-related parsha in the entire Torah. Moshe sent 12 of our greatest men to Israel for reconnaisance, and 10 of them came back with horrible things to say, sowing fear in the hearts of Israel, and causing the entire nation to sin against G-d. Of course, in the retrospect of history, we learn that the nation of Israel showed a serious lack of faith by rejecting the Land of Israel. But trying to put ourselves in their shoes, we see there was a major propaganda campaign conducted by the "10 spies", all of whom were trusted and honored tribal leaders. Their status was meant to give weight to G-d's word. Instead, they used it to bolster their own opinions, their own human fears. The Torah teaches us that we pay for this moment of fear and doubt until today, and that unless we fix the situation, our children will also pay.

I am not a prophet, or even a great religious leader (or any kind of leader, for that matter). But I know, and I think you know, that G-d wants His nation to live in the Land of Israel. That being said, the question cannot be if. The question can only be how.

I heard once a beautiful dvar Torah that said that in every country of exile, the Jewish people had to change to suit the land. But in Israel, the Land changes to suit the Jewish people. Israel is a country still in flux - obviously, we still have some pretty serious issues to contend with, and we are in the process of forming a national identity. It's easy to get nervous about how to deal with various issues, including fitting into society, educating children, and just making it!

As with anything, faith is important. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, incidentally, says true faith can only be learned in the Land of Israel. I believe that the same G-d who helps you get your kids to school every morning in Passaic will help you do so in Jerusalem, Ramat Beit Shemesh, Neve Daniel, or anywhere else. Even more so because of the big mitzvah you are trying to do by embracing Israel and anchoring your children in it.

On to the practicalities. I am not chareidi, so I can't speak to the intricacies of that culture. However, I have found that Israelis are largely accepting, supportive, and friendly, in all walks of life. This is the Middle East, and the grittiness which comes with that has not bypassed the Jews. But neither has the sweetness of the Jewish soul, so don't be afraid of Israelis!! You and your children will learn the real meaning of compassion, brotherly love, and familial concern in Israel, as you embrace a way of life involving true sharing, partnership, and familiarity which comes with having Israeli neighbors. Sometimes there's culture shock, yes. But I think you will be very pleasantly surpised.

Furthermore, who says you have to fully immerse yourself in such a challenging way? There are plenty of great communities full of Americans, with children in schools, Old Navy in the secondhand stores, and cans of cranberry sauce piled high. Beit Shemesh, Ramat Beit Shemesh, Neve Daniel, Efrat, Tel Tzion, Zichron Yaakov, Modiin - these are communities you should look into, because American olim have paved the way on a lot of issues you are concerned with.

One more very important point. I don't, G-d forbid, mean to disparage your rabbis. But lashon hara is lashon hara, no matter who speaks it. The Vilna Gaon teaches that the Sitra Achra works hard on the Gedolim, that they should reject the Land of Israel, because the Sitra Achra is vanquished when the Jews are on the Land. Even if they don't intend, by scaring you away from the Land of Israel, by slandering large groups of Jews and making you feel you won't be able to be family with them, they are falling under the sway of the Sitra Achra, probably because they are very high souls whom he is attacking.

X, you are going to make it in Israel. You are going to face obstacles, and you will worry and maybe even cry. But you will be better for all of your experiences, and so will your kids. You will be happy that you moved here, and you will thank G-d for the miracle of taking you out of the Exile. You and your family will grow in ways you never thought possible, and you will feel the completeness of your Jewishness, something you can only do here.

Buck up! This is the dream of 2,000 years! And this is giving nachat to Hashem, the most important thing you could ever do. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe always said -Israel, the Land that G-d watches from the beginning of the year to the end of year. Hashem will be with you. All the souls of all your ancestors who never had this opportunity will be with you. And your brothers and sisters will be with you.

Fear is the great sin of our time, perhaps the great sin of history, and we are ALL susceptible to it. But we can't give in. If we beat it, I believe we will merit G-d's love and satisfaction, and bring the redemption of our people and of the whole world.

As the Lubavitcher Rebbe said - tracht gut unt zeint gut - think good and it will be good! Do your research, make a careful plan, and then close your eyes and jump! This is a great adventure on which you're embarking - enjoy it!

All the best,

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Eishet Chayil Show for 3rd of Tammuz

The 3rd of Tammuz reminds of G-d's special miracles, some more miraculous than others. Parshat Korach tells the story of a near mutiny and a symbol of G-d's will. Plus - getting things done with joy, so we can end the sinful cycle that leads to destruction.

Part 2

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Yishai and Malkah on WeJew

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Breaking the "Unbreakable Bonds"

On June 4, US President Barack Hussein Obama addressed the Muslim world from Cairo University, in a speech which is still being scrutinized and discussed in papers, on blogs, and at the coffee table.

Following this speech, which raised a lot of issues on the Israel front, I heard a lot of people commenting on how fair and balanced he was, despite his obvious courting of Arabia. How eloquent, how leaderly, how well thought out.

Moreover, those who love Israel seemed surprised at their own lack of indignance. After all, while Obama brazenly slammed Jewish outgrowth and development in their ancient biblical regions, he also soothed many a prickling Jewish soul with the following:

"Now, the second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world. America's strong bonds with Israel are well-known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied."

Jews were relieved - America is still whole-heartedly committed in its allegiance with Israel. Things aren't as bad as we thought, they thought.

I beg to differ.

Obama is nothing if not a calculated and cunning speaker. Though he is prone to flubs from time to time, we can be sure that this speech may have been the most exacting of his young career. Every word is important.

And so I'd like to focus on the "unbreakable bonds".

What does this mean? I would like to assert that it has nothing to do with friendship or mutual respect. Let's go to the dictionary (we'll be using Princeton's Wordnet) on this word "bond".

Many people have chosen to assume that Obama said "This [bring[ing] together in a common cause or emotion] is unbreakable."

However, I have the suspicion that what Obama really meant was "This [shackle: a restraint that confines or restricts freedom ] is unbreakable."

The nice, sweet layJew was meant to hear this first message - Jews, I am your friend!

But diplomats in Israel were able to hear the true underlying message - whatever your plans are, know that we will be the ultimate decidor, Israel. We are not freeing you from the shackles with which we bind you.

Sorry, B.O. I'm not soothed by your slick tongue. I think you will stop at nothing to unite (or "bond") with the Arab world.

So count me among the ever-prickly, President Obama. I'm not investing in your bonds.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

61 Years of Gastronomic Miracles

Time flies while you're having fun!

This is why we've come to expect so much from our tiny little baby state (I think 62 years old is the national equivalent of a kindergartner), and why this post is going up so many days after Israel's 61st Independence Day.

I just wanted to share a little thought I had at the makolet (small grocery store)the day before Yom HaAtzmaut.

Before I begin, let me just say that makolets are the intellectual breeding grounds of many Israeli women. A lot of socializing, informational exchange, and checkout-line-thinking-time happens in those locales, making the makolet one of the revolutionary thought centers of Israel.

The day before the holiday celebrating the erection of a Jewish State, I joined the throngs to procure charcoal, chicken, marshmallows, and french fries, standard celebratory fare for Israel's most beloved barbecue holiday (soon to be replaced by Pesach, G-d willing!).

After elbowing a lady in the eye to get the last bag of mehadrin pink and white marshmallows (I will never understand strawberry marshmallows - sue me for my white-only Exile mentality), I toed up to the long line of shoppers waiting to leave with sacks full of party food.

For a moment, I wanted to be irritated. "Oh man, another 25 minute grocery line?! Give me a break," I thought.

Then I had two realizations which filled my heart.

1. 61 years ago, there were only about 645,000 Jews in the entire country, barely enough to fill one Mister Zol (ok, a little more than enough) - now there are over 5.5 million. It's a miracle there are so many Jews to stand in line before me at the store.

2. 61 years ago, I wouldn't be purchasing 85% of the things in my cart for one of two reasons: 1. the item wouldn't be available, or 2. it would be so expensive, I would never dream of using my ration cards to obtain it.

With these thoughts in mind, my trip to the makolet transformed from a source of annoyance to a joy of Zionist patriotism. Standing in that line, I felt a surge of a gratitude, and pride in the beeping of the bar code reader and clinking of change in the cash register.

Israel is on the up on up, just gearing itself up to exceed our most terrific expectations. May you be blessed to get nachas from the process of Israel's growth, in every situation, whether you score the last bag of marshmallows or not.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Obamalama and the 24 State Solution

Comrade Obama has hit the ground running in America. Aside from signing environmental and economic legislation, he has come down like a hammer on the Middle East, swearing his allegiance with the Muslim world, and sending his new/old envoy George Mitchell to spy out the Holy Land prior to his big Two State Solution push.

Here is a new video by The18, which is beginning to instruct Americans as to how they can stop Obama:

PS - I have my own multi-state solution. It's called the 24 State Solution - we give the Muslims 24 states (gee, that's a lot of states!) and we give the Jews one tiiiiiny little state (gee, that's not a lot of states!). Then we see if there's room enough for everyone! Whadya think?

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hot Air

The Jews have been through a lot this month. Those who haven't welcomed their sons, husbands, and friends home from a dangerous war which came to an untimely and even more dangerous end, are losing the shirts off their backs on the American stock market or are getting held up in their driveways in South Africa, rioted against in Paris or - well, any number of things that are happening today in our crazy world.

I don't know about you, but I have become much more involved in prayer recently. I once had a dream (a nighttime dream, not a grand MLK-style vision) that a huge projector played movies of natural disasters and wars in the air above my house in Texas. This movie, which was played around the world (in my dream) as an immediate precursor to the arrival of the Messiah, was meant to finally illustrate to the people of the world that G-d had orchestrated each and every war and natural disaster as a warning and as an opportunity for us to return to Him in prayer and loyalty. I woke up very moved.

Of course, as is the nature of G-d's less perfect people (and as you can note occurs to the Jews in basically every book of the Bible), this acute understanding eventually faded from my mind, and was replaced by the much more mundane feelings and impulses which we all deal with daily.

With the recent return of chaos and uncertainty to our lives, as I felt the welfare of the Nation of Israel coming into peril as my brothers went into battle against our evil enemy, I myself returned - to my better self, my nobler priorities, and my wiser understandings - or at least tried. Even now, as the world seems no less shaky, I try to drag and scrape my way up the ladder toward G-d, hoping to be part of the solution, and not the vast, shameful problem.

When I heard the news that a major natural gas reserve was discovered off the coast of Haifa, I thanked G-d for the blessing he bestowed on the Jewish People, perhaps a token of love and support as we trudged home from a war from whose battlefields we were dragged prematurely, by powers who know no G-d.

"How great is our L-rd!" I thought. "Who knows from what direction blessings can come? Nothing is too big for Hashem!"

I read articles, in which the drillers breathlessly predicted 15 years of Israeli energy independence thanks to the new find. "Baruch Hashem!" I thought. "Things are finally going in the right direction. Score!"

But Yitzhak Tshuva, the owner of many of the companies involved in the joint drilling effort, burst my gas-filled bubble with his statement on the issue. Thinking the nation was in a different place after the unity of war cast a new light on our country, thinking recent anti-Israel UN resolutions might put our place in this world in perspective, I was shocked when I read Tshuva's enthusiastic comments to Army Radio: "My golden touch hasn't disappeared," Tshuva said.

Oh man! How sad. And angering. What a fool, what a missed opportunity, what an embarrassment! What did you touch exactly, Mr. Tshuva, and how did you become so "golden"? And how do you know that it won't disappear? Did you create your drills, or the gas you found, or even your talent for locating it? How could you be so self-centered - and so wrong? How could you think that you are responsible for all this good?

It's sad how easy it is to fall backward. The Jewish People, as they struggle forward, are constantly victim to this particular kind of disaster. "I made all these things," we think to ourselves. We don't realize the amazing kindness with which Hashem treats us everyday, the mercy. Instead, we think we are big - until Hashem is forced to show us that we're small.

I pray that the Jewish People break this vicious cycle soon, for everyone's sake. I don't want to watch G-d's disaster movie play out here in the Holy Land anymore.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Some Old Friends Wish You a Happy Hanukkah

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fight the 2-State Solution!

A new group calling themselves "The 18" has formed to fight hard against US pressure toward a 2-state "solution" to the Arab-Israeli "conflict".

If you, like me, are TIRED of Big Brother United States getting into our kishkes all the time, telling us who to be friends with and how to share our toys, consider getting involved in this fight to get Obama to BACK OFF!

Here is an essay posted by Michael Fenenbock of The 18:


Barack Obama has won the American presidency. In a landslide.

His party gained considerable seats in both the Senate and the House. Led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the Democratic party commands large majorities in Congress. Democrats also added to their already substantial majority in governorships and state legislatures.

More importantly, they have a mandate from the American people. A mandate for sweeping change. President Obama and his party have complete control of all the levers of power in America. A rare occurrence in American political history. And need I mention the excited backing of a fawning worldwide media.

Elections have consequences and for the state of Israel the consequences of the Obama sweep are singular.

They make no secret of their intentions. The Obama administration’s Middle East policy will be driven by “linkage.” “Linkage” is predicated on the notion that Palestinean grievances are what fuel terrorism. The idea that if we resolve the Israeli/Palestinean dispute (and that’s how they see it, as a “dispute”) it will suck all the oxygen out of Islamic terrorism.

Imposing a two-state solution will be at the heart of their efforts.

The atmosphere is alight with warnings. And the warnings are worldwide. Nobel Peace Prize winner and former President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari, the day after Obama's election, called on the new U.S. president to immediately press the need for a Palestinian state.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke with President-elect Obama and called for the creation of a Palestinian state as the world's first priority.

Jesse Jackson just prior to the election was quoted as saying, "Zionists who control America are on the way out." "America," Jackson says, "must apologize to those we have offended by putting Israel's interest first." Jackson has set out the mindset and priorities for all to see. He has let the cat out of the bag.

Several top foreign policy advisors in the Obama camp have regularly called for imposing a two-state solution on Israel. The key word is "imposing." Look at the Obama line-up starting with Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy guru Zbigniew Brzezinski. Leftie ideologues like Robert (Sure, I advise Obama, and sure I talk with Hamas, so what) Malley and perennial two-state advocates Dennis Ross and Tony McPeak, and let’s not forget Israel’s “friend,” Samantha Power. Scary.

Tellingly, within days of the American election, President-elect Obama sent Robert Malley scurrying to Damascus and Cairo.

It gets worse. Within Obama’s foreign policy camp, “Islam” is not an issue of concern. On the contrary, they are more in sync with the notion that “Islamophobia” presents the real danger. In their view, the bad guys are those who instead of addressing legitimate Arab grievances, go off half-cocked frightening the world about Islam.

In their world view, Islamic terror is an understandable response to appalling conditions -- and Israeli aggression. The Obama forces will attack those they view as “Islamophobic” with a multicultural sword. Political correctness will rule. In that vein, witness former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s comment about Islamophobia in his statement endorsing Senator Obama.

And there is American Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who is lobbying to keep his job in an Obama administration, advising DOD to drop "Islamist" from any characterization of terrorism. Oy gevalt!

Add to the mix the sure knowledge that when it comes to shoving a two-state solution down Israeli throats, President Obama and his foreign policy team will have willing allies in the Israeli political establishment, the Israeli media, Israeli opinion makers, and the vocal support of a large swath of the Israeli and Jewish American populace. Do you doubt it?

And there’s the insiders… establishment leaders in the Jewish American community who will effortlessly be pulled into the push for a two-state solution. Why? Because for these Jewish institutional leaders protecting their “insider” status trumps all other issues.

It is instructive to remember that when the Republican Party vice presidential nominee wished to speak out in protest of a homicidal maniac who calls for the extinction of Israel, her voice was stilled by mainstream Jewish leaders. These Jewish “insiders” feared to give offense to candidate Obama’s soon to be in charge inner circle. Yipes!

Indeed the fear Jewish insiders suffer from most is the fear of becoming outsiders.

Elected officials to the rescue? Don’t hold your breath. Jewish American office holders and members of Congress will throw elbows like hockey thugs in order to secure a first-class seat on the two-state train before it leaves the station. Carl Levin anyone? Chuck Schumer?

What about AIPAC? Sustained attacks on AIPAC as “too influential” have taken a toll and they are currently tied in knots over a lingering federal prosecution for espionage. Forget it. AIPAC will be very cautious.

Still more. In this political climate, a new outfit – J Street – will loom large as a challenge to AIPAC. J Street claims to speak for mainstream American Jews and bills itself as “the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement.”

J Street is on the ascendancy and will have both influence and access in the new halls of power. Here’s just the most relevant of their statement of principles:

The creation of a viable Palestinian state as part of a negotiated two-state solution, based on the 1967 borders with agreed reciprocal land swaps. The future Palestinian state will require unprecedented levels of international economic and political support to succeed, including a resolution of the refugee issue within the new Palestinian state and in current host countries.

There is no good news. The worldwide coalition gathering to impose a two-state solution on Israel is like nothing previously seen.

Where does this leave us?

We have to face up to reality. There’s no way to sugarcoat this. The two-state solution is rapidly nearing its tipping point. Tipping point… you know, that moment when slow and gradual change – drip, drip, drip – suddenly becomes a deluge. Tipping point is the crashing sound made when ideas that have just been floating around suddenly become irreversible consensus. Irreversible. Locked in concrete.

If two-state is frighteningly near its tipping point, what does this mean for those of us who reject a two-state solution? What are the consequences for those of us who carry a Zionist vision of a Jewish homeland from the river to the sea? How does this affect those who advocate a return from exile, the unification of Jerusalem, restoration of the Temple, and await Moshiach?

Well, it means turn out the lights, the party’s over. Thanks for coming, folks. Drive carefully on the way home.

Once two-state is tipped over into irreversibility the deluge will leave Judea and Samaria bulldozed flat as surely as disengagement flattened Gush Katif; a divided Jerusalem a fait accompli; an internationalized Jerusalem a possibility; the Temple Mount in the possession of the Waqf in perpetuity; and the image of a bifurcated, ethnically neutral Israel looming on the horizon. Peace Now will be driving the bus.

And we must always factor in Arab propaganda. Holocaust denial has been joined by "Temple denial" as part of the ongoing Arab strategy to delegitimize Jewish claims to holy sites and to Jerusalem itself.

Naomi Ragen wrote recently that she feels, “helpless to stop this juggernaut towards disaster.” Yes, ma'am. I know how you feel

Is there anything we can do? Maybe.

To give ourselves a chance, a long shot maybe, but a chance, we must first recognize that the front line for the Israeli Right is two-state.

All other issues are a diversion. No matter how drawn we are to other battlegrounds we must steel ourselves to the reality that all else must be secondary to fighting two-state.

If we lose the two-state battle – and we are badly overmatched, out-gunned and out-manned – we lose the whole game. The fight must be joined on the issue of two-state. Period. We cannot let our attention wander or our resources be diverted to other fronts.

There is very little time. The window for us to act is shrinking. The fat lady is not yet singing, but if you listen carefully you can hear her warming up backstage.

How to begin?

A framework for action is available on request.

But first, we must do what all rebels do. Throw up roadblocks, slow down the momentum toward two-state inevitability. Keep the damn thing from tipping over.

Those are my thoughts. They are just words on a piece of paper. My friend Yishai Fleisher has a great line when talking about Eretz Israel. He says, “How do we fill this vessel with meaning?”. Indeed. Those who would make the rebellion are those anointed to breathe life into the vessel and give it meaning.

Can we win?

I don’t know and I wonder if at this juncture that’s the right question to ask. Will we fight seems to me more to the point. And, if we do fight, will we fight intelligently, strategically, relentlessly.

I argue that Israel is closer than we think to becoming a modern ghetto… growing smaller and weaker as the noose tightens. Will we be passive Jews? Will we acquiesce or will we resist?

The deck is stacked against those who would fight. In the coming struggle Jews who stand up against the two-state consensus will be marginalized, scorned as fanatics, extremists, obstructionists, war mongers, and deranged religious nuts. And those are the lucky ones. Some will have their heads cracked open.

I look to the hero of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising for inspiration. Mordechai Anielewicz did not stop the Holocaust, he did not stop the murder of Jews, he did not stop the trains running to Treblinka… but he did leave us a legacy.

In April 1943, this young Jew named Mordechai showed us that a fearless handful of the committed can make a rebellion and he forever laid to rest the myth of the passive Jew.

The stakes seem to me nothing less than the fulfillment of the Zionist enterprise… and for those who work to end the exile, unite Jerusalem, rebuild the Temple, and bring forth the Moshiach, the stakes are even higher.

Time is not our ally. Seconds turn to minutes, minutes to hours, hours to days…

This is a matter of some urgency.

Consider this:

  1. Hillary Clinton is about to be the US Secretary of State (egads!)
  2. A meeting between the right-of-center-and-probable-next-Prime-Minister-of-Israel Bibi and Obama (when he came to Israel to show all the Jews how incredible he will be for Israel) was described by Newsweek magazine as: polite. "As for Obama, it is yet to be seen how the dovish American would work with a hard-line Israeli counterpart. At the King David meeting, Obama smiled and tried to find common ground."
  3. The Obama/Biden campaign website says that if Iran continues its nuclear program, it will get tough by "step[ping] up our economic pressure and political isolation." Aka: Israel v. Iran will be mano a mano.
  4. Obama has been quoted as saying “Israel has no God-given right to occupy Palestine” plus there’s been “genocide against the Palestinian people by Israelis.”

I think it's best we do what we can to get BO off our back - don't you?

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Dogfood Parable

The other day, I strapped my daughter into her stroller and went for a walk with the family dog, Pilpel.

Pilpel, being a fairly obedient dog (bli ayin hara!), is generally allowed to wander around without a leash on, as we live in a sparsely populated area just next to an expanse of hiking ground which includes the region commonly accepted to be the site of Jacob's biblical dream of angels going up and down a ladder (for more, see the Torah).

After our jaunt, I let Pilpel, who is an outside dog, come into the house for a leisurely sniff around. She did the requisite investigating, then plopped down on the living room floor while the baby slept in her stroller just outside the front door. After some time, I decided it was time for Pilpel to go back out, and for me to get along with my day.

"Pilpel, boi!", I called. Nothing. Okay - that's normal. My obedient dog isn't a total idiot - though she loves being outside and shuns being shut up in the house, a few extra minutes to beg for tummy scratching isn't beyond her. I let her stay for 5 more minutes. Then again, I called her out - again, she just sat there panting and grinning. I knew I would have to appeal to more than her sense of obligation.

So I pulled out a can of Simba, a pretty delish looking canned dog food that my neighbor scored for us while doing some electrical work (I believe at the home of former pet owners). I popped the top, and let her savor the aroma of beef and lamb chunks. A glint flashed in her eye, and she snapped to my side like a veteran of the NYPD canine unit. I poured her food in her bowl, she looked at me with awe and reverence, I tied her up, and she enjoyed her prize. "Sucker," I thought.

Which made me think more.

This was not the first time Pilpel had pulled the "what, I don't hear you, what? You want me to come outside to do what now? Yeah um - hey, what's that over there?" stunt. Sometimes she lollygags on the living room floor, I take some dry dog food (you know, the kind that comes in a big bag), pour it into her bowl outside, and then come back in, only to find that she has not been sufficiently enticed. I usually have to grab her collar and heave, at which point she lets me drag her a few feet by the head before succumbing to the pressure to go out.

But Simba - she cannot resist it. After all, she's just a dog, and her stomach can overpower her.

As I surveyed my beautiful mountaintop, which is embroiled in a Peace Now-invented court case which threatens to divide a significant portion of the mountain from the Jewish People, I started to think about how much people can be coarse and animalistic like dogs. In this world in which good and evil, right and wrong are always waging war, some of us are content to maintain our choice, our freedom, and eat simply when we decide we're hungry. Others of us are willing to be chained up at the first display of the good life, and to devour it all as quickly as possible.

I started to think about Israel, in which there are those who live so simply, even poorly, but do so with dignity and self-possession, committed to a lifestyle and values which are more to them than the provisions of this world. Then there are others who will leap to attention and enslave themselves to forces which seek to control and domineer them, bowing and scraping to achieve wealth or honor above that which is "ordinary fare".

Likewise, there are powerful entities which are able and eager to wave carrots (or in our case, cans of Simba), promising a sumptuous, decadent life - and all you have to do is surrender this small bit of self in order to enjoy it.

I know a man who reports any and all Jewish development in Samaria to the government, so it can thwart Jewish expansion in lands it hopes to one day form into another Arab state in the Middle East. When asked how he can bear to spend his day snitching, making lists of dog houses, tool sheds, and spare rooms built to shelter the latest addition to the family, he says "it's my job, it's how I make a living."

He is not proud to be a part of this despicable project. But he is also not ashamed. He has no feeling about it at all, because his feelings have been purchased away. He drives a nice car and lives in a nice home. He smiles when I speak to him, as if he is my friend. He doesn't mind tightening a noose around my neck because he already wears a choke collar around his.

I'm not sure this parable comes with any solutions. Perhaps a dog is always a dog and a person always a person. But I think that those of us who would live unchained to the whims of others might have to be content to always be just a little hungry (or to be sustained by that which is very nourishing but very simple). Not to say that the occasional Simba won't float our way as well, of course. But in the pursuit of a lifestyle, we all make choices - who and what will we care about or follow? What do we want from this life? Will we follow our stomachs or our hearts?

"Pnei hador k'pnai hakelev" - In the time of the coming of the Messiah, the face of the generation will be like the face of the dog. All dogs have a master - which one will we follow?

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Super-Soft Sell

How do we get American Jews to make aliyah?

I recently heard an interview with Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis on Israel National Radio, in which she basically assured the listeners that we are in the days immediately preceding the arrival of the Messiah, and that it is of great urgency that we all return to G-d ASAP. For religious Zionists, this also translates into sounding the alarms to bring Jews back to the Holy Land.

I like to encourage aliyah by yelling at people, flailing my arms, grabbing people by shirt collars and shaking them, what have you. But there are others who are trying to engender love for Israel in a much softer, sweeter, less frontal manner. In fact, it's so soft, so gentle, that one may wonder whether the message comes across at all. Which way is the best? You decide.

I present: THE SUPER-SOFT SELL, entitled "Why I Don't Live in Israel", produced by Lori Palatanik of Aish HaTorah:

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Free Food!!

Reason #21,349,067 to be in Israel from June 17-19:

Kosher food festival coming to town
Prepare your stomachs for the kosher food festival in Petah Tikva, where you definitely won’t find shrimp in cream sauce, white meat or creamed spaghetti Bolognese
Yoav Friedman (Ynetnews)

If you don’t mix milk and meat and avoid pork or seafood, you probably skipped one, two, seven or 20 booths at the annual Tel Aviv food festival. However, on June 17-19 the first gourmet kosher food festival will take place in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv, where observant food lovers can eat to their heart's content.

The organizers of the festival taking place a few days prior to summer’s official beginning promise “a quality and kosher gastronomical experience.” The festival will include dozens of kosher restaurants and musical performances by some of Israel’s most popular singers.

Former MK Shaul Yahalom, one of the festival’s initiators, said that “everyone knows that kosher food in Israel is just as tasty, sophisticated and innovative as non-kosher food and there is no reason to be embarrassed by it.

"Kosher food eaters are not fully satisfied and don’t have an opportunity to enjoy all the food offered at all the other Israeli food festivals. So...we are initiating the first kosher gourmet festival in order to allow everyone the opportunity to enjoy a huge, quality-filled and enjoyable festival,” he added.

“Eating Kosher” will take place at Petah Tikva’s large park on June 17-19, 2008 between 18:00-23:00. Entrance is free.

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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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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Valid Sale

As I sit munching another crunchy sheet of Jewish flatbread, I can't help but recall all the effort it's taken to get to this point. True, I didn't have to tie the deity of my taskmasters to my bedpost or tread lightly through towering walls of sea water this year, but I did undergo a certain degree of suffering and hard work in order to sit at my plastic-draped table this Pesach.

Usually, my husband and I sell any chametz to non-Jews through our local Rabbi, Rav Zalman Melamed. However, we missed the deadline this year, leaving us with a nasty pile of wheat-infused products with which to deal even after Rav Melamed had conducted the sale of Beit El's chametz through the non-Jew of his choice.

Frantic to unload our medicines, perfumes, and wheat-kissed soaps and shampoos on a gentile willing to buy, we started making some calls. One friend mentioned that he had sold his chametz online - through

We were nervous to conduct this kind of transaction in such a seemingly non-legal sense. After all, if the sale isn't actual and is only symbolic, you are still the owner of chametz during the time in which it is forbidden according to Torah law, and you are therefore not really observing the commandment to rid your home of leaven.

Yet when I arrived at the website of Chabad, I saw that the amazing Jewish outreach organization was taking the sale quite seriously, and that I could once again rely on that enthusiastic and committed group to navigate me through the holiday with confidence and halachic certainty.

On behalf of my husband, myself, and my daughter, I completed the online form, which delegated power to sell my chametz to a Chabad rabbi named Yosef Landa after confirming my location for the holiday, address, contact information, and providing me with a space to specify the exact location of any chametz and how the purchaser could collect his purchases. I subsequently received a receipt of sale, ensuring me that my chametz would be sold to a gentile around noon on Friday, and suggesting that if the gentile were amenable, Chabad would purchase back the chametz for me after the holiday and I could begin using it by 10pm after Pesach ends.

Chabad, what would we do without you? Your knack for enabling Jews to perform mitzvahs never ceases to amaze and gratify me. Whether on the streets of New York, or in my living room in Beit El, you are still the greatest. Thank you!

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Motherland

Recently, on a shopping trip in Jerusalem, I stopped by a Superpharm, Israel's largest drugstore chain. Being the kind of girl who used to meander through Duane Reade back in the day to see what our friends at Maybelline were thinking up, or if there had been any advances on the toothpaste front, I popped in, with an eye toward some Ahava products to give out in the Exile on my upcoming trip. Nothing says "Israel is WAY more awesome than America" more than a jar of scented sea salts or a packet of squooshy, nutritive mud.

As my 5 and a half month old daughter needs some early training in the shopping arts (get them while they're young, ladies), I took her along, pushing her eager, pudgy little body through the store in her stroller.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Israeli drugstores, they aren't the casual browsing experiences you recognize from the Diaspora. Israeli drugstores also contain WILDLY overpriced American and European cosmetics and their corresponding makeup counter ladies. These aggressive but friendly women are squeezed together in the middle of the store, guarding the really expensive makeup and perfume and concurrently trying to get you to wear it, making that the very, very last place in the store one wants to go. However, like an onion with so many layers, there is a second layer - the lamer European cosmetics and the Israeli stuff, like Ahava and Dr. Fischer. These articles are found in the aisles on either side of the main center aisle, and are serviced by only a few women, who are generally more relaxed, though equally as made up as their Estee Lauder-touting counterparts.

So I maneuvered my carriage through the tightly-stocked store, arriving finally at the Ahava section. At that point, my daughter started to cry, so I took her out of the carriage, and carried her with me as I looked through the products. That's when she saw us - I don't know her name, but you know her. She sports a big grin, powerfully highlighted hair heretofore unseen in her native Morocco, long acrylic nails and a snug cotton/lycra shirt not stamped with the Badatz seal of approval.

"[Gasp!]" I turned around quickly to see what could have gone wrong, who fell, who died, whose pants ripped up the back.

"Wai wai wai!!!! Aizeh metukah! Chamudah! Kapparah aleichem!! tfoo tfoo tfooo!" Translation: "Wow, wow, wow! What a sweetie! Cutie! ...[not translatable - if you want to understand, come live in Israel]"

She approached us with enthusiasm generally reserved for long lost relatives or the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. She asked if she could hold my baby, who, like a true Fleisher, was glowing from all the attention, and smiling a big toothless smile. So I agreed, inherently trusting most Moroccan women of any hair color. She started to play, to coo, to dance with my baby. She asked her name, which I told her, and she started talking and singing to the baby. I thought to myself "that's so sweet. Gosh, people are nice."

And then it happened. "Rachel!! Come over here! Did you see this baby?!" Rachel (not necessarily the actual name, but bear with me for purposes of the story) turned around, saw my daughter, and the same ecstatic greeting was repeated. Rachel skittered off to another aisle to alert the cell phone saleswomen, who turned the corner, saw my baby, and emitted a high pitched noise I have only heard from dog whistles and Russian women. The cell phone saleswoman, with high, scary heels, asked if SHE could hold the baby, which I acquiesced to. Then the first lady scurried over to the main cosmetics area to get the other cosmetics saleswomen, who arrived in a group of about 5, while the second lady went off to help a customer in the now service-free store.

At some point, I just kind of walked away, and found the Dead Sea creams and salts I was looking for, while my baby was celebrated and shared, passed from a Russian lady to a Yemenite, to another Moroccan, to a German. They squeezed her legs, pinched her cheeks, bounced her up and down and blessed her with a long life and good health. When I came back, the newcomers asked me her name, where we were from (good PR for Samaria!), and wished me lots of nachat (nachas for you in the Exile) from her, with glowing faces and real warmth. Some of them saw her and proposed shidduchim (marriage proposals) with their sons and grandsons. One by one, after wishing me a good day and a mazal tov, they returned to their work, pushing eye shadow and body creams to the Israeli masses.

Twenty minutes after arriving in the Ahava aisle, we left the store with our purchases. I put the baby back in her carriage, where she lay quietly gurgling to herself, fully satiated by all the love and admiration.

I thought about America, where "other people's children" are rarely handled, except by a licensed professional, and then frequently with some sort of supervision or bio hazard barrier for fear of someone being accused of or contracting something. I was gratified by the honest, effervescent love of these Jewish women for my baby, and for me by warrant of being her mother. Superpharm ladies, we love you, too.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Monopoly Isn't Just A Game Anymore

In a recent post, I complained about a Facebook application removing Judea and Samaria from the map of Israel, thereby prohibiting me from illustrating where I live on my profile page. I was angry that global politics had to affect something so pop-light as my Facebook profile, home to things like Zombies, Pokes, and Hatching Eggs.

Well, it appears that the global jihad just can't keep its grubby hands out of my life, and has even invaded childhood games - to that, I say "Do not pass go, do not collect $200."

I wish there were a way to display the disgusted head shaking and heavy sigh that were elicited from me when I heard about the utterly lame Monopoly scandal. If you're just making your way back from a 6 week vacation in the Tibetan country side, I'll fill you in: Hasbro, makers of the well-known Monopoly board game, decided to make an international edition, allowing people from around the world to vote for cities which would appear as squares or "properties" on the board.

In the grand tradition of the Olympics and Eurovision, patriots and loyalists around the world took to their keyboards, voting for their various cities. And then came Islam.

As per the paradoxical usual, in which Arabs are swift, organized, resourceful and ambitious in screwing up someone else's good day (and altogether incapable of any other productive endeavor), they made a big ruckus over how Jerusalem REALLY belongs to the Palestinians, blah, blah, blah, and Hasbro removed the name of Israel from alongside Jerusalem - so while Marrakesh would should up as Marrakesh, Morocco, and Sydney would show up as Sydney, Australia, Jerusalem just showed up as Jerusalem. Kind of like what will happen on my daugter's US passport now that we've registered here as having been born in the Holy City.

Of course, Jews around the world protested this rude deletion, to which Hasbro responded by removing all country names from voting. Sydney is just Sydney, and Marrakesh is just Marrakesh. And Jersualem is just Jerusalem.

Is it just me, or can this type of struggle against niche anti-Zionism become really lame and boring? So many good people spend so much time fighting over minute issues of Jewish rights and recognition in little local papers, university seminars, and Monopoly votes. Is it worth our time?

I am conflicted on the issue. On the one hand, I can't tell you how much I want to escape from these fights, which I find to be kind of pathetic and useless. So much of the world is converted to Islamophilia (or maybe it's just Islamophobia), that I doubt another letter to the editor in some small town paper is going to change much. On the other hand, how can we stand silently in ANY forum when lies are being disseminated and Jewish rights are threatened? Is it important to vote for Jerusalem in Monopoly, to have our city represented in some stupid game, or is it now important NOT to vote for Jerusalem, because it is being touted as some kind of international no-man's-land?

What do you think?

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Killing In the Name Of...

I woke up this morning, and as usual, asked my husband, who always gets up early to hear the news, what was going on in the world. He told me that America had suffered another shooting attack at a school, this time at an Illinois university.

So I went online to check out the story, which is still unravelling. Some alumnus came into a science class, shot up the teacher and some random students, and then killed himself. Six are dead, including the killer, and over a dozen are hospitalized. Wow.

Then came the shocker, which I will quote verbatim from the Associated Press:

The shooting was the fourth at a U.S. school within a week.

On Feb. 8, a woman shot two fellow students to death before committing suicide at Louisiana Technical College in Baton Rouge. In Memphis, Tenn., a 17-year-old is accused of shooting and critically wounding a fellow student Monday during a high school gym class, and the 15-year-old victim of a shooting at an Oxnard, Calif., junior high school has been declared brain dead.

Now I have to say, that sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the sense of violence in Israel, what with maniacal Muslims looking to murder me all the time and whatnot. But I'm starting to get the sense that America's not such a safe zone these days, either. And at least violence in Israel is related to some sort of meaning, a stated religio-cultural war, rather than the I-have-nothing-better-to-do glutted slayings which are ramping up in America.

So I'd like to wish the people of America, the people of Israel, and the people all over the world a holy, meaningful, and peaceful Shabbat. I hope we'll all do what we've got to do to end the victimization of good people.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Kick Shas' Fax

Here are the fax numbers of the Shas Knesset members. Thanks to their continued participation in the Olmert coalition, we all get to enjoy the painful, sluggish path downward that is comprised of unchecked rocket attacks, threats against Jewish communities, mass releases of convicted terrorists, and various other acts bespeaking corruption and soul sickness.

I hope that you will take 5 minutes, pick three (or more) of these people, and make it your mission to show them that their presence in the government has not gone unnoticed, and that it is not looked upon favorably by potential voters and their friends.

For you, it's 5 minutes. For Israel, it's the future.

I am writing the numbers with the international dialing code at the beginning, for all of you in the exile who are desperate to be involved in what's going on in Israel. For those of you already here, you already know how to dial.

Avraham Michaeli - 011-972-2-675-3961
Eli Yishai - 011-972-2-6662923
Amnon Cohen 011-972-2-640-8927
Ariel Atias - 011-972-2-562-1599
David Azoulay - 011-972-2-675-3908
Chaim Amsalem - 011-972-2-649-6527
Yaakov Margi - 011-972-2-675-3759
Yitzchak Cohen - 011-972-2-531-1308
Meshualam Nahari - 011-972-2-569-5360
Nissim Ze'ev - 011-972-2-649-6549
Roi Lachmanovitch - 011-972-2-666-6209
Shlomo Benizri - 011-972-2-675-3747
Yitzchak Vaknin- 011-972-2-649-6079

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Get Active - RIGHT NOW!

There are a lot of activism opportunities today for those of you who are truly pained by the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Sderot. Here are some for your immediate participation:

1. The Totally Most Awesome Women of Israel organization, known to you as Women in Green, is rallying at 6:30pm - TONIGHT, Monday, February 11th, in front of the Prime Minister's Office (between the Knesset and the Supreme Court).

For details please call 052-3121383

2. At 8pm, also TONIGHT, head out to the Kotel for another rally - a prayer rally - organized by two kids from New York who are learning at the Tiferet Center in Ramat Beit Shemesh. You won't be alone - approximately 2,000 yeshiva and seminary students are expected to attend. The rally is called Enough is Enough! For more information, contact Rabbi Elie Mayer at 052-616-4050

3. For all of you who cannot attend tonight's rallies, and want to do some good work, this is your chance! Yishai called a Shas member on his show today, and asked his secretary why Shas was still in the government, because Jerusalem is, in fact, on the table (and Shas swore it would leave the government if surrendering Jerusalem to the local Arabs were to ever be discussed as a possibility). He then asked her if Shas had received any faxes asking them to leave.

The answer was no - not one! So you're going to fix that now:

Here are the fax and phone numbers of Shas Knesset members. If you don't send a fax or call one of these people, you officially don't care about what's happening in Sderot:

Avraham Michaeli: Fax - 02-6753961. Telephone - 050-3331526
Eli Yishai: Fax - 02-6662923. Telephone - 054-5444444
Amnon Cohen: Fax - 02-6408927. Telephone - 02-6408372

Because I want to get this post up fast enough to enable you to make the rallies, I'll post the rest later - get out there and make your difference!

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Work in the King's Palace

Saving Israel, one paycheck at a time:
1. Executive Assistant for the Overseas Department of the City of David. • English mother tongue • Hebrew proficient • High level writing and communication skills in English • Experienced in organization and coordination • Ability to multi-task and work under pressure • Excellent computer skills • Available to work flexible hours, including some evenings • Creative, energetic, assertive, detail oriented, dynamic and warm.

2. Position available in the Reservations Department of the City of David English and Hebrew proficient, high level of expression, ability to provide a professional service over the phone. Full time position, One year commitment.
Please send your resume to

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Kumah's Tu B'Shevat Seder

Does anyone know what tomorrow is?

If you are living in the United States of America you will probably answer “Of course - it’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”

No, silly! Tomorrow night is Tu B’Shvat!

(Those of you in Israel would say “Of course – It’s Tu B’Shvat tomorrow night!” And would say – “Really? MLK day? I had no idea!”)

Tu B’Shvat – yet another reason to make Aliyah. Here this “forgotten holiday” is actually widely celebrated. The sad truth is (even though, or perhaps because, I grew up in Yeshivish surroundings) I never even heard of a Tu B’shvat seder until I actually made Aliyah. Here everybody makes them.

Last year Kumah’s own Malkah put together an absolutely stunning Tu B’shvat Haggadah! (Special thanks the Yechiel for helping us dig it up.)


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Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Same Jews

Sometimes I feel like I'm beating the Jews-need-to-return-to-Israel-and-their-collective-lack-of-initiative-is-a-sign-of-their-lack-of-faith-in-G-d issue like a dead horse. I don't know how we could express this seemingly obvious fact any further.

But I'll try.

One thing that really bugs me is when people read the Torah as a legend of days gone by. The Children of Israel coming out of Egypt are usual catalysts for a sort of global Jewish headshaking - we wonder at their ability to be so kvetchy all the time, to make golden gods, to ask for ridiculous things in the face of miracles. Yet I find that the post-traumatic-stress-riddled Jews of Egyptian slavery time are not a whole lot different than the average Moishe of Central Parkway. Granted, the Hebrews saw wildly unnatural-seeming miracles, splitting seas, weirdly selective plagues like darkness and firstborn slaying and what have you. They had a lot of chutzpah being so faithless.

But it's not like your snazzy LA Jew hasn't seen miracles. His bizarre success wherever he goes, the way he is so oddly and frequently spared from tragic or disasterous events, the birth of the State of Israel far across the ocean and its uncannily rapid growth and prosperity in its old haunts, with its old language. Honestly - it's pretty obvious that G-d is still taking care of His people Israel. There are a lot of American Jews who would heartily testify to the omnipotent kindness of our Lord to the Jewish people, and latch on to many of his commandments in loyalty and affirmation.

But when we talk about getting out of good old Flatbush... ooohhh nooooo. Suddenly, everything is too hard, too scary. To me, it sounds something like this: "Let us be and we will serve Egypt, for it is better that we should serve Egypt than that we should die in the Wilderness." This wilderness was a place where the Israelites' every need would be cared for, where they would learn the Torah and eat to satiety. At least we can give them the benefit of the doubt in regard to their disbelief - though they should have known that Hashem would take care of them in the Wilderness, they had no forward lines who had preceded them, whose well-being they could take comfort in.

Yet the American Jew of today has that very thing. Israel is filled with flourishing beauty, holy Torah, rich agriculture and comfortable living, experienced currently by almost 6 million of his relatives. But he sees his road to Israel, his Wilderness, as not being worth the potential costs. Yes, he knows he's giving up SOMETHING. But his lack of faith causes him to seek comfort in that which is killing him, and to see his ladder up and out as certain death.

As an aside, one could say similarly of those living in Israel today who believe that we are sure to face doom and destruction, who mock those of us who begin to get a whiff of the burning offerings in a future Temple or plan our vacation homes in Basra. To them, anything bespeaking growth and uncharted territory is farcical, impractical, or dangerous. Better to be safe than sorry.

How ironic it is that all of these people rely on things which are utterly unsafe and uncertain and don't run like hell for the Wilderness, which is in fact the only safety there is.

May we all embrace our personal Wilderness, and let it lead us on a path to all things holy, right here in our holy land.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

15 Seconds With The President

There's a lot of hubbub surrounding the visit of US President George W. Bush.

The Post-Zionist Left, face it, is wetting itself with anticipation over the prospect of Bush backing Israel into a corner and, as the uberscuzzy editor of Haaretz so Haaretzly put it, raping our country of any last vestiges of meaning or dignity. They're hoping Bush will pizzazz the land right out from under us, hacking away at the most biblical of our biblical lands, and ultimately bringing down the Zionists, who are like so many pesky cockroaches revealing themselves after a bug bomb.

This morning, as our mountaintop was covered with a welcome low-hanging cloud after some much needed nighttime rainfall, we heard a familiar sound - the approach of a Blackhawk.
Because of our proximity to both Ramallah and Baal Hatzor, as well as our possession of a nice, uninhabited flat space, we are frequented by practicing pilots, who land and take off, land and take off.

As we were listening to the buzzing and swooshes, my husband commented to me that perhaps they are practicing bringing in Bush - after all, Bush's entourage is rumored to be planning a Ramallah visit, making a helicopter landing and drive through Beit El somewhat likely. Olmert's government is going to be doing everything in its power to keep Bush away from any real people or places during his visit (we wouldn't want the endearing qualities of the Jewish people to get in the way of our cold, heartless peace plans, now would we?), so it's quite possible that he will be whisked above the annoying realities, and come to Ramallah via helicopter.

So I asked my husband: "What if he does land here, and we have the chance to speak to him for 15 seconds? What would you say?" That got us thinking.

By the by, you never know. I recommend that you all prepare 15 seconds worth of material - who knows if G-d will make you the shaliach for His message to this King of America.

What would you say? "Free Jonathan Pollard!" "Go back to Texas!" "Please, don't divide Jerusalem - you don't want that kind of Wrath, trust me."

So I leave it to you: What would YOU say to President George W. Bush if you ran into him in Israel?

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Many Faces, One Country

Congratulations to the winner of the Nefesh b'Nefesh "Israel In a Minute" video contest, recipient of $3,000 (that's 11,871 shekels for people in Israel THIS minute - cha-ching!), and maker of one kickin' PR piece. Reminds me of some of the material I received when applying to college - young, edgy, idealistic, and there's a chick with dreads - all the necessary components!

If you like it, and you live outside of Israel, click HERE.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"Place Your Lemon On the Conveyor Belt, Sir"

(Click to Enlarge)

You lucky, lucky American Jews. Do you know that the United States' vigilant anti-terror watch, which has become so vigorous as to ban potentially explosive shampoo and expose feet, has been downgraded just for you?

Apparently, despite your suspicious appearance and strange rituals, you will be allowed to board planes with the most dangerous weapon of all:

Your Etrog.

U.S. Allows Carrying 'Four Species' on Airplanes

( The United States Transportation Administration has stated that the "four species" (arba minim) of a palm branch, myrtle and willow twigs and the etrog are not on the TSA's list of prohibited items for carrying on airplanes in the country. ["Sir, we have a 458 subsection B here. That's right, we believe several passengers are potentially smuggling illegal substances inside suspicious vegetation which they have brought on the plane..... yes sir, I believe that one of the leafy materials resembles marijuana... Okay, I'm taking him in."]

The department noted that the arba minim used on the Sukkot holiday are significant for Jews and has advised workers and security officials at airports that Jews may be meditating and using them in prayers while waiting for airplanes. ["*gasp* Dear G-d in Heaven, is that bearded man wobbling and shaking that green sword and that yellow grenade looking thing?! I just KNEW that it would be my plane, I KNEW it!! Our G-d, who art in Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name..."]

On one recent flight, passengers were suspicious of an Jew who was meditating while praying.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Calling All Bleeders

If you're blessed enough to be in Israel for the holiday of Sukkot, healthy, AND a good bloodletter, then step up to the needle and donate some blood to alleviate Israel's severe shortage!!

Israel's Magen David Adom is conducting blood drives at two Jerusalem hotels and has extended its blood collection center hours because of the special need.

Visitors and citizens alike can donate blood at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem on Sunday, September 30 from 9 am to 1 pm, and at the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem on Tuesday, October 2 from 9 am to 1 pm or at numerous Magen David Adom sites throughout the country.

Additional blood drives will be scheduled through the beginning of November.

For more information on donating blood to the MDA, please contact American Friends of Magen David Adom at (212) 757-1627 or in Israel at 057 761-4220.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Idol Worship on a Fixed Rate Mortgage

Lately, Madonna's arrival for Rosh Hashanah has been raising a lot of talk - the woman who's only LIKE a vir... well, you know, is coming to Israel, sporting her red string and expensive, sports drink-like Judaism... but thinks Rosh Hashanah is cool, reportedly dresses respectfully in Israel, and will probably get at least a few hundred unaffiliated Jews thinking about why Madonna has cast a kind eye on the Jewish State, and why they themselves had never considered it.

If Madonna had never studied with the infamous Kabbalah Center, she would probably be more welcome here. As it is, she is undergoing much good ol' fashioned scrutiny.

But considering what her roots are, I'd say she's taken a giant leap into legitimate monotheism.

After all, she could be touting St. Joseph, the patron saint of home sales.

Here's what you do, if you still maintain faith that tiny clay models of people have major power over your life:

For just $9.95 (or $13.95 for REAL believers who want the larger idol), you buy the Original 4" St. Joseph Statue Home Sales Kit.

You plop the made-in-China deity in a bag, flip 'im upside down, and face its factory-formed face toward your property, and watch those offers come rollin' in!

This kind of stuff makes the Kabbalah Center look like the foyer of the Beit Ha Mikdash. NOT THAT I'M ADVOCATING IT (I can just see all those indignant comments)!! If you want some REAL Judaism, Esther/Madonna, here's a link for you. In the meantime, an apple and honey should cost you no more than 10 shekels - don't let Rabbi Berg fleece you.

And welcome to Israel!

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why I Returned To...

As I was preparing for one of my shows at Israel National Radio, I came across this article by a Jewess who finds meaning in the newfound hard life in the Big Easy. Change "New Orleans" to "Anywhere in Israel", and I'll bet many of us would really relate to her. Even her discussion of local politicians hits home. As it is, she's seeking meaning near the Gulf of Mexico, not the Gulf of Aqaba, so it falls a little short for me, but let me know what you think:

Writer: Why I returned to New Orleans

Gail Naron Chalew -

Despite all the problems, says writer Gail Naron Chalew, life in New Orleans seems richer, more vibrant, and more purposeful, and you cannot put a dollar value on that.

NEW ORLEANS (JTA) -- Anniversaries are times to remember the past, and I am luckier than most people because my memories are preserved in print. They can’t be deluged by toxic floodwaters or spread to the winds.

I just have to read what I wrote one week after Katrina, or during that first year when I was living in exile in Baltimore, to churn up the emotion and passion that is life in New Orleans these days.

It is precisely this intensity that keeps me here.

For several months, my husband and I had been weighing whether to accept a generous job offer for him in another city. When we made the decision to stay, I knew it was the right one.

A theologian once said that spirituality is living in the more. By that definition, New Orleans is a very spiritual place.

But it is no longer “The Big Easy.” We cannot take for granted basic services like water, electricity, streetlights and smooth roads. Insurance, utilities and rent have skyrocketed, as has crime. Mental health and day care services are a fraction of what they were pre-Katrina. Although much progress has been made in fixing damaged homes and businesses, there are still abandoned homes with weeds taking over the lawns and debris marring the streets of neighborhoods that flooded.

My governor has bungled billions in federal funds designed to help homeowners rebuild. My senator is in a call girl’s phonebook, my congressman was caught with $90,000 in his freezer and was indicted for bribery, and my at-large councilman just pleaded guilty to corruption charges. I used to criticize the mayor for not taking a leadership role in the recovery effort. Given his recent remarks lauding the city’s high murder rate as keeping New Orleans’ brand alive, I only want him to keep his mouth shut until his successor is elected.

So why did we decide to stay?

Put simply, life here seems richer, more vibrant, and more purposeful, and you cannot put a dollar value on that.

We who have chosen to stay and rebuild are like the chalutzim, the pioneers who built the modern state of Israel. We feel a part of both making history and making a difference.

Fixing up your home, helping others salvage their belongings, eating out in a restaurant, even buying tchotchkes in the French Market—all that makes a difference.

But what makes life even more meaningful is the opportunity that disaster has provided to reinvent an entire city and its institutions, from health care to education to neighborhood redevelopment. Dozens of idealistic young Jews -- including my 24-year-old daughter, who is working for a micro-enterprise project in the African American community -- are flocking to New Orleans to make that difference, enlivening the Jewish community in the process.

New Orleans has become an incubator for these young people and their non-Jewish peers, providing them an environment characterized by a combination of significant challenges and significant responsibility.

Just as a marker of Baby Boomer status was being at Woodstock in ’69, this generation’s credentials might be measured by whether or not they were in New Orleans after Katrina.

As an aging Boomer, I cannot think of anything more rejuvenating than to be around these energetic, high-minded young people who believe they indeed have the power to change the world. They will be the political, education and community leaders of the coming decades.

My husband and I are staying in New Orleans because of a sense of obligation. He is a pediatric specialist in a city with few health care resources; here he knows he will make an impact.

As a volunteer, I have been serving as an informal liaison between the New Orleans Jewish Federation and Jewish groups from across the country come here and do the very unglamorous work of gutting and de-weeding and putting up sheetrock. Taking these volunteers on disaster tours and helping them have these meaningful experiences is my way of rebuilding the city.

We are staying also because the education that my 17-year-old son is getting by living in post-Katrina New Orleans is invaluable, despite the fact that his flooded high school is still not completely repaired.

He has learned the importance of self-reliance: if you see something that should be changed, then get involved and don’t wait for government to help you. He has learned the importance of local community: the first businesses to reopen were ones owned by locals, and many of the chain stores have decided not to rebuild. He has seen villains and heroes in action, and now is better able to distinguish between the two.

From his parents, who have rejected an easier life for a more meaningful one, he has learned the importance of fulfilling one’s obligations and valuing the intangibles of commitment and passion.

We are also staying for a less noble but no less important reason: New Orleans is fun!

We build into our schedule time to eat its great food, hear its great music, and savor its beautiful architecture. Just walking around the French Quarter makes us feel as if we are on vacation.

New Orleans stirs and then satisfies the passions; in the midst of tragedy, it celebrates life.

And what could be better than that.


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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Israel's Dancing Robots

No, I'm not talking about the current Israeli government.

I'm talking awesome, Bukharian-Jewish, young-religious, Robocup-scoring genius machines that make Israel look GOOD!! Don't you just love good news?

Israeli students shine at international robotics dancing competition
Three students of robotics from the Or Avner Yeshiva High School were congratulated by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week for their victory in Robocup, the Robot World Cup Initiative Dancing Challenge held in Atlanta, Georgia last month.

Gabriel Yisraelov, Itzik Yalizerov and Alex Chaimov beat 50 teams from 23 other countries with their creations Mommy, Mafrat and Brownie the dog.

Olmert was treated to an exclusive performance in which the robots, dressed in the traditional Bukharian dress of their creators' native land (all three immigrated to Israel from Bukharia, Uzbekistan), twirled to a slow song about the coming of the Messiah. Olmert was as impressed as the Robocup audience in the US, which gave the Israeli team a standing ovation.

Moti Meir, the winners' teacher, said that "Or Avner nurtured them and dedicated all of its resources toward helping them."

The 11th RoboCup tournament, held at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, consisted of two challenges, explained Chaimov. In one, each country's team competed against all the others. In the second, three teams had to work together to program a new dance for all their robots.

Teamed with Japanese and American students, the Israelis proposed a wedding. Dan the American robot would marry Mafrat - to Mommy's disapproval. Brownie would come to the lovebirds' rescue, barking at Mommy. The Japanese robot would join in the dancing when the couple finally got married.

Chaimov, 16, who built Mafrat, arrived from Bukharia just two-and-a-half years ago. The Bukharian natives' interest in robotics began before RoboCup. Chaimov created a "smart room," where motion sensors trigger lights to turn on when people enter the room and off when people leave. He hopes to develop a breakdancing robot next year - in the 11th grade.

Yisraelov devised a menora that lights up with realistic flames, which turn on and off in the correct order. Yalizerov invented a robot that is able to sense the color black, following any thick black line.

Diamond billionaire Lev Leviev, the Bukharian-born supporter of the Or Avner schools, called the three students his "dearest diamonds."

"None of this would have been able to happen if the school hadn't paid for our materials and our flight to Atlanta," said Yisraelov.

RoboCup is an international research and education initiative, and the first official games were held in Nagoya, Japan in 1993. Since then, the annual games were hosted by different countries around the world including France (1998), Australia (2000), Germany (2006).

You can view another article on this story at the Chabad website - apparently, Ohr Avner is a Chabad school. Way to go!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Some REAL Statistics on Yerida

40,000 Non-Jews from CIS Leave Israel

( According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, at least 40,000 of the roughly 229,000 Israelis who moved abroad between 1990 and 2005 were non-Jews who had come to the country from eastern Europe. Immigrants from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), both Jewish and non-Jewish, made up almost 50% of Israeli emigrants (yordim).

10,500 Israeli citizens returned to Israel in 2005 after living abroad for over one year. 55% of those returning were born in Israel, while 45% were born abroad.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Anti-Zionism Just Got a Whole Lot More Zionist

On any given day in the bustling communities in the Mea Shearim area, one might take a little stroll, peek into the shops, and people watch - there is a lot of life in this crowded region of Jerusalem, a lot to see. Mostly, you'll see people go about their business, hanging laundry, buying vegetables, scuttling to work or to the synagogue. But in one or two places, you may notice a somewhat more aggressive sight - ominous black flags flapping next to signs that say things like "Jews are Not Zionists" and "Zionism = Racism". Welcome to Satmar country.

This hassidic group, formerly from the town of Satmar in Hungary (shout out to the peeps), maintains the belief that the Jewish people are not permitted to form a government in Israel (and certainly not a secular one), as some have come to interpret is prohibited in accordance with the "Three Oaths".

Well, so much for that philosophy - on behalf of religious Zionists around the country, I would like to joyfully welcome more of our brothers and sisters from the Satmar community to the Holy Land, and to the Holy City - maybe we'll be in-laws one day!

Satmar rebbe to lay Jerusalem cornerstone
By Anshel Pfeffer - Haaretz

The grand rabbi of the Satmar Hassidim, Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, is slated to arrive in Israel tomorrow to lay the cornerstone of a new community housing project that will rise on the plot where Jerusalem's Edison Cinema once stood.

The Satmar Hassidim are known for their anti-Zionist stance, and the event is considered by them to be a major victory in their campaign to safeguard the sanctity of Jerusalem - free of lay symbols.

The movie theater site, which is situated close to the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Mea Shearim and Geula, was the site for decades of violent clashes between Haredim and police. It was closed 15 years ago, and the plot was sold three years ago to the Satmar Hassidim.

The Satmar community is the largest ultra-Orthodox community, which distinguishes itself from other Haredi groups in that they refuse state funding for their educational institutions.

According to estimates, the community in Israel comprises some 1,200 families, but its main center is in Kiryas Joel in New York State, where more than 20,000 people reside.

Rabbi Teitelbaum inherited the leadership of the community following the death of his father, Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, in April 2006. He lives in Williamsburg, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, long the center of Satmar life. This is his first official visit to Israel since he became grand rabbi.

The housing project will include 100 apartments and structures that will be used by the community for educational purposes.

I want to further mention that Satmar IS NOT Neturei Karta, and has come out against them publicly, even recently. The main difference in my opinion - Satmar is radically anti-secular, Neturei Karta is anti-Jewish. In any event, I expect we'll see just a few less Jews in Williamsburg after this project is completed. Score.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Middle East Initiatives are a Beach

Okay, not really a beach, but it is NEAR the beach, and what a great initiative!

This is exactly the kind of relationship I want to see Israel creating with her neighbors - something highly productive, cooperative, and utterly non-threatening to Israel's sovereignty, security, economy, or dignity. It's almost as if we were valuable members of the region! In any event, lovers of a clean and healthy environment thank you, Israel, and give you, Jordan, a cautious and subdued nod of recognition.

Israeli-Jordanian team set up first artificial coral reef in the Red Sea

By Nicky Blackburn - Israel 21c

Take a dive off the coast of Eilat these days and you're liable to find yourself swimming around a huge yellow concrete and wire construction that stretches four yards up from the seabed, is four yards wide, and is full of holes. No, this isn't some strange new structure left behind by an alien race, or cargo dropped from a sinking container shop, this is the first artificial coral reef in the Red Sea.

The reef, which was developed by the Israel Nature Parks Authority and a team of academics from the National Center for Mariculture at the Eilat campus of Ben Gurion University, the Inter-University Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat, the Hebrew University, and the Marine Science Station in Aqaba, is a unique new approach to conservation in the Red Sea and part of a joint co-operative project between Israel and Jordan

Coral reefs are one of the most varied forms of life on the planet, and the range and richness of the species found there are comparable to that of the tropical rain forests. In recent years, underwater diving has become an increasingly popular sport and the breathtaking reefs of the Red Sea area, which are different from any other reefs around the world, have suffered dreadfully as a result.

"The number of visitors is large and the size of the reefs is limited and too small," explains Dr. Nadav Shashar, the supervisor of the research project, and a marine biologist at the National Center for Mariculture. "Because of the increase in the number of visitors, the coral reefs are unable to overcome the damage caused and are beginning to die out. If we don't act quickly, it's only a question of time before the excellent breeding conditions in the north bay become barren. Many bodies are aware of the problem and are seeking a way to solve it."

Part of the problem is novice divers. "They kick up the sand, or damage the corals by accident. Multiple that by 100,000 people and that's considerable damage," says Shashar. "These people don't mean to harm the reefs, but they just don't know how to dive properly."

The developers hope that the artificial reef will create a new attraction for these divers, steering them away from the natural reefs, reducing the pressure there and enabling them to recover from some of the damage inflicted on them over the last few years.

At the same time, the Tamar reef which is located near Coral Beach also provides the researchers with a unique underwater laboratory, enabling them to observe and unravel the development and growth of this unique and complex ecosystem.

"Our task is to understand which factors bring about the development and proliferation of coral reefs, to understand the growing processes of the coral and fish populations and to put this into practice in establishing artificial coral reefs that will attract tourists," Shashar tells ISRAEL21c.

Shashar and his team, which includes Prof. Zvi Abramski, from the Department of Life Sciences, Dr. Ariel Diamant of the National Center for Mariculture, student Omer Pollack and the Israel Nature Parks Authority, are funded by the United States USAID-MERC program and the British Whitely Fund for Nature.

The reef was first installed in May this year and has already attracted a great deal of marine life. There are now 32 species of fish swimming through or living on the reef - half the number normally found in the reefs of the Red Sea. These include bass, sea goldfish and butterfly fish. Sea urchins, fan worms, tunicates, and tubeworms can also be found there.

At present, no coral has been planted on the reef, and that's why some of the fish are still missing. If the scientists were to let nature take its course, it would take between 80-100 years for the corals to flourish. Shashar does not want to wait that long so the team has a nursery in Haifa where they are growing 13 different types of coral.

These corals will be planted in the specially prepared holes in the reef structure and the work begins in the fall. There are 1,000 colonies to plant, and this will be the first time in history that a team has tried to do this. Shashar is very excited at the prospect.

"This gives us a very unique opportunity to understand what makes a reef and how the corals interact with each other," he explains. "In the natural world corals grow in a certain order, replacing one another in a specific sequence until they reach the climax community, which you find in mature reefs. We want to discover if we have to plant the corals in that order or whether we can go straight to the climax community."

The team plan to plant a good variety of corals. "There's a general acceptance that to get a high diversity of fish, you need a high diversity of corals. We will be checking this," says Shashar.

The idea of creating artificial reefs in the Red Sea was first mooted some years ago, but it took time for the project to find its feet. Work on building the reef began in December last year. The Israeli company, Ocean Brick System (OBS), was founded specifically to deal with the engineering side of the project, carrying out a range of simulations.

This is the largest artificial reef ever built. The maximum height of past reefs, which are used mainly for fisheries, is 1.8 yards. As a result, there was much to organize and arrange. Building the mould itself was problematic, as was finding the right type of concrete that would be suitable for the development of oceanic invertebrates. Then 1,000 holes had to be drilled in the rough surface so that coral can be planted and marine life can attach easily to the structure.

"The whole structure has to be extremely strong because it will last for decades and is constantly exposed to sea water," says Shashar. "We have to ensure that it won't erode, and also make sure that it will be safe. We can't have a kid being trapped in there."

The openings of the reef have bars to prevent divers and swimmers from entering into unsafe areas, and to preserve the reef.

In six months another artificial reef is to be added on the Jordanian side of the Red Sea, it will be followed by four more - one in Eilat and three more in Jordan. Improvements and modifications are planned for the next reefs. "We are trying to improve all the time," says Shashar.

Since the reef was put in, diver interest has been high. Shashar says that about 100 divers have been visiting the reef daily, almost double the number of divers who visit nearby natural reefs. "People like to dive here, especially novice divers, because they feel more comfortable in an artificial environment," says Shashar, a world-renowned expert in the field of polarized sight, who discovered that polarized vision in locusts enables them to avoid flying over large bodies of water.

Shashar, who got his PhD at the University of Maryland and has spent most of his life studying marine life, is eager to discover how many divers visit the site. "We need to know from an economic point of view how attractive a reef like this is, and whether it will be more appealing when we add the coral," he explains.

The reason for this is that interest in the artificial reef has already been expressed from various countries around the world. For some it's a question of necessity. In the Pacific, for instance, there are many islands that have been protected from storms for years by their coral reefs. With global warming, these coral reefs are now being damaged and destroyed leaving the islands wide open to the sea.

"They came to us two years ago looking for a way to protect their barriers and create new ones," says Shashar. "It would be easy to say build a wave barrier and put that on your natural reef, but that would have a huge impact on the environment. Instead it could be very interesting for them to add a new reef structure that could protect them and be of viable interest."

In other cases, it's a question of tourism. A hotel in Hawaii, for instance, may want to ensure a steady stream of visitors by adding an artificial reef to the sea nearby. This would be an additional attraction for tourists.

"Within a year we will estimate whether the whole thing is a success or not, and we will go on from there," says Shashar. "If all goes well then we will go to places where reefs used to be and actually build major large scale artificial reefs there. We are trying to design a new environment. All over the world reefs are being damaged and broken down, we are trying to add surface area. So far it looks like a great success. The fish are coming, and so are the people."


Full post and comments...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mezuza Disease

When I first read this article, I thought to myself - "oh man, there goes the galut again." Then I looked up this Conservative Rabbi - he's from Herzliya. Ouch. And is also into ordaining Gay rabbis and performing "commitment" (marriage) ceremonies for them. Oof. And teaches a mishna study group in memory of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.

Well, it seems like the recently retired rabbi has a new (and ironic) halachic policy - look, but don't touch.

Rabbi rules against kissing mezuzot

Conservative rabbi issues ruling stating that kissing mezuzot must be avoided in order not to contract an infectious disease
Neta Sela - ynet

A Conservative rabbi has recently ruled that kissing mezuzot should be avoided, in order to avoid the risk of contracting an infectious disease.

Rabbi Simcha Roth issued the ruling after he was approached by members of his congregation who expressed concern over the possibility that kissing a mezuzah which has been kissed by other people may constitute a health hazard.

Roth stressed that kissing mezuzot should be particularly avoided in public places and hospitals, where the risk is even greater.

The mitzvah of affixing a mezuzah to the doorpost appears in the Bible, Deuteronomy 11:20: "And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates." The mitzvah aims at reminding the Jew of the mitzvot of the Torah upon entering his home. According to the Conservative Movement, the mezuzah also reminds the inhabitants of the house that God protects them at all times.

Rabbi Roth explained that in both cases, the mezuzah’s role is to be looked at, not touched or kissed. He said that the custom of kissing the mezuzah has developed in later years with the goal of giving the observant Jew a sense of intimacy with his God.

According to Rabbi Roth, "The only mitzvah related to the mezuzah is to affix it to the doorpost and to check it to make sure it is not damaged. The other customs, such as touching or kissing it, are merely traditions and not mitzvot from the Torah.

"Therefore, in such cases it is not only permitted, but even recommended, to avoid kissing the mezuzah."


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Monday, August 06, 2007

If You Will It, It is No Dream: Tel Avivians Bomb Gaza

How long, good brothers and sisters, how long have we dreamed of this day? The day when the fancy pants of Ramat Aviv would, dropping their cappuccinos, take to the dunes with conviction and with the glint of the noon day sun in their Armani sunglasses, discharge their loaded weaponry at the evil empire of Gaza? The day when even the Land of Israel herself would rise up and spit herself at our enemies?

At long last, that day has come - sort of.

Indeed, this "military" action against local Arabia isn't the nail in the coffin that we all so eagerly await. But it is an excellent political stunt, and a step in the right direction.

Missile-launcher aimed at Gaza

Group from central Israel makes improvised projectile-launcher, lobs organic eggs, vegetables at Beit Hanoun to raise awareness of situation in Sderot
Shmulik Hadad - ynet

A number of Israelis from the Tel Aviv vicinity drove south and fired improvised missiles towards Gaza, in an effort to raise awareness of the difficult situation in Sderot.

The group used a projectile-launcher built by Yahav Michaeli - a stunts and pyrotechnics expert - to lob organic eggs and vegetables towards Beit Hanoun.

"The idea was to draw attention to what's going on with a little bit of humor, because we thought it could relieve the pressure a little," said members of the group.

"When you wander around Sderot and notice the atmosphere there, you understand that a sort of emotional stagnation has taken hold of the State. That's why we decided to do what we did," they said.

"We need to shake people up and we thought that this sort of shooting towards Beit Hanoun would be a type of peaceful shooting.

IDF sources who heard of the missile launcher hurried worriedly to the launch site. They were greeted by group member Yigal Tzur, who told them, "we mean to shoot at Gaza."

The officer responsible for the region informed him that shooting was prohibited in the area and requested he stop. Upon being informed that the group was shooting eggs and vegetables, he allowed them to continue.

The group had brought with them organic eggs, corn, mango, tomatoes and other vegetables - much of it bought in Sderot - to launch at the Palestinians.

"The shooting was amazing, some of the vegetables flew whole over to the Strip, we actually spotted the eggs flying into Beit Hanoun and the thought even crossed my mind that some day, we may be able to make Arabic salad here, a salad of peace," Tzur added.

"I'm glad we did this, because we were able to arouse awareness and put a smile on the face of the residents. We are considering keeping this up, and the next 'attack' may even be against the Knesset building. I'm already working on a more advanced cannon that will be able to fire whole cabbages."


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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Revenge of the Hajj Heat Rash

WARNING: The article you are about to read is not in any way related to sophisticated political analysis or higher spiritual thought. It's just darn funny.

Hajj Pilgrims Offered Relief From Chafed Thighs
July 16, 2007

RIYADH -- Help is being offered to Muslims afflicted by chafed thighs during the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Gazette reported Saturday.

Worshipers at the annual event are to be offered "seamless trousers" for the first time to guard against chafing, the English language daily said.

The trousers are designed to be worn under the ihram, the loose-fitting white robe worn by Muslims undertaking the pilgrimage.

"Pilgrims often complain of sore thighs because of friction as a result of long walks. The trouser will protect the thighs," the paper said.

The pilgrimage, which is expected to next take place in December, is one of the five pillars of Islam that all able-bodied Muslims must undertake once in a lifetime if they have the means.

Nearly 2.4 million people flocked to holy sites in Saudi Arabia earlier this year to perform the Hajj, including more than 1.6 million from outside the kingdom.

In January 2006, 364 pilgrims were killed in a crush during the pilgrimage's stoning ritual.


Dear Ahmeds and Fatimas,

Shalom from Israel! Sorry about the shifshuf (but that's how it is in our crazy Middle East, right?). I'm so happy for you... seamless pants, that's great - and novel!

I found somemore info in our shared quest for a chafe-free lifestyle. Just hand over all Jewish captives, and you can have it.

Okay, you got me! I'll give it to you for free - like everything else:


Chafing often occurs on the inner thigh, groin area, armpits, nipples, etc. as a result of sweating, and friction from body parts rubbing together, or friction from clothing. The best treatment for chafing is prevention.

Stay hydrated - Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Among other things, staying well hydrated will help prevent chafing by allowing you to perspire freely. When you stop perspiring your sweat will form salt crystals on your body increasing friction.

Clothing - Select snug fitting (but not tight) clothing. Shorts or jog bras that are too tight or too loose will create friction and rubbing.

Choose breathable, wicking fabrics .... Coolmax, Supplex, Polypro, etc are good choices. No cotton!

Clothing should have few seams, flat seams, and small flat stitching.

Do not wear untested clothing on a long walk and never wear unwashed new clothing.

Stay Dry - Use talcum powder or cornstarch to stay dry. (Gold Bond is highly recommended and can be found in most drug stores. Two Toms Blister shield is another good option.)

Lubricant - When you increase your mileage all other efforts may fail. It is time for real preventative. There are a variety of lubricants on the market. They are readily available at most running stores. Many people use petroleum jelly because it is inexpensive and easy to find. I don't really like the consistency, and find it doesn't stay on as well as many of the sports/running products.

Make your own lubricant - with this recipe I found on a couple of the running boards. Mix equal parts A & D ointment (diaper rash cream) and Vaseline (1 cup each). Then add vitamin E cream and Aloe Vera cream (1/4 cup each) to improve consistency and smell. (Mixture should be stiff, yet applicable.) It not only protects skin from chafing but can help heal the skin and also is helpful with blister prevention. Low cost and effective. Measurements do not have to be accurate.... this is not baking!

Treatment - The general treatment for chafing is to treat the area by washing with soap and cool to luke warm water. Then apply an antibacterial ointment or antiseptic spray, cover with a bandaid or sterile gauze. This works well, but I prefer A and D ointment. (Yes, the diaper rash ointment!!) It relieves pain and itch, promotes healing, and keeps the area lubricated so you can continue walking without discomfort. After this product was recommended to some fellow walkers it soon became known as "Magic A & D" it works so well.


I hope you guys have a super-awesome hajj this year, filled with all those cool tramplings and self-flagellatings that make you guys so fun.

Your Sister By The Same Mister,

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Voice of the Revolution

Listen to Malkah's interview with Refael Yitzchak (pictured above). The audio is only 2 minutes and 30 seconds but its worth every moment.


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Sunday, July 01, 2007


There's a lot of things we lovers-of-Israel wait for here: better driving standards, an end to Arab aggression and occupation in the Holy Land, a return of Jewish enthusiasm and pride, and of course, Target.

So when I read this recent piece of news, I was overjoyed, as I saw one of my personal goals coming that much closer to fruition: being loaded.
Merrill Lynch: 7,200 millionaires living in Israel

World Wealth Report says Jewish state had 12.9 percent more millionaires in 2006 than in previous year
Some 7,200 millionaires lived in Israel in 2006, 12.9 percent more than the previous year, Merrill Lynch reported in its World Wealth Report.
The report also said that the number of Israeli multi-millionaires – people whose wealth exceeds $30 million – grew by 15 percent to 87. In addition, Israel registered 50 percent more millionaires in 2006 than the average increase in the rest of the world.
The capital of Israel's super-rich stood at $35 billion in 2006, 17 percent more than a year earlier, the report found.
Uri Goldfarb, Merrill Lynch Israel vice president for private banking, attributed the capital boost of Israeli multi-millionaires to large investments in developing countries, the continued rise of the Tel Aviv stock exchange, and the purchase of property for development at home and abroad.
The report put at 9.5 million the number of people worth $1million or more, 8.3 percent more than in 2005. The total capital of the world's millionaires rose by 11.4 percent to $37.2 trillion, the first double-digit rise in seven years.

So for those of you who like money (if you're not one of these people, call me and I'll help you get rid of yours), invest (yourself) in Israel.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Israeli Good Product Alert

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

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

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

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


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Friday, May 25, 2007

Audio Corner: Do You Know What You're Missing?

Do you know how incredible it is to be in Jerusalem for the Festival of Shavuot? Do you know that you can give Nachas to G-d if you make Aliyah? Do you have the Bitachon, trust in G-d, that you need to eek out a living in Israel? Check out the latest Aliyah Revolution Show with Yishai and Malkah



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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I love you, Jerusalem!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Do-Gooder Alert: Comfort Esther Malka

You may recall that some of our cousins who didn't make the cut for Little Mosque on the Prairie recently bashed in the head of a Jewish woman driving her car in Efrat as she was on her way home (if this isn't a legitimate way to express your dewy-eyed dreams of national sovereignty, I don't know what is!!).

Today, my co-host and I did an interview with Nadia Matar of Women in Green, who is organizing on Esther's behalf. (As of this post, the specific link isn't up - check out The Weekend Edition for May 13).

If you will not be able to attend rallies for Esther, or otherwise visit her, you can send her your well-wishes (which, with G-d's help, she'll read if she ever wakes up again, B"H) and even donations - Nadia has agreed to personally deliver all correspondence.

So here's contact info for Esther Malka (Esther bat Zohara):

Esther Malka
c/o Women in Green
P.O.B. 1269
Efrat, ISRAEL 90435

Terror attacks aren't just awful, they're devastating. Even with socialized medicine, medical costs can accumulate, the victim is not longer providing income, and the family decreases its work in order to be there for the victim. This creates a financial drain that is difficult to reverse - your donations, I'm sure, would be welcome.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Little Mosque on the Prairie

I'm one of those American/Israeli Jews who never really divorced herself from American pop culture. Not that I was so into it to begin with, but I'm still more entertained by American content than by Israeli. And I have a weakness for TV. This moral turpitude has led me to discover a wide and wonderful world of programming on the internet, seeing as I'm so far away from my good friends at NBC and CBS.

Every once in a while, you not only find something entertaining, but you find something educational or important.

On one sunny afternoon, unable to soothe my TV gluttony, I perused a site and found a series whose title made me laugh out loud - Little Mosque on the Prairie.

Online Videos by

At the website, you can watch all the episodes that have been syndicated so far. Produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, this show is meant to show you how sweet, regular, and downright endearing Muslims are, and what a pleasure it would be if only you could have some in your neighborhood. A more brilliant and subtle-yet-unsubtle piece of propaganda one nary has the privilege to witness.

So I propose we come up with some counter propaganda- so far, I have "Little Third Temple on the Prairie", "Days of Our Pascal Offerings", "Afikomen Break" (a drama about a lost Afikomen and the angsty attempts of the family to find it and eat it) and "CSI" (Coming Soon to Israel, a show about how ALL the Jews want to make aliyah, and how easy, fun, and economically satisfying it is). There's also "The Cosby Show", about that nasty incident involving Pinchas and public impropriety, but I think that's a more Cinemax niche.

Touche to Arabia - nice work. Darn it.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Kumah NINE Time JIBs Finalist - Vote Now!

UPDATE 5/15:

We have marked the votes that are extremely close. Like 1 vote close! So please vote for those first if that's all you have time for. Thanks!

It's official. Thanks to our loyal Kumah readership Kumah has gone to the finals in every single category that she was nominated in. What's more? Every single Kumah blogger that was nominated through another blog has also made it to the finals in every category they were nominated for. Looking around at the competition in the finals is humbling because it really is unbelievable company to be in. That said we are clearly the underdog that has already gone further than anyone thought we would. It sends a great message that people are excited about the Aliyah Revolution!

And now even more eyes are on us! So let's send an even greater message!

1.To vote click on a link below. (Repeat this for all links.)
A new window should open. (Or right click and "open in new window.")


3.Close the window and right click on the next link...

Kumah's "Shabbat Candle Ladies" post is in the finals for

Best Jewish Religious Post

And Kumah is in the finals for:

Best Group Blog - VERY CLOSE!

Best Slice of Life in Israel Blog

Best Pro-Israel Advocacy Blog

Best Designed - VERY CLOSE!

Best Contribution / Blog that Made a Difference - VERY CLOSE!

Best Jewish Humor Post for Becoming a Real Israeli

Kumah also made it to the finals twice (even with "splitting the vote") in:

Best Live Event Coverage Post - "HOMESH" one is VERY CLOSE!
(Vote for either one.)

Kumah Bloggers In the Finals

Malkah's Eyshet Chayil - Best Kosher Food/Recipe Post (listed as "Chayil.")- VERY CLOSE!

Ze'ev's Israel Perspectives - Best Right-Wing Political Blog

Also, my personal blog Point of Pinchas is in the finals for

Best Personal Blog

Best Photo/Graphics Blog - VERY CLOSE!

Best Picture or Video in a Post
This is for photos I took at a Nefesh B'Nefesh (NBN) flight arrival.


Best Series
This is for my "Only in Israel" Series.

As always, there are links to all of these posts on the respective voting pages if you have time to check them out. Polls close on May 16, 10pm US-EDT.

Thanks again for your support!

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Belated Pesach Sheni Recipe

I don't know about you, but I still have leftover matzah (luckily, my husband will eat it all year round).

Because it was Pesach Sheni (aka: Redo Passover), I decided I would try and make something with matzah to commemorate the special day (it is a custom to eat matzah on Pesach Sheni). I searched the web for matzoh recipes, and found one that ROCKED THE HOUSE!

It's easy, tasty, and uses matzoh - you can't get much better than that.

If you, too, still have leftover matzoh, experiment for next year with this TOTALLY WORTH IT recipe from Epicurious:


An outstanding, unique, and easy confection. If you make only one thing at Passover, make this.

4-6 unsalted matzohs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or unsalted Passover margarine
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup coarsely chopped chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a large (or two smaller) cookie sheet completely with foil. Cover the bottom of the sheet with baking parchment — on top of the foil. This is very important since the mixture becomes sticky during baking.
Line the bottom of the cookie sheet evenly with the matzohs, cutting extra pieces, as required, to fit any spaces.

In a 3-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the butter or margarine and the brown sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil (about 2 to 4 minutes). Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and pour over the matzoh, covering completely.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350°. Bake for 15 minutes, checking every few minutes to make sure the mixture is not burning (if it seems to be browning too quickly, remove the pan from the oven, lower the heat to 325°, and replace the pan).

Remove from the oven and sprinkle immediately with the chopped chocolate or chips. Let stand for 5 minutes, then spread the melted chocolate over the matzoh. While still warm, break into squares or odd shapes. Chill, still in the pan, in the freezer until set.

**Malkah's additional tips: 1. You might want to add a pinch of salt to the ingredients at the beginning. 2. You can sprinkle chopped nuts or coconut on top of the matzahs before the chocolate is set to make it super fancy.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Fun in the Desert

Malkah and I needed some time off so we headed to the desert. Mitzpeh Ramon sits on the Machtesh Ramon Crater - an awesome geological marvel.

While there, we checked out the local attractions, including the Alpaca Farm

Then we went on to do some desert archery - Malkah was very good!!

Archery is fun and helps with concentration

The Avdat Canyon is close by:

Nice to see you!

A little spirituality from Yishai never hurts:

Life in Israel can be tense, and that is why a bit of a vacation is in order. The emptiness of the desert allows one to defrag a bit, and reconnect with the spirit. Oh yeah, great shuls in Mitzpeh Ramon, salt of the Earth type people - I loved it.

Mitzpeh Ramon - small town with a big heart!

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Sound

Just moments ago, the yearly siren sounded signaling the beginning of Yom HaZikaron, Israel's Memorial Day. I come from a place where Memorial Day means an extra 30% off at JCPenney. But tonight in Israel, Memorial Day takes on signficance - I feel the sobriety of the evening.

As I stood in the heavily fragrant (and for people of my immunological sensitivity, pollenated) night of Beit El, hearing the wail of the siren, I was reminded of a thought I've had many times before.

I've always wondered at the great sound that must be heard in Heaven throughout the course of the day. I'm not talking about the cars, construction sites, or squeaky shoes of the world. I mean the giant conglomeration of sound created by the thoughts, sighs, prayers and cries of man (and of course, I often think most specifically about how this pertains to the Jewish people), at all hours, in all places around the world. I've spent time trying to comprehend the magnitude of the collective sound, with predictably little real comprehension.

Tonight, I wondered to myself, "What a tremendous roar of sadness must be heard by G-d at this moment. Right now, right this second, the heartrending sobs of mothers and fathers, of wives and husbands, of children and siblings, the muffled tears of dear friends and comrades, and the silent sorrow of offspring who would never be must be rising up in such a rushing wave of pain - how can Heaven bear the magnitude of Jewish anguish and suffering this night? How can G-d stand to allow one more Jew to die for the sanctification of His name after such an explosion of pain?"

My great hope is that He won't, although I have prayed that prayer before. I believe that in moments, on days like this, G-d has mercy on His children, and is roused by the mightiness of our collective cries to save His people and crush those who hurt them. I pray that together we will raise a great noise to Heaven, that G-d will hear our cries, be overwhelmed by our sound, and redeem us.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Kumah Nominated For 8 JIBs + 6 more JIBs!!!

The 2007 JIB awards are here and Kumah is very honored to be nominated EIGHT times. Round one voting starts Sunday night (Israel time) so check back here for details on how to vote.

Kumah was nominated for the following awards:

  • Best Group Blog
  • Best Pro-Israel Advocacy Blog
  • Best Slice of Life in Israel Blog
  • Best Jewish Religious Post
  • Best Humor Post
  • Best Live Event Coverage Post
  • Best Designed
  • Best Contribution / Blog that Made a Difference

Aside from those, Kumah bloggers (blogging elsewhere) were nominated for another 6 awards.

Malkah's Eyshet Chayil was nominated for Best Kosher Food/Recipe Post

Ze'ev's Israel Perspectives was nominated for Best Right-Wing Political Blog

And your's truly's Point of Pinchas was nominated for Best Personal Blog, Best Photo/Graphics Blog, Best Series, and Best Picture or Video in a Post

Congratulations to the whole team on these well deserved nominations and good luck to everyone!

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Malkah Sends Her Man to Miluim

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

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

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

There are many reasons for my hesitation.

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

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

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

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

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Monday, February 12, 2007

The Hidden Religious People of Jerusalem

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Propaganda - My Fave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That was cute.

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

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

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

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Malkah's Brand New Tu B'Shevat Seder!

There are several good Tu b'Shevat seders available on the internet, which will enable to celebrate the New Year of the Trees and the mystical and delicious fruits of the Land of Israel.

But when searching for one to conduct for myself and my friends this year, I couldn't find one that truly spoke to me.

So I made one.

Thanks to Aish, Yavneh Olami, Ahavat, the Jewish Women's Center of Pittsburgh for their contributions.

I hope you have a holy and meaningful Tu b'Shevat, here in the Land of Israel!


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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Yeah, I'll Move to Israel - When Moshiach Comes!!

As an Aliyah activist, I have been frustrated to the point of lava-hot rage by those who promise to make aliyah when the Messiah, the redeemer of Israel, comes and brings every single last Jew home to the Land of Israel.

If I were the Messiah, I'd be mighty insulted by the idea that my non-presence is used as an excuse to continue life-as-usual in the Exile.

I think I've had some success in talking to Jews about this issue. But I've NEVER heard a better remonstration than that of Aaron Fox on today's Yishai and Malkah Show at Israel National Radio.

Press "Play" below to listen to IsraelNationalRadio's "A View From Haifa"

Send it to all those "Zionists" back in the States.

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