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Free The Hostages! Bring Them Home!

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Mar 31, 2011

What Would You Do? Racism Towards Muslims in Israel? (video)

A short while back I saw a clip of a US show looking at racism and it was very similar to this. I think it was set in a bakery and the owner refused to sell to a Jew, and the clip recorded what other customers would do in response to the racism.

In this clip, in Israel, they look at what others would do in the face of racism against Muslims. What would you do?

Israel Should Be Taking 50 More Abu Sisis

Israel abducted some Hamas operative named Abu Sisi while he was in the Ukraine. It is thought that he has information on where Gilad Shalit is being held.

Abu Sisi denies knowing anything about Shalit.

The PA is complaining that Israel has acted like pirates, and wants Ukraine to get angry at Israel, and I guess file complaints with the UN and the World Court and create a diplomatic crisis.

At worst, even if Israel was completely wrong in this operation and he has no involvement or info regarding Shalit, the PA should not be complaining about such an abduction being an act of piracy and looking to create a crisis. After all, the PA abducted people as well, Shalit himself, and they are guilty of what they are accusing Israel.

Regarding Abu Sis, it would be nice if he has information that they can get out of him, by whatever means. But even if he really does not have any knowledge of the Shalit affair, as he claims, Israel should be taking such high level Hamasniks and offer a more even trade for Shalit. If Abu Sisi is not enough, Israel should abduct 5 more, 10 more, 50 more or whatever it takes.

Zionism is Humanitarianism (video)

Will Bet Shemesh Get A Hospital?

Bet Shemesh is still working to get a hospital built. Building a hospital has been on the agenda for years.

The problem with it is that the government has no desire to build new hospitals, especially in small cities. This is a major financial undertaking.

Until now there has not been much hope for actually getting construction for a new hospital approved. Larger cities, like Ashdod, have been trying for years and the government has refused to approve.

However, with the massive amount of housing slated to be built in Bet Shemesh in the coming years, Bet Shemesh is expected to catapult the list of cities going from 85,000 or so residents to nearly 250,000 in the next 9 years! Figuring that a city that size must have a hospital, the city of bet Shemesh is pushing the authorities to get such a plan approved. Not only would the massive amount of people require a nearby medical facility, but the way Bet Shemesh is spreading over various mountains will make the travel time to hospitals in other cities unacceptable.

Mynet says that Bet Shemesh is pushing hard, and has the support of Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman. Moshe Abutbol, the mayor of Bet Shemesh, says they have already designated an allocation of 120 dunam of land in the new areas of future RBS neighborhoods upon which the hospital will be built, if it gets approved by the health ministry and the various other offices.

While building a hospital will be a big boost to employment in the area, and would perhaps encourage people from the area to go to medical school and become doctors and work locally, and there is already a need (like any city has such a need) it is still hard to believe this will get approved quickly. With the finances of building a hospital, and maintaining it, so massive, it is just too much to believe.

The leadership of Bet Shemesh has good political connections in the Knesset and among the ministers, so they might generate some support. But even if they get some of the approvals, I have  a hard time believing they will get such a project off the ground any time in the near future.

Public Service Announcement: Time Travel

Tonight, or more accurately perhaps, tomorrow morning, at 2AM you will experience, whether you like it or not, if you are located in Israel, time travel.

At 2 AM you will be transported to 3 AM. Whether you like it or not. You might want to go to sleep early, so you don't lose more than that 1 hour, but on the other hand you might want to stay up to see what time travel is like.

Either way, adjust your clocks accordingly.

Assad's Car Attacked After Speech (video)

After an appearance and speech yesterday, the car of Bashir Assad, the Syrian President, was approached by an elderly female protester. State TV panned out and went black as mobs of people surrounded the car. If it wasnt video'ed it didn't happen. As Syria says there are no protests in Syria, just a bunch of Israelis making it seem that way.

The Hitler House Rocks Twitter

This is just absolutely ridiculous. Somebody passed by a house and thought the exterior design of the house, the location of the windows, the shape of the roof, the doorway, etc. all resembled the face of Hitler. The person snapped a picture and then placed the image next to a face shot of Adolph Hitler, yemach sh'mo, and posted it to twitter. Jimmy Carr noticed the tweet and passed it on, and form there it went viral.

What do you think? Are people out of their minds?
It looks more like the pizza delivery guy if you ask me!
The Telegraph has the story along with imagess of other "Hitler lookalikes":
Hundreds of thousands of people have viewed or shared the link to a photograph of the house after it was published on Twitter, the social networking site.
The slanted roof was said to resemble the Hitler fringe, the door lintel was the moustache and the small top windows were seen as the dictator’s piercing eyes.
The joke took off when it was tweeted by Jimmy Carr, the comedian, but the owner of the house in Port Tenant, Swansea, a man in his 70s, said he had never even heard of Twitter.
The tweet was first posted by Charli Dickenson, 22, a youth worker, who spotted the bizarre similarity as she drove past.
“I walk past the house all the time, but I had never noticed the Hitler likeness before,” said Miss Dickenson. “But then, at the weekend, I was in the car with my boyfriend and we were stuck in traffic and I just said to him, 'That house looks like Hitler.’ We both laughed. I took a picture and posted it on Twitter.

“It was picked up by Jimmy Carr. Now everyone is talking about it!”
A neighbour, Lyn Thomas, 25, said: “I can see a resemblance now. I’ve lived here for two years but have never noticed anything before. I don’t know why it would be designed in such a way. It is uncanny.”
Another neighbour said: “People are joking that the house is the third on the Reich and that we live on the Western Front. You have to see the funny side of life sometimes.”

Quote Of The Day

The color of our faces is like the color of the clods of soil of this ground. Yet there are those who want to chase us out and to dispossess us while their faces are white like the white snow of Moldova.... This land speaks Arabic..

  -- MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra'am Ta'l)

Run From The Egyptians (video)

Mar 30, 2011

Interesting Posts #254

1. Rabbi Disqualifies Kafuy Tov Witness

2. Using Tsunami Footage in the Video for Saving The Boys in Japan

3. Our Jesus Shabbos - having Christians over for a Shabbos meal

4. Reflections of a Fringe Jew

5. The Zilberman Home

6. If I Forget Thee - wishing to Jerusalem in a different way

7. The Jerusalem Marathon and You! - anybody can do it, you just have to put your mind to it.

8. We are all the children of Ashkenaz

Another Israeli Invention.. Toothpaste for Kangaroos (video)

Quote Of The Day

Burning the plastic bags causes poisonous gases to be released that cause damage to those fulfilling the mitzva and to those who live in the area. There is a concern of a great health risk to children who are involved in the burning of chametz. Chametz should be gathered in paper bags and not in plastic or cardboard boxes, as they also create  a lot of smoke, that cause serious pollution.

  -- Minister of Religious Services Yaakov Margi

Margi is pushing a campaign to raise awareness of the health issues involved in burning plastic, and is encouraging that people busrn chametz without the plastic.

Knesset Committee Debate Banning JStreet (video)

I enjoy how this debate turns into a circus a times...

Knesset Merged from Isaac Luria on Vimeo.

The Burqa Ladies, In Their Own Words.. (video)

Pesach Matzah Share (video)

Mar 29, 2011

Quote Of The Day

I don't know of any plan to annex the settlements. Netanyahu's position is that Israel prefers to take steps in direct coordination with the Palestinians, as a result of direct negotiations... 
If the Palestinians move forward with their plans to unilaterally declare a state within the 1967 borders, Israel will no longer have anything to negotiate with regarding territorial issues, and as a result the negotiations will be naturally frozen..

  -- senior assistant to PM Benjamin Netanyahu

Playing First Base.. Rav Elyashiv!

People always try to get memorabilia from celebrities - baseball players, rock stars, basketball players, soccer players, etc. Sometimes it might be a ball that is autographed, sometimes it is the shirts off their backs. These items are sometimes held for sentimental value, but often they are later sold for big money, asssuming it was received from a "star".

Bechadrei is reporting on a story that happened while at a bris in the house of Rav Elyashiv. A wealthy fellow who was at the bris was pointed to the grandson of the Admor of Zevhil. He was told that this guy, the grandson, is very poor. The rich guy, wanting to confirm the information before writing a check, asked Rav Elyashiv if it is really true. Rav Elyashiv confirmed that his financial situation is bad and this is worthy tzedaka to give.

On the word of Rav Elyashiv, the gvir wrote out a check on the spot for 8000NIS.

A few moments later, the gvir approached Rav Elyashiv again and offered him a deal. If Rav Elyashiv would give to him a pair of tzitzis, a tallis kotton that he had worn, he would give another check, this one for $20,000!

Rav Elyashiv was surprised by the request, but immediately agreed. He said, "if I can help like this a Jew to marry off his kids, why shouldn't I?"

I wonder if he also autographed it. I also wonder how soon we will see Rav Elyashiv's tztitzis for sale on eBay. And I also wonder if the next gvir to walk in will ask him to buy his shtreimel, then his frock, then his socks and underwear. It was nice of Rav Elyashiv to agree, but I worry about where people like this gvir are taking Judaism to..

Israel Arrests 60 For Itamar Massacre Investigation, Destroying All Semblance of Human Rights

The Palestinians are complaining that in the wake of the Itamar massacre Israel went into surrounding villages, specifically Awarta, and arrested upwards of 60 people (depending on which report you read it is anywhere from 40 to 60 people)  and has been holding them in prison, after forcing them to go through DNA testing.

First I will say that they should just be happy that Israel did not raze the entire village of Awarta to the ground the day after the massacre of the Fogel family. That is what should have been done. Yes, it is collective punishment which is wrong, but that is the price to pay for terrorism and is what needs to be done to create an atmosphere of deterrence. Similar to what Ariel Sharon did back in the day with his Unit 101 that would go burn down villages after villagers would attack Jews.

However, since Israel did not raze the village, and has now waited two weeks, which has allowed any emotional sympathy around the world, and even in Israel, to fade, collective punishment is no longer an option. Collective punishment is best served hot. Going in and arresting people now, with no proof, and holding them for no apparent reason, as the security forces clearly have no idea who was responsible for the massacre, is simply a breakdown of respect for human rights.

What's the difference anyway? Maybe they will eventually get some information that will lead to the capture of those who were responsible for the massacre. And then what? They will put them in jail for 5 life sentences, and release them two years later in a goodwill gesture to the Palestinians.

If the Israeli government, and therefore the security forces, would do what it should in dealing with terrorism and war, that would be one thing. However, since the government does not treat terrorists as they deserve, the government has no business mistreating innocent people.

Saved From A Modern Day Blood Libel

The blood libels of old used to claim that Jews killed small Christian children to use their blood in our Passover matza. Today, even the non-Jews no longer make such claims.

The Eida just avoided a situation where we would have been eating, today, in 2011/5771, matza baked with blood. Sort of. A little bit. Maybe.

Kikar, and other sources as well, is reporting that during routine supervision of a matza baking factory, the chief mashgiach of the Eida (and Chug Chasam Sofer) noticed that one of the workers had an injury on his hand from which blood was dripping. He asked the worker for how long had he been bleeding, to which the reply was that he has been bleeding for over an hour, but had not thought there was any halachic problem because of it.

The mashgiach stopped the matza baking process and right then and there had the 50 kilo of matza that had been baked in the previous hour destroyed.

saved from a modern-day blood libel!

11 Year Old Palestinians Prefer Martyrdom (video)

On this TV show, 11 year old prefer martyrdom, being a Shahid. I wonder what is so bad about turning 12 in the PA..

The Big Black Jewish Wedding (video)

This is pretty funny. Looks real but I dont believe it can be...

JudaBlue- Falling (video)

Mar 28, 2011

Melanie Philips on the Itamar Massacre and Calling Arabs Savages (video)

Smuggling Drugs Is So 2010

With many drug smugglers and mules being caught recently, the risk of getting caught has become very high. That means it is time to stop smuggling drugs, at for those who are averse to such levels of risk, and find something else to carry over the borders.

The latest catch was hair. That's right, someone was smuggling hair.

Ladaat reports that the latest smuggling scheme to be caught was a Haredi guy coming in from Sao Paolo, Brazil. As the customs agents had him open his suitcase, they were surprised to find it full of hair. They opened up his second suitcase, and it too was full of hair. The guy was smuggling 10kg of hair, to be used to make sheitels in Israel.

I  wonder if they can train dogs to sniff for things like hair or anything else people might smuggle in..

Jerusalem Marathon Caused An Empty Kotel

The main part of normal life and routine that was affected by the Jerusalem Marathon on Friday was the roads throughout Jerusalem being shut down. Even roads that were left open were jammed with traffic as a result of all the other road closures.

On the one hand, that is the price to pay for the occasional cultural event, and every major city, or at least many major cities, deal with the same situation and decide the price is worth paying. On the other hand, it is a tremendous annoyance to the residents and visitors in the city.

Unfortunately, and I don't know that this was worse than people who could not open their businesses and earn their daily living or were left with hardly any buyers, or if it was not as bad, but another thing affected by the marathon was the Kotel.

Ladaat is reporting that for much of Friday morning, the Kotel was practically empty, which is highly unusual and only happens on the days of the worst weather. A few people were there, having gone by foot, and they saw the depressing phenomenon of a Kotel practically empty of visitors.

Is it worth it, to have a run shut down a city, and prevent people from being able to pray at the Kotel? I don't know. Some could have walked, but most regular visitors come from too far away to walk. is this worse than stopping people from doing their business and making a living, or worse than inconveniencing thousands of residents?

I don't know.

One Man's Mission of Mercy to the People Of Sendai, Japan (video)

the Next Hot Jewish Music Group (video)

These guys are great!

Helping Others For Pesach (video)

A very nice message reminding us to give Maos Chittim for the upcoming Passover holiday to the poor, so they can celebrate the holiday respectably as well.

Happy Passover 5771 from Jewish Community Federation on Vimeo.

Mar 27, 2011

Picture Of The Day: Introducing The Burqa Dad!

If you thought it was only the women, here is a strange picture snapped at Uri's Pizza shop in Geula (taken from someone who posted it in the Bechadrei forums)..

introducing... the Burqa Dad!
Burqa Dad eating pizza at Uri's Pizza in Jerusalem.
Oops, I got some pizza sauce on my Hugo Boss Burqa!

Halacha vs Honesty regarding Tzedaka Donations

David Morris wrote an interesting incident on his blog, Tzedek-Tzedek, and it raises a question about tzedaka that we find coming up fairly regularly in the past few years.

He writes:
A minor incident on Purim has troubled me.

I collect on Purim day for Lema’an Achai. This year I teamed up for an hour on Purim with my friend Murray Shore from Toronto, and we went together door-to-door.

A donor (we’ll call him Ploni) came up to us and proposed the following deal.

Ploni offered to give Lema’an Achai 250 NIS, if Lema’an Achai will receipt him for 500 NIS.

Ploni explained that he has given out at least 250 NIS in cash donations to individuals, who are not able to give tax receipts. So Ploni is giving 500 NIS total charity, and believes he’s entitled to a receipt for that full amount.

Ploni further explained that Lema’an Achai loses nothing by this, as we doubtless have collected plenty of cash, which has not yet been receipted. At the moment, no-one gets tax benefit from this.

And of course, we receive 250 NIS from Ploni, which he otherwise might not have donated.

To finish off the proposal, Ploni named Rabbi X, an important community rabbi in town, who Ploni claimed had given Ploni his endorsement to collect such inflated receipts from tzedaka organizations, as long as the total amount in the receipts does not exceed the total amount Ploni gives in tzedaka.

“Everybody wins!” declared Ploni.

I asked Ploni for clarification.

“Please explain what you mean. I don’t think I understand clearly. You give Lema’an Achai how much?”

“250”, he replied.

“That’s kind of you - Yeshar koach & tizke lemitzvot.
And we receipt this donation for how much?”

“500”, he replied.

“You give 250, and we say we received 500. Right?”

“Yes, you see…”

“Hold on, maybe I still haven’t understood this fully, …with all respect, wouldn’t that be. umm.. a lie?”

“Well not entirely…you see…”

“And, technically, an act of fraud?”.

“Rav X said it’s fine, he said I can do this…what’s your problem?”

By the end of the (amicable!) discussion, Ploni gave Lema’an Achai 200 NIS, saying that our lack of cooperation with his scheme needed to be penalized by withholding 50 NIS from his originally intended donation.

I have seen the same phenomenon in many variations – the ends (a mitzvah, or supposed mitzvah) justifies the means (lies, fraud, stealing, whatever).

It troubles me, every time.
and he added in the comments and interesting side point:
By the way, when I asked Lema'an Achai's Rav, Rav Chayim Soloveichik, whether I had acted properly, he said I had acted correctly, and was shocked that anyone would claim rabbinical backing for such an aveira.

He then added: "You might think that Lema'an Achai lost 50 NIS on the deal, because you were honest...."

Rav Soloveichik put his hand in his pocket, and gave Lema'an Achai 50 NIS.

"David, this is so you should never think Lema'an Achai might lose out by being straight."
In recent years, and I dont know if this was not the case in the past or if it just did not happen in the past, at least in the USA, the authorities have been cracking down on such fraudulent tax receipts. Many frum jews are sitting in jail, even someone as prominent as the Spinka Rebbe, along with many people who were considered respected members of frum communities across the USA.

That people are still trying to do it, despite the exposure of those caught and the chilul hashem it created is a bit hard to understand. Perhaps it is because they think that in Israel it will be easier to get away with. Or maybe just because some were caught, does not necessarily mean it deters others from doing the same. If so, that would mean the numbers of those caught are probably relatively small compared to those actually doing such things, meaning the risk of being caught is considered very small.

Without knowing any more of the incident than what was written there, I suspect there was something different at play. A third option. I think a possibility was that this person was testing Lemaan Achai to see if it would do something dishonest, with perhaps a low risk of being caught, to make some extra donations.

Perhaps it could have been a test of LA honesty, perhaps it could have been an ambush and had they taken the bait this fellow would have announced it all over that LA is dishonest. Or maybe it really was someone willing to make a donation in exchange for a fraudulent tax receipt. I think more of it being a test because if they were not willing, why did he only deduct 50NIS from his originally planned donation? Obviously this logic is not proof of anything, but if I were in his shoes and found them unwilling, i probably would have given them a few coins and sent them on their way, rather than the significant donation he ended up giving.

I dont know what his goal was, but it is troubling that there are still people, despite all the Jewish community has experienced in recent years in LA, NY and NJ, who are willing to try to pull such scams. And Kol Hakavod to Lemaan Achai for withstanding what was probably a reasonably difficult temptation. He might not have been tempted at the time, but he probably had second thoughts afterwards, thinking how much more he could raise if he did this or that. Yet he refrained. And Kol Hakavod to Rav Chaim, the rav of Lemaan Achai for his personal addition, teaching an important lesson.

Bet Shemesh Overcharges And Then Passes The Money To Others

This Shabbos I did not get to read the local papers, due to post-marathon exhaustion, and therefore only saw the following item in one source, the weekly BS news roundup sent by Rabbi Dov Lipman. While he just reported the item, I did not get to see how the various other newspapers responded to it.
City residents had filed a complaint because of a mistake in arnona collection in 2004. The mistake was 4.8 million NIS and an agreement was reached in which the municipality will pay back 2 million NIS in the form of renovations and improvements to city shuls. Councilman Shalom Lerner (Býachad) challenged this compromise since according to the documents, 1/4 of the 2 million is going to one specific shul in RBS Bet. This led to numerous stormy exchanges during which the opposition members, especially Motti Cohen (Dor Acher), demanded that the money be returned to the residents who overpaid the arnona and not to those who didn't. The compromise was accepted by a majority of the council.
While I understand the reason people are upset that such a large portion of the money is going to one shul, because the neighborhood in which it is located indicates that a very large percentage of the membership of that shul probably pay a severely discounted rate of arnona, meaning they are most likely not among the list of residents who overpaid back in 2004. So they did not pay the arnona, but are excessively benefiting form the payback.

I disagree with that complaint, as you cannot distinguish between which shul deserves it more or less in that way. If it is determined that the money should go to city shuls, all shuls are equal. if they knew who overpaid, they would give the money to those residents rather than the shuls. The fact that they dont know, means you cannot discriminate from one shul to another.

The complaint I have is why should one shul get such a large amount, no matter which shul it is? The money should be divided equally among all the shuls. Why should one shul get such a large portion of the money? They don't deserve it any more than any other shul. The payback of the disputed monies should be divided equally among all the shuls.

Besides for that, I disagree with the entire decision. The system used to collect payments is a computerized system. I don't know how one can determine if he is one of those residents who overpaid way back in 2004 or if he paid the right amount, but the City of Bet Shemesh Collections Department should be able to figure that out. There should not be such a situation where they know they overcharged people but cannot figure out who.

I promise you that if you had been undercharged, they would definitely realize every individual that underpaid, and they would come collecting the money with interest, as they should. They would not let you just make a donation to a shul to get out of the payment you are obligated to pay.

There is no reason why they should not be able to figure out who overpaid, and return their money to them. It is criminal, in my mind, that they wrongly collect money and then give that money to others rather than returning it to those who deserve it.

While in halacha it is clear that one who steals from the public and cannot determine to whom he must return the theft, his restoration consists of paying into a fund that benefits the entire public, again, here, they should be able to determine who overpaid. The other way, had anybody underpaid, they would know. And even if not the money should at least be distributed equally among all shuls, so as to ensure that all benefit somewhat from this.

To be fair, it should be pointed out that the initial issue, the overcharging of the residents, happened under the previous mayor, Dani Vaknin, and not under the current mayor, Moshe Abutbol. The decision of how to pay back the money was made under the current mayor.

My 4 Year Old Made me think about Shabbos

On Thursday my 4 year old son brought home a note from gan that he was going to be "Abba shel Shabbat" on Friday. That means he would have to bring treats for x number of kids in the gan, along with a halacha about Shabbos that he would have to say.

My experience with telling the little kids a halahca or dvar torah for an event at school already told me that there is no way he would remember whatever I would say, but I still had to try.

So, I tried to think of something interesting, something that the kid the previous week probably did not say. As I was coming up with ideas, I noticed that everything I was thinking of was dont do this, or dont do that.

I thought to myself, is this really all shabbos is about? A bunch of things we cannot do? He probably would not notice now, but I decided I would try to think of something positive, and easy as he is only 4, rather than tell him a negative halacha. Let him remember something positive about Shabbos!

I finally came up with the mitzva to enjoy shabbos, to have oneg, to have a special food or candy on Shabbos. He liked that, and I said ti a few times, and made him repeat it a couple of times.

Of course it was futile, as the only thing he could remember on Friday, and what he actually said in gan, was that it is prohibited to drive a car on Shabbos. he probably remembered it because the kid the week before had probably said it. or maybe the 10 kids before him had said it. I dont know.

Despite that, is that really what Shabbos is about to me? To us? For the most part? Just a day with a bunch of things we cannot do, where it is hard to find something positive to say? And maybe a good afternoon nap?

Think to yourself for a moment, and check yourself, when you think about saying something about Shabbos, are the first five things positive or negative rules?

My results are kind of sad to think about..

Yemenite Lecha Dodi In The Belze Beis Medrash (video)

This obviously did not happen on Friday night, both because of the mostly empty seats and the fact that they wouldn't video it on a Friday night...

Headline Of The Day

Hamas says ready to halt rocket fire if Israel stops Gaza strikes

  -- Haaretz

Didnt we strike Gaza only after a nukber of days of rockets being shot at us from gaza? Now their stopping is dependent on us stopping the strikes?

Mar 24, 2011

Rav Nir Ben Artzi Packs The House With Latest Predictions of Doom

Rav Nir Ben Artzi has been making predictions of doom and gloom for a while now. So far, it has mostly been in radio interviews and in talks to his students which were later publicized. Rav Ben Artzi is now "on tour", so to speak, and has been going around to different communities making speeches.

Yesterday Rav Nir Ben Artzi gave a speech, for the first time ever, to a packed hall in Bnei Brak.

Bechadrei reports on the speech with some excerpts of what he said. Ben Artzi claims that he knows where gold can be found in Israel, just he is not allowed to say where. Hashem, he said, does not want it revealed right now.

Ben Artzi said that next week there will be a massive earthquake somewhere in the world. The quake will be one that is capable of wiping out cities in Saudi Arabia and Mexico.

Lebanon, he said, will shoot missiles into Israel, but it wont be serious.

In Lebanon, Jordan and Syria there will be revolutions and wars.

The Jews of America should make aliya to Israel. There will be a collapse of the economy there, and when there will be starvation, they will first go to the homes of the Jews and take whatever they can get a hold of. Nothing will help, not the police and not the rule of law.

In Japan, and all other countries that have nuclear reactors, they will explode. Hashem will do this because their goal is to create destruction in the world, and Hashem will destroy it.

Rav ben Artzi's solution for staying safe is that people should daven with a minyan and not by the wall in their own house. Whoever davens in his house, the shechina is not with him.

Jon Stewart on the Eruv Controvery of The Hamptons (video)

Gene Simmons of KISS Visiting Israel

The Jerusalem Post has an interesting interview with Gene Simmons of KISS, who is himself Israeli though he moved to the United States 51 years ago as a 9 year old boy, and is now in Israel on a visit.
“One thing that’s striking is that I never remember seeing so many yarmulkes here. It’s all of a sudden teeming with hassidim – hassidim but I don’t believe ‘em,’ said Simmons like a rapper. “I’m used to Israel as a secular place where people just are Israelis. I much prefer it as a modern, not so archaic looking place.”

Simmons is still adept at the Hebrew he learned as a child and responded in a broad American accent to a question of whether he still spoke the language, “Ken, aval shachachti hatzi safa (Yes, but I’ve forgotten half the language).”

An imposing figure with a long mane of black hair, a dark sports coat and sunglasses, Simmons moves more slowly than the days when he was regularly breathing fire and spitting theatrical blood onstage as the front man and bassist for Kiss, rock’s biggest spectacle in the 1970s. But even without the sci-fi makeup, the exceptionally long tongue on display and the 10 inch platform shoes which undoubtedly created a superhuman effect onstage, he still possesses the onstage magnetism that’s helped his group sell 100 million records, continue to draw sellout crowds and forge a multi-million dollar business empire complete with Kiss video games, comics and even a credit card.

Simmons’ rags to riches story had a particularly difficult beginning as his father, a carpenter in Tirat Carmel, was barely able to eke out a living for his wife and son. When Simmons’ Hungarian-born mother Flora left her husband and moved with the young Witz to Jackson Heights, Queens in 1960 in pursuit of the American dream, they were not far removed from the European nightmare the family had experienced in the Holocaust.

Imprisoned at Auschwitz at age 14, Flora saw her mother, grandmother and almost all of her family go the gas chambers, but it was a story that Simmons, who changed his name to Gene Klein in the US and eventually to Simmons, didn’t hear until much later.

“When I was growing up, my mother hardly ever talked to me about Nazi Germany and the concentration camps because she didn’t want to upset me, and I hardly ever asked her about it,” said Simmons. ‘But over the years, I started to learn more about it and about how my entire family was killed and how my mother saw her mother go with her grandmother to the gas chambers.”

Even though he hadn’t returned to Israel until this week, Simmons has always been an ardent supporter of the country, most recently sending a televised message to a IDF soldier (and Kiss fan) wounded during the 2006 war with Hezbollah in which he called him a “hero.” Although Kiss has never appeared in Israel, Simmons dismissed other entertainers who have chosen to boycott the country as “idiots.”

“As an American, there’s no choice but to be supportive of Israel,” he said. “This is the Holy Land, and it’s no secret that everybody in America perceives Israel as it’s only real friend in the Middle East – who else are you going to rely on?”

“So when Israelis get touchy because – oops - somebody criticized them, they have to remember that Americans are used to criticizing everybody. You need to develop a tough skin and remember, it’s not what someone says, it’s what they do. Do you ever doubt that if anything threatened Israel’s existence that the US would come to its defense with all of it nuclear capabilities? I don’t.”

According to Simmons, Israel has been a source of pride for him ever since he left. “There ain’t no place like it on planet Earth. It’s astonishing that it’s still here – stronger and prouder than ever,” he said, adding that the recent upheavals in the Muslim world has filled him with hope for the future of Israeli-Arab ties.

“We went from being slaves in Egypt to actually having a peace treaty with the same people who enslaved us. And now, seeing those people rise up and want the same kinds of things that other democracies in the world have is astonishing,” he said.

“I saw a CNN interview that was so telling. The interviewer asked one of the young, well-dressed demonstrators in a Cairo street if he would like to thank anybody for the popular uprising, and he said, ‘I would like to thank Mr. Zuckerberg.' Here’s an Egyptian Muslim thanking an American Jew for inventing Facebook!

“And I just saw in The Jerusalem Post today a photo of Moroccan women holding up the ‘F’ from Facebook as they were demonstrating. It’s amazing that Facebook, invented by a Jew, is actually helping Muslims be able to express themselves. That’s the story!”

The other story for Simmons, and what brought him to Israel this week as a guest of the Tourism Ministry, is "Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels," broadcast since 2006 on the A&E Channel in the US. The setting suits Simmons’ outlandish personality, perpetuated by decades of stories and boasts about his sexual appetites, rock star exploits and his long-term relationship with former Playboy playmate and actress Tweed. The family minus daughter Sophie, who Tweed explained wasn’t able to miss school, will be filmed for the show touring holy sites and modern locations in the country, including a visit to Tirat Carmel.

After sitting in the David Citadel lounge enjoying sushi and pizza while their paterfamilias was doing his ‘Gene Simmons’ act for a line of eager media reps as the Family Jewels crew scurried around filming every moment, Tweed and her son Nick eagerly went ‘on camera’ to express mixed feelings about having her life exposed in front of the camera every week.

“It was Gene’s decision to launch to show – he wanted to do it and he asked us if we would do it, but I get the feeling that he would have gone through with it anyway,” said the still-striking Tweed

“I completely regret it,” she laughed. “But in retrospect it’s been a lot of fun. I get to do a lot of things I might not have ordinarily planned for myself, like seeing the world,” she added, in eyeshot of the Old City walls.

“I’m completely fine with [being on the show],” said Nick, who bears a striking resemblance to his father and is even taller. “I’m a college student and it’s a source of income, so I can’t complain.”

Lack of income was the reason the elder Simmons gave for explaining why Kiss has never appeared in Israel.

“It’s so difficult – if you take a week to transport 20 tractor trailers worth of equipment for one or two shows, it’s enormously expensive. We would need a corporate partner to step up,” he said.

And proving that his bravado is not a thing of the past, Simmons expressed confidence that had Kiss emerged on the music scene today, they would have blown the competition out of the water.

“Kiss would have been huge if they came out today – they would have been the saviors of all music!” Simmons said with evangelical fervor. "But, of course, Lady Gaga would say we were copying her. But it’s really the other way around.”

Then, with the light and camera men trailing his every move, and the makeup person not far behind, Simmons strode through the hotel lobby - the master of his world where the rest of us are merely guests.

Interesting Psak: Guys With Earrings

An interesting question was asked of Rav Yuval Cherlo, regarding boys wearing earrings. Some people have responded to the discussion with criticism of Rav Cherlo, saying things like he shouldn't be involved in this, why not discuss allowing makeup, etc. I disagree - guys have been wearing earrings for a long time, and I find it interesting that someone asked if it is ok.

The question posed was by a father saying his 15 year old son wants to wear an earring. They are a religious family and he will allow it only if there is a clear hetter for it in halacha. He repeats that he wants the answer to be clear and not disputable.

Rav Cherlo answered that:
1. It is difficult today to see an earring as specifically female, especially when it is worn in only one ear.

2.  There is opposition in halacha to some modes of dress, due to the issue of non-Jewish culture. While difficult to say it is clearly prohibited for this reason, if his purpose in wearing it is as an expression of distancing oneself from Judaism, then it is prohibited.

3. from an educational perspective, the parents should challenge their son. Since it is not clearly prohibited, but it might be wrong for cultural reasons, yet it is difficult to force a 15 year old boy to do things against his will, this is what should be done: Allow the boy to wear the earring, but because it might be an expression of rebellion, despite the boy's denial of any such intention, explain to the boy that the allowance and permission is dependent on going through a strengthening process in spiritual matters at the same time, with him choosing the path. This way, it wont be against halacha, and will prevent the earring from turning into a symbol of rebellion. Rather, it will even be the stimulus for spiritual inspiration.

Egypt Air Thinks Jordan Conquered Israel

Egypt Air has taken Israel off the map. Jordan has taken over, stretching all the way to the Mediterranean. They continue to fly to Israel, despite the fact that Israel does not seem to exist.

From Ynetnews:
Egypt Air, the largest airline in Egypt, has removed Israel from the map – literally. On its website, Ynet has learned, Jordan's land reaches the Mediterranean Sea.

The airline's subsidiary, Air Sinai, flies to Israel regularly, but customers seeking flights to Ben Gurion National Airport will have a hard time finding them. On the map are the names of the Mideast capitals – Amman, Beirut, and Damascus – but Israel is nowhere to be found.
Egypt Air is the first large airline to have omitted the state from its map of destinations. Other airlines based in Muslim countries, such as Turkish Airlines and Royal Jordanian, include Israel and Tel Aviv on its maps.

The omission is especially odd seeing as the company continues to fly to Israel four times a week. Cairo- Tel Aviv flights were temporarily halted following the recent uprising that overturned the government, but were then reinstated.

There has also been an increase in passengers on Air Sinai's flights. According to the Airports Authority, the airline saw an increase of 27% in 2010 from the year previous.
It seems like they think Jordan has conquered Israel..

New Maxwell House Haggadah For Pesach

I always loved the Maxwell House haggadah, and even if I have others and would use others when preparing for the sedder, to enjoy some fresh commentary and anecdotes, when it comes to the actual seder nothing tops the Maxwell House haggadah. The simple layout and presentation makes it easy to read for the sedder.

From the Associated Press, via Yahoo News:
From the White House to the Schein house, Passover is good to the last drop thanks to the Maxwell House Haggadah, lovingly passed down through generations, red wine splotches and gravy smears marking nearly 80 years of service at American Seder tables.
The coffee company's version of the text used at the holiday meal has been offered free at supermarkets with a Maxwell House purchase since the early 1930s. Now, more than 50 million copies are in print.
They even turned up when President Obama hosted his first Seder in the family dining room of the White House two years ago.
The company is issuing a new edition this year in time for the start of Passover, which begins the night of April 18.
"I feel like I'm passing on a piece of my childhood. They're familiar and comfortable," said Lisa Zwick, 44, of Laguna Hills, Calif. Her family, starting with her parents, has used the Maxwell House books for 37 years to tell the story of the Jews' exodus from Egypt.
For that, Maxwell House owes a debt to Joseph Jacobs Advertising and the Orthodox rabbi it hired back in 1923. The rabbi confirmed that the coffee bean is not a legume but a berry instead, so OK under the dietary rules observed by some Jews during the holiday.
The Haggadah giveaway began about a decade after the rabbi decreed that coffee was kosher for Passover as a way to clear up lingering consumer confusion and end the dip in coffee sales that had been observed each year around the eight-day celebration, said Elie Rosenfeld, who works on the Haggadah account at Joseph Jacobs.
The books have been distributed nearly continuously ever since. The company took two years off when paper was scarce during World War II.
A Haggadah includes special instructions, prayers, hymns and commentary unique to Passover. The manuals are given out to family and friends at the Seder table so all can participate in the retelling of Moses' deliverance of the Jews from slavery more than 3,000 years ago.
The term Passover refers to the Jewish homes that were "passed over" by God's angel of death, sent to snatch the Egyptians' firstborn as punishment for the pharaoh's refusal to free the slaves.
Susan Schein's 30 copies of the Maxwell House Haggadah hold precious memories of her late dad, Philadelphia shoe salesman Ray Kaplan. His contribution to the Seder meal was — you guessed it — Maxwell House coffee, still a strong seller today but king to many coffee-drinkers back in the pre-Starbucks `60s when he was collecting the guides.
"Every year he would bring another one or two," said Schein in Sunny Isles, Fla., near Miami, as she hauled out her dad's books once again in preparation for this year's Seder, with more than 20 guests expected.
"He was such a nice man. Every time I put them out, I think of him," she said. "My china even matches. They're blue."
This year, 6-month-old Hazel Ray, her granddaughter named for her father, will be at the Seder table.
David Brimm was only 15 when his father died and he began leading his family's Seder using copies of the Maxwell House Haggadah his parents collected through the `60s and `70s. He dismisses critics who complain the texts are fuddy-duddy or promote corporate involvement where none should exist.
"I'm fairly certain Moses wasn't a Maxwell House guy," joked Brimm, in Deerfield, Ill., near Chicago. "There's a certain comfort at the table when we open the `sacred' Maxwell House Haggadahs. We've augmented the service by singing Passover songs based on Broadway melodies."
By some counts, more than 3,000 different types of Haggadahs exist today, offering commentary and activities to fill just about any niche — feminist, vegetarian, family fun, eco-conscious, socialist — even one co-edited by a pastor mixing a Christian perspective with the Jewish. Another promises a 30-minute Seder, as opposed to the usual hunger-inducing two- to four-hour service.
Fuggeddaboutit, say Maxwell House aficionados.
"We've tried others, but year after year we find our table set for 25 to 30 folks in our home and every place is set with a Maxwell House Haggadah. It makes our Passover Seder good to the last drop," joked Dana Marlowe of Silver Spring, Md., who built on her mother's stash of the books over 12 years of hosting her own Seders.
Last drop. Get it? Cracking wise about the famous Maxwell House catchphrase is a popular pastime among fans of the company's Haggadah. The slogan from the company's coffee commercials was used on the book's cover in the early years.
Obama was introduced to the guides by young aides during an impromptu Seder they held in 2008 while on a campaign stop in Pennsylvania. Why the Maxwell House version? Primarily because that's what they could scrounge up quickly.
The books were used in `09 at the White House and again for the White House Seder last year. This year? No word, but tradition is likely to prevail in the big house like smaller ones everywhere.
The 2011 edition (the last tweaking was in 1998) modernizes the English translation of the text for the first time and includes images of past covers. Prior to 1998, the interior hadn't been touched since the early `60s. The covers have changed a few times between the `70s and `90s, Rosenfeld said.
Ron Korn in Scottsdale, Ariz., said the Maxwell House books have logged 45 years of use in his family. He, too, inherited them when his parents died. The books have been circulating in other families for two generations.
"They represent the archetypical American Jewish experience. Here you have a major U.S. corporation publishing a Jewish book of prayer that reflects multi-denominational Jewish values," he said. "It speaks loudly of the American dream."

Yonatan Razel: Between the Notes (video)

(Hattip: JewishMom)

8th Day: Ya'alili (video)

Mar 23, 2011

PSA: BaKehilla Card To Support Local Tzedaka Organizations

BaKehilla card is a card that was originally promoted by a local RBS tzedaka organization, Keren lev Yisrael.  For a monthly donation to the charity, one could get the card and qualify for discounts in many local stores and businesses.

Eventually, as the city promoted its Toshav Ha'Ir card, that offered discounts to stores around the city and cultural events, the Haredi community felt a bit left out, as a majority of the stores included in the Toshav ha'Ir program are not targeted to the haredi community. As a result, the city added their sponsorship to the Bakehilla card.

As a result of the city taking it over, the program has expanded to include not just the founder, KLY, but to include many local tzedaka organizations. You can choose whichever organization you want, and if your favorite is not in the list of participating organizations, go ahead and tell them to apply to join. As well, even if you already have the card and your donation has been going to KLY (because it was the only choice at the time), you can now redirect your tzedaka donation to the participating tzedaka organization of your choice.

Here is the Lemaan Achai announcement on their having joined the program.
The Kehilla card is a consumer benefit card that offers specials and significant discounts to local businesses and services.
The card was originally offered through the Keren Lev Yisrael in exchange for a minimum monthly Horaat Keva of 50 NIS.
As of February, 2011, the city of Bet Shemesh is a co-sponsor of the card and has opened membership to local tzedaka organizations so that they and their supporters could benefit from the card as well.
In order to receive the card one must simply commit to a monthly Horaat Keva to Lema'an Achai via bank or credit card.
You will receive a temporary card which you may begin using immediately. Your permanent card will be sent shortly.
Please check the mail for the monthly coupon and specials booklet.
To sign up for the Horaat Keva please reply to avrohom@lemaanachai.org or call 999-1553.
Tizku L'Mitzvot Ulemaasim Tovim!

Interesting Posts #253

1. Qaddafi and the Gog U'Magog Scenario

2. A Rav Leaving a Kehilla in a Time of Danger and get your copy of the new Ashkenaz shul luach for 5771. I have been getting this luach the past few years and have found it very interesting regarding the minhagim they discuss and point out.

3. An interview With 12 year old Tamar Fogel

4. Scam or Outrage? Hamavdil writes about the supposed clandestine trip to the Iranian graves of Mordechai and Esther by vaad HaRabbonim. One option he doesnt mention is that it was a Purim spoof, even though it was published on the cover of their regular fundraising flyer.

5. Did Nir ben Artzi see the earthquake in Japan happening?

6. A Modern Day Purim Miracle

7. Selling Segulot

UTJ Helps Keep Unemployment From Rising

UTJ has successfully passed a law that has become widely recognized as being problematic, at best it is bad PR. The law is directly to benefit a UTJ crony, and there is nothing they can do but continue to promote it. While initially planning to expand the law, with others joining the bill proposal, all the other dropped off the bill as they realized how bad it looks, with little to no benefit to them, thus forcing UTJ to go back to the original plan of a localized bill.

The issue is how many deputy mayors can be appointed in a city and receive a salary for the position. Every city appoints deputy mayors based on how many people live in the city. Jerusalem, the city under scrutiny, is allowed to appoint 6 deputy mayors with salary. The law bumps that up to 8, based on the level of growth of the city of Jerusalem. While the law was going to be expanded to include any city that is above a certain size, the plan was scrapped as supporters pulled out.

The direct beneficiary of this law, besides the city of Jerusalem, is Yitzchak Pindros, current deputy mayor of Jerusalem from the UTJ party. Pindros is set to vacate his position, due to a rotation agreement within the various parties that make up UTJ. In order to give Pindros a salaried position, and to keep the Degel hand close to the mayors pockets, this law has been proposed and passed. (source: Bechadrei and Kikar)

This is why the additional supporters of the expanded law pulled out, as they realized how dirty of a law it is. Even though it has enough support, because the government leaders want to keep UTJ happy, and it passed, they realize how dirty it looks and how little benefit it gives to any of them.

What more is there to say? UTJ is dirty and passes laws just to protect their own jobs and salaries. While the social workers are striking because there is not enough money to pay them decent salaries, prices of basic food items and gasoline are increasing, yeshiva funding (a direct interest of UTJ) is being cut at every opportunity, and UTJ works to get somebody a job with a good salary.

I guess one could say they are working to lower unemployment..

The Japanese and The Egyptians

And speaking of Japan, people have been coming up with all sorts of reasons why the tragedy happened to them. I have heard a number of suggestions, and there are probably even more floating around that I have not heard. And no, not all the suggestions are from Jews or suggestions of Jewish reasons, but some were. The thing is that all the talk I heard was from regular people making suggestions, and not from community leaders or clergy.

That has changed now. On Purim, the Rachmastrivke Rebbe, a great and well respected leader of a powerful chassidus in Yerushalayim, held court with his tish. At his Purim Tish, the rebbe spoke about many things, including Japan.

Bechadrei has video of the event, but I don't understand the yiddishe, so I only read the report. The Rachmastrivke Rebbe said that God is striking the Japanese repeatedly, but they are like Pharoah and the Egyptians who received multiple blows and plagues but could not seems to understand why they were getting hit and that it was connected to their holding the Jews as slaves and how they treated the Jews.

The Japanese, the Rebbe said, are holding the yeshiva boys in jail, despite their having done no wrong. They think these yeshiva boys know what drugs are, but from where would a hassidic yeshiva boy know anything about drugs? Only the non-Jews know what drugs are. Instead of admitting their mistake, they continue to hold them, and for that they are getting punished.

The rebbe then said a bracha, wishing for their release in the near future. He closed off with a call for Hashem to send Mashiach, saying we are ready for his arrival, and a promise to the throngs of followers that by next year the price of an apartment would be 5000NIS and there would no longer be a housing crisis. I am assuming he was referring to rental prices, that the price of a rental apartment would be no higher than 5000 NIS per month, rather than that being the price for purchases.

Until now I did not feel the need to comment on the suggestion, as people talk and say stupid things, while leaders are usually more careful. Now that this reason is out and about by a serious community leader, it is time to comment.

These boys might have been naive, and they were clearly taken advantage of by someone they thought they could trust, but that does not make them innocent. They were caught carrying drugs, with or without knowledge does not really make much of a difference to that fact. Had they done the same in any country around the world they would have been put in jail, just the same as what happened in Japan. Perhaps the Japanese prison conditions are harsher than many other countries, as the askanim are claiming, but that doesnt really change anything about what they did and the Japanese perspective of law enforcement.

The Japanese did not go catch a couple random boys off the street and imprison them on false charges. They caught 3 boys smuggling drugs into the country, albeit naively, and arrested them. I don't believe it is right to blame their incarceration as the cause for God's wrath.

Japan's Recovery

From The New York Times:
On a normal Monday, Motoatsu Sakurai would have focused on a board of directors meeting scheduled for the next day at the Japan Society, on East 47th Street. He might have reviewed cultural programs, like a series of films now running about Japanese mobsters, known as yakuza.
This, however, was anything but a normal Monday for Mr. Sakurai, the society’s president since 2009. He may not have a normal Monday, or any other normal day, for some time, despite his desire to “continue business as usual.” The earthquake and tsunami that have buckled Japan’s knees will see to that.

For the moment, Mr. Sakurai, a retired business executive and a former Japanese consul general in New York, is in effect chief collector in the city for the Japanese relief effort. The Japanese consulate, on Park Avenue, has no mechanism for accepting contributions. “The Japanese government doesn’t have a kind of pocket to receive aid,” said Yasuhisa Kawamura, a deputy consul general.

So the consulate asked a few organizations, principally Mr. Sakurai’s, to serve as collection agencies. By late Monday afternoon, the society had received $160,000 in donations on its Web site, www.japansociety.org.

In his office, Mr. Sakurai scrolled through a long list of donors on a computer screen. Most of the names — “my gut feeling is 90 percent,” he said — were not Japanese.

“Everybody is very much touched by the sympathy and generosity of American people,” he said.

Some people gave $1,000 and similarly large sums. But most gifts were much smaller: $50 here, $25 there. They came from the heart, not from a deep pocket. On occasion, there was a donation of $18. It seemed an odd figure to Mr. Sakurai, until he learned that it meant the donor was probably Jewish. Jews often make charitable contributions in multiples of 18. In the Hebrew alphabet, letters have numerical equivalents. Eighteen represents “chai,” Hebrew for “life.”
1. These $18 donations were significant enough that Mr. Sakurai noticed them and tried to understand what they are all about.
2. Amazing kiddush hashem that so many people donated, non-Jews as well but here we focus on the Jewish aspect, out of concern to help the Japanese. The fact that so many of these donations were obviously from Jews raises the kiddush hashem.
3. We sometimes donate money, often donate money, and instinctively write out the check to a multiple of 18, chai, life. We probably dont even think about it most of the time. Almost every time I make a donation (not including the small change donations), it is to a multiple of 18. It's just what we do. In the case of the Japanese, reading it in the NY Times like this, it is a stark reminder that it really is about life.

In its postwar prosperity, Japan is unaccustomed to relying on the kindness of strangers. As Mr. Sakurai said, “We have always been on the giving side.” So aid-averse was Japan in the past that after an earthquake killed more than 6,000 people in Kobe in 1995, the Japanese government rejected most international offers of help.

Things are different now. To Mr. Sakurai, that is a positive glimmer in an otherwise bleak situation.

“It is very good for Japanese people to realize that Japan is not alone on the Earth,” he said. “When you put yourself in the other side’s shoes, you realize the importance of being on the receiving side as well as on the giving side.”
4. The Jews and the Japanese both qualify, in different ways, as what is described in the Torah as am l'vadad yishkon, a nation that dwells alone. The Jews have always been isolated, or mostly isolated most of the time, by the choice of the other nations. The Japanese chose to isolate themselves. Both are eventually learning that their fates cannot be ignored. No matter how much the Jews try to avoid it, our fate is to remain alone and isolated - no matter how much we try to fit in with the nations of the world, they reject us. The Japanese are not destined to be alone, and no matter how much they have tried to remain alone, fate is catchign up with them. They realize now they cannot remain alone any longer.

THE crisis in Japan provides a glimpse into New York’s own attitudes toward disaster elsewhere.

The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, a nonprofit group created nearly two decades ago to encourage private support for public programs, added a line on its Web site for donations to the Japanese relief effort (www.nyc.gov/html/fund/html/donate/donate.shtml). But New York officials themselves, from the mayor on down, have said next to nothing about the importance of standing by Japan in its ordeal. Contrast that silence with their many appeals for aid to Haiti after the earthquake there last year.

Maybe the explanation is simply that Haiti’s death toll was much higher than Japan’s and that Japan is rich while Haiti is unspeakably poor. But it doesn’t take a cynic to sense a political calculus at work: This city has a large population with origins in Haiti and elsewhere in the Caribbean. It has very few Japanese who aren’t business people, diplomats and students here temporarily.

The Department of City Planning says that a mere 26,000 or so New York City residents have roots in Japan. Not a lot of votes in that group.

Once Japan gets past the crisis, New Yorkers might want to track its recovery. As someone who lived and worked in Japan for five years, I’m prepared to wager that the devastated areas will be rebuilt in what would qualify as mind-boggling speed for New York. The better part of a decade will not pass with little to show other than a hole in the ground, as was long the case at the World Trade Center site.

Peter M. Grilli, president of the Japan Society of Boston, agreed. Mr. Grilli knows Japan well, over a good many years. “Japan,” he said over the weekend, “always manages to recover with amazing resilience and solidarity.”
5. The Japanese are known as a hard working people, they are resilient, diligent and industrious. They always bounce back, and they bounce back even better. We can all  learn this from them. In the meantime they still need our help and prayers.

Dmitry Salita Prepares or the Exodus (video)

Carlebach is Back! (video)

Mar 22, 2011

The Real City name Is not Tiberias But Maoziyah

2000 years ago, the name of the city of Tiberias was "Maoziyah"

The Sea of Galilee website is reporting that there is a movement among residents of Tiberias to revert back to the "original" name of Maoziya and stop using the name Tiberias. They claim that the name "Tiberias" came from a Roman emperor, or governor perhaps, who supposedly hated the Jews and had a dysfunctional personality.

The residents behind this movement say that it is inappropriate for the great city to be called by the name of such a person, and it should be called Maoziyah. Maoziyah, the original name, was the name of one of the 24 families of kohanim who served a shift in the beis hamikdash. After the destruction, this family settled in what was then called by their name and later became known as Tiberias.

1. The gemara refers to Tiberias as the name of the city, so it could not have been called Maoziyah for very long, if at all.

2. "movement of residents" can be thousands of people pushing for change or it can be 5 people with a website.

3. I dont expect their petition to be successful.

News Video Compilation of Sarah Palin's Brief Visit To Israel (video)

Makpid On Mitzvis On Purim in Lakewood (video)

The Kotel HaKotton Is Not Holy

If the traffic committee can't decide which traffic laws are important, who can? If Jewish law can't determine what sites are considered holy, than who can? You can argue about who, which rabbi using which books as sources, has the right to determine and define the Jewish law when there are ramifications to the public, but the Jewish law should have that ultimate power - just applying it might be the part under question.

Under dispute was the Kotel HaKotton. The Kotel HaKotton is a section of the wall of the Kotel that extends further down. Over the years, the wall of the Kotel (I know the redundancy of using the word like that, but I am using "the Kotel" as an identifier of what wall I am talking about and not meaning "the wall", hence, the wall of the Kotel. All for lack of a better way of saying it) became used by people building their homes there. Why build four walls if you could build just three and use the existing wall as the fourth! So many built their homes adjacent to the Kotel, as it was not holy to them. Much of the wall extends further down, and is covered up by homes and sections of the Arab shuk. The Kotel HaKotton is a section of the wall that is further down in the shuk, much closer to the point of the Holy of Holies, making it perhaps holier than the section we all know and love that has come to be called "The Kotel".

Because of its location, you have to go through the Arab shuk to get there, it never has gotten much publicity or foot traffic. There are some people, even many perhaps, who try to daven there regularly, but the numbers are small. It never really developed, as the authorities did not let any attempts to turn it into a place to daven take hold. Groups of people that went to daven there were ad hoc, as the police would not allow chairs or shtenders to be placed there.

A group of people who davened there on Rosh HaShana a few years ago were arrested when they blew the shofar. Sounds reminiscent of when the British held control of the area and the shofar was blown clandestinely.

They are suing the State and they are arguing over whether the site of the Kotel HaKotton is a holy site or not. the State's argument is that the site is not a holy site, but simply part of a courtyard of houses. The State, in court, rejected the power of the Jewish law to determine the site's sanctity. (source: INN)

Latest Tallit Style

Who would have thought the tallit would be one of the new styles of modern day clothing?

It is at H & M...

(Hattip to @Avihein from Twitter)

Shopping For Chumus Hamantashen (video)

Mar 20, 2011

Playboy Features Helen Thomas

It seems Hugh Hefner of Playboy has finally decided to go for a girl his own age. This month's magazine  features Helen Thomas, she of White House Press Corps anti-semitism fame.

Thomas, speaking to Playboy, I only read it for the riveting articles, said:

Israelis have the right to exist-but where they were born. (RG: so Israelis born in Israel can stay here with her approval?)

Why shouldn't I say it? I knew exactly what I was doing-I was going for broke. I had reached the point of no return. You finally get fed up

I think [the Jews are] wonderful people. They had to have the most depth. They were leaders in civil rights. They've always had the heart for others but not for Arabs, for some reason. I'm not anti-Jewish; I'm anti-Zionist.

they should stay where they are because they're not being persecuted-not since World War II...If they were, we sure would hear about it... They carry on the victimization. American people do not know that the Israeli lobbyists have intimidated them into believing that every Jew is a persecuted victim forever-while they are victimizing Palestinians.

it is not a secret. It's very open...Everybody is in the pocket of the Israeli lobbies, which are funded by wealthy supporters, including those from Hollywood. Same thing with the financial markets. There's total control.

I love anti-semites. They make me feel so powerful. I am trying to figure out right now what to do with the financial markets today. Should I make them crash or maybe I should drive them upward a few more days before I bring them down.

Fly The Mehadrin Skies (video)

טיסות למהדרין from bhol on Vimeo.

Netanyahu Talks About Peace With Palestinians on CNN (video)

Idiot Acharonot Purim News


Mar 18, 2011

Interesting Purim Psak:

I categorize this is a Purim psak, rather than a regular psak, as it is not actually a psak form a rav. If it can be called a psak at all. They take a supposed statement from a rav, and extrapolate from it to their own benefit. But it is interesting, so here goes:

There is a daily two-sided paper printed and distributed around areas of Bet Shemesh in various shuls. The paper has announcements, advertisements, and some other nareshkeit.

They printed a psak regarding Matanos La'Evyonim. The psak reads "According to the decision of Rav Elyashiv and Rav Kanievsky and Rav Shteinman, one can donate his Matanos La'evyonim to someone who teaches torah publicly, like the flyers with divrei torah and weekly drashos that get distributed. Therefore, with Purim upon us, you can donate your Matanos La'Evyonim to this flyer as your Matanos La'Evyonim...."

Sorry, I just thought that brash psak was funny.

Shyne and Shtar on Tuesday Night Live (video)

iPhone App for Megillat Esther

I do not have an iPhone, so I cannot personally vouch specifically for the quality of this app, however, the creator of the app also developed the Tefillon app which I use on my Nokia phone. The Tefillon is a great siddur application for mobile phones that i use whenever I am davening somewhere with not enough siddurs or in ad hoc minyanim. Based on the Tefillon, the Megillah app is probably pretty good.

This is an exclusive & free  cellphone app (developed in RBS!) specially for Purim!
Megilat Esther, brachot, etc
Pass on to your friends and family asap before Purim!

And remember to give Matanot Le'evionim to Lema'an Achai!

More info about Lema'an Achai: www.SmartChesed.org

Groggers Up! (video)

I ran Groggers Up already, but these are my cousins, so they get another plug..

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