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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Anglo Election Campaign

With Israel elections coming up on Tuesday, there has been a lot of campaigning toward Anglo Olim, and there is even a party, Ichud Le'umi - National Union, with an Anglo Oleh in a good position to get in! For those diaspora Jews who claim the excuse that Israel is not what they'd like it to be so they're not making aliyah yet, now is the time to come because you can make a difference!

It's refreshing to see how the different parties are working hard for our vote. It feels like we have arrived. Both the Likud (, and Yisrael Beiteinu (, have English language websites and Facebook groups. Likud had a convention last week for Anglos at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Jerusalem. Yisrael Beiteinu has a Canadian Oleh, Danny Hershtal, running as #21 on their list, and that is becoming a more and more likely spot to make it in. They also have former Israel ambassador to the USA and Nefesh B'Nefesh co-chairman, Danny Ayalon as #7. However, the Ichud Le'umi has the most likely chance of any party to get an Anglo into Knesset with American Oleh Uri Bank of Moledet as #5 on their list. Here is more about him:,, Ichud Le'umi is also trying to top the other parties in the Anglo campaign with online commercials and ,
comic books Ichud Leumi Comic Book

and blogs aimed at the English speaking community. Its pretty exciting to be an English speaker in Israel right now!

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bad Excuse For Not Making Aliyah

This is a Dvar Torah for Parshat Lech Lecha by Rabbi Pinchas Winston, who made aliyah from North America. Although it's over a week late, the message is very important. Full Dvar Torah starts in full post, this is just a preview:

Recently, I saw a presentation by someone to explain why “they” did not live in Eretz Yisroel. It was not a new idea, simply stating that the person has been very effective helping other Jews in the Diaspora, “proving” that, in spite of the person’s desire to live in Israel, God prefers for them to remain in Chutz L’Aretz.

That the person is an effective educator in the Diaspora, there is no question. But, to imply that his or her extended stay in the Diaspora is essential to the spiritual success of other Jews, is a mistake, flawed hashkofah. Worst of all, it is misleading to others who might now think the same way as a result, though previously, they might have considered life in Eretz Yisroel.

Dvar Torah starts here
Avram took Sarai his wife, Lot, his brother’s son, all the property that they had acquired, and the souls that they had made in Charan, and went toward the land of Canaan. (Bereishis 12:5)

At first glance, this verse has little insight or advice regarding life as a Jew in today’s world. It has importance to us in terms of understanding Avraham’s life and path to greatness, but little importance in terms of charting our own, or so it seems. However, it is helpful to know, sometimes, that some of the greatness insights the Arizal had came simply from meditating on the verses of the Torah, repeating them over-and-over- again in his mind.

Recently, I saw a presentation by someone to explain why “they” did not live in Eretz Yisroel. It was not a new idea, simply stating that the person has been very effective helping other Jews in the Diaspora, “proving” that, in spite of the person’s desire to live in Israel, God prefers for them to remain in Chutz L’Aretz.

That the person is an effective educator in the Diaspora, there is no question. But, to imply that his or her extended stay in the Diaspora is essential to the spiritual success of other Jews, is a mistake, flawed hashkofah.Worst of all, it is misleading to others who might now think the same way as a result, though previously, they might have considered life in Eretz Yisroel.

Let me explain.

In 1993, when I personally decided to return to Eretz Yisroel from Toronto, I was thrown for a loop when someone I worked with asked me, “Did you ever ask a shailah from a Gadol? You are in the midst of building something good here, and maybe it isn’t so simple that you just pick up and leave in the middle.”

Until that time, I had been working with young couples, to try and help mold them into community leaders, especially to help out with outreach. To this end, I had developed an entire 8-week program, which I taught, with material that was both unique and effective, which, when combined with a mission to Israel, molded us into a community of our own. The program seemed to be succeeding, and warranted being implemented on a regular basis.

Quite honestly, I loved the program and its results, and had difficulty leaving it behind. Nevertheless, I felt that I just had to get back to Eretz Yisroel, and felt confident that others would carry on for me after I left. I was replaceable, but for me, Eretz Yisroel was not.

However, my colleague’s comment made me question my entire judgment again, and I began to become uneasy about my decision. Fortunately, though, as Divine Providence would have it, Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, shlita, of Eretz Yisroel, was visiting Toronto at that very time, and he had been my posek just before I had returned to Toronto. Therefore, I took advantage of the situation and made an appointment.

I explained the entire situation to the rav, beginning with my intense desire to return to Eretz HaKodesh, and ending with my friend’s concern about my leaving. His answer to me came quick: “Everyone is expendable. If Hashem wants your work to continue here, He will find someone else to do it. You can return to Eretz Yisroel as planned.”

Reassured, I continued on with my plans and made it back “home” later that year, to a small community just off the highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It is where, thank God, I have been more effective over the last 15 years internationally than I ever was locally, before I came back. While here, “things” have happened that I would never have dreamed about years ago, some naturally, many miraculously.

Especially in today’s world, of such advanced technology. Over time, I became a full-time writer, and with the help of the Internet, over 20 families have come to make aliyah, apparently with the help of my essays and books.

Over the years, I have met many people who have become observant, inspired, apparently, by what I have written, or more religious, encouraged by the deeper understanding of Torah I have tried to share.

The first thing we have to know is that, when God wants a job to be done, nothing can stop Him — certainly not physical distance. As much as we’d like to believe that we are indispensable, the truth is, we are not. Rather, what happens instead is that, when God decides He wants something done, He chooses a messenger who has made himself or herself available for such a mission, by choosing to be who he or she has become, and by living where he or she has chosen to live.

It’s like being chosen for a part in a play. The director doesn’t just choose any actors to play the handcrafted roles of the screenplay. Rather, knowing what he wants to see brought out by each character, he looks for actors who can do exactly that, something that becomes apparent only through previous roles the actors have already played, the result of many years of development.

It’s the ultimate middah-k’neged middah — measure-for-measure (Sanhedrin 90a). We get to decide who we want to be, and God uses us for that role. We decide where we want to live, and God uses us in that place. You want to change yourself? God will find someone else to play the role. You want to change your location? God will find someone else to do the job where it has to be done.

Indeed, if you are willing to move up in life spiritually, then God will promote you, and find someone else to do your old job. As the Torah points out, Avraham made souls in Charan. He was Mr. Outreach himself. Yet, when it came time to start Jewish history, God told him to stop what he was doing and move on to Canaan. As important as it was that he “convert” the people of Charan, it had been more important to go west and take possession of Eretz Yisroel.

What about all the potential converts back in Charan? Perhaps, Avraham had already reached all those with the potential to hear his message, just in time to move on. Perhaps, those who remained behind did not merit to be impacted by Avraham Avinu. Or, perhaps, if, indeed, there had been more souls to be “made” in Charan, God had another way of getting the job done. And, knowing that, Avraham did not question the command of God, but confidently went to where he knew he really belonged.

This is not only true on the level of the average Jew, but even with respect to Torah leaders, as the Talmud points out, and the Arizal explains using the following verse:

The sun rises and the sun sets. (Koheles 1:5)

This means that, as a Torah leader leaves this world, a new one is born to replace him (Rosh Hashanah). This is not only true regarding the death of one leader and the birth of his replacement, but even if one moves to a different community, for, the only way such a move can leave a community bereft of its leader is if they lost the merit to have one. As the Talmud points out, and the Maharshah explains, Torah leaders make their decisions based upon the merit of the people they lead (Gittin 56b). Of course, this does not mean that we can whimsically jump from role to role, or from place to place, living wherever we happen to fancy at the moment.

Even if the community for which you were responsible deserved to lose you, nevertheless, you will be judged as if you abandoned them, since you will have failed to leave them for a sound hashkofic reason. Decisions to be who we are, or to live where we live, or to get involved in whatever it is we are doing, have to be for the sake of serving God best.

Only then can everything fall into place after we have made our decision. Only then can our decisions result in win-win outcomes.

Avraham had worked many hard years on himself to become “Avinu.” Once he achieved that status, he merited to become the father of the Jewish people, a prophet, and the owner of Eretz Yisroel. After figuring out, on his own, and over many decades, what God must want from him, God finally spoke to him, and told him first hand what to do next: make aliyah. We should only be so fortunate. If God would only speak to us and tell us when to make the move to Eretz HaKodesh, there would be no room for debate or rationalization. But, alas, we are without prophets today, and making such a monumental decision seems to be a function of personal preference.

Well, not exactly. When one desires to live in Eretz Yisroel to be closer to God, and to take advantage of the kedusha of the land, it shows God where his or her heart truly resides. When one devises a plan to make aliyah, because he or she knows that it is the best place to live as a Jew — even during times of exile — and they yearn to be there with ALL their heart, it will work out for them, if not immediately, over time. It will become apparent to them how doing so is not only possible, but feasible, and life will begin to support such a decision.

Thus, loving Eretz Yisroel and missing it is different from wanting to live there with a complete heart. “I just have to live there …” is a thought and feeling that tells God, “I want to serve You and do Your will, but from Eretz Yisroel. It is imperative for me.” And, it is exactly what God wants to hear before He starts making reality accommodate such a longing.

Until such time, you will find yourself “needed” in the Diaspora. If it’s where you want to be, it’s where you will have to serve Him. That may not sound so bad, but, it was exactly that kind of thinking that put us into exile in the first place, and therefore, it is something that we have been trying to rectify for about two millennia now.

Perceptions, Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Pinchas Winston and

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Torat Yisrael: Israel's Newest English Torah Publication

How often does the truth become distorted in the Israeli media? We live in a society where the major newspapers run stories of how terrorists are not antisemitic (See J-Post and Haaretz about the recent Jerusalem attack) and where companies who refuse to hire Arab workers are lambasted. In response to this trend, a new publication has been put together called Torat Yisrael. Torat Yisrael is Anglo Israel's first bi-weekly magazine of Jewish political and social thought. Based on Torah values, every article is filled with authentic, historical Jewish ideas and concepts. From economics to warfare, education to law, every topic is approached from the perspective of tradition.

Distributed bi-weekly in the main Anglo centers in Israel, Torat Yisrael is a sixteen page color mini-magazine available free in your synagogue. I am the associate editor, Kumah's co-founder Yishai Fleisher is a regular contributor, as well as such notables as the Likud's Shmuel Sackett and Nahal Hareidi founder, Rabbi Yoel Shwartz.

If you are interested in reading Torat Yisrael online, receiving copies, subscribing to the Torat Yisrael mailing list, or advertising to the English-speaking population of Israel, then you can find Torat Yisrael online at or you can reach editor Shmuel Sokol at or by phone at 0526720779. There is also a Torat Yisrael blog that you can check out at

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Aliyah - Can You Survive?

A new reality show about the Zionist Dream in the 21st century
Highlight Films is currently in the pre-production phase of a new extreme, reality show about eight young extraordinary olim (new immigrants to Israel) who have chosen to begin their lives again in this extraordinary land. They will live and compete against one another through various extreme missions that mirror the different challenges olim faced building the State of Israel and eventually one will be crowned the Ultimate Oleh. This winner will be granted a golden ticket into Israeli society with a luxury apartment facing the beach in Tel Aviv, a brand new car, a dream job, and many more amenities to make for the ultimate Aliyah. For more information, go to:

For more information, email at

If you or someone you know is interested in participating in this groundbreaking new series that will air on Israeli television and be available globally through the internet, please Click Here to Apply

Contestants must be committed to making Aliyah to Israel and be fluent in English with little to no knowledge of Hebrew. Production is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2008.

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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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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 03, 2007

Say Unto Zion, "Kumah - Arise"

Today is the fast day of the 17th of Tamuz. It commemorates the day that the walls of Jerusalem were breached (once it on that day and once it was a little earlier), 3 weeks before both Temples were destroyed, as well as the day the Moshe came down from Mount Sinai to find the Israelites worshiping the Golden Calf and destroyed the tablets. A Roman officer burned a Torah scroll on this day at the time of the destruction of the Temple, idols were placed in the Temple (commentaries differ on who did this and when it was done), and this day starts the 3 week mourning period for the destruction of the Temple and many other calamities in Jewish history.
In selichot (prayers said asking for forgiveness on fast days and around the new year) this morning, we said:
"Turn to us, You Who dwells on high, gather in our dispersion from the ends of the earth, may Your hand once more acquire this awe-struck nation, and may You say to Zion, 'Kumah - Arise!' - and transform the 17th of Tamuz for us to a day of salvation and consolation."

May we see Zion arise speedily and may we all merit to take part in it!

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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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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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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 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 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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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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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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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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Monday, April 02, 2007

This Pesach Become An Active Part of the Jewish Nation!

First of all, I must apologize for not posting for a while (and for the lack of photos in this post). Unfortunately I am in America for Pesach (my parents like to have me around for the Seders), and I had to spend my last few days in Israel finishing a final project so I can graduate Machon Lev this year (maybe I'll write more about that another time).
Anyway, after my first Shacharit minyan back in the old country, my rabbi asked me if I could speak at the shul's Shabbat HaGadol luncheon. I jump at the chance to teach the Torah of Eretz Yisrael to the Jews of the diaspora, and I'll take every opportunity I can get to tell them to make Aliyah. So I agreed and put together a Dvar Torah about Jewish nationhood, final redemption prophecies coming true including the day's haftarah, and the Aliyah Revolution. This can also be good for your seder table, especially if you're with Jews who don't live in Israel yet.
Chag Kasher V'Sameach! Enjoy:

Some of this Dvar Torah is from Rabbi Ari Waxman (much of the background of the nation idea), some is from a couple of friends (the V'Haisheiv idea), some from an old Kumah post (the miracles of the Final vs. Egyptian redemption), and some is my own.

When we sit down at the Seder on Leil Shlishi, this Monday night, we will be telling the story of our exodus from Egypt. The Torah tells us that when Hashem took us out of Egypt, He took a nation out from amidst a nation (Devarim 4:34). We came down to Egypt as a big family, but we left as a nation, Hashem's nation. The prophet Yechezkel also refers to the exodus from Egypt as the birthday of the Jewish nation, "the day that you were born" (Yechezkel 16:4). Along with our release from the shackles of bondage placed upon us in Egypt, our collective existence was broadened as we gained the new status of "Am Yisrael."

However, there is more to our nation than this. We received the Torah "like one man, with one heart" as we stood united at Mount Sinai. The Torah is our national guidebook and without it, our nation would not be complete.

There is yet another part to our nationhood. The Maharal of Prague explains (Netiv Hatzedaka, Chapter 6) that true "arevut" - mutual responsibility of every Jew for every other Jew - was only achieved when we crossed the Jordan River and entered into Eretz Israel. It is only here in Eretz Israel that we are able to reach our full potential as an interconnected and unified nation. We can also see that there are parts of our nation that depend on being in Eretz Israel – setting up a kingship / government, the Sanhedrin and court system, the Beit HaMikdash and sacrifices, Mitzvot that are connected specifically to the Land of Israel (like Shemitah and others), etc…

Unfortunately we are still in exile, Mashiach is still not here, and there is no Beit HaMikdash. However, we are starting to see the sprouting of our final redemption and the rebirth and revival of the Jewish nation in Israel. Hashem has revealed so many miracles to us in Israel throughout the last 59 years, and we are starting to see prophecies coming true. The desert is blossoming, Israel has won wars in which it was heavily outnumbered, and even amidst the attempted terror attacks (suicide attempts, rockets, etc…) there are so many miracles happening every day to save us. One of the clearest signs of the redemption is the ingathering of the exiles. Jews are coming home from far and wide, from the four corners of the Earth. Even Jews from Western countries, who are not leaving their countries because of pogroms, but are leaving good lives willingly, are coming home. Nefesh B'Nefesh has brought over 10,000 English speaking Olim in the last 5+ years. According to most censuses taken, Israel has more Jews than any other country (recently surpassing America), and with the unfortunate trends of world Jewry, Israel will have the majority of the Jews in the world by the next generation! The course of Jewish history is changing in ways that have never been seen!

Another prophecy that is coming true is that of the end of today's Haftarah: "He will return the heart of the fathers upon the children, and the heart of the children upon their fathers." (Mal'achi 3:24) We can understand the first part easily – fathers teach their sons Torah, thus returning a Jewish heart unto them. However, the second part sounds a little strange. We see today that so many young people are making Aliyah by themselves. A number of youth from this shul have made Aliyah by themselves and I can tell you from all the Nefesh B'Nefesh welcome ceremonies I have attended, that there are many young olim coming by themselves these days. We in turn are returning our hearts of Aliyah and redemption upon our families. We see that through Aliyah, this prophecy is to fruition as well.

This Pesach, as we celebrate our national birthday, I urge you to pay attention to the events beholding our people. It is said that our final redemption will be so great that people will stop talking about the exodus from Egypt: "Behold days are coming... when they shall no longer say, 'The living G-d who brought the children of Israel out of Egypt,' but 'The living G-d who brought... the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries where I had driven them, so that they dwell in their own land.'" (Yermiyahu 23:7-8) In other words mass Aliyah itself is such an awesome miracle that it will actually replace the great miracle of the Exodus from Egypt as what will be used to describe Hashem's glory! What would be greater than to see this happening live; to get a front row seat as prophecies come true; to be there when Mashiach comes and the Beit HaMikdash is rebuilt?!? Well you can! All you have to do is join the Aliyah Revolution! Get the exile mentality out of your system, and come home to Israel! This Pesach - take an active role in Jewish history and become an active part of the Jewish nation!

Am Yisrael Chai!
May we see our Final Redemption speedily in our days, even this Pesach!
Chag Kasher V'Sameach!

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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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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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Friday, March 09, 2007

Huge 2 Day, 3 City, Purim Photo Essay including Eclipse!

This is a really long photo essay. Here are 60 pictures from: a few days before Purim around Yerushalayim, Purim night in Ramat Beit Shemesh, a concert in Yerushalayim, the total lunar eclipse, Purim day Seudah by a friend near Bar Ilan University, Purim night in Yerushalayim at Machon Lev, and Purim day in Givat Mordechai and Har Nof. Enjoy!

Yerushalayim on Wednesday, 10 Adar, Feb 28
Girls in costumes even before Purim, 1 was dressed as a laundry machine

Stores all around the Shuk were selling costumes

A candy store in the Shuk was selling packaged Mishloach Manot

Colored hair even a few days early

Angels Bakery across the street from the Shuk was in the Purim spirit

Israelis tend to like America, even when choosing Purim costumes

Kohen Gadol costumes for sale

Dressed up, running toward the bus...

... which they took to Sha'arei Tzedek Hospital to bring some pre-Purim joy!

Purim Night in Ramat Beit Shemesh

My friend dressed as a terrorist, his French wife as an American, and his daughter as a butterfly.

Kids were throwing fire crackers, and other such really loud noise makers, in the street.

A concert in Yerushalayim that featured Naftali Abramson and his band, among others

During the night, there was a total lunar eclipse

Full moon before eclipse

Full moon during eclipse

Seudat Purim at an apartment near Bar Ilan University


My friend, Ilya, who hosted the seudah

Waldo, from "Where's Waldo?", was a popular costume (above and below)

Purim night in Yerushalayim at Machon Lev - Jerusalem College of Technology

Purim Day around my neighborhood, Givat Mordechai

I'm on the left, next to my friend Moshe (thanks to his wife for taking this picture)

First Seudah - at my friend's house

The baby really wanted the wine

My friends who made the seudah

On and From the Bus to Har Nof

Har Nof, where I went for my 2nd Seudah

Dressed up kids watch the craziness on the street from their window

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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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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

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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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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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Torat Yisrael Parshah Sheet

In Israel, there are many weekly publications that find their way to synagogues every Shabbat. Most of these "Parshah Sheets" are in Hebrew.

image of this week's Torat Yisrael weekly Parshah SheetThe main one in English has a lot of Torah, but not many Neo-Zionist nationalist issues. A friend and I recently started a new English Parshah Sheet to bring ideas from the Torah related to the Land of Israel, and look at nationalist issues from a Halachic (Jewish law) perspective. Appropriately, we are called Torat Yisrael.

This is our 3rd week and already we have had 2 members of this blog write for us, as well as people from Elon Moreh to Chevron (kind of like Avraham's journey). This week features an article about Techelet from Rav David Bar-Hayim that was referred to in an earlier blog post. Every week there is also an Eretz Yisrael Photo of the Week by me. This (and last and IY"H next) issue also features a front cover ad for this blog (see image below)! We are circulating around Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh (and RBS), maybe also some yishuvim this Shabbat. If you live in Israel and want us to distribute to your shul, let me know. In any case, you can view each week's issue on our website - Shabbat Shalom!
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Monday, February 12, 2007

Government of Losers, Go Home!

Here's a sign I saw posted on a bunch of bulletin boards around Jerusalem over the weekend. Apparently the English word "loser" has been adopted into Hebrew. The sign reads, "Memshelet HaLoserim, HaBaytah!" which means, "Government of Losers, Go Home!" The faces pictured are (from left to right) Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz. As a Neo-Zionist, it pains me to see the government of Israel not seem to care about its land and its people, and especially be as corrupt as this one. Losers, go home, and let's pray for some true Jewish leaders to take their place!

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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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