Jun 18, 2018

they are tracking you!

I have seen people post online attitudes against using the Rav Kav system on public transportation due to their believing the real purpose of the rav kav is for the government to be able to keep track of our movements, via the rav kav - they will somehow have access to seeing what buses and trains you are taking to go places and will know where you are.

The government must lead pretty boring lives to get excited about tracking my movements.

Those calls are generally on individuals to not use the rav kav, rather to pay with cash or use an anonymous card that is not customized to the rider, even though that means the specific rider will generally pay more.

That conspiracy theory has just escalated.

According to Kol Milchama, some sort of headquarters for distributing information in the fight against the IDF draft, the rav kav information is now available to government offices and the Ministry of Education gets reports in real time of students who should be in school or yeshiva but are in transit to other places. They also add to make sure not to buy things using your credit card, as that is also tracked.

Even more interestingly, they advise people who need to go somewhere by public transportation but not wanting to be noticed by the government - if you must use a rav kav with a deal on it (ie not an anonymous rav kav), you should use someone else's rav kav, like your father's or brother's rav kav.
source: Kol Hazman

Note: they do not say it, but using someone else's rav kav is against the rules. Putting their money where their mouth is they should be honest and say that one can use an anonymous card and pay full price. That is the price you pay for anonymity.

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Annulment of worst aguna case in Israel

You rarely hear about wedding annulments in Judaism. They are very rare and happen only in exceptional cases. Interestingly, there was an annulment just less than two weeks ago, and now the news is now reporting the second wedding annulment this month that was just finalized a short while ago.

The case is of Oded Gez who has left his wife an aguna 5 years ago by refusing to give her a gett. The situation got so bad that the batei din imposed the harshest social sanctions on him that were available in their toolbelt. As a result of those sanctions he was fired form his job as professor at Bar Ilan University, in addition to other sanctions as well. He was also publicly "shamed", though for years it did not help.

At some point Gez escaped from Israel using a forged passport, hiding out in Cyprus, Uman, England and Belgium as he ran away from legal authorities and from the beis din aguna division who stayed no his trail. He was captured in Belgium and is in the process of being extradited to Israel.

In the meantime, the beis din in Haifa revisited his case and has decided, based on reasons they have chosen to keep secret, to annul the marriage. Mrs is no longer married, no longer an aguna and is not a divorcee. She has the status of having never been married.
sources: Behadrei, Kipa, Ynet

I am happy she has received her freedom.

I would like to hear the logic and proofs employed in deciding there was room to annul.

I wonder how an annulment affects Oded Gez's legal status. If they were never married, did he retroactively do nothing wrong?

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Book Review: Immigrant Girl, Radical Woman

A Guest Post by Dr Harold Goldmeier

IMMIGRANT GIRL, RADICAL WOMAN: A Memoir from the Early Twentieth Century
(ILR PRESS an imprint of Cornell University Press, 2017) by Matilda Rabinowitz
(née Taube Gitel Rabinowitz) with commentary and hand drawings by Robbin
Légère Henderson

This is a fascinating, educational and engaging personal story written like a great novel rather than a typical memoir. The book is based on the diary of the main character, Matilda Rabinowitz. I highly recommend it.
The focus is on an immigrant Jewish girl arriving in America in the thick of the turbulent times ushering in the 20th-century. Anarchists, communists, and socialists are battling capitalists. The working class battles robber barons. A young woman, Matilda, begins as a foot soldier in a passel of Jews grasping “the nuances of Socialist theory, aligning themselves with the younger, radical members.”
Jews are unshackling themselves in “the Golden Medina” from Old World beliefs and
practices, immiseration, illiteracy, and pogroms. Matilda Rabinowitz is enthralled. Her ambition now is dedicated to fighting for the soul of America.

Granddaughter, Robbin L. Henderson, deftly weaves the stories about Matilda’s
childhood, treacherous trek to America, and her coming of age. She is disappointed
with the working and living conditions she finds in a land with so much more
potential. Matilda dedicates herself to social progress. Henderson shares Matilda’s
not so private and never traditional life to round out the picture. Regardless of one’s
politics, the reader sympathizes and admires Matilda Rabinowitz.
Henderson undertakes years of research to fill in historical gaps. Henderson
scrounges through archives of organizations many long out-of-business. She travels
to undertake personal interviews with survivors from the time. She includes
newspaper articles. Henderson adds original drawings appearing throughout the
book that enhance the stories, and stimulate the visual sense. It is an indelible

Matilda was no shrinking violet. She held little regard for many of her
contemporaries in the Movement. Radicals referred to Socialists in politics and soft
union leaders with the derisive terms, “municipal sewage plant” or “post-office”
Socialists. Matilda believed union leaders “assumed the privileges of the ruling
class.” It was wrong to collaborate with employers, while they saw their cooperation
as the means to higher wages, shorter hours and greater benefits. Matilda believed
they were undermining working-class solidarity.

Comfortable Jews believing nostalgic tales of a Xanadu-like religious life “in the old
country” learn the rest of the story from Matilda’s diary; why Jews ran fast by the
millions before the Nazis. “Many were the lean years. Great had often been her
terror of persecution and pogrom...My uncles were fairly well educated, but trained for nothing useful,” so earning a living was beyond reach. “The girls just waited to
get married,” and they were uneducated, because “the duties of a wife did not
include any necessity for education.” Intellectual pursuits were out of the question
because of religious discrimination and family pressures.

Matilda tells us of her harrowing tale how “mules” directed Matilda’s family across
Europe to unfamiliar ports for transport, sneaking and bribing their way across
borders, scrounging for food and warm places to sleep. Sound familiar? Matilda is
not reported to ever practice Judaism again. She believes in America’s promise and her opportunity to repair the world through radical Socialism, labor organizing, and avant-garde feminism. Matilda fights for better working conditions and pay, eliminating child labor, improving public health and living conditions, and reordering of the government’s responsibility to its people. These were heady times and Matilda’s work helped build a middle class where none existed before.

 Her turn politically left might be traced to, “The shock and disappointment with
(New York) city that I had pictured in my childish imagination” creating a sense of
alienation and a feeling of not belonging, the ”deadening factory work and
exploitation they experienced from the time of their arrival in the United States.”
Matilda wrote articles for The International Socialist Review. Her claque in the IWW
(International Workers of the World—Wobblies) was dedicated to “agitating and
organizing, organizing and agitating.” She believed “in the precept of the IWW
preamble: It is the historic mission of the working class to abolish capitalism.”
She held no quarter for the nascent Zionist Movement. Henderson tells the reader,
“Matilda was an internationalist and an anti-Zionist.” She rejected the term “cultural
pluralism” coined by the ardent Zionist and prominent intellectual liberal of the
time, Horace Kallen. She was more concerned for the Japanese Americans interned
during the war under Executive Order 9066 than for the remnants of the Holocaust.
Matilda bristled at “Jewish exceptionalism.” That “offended her democratic
sensibilities and her international beliefs.” For Matilda, the Zionist project was a
theocracy and she long before abandoned Judaism and her Jewishness. Henderson
explains in simple straightforward terms the Left’s rejection of Israel till today.
There are many first-hand stories about Matilda’s agitating and organizing, but one
of the best is how Matilda enthralls workers at Studebaker auto plant to stage the
nation’s first auto factory strike. “Some historians credit Matilda at Studebaker with
forcing (Henry) Ford fearing unionization, to increase his workers’ salaries to five
dollars a day.” The notorious anti-Semite who detested unions a little more than
Jews found in Matilda the inescapable nemesis.

Between 1900 and mid-century, Matilda and other activists designed a web of new
social policies: equal pay for equal work, no to child labor, women’s rights, decent
wages and working conditions, improving public health, birth control, AFDC and
Maternal and Child Health Care, free public education and public housing. Matilda
was in the thick of the perfect storm rampaging for a century. She and the activists
named in the book had what it takes to change a nation; she was stentorian,
sagacious, and full of brio.

The book is replete with names of activists and union leaders. Matilda knew and
worked with many of them. Matilda writes about the Federal Children’s Bureau
(1912). Midway in my career, I was interviewed and hired by Dr. Martha May Eliot
(born 1891) to head a Massachusetts children’s advocacy center. Dr. Eliot and
Matilda must have crossed paths. Dr. Eliot was a feminist and health activist. AFDC,
child health programs, and child labor laws were her main focus. Matilda worked on
a study of infant mortality for the Federal Children’s Bureau working as a statistical
assistant and interpreter where Dr. Eliot spent much time.

Matilda thinks about the impact of industrialization taking hold. How it brings about
job cuts and changes the nature of work. She senses the changing attitudes to unions
and organizing workers with the burgeoning white-collar office workers. They
quickly outnumber factory floor workers. The same conversation prevails in 2018
using the sobriquets of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
Her personal life is nettled by poverty and love affairs with characters. Matilda
suffers repeated bouts of poverty. She and her baby depend on the good acts of
friends and family. She was underemployed or unemployed for long periods. The
book never quite satisfies the reader why she does not retain the good paying jobs
over the long-term despite Matilda’s talents for language, diligence, and innate

Henderson admires her grandmother but there is no pretense. Henderson writes
truthfully with affection and admiration. Matilda’s diary has not vaunted or given to
self-aggrandizement like in so many memoirs. For instance in an effort to embarrass
Matilda the organizer, local papers published love letters exchanged between
Matilda and her married paramour, father of her child but not her husband. These
are included in the book.

Matilda’s story strengthens the resolve of women to find their own place in society
in their own time and be inspired. I will recommend Immigrant Girl, Radical Woman
to my college students as a must read.

Harold Goldmeier is a writer and college teacher in Tel Aviv with a degree from
Harvard. He is an award-winning businessman and public speaker @

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Messi deservedly misses

Minister Avigdor Lieberman commented about Messi's missed penalty shot that left Argentina drawing to a tie with Iceland in the World Cup game the other day. Lieberman said that Messi really could have used that exhibition game against Israel that he canceled.

I heard many comments in a similar vein over the past day or so. Some tied it more in as a divine punishment of sorts for canceling the game.  I myself joked when my son mentioned it that he deserved it for what he did.

We Israelis are a funny bunch..

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6/16/18 Talking to your Children about Summer Camp (and Life) Dangers (audio)

very important topic

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Israelis react: "We don't hate Jews, we hate Zionists" (video)

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Rabbi Dov Lipman at AJC Global Forum 2018 in Jerusalem (video)

Former Knesset member Rabbi Dov Lipman moderates a discussion about the Israeli-Diaspora relationship at the AJC Global Forum in Jerusalem in June 2018. These are excerpts with some of his comments

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Extreme Couponing // 60 Second Docs (video)

what fabulous efforts of chessed.. see if you can spot the frum Jew... I cannot tell if he is receiving or assisting. I would guess assisting because her food would not be kosher...

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Hakol Haba From Jerusalem - S2E14 I (video)

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Jun 17, 2018

separate skating issue on the ice block again

The City of Jerusalem is once again going to be opening an ice skating rink during the summer months in the Arena Stadium.

After complaints last year about the overwhelming amount of gender-separate skating hours, leaving supposedly only 4 hours per day for the general public to skate mixed, this year they say things will be different. Four full days will be blocked out for the religious/Haredi public for gender-separate skating, and the rest of the time will all be mixed skating.

Is mixed skating a problem because the ice is really just frozen water so mixed skating is really just mixed swimming?

Some in the general public are saying this is illegal and even if it can be worked out legally, as the operators think it can, it sets a bad precedent and will lead to more public activities being gender-separate, while in the religious/Haredi communities they are complaining about how they only get 4 days and not more out of the entire two months.
sources: Ynet and Kikar

Personally I think the Haredi community should be taken into consideration and a fair amount (however that is determined) of separate-skating days should be allocated for them. They are a significant part of the population and are consumers of public services just like anyone else and I think public services should be offered fairly and equitably in accordance with their lifestyle as well, as long as it isnt overly burdensome on the public. Making a few days of separate skating will greatly benefit them and wont be too difficult for the general public, considering they have a large amount of days with skating available in whatever way they want to skate, so a little consideration is a good thing.

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Proposed Law: photographing IDF soldiers in action

The Ministerial Legislative Committee today approved the law proposal that has become known as the "Azarya Law", dubbed after the soldier Alor Azarya who was convicted and served time in the brig after he shot and killed an Arab terrorist after he had already been neutralized. The law proposal will move on the Knesset for voting later this week.

The law proposal put forth by MK Robert Iltov (Yisrael Beyteynu) would prohibit the photographing and documentation of IDF soldiers activities.

The proposal has two stages. One who documents the activities of soldiers and distributes that documentation will have one level of punishment. If it can be proven that there was also intent to harm the security of the State, the punishment will be doubled.

Iltov explains that it is incomprehensible that an activist or leftist organization, funded by foreign interests will have free access to document Israeli soldiers in action. We must grant them the most optimal conditions to perform their duties without worrying about whether someone is videoing them and will distribute their pictures and images.
source: Kol Hai News and Kipa

I have no idea if this is good or bad, but it is interesting. I get the argument. You tie the hands of the soldiers who will be afraid of acting and will always be looking over their shoulders. On the other hand, in Israel soldiers are out in the open all over public areas - how do you control what people take pictures of? What if someone posted online a picture they thought was cool, with no intent to shame a soldier or get someone in trouble, but other people then make use of it for other purposes? Rav Yuval Cherlow's argument that such a law makes it look like Israel has something to hide is also compelling.

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Haredi politicians ok with chilul shabbos, elsewhere

While all the threats and attacks on the Eurovision competition happening in Israel next year seem to be falling away, for now, there is only one remaining. Well, maybe two, if you count the possibility of Miri Regev politicizing it enough as she did the exhibition game with Argentina...

The last threat standing is local politics, specifically the Haredi politicians, though they seem to be resigned to it happening as well.

The Eurovision administration has said that Jerusalem is fine, any location in Israel is fine, as long as the specific location meets the professional and technical standards required. The only question remaining is the chilul shabbos aspect, and what the Haredi politicians and askanim will do about it.

According to a recent news report on Mako, as reported by Haredim10, the Haredi MKs have requested from PM Benjamin Netanyahu that if it has to happen in Israel and has to include chilul shabbos, as the rules set by Eurovision requires it, at least keep it out of Jerusalem - out of sight, out of mind - and hold the competition somewhere where we wont see it and it wont disturb us.

on the one hand it is good that they realize the limits of their power and influence and how important so many Israelis, and the politicians, feel this is that they aren't willing to flex their political muscle on getting it cancelled and pulled from Israel.

on the other hand, since when are they ok with public chilul shabbos outside of Jerusalem - "in any other city where we wont see it", as they said...? Why is that a good solution for them? They do not allow public transportation in Tel Aviv or anywhere else (with Haifa being the exception), they fought strongly against more stores being open on Shabbos in Tel Aviv and elsewhere, they every now and again fight against the work on the railroad tracks - even though they have yet to have any significant victory on this issue, and more. Why are they not fighting this stronger? Since when are they ok with chilul shabbos just because the Israelis really want it (if that's the reason)?

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The attempt by the USA to advance meetings for a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians is a waste of time and is destined for failure..

 -- Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokeperson for Abu Mazen

in hindsight, one can say that about the entire last quarter century or so of attempts at peace talks.. or maybe trying to find peace is never a waste of time, no matter how slim the chances of success are..

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Nikki Haley speaks at the United Nations General Assembly (video)

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will the draft law kill the coalition? (video)

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Test Drive with Yaakov Shwekey (video)

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