Aug 16, 2018

Synagogues of England (video)







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Eli Herzlich SheMa Beni (Animated Music Video)







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Aug 15, 2018

how to get a blue and white esrog

As we get closer to the holidays, it seems the authorities are aware of the increase in people attempting to smuggle fruits into the country and they therefore step up their level of inspection and enforcement. The fruits commonly being smuggled are esrogim for the upcoming Sukkos holiday.

Some bring an esrog for themselves, or a few for the members of their family, while others bring in tens or hundreds of esrogs to sell.

From the perspective of fruit being smuggled in, it does not matter if you are bringing in 1 or 100 or 1000 - the problem of importing foreign bugs along with the fruit is the same and thus possibly causing new infestations of unknown species, as is the concern of the Ministry of Agriculture.

According to Behadrei, a woman from Ashdod was just caught smuggling 40 esrogim in from Spain, after he suitcase did not arrive with her, and she reported it missing. When they found the suitcase and brought it in, they checked it and found the esrogim.

Anyways, the funny part of this is that Ministry of Agriculture statement on the matter included a note that because it is prohibited to bring in "4 species" from foreign countries, in order to avoid distressing situations, the Ministry of Agriculture will gift a "blue and white" set to any traveler who brings a set in with him or her from abroad.

The Ministry will exchange your foreign set with a local Israeli set.

That is a nice gesture. I wonder if they will do so at the equivalent value of the set confiscated, or at least a similar level of kashrut. Meaning, if someone bought a set of Mehudar aleph aleph mehadrin min hamehadrin chazin ish esrog in New York or London and tries to bring it in with him, will the Ministry give him a kosher lbracha set or a mehudar set?

While the ministry isnt obligated to, and thus I would not expect it of them, it is basically pointless if most people won't use the set given to them by the Ministry and they really should not bother wasting their money. Cute idea, but basically a waste of money

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his white shirt did him in, and his white shirt got him off

this is funny. the police arrested someone, a yeshiva bochur, for his involvement in the recent violent  protest rallies in Jerusalem, of the Peleg protests against the draft law. The charges brought against this fellow were a slew of charges such as violence, attacking a police officer, preventing a police officer from doing his work, danger on public roads, and more..

It turns out that the police only arrested this guy because he was wearing a white shirt, but they did not actually know that he did anything wrong. They simply grabbed a charedi fellow and arrested him and claimed he did all that stuff - stuff that was done, but not by him.

The courts released this fellow after it being proven that the only basis for the police arresting him was his white shirt - his lawyer, Itamar Ben Gvir, showed that the police had stood far away from the hafgana and there is no way they could have actually identified him as having thrown stones or overturning garbage cans. Someone did it, but not him. Being that there were many people, hundreds or thousands, wearing white shirts and dressed similarly, the arrest was deemed baseless, against the claims of the police that he was easily identifiable as the only one wearing a white shirt - a ridiculous claim at such a hafgana.
source: Haredim10

I would think they would have these hafganot fully documented with photographers and videographers, as they do in many other situations, and would be able to figure out who acted violently and broke the law and arrest the right people. It is very strange, surreal almost, that they arrested someone just because of his white shirt and thought that would be good enough to be considered positive identification in a sea full of white shirts. The police have to do better.





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kashrus rumors are just rumors

A few days ago I heard a rumor, but it was told to me as fact. As reality.

Someone tells me that Rav Landau, the rav of Bnei Braq who heads a very respected kashrus organization known as the Badatz of Rav Landau, has decided to retire. Rav Landau is affiliated with Chabad, but because his son is a member of the messianic wing of Chabad, this fellow tells me, Rav Landau does not want to turn his kashrus organization over to his son, so he is closing it entirely. Coca Cola, the flagship product under the hechsher of Rav Landau, along with many other products are being moved over to the kashrus of the Badatz Eida Hachareidis, and many products, such as Coca Cola, have already been switched.

That is pretty big news. I was a bit surprised I had not heard about it, but this fellow claimed it as fact. I somewhat trusted him against my better instincts, simply because this is a fellow who is very careful about what he eats and is strict to eat only from the Eida hechsher and checks everything. I figured he would surely know if he is making such a claim. I still thought it strange that it was not in the news and that I did not hear about from some various forums and groups I am a member of, but  I can miss things too, so I guess it could be true.

After a few days, I still have not seen anything about it, and bottles of Coca Cola still bear the hechsher of Rav Landau and not the Eida, I decided to do some online searching about it.

Sure enough, it took a while, but the only thing I could find about it is some rumors on forums being discussed. I found a discussion making this exact claim from back in 2014, and also another one from back in 2010.

Obviously it is not true and is just an old rumor being rehashed. It does not even make sense, as he does not need to pass it down to his son but could sell it or pass it over to a different rav, but reality does not always have to make sense or be logical, but rumors should be.

Anyways, it is just an old rumor being rehashed.

My point here is not to dispel a specific rumor only a few people might have heard. My point is that the kashrus world is always full of rumors, some logical, some strange, some that pan out and actually happen and many that do not. Sadly, the reality seems to be, that a lot of what we do regarding kashrus is based on rumors - rumors of things we heard  about what this or that hechsher does or does not do. We talk as if we know something to be true, even if it isn't and the source was just a rumor that somehow became "reality" after it passed through a few people in the chain.

Check to the best of your ability. Rumors can be damaging to companies, and it hurts the consumer too. Do not just assume something is true, just because you heard it from someone who seems to know what he is talking about. Like all rumors, kashrus rumors are just rumors, not truth.






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Dudi Knopfler - unplugged acoustic (Music Video)








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Aug 14, 2018

Our Family is Dysfunctional

A Guest Post by Dr Harold Goldmeier

My wife kicks my leg under the dinner table whenever guests rail against opponents of Netanyahu and critics of Israel.  The U.N. and college students are also favorite targets.  "Save your contrarian opinions for your articles, not the dinner table," she reproaches me.  I'm pretty black and blue, as you might imagine.
This abridged dinner talk reflects the mounting impatience among many Israelis. A siege mentality has set-in following years of political, social and intellectual attacks from Jews mostly living abroad, foreign leaders, artists and pundits. The claque denounces the existence of the State and Jews’ moral character.
Yet, take for example, the predictable and routine charge of rape perpetrated by Muslim refugees across Europe, UN troops deployed to protect civilians, NGO workers from Haiti to African villages, and US, British and other Western nations’ soldiers. The IDF has acted with restraint in such matters without the army of occupation accused of such horrendous violations.
This siege mentality incubates from the politics of fear resulting in strident outbursts against free speech by elected officials, interrogating visitors at the airport about their political views, and turning away people antagonistic to the current government political policies.  Israelis are moving past denial, anger, bargaining, depression, telling our Diaspora Jewish family this is who we are; recognize and accept our pride and patriotism, our decisions; move here so you can vote and make the changes you want; send your children off to war, suffer the amaranthine words of Palestinian hate and acts of terror, or shut up.
Israelis Are So Angry 
I have noticed a palpable shift in attitude in the six years since we made aliyah.  For instance, staunch Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz threatens to no longer attend Israel public forums, because audiences, particularly American attendees, boo and shout down critics of Israel. Israelis give shrinking quarter to the likes of Natalie Portman, Peter Beinart, and Jeremy Ben-Ami.  Michael Chabon is now totally a write-off.  One of Israel's most famous Anglo op-ed weekly commentators goes so far to question the loyalty and patriotism of Israel's military leaders and former elected officials who publicly undermine, in her mind, Israel’s government.  
Israelis scoff when they hear claims from abroad that we love Israel but do "not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu."  That claim and others like it push many Israelis to exasperation. In Israel, this is code for the country and Jewish people being creatio ex nihilo, led by craven schemers with perfidious policies.  Israelis are flummoxed and turn-off Diaspora Jews when they castigate   Israel's formidable response to Hamas acts of violence and the IDF killings of terrorists dressed in t-shorts and flip-flops.  Israelis believe that Diaspora Jews just don't get it, and Israelis are caring less.
Anglo-olim, especially Shabbat-observant vatikiim (antiques or seniors), trend right of center.  They are angry and fed up.  The largest English- speaking synagogue in our community distributes Moshe Feiglin's weekly newsletter.  The rabbi promotes Feiglin's political views from the pulpit. Only Feiglin’s newsletter is distributed every week in the shul. At the risk of overstepping, Feiglin wants to buy out or forcefully remove from all of Eretz Yisroel Arabs unwilling to swear allegiance to the Jewish State.  Pundits predict that Feiglin will be a force to reckon with in the next Knesset election.

Four unshakable principles of faith that Diaspora Jews will never appreciate and about which Israelis will not compromise are:
  • Israel has a legal right to exist as much as any other country recognized in the family of nations.  There is no daylight in definitions of terms "anti-Zionism," "anti-Israel," and "anti-Semitic."
  • Palestinians are treated better and are economically well off more than in any Arab country, and they are happier living in Israel. 
  • Most Palestinians will choose to become Israeli citizens and assimilate if given the choice without a threat of harm or death from the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and other roaming gangs of terrorists.
  • Israelis see the secular, Reform, Conservative, domestic, and foreign ultra-Orthodox haredi Jews, and Obama-Clinton liberals, as a claque promoting the Palestinian perspective.  Diaspora Jews are a dying breed because immigrating Muslims are turning their new countries anti-Semitic.  Jewish youths forsake their heritage through surging rates of intermarriage and Jewish education illiteracy.  They are now a non-starter collection of forlorn Jews with no tethers to other Jewish people or Israel despite some keeners.
For all practical political purposes, Jews are members of a dysfunctional family. 
For Every Action, There's a Reaction: Kiss Mine Tuchus
Living under constant existential threat, all too often exacerbated by politicians for selfish purposes, Israelis are give short shrift to Diaspora Jews moaning and whining from afar. Kinder gentler Israelis are telling them
Please don't talk about me when I'm gone 
Oh honey, though our friendship ceases from now on
And listen, if you can't say anything real nice
It's better not to talk at all is my advice

Not so gentle Israelis are telling them KMT embracing a sign memorialized by Michael Steinhardt. He is the co-founder and major funder of Birthright Israel.   Steinhardt, without saying a word to protesters blocking his entrance outside an AIPAC gala dinner, flashed his middle finger at protesters and triumphantly marched into the hall.  Steinhardt's flip of the finger sums up the mood in much of Israel.
Don't Talk about Me When You’re Gone
Make no mistake: Israelis engage in vigorous debate about Netanyahu's policies and political elbowing.  He holds office by a razor-thin majority.  Israelis want a resolution with the Palestinians, but are largely convinced that land for peace, freeing prisoners for peace, and silk glove actions in Gaza and the West Bank are failed projects. The outcries of Diaspora Jews on these and domestic matters find Israelis caring less what Diaspora Jews have to say, because to Israelis their misology makes these tangential stakeholders sound like wailing keeners.
I am extremely proud of two American gap year students I taught in Mideast politics, who for their final project, made a video that in part is poignantly critical of Israel's failings and missteps. But, they claim, they never criticize Israel back home in public. One cited Winston Churchill from 1947:
[W]hen I am abroad I always make it a rule never to criticise or attack the Government of my own country.  I make up for lost time when I come home[.] ... Abroad and speaking to foreigners I have even defended our present Socialist rulers, and always I have spoken with confidence of the future destiny of our country[.] ... At home we must do our duty, point out the dangers, and endeavour so to guide the nation as to avoid an overwhelming collapse.  But I have no patience with Englishmen who use the hospitality of a friendly nation to decry their own.  I think this is a very good principle, and one that deserves general attention.

I stopped trying to convince Holocaust-deniers and Israel-haters otherwise.  The Steinhardt move, the vaunting finger, is my usual response to Israel-haters.
Dr. Harold Goldmeier is a public speaker discussing modern Zionism, economic, political and social issues, and making aliyah. He teaches international university students in Tel Aviv, worked for US governors, and is a businessman and consultant.


Social Media Blurb:

Israelis and advocates are increasingly sending a message to critics in Diaspora to Kiss My Tuchus.  Beset with a siege mentality exacerbated by existential fear we’re not taking it anymore. Whatever sense of family remains is now dysfunctional. 


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7 Things you probably didn't know about Jerusalem's Mahne Yehuda market (video)







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Leor David - Gratitude (video)







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Aug 13, 2018

either Eida or Israel, but not both on your wine

The latest kashrut brouhaha with the Eida Hachareidis is a report on Channel 11 News (Kan) is regarding a winery that put out a line of wine marketed with the celebratory symbols for Israel's 70th birthday.  The Eida has told Psagot Winery that they must either cover up the Zionist symbols on the labels of the bottles, or must cover up the Eida hechsher.


What a conflict! They want to market to a community that will only rely on the Eida hechsher and not any of the other hechshers available, but they also want to market their wine to people who will buy it as part of a celebration of Israel's 70th birthday! And the Eida will only allow it to be one or the other, not both.

Here is a picture of the bottle of wine causing the friction..



It is also possible that the Eida was simply embarrassed to have its logo on a bottle for a company that could not even spell the worth "birthday" correctly for a major marketing campaign taking advantage of Israel's 70th birthday!

The Eida always claims that the kashrut division is independent of the rest of the activities of the Eida and is "kashrus neto" with no involvement in the anti-State activities of the Eida. An incident like this shows that this is not true - they are giving an ultimatum that it is either a symbol of the State of Israel or it is the logo of the Eida, but the two cannot reside on the same bottle side by side.

Being that this is purely a marketing issue, companies feel that having the Eida hechsher will bring them a lot more business, people need to make it known to the companies that the Eida hechsher will expose them to an entirely new market, but it will close them off from other markets.. If the Eida says it can only be one or the other, who can blame them for choosing Eida if there are no ramifications?




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Israelis: Why do you stop Palestinians from praying at al Aqsa? (video)







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Synagogues of England (video)







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Micha Gamerman - Boi Kala | (Official Music Video)







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Aug 12, 2018

banning WoW from blowing shofar at the Kotel

headlines like these bother me so much. If it happened anywhere else, everyone would be screaming anti-semitism and that it evokes memories of the British Mandate period andd of other difficult times in Jewish history.

Kikar has a report about the monthly Rosh Chodesh fighting at the Kotel between the Haredi community and the Women of the Wall members and supporters. Today seems to have been a little bit unique because the WoW people wanted to bring in shofars to blow, as per the custom during the month of Elul at the end of davening.

The event turned violent, as it often does, and someone (on WoW's side) was arrested for acting violently against young protesting the WoW prayer service. Because they were expected to bring in shofars for blowing, the lawyer representing those opposing WoW requested from Avichai Mandelblit, the Attorney General, to ban WoW from bringing and using shofars at the Kotel.

The article does not say if he acceded to the request and banned the shofars or not, but implies that the women were doing something wrong and against the rules.

Even if I think the approach used against WoW is wrong and counter-productive, I can at least understand the opposition to women wearing tefillin in public and reading from torahs when making a minyan. I do not get what is wrong with women blowing shofar. As far as I am aware, the Shulchan Aruch and poskim do not call it yohara or haughtiness, as by teifllin, and there is seemingly nothing halachically inappropriate or disturbing about  a woman blowing the shofar. Women are allowed to blow the shofar, especially for themselves and for other women, and according to many even for men. And, the blowing of the shofar now is custom, not obligation, so it is even much more minor of an issue than, say, on Rosh Hashana itself. So, Israelis trying to ban Jews from blowing shofar at the Kotel reminds me of the stories of the British arresting Jews for blowing shofar at the Kotel on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, and I do not understand what the opposition to it is about. They should just continue to focus on opposing the torah reading and tallis/tefillin wearing which makes more sense.







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Interesting Psak: the Kiki Challenge

The latest Internet craze is something called the Kiki challenge.

The Kiki challenge is based on a song by "Drake". Drake happens to be Jewish. His father is Afruican American and his mother is Jewish, so he is Jewish. His real name is Aubrey Drake Graham. Drake is a singer-rapper and his song "Kiki" became a big hit and this challenge developed around it.

To me the challenge looks stupid and I don't get it. Basically, someone gets out of the car with the song playing and while the car continues to drive slowly the passenger gets out and leaves his door open and dances to the song moving with the car.

Here is a recent video of a Chabadnik doing the Kiki challenge...


I guess this has been such a big hit that the rabbis felt the need to weigh in on it.

Rav Aryeh Stern, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, said that this is not appropriate and is also dangerous. We need to try to be similar to God, not to the non-Jews.

Chief Rabbi of Israel Rav Dovid Lau said there is no allowance for putting lives in danger, even if it looks like a phenomenon that is not dangerous and even possibly positive. Safety is the most important.

Rav Yaakov Nechimovski, the Chabadnik in the video above, says that he is not ashamed of the openness and style by which he lives his life, as he always has. A rav needs to be connected to the people to the maximum allowed within the framework of possibilities, as long as there is really nothing wrong..
source: Kikar

I still don't get the challenge, and I do not see any serious danger to one's life, as long as one does not do this on a busy road, but if you are going to do it, gei gezunteheit...and I guess ask your LOR first...





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money for apartment as gift or loan

A divorce in the beis din of Tiberias dealt with an interesting issue of division of the assets.

When the couple got married, the father of MRS took out a mortgage on his own home to the tune of 1,000,000nis in order to help the young couple buy a home. At the time they made a verbal agreement that the young couple would pay the monthly mortgage payments.

Eventually, sadly, the couple ran into rough times in their relationship and decided to divorce. They agreed to sell the apartment and pay back the debts and then divide the rest of the value of the apartment. Mr then went and claimed in beis din that the million shekels given to them to buy the house was a gift, not a loan. Meaning, the father will have to repay his own debt and the separating couple does not need t pay that debt back from the assets. Mrs counter-claimed saying it was a loan, not a gift and the debt should be paid back from the sale of the apartment.

Upon investigation, the beis din discovered that the process actually was the father sold his house, gave the money to the couple to buy a house and then bought a new place for himself with a mortgage. After going through the halacha and responsa on the issue, the members of the beis din concluded that the money was a loan and not a gift and must be repaid.
source: Kikar



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