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Feb 29, 2012

Interesting Posts #363

Interesting Posts #363

1. Mishna Brura vs Aruch HaShulchan

2. Kippartheid

3. World Reaction To Tournament Forfeit

4. No Love For The Jobnikim

5. Taking Responsibility

6. HebrewBooks Heals Harmful Habit

7. How Is Rav Elyashiv Doing?

8. The Pioneers Of The Citrus Industry

9. Sabah and Savtahs Role

10. Tracking Progress From Miles To Metrics

11. Light Shabbos Candles 5 Minutes Early

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Interesting Psak: Protesting And Opposing The Construction Of A New Neighborhood

There is a petition being passed around for signing to protest the plans for construction in RBS C2. The petition is based on the flaws in the planning of the area and the infrastructure of the city being unable to bear so much new growth with inadequate plans for upgrading it.

Somebody decided sent a halachic question to Rav Yuval Cherlo to see if it is ok to oppose construction in Eretz Yisrael.

From the Moreshet website:
Around our neighborhood, there are a number of plans for the development of new neighborhoods that are meant to add about 200,000 new residents within 15 years. The new neighborhoods are planned with inadequate infrastructure of public and religious buildings, schools, mikvas, shopping areas and city access roads.
Right now the infrastructure in Bet Shemesh and the surrounding areas is deficient and lacking enough public buildings and appropriate roads. The main access road to the city - Highway 38 - was already declared in 2005 as a road in danger of collapse. In our neighborhood with thousands of religious families, there is only one working mikva for women.
We oppose the construction of these new neighborhoods because the new neighbors will add much more traffic on the mikvas, schools, shopping centers, and roads in the area and in our neighborhood, that already cannot bear the current traffic levels.
Are we allowed to oppose  and delay the building of a new neighborhood in Eretz Yisrael until the city infrastructure will be installed to bear the future residents of those neighborhoods?
Rav Cherlo's answer:
My answer is not for the specific situation and for the facts as described. I am familiar with the reality on a superficial level (I drive on highway 38 daily) and I estimate that what you are saying is correct, but I do not have the tools to know if it is or is it, what the plans are, what the infrastructure is, etc. Therefore, my answer will only involve a halachic perspective and not the specific details.
The mitzva of settling Eretz Yisrael does not include or obligate building without plans or infrastructure, and with serious damage to the environment. Just the opposite - fulfilling this mitzva properly is specifically by planning properly, by building appropriate infrastructures, and tryign as much as possible that the construction should be "green" with minimal damage to the environment.
Therefore, it is definitely allowed for you to oppose, and perhaps even an obligation, if they are not done properly.
In the halacha itself, in the 2nd perek of Baba Basra, there are some ecological rules that teach us the halachic trend to take these issues into account, and to include them in our decision making. It is the responsibility of the local governing body, and of the construction committee, and they always must remember that the mitzva of yishuv eretz yisrael is in the way of "yishuv", with the predominance of halacha in this realm, and not by sticking people into places without infrastructure.
Obviously, this is not the only factor when looking from a halachic perspective. Another factor to consider is to not be like Soddom and Gemorroh and not prevent the good from other people. You need to not just oppose, but also to say that if the appropriate conditions will come about the community will open itself to others, and the expansion of the place will be a bracha for everyone.
(Hattip: CW)
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Picture Of The Day

Picture Of The Day

it's a windy day in Tel Aviv on King George st.!
another angle:

and another angle:

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Quote Of The Day

Quote Of The Day

I personally turn the radio off every time a woman speaker comes on. I need to hear morality from some rabbi's wife? The station has sunk to that?

  -- MK Nissim Zeev (SHAS)  at debate in Knesset Committee on the Status of WOmen regarding the issue of Radio Kol B'Rama refusing to allow women to talk on air

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Debating The Operating Of The Bus In Tel Aviv On Shabbos

The Finance Committee of the Knesset yesterday discussed the issue of public transportation in Tel Aviv on Shabbos.

As per the Srugim report, there were some interesting comments made by members of the panel:

  • MK Carmel Shama-HaKohen said "I don't see a constellation in which the Knesset will approve expanding public transportation on Shabbos in Tel Aviv. Such a decision is not under the authority of the iryah of Tel Aviv, it is under the supervision of the transport Ministry and of the Knesset.... Shabbos does not just belong to the Haredim - it is all of ours. I, as well, who do not keep Shabbos, see other considerations to take into account before deciding to operate public transportation on Shabbos."
  • MK Uri Orbach said, "There is a serious ramification to operating public transportation on Shabbos. If we turn Shabbat to weekday there are social ramifications. The continual breaking of the status quo in Tel Aviv must be examined, and perhaps we should even lessen the amount of public transportation in Tel Aviv on Shabbos. In the meantime, the secular are nibbling at the status quo, and if we want to come to new arrangements - we should rejudge all the issues and not just the expansion from the perspective of the secular.
  • MK Nitzan Horovitz said, "We, as free people, Shabbos is our day off and we have to give people the ability to be mobile. Somebody who does not have a car is grounded. There is no country in the world in which the public transportation does not work on the day off of work. The fact that in Haifa people travel by bus on Shabbos does not turn the Haredim in Haifa to be less Haredi than the Haredim of Jerusalem.".

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Temple of Esther & Mordechai (video)

Temple of Esther & Mordechai

From the Youtube description:
The iconic & legendary character of "Esther" (Star), the Persian Queen, and the historical significance of the Temple of Esther & Mordechai in the City of Hamedan... A search of a non-Jewish Iranian filmmaker in the pages of the Persian cultural heritage & mythology relating to Esther, who is regarded as a savior of the Persian Jews. Today, the Iranian Jews are known as the children of Esther.

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Jewish Family Makes Jordan Valley Desert Bloom (video)

Jewish Family Makes Jordan Valley Desert Bloom

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Moshe Feiglin: Israelis Are Afraid Of Themselves (video)

Moshe Feiglin: Israelis Are Afraid Of Themselves

Feb 28, 2012

Headline Of The Day

Headline Of The Day

Rami Levi not taking any crap from Pampers

-- Haaretz

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Buses On Shabbos Next In Jerusalem?

After Tel Aviv activists succeeded in the first stage of getting public transportation on Shabbos, by getting the Tel Aviv city council to vote in favor, Jerusalem activists are going to try for public transportation in the capital, albeit at a smaller level.

According to Mynet, the students union at Hebrew University is going to start operating a van service so students can get from the campus to downtown cheaply on Friday nights.

With no public transportation, students end up paying a lot of money for taxis to get where they need to go over the weekend, especially to the ever popular downtown area on Friday night.

That itself would not be objectionable, as it is just private transportation, and there are plenty of cars on the roads on Shabbos in Jerusalem.

What will soon be the source of a coming round of strife in Jerusalem is Jerusalem city councilman Pepe Alou announcing that he is going to submit a proposal to the city council to begin operating public transportation on Shabbos. He tempers his proposal by saying he is only looking to operate a small number of bus lines in order to facilitate the transportation of students on Friday nights to entertainment centers. The purpose, Alou says is to minimize young people driving under the influence of alcohol, and thereby lowering the number of traffic accidents.

Alou is prepared for the opposition to his plan and for the Transportation Ministry rejecting his proposal. He says that in that eventuality, the city would be able to operate city lines that would be formed for this purpose.

In Tel Aviv the religious council members have minimal power to thwart the proposals, They might have to learn to live with it. In Jerusalem it is going to be a much fiercer battle.

Even Those Who Can't Afford Gas Can Own A Car

Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinisch finished her term today as president of the Supreme Court justices and retired. Justice Beinisch chose her final verdict to be on social issues, as she says social issues are close to her heart and dear to her.

The ruling Beinisch leaves us with is overturning part of the welfare law that says that a person who owns a car is disqualified from receiving income support. The car has been looked at in the law as a luxury, and someone on welfare and income support, should not be able to collect if they can afford that luxury. This law has been attacked for a very long time as discriminatory against the weaker sectors of society. (source: Jpost)

Beinisch overturning this qualification means the car will now be considered a necessity rather than a luxury.

Beinisch's important decision might have been rendered meaningless even before it was announced. The price of gasoline in Israel is going up to about $8 per gallon. While families on income support might now be allowed to own a car, the director of the Finance Ministry thinks people who can't afford the gas should instead take a bus, reminiscent of Marie Antoinette saying "Let them eat cake"..

The Finance Ministry rejected suggestions that they lower the taxes on gasoline. Instead, they feel they "can influence the use of alternatives and encourage the public to use public transportation and buy cars that use less gas...".

Shabbos Over Semi-Finals

Keeping Shabbos, even in the face of tremendous challenges, does not necessarily guarantee a person's success, as a reward of sorts. Sometimes you just have to give it up for Shabbos. While the Ida Crown basketball team won their championship tournament overcoming the religious challenges they had to face, others were not so fortunate.

The basketball team from the Beren Academy, an orthodox Jewish day school in Houston, Texas, won the regional championships, but have to bow out of the state semi-finals. They are not making the trip they earned because the semi-final game is scheduled for Friday night.

The school appealed the schedule of the game, but the board rejected the appeal.

From The New York Times:
The Robert M. Beren Academy, an Orthodox Jewish day school in Houston, won its regional championship to advance to the boys basketball state semifinals this weekend in Dallas. But the team will not make the trip.

Beren Academy's basketball team had hoped to travel to Dallas early and play its semifinal game before sundown on Friday.
The Beren Academy players observe the Sabbath and do not play from sundown on Fridays to sundown on Saturdays. Their semifinal game is scheduled for 9 p.m. Friday.

“The sacred mission will trump excellence in the secular world,” Rabbi Harry Sinoff, Beren’s head of school, said Monday in a telephone interview.

The school filed an appeal to change the time of the game with the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, or Tapps, the group that organizes the tournament. On Monday morning, representatives of the school were notified that the association’s nine-member executive board had rejected the appeal.

“When Beren’s joined years ago, we advised them that the Sabbath would present them with a problem with the finals,” Edd Burleson, the director of the association, said. “In the past, Tapps has held firmly to their rules because if schedules are changed for these schools, it’s hard for other schools.

“If we solve one problem, we create another problem.”

Membership in the association is voluntary, Burleson said.

“If the schools are just going to arrange their own schedule, why do we even set a tournament?” Burleson said. “Over a period of time, our state tournament, which is a highlight of our association, deteriorates to nothing. That’s the whole point of having an organization.”

Conflicts between religious beliefs and scheduling are becoming more commonplace because of the nation’s changing demographics, said Sarah Barringer Gordon, a professor of law and history at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Some associations are rethinking who their constituencies are,” Gordon said. “As pluralism works its way through American sports, we’re going to see more and more situations like this one.”

Several of Beren Academy’s opponents this season agreed to change the time of their games to avoid conflicts with the Sabbath, the school’s boys basketball coach, Chris Cole, said.

Cole, the team’s coach for 10 years, said many of the players on this season’s team, which is 23-5, had been playing together since grade school.

“We have a pretty mature group of guys,” Cole said. “They knew this could happen down the road.”

Beren Academy has an enrollment of 274, with students from 18 months to 18 years old. The upper-level school has 71 students.

This would have been Beren Academy’s first trip to the state semifinals. (The tournament is separate from the larger one run by the University Interscholastic League for the state’s public schools.) Zachary Yoshor, a 16-year-old junior on the basketball team, said this season’s success was a result of the players’ working together for so long.

“Our record has never been this good,” Yoshor said. “We’ve been able to win against teams that we’ve never beaten before. I’m appreciative that we’ve been able to play this far.”

The appeal request proposed that the team drive from Houston to Dallas on Thursday night, spend the night and play the semifinal game earlier on Friday, school officials said. Beren Academy’s opponent would have been Covenant School, from Dallas. Our Lady of the Hills, the team from Kerrville that Beren Academy defeated in the regional final, will replace Beren Academy in the state semifinal game.

“There isn’t any more for us to do,” Sinoff said. “We want to be in this year, but if not this year, next year.”

Mark Buchine, whose 17-year-old son, Isaac, plays for Beren Academy, said he still planned to head to Dallas with hopes of a resolution that would allow him to see his son play this weekend.

“It’s disappointing,” Buchine said. “I think the kids will be disappointed, too, but the team has this attitude of when there are bad calls, you just move on.”
Congratulations on the success in both playing basketball and making difficult decisions.

eBay Israel and Donald Trump Show Faith In Israel's Standing

eBay just announced it is officially establishing eBay Israel. Not a local Israeli version of eBay, but a development center eBay Israel is recruiting dozens of engineers for the new development center.
(source: Ynetnews)

This is just eBay's third development center outside of the United States. This is a major show of faith in the capabilities of Israel and Israelis.

Add to that the announcement of Donald Trump considering investing in Israel, and it seems like Israel might be in pretty decent shape.

Zachor and Carlebach

Question: What does Parshat Zachor have to do with Carlebach? Why are so many shuls announcing special Carlebach-style davening schedules for Shabbat Parshat Zachor? What's the connection?

I have nothing against Carlebach, though I usually do not daven nusach Carlebach, but I don't see any specific connection between Zachor and Carlebach.


Sh*t Anglos in Israel Say (video)

Sh*t Anglos in Israel Say

Kosher Shifts At Jewish Hotel in London (video)

Kosher Shifts At Jewish Hotel in London

from the Youtube description:
In the heart of Golders Green, London, there is a small Jewish hotel. You don't have to get circumcised to get a room there, but why would anyone, from his own free will, would like to have a Glatt Kosher breakfast. The story of Iris, the receptionist, is opening a little window to the Jewish world.

The Rap'n Rabbi rocks Charlie's wedding singin PURIM PURIM (video)

These are some sights I would never expect to see...

Feb 27, 2012

PSA: "The Godfather" Returns to the Big Screen in Israel (1972 Oscar winner for Best Picture)

There used to be two big complaints about seeing movies in Israel. First, they opened here much later than they did in the States. Second, they have an intermission, as if the actors needed a break.

Recently, the first complaint has become less of an issue, as the delay between the American release of a film and the Israeli release has shrunk, if not vanished. The intermission, inexplicably, remains.

In a fit of nostalgia, two American olim are arranging to bring a movie to an Israeli theater a bit later than it was first released. 40 years, to be exact.

On Thursday night, March 15, 2012, "The Godfather" (part I) will be playing at Cinema City in Rishon L'Tzion. The screening is open to the public, but seating is limited, so advance reservations are required. To reserve seats or for more information, emailgodfather40th@gmail.com. There is a 50 shekel charge per seat.

To compensate for the long-delayed release, there will be no intermission.

Interesting Posts #362

Interesting Posts #362

1. The Evolution of a Tune

2. Shortening Shabbat Davening

3. The Super Bowl Maariv

4. Happy Blogiversary

5. A Weekend Without The Frum Weeklies

6. Who Should Be Exempt From Serving In The Army

7. Of Rabbis And Drinking

8. Hebron Jew Dies Without Getting His Property Back

More On The Third Temple Structure in Morocco

Last week I stumbled across a video of what was described as a model of the Third Temple. This model was located in the desert of a film town in Morocco.

Ynetnews now has more information about this site:
In Morocco's Sahara desert, a half-hour drive from any community, lays the Third Temple in all its glory. Not the real temple, of course, but close enough to any Jewish worshipper's wet dream.

Apparently, the 'temple' was built in the heart of Ouarzazate, Morocco's film capital, for the production of a new movie. It is here where such Hollywood films as "The Ten Commandments" and "Gladiator" were shot.

However for most righteous Jews, Ouarzazate is the burial place of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and a hot spot for thousands of visitors every year marking the festivities of his Yom Hillula (the anniversary of his passing).

Shlomi Lugasi, 24, an Israeli from Ma'alot-Tarshiha, set off on a journey with friends in early February to visit the tombs of the just in Morocco, only to discover the magnificent 'temple.'

"We were heading towards Marrakech when suddenly one of my friends said that there was a Jewish temple nearby,' Lugasi explained.

"It was located in the middle of the desert… but we decided we had to see it. We drove uphill on a dirt road for twenty minutes, when suddenly we saw a temple."

Lugasi and his friends quickly began to photograph the amazing structure. "You can really see the stairs, the Holy of Holies and the alter. You get there and you see a temple. Neither you or I have ever seen it before, and suddenly it's in front of you, and it's crazy," he added.

"The entire journey was very spiritual, and we were already in the mood. It does something to you, to walk around in such a place. It makes you yearn like crazy for a temple. You say: 'I want the real thing.'"

Local construction workers on site told the excited group that the place was being renovated for a new film, so luckily for them – it was open for visitors. On most days, the 'temple' is off limits, located on private land.

"It's huge," Lugasi remarked. "In the photo you see only a tiny part. And as massive as it looks… it's all made out of fiberglass. Those enormous pillars that look like they weight a ton actually way only about a gram and a half. But because it's in the middle of the desert it never rains and the set stays intact."

According to him, the locals knew the Israeli group before them was connected to the 'temple' in someway. "They told us: 'We know it's yours,' and greeted us very kindly."
for most righteous Jews, Ouarzazate is the burial place of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and a hot spot for thousands of visitors every year marking the festivities of his Yom Hillula

really? I never heard this before. I thought for most righteous Jews the burial place of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is in Meron and that's where the hilula is celebrated annually on Lag B'Omer... Has anybody heard such a thing before?

Partitions On El Al Flight To Block Movies

A few days ago on an El Al flight from Brussels to Tel Aviv some passengers pulled out some sort of fold-up cardboard partitions and connected them to their seats, seemingly to prevent themselves from seeing the video screen. After a passenger complained about it, various security experts have said that harming the visibility inside an airplane is a security breach, and blocking visibility of emergency lights and signals is also dangerous.

For it's part, El Al said there was no security breach during the incident, though they will review the incident and refresh all security protocols and responses to behaviors with the staff. A stewardess from the flight confirmed that the incident had happened and added that it is not new and they tend to prefer to ignore it unless someone complains. (source: Mako)

After the Hiddush organization protested to El Al on their Facebook page, El Al responded that this was an exception that was against the rules of the company... because of the incident an internal investigation is being conducted and directives are being refreshed - the staff are requested to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.

Some people are just crazy. There seems to be no end to the craziness. They could put blinders on to block their personal view. It is very selfish to put up partitions like that that block other peoples views as well. Where do people get the idea that doing such strange things is normal and acceptable. If a person wants to behave strangely in his personal life, dress strange, act strange, that's one thing. To be strange in public, at other people's expense, is just weird and I don't know why they think this is what Judaism wants from them.

Quote Of The Day

Quote Of The Day

The opinion of the nurses is important to me, but we do not owe them anything. We have an agreement already that will expire in a year. When it will be finished - they can open it anew.

  -- Deputy Health minister Yaakov Litzman about the nurse's strike

MK Gafni Sued For Supporting Disengagement

In a sad, and pointless, lawsuit, 3 families who had been evicted from their homes in Gush Katif and Sa-Nur (in the Shomron) are suing MK Moshe Gafni personally for his part in allowing the Disengagement to happen. (source: Srugim)

While Gafni and the other haredi MKs voted against the Disengagement, they did continue to prop up the Sharon government when it was teetering through those politically precarious times, and specifically they voted to approve the 2005 budget. The passing of the 2005 budget was crucial to allow the Disengagement to happen, as the budget passing had already passed its deadline and was about to finish the extension period. Any further delays would have forced new elections.

I took a look back and see that the budget was passed by a vote of 58-36 and really hinged on the 700 million NIS given to Shinui to vote in favor (with 14 votes), rather than on the 290 million NIS given to UTJ. Either way, UTJ does bear at least some responsibility for the Disengagement.

Also, I am not sure Gafni needs to bear the legal brunt of an entire government as if he alone caused the Disengagement to happen, that he should be held personally responsible. It does not seem judicious to me that Gafni should bear the blame of the entire government.

Regardless, these families are suing MK Gafni in the beis din of Rav Avraham Dov Levin in Jerusalem (as an aside, the beis din of Rav Levin in Jerusalem was the location of the strange story reported in June 2011 of a lawyer reincarnated as a dog and hanging around the entrance of the beis din looking for forgiveness) for his part in being responsible for enabling the Disengagement.

The 3 families say they decided to sue Gafni in beis din because "in beis din the "smallest" Jew is able to sue the "biggest" Jew. Everybody is equal in the law, there is no statue of limitations and there are no excuses of "national security"."

MK Moshe Gafni responded saying the lawsuit is not against him but against the rabbonim and gedolim who direct the decisions of UTJ. Gafni is also trying to have the venue moved to the beis din of Rav Karelitz in Bnei Braq, saying that the defendant has the right to choose the beis din in his city.

The families suing see Rav karelitz's beis din as being favorable to Gafni as 3 dayanim of the beis din have already written that the gedolim are over the messengers and they are the ones who are meant to judge the actions of the messengers, for good or for bad". Beis din is supposed to be impartial and judge everybody equally. they are not supposed to have already decided just because one side is connected to the gedolim. I can see them saying the case has no merits and should be dismissed because Gafni is not the one who made the decision on the budget vote, and the families should be suing the panel of rabbonim who make the decisions. But to say that only the gedolim can judge the messengers seems to me to be directly against the prohibitions of לא תעשו עול במשפט לא תשא פני דל ולא תהדר פני גדול, בצדק תשפט עמיתך.

Iran Defeats Israel.. In One Realm

Iran Defeats Israel

That is a headline we were hoping to never have to see again, after Cyrus the Persian conquered Babylon and Judea in 539 BC. Yet last night at the 2012 Academy Awards Iran defeated Israel.

An Iranian film and an Israeli film were front-runners for the award in the Foreign Language Films category. Ian's film "Separation" beat out Israel's film "Footnote" for the Oscar trophy.

Winning in the entertainment industry is far better than winning in the ongoing hostility and conflict surrounding the Iranians attempt to build nuclear weapons and destroy Israel (and the West). As a matter of fact, I am a bit surprised the Iranian film was allowed to compete, considering the sanctions placed on Iran.

Beit Issie Shapiro's Park Chaverim - Israel's First Accessible and Inclusive Park (video)

Beit Issie Shapiro's Park Chaverim - Israel's First Accessible and Inclusive Park

Every city, if not every neighborhood, should have one of these inclusive parks, friendship parks.

"Stoning" Attack on Israeli Car (video)

"Stoning" Attack on Israeli Car

Stephen Colbert: Posthumous Mormon Baptism (video)

Stephen Colbert circumcises dead Mormons to make them Jewish..

Feb 26, 2012

PSA: Absentee Ballot Changes FOR USA Citizens

I thought this message I received from the US Embassy was important enough to share for all the US citizens in Israel who might want to vote in upcoming elections..


Be an active voter.  Start thinking about your participation in the U.S. 2012 elections today!

New absentee voting laws are in effect for the 2012 elections.  The Consular Section staff at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv is ready to assist with completing your Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) -- the form you need to complete this year to participate in the 2012 elections as an overseas absentee voter.  Our purpose is to inform and educate you about your voting rights, to ensure you are able to exercise your right to participate in elections for federal offices (president, vice president, senator, and representative), and to assist you with voting in state or local elections, if allowed by your state.

You will no longer automatically receive ballots based on a previous absentee ballot request.  All U.S. citizens outside the United States who want to vote by absentee ballot in the 2012 primary and general elections must complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) every year if they wish to vote from abroad.  States are now required to send out ballots 45 days before an election.  No matter what state you vote in, you can now ask your local election officials to provide your blank ballots to you electronically (by e-mail, Internet download, or fax, depending on your state).  You can now also confirm your registration and ballot delivery on-line.  Be sure to include your e-mail address on the form to take advantage of the electronic ballot delivery option.  This is the fastest and most reliable way to receive your ballot on time, and we strongly recommend every overseas voter take advantage of it. 

You can learn more about the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and obtain it at the Federal Voting Assistance Program's (FVAP) website (www.FVAP.gov).  The FPCA is accepted by all local election officials in all U.S. states and territories.  It allows you to register to vote and request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (presidential and state primaries, run-off, special, and the November general elections) during the course of the year.  An online wizard will help you complete the form.  Depending on your state’s voting requirements, you then either send in the FPCA electronically or mail it to your local election officials.  To mail it, print out the completed FPCA and the (U.S.) postage-paid envelope containing the address of your local election officials. 

If you bring in your forms or ballots to the American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy, we will mail them for you without your having to pay for international mail.  If it’s easier for you to use the local postal system, be sure to affix sufficient postage and allow sufficient time for international mail delivery.  You may bring your completed FPCA without an appointment to our office for forwarding to your state anytime between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, excluding U.S. and local holidays.  The Consular Section is located at 71 HaYarkon Street, Tel Aviv.

If you bring in your forms or ballots to the American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy, please do not submit them in sealed envelopes as all items must be checked for dangerous substances before placing them in Official Mail.  Rest assured your ballot will not be opened or read by anyone.  The envelope will be inspected and sealed in your presence at the Embassy.  Ballots submitted in sealed envelopes could be irreparably damaged during the required security check.

It is important that you submit a new Federal Post Card Application every January to receive all absentee ballots for which you are eligible.  By applying early, you also allow enough time for election officials to contact you and resolve any questions or problems with your registration and ballot request.   

Remember that your vote counts and that many U.S. elections within the past ten years have been decided by a margin of victory of less than 0.1%.  This year’s general election will be held Tuesday, November 6, and will include the presidential race, 33 seats in the U.S. Senate, as well as all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.  All states are required to count every absentee ballot as long as it's valid and reaches local election officials by the absentee ballot receipt deadline. 

Be an educated voter.  Check out the FVAP links page for helpful resources that will aid your research of candidates and issues.  Non-partisan information about candidates, their voting records, and their positions on issues is widely available and easy to obtain via numerous websites such as Project Smart Voter (www.votesmart.org).  You can also read national and hometown newspapers on-line or search the Internet to locate articles and information.  For information about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP's voting alerts via an email request to Vote@fvap.govFVAP also shares voting alerts via FaceBook (www.facebook.com/DoDFVAPand Twitter(http://twitter.com/FVAP).

If you have any questions about registering to vote overseas, please contact the U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv’s Voting Assistance Officer atVoteTelAviv@state.gov


Nosa Nosa Hits Haredi Wedding Scene (video)

I dont know what this song is about, but I am fascinated by how quickly a popular Brazilian song can make its way into the "closed" haredi culture...

original Brazilian version:

Haredi adaptation:

Grand Chief Canadian Indian Visits Israeli Parliament (video)

Grand Chief Canadian Indian Visits Israeli Parliament

Hesder Boys Rap (video)

Hesder Boys Rap

Feb 23, 2012

Rabbanut Removing Dr. Pepper From the Shelves

This weeks Rabbanut kashrut update is sponsored by me! Sort of.

Here is [part of] this weeks update that was sent out today..

If you remember, I was the one who contacted the KLBD and asked them about the appearance of the KLBD logo on the Dr. Pepper cans. As a result of my communication with them, the KLBD rep told me they contacted the Rabbanut to inform them of the fraud.

Whether the Dr. Pepper is actually kosher or not, covered by their "authorization" of the Dr. Pepper manufactured in the UK, the logo was used fraudulently, and the Rabbanut hechsher based on that was therefore also based on fraud.

The Rabbanut is now pulling Dr. Pepper with the KLBD logo off the shelves of stores (sorry). The only other cans I have seen recently bear the Triangle K hechsher.


A Guest Post by By Dr. Harold Goldmeier

Going back to school as a pensioner was not the first thing on my bucket list as I entered semi retirement. Certainly not undertaking learning to speak a foreign language, and on top of it, a language spoken probably by the fewest people in the modern world: Hebrew.

But here I am in a classroom with fourteen other seniors; at 66 years old I am one of the youngest-a kid as a man from Venezuela put it. There are determined women from Peru and South Africa, several husbands and wives from Russia, two elegant and feisty women from France with beautiful smiles, two working class couples from America, and the doyenne is a bit hard of hearing Spanish expatriate with the most elegant name trying hard so she will be able to speak the language of her great grandchildren.

My wife and I enter a classroom like the one I used in high school fifty years before. Desks and chairs lined in neat long rows facing the blackboard behind the teacher’s desk. Only now it’s a white erase board using colored magic markers. It smells the same like my old homeroom.

Our teacher is a vivacious, middle-aged Russian woman dressed rather modestly but stylish with her henna colored hair. She pops around the room fluently and impressively addressing each of her students in our native language including Africans, Spanish, Russian, English, and French. Americans never really learn to speak more than English during our school years, and are quizzical why the rest of the world just doesn’t know English.

We start with a quick review of the aleph-bet (A, B, C’s). Everybody seems to have this down pretty good, but we will repeatedly review it to learn to recognize script and upper case letters. Right away the teacher asks us our names in Hebrew. In unison we repeat, “my name is….” Then we turn to one another and ask, “What is your name?” and answer in Hebrew, “My name is….” It’s like first grade all over again.

Our teacher, Fina, not a Hebrew or Israeli name, spelled out on the board phonetically, asks very simple questions in Hebrew, and expecting us to answer, though my wife and I have barely spoken three connected words in Hebrew in our lives. “Where are you from?” “I am from Buenos Aires. I live in Beit Shemesh.” “I am from Madrid. I live on Dolev Street.”

Grown men and women stuffed into chairs behind school desks hoping we can learn to speak Hebrew as good as our six year old grandchildren. Fumbling with vocabulary and grammar. Feeling like we are embarrassing ourselves, as we stand in front of the class in pairs being urged on by Fina to ask, “Do you want, coffee, chocolate, or tea?” Cajoling the language partner to answer in Hebrew, “I want coffee.” One man answers, “I want a scotch,” at 11 in the morning, and I tell him I’ll join him.

Fina is good. No writing, don’t take notes. Humans learn to speak their language long before reading and writing it. After a short break, class resumes, and no one has dropped out yet. Another hour flies by of baby talk, humor, some pathos, and a lot of emotional struggle over verbs and adjectives. Then she has us stand. Fina leads us in a Hebrew song with gestures about raising our hands, placing them atop our heads and shoulders, bending and standing, turning side to side. It’s exercise and a fun break from sitting and speaking to one another. It’s a song our grandchildren sang to us when we returned home and tried to sing to them.

Every student in the class deserves a pat on the back. We are really brave to tackle a new language; you have to be very self-effacing to repeatedly make mistakes that often result in wrong words that you would not use in proper company. The hardened group full of life’s experiences floundering and stumbling through four hours of intellectual and emotional trauma is among the bravest people I have met.

Interesting Posts #361

Interesting Posts #361

1. Peace Now Gets A Taste Of Purim

2. A Prayer For Purim In Bet Shemesh

3. I Am Who I Am

4. Why Not Make Aliyah?

5. Employment Practices At CNN... more on the firing of the Jewish employees

6. HCJ Decision On The Tal Law and the Gush

7. Are Midrashim To Be Taken Literally?

PSA: Colliding Worlds - Child Abuse in a Frum Community

Particularly in view of the spate of alleged attacks on children in RBS in recent days - this is important to attend.

Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik shlita will be speaking on: "Colliding Worlds - Child Abuse in a Frum Community".

TONIGHT! Thursday 23rd February, at 8pm.
Location: Beit Keneset Ohr Shalom, 27 Nahal Maor, Ramat Beit Shemesh.

Rav Moshe Soloveichik is Rosh Yeshivas Brisk (Chicago) and Rav of Kehilas Beth Sholom Ahavas Achim.
Rav Soloveichik will be basing his talk on his practical experience in the Jewish community of Chicago.
Rav Moshe is the son of Rav Aharon Soloveichik ztz"l.

The event is presented by Magen, the Beit Shemesh Child Protection Organization, and sponsored by Beit Kenesset Ohr Shalom & Mosdot Harav Aharon Soloveichik.

The whole RBS/BS community is warmly invited to attend.

Maariv will follow at 9pm.


"Magen" - Creating a Safer Community for Kids



Hotline: 052-765.2929
Sunday thru Thursday - 9am-12am; 8-11pm
Fridays - 9am-12am
Motsei Shabbat - till Midnight

Book Review: Strictly Kosher Reading

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, 
contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.

"Strictly Kosher Reading" is an academic book. To be honest, I received this book a few months ago, and took my time reading it. It is not an easy read, and I think that is mostly for style issues.. I would even say my criticism of the book is generally in style rather than in content. The content of the book is unique and intriguing. The style is what made it difficult to read - the font is tight, the paragraphs long, the chapters seem to run together. I could not read too much of it at a time, which is why it took me so long to finish, as I felt the need to stop after just a few paragraphs to rub my eyes and distract myself.   

With that out of the way, I can now say the content and perspective of Strictly Kosher Reading was both intriguing and fascinating.

The premise of the book is one I had never encountered before. The premise of the book is that one can analyze the ultra-orthodox, or haredi, society by the books it publishes. The author, Yoel Finkelman considers the publishers to be the gatekeepers of the haredi community. they decide what to allow to be published, and they decide what to reject. If a book does not sell the "party line" it will be rejected. For one of the haredi publishers to publish a book it would have to be non-critical of the community, it would have to play up certain stereotypes of how great the haredi lifestyle is and it would have to "sell" the "party line". It was a fascinating analysis, though it made me think of a cabal of evil publishers getting together and deciding what the party line is and which books portray it. 

Yoel Finkelman, author of Strictly Kosher Reading
Finkelman analyzes popular haredi books and compares them to their secular, or non-haredi, counterparts to show the different image portrayed. I found the analyses of the various books selected to be fascinating. He analyses the imagery used, along with the wording and phraseology and shows that each is carefully selected and controlled to portray certain impressions. 

Another key point in Strictly Kosher Reading is Finkelman's analysis of how haredi authors of self-help books, a major industry in its own right, must make the claim that the wisdom contained within and being transferred to the reader is all sourced in the Torah. This claim is regularly made in such books, yet Finkelman goes on to show that fairly frequently such books fail to quote any actual Torah sources for their material. A strong example of this is a book on nutrition in which the author claims it to be based on the instructions laid out by the Rambam. The author then goes on to give his guidance which never actually quotes the Rambam and is actually based on modern science and knowledge.

As well, Finkelman goes on to analyze certain books and show how the wisdom being taught is often influenced heavily be non-Jewish morals and teachings, comparing them to similar self-help books or guides (such as health and dieting books, time management, raising children, etc) from the non-Jewish sector. Often enough, Finkelman follows the timeline through Jewish history showing what beliefs were popular at different times, in similar ways to the way general society changed its opinion on such issues of morals and ethics, of parenting and the like. Authors who choose the modern way of thinking of, for example, how to raise children or dealing with spanking and basically talk about the importance and superiority of specific methods while failing to show that those methods have been shown in general society to be superior and fail to mention that Jewish sources often chose other paths and methods historically, while often changing its opinion based on the current knowledge in any given point in history.

Another major section, perhaps the most important, in the book, from my perspective, is the final chapter. The final chapter of Strictly Kosher Reading, Chapter 6, deals with haredi internal criticism. I found this concluding chapter particularly enlightening and fascinating. Finkelman shows how authors do not, perhaps can not, criticize the community openly, as doing so would be saying that the community leaders are not in tune with true torah-based directives, yet they find ways to subtly get their message of toned-down criticism across.

I would be remiss if I did not point out that significant portions of Strictly Kosher Reading focus on the works of Lawrence Keleman, the rejection of Slifkin and Kaminetsky, analyzing Jonathan Rosenblum's works and style, and the now-defunct Jewish Observer. The issues behind and surrounding these authors were major points in haredi society and the way these issues and authors were dealt with are very telling and enlightening when trying to understand the haredi community.

Anyone wanting to better understand the workings of haredi society would do well to read Strictly Kosher Reading.

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.

Excluding the Ultra-Orthodox From the Zionist State

MK Einat Wilf has made a proposal as to what Israeli society needs to do to move forward peacefully.

From the JPost:
MK Einat Wilf, who chairs the Independence faction, said that she has been thinking a lot lately about whether there can be solidarity between Zionists and non- Zionist in Israel – namely mainstream Israeli society with Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews.

To have a generous welfare state, she said, “You need a high level of trust among the citizens themselves and the citizens and the government.

That level of trust must be developed in the formative stages of society.”

With hindsight, Wilf came to the conclusion that when Israel was formulating its policy of social justice, it didn’t ask the right questions. “The social justice mechanism was created by Zionists for Zionists to serve the solidarity of Zionists who were engaged in the insane effort to establish a homeland for the Jewish people in this region,” she said.

Two groups were excluded from the Zionist enterprise, Wilf said. One was the Arabs who regarded Zionism as a threat, and the other was the ultra-Orthodox who viewed Zionism as heresy.

However, the solidarity mechanism was extended to the Arabs and ultra-Orthodox on the basis that welfare would breed solidarity rather than that solidarity would breed welfare.

This was not a successful means of creating trust, said Wilf. “The Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox still have an ambivalent attitude to the state and say that it’s all right to take but not to give.”

Wilf suggested that the time had come to bid each other farewell and to allow the Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox to lead their own lives without interference but also without the support of the state.

“That means we won’t have a socialist or a capitalist system, but a Zionist system.”

More significantly, it means that Arabs and ultra-Orthodox who don’t serve in the army or in community services will not receive free education, National Insurance or child allotments. Members of those communities who do serve will receive the same benefits as mainstream Israel.

“It may not be the most politically correct thing to do, but it will be the right and most sustainable thing to do if we are to go forward,” Wilf said.
I don't know if this proposal would work or not, if implemented. I do wonder how it would be implemented - members of the ultra-orthodox or arab communities who do serve and therefore would receive benefits - how would they get them? Would they get their free (or nearly free) education even though they send their kids to ultra-orthodox or arab schools that don't qualify for State allocations based on the new system? Would parents pay and then get reimbursed?

And would it work the same in the opposite direction? Would ultra-leftists who refuse to serve in the army also lose those allocations? Would "Tel Avivis" who find ways out of the army also lose their benefits?

Obviously they would have to create the system that knows how to differentiate and understand why someone did not serve in the army. If I did not serve because I made aliyah at an age at which they weren't interested in training me - do I lose my rights and benefits? Will they recognize that even if I live in an ultra-orthodox community or would they assume I don't qualify for ultra-orthodox reasons? If someone did not serve because he was disqualified for health reasons, or for whatever other reason the army exempts people - would they lose their benefits or would they get them despite not serving?

And let's say all this works out and they get a system in place that deals efficiently with all the various issues and conflicts that crop up. What happens then with the Arab and Ultra-Orthodox communities? Would they be self autonomous? Would we have three prime ministers and governments in Israel - one for the Zionists, one for the Ultra-Orthodox dealing with their issues and providing their services, and one for the Arab community dealing with their issues and providing their services? If they are being excluded from the Zionist State, they need to have some governing structure of their own - will we have three states for three people? And then if we ever make peace with the Palestinians will that become four states for four people, or five states for five people (including Hamas)? Will the Zionist State be able to give land in exchange for peace if that land is lived on by people from the Ultra-Orthodox or Arab states?

Strauss Group Goes On Offensive Against Potential Consumer Boycott

The Strauss Group has seen the threat of a consumer boycott and has changed tactics. They started off defending themselves, claiming mainly that they don't set the prices but the retail shop does. Now, Strauss has decided to counter the looming boycott with an offensive of its own.

In a message released on Youtube by the CEO of Strauss Israel, Tzion Balas backtracked and claimed that while it is correct that a number of Strauss products are cheaper in the United States, including the Pesek Zman chocolate bar that kicked off the issue, he says that number is very limited and most Strauss products are cheaper in Israel.

Watch the video if you can. I think they really need a new marketing guy. Most people probably stopped listening after the first two sentences. He is totally boring and shows little emotion. he should have saved his speech for a news clip and made the youtube video into a cute presentation showing the actual prices on products he claims are cheaper in Israel. As a matter of fact, if he was going to say most products are cheaper in Israel, which he did, he should have at least mentioned one or two by name.

Here is the video by Tzion Balas, CEO of Strauss Israel:

According to Globes, Balas also has said that Strauss will not lower its prices. Strauss already lowered its prices on many products and will not lower any more. Furthermore, Balas added that they have to keep the prices at these levels in order to maintain its operations - if they lower prices they would have to cut many employees, and they are now taking on a lot of contract workers as regular employees - in other words, consider your actions as a boycott might mean many low income laborers losing their jobs. Balas also says that the lower prices on some items is an attempt to grow their export market - this contradicts their earlier statements that they have nothing to do with setting the prices..

It Takes Two - Peace In The Middle East (video)

It Takes Two - Peace In The Middle East

IDF Spokeswoman's Message to Jewish Diaspora (video)

IDF Spokeswoman's Message to Jewish Diaspora

The Illumination of Megillat Esther (video)

The Illumination of Megillat Esther

Feb 22, 2012

Interesting Posts #360

Interesting Posts #360

1. Facial Recognition Billboards - this would be great for Jerusalem..

2. Back of the Napkin Cost To Run A Shul

3. Yated's Ridiculous Pesach Ad Disclaimer

4. The $250,000 Mechitza

5. Israeli Startup Develops Tsunami Alert System

6. The Final Challenge of A Paratrooper In Training

7. The Truth Is The Truth

8. Balance

9. Kosher Shaving

10. Atheism 2.0

Interesting Points Made Regarding Buses on Shabbat In Tel Aviv

The issue of the operation of public transportation on Shabbos in Tel Aviv has really taken on a life of its own. I don't know if it will be possible to prevent it or to curb the momentum of this movement.

Some of the interesting points made in the discussion about the issue:
  • On a radio program discussing the issue on Galei Tzahal, Avri Gilad (a local television and radio broadcaster) said he is opposed to turning Shabbos into just another day. He said that he, as a secular Jew, wants to enjoy a Shabbat atmosphere that does not include the diesel pollution of buses. He does not want it to be another day where all the stores are open and buses are running.

    Gilad also said that the push to operate the bus lines seems to be not initiated on its merits, but as a reaction, an act of revenge so to speak, for the recent spike in the need for mehadrin buses,  which he also calls a reaction of sorts.

  • Avishai Ben-Chaim, also a broadcaster who is a correspondent on haredim, who was talking with Gilad, said the issue isnt his but needs to remain completely an issue to be decided by the secular - they should fight about it and they should decide. Ben-Chaim said he hopes they decide against it, but the haredim need to undergo some introspection and realize that through Bet Shemesh and mehadrin buses, the operation of public transportation on Shabbos came about.
    Ben-Chaim added that this is specifically the fault of the mehadrin buses and whoever among the haredim say "why do the secular care how we live, they should just leave us alone and not interfere with how we travel" cannot come along now and say they have the right to interfere in how the secular live and travel on Shabbat.

  • Mayor of Tel aviv Ron Huldai spoke on Menachem Toker's radio program about the issue. Huldai said "the general public in Israel wants public transportation on Shabbat. Judaism was always sensitive to the needs of the more needy people. Many people want to go on Shabbat to the beach or to visit relatives. if there would be a Sanhedrin today, it would find a way to permit public transportation on Shabbat... Anyways the streets are full of cars on Shabbat. Whoever can afford a car is out driving. There is nothing written in the Torah about "status quo" - as well, the mehadrin buses are also a breach of the status quo.

    In a different interview Huldai said that in Haifa public transportation has been operating on Shabbat for a long time and has never caused any problems.... He added that he is in favor of all the stores being closed on Shabbat, but he is in favor of the operation of public transportation. Many residents in Tel Aviv, Huldai said, need to travel to shul on Shabbat and they cannot because there is no transportation available. Currently they have to go by foot or by private car.
  • I find it interesting that he tries to justify the decision as if halachically, or from a Jewish perspective, it is ok to break desecrate Shabbos for these reasons.
  • In Tali Farkash's column in Ynet (Farkash is a haredi journalist), she explained that in her opinion the haredim should not mix into this discussion. Let the secular have their buses on Shabbos. Mixing in will only make the haredim look bad, as if they are trying to control the secular and how they live. Anyway the streets are full of cars and the stores are open, so the buses don't really add anything. Tel Aviv will never be a suburb of Beni Braq, so what is there to fight about - for Shabbos in Tel Aviv which is already not kept?

    I do not disagree with Farkash, though I think voicing a protest is also important. I would say perhaps political power should not be used to stop it, but some form of protest must be made, as this is a major issue.

So Many Men At Womens Conference

The Hamevasser newspaper sponsored a conference for Haredi women. The conference had some speeches and booths selling stuff.

Kikar has pictures from the conference (yes, including pictures of women). The one thing I noticed is that there are an awful lot of men (including mayor of Bet Shemesh Moshe Abutbol along with mayor of Beitar Meier Rubinstein, mayor of Bnei Braq Yaakov Asher, Meier Porush and many others)  present at a conference for women. 

I am not quite sure why men need to be present at such a conference, and I wonder if it would work the other way as well - at a conference for haredi men would there be female speakers? Would there be booths "manned" by women? I don't know in what other capacity men were there, but would women be at a men's conference in similar capacities?

Could they not find capable female speakers to speak to the women that the men had to be there? Were there no women capable of selling at the booths?

It does not bother me that they made a mixed conference. It would not have bothered me had they announced they were going to be making a mixed conference. I wonder why all these men need to be at what is called a womens conference, when I know it would not be allowed to happen in reverse.

I suspect the need for all these men to be present is to show "see, we do good things for women also. we take care of them." It seems to me to be indicative of a sense of authority and control - this only exists because of us.

Lab-Grown Steak On The Way!

According to this Fox News report, it looks like "test tube meat" is not so far off. We'll soon be consuming lab-grown hamburgers and steaks.
The first ever “test tube” meat could be hitting menus in the not-so-distant future. Dutch scientist Mark Post announced at a symposium on Sunday titled “The Next Agricultural Revolution” that he has come up with a method to grow meat entirely out of cow stem cells. Post said his team aims to have a couple of thousands of small tissues to assemble into an entire hamburger as early as this fall.
The ultimate goal: Entirely replace the meat-animal industry.
The project was made possible by a donation of 250,000 euros, or close to $330,000, from an anonymous investor with a “care for the environment…and interest in life-changing technologies.”
Post, professor and head of the physiology department at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, spoke with FoxNews.com before the major announcement. He said that his team is very focused on making the process efficient and cost effective. However, Post said the method is still in the “laboratory phase.”
"We are just focusing on a proof of concept," Post told FoxNews.com in January . "That yes, it can be done in a laboratory, just to show the world that it can be done."
While lab-grown meat may seem incredible, it ultimately begs the question - would you eat it? Or maybe a better question would be, should you eat it?
“Right now the verdict is out,” said Dr. Fred Vagnini, medical director for Heart, Diabetes & Weight Loss Centers of New York. “But it’s a novel idea that could play into a very positive thing. This is genetically engineered food, so it could be made to be more bio-active, could be made to be less fatty. There’s a lot of control over the muscle.”
Vagnini said that this could potentially lessen the negative aspects associated with eating red meat. Many studies have shown red meat to be linked with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, higher cholesterol, and certain types of cancer.
“The point is this could be a healthier meat,” Vagnini said. “All of the studies show that red meat is not good for you. But it does have a few benefits for many people. It has a lot of vitamin B12 and carnitine, an amino acid which is important for heart energy and cellular metabolism.”
The fat in red meat is what is typically linked to higher risks for most cardiovascular issues. But fat is what gives red meat its delicious flavor. So Vagnini said the real mystery would be how this meat would taste.
“Test tube” meat could provide potential health benefits, but with any new dietary procedure, they always run the risk of negative outcomes.
“A downside could be that because it’s genetically engineered, there could be changes in the protein DNA that could make it carcinogenic,” Vagnini said. “That’s a that main negative component when it comes to GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.”
But GMOs may be the world’s last resort when it comes to animal foods. The global demand for meat is expected to rise by 60 percent by 2050, said American scientist Nicholas Genovese, who organized the symposium at which Post spoke. But with most of the pastured lands already in use, livestock producers would have to further expand into nature.’
According to Genovese, this would cause the destruction of biodiversity, an increase in greenhouse gases and an increase in many diseases.
And for those reluctant to turn to vegetable substitutes, Vagnini said that it’s methods like these that will help meet the growing demand for meat while helping to save the planet.
“Sooner or later we can’t continue to feed the world,” Vagnini said. “Eventually we’ll have to go to these alternative foods, and I personally think they can be made more safely.”
I would assume that this would not affect the bracha on meat, as meat is she'hakol anyway. I do wonder if such lab-grown meat would be considered pareve or fleishige. I guess coming from the stem cells this would be pareve, but I don't really know. Like almond milk is considered pareve but one should keep almonds nearby so as not confuse other people, perhaps this meat will be considered pareve but one should keep a petri dish or test tube on the table.

When this comes to be, it will create an entirely new series of debate and responsa about the halachic issues regarding consuming such meat.

Naturally Conceived Rare Triplets Born In Jerusalem

With the new always filled with controversy, argument, fear, and violence, a story like this is a breath of fresh air - a welcome respite and an uplifting item.

A couple from Maaleh Adumim just had triplets. That alone is not newsworthy. What is newsworthy about this miracle is that the triplets were naturally conceived, itself unusual, and all three shared the same placenta making all three identical - a point which makes their successful birth an even rarer occurrence.

When the pregnancy was first discovered and it was realized that the mother was bearing triplets connected to one placenta, the doctors encouraged her to abort or at least do some pruning - trim the baby count and get rid of one or two. They said that the chances are very high that none will survive, and if they do there could be very serious birth defects.

The parents decided not to heed the doctors' advice and decided to go ahead with the pregnancy as usual.  "As usual" is an understatement. With such a high risk pregnancy she was constantly monitored and examined. Last Thursday, in week 34 of her pregnancy, after the doctors saw one of the fetuss (feti?) in distress, she gave birth via Cesarean Section to all three healthy, albeit small, babies. Each kid weighs 1.5kg. The boys are going by the names a, b and c until they reach an appropriate weight to get their circumcisions. The parents, married just under two years, now have 4 children younger than the age of 1. (source: Ynet)

I wish the parents mazal tov and much luck and success. they are going to have a tough year, let alone 18 years, ahead of them...

Picture Of The Day

Picture Of The Day

illustrative picture from Ynet about the Supreme Court decision to not renew the Tal Law
As was pointed out to me, the faces of these yeshiva boys were pixelated and blurred out. Clearly Ynet has become a mehadrin newspaper and refuses to show non-tzniyus images.. :-)

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