Thursday, November 30, 2006

Encompassing Judaism...not just "Zionism"

Bnei Akiva symbol painted on a trailer (caravan) at a hidden location in Israel.

Adopting the Muqata's Slogan, this Bnei Akiva caravan reads
"To any place where I may walk, I am always walking towards Eretz Yisrael."
The blue, white and orange colors are the nationally recognized symbol of "Shvil Yisrael"
-- the hiking trail which goes from the Northern tip of Israel,
to the Southernmost point.

This past weekend was "Shabbat Irgun", the culmination of a month of activities of the Bnei Akiva youth movement in Israel. I was never part of Bnei Akiva in the United States -- it always had a stigma of being "not religious enough" or much too fact, there was no real Bnei Akiva in my hometown growing up. (And the town was happy that way, with little encouragement for aliya, and a "frummer" environment)

Yet, here in Israel, I'm happy my kids are part of Bnei Akiva. (Also, it's not mixed -- like it was when I was a kid in the US. And its alot more fun than Pirchei Aguda).

I will admit, that I don't have patience for their Motzei Shabbat (Saturday Night) performances following Shabbat Irgun, and it's painful waiting through them when your kids aren't in a particular skit or dance.

Let me go home already...please?

And I still only get home at midnight. Yet as my wife is reading this, I know not to complain since I didn't go last year at all (I think I was away on a business trip, whew), so it was definitely my turn this year.

After lunch this past Shabbat, we all took a stroll to our local Bnei Akiva trailer-park (they're called caravans in Israel), which were painted by each group in honor of Shabbat Irgun.

Now, as I was getting this blog post ready for publication, I was pointed (thanks WBM :-)to a posting on Chayei Sarah's blog, where she opinions that Religious Zionism is all about "the land" and doesn't focus on the other mitzvot.
Bnei Akiva kids put a banner up in my neighborhood during the Lebanon War stating their solidarity with the people of the North. I smiled every time I saw it. It made me happy that in a time of crisis, the whole country felt unified and that young people in Jerusalem were proudly proclaiming their solidarity with people they'd never met.

Now that the war is over, and the Gaza pullout is long past, I wish they'd put up banners about other things. About loving your neighbor as yourself, about helping the poor and other things that, after all, are Torah values. Perhaps the kids do discuss these things within their chapters. Certainly they have wonderful activities around the holidays, and they do learn Torah, but in terms of the public face of the organization . . . they don't seem to have learned anything from what happened two summers ago. The self-reflection of the rabbis I heard has not trickled down to the level of the kids' banners and the paintings on the chapter's walls.

It makes me sad that, in practice, Religious Zionism continues to be all about Zionism and hardly about religion at all.
Unfortunately, Chayei Sarah's experience with Bnei Akiva in Israel must be rather limited. I took pictures of the caravan walls, and you can see for yourself what messages they are fostering. (Not that there is anything wrong with solidarity)

Justice in Society. They kids painted every imaginable quote from the Torah, Jewish religious source that deal with Justice...and Social Justice.

On that day...that Jews love one another, respect one another, respect their heritage and when their actions are influenced by love of the Torah, love of the people, and love of the land in its holiness...on that day there will be a "Jewish Culture."

Social Justice was a major theme this year...culminating in the realization that social justice brings about realization of G-d.

And yet, we do not forget.

Over the door of each caravan was a zecher l'churban - a reminder of the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, the Jewish Temple(s). We have one in our home as well...where we also mourn the destruction of the Jewish communities of Gaza.

Finally - the Bnei Akiva kids make sure they will also never forget the destruction of the homes in Gush Katif. While some may think they learned "nothing" from two summers ago -- I think they learned quite alot. That the Israeli government can easily turn its back, and stab in the back, some of it's most loyal of citizens. I think they learned that when the government ignores the plight of fellow Jews, then THEY fill the void. I think they seek justice for themselves as well as for others.

While it may bother some, we "don't forget" -- the lack of justice then during the disengagement, and the apathy today -- the blatant lack of simple human care by the Israeli Knesset and Government for the plight of the Gush Katif refugees (many of whom still have no real housing solutions, over 50% unemployment, and many other problems).

Judaism is about ALL the mitzvot. And Bnei Akiva tries to encourage the observance of all of them.

Right now, I'm blogging this from the lobby of a hotel in Northern Israel, (during my break for dinner), where I'm attending a MDA enrichment course [I'll blog about that later as well]. There are MANY religious Zionists here...and Chareidim...and secular Israelis...and they all volunteer all over Israel -- not only in their closed environment. Why would they? Don't they only care about themselves?

It's so simple to shoot an arrow, and draw a target around it.

While it may seem like good blog material to go after Religious Zionists and say the "right wing" only cares about the Eretz Yisrael; in reality, you'll find them all over Israel, doing all sorts of wonderful inter-personal mitzvot.

And we still love Eretz Yisrael.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Posts coming soon...

0. Despite the rest of Israel being on strike, I'm not. Really.

1. I'm just not able to post now...but will have some important posts up around 7 PM. (with an explanation of why I can't post now...this time, it's a good excuse ;-)

2. Sorry if anyone was offended by the Matza Ball ad on my blog; the ad publishers are sending me a slightly more tzanua version (Ive since taken it down till I get the new one).

Thats all. Gotta Run -- be back soon.


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Been Way Too Busy

Yes, I'll admit it -- I've been way too busy to blog the past few days. Combination of work, stuff at home, the kids, etc., etc. etc., all lame excuses for a blogger, but nevertheless, I've been busy. Really. I hope to rearrange my schedule to get back on the blogging track soon, but don't expect much till the end of the week, unless the special guest blogger I'm trying to get, accepts my invitation.

However, let me tell what I would have blogged about (and still plan to) in the coming week:

While so many bloggers used to go after settlers for allegedly uprooting and destroying Palestinian Olive trees, the Muqata kids picked all the olives on our own local tree (in our backyard). Will there be enough oil for Chanuka? Who really is destorying the trees? All that and more with pictures...

This past shabbat was "Shabbat Irgun" -- the shabbat honoring Bnei Akiva. I wasn't involved in Bnei Akiva till college and all these weird things my kids do is beyond me. Shabbat was the culmination of a month of intense "Bnei Akiva" activities, and I hope to post about it (again, with pictures of the caravan my kids painted)

Olmert and the OU. If the OU convention now issues such pro-Yesha (and anti-disenagement) sentiment, then what the heck were they doing inviting Olmert to be a guest of honor? Carl of Israel Matzav makes sure to give the OU the credit they deserve (for doing something right.) On the other hand, the Palestinians are re-arming and continuing to fire rockets at Sederot (despite the ceasefire...hahahahahah, oooops, sorry for laughing, it's a very serious ceasefire) , showing off their Kassam rockets in the Shomron, and threatening to kidnap more Israelis. Our brilliant Prime Minister (don't forget, he's also an honoree of the OU) has decided that the Palestinians deserve in return for their heroic efforts, land for nothing, the release of terrorists, and a full State.

As Orthomom pointed out, the Renegade Rebbitzen has made a cameo apperance on her own blog...(apparently she's really busy, but always funny!)

R' Gil Student referenced The Muqata in a posting on his blog, Hirhurim. I'm honored. Really. Thanks.

A few postings back, I asked who knew what caused the damage in the pictures, and when did they occur? The correct answer is, an earthquake in 1927 in the Jordan Valley. The pictures are from Yericho. Points to all who answered correctly, with an extra 5 to Olah Chadasha for answering first, and 10 extra points to Kasamba for the best answer :)


DovBear had a very good post up about Teens at Risk. DovBear will probably be upset with me, but I changed the first two sentences which I found bothersome. You can see them on his site if you wish -- I normally wouldn't include an entire posting, but it's very important to read, and he gets full credit for this important post.

At-risk teens

Like it or not, the "at-risk teen" phenomnon affects teens from all parts of Judaism, including religious Orthodoxy. The "at-risk teens" aren't necessarily druggies, or pathologically rebeluous, or otherwise abnormal-- in fact, most of them are perfectly ordinary. They are kids who like to read, listen to music, play sports, or hang with friends. Kids who may not have a taste for serious learning, or the discipline to sit at a desk for long stretches at a time, or the brains to keep up with the top of the class. Kids who are curious or impatiant or positive they know more than their elders. Kids who are in a rush to grow up. Kids who just want tolerance and guidance as they find their own way into adulthood.

These are ordinary kids, then, ordinary kids, the sort of kids who flourish when given love and patiance and understanding. Unfortunately, they are also the types of kids often cruely labled "at risk." And, by the scores, these are the types of kids who are abandoning a religious community that tells them that unless they can look and act just like the the best and the brightest they aren't worth anything at all. How can Judaism survive if this continues? Yaakov Horowitz tells us more:
Over the past twenty years, I conducted hundreds of terribly painful ‘exit interviews’ with children and adults who have abandoned Yiddishkeit. I can tell you in no uncertain terms what it is that they wanted – and why they took their business elsewhere. They were looking for respect and understanding. Acceptance. Safe and nurturing home lives. Hands-on parents who offer unconditional love along with their guidance. Caring educators who dealt with their admitted misdeeds gently and privately (firmly was OK). The ability to be a bit different without being labeled or judged. More time for hobbies and more recreational opportunities. On an educational level, I can tell you some additional things that they needed. A slower pace of learning. More skill-based teaching. Visual and diverse learning.
Some simple, and absolutely intutitive right? So are these things being provided?
In many communities, I’m sad to report, exactly the opposite is happening. School hours are getting longer and longer. Kids have less time and opportunity to engage in desperately needed recreational activities. In fact, in some communities, normal sports activities are frowned upon or outright banned – sometimes for children above the age of ten years old!! Greater demands are being made on children. Schools that dismiss children are valued and pursued. Acceptance criterion for high schools is getting increasingly more challenging. On many occasions, I have clearly stated that in today’s climate I would probably not have been accepted to any ‘normal’ high school when I graduated eighth grade thirty-three years ago!!
The great Yaakov Horrowitz an at-risk teen? Talk about your near misses.
Most peculiar is the reaction of parents who respond to their fears by striving mightily to place their children in the most rigorous programs – the ones with the longest hours, the least in the way of recreation, and with the most strident demands on their children. The thinking is that their children will be safe there, as the ‘chevrah’ will be better and the ‘at-risk’ children will be excluded from those elite schools. However, this thinking is terribly flawed. For there is no guarantee that their child – or one of their children some time in the future of their family life – will not be one of those children who will need some adjustment, tolerance, or understanding. So, in effect, the parents are raising the bar – and the ante of this very high-stakes gamble – by opting to send their child to a program that purports to produce a ‘metzuyan’ or ‘mitzuyenes’ (exemplary children). But at the same time, they are greatly increasing the odds that their child may find the train running away from him or her. And, in all my years of dealing with the at-risk teen population, I have not noticed that the elitist schools have any lower percentage of kids abandoning Yiddishkeit. All the more so if you include those who were asked to “find another school,” midway in their school experience.
The answer, I think, is to lower your standards. Let your kids fail. Let them ask questions. Let them go through phases. Let them embaress you in front of the neighbors, expecially if the neighbor is a moron and an idiot and shallow self-centered git. Who cares what he thinks anyway? Is he the one who is going to visit you in the nursing home when you're old and useless? And remember two things (1) you don't owe the world a perfect child; but you do owe your child unconditional love; and (2) so long as you don't destroy the bridge that exists between you and your kids, they will always find their way back to you. Always.

[Read the rest]

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Uri Geller: Quack? Charlatan? Magician? Sorcerer?

I usually don't pay much attention to the psycho spoon bender Uri Geller. I don't know why anyone pays much attention to it really annoys me when R' Shmuel Eliyahu (Rav of Tzefat) comments publicly about Geller in an interview with Arutz-7 that "people should not use supernatural powers for cheap entertainment."

Use of supernatural forces for entertainment purposes

To make matters worse, an 11 year old kid tried "duplicating" Geller's TV performance last night of holding his breath...and the kid passed out and was hospitalized.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Thursday, November 23, 2006

As Thanksgiving Ebbs Away

I didn't eat Turkey this year, since we went to a wedding. Actually, we didn't eat Turkey last year either; guess we just grew out of it...too much craziness to bother...I guess.

A 57 year old Muslim woman blew herself up this evening near IDF soldiers in Northern Gaza. Thankfully, 3 IDF soldiers were only lightly wounded as the Palestinian terrorist blew herself to bits.

Picture of the ethical 57 year old Palestinian terrorist

While we have much to be thankful for, the people have Sederot are still getting shelled daily by Palestinians, and the Israeli government is too scared to act.

The families of kidnapped IDF soldiers aren't too happy either...and the Baumel family is convinced their son is still alive after they received new information about the fate of their son, IDF soldier Zecharia Baumel who was kidnapped 23 years ago.

A lot to think about, as Thanksgiving ebbs away.

Shabbat Shalom to all our readers...

Jameel & Co.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Priest and Nun try out for Rachel Corrie's Darwin Award.

AP Photo of Priest and Nun from Michigan, residing in the house
(slated for demolition by the IDF) of a wanted terrorist.
Please note terrorist dressed in green in the back left.
You can't miss him, but I think the priest and nun did...

Southern Israel has been incessantly bombed by Palestinian Qassam rockets for over 2 years. Israel even "Disengaged" from Gaza, (against my better judgment) pulling out the last IDF soldier, and forcibly removing some of Israel's most loyal and pioneering citizens from their Gaza settlements. This hasn't stopped the Palestinians (Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc.) from continuing to shell Israel, intentionally wounding and killing as many Israeli civilians as possible. So Israel retaliates.

Who do Michigan's Priests and Nuns run to save? Those getting shelled indiscriminately, and being targeted for simply being citizens of Israel?

G-d forbid. Turn the other cheek morality is lectured only towards JEWS.

To give us a lecture in uber-morality, Father Peter and Sister Mary Ellen of Michigan have joined the Brudi family in Jabalya (Gaza). The Brudi's were told by the IDF, that they intended to bomb and demolish their home due to their sonÂ’s activities with the Popular Resistance Committees (terrorist organization) [read: He's a terrorist, and they support hisactivitiess by giving him food and shelter in their home.]

YNET reports:
These homes have become pilgrimage sites in recent days not only for locals. Foreign peace activists have started to show interests in the phenomenon, and two Americans, a priest and a nun from Michigan, arrived at Jabalya from Michigan to take part in the human shield mission at the Brudi family home.

Sister Mary Ellen told Ynet, "We are here to find out the truth and to be with the family and these people, who are trying to prevent the demolition of a home where an entire family lives."

The Sister continued, "We are against any type of violence, whether from the Palestinian side or the Israeli side, by we are here to be with a family that may have their house bombed and demolished because of the claim that one or two members are involved in violence."

She also explained that she was well aware of the Qassam rockets fired from the northern Gaza Strip towards Sderot, and said, "I adamantly oppose and condemn the firings like I condemn all violence."
Thanks Sister. Here are some better activities for you:

1. Convince the family to stop aiding and abetting a wanted terrorist, or better yet - turn him in. He won't be killed by the IDF if you turn him in; he'll probably even be released as part of a prisoner swap. Rachel Corrie already won a Darwin award for this sort of stupidity -- do you really want this coveted award as well?

2. Why aren't you moving to Sederot? Be a human target (instead of a terrorist-housing shield) Show the world that you care about Israeli civilians. This kid (hat-tip:Kasamba) in Sederot was crying on national TV because no one was coming to his Bar Mitzva (in Sederot) -- maybe you should have dropped by to say hi.

Then again, I'd rather you didn't move to Sederot.

Your ethics match those of Gaza, perfectly.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mazal Tov to the XGH family

Missed this yesterday...(baby boy born to Rabbi & Rebbitzen XGH on Tuesday).

Mazal tov!

Jameel & Co.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Why is Olmert under the OU's Kashrut Supervision?

Arutz-7 has the following story:
( Protesters, including religious Jewish immigrants from North America who were evicted from their homes during the Disengagement and wounded by police brutality at Amona, will protest the Orthodox Union'’s decision to honor Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at their annual convention in Jerusalem.

A protest rally under the banner "Hey OU - Olmert isn't kosher" will take place outside the convention. "I find it hard to comprehend why a Torah organization would want to invite a person who has practically declared war on the National Religious camp in Israel," protester Steve Schwartz wrote to the organization. "“Your organization's actions are a slap in the face to your fellow religious Jews in Israel."”

The protest will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday outside Jerusalem'’s Renaissance Hotel during the time Olmert is scheduled to address members of the large Orthodox organization. For information call 052 842-1203
The Orthodox Union is making a big mistake to honor Olmert. While Olmert is the Prime Minister of Israel, I think it's the wrong place and time for the OU to honor him. Olmert's currently under investigation for all sorts of criminal charges, the war this past summer was lost, Sederot is under constant attack, the Gush Katif people still have NO real solutions for housing or jobs, and don't forget his infamous directive for police brutality against teenagers at Amona -- I simply don't understand what the OU has to gain by honoring the man.

It's not like Olmert's now Mister Popularity in Israel. If the OU wants to honor someone who has done positive things for Israelis (like housing Israeli refugees from the North during the summer's war when the government did nothing, for example), maybe they should honor Arkady Gaydamak...I'm sure he would be pleased to give a large donation as well.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Breaking News: Saddam has Escaped!

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Photos of Damage

Points Time! (I think this is going to become a regular feature :)

The following pictures were taken in Eretz Yisrael...25 points to anyone who knows when these were taken, and who caused the damage in the pictures?

Jews? Arabs? Wild Elephants?

Bonus points for creative answers as well.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Stuff that made me smile (part 1)

The news in Israel is slightly too depressing for a regular blog posting. Or maybe it's a general feeling of moodiness.

Soooo, I thought I'd fall back in time to recollect some of the activites that made me smile when I was a kid.

Unlike where I live today, I used to have a wonderful, large public library to visit, and I vividly recall the privledge of receiving my first library card. Fridays were library day, and each of us kids would each take out 8-10 books to be read over Shabbat and Sunday...

Some of the books I used to borrow:

I loved the Great Brain books. Not that I was such a great brain, nor did I have such an older brother figure....but I loved those books. Famous stories I remember; First Toilet in Utah, Building a Roller-coaster, going off to the Academy and sneaking chocolate in...and finally, teaching a kid with a missing leg how to run, jump, and play ball like everyone else. Thanks RR for reminding me of those books.

I only saw this book once in fourth grade, and it immediately became one of my favorites. I never read the original Adventures of the Mad Scientist's Club, but the "new" adventures were simply too good to put down. I think I reread this book over 10 times. Lots of the technology there would be put to shame by the contents of my 2 older boys' room, but that book was ahead of it's time.

Before third grade was over, I had read every single Tom Swift book in our school library. I think I was one of the few who actually read one else seemed very interested. What did they know. Now I'm working in high-tech, loving the technology I used to dream about...and they...we'll...they're doctors, lawyers and accountants making 3 times as much as me. Hmmm.

Of course, I did read all the Hardy Boys books, but they got sort of repetative after a while. I think I was crushed to learn that the author Franklin W. Dixon was only a pen-name for the FEMALE writer who also wrote Nancy Drew. Bah.

While PsychoToddler may know everything about the new series, (which I'm also a big fan of), I loved the old series -- and memorized more details about that show than I knew mishnayot by heart. As I could only watch one hour of TV a week -- I saved up my time to watch my favorite show...Battlestar Galactica. I owned every single book about the show, the complete comic book series, and I made every single plastic model. Maybe I'll write about the time I cut camp to walk to the mall...and spend the day in the bookstore reading Battlestar books. (No, I didn't go to play video games, or hang out...really!)

I didn't only read books. There were fantastic radio shows on once a week. Usually on Sunday night after 9:00 PM, I'd have to be in my room, with the lights out, and I'd listen to these great radio presentations: The Star Wars audio performances were done so well, that if you closed your eyes and just listened, the experience was at least as good a a 70mm widescreen showing in the theatre.

Another great series was the Jack Flanders radio show series by ZBS media. Classic radio...I think I'm going to try and find those series again.

Fine. So you think I was all geeky and just read books, and fantasized about Science Fiction?

Wrong! I also played in Little League. My real picture is saved at home...this pictures is for display purposes only.

And besides Little League -- on warm summer days, I would bike to the nearby lake and pedal around it without a care or worry in my head. I'd stop under a shady willow tree, and read some of the library books I'd picked up the previous Friday, and relax in the cool shade.

OK. You got me. Even with biking and little league, I was still fascinated by science. The best possible piece of mail I could receive (and I used to love getting junk mail, I signed up for every free piece of mail, catalog and freebie I could find, because what's more fun than getting mail?) was the coveted Edmund Scientific catalog...The coolest stuff that only a budding mad scientist could dream off, was all there.

The magical drinking bird.

The Astroscan telescope whcih I wished I could buy:

Lasers, optics and cool stuff. I wanted it all...but rarely got any of it, and their mechandise remained a distant dream, which I guess was always more fascinating in my imagination than in real life.

Hmmm...feel a bit less wistful than before. Maybe I'll continue this tomorrow.

Want to gain more Muqata points? What stuff from yesteryear made you smile?

Tip: Save those Muqata points...

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Jewish Ingenuity?

Just got off the phone with a friend, who called to say it was just announced on Israel Radio that there is a revolutionary new invention, that will save lives of Jewish children in Israel!

In Sederot and the surrounding communities around Gaza that are subject to ongoing Qassam rocket attacks -- a big problem is what to do in the schools, which only have about 50% of the classrooms "secured" so they can take a Qassam hit. The other 50% of the classrooms have no solution for the rockets, so when the warning goes off, all the kids in non-protected classrooms have to run to the protected ones. Not exactly viable in the 14 seconds from the time of the alarm till the rockets land.

HOWEVER, the Jewish mind is not stopped by such problems! It thinks out of the box, and can come up with all sorts of creative ideas to offer security!

Flatten Gaza with Napalm? Nope!

Anti-Missile weapons to shoot the Qassam Rockets? No way!

Star-Trek defensive force-field? Nada.

Someone has invented something even better than the "cones of silence"...the ultimate answer for security of Israeli schoolchildren in Sederot is: The Protective Qassam Schooldesk!

When the warning goes off, each schoolchild quickly gets under their protective desk, and pulls their chair close to them, effectively giving them 360 degrees of protection from Qassam rockets.

Unlike the Cold War's "Duck and Cover" method taught in US schools (and 10 points to any blogger under 40 who knows what I'm talking about), this desk actually has shrapnel-proof sides to keep kids safe.

1950's solution for taking shelter against nuclear attacks.

Unfortunately, this is a band-aid solution and doesn't go anywhere near the root cause.


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

A Funeral in Sederot

It had been a few months since I'd driven though Sederot. I remember the last time; I was driving to a wedding in Ofakim, and driving through Sederot made me wonder what would happen if just then, the "Tzeva Adom" (Color Red) incoming-Qassam-rocket warning system started to blare. I opened my car window, so if I heard it, I would have 15 seconds to park and find shelter.

Yesterday, I returned to Sederot for the funeral of a friend's mother, killed by a Palestinian Qassam rocket.

The Sederot cemetery is small, with black and white tombstones marking the graves; some are flat and simple, some have headstones, and the important or saintly people buried there have structures erected over their tombstones providing shelter from rain and sun (for those who come to visit them?)

There's also an area for for eulogies adjacent to the cemetery, a simple building of 4 pillars and a ceiling --there's only one wall, and it faces the rooms where they prepare bodies for burial. To the West is a hill from where the rockets fly over -- from the Gazan town of Beit Hanoun.

There was a large police presence. Arab MK Muhamad Barake arrived for a photo-op, complete with over 10 Yasam special-ops policemen who surrounded him, suspicious eyes darting in all directions, short M16's pointed outwards, ready to be fired. The undercover agents intercepted someone with a kippa and a beard walking in Barake's direction and hauled him off.

Sederot's mayor, Eli Moyal spoke. He said he didn't know the woman killed, but that her memory would be taught in the schools as part of the legacy of Sederot. He also said that the Palestinians should just leave Sederot alone, and that he wasn't going to call for revenge, just for the IDF to keep Sederot safe. Some MK who I'd never heard of before also spoke, and didn't say anything meaningful either. No one really spoke about the woman killed...who she was...where she was from (a new immigrant)...her family (she leaves behind a husband, a son and a daughter)...and the speakers finished within 15 minutes.

The procession started moving in the direction of the freshly dug, open grave...about a 2 minute walk. Just as the actual burial was about to begin, Eli Moyal called out in a loud voice, "Friends, 5 Qassam rockets have just been launched, everyone please take shelter", motioning towards the covered area where we heard the eulogies. Just as people started to move, an IDF officer announced, "It's OK, they're [the rockets] are headed northwards, to Ashkelon..."

Everyone refocused their attention to the burial, and the booms came. One after the other, we heard the rockets land. I noticed a large tethered white blimp to the south, high in the sky, which is probably one of the methods the IDF uses to identify Qassam launches. It's definitely not Goodyear advertising...

The burial went quickly; the mourning husband fainted but quickly came to. There was a doctor there, so I didn't do anything EMT related...someone called MDA and they showed up with 2 ambulances. They did a quick evaluation of the man, and decided to take him for further treatment.

I put my hand on my friend's shoulder, to let him know I was there. He nodded, and walked off with arm around his sister.

The crowd dissipated and we drove off.

I post this in memory of Faina Sloutsker. Unfortunately, she was hardly spoken about at her funeral. Faina, 57 and her husband Michael immigrated to Israel in 2003 to join their daughter and her husband who made aliyah before them and were already living in Sderot. They have a son, daughter-in-law and grandchild living in Jerusalem.

Today, Herziliya lsraelis, far away from Sederot published obituaries in Haaretz of Gazan Palestinians killed by errant IDF missiles, "out of shame of what Israel is doing."

I'm also ashamed.

All I wrote was this, and not more about Mrs. Sloutsker. May her memory be a blessing.

Baruch Dayan HaEmet.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

There WAS a flood!

Actual reproduction of the Ark?

Picture by: NY Times/Dallas Abbott
The Fenambosy chevron, one of four near the tip of Madagascar, is 600 feet high and three miles from the ocean -- was this area flooded?

Anyone reading GodolHador's site (or its spin-off) should have been convinced that there is no scientific proof whatsoever that backs up the biblical flood story.

To fit Judaism to Modern Science, XGH postulated that the Flood (and the creation story in general) is a myth/moshol, and there are enough serious rabbanim to back up the idea that one can still be an Orthodox, Torah observant Jew, and adhere to this opinion.

But...look what appears in the NY Times!

The New York Times writes that according to a group of scientists and researchers, a large meteorite hit the earth 4800 years ago in the Indian ocean and caused a tsunami in India 13 times as big as the one two years ago.

On close inspection, the chevron deposits contain deep ocean microfossils that are fused with a medley of metals typically formed by cosmic impacts. And all of them point in the same direction — toward the middle of the Indian Ocean where a newly discovered crater, 18 miles in diameter, lies 12,500 feet below the surface.
It could have wiped out 25% of the world’s population, the scientists posit.

From the end of the article:
“Dr. Masse analyzed 175 flood myths from around the world, and tried to relate them to known and accurately dated natural events like solar eclipses and volcanic eruptions. Among other evidence, he said, 14 flood myths specifically mention a full solar eclipse, which could have been the one that occurred in May 2807 B.C.

Half the myths talk of a torrential downpour, Dr. Masse said. A third talk of a tsunami. Worldwide they describe hurricane force winds and darkness during the storm. All of these could come from a mega-tsunami.”

“I've long argued that the traditional commentators are falliable, in part, because they didn't have the benefit of archeology, linguistics, comparitive religion, and other academic disciplines.”

Would the same hold for some bloggers and their myth/moshels?

hat-tip; JoeSettler.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Winning Combination: G-d and the IDF

One of the worst problems a Jewish State can have, is to haughtily claim, כוחי ועוצם ידי עשה לי את החיל הזה , "My strength and might have built me this army."

When Israel brags about the IDF and ignores the fact that our might, strength and military success are based on help from G-d -- then we lose wars and our existance is threatened.

Thankfully, the IDF is now making a sound military investment and is installing mezuzot in the Ministry of Defense. And since the money is coming from US military aid to Israel, and the money needs to be spent in the USA -- the mezuzot were purchased from American sofrim (scribes)!
The Defense Ministry recently used USD 30,000 of American military aid money, but didn't buy guns and ammunition for IDF soldiers. Instead the money was used to purchase mezuzahs for the prime minister, defense minister and military generals.
Israel is obligated to use the military aid money that it receives from the United States on American equipment and merchandise. Israel even committed itself to purchase US equipment worth upwards of USD 30,000.
Though hundreds of millions of dollars from this grant given to Israel by the US administration every year are set aside for military purposes, the Defense Ministry finds some unconventional outlets for using the money.
Even though many Torah scribes make a living writing mezuzah scrolls in Israel, the Defense Ministry preferred to use the American aid money to purchase mezuzahs from American Judaica dealers. These mezuzahs will be affixed to the doorways of all the rooms in the Defense Ministry's new building in the Kirya base in Tel Aviv.
Offices of the prime minister, the defense minister, and generals in the General Staff will be in this building.
The Defense Ministry confirmed the news Tuesday evening and explained that budgetary considerations led them to acquire the mezuzahs from the United States given their lower prices.
So...when the American taxpayer helps Israel though military funding, you are strengthening Israel militarily, spiritually, and providing financial support to American sofrei stam which also contributes to the American economy (keeping the money in the US).

What could be better?!

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Scoop: IDF Chief of Staff's Leverage

I read an interesting analysis on in Hebrew -- a scoop from news reporter Nitzan Chen, who usually is very accurate and responsible about his reporting.

Some background: We lost the war in Lebanon this past summer. So far, the general of the Northern Command resigned, and just yesterday, Lt. General Gal Hirsch resigned as well (before being "forced" to resign by a damning report against him).

However, Israel's IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz is above reproach, as is Israel's Minister of Defense, Amir Peretz and Israel's PM, Ehud Olmert.

In a poll released today, from GeoCartegraph for the "Politika" TV show, the Israeli public feels as follows:

Should the IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz be replaced?

62% Yes
21% No
17% No opinion (weird for Israelis who have opinions on everything!)

Should PM Ehud Olmert be replaced/new elections be held?

53% Yes
33% No
14% No opinion

Should Minister of Defense, Amir Peretz be fired/replaced?

59% Yes
26% No
15% No opinion

Nitzan reports that Dan Halutz's supporters are threatening that if Halutz is fired, he will spill all the beans on the Disengagement's dirty all the IDF generals and heads of security warned Sharon that the IDF should not leave Gaza, and that the Disengagement would be a tragic mistake. Ultimately, the IDF's return to Gaza would be after much loss of civilian life, and the necessary return to Gaza would be a very difficult military operation.

With the incessant Gaza Qassam attacks against Southern Israel following the Disengagement, and today's deadly Qassam attack against Sderot, leaving one dead**, one critical and over a dozen wounded, it's apparent that the first part of this analysis has come true.

With mounting public criticism against Halutz -- it's convenient for Olmert and Peretz to let him take the fall (it deflects direct criticism against them). The question is, if Halutz falls, will he take anyone with him?

Regardless, he's yet another fallen leader of the Disengagement -- joining a long list of pro-Disengagement leaders who are under investigation for all sorts of things: Arik & Omri Sharon, Chaim Ramon, Tzachi Hanegbi...even President Katzav -- whose apathy towards the Gush Katif refugees puts him in the same category as the others.

Update: got this from WestBankMama's blog. If it doesn't give you the chills, I don't know what will...
Update: 10:00am Israel time: Another barrage of rockets fell in Sderot. A psychologist who works there came on to IDF radio to report that there is a severe shortage of psychologists to help with the trauma that everyone is experiencing. The shortage is not just for today's short term need - but is long term also. She says that professionals are afraid to go to Sderot to work because of the security situation. She is describing some of the difficulties -There are babies whose first words are "BOOM". There are children who can't concentrate in school. There are adults who are experiencing marital problems due to the stress...

** Just found out that this was my friend's mother :(

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Olmert should "get with the program"

In his typical snarky fashion, Prime Minister Olmert raised the ire of many US Democratic leaders when he openly declaring his support for the American war on Iraq during his trip to the US yesterday.

Olmert may approve of the war, but at this current juncture in time, many see Olmert's comments as an attempt to interfere with internal politics in the USA.

Haaretz reports:
Politicians from the Democratic Party said they wanted to speak to Olmert about his comments on the Iraq war before responding publicly, but said they were uncomfortable with the comments. If Olmert planned his remarks and intended them to come out as they did, a Democratic official said, then they are not acceptable and can be seen as an attempt to influence the American political dispute.
On the one hand, American leaders have done this to Israel many times. US Presidents, including Bush Sr. and Clinton have always made comments that could be seen as attempting to influence internal Israeli politics.

Yet Olmert needs to understand that he's not the President of the United States, and that it's not correct to publically orate on such a politicial hot potato -- definitely not after the elections which indicates that US public opinion wants US forces out of Iraq as quickly as possible.

This is just another example of Olmert's super-ego getting the best of him.

No surprise here; Olmert's just not Prime Minister material, he should just go back to real-estate, where his financial acumen seems to earn him quite a lot.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Monday, November 13, 2006

Jameel's picks of the day.

I'm slightly too busy to write a posting today, but did come across the following worthwhile reads:

EsserAgoroth writes about the new bus routes in the Shomron (which affect me as well) and how the new routes/cancellation of the old routes are a premonition of things to come for the Shomron.

JoeSettler writes about an unbelievable story; how the franchise owner of McDonalds in Israel is so radically left in his hatred towards Judaism, that he would rather lose money than allow for certain branches to be Kosher. More on this to come; we should start a campaign to have him lose the franchise.

Yisrael Medad tell us how ex-Chief Justice Aharon Barak aligns himself with Reform Judaism and declares it to be the Universal Stream of Judaism (aligned with Israel). No wonder they gave the high priest of Israel's secularism, a PhD. The weird thing is, I don't Reform Judaism would consider themselves, "secular" -- which in Barak's eyes, are "absent of religion."
New Blog Alert: No, this isn't about Lot's Daughter that DovBear pointed me to last week, but to an excellent new blog: The Maggid of Bergenfield. Very Highly Recommended.
Maybe I'll post something a bit later this evening...

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Ehud Olmert Copperfield

A country's system of government is not a politician's plaything to be toyed with, thrown around the room, and modified at whim.

Any self-respecting country invests thousands of hours planning their system of government -- France, England, the United States, all great bastions of democracy and government.

And then there's Israel. With no constitution, no checks and balances, we unfortunately have many of the semblances of a banana republic. Yes, it's embaressing -- but the emperor has no clothes. Israelis honestly believe they live in a real, vibrant democracy -- and yet I've personally heard politicians say, "Democracy in Israel comes to the electorate once every 4 years at election time. After that, shut up."

Under the guise of "improvement", Israeli politicians have a knack of selling "new and improved" ideas to the public, which are really only methods which benifit them to retain or gain political power.

Let's look at some examples:

1. In the 1980's, Rav Meir Kahana's party was gaining rapidly in the polls, to the point that at a random sampling in Tel-Aviv, they were getting over 20%. So what did Likud and Labor do? They outlawed the Kach party for the sake of "democracy" (but really to keep their electorate). And who was partner to this? The ultra-nationalist party, Techiya, which stood to lose the most votes to Kach. While they "claimed" they were taking the "moral highground" by outlawing the Kach party, they really just wanted to get the votes.

2. The "Direct Elections of the Prime Minister" -- in a crafty sell to the Israeli public, they were led to believe that the single most important change to Israel's form of government, would be that of direct elections of the Prime Minister. All sorts of individuals had their own agenda for "Direct elections"...Ehud Barak was among them. In the end, this was another failed quickie experiment in Israeli civics, that was changed back to the exclusive party system.

3. Olmert's latest: Radically increasing the power of the Prime Minister at the expense of the Knesset. Obivously, there are no checks and balances in play, since his entire policy is to allow him to push whatever platforms he wishes to implement without the hindrenace of the Israeli parliment. This hastily put-together radical change of government spells bad news, and reeks of Olmert's typical small-minded politicking, with the end result, a government of quasi dictatorship.

As noted Israeli columnist, Sever Plocker wrote in YNET:
Here are the words of the magician in his last show: "Ladies and gentlemen, closely watch my hat, because I'm about to do an amazing magic trick. The hat seems empty to you, right? But, hocus-pocus, and I'm about to pull out the rabbit of the year: Government system revolution. R-e-v-o-l-u-t-i-o-n, ladies and gentlemen, no less.

Pay attention, ladies and gentlemen: This isn't the white mouse I pulled out of my sleeve in the previous show. I nicknamed the previous mouse "government system reform". Unfortunately, the exposure wasn't good for it, so we were forced to butcher and bury it.

Ladies and gentlemen, my dear audience, now I present to you a whole new, different crossbreed. "The government system revolution." I'm holding on to its ears so it doesn't run away, so you can see it from all angles. Isn't it wonderful? Unique? The best there is? The government system revolution I pulled out of my magic hat has the neck of a bulldog, the spine of a mole, the legs of a stork, and the muscle system of a carp…what does it remind you of? Come on, I'm waiting for answers from the audience.

A duck? Who said a duck? Why duck? This is a government system revolution, ladies and gentlemen, not a duck. You don't believe me? Ladies and gentlemen, I know that recently I presented more magic shows and you may have tired of them a little. But you have no choice: You paid good money for this show. Some gambled their entire political fortune only to win a ticket! At such prices, you simply cannot afford to yawn and doubt my magic abilities.

You have to, my precious audience, trust me and my instincts. The government revolution I pulled out of my hat is very good. For me.

After this revolution, the prime minister (that is, me) will always be the head of the largest party, even when it is a small party. It's enough that all other parties are smaller. How convenient, how efficient! In order to be a prime minister there's no need to work hard to win the people's trust. It would be enough to end up with one more Knesset member than opponents in the elections. And then, there we go, you automatically become a prime minister. Automatically! Think about it when you look at me.

The show has only started

I request that the lightening technician turn up the spotlight. Yes, that's better: You see only me and my magic hat, and not the dark corners where my enemies whisper. And music, more music, so we don't hear the sounds of Qassam rockets and artillery fire outside this hall. We came here to be entertained, not to worry. In my magic space I'm protected and you're my captivated audience.

Following the government system revolution, I'll be a thousand times more protected. You won't like my show? You want to topple my government and dismantle the Knesset? Forget about it! The revolution will attach the prime minister to the chair. So many Knesset members will be required to dismiss me that it won't happen at any point during my term.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the cherry on top, the climax: Following the revolution, I and only I will appoint the ministers. Their fate will depend on my words. They won't even serve in the Knesset. Think about it, ladies and gentleman, when you recall the appointments in my government to this point.

I'm repeating the question: What does my government system revolution remind you of? What, still a duck? Ladies and gentlemen, impossible, I'm really disappointed. You're so narrow-minded! Where's your vision? Where is your loud applause? Why is everyone no longer impressed with my coalition tricks and the way I manage to emerge out of investigations unscathed? What happened, my dear audience, you don't like my magic anymore?

I promise: The government rabbit I pulled out will be roaring like a lion. And what if it won't? What if it quacks like a duck? We'll butcher that one too, as we did its predecessors.

Those are the words of the magic. And the show has only started.

Olmert spells disaster for Israel.

And if you read this and say, "Why the heck would I want to move there?"

Because despite all of them, it's ours. And the more like minded people we have here, the more possibly we could change things.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

The Hevron Shuk, where you can get anything you want...

Sort of reminds me of, "You can can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant..."

Except this is the shuk in Hevron, where you can get anything you want as well.

Spices...Clothes...Food...even cow heads.

OK, since I've totally spoiled your appetite, I won't post about the waffles...yet.

(pictures courtesy of

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Friday, November 10, 2006

Erev Shabbat Update

Normally, I wouldn't update my blog on Erev Shabbat, especially after being up all night on a MDA shift in Kefar Sava, and definitely not during the winter months, when there's so little time on Friday to get things ready for Shabbat.

However, I had two very important updates to mention.

1. Back of the Hill pointed me to a very interesting post he wrote about the San Francisco branch of the hate Israel crowd, and how the are planning to commemorate Kristalnacht in their own, unique way.

2. The Great Waffle experiment...worked! Pictures and update next week. (Even though Jack didn't show up for breakfast)

Shabbat Shalom!


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Fifth Son -- Muqata's View of the Gay Parade

With the entire parade's existence in question due to the over 80 active terror warnings (that's equivalent to INFRARED on the USA's Homefront Security Warning scale) resulting from yesterday's IDF artillery shelling of terror positions in Beit Hanoun -- I decided to be the absolute LAST blogger to discuss the issue.

Everyone's given their 2 cents, from Treppenwitz, Orthomom, Akiva, DovBear, JoeSettler, The Purple Parrot, Robby, Israel-Rules, and many I can now write mine (having the benefit of reading theirs as well)

Listening to IDF army radio this morning on my way to work, a Chareidi columnist was interviewed and he admitted that perhaps...maybe...the entire Chareidi threat of "defending the honor of Jerusalem" from the Gay Parade, was wrong (tactically, not strategically).

He commented that the Gerer Rebbe said NOTHING about the entire episode and that many rabbanim remained quiet. Not because they agree with it, but by escalating the issue to mammoth proportions including violence and destruction, they inadvertently gave so much publicity to the parade, that EVERYONE knows about it now.

From a small parade that would have ended with little publicity, the parade has become a symbol of fighting the religious establishment -- instead of just a pro-rights parade. From a parade which would probably have had little davka to it, it has become a cause to rally around for many people who ordinarily wouldn't have cared.

Unfortunately, my kids now know all about gays, lesbians and the parade, since the Chareidim have made this a huge issue, and now I have to discuss these issues with them at a far younger age than I would have preferred.
Commerical Break: A Muqata Dinner Story from Tuesday evening.

My 8 year old son brought to the dinner table, a rainbow kite he had made, to show off his kite-building talent.

My 13 year old son takes one look at it, and says, "I didn't know you were going to the P A R A D E this Friday...."

Not surprisingly, my 3 oldest knew exactly what he meant.
The radio interviewer said that the Fifth son at the seder who doesn't show up, is the gay one. Or maybe he does show up, but the Hagadda doesn't specifically label him. There's no reason to, as it will just attract more attention than it's worth.

Perhaps if the Chareidim would have let the parade happen without all the violence and hoopla surrounding it, there would be so little attention, that it would have just passed...and we could get back to dealing with other issues.

Let me say this clearly; the Torah clearly prohibits certain acts and calls them an abomination. Yet I also have enough serious things to do with my limited time, and I'm not sure the most important thing religious Jews should be doing now, is trying to shut down a parade...which will just attract even more attention to a lifestyle we disagree with.

And to tell you the truth, I'm surprised the Chareidim are even reacting like this in the first place. The usual Chareidi hashkafic answer to everything is to sit, learn, daven and say tehillim.

Which makes me surer that politics are involved here, and not purely the wish to "keep Jerusalem holy."

Wishing everyone a quiet, safe and peaceful shabbat (with lots of rain).


PS: Due to the security situation, I doubt I will be awake enough tomorrow morning to make waffles. We'll see. Updates on Sunday :-)

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Who's Collateral Damage in Gaza - IDF or Hamas?

The top story this morning on Israel Radio was supposed to be about how the Democratic Party wrested control of the US House of Representatives from the Republicans.

At 6:00 AM all of that changed, when a large apartment building collapsed in Beit Hanoun (Northern Gaza Strip) killing 18 Palestinian civilians and wounding over 30.

IDF officials said that artillery fire was directed at a Qassam launching spot and at another nearby spot from where Palestinians planned to launch Qassam rockets, and at this time, are unsure if the casualties were a result of IDF artillery fire.

The Arab (and Israeli left wing) rhetoric was quick to come.

One mother of victims said, "I am proud to be the mother of the shahids, it is a great honor and we pray to Allah to compensate us"

"I call on all the armed groups everywhere to avenge the blood of the dead with suicide bombings against Israeli civilians" -- Jamal Abed, who heads Fatah in northern Gaza.

"The slaughter in Beit Hanoun, with dozens dead and dozens wounded, all innocent civilians and most of them children, testifies to the fact that this is a policy of ethnic cleansing," Dahlan said. (Dahlan was involved in planning the terrorist attack against the Kfar Darom school bus that blew off the legs of the Cohen children, and killed 2 other people).

Sheikh Nafez Azzam, a leader of the Islamic Jihad, said "The massacre in Beit Hanoun is an intentional act aimed at bringing the members of the town to emigrate from it."

Dr. Erekat, who currently resides in the West Bank, told Ynet of his impressions from Wednesday morning: "What Israel did is a war crime against the civilian population in Gaza," he declared.
Only a fool (or an Arab leader) would believe that Israel intentionally targeted civilian targets. Unlike the Palestinian Terror organizations, Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, DFLP, and other alphabet soup named terrorists, the IDF are not blood-thirsty organizations who intentionally target civilians.

It is the Arabs terrorists who intentionally target Israeli civilians with their Qassam rockets, suicide bomber attacks and attempted terrorist infiltration into settlements. Make no mistake, they explicitly say they want to kill as many Jewish civilians as possible, and they gain more from a buildingfull of Palestinian civilian casualties than Israel does.

Which makes it important not to jump to conclusions (as Israel always does).

We've already seen cases of the IDF being blamed for Palestinian terrorist "work accidents" which caused the deaths of Palestinian civilians...or simply, Terrorist collateral damage.

If the casualties DID result from IDF artillery, then it's IDF collateral damage -- and not the targeted killing of Palestinians.

No one in Israel wants to see Palestinian civilian casualties, but to bend over backwards apologizing is wrong. When the Palestinians stop the daily shelling of Sderot and Ashkelon with Qassam rockets, when they stop terrorism as a way of life...then we have what to talk about, and apologize for.

Till then, we're at war.

And the Palestinians have full responsibility for the consequences of shooting rockets from civilian areas and hiding among civilians.

PS; And it's not like an Israeli apology really matters to anyone, anyway.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Muqata Housekeeping Musings (MHM)

Hi All -

A few important notes to all:

1. Despite Jack's best intention there will NOT be an open house Muqata breakfast for waffles this coming Friday...for many reasons.

a. We haven't yet tried out the waffle maker yet.
b. Friday's is usually a crazy day at our home and the day we clean it up for shabbat.
c. If our responsible, oldest child would be slightly more helpful on Friday's, then perhaps it could happen. (You hear me? You're doing a great job so far...all we need is a little bit more help!)

I'm finding teenagers in general to be more and more of a challenge. Granted, it's not like I'm reading books on or attending classes on how to deal with teenagers (which I probably should). Just this past Saturday night, my oldest decided to change the water bottle for our bottled-water contraption. He should get credit for doing this on his own, without any asking from us, but does he HAVE to go outside, dressed like this?

I promise you, I did NOT encourage this behavior from him. (Unless you think, that the yellow smiley mask I wear all day long to protect my identity gave him the idea).

Sigh. Any advice on how to deal with teens?

2. No, I haven't forgotten about the new banner for the Muqata blog. There's an excellent one ready to go, but the executive management of the blog still hasn't given's it's blessing to the banner. Still working on it.

3. If you have a blog that's NOT on my blogroll, please feel free to email it to me and I'll be happy to include it. My apologies if you've asked me before and I've forgotten...

4. If you find something blog-worthy, please send me your ideas. I can't blog about Muqata Waffles every day...(and if your suggestion is decent, maybe we will invite you for a Waffle Breakfast :)

5. No, there is no item five today. Unless of course, I blog about it later.

Have a great day!

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

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