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Friday, February 05, 2010

Neo-Zionism at Work - "Free Loan Group Surpasses $100 Million in Interest Free Loans"

(From Israel National News) The Israel Free Loan Association (IFLA) reported that it reached a major milestone in 2009, surpassing $100 million in interest free loans granted since its founding. These loans have been provided to over 50,000 Israeli families from all backgrounds.

IFLA loans help Ethiopian immigrants move out of mobile homes and buy apartments, enable university students to obtain academic degrees, and allow ailing Israelis to undergo operations. The loans also assist families with handicapped children to purchase medical equipment, help struggling Israelis get back on their financial feet and enable Israelis to start a business or expand existing ones thereby supporting both themselves...

The non-profit IFLA started as a private initiative of Hebrew University Professor of Social Work Emeritus, Eliezer Jaffe. He came up with the idea after a visit to an immigrant absorption center in 1988. "Busloads of Ethiopians, straight off the airplane, had just arrived at the center, and I told myself we were witnessing history in the making - the ingathering of the exiles." Soon afterwards, a flood of Russians added nearly a million new immigrants to the population.

"After I came home, I thought to myself – you have to get involved. Some friends and I put our heads together and we remembered what the sage Maimonides had said about charity – the highest level being when you give a loan or a job too a person so they can get onto their feet and keep their self-respect.

“It has worked out well because after their first year in the country, immigrants receive little help from the Jewish Agency that helped bring them to this country. They don't have family networks, they don't have the language mastered yet, and they find it hard to get a job or learn a profession."

Although originally established for new immigrants, the IFLA has branched out to offer help Israelis of all backgrounds. “In 1990 we started with a donation of only $20,000 dollars,” says Jaffe. “In 2009 we succeeded in surpassing the $100 million mark in interest free loans granted. Who would have believed we could have come so far in so short a time?”

The Israel Free Loan Association is the largest free loan organization in the world. It lends out $15 million every year to Israelis of all backgrounds. Unlike conventional charity where money is depleted, the source funds for free loans are preserved and more loans are recycled to provide funds to others.

Click here for more information.


Yishai says: Notice one thing - this way of banking is exactly the way the Torah prescribes lending in the Land of Israel. Neo-Zionism is about a renewal of our ancient ways in our modern life. It is about giving life to the Torah and engendering a society, that will be a light unto the nations because it will bring down the amazing guidelines of G-d into this corporeal world!

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Zionism, not Cynicism

Israel has lots challenges: We have two hostile Iranian outposts on our borders, not to mention Iran itself building a bomb with our name on it. When we fight to defend our citizenry we get the Goldstone Report. The world is trying to stop us from building in our capital. We have a hostage in Gaza and we are being asked to release murderers for his freedom. We have very few friends abroad, and inside Israel we are often divided.

It is not surprising that in such an atmosphere, some people succumb to cynicism. But just as the darkness seems to have the upper hand, suddenly there are bright moments that delight us, remind us what Israel is all about, and shoo away the cynicism. Aliya is just such a cynicism buster. Aliya shows us that Israel continues to attract Jews from all over the world to take part in the most exciting project of the Jewish people in two-thousand years...

However, two recent articles in the Jerusalem Post seem bent on putting a dark spin on aliya as well:

In an op-ed entitled "What American aliya?" (Dec. 16) Haviv Rettig Gur wrote :

...Aliya as a phenomenon, as a movement, as a national project, has come to an end. Some 3,000 American olim come to Israel every year from a community whose population is at least 4.2 million strong... for all intents and purposes, North American aliya is currently at zero.

Then, as a follow up (Dec. 29), Michael Hirsh wrote "American aliya - an exercise in futility" stating:

I ask the well-meaning people at NBN and the Jewish Agency: With which powers of persuasion do you believe you were endowed that will sway someone to whom Israel is an afterthought into leaving everything behind and becoming an oleh? Perhaps that explains the current rate of "success," one-10th of 1 percent.

What negativity! This year was the first time in a decade that there was a rise in the number of new immigrants to Israel: 16,200 compared with the previous year's 15,440. 2009 also saw the largest number of Jews (3,767) make aliyah from North America since 1983. Amazingly, with all of Israel's challenges, aliya is on an upward trajectory - so why knock it?

Nay-sayers won't tell you that North American aliya has already become an economic success for Israel. According to a recent Deloitte audit, the entire population of Nefesh B'Nefesh Olim (6,493 households) has generated government revenues of 989 million shekels while the estimated costs of bringing them were only NIS 528 million. Also, the estimated contribution of American aliya (between 2002 and 2008) to the Israeli tourism industry (parents and pals coming to visit olim) is calculated at NIS 347 million, which brings the net contribution of recent North American aliya to a jaw-dropping 808 million shekels!

And North American aliya is bound to keep growing because immigration has never been easier: Israel has finally gotten the bureaucratic process right through the advent of Nefesh B'Nefesh. At the same time, amazing Anglo communities like Modiin and Ramat Beit Shemesh have sprouted up, making absorption a walk in an ever-more-manicured park. And as though Providentially, just as Israel's bureaucratic and community infrastructure are in place, the economic climate in the US has made aliya more attractive then ever before. In fact, measurable interest in aliya has more then doubled since the onset of the global economic crisis.

The aliya cynics point to the paltry 3,000 Olim a year and conclude that North American aliya is a failure. But since when do we value people as merely numbers? If the dream of gathering in the Exiles is happening only 3000 people at a time is that worthless? When one greets new immigrants one sees the faces of children kissing the ground, the faces of elderly rabbis crying, the faces of El Al pilots glowing with pride. "Total failure"? More like total ecstasy!

In the late 70's there were only 3 million Jews in Israel, now we are approaching 6 million. We have doubled in the last 30 years! No other country can claim that. Yes, it's mainly due to Russian Aliya, and a relatively high birthrate. But the point is that Israel wants to grow, and every Jew counts. Therefore, we must tirelessly continue to push aliya from all parts of the globe - and with special focus on American Jewry, the last major bastion of the Diaspora.

However, aliya cynics do have a point when they tell us that American Jewry is entrenched. It is. But that is not a reason to give up on our Jewish family back in the old country. To the contrary - it is precisely now, when the wheels of North American aliya are finally turning, that we must redouble our efforts to encourage Western Jews to come home.


It is in this spirit that I present three positive ideas of how to help galvanize Western Jews to seriously consider aliya:

* Aliya Day. There are well known state holidays which are used as springboards for massive educational undertakings. Yom Haatzmaut is a national celebration, but it is also a day of award ceremonies, concerts, and gatherings. Yom Hazikaron has its cemetery memorials and the siren that so powerfully reminds us of the IDF's sacrifice. Yom Hashoah educates us about the horrors of the Holocaust.

The time has arrived to unveil a new state holiday called Aliyah Day. Aliyah Day will be celebrated in Israeli schools with children getting up and telling the tale of their family's aliya. On TV, the stories of the various communal and personal immigrations will be told. Prizes will be given out to aliya activists, absorption workers and immigrants who have made a difference in Israel. Each year a different community will be featured and celebrated.

Simultaneously, Aliya Day will be celebrated in all pro-Israel institutions in the Diaspora. There, the discussion will focus on the importance of aliya, and the centrality of Israel. Aliya Day will use the proven model of a State holiday to celebrate the fact that we are all immigrants, and put aliya back onto the national agenda.

* Aliya Rally. There is a powerful force in Israel which, so far, has been totally untapped. Western olim, immigrants to Israel, are typically the most vocal supporters of continued Western aliya. If you enter the home of an oleh and broach the topic, you will find that from Raanana to Kiryat Arba, Western olim are highly enthusiastic about aliya and would like to see Jewish emigration expedited. We should harness the great passion of these people, and give them a platform to be heard.

Many rallies are held in Israel every year, but most of these rallies are anti-something, like calling for an end to some government policy. However, the aliya rally is different – it is positive and reaches out to Diaspora Jews with love and encouragement.

In a large venue in Jerusalem, like Teddy Stadium or the Sultan's Pool, the rally will be a professional production, with musical acts and speeches by well known personalities. Participants taking part in the rally will hold up placards that read: "Come Home My Brother / Sister", or posters of an Israeli passport with the words "Your Name Here" on the front. From the stage and in the crowd, we will call on our fellow Jews to come home and be our neighbors. The rally will raise aliya consciousness amongst Western Jews, empower olim in Israel who feel strongly about aliya, rekindle love of the homeland in native Israelis, and show the world that Israel still calls on all her children to come home.

* Aliya Boat. For American Jews in the US, the occasional press article or video clip about American aliya fails to persuade them that aliya is the future. It's just something they can brush off. We need to change that – we need to make the movement of Western aliya so spectacular and evocative that world Jewry will not be able to ignore it.

Enter the Aliya Boat. Evoking the nostalgia of old-world Jewish immigration, the Aliya Boat, this generation's 'Exodus', will bring 3000 Olim to Israel in just one journey. A plush cruise liner, the Aliya boat will sail for two weeks from the northeastern coast of the U.S. to one of Israel's port cities. Throughout the journey, an Israeli naval ship will escort the Aliya Boat as both security and honor guard.

While on this 'cruise' the almost-new immigrants will be busy: they will begin their Hebrew training at the on-board ulpan, take care of governmental paper work, and begin preparation to deal with their new home and environment. On the boat, children won't be strapped into constrictive seats for hours; instead, they will be 'enrolled' in an Israeli gan. Elderly folks can rest and play shuffleboard. Adults will begin friendships that will last a lifetime.

The romantic retro-iconography of the Aliya Boat will make news for two weeks straight. Embedded reporters and a documentary crew will record the epic tale. In Israel, a massive confetti welcome will make the arrival of the Aliya Boat one of the most moving spectacles of our time. It will be just too awesome of an event to minimize, and it will force every Jew in the world to rethink his or her position onaliya.

Indeed, this is not the time for cynicism. It is a time for Zionism. It is a time to think big and act big. If you will it, it is no dream.


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Thursday, January 21, 2010


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Future: Shai Agassi, Denmark, and soon Israel

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rabbi Amar's Letter and Prayer for Rain in the Land of Israel

Or click here to get see the letter at this link at this link

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Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar called on all capable to fast and pray this Thursday in hope that God will bring an end to the drought that has depleted Israel's water sources and struck a blow to local agriculture.

"Because of our sins the water situation is in a serious state," wrote Amar in a notice that was sent out Monday to rabbis, synagogues and other religious functionaries across the nation.

"Our duty in this situation is to scrutinize and examine our actions and bring ourselves close to God with all our hearts. We must must be repentant with broken hearts and anyone who is able should fast, if not a whole day at least a half day."

Amar said that if there were ten men fasting a Torah scroll should be read and during the recitation of the Amida prayer the Anenu prayer should be added like any public fast day.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

The Kotel on Twitter

And check out my interview with Alon Nir, the young student entrepreneur who brings your prayers to the Western Wall via Twitter!

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Look for the Shofar Guy

Friday, January 01, 2010

Intel and the Hareidim

In today's Jerusalem Post Magazine you can read my new article called "Balancing Modernity and Sanity". Below is the longer original version:

Regress standing against progress. That is the gut-conclusion we reach when shown the images of black-clad ultra-Orthodox Jews standing as a monolithic angry mob out to protest at the shiny Jerusalem offices of the mega-successful microchip maker Intel.

At issue is Intel's Jerusalem factory and its continuing work hours on Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath - a day Biblically set aside for rest.

Intel represents progress for the world: running with the slogan "Intel Inside" or the newer and bolder ad campaign: "Intel - sponsors of tomorrow", this cutting-edge international company powers global computing as 80% of the world computers run Intel chips.

Intel also means progress for Israel: Intel creates much-needed, well-paying jobs for people in Israel and helps boost the whole country's economy. In 2008 Intel directly employed 6500 Israelis, with a few thousand more working as subcontractors. Last year, Intel was Israel's leading exporter - sending out products worth more than $1.3 billion. This year that figure will double.

And if that is not good enough, Intel took it one step further and has built research and development offices and a chip factory in Jerusalem. The capital of Israel needs both economic and political support and Intel provides it. In economic terms, Jerusalem is one of Israel's poorest cities and the new mayor, Nir Barkat, himself a high-tech mogul, is trying hard to attract big business and job opportunities to Jerusalem. Success with Intel will pave the way for others to come. Politically, Israel's enemies try to isolate and divide Jerusalem and they loathe the fact that a major international high-tech company helps Israeli Jerusalem flourish.

All this leads to one simple conclusion: Intel is good for Israel. So why are Hareidi Jews so against it? Why are they attacking a great Jerusalem institution, forcing it to consider leaving the capital in favor of calmer pastures?

Some observers claim that it's all political, that the Hareidim want a show of power to counteract the new non-observant mayor, and that they are afraid of a secular trend taking root in Jerusalem. Others claim that it's all about the money, with the ultra-Orthodox wanting kickbacks from Intel. Yet others believe that the protesters are simply against progress. Evidenced by their out-of-date appearance and their ascetic (non-internet) lifestyle, maybe these protesters are fighting modernity itself.

To understand the side of the Hareidim, we need to step back and analyze this dispassionately. What did the protesters demand? Did they call to get Intel out of Jerusalem? Did they hold signs railing against globalization? Did the Hareidim call for a boycott against Intel or rail against the general ethos of the communications revolution? No. It was one simple message: Do it, push the envelope six days a week, but please, just not on Shabbat.

If the Hareidim did not look the way they do, this could have been perceived as a liberal protest: workers demanding more free time from their employers, or city citizens calling on a company to give the environment a break for one day. However, because Shabbat is religiously mandated, it never seems to fit liberal criteria, though the message may be liberal indeed. The overt religious look of the protesters, coupled with the branding that we have been taught to associate with them, automatically locks out any debate as to whether the ultra-Orthodox position may fit perfectly with progressive sensibilities.

In a new acclaimed book entitled "The Tyranny of Email: The Four-Thousand-Year Journey to Your Inbox", author John Freeman describes the modern information-saturated lifestyle and the implications of our linked-in lives. Freeman reports that new surveys, like AOL's 2008 Email Addiction Poll, show an email-crazed world. 60% of respondents report checking their email on the toilet, 62% respond to email on vacation, and 67% answered that they check their email in bed in their pajamas.

What about cell phone usage? We live with the obnoxious ring, the "I'm in a meeting right now" short answer, the constant focus-shattering distraction. In December 2008, the US's 270 million cell phone users wrote more than 110 billion text messages, an average of 407 text messages per user a month, double the number in the same month of 2007. U.S. teens (ages 13 to 17) had much higher levels of text messaging in 2008, sending and receiving an average of 1,742 text messages monthly. There are now about 4.1 billion cell phones in use world wide. The numbers just keep going up.

What about television consumption? According to Nielsen ratings for 2008, the average American older than 2 watched television for 151 hours per month - that's over 5 hours a day! Scientists tell us that when watching TV, our minds are less active then when we sleep, yet we imbibe hours of violent, oversexed, and plain dumb junk daily. And now with YouTube and free video on the iPhone, these trends are sure to grow.

We are living in an age of addiction, where the devices that were supposed to set us free are actually enslaving us. The more free from wires they become, the more tethered to them we are. This is not to say that the internet-empowered multimedia cellphone isn't great - it is - its just that we have a hard time turning it off. Modernity is beautiful, but we have not reached a healthy harmony with technology, and right now the machine seems to have the upper hand.

The modern world needs a powerful counterweight to correct the disharmony that has arrived along with the technological revolution. Envision our fast-paced society humming along with cars honking, cell phones ringing, wireless routers blinking, inboxes flooding, news media ticking along, and all the rest. Now imagine that we do that for six days a week, but on the seventh day we voluntarily rest. We turn off our cell phone, we unplug the TV (so that even that standby light goes out), we power down the computer so that it too can rest.

Imagine if we, as a society, took this seventh day concept a step further: all of us decide voluntarily to walk instead of drive for a day. Oooo, smell that fresh air! Cars are great, but one day without them makes us appreciate the sites that we usually zoom past, we take a break from road rage, and suddenly there is a quiet that has not been around for a hundred years. Smokers too could use Shabbat as an excuse to give their lungs a break, maybe even as a first step towards quitting. If branded right Shabbat could be seen as a day of environmental consciousness.

Jerusalem is the natural choice for the world's first city-wide Shabbat experiment. Visualize walking in the streets toward the Old City, no honking, no smog, no tension, a true serenity over the city of Shalom, peace. People the world over will flock to Jerusalem to take part in the unique cultural phenomenon of Shabbat and they will turn off their cell phones gladly.

But while in Jerusalem Shabbat is natural, in Tel Aviv Shabbat would be a revolution! Tel Aviv needs a break from its break-neck pace and would relish a day of back-to-basics. Tel-Avivians need some form of Shabbat more desperately then do Jerusalemites, an excuse for the exhaust-exhausted to sit in the park, to read a book, to commune with the spirit.

In the end hi-tech Intel and the old-school Hareidim must reach a compromise. Intel's Jerusalem factory has technical reasons why it cannot stop the production line even for one day, but Intel is savvy enough to come up with a technical fix. Similarly, the Hareidi rabbis, though stringent, know that Jewish law has built-in flexibilities which allow for creative solutions like those utilized in farms where cows need to be milked on Shabbat.

And just as Intel and the Hareidim should find a middle ground, so too our society needs to find a healthy balance between modernity and sanity. Never before have we been so inundated with information, so enticed by entertainment, and so constantly on the go. Indeed, we need Shabbat today more urgently then ever before.

To be sure, the Hareidi protests at Intel's Jerusalem plant have not conjured the attractive images of a beautiful world taking a day off from the grind. However, the Hareidim are not big into PR - they want to win a limited war for themselves, for their neighborhoods, and for Jerusalem - and they are playing protest politics which they see as effective. Neither does the press try to present the demands of the Hareidim in any positive light. However, we need not fall into the trap of externalities by throwing away an important idea just because it comes dressed in alien garb. Maybe it is we, the internet-crazed, the blue-tooth enabled, the ceaseless searchers for wi-fi, that need the Shabbat more than the Talmud-crazed, the sidelocks enabled, the ceaseless searchers for G-d.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ezekiel's Vision of Today's Ingathering

Who do you think the two kingdoms are discussed in the 37th chapter of Yechezkel? (It was this past week's Haftora) Do you think it's talking about Lost tribes?

When I was in college I realized that this passage is actually talking about today. The vision of Ezekiel is that the time will come (in the end of days) when there will be, once again, two Jewish kingdoms - two great centers of Judaism. There will be a great rift between them, but in the end they will have to consolidate into one. I realized in NY that the time had come to make this vision come to pass. American Jewry and Israeli Jewry must reunite in Israel...

Read it carefully and you will see that it must be talking about today. The passage before, the famous Dry Bones vision, is the description of the Holocaust and the rebirth of the nation in the Holy Land. Then, in the next passage (below) is the vision of the ingathering that follows the rebirth. This is not about the Second Temple - it's too big.

I know what a hard time we are living in. When a father of 7 is murdered by killers who were already in prison once - it stings and makes us wonder whether we are really 'home'. But, the bottom line is that we are home, and that with all the challenges and pain, the vision is coming into focus.

Where are you in this picture? Are you part of the vision? Are you reuniting the Jewish nation on the Land of Israel? American Jewry, that other great center of Judaism must make its way home. Read the Haftora below with this understanding of who the two kingdoms are and decide whether you want to be part of the new grand coronation of the nation!

16. "And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, `For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions'; then take another stick and write on it, `For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.'
17. "Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand.
18. "When the sons of your people speak to you saying, `Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?'
19. say to them, `Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand."'
20. "The sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes.
21. "Say to them, `Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land;
22. and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms.

23. "They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God.
24. "My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them.
25. "They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons' sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever.
26. "I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever.
27. "My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.
28. "And the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever.""'

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Monday, December 21, 2009

The Aliyah Revolution Album gets a great review in Makor Rishon

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

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Crisis Spurs Migration to Israel

By SARA TOTH STUB of the Wall Street Journal

JERUSALEM -- Immigration into Israel and the Palestinian West Bank is surging after the financial crisis and economic downturn evaporated jobs elsewhere.

After years of a brain drain from the region, and despite the lack of a peace settlement, by the end of this month about 4,000 North American Jews will have immigrated to Israel this year, an increase of 33% over 2008 and the most in one year since 1973, according to Nefesh B'Nefesh, an organization that oversees and assists with immigration to Israel from North America.

Immigrants to Israel often have a longstanding desire to move, but the economic crisis has pushed them to make the jump this year, said Danny Oberman, executive vice president of Israel operations for Nefesh B'Nefesh. "The economy has a lot to do with it," Mr. Oberman said.

The crisis is also having an impact on the West Bank, which is seeing the return of hundreds of Palestinians, mostly from the Persian Gulf, looking for work as the economy there sours. The West Bank economy -- separate from Israel's -- is expected to grow 5% in 2009.

No official figures are available yet for how many Palestinians have made the move, but the International Monetary Fund is planning to study the issue over the next month.

"The economic crisis worked to our advantage," said Bashar al-Masry, a Palestinian real-estate developer overseeing an $800 million project to build a new Palestinian city north of Ramallah. "We're seeing more and more people willing to come back."

Amjad Sandoka, 36 years old, a civil engineer from Jerusalem, said he went to work in Dubai seven years ago, but came back in October and found a job in Ramallah. He took a job in the West Bank because he figured he would likely lose his Dubai post, after watching hundreds of people around him being let go.

"I started to feel the crisis there; on the other hand, I heard there was lots of work in the West Bank," Mr. Sandoka said.
More on Israel

Israel's economy, fueled mainly by the software, biomedical, weapons-manufacturing and diamond sectors, has grown at least 4% a year from 2004 to 2008. And Israel has a lower unemployment rate than the U.S., at 7.8%, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, next to 10.2% in October in the U.S. The Bank of Israel has raised interest rates twice since August, to its current level of 1%, at a time when banks around the world are cutting rates or leaving them low.

Israel also has almost no exposure to Dubai debt because the Arab League boycott prevents Israelis from investing there. That boycott also lessens the impact the Dubai crisis might normally have had on Israeli exports.

Palestinian Minister of National Economy Hassan Abu-Libdeh cautions that the Palestinian economy might ultimately suffer from the downturn in Dubai, because many Palestinian families rely on remittances sent from relatives working there. Oussama Kanaan, IMF representative in the West Bank and Gaza, said Palestinian remittances made up 10% of Palestinian gross domestic product in 2008. Income from Palestinians working in Israel makes up an additional 12% of Palestinian GDP.

Any impact of lower remittances would most likely be softened if those workers find work in the West Bank. With a building boom under way in Ramallah and other Palestinian cities, fueled partly by international aid money totaling $1.7 billion in 2008, many returning from Dubai are finding jobs.

In Israel, North American immigrants are making significant contributions to the economy, according to a recent study by consulting firm Deloitte Information Technologies Israel Ltd. U.S. immigrants who came between 2002 and 2008 have contributed directly 989 million shekels ($262 million) to the Israeli economy, the study said.

Zumi Brody immigrated to Israel with his wife and four young children in August. Mr. Brody, a vice president of a bank, said he had to sell his home in St. Louis for less than what he paid for it to make the move, but paying at least $10,000 per child to attend Jewish day school would have been burdensome. In Israel, his children can attend a state-funded school and still learn Hebrew and Jewish studies.

The increase in immigration from America also shows a change in the image and economy of Israel. The country is in the process of entering the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and has been upgraded from a developing to a developed economy, said Glenn Yago, an economist at the Milken Institute in Jerusalem.

This wave of American immigration suggests that Israel is shifting "from its primary, historical role as a refuge of last resort to a human- and financial-capital destination of first resort," Mr. Yago said.

Separately, on Wednesday, Israeli police arrested the mayor of a West Bank Jewish settlement after protesters blocked security forces from entering the community to enforce a construction freeze, the Associated Press reported. The showdown was the most serious incident of settler unrest since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week announced the 10-month building freeze, which bars the construction of new homes in West Bank settlements.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Why Aliyah Is Important For You?

by Michael Berezin

Wherever you might be right now there is one thing that is certain, you are a Jew. You might be a Jew living in New York, you might be a Jew living in London, you might even be an accountant. Its even possible that you might be looking for a whole new way to identify yourself, either way no matter what, you are a Jew first and a Jew last. It is important to clarify that because by speaking of Aliyah and its importance we need to understand what being a Jew and living in Israel has to do with each other. There are many countries and regions in the world filled with all kinds of people. There is but one country promised to one people, explicitly stated by G-d, and that is the land of Israel for the Jewish people...

We just read the Torah portion of Chayeh Sara which starts off with the acquisition of a plot of land. The reason explained for this seemingly unimportant monetary deal to be stated so explicitly is that it was in fact important. Avraham wanted it to be clear that this land purchused in Chevron was in fact acquired fair and square so that there could be no future claims on it. Despite Avraham's best intentions, Hevron is a place that is constantly under siege by an enemy surrounding it.

So what does that mean to you?

It means something incredible! You have an inheritance to claim! So heavy it gets two exclamation points.

Ok great, heard it all before, but I am happy where I am.

How does one argue with happiness?

The answer is that if you really think you are happy it might be that you are. Now imagine being even happier and being on the right side of History. Sure you can wake up in your comfortable suburban town. You might even be making decent money although these days probably not. One thing though is that you are missing out on being a part of connecting the dots to our past, present and promised future. Our destiny was not France as it was not Spain, England, Germany, or do I even dare say the United States Of America. The one thing that all the places where we once flourished have in common was that they either persecuted us or threw us out just when things seemed to be going so well.

History is not linear there are lessons to be learned and miricles to be realized. The modern state of Israel although far from perfect is our destiny. Why because it's about the land. The land that was promissed to our forefathers. there is no other reason to explain how after two thousand years of exile, would we have the wherewithall to vanquish our enemies time and time again when there numbers far outnumber ours as well as their resources.

Does anybody think the Jews of Berlin the most assimilated and progressive Jews of the world could have ever dreamt of a reality where they would be viewed as Jews first and dealt with accordingly?

We are on the cusp of a whole new realty with the threat of Iran and a Muslim population bent on world dominance, where are you gonna put your faith?

Don't wait for the wrong time, sieze the right time and the right time is now. Why? Because you are Jew and Israel is not just your destiny but a part of your identity. Aliyah- Just do it!


[I found the following text when I Googled "Why Aliyah is important for you?" -Yishai]

One of the profile questions on which I found on Pinchas' Blog is: "Below describe in you own words why Aliyah is important to you. If you already made Aliyah also talk about your experience making Aliyah:"

I got a bit carried away and here is my answer....

I came nearly 9 years ago for a Yeshiva "summer program" after my first (and subsequently last) year of college. I loved yeshiva, but I despised Israel, Israeli apartments, Israeli meat (or what tried to pass as such), Israeli attitude, fighting to the death with taxi drivers over 30 cents and most importantly the fact the milk comes in bags.

I anxiously left after around a year and counted down the days until I would go home for Pesach (I guess an "anti-omer" of sorts) and then learn for the next zman in the US.. The moment the plane took off I already regretted my decision, got this gnawing feeling in my kishkes and knew it would not be long before I was back...

6 Months later I was and I have been here since, and don't plan to leave (unless I am expelled from my house in the next few months by the shilton hakofrim/memsheles zadon).

Why Israel? Honestly I ask myself that question every day and have yet to come up with a satisfactory answer. It is certainly not the bad attitude, rudeness, poor hygiene, lack of amenities, high prices, even higher taxes, small cars, bad meat, pitiful salaries, 6 day workweeks, deathly bureaucracy, or the dreaded milk in bags. Certainly not the rashayim in the government and supreme court. Definitely not the threat of being shot or blown up every day for the crime of waking up that morning (or in my case, early afternoon).

I think when it comes down to it, I like the fact that in Israel, being Jewish is normal and the natural thing to do. In Israel you just ARE Jewish, period. The difference between a mildly assimilated American Jew and even the most secular Israeli is astounding. No one (ok fine, no one excluding a statistically insignificant fringe minority) would dream of not getting married under a chuppa, or giving their kids a bris. Almost everyone goes to shul on Yom Kippur, a majority fast, and upwards of 90% leave Egypt each year at a Pesach Seder. Every student (even in the most heretical anti-religious schools) must learn Tanakh and Jewish History. We speak Hebrew, we use Shekalim and everyone kvetches to their heart's content (as if there is such a thing). You have to go out of your way to find treife restaurants (even in Tel Aviv) and there is no city, town or neighborhood without a shul(an orthodox one at that). People stop for hitchhikers, invite perfect strangers to their homes for Shabbos and let their little kids roam around unsupervised in the streets (or send them to the store to buy milk in bags). Maybe it is the fact that I can read about certain events in the Chumash and the Gemara and get in the car and go there. Shabbos Chaaye Sarah in Chevron, Lag B'omer in Meron, Birchas Kohanim in Yerushalayim, and for a change Tu B'shevat actually matters. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I scoff at the walls of the Old City which are a mere 400 years old, on my way to Daven at one which was built over 2000 years ago. I remember as a wee youngin' being impressed when we went to visit a house on Long Island which was a whopping 300 years old, in Israel 300 year old artifacts are worth less than yesterday's election poll results.

In America I was a weirdo, a fanatic, a fossil, a relic from the past hanging on to his culture which became obsolete centuries if not millennia ago. Even in Schnorrer Park and Flatbush you are surrounded by people with customs and culture very different from ours and can't help be inundated and influenced by it. Even the shtarkest of Jews in America has a different attitude and way of life than his cousin in Bnai Brak or Beer Sheva. In the streets of The Old City, Meah Shearim or Hebron I am just another brick in the wall just some Harry trying to get to the mikeveh before it closes. Elsewhere I am a tourist attraction.

But I think what really spoke to me and still impresses me to this day is the level of living l'shaim shamayim and mesirus nefesh which is routinely displayed everywhere you look. Yidden who dedicate their lives to serving the Aibishter, have kids without cheshbon, live on hilltops without water or toilets and spend all day arguing about nuances in 2000 year old religious debates because "it is a mitzvah". The entire value system even when compared to worldwide frum communites is just different. Stores which open "after shachris" and close whenever the falafel runs out because the baal habayis has done his histadlus for the day. Everyone is in debt, live in overdraft but somehow manage to put food on the table and marry off their kids. There is no logical explanation for it and hashgocha pratis literally blows in the wind here. I am not saying that living L'shaim shamayim and mesirus nefesh are impossible to find in America, but in Israel you don't even have to look and certainly doesn't come as a surprise.

Sure we can make a list of all the things wrong with Israel (and Israelis) (take milk in bags for example) and still not be finished before the next appearance of Halley's Comet and there is clearly much room for improvement on many fronts, but when push comes to shove, if you are REALLY interested in "being Jewish" Israel is THE place to do it.

That said, I've been here for almost 10 years and it STILL bothers me to no end that milk comes in bags.....

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Video: Kosherfest with Yishai and Malkah

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Music Keeps The Spirit Up and Up!!

Here is an email testifying to the efficacy of the album:

"Just got the AR disc and loaded into onto my mac. Playing it. It is GREAT. The Moshav Band song really pulls at my heart strings. I am there in SPIRIT. Pray that the goof catches up as quick and gets there. For now, I continue to long daily for THAT day. Thanks so much. Best present. You made my month of Kislev. Toodles from Chutz. Shimmi from NJ"


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Monday, October 26, 2009

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

This is the continuation of my email discussion from below:

He wrote:

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

I wrote back:

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

He wrote:

Agree to disagree. Great talking with you!

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Do you think I should be allowed to make aliyah?


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


Dear Friend,

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

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


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Sunday, October 18, 2009

G-d Said Yes

By Rivkah Lambert Adler:
You turned my mourning to dancing. You removed my sackcloth and clothed me in joy. (Tehillim 30:12)

This is the post I've been waiting eight years to write. What seemed utterly impossible just a short time ago suddenly, and I mean suddenly, became absolutely possible. In the end, the whole story is one giant Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G'd's Name).

G'd, through His great goodness, finally said, "Yes. Yes, Rivkah, you can now make plans to come and live in my Land, live among My people. Come soon and grow yet closer to Me."

I can hardly believe it.

Every single boulder that was in our way on the road between Baltimore and Ma'ale Adumim is gone. It's as if G'd said, "Oh, is that in your way? No problem. Here, let Me get rid of that pesky boulder for you." And He did. With such elegance, with such ease, that it could only be G'd's handiwork.

There have been miracles in this process of getting to yes. Outright miracles. Jaw-dropping miracles. Out of respect for the privacy of others, I can't share everything that happened in a public blog, but I can recount this.

On the day I left Ariella in her new life in Israel, I stood on our mirpeset, facing Jerusalem, and prayed an inchoate, "Please Hashem. Please. Please." I wept quietly on the sherut from Ma'ale Adumim, all the way through picking up nine more passengers in various neighborhoods in Jerusalem and I didn't stop until Modi'in, 15 minutes before reaching the airport. Although I sat all the way in the dark back corner and tried to be discreet, the sherut driver twice tried to comfort me in Hebrew, "Yihyeh b'seder, Giveret. It will be okay."

Despite the fact that this was the most difficult parting to date, I eventually dried my tears and made my way back to Baltimore. Once back at the house, I started to unpack. I was alone in the house when something I can't quite define sent me into my daughter's room. The room that she left behind when she made aliyah. The room that held an essence of her, a memory of her, but will no longer ever be hers.

I sat on the bed and I had a meltdown. I don't know how else to define it. The grief that I held quietly on the sherut surfaced in that empty house and I yowled and keened, a wailing lament, as if for the dead.

In my head, I reminded myself that my situation was far from grievous. No one I love had died. No one I love was even sick. I was not Gilad Shalit's mother. My children were healthy and well and I knew where they were.

But I simply could not stop crying.

Years ago, my husband made me promise that when I couldn't take it anymore, I had to let him know. He recognized, before I did, that we were now at that point.

And suddenly, in the exact place where there had been three absolutely impenetrable obstacles, there were five really potent reasons why we should make aliyah. Why we must go soon.

My husband agreed. The words came out of his mouth, but I knew it was Hashem talking. And just like that, the agony over being displaced was over.

To me, it was no less a miracle than the splitting of the Red Sea. Whether I finally cried enough, or accumulated enough merit or, more likely, the combined strength of the prayers of others reached its fulfillment, something shifted in the universe and Hashem said yes.

But then it was Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, and, in a rabbinic household, there was no time to talk about or act on what we had just agreed to.

We told our families that, with G'd's help, we will be coming Home in Tammuz 5770. Some of these conversations were very painful and full of tears of another kind. But, in the end, we were blessed, even by family members who wish we weren't going.

With the chagim coming soon, it was a priority to tell our family members. Beyond that, we only had enough time to tell a few close friends. So many people clearly demonstrated that they appreciated how precious this news was. Some sang in response. Some shouted praises to Hashem. Some cried with joy for us. That was monumentally affecting, that our news brought others to tears.

A particularly memorable reaction came from someone I have known for 20 years, an old friend who plans to remain in America. "Of course," he said, "I will miss being in your physical presence. But it has been so hard for me to watch you in pain, to watch you feeling profoundly displaced all these years. I am so happy for you."

To have friends who love us and who truly, selflessly, wish us joy in this decision is a blessing beyond measure.

Hodu lashem, ki tov. Ki l'olam chasdo. Give thanks to Hashem, because He is Good. His kindness lasts forever.

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Eretz Yisrael is FUNDAMENTAL to Living a True Jewish Life.

[Picture of Northern Israel by Theo from Holland]

Hello, my name is N. and I was educated in right-wing yeshivas for many years and the attitude of most of my rebbeim and friends was: "if you can move to Israel-great. If you can't- no big deal, you can study Torah and be a good Jew in America too."

There was never an emphasis an settling the land or making alliya. Over time, as I became more exposed to the teachings of Rav Kook, I began to realize that the prolonged exile has had an effect on everyone's thinking - even the rabbis. We think of Eretz Yisrael as some kind of "icing on the cake" to our Torah learning and strict adherence to the mitzos. The reality, is that Eretz Yisrael is FUNDAMENTAL to living a true Jewish life.

I desperatly want to make aliya with my wife and 3 children. When I tell people this, they reply "Oh, thats not a very smart idea- your kids will have a very difficult time adjusting and it may even cause them to go off the derech". I feel in my heart of hearts that aliyah is such a special mitvah- equal to all the mitzos- and if I am doing a mitva for the sake of heaven, Hashem will not allow any bad to befall me or my family on account of the mitzva. Also, who says my kids can't get just as messed up- chas v'shalom- here in America? There are so many kids here in America that go off the derech, so why not take my chances in Israel where at least for all the future generations after my kids, they will have the benefit of being part of Israeli society- which truly is, sooner or later, going to be the only place on earth for a Jew to be.

The problem is that I am only qualified to be a Rebbi and my wife a kindergarten Morah. There is no shortage of those in Israel, so the question remains "how would we make ends meet?". I am willing to sacrafice alot to move to Israel but I don't know where to start. Is there a way you could help me to make aliya?

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Jewish Blogging

"Jewish bloggers get advice on combating Iranian threat at Jerusalem convention"
Sep. 13, 2009 by Elan Miller , THE JERUSALEM POST

Aimed at tackling challenges faced by Jewish bloggers both here and in the Diaspora, over 300 bloggers attended the Second International Jewish Bloggers Convention in Jerusalem at Beit Avi Chai on Sunday evening.

Although the convention attempted to help bloggers discover how to best make use of the Internet for promoting their cause, Tova Serkin of JGooders warned that "social media are not the 'magic bullet," and explained that while the Internet is indeed "the future," it remains merely a tool that needs to be harnessed.

The conference, titled "Uniting the Jewish Community through Social Media," included eight workshops followed by two panel discussions aimed at advancing Jewish, Zionist and charitable causes.

Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief David Horovitz, kicking off the convention, confirmed the assembled bloggers' belief that blogs are becoming increasingly influential, telling the crowd that "one of our writers, Haviv, used blog posts by two prominent bloggers in an article of his. His article was one of many that condemned the recent failed Masa campaign and while I don't know which coverage ended up breaking the camel's back, the blogs definitely contributed."
Introducing one particularly hotly anticipated workshop, "Defending Israel through social media tools," Yishai Fleisher of the Kumah blog quoted Texas Rep. John Colberson as saying, "If the printing press made us all readers and Xerox made us all publishers, then the Internet made us all journalists."

Fleisher lauded the Internet's power and potential. "We now have the ability to reach people around the world in an instant," he said, adding that "it's important that bloggers remain opinionated - objectivity is not the holy grail; subjectivity is what it's all about."

The workshop Fleisher hosted featured Ashley Perry, an adviser to Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, along with prominent bloggers Carl of the Israel Matzav blog and the anonymous "Jameel" of the Muqata blog, two of the most referenced and respected pages among the online Jewish community.

Introducing the writer of the Muqata blog, Fleisher told the audience how even the name of a blog can be used as a tool to influence opinion, explaining that if someone tries to run a "search for the Palestinian resistance movement, you instead find a Jewish blog that actively promotes Israel."

Perry, one of the founding members of Honest Reporting, the Jerusalem-based media watchdog which campaigns on behalf of Israel, noted that the bloggers in attendance had vastly different political perspectives, implored the Jewish and Zionist blogosphere to reunite, and took the opportunity to "issue a call of unity," explaining that "Israel has only overcome major issues when we've been together."

"Jameel" agreed, explaining that "finding a common denominator for defending Israel is very important."

Perry highlighted the worrying trend that "it's increasingly hard to explain Israel's rights - not Israel's actions, but rights."

Recognizing the influence of blogging, Perry added, "The greatest threat to Israel and Zionism is Iran. As bloggers, as opinion shapers, we have to try to get people's attention to this issue. Iran is threatening through its extremism, through its propaganda.

"But at the moment, we're preaching to the choir... we need to reach out to Europe in particular - maybe 10 percent of the population are extremists either way and are 'sold,' but the middle 80% is up for grabs, and we're losing that battle. American Jews and Zionists tend to think that Europe is a 'lost continent,' but I'd say that that's not true," he added.

Yael Katsman of Nefesh b'Nefesh, which hosted the event, told The Jerusalem Post that "the convention, following the success of the first bloggers convention last year, should help bring the Jewish community together. We have helped bloggers meet one another and hopefully we can advance our cause together."

For some though, the convention was an opportunity to meet other blog authors. "It's fantastic to get to meet all these bloggers. Over the last four or five years that I've been blogging, I've become part of a community with these other bloggers... it's great to meet them in the flesh," one writer, Akiva Marks, told the Post.

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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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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Talking with Mike Huckabee about Israel

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Elephant Aliyah

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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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My New Tisha b'Av Video: Rectifying the Sin of Spies

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Born in the USA, Making Aliyah Today

Thursday, July 09, 2009

A Message from Rabbi Tendler On the 17th of Tammuz

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Must Read: Fantasy Aliyah!

Dear Yishai,

Hi, this is Fran. I was at your Kumah meeting in NY last year when you talked about the "aliyah boat". I have another idea for your listeners: I call it Fantasy Aliyah!

In the Jewish newspapers in NY they are advertising a Glatt Kosher, Shomer Shabbat Fantasy baseball camp with one of the NY major league teams. I root for the OTHER NY team, but in any case I would not spend ridiculous sums of money to go do such a thing since being a baseball player is not my fantasy.

However, I really wish I could make aliyah, but for personal family reasons I am not yet in a position to do so. My husband and I are working on a longer term plan, but meanwhile we are bringing the family to Israel this summer.

Instead of vacationing in the expensive tourist bubble of four or five star Hotels and fancy tours, I planned a trip where we are renting a house for three weeks in a community we would consider living in where we have some friends. We will be attending an unveiling ceremony, and also a wedding. We will visit friends, do some fun things for sure. Most important is that I want to learn to ride the buses, the train, shop in the supermarket, shop at the mall, visit the community pool, the library and practice my Hebrew. I may even rent a car and try driving in Israel (scary thought!)

At first I was calling this my pre pre pilot trip, but now I am calling it Fantasy Aliyah! For three weeks I'm going to imagine that I'm really an olah chadasha! My daughter even picked up an NBN hat for me at the salute to Israel parade!

I'm hoping that this will be a good experience, and make the idea of aliyah less scary. I'm hoping that I will get more comfortable with being in Israel, and that one day G-d willing we can make aliyah for real.

Meanwhile "Fantasy Camp" in Israel, is better than not coming at all! We hope to turn our Fantasy into reality some day soon.

You may read this email on air as an idea for your listeners, and I hope to visit Beit El and all my radio friends at INR.


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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Samaritans, Noahides, and Christians

Yoel Keren, ex-Messianic Christian, now Restorationist Jew, helps us understand the mystery of the Samaritans, the gift of Noahide offerings, and how Christians can drop the "New Testament."

Part I

Part II

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Monday, June 22, 2009

A Letter To My Rabbi

Shavua Tov Yishai,

Below is the text of an e-mail that I felt the need to send to my Rav. I felt compelled to share it with you too.

I'm writing this e-mail simply because I felt like sharing some thoughts which occurred to me yesterday in shul during our reading of the Torah.

Towards the beginning of the parsha (as you know, we're back at parshat Shelach because of Shavuot), Moshe clarifies the "mandate" which was conferred upon the 12 men selected "latur" the Land. As I see it, the mandate of these shlichim, was comprised of 6 elements (1 general directive, 4 questions of assessment to be answered and, lastly, 1 "grocery order"):

1) see the land, what it is;
2) [see] the people that dwelleth therein, whether they are strong or weak, whether they are few or many;
3) [see] what the land is that they dwell in, whether it is good or bad;
4) [see] what cities they are that they dwell in, whether in camps, or in strongholds;
5) [see] what the land is, whether it is fat or lean, whether there is wood therein, or not;
6) be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land.' (Now the time was the time of the first-ripe grapes);

Now, the 1st and 6th elements of the mandate seem to me to fit relatively easily into the "legitimate" side of the mission, namely to come back with good news and words of encouragement designed & intended to create a kind of "pep rally" among b'nei Yisrael in anticiaption of their taking possession of their inheritance. I was forced to wonder, however, about where the 4 question elements could find their legitimacy in Hashem's eyes.

Then 2 analogies came to mind. The first having to do with my children and the second, related to the context of newlyweds.

The first brought to mind many instances where I would offer things (yummy food or cool toys, for example) to my kids which I knew they would like. If I were to give it to them without saying anything, they would surely enjoy the thing given, but that would be it. So I would find myself saying things like "Well here's some chocolate ice cream, but I dunno, should I really to give it to you cuz' it's maybe kinda yucky, maybe you don't like it". Of course, this inevitably elicits responses such as "Daddy! Nooooo! It's so yummy! Of course you should give it to us - we love it!!" A whole "buzz" is thus created and the enjoyment amplified. It occurred to me that this is perhaps the way in which Moshe, in the name of Hashem, was talking to b'nei Yisrael - as if saying "kinderlech, there's Eretz Yisrael over there - what do you think? the people that dwelleth therein, are they strong or weak, are they few or many, the Land, is it good or bad, are the cities that the inhabitants live in camps or strongholds, and the Land, is it fat or lean, is there wood or not?" while expecting the answer to be "Oy Avinu Shebashamayim! You're being so silly with us - of course we love the Land, it's soooo good, it has everything we need and what difference does it make how the inhabitants are, whether they're big or small, strong or weak, few or many - we have You! - who could possibly compare to You?!"

This, in turn, (oddly) brought to mind the 2nd analogy - that of husband and wife - newlyweds. It's the image of a newly married couple - fresh from the chupah. For weeks, the groom had been preparing a new home for he and his wife - arranging everything just so, to accoimmodate his precious bride. Was this not the stage at which b'nei Yisrael found itself? - fresh out of the chupah of Har Sinai and on the point of being led into the home that Hakadosh Baruch Hu had set aside and arranged just so for us, his "bride". (I won't even get into the additional eggshells being walked upon by b'nei Yisrael as a result of the Chet haEgel fiasco). Moreover, what a groom to have! And now right before the point of being proverbially carried across the threshhold (the Jordan) by our All-Powerful groom - and what happens? The bride (at least in terms of her majority-led collective expression) has the audacity to say "We are not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we" [note that the denotes either b'nei Yisrael AND Hashem or b`nei Yisrael to the exclusion of Hashem - each interpretation being worse than the other!!] and "'The land... is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature" as if to say "Hashem, I'm kinda concerned about the structural integrity of the home you prepared for us and, moreover, there are other men around that seem totally ripped - way more buff than You!"

Can the ensuing fury of the new husband be overstated?!?!

But wait! There's yet more!

The new wife adds fuel to the fire saying "'Let us make a captain, and let us return to Egypt".

After EVERYTHING that Hashem had orchestrated to bring his wife to this point - after the famines in E'Y, the whole episode with Joseph and his brothers, the miraculous hasgacha pratis which led Joseph to the house of Potiphar and then to prison, to the ruach hakodesh granted to Yosef in his dream interpretations, first for Pharoah's chief baker and chief steward and then for Pharoah himself. Then the 7 fat years and the 7 lean years, the Part II of the episode with Joseph and his brothers, then the descent of Yaakov and his entire household into Egypt only to transform into slavery - ALL only to be redeemed therefrom, brought to the Chupah of Har Sinai, given the Ketubah of Torah (being also the blueprint for all existence), lastly being brought to the threshold of the ultimate co-existence with the Creator of the Universe and the response is "Let's choose a new guide who will bring us back to Egypt"?!?!?

All of this struck me as the leining went on and all I could do is tremble from both fear and disbelief with tears rolling down my cheek. How dispicably unfathomable is it that we could have done this once so long ago - ever?! But that we have been doing it again over the course of the last 61 years?!?!!?

Hashem's statement "I will smite them with the pestilence, and destroy them, and will make of thee a nation greater and mightier than they" seems like getting off easy in light of the travesty exhibited. The fact that Hashem ended up acceeding to Moshe's pleadings saying simply "salachti kidvarecha" is just beyond rachamim - beyond my comprehension anyway. It is no wonder that our national punishment for that act of total betrayal had to be meted out over millenia of sufferings. If that was the consequence of the first transgression of our rejection of Hashem's invitation that we join Him in the Home he set aside for us, what in the world do we have in store for us this time around?!

Tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh Tammuz. The 17th (my birthday, incidentally) ushers in that most ominous and dreadful time of year for our nation - those 3 weeks during which we are acutely reminded (or at least ought to be acutely reminded) of our having failed yet again - for the gazilionth time - to correct and rectify that disgustingly grievous mistake originally committed thousands of years ago. Of course, I always try to muster up a tiny bit of hope that this year will be different - that this year I'll be able to celebrate my birthday along with far greater causes of celebration. But I'm afraid and ashamed to say that I don't feel particularly optimistic about this year being that year. I have no reason to believe that I'll be doing anything other than sitting on a milk crate in our shul here in admat nechar again watching other Jews who gather with a little facial hair growth and a bit of a growl in their stomach - but without, at least apparently, any intention of rectifying the very error that got them in that predicament in the first place or, worse, without any clue as to what error was and continues to be.

Hey whaddya know! This e-mail has been so long that it's brought me to nightime - so Chodesh Tov!


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Friday, June 19, 2009

Yishai and Malkah on WeJew

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Temple's Response To Obama

Thursday, June 04, 2009

President Obama

Dear Yishai,
I am truly sorry about the stance Pres. Obama has taken. I did not like the path the Bush administration took either. What I truly believe is the US State Department sets the path and it is up to the president how strongly they push. In my heart I knew Pres. Obama would be more ruthless. The church he attended for 20 years was obviously anti-semetic. As biblically promised the US is being cursed. We are cursing G-d's Chosen and trying to force them to give up their inheritance. Just stay strong and remember Leviticus chapter 25 starting in verse 23 the Land of Israel belongs to G-d and is not yours to give away...

The Bible is full of promises to you regarding the Land. My hearts desire is to encourage more Jews to make aliyah. Also to encourage Christians to encourage G-d's Chosen to be strong. Their return to eretz Israel is all a part of G-d's redemptive plan. The quicker we get this show on the road the quicker we will see the Meshiach. I am saddened to see what is happening to the USA. Last week I attended my grandson's High School Graduation. When the "Color Guard" marched in, Ralph and I were amongst the few that stood. I found myself grieving. Grieving for the "Norman Rockwell" country that I grew up in that is nowhere to be seen today. Pres. Obama is destroying this country daily. A man who bows to the King of Saudi Arabia will do so again. I am sure their greeting this week will be done outside the view of cameras. I do believe the demise of the USA is rapidly coming upon us.

Sometimes it scares me to see what is ahead of us. What I do know is my belief in G-d and His written words are a comfort to me. I pray HaShem will see fit to allow me to make more trips to His Land to work on the water park in Kdumim. That this will continue until I take my last breath or the Meshaich comes. Many of us at Fellowship are doing our best to encourage PM Netanyahu to stand up against the nations including the US. Also trying to impress upon Pres. Obama and our Washington representatives the importance to side with Israel and G-d and not with allah. I am afraid our words are falling on deaf ears. What I do know is our prayers are not falling on deaf ears. Remain strong and stand tall on every hilltop in Judea and Samaria. You have a friend in the highest of places. Remember one thing, those of the Jewish faith in Israel are the only people in the world to have G-d on their side.
Shalom, Geri

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Shavuot Awesomeness

Please check out the amazing video of our Klean-Up in Hebron at the Tomb of Ruth and Yishai (just in time for Shavuot!)

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Our Klean-Up Was Awesome!

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

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

"The Change-Place"

A few days ago, I went to cash some checks at a change-place in downtown Jerusalem. Cashing checks outside the bank is legal in Israel, and there are a few reputable establishments around Zion Square. One well known place, "Kent", is owned by Sephardic Jews and they recently decorated their store – which had moved to a new location – with many large, quality pictures of famous rabbis such as the Baba Sali and the Lubavitcher Rebbe and others.

Standing in line, after conducting a cell phone conversation in English, I was addressed by an American lady who was waiting to exchange her dollars into shekel...

"Rabbi pictures in a change place – that doesn't seem appropriate," she told me, with a look of disapproval, a scrunched up nose and a head shake. "It doesn't fit, you know, money and Rabbis."

At first I didn't grasp what she meant. Trying to understand what experiences she might be drawing from, I suddenly realized – she was concerned about the Christian stigma of Jews as money lenders, penny pinchers, and crook-nosed bankers, and did not want the perception she acutely avoided in America to be promulgated by this Israeli and very Jewish establishment. The rabbis on the walls coupled with unabashed money dealings made her feel uncomfortable.

I was taken aback. I did not expect anyone to feel this way about the common practice of rabbi pictures in sefardic establishments. I said to her without any trace of Zionist snobbishness: "Ma'am, we are no longer beholden to the prejudices of two-thousand years in which the nations stereotyped us with hateful libels. We simply do not worry about those things anymore. We don't think of ourselves as Shylocks and we do not look over our shoulder to concern ourselves with 'what will the nations say?' We are in downtown Jerusalem, our Jerusalem! This establishment is reputable, and the owners are sefardi, and they like this style. So why not have rabbis on the walls? What do we have to be embarrassed of?" I asked.

So far, a typical downtown Jerusalem conversation. But this is where it became amazing. After my little soliloquy, the nice American lady thought for a moment and surprisingly replied: "Oh… I guess you are right." And after thinking for about another ten seconds more she said: "Yes, you're right, and maybe these rabbis bring a blessing to this place."

Oh my G-d! Did you see that? Did you catch the miracle? Well, let me explain it in any case:

When this fine lady first came to the change-place, she was repelled by what she saw. She was repelled because she was seeing the store through the lens of the Jewish experience of the last two-thousand years of exile. She was utilizing the thoughts Jews had honed in places like Lodz, and Kiev, Bagdad and Tripoli. These Exilic fears are ever-present even in minds of the emancipated Jews of North America. In short, she was looking at the change-place with Exile-eyes which is why she felt uncomfortable with the rabbi/money nexus.

However, this same lady, who until a moment ago was still in the grips of the Exilic mindset, was able, over the course of a short conversation, to completely change her perspective from one of Galut (exile) to one of Geula (redemption)! She had an epiphany, a realization, a change of heart, an understanding, or what I call a shift in polarity. Only a short time ago, her Jewish soul was set to Exile-polarity, worrying about what the gentiles think, not recognizing that she stood in the heart of the miracle, downtown Jerusalem. Now, her soul awakened to the fact that she was part of a proud nation that has returned home, and that we have our own language, our own culture and our own heroes. The rabbis on the wall became not a source of shame, but a source pride, maybe even blessing.

Most importantly, the American lady suddenly felt free, free of prejudices and fear, free to be a Jew in Jerusalem and Israel. That is a miracle.

Most of us are stuck in the Exile. Heck, most of Israel and certainly the government of the State of Israel is stuck in the Exile. We just can't wrap our minds around the reality that the period of accommodation, pandering, and shame has ended. Our nation acts like a pathetic court-Jew trying to please the Duke or the Tzar, or the Pope, always acquiescing or bowing to international pressure.

Many of us think that Jerusalem and Israel are nothing but the same Exile in a slightly superior geography. How many times have you heard (or even said) "We are still in exile." That may be convenience talking, or it may be fear talking, but that is not G-d talking. Downtown Jerusalem is not Exile. Indeed, the only thing that is still in Exile is our brains. That has to change.

What gave me so much heart from my conversation with the American women is the speed at which she was able to assimilate a new consciousness. Her soul was willing o accept the truth, but her mind was not yet able. However, once her mind was freed her soul flew, allowing her to finally enjoy the fruits of redemption.

Wars, the ingathering of the exiles, and the establishment of the state were all amazing steps in redemption - but now the movement needs a second wind. The time has come for a new consciousness and a new awakening. It is time to take up the mantle of building our Jewish homeland and making it all it can and wants to be. All it takes is a change in mental polarity. If you're stuck in old-world Exile-thinking, go to the change-place in downtown Jerusalem, maybe the rabbis there can help you too.


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Thursday, May 07, 2009

"The Identity-Impaired Jewish State"

"A Jewish State, what is that supposed to mean? You call yourselves as you like, but I don't accept it, and I say so publicly." This was Mahmoud Abbas' response to Binyamin Netanyahu's demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish State as part of an eventual peace deal. What a classic Arab response to such a lame Israeli demand.

Asking the Arab and Muslim world for verbal recognition of Israel's Jewishness is the height of irony. Fatah and the Arab/Muslim world have always recognized Israel as a Jewish State. They don't recognize us in words – but they do so in actions - as every attack on Israel is the utmost recognition of its Jewishness. They want to destroy us because precisely we are Jews in a Jewish State. They recognize who we are, they just don’t accept it...

Why do we need enemies to give us affirmation, anyway? Where is the Israeli toughness, asserting our right to exist without concern for the opinion of others?

Throughout the long Exile and in the absence of a homeland, the Jewish people needed their host nations to recognize them, grant them security, and provide a nice quiet ghetto to live in – which they rarely managed to do. The founding of Israel was supposed to change all that. "Never Again" would Jews put their fate in the hands of others - the Jewish State was to exist on its own will, without regard to the whims of other nations. Unfortunately, sixty-one years after the founding of the State, we have returned to old-fashioned Exile thinking, basing our policies and plans on the recognition and approval of those who don't have our best interest at heart.

The Israeli government's fawning behavior toward the Pope is another example of the old-fashioned exilic thinking which has crept into our country:

For the last two millennia the Jews were kept lowly and persecuted under Christendom. The Catholic Church taught that G-d kept the Jews around as a 'witness' to their own downfall for rejecting Jesus, and to be 'witness' to the 'Second Coming'. Suddenly, instead of Jesus' resurrection, Israel was reborn. Seemingly, the prophecies of the Jewish ingathering and sovereign revival had come true. In contrast to Church doctrine, the Jews were no longer losers – we were winners, posing a real dilemma for Catholicism.

However, in honor of the Pope's upcoming visit, Israel is rolling out the red carpet. The Postal Authority has commissioned a set of stamps depicting Israel's churches while the Jewish National Fund is conducting a tour of trees that "are believed to have witnessed Jesus’ deeds". Our President, Shimon Peres has even called for the transfer of six "Christian" sites over to Vatican control.
Perhaps the most enthusiastic member of the Pope's welcoming committee, Israel's Ministry of Tourism, has produced a website and movie worthy of the jealousies of any Catholic missionary. The film presents the story of a divine Jesus as absolute truth. It does not politely suggest that the stories and places accord with Christian traditions, but rather asserts that the events Christians subscribe to actually occurred, offering no qualifiers to accommodate alternative beliefs – like Jewish ones. It is chilling to think that in the Middle Ages, thousands of Jews chose to die rather then affirm the Jesus myth, yet now our own Tourism Ministry affirms it wholesale on its official website.

After watching the film, two ironic thoughts may occur to you: 1. Now you understand why the Church has always put such a premium on Jewish converts to Christianity - we are just that good! We make the best Christian propaganda out there. Nothing like a meshumad (Jew for Jesus) to peddle the Pope's wares. 2. When the pro-Pope website and movie came out, you could just hear the collective joy of missionaries worldwide: it must be Messianic times when the Jews themselves are preaching the Gospel of Jesus!

The truth is that there are no closet-Christians in our government. It is simply that the people running the show are representative of the identity-impaired ethos of our time. This ethos leads them to kowtow to, and be pushed around by, foreign interested powers. The Church, as well as the Arabs, love to take advantage of our identity vacuum and to tirelessly promote their alternative narrative of the land of Israel. This is where Jesus did this, this is where Muhammad did that…

Therefore, in this identity-crisis, the first people that need to recognize Israel as a Jewish State are the Jewish people and the Jewish government of Israel. We need to understand that demanding recognition from others is meaningless when we ourselves forget our own identity.

In the case of Mahmoud Abbas, Israel does not need his recognition of our Jewish State. Rather, we need to act like a Jewish State by asserting our sovereignty over our land, and by having a zero-tolerance policy for hate crimes and Nazi-like incitement against Jews. 'Never Again' needs to become a meaningful mantra once more.

Regarding the Pope, let him keep the Vatican and we will keep Israel. Instead of promoting Catholicism, our government should use its time, money, and effort to promote the Jewish version of the Bible, our history. Tourism will not be harmed if the thrust of Israel's marketing campaign focuses on Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob instead of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost.

The world needs to be told the truth – Jewish Israel is here to stay. Yet, Jews of the world need to understand that the world's acceptance of Israel as a Jewish State is totally dependant on our creation of that fact. We Jews must be reminded that the more we stand up for our truth and our beliefs, the more we will be respected, but the more we compromise on our heritage and our destiny, the more our right to exist will be challenged by those interested in promoting their own alternative narrative.


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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Economic Crisis Prompting Israeli Expats to Return Home

TEL AVIV (JTA) -- When Oded Salomy and his family first left Israel for the United States, they planned to move back after a few years of career building. But life was good, and it quickly became easy to delay the return home.

Then the economic crisis hit, giving them an extra nudge to go back to Israel...

Now celebrating his first Independence Day in Israel in five years, Salomy marvels at the relative ease of the transition from suburban New Jersey to suburban Tel Aviv.

“I feel great here," he said. "I definitely feel it was the right move both for me as person and as a family.

The Salomy family is among a growing number of Israeli families living abroad who, motivated by new economic realities and ties to family, friends and country, are making the journey back home.

As many as 1 million Israelis live overseas, according to varying estimates, but the Israeli government over the years exerted little official effort to woo them back. That changed recently when the Absorption Ministry adopted a new campaign to offer returning Israelis tax and other financial incentives, as well as assistance finding jobs.

Last year, the number of returning Israelis rose to 11,000 from a recent annual average of 4,500, according to the ministry. In the past six months, as the global economic situation has deteriorated, interest in moving to Israel has skyrocketed, officials say -- not just among Israelis abroad but potential immigrants, too.

Among those returning are highly educated Israelis who have gained valuable work and academic experience abroad.

“I hope because of the campaign tens of thousands of Israelis will find their way back to Israel,” Erez Halfon, director general of the Absorption Ministry, told JTA. “I think it’s important to them, and the government needs to encourage it because I’m sure in 10 years we will see their importance, how the economy and security situation will be improved because of their return.”

Before launching its campaign, the ministry researched some of the main reasons Israelis abroad hesitate to return.

Among the major stumbling blocks the ministry removed were penalties for failing to pay National Insurance payments (akin to Social Security payments in the United States) while abroad. The ministry also provides extra Hebrew education for the children of returning Israelis, offers business loans and provides a tax exemption for two years on all income earned abroad.

While Israel has been affected by the economic crisis, it has felt the blow less severely than the United States.

Salomy, 41, had founded a transportation technology start-up while in America -- an interactive touch-screen system for the backseats of taxi cabs in New York City. Despite finding initial success, it became clear the company would have to raise tens of millions of additional dollars to stay competitive.

“Then the markets started falling apart and commitments crumbled, and with the pinch it became clear people were tightening up and the company was not going to be able to support me and my family any longer,” he said.

A lawyer by training, Salomy had to take temporary consulting jobs to stay afloat. His and his wife’s thoughts soon focused on their deferred plan to return to Israel.

“The deteriorating economy was not as bad then as it is now, but it was still pretty bad and it pushed us to make a pivotal life decision,” he said. “We told ourselves that if we want to move, we should move now.”

There were also “pull” factors: Salomy’s children were getting older, and he wanted them to grow up in Israel -- a sentiment many returning Israelis echo.

“The decision was not for a better life, but wanting to come back as the kids got bigger,” said Ruti Efroni, who returned to Israel last summer after five years in Washington. “They had even stopped speaking Hebrew to each other, and we wanted to come back to our families.”

When it comes to finding work, recruiters suggest that those who intend to return should move back first and then seek employment. Otherwise, the recruiters warn, the job seekers are not taken as seriously by prospective employers.

That’s what Salomy did after two “scouting” trips to Israel, where he had dozens of interviews and meetings. Soon after returning last summer, he found a job as a director of corporate development for Modu, a manufacturer of light mobile phones.

Nefesh B’Nefesh, the organization that oversees North American aliyah, attributes the 100 percent jump in the number of inquiries to their call center in recent months to the economic crisis.

“Israel has been on their agenda,” said Danny Oberman, executive vice president of Israel operations for the group. “They are looking towards summer camps and paying for next year’s education for their kids, saying, ‘OK, the bonuses I got two years ago are not going to happen; it’s a new landscape.”

Ronan Hillel, a 37-year-old father of six from Long Island, N.Y., has moved up his aliyah plans to June because of the economy. Until recently he was a mortgage banker, working in a field that has dried up in the United States and doesn’t exist in Israel.

But Hillel, the son of Israelis, is optimistic. He’s planning to switch careers in Israel to the food industry.

“We’ll do anything we can in the beginning," he said, "and we'll see where life takes us.”

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Beloved Israel

It's pretty simple really - I love this place! I love the people, I love the Land, I love the State. I love the feeling of waking up in this Land and breathing air here. I love the food, I love the smell. I love the history, I love that it's mine! We are home, we are building, we are getting better all the time. No excuses or qualifications necessary! I love the flag, and the birds, and the sky, and Jerusalem. I love that my father and grandmother are buried here, I love that the Matriarchs and Patriarchs are buried here. I will dedicate my life to making this place great. Join me...

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why I Moved to Israel

By Dani Koesterich (check out his blog)

Around 5 weeks ago, I moved from New Jersey to Jerusalem. Many people wondered why I decided to move, and when asked the reason, I found myself advancing a wide range of answers - everything from the inspirational, to the spiritual, and even the practical (”well, I have a lot of friends there”). Now, being Israeli for 5 weeks, I would like to list some of the reasons I decided to move, and add my present-day opinions, now that I have a bit of hindsight on the matter.

(1). Israel is the only country that actively protects Jews worldwide

You may not know this, but there are Israeli mossad agents in every single country on planet earth. I kid you not. If you’ve done a bit of reading into history, and intake regular quantities of Middle Eastern news, you’d know how vulnerable Jews are worldwide (if you disagree, I assure you I can change your opinion). Let’s leave anti-semitism out of the picture for a moment. The state of Israel as a country is rather controversial in the world. Terrorism against Jews in any country can send a serious message to the state of Israel, and that is why Israel takes on the unbelievable burden of watching out for Jews all over the world.
It may not seem like a big deal for Jews living in America, under the security and protection of the world superpower, but when the situation hits the fan for the Jews (and believe me, it does), circumstances can become dire. That is why I feel the safest living in a country full of Jews, run by Jews, whose #1 priority is to protect Jewish lives...

(2). This is the chance our ancestors waited over 1800 years for

The 2nd temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE by the Romans, and the Jewish people were exiled, and dispersed from Israel to locations all over the world. In their daily prayers (3 times a day) Jews have been praying for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and their temple for over 1800 years. Rewind just 100 years ago: Millions of Russain Jews were living in ghettos, poor, starving, and 40% unemployed, where it was illegal to practice any form of Judaism whatsoever. The Jews of that period in time would literally have done any possible thing to be freed from their oppression, let alone to have a state of their own, where Jewish observance was not only legal, but facilitated.

Now that the chance to live in a Jewish land of Israel has returned for the first time in 1800 years, I would think it an unimaginable lost opportunity to just ignore it, and live somewhere else. We’ve been wondering from country to country for centuries already.

(3). We’re making history

Read some history books. In approximately the year 378 BCE, the Persian king Cyrus The Great set forth an edict allowing Jews to return to their homeland, and rebuild their temple. A mere 5% took him up on his offer. Not only that, but later on, when the temple was finally rebuilt and the 2nd Jewish commonwealth was underway, 75% of world Jewry lived outside the land of Israel. Our Rabbis and Sages say that had the Jews risen to the opportunity that Cyrus The Great had helped to provide, the 2nd temple may not have been destroyed.

To put it mildly, their great grandchildren and their descendants felt they made a disastrous decision, and the Jewish people have paid wholesomely for it, for millennia. When the history books of the 21st century are written and studied by future generations, I don’t want to be looked back on poorly.

(4). Israel needs Jews!

Having lived in Israel for 5 weeks at this point, I can say definitively that Israel needs Jews living here. In just 60 years, the country has gone from practically nothing, to a first-world country, often times leading the way in technology and science. I believe this is solely due to the unparralelled talent, and drive the Jewish people have, collectively.

I like to think of myself as a talented individual, and thus, one of the reasons I decided to move to Israel was so that I can put my talents toward improving the Jewish state. There are a lot of smart Jews living in Israel, and let me just say, it’s apparent.

(5). Everything you do is a Mitzvah

There is only one country on earth where picking trash up off the ground is a Mitzvah, and there is only one country on earth where sweeping the ground outside your apartment is a Mitzvah. You guessed it: Israel.

(6). What do you want to do with your life?

Believe it or not, there will come a point in time that you will look back on your life, and begin to judge whether you lived your life satisfactorily. For me, when that time comes, I desperately want to be able to list the multitude of things I dedicated time and energy toward during my lifetime that helped build Israel into a better place. I also hope at that time, I can say that I successfully raised a generation of children that will continue the legacy of the Jewish people.

Maybe they’ll each have their own blogs. That would be awesome. I know a good programmer they can hire.

(7). The food here is ridiculous

Seriously, if you like food even a little, you would love living in Israel. The ice coffee is in slurpee consistency! Enough said.

(8). Hebrew is sickly cool

עברית היא שפה קדושה ומגניבה

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Monday, April 20, 2009

A Nice Article about Israel in the NY Times? Mashiach must be coming...

"A Loud and Promised Land" By DAVID BROOKS

On my 12th visit to Israel, I finally had my baptism by traffic accident. I was sitting at a red light, when a bus turning the corner honked at me to back up. When I did, I scraped the fender of the car behind me.

The driver — a young, hip-looking, alt-rocker dude — came running out of the car in a fury. He ran up to the bus driver and got into a ferocious screaming match. Then he came up to me graciously and kindly. We were brothers in the war against bus drivers. Then, as we were filling out our paperwork, another bus happened by and honked. The rocker ran out into the street and got into another ferocious screaming match with this driver. Then he came back to me all smiles and warmth.

Israel is a country held together by argument. Public culture is one long cacophony of criticism. The politicians go at each other with a fury we can’t even fathom in the U.S. At news conferences, Israeli journalists ridicule and abuse their national leaders. Subordinates in companies feel free to correct their superiors. People who move here from Britain or the States talk about going through a period of adjustment as they learn to toughen up and talk back...

Ethan Bronner, The Times’s Jerusalem bureau chief, notes that Israelis don’t observe the distinction between the public and private realms. They treat strangers as if they were their brothers-in-law and feel perfectly comfortable giving them advice on how to live.

One Israeli acquaintance recounts the time he was depositing money into his savings account and everybody else behind him in line got into an argument about whether he should really be putting his money somewhere else. Another friend tells of the time he called directory assistance to get a phone number for a restaurant. The operator responded, “You don’t want to eat there,” and proceeded to give him the numbers of some other restaurants she thought were better.

We can all think of reasons that Israeli culture should have evolved into a reticence-free zone, and that the average behavior should be different here. This is a tough, scrappy country, perpetually fighting for survival. The most emotionally intense experiences are national ones, so the public-private distinction was bound to erode. Moreover, the status system doesn’t really revolve around money. It consists of trying to prove you are savvier than everybody else, that above all you are nobody’s patsy.

As an American Jew, I was taught to go all gooey-eyed at the thought of Israel, but I have to confess, I find the place by turns exhausting, admirable, annoying, impressive and foreign. Israel’s enemies claim the country is an outpost of Western colonialism. That’s not true. Israel is, in large measure, a Middle Eastern country, and the Israeli-Arab dispute is in part an intra-Mideast conflict.

This culture of disputatiousness does yield some essential fruits. First, it gives the country a special vividness. There is no bar on earth quite so vibrant as a bar filled with Israelis.

Second, it explains the genuine national unity. Israel is the most diverse small country imaginable. Nonetheless, I may be interviewing a left-wing artist in Tel Aviv or a right-wing settler in Hebron, and I can be highly confident that they will have a few things in common: an intense sense of national mission, a hunger for emotionally significant moments, an inability to read social signals when I try to suggest that I really don’t want them to harangue me about moving here and adopting their lifestyle.

Most important, this argumentative culture nurtures a sense of responsibility. The other countries in this region are more gracious, but often there is a communal unwillingness to accept responsibility for national problems. The Israelis, on the other hand, blame themselves for everything and work hard to get the most out of each person. From that wail of criticism things really do change. I come here nearly annually, and while the peace process is always the same, there is always something unrecognizable about the national scene — whether it is the structure of the political parties, the absorption of immigrants or the new engines of economic growth.

Today, Israel is stuck in a period of frustrating stasis. Iran poses an existential threat that is too big for Israel to deal with alone. Hamas and Hezbollah will frustrate peace plans, even if the Israelis magically do everything right.

This conflict will go on for a generation or more. Israelis will keep up their insufferable and necessary barrage of self-assertion. And yet we still dream of peace and the day when I am standing in line at an Israeli cash register and an Israeli shopper sees a chance to butt in front of me, and — miracle of miracles — she will not try to take it.

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Swedish Life

Friday, April 03, 2009

Used Furniture

From: Denise Troutman
To: Alex Traiman
Sent: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 9:22:20 PM
Subject: used furniture

Hi Alex,

We are temporarily moving out of our Temple while it is being reconstructed. Are you still in need of items for your Temple?

Thank you,
Denise Troutman

Facility and Events Coordinator
Temple Beth El
5101 Providence Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28226


From: Alex Traiman
Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2009 5:04 PM
To: Denise Troutman
Subject: Re: used furniture

Denise, Shalom.

Thank you so much for your email. We were fortunate to buy some old but sturdy used furniture several months ago, as part of a longer (slow) initiative to fix up our hilltop synagogue on the actual mountain where Yaakov dreamt in Biblical Beit El.

Suffice to say that the project is ongoing, and nowhere near finished. Thus far, we have replaced the seats, the roof, and the ark curtain. We need to replace the ceiling, lights, the floor, and take care of the walls plus some other things. We are trying to turn a double caravan into a synagogue befitting of the holiness of the location....

Please let me know what you have in mind, and how you might be able to send it. We are always grateful for any donations, of money or physical items.

Thank you again very much for contacting. If you don't mind my asking, how did you hear about our synagogue needs?

Have a happy and kosher Passover.

With Blessings,


From: Denise Troutman
To: Alex Traiman
Sent: Thursday, April 2, 2009 4:34:09 PM
Subject: RE: used furniture

Hi Alex,

I found a comment from you with your email address when I googled used synagogue furniture. What state is your synagogue? I am sure as we get closer to our move out date there will be items we need to have removed.

I apologize but I am not Jewish so the statement "our hilltop synagogue on the actual mountain where Yaakov dreamt" doesn’t give my any clues as to your location. I hope you have a happy and kosher Passover,

Thank you,
Denise Troutman

Facility and Events Coordinator
Temple Beth El
5101 Providence Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28226



Thank you for the email. Our synagogue is in Israel. Our town, the original town of Beth El from the Bible, is recorded as the place where Jacob had his famous dream with the ladder. This synagogue sits atop that very mountain, and is one of the holiest places in the world.

Today Beit El is a Jewish settlement with 7000 residents located in the Biblical province of Samaria, commonly referred to today as the West Bank. And the synagogue sits atop an outpost with 30 families that live in caravans.

Our town is 20 minutes north of Jerusalem, and about 2 minutes north of Ramallah.

If your Temple Beth El has any desire to connect with the Biblical Beth El of its ancestral heritage, then we would be more than grateful to receive a donation.

Many thanks,

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Australiyah - The New Kumah Campaign

Here are some of the new stickers I made to get those folks from Down-Under to get right-side-up on Aliyah to Israel now!
Baruch Kitay, formerly of Darwin, is going back to visit this Pesach, and he is bringing the new stickers to Australia. I am sure he will be bringing back Jews with him when he returns.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

From Facebook


Saw you on tuesday night live from jerusalem...also big fan of israelnationalradio, which I believe you run- I can't stand Ha'aretz.

I am Jewish, 19 years old, from Houston, Texas, and I want to make aliyah soon!


Hi Yishai,

I arrived here 3pm Israel time, and I had an Israeli dinner with 6 other Israelis celebrating my arrival!! What a day!!! Blessed and joyful all around! Hard flight, but made it in one piece. Landing in Germany, we flew in beneath the clouds. Hovering above the ground at 600 feet I could see the greyness of the land. It was filled with snow. The first glimpse of the ground gave me goose bumps...old old train tracks still in the ground for miles and miles. Were those by chance the same tracks that carried the Jews to the camps, I thought? Listening to the PA with the pilot and crew speak in German gave my heart a skip. Why was I going back to Germany, (even for just a layover) when it was so hard for so many Jews to leave?? After we landed I rushed to my next flight since the last one was late. That gave me no time to think about what had happend not so many years ago where I was standing. When I borded the next plane to fly to Israel, the plane was filled solid with Jews from every corner of Europe and the world!!! There were orthodox rabbis, student teen girls dressed in the most current European fashion, professors and mothers. All Jews. No one questioned what they believed. No one was there to condemn them. We were greeted with both German and English announcements wishing us a happy and safe flight to Tel Aviv...our HOMELAND!!! What joy I felt seeing so many Jews easily.. the land that we died in so horribly trying to leave 60 years ago. The next three hours didn't go by fast enough. Even though the pilot made record time in just 3.5 hours!!! Coming in from off the Mederanian Sea, I saw the gold lining of Tel Aviv and Haifa shorelines! I couldn't help but begin crying and singing 'Behold how good and how pleasent it is to live and dwell together in unity.'

Tomorrow I take a bus to Jerusalem! I am tired. I will write more later!!



Shalom Yishai,

Keep up the good work.I download the Podcasts daily and listen to you all on Israel National Radio. You are helping me defend Israel here in Ireland.Its not easy, the gov is left wing and Pro Palestinan.But I support Israel, and don't believe in a Palestine.

I hope G-d blesses Israel with more children,and more people making aliyah.

Keep up the great work.You keep our hearts warm.

Barack Obama is a distant relative of mine.He is hoping to visit his Irish Ancestoral home soon and I will hopefully meet him. Trust me. I will tell him my opinion: He is a wolf in sheeps clothes.Very dangerous.So too is that awful freak Hillary Clinton. My father always hated her. As I grow up I am becoming more like my father. He is hugely Pro Israeli.

Keep well and G-d bless.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Zionist Destiny and the End of the Exile

Jewish Population Inside and Outside Israel During the Last Century by Yehezkel Laing

As we look around us we see the world economy taking a nosedive which financial experts say may be unprecedented. At the same time we see the totalitarian regime of Iran approaching the creation of a nuclear bomb. The question is why are these and other cataclysmic events happening davka now?

It appears we are approaching a critical moment in the history of the Jewish people. For almost two thousand years little changed for the Jewish people regarding national independence. We lived scattered all over the world, subject to the whims and mercies of our host nations. However, over the course of less than a century we have seen the rapid decline of the exile and the growing influence of the State of Israel. Today the number of Jews in the diaspora is one third of what it was only 70 years ago.

On the other hand the number of Jews in Israel is rapidly approaching 6 million. Currently there are about 5.7 million Jews in the Jewish homeland. Every year, due to births and aliya, there are 100,000 more Jews in Israel and every year, due to deaths and assimilation, there are 100,000 less Jews in the Diaspora. At the current rate, in a little over three years time, the State of Israel will hold the majority of the Jews in the world – that is the Jewish people will have officially “returned home”. Coincidentally we also see that those who contest Jewish national independence are reaching their greatest opposition as they instinctively realize the significance of the moment.

Jews typically wield disproportional influence to their numbers. The countries which were strongest 30 years ago were the two world super powers, the Soviet Union and the US. Similarly, the two countries which contained the most Jews 30 years ago were the Soviet Union and the US. When the Jews left Russia the country collapsed and it is no longer considered a super power. In the past couple of years the State of Israel surpassed the US regarding size of Jewish population. Coincidentally we see the United States economy has begun to implode.

The Jewish Bible tells us that one day God will gather in His People. “Therefore say, 'So 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). While the present situation presents us with many great challenges we should always remember how lucky we are to be able to witness the fulfillment of this great prophecy. How lucky we are to be able to witness the Redemption.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Financial Crisis Leading to Immigration Surge from West"

"Advocacy groups: Financial crisis leading to immigration surge from West" by Raphael Ahren of Haaretz

The financial crisis has "drastically" increased Western Jews' interest in immigrating to Israel, several immigration advocacy groups said this week. It is not clear whether the additional inquiries will translate into actual immigrants, the groups emphasized, yet they are bracing themselves for unprecedented numbers of new arrivals this summer. However, these predictions meet a measure of academic skepticism.

"Literally all over the world, we have registered a significantly higher interest," said Noga Maliniak, the director of the Jewish Agency's aliyah division. "Some of our offices received double the amount of inquiries." Nefesh B'Nefesh, which assists British and North American immigrants, expressed similar experiences. During the period from September 1 until December 31, 2008 - the first four months of the crisis - NBN's call center recorded 2,947 inquires, while during the same period in 2007 only 1,398 people called, an increase of 111 percent. Downloads of immigration applications more than doubled from 300 in February 2008 to 750 last month.

"We won't be able to tell whether this dramatic surge in interest will translate into real numbers of immigrants before July or August, when people actually arrive," said Danny Oberman, NBN's executive vice president of Israeli operations. "It is difficult to make an exact prediction, but there will definitely be a huge increase in aliyah."

"The economic crisis has had a tremendous effect on aliyah," another NBN spokesperson told Anglo File. "It has shaken Diaspora Jewry and caused aliyah-minded individuals to reconsider their time line. We have seen an increase in the number of people who are attending our pre-aliyah seminars, workshops and one-on-one meetings who have mentioned that the economic crisis has led them to expedite their plans."

Oberman speaks of three population groups driven by the current economic climate to consider aliyah: College graduates and young couples who cannot find a job and are no longer able to keep up with the cost of living, as well as finance, marketing and high tech professionals who are either laid off or perceive dim financial prospects. "Above all, the financial crisis causes people to focus on their values," he added. "It's dramatically shaking up people's thoughts on how and where they see themselves."

Yishai Fleisher, the founder of pro-aliyah group Kumah, also expects the number of Western immigrants to rise. He attributes this trend not only to the economic downturn but also to "a lessening of social comfort for American Jews through the advent of the Muslim influx into the U.S., the rise of the Obama administration and scandals such as [the multi-billion dollar swindle committed by Bernie] Madoff."

Fleisher added that he sees young Jews coming in particular. "They are in it for the romance," he said. "Israel provides a life of challenge and an adventure, and that is why almost all NBN flights have young, cool college kids on board."

But not everybody agrees with these predictions. Sociologist Chaim Waxman, a former Jewish studies professor at Rutgers, told Anglo File that he suspects the economic situation to have a negative effect on Western aliyah. "This is in contrast to what some people in the Jewish Agency and other places are expecting, but I think they're very wrong," he said. "Their rationale is that when people are having difficulties they would be more likely to make aliyah, because the economic situation seems to be better here - I am sorry, I just don't see it. The fact of the matter is: the areas where potential [immigrants] work in are especially suffering here."

Waxman, who himself recently made aliyah, said he "love[s] the work that NBN does" but that he has never been able to substantiate its predictions. "Their data is usually much higher than that coming from the Central Bureau of Statistics or any place else."

He added, however, that the financial crunch could potentially draw Israelis living abroad back home. "If the situation is equally bad here and there, many of them might come back," Waxman said. "People prefer the place they are used to, so Israelis might come home but American Jews will probably stay where they are."

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Friday, March 20, 2009

New Full Film: Rabbi Tendler on Temple Mount!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Big Project

Dear Yishai,

This was the response from my friend who moved to New Jersey from Tiverya to your last Blog post... He doesn't sound too impressed....and perhaps he brings up a good point.

"Yes, there are yordim (people who leave Israel) and people who do not make it and I am sure they do their best to discredit the Big Project "

For lack of a better term... words of a pompous fool...

The big project is Hashem and attaching to Hashem, not sacrificing your children and well-being for fulfilling Zionist agenda (not Hashem's aganeda per se)...

Many people have experienced Israel for the good, but just as many have ruined their family by believeing that we must sacrifice everything (including our children!) for the propaganda that right now the only place a Jew can be a Jew is in Israel.

Its not that we didnt "make it" in Israel, its that we made a choice regarding what would be best for our family...


Yishai responds: Sounds pretty angry. And I am sure he had some tough times. But... what a joke... what did he think I meant by the Big Project? The State of Israel is NOTHING BUT A KLI, a vessel, for the G-d's plan to ingather the exiles, the return us to Torah, and to build the Beit Hamikdash - that is the Big Project!

He writes: "Its not that we didnt "make it" in Israel, its that we made a choice regarding what would be best for our family..." Yes, he did what is best for his family, but not best for Hashem or the Jewish people - he is thinking about himself and that is ok, but there is a national calling right now and national thinking is what is needed.

(By the way, why did he move to Tveria - a totally un-American place with no people like him - setting himself up for failure??) In any case, setting up your children in Eretz Yisrael is best for them in the long run.

He also wrote: "Many people have experienced Israel for the good, but just as many have ruined their family by believing that we must sacrifice everything (including our children!) for the propaganda that right now the only place a Jew can be a Jew is in Israel."

Just as many? I don't think so. I think he would like to think so. But absolute numbers speak the whole story: in the 70's there were 3 million Jews here, now there are almost 6 million - doubles in 40 years. Can American Jewry say that? No. The future is here, and ask any economist and he will tell you, the future is not in America. Certainly for a G-d fearing Yid! A Jew can be a Jew anywhere - but not a fullfilled Jew... Just ask Moses what he would have chosen...

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jew Hatred and Fear

Shalom Yishai,

Sorry I haven't written in a while as I was busy studying for my actuary exam. Which I failed twice. I am going to give it one last change on May 21...

Yishai: I know you, and I know how smart you are. So your failure in this test can only mean one of two things: 1. This is not the career that Hashem has in mind for you - He may want you to be a great Rabbi, a great teacher, or a high-tech entrepreneur. Sometimes, when things don't go easily it is a sign that you need not push on this door. On the other hand, the common saying is 'if at first you don't succeed, try try again' and also 'three times a charm.' I wish you much success, but pray that Hashem will take you on a good direction - I think He is sending you a sign of some kind.

The only time I can really listen to you is when my real estate appraisal job is busy which it has been lately...I still really enjoy your show and get tremendous inspiration (and information)..but I must say stick to your old plan of encouraging Aliya because it is the right thing to do. At least in America, I have not felt or heard anyone talk about the slightest uptick in Jew hatred (notice I am not calling it Anti-Semitism), not to say that couldn't change on a dime. But the economy seems to be tanking and the Jews are suffering with the rest of them, but thank G-d Jew directed hatred hasn't changed. You seem to be trying to scare Americans into making aliyah "or else" the baddies will come get you. Stick to the positive message of choosing to move...

Yishai: I have been speaking of the positive reasons for making Aliyah for the last 10 years and I will always continue to do so. This is because the light of Israel is no propaganda tool. Living in in the Land of Israel is a great privilege, while building the State of Israel is the greatest project of the Jewish people in 2000 years. I have also refrained from talking about Israel-Jew-Hate for the last many years because I firmly believed that it was not palpable to most American Jews, and not even to most Jews of the Western Diaspora. However, things have changed, and Jew-hate has factually risen throughout the whole world including America. Talking about the rising levels of Jew-hate as a reason for Aliyah is not a propaganda tool or a PR tactic - it is simply a reality. Believe me, I wish it weren't so, and that all Jews would come home because they too would see the light and choose to be close to G-d. But the way it has always worked for the Jews is simple: either by hook or by crook - either the Jews choose Israel because of a higher vision, or the Jew-haters will boot them out. As a commentator and a broadcaster it is my duty to warn of the dangers and the shifts in society. I will continue to talk-up the light of Israel, but a dark cloud looms and I will keep calling them as I see them.

On a personal note, I feel as though aliyah is further and further away from me as being an actuary looks like it may not happen. I am stuck. NBN says not to change careers and move to a new country at the same time as that is a recipe for disaster (besides my wife would never go for that, she needs me to at least have a plan of how I will provide for her). So the plan is to get a job here that I could support a family with over there first, then make aliyah. Good luck finding that... I would love to work in media and do what I can to push our shared agendas. But I have no resume, no formal training, no education for anything of that sort. I get very frustrated hearing you say all I have to do is log on to ELAL with my credit card and fly to the land of milk and honey and all my problems will go away. You make it sound so easy...One of my best friends just moved back with his wife and 3 kids from Tiberius to Fair Lawn after having moved there in 2004 ( though he never was a the Zionist type), but still no one wants to move 9000 miles with three young kids.. Not to mention all the Israeli's coming to my shul looking for handouts....

Yishai: Faith and stubbornness, patience and prayer - these are your weapons. The Land of Israel is acquired through hardships but they are surmountable. Yes, there are yordim (people who leave Israel) and people who do not make it and I am sure they do their best to discredit the Big Project - but... there are almost 6 million Jews here, immigrants, Israelis, and the rest, who are eeking out a living and making it. It is not a fairy tale, but it is living the dream. When I talk about logging on to ELAL with your credit card and flying to the land of milk and honey I am talking about the ease with which you can break out of the slavery of the Exile in your mind. Bottom line is that you know that Israel is home - you want to live a full Jewish life with proper Shabbat, holidays, and Jewish education that is affordable and on a high level - you want to be close to Jerusalem!

You will make it here in the Land because you want it more than anything, because you will not leave this place no matter what, because America is not an option, because you are madly madly in love with this thing called Yiddishkyte, Torah, Hashem, EretzYisrael, and Mashiach. Clearly, the dark forces are trying to stop you from coming here - you have a high soul and you will make Hashem very happy when you bring your family Home to Him. You will find a sustenance, because He Who makes money is the Ultimate Provider. Simply put - don't be afraid, don't be afraid, don't be afraid! You may not have an immediate job waiting for you in Israel - but you certainly have a mission...

Keep up the good work and regards to your wife,

Yishai: All the blessings on you dear brother. I am looking forward to seeing you get off the plane and greeting you with a big hug. I pray that day will come soon.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

"Purim, An Aliya Story"

by Stewart Weiss

Is the Bible relevant? As we read the Book of Esther during these days of Purim, I find myself wondering just what this story is all about. On the surface, it is a classic morality play. The forces of injustice and cruelty become ascendant, threatening to exterminate a whole people simply because they are different. A reluctant band of heroes enters the scene, eloquently pleading their cause and ultimately gaining the favor of the King. The despicable tyrant is vanquished, Good triumphs over Evil, and all live happily ever after. Neat, sweet and complete. But hark, fair reader. Purim doth teach that all is not as it seemeth; that masks of many shapes and sizes disguise a much deeper message hiding behind the poetry and prose.

I suggest that one of the central themes of the Purim story is the ancient, yet ongoing, interplay between the Jew of the Diaspora and the Jew of Israel. It is precisely this motif which not only makes the Megila eternal, but among the most popular and well-known of all the books of the Bible...

THE JEWS of Shushan are your archetypal Diaspora Jews. They seem to live quite comfortably under a benevolent ruler who respects their rights and ignores their idiosyncrasies. They are even invited to royal banquets – where the food is glatt kosher – and are called upon regularly for advice. Yet, for all their prominence, the Jews still tread that thin line between security and suspicion. Can they trust their hosts, and can their own loyalty to the crown be trusted? Among themselves they perpetually debate – with no foregone conclusion – whether they are Persian Jews or Jewish Persians.

Haman and Mordechai enter the scene, bringing the deeper issues into focus. Haman is no stranger to Jews, having lived among them and observed their rites and rituals for quite some time. He has no love for Jews, to be sure, but is quite prepared to strike a modus vivendi with them – if they demonstrate that their first allegiance is to the state and its sovereign. Haman therefore prepares a test, convincing the king to hold a party celebrating the end of Jewish independence, even using the vessels of the Temple to toast Jewish subservience to the mighty Persian Empire.

Alas, the Jews submit and enthusiastically attend the party celebrating their own demise. They laugh and make merry, hardly realizing the joke is on them. But there is one Jew who will not abdicate his soul. Mordechai is of a different character. He remembers Jerusalem, having survived the Temple's destruction. He dresses like a Jew, and prefers Hebrew to Persian. He will neither bend nor bow, despite the intense pressure from both the grand vizier and his own co-religionists. Mordechai may live in the exile, but he is a son of Israel in form and substance.

When Haman sees Mordechai unbowed, he understands – better than the Jews themselves –that they will not forever be compromised. He therefore employs the age-old charges of "dual loyalty" and "fifth column" against them, convincing the Persian monarch that "once a Jew, always a Jew," and that this "certain people" will never mesh with the pure Persian pedigree. In the battle of wills that follows Mordechai must convince his people that abandoning their heritage will not keep them safe. Eventually, their salvation lies in reasserting their unique character and "casting their lot" with the King of Kings rather than with despots of flesh and blood.

Esther, for her part, is the story's most tragic figure. Caught between being a daughter of Israel and queen for a day, she never does make a whole and final peace. While she will save her people from disaster and gain lasting fame, in the process she will leave her home, intermarry, and bear a child for a man she does not love.

On stages all over the world this same little piece of theater is played out each and every day. Jews in countries throughout the exile live in various conditions of pain or pleasure. They pray to be left alone, yet know that their own personal Haman may be lurking right around the corner, just waiting to take advantage of their precarious position. They fear the day will come when they will be tested and have to choose between fealty and faith, and they are afraid they will choose wrong. They wonder if a Mordechai or Esther will arise to save them, too.

But there is a big difference between Persia then and the Jewish world now. Today, we have a place where a Jew can live as a Jew, with no fear of religious persecution, at present or in the future. We have a homeland where no Jew need divide his loyalty. We have a country and an army that will do battle with every Haman that tries to torment us, that will quash every plot that tries to destroy us.

The Jews of the Persian Empire are largely a footnote of history, but Israel is the center of history in the making, beckoning every Jew to come home, where we truly belong. And that, as they say, is the whole Megila.

The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach and Ohel Ari Heritage Center in Ra'anana.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Beit El Snow 5769 / 2009

See more of my beautiful snow pictures

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Monday, February 16, 2009

As Anti-Semitism Burns...

Jewish students 'held hostage' in Toronto Hillel
The students in the Hillel office were evacuated soon after by police escort, amid cries of "Get off our campus" and "Shame on Hillel." "I have never in my life felt threatened and hated like I did that night," Tepper said. Ferman, the Hillel president, who was called a "f*****g Jew" and a "dirty Jew" by the protesters, said, "We were basically being held hostage in our own space." The incident was somewhat "ironic," Ferman said, because 45 minutes before the press conference, members of Hillel and the Hasbara student organization had met with members of Students Against Israeli Apartheid, in an attempt to "decrease tensions" between the groups.

Surge of anti-Semitic attacks in UK
The London-based Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-Semitism and works to safeguard the Jewish community in Britain, said 250 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in the four weeks after Dec. 27. That compares to 40 incidents from the same period the year before. Dave Rich, a spokesman for the trust, said Jews in Britain are unfairly seen as local representatives of Israel – a view that fuels some of the anti-Semitic attacks.

Parisian Jews: Anti-Semitism on the rise
The attack on Benhamou occurred in the Parisian metro while he was on his way home. "Three Arab-looking men jumped on me, called me a 'fucking Jew' and said they would kill me," he recounted. "Before I even got the chance to respond, they attacked me, broke my nose and beat me all over," he added. Benhamou consequently spent four days in hospital with fractures in his face. The assailants fled the scene and police found no trace of them. Benhamou said he has not been the same since the incident. "It's a lifetime trauma. I haven't been back to work since then because it's hard for me to breath. I'm still afraid to walk around alone, and I do not plan on taking the metro anymore. "There is no place for Jews in France; we can't keep living here with these acts of barbarism. I already told my girlfriend that we are going to make aliyah. There's nothing left for us here, I want my child to be a sabra."

Running Away to Home - Let the Jews of Venezuela Open Their Eyes.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center reports about an invasion of a Caracas, Venezuela, synagogue by 15 armed thugs one recent Saturday, during which the synagogue's computers - with private information about members of the Jewish community - were stolen. The Confederation of Latin American Macabi (CLAM) asked Jewish communities worldwide to condemn the Venezuelan government's well-orchestrated campaign against the Jews in Venezuela. CLAM reports: Using an aggressive and dangerous tone never previously heard, clear incitement and anti-Semitic expressions, the Government lead is followed nationwide, with a group of pro-government journalists urging the population to boycott businesses owned by Jews in Venezuela. For what are we waiting? For the armed men and an excited mob to torch stores and businesses owned by Jews?

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Happy 2B Shvat Israel Photos!


I hope you will avail yourselves of our frankly awesome Tu b'Shevat seder, which Malkah compiled many moons ago. Gather your little fruits (and wines), your favorite folks, and pray for the good of Israel, and for all life, wherever it flourishes.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Diaspora Leadership Argument

Shalom Yishai,

I was listening to your show during which, among other things, you interviewed the American yeshiva student, Aryeh Wasserman. In asking him about how he was affected by his program, you asked him if he was planning on making aliyah & being a jewish leader in E'Y. While he said that making aliyah was "the idea" for himself, he raised the issue of Diaspora communities also needing Jewish leaders as a "justification" for otherwise committed Torah-Jews remaining in chutz la'Aretz. This is not a new argument, nor is it at all new to your show or to other shows on INR. One quaint counter-argument that has been levied against this point is the example of Avraham Avinu being commanded to make aliyah notwithstanding the impressive "missionary" work (lehavdil) he was doing in Ur Qasdim. This counter -argument is nice but I feel much more is needed...

Thus, I felt the need to add my proverbial 2 cents. As is see it, there are two fundamental errors inherent in the Diaspora leadership argument.

The first has to do with an assumption. It's an assumption which, as far as everything I've read and /or heard so far, seems to have been entirely overlooked and accepted as absolute truth. I'm referring to the assumption that maintaining a Jewish leadership in the Diaspora necessarily implies that rabbis must permanently dwell here, in chutz la'aretz and, consequently, that these same rabbis could not possibly make E'Y their permanent dwelling place via aliyah. This assumption is manifestly false.

Could not a council of rabbis be formed (with remuneration, of course!) which would, on a rotating basis, deploy rabbis from E'Y to serve as teachers and leaders in the communities of the Diaspora? Each one could serve a "tour of duty" of several months(from 2 - 4 I figure) in order to fulfill the needs of those remnants of b'nei Yisrael who would remain in chutz la'Aretz after the initial wave of exodus which would surely follow the announcement and subsequent aliyah of the rabbinate. Does not "from Zion emanate Torah"? Would not the teachings and leadership of this kind of rabbinate carry a different weight? Surely the answers are a resounding "yes". Surely this assumption of the Diaspora leadership argument demonstrates nothing other than the desperate weakness of spirit, of conviction and of vision of each rabbi who professes it or defends it. Those who are honest and capable of true self-evaluation know the truth of these words.

The second fundamental flaw inherent in the Diaspora leadership argument can be revealed on the flipside of the same coin. Volumes have been said about the imperative, especially in 5769, for b'nei Yisrael, acting both individually and as Am Yisrael, to lovingly embrace if not leap at the opportunity afforded by the miraculous re-opening of the gates to Zion. Indeed, not only has Hashem obviously rescinded his decree of geographic exile, but He has, in His abundant Kindness, created a context in which it has been, as you and many others have pointed out, easier and more pleasant than EVER in history for b'nei Yisrael to return to and dwell in Eretz Yisrael as Am Yisrael. The only thing it is not (YET), is more meaningful and more True than ever - but it will surely be so once we all come Home - for surely at that point the Ultimate Geulah will come.

You may be saying "Ok Yechiel, nice need-for-return-to-E'Y speech, but how does it relate to the 2nd flaw?". Well, in his comments Aryeh mentioned that part of this hypothetical rabbi's job in the Diaspora would be to essentially prepare and teach other "simple Jews" to make aliyah. However, it occurred to me that that simple Jew would not be unlikely to take that rabbi's words with a grain of kosher salt! Put another way, how can any Jew, who's serious about his Torah, who's serious about fulfilling Hashem's Will and who's serious about living a life of greater Kedushah rely upon the teachings, the rulings and the general leadership of any rabbi who, through his refusal to make aliyah, continues to refuse to acknowledge AND avail himself of this precious Blessing received from Hashem in 5769?

Now I'm not suggesting that because of this a rabbi all of a sudden forgets his Halachot, can't read Rashi anymore or becomes unable to understand the Gemarot. I am suggesting that when it comes to problems of substance and character - the things we REALLY need our rabbis for - a rabbi who refuses to make aliyah in 5769 undermines his own fundamental legitimacy. Thus he undermines the very reason for which he purported to not make aliyah in the first place!

Clearly, the Diaspora leadership argument carries no weight.

I acknowledge the brutality of the words I have chosen. However, as regrettable as they may be, their use is so crucial at this most critical time in our national history.

Think about it.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Rain Drain

I am writing this on Rosh Chodesh of the month of Shevat. "Jewish Arbor Day" is coming up in 15 days and I am dreading it and wishing that someone would stick in a leap-month of some kind. When I see the beautiful white flowering of the almond tree I am sickened.

Why? Because I know that no rain has fallen. January has been the driest one on record in Israel. The Lake Kineret water supply is so low that ecological damage has set in. The summer is going to come very soon and it will dry up the rest of our precious water supply. The country is on the verge of dehydration and I just wish that winter had another month to do its thing - but to no avail.

All the commentators explain that we are in a drought. Low pressure this, high pressure that. But why is there no rain? No commentator has an answer. It's a fluke; it's nature; it's bad luck...

Judaism has always believed that rain, or lack of it, is under the direct supervision of G-d, and He doles it out in accordance with our behavior. If we are good, we are wet. If we are bad, we dry up. It's a simple, effective and direct causal relationship. It's also very kind, because it's a barometer of how we are doing as a nation. A period of drought is a period of self-reflection, prayer and repentance.

I am not G-d, but I figure He wants me to think about some reasons why there is a drought. It's like when a parent sends you to your room and says, "Think about what you did."

So here is some self-reflection:

Maybe the rain isn't coming because of Gilad Shalit and Jonathan Pollard.

In the last few weeks they were both on the verge of freedom, but they were denied that basic human right. Gilad Shalit has been held captive in Gaza for almost three years. During Operation Cast Lead, Gilad probably heard Israeli bombs landing hits on Hamas targets close by to him. He probably thought, "They are finally coming for me." Maybe he even though that this whole war was started just to bring him home. Alas, the war has ended, but our pain remains. Gilad is not home yet; instead, he is in the brutal hands of our haters. Why did our beloved country stop the war prematurely without bringing him back?

Jonathan Pollard may have also thought that his day of release had arrived. He has been rotting for 22 years in prison for the crime of passing vital information to Israel from a friend. In George Bush's final moments in office, Jewish activists pulled every political string to get a last-minute pardon from the President. Days before Bush's presidency came to a close, the White House actually suspended the comment line - they shut it down - so they wouldn't have to hear any more of the numerous calls begging for Jonathan's release. But while Pollard activists were doing their part, the political echelon never mentioned Jonathan, and we never heard that the State of Israel brought pressure to bear on America.

The redeeming of captives is one of Judaism's greatest commands. It speaks of everything we hold so dear, including, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." If we can't get them released, why would the clouds release their precious blessings on us?

Or maybe the rain isn't falling because of Israel's Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled against the Jewish National Fund's policy of selling land only to Jews. Yet the JNF collected that money from Jews throughout the world with the express purpose of buying property in the Land of Israel for Jews. How could that foundational Zionist activity be made illegal?

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that the State can evict Jews from a building that was purchased in Hebron from Arabs. Yet the Jewish community had every proof that the house was legally bought, including video tapes of the seller admitting the sale and the receipt of money in return. Now, that house stands empty and boarded-off after an army eviction. How can legal purchases be overturned so arbitrarily?

Even more recently, the Supreme Court overturned a bi-partisan Election Committee decision to ban anti-Israel Arab parties from running in the upcoming election. The Knesset Election Committee felt that blatantly disloyal parties should not be allowed to run. But the Supreme Court, asserting itself in Israeli politics, overruled the committee and allowed those parties to run even though they openly support the destruction of Israel.

G-d in Heaven hates injustice, but it seems that the highest law in our land has no law at all. Their anti-Israel bent coupled with their immense power, untamed by any checks and balances, makes the Supreme Court the most dangerous entity in Israel today. How can we expect the Heavenly Court to judge us favorably when our own court has no regard for truth?

Or maybe the rain isn't falling because we waste the water we are given.

If you went to a venture capitalist and asked for a million dollars for a project, you would not be surprised if you got only a part of that money with the rest of the cash contingent on how you use the seed money first. Rain from heaven is the same. G-d says to us: "Here is just a bit of rain, and if I see you use it wisely, I will send down some more."

In many dry countries, like Australia, water capture technology is widespread. Roofs collect rain and siphon the water into big storage buckets. That water is later used for gardening or for toilet. Dish water and shower water is routinely recycled into the gardens in many countries. Israel should be a leader in this kind of technology, pioneering better ways to capture and utilize every drop of rain. But it is not. Most of the water that goes to the gutter on a rainy day gets dumped out into the desert with no practical usage. It simply gets wasted.

Now why would G-d send us more rain when we waste His gifts? Why would He give us blessing when we tolerate injustice? Why would He give us a hug when we forget to hug those who need us most?

Think of the drought as a gift, as a personal wake-up call to the nation. We can wake up. We must wake up. Or maybe instead we should just go back to our dry sleep. You know, dust to dust. Low pressure this, high pressure that. It's a fluke; it's nature; it's just bad luck.


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Thursday, January 22, 2009

On the Tendler Mount

Rabbi Moshe Tendler was my rebbe at YU and he is the rabbi of The Community Synagogue of Monsey, and a professor of Jewish Medical Ethics and biology at Yeshiva College. He is also the son-in-law of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, and helped that Torah giant write the famous Igrot Moshe responsa. On Monday the 24th of Tevet, Rabbi Tendler paid a visit to the Temple Mount in the company of the Temple Institute Director Yehudah Glick, broadcaster and anti-missionary Rabbi Tovia Singer, broadcaster and activist Yishai Fleisher, and Temple Mount patron Yehuda David, and other good Jews.

During the course of the visit the group recited prayers, including Kadish, Birkat Kohanim, and Barchu. Rabbi Tendler encourages his students to ascend Har Habayit (the Temple Mount) in ritual purity.

I took this video.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Zee Talks About Fighting Terror

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

KeyBoard Warrior

My name is Marc. Your station is a big breath of fresh air! I have joined with a growing army of keyboard warriors who are proving that Jiihad is a 2 way street. We are attacking the nasty comments at comment boards of Utube IDF videos, Hamas videos, anti-Israel/Jewish videos plus blogs and everything else online related to negative and/or false comments about Jews and Israel with these exact words knowing that a flood of repetition will have an overwhelming effect and gain media attention. It is time to END THE ILLEGAL ARAB OCCUPATION OF ISRAEL Arabs go away – Arabs go back to Syria We all know that words inflame Islamists but we also know that many good people need to see them in front of their eyes.

It is a fact that the vast majority of Utube viewers will glance at the comments but will seldom add their own. We want them to see ours instead of the Islamists. We have all had horrible comment responses to our Utube etc. postings (in comment areas) but know that it proves the need for keyboard warriors. Silence is defeat and we will no longer be silent! We urge you to tell your listeners to join our effort and send hellos when they run into a posted comment using the phrases above. Two nights ago the comment was posted so many times so quickly by just a few of us that we literally drove 2 or 3 Jihadist supporters off of the Utube comment boards. We tracked their names after reading their disgusting remarks and posted to their personal message boards.

We need more folks to join us or the only comments on pertinent videos will be against Jews and Israel. You’ll find out quickly that they are cowards and you will feel that you have helped in the war for Israel and world Judaism. Just be sure to all nasty comments with the phases – copy and paste it. It makes the idiots madder when you don’t answer back to their ignorant smut. Soon they will back down and disappear from any page with very active comments. One note: Utube will give you a message that you have reached your comment limit or will only show “video comment rather than text and video comment” after posting comments 2 or 3 times but you can continue after going to the bottom of the page and filling in the squiggle letters box and clicking submit. Truly, Marc from Chicago

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Not Xmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Film Maker Tries To Improve Image of Settlers

Happy Chanukah Day One

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Time With Geert Wilders

Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders screened his controversial film Fitna in Jerusalem on Sunday, calling on Europe to restrict immigration "from backward Islamic countries" and describing Islam as a totalitarian ideology "full of hate, violence and submission."

"Europe is in the process of 'Islamization.' We need to fight it," Wilders said. "We have to win the war against Islam. If we don't... we will lose our cultural identity, our rule of law, our liberties and our freedom."



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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sandra and Moshe

Monday, December 08, 2008

Yishai on Al Jazeera

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Tough Few Days

So I had a tough week. First my grandma Anna passed away Wednesday night. My mom and my sister and brother flew in to bury her here in Jerusalem and then my mom sat shiva for a few days at my house. Then, the whole Mumbai horror began to unfold with one sick story after the next coming out. Then the IDF took up position against the Beit HaShalom in Hebron in order to evict Jews from their rightfully-purchased property in the holy city. Then, an elderly Jew called me in tears telling me that his father's tomb on the Mount of Olives has been desecrated. Then yesterday I went to the Mount of Olives to take part in four burials of the Mumbai massacre. Then, with all this on my head, I heard the weather report: sunny, hot, and dry with no rain in sight. Ouch. Some tough days for the good ole' Jews of Israel, and I myself shed more then a few tears.

Then I looked up in the sky and I saw Jupiter and Venus hugging the moon in a very special celestial formation. Wait a minute... I think the two bright planets and the Moon are forming a... a big heavenly smile! Well, it may be cheesy, but this is what I thought: Indeed this is a hard time and we feel as though we are on the verge of breaking. This is the period of the Third Jewish Commonwealth and many great rabbis of yore publicly stated that they did not want to live in this super-challenging time. But G-d has chosen us in this generation and He has given us the great merit to be here now to do His work. With all the awfulness around us, G-d is looking down upon us and telling us "Be strong, continue to spread the light, don't break, and don't be disheartened." The funny and unusual Moon-smile made me laugh through the tears. Thanks again Lord, for cheering me up.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

It's Back!

Israelis in US desperate to return home
- Consulates in North America report of flux of Israelis asking for help getting back to Jewish state after losing money in financial crisis; Absorption, Foreign ministries mulling forming possible airfare aid fund FROM YNET

Child circumcision to be banned in Denmark? Proposal to raise circumcision age to 15 causes storm among Jewish community. 'If law is passed, Jews will have to leave place they've been living in for hundreds of years,' says Denmark's chief rabbi FROM YNET

Anti-Semitism Arrives in Golders Green - Anti-Semitism has begun to rear its ugly head in northwest London’s Jewish neighborhood of Golders Green. FROM INN

Bomb Goes off at Chabad - A northwest suburban Jewish congregation will install a security system at its synagogue after a small bomb exploded at its doorstep earlier this month on the anniversary of a World War II atrocity. FROM YESHIVA WORLD

IRAN: Man convicted of spying for Israel hangs - Iran_spy An Iranian businessman convicted of spying for Israel has been executed, according to a statement released today by Iran’s judiciary. FROM LATIMES

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Release Pollard Now (Hebrew Video)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Shimon Peres & Nanotechnology

Yishai, Shalom,

You know how Shimon Peres is going on and on about the wonders of nanotechnology.
I always wondered why.

Then, yesterday, listening to a podcast about nanotechnology and transhumanism, it finally dawned on me.

Trans what ? Transhumanism, according to Wikipedia:

an international, intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of science and technology to enhance human, mental and physical abilities and aptitudes, and overcome what it regards as undesirable and unnecessary aspects of the human condition, such as disability, suffering, disease, aging, and involuntary death...

The name was coined by "our old friend" Sir Julian Huxley, the Darwinist, Eugenicist, and co-founder of the UN and first president of UNESCO.

The speaker said that transhumanists wish to re-engineer man from the cellular level, and spoke about the desire of the elite to extend their lifespan, or to create a race of soldiers who never get sick, do not need sleep, etc. This reminded me of the different kinds of people "decanted" in Aldous Huxley's (Sir Julian Huxley's brother!) anti-utopian novel "Brave New World." There are alpha's, beta's, gamma's, etc., each sub-species having their own role.

Or as Mr. Scogan (a character modeled satirically on Bertrand Russell, a friend of Sir Julian Huxley) describes how humans will be divided into subspecies in the future in Aldous Huxley's 1922 novel "Crome Yellow":

"In the Rational State ...human beings will be separated out into distinct species ... Examining psychologists ... will test each child that is born and assign it to its proper species. Duly labelled and docketed, the child will be given the education suitable to members of its species, and will be set, in adult life, to perform those functions which human beings of his variety are capable of performing."

In a previous chapter, Mr. Scogan describes how people in the future will be born.

"... An impersonal generation will take the place of Nature's hideous system. In vast state incubators, rows upon rows of gravid bottles will supply the world with the population it requires. The family system will disappear; ...."

Bertrand Russell was an advocate of a one-world government and a scientific dictatorship, in the above quotes referred to as the "rational state." This is much in keeping with Shimon Peres' ideas of a "new middle east."

Tamar Yonah frequently refers to the plans for world government as a modern day Tower of Bavel. Just as concentrating the state around the tower instead of allowing mankind to spread out and develop the world was against Hashem's plan, so is tampering with nature, as we learn from the various mitzvot relating to kilayim, growing 2 crops close together or breeding animals of different species.

Already there are reports of dangers from genetically modified corn and other products referred to as "Frankenfood." (Where is Al Gore ?)

Thus we see that there is a unifying principal behind Shimon Peres' various campaigns, namely forgetting our Jewish heritage and rebelling against Hashem's laws.


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Sunday, October 26, 2008

My New Piece About "Israeli" Vs. "Jewish"

"The irony of it all is that in today's Israel, the 'Jew' is the new 'Israeli'. Israel was supposed to be the breeding ground for a strong new Hebrew who does not cower. Yet in today's Israel, it is the secular-post-Zionist-left which is the cowering Jew being led to the slaughter. The religious settler is now the emancipated Israeli, bedecked with side locks and tzitzit, and armed with the classic fundamentals of Zionist ideology; that is, to ingather, to build, and to settle the land of Israel."
Click HERE to read the full article.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Yearning...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Chag Sameach from Kumah!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Three Amazing Letters - What do YOU say?

Dear Yishai,

I just have some questions that maybe your organization could answer for me. I am definitely not anti-semitic, however I have a problem with the Zionist movement. While I am an Arab-American woman who practices Islam as my religion and does not believe in causing pain or suffering to others, or shoving my belief system down another person's throat. I find it horrible at the state of affairs in Palestine at present. I believe myself to be a fairly open minded individual at an adequate level of intelligence. I would like to better understand what could make anyone support zionism when there is so much horror going on in Palestine.

The genocide that is occuring there reminds me of the holocaust and I wonder how your organization could support that ideology. I have respect for all people and religions. Please explain to me how having people move to Israel/Palestine and taking away the land that belongs to the people there by force, not allowing them medical help, poisoning their water supplies, closing roads, shutting off electricity etc. isn't exacly what Hitler did? If you believe that there is a GOD and the three religions that are montheistic believe that we all came from one creator then why do you support the atrocities going on there? I am not trying to attack you, but I don't really understand how any civilized person could support this. Feel free to e-mail me back. I thank you for your consideration.



Dear Sir,

If the Nation of Israel truly rests in the hearts of its people regardless of its physical location; why not petition the governments of the United States and possibly Canada for a land grant? I don't really believe that the Arabs will every grant you peace so long as you remain in the Middle East. But in North America; your children could finally thrive in security and safety.

If you don't think my suggestion is too insane; with your permission, I would be happy to start this very long process by writing to my congressman.

Thank you for considering my suggestion.
Susan, living in Arizona


Dear Yishai,

Because of the fiscal crisis in the USA and the world, I'm scared that people are going to start blaming the Jews, and I haven't heard of a fiscal crisis in Israel. I'm not so much afraid of the economy hurting me, but I'm afraid of the antisemitism that might occur. So, I'd like to make aliyah. However, my husband doesn't want to. Is it possible for me to do it without him, yet still stay married to him? BTW, we're Jewish, though not frum. Would I be comfortable not being frum in Israel?


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Monday, October 06, 2008

Stock Plunge Could Raise Aliyah

MK Eliyahu Gabbai sent a letter Monday to Israel's Minister of Absorption Eli Aflalo, Chairman of the Absorption Committee Michael Nudelman, and Chairman of the Jewish Agency Ze'ev Bielski to convene a discussion of the committee to prepare for a possible wave of Olim (immigrants to Israel) from the United States because of the global financial crisis.

MK Gabi warned that the global crisis strengthens the need to stress Aliyah as a central issue, and to prepare accordingly. He cited disturbing reports from the Anti-Defamation League about increasing anti-Semitism that has mainly taken place on-line, blaming Jews for the world's financial woes. He suggested that this should cause not just real concern, but concrete and practical thinking.

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Kumah Call - Golan Heights!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Next Year in Shul (or Temple) in Jerusalem!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

This Rosh Hashana - Bees Need Our Prayers

Honey in short supply as Rosh Hashanah nears: "There is a decline in production in the world," said Alon Ron, CEO of the Emek Hefer honey company. "It was a drought year, and when there's no rain, there's no blossoming and no nectar. Nature is changing, and we can see it in the harvest."

Israel no longer Land of Milk and Honey after 60% fall in honey harvest: The bad weather has compounded already reduced levels of honey production caused by the mysterious global phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) where hives across the world have suddenly been deserted.

Israelis discover cure for bee colony collapse-associated virus: At Beeologics, scientists are convinced that IAPV is the primary cause of CCD. "If you look how the disease spreads, it's very reminiscent of flu. Flu also starts in the fall and hits hard in the winter, the same is true of this bee virus," explains Paldi. "It's very contagious like a flu. In our opinion, we have something that's interacting very strongly with the environment to cause CCD. It could be interacting with pesticides, with improper nutrition, general stress - but that's not what's killing the bees. What's killing them is a virus and we believe that virus is IAPV."

ISRAEL: Bee-rating in the land of milk and honey: But there are problems, too. Many Israeli farmers suffer from agricultural thefts, targeting anything from livestock to pipelines -- and beehives. Hives are small, often remote and unguarded, and hundreds are stolen every year, in many cases taken to the Palestinian territories. Beekeepers complain of lax enforcement and ridiculously low fines for apprehended thieves.

An ancient Israeli site yields the oldest known archaeological example of beekeeping: The Bible refers to ancient Israel as the “land flowing with milk and honey,” so it’s fitting that one of its towns milked honey for all it was worth. Scientists have unearthed the remains of a large-scale beekeeping operation at a nearly 3,000-year-old Israeli site, which dates to the time of biblical accounts of King David and King Solomon.

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Na, This Guy Isn't Dangerous

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Dear Yishai,

Okay so its been awhile since I've written to you and you most likely don't even remember me, but figured I should give you an update.

So since I last wrote, I've been corresponding with Rav Lazer Brody, who has helped me to overcome my negativity and discouragement regarding aliyah. He also suggested that I change my name and gave me one that he felt would fit me. So, I am no longer Gavrielah, I am now Tehilla....

My 14 year old daughter is now living in Israel! She'll be there for the next three years for high school and plans to remain there after she graduates, make aliyah, do national service, and start her family.

I am still planning on making aliyah. I will go as soon as possible of course, but definitely within the next two years. I'm now a single parent, so that makes it tougher, I have to pay off quite a bit of debt, but I have no doubt that I will get there. I am also praying for a miracle that will make it possible right away. I am so incomplete here in the U.S., knowing that I am not where Hashem designed me to be, where ALL Jews need to be. But I will get there and in the meantime, I will be doing everything I can here to support Israel, to help and encourage others to make aliyah, to learn Hebrew, to be a Torah-observant Zionist Jew.

Yishai, you and everyone else at INR have played such a huge role in my life, in getting me to this stage. Thank you for your encouragement in the past year on the air and via email. Thank you for everything that you do in service of Hashem. If one day I merit to meet you and Malkah, I will be so thrilled. May Hashem bless you all beyond belief.

Kol tuv,

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Temple Mount is HOT!!!

The Temple Mount is in the news:

Check out this article called "Rising Global Muslim Incitement: Jews 'Defiling' Jerusalem". In it you will find an amazing video of the Nazi-hate which fill the propagandized minds of our neighbors.

Then, check out the hottest debate in the Chareidi world regarding the Aliyah to the Temple Mount by my rebbe, Rabbi Moshe David Tendler. Rabbi Tendler is accusing Chareidi Rabbis of politicizing Halacha by disallowing Jews to go up. The Chareidi world is up in arms.

You know my opinion regarding going up. It's truly amazing to follow in the footsteps of Abraham and to be so close to Hashem. IMPORTANT NOTE: There are serious Halachic restrictions with regard to Temple Mount ascension, including the need to immerse in a ritual bath beforehand. If you do decide to go up please consult our Temple Mount Aliyah guide first. Shalom!

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Yishai Speaks at Jewish Bloggers Conference

Thursday, August 28, 2008


So NBN has this new site called, and I'm like: Great! Now I can start posting all my Aliyah ideas and get them out there for folks to see. Trick is, people need to vote on it so that it gets into the big leagues. So here is my first Aliyah idea - if you like it, make it count by clicking the voting icon!

Now for the idea: Aliyah Across America – Shabbat Lech Lecha

Every year Parshat Lech Lecha rolls around, bespeaking of Abraham's journey from Aram to the Land of Canaan. Abraham, the first Jew, the first Oleh, come to the land of Iisrael as a wealthy leader – he was not escaping persecution, but rather ascended to Israel to find spiritual fulfillment. This attitude towards Aliyah is exactly what American Jews need to hear: Aliyah is not running away from America, it is running to Israel to fulfill Jewish destiny.

It is for this reason that Shabbat Aliyah Across America will take place annually on Parshat Lech Lecha. On this Shabbat, Jews all over North America will celebrate the Jewish love for Israel and restate the commitment to our collective destiny.

On AAA, participating communities will host Aliyah speakers and hold events and discussions that call on Jews to strongly consider Aliyah as an option. Youth groups will congregate to spend a Shabbat dedicated to seeing themselves living in and building the Jewish State.

Such a fixed yearly Aliyah focal point will allow educators and professionals to target their audience for Aliyah messaging around that period. Throughout the preceding month ads will appear in magazines, and Aliyah activities will take place in schools. Each year, educators and professionals will get geared up to push the message of Aliyah, in connection with this beloved Torah portion.

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Back From the US

Yishai, Shalom,

Back from the US (SR) (United States Socialist Republic)

I just returned from my first trip to the US in 7 years.

It was great to see my friends and relatives, but everything else I found repugnant.

The US appears to me to be a country in decline. People still live in their McMansions, they handle laptops casually like notebooks, they are awash in IPods, IPhones, and other IGadgets, but there are worrying signs.

Americans always complain about the poor service in Israel. Yet in the US, I found myself being served by people lacking basic skills, who could hardly speak English, and when competent, they were rude. Whenever I called a 1-800 number for assistance, I reached a call-center in India.

In Israel, one can usually convince people to make an exception for extenuating circumstances, whereas in America, everything is by the book, if they are capable of reading it. Many American also complain about Israeli chutzpah and lack of manners. I have noticed some improvement since I have moved here, but I admit that there is room for more improvement.

On the other hand, I saw the famous American talent for waiting in lines in an orderly fashion, in an entirely different light. I found myself inadvertently behaving like an Israeli on several occassions, and the condemnation was swift. In addition, the same willingness to follow orders could be used for "other ends." Besides, the Torah was given to the Jewish people, a stiff-necked people, and not to well-mannered Lutherans in Minnesota.

As for the American dream, people spoke of declining real-estate values, many others lost a good part of their savings in the wreckage of Fannie Mae. Americans will not admit their attachment to "Gashimut" though. If "Gashmiut" were a shop at the mall, it would have a plastic faux-wood finish and would be called "Ye Olde Gashmiut" shop.

kol tuv,

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Media Wrap Up

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

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

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

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


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Friday, August 22, 2008

This Week's Torah Portion in Deuteronomy

Chapter 11:
10. For the land to which you are coming to possess is not like the land of Egypt, out of which you came, where you sowed your seed and which you watered by foot, like a vegetable garden. 11. But the land, to which you pass to possess, is a land of mountains and valleys and absorbs water from the rains of heaven, 12. a land the Lord, your God, looks after; the eyes of Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year....

Chapter 12
22. For if you keep all these commandments which I command you to do them, to love the Lord, your God, to walk in all His ways, and to cleave to Him, 23. then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will possess nations greater and stronger than you. 24. Every place upon which the soles of your feet will tread, will be yours: from the desert and the Lebanon, from the river, the Euphrates River, and until the western sea, will be your boundary. 25. No man will stand up before you; the Lord your God will cast the fear of you and the dread of you on all the land upon which you tread, as He spoke to you.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Temple Temptations

From the Economist?!?! Looks like the Temple is making waves:

The issue of Jerusalem’s holiest site may again be dividing Jews

THE lead singer, with yarmulke, beard and guitar, appears with a sheep on the cover of the latest record by Lechatchila, a religious-rock group popular among Orthodox young Israelis. “Don’t stare at me,” the lyrics go. “The Temple is sure to be rebuilt right now. We’ve got to prepare, to believe, to make the redemption happen.”

For two millennia, ever since the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, Jews have continued to study, write and indeed sing about the intricate rituals of service and sacrifice, in the belief that one day the Messiah would come and the Temple would be rebuilt. Meanwhile, the faithful were forbidden even to walk on the Holy Mount, let alone worship there.

This suited the regime instituted on the Temple Mount by Moshe Dayan, Israel’s then defence minister, after the 1967 war. He ruled that the mount, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif (or Noble Sanctuary), where the golden Dome of the Rock has stood since the seventh century after Christ, would remain an exclusively Muslim place of worship, administered by the Waqf, or Muslim religious trust. Jews and Christians could visit but not worship there. Rabbis of all religious and political stripes agreed.

This arrangement broadly endured, between periodic bursts of violence. But it never allayed Arab fears that the Jews had designs on the mount. In 1984, the Israeli authorities arrested a group of fanatical Jewish settlers for plotting to fire rockets into the mosque. Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, infuriated Bill Clinton (then America’s president) and Israeli negotiators by repeatedly denying there ever was a Jewish temple on the site and rejecting proposals to share sovereignty over it. In September 2000, a walk on the mount by Israel’s then opposition leader, Ariel Sharon, prompted bloody clashes which turned into a six-year Palestinian intifada (uprising).

Recently the rabbinical consensus has been fraying. Nationalist rabbis close to Jews who have settled on the Palestinian West Bank are permitting—even encouraging—their followers to visit the mount. Separately, the energetic and well-endowed Temple Institute in Jerusalem’s old city has been diligently recreating ancient Temple vessels and priestly garments to be ready when needed. The institute runs guided tours of the mount and publishes prayer books in which former Jewish glories are graphically depicted; its director reassures readers of its website that there is no call “for the launching of missiles or the exploding of the mosque”. But the Temple is “not just something historic, stored in a memory chest”. For nationalist-Orthodox children, it is increasingly a reality.

The larger, ultra-Orthodox community remains ostensibly unaffected. Its rabbis still forbid even walking on the mount and are content to wait for the Messiah without spurring him on. But between the two groups there is a theological overlap that translates into a tough brand of politics. The ultra-Orthodox Shas party, a pivotal part of the government’s coalition, has given notice that it will walk out if there is any negotiation over Jerusalem. Sure enough, in leaked draft proposals put by Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, the question of Jerusalem is postponed indefinitely. Or until the Messiah comes?

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Jewish Love

Jewish love is about union - and there are many types of love and union. Surely there is union between man and woman, between parents and children, and between friends. But there are other unions which matter very much: the union between people and G-d, between Jews and their land, and between the broader family of the tribe of Israel, and even between the tribe of mankind which we call the human race...

In this week's Torah portion we learn: (6th Portion - Chapter 6)
Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our G-d; the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your means. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be upon your heart.

When one decides to live his life with this concept in mind - to love G-d with everything one has - there comes a great relief because one is freed from the many self-serving choices that are put in front of him today and everyday. We are here to serve G-d, to make His name great, to bring a greater consciousness of Him into this world. Now that is love, that is dedication, that is freedom and that is real fun! He wants us to use all of our gifts to the max - but this world is not about self-actualization, it's about G-d-actualization.

What's really amazing is that to do all that, (to make His name great through loving Him), G-d commands us to love ourselves and to love each other. For Hashem, His greatest joy comes from when people, and especially Jewish people, get along and have peace in our homes.

This Tu b'Av, may we see the union of the Jews through a physical as well as spiritual union, that is, may we serve G-d together in the Land of Israel as a united family. We may have love for Him individually, but the full vision is of union - the union of all Jews in one place with one heart. That is what we yearn for, yet we are still divided. After 2000 years of division, it is time for the next era - the time of love and unity, selflessness and joy.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Needed: Shimshon ha-Gibor

Yishai, Shalom,

Welcome back.
I enjoyed listening to your "Yishai in America" series.
I would be interested in hearing more about attitudes to Aliyah among the people you met in the states.

Is a free El-Al flight not enough for them? Do they want to be "beamed up" to Israel when the Beit ha-Mikdash drops out of the sky in pre-fab fire construction.

Or are they waiting for us in Israel to build the Beit ha-Mikdash like in "Field of Dreams" -- if you build it, they will come?

I saw a really nice article by Rav Shmuel Eliyahu in the parsha sheets this weekend.
Here's my own take on what he said:

Needed: Shimshon ha-Gibor to "shake things up."

He said that his son asked who killed the terrorist this time. It was another settler who fired the 1st shot. Will the police chief investigate all these border guards who stood by and watched in the recent attacks. No, because the judicial system would then go after him.

Just like the rulers of Judah were made uncomfortable by Shimon's daring attacks on the Philistines, because they preferred their comfortable existence as a vassal state to Philistia, so too our rulers try to suppress any bit of Jewish activism.

I myself never understood what was the point of Shimshon's career as a judge. What did he accomplish. But from the Rav's article, it all began to make sense. Shimshon woke up the people of Judah from their complacency, from their slave mentality.

What? You want to settler the land of Israel? You can't, this is an illegal outpost. Settling the land of Israel violates "international law" (what is that? something the nations made up to prevent us from returning to our land)

You want to protect yourself against terrorists, even by only firing in the air. We'll find an Arab to lie and say that he was hit by a bullet from your gun and throw you in jail.

But when we try to argue and say that actually, according to the San Remo agreement, this is actually part of the Jewish homeland, they just laugh at us.

But when 13 year-old girls call their bluff and refuse to recognize the authority of their kangaroo courts, then they get nervous. They are nervous because others might see "the man behind the curtain" pretending to be a wizard.

kol tuv,

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Seeing The Edge

Here is my new article:

I have just returned from a five week trip to the US. While there I dedicated half of my time to family and the rest of the time to lecturing about Israel and Aliyah and meeting with American Jews who want to take part in building the Jewish State -- the most important project of the Jewish people in two thousand years...

While my speeches hit their mark and the meetings went well, I had to contend with a constantly recurring question: "What's going to be with Israel's government? Are the people of Israel going to allow themselves to be led off the edge of a cliff, like lemmings?" This question came at me from every corridor and only then did I realize how hard it is for an American Jew to break out of the American Galut. From America, Israel seems like a crazy place of endemic instability, full of enemies from within and without. Add to that sentiment the amazing attraction of America, its convenience, its wide roads, its philo-Semitic tolerance, and its wealth and you end up with one thought: "There is no way in heck I'm leaving America for Israel."

I assured the people who asked me this question that as a Jew living in Israel and taking part in the building of our country daily, I am even more concerned by the policies of my government and am embarrassed by them. I told these questioners that it will take people like them and people like me to change our reality for the better and that we have no right to abdicate our responsibility to Israel in these hard times. I told them that we did not wait two thousand years to watch a reborn Israel go down the tubes, G-d forbid.

But there was another point that I had to make: I explained to American Jews that they are locked in a media loop in which their only information about our beloved homeland comes from reading the papers or watching the news. The media is notoriously negative, not just against Israel, but in general. I asked American audiences to relate the last time they saw something positive about America in the press? They could not recall the last time.

I continued: I, too, see and hear the painful dark headlines in Israel. However, when I walk past the Jewish kindergartens in Israel I see them full of kids, when I drive into Jerusalem I marvel at its grandeur, when I walk into the general store I see it packed with Israeli products and fresh food! My image of Israel is fundamentally different because I am not enslaved by the media's negative proclivities, nor do I think that my government's suicidal policies are the end all/be all of what Israel is really all about. I can see the bigger picture and I will not allow the media and others to minimize and trivialise our efforts.

When Balak king of Moab wanted to fight the Jews he called in the evil prophet Bilaam to curse the Jews and thereby weaken them. We read in Numbers 23:13

"Then Balak said to him [Bilaam], 'Please come with me to another place from where you may see them, only their edge you will see and you will not see the whole of them; and curse them for me from there.'"

What is going on here? If I were to curse a nation I would want to see the whole bunch of them splayed out in front of me and then let 'em all have it! Why does Balak offer Bilaam a tiny glimpse of the nation in an attempt to help the evil prophet issue forth a diabolical curse? Shouldn't it be the opposite?

The evil ones on this Earth have a well developed sense of cunning and these two bad guys were no exception. They knew the secret of the Jewish people: the united totality of the Jewish people is unbeatable and the big picture of Jewish history is the revelation of G-d's providence and kindness. However, if you focus in at the small picture you may find some dirt, some criminality, some all-too-human weakness that will darken the image. That is why Balak offered Bilaam to see only the edge of the Jews -- if Bilaam could only zoom in on some negative aspect of the Jews and disregard the big picture, maybe then he could muster the venom needed to curse G-d's people.

That type of zoom-in to the darker side of today's Israel is exactly what our enemies want. They want us demoralized, they want us to turn away from Israel. However, we, lovers of Israel, cannot allow ourselves to be minimalist observers who become dissuaded when we hear that our country is going "off the derech" -- off the right path. On the whole, the Jewish project of rebuilding our homeland is moving forward at lightning speed. Israel is soon going to be the home for the majority of the world's Jews, and is already far and away the cultural center of Judaism. All of our enemies and even our sick government cannot derail the forward momentum of this project -- unless we let them!

So let us not fall victim to our enemies' dark desires to see the edge of the Jewish people with a focus on negativity. Instead, let us see the grand vision of Israel and the nearer-then-ever horizon of destiny. Once we get our vision in order we will have a renewed burst of energy to help Israel get through this tumultuous time. And that will be our great merit.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Good Surprises...

The NY Post has an awesome Israel at 60 section - one which all Jewish organizations can be proud of and learn from. Click here to see it.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Good Things

Jacob Richman wrote:

Hi Everyone!

On Friday afternoons, I buy several newspapers including Hebrew ones. Every so often, the Hebrew newspapers include a special insert. If we get a new Israeli president there will be a picture of him / her; if a sports team wins a champinship there may be a picture of them; before Passover you can find a free Haggadah; and before Israel Independence Day there is a large flag folded inside the paper.

This past Friday (July 25), there was a small glossy, two-sided, flyer in the Yediot Achronot newspaper.

On the front of the flyer is a family eating together at the table. The Hebrew text reads: Friday is Reserved for My Family To talk, laugh, eat together. There is one day of the week that you can sit with the whole family and connect. So we declare: Friday is Reserved for My Family.

On the back of the flyer is the Shabbat Kiddush:

After close to 24 years in Israel, I still find nice surprises in the most unexpected places.

Shavua Tov,

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Video: Yishai Flies With NBN!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Home Made

Rivkah Lambert Adler, the great Aliyah Guru of the Bat Aliyah blog posted this:

"Tamar Weissman and Chanina Rosenbaum from Baltimore made this film as a gift to Noah and Risa Lasson, who are making aliyah next week. It's a 22-minute long love letter about Israel and the power of Coming Home.

If you haven't got time to watch the whole thing, make sure to see the first few minutes and the last part where Chanina is speaking, first to Noah and Risa and then to the rest of us (this part starts 19 minutes in).

May we all merit to have people in our lives who care so much about us and about bringing the family (literally in Tamar's case) Home."

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Yishai Speaks in Passaic NJ!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Sarah Wrote...

So we are making Aliyah this August. I waited until the very last minute to break the news to my family. It went somewhat different than I thought. I expected great tears and sobs and much weeping, in actuality what I got was "What are you leaving behind that I can snatch up before the next person comes along asking ?". Good grief! As the time grows nearer I don't think there has been a day that someone hasn't called to ask about the car, the weed eater, the microwave etc. One relative actually commented " man I feel like you are dying and we are divvying up all your stuff ". How sentimental!

We decided not to take a lift, much to the relatives advantage. We are only taking clothes and various sentimental items. They are happy to know we can't fit the bread machine and the chain saw in our 62 inch 70 pound luggage. So today sister-in-law carried off my dresser, a few small kitchen items and one fragrance lamp. I'm glad to know they all love me for my brains.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Mainlining Zionism

Shalom Folks,

I am in the States right now and will speaking in a few venues - you are invited to attend:


When: Sunday, June 29th 2:00-3:00pm
At the 1st World Conference of the Noahide Nations

Where: Ft. Lauderdale Airport Hilton Hotel
1870 Griffin Road
Dania, FL. 33004
Phone 954-920-3300

Topic: "INR Support for Future of The Noahide Movement"


When: Thursday July 3rd at 8:30pm
Where: Passaic NJ, Ahavas Israel Congregation 181 Van Houtan Ave

Topic: "How is a Jew to Celebrate The 4th of July?"


When: Sunday, July 6 at 7:30pm
Where: Baltimore, MD, Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah Congregation
7000 Rockland Hills Drive

Topic: "Aliyah to Israel: A Modern Haven or Mandated From Heaven?"


More dates may follow. Hope to see you at one of these events!


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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Obama's Speech at AIPAC

Shalom Yishai,

I have only heard snipits of Obama's speech at AIPAC. It is hard for me to believe what he said are his true feeling. Yes, his speech sounded very favorable to Israel and the Jews. Simply, Obama was fishing for Jewish votes. For 20 years this man sat in a church listening to Rev. Wright and his very anti-semitic sermons. How could he stay other than under belief of agreement? In the past, I attended a church and became a member of that church because of agreement of that church. Later as I systematically studied the scriptures I found the importance of G-d's land and His people. As the truth of the scriptures was revealed to me the truth of the true anti-Jewish nature of this pastor was also revealed to me. I could not stay with this church and feel comfortable. It took me a matter of weeks to make my decision to leave ---- not 20 years! Remember, Obama's reason for leaving his church (of 20 years) was to take the media heat off of that church not the teachings of Rev. Wright. So I do not believe his speech came from his heart but his drive to become president. Yet so many American Jews continue to support him --- how sad! The one thing we can count on is HaShem is in control........

Good Shabbos, Geri

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Nicely Said!

Thomas Friedman's newest NYT article puts it succinctly:

Question: What do America’s premier investor, Warren Buffett, and Iran’s toxic president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have in common? Answer: They’ve both made a bet about Israel’s future.

Ahmadinejad declared on Monday that Israel “has reached its final phase and will soon be wiped out from the geographic scene.”

By coincidence, I heard the Iranian leader’s statement on Israel Radio just as I was leaving the headquarters of Iscar, Israel’s famous precision tool company, headquartered in the Western Galilee, near the Lebanon border. Iscar is known for many things, most of all for being the first enterprise that Buffett bought overseas for his holding company, Berkshire Hathaway.

Buffett paid $4 billion for 80 percent of Iscar and the deal just happened to close a few days before Hezbollah, a key part of Iran’s holding company, attacked Israel in July 2006, triggering a monthlong war. I asked Iscar’s chairman, Eitan Wertheimer, what was Buffett’s reaction when he found out that he had just paid $4 billion for an Israeli company and a few days later Hezbollah rockets were landing outside its parking lot.

Buffett just brushed it off with a wave, recalled Wertheimer: “He said, ‘I’m not interested in the next quarter. I’m interested in the next 20 years.’ ” Wertheimer repaid that confidence by telling half his employees to stay home during the war and using the other half to keep the factory from not missing a day of work and setting a production record for the month. It helps when many of your “employees” are robots that move around the buildings, beeping humans out of the way.

So who would you put your money on? Buffett or Ahmadinejad? I’d short Ahmadinejad and go long Warren Buffett.

Why? From outside, Israel looks as if it’s in turmoil, largely because the entire political leadership seems to be under investigation. But Israel is a weak state with a strong civil society. The economy is exploding from the bottom up. Israel’s currency, the shekel, has appreciated nearly 30 percent against the dollar since the start of 2007.

The reason? Israel is a country that is hard-wired to compete in a flat world. It has a population drawn from 100 different countries, speaking 100 different languages, with a business culture that strongly encourages individual imagination and adaptation and where being a nonconformist is the norm. While you were sleeping, Israel has gone from oranges to software, or as they say around here, from Jaffa to Java.

The day I visited the Iscar campus, one of its theaters was filled with industrialists from the Czech Republic, who were getting a lecture — in Czech — from Iscar experts. The Czechs came all the way to the Israel-Lebanon border region to learn about the latest innovations in precision tool-making. Wertheimer is famous for staying close to his customers and the latest technologies. “If you sleep on the floor,” he likes to say, “you never have to worry about falling out of bed.”

That kind of hunger explains why, in the first quarter of 2008, the top four economies after America in attracting venture capital for start-ups were: Europe $1.53 billion, China $719 million, Israel $572 million and India $99 million, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. Israel, with 7 million people, attracted almost as much as China, with 1.3 billion.

Boaz Golany, who heads engineering at the Technion, Israel’s M.I.T., told me: “In the last eight months, we have had delegations from I.B.M., General Motors, Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart visiting our campus. They are all looking to develop R & D centers in Israel.”

Ahmadinejad professes not to care about such things. He was — to put it in American baseball terms — born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. Because oil prices have gone up to nearly $140 a barrel, he feels relaxed predicting that Israel will disappear, while Iran maintains a welfare state — with more than 10 percent unemployment.

Iran has invented nothing of importance since the Islamic Revolution, which is a shame. Historically, Iranians have been a dynamic and inventive people — one only need look at the richness of Persian civilization to see that. But the Islamic regime there today does not trust its people and will not empower them as individuals.

Of course, oil wealth can buy all the software and nuclear technology you want, or can’t develop yourself. This is not an argument that we shouldn’t worry about Iran. Ahmadinejad should, though.

Iran’s economic and military clout today is largely dependent on extracting oil from the ground. Israel’s economic and military power today is entirely dependent on extracting intelligence from its people. Israel’s economic power is endlessly renewable. Iran’s is a dwindling resource based on fossil fuels made from dead dinosaurs.

So who will be here in 20 years? I’m with Buffett: I’ll bet on the people who bet on their people — not the people who bet on dead dinosaurs.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

When Non-Jewish Friends Visit Beit El