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Thursday, January 21, 2010


Thursday, September 17, 2009

NBN 5769 In Review - Shana Tova!

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Aliyah Photos and Narratives

See the amazing faces and facets of the Ingathering by clicking HERE

Hear 6 and 3/4 old Shoshanna Lapping talk about her Aliyah
Hear the reconstitution of the Fishman family in the Holy Land


This was written by my friends and super inspiring Aliyah-consciousness-raising-machines Rabbi Elan and Rivka Adler:

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Departures and Arrivals

NOTE: This departure narrative was written by my amazing husband, Elan. Some months ago, we decided to split the job of launching our daughter, Ariella, into her new life in Israel. Elan agreed to take on the task of bidding her farewell and I got to receive her here in the Holy Land. For those who don't know our family, Elan, who was born in Israel, is Ariella's step-father (but only in the most technical sense). Shani is her sister. The rest is, I think, self-explanatory.


Hi everyone,

Just an update from our home in Baltimore.

Yesterday I drove Rivkah to Newark airport so she could arrive a day before Ariella's aliyah flight. After a 5 hour delay, Rivkah finally took off and arrived safely today in Israel. Rivkah and her brother Herschel will be joined by several friends at the arrival ceremony at Ben Gurion in just a couple of hours.

Shani and I and her Uncle Brian joined Ariella on the drive to JFK today, as Ariella joined over 200 others on their aliyah flight this afternoon, the last Nefesh b'Nefesh flight of the summer of 2009. We were joined at the airport by Ariella's cousins Sara Nechama, Nochum and their 5-month old baby, Baruch Binyamin.

There is a farewell ceremony, with several speakers, followed by cake and soda, and then came the time no one was looking forward to, saying goodbye to Ariella.

Man, was that tough. Was that ever hard...

It was exactly a year ago when, the night before Ariella was leaving for her year of study in Israel, I told her what will be playing in my head when we bid was the Muppets movie, I think they were in NY, and at the end, when time for departure comes, the characters sing, "It's time for saying goodbye." And then, a year ago, minutes before the last hugs prior to her passing through security, it was, indeed, time for saying goodbye.

But this was very different. Her closet is empty of clothes, her room is mostly bare and devoid of her special touches, and with duffles and backpacks stuffed with what makes her Ariella, she was ready to check in at the El Al counter, seconds away from receiving a boarding pass to the rest
of her life 6000 miles away.

Hugging her and crying, I blessed her and wished her every success and happiness, hesitating to let her go, squeezing her one more time before she belonged to everyone else waiting their turn. I told her that even though we don't share the same genetic material, in less than twelve hours, only she and I will share something special that she shares with no one else in the family- citizenship in Israel.

A few more waves, and blown kisses, and mouthed "I love you"s, and it was....time....for saying........goodbye.

We met when she was 6. I left Israel when I was 6. Now, she is going to my home, to make a home for herself.

L'hitraot, Ariella, may Hashem bless every step you take in your new home.

And may our steps not be far behind.

Love to you, dear friends,


Check out the "Signs of the Times" Aliyah album by clicking HERE



I wasn't sure what to expect from my heart this morning as I waited for the arrival of the plane that brought my daughter Home.

When we first entered the welcoming ceremony, images from the departure ceremony at JFK the day before were rotating on the huge screens in the airport. I got to see pictures of my family, including one shot of the three people I love the most in the whole universe, standing together, larger than life.

As the plane touched down, we were able to watch it live on these same screens. When I saw my daughter, my first-born child, step out of the plane, landing in Israel for the first time as an Israeli citizen, I screamed with joy. Then, with the support of some loving friends who are all Israeli citizens themselves, sharing this miraculous morning with me, I rushed outside to greet her in person.

I didn't have to wait long. Ariella was practically the very first person to get off Tram #1 and walk through the crowds of greeters. Considering how long I waited to greet her at birth (31.5 hours of labor), this was fine compensation indeed.

Trying to catch her eye, I started jumping up and down with excitement and anticipation (not a common emotional response in my middle-aged life). I had kissed her goodbye in Baltimore just two days before, but I could not wait to hug her now.

Today, 25% of my enduring, unrelenting, unshakable aliyah dream came true. And I am a very proud, grateful and jubilant Mom.

Thank You God for bringing my daughter Home.

Ain od milvado. There is truly none besides Him.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Signs of the Time of Ingathering

Check my fantastic new picture essay of the signs of Aliyah!

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Beit El Snow 5769 / 2009

See more of my beautiful snow pictures

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Akiva, summarized it like this:

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

When will they learn? Israel is a Jewish Country!

Here’s what I wrote a year ago:

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

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

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

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

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



Jewish Tradition

Jewish Children

Holy Things

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

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Jerusalem Factor of Purim

Above picture is the Malcha Mall in Jerusalem, decorated for Purim. Click here to see my pictures from the early part of the Kumah Purim Seudah at Kever Shmuel HaNavi.

While I was celebrating Shabbat Purim, the middle of the 3 day Jerusalem Purim celebration this year, I took the time to read the lead tidbit of the OU Israel Center Torah Tidbits. Phil Chernofsky explains how our sages could have just kept Purim as the Galut (exile) holiday it was, but instead put a special emphasis on Jerusalem, essentially turning Shushan Purim into Jerusalem Purim, thereby bringing out the uniqueness of the Geulah (redemption), or Israel, celebration. I'm copying the article below in the full post, or you can read it on OU's website.

And now let's look at the Forest...

There's an expression that's been around for at least 500 years, "can't see the forest (or wood, woods) for the trees". It is defined as, "to focus only on small details and fail to understand larger plans or principles". It is equally true - even without an old saying to back it up - that some people "fail to see the trees for the forest". In Torah Life, there are countless details of halacha and custom - those are the trees, and there are the concepts and the hashkafa that give the practical details a healthy and helpful way of looking at the whole picture. Last week's Torah Tidbits contained an 8-page Pull-Out on Purim, with the major emphasis being on the special situation in Jerusalem this year of Purim M'shulash. Aside from all the details about the mitzvot of Purim, there are the many questions that arise when a Jew finds himself in different places at different time over the two-day period. These we presented last week. Those are the trees. But here is the forest - or, at least, one of the forests to behold.

Why is there a difference in the day of Purim between Yerushalayim (and several other places due to doubt) and everywhere else. And especially this year, when, because of the ban against reading Megila on Shabbat, we in Jerusalem read on Thursday night and Friday, like Jews all over the world. Why didn't our Sages say to move everything to Friday and for this 11% occurrence, we would have Purim on the 14th of Adar? They pulled back Megila. They pulled Matanot La'evyonim with it. Why didn't they go all the way? And even if you want to say that Al HaNisim and Torah reading should stay on the 15th, since there is no objection to their being done on Shabbat, why not pull Seuda and Mishlo'ach Manot back to Friday? They postponed these two aspects to Sunday. To the 16th of Adar. Beyond the two Purim days that the Megila said should not be bypassed.

We are not looking for the simple reason: The Megila tells us that the Jews all over the kingdom fought on the 13th of Adar and rested on the 14th and celebrated on that day. And the Jews in Shushan fought on the 13th and the 14th and rested from their fighting on the 15th and celebrated then. This doesn't address the question as to why the Sages perpetuated the split observance of Purim. There seems to be no imperative to do so. Let's look in the Megila. Although Esther 9:19 tells us: Therefore the Jews in open cities and villages make the 14th of Adar a day of festivities and of sending gifts to one another - what follows seems to suggest that Mordechai's original plan for Purim was different from the way we have it. From 9:20 on we read that Mordechai wrote to Jews throughout Achashveirosh's kingdom - far and near - to accept upon themselves the 14th of Adar AND the 15th of Adar in every year (to come); as days that the Jews rested from their enemies and in the month that was turned from sadness to joy... to make them (plural - the two days of Purim) days (there's the plural again) of parties and festival, and of exchanging gifts one with his fellow, and giving gifts to the poor. And the Jews did accept this on themselves... Look in the Megila; there is repeated reference to these two Purim days - without the distinction that we apply to them.

Why? Or. perhaps, what does this draw our attention to. Even if this isn't THE reason, we certainly have a focus and a message here.

We call it Shushan Purim, but in fact it is Jerusalem Purim. Maybe that's what evolved, but Chazal definitely pushed us in that direction. The always remember the Jerusalem Factor in the Purim story and in the Purim celebration.

Besides Shushan, which is mentioned in the Megila 19 times, there is only one other city named. ISH YEHUDI... There was a Jew who was in Shushan the Capital, and his name was Mordechai ben Yair ben Shim'i, ben Kish, ISH Y'MINI (a Benjaminite). But the description of Mordechai does not end there. Who was exiled from YERUSHALAYIM...

The Purim story happened in Galut, in exile. And more than its venue is the frame of mind of the Jews who lived in that exile. About 70 years had past and already the Jews were so comfortable in their exile that they went to Achashveirosh's parties and enjoyed themselves. The party at which Achashveirosh arrogantly flaunted the plunder of the Beit HaMikdash and paraded around in the holy garments of the Kohen Gadol. It was Mordechai, whose identity is not just a Jew in Shushan. He was also one who was exiled from Jerusalem. The other Jews might have wanted to forget Jerusalem; it might have been more convenient and politically correct to be to be Jewish Persians, to be Shushanites.

But not so very many years before, they swore not to forget Jerusalem. They did, and that's why Haman's sword hung over their heads for almost a whole year.

We, who commemorate and celebrate Purim must keep the Jerusalem Factor in the forefront of our thinking and feeling and reacting to the Purim story.

Our Sages gave us a startling way to do exactly that. First they established a "regular" Purim and a Shushan Purim. Then they gave us the criteria for who keeps the 14th and who keeps the 15th. They did not have to make the Walled City like Shushan rule. They could have kept Shushan Purim for Shushan only. But they didn't. They could have said walled cities from that time, but didn't do that either, because Jerusalem would have been left out. They could have moved Jerusalem's Purim to Friday this year, but they didn't do that either. Because Jerusalem would lose the focus. And it mustn't. What does one do if he goes to Jerusalem at night, in the daytime, etc. What does one do if he travels from Jerusalem, etc. Jerusalem. Jerusalem.

And Jerusalem is not just a city; it is the flagship city of Eretz Yisrael. And that brings us back to the Galut point. Shushan Purim calls attention to Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael. To Zion. People who sit down to their Seuda on Sunday will be acutely aware of Jerusalem's special role in Jewish Life. And so too will Jews elsewhere who are not having their Seuda on Sunday.

Celebration of Pesach includes a "Next year in rebuilt Jerusalem" declaration. The Dayeinu song brings us beyond the Exodus all the way into Eretz Yisrael and to Jerusalem.

So too Purim. IM ESHKACHEICH YERUSHALAYIM, if we forget Jerusalem, TISHKACH Y'MINI, then you might as well forget Mordechai, the Y'MINI, because without the Jerusalem Factor, we miss the point of Purim.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Horrific And Depressing Photos Of The Attack (Graphic)

I did not take the following photos. They are a collection of various media photos and government press office photos which I found posted on a messageboard. I debated if there is any purpose in posting these here. I concluded that they are important for the sole purpose of gaining an understanding of the situation - to see it with our own eyes. To see it and to feel more connected with our holy brothers so that we could daven with the proper kavanah for a speedy redemption and an end once an for all to these atrocities. Tonight our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and indeed all of kal yisrael - since we are all the very same family.

Be warned the photos below are rather graphic and do contain blood. If you do not want to see them - don't scroll down.

Israeli police deployed inside the 'yeshiva,' or Jewish seminary, in Jerusalem on 06 March 2008 after two Palestinians dressed as ultra-Orthodox Jewish yeshiva students entered and shot and killed at least eight Jewish students, wounding another 15, according to Israeli police. The two Palestinians were killed and one was wearing a suicide bomber's belt, which did not explode.
[Later reports said 7 students were murdered, and fewer were wounded - two seriously and that there was only one terrorist. Later reports also said the belt turned out to be for more ammo.-P]

Israeli police detain a suspect as he is led down stairs with a sweatshirt pulled over his head inside the 'yeshiva,' or Jewish seminary, in Jerusalem on 06 March 2008 [I do not know who this "suspect" is or was since later reports said there was only one terrorist who was killed. -P]

Israeli medics rush a seriously wounded young Israeli to an ambulance outside The Wohl Torah Center, a 'yeshiva,' or Jewish seminary, in Jerusalem on 06 March 2008 [Please say tehillim for the wounded. As soon as we have a list of names we will post it. -P]

A handout photograph supplied by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) showsIsraeli medics hold up a prayer shawl soaked in blood that has a bullet hole as they clean up inside the 'yeshiva,' or Jewish seminary, in Jerusalem on 06 March 2008

A handout photograph supplied by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) shows bullet holes and blood stains inside and what appears to be the body of one of the two Palestinian gunmen inside the 'yeshiva,' or Jewish seminary, in Jerusalem on 06 March 2008

More Photos Here...

UPDATE2: Please say Tehillim for Naftali ben Gila from Sderot, Yonatan ben Avital, Shimon ben Tirza, Nadav ben Hadas, Reuven ben Naomi and Elchanan ben Zehava

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Second Snow, Yawn, in Jerusalem (Video & Photos)

A second heavy snowfall hit Yerushalayim today. Unlike last month's this one did not shutdown the city at all. Below is what it looked like...

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Final Thoughts And Photos on the Winter Storm of 5768

As the last few stubborn patches of snow melt away I wanted to share a few more pictures I took and a wonderful thought.

These were taken on Thursday morning which was relatively warm and sunny.

Dogs, kids, just about everyone was playing in the snow.

And the roads slowly turned back to normal.

But I wanted to share something that no one seems to point out.

It’s a truly amazing thing when you see it with your own eyes.

If these pictures don’t prove how rain (and snow) on Eretz Yisrael are a direct gift from our father-in-heaven.

And a most beautiful gift indeed.

Isn’t it?

But just look at this radar capture taken in the midst of the storm. The rain and snow falls literally only within the biblical borders of Eretz Yisrael – and just stops – just like that – as soon as the clouds pass over the border...

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Photos: Snow in Jerusalem

I took the photos below on my way to work today in Jerusalem. Enjoy!

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First Pictures of the Snow Storm

Jerusalem usually gets snow once a winter. Sometimes it'll just be a flurry, sometimes a full storm. During the last month, we've had unseasonably cold temperatures a few times, but without precipitation. This winter has also seen unseasonably little precipitation, which is quite bad. But this week has already been full of precipitation, Baruch Hashem, and now the cold temperatures have caught up with it, which means snow in Jerusalem! It started tonight and is predicted to continue through Thursday morning, making it quite a blizzard for Israeli standards. For the rest of tonight's pictures:

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bush's Israel Welcome

Jerusalem Puts Up Flags that blow in today's rain and fog

Freedom for Pollard organization put up Banners
telling Bush, Nasrallah, and Haniyeh to free their Jewish captives

President Bush is coming to Israel for the first time as president of the USA tomorrow and the city of Jerusalem has gone mad. The country is spending $400,000 to welcome Bush, American as well as Israeli flags have gone up all over Jerusalem, and the city and its residents are bracing themselves for many roads being closed and traffic jams. In the meantime, there have been a few rallies (for freedom for Pollard, an undivided Jerusalem, and more) already this week and more coming up (Thursday night in Kikar Tziyon).

The other day I was stuck in traffic on a bus because the city has rushed to finish some construction projects related to the new train/monorail that will eventually be finished to make Bush's commute easier. I was all the way in front of the packed bus and the driver was complaining about all this craziness for Bush. I told him that I was American and I really couldn't care less that Bush was coming. I said that as an American and an Israeli, I don't feel that the city should drive its residents crazy, even for the arrival of a president I voted for.

I was talking to someone tonight who had an important dental appointment canceled because the office is in 1 of the closed-off-for-Bush areas and the dentist either didn't think it was worth the trouble for him to come in or the patients wouldn't bother coming because it would be too hard to get there.

Another friend and I were talking and were upset that Bush was getting such royal treatment. It's as if our government is treating him like some sort of king or something. We just hope that when Mashiach comes, may that be immediately!, He gets treatment many times greater than this!

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Words Can't Add Anything To These Photos!

20 Photos From Thursday's NBN Winter 2007 Aliyah Flight

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Thursday, December 06, 2007


Pic Script by Yehezkel Laing and it says:
"Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.'" Ezekiel 11;17

Also, check out this Aliyah article called "The Persistence of Vision" by Barry Leff

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Chanukah Night One at Jerusalem Malchah Mall

There is something special about Chanukah in Israel, and I got to start off the holiday feeling it. From lighting a Chanukiyah outside my apartment door with a little girl and her grandmother, to a Chabad Chanukiyah in front of a Kosher Pizza Hut at the mall, restaurant chanukiyot, and of course all the bakeries selling Sufganiyot, Chanukah is a holiday that happily unites all Jews, especially in Israel, whether religious or secular. For more fun details and first night Chanukah experiences, read the full post.

I light my Chanukiyah in the hallway of my apartment, right outside my door, something common in Israel. I happen to be on the ground floor so people going to the elevator will notice if they happen to look the other way. A little girl wearing paper candle crown and her grandmother walked into the building while I was lighting tonight. The grandmother took the girl over and started singing Maoz Tzur with me. Then we sang a few Israeli Chanukah songs with the little girl. Then the grandmother started spinning the girl's cool electric laser dreidel on the stand with my chanukiyah. It's too bad I didn't have my camera out - the little girl was really cute, and her and grandmother really added to my joy of lighting the first candle.

Then I went to the Jerusalem Malchah Mall to celebrate Chanukah with my fiance. The first thing that caught my eye was the big Chabad Chanukiyah by the fountains. Nothing like getting a chanukiyah and a Kosher Pizza Hut in the same picture! While I was putting my camera away, a guy came up to me and asked me to be the 10th man for a Ma'ariv minyan in the mall's synagogue.

After Ma'ariv, we went out to eat at the Korusin, a fancy Chinese restaurant on the top floor. While we were there, the waiters found a few quiet minutes to themselves, took out a chanukiyah, lit it in the window of the restaurant, and sang a bit.

I didn't buy a sufganiyah (jelly donut - 1 of the traditional Chanukah foods) because I was already full, but not because there was any lack - there are a few bakeries in the mall and not only were they selling sufganiyot, but there were even a few stands set up in other parts of the mall selling them.

Finally, in Jerusalem there is no such thing as a Christmas sale, but many of the stores had Chanukah sales.

Chanukah in Israel - the way it should be! Happy Chanukah to all!

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

And she shall be called in Israel...

With much thanks to Hashem, I am happy to share with you that at 10:10am Shabbat Morning, the 7th day of the month of Kislev, 5768 (November 17, 2007), Annie gave birth to a baby girl. Both Annie and our new daughter are doing well - and Hodaya is excited to be a sister.

Being Shabbat, we had the opportunity, a few hours later, during Mincha (afternoon service) to name our daughter.

And she shall be called in Israel... Eliana Racheil.

Eliana means: (My) G-d has answered - a combination of the two Hebrew words, Eli: (My) G-d, and Ana: has answered.

On the most elementary level, It is the hope and prayer of every couple to be blessed with children, and that, in the aftermath of childbirth, that both baby and mother should be well. It is all too easy to forget or take for granted that not every couple has yet to be blessed with children, and not every pregnancy ends well, either for the mother or baby (or both).

So, on this most basic and human level, Eliana - G-d has answered our prayers - and we have been blessed once again with a beautiful baby girl, and that both she and her mother are healthy and happy, if not a bit tired, understandably so.

Racheil comes from our Biblical matriarch Rachel, who happened to be one of the central figures from this past Shabbat's weekly Torah portion - Parshat VaYeitzei.

The Talmud (Niddah 20b) teaches us that when a baby is in the womb, "he / she is taught the entire Torah...". It is not surprising then, having already become familiar with this past Shabbat's Torah portion that Eliana Racheil chose to enter this world specifically on Shabbat Parshat VaYeitzei.

The Hebrew word VaYeitzei means: to go out - and that is precisely what Eliana Racheil did this past Shabbat - she went out of her mother's womb and entered into the world.

Additionally, one of the central themes of Parshat VaYeitzei is that of childbirth. Over the course of the Torah portion, 11 of the 12 sons of Jacob - the Tribes of Israel - are both born and named (another motivation for naming Eliana Racheil over this particular Shabbat), and in addition to the 11 boys born to Jacob, a daughter is also born to him - bringing the total to 12 children born to Jacob over the span of a single Torah portion.

However, in order to fully appreciate and understand the name, one must look at both names together.

There is a Midrash found at the beginning of the Book of Lamentations (Eichah) which recounts the following (copied from
As the Temple lay in ruins and the Jews were being led into exile as slaves, Abraham came before G-d and said: "Master of the universe, when I was 100 years old, you gave me a son, and when he was 37 years old you told me, 'Raise him as a sacrifice before Me.' I overcame my natural mercy and bound him myself. Will You not remember my devotion and have mercy on my children?"

Next, Isaac approached. "When my father said, 'G-d will show us the sheep for a sacrifice, my son,' I did not hesitate but accepted my fate and extended my neck to be slaughtered. Will You not remember my strength and have mercy on my children?"

Then Jacob beseeched: "I worked for twenty years in the house of Laban and when I left, Esau came to harm me. I suffered all my life raising my children. Now they are being led like sheep to the slaughter in the hands of their enemies. Won't you remember all my pain and suffering and redeem my children?"

Moses rose up and said: "Was I not a loyal shepherd of Israel for forty years? I ran before them in the desert like a horse. When the time came to enter Israel, You decreed that I would die in the desert. Now they go into exile. Won't You listen to my crying over them?"

Before all these virtuous defenders, G-d remained silent.

Then Rachel lifted her voice, "Master of the Universe, You know that Jacob loved me intensely and worked for seven years in order to marry me. When the time of my marriage came, my father substituted my sister for me. I did not begrudge my sister and I didn't let her be shamed; I even revealed to her the secret signs that Jacob and I had arranged.

"If I, a mere mortal, was not prepared to humiliate my sister and was willing to take a rival into my home, how could You, the eternal, compassionate G-d, be jealous of idols, which have no true existence, that were brought into Your home? Will You cause my children to be exiled on this account?"

Immediately, G-d's mercy was aroused and He responded, "For you, Rachel, I will bring Israel back to their place."

This Midrash is based on the verses found in the Book of Jeremiah (31: 15 - 17):
So has the Lord said: In Ramah there is a sound of crying, weeping and bitter sorrow; Rachel weeping for her children; she will not be comforted for their loss. The Lord has said this: Keep your voice from sorrow and your eyes from weeping: for your work will be rewarded, says the Lord; and they will come back from the land of their hater. And there is hope for the future, says the Lord; and your children will come back to the land which is theirs.

Returning to the name, Eliana Racheil...

Eliana Racheil is our 2nd child, and our 2nd child to be born in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish People. Annie and I have been blessed to make our home and start our family here, in the Land of Israel, and have our children born in Jerusalem, something which, today, is also something, B"H, that is easy to take for granted.

In response to our matriarch Rachel's tears on seeing the Jewish People led into exile, G-d promised her that "your children (the Jewish People) will return to their borders (the Land of Israel)".

Annie and I, along with Hodaya Leah and Eliana Racheil (and the many other Jews who have returned to the Land of Israel - who have returned home) are the living fulfillment of G-d's promise to Rachel - Eliana Rachel - G-d has answered Rachel's prayer - the Jewish People are coming home.

It is our hope and prayer, in giving our new daughter this name, Eliana Racheil, that she follow in the footsteps of her namesake, Racheil Imeinu, who serves as the embodiment of dedication and self-sacrifice on behalf of the Jewish people, and that our Eliana Racheil devote herself to bringing about the redemption of the Jewish People - may we merit to see it speedily in our - and Eliana Racheil's - lifetime.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Comet Over Jerusalem - Mah Rabu Ma'asechah Hashem!

For those who have been following astronomy news of late, something caused a megaburst from Comet 17P/Holmes over 3 weeks ago, which shot 100 million tons of dust into space around the comet. This has made it visible to the naked eye, and especially visible with binoculars or a zoom lens. I took a few pictures of it in the sky above Jerusalem this week. It's the big fuzz-ball (the fuzz being all the dust).
For more info and close up pictures: Sky and Telescope Magazine
For more of my pictures: Facebook Album

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Shabbat Shalom!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Guess What I Spotted On My Way Home?

I guess it's not unusual to spot flashing lights and blaring music and other strange things on the street at the end of October. What about children running around with torches? Well last week on my way home from work this is what I spotted.

(Thank Ezra for teaching me to always carry around a camera.) It was a Hachnosas Sefer Torah - a dedication for a new Torah scroll - and it's a very ordinary occurrence in Yerushalayim and all over Eretz Yisrael! Borach Hashem!

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Hoshana Rabbah: More Water at the Kotel?

Tonight, Hashana Rabbah, I visited the Kotel for Mishna Torah - where we read the entire sefer Devarim. Standing in one spot for so long I couldn't help notice something a little unusual.I was standing inside the section known as Wilson's Arch and every ten minutes or so a drop of water would fall from the ceiling. There was one poor guy sitting there that kept getting hit by these drops looking up and wondering where they came from. On my way out I saw another drop fall from another spot in the arch area closer to the exit. Don't get me wrong. It was just a few drops over a long time but considering we haven't had rain in six months it is strange.

Where could these drops be coming from?

Two years ago I remember reading in the Jerusalem Post a story complete with photos of water flowing out of the Kotel. Reb Lazar wrote about it and explain that it was no doubt water from the Gihon river (which gets a cameo appearance in the Torah reading this Shabbos) which lies directly beneath the Dome of the Rock. That wouldn't be too far from the Wilson's Arch area at all - and water would flow down toward there as water always flows down.

Reb Lazer explains:
As mentioned in the previous post on this subject, by Islamic tradition, if the Gihon spring begins to rise on the Temple Mount, it signifies the beginning of Jewish redemption; if Yisrael must rise, then Yishmael must fall. By our own tradition, the moisture at the Western Wall of the Holy Temple indicates the impending redemption of the people and land of Israel, the rebuilding of the Temple and the coming of Moshiach ben David, speedily and in our time, amen.

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rav Avraham Shapira, ZT"L

Rav Avraham Elkanah Kahanah Shapira, 94, one of the Gedolei HaDor (Torah giants of our generation), Rosh Yeshivah (Dean) of Merkaz HaRav (the Yeshivah Rav Kook started) for the last 25 years, former chief rabbi of Israel (1983-1993), passed away on Yom Tov (the only day in Israel - Thursday) and was buried on Friday (Chol HaMoed in Israel). Click here to read more about him. Here are 5 albums of 300 pictures I posted from the funeral, which started at his yeshivah in Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem and proceeded past Binyanei Ha'Umah (the International Convention Center), up Sarei Yisrael (Ministers of Israel) Street, turned on Malchei Yisrael (Kings of Israel) Street through the Chareidi/Chassidic Ge'ulah neighborhood, past the former location of the yeshivah (Beit HaRav Kook - Rav Kook's house), along Yafo, Shlomtzion HaMalkah, Agron Streets, around the walls of the Old City, and finally to Har HaZeitim (Mount of Olives) for his final resting place, overlooking Har HaBayit (Temple Mount):
Album 1
Album 2
Album 3
Album 4
Album 5

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Road Trip - From the Golan to Beit El

After Rosh Hashanna Malkah and I drove back home to Beit El from our friends new house (above) located on Moshav Yonatan in the Golan. We decided to take pictures from the car so that you could see the beauties of the land! This is our Israel-style road trip, enjoy:

Golan Rt. 98

More Rt. 98

Afik Junction Rt. 789

Going down 789

Me and Malkah having fun!

First View of Kinneret on 789

Our Alps

Nice eh?

Close to Ein Gev on Rt. 92

Stop at Kinneret

At Tsemach Junction in Jordan Valley

Best Meatballs - Beit Shaan

Cliffs on the Alon Road

Open Spaces on the Alon Road

Mehora - Lone Community

Looking out on the Jordon Valley

The Shiloh Valley

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Fatah Gets Hip

What Abu Mazen won't do to make his brand of Jew-killing-while-receiving-training-from-the-Americans-and-money-from-Israel hip.

(Photos: AP's Jihadist stringers)

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

One Flight Closer to Redemption

Another plane full of Nefesh B'Nefesh Olim landed this morning, the last charter flight of the 7 this summer. Former Chief Rabbi of Israel and current Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau was there to greet the olim, along with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and many others. You can read more about it here. Here are links to my 6 photo albums:
Album 1
Album 2
Album 3
Album 4
Album 5
Album 6

A Torah Scroll also made aliyah:

Chief Rabbi Lau:

Prime Minister Olmert:

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Chabad Hachnasat Sefer Torah at Kotel

There are many things I love about Israel. One of them is the random things you can bump into during a normal day. Today I was randomly at the Kotel. I try to go there at least once a month to recharge my spiritual batteries. Today's trip was prompted by friends who were there and wanted me to meet up with them. While I was davening Minchah (praying the afternoon service), music starts blasting and a large group of people start marching down carrying a new Torah - Chabad was ushering in a new Torah scroll to the Western Wall. When I finished davening, I joined the dancing for a little while. Unfortunately I didn't have my good camera on me, so these pictures are from my cell phone camera. See the full post for more:

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Secret Weapon of the IDF

All the nations of the world will see that G-d's Name is associated with you, and they will be in awe of you. (Devarim 28:10).

Menachot 35b interprets this verse as a reference to the tefillin worn on the head.

When the Gentiles see the Jews proudly attired in tefillin, they respect them. Tefillin cast an aura of fear over Israel's foes. Even demons and spirits will tremble in fright (Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 5a).

The first letters of Shem Hashem Nikrah, "G-d's Name is associated," spell out the name of the letter SHiN. A Shin bolts out of either side of the head tefillin. It is the first letter of Sha-D-I. (Baal HaTurim).

"Tefillin are G-d's crown... Whoever dons this crown will become the ruler below, as G-d is the ruler above" (Zoher III 269b).

Similarly, Berachot 56a maintains that a person who sees tefillin in his dreams will soon rise to power. Berahot (6a) interprets "G-d's powerful arm" (Isaiah 62:8) as tefillin. "Tefillin grant power to Israel."

Accordingly, it has always been customary for Jewish soldiers to observe the mitzvah of tefillin with great care.

Text taken from Meam Loez on Ki Tavo p. 150. Photos collected from the Internet.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Few Photos From Around Town

This is the First Rimmon - Pomegranate - Growing Outside My House

Gelato Ice Cream in Town

Rabbi Chaim Richman, International Director of the Temple Institute

Hebrew Labor Moving Company

Hebrew Mover

Homeless in Jerusalem (maybe better than homeful in galut...)

Cranes Build Jerusalem Unceasingly

The Good Jews of the Land

Burger King is Kosher

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

THIS Year In Jerusalem!

The Chagim are coming! Every year here at Kumah we post pictures of how amazing the Chagim are here in Eretz Yisrael and every year I have the same thoughts. "It would have been cooler if we could post these awesome photos before the Chag to encourage people to make Aliyah before the Chag." Not just post them after it's all over! So this year I'm getting a head start. I'm posting some photos I took a couple of years ago... but don't worry you could be sure to expect the same wonderful chag here this year (or should Moshiach arrive an even more wonderful one, of course!)

Well if there was a lulav shortage you couldn't tell by visiting the "Arabah Minim Shuk" (Four Species Market)on Rachov Strauss...

There were "Simchot Beit Hashoavot" (Sukkot Parties) all over the Land. Here's the band "Simply Tsfat" playing at Shappel's.

And of course the traditional "Birchot Cohanim" at the Kotel where thousands of people from all over our Land are "Oleh Regel" and "rise up" to visit Jerusalem. Here the Cohanim bless us.

(Photo Credit: Woman Section Photos taken by "Leah").

Rain Threatened...

...But the sun persevered.

The Chief Rabbis were on hand...

...and in the Sukkah nearby.

A concert in the Old City's "Rova."

Ahh...cotton candy and popcorn. It must be Sukkot!

Singing and dancing at the Mir Yeshiva...

And at any of the many random enormous Sukkot around...

Sometimes even with a "Rebbe."

Yep... cotton candy and popcorn.

And at the Kotel on Hoshana Rabba Night...

...reading "Sefer Davarim" for the traditional "Mishana Torah" custom...

...While at Jerusalem's Great Synagogue Rav Herschel Schecter teaches Torah as part of the custom to learn Torah all night.

THIS Year - experience it LIVE!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

More Nefesh B'Nefesh Olim!

Mazal Tov to the latest Nefesh B'Nefesh Olim! The 6th charter flight of the summer landed today with 225 new Olim! Click here for an article with lots of my pictures. For the full set, check out my 4 Facebook albums:
Album 1,
Album 2,
Album 3,
Album 4

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Feel Good Zionist Photos

This shot from space was sent to be by Shmuel Goldman and it is said to be a brand new photo from the Shuttle Endeavour. (Click on the photo to enlarge)

This pic of myself blowing the shofar at the NBN flight arrival this week was taken by Jacob Richman and can be found along with tons of other Aliyah photos on his site.

This photo was in a YNET article about Professor Hille Weiss and Hebron. It was taken when we went to protest Peace Now's pro-eviction rally in Hebron a few months ago. You can see myself on the left and Jonny Stein on the right. The caption in the YNET piece reads: "Rightists protest Hebron evacuation"

Also: check out this wonderful A7 article about the NBN arrival for more awesome pics.


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Sunday, August 05, 2007


It's always exciting to see Olim coming off the Aliyah plane wearing their own custom made T-shirts. On the last flight one family wore shirts that said this:

(Kudos to Yechiel for snapping these photos!)

More of Yechiel's photos can be viewed here, here, and here.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Why Do "Secular" Jews Come Home?

David Wainer filed this piece in yesterday's Jerusalem Post.

I have just two comments.

1. Of course secular Jewish Aliyah must be supported! Nay, encouraged! And for the very reasons Mr. Wainer writes about - so that these Jews don't completely lose their Jewish identity. (And for a reason he didn't give - so that the entire Jewish nation can dwell our promised land - the way G-d told us it would be!)

2. However claiming that as the reason these Jews themselves choose to return Home really makes absolutely no sense at all! Well, almost. I don't agree it's a conscience consideration - however I certainly would agree there is something that does play a strong role... a little something called Pintele Yid.

The article follows:

(Photos in this blog post are ones I took at yesterday's NBN ceremony.)

Yes to secular aliya
david wainer, THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 31, 2007

Recently in Jerusalem, a dinner conversation with friends from the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies turned into an impassioned discussion about secular aliya.

While enjoying our vegetarian Shabbat dinner, Deborah, 21, modern Orthodox from Wisconsin, scoffed at the fact that her friend had just made aliya from Miami to Tel Aviv. This friend is completely secular and "despises" religion. "He's enthralled by secular modernity and the Western way of life," she said.

So why, she wondered, bother leaving the comforts of America, where opportunities are limitless and terrorism - for the most part - is an ocean away to come to Tel Aviv? And, anyway, why come to the Holy Land only to live in the "decadence" of Tel Aviv?

Deborah's impetuous argument stirred a heated debate, and warranted a particular response from me, a secular Jew, which I now relay:

FIRST, IT'S important to note that although I don't agree with Deborah, statistics do. In 2005, as the second intifada began to wane, Israel welcomed a record number of olim from North America. Nefesh B'Nefesh brought over 3,000 immigrants. Seventy percent of the arrivals identified themselves as Orthodox, 15% as Conservative, 10% said they were Reform, but a mere five percent were secular or unaffiliated.

These numbers are understandable. To the observant Jew of whatever stream, Israel is the most precious place on earth. Israelis are perceived as special people; the Western Wall isn't just a wall, and fast food is not just fast food - it's kosher. But what impetus do secular Jews have to make aliya?

Start with the fact that the founders and most influential thinkers of modern Zionism were all secular. Theodor Herzl, Max Nordau, and Ze'ev Jabotinsky were as cosmopolitan and secular as Deborah's secular friend.

If they were so acculturated, why the desire to create a Jewish state? Answer: anti-Semitism.

Alarmed by the Dreyfus Affair and the universality of anti-Semitism, the founding Zionists all agreed that the Jewish soul needed to be liberated and made safe. In Herzl's words: "It is true that we aspire to our ancient land. But what we want in that ancient land is a new blossoming of the Jewish spirit."

Herzl was cognizant that Jews were second-class citizens; and whether they were in imminent physical peril in the Pale of Settlement or constrained by more genteel discrimination in Western Europe, Jews needed a place where they could determine their own culture and live their lives in fulfillment.

And in Jabotinsky's words: "What we see around us among Jews is merely the outcome of arbitrary action perpetrated by others. Only after removing the dust accumulated through 2,000 years of exile, of galut, will the true, authentic Hebrew character reveal its glorious head."

In order to be redeemed, Jabotinsky argued, the Jew would first need to be liberated from the dangers of European Jew-hatred.

These Zionists' premonitions proved only too accurate. Half a century after Herzl's death almost all of European Jewry had vanished.

But today, for the most part, the Jew living in America or Europe is under no physical threat. Yarmulke-wearing Jews can live comfortably throughout the Western world while enjoying the perks of a first-world lifestyle.

TODAY, IT is the secular Jew living in America who is in cultural peril. And assimilation is the imminent threat to his or her Judaic existence.

In Israel, if a youth rebels against his or her traditional upbringing, wanting to pursue a more secular life-style, he or she can escape to Tel Aviv. There they might not keep Shabbat or kosher anymore. But they'll be present when the siren goes off on Holocaust Remembrance Day. They will speak Hebrew. They will still take off work for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur - even if it's to take a three-day cruise to Turkey.

And chances are they'll marry another Jew.

In Israel, being Jewish is organic; in America it is not.

In America, a cosmopolitan Jew who is completely secular and not culturally connected to a Jewish community has no connection to our people. So in New York City, Los Angeles or London, such a Jew would have little reason to have a Shabbat dinner or take off work for Rosh Hashana.

Falling in in love with a non-Jew is a very real possibility. And, over the generations, those Jews' lineage would likely come to an end. Thus, the secular Jew, no longer attached by faith, also risks detachment from tradition and peoplehood by living in America.

BEING JEWISH in America requires a special effort. Although most of the Jews making aliya from America today are affiliated with some branch of Judaism, it is secular Jews who need Israel the most. Only Israel can save them from long-term cultural decline. Only in Israel can they redefine what it means to be a Jew.

In response to Deborah and those who don't understand why a secular Jew would leave Miami for Tel Aviv, the answer is quite straightforward: to remain Jewish. In Israel, regardless of ethnicity, whether Orthodox or secular, right-wing or left-wing, gay or straight, each Jew constitutes - as described by Shimon Peres in his inaugural speech as president - one of the "fine threads of fabric that weave us together as a nation."

The writer was raised in Rio de Janeiro and recently graduated from Boston University. He is a media fellow at the Israel Project in Jerusalem this summer.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Memorial A Year Later

On this date 1 year ago, 3 Israeli soldiers were killed in a Hizbullah ambush. 1 of the 3 soldiers was an American whose dream was to serve in the IDF, and even cut short a family vacation back in his old home in Pennsylvania to join the army in last summer's war. Here are a few articles about Michael: JPost, YNet, a friend's memorial page, etc. I attended a memorial service at Har Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem this afternoon Yonatan Einhorn Z"L, but unfortunately had to leave before the one for Michael Levin Z"L started. Here are some pictures of Yonatan's memorial and Michael's grave:




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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Aliyah Summer 2007 Begins: Photos Tell The Story

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Few Pre-Shabbat Pics

Old-School "Hebrew Watermellon"

Yosef from Brooklyn took us out for steak - life is good!!

"Israel Hangs in the Balance" - with every mitzva we tip the scale!

A giant engagement cookie - courtesy of Herbie Dan Bakery in Beit El

"Free Pollard" spray-painted in Jerusalem

Free Palestine NOW!

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Cherry Picking Pics

Click here to see the full photo album.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sun in Jerusalem

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

More pictures:

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Did You See Venus and the Moon Together?

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

As seen from Amman

As seen from Cairo

As seen from Bahrain

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

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

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

This is my long exposure, hand shaking shot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, June 18, 2007

I Graduated Machon Lev!

I graduated college in Israel!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sweet Cherries

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

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

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

40 Years Ago

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pictures from Mea Shearim

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

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

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

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

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

A majestic palm adorns a building in Mea Shearim

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

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Summer Thunder Showers... in Jerusalem

The unusual rainy spring weather continues... I didn't have an umbrella but I did have my camera!

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Yom Yerushalayim Photo Essay

A week and a half ago was the 40th anniversary of the re-unification of Jerusalem. There were all sorts of events in Jerusalem on and around the 28th of Iyar to celebrate. I participated in a few of them - I was at the Kotel at night for a festive prayer service and dancing; went to Hebrew University's Student Night concert; joined some other Kumah bloggers, recent Olim, and yeshivah students at a festive Shacharit as Rav Kook's House, featuring Shlomo Katz leading a musical Hallel; marched for part of the RikuDegalim (flag dancing parade) from Kikar Tziyon through Sha'ar Shechem and part of the way to the Kotel. I'm saving a few pictures of some reclaimed Jewish apartments in the Arab Quarter for a later post, but here are 28 (not intentionally, but coincidentally in honor of the 28th of Iyar which is Yom Yerushalayim) pictures from these festivities.

At the Kotel the night of Yom Yerushalayim - the soldiers are volunteers from South Africa (if I remember correctly)

The Old City and parts of the new city lit up for the 40th Anniversary

This banner means "Jerusalem [with 3 letters in the middle, which by themselves mean 'mine', italicized], something special for everyone":

Hebrew University's Student Night (part of their 2 day Student Day) Concert, featuring Shalom Hanoch and Aviv Gefen, among others

Shlomo Katz leads a musical Hallel at Rav Kook's House with his guitar and yeshivah students sing and dance

RikuDegalim - flag dancing parade

It rained quite a bit (odd weather for the season) and it left a big reflecting puddle at the end of Yafo Street

Entering through the Damascus Gate - Sha'ar Shechem

Dancing through the Arab Quarter of the Old City

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pre-Shavuos Photos

Visited the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens today. Here are some photos...

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Yerushalayim Wins the Championship!

At first I was debating whether or not to post this on Kumah, because even though this is about Israel's soccer champion, 40 people were injured, including 2 teenagers severely in riots after last week's Beitar Yerushalayim soccer game. But the championship celebration Sunday night, as the local Jerusalem team won the Israeli championship during the week of celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the re-unification of Jerusalem, was a special Jerusalem experience and showed that even in a secular setting, Jerusalemites look to G-d.

I wouldn't have even been in the area of Gan Sacher if I didn't play a weekly softball pick-up game Sunday nights from 10-midnight. We were warned that a party would be going on before and during our game so we should come early to find parking. A game that if Beitar Yerushalayim won would clinch them 1st place and the championship of the Israel soccer league against Hapoel Tel Aviv was displayed on many large screens that were set up in the park adjacent to our softball field (Kraft Stadium name for the Jewish owner of the New England Patriots who donated the money for it). During our game, Beitar Yerushalayim scored a goal in the 93rd minute to complete a comeback and win 2-1. The park erupted! Fireworks were shot off for 10 minutes, then music started blasting for the rest of the night. When our softball game ended I walked over to join the fun. There were probably at least 50,000 fans throughout the night, many who stayed very late, even a decent number of religious (even a few chareidim) celebrating. I took many pictures and as I was shooting, people kept asking me to take pictures of them that I emailed to a few of them later (1 even bought me ice cream for my services). The whole team came on their way back from the Ramat Gan stadium and ran on to the stage, and sang their theme song. I was pleasantly surprised when their theme song turned out to be Mordechai Ben David's Ma'aminim! "We are believers, sons of believers, and we don't have upon whom to rely except our Father in Heaven!" One of the singers who performed throughout the night wore a kipah and sang from Tehillim (Shabchi Yerushalayim) and Shir HaShirim. The speakers and players kept thanking Hashem and praying to be back again next
year, with Hashem's help. It was a very unique kind of "ticker-tape-parade" equivalent, just a whole community party in the park. It felt like a big family celebrating a special occasion together. I was at the Yankees ticker-tape-parade after the 2000 World Series, but I think this was more meaningful. For more pictures, go here, here, and here.

Fans wave Yellow and Black scarves (the thing to buy for an Israeli soccer team comparable to the purpose of a baseball cap in America)
Championship Banner
Players Arrive

Players Spray Champagne on Fans

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Exclusive Photos: Dozens of Leading Rabbis Make Aliyah to the Temple Mount

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Lag Ba'Omer Night in Yerushalayim

I did not make it up to Meiron last night, but Yerushalayim has its fair share of bonfires too. I saw a lot more bonfires from my friend's car window than I was able to photograph, but here's a 3-4 story high one outside the Chevron Yeshivah (you can find history about it in this biography of former Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Yechezkel Sarna ZT"L) in Givat Mordechai, the smoke floating around Gan Sacher (actually taken 2 years ago, but I saw pretty much the same site last night), and a very small sample of Har Nof (2 out of 100s):

Small neighborhood bonfire
The Big Bonfire with a kid posing to show how large it was
Putting on the Lighter Fluid
Starting to Light
Starting to Light
Catching Fire
Bright Fire
Chevron Students Dancing and Singing Bar Yochai
People Must Stand Away as Fire Heats Up the Whole Block
People Must Stand Away as Fire Heats Up the Whole Block
Bonfire with Lights of Jerusalem in the Background
Flames Higher than Buildings
Dancing with the Flames in the Background
Burning in the Fire
Smokey Mist Rising from Gan Sacher (from 2 years ago, but same scene last night as we drove by)
Chabad Mobile in style for Lag Ba'Omer
Chabad Mobile in style for Lag Ba'Omer
Side of the Road in Har Nof
Starting to Walk Down to Ya'ar Yerushalayim
In the Middle of the Jerusalem Forest

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Caption Contest

Fox News is running a caption contest. This is the photo:

Fox uses this caption: "Maybe the taco wasn't the best idea for lunch, Tzipi."

Lots of readers have submitted their own. My favorite so far came from a reader named Heather who sent in:

"Man tough crowd... its not like I gave away our land geez!"

Read them all here.

And submit your own right here in our comments!

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

While You Were BBQing... (Disturbing Photo Warning)

The following is an AP photo that appeared in papers and websites around the globe.

This is the caption that ran with it:
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish followers of Neturei Karta burn an Israeli flag against Israel's Independence Day in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem, Tuesday, April 24, 2007. Neturei Karta, which means 'Guardians of the City', is a small group of Haredi Jews who oppose Zionism and believe that Jews are forbidden to have their own state until the coming of the Messiah. Israel is celebrating its annual Independence Day, marking 59 years since the founding of the state in 1948. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Yom HaZikaron Photo Essay

It has been a very meaningful Israeli Memorial Day. I was hoping to have time to put all my pictures on the blog, but unfortunately I only had time to add them to a Facebook album. Very worthwhile - many pictures from Har Herzl today. Read the comments for the pictures too. IY"H I'll do a more extensive photo essay here on the blog later. Click here for the pictures: Yom HaZikaron Photo Album

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Yom HaZikaron 5767

You can feel the heaviness of the day. It's nothing at all like Memorial Day in America - which to most Americans is simply about sales and the beginning of Summer. Here almost all Israelis know of one (or sadly more) soldier personally that fell so that Israel could be. Here it's personal.

The flag on the Knesset is lowered to half staff (above.) And the nation grinds to a halt to remember who made this all possible as the siren sounds (below.)

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Students on Strike!

In Israel, it is normal for there to be a strike. It seems that certain workers are often not paid or not paid enough. For instance, high school teachers are having on and off strikes these days. But this post is about university students, most (some 250,000) of whom have not returned to school after their Pesach vacation. A government appointed commission to discuss changes in the education system is reportedly planning on raising college tuition substantially (tuitions in Israel are government regulated) and understandably, students are not happy about this. Thus they have decided to stop going to their classes. The strike is due to enter its 11th day Sunday. You can read more here and here. The college that I'm attending (and graduating from in a month and a half G-dwilling), Machon Lev - Jerusalem College of Technology has joined the National Union of Israeli Students in striking. Here are some pictures of strike signs and strike day activities (from singing and dancing Bezalel students at Kikar Tziyon to a Machon Lev blood drive):

right: higher education is not only for the rich
left: they're dancing on our account

My father is not called Olmert, on a picture of Olmert's face

right: I just wanted to learn
left: it's impossible to privatize the soul

left: You have to think about [play on Hebrew words] educational finances
right: Olmert sign, see above

We don't want to strike, we have to!

singing and shouting

Don't milk the students! Give a future to higher education!

box 1: Hey Dad! I need extra pocket money!
box 2: No problem son, how much? 10, 20, 30?
box 3: Yes... 30 thousand!!!
text: Future: Next year you will pay 30,000 NIS (New Israeli Shekels) tuition.

Singing in Kikar Tziyon

Dancing students perform in Kikar Tziyon

My father is not called Olmert. I don't have 30,000 NIS for tuition!

Music student poses with sign: They want us to stop singing - students from the Academy for Music and Dance in Jerusalem [abbreviated]

The protest and performance in Kikar Tziyon

Yuli Tamir [Education Minister], get out of our wallet!

Yuli Tamir, Education Problem [play on words with minister - tzarat instead of sarat]

Machon Lev's Campus with protest signs

Signs on a Machon Lev bulletin board alerting students to the strike and warning them that if anyone goes to class, they will ruin it for everyone, the tuition will go up - the education budget was decreased and so too the level of education and we will eat it.

Blood drive sign, Magen David Adom blood mobile reflection.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

There's No Place Like Home

Unfortunately, I spent Pesach in New York this year, but at least it was with my parents who still live there. I returned to Israel Monday morning. Now I'm sure that most countries have some sort of welcome sign when you land there, but I enjoy the greetings at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel so I took some pictures of it.
The following picture is an advertisement for the Orange cell phone company, but it can be used as an advertisement for any Jew to make Aliyah. It means: "London is cultural, Bangkok is lively, New York is trendy, Barcelona is sexy, Prague is gorgeous, Tokyo is surprising, but, there's no place like home!

Here are a few more pictures, including a few from the flight:

The 1st greeting upon exiting the plane and entering the terminal

In memory of the 1st Israeli Astronaut, Ilan Ramon

I think this a satellite image of the Sinai Peninsula, and any part of Israel included is under the clouds

Now some Israel flight pictures:
For the record, I didn't pay for business class, but El Al was overbooked in coach and underbooked in business, and I'm a "matmid" (frequent flyer club) member, so they bumped me up and it was amazing!
Here's some people davening on the plane

Israeli Coast

Tel Aviv

The plains just before landing

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Yom Hashoah Thought, The Day After

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

Think about that.

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

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

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Yom HaShoah in the Air and Siren at the Airport

I returned home to Israel this morning. First I'd like to give credit to El Al, the Israeli airline, for commemorating Yom HaZikaron L'Shoah V'LeGvurah (Holocaust Memorial Day) - My flight (which was supposed to take off at 2:30 PM but was delayed by a big storm - "nor'easter") took off around 5 PM. After the first cycle of movies, it was around the 7:30 PM, which was about the time of sunset, and thus the start of Yom HaShoah. At that point, El Al changed its movie schedule and showed only Holocaust related movies the rest of the trip (Life is Beautiful and Everything Is Illuminated).
We were supposed to land at 7:30 AM Israel time, but when we got delayed, I was worried we might still be in the air for the siren. Baruch Hashem we managed to get in at 9:38 AM. By 10, I was in the terminal, looking out from above the area with all the duty free stores and restaurants where people wait before boarding their flights. Then the siren went off and everyone stopped. People walking with coffee, the cleaning people, waiters, and everyone else (except a few kids who didn't know better) stopped in their spots, stood up if they were sitting, and listened and remembered. Here are some pictures:

Before the siren

I just noticed that the floor has a Magen David (Jewish star) outline - cool!

During The Siren

The waiters and waitresses actually stopped in these positions

The guy with the coffee stopped too

The siren started at 10 and lasted a few minutes

Even the cleaning person stopped

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Photo Essay: As The Siren Sounds

My Yom HaShoah Photo Essay: As the Siren Sounds

(Thanks Pinchas for sending in a photo from the GS)

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

From Neve D. to Sde B.

One beautiful sunny morning, in Sde Boaz, the HaLevi family decided that it was simply a crime to stay indoors. They had persuaded the Brenner family all the way from Neve Daniel (about a two minute drive away) to join them on a short hike, and get to know the outskirts of Sde Boaz. And so- we went on our journey, and Ezra and Miriam turned out to be quite good tour guides.

We said we would meet at the Ma'ayan (spring) next to Sde Boaz. Ezra had explained to us how to get there, but we still got lost and found ourselves wandering around a vineyard. We didn't mind because the view was absolutely amazing! We eventually found our way back with the help of Ezra calling us from beyond the fence.

The cold clean water of the spring felt really good, and we sat around and talked for a little while, but it was really difficult to get Ze'evi, our son, to stop throwing rocks into the spring, so we decided to move on.

As we walked on the dirt road and admired the view we passed a well (or a cistern, I'm not sure), and then our tour guides showed us an ancient mikve full of water, that they and the Neve Daniel youth had excavated.

At the end we were invited to their house and Ezra made the best matzah-brei we have ever tasted!

Thank you Ezra and Miriam- you guys rock!!!!

Here are some photos of our day in the coolest Yishuv ever: Sde Boaz.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Photos and Free Orange Minutes!

I always say the first sign that I'm not Home is when I get into the terminal at JFK airport and reach for the mezuzah and it's not there! Just last week I was in the Post Office and the clerk wished me a "Chag Samayach!" That's what I'm talking about. Home!

You know what I mean. Speaking of which... Orange is giving its customers 200 FREE minutes on Pesach (see details below) as a holiday gift. Awesome! Home!

Here are some photos I took of our beautiful Land on the way out. I miss you already and will be back soon.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pre-Pesach Preparations Israel-style!

Malkah shops for Kosher-for-Pesach food - here is some Holy Mama Chicken

...and there is all kinds of Matza

For those who still don't eat Kitniyot - it is marked well on packages

And all kinds of sweet cakes to supplement the Matza

and of course...

Now it's time for the traditional Arutz-7 Matza bake - here Baruch is manning the oven

Ezra cuts the dough into workable pieces

Boaz takes out his aggession on innocent dough

Binyamin is wild with the Pesach bat

Kumah wishes you a happy Pesach - the holiday of EXODUS!

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Sderot - Kassam Battered, But Still Blossoming - Photo Essay

Two Fridays ago, I spent the day in Sderot as part of a Yavneh Olami Shabbaton (our group was made up young olim and post-high school students studying in Israel for the year, and we were in Kibbutz Ein Tzurim for Shabbat - IY"H I'll post pictures from there within the next few days). We saw different parts of the city, including the police station which has remains of hundreds of Kassam rockets, the center shopping area where rocket damage can still be seen, and school buildings with special protective coverings. It seems like a Cabinet Committee should be calling what's going on now a war instead of debating last summer's war title.

But we also saw the Yeshivah, which is prospering, and even building a new Beit Medrash building, and we saw people on the street, shops and restaurants open (I had a good shwarma),and we saw some beautiful flowers and trees blossoming as Rosh Chodesh Nisan is now upon us.

Rabbi Yehoshua says in Gemara Rosh HaShanah 11A, "In Nisan we were redeemed [from Egypt], in Nisan in the future, we will be redeemed." Let's hope we see the redemption this year and can focus on the blossoming and see an end to the war!
Now here's Sderot:

The police station

The Kassam remains behind it

Life goes on - a basketball rolls by the Kassam remains

Damage around the city center

Protective covering for parts of school buildings

Trees and flowers blossoming in Sderot

Sderot, the city:
Our Yavneh Olami Group

Smoke from Ashkelon power plant in the background

The Yeshivah, some parts under construction:

The view from the edge of Sderot:
Ashkelon's Power Plant
Gaza with a security blimp flying above it
Our group enjoying the view
Panorama looking back toward Sderot from the lookout

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Green Israel! (Breathtaking Photos!)

No, this has nothing to do with today's date. Why would it? Israel is a Jewish State, remember?

Ever wonder where all these North American and British Olim end up living? Well a whole lot of them move to Ramat Beit Shemesh (RBS) - and after you see the photos in this post it's easy to understand why...

At the very end of the rainy season RBS is surrounded by lush green hills. We are taught that there is no clearer sign that Hashem is calling us back Home than seeing the Land blooming.I often find myself in RBS for Shabbos wishing that I was there on a weekday so I could take pictures and share the breathtaking views with our readers.

So this past Friday I arrived in RBS extra early armed with my camera. B"H it was raining part of the time though I still managed to get these 20 photos between cracks in the clouds.


Besides the green hills there are loads of playgrounds for loads of kids...

There are still apartments being built in RBS for more Olim that are coming Home soon!

If you lived here you'd be home now.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Snow Day!!!

After years of Jerusalem fake-out snow days (You know. You wake up and there is snow and everyone is all excited and there are some good pictures to be taken but then it turns to rain, melts and life goes on) it takes living on a hilltop above 3,000 feet to have a true snow day. We are truly snowed in here.

The only problem is that the rest of the world has no idea and thinks you are joking when you tell them why you aren't coming to work/a meeting/an appointment.

Enjoying our personal Sde Boaz snow-day nonetheless.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Interesting Graffiti Around Jerusalem

Before I go to the pictures, I just want to mention that my Purim photo essay is part of the 3rd JPix Photo Carnival, Part 1. There is also a Part 2.
One of my favorite pastimes is to walk around Jerusalem and take pictures of random graffiti. Growing up in America, I always remember graffiti as being a very bad thing, but in Jerusalem, very often it is creative, and it reflects on the culture of the residents of this special city. Here are a few pictures that I took recently:

This is across the street from the Shuk:

The next 3 are from a pedestrian tunnel at the end of Gan Sacker:

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Shin is for Shushan

I was spotted and snapshotted by Mobius of Jewschool whilst on the prowl for the mother of all Shushan Purim photo essays (to be posted on A7 tomorrow, hopefully). A prize for whoever can explain exactly what my costume is.

Good Purim everybody. I don't remember saying havdala, do you? OK then. Still Purim, since there is a safek - at least until seder night.

In that spirit, check out my story on the Old Winemaker. He is the real deal.

In other news, little kids everywhere, as well is bigger kids who like candy, have begun pesach cleaning - by that I mean they have been eating copious amounts of leavened junk food they received in mishloach manot from their friends and neighbors.

I leave you with my top ten items received in mishloach manot and invite readers to post their own lists in the comments section:

10: Mekupelet (who knew chocolate became so good when you ran it through a pasta machine)
9: A giant tub of assorted Marzipan bakery stuff (with the rugs on the bottom)
8: Pancakes al haboker
7: Pumpkin Pie Hamentashen (oznei Haman, for those of you with contempt for any remnant of yiddish)
6: Pickled veggies
5: Reese's PB cups
4: Homemade apple butter
3: Smirnoff Apple something-or-other Vodka in a super cool bottle
2: Homemade granola (actually given to someone else who then left it at our place)
1: Dudaim (Mandrakes)

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Purim NY style

Monday, March 05, 2007

So May This Happen to All the Enemies of the Jewish People (Photos)

It's so good to be Home for the Holiday Season... you know, the holiday season! The time people dress up, give out candy, (get drunk) and decorate the front of their homes. Yep... sure you know what I mean. They decorate them with beautiful biblical scenes. You know what I mean. The scenes that sort of look like this:

Ahh, it's so good to be Home. So what biblical scenes did your neighbor set up?

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Photos of Erez Levanon, of Blessed Memory, May God Avenge His Blood

Click here for continuously updated story.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Skiing in Eretz Yisrael and much, much, more!

Where does it look like these pictures are from? The Rockies? The Swiss Alps? No, the Holy Land! That's right - you can go skiing even in Israel! There is one mountain up north, Mt. Hermon, just by the border with Syria, where you can go skiing. There are only a few slopes, and they may not be quite as good as some other fancy skiing mountains around the world, but this is the only place in the world where you can be doing a mitzvah while skiing! My trip was with about 30 young olim, organized by Nefesh B'Nefesh, and we also spent the night in the Golan and visited the Golan Heights Winery among other places in the morning.

We left at 5 am from Jerusalem, the sun rose somewhere around the Kineret.
The Jordan Valley road is very colorful this time of year. Here you can also see some of the old brick and new buildings in Tiberias.
The snowy cliffs start peaking through...
A Golan town with Hermon in the background.
Looking out from the foot of Hermon, the structure on the left peak is Nimrod's Fortress from the times of the crusaders
The snowy Hermon peaks
Park entrance (above and below)

More skiing / snowboarding / Hermon park pictures

I decided to have fun blurring the next 2:

Only in Israel - a gun on his back, skis in his hand
Park slopes map
Some Nefesh B'Nefesh skiers
Only in Israel - Minchah after skiing
The Nefesh B'Nefesh Group

Sunset and the mountains, hills, and lakes of the Golan:

The view from the Golan Field School in Gonen, where we stayed:

Friday morning Golan views:

Cows - wandering around all over the Golan
Golan's topography - from the Kesem HaGolan (Magic of the Golan) museum-theater-display place...

The Golan Heights Winery:

Mmm... Wine tasting...

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

"You Mean It Isn't Climb-Proof?!"

Amir Peretz, after receiving his daily intelligence report ("just give me pictures - no words, please"): You mean to tell me we are partitioning the land, establishing an Islamic state in the heart of where we are supposed to be building a functioning Jewish entity based on our Sinaitic mandate and the blueprint we call the Torah and we didn't make this danged security fence climb-proof?!

Advisors/handlers: Uh, sir. We didn't know how to draw this out for you, but a memo was sent out a while back briefing the government on the fact that the security fence is actually a Partition Wall. It is actually detrimental to security due to our having to deploy on either side or abandon a ten mile radius to missile attacks, but we are pretty sure the people are onto us and this is our last chance to ditch the territories. Oh, and the fact that it is a wall - we assumed you could surmise that by looking at it. One of the interns must have left their hasbara booklet lying around your desk - you see, just because some of it is fence does not mean all of it is fence.

That whole debate was just a distraction anyway. The right was against the idea of drawing a border so we couched it in terms of security and managed to convince the Hague to come out against it. It was a brilliant plan and it worked like a Jedi mind-trick. "If the Hague's against it, I'm for it" said all the right-wingers, and voila - the holy wall was erected.

Peretz [twiddling moustache]: Um, I'm really sorry. I was not listening to a word you just said. Is the wall climb-proof or not?


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Friday, February 23, 2007

Shabbat Shalom.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Progress on the Jerusalem Light Rail System (Photos)

Construction is taking place all over Jerusalem for the new light rail system that is promising us swift transportation all around town. Already much of the route is being used for busses and taxis and soon enough the trains will be joining them. Here are some pictures of the progress so far. I took these yesterday and today on Hertzl Boulevard.

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New Aron Kodesh in Me'arat HaMachpelah, Chevron

About a month and a half ago, a new Aron Kodesh was donated to Me'arat HaMachpelah (the Tomb of our Patriarchs & Matriarchs) in Chevron. I saw it for the first time when I was there a few days ago and it was beautiful. May we continue to use it forever! Here are a few pictures:

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Pollard Rally in Kikar Paris

A few hundred people gathered near Kikar Paris, outside the Prime Minister's residence, in Jerusalem tonight to call for the release of Jonathan Pollard. For more information about Pollard, go to his official website. Here are some pictures from the rally:

Nadia Matar of Women in Green:

The big English sign is held by Shifra Hoffman, director of the Terror Victims Association

Here is Shifra Hoffman, Terror Victims Association, speaking:
Esther Pollard, Jonathan's wife

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Monday, February 19, 2007

A Letter Jacket For My Wife... Israel Style

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

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

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

Check out some of my Miluim photos...

That's me!

Here are some of my buddies: this is Meyer!

This is Eran making the tea!

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

A beautiful sunset in Eretz Yisrael

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

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

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

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

It's the Little Things

In follow-up to Alex's description of sewage running in the wrong direction, here are some pictures of sewage going in the right direction; sewage pipes that is. As we speak, the Golan municipality is installing sewage pipes for our little piece of heaven, in North-East, Israel. Sewage is one of those little things in life that make a man happy. And there is nothing like watching those backhoes at work digging sewage trenches for your very own house. Can't wait to put those sewage pipes to good use.
Golan sewage
Next is electricity and water. Bit by bit we'll get this house in order so it'll eventually be a home.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Shabbat Shekalim

This week's maftir (the last part of the weekly Torah reading) is Parshat Shekalim. This section (Shemot 30:11-16) talks about the mitzvah incumbent upon all Jewish adult males (women could give but were not obligated) to give half a shekel (same amount for rich and poor), which went toward providing funds for communal offerings and other specific Temple needs throughout the year. In honor of this reading revolving around money, and specifically shekalim - Israel's currency, here are some pictures from a trip I took to the Bank of Israel in Jerusalem a few years ago.
Today's coin's origins
The Bank of Israel

Remembering the Fallen Banker Soldiers
Coins from the Holy Land throughout the ages

Pictures of what paper printing looks like, including an old 1000 Shekel bill with Rambam on it.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

IDF Swearing-In Ceremony (Tekes Hashba'ah)

A friend of mine was sworn into the army on Thursday. The ceremony took place at the site of an important battle in the 1967 Six Day War, Ammunition Hill, in Northern Jerusalem. Here are some pictures:

Soldiers stand in formation during the ceremony

Soldiers are given a gun and a Tanach -
a worldly weapon and a uniquely Jewish "weapon"

Soldiers March In

Commanders salute next to guns and Tanachs

Soldiers shout, "Ani Matzhir" - I affirm/declare (the term "swear" is not used in the religious Nachal Chareidi unit)

Here's an American getting his gun and Tanach in the Israeli army

Holding up guns during a salute

Marching Away

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Planting in Gush Katif (1.5 Years Ago)

Keeping with the Tu B'Shvat theme, I decided to post some old planting pictures. These were taken 1.5 months before the expulsion (30 Sivan, 5765 - July 7, 2005). The funding for these plants came from Tzedakah because the government had stopped giving loans to farmers. If I remember correctly, these were planted in Gadid.

This is me:

All done:

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Picturesque Sunset in Ramat Beit Shemesh

I happened to be leaving Ramat Beit Shemesh to come back to Yerushalayim around sunset today and I caught the sun setting between the rain clouds that would hit shortly. Enjoy a beautiful Israeli sun set!

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Nefesh B'Nefesh Super Bowl Party

While the Super Bowl might be anti-Zionist, there are many Olim who still follow football and like to watch the game. In fact, there are enough American Olim interested in watching the game, that Nefesh B'Nefesh hosted a Super Bowl party in their Aliyah office. Ironic, and fun. Here are some pictures:

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Pictures from Tu BiShvat Keep Making Aliyah Shabbaton in Beit El

Tu BiShvat Tree Planting for all ages...
... on the Jewish Artis Hilltop in Beit El

The almond tree blossoms, as the classic Israeli
folk song goes, HaShkediyah Porachat - תחרופ הידקשה

Some other cool trees in Beit El:

More Tree Planting:

The Group on the Artis Hilltop of Beit El, then walking down to the cave, and listening to Tour Guide Yishai:

Arutz-Sheva Studio Tour and Recording, Motzaei Shabbat:
Yishai and Zev, Arutz-Sheva radio hosts

The group listens as we record...

Never too young to be on Arutz-Sheva!

Yishai loves his live studio!

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Tu B'Shvat in Beit El (Photos!)

Kumah, Yavneh Olami, and Am Segula teamed up to put together an unbelievable Tu B'Shvat Shabbaton in gorgeous Beit-El!

On Friday the group planted trees in one of the highest and most breathtaking points in the region. If you weren't there here's a bit of what you missed!

Yishai shows the group the stunning view.

Everyone helped out!

Keep making a splash!

More photos are on the way!

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Snow In Beit El

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Photos From TeKumah Klean-Up in the Old City

Last Friday Kumah and Yavneh Olami headed out to clean up Gan Tekumah in the Old City of Yerushalayim. Gan TeKumah is a beautiful, but sadly neglected, park located between Shar Tzion and the Kotel along the wall of the Old City. Volunteers managed to fill a dumpster and then some, with years of trash that had accumulated at the site. Trash included several shoes and boots, tons of broken glass, boxes, bottles (which were recycled) and one volunteer even found part of a burned Israeli flag (see below). The park was looking a lot better when we left and the view is just gorgeous!

After a hard days work Yishai spoke briefly about the holy site and the rest of us were rewarded with free pizza! Next time we have to remember to bring ping-pong equipment.

Anyway be sure to visit!

Click the thumbnails below to enlarge the pics!

Or click here to watch a slideshow!

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