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Apr 19, 2015

the gett given today justifies the creation of Facebook

This morning we read a troubling report about a woman who was an agunah. Her husband finally agreed to give her the gett, yet the Beis Din refused to take care of it and process what needed to be processed, and write what needed to be written. Their explanation was that they do not perform divorces on Rosh Chodesh.
source: NRG

The custom is generally to run to take care of a gett immediately when the husband finally agrees, in the case of an agunah, because there is always a chance he might change his mind quickly. We want to strike while the iron is hot.

For whatever reason this man finally agreed, delaying the gett gives him an opportunity to "sleep on it" and change his mind by the time Beis Din decides they can do it.

A quick campaign on Facebook and in the media, pushed the Beis Din into a tight corner. Even beis din cares a little bit about appearances and public relations. Haaretz reports that over the course of the day the beis din found a dayyan (Rav Abergil) who was willing to take care of the gett even though it is Rosh Chodesh. He did what he had to do and the gett was given.

Facebook and other social media platforms can be, and are, used for good. If Facebook was created just for this, dayyeinu.





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Netanyahu's extension points to big problems in system

Getting an extension from the President in order to have more time to put together the coalition is almost automatic, and I think (based on what I remember reading last time) it happens almost every time new elections are held. So, Netanyahu's request today from Rivlin for an extension is nothing all that exciting.

That being said, it is notable. The results of the elections made it seem like Netanyahu had a slam dunk government. It looked like he'd be able to put things together in probably just days, maybe a week and a bit. The victory was decisive. The partners were clear.

While there are many scenarios that could play out, Netanyahu has a slam dunk government in the combination of Shas, UTJ, Habayit Hayehudi, Yisrael Beyteynu, and Kulanu Kahlon.

On the one hand it is a bit surprising that he has not yet been able to finalize his government coalition, considering his partners are so clear and their demands were so explicit.

On the other hand, just about each party (except perhaps Yisrael Beyteynu) knows that, at least in the makeup described above, Netanyahu cannot form his government with it. This gives each party to make demands, sometimes in conflict with other parties that are also seemingly indispensable.

All these little, sectorial, parties have/demand more power than they deserve. All because they each know that Netanyahu seemingly cannot do anything without them. A government that should have been so simple to establish seems to be one of the most complicated puzzle in a long time...

I almost want a unity government just for the sole purpose of putting the sectorial parties back in their places. They deserve some power and responsibility - they each represent a not insignificant percentage of the population - but they are all making demands as if they each deserve to make all decisions without taking anyone else into consideration. That is besides for the fact that the electoral reform Netanyahu promised would be the first major issue he would tackle immediately after forming the new government (no, I don't believe him) would be electoral reform by changing the system to one that would create a system that has basically two parties can only happen with a unity government...

Maybe whoever succeeds to doing the job of getting everyone together and compromising and actually effects the formation of the coalition should be appointed to head the negotiations with the Palestinians for peace.



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Radio Kol Hai only serves softballs to Moshe Abutbol

Disclaimer: My post below is about the Haredi radio stations, not against Bet Shemesh or Mayor Moshe Abutbol.

If you have not seen the video yet, last week one day a regular protest by the construction site of Goloventzitz turned into an anti-soldier protest. A Haredi soldier walked by and the protesters turned their attention to him, verbally abusing him (and some reports say there was some physical violence as well).


This has happened so many times already that as detestable as it is, I do not want to write about it every time it happens. It becomes pointless. This alone would not have warranted a post right now. Maybe at a different time my feeling would be different, my mood would be different, my form and level of revulsion would be different, but right now I did not feel like writing about it again.

What changed?

This morning I heard an interview about the incident on Radio Kol Hai.

I will preface it by saying I really enjoy some of the programs on both Radio Kol Hai and Radio Kol BeRama - especially the morning programs. They have interesting interviews with politicians and community leaders, you can sometimes hear a politician say something really crazy, and they generally tackle the current topics of interest.

My complaint with them is that whenever they interview a Haredi politician or askan, they serve him softballs - they give him easy questions letting him make his point and they don't really attack or get to the heart of any issue. They never really put haredi politicians on the spot like they do with the non-haredi politicians.

Regarding the incident described and depicted above, they intervewed the mayor of Bet Shemesh, Moshe Abutbol. They asked him questions about how he lets it happen, why Bet Shemesh while in other places they don't have these problems, about how it can be resolved, about how in Jerusalem they were pressured to leave by effecting communal pressure on the kannoim by using a form of collective punishment, and the like.

The questions were mostly good, but they never took it to the next step after Abutbol answered.

Moshe Abutbol kept repeating that they are a minority and that 95% of the Haredi community is mad eup of wonderful people. He said he did not bring them to Bet Shemesh, but he cannot do anything that will be collective punishment (such as withhold city services in the areas these goons live - such as garbage collection, etc), because they live amongst other people, other communities, and why should they all suffer because of these few people. Abutbol said the way it will be resolved or minimized is only if their rabbonim put out a letter saying to stop this behavior. He also repeatedly pointed out that punishing them is not up to him but the police,

They never asked him the follow-up questions - questions like so as mayor managing this complicated city, what solutions do you have? Are you approaching the relevant rabbonim to get them to put a stop to it? Who says that will work - when Rav Shternbuch and other Eida rabbonim came out with statements telling them to stop or not to protest the graves at this specific site, they attacked the rabbonim - so maybe that is not the solution. As great as the other 95% (Abutbol's number, not mine) of the Haredi community is, why are these 5% given the power to disrupt an entire city and blacken the name of the other 95% Haredim in the city and throughout the country? As mayor, even though he did not bring them, what is he doing to stop them?

Some of their talk show programs are great, but listening to interviews with Haredi politicians can sometimes be very frustrating.


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Jerusalem beings removing illegal tzniyus signs

The court decision against the City of Bet Shemesh this past January regarding the City's lack of enforcement regarding illegal signage, specifically the signs that are insulting to, and discriminatory against, women, has now officially affected other cities.

It was just a matter of time, as this precedent ensures that other cities won't want to receive similar fines or lawsuits.

Jerusalem has begun removing tzniyus signs from around town.

NRG reports that the City of Jerusalem has already removed many of the newer tzniyus signs, specifically signs placed by bus stops near the Kotel instructing women to sit in the back section of the buses, as well as other newer tzniyus signs in Mea Shearim.

They have not yet removed the older signs, the ones that have become part of the classic imagery of old Jerusalem, though they say they are working to prepare a plan for removal of the rest of the offending signs.

By the way, while the City of Bet Shemesh has paid the women as per the decision in the lawsuit, I am not aware of them yet having removed the signs (correct me if I am wrong). I wonder how much time they have to do so before they get sued again or fined. I would also like to see them remove all other illegal signage, such as businesses that advertise illegally in the middle of streets or on parks fences with illegal signs. The occasional sign does not bother me, but there are so many out here it has become an eyesore, and sometimes is even dangerous, with visibility in the road sometimes being obstructed by signs in the median.

Besides for being dangerous, lack of enforcement means loss of revenue for the relevant cities. Cities charge a signage fee in order to license signs to be placed in public places. If the city is allowing signs to be hung wherever, they are losing money on both those signs and signs in legal places that aren't hung because why bother when you can hang the signs anywhere else for free.


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Tiyulim in Eretz Yisrael: rappelling, hiking and snorkeling by Eilat

As regular readers were able to tell, I took a couple of days off at the end of last week. I took my older boys on a tiyul for a couple of days, in advance of them returning to their schools.

Besides for the great tiyul we had, spending some great time together, and spending time together with the friends we went with, the next best part was being offline and missing all the rehashed talk that happens year after year of who stood and who did not stand during the memorial siren. Thankfully I knew nothing of what was and was not going on for two days.

Here is a recap of our great tiyul:

The plan was actually originally to go up north for 3 days, and hike Yam lYam - from the Nehariya coast until the Kinneret. We have don't this, in full and in part, a few times already, but this time would have been with our sons. Unfortunately, the unusual weather forecast predicting storms forced us to change our plans. We rescheduled for a two day trip of rappelling, hiking, and snorkeling, down south, on the outskirts of Eilat.

Day 1:

We drove down, heading south, and stopped near the Dead Sea for some rappelling at Nahal Tamar. We hiked up the mountain to the rappelling spots. Nahal Tamar is a short hike up a very steep mountain, and it has two spots for great rappelling.

The first, lower, spot, is the bigger drop from the cliff, for greater rappelling. The lower cliff, however, was populated by a group of tourists with a rappelling company., which meant we had to continue on to the higher cliff, with the shorter drop, to do our rappelling.

That was fine, as this was going to be the first time rappelling for some of us (me included), so the slightly shorter drop was just fine, as the rappelling experience would be great anyway.


After hiking up to the top level, we set up the rappelling gear, and took turns rappelling down. The experience of rappelling is very cool. As long as you are careful with setting your equipment properly, it seems that it is pretty safe, even though it can be frightening going over the edge of the cliff... It was a thrilling experience, and we each did it two or three times, so we could get the hang of it and enjoy.

After making our way back to the car, and enjoying some refreshments and some cold drinks from the gas station, we watched for a while 2 truckloads of dairy cows that had been shipped in from Russia. The trucks were parked there for a bit while the drivers took care of some things. One of the things was one of the cows had fallen over, and they had to figure out how to get it to stand again, or else it would likely be killed with other cows stepping on it and falling on it. They were trying to force it to stand, by both screaming at it, hitting its rump and using a "shocker". I have no idea if ultimately they were successful or not, as we left before they finished.

These cows were heading to an isolation farm down south for a couple weeks of isolation and inspection to make sure they were not carrying any diseases, before they will eventually be released to whatever farms bought them.

We then continued on our way down south to Eilat.

Arriving in the very late afternoon, we decided on a short hike before nightfall. The weather was already getting cool, and the rain-clouds were forming in the distance, but the hike in Red Canyon is a short one, so we decided we could probably do it before nightfall or rainfall.

Note: down south rain does not just mean getting wet, but it runs the risk of getting caught in flash floods.

The Red Canyon hike is a short circular route, taking about an hour and  half, maybe a bit less, and that includes our breaks for enjoying the scenery and pictures. The red rock is amazingly unusual - red, wind-swept, smooth.



The hike is easy, and we finished it with plenty of time before it got dark or rainy. The rain actually began shortly after we finished, though it was just a very light rain - though it lasted a few hours.

At that point we had to decide whether to continue with our original plan of finding a place to camp out overnight and barbecue for dinner, or worry about the rain washing things out and instead finding a place to sleep and eat indoors.

We decided to wait out our decision a bit and see what happens with the rain. An additional problem was Wednesday night was also the night of Yom Hashoa, meaning stores and restaurants had to close early.  We decided to go into a supermarket in the city and stock up on some supplies we needed - pita, water and some snacks, along with some additional snorkeling equipment in the sporting goods store next door.

The prices in Eilat were better in every instance than the prices we get at supermarkets in Bet Shemesh. The main reason being, there is no VAT in Eilat. That means prices are almost automatically about 18% cheaper, on most things. And every item we looked at was significantly cheaper. We considered doing some shopping just to take advantage of the cheaper prices, but we did not really have any space for that.

By the time we were done, it was still raining lightly, but we decided to look for the camping spot anyway. We found a good spot by the Eilat Field School - we wanted to take advantage of their bathrooms and showers, and went with that instead of just camping on some beachfront property. The ground still seemed relatively dry despite the light rain, and we enjoyed a nice BBQ and some good hot showers. We set up the tent and fell asleep pretty quickly.

Day 2:
In the morning, it is difficult to sleep in a tent once the sun is up, and we woke up pretty much with sunrise. After davening and eating breakfast, we were on the road. We were all set to hike up to the top of Har Shlomo. The Har Shlomo hike is described as a full day hike. The hike actually includes two mountains - both har Yehoram and Har Shlomo. Har Yehoram peaks at 680 meters above sea level. From there you climb down and then back up to a peak of over 700 meters on the top of Har Shlomo. The hike is difficult and challenging, and the views were exhilarating and the air refreshing.

Har Shlomo is named after King Solomon, who supposedly had mines in that area. The rock of Har Shlomo is a blackish-reddish rock, and is in stark contrast to the white rock of Har Yehoram right next to it. Interestingly, from the top of these mountains, one can see the line delineating the division of the white and red rock, both on the mountains and in the desert opposite.





When we got to the top of Har Shlomo we decided to not complete the full day hike and instead turned back. After all, we still wanted to have time to go snorkeling.

We returned to Eilat, bought some more pita, and looked for a place to eat. We found a quiet beach and parked ourselves there to eat  a much-needed late lunch.

After lunch we went to Chof Almogim, Coral Beach, for snorkeling. We had some of our own equipment, and rented some from the station there. There are not really many places for swimming on this beach, as the coral is right up against the edge of the beach. Because the coral is sharp and dangerous, they have much of it roped off so you cannot swim there. Instead, they have a bridge that takes you out a bit deeper, past the coral.

From the bridge we went in snorkeling. We saw some schools of little fish in that area, but we did not really get the really impressive sights we had been expecting. Snorkeling is tiring, so at some point we all ended up going back ashore to rest a bit.




Funnily enough, we then went back in the water, but in one of the small sections available right off the beach. Even though this section was relatively small, when snorkeling there we were able to see some of the really beautiful fish - I saw the blue fish with the yellow tail, some striped fish and some others. It was really cool.

Eventually it was time to leave, and we began our long drive back home. On the way, it was getting dark and as we drove through the Ramon Crater, we were able to see the amazing sky full of stars - the sight of which we normally don't get when living in a well-lit city. Google Sky helped us identify some of the stars and the planet we could see, but it was still just a bit light outside and not quite dark enough.

By the time we were out of the crater it was fully dark. We decided to make a short detour and stop near Har Gamal, a mountain nearby that has a hump like a camel. It was pitch black out there, and after killing the car lights, we were able to see the amazing night sky. We identified Jupiter and Venus, along with the basic constellations such as Orion's Belt and the Big Dipper. Google Sky helped us identify some of the other thousands of stars, most of whose names meant nothing to me. It was freezing cold out there with a strong wind, so we kept it short and got back into the car to continue our drive home.











 




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Amb. Prosor sings Aretha Franklin at the Commission on Population Development (video)







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KosherSwitch Launch (video)

by now you must have seen the campaign to fund the new innovation to circumvent Shabbos prohibitions.. called The Kosher Switch!

I have no idea regarding the halachic issues surrounding this kosher switch, and will not (at this time) comment on that. It is sure to raise a firestorm, and I see some rabbis and rabbinic organizations have already begun commenting on the issue. I look forward to seeing how this develops.



The Kosher Switch campaign on IndieGogo


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Grand Opening of Police Academy in Bet Shemesh (video)

the grand opening ceremony last week starred luminaries such as Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Rivlin, Minister of Internal Security, and others.. but no Mahoney or Hightower... :-)






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ESPN Run 2015: Chaim Wizman /Jerusalem Marathon / Talmon Runners (video)

Chaim is head coach of our local Bet Shemesh Running Club.. a great runner and a great mensch, and even a talmid chacham!

I am amazed that ESPN made a serious report about the Jerusalem Marathon!





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Hakol Shafit S01E10 (video)

I didn't particularly enjoy this episode. maybe you will...






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Apr 14, 2015

אסור לבעל, אסור לבועל - Israeli courts apply Talmudic concept in law

There is a concept in Jewish law that says אסור לבעל, אסור לבועל - an adulterous woman (who is found guilty of her adultery) becomes prohibited to both her husband and her lover. She cannot stay married to her husband, nor can she marry her lover after she and her husband divorce.

The case in the courts was the classic - she was caught in an adulterous affair, they decided to divorce. The divorce was consensual and undisputed, so the beis din never looked too much into proof of the adulterous affair as the cause of the divorce. They accepted the fact and decided that she is prohibited to both her husband and she would not be allowed to marry her lover.

The woman eventually appealed and wanted that clause, prohibiting her from marrying her lover, erased from her file. Eventually the case was closed in beis din because she moved it to the Supreme Court. The petition to the court was submitted with the claim that the beis din was not authorized to evaluate the claim of adultery, and the adulterous affair was never even brought up in the divorce case. and therefore they had no right to put sanctions on a third party (i.e. the lover) who was not a party in the case.

The beis din argued to the court in return that they are the only ones authorized to judge marriage and divorce cases of Jews in Israel, including the ability to marry and placing limitations on such matters.

The court decided to sop the petition, supporting the position of the beis din as the sole decider of those unable to marry.

At the end of the day, the court supported the right of the beis din to determine and apply the concept of אסור לבעל, אסור לבועל.
source: NRG

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Soldier returns home to surprise family during puck drop (video)

Eitan Urman? Daniel Urman? sounds Jewish to me...






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MK Mozes on his sweet revenge on the Germans (video)

Mozes says his family went to Auschwitz 70 people, all killed and burnt...the one survivor, his father, has now left over 70 descendants..






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IDF Chief of Staff Meets Holocaust Survivor (video)








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Ari Lesser Kosher Song (video)







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Apr 13, 2015

84-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor Says Running Saved Her Life

wow

From Runners World:
The first woman to ever win the Boston Marathon masters division was in concentration camp with Anne Frank. 
Sylvia Weiner has rarely missed a day of running in the last 50 years. She’s up early, and soon out the door to meet several friends for a 5- to 7-mile jaunt. “We go slow and talk about everything but politics,” she says. “I never take a morning off unless it’s literally impossible for me to run.”
Impressive toughness for an 84-year-old who splits her time between Montreal and Miami. But it's just a small part of Weiner’s amazing life story.
Forty years ago, in 1975, when the Boston Marathon first recognized men and women master’s division winners, Weiner claimed the female title in 3:21:38. She was 44 at the time, standing 4 feet, 11 inches tall and weighing 98 pounds.
Three decades before Boston, the Polish-born Weiner survived several years in three German concentration camps. In one, she was imprisoned with the famous Dutch diarist Anne Frank. Weiner was there the day Frank died. 

In 1942, Weiner, just 12, was separated from her parents and seven siblings. They were taken to the Treblinka camp, never to be seen again. Weiner was shuttled to Majdanek, Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen.
When she arrived at Auschwitz, “You could smell the burning flesh in the air,” she remembers. For reasons she doesn’t understand, she was spared, although she witnessed unspeakable horrors, and was forced to comb over dead bodies to select clothing deemed good enough for German re-use.
At Bergen-Belsen, she befriended a young Dutch girl named Anna. Weiner was recovering from her second bout with typhoid fever, but Anna was much sicker. “The conditions were horrendous,” Weiner recalls. “We slept on the ground with no mattress or blanket, and lice were everywhere. We had almost no food—just this terrible watery soup.”

One day Weiner returned to the barracks to hear that Anna had died. Weiner didn’t think much of it at the time; after all, she was surrounded by death. A decade later in Montreal, however, she heard about Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, and saw Frank’s photo. “Oh my gosh,” she realized. “That’s Anna.”
In Montreal, Weiner married and had three children. She tried to carry on a normal life, but couldn’t shake off the concentration camp memories. She’d have frequent nightmares and episodes of depression. Her doctors prescribed first sleeping pills, then tranquilizers. “I had days when I felt I was going down-down-down,” she says.
She joined a Montreal YMCA because membership was required to enroll her daughter in the Y's nursery school. She took a general fitness course that morphed into a running class. “We did a quarter-mile the first day, and I thought I couldn’t make it, but I did,” she says. “No one else in the class came back the second day, but I returned, and kept going.”
Before long, she was running three miles, then five, then seven. Weiner found that running lifted her spirits to the point where she could stop taking the sleeping pills and tranquilizers. She joined a small, all-male running group called the Wolf Pack after its leader, Wolf Bronet, a fellow Holocaust survivor. Her new friends told her she could finish a marathon if she logged 20-mile training runs.
That was all Weiner needed to hear. “I probably overtrained when I was younger,” she says. “I was almost embarrassed by how much I ran. I had such a strong will to survive. I needed it back then. I was the only woman running in Montreal, and most people thought I was crazy.”
Weiner ran her first Boston in 1974, finishing in 3:47. In 1975, she trained harder and felt more confident because of her experience on the course. “I ran with some faster men in 1975, and felt very good,” she says. “The only problem was the girls at Wellesley. They were so excited to see an older woman that they picked me up in the air, and offered me a beer. I said, ‘Let me go, I have to keep running.’”
Weiner continued running marathons for the next 20 years, eventually finishing about 75. She recorded her personal best, a 3:15, at the Skylon Marathon in Buffalo in 1976. At the Advil Mini Marathon 10K in Central Park, she won her age group one year, and finished second in the mother-daughter division with her daughter Debbie.
Canada’s 1980 Boston Marathon champion, Jacqueline Gareau, formerly from Montreal, remembers Weiner from the early days. “We all knew Sylvia,” Gareau told Runner’s World Newswire. “I would see her running on Mont Royal all the time. She was very friendly, and had a very economical running style with a quick, shuffling turnover.”
Weiner now races just once or twice a year. Last October, she won her division in the Leaf Peepers 5K in Waterbury, Vermont, in 48:36.
But it’s her daily jaunt that Weiner counts as most important. “Running saved my life,” she says. “God first, through the miracle of my concentration-camp survival. And then running. Without running, my life would have slipped into some bad times.”



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