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Aug 31, 2009

Interesting Posts #64

1.In the latest edition of the Jr chronicles, LOZ's kid feels naked without tzitzis.

2. A Yeshivish Harry describes Reb Isser Zalman Meltzer's Teshiva.

3. WBM is going through transitions...

4. Shomer Shekalim advises how to cut costs for the upcoming Rosh Hashana and holiday expenses...

5. IsraellyCool announces what is Coming Soon...

6. Alleyways to Torah has a nice story about the recently deceased Rav Moshe Chait..

7. Artzeinu hits us with a story of someone driving through Mea She'arim on shabbos, and the different forms of protest, including what actually worked.

8. A Simple Jew has an interesting conversation about Zionism and anti-Zionism

2 approaches to Madonna

Two leading Kabbalists have spoken up in regards to the current visit to Israel by Madonna, a.k.a. Esther, and the two concerts she will be performing while here. They each took a different approach in their statements.

Rav Batzri simply stated that Madonna is prohibited from performing her concerts, along with studying Torah and Kabala...

Kabbalah refers to spiritually deep understanding in Judaism, and even Jews are discouraged from studying it until they are deemed mature enough to handle the subject. Jewish law also forbids men from hearing a woman sing. Therefore, Madonna’s concert appearances in Israel are against Jewish law, said Rabbi Batzri, head of the Shalom Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

“No one can study Torah unless he or she is converting to Judaism," he explained to Arutz-7's Hebrew news site. Madonna’s ostensible plunge into Kabbalah several years has been widely condemned by Torah scholars. Rabbi Batzri said Sunday, however, “There is no connection between what the singer learns and true Kabbalah. The foundations of Kabbalah are the Tree of Life…that no one can learn without abstention.”

He added that learning Jewish mysticism is a spiritual path towards “practical Kabbalah” and that learning it means one must act against certain natural instincts. Madonna’s performances are stacked with sexual innuendoes; her private appearance for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, two years ago was met with disgust by rabbis and Jewish thinkers.

Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, rav of Tzfat (one of Madonna's prime targets for her visit because of the kabbalistic history associated with Tzfat), and Kabbalist, published a letter written to Madonna. In his letter he doesn't prohibit her from singing or visiting. Instead, he takes the approach of appealing to her to be considerate of the sensitivities of the Torah and Kabbala. He describes the goals of the Kabbala and says she clearly knows as well, and therefore it behooves her to be sensitive and be more modest and tzanua in her upcoming performances.

Keeping our Children Safe in Today's World

These cardboard walls are the obstacles to peace (video)

British TV interviewed a young Israeli couple living in a tiny outpost called Ramat Migron... I am impressed with how fine a job thy did responding to the interview and not getting flustered.

(HatTip: Tzedek-Tzedek)

Picture of the Day (potd)

(for more pictures from yesterdays hafganah against splitting the RBS A school building, see Kikar.net)

Aug 30, 2009

Interesting Posts #63

1. WestBankMama is hosting the Back to School Edition of Haveil Havalim (#232)...

2. Yeranen Yaakov points to an article about how a cheating husband made up to his wife.. and explores some halachic issues to decide if what this man did is right or wrong.

3. In light of some recent articles in the national media about child abuse in RBS, Tzedek-Tzedek explores the issue to see how common it really is....

4. Commenter Abbi discusses the scandal of the school in Petach Tikva rejecting Ethiopian kids.

5. The Rebbetzin's Husband wants to know what criteria you use to choose a minyan to daven in..

6. The Way to No-Thing compares the haredi protests in Jerusalem to Palestinian protests, and thinks similar responses should be used.

Turning it up a notch

I don't get it.

The Eida Haredis was worried that people had become complacent regarding the "Shabbos protests". It had already become "routine". They decided that they had to reawaken the shetach, and announced they were goign to step it up with much more protests, both in number and in actual activity.

And now they are upset and complaining that the police also stepped it up and responded in kind.

What did they expect? Only they have the "right" to turn it up a notch?

Rav Povarsky interview

There was a very interesting interview in the "BaSheva" newspaper this past Friday. The interview was with Rav Dov Povarsky, one of the co-owners of the haredi newssite/forum BeChadrei Charedim.

The interview was very interesting with the discussion focusing on the change from the traditional format for haredi media to the format used by BeChadrei, in which pretty much everything is on the table.

There were a couple of points from the interview I found particularly fascinating and would like to excerpt:
One point was made when discussing the "outing" of the Burqa Lady from bet Shemesh who had been abusing her children. The story was essentially broken in the forums of BeChadrei. From there it made its way to the general media and then to the police.

Povarsky is very proud of the process that happened, and considers it one of their defining moments the way they worked in tandem with the authorities.

Povarsky says:
The issue of opening up everything to the outside world, and to cooperate with the establishment, used to be inappropriate. The method of closing off [r.g. meaning: keeping everything quiet] everything in the haredi public did not prove itself to work. Because at the end of the day, nothing worked. The internal haredi organizations do not have teeth.They cannot put anyone in jail. At worst they can put someone in excommunication, but that too does not happen. Halevai the country would work within halachic parameters and the rabbonim would have 'teeth' to enforce things, but the reality is that it does not, and we have to be aware of what is preferred and what is the reality....
The second statement was regarding the relationship between haredim and the army. Povarsky served in the army, and did reserve duty as well.

BaSheva Q: What values in the army did you appreciate?
Povarsky A: Decency, order, discipline, relationship to the religious people. When I would come to an atheist officer, somebody not at all connected to anything, I would receive complete cooperation....
The haredi public does want to be drafted into the army. I can tell you this quietly....The problem is that they [r.g. the leadership? not sure who "they" is] don't want to deal with it.

Picture of the Day (potd)

Aug 28, 2009

Interesting Posts #62

This was scheduled to be published yesterday evening at its regular time. I don't know why the scheduler didn't work, but I only just noticed, so I am publishing it now. It is a shame, because I particularly enjoyed this roundup of posts.

1. Tzedek-Tzedek talks about the tragedies of the summer, and the need to solve the situation by working on our derech eretz.

2. Parsha Blog says Good Middot make Good Neighbors (not necessarily good fences..)..

3. The Yeshiva Guy posts about having the fire within and what happens to it in old age...

4. Harry-er Than Them All has a story about why Rav Shimon Shkop went back to Europe after he had already been in America...

5. A Journey to Aliyah just got a new job that he sees as a step in his process of making aliyah soon, as it gives him possibilities in the future. I hope it works out well.

6. The Wolf talks about the Kennedy Curse...

7. Inter Aliya's son was caught shechting (a stuffed goat) in his living room. I have shechted chickens and turkey in living rooms. Never a sheep or goat (closest was a porch)..

Aug 27, 2009

Email of the Day (eotd)

This email was sent (anonymously of course) to the local neighborhood email list...
I am in need of protecting a building from having access to unsecured WIFI connections from surrounding buildings.
If anyone can give me information on where to buy WIFI blockers/Jammers or how else to resolve this, I'd appreciate it.

It's not enough that he doesn't want internet access for himself (though he clearly has it as he is sending out email), but he wants to jam it for the whole building... and why would a jammer care whether it is a secured WIFI or unsecured WIFI connection? He should just put a password on his router and connection if he is worried about other people using his WIFI...

Rav Chaim Kanievsky served in the IDF

Yes, you read that title correctly. You can stop rubbing your eyes.

I am going to translate this article about how Rav Chaim Kanievsky served in the army, or else to be known as "Sticks and Stones"for those of you who might have trouble with the Hebrew. I had never heard this before, and find the story fascinating.

Rav Shmuel Grossbard, father of one of the mashgichim in Ponevvezh Yeshiva, passed away this week. His children were surprised when Rav Chaim Kanievsky came in to be menachem aveilim, and were even more surprised with what he told them shortly after he arrived.

"You have no idea why I troubled myself to come console you?" Rav Kanievsky asked.. "I have hakarat hatov for your father who was my commander in the army and helped me a lot!"

Those present were surprised by what he said that he had served in the army. One of those present had the courage to ask "The Rav was in the army? We never heard this before about our father, and about the Rav even more so!"

Rav Kanievsky smiled and related to them, "It was during the War of Independence, I was then learning in the Yeshiva of Lomza in Petach Tikva. The war started and everyone was drafted to the army with no exceptions. Of course, we knew nothing, until one day a large vehicle pulled up outside the yeshiva and they said everybody has to get in to go protect the country.

Because none of us knew how to hold a gun,they gave us sticks and stones and put us out to guard a large hill. I remember everyone was very scared and Rav Berel Povarsky hid in a bathroom and got out of it. But me and Rav Moshe Soloveitchik, we went, and he was sitting beside me the whole time saying tehillim while crying.

Your father, z"l, was appointed as commander, because he was the oldest in the group. because he was commander, he got the largest stick. When we got there, I asked him what we should do. he told me you should go up the hill and sit and learn where they can't see you, but take a stick and two stones so if the Arabs would come you can scare them away. We sat there for a long time, and after we left the place we were told the Arabs had shot to that same place."

When he finished relating this story he said, "Out of gratitude for then, I have come to console you."

This story is absolutely amazing. It needs absolutely no further commenting, but I am still going to make a couple of points...
First, the obvious - Rav Chaim Kanievsky "served" in the army, though he seems to have done so while learning the whole time.
Second, nobody ever knew about it. Despite the microscope the gedolim live under, always surrounded by people, everyone commenting on their every move, and something like this was never made known....
Third, it seems plenty of rabbonim served in the same time period. they did what they had to.
Fourth, this Rav Grossbard - even his kids didn't know this about him.
Fifth, Rav Kanievsky remembered this his whole life and waited for the opportunity to show his gratitude. Why he had to show it in the form of comforting his death I don't know, but he still came to show hakarat hatov for something done 62 years earlier!

Absolutely amazing story.

Nominating a blogger

There is a contest being sponsored by WebAds and Nefesh B'Nefesh. The contest is to choose a blogger who will be sent by NBN to Israel for the upcoming jbloggers conference. the blogger will be attached to a family making aliya on the flight preceding the conference. he or she will write about the family's experience making aliya and will participate in the conference.

Send your fellow blogger on a free round-trip visit to Israel!

Now’s your chance to select a Jewish blogger who will be flying on a Nefesh B’Nefesh charter Aliyah flight on Monday, September 7, 2009 and attend the Second International Jewish Bloggers Convention.

Nominate your fellow blogger with the "Send a Friend" form on the JBloggers.org website and with a post on your blog, and be sure to read the terms and conditions on the site to make sure your entry qualifies.

If you want to try to get on the flight, get a fellow blogger to nominate you.


The terms are simple:

  1. To nominate a fellow blogger, you must be registered to attend the convention
    (in person or online).
  2. The nominated blogger can be located in Israel or the U.S.
  3. You must post on your blog who you nominated and why
    (and obviously send us the information too).
  4. The blogger you nominate does not need to be registered to attend the convention.
  5. The nominated blogger must have a Jewish blog
    (i.e. about Jews, Judaism, Israel, etc.).
  6. The blogger who flies in will be linked up with an Oleh/Olah/Family, and must write a series of posts about that experience.
  7. If you want to win, you must find a fellow blogger to nominate you.
  8. You can nominate more than one blogger (but don’t go overboard).
  9. All nominations must be in by Thursday, September 3, 2009.
  10. The NBN flight to Israel is on Monday, Sept. 7, 2009.

Additional terms and conditions

  1. The ticket is round-trip JFK-Israel.
  2. No ground accommodations or any other expenses are included.
  3. The winner will be selected by Nefesh B’Nefesh.

The choice is very difficult. There are a lot of good bloggers out there who are all worthy of being selected. I am torn as far how to choose who to nominate. I can nominate an old-time blogger who has done a lot to promote blogging, and himself is a blogger with a large audience. I can nominate any one of a few newer bloggers that have smaller audiences but are "up and coming", will do well with this project. I can nominate big bloggers. I can nominate bloggers I'd like to meet. I can nominate bloggers who I think would do well with a trip to Israel (think Birthright). Or any of a number of other methods to select my nominee.

Also, I would hope that the experience of blogging about a family in the process of making aliyah will help encourage said blogger himself (or herself) to consider making aliyah and perhaps engender such feelings of a desire to move to Eretz Yisrael.

So, who to choose? Who to choose?

I don't know who can come if they are selected, and who would reject it anyway because they cannot come. I have seen some great nominees on other blogs, and I really had a hard time choosing. It would be much easier if we could nominate a list of a few bloggers.

Being that I can only choose one, I would apologize in advance to the many bloggers who are deserving of the nomination, but I am going to go with Lion of Zion. He meets just about all of the criteria I considered - LOZ is a blogger who has been around for a while, he is interesting, he has a nice sized audience, he writes about Israel and loves Israel, he is entertaining and thoughtful and will do well with such a project if he is chosen.

So I hereby nominate Lion of Zion to come to Israel on the NBN flight and participate in the conference after blogging about the aliyah experience. I hope if selected he will be able to take advantage of this opportunity.

Being that I can choose a few bloggers (they only qualify that by saying not to go "overboard"), my 2 backup nominees will be Soccer Dad and "Journey to Aliyah".

There has been no Jewish blogger who has done more to help the "jblogosphere" grow than Soccer Dad. Journey to Aliyah is a new blog, but it is written by someone with other blogs and I know that this person will really benefit from such an experience, especially because he has already put himself on a track for aliyah, and we will benefit from his perspective of such an experience.

Good luck to all the contestants, and may the winner do a great job with the responsibility he will be taking on.

Matisyahu is back to crowd surfing

The Associated Press writes about Matisyahu and the release of his new album, along with the metamorphosis he has undergone the past few years reinventing himself.

"It's not really any longer about me being the Hasidic reggae guy," he says an interview. "I'm informed by Hassidism and Judaism and reggae music, but it's not that black and white, and it's not that simple."

The early reaction? Not always cheers in Crown Heights, the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn where he lives in a modest apartment with his wife and two young sons.

"Just yesterday I was walking down the street and some kid was walking by me. He's like, 'Matis, stick to the reggae!' I was like, 'Ahhgh!'" he recalls.

Matisyahu, 30, pays any hecklers no heed. An underground curiosity-turned-mainstream star, he's not about to remain in his unusual genre of one.

"I think the vast majority of people that respect what I do are willing to move with me. I think it's not so much about genres or styles of music as it is about expressing the emotion or the idea," he says. "Whatever allows you to do that, whatever style, as long as it's authentic."

Matisyahu was initially seen as a musical oddity when he emerged five years ago, an Orthodox Jew in a flat-brim black hat and bushy beard who loved hip-hop beats and sang dancehall reggae in a Jamaican accent. Seeing him for the first time, you could be forgiven for thinking it was all a Sacha Baron Cohen skit.

His new song "One Day", which seems to be the emerging hit from the new album, is a song easy to like. It has been a while since he did anything noteworthy, but perhaps he needed the time to work through all his issues and come out the way he wanted.

To support the new album, Matisyahu is hitting the road, which presents a challenge for a devout Orthodox Jew: No Friday night shows, the need for kosher food backstage, and avoiding physical contact with women not his wife. He says it takes focus to steer clear of temptations.

"You have so much available to you — the whole sex drugs and rock 'n' roll thing. If you let yourself go a little bit, then it's like this landslide," he says.

Stage-diving — something he abandoned for religious reasons — is back, however. He says he has always struggled with that particular interpretation of the rules.

There's also another reason.

"It's such a fun thing to do," he says with a smile.

Aug 26, 2009

Interesting Posts #61

1. Rock of Galilee went to shul and the chazzan for selichos (sefardi) started rapping the selichos. When he started breakdancing the rabbi had enough and tossed him from the game...

2. Point of Pinchas has a great "Only in Israel" story...

3. Artzeinu has the video of the governor of Florida explaining why they were not hit by hurricanes this year. Hint: it has to do with a note in the kotel. (no, they did not give a donation to Kupat Ha'Ir...)

4. Freakonomics explains why the Swedish newspaper story of the Israeli army harvesting kidneys from Palestinians after killing them must be false.

5. Pesky Settler has a funny video of a rabbi, a shofar, and a dog..

6. Mazel tov to Mr. and Mrs. Jameel on the birth of a baby boy early this morning. He has not announced it yet, but I imagine he will serve waffles at the bris (I am waiting for my invitation).

update on the status of diggin in the tomb of Riba'l

In the ongoing saga of Mitch Pilcer's discovery of the [possible] grave of Rav Yehoshua ben Levi, the Tiberias court came to a decision to allow the Antiquities Authority access to the site to dig and examine the contents of the tomb..

The Jerusalem Post writes about the court decision, and fills in some background about the discovery...

Mitch Pilcer, who discovered the grave about six months ago, said rabbis from the haredi community in Jerusalem have instructed him to block the Antiquities Authority from excavating the grave.

While rabbis who had contacted Pilcer would not speak to the Post on the record, they acknowledged they had spoken to him and told the Post on condition of anonymity that they believe the grave, like all Jewish graves, should be left intact.

Pilcer, who agrees that the grave should not be opened, said that he kept quiet on the discovery in part because he feared that his bed and breakfast located on a peaceful hill in Tzipori would be overrun by demonstrators from Jerusalem. He also built a security barrier around the site before contacting the Antiquities Authority.


But both Pilcer and Mordechai Aviam, the director of the Institute for Galilean Archeology at Kinneret College, maintain that the site was not damaged by either the barrier Pilcer built or the nearly complete building nearby.

"The grave is in fact safer than it was," said Aviam. "He approached it in a correct way and I don't know why they are going after him."

Pilcer, who is also the head of the Tzipori security committee, said he discovered the grave while pulling rocks, which he was using for construction, out of a hillside adjacent to the bed and breakfast's swimming pool.

While digging through the mud he discovered a wall and stone door bearing inscriptions in hard rock with the name of the famous rabbi and the name of the town, Tzipori.

Pilcer said the door to the structure was ajar, and after looking inside he immediately re-covered the site with dirt and built an iron fence around the structure to protect it.

A terra cotta sarcophagus was clearly visible lying in mud inside the grave, said Pilcer.

If the grave does belong to Levi, the presence of a sarcophagus could complicate the issue for some haredim who believe Levi never died because of his attentiveness to the Torah.

"According to Talmudic tradition he rose to heaven with the righteous," Aviam wrote in a press release concerning the discovery.

Aviam, however, said he is not convinced the grave belonged to the rabbi.

The Antiquities Authority filed suit against Pilcer to force him to allow them to excavate the grave. The court ordered Pilcer and the authority to reach an agreement, and advised Pilcer to allow the authority to excavate.

Dahari, meanwhile, said that as a result of the agreement, excavation may begin in September and will be conducted in accordance with Halacha and in conjunction with the appropriate religious authorities.

Scheduling conflict for TLAPD

The annual Talk Like a Pirate Day this year falls out on Rosh Hashana (September 19).

if the chazzan in shul, or the rabbi giving the drasha, will play along and talk like a pirate, it would definitely spice things up a bit over the course of a long davening.

I don't think it is going to happen this year for us...

Holy Land Hardball

"The Red Sox hadn't had a World Series in 85 years, Israel hasn't had baseball in 5000 years."

"If people would play sports... instead of fighting wars.. there would be less killing.. and more peace in the world"

"Dan may get three strikes, he can swing twice..a mohel gets only one cut" (Rabbi Paysach Krohn)

"I had no idea the enormity of the task"

"Hey Fish, the league just called. You've been traded to Egypt."

"Next time I have an idea, please tell me not to do it"

"I came back and there were ants in my bed"

Religion and State in Israel brings to our viewing pleasure a full feature length film called Holy Land Hardball for free. It is only available until August 27, so watch it now!

It is the history of how Larry Baras brought baseball to Israel, up until the first pitch of Opening Day.

Unfortunately, the league folded after one year. There is still talk, and further attempts, to re-open the league. We are waiting patiently.

Picture of the Day (potd)

Carter in a Kippa. Cool.

On that note, I don't know why a goy needs to put on a kippa when he goes to visit a Rabbi (Carter went to visit Rav Ovadiah Yosef). Would they insist a Jew put on a cross if he goes to visit a priest? a jew putting on a kippa I understand, for respect. but a goy has no need to wear a kippa.

Aug 25, 2009

Interesting Posts #60

1. Tzedek-Tzedek announces two upcoming events/lectures in Ramat Bet Shemesh on child abuse, and how to protect your kids, and developing a community response.

2. Lines Writing Lines talks about the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station.

3. MM has the latest chumroh question in shidduch questions.

4. Free Thought is publicizes a miracle his family experienced, without the help of a donation to Kupat Ha'Ir, and also has some advice based on his experience.

5. Muqata posts about the Gap opening its first store in Israel, and now potential olim from the US have no excuses left to not make aliyah!

6. The Jewish Worker posted parts of a booklet published by the Eida Haredis in support of the mother in Jerusalem accused of starving her son. The cartoon image is particularly offensive.

Are the Kiddush Clubs in danger?

A while back, the OU tried to put a stop to the popular Kidush Club phenomena in shuls. They say that aside from the disturbance, and aside form the disrespect shown when walking out during the haftorah (or whenever), it also promotes alcoholism and encourages the youth to drink.

I don't know how successful they were in their attempt to put an end to the Kiddush Club, but they are now receiving a big boost from international diplomacy.

Because Scotland agreed to release the Lockerbie bomber, many people and organizations upset over this are calling for a boycott on Scottish products, including, and mostly, Scotch Whiskies.

if they succeed, that might be the death knell of the Kiddush Club.

Of course, Kiddush Clubs that drink bourbon will not be affected by such a ban.

Madoff took the fall

It turns out Bernie Madoff has terminal cancer. Meaning he had little to fear of going to jail for 150 years.

this strengthens the suspicion that he saved his kids and accomplices by taking all the blame. he knew he was going to die soon enough anyway, so why not take all the blame and let them continue living their lives without going to jail.... (I am not saying they really are guilty, but it is hard to believe he did that all on his own and nobody else was involved or knew about it)

Matisyahu - One Day (video)

Today Matisyahu is releasing his new album "Light". This song, "One Day" is from the new album...

Amazing unassisted triple play (video)

This play by Phillies second baseman was absolutely amazing. There is not an infielder in the world, pro or amateur, that does not dream of making this exact play. It takes an amazing set of coordinated circumstances falling into place all at the same moment. The line drive close to the bag with runners going.... It is so rare, because of how much needs to fall into place for it to happen, but it happened here and was executed perfectly...

Shoko beats big business

See the kid drinking chocolate milk on the left in the picture on the container of chocolate powder made by Elite?

he just sued Elite for using his image without due compensation. He won the court case and Elite is being forced to remove his picture within 6 months. He also sued for 5 million NIS when they initially refused to remove the picture, but I do not know if he was awarded the monetary compensation.

This kid is now a young man in the IDF and has had enough. he was initially paid 3520 NIS for participating in a photo shoot as an extra for a modeling agency. No agreement was signed, supposedly, for use of the picture, and since then his picture has adorned the Strauss-Elite can of chocolate powder for 10 years!

It started to bother him when he would be taunted in school, as kids gave him the nickname, it seems not an endearing one, "Shoko". The name stuck, some still call him "Shoko" it seems, and it still bothers him.

Clearly he never received due compensation for 10 years worth of advertising for a flagship product for a major company when he was paid 3520 NIS (about $800).

the courts ruled in his favor and Elite must remove his image within 6 months.

2 things about this story caught my interest:

1. Nowhere did I see was he interested in money. All he wanted was his image removed. the only time he sued for money was when they refused to remove his image, and it seems like the monetary demand was dropped (I guess) when the courts ruled against Elite and they agreed to comply.

2. The lawyer for the young man is a lawyer named Gilad Korinaldi. I recently read an article (in Mishpacha Hebrew magazine, if I remember correctly) about Gilad Korinaldi. He was the only lawyer to defeat Ariel Sharon and his government in the time of the disengagement in the many lawsuits against different aspects of the disengagement.

The Sharon government had decided, and insisted in subsequent decisions, that they would destroy the shuls in Gush Katif after pulling the residents out. The Sharon government decided they had to do this so as to prevent the rampage and destruction that was sure to be caused by the Arabs after Israel left the strip. he wanted to avoid images of Arabs destroying shuls, and felt it was better for Jews to destroy the shuls "respectfully" (!?) than to have it done in a disrespectful way.
Korinaldo sued and said we should not destroy the shuls. he went around the world to try to get international protection for the hsuls as holy sites, and there was a certain amount of agreement form various governments to provide a certain level of protection. Aside from that he pressed on against the Sharon decision to destroy the shuls claiming it would look very bad for us to destroy shuls, never have Jews done that before, better for us to leave them and hopefully they will be safe, but even if not at least they won't be destroyed by our hands.

After much deliberation, and with the courts seemingly inclined to rule in Korinaldi's favor, Ariel Sharon reconvened his government to discuss the matter again, for a fourth time I think, and this time they changed their position and decided to not destroy the shuls.

We were later exposed to the images of the Gazan Arabs destroying our shuls.

It interested me when I saw Korinaldi's name in the article about the shoko lawsuit, after recently reading about him in the Gush Katif shul issue.

Aug 24, 2009

Interesting Posts #59

1. Esser Agaroth is hosting this week's edition of Haveil Havalim. #231, the Rav Kook Memorial Edition.

2. A Mother in Israel describes a new type of schoolbus - a walking schoolbus. Sounds like a great idea for people who have the time.

3. Rabbi Ginsburg has a bunch of classic jokes. Always funny...

4. Tzedek-Tzedek has an interesting post about pre-nuptial agreements to protect the woman in case of a divorce - not for money, but so she can get a get.

Muqata has some interesting info about where your crocheted kippa (if that is the type you wear) probably comes from. i never woulda thunk it.

Jews on Har HaBayit

It seems the Arab League has denounced, or condemned, the Jews ascending Har Habayit, and specifically praying there openly yesterday.

Normally the police do not allow Jews to pray, or even to bring prayer books in pockets, or even to close ones eyes and move lips prayibg silently, on Har Habayit. Even though the courts have allowed it, they have left it to the discretion of the police to decide it as an issue of public safety. The police say they are concerned about provoking riots among the Arabs. And the result is that in the holiest place in the world, in Israel, for Jews, Jews are not allowed to pray.

Yet yesterday the Arab League condemned Jews praying on har Habayit.

Have the police changed their stand on the issue of praying on Har HaBayit??

A New Manifesto

A Guest Post by Tamar Weissman

As long as I live, I will talk about aliya – even as the hope for mass aliya from the West is today like the hope of Zionists of the previous century for a state.Like ancient Cato who held on to one idea, I too will not forsake the call to aliya.

If we should fail, this generation will be placed on trial by Jewish history and there will be no mercy in the judgment.
Uri Gordon, Six Zionist Essays, 1987

We are a new generation with a need for a new manifesto. The catalyst driving the early Zionist visionaries is thankfully not present in our contemporary history. They were distressed by the dismal Jewish condition present by 19th century Europe, whether it was the impossibility of total assimilation into the western host country, no matter the efforts expended towards that goal, or the impoverishment and danger suffered by the Jews of Russia.

These visionaries pushed on through the implausibility of their dream; they bore the incessant mockery and dismissal of their one simple idea: the reconstitution of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. They persevered, they wrote, they fought and they triumphed. The State of Israel is strong and vibrant. G-d graces His People in the land that He chose for them.

Our generation has no less of a noble calling.

We stand now at the cusp of one of the most consequential moments in our history, where the majority of the Jewish People are living in Eretz Yisrael. Our mission is to realize the potential granted to this moment in history, and this moment alone: to ingather all of the Jewish nation into its homeland.

We are no longer galvanized towards aliya by oppression or fear. The last bastion of the Diaspora, the United States, must answer a different clarion call: that of kibbutz galuyot. The Jew must no longer be a citizen of the world. He must join the swell of his People in Israel to fully realize his capacity as a member of his People. In the Diaspora, he is a Jew; in his homeland, he is a part of Am Yisrael.

The American Jew who yearns to fully realize his Jewishness, who deeply desires to merge in solidarity with his brothers and sisters, can do so only in Israel. Here the superficial identities of Moroccan Jew or Argentinian Jew or British Jew fall away as we converge together in the only meaningful way: as the Jews of Israel. Cast off your American Jewish circumstance and join your destiny with that of your people.

We call on the rabbinic and lay leadership in America to embrace this vision, to not impede our historic opportunity to bring about Kibbutz Galuyot and the full realization of Am Yisrael in its land, to encourage their communities and congregations to accept practical Zionism as the only valid expression of full commitment to Am Yisrael, and to sense the urgency of the present moment. You must begin the process of dismantling the substantial infrastructure that binds Jews to the Diaspora.

We call especially on young Jews, those whose roots are not yet sunk deeply enough into the seduction of comfortable foreign soil, to remember that the idealism of a hundred years ago built a country, and that idealism need not be borne out of desperation at one’s circumstances but can emerge from the yearning to take part in the enterprise of your people in your land. We call on you to join us here, to raise your children as part of Am Yisrael and realize the richness of a life amongst your brethren in Eretz Yisrael.

We call on you to stop excusing yourself from our common destiny.

Your choice is to remain in the Diaspora or to take an active part in Kibbutz Galuyot.

Join with the rest of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. It is our time. This is our task.

Keep the lid on

To follow up on the story of Mitch Pilcer discovering the crypt of Reb Yehoshua Ben Levi (HaKapar?) when digging in his plot to build a new bungalow, today the courts in Tiberias are due to rule on whether the Antiquities Authority should be allowed to open and examine the grave, or if they will need to wait until all proper permits have been applied for and granted.

Pilcer is concerned about letting them in before proper permits are in order. He is concerned that it will incite protests and ruin his business. That along with what he previously described as the need he feels to protect and guard the newly discovered site.

On the one hand, who is not curious as to what will be discovered under the earth of the Galilee, and what it will tell us of previous generations.. On the other, how can we approve of opening and examining graves just because they are old? This is an historic site, and it is of our ancestors. If they are to be allowed to defile this grave just to satisfy curiosity and even for a higher goal of education and knowledge, who is to stop them from defiling anything else that is sacred? Will you allow them to open your bubbe and zaidy's grave just because some might want to know more about them, and discover who they were?

Graves are meant to remain closed, at lest in Jewish tradition and law, whether they are 5 years old, 500 years old, or 5000 years old, or in this case about 1800 years old. Except in extreme circumstances, of which this is not.

Aug 23, 2009

would you urinate with them watching?

This is pretty funny. they wanted to stop people from urinating on the side of the building, so they put out pictures of Rabbis on the wall of the building. people felt uncomfortable urinating with the rabbis "watching them"...

I wonder if people were specifically urinating on the wall of that building (that would be the religious council of Lod), or if it is just one of many buildings urinated on in Lod...

Anyway, the people of Lod might be uncouth, but at least they have respect for the rabbis!

The Lod religious council has come up with an original solution to stop the indecent act of residents urinating on one of the walls outside its offices – one of the council's employees adorned the wall with pictures of rabbis and holy symbols, and ever since, no one has dared to relieve themselves there.

"Ever since one of the workers here put the rabbis' pictures on the wall, people stopped urinating on it," said Daniel Ben Saadon, head of the religious council. "There are clubs and cafes nearby that attract youths that used to urinating on the wall. Thank heavens this phenomenon has disappeared.
I do hope this guy washed the wall before he did this:
"I even kiss the wall," said one youth at a nearby café. "It's like a holy wall. And it is also very beautiful." When asked if he would urinate there if he had no choice, the youth said: "Heaven forbid. Near the rabbis watching you? Even criminals respect the rabbis, that's how it is here, there is respect for religious clerics."

Avraham Fried dedicates song to Gilad Shalit (video)

Aug 20, 2009

Living with our history

You learn some Jewish history, you learn some Jewish texts - Tana"ch, Mishnayos, Gemara, etc. and then you just trip over pieces of our history. Wherever you walk - you are walking where king David walked, fought and ruled, where Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov walked, where the kings of Israel lead and rebelled. Where the tannoim and amoraim (those who made it to Eretz Yisrael at least, along with those of the Yerushalmi) sat and learned.

Israel is where our history is completely around us at all times.

Here is the latest example of this. Mitch Pilcer has a set of "zimmerim" - or summer bungalows -near his home in Tzipori. We stayed there a number of years ago when we went up north. It is a beatiful place, and Tzipori is a beautiful village in a beautiful location, along with the history of Tzipori being the center of the Mishnaic era.

Well, Mitch Pilcer was digging behind his house in order to begin building some more bungalows. Sure enough, he stumbles upon a grave. After digging some more, it turns out he has found the 1800 year old grave of Rav Yehoshua Ben Levi, of the Talmudic era.

OK, there is a debate which one exactly it might be, and the antiquities authority is fighting about it and all that, but just the fact that he stumbled upon this - in his backyard - is absolutely amazing. Israel is the place where we live with our history.

Touring in Eretz Yisrael: Summer: The other side of "Latzafon"

There is another side to travelling "LaTzafon" - to the north of the country. Not just the area around, and north of, the Kinneret. There is a whole 'nother side of the north. And it is completely different.

We went this week up north for a few more days of vacation. This time we went with our extended family, and with a group of families from our area. Somebody arranged the group and all the details, from lodging to food to trips, etc. This was the kind of vacation that I did not need to worry about what we were going to do or where we would go next, but I just had to enjoy and let others do the work (except for the shlepping).

The group went to the western side of northern Israel. We stayed at a kibbutz just north of Nahariya. As you can see from the image, Kibbutz Mezzuba is about 2.5km from the border with Lebanon.

I did not really get any good shots of the kibbutz itself, so I am sharing this picture, which is basically a classic modern kibbutz picture, with the kids climbing atop the slanted bomb shelter roof, considering how rare it is for city-kids to see such things.

After settling in the first day, going swimming and eating, Monday was really the beginning of the tiyulim. The main hiking tiyul for that region of the country is called Nachal Keziv. The terrain is completely different than the Golan or even the eastern Galilee, and there are very few streams, as they generally dry up quickly. Nachal Keziv is the exception. The stream starts all the way from the other side - Har Meiron area, and continues until it dumps out in the Mediterranean (at Achziv beach if I am not mistaken).

So we were to hike Nachal Keziv. The hike begins at the top of a mountain with a stunningly beautiful view of the whole mountain range.

Right across from where we were beginning our hike down is located the village of Mitzpe Hila - unfortunately Mitzpe Hila became famous a few years ago. Mitzpe Hila is the village in which the Shalit family resides.

After hiking down the mountain on a very steep path, we walked across the valley crossing through the stream. the stream is a beautiful series of pools and running water. the water is cool and clean, with fish swimming through, and is perfect for cooling down on a hot hike.

This is an image of the mountain range and forest view while hiking back up the mountain on the other end of our hike. The whole region is absolutely stunning.

After we finished the Nachal Keziv hike, we went to the beach in Nahariya to relax for a while. The sand is soft - it felt to me like walking on a marshmallow - and is mixed with bits of seashell. I found some really nice seashells for my daughters collection.

The bext day we were scheduled to go fruit picking in the Golan Heights, and then kayaking on the Jordan River. It seems strange to stay near Nahariya and then go all the way to the Golan to do activities, but that is what we did on Tuesday.

Fruit picking was at Ein Zivan. Ein Zivan is way out on the eastern corner of the Golan Heights. As you can see, it is about 3km from the Syrian border, and overlooks Kuneitra.

We started the fruit picking in an apple orchard. The trees were not exactly the fifty foot trees I was expecting. At least it made the picking easy for my little kids.
Apples is not the greatest of fruits to go picking - I mean, how many apples can you eat already? I think I ate the most of the group (at least among those of us who compared apple war stories) onsite by eating six.

After the apple orchard, we went to a different field where they had the nectarine trees. From there, you could clearly see the Syrian flag waving in the distance behind Kuneitra.

After fruit picking and a relaxing lunch, it was back on to the bus to head out for kayaking. When you hear "kayaking" and "whitewater rafting", immediatly the image of rafting down Colorado rivers comes to mind, with serious currents and water depths. Don't forget that Israel has a drought. The Jordan River does not resemble Colorado rivers in any way. It is basically like a large bathtub, filled with cold water. But kayaking down the Jordan is still fun and refreshing, and we did it at the premier Israeli kayaking company of Kfar Blum.

Sorry I don't have any pictures of the kayaking experience, but I did not take the camera along. It would have likely ruined all the pictures from the rest of the trip. The kayaking was great, and exhausting.

After that, it was back to the Kibbutz for dinner, swimming, sleeping, more food, and more swimming.

Stephen Colbert on the Swine Flu Prevention Shofar Blowing (video)

Colbert really enjoys this one...

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
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and Just in time for Elul I guess....
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Quote of the Day (qotd)

Ya`alon showed his true face with comments on Peace Now

--- MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor)

People can say whatever they want about the "settlers" and the haredim, but when it comes to talking about the leftists like Peace Now people, and everybody has to condemn it. Even Bibi is supposedly going to be calling Yaalon in for a smackdown.

Aug 19, 2009

Abutbol splits school building in half for haredi kids

Bet Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbol is coming under fire again for another decisiion he just made. This one looks like it is just another one of Abutbol's moves to satisfy the haredi contingent in the city and ignore the old-time secular/traditional sector of the city.

Abutbol has decided to take a school building being used by a [mostly] secular student body, and split it in half and put a haredi school in the same building.

People are up in arms. The old-timers are furious with Abutbol, once again.

But this time Abutbol is right.

(I don't know what school should have been put in, I don't know how they decide priority for which school gets classrooms and buildings, so I am not commenting on the specific school or affiliation that was moved in, but on the concept of what was done)

The school under discussion, the School for Languages and Culture, is a secular public school that was placed in the middle of al almost completely religious neighborhood, taking up valuable classrooms and resources from a community that has an abject shortage of such resources. Nearly the whole student body that attends the school is bused in from other areas of Bet Shemesh and are for the most part not local kids.

This school building should never have been allocated for that school. For whatever reasons it was done, it is about time that the school i snow being allocated for use by local children. Not only was it wrong in the first place, but the school, according to the reports, sits half empty. The building is meant for a school of 400 children, and the school using the building has a registration of 180 kids.

Why should a building sit half-empty, and the half that is being used is mostly not even local kids?

This building should always have been allocated for used by a local school, and it is about time that it was so designated. Clearly, splitting the building is a short-term solution and eventually the original school will be moved completely. The best idea would be for Abutbol not to be on the defensive, but to find a solution for this school in old Bet Shemesh, and proactively put the school there, and announce to the "old Bet Shemesh" people that he is giving them a new school building and whatever else he has to offer them.

Even though Abutbol is doing the right thing in this, he has done it in a way that only upsets people, as they think he is just cowtowing to the haredi public again. He might even have done it because they pressured him to, but had he done it with a keener eye to public relations, he could have pulled it off with everyone's support because it really is a step in the right direction for this school building.

Aug 17, 2009

Touring in Eretz Yisrael: Summer Vacation: LaTzafon

When summer vacation comes along, there is only one place to go touring. Everyone heads "La-Tzafon" - to the north. The Israeli ritual ha everyone spending their summer hiking and vacationing in the northern part of the country, around the Kinneret generally. Everywhere else is too hot, and even though the north is hot as well, at least there is a little bit of water in the lakes and rivers there to cool off in. And nights up there are slightly more pleasant than many other parts of the country.

So, LaTzafon it was for us too. We packed everything up, tents, sleeping bags, gear, food, ice chest, and even some clothes and headed up north for a few days of camping, hiking, bbq'ing spoiling meat as the ice chest doesn't do much after the first day (yeah, we added bags of ice, but it isn't the same), and running out of underwear and t-shirts.

We took this trip fairly easy. We planned nothing in advance. Absolutely nothing. Not a schedule, not an itinerary, not any specific hikes. Nothing. We just figured we would go and play the whole thing by ear. We had not even planned where we were going to sleep. I had asked a couple of friends who had been up north the week before what they did, and noted down their suggestions. I lost the paper, but remembered a couple of the ideas.

On our way up, we thought we would just camp out in the same site we camped last year. Sure enough, the radio tells us the site is closed because of suspicion of some poison in the water as they found some dead fish washed up ashore. So we decided to go further north and stay the night in Churshat Tal.

Churshat Tal is a place I have only heard good things about, and I have lots of friends who have stayed there many times. It is also known as the "Hilton of Campsites". We got there at night, and we were tired and had to get settled and still eat dinner. I did not even realize that beside being a great campsite, it is a national park with its own great attractions to spend the day. I only realized that as we were leaving the next day on our way to hike. So if you go out to Churshat Tal, you can feel comfortable going there and planing to spend at least part of a day there hiking and swimming in the Park itself.

The place was pretty crowded. We drove through until we found a quieter stretch of grass with not too many tents crowded on it, and not too far from the bathrooms. As we unloaded our tents we realized our good fortune that we were also pretty close to the rivers that run through the Chursha.

According to the map, there are two rivers - Maayanot Dan and Maayanot HaBanyas that run through the Chursha. They both originate from Tel Dan and the Banyas waterfall. The water in these rivers, even as far away as Churshat Tal, is freezing cold, and great for the kids to cool off in, even at night as I was getting dinner ready.

After dinner and after getting the kids dried off, and after roasting disgusting marshmallows that had some yellow banana-ish streak running through them, we finally settled down in our tents for the night.

In the morning I woke up early. It is tough to sleep late when camping. You get the sun and heat. You start hearing everyone else's noise. etc. So we had a minyan for shacharis. Churshat Tal is a very generally popular site. You get every type of Israeli staying there, so there were more than enough religious people to make plenty of minyanim at different times of the morning.

After that the kids got moving, we had breakfast and packed up to go. I had not planned on spending so much money on just camping - Churshat Tal is a national park so the cost is fairly high - much higher than camping on beaches (and I did not know about the attractions there until later, so I did not take advantage of that), and my 5 year old kept insisting that we go to the Kinneret, so we decided we would go that night to spend camping somewhere on the Kinneret. That meant packing up all our gear - tents, air mattresses, sleeping bags, etc.

We headed out and tried to go to Nahal Iyyun. After some technical difficulties, the kids decided we should go to the Hatzbani which is right across from Churshat Tal. The Hatzbani, a.k.a Nachal Senir, is a great river with a rocky bottom and a strong current. Unfortunately, because of the drought, the amount of water is nothing like what it used to be. We went there last about 7 years ago I think and I remember the water at points up to my chest. Now the highest it got was just over my knees. The current is still strong, so it is still a good hike.

With the Hatzbani, you can choose to hike through the water, or along the path next to the river and only go ni to cool off at different points along the hike. We all decided to go through the river. Even my five-year old did fine, holding my hand during the ,ore difficult parts. We did about half of it through the river, and then they wanted to hike along the side. It is difficult to walk on the rocky bottom, especially in crocs and sandals, so after a good first half, they wanted an easier second half.

When we got back to the parking area, we decided to eat lunch there in the picnic area. We got out our food and settled in. They have a little stream (part of the river I guess) running through the main area, and my kids were playing in the water there keeping cool on a very hot day, while we rested a bit after lunch.

Then we drove around a bit, heading southward towards the Kinneret. There are a bunch of spots along the Jordan River where you can pull over and jump into the river to cool down and relax. We saw a sign and decided to go in. It turned out the spot we picked happened to be the ending point for a "whitewater" rafting company, so it was a bit of a busy spot. But we still had a good relaxing time in the cool waters of the Jordan.

Then we continued down to the Kinneret. Somehow we decided we would try out the Kinar. They have a hotel but they also have a beach with campgrounds. We got there and it was pretty cheap so we decided to stay the night. It was only mid-afternoon, but my kids did not want to head out to any other tiyulim. So we settled down there and went down to the Kinneret.

It was a windy evening, and the waves were reasonably strong. The kids had a good time jumping and crashing the waves. After an hour or so we went back to our tents to make dinner. After encountering a scorpion near our tent, we decided to move over. I think we actually scared him more than he scared us. We decided not to kill him, so as not to invite all his friends to his funeral, but he scurried away as we moved a couple of rocks he was trying to hide under. Despite his departure, we still moved our tent to a different area.

After dinner we went back to the Kinneret. Then it was early to bed. Kinar is a religious beach, and I think 100% of the people there were religious, so getting minyanim was not a problem.

At night we were woken up a few times by Israeli Air Force planes flying overhead heading north. I checked the news and it did not seem to mention any war going on, though for some reason Netanyahu was threatening Lebanon, and supposedly amassing troops near the border. I still don't know why or if that was even true. The planes definitely disturbed our sleep though.

In the morning I woke up early again and caught a vasikin shacharis. We had breakfast and packed everything up. The kids didn't want to stay there the next night, though we left it open as a possibility, so we packed up all our stuff just in case.

That day we headed out to a water hike in a stream called the Majrasa. It is a just a few minutes form Kinar, a bit north of Kinar, along the Kinneret. This was a great hike, especially for little kids. The floor of the river was flat and not rocky, making it an easy walk. The river is calm and refreshing. The waters of the Majrasa stream originate in a number of others streams - they dump in from the Meshushim, Yehudiya, Daliyot and some others.

After the Majrasa, we went to another water hike on the north-eastern tip of the Kinneret called Nahal Zaki. Zaki is from the same range of rivers and waters as the Majrasa, but has a completely different style to it. It is a very rocky hike through a river that has a decent current in some parts of it. It was tough to walk because of the rocks, and was pretty slippery.We all made it through ok and sat in the pooled water at the end just relaxing after what really was a hike we had to work hard on.

The kids by then had enough of hiking for the day. They had no energy left. We decided we would go into the Golan. They wanted to see the Bereishit fruit packing plant I had told them about after I had seen it with my wife in December. It is a really cool operation they have going there, and we decided to make the drive up to see it.
Bereishit factory is just outside of the Moshav Merom HaGolan (they also have fruit picking activities, I think, in the moshav), which is fairly far north in the Golan, but we had nothing planned and the kids didnt want to do the [easy] hikes I offered them, so off we headed to drive through the Golan.

On the way we found a beautiful park to stop in and have lunch. The kids played in the park, and we ate and relaxed a bit. Then we were back on our way. We finally arrive and are told that the visitors center is closed. They are in between seasons right now and have no fruit to pack. They expect to reopen in about two weeks, we were told.

So, we drove back down towards the Kinneret. We ended up sending much of the afternoon driving through the Kinneret. The kids enjoyed seeing all the army bases, jeeps, tanks, and cows, so it wasn't so bad. We eventually got back down to the southern Golan. They still didnt want to do any of the hikes, so we drove into Avnei Eitan to look around. Avnei Eitan is a religious moshav in the southern golan. I went into the supermarket to buy a couple of things, and my kids went into the nearby cattle barn to feed and taunt some cows.

Then it was back to the Kinneret. We stopped at the "Ayn Sheva" waterfall that dumps into the kinneret. This is a waterfall of the side of the road - you park and walk down. Go into the waterfall, and it trickles into the kinneret. If I am not mistaken, it used t not be a waterfall - it used to dump right into the kinneret beneath the surface, as the kinneret went right up to it. Over the years, the shoreline of the kinneret has receded and now it is pretty far away from the water coming into it, and a waterfall was formed a number of years ago...

When we had enough of that, we headed back to look for a place to stay, and sure enough we saw Chof Amnon was open. It turns out, they told us, they were never even closed. The Health Ministry thought of closing them, but found nothing in the water so left them open. We stayed the night, planning to extend the trip another night. I planned a couple hikes for the next day and we went to sleep after dinner.

Overnight, some Bedouins stole a bunch of backpacks - from us and from a large group of teens touring. The fence does not surround the whole area, as the regional council is developing some "shvil sovev kinneret" - a path that completely encircles the kinneret, making it easier for bikers and hikers to make the trip around the kinneret fully, and also making it easier for the local Bedouins to sneak in during the night. The kids no longer having any change of clothes (thankfully nothing valuable was stolen), along with my waking up not feeling well, decided it for us to call the trip complete. After searching high and low for the bags, having the police come down, and all that, we packed it up and went home.

Oh yeah - how could I forget. We brought along a can of "canned cholent" to try for dinner one night. Here it is. I must say, it was fairly decent, and we had expected it to be horrible.

Aug 16, 2009

Infighting in Boro Park all over FoxNews (video)

Walking the Tightrope

On Thursday I saw an article somewhere about people complaining about Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch. the official Rav of the Holy Places of Israel and Chief Rabbi of the Kotel, that he is "haredi-izing" the kotel and other holy sites, making it less accessible to non-haredi and non-religious people, by making their stay their less comfortable by his agreeing to demands made by haredi groups.

The specific examples by the kotel we extending mechitzas out to the general plaza, along with making the womens section smaller.

On Shabbos, I was in Jerusalem in Ezras Torah down the block from where Rabbi Rabinovitch lives, and pretty much every week his opponents from Satmar protest at some point in front of his house and/or throw pashkevilim around his street right before shabbos.

The pashkevilim of this shabbos decried Rabbi Rabinovitch's attempt to "secularize" the holy sites around Israel, specifically Meron. He is forming some sort of council to decide on renovations and has applied to the Safra fund for funding as a tourist attraction. The pashkevil complains that he is secularizing it and instead of guarding it as a holy site is trying to bring non-religious people to be "tourists" there.

So, the secular don't like him because he makes things too haredi, and the haredi don't like him because he makes everything too secular.

Talk about not being able to please anybody! He has got some tough job there....

Aug 15, 2009

Get out of jail free

In this weeks local BS Chadash newspaper, there is an article condemning an attack perpetrated by a couple of teenagers on some avreichim walking from the Heftziba neighborhood to the Kirya Hareidit.

Not only that, but they even say they, the newspaper, complained to the police about it. I don't know what a newspapers place is in society, but I was not aware that it is their job to file police reports and complaints for people.

Regardless, the perps should be prosecuted and taken care of to the full extent of the law.

I don't, however, remember the Chadash writing about attacks that have happened with Haredim (the "kannoim" in RBS B) attacking people walking through or just rioting in general and destroying public property, so if they normally stay away from stories of violence, it is strange that they wrote about this one. Clearly they are simply just not objective and haredi crime/violence doesn't happen but secular violence does.

Also, the Chadash has written about getting those arrested for hafganot out of jail and even quoted Mayor Abutbol that he was working to get somone arrested for his kannoi violence out of jail (as a way of preventing more violence was left unsaid) and Chadash praised him for his efforts. I wonder of Abutbol will work to get these kids out of jail as well, despite their violence (I hope not), and if Chadash will support him in his efforts if he does.

Obviously this is tongue-in-cheek. They should be prosecuted for their violence, and others should see that violent attacks do not pay - not against haredim and not against anybody else. The mayor should not work to get people arrested for violent acts out of jail - not secular (though I have never heard of such intervention happening) and not on behalf of haredim. And if a paper is going to write about and complain to the police about secular violence, they should do the same regarding haredi violence. Just because they are haredim does not give them the "get out of jail free" card.

Aug 14, 2009

Root Beer Floats are back

I have good news for those of you in Israel who sometimes get the occasional craving for an ice cold Dr. Pepper or Root Beer.

Dr. Pepper, A&W Root Beer, all the Dr. Brown's Drinks and some others that I am less familiar with have been unavailable in Israel for something like 8 months. I don't know why but one reseller told me about problems with import duties, another told me distribution rights, someone else told me he had no idea.

Regardless of the reason why, the occasional craving had to go unsatisfied for a long dry period of 8 months or so.

Today, I went into one of the local stores that sell them, and whenever I do since the drought I always check to see if they are restocked, and sure enough the shelf was full of Dr. Pepper. They did not have Dr. Browns or A&W Root Beer, but they had Hansen's Natural Can Soda Root Beer.

Ice Cream Sodas, better known as Root Beer Floats, are back!


Aug 13, 2009

Israelis at their best

One of the greatest things about going camping, besides the obvious things like connecting to the land, bonding with family, cheap vacation, feeling like you really roughed it even though you had a 3G connection, is that you get to see Israelis at their best.

In plenty of situations, we are all to familiar with Israelis at their worst. They are famous for stealing towels from hotels, making noise and damage to tourist sites around the world, typical brashness, etc. If you go camping, you will see the opposite - the Israeli at his best.

We camped overnight in three different locations over the past few days. When camping out, Israelis are generally at their best. They clean up after themselves. The grounds were kept beautiful, and people were careful to pick up their trash. People shared excess food with others, or equipment or coals after a bbq was finished but the coals could still be used, rather than throw it out. People were friendly, and not rude. People davened together, despite the different types of people and dress - Haredim with Dati Leumi made minyanim together without hesitating, people in full dress garb along with people in shorts and t-shirt. People helping each other on tiyulim, whether actually lending a hand or just sharing information.

When you go "La-Tzafon" for vacation, you will see Israelis at their best.

Aug 10, 2009

A Day of Strange News

1. An Ashkenazi Rav won the right to be the Rav of the Ethiopian community of Bat Yam.

Ethiopians are not particularly "sfardi" over "ashkenazi". So it is not that that is strange, though you would think it perhaps more normal for an Ethiopian to have won the position. This fellow is married to an Ethiopian woman and have kids together. So he is definitely as fitting and appropriate as anyone else.

What is strange about this is that Shas is upset, claiming their rep should have been given the position, specifically an Ethiopian Shasnik. Shas is basically saying they are closer to the Ethiopians than Ashkenazim are, though there is not really any basis for that unless you look at the fact that they are both dark-skinned, which in todays world should not matter. Once again, it is Shas who keeps everyone thinking in terms of race, rather than breaking down those barriers.

2. Ahmed Tibi was invited to speak in a yeshiva camp symposium. His participation was "canceled" at the last moment, he claims. Tibi says the yeshiva told him his invitation has been revoked, as supporters of the yeshiva who heard about it told the yeshiva to uninvite him.

Baruch Marzel, also a participant in the symposium, claims that he was told by the yeshiva that Tibi backed out at the last minute, on his own initiative when he found out that Marzel would also be a participant.

I'll take Marzel's word for it over Tibi's any day!

3. Salomon Dweck, a.k.a. the "Shtinker of Deal New Jersey" made an unusual round of phone calls. He called the families of all his victims, in a lightning round set of calls so nobody would be prepared and he would have the element of surprise (I am not sure what he needed that for), and asked for their forgiveness.
He could not speak to most, as the news reports they all hung up on him as soon as he identified himself, but the wife of one victim took the phone call. When he asked for forgiveness, claiming the FBI forced him to do everything he did, she told him the only time she would forgive him is when she would first see his rotting corpse cut up in pieces and distributed around the main street of Deal".

Those Syrians sure have a way with words!

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