Sep 29, 2008
Sep 28, 2008
Olmert just said a new "ultranationalist" underground group is responsible. Barak says it is the violent settlers. And more. Everybody in government knows exactly who to blame, yet the police do not even have any suspects yet, let alone knowledge of any groups involved.
Whoever did it should be caught and arrested, whether he is a right winger or a left winger. Why do Olmert, Barak and Co. have a right to point fingers and lay blame on people without proof or even any coincidental proof? Just because Sternhall hated the settlers means automatically it was settlers who tried to kill him? Maybe he had other enemies as well?
'Boker tov, Rabbi Feldman,' he replied, still focused on the plaque.
'Rabbi Feldman, what is this?'
he said, pointing to the plaque.
The good Rabbi tenderly put his arm around Max's shoulder and said, 'Well son, it's a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service.'
Soberly, they just stood together, staring at the large plaque.
Finally, little Max, in a voice barely audible and trembling with fear asked, 'Which service, Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur?'
Sep 26, 2008
I enjoy exercising my right to vote. I vote at every election in which I am eligible to vote, and I even answer surveys whenever possible.
In 18 years in Israel, I have voted in three United States elections for president by absentee ballot. I believe in being part of the process.
The upcoming election seems to one in which every vote will probably count and make a difference. The race is very tight and the candidates are fighting for every vote. It does not really matter for whom you are going to vote, but you should definitely vote for whomever is your preferred candidate.
So, how do you vote? You can't just walk into a booth in your local library or school building and vote, like you did in the US. The process is not really all that difficult. You simply have to apply for an absentee ballot fro the state in which you last resided. Then, shortly before the day of voting, you will get a ballot in the mail which you fill in and mail back.
So how do you register? Thankfully, an organization has arisen whose goal is to make the application process really simple. All they want to do is to get more people to vote and exercise their democratic rights.
They are called Vote From Israel.
Vote From Israel is a non-partisan, nonprofit dedicated to getting Americans in Israel to Vote in the upcoming US elections for President.
To vote from overseas, you MUST be registered. If you aren’t registered, you can’t vote. Period.
Registration ends October 6, 2008 (in a week!!!). That means, especially with Rosh Hashana happening in the middle of this week, you really have to get moving and contact them right away!
So here is what you should do, in six easy steps:
- Go to the website.
- Enter your name.
- Download the PDF form.
- Print it out.
- Fill it out and sign it.
- And the most important part -It must be dropped off at one of the drop-off points around the country by October 6. The site has a list of all the drop off points. If it isn’t dropped off, you can’t vote!
--------------------------------------------end of referral---------------------------------------------------
Sep 25, 2008
Someone asked Rav Arusi whether he is allowed to purchase food in a restaurant owned people involved in the mob.
Rav Arusi's response was that if you know defintiely that a specific restaurant is owned by one of the crime families, than it would be prohibited to eat there. It is prohibited to assist and support them in any way, as their hands are full of blood.
Obviously the restaurant in question has a hechsher, otherwise the person asking the shailoh would not eat there because of the lack of hechsher. So, if most people generally have no idea who owns any given restaurant they walk into, the real people assisting and supporting these mobster criminals is the rabbanut or other hechsher organizations who allow them to retain their hechsher. If Rav Arusi feels it is prohibited to eat in this persons restaurant, he should also remove the hechsher from the restaurant.
In the meantime, he is playing both sides of the coin, by providing the hechsher (and charging for kashrut services), and telling people to not eat there. This is similar to a few months ago, around Yom Ha'atzmaut time, when the Eidah Hareidis told people not to purchase food products on which were displayed the Israeli flag, despite their continuing to provide the hechsher on the product.
A little integrity please. If it is assur to eat there, you should not be providing them, and charging them for, a hechsher.
An initial subsidy of $50,000 per person could be a nice start for a SEED kollel of some sort... Somehow though, considering the name of the Rabbi is Rabbi Lynne Goldsmith (her husbands name is Rob), I doubt those are the types of Jews they are looking to import...
Sep 24, 2008
I am not talking about haredi people who take jobs with the Rabbanut, such as mashgichim or jobs as rabbis of cities or neighborhoods. That I understand.
What eludes me is why Haredi leadership gets involved. Why does Rav Elyashiv try to influence the election of the Chief Rabbi, for example?
The general Haredi public does not rely on the Rabbanut for pretty much anything, whether it be for kashrus of esrogim, meat, marriages, divorce, conversion, vegetables, shmitta, and even things as mundane as popsicles, etc. And it is not like the Haredi influence in recent years has effected a change in the perception of the general Haredi public towards the Rabbanut, so that too is not a goal.
Yesterday there were elections for the council of the Rabbanut of Israel. Shas was pushing rabbis it supported for the council. Rav Elyashiv and his guys were pushing rabbis they supported for the council. NRP was pushing rabbis they supported for the council.
Rav Elyashiv and Shas got into a bit of a row about this election. One of the leading rabbis Shas was supporting was Rav Avrohom Yosef, the Chief Rabbi of Holon and son of Rav Ovadia Yosef. Rav Avrohom Yosef is a brilliant person, and he sounds like he is personable and forthcoming (he used to give (maybe he still does) daily halacha talks on the radio I would sometimes listen to).
Rav Elyashiv fiercely opposed Rav A Yosef being elected to the council of the Rabbanut. The reason is because Rav A Yosef, like his father, has supported the use of hetter mechira. Rav Elyashiv is against hetter mechira to an extreme, and considered that alone to be enough of a reason to reject supporting the election of Rav Yosef.
This led to a rift between Shas and Rav Elyashiv/Degel. They could not come to an agreement of mutually supporting each others candidates (for ashkenazy and sefardi positions), because Rav Elyashiv would not support Rav Yosef, and it was all or nothing, so each ran alone. Actually, Shas came to an agreement of joint support with the NRP.
It turns out, that all of Shas' candidates got in, along with all of NRPs candidates. Not a single candidate of Rav Elyashivs made it in.
(I am not going to comment on the candidates themselves, because I do not know most of them. I know Rav Kook by reputation and he is supposed to be a very worthy rav, no matter which party or backer was supporting him, so this is not necessarily about qualifications)
So for the first time in recent years, the Rabbanut is back to a situation where it is being controlled by Rabbonim and a community that use its services and trust in it, and no longer by rabbonim who use it, perhaps cynically, as a method of control.
Regardless of that, the newest issue to arise is one in which residents are complaining that in certain areas near the bridge, one can look up and catch a upskirt view of females above.
The newspaper article is comparing this to the fiasco of the dance troupe at the inaugural party of the bridge a few months ago in which women participants were forced to wear sacks and hats to cover their body shapes. That was a true fiasco, because that is something that should have never happened, and whatever solution was going to be implemented should have been dealt with in advance, not at the last minute.
The truth is though, that this problem has nothing in common with that fiasco. that fiasco was part of the battle of the extreme Haredi against the secular over the atmosphere and style of Jerusalem. This is just a problem. It is not just Haredi women who do not want men looking up their skirts. Any woman who wears a skirt would not want to be exposed like that.
Maybe they compare it because secular women generally wear pants and not skirts. But that is not true - they wear miniskirts, and plenty wear skirts as well (even if only on occassion), and they do not want to have people looking up their skirts.
I remember when the cellphone industry had first started putting cameras into cellphones, there was an issue in Japan, and maybe other places (but I remember reading about Japan). They were forced to change certain standards and abilities because women were complaining that they were catching men on buses and trains taking upskirt pictures of them.
So it is not just Haredi women who have a problem with this, and this should not be portrayed as a fight of the Haredim against the secular.
First of all, who cares? This is nothing new. They never show pictures of women and avoid saying their first names. As a matter of fact the readers of Yated and Hamodia will be better off than the rest of us - they will not be forced to look at Livni's smug face every day.
Second point, I find it humorous that in today's Yated, every time it mentioned Mrs. Livni, it showed a picture of Ehud Olmert.
Third point, in the same paper that refuses to mention Tzipi Livni's name, today had an article describing the process of SHimon Peres conveying upon Livni the responsibility of forming the government. In the article, it mentioned Speaker of the Knesset Dalia Itzik. Yes, Dalia Itzik is a woman. Yes, it said her first name as well as her last name.
It was clear this was going to be a failure. Who in the frum community is going to concerts on erev Rosh Hashana? In the yeshivas, perhaps it is the very bottom of the yeshiva guys, as even the average guys, who normally would go, would not go now. And in the baalebatish world people are getting ready for yom tov and have work and school...
And who wants to shlep out to Ceasaria for a concert anyway? He should have made it in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. These guys get it into their head that they are so good they can fill a stadium anywhere.
Perhaps his plan should have been to get himself banned again... The mishmeres guys were smarter this time around. By ignoring it and not banning him, they did not make it into a thing to davka go.
Or perhaps people are going tomorrow night to the Paul McCartney concert (in Tel Aviv), and did not want to go to two concerts this week!
Sep 22, 2008
(Written by a talmid of Rav Chaim Soloveichik shlita, Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel. Motsei Shabbat Parshat Ki Tavo, 5768)
Rav Chaim Soloveichik in his weekly Shabbat drasha on Parashat Ki Tavo called upon community leaders to take a more forceful approach regarding child abusers. Rav Soloveichik heads Mosdot HaRav Aharon Soloveichik – Bet Knesset Ohr Shalom, located in Ramat Beth Shemesh and founded by his father HaGaon HaRav Aharon Soloveichik.
Rav Soloveichik began his drasha by referring to the simcha which the community experiences when witnessing smachot involving the younger generation, such as brit milah and bar mitzvah. The Rav noted that such smachot are so great because of the continuity which they represent. “Our children are our future-we rejoice at smachot connected to them and we must be vigilant in acting to protect them from harm.”
Rav Soloveichik cited the vidui maasroth which is mentioned as the second mitzvah in parashath Ki Tavo and raised the question of why one must say a vidui regarding sins which one did not do, whereas generally one does so regarding sins which one has transgressed. The Rav stated that the purpose of vidui is making a "complete accounting". “Leaders, heads of institutions and rabbanim must make an accounting for that which they have and have not done for their communities.
One issue regarding which a more serious accounting needs to be done is the issue of child-abuse. I have been apprised of a local problem with an alleged child abuser who is employed as a teacher of young children by a local school. The teacher is currently being investigated for inappropriate behavior with children, and community leaders and rabbanim say that we must not remove the teacher lest his parnassa be damaged.”
Rav Soloveichik emphasized that while one’s parnassa is an important issue this does not trump the need to separate such a teacher from children for whom he constitutes a presumed danger.
There are numerous opportunities for parnassah which do not require being responsible for 30 kids.
“It is hard to believe that rabbonim who know gemara, the poskim, mishna berura, backwards and forwards do not have the sense to realize that when non-frivolous claims have been made, an alleged child-abuser must be distanced from a position of contact with children until his name has been cleared. When no leadership is demonstrated by rabbanim, then the bloggers will inevitably fill the vacuum.”
Rav Soloveichik reiterated that an approach which only allows one to separate an alleged child-abuser from talmidim once there has been a criminal indictment or conviction unreasonably endangers children.
The Rav impassionedly cried out:” Those who ask ‘what about the parnassa of the teacher?’ must be rebutted with the question ‘what about the children, what about the children?”
The Rav called upon community leaders to take vigorous action to assure that alleged predators are kept far from positions from which they can pose a threat to children. “Let us restore community initiative to the rabbanim and community leaders. We need to be the ones making the clarion calls, not just the bloggers.”
Rav Soloveichik praised the new initiative of Lema'an Achai, the Ramat Bet Shemesh chesed organization, which has established a "Safe Kids" program. Concerned local parents and kids call "Safe Kids" for professional and practical advice from qualified, experienced social workers, about child abuse.
Rav Soloveichik ended his drasha wishing upon the community that we have the zchuth to act wisely and forcefully for the sake of a better future for our children.
One of those decisions was that the train station parking lot would be cut down by 30 parking spaces. Those spaces will be used instead by the bus company in an effort to improve the bus service to and from the train.
Below is the letter I sent to the representative of CHEN who had sent out the message.
Greetings -If and when I should receive a response, I will post it here. I urge you, if this issue is one you are affected by and concerned about, if you are a commuter via train, write to your representative, whomever it might be, and ask him what his position on this issue is and how he can help.
As a regular commuter to Tel Aviv via train, I was distressed to read in your recent update fro the Traffic Committee sent to the BS email list a notice about the train parking lot.
The train station parking lot is already sorely lacking adequate parking. The lot itself is small compared to how many parking spaces are needed. Originally, there was (perhaps informally) an agreement with the management of the BIG mall, that the mayor used when he was promoting the train, that the overflow parking could use the BIG parking lot. For a long time already the BIG management has closed off that option, at least to commuters who arrive prior to 8:30am (which is most of the regular commuters for work) by disallowing parking from the train station clientele.
A temporary solution has been the undeveloped lot across from the entrance to BIG. The problem with that now is they have begun development on the lot and at times close it off and do not allow us to park there. Try to imagine the panic caused when you arrive to the station and look for parking only to find the parking lot closed off. There are no alternatives as the lot of the station and the few curbside spaces have already been filled. Many people have missed trains to work while they have to drive back up to the industrial zone to look for parking and then walk back down 5-10 minutes to the train station. Even though most of the time it has been available, in the near future when they actually start construction it no longer will be.
In your recent update you wrote "Please also note that Starting in January 2009, Superbus will be taking over the 415 and 420 bus routes from Beit Shemesh to Jerusalem. In addition, the current plan is to replace 30 car parking spots in the train station parking lot with two bus parking spots, thus enabling better public transport from the train."
Considering the above, this is particularly troubling. The lot is already not adequate for the amount of people who require parking. Now your committee is planning on removing 30 more spots so buses can park there? I understand maybe a few people will stop driving their cars and take the bus more as the bus service improves, and then less spots will be required, but I am sure you are fooling yourselves if you really think the solution is taking away 30 more spots instead of expanding the number of parking spaces. Most people will not rely on the historically inadequate bus service, and will not give up the convenience of their car.
Please reconsider the decision. Think of the large numbers of people who daily take the train to work outside of Bet Shemesh and are already frustrated by the regular frustrations of not having enough parking. The decision your committee has arrived at helps nobody but the bus company.
Find a solution for the residents of Bet Shemesh who commute. Find us more parking, not less!
A further problem that I did not write about in the letter is that when the new building goes up that whole area will just be more congested with only one little street serving as the entrance to the train station and two malls. It is already over-congested and traffic leaving the train station can be dismal at times as traffic from the station merges with traffic exiting the mall, but it will only get worse when the new building goes up. But that is a separate issue for a different time.
Sep 21, 2008
TOV has begun their public campaign. If you have been around RBS (maybe in places in BS as well?), you must have seen their signs. They put them everywhere. In general I have seen an increase in the election signage this past week. I have started to see signs from Vaknin, Abutbol, Lerner (who started with the signs a couple weeks ago) and more. Now TOV has officially joined the fray.
They got some pretty good publicity with the Lerner campaign, as Mendy Newman was one of the speakers and the name TOV was mentioned a few times. One issue some people have is why TOV is endorsing Shalom lerner. Some people might support TOV because they feel Degel has ignored them and their needs, but they still might prefer Abutbol or whoever the rabbonim come out in favor of, and if TOV supports a different candidate, they might be reluctant to vote for TOV.
I heard from Eli Friedman the response to this question, and he was also quoted in this weeks Mishpacha newspaper. Eli told me that TOV is not taking any official stance on who to support for the position of mayor of Bet Shemesh. Mendy obviously supports Shalom Lerner, but that is not the official TOV position. TOV takes no position on that issue at all. They know that some will want Lerner, some Abutbol and some possibly even Vaknin. TOV is concentrating on winning a couple to a few seats in the city council, and is not concerned with who will win the position of mayor.
In addition to the signs around the neighborhood, they also put out some information in various shuls. In case you did not see it, this is what the letters said
A MESSAGE FROM ELI FRIEDMAN AND MENDY NEWMAN
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As you are probably aware, on November 11 (13 Cheshvan), citizens of Bet Shemesh will vote for Mayor and City Council (Moatzah). The remarkable growth of Bet Shemesh and particularly Ramat Bet ShemEsh over the last ten years has now presented the city with tremendous opportunities and quite a few challenges as well. The term for local elections is five years, so choices we make in this election will decide the character and direction of our city for years to come.
With this in mind, I want to inform you about some
exciting news in regards to our local representation.
Many people have expressed frustration over the last few years that the Anglo and Israeli "Bali Batim" community do not have enough (or any) representation in local government. There are many representatives of many walks of life in the city council, but there is not any person or group who seems to represent the concerns and needs of the "working Torah community" of Ramat Bet Shemesh and Bet Shemesh.
Can you answer these questions?
· Who represents you in the Bet Shemesh Moatzah?
· Who should you call if you have a community issue that requires governmental help?
· Who should your shul or school call when they need city assistance?
- Is there an address or phone number of someone who speaks your language and is dedicated to helping all residents of our city?
Fortunately, this time around there will be an answer!
The Answer: TOV.
TOV is a new local party that is running in the city council elections. TOV aims to put representatives of OUR community on the city council to properly represent the citizens of our neighborhoods.
TOV is for you!
If you live in the Ramah or in Bet Shemesh and you feel that the existing parties just don't connect with you and that you don't have an address or person to talk to when you have issues, then TOV is for you. TOV will always have a Hebrew and English speaking representative available to field your questions and issues so that you can be assured that you are being heard!
Who started TOV?
Tov was started by Eli Friedman, a native of Yerushalyim, who now lives with his family in Ramat Bet Shemesh. Eli is the Gabai at Beit Knesset Mvakshei Hashem (Nachal Katlav), a mechanech and a singer and musician.
Mendy Newman, a native New Yorker, who has lived in the Ramah for the past four years has joined with Eli as the "Anglo" side of TOV. Mendy is the Gabai at Aish Kodesh and works in hi-tech here in Bet Shemesh.
Our Pledge - Communication and Input!
Our goal is to make government transparent. Everyone should have input into decisions that affect our communities. Everyone should know what buildings and parks are planned and what else is being built in our neighborhoods.
TOV plans to use our voice on the city council to raise concerns about education, schools, park and garden maintenance, commercial and retail space, shuls, safety, neighborhood beautification, and many other issues that you, the community, will be concerned with!
How Can You Help?
We only have two months until the elections so every person can make a difference.
- We need local representatives for EVERY shul in the Ramah.
- These representatives will be the point people to distribute information, gather names and collect issues and concerns.
- Please help us give ourselves a voice in our future.
- Email us :
firstname.lastname@example.org call Mendy Newman at 052-579-1778
With warmest wishes for a Shana Tov,
Tov Bet Shemesh
Kever Rachel used to be very difficult to go to. You could not go by car, only by organized bus. Either Egged or a private group that made arrangements with the security services. It was very inconvenient. You could not go when you wanted, you had to hope the army did not change their mind once you got there, the whole process took a very long time as you had to go by bus and wait by the checkpoint for the army to allow you in, and wait for an army jeep escort, then you had to be ready to leave when they told you it was time. Basically you had to block out a lot fo time if you wanted to go to Kever Rachel, and the whole thing was very inconvenient.
The month of Elul has been a trial month. Due to the efforts of many, especially Meier Porush (candidate in the Jerusalem mayoral elections), the army has agreed to open Kever Rachel to the general public. They have opened it for the month of Elul as a trial month, to see how safe it is, and to see how much public interest there really is.
When we were there, late Friday afternoon, it was far from crowded. However, people were coming and going the whole time. That is the way it should be. It should be easy for people to go when they want and for how long they want.
It is still not like it was 15 years ago, when you just drove right through Bethlehem, parked on the road, went into Kever Rachel and maybe even went into a couple of the arab shops across the street before you left. But the situation is getting better again. Hopefully the trial period will be deemed a success and Kever Rachel will be accessible to all easily once again.
Sep 20, 2008
Sep 19, 2008
Sep 18, 2008
The following letter was written in coordination with a number of other J-bloggers in the hopes that the message can be disseminated as far and as quickly as possible in a joint campaign against hiding abuse in our communities. We ask that people take a few seconds and copy and send this letter or another letter on the subject to the editors of the Jewish Press in the hopes that this will show the importance of the issue to the public. This is an issue that cannot be avoided or shoved under the rug, and the threats of individuals cannot be allowed to hold sway over our communities. Please take a few seconds and send a letter to the Jewish Press at email@example.com. Thank you!To the Editorial Board of the Jewish Press:
We would like to express our horror at the intimidation and harassment of Dr. Benzion Twerski for his efforts to protect our children from molestation, and we salute you for your courage in publishing the Op-Ed column condemning the harassment of Dr. Twerski. We feel that exposing the actions of the kannoim is the first step in reversing their campaign of terror against members of our community.
We are fed up with the fact that the extremists in our community are allowed to threaten peaceful citizens with threats and we would like to see our police officers arrest and prosecute those who do so to the fullest extent of the law.
If there are any acts of intimidation or threats of violence to Dov Hikind's next appointee to the Child Safety committee; we will join and support a massive email drive to our elected officials – on the local, state and federal levels – to step in and protect those who are helping protect our children.
We respectfully ask you to run an editorial next week condemning this disgraceful act, acknowledging the number of these emails that were sent to you and calling on our leaders and rabbonim to publicly distance themselves from acts of intimidation and violence each and every time they occur with the same fervor reserved for other actions that contradict our holy Torah – and to declare the acts of violence as the sins they are.
Rafi Goldmeier (Life in Israel)
P.S. Please note that this e-mail was a joint letter composed by numerous members of the community in a coordinated effort.
The holiday season is nearly upon us. While many of us are focused on the upcoming yamim nora'im, right after that is the vacation of sukkos.
Sukkos is an amazing holiday in Israel, and like on all holidays, the whole country heads out to do the available activities. That means if you want to book an event, you probably have to start planning it already.
So, if you are planning what to do on your sukkos vacation, you might want to book your reservations at Caliber3.
Check out Caliber3 to see what they can offer you. They look like they will provide you with an unforgettable experience.
And, by the way, you should move fast. Their reservation slots are moving quickly. To ensure your spot, contact them soon.
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The 6:23 train minyan from BS to TA had one. Recently the 8:23 train minyan got a Torah. Now the 7:23 train minyan has one as well!
I got to the station a little late for the party. When I got there they were singing and dancing with the Torah at the end of the platform. They had two guys playing instruments and it was great! The train pulled up and we danced the Torah on. The minyan davened, and read the Torah for the first time on the 7:23 train.
the 7:23 train was the first to have a minyan on it. I used to daven on it when it first started,m but then decided I preferred to daven before going to the train, so now I only daven on the train on rare occasions. Even though this train had the first minyan, it is the last to get a Torah, so the participants were especially elated to finally have one. Binyamin, the donor, has a special zchus.
In the video below, which is a collage of pictures and video from the ceremony and the minyan, you can see Binyamin doing hagbah to to the Torah. You can see the bag used as the aron kodesh. After davening, Binyamin's wife passed out cakes, chips, drinks, Chivas Regal and nuts to make the celebration complete.
Everybody enjoyed, even many people who got on the train in Ramle and Lod and were not part of the party!
The guy posts that 30 years ago they took a sherut (shared taxi service) to Bnei Braq and when they disembarked they mistakenly took a sheitel box that was not theirs. there was asheitel inside and for 30 years they have been looking for the owner unsuccessfully.
Can you imagine holding on to something you found for 30 years? And still thinking about it and looking for the owner? Amazing!
I was sitting on the train home from work yesterday evening and I was trying to catch a few winks of shuteye. The elderly woman that sat opposite me was chatting with somebody else who had sat down nearby.
When that person got off, she decided to continue her conversation with me. She turned out to be a pleasant old woman. She kept going on and on how beautiful everything is -Bet Shemesh, Modiin, the train stations, the airport terminal, etc.
She told me about her kids who lived in the US for a few years and how she enjoyed the rain in Seattle so much, LA was too hot, etc.
The climate in bet Shemesh is great..
Then she asked me how long I have been in Bet Shemesh. I answered over 9 years. It's coming - she chuckled and said - "Ata Oleh Chadash!" - you are a newcomer.
It turns out she moved to Bet Shemesh from jerusalem 50 years ago. When Bet Shemesh was not a city of 90,000 or so people like it is today. Not even a city of 20,000 people like it was 10 years ago. 50 years ago Bet Shemesh was not even a village. It was what is known in Hebrew as a "Ma'abarot" - a transit camp. And before that her family had lived a number of generations in Jerusalem.
I guess compared to that I still am an oleh chadash. It is all a matter of perspective.
Sep 17, 2008
I grew up reading the Jewish Press every Shabbos. My mother would always pick it up in the bookstore on Friday, and it became a staple in our house.
As kids, the two main parts I would read, because they have no sports section, was the Abi Gezunt page in the back (I think the authors name was Arnold Fine) which I always found fascinating, and his jokes in the corner corny, and the comics - mostly the strip of the Golem, and the Elders of Chelm.
The Jewish Press is having a subscription campaign right now. They have special deals (NOTE: these offers are for readers in the US only - sorry) right now for new subscribers. They are even offering a free machzor from Rav Soloveitchik thrown in with your subscription!
Check out their website to see the offers (again - US potential subscribers only) and to register your subscription. the offer ends very soon, I am told,, so take advantage of it right away!
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Is Tzippi Livni the Barak Obama of Israel? Is Kadima the equivalent of the Democrat Party (based on the slogan)?
And anyway, how exactly is choosing Livni (which I assume was her point) effecting change? She has been a member and minister (even a senior minister) in the last 3 governments....
The Rabbanut announced which hechsherim and kashrut certificates they do not recognize and are therefore not authorized to provide kashrut certification...
Let the buyer beware...
(due to a pdf problem, I changed it to a jpg file)
I had decided I would not open a new account and just forget about Facebook altogether. A week ago, right when they disabled the account, I sent an email to Facebook support "appealing" their decision. I received a form letter in return saying it will be looked into.
After not hearing from them all week, I said I will send one more letter and that is it. I sent another polite letter, and left it at that.
Last night, a little bit after I sent the email, I received a reply from Facebook with an apology and a notice that my account has been re-enabled. no explanation, but they took care of the problem.
I guess asking politely also helps... you don't need to always scream and threaten, which I am not good at anyway.
Sep 16, 2008
When they make people register their dogs DNA, so they can track the dog poop in the streets, it just seems weird....
The sign below, in Bet Shemesh which is well within the "Green Line" and supposedly undisputed territory, was defaced with graffiti declaring it Palestinian territory....
I don't get the connection. An anti-Lerner slogan would be understandable. An anti-Dati Leumi would be understandable, and anti-Zionist statement would even be understandable, a pro-different candidate would be understandable. But a declaration that this is Palestinian territory makes no sense. Unless the person who sprayed it was an agent of Hamas...
(Hattip to LOR)
The child, Yossi, was "thanking" the Mayor and the Director of the city for being so concerned for all the children of Bet Shemesh. The "child" writes that they thank the mayor for 4 years in which they had to sit and learn in caravans and containers, so that 2 months prior to elections the mayor can give us new buildings, thereby "buying" the elections. And that his friends in other schools will have to wait for more years in caravans until the next elections before they get their buildings.
Somebody is doing their job pretty decently, based on the response in this past weeks newspapers. There was a letter back to the "child" from another child named "Meier" (whoever is behind that name I do not know).
"Meier" writes that he read Yossi's letter and would like to know in which school his friends from the various neighborhoods study. He goes on to list in each of the Haredi neighborhoods the various Haredi schools and when they each were given a building, ranging from this year back to 6 years prior.
he also mentions a number of school buildings that are in the planning but will not be ready until next year (after elections), and have already been designated for certain schools.
"Meier" concludes that it must be either "you do not learn in a haredi school, or you wrote with ulterior motives".
Meier concludes thanking the mayor for all he has done, and blesses the mayor with a productive future. He then wishes that next time [Yossi] will be more careful with his tongue!
I love it!
Sep 15, 2008
I always enjoy reading Letters to the Editor. It is probably my favorite part of any newspaper/magazine, aside from the sports section of course.
The local BS rag "Chadash" that came out yesterday had some pretty boring letters printed, except for one short one. I present it to you here, translated to English:
As you know, whenever the mayor feels he is in distress from a public point of view, he arranges an "open line" in which he enables people to call in and talk directly with him. We have not heard or experienced anybody actually being saved by this "open line", rather just being offered platitudes.
However, everybody should know that in the mayors office, all sorts of other people with various responsibilities are invited to be present during the "open line" times, and listen in on the calls, and your discussion is broadcast over the speakerphone to everybody in the room, despite the possibility that your call is regarding them or their functioning, and you don't necessarily always want them to be there when you are talking about the issue, with them hearing what you are saying. This is "gneivat daas" of the highest degree to a public that thinks they are talking to the mayor alone, yet that is not the case, and people have already been hurt by this.
Everyone should know and beware.
Did you really think you were calling the mayor and getting a private line into his bedroom or bathroom? Have you ever been to the mayors office? There are always people in and out of it. Even if you have never been there, you have to be pretty naive to think the mayor sits alone all day waiting for your phone call.
While I am no fan of the mayor, he has had this open line for years. Not just when he needs some public relations (though maybe when he first opened it that was the purpose). I have no idea if anything actually gets accomplished by calling the open line, but that is a different story. The mayor has the open line, he takes your calls, and he has people from various departments on hand so he can get an immediate answer to a question asked by a resident or give instructions and delegate immediately based on a complaint by a resident and know whether there is something they can do and how quickly.
So, if you want to make private calls to the mayor and talk intimately with him, get his personal number. If you want to report problems in the city and get responses and possible solutions, call his open line and speak with him and his staff.
These are the types of people Tzippi Livni's top aide called "Tchach-tchachim" the other day.
They were on my train home last night from Tel Aviv. I always get to know when there is a Beitar Yerushalayim football (soccer) game, because their fans come from all over the country. They pile into the trains and buses by the hundreds and make their aliya la'regel to Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium for the game. They sing the team songs, they cheer and scream, they taunt people, and this is all before the train has even left the first station!
I had the pleasure of sitting on the train last night with my friend Shlomo. Us both being from Chicago, and being Cubs fans, it led to a humurous conversation about the Beitar fans.
We came to the conclusion that Beitar fans are similar to Cubs fans. The Cubs are unusual in the sense that they attract fans from all over the United States, especially from states that do not field their own team. Beitar jerusalem also has a tremendous fan base all over Israel, and not just limited to Jerusalem, the teams home city.
While studies have been conducted to determine why the Cubs have such appeal, I am not aware of any such studies into the makeup of the Beitar fan.
(Maybe Shlomo will comment and remind me of some of the other comparisons we came up with during our ride that are eluding me right now)
It seems though that the Cubs did much better yesterday than Beitar did. While the Cubs won their game 5-0 on the back of a Big Z no-no, Beitar played to a score of a no-no closing with a tie at 0-0.
Such a low scoring game in baseball would be sold off as a great pitching duel and still be exciting to watch. The Beitar game is being sold off as lackluster, mediocre and a disappointment.
Sep 14, 2008
A hospital is not a tourist attraction, and patients and their visitors should not be forced to walk through a gift shop, a mall or anything like that. If they want to place a mall on premises in order to earn more money for the hospital, that is fine. But it is wrong to force everyone to walk through it by placing it as part of the main entrance/exit of the hospital.
Haredim in Yerushalayim, led by the Eida Haredis, has filed a protest to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital over the recent construction in which they redesigned the hospital with a mall at the main entrance/exit, that you have to walk through to get into the hospital. Their are ways in that avoid the mall, but it seems to be through side doors and long and complicated routes through various parts of the hospital.
The basis for the protest is that there is content in the mall that is not compatible with the lifestyle of the Haredim.
I disagree with the reason for the protest. I do not consider that a good reason to fight with the hospital. I do think it is wrong to force people to walk through a mall on their way to getting treatment or visiting sick relatives. It is taking advantage of people in their time of distress. A hospital is not a tourist site.
If they want a mall on site, that is fine. Maybe people are there who would not mind the opportunity to shop a little. But to make the mall in the entrance in order to force every person to walk right through it? That is wrong.
According to the articles, all they did was enter the village, break some windows, spray some graffiti, and flip a car. They did not personally attack the body of any specific Arab resident.
Why did they do this? While the residents of Yitzhar are known as being tough and do not take anything sitting down, it also seems out of place to just randomly riot one day. So why did they do this?
If you read the various articles in the mainstream media, you wil notice that they give attention to the cause by writing about 2 lines worth of information. A Palestinian came into their village, torched a home, which was thankfully empty, stabbed a 9 year old kid (thankfully he only sustained light injuries), and tried to torch another home. He then ran back into that Arab village that was later attacked by the residents of Yitzhar.
Are the left wing activists going out defending the poor settlers who were attacked by the Palestinians? Is the media blasting the PA and the Arab residents for starting the mess, or only the Yitzhar residents for retaliating?
It is not a matter of condoning their behavior, but when they have been attacked, they simply retaliated. This is what we call in Israel "Ko-ach Harta'a".
"Ko-ach Harta'a" was a big word arounf the time of the Lebanon War. Do we have it or do we not? Have we lost it and have we re-achieved it?
Ko-ach Harta'a is the power of deterrence. The current political leadership, along with the governments of the recent past, has done nothing but destroy our power of deterrence. Our Arab neighbors are no longer afraid to attack us, because they know we will not, we cannot retaliate. Our government and our activists will prosecute anybody who lifts a hand against the Arabs, while nothing will be done to the Arabs who started the incident.
This is a small scale example. The larger scale example is the situation of Israel visa vie its neighbors and whether or not they are scared to start with us or do they know that we will always make goodwill gestures and refrain from retaliating?
It is reprehensible that our people and our media are out there defending the Palestinians who start the incidents against the jews. Stop defending them and defend our own people once in a while. Especially when the Palestinians started the violence.
(and note the lack of "left wing Palestinians" blasting the act of a violent Palestinian attacking the poor Jews in a nearby village)
I do not now remember the point the article was trying to make, but it made me think about a different way of comparing the two.
Right now we are heading into primaries this week in the Kadima party. This may simply select a new Prime Minister, and it may throw us into a season of national elections.
We have tended to think of the US style of campaigning as being one void of issues and seriousness. Rather it is a media show, with each candidate simply trying to try to get off a better 7 second sound bite than the other guy, and who looks better on television.
There is an element of truth in that, as the increase in media exposure over the past thirty years or so has changed the style of campaigns to be more media and publicity based and less issue based.
But I think we have exaggerated it to a certain extent.
While we think of the US campaigns as being void of discussing actual issues and full of PR, we also tend to consider the elections and campaigns in Israel as being extremely serious, discussing different worldviews on issues such as security finances, economy, education, etc. The PR in Israeli campaigns is very immature - there are laws limiting the advertising, for example. Israelis tend to care less how the candidate looks, and more of what his (or her) positions are.
Tha Kadima party has four candidates vying for the top spot. Have we seen a single debate between any of them? All four? Just the two front runners? Have we seen any interviews in the newspapers detailing exactly what each candidates positions are for policy on various issues? Have we seen anything detailing what the differences are between any of them?
And it is not just in the Kadima party. In previous election years - how often have we held real debates between the various candidates and parties?
The modus operandi in Israel has been for the candidates to stay as silent as possible on as much as possible. They have realized that the less they speak, the more chance they have of winning the election. In Kadima you can see that in Tzippi Livni. She is considered the front-runner, and she has said the least of all the candidates. Ariel Sharon was a master of staying silent and not telling people what his plans were.
So, while in the US they have held debate after debate, in Israel we have none. True the debates int eh US are not ones in which policy can actually be discussed in detail - they are limited to 90 seconds of talking time for each question posed. How can anything be discussed thoroughly in that little amount of time? Yet at least they have to talk and tell the basics of their plans and policies. In Israel there are no debates, no talking, no real publicity.
The candidate simply portrays an image via the media, who decide whether they like a certain candidate or not, and they try to stay quiet enough to not mess up that image.
So at the end of the day, whose campaigns are more media based and whose campaigns are more serious? It is time we held our politicians and leaders responsible. They should be telling us what their plans are. Let us make informed decisions.
Sep 13, 2008
Rabbi Horowitz's yeshiva is going through some tough times right now. Click here.
Sep 11, 2008
I just had that last night.
I remember the days when you would get a birthday card in the mail (or it might even never come but if it would then...) and the envelope would be open and the gift inside would be missing.
That nostalgic memory was evoked last night. I received a birthday card in the mail. Now, instead of just opening the envelope and taking whatever they find, the postal people (I do not know that it was done by postal people in Israel - perhaps postal people abroad are to blame) apologize for damaging the item of mail.
The partly opened envelope had been placed in the following plastic bag with a printed apology on it, apologizing for damaged mail.
Ahh, those were the days when they did not admit in advance that they opened your mail
I purposely delayed writing about it, so I would not be caught up in the excitement of the event and write a post while pumped on adrenaline or anything like that.
The event was fun and exciting. The hall was filled to well-beyond capacity. Reports say that there were around 950 people who showed up. Not everybody stayed the whole time - people came and left, and many stayed for the duration.
Of course there was the social aspect of it, and everybody was having a good time seeing friends, but when the event actually started it was exciting.
There were various speakers representing varying communities. An Ethiopian Rabbi, the Rabbi of Nofei Aviv, a representative of the Russian community was meant to be there speaking, but he got called away on an emergency (he is a doctor), so he sent his good wishes to be read. A representative of RBS spoke, a rep from the Dati Leumi community spoke, and Shalom Lerner spoke.
Aside from the speakers themselves, the crowd consisted of people representing the wide spectrum of the Bet Shemesh population. There were people from old Bet Shemesh, next to new Bet Shemesh and RBS residents. Some Haredi residents, some secular, along with the naturally larger representatino from the Dati Leumi community. A lot of anglos and a lot of Israelis, along with plenty of Russians and Ethiopians.
They played a video speaking to various people about why Shalom is the right person for the job. You can see the video at the end of the post.
Surprisingly, even Moshe Abutbol was there. Abutbol (Shas) is currently the leading candidate for the mayoral position. He even spoke in the video and said that if he himself does not win the position int he elections, he would be happy if it was Shalom lerner who won!
Shalom's campaign is picking up momentum. I am told that a new professional and scientific poll being released on Friday is expected to indicate that Shalom has overtaken the current Mayor for second place and is closing in on Moshe Abutbol for first place.
Of course polls don't necessarily mean much, but they are a reasonable indication of trends, even if they cannot be relied upon for accuracy.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to help out or to get a sign for your front of your home!
And here is the video:
Sep 10, 2008
- He came late
- He was not aware of the security it takes to get into the building, which causes more delays (forgivable)
- He came with a motorcycle helmet, which security does not let in to the building (why, I have no idea)
- He called up and asked to meet him downstairs over coffee
- We rejected it saying he is late and we have no time for that (don't forget - he wanted the meeting, not us).
- His secretary called asking why we are pushing him off - he is such an important person, blah blah blah
This guy is not getting a second chance. That's for sure.
There is even an anglo in the list right now, and this is somebody that a reader might know or know of and might be able to help release an aguna by disclosing his whereabouts... so go check it out and see if you can help....
Arghhhh! My Facebook account has been disabled! How will I continue my life without being able to poke all my friends, turn them into Zombies, or play Scramble??!!
Truth is that in the past 3 weeks I have only logged into it a couple of times, and then only to respond to messages and notices I had received by email...
Anyways, what do you do when a Facebook account is disabled? I have no idea. I clicked on the link for the FAQ why my account might be disabled and got this:I used something too rapidly? All I did the last time I logged in was accept a friend request and reject two invitations to something or other that did not interest me... I guess I have to click the mouse slower next time...
Anyways, it does not say how to get the account reinstated...so I wrote to email@example.com, and this is what I wrote:
I just tried logging in to my Facebook account, and I received a message that my account has been disabled. I did not even receive any warning or notice about it.
I have no idea why, but it says in the FAQ "Facebook enforces limits on the site in order to prevent certain actions that can be considered abusive. Your account has been disabled for persistent and rapid use of a certain feature. Unfortunately, for security reasons, we will not be able to further explain these limits."
I have no idea what feature I have used too rapidly. I have only logged into my account a couple times in the past 3 weeks! The only thing I can think of is that earlier today I logged in to accept a friend request and at the same time rejected a couple of invitations. Did I do that too quickly? That is ridiculous to suspend an account for that. I am not even a heavy user who abuses the system!
Please advise. This is very frustrating and disappointing.
If they do prove it, people who want to live "God-less" will find other reasons. If they do not prove it, it proves nothing anyway, as lack of proof does not prove anything.
So what's the point?
Benny Elbaz is a big-time singer, big-time Deri supporter and big-time Shas person. He is close with Deri. After Deri's conviction, Elbaz wrote the instant hit song known as, "Hu Zakkai" (He is innocent).
On the way to the radio station, in the taxi, Elbaz wrote a song for Aryeh Deri's campaign. It was a very nice song - I really liked it in a musical sense, and Elbaz has a great voice. He sang it live a few times on the program, and they replayed it (I guess they recorded it also while he was there, or it was off a voice recorder) a few more times.
The theme of the song was Jerusalem has been waiting for a strong leader to unite it for 2000 years, and Aryeh is it.
I cannot find any clip of it yet, so here is a clip, unrelated, of Gad Elbaz, Benny Elbaz's son, singing Ana B'Koach recently in a concert in Cesaria...
The Kupat Ho'Ir of Bnei Brak is now advertising that they will say the entire tehillim for you (and for your donation) for 40 days and 40 nights in a row!
Where does this go from here? 40 mornings, 40 afternoons and 40 nights? 40 times each day for 40 days?
What other multiples of 40 can you come up with that they can use for targeting your donations?
Sep 9, 2008
The sale of pork in Israel bothers these guys enough that they came up with a solution. Instead of burning down the stores or holding prayer vigils outside them or banning them or anything like that, they simply went and bought the stores and is kashering them.
They say there is no economic interest involved (no idea if that is true or not). They simply bought it to purge it of pork and non-kosher food.
No, I will not give specifics of what I am talking about. But in things that are so unimportant in life and possibly insignificant overall, people are making such a big deal about being given what they consider the proper amount of kavod...
As Pirkei Avos says kavod is one of the things that drive people from the world....
The latest declaration by Aryeh Deri to run for mayor of Jerusalem throws a big wrench into our local Bet Shemesh politics and electioneering.
Moshe Abutbol, the candidate from Shas for mayor of Bet Shemesh, has been putting together a block of supporters from various parties, that he calls the "Gush Chevrati" (social block). Some of those hwo initially joined have already withdrawn their support, and Abutbol has been trying to obtain, and is hoping to receive, the support and backing from Degel and Aguda. They have yet to support him, and are saying they are considering their options that include running their own candidate/s or supporting a different candidate.
MK Litzman from Aguda has already floated the balloon of bringing in an outside candidate from Emmanuel. Mostly it seems he is using that as a negotiating ploy to get more out of the current candidates. Degel still remains silent.
However, with Deri running and creating a ruckus and a big problem for the current Haredi candidate, Meier Porush, this will have ramifications in many cities, Bet Shemesh included. If Porush has to contend with Deri, there is no way Aguda will ever come out in support of a Shas candidate in Bet Shemesh or anywhere else. So Abutbol will have lost at least Aguda.
Degel is another story. Degel in Jerusalem seems to be leaning to backing Deri over Porush, and that might also push them to support Abutbol in Bet Shemesh. Though since Porush has almost no stakes or influence in Bet Shemesh (his representation here is very small), Degel will likely not support Abutbol in Bet Shemesh because they have supported Deri in Jerusalem and need to make amends with Aguda, and will do so by not supporting Abutbol, but working with Aguda to support someone else or field their own candidate in Bet Shemesh.
Without Degel-Aguda support, Abutbol's candidacy could be in big trouble.
Something like the quote from Meir Abergil's extradition hearing in which he burst out crying and made headlines with his quote "Don't extradite me, I am afraid of America"
and Ehud Olmert who spoke yesterday at a the arrival ceremony of a Nefesh B'Nefesh flight and said something that also made it to the headlines, "America is here". (he was referring to the great economy we have)
Does that mean Meir Abergil is also afraid of Israel, because America is now here? The mobster has never acted like he is afraid of Israel, but maybe America only just got here on yesterdays NBN flight, so maybe starting now he will be afraid of Israel as well.
Sep 8, 2008
Who would you vote for, for mayor of Bet Shemesh?
I included all the candidates who have declared themselves officially up to this point (and I included Vaknin who has not yet officially declared, but he is the incumbent).
Please take a moment and vote. Obviously this will not be a scientific poll, or a poll that will be any indication of trends in the upcoming elections that can be relied upon by anybody wanting to make a prediction, but it will satisfy my, and maybe yours as well, curiosity...
So not only do you get to vote in November, you get to vote in September too!
The issue is that one is not allowed to perform work, during shmitta, for improving the quality of the lulav, for the sake of the mitzva. So Rav Elyashiv paskened that if the work was performed for the purpose of improving the lulav, better not to take this lulav (note that in the letter below he does not say it is assur, but says ""ra'ui le'hader" better [not to]). If however, work was performed for other reasons that are allowed (such as preservation of the tree I assume), than using the lulav would be ok, even though it was also improved in quality.
Sep 7, 2008
We are all aware that the Kinneret, following years of drought in Israel, has
now hit "the red line".
However, you are probably not aware that, due to the economic downturn
and the weak dollar, Lema'an Achai's donations are *very* low.
And that, due to rising prices of basics (eg food, fuel, rent..) in
Israel, many more families have turned to Lema'an Achai in need of
So much so that Lema'an Achai has also hit "the red line".
Crying Wolf: Lema'an Achai does not 'stage' emergency appeals. We are
'crying wolf' because there is a 'wolf'. Since establishing Lema'an
Achai, over eight years ago, I have not seen such a dire situation.
The need is increasing daily, while donations to help are slumping.
In our case this means cutting families' food coupons (=No Food),
utilities bills assistance (=No Electricity & Water) and other primary
aid (=Debt Collectors & Evictions) - while also cutting back on
Lema'an Achai's unique 'SmartChesed' services (to professionally solve
severe financial & other crises, and ultimately get these families
*out* of poverty).
We are cutting back on anything non-critical. So there'll be no
beautiful Lema'an Achai calendars this year.
And, sadly, we're closing down the Gush Katif Relief Fund and are
winding-down our experimental 'Old Bet Shemesh' Office.
My friends, I now have a check in front of me.
It's for 70,000 NIS ($20,000). It's to pay for food stamps. For
September. To tide over some Two Hundred needy families till Rosh Hashana.
I am not going to sign this check, if there's not the money to cover the bill.
Lema'an Achai are no longer able to help all of these local families
with relief today, nor a better future tomorrow.
How You Can Help: Of course you plan to donate generously to Lema'an
Achai for Rosh Hashana, Be"H....
But we now *also* need you to give generously this summer - in fact, right now.
And we also need your ongoing support - beyond the three times a year
that over two thousand people donate so generously to Lema'an Achai.
Please consider a standing-order, or regular credit card payment, so
that we can ride out this economic downturn, and be better resourced
for any future challenges.
Whether they be Economic Recession, Wars, Refugees, or the Hundreds
of family level crises which we address and resolve every day...
How to Donate: see www.lemaanachai.org/donate.asp
You can also help us by sending this email to your family and close
friends (ONLY!) - adding your personal testimony and recommendation
of Lema'an Achai's remarkable work and rock-solid integrity.
David & Avrohom
A couple of comments:
- Could they not find a single English speaking person in all of Bet Shemesh who would have been willing to translate the letter from the original Hebrew so as not to mangle it like this? It is hardly understandable! Heck - I would have been willing to do it for them just to avoid this product!
- Note how overall it is a fairly polite letter - until the threat at the end that we warn you to not make us resort to non-polite methods!
- Note that the solution for them is always by insisting other people change their living habits, and not they change theirs. You have to put up curtains, and not them. You have to be careful to not harm their lifestyle, but they have no problem harming your lifestyle. etc.