Tuesday, July 31, 2007

And you thought you had a tough boss

Workers killed after seeking raises

Welcome Home! (This could also be you)

I never get tired of plane-loads of olim arriving home in Israel -- and two hundred new olim joined us this morning!

In fact, every single time I see pictures like these, or actually attend one of these arrival ceremonies -- I get totally sentimental and choked up.

More and more immigrants from around the world, and specifically North America, are continuing to move home to Israel.

This could be you as well -- have you thought about aliya today?

Our heartfelt best wishes for a quick and easy klita (absorption) -- and make your new life here exceed your dreams.

On behalf of the nation of Israel -- we thank you for returning home; helping us build a better country for us all, together.


Random Photos from Today's Nefesh BNefesh flight home, courtesy of Muqata blog friend, Jacob Richman (see them all here)

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Back in the USSR

Actually, I'm back in Israel, but I can't get over how many Russian names I'm seeing. From the woman who stamped my passport to guy hitting up for Tzedaka, the Former Soviets are everywhere. Big difference from last time I was here, but I'm glad for it. Not really sure how many are actually Jewish, though..

The other big difference is the place definitely seems more frummed-out than I remember. It's especially noticable in the Central Shopping area of Ramat Bet Shemesh where despite the 95 degree heat all the guys are wearing black pants and jackets and all the women and girls are covered from head to toe with winter-wear. Well, the women have no choice, judging by the dress code plastered in large letters over one of the taller buildings.

Ah yes, no place like home.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Monday, July 30, 2007

How'm I doing?

Israel passed a law that all company cars need a sign on them with a phone number to report vehicular traffic violations.

I think this is a much better idea!

(Translation; How am I behaving? [if I'm bad] Call the phone number...)

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Backed up your blog lately?

Just in time for my 1000th posting...and I haven't backed up my blog.

hat-tip: Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The After-Eight MEME

Having been tagged by so many people with the "MEME of 8" (or eight things you didn't know about a particular blogger), I finally got around to this today, and present, the "After Eight" MEME... Or, 8 Things you didn't know about Jameel.

1. I like spaghetti. Plain. Even with no tomato sauce. Even though it's a "plain" food, I'd even order it in restaurants (and you thought it was only waffles...)

2. In third grade, I had the chicken pox on my birthday. I was randomly chosen as classmate of the week, and wasn't even in class for 3 weeks to bask in the limelight.

3. I often sleep with my hands behind my head. What does this mean? I didn't even know I routinely slept like that...maybe once in a while.

I had no clue how routine it was till yesterday afternoon, when someone noticed one of the kids sprawled out sleeping on chair, and the discussion came up about how we sleep...and my wife said that I sleep like that. Who knew. My wife mentioned an article which said it had something to do with confidence...but I'm not convinced.

4. Favorite Colors: Purple and Green. My favorite shirt though, was a polo shirt with black and purple stripes (horizontal). Over the past few years, orange has crept into our lives...and while it wasn't my favorite color by far, it has been absorbed...

5. I have not read any Harry Potter book in completion, though we own most of them. I saw parts of some of the movies.

6. I once ran away from my summer day camp to spend the whole day reading science fiction books in a local book store.

7. I believe my black hat flew out of the car window in Washington Heights in 1989...and has never been seen from, since.

8. I'm not that interesting...what do you want know anyway? Shoe size? (12).

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Hot in Jerusalem and Something to do

It is HOT in Jerusalem, and apparently going to get hotter.

And for a change there is going to be lots of free and cheap stuff to do in Jerusalem next month!!!

Me? I'm going to the Beer Festival.

By the way, one of the good things Luplionsky has done for Jerusalem is move all these events until after Tisha B'Av. I remember when Jerusalem would offer the concerts and events during the 3 weeks, in complete disregard for season.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tznius in the pool

Bnei Braq brings a whole new level of tznius to the swimming pool -- now available in Petakh Tiqua as well!

Forget your bathing suit...you swim in your clothes.

(Makes me understand why Petakh Tiqua was for sale on ebay in the first place)

shtreimel-tip as always goes to: Amshi...

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Eitam Hill

I am sure that Jameel wouldn't want to offend his more extreme readers with this, so I am just posting it as a link to my site. First is a post about about police abusing their power yesterday on the Eitam Hill, and another post has a picture of police attacking a 75 year old man (I was told his arms are now all black and blue), plus links to more pictures. And here is a lesson learned from yesterday.

Pop Quiz (no right answer). What is there about Jameel's banner that a leftist extremist could describe it as being the most offensive, disgusing thing he ever saw? (not those exact words, but you get the drift.)

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Parents' Small Request.

From the mailbag...worth reading...and passing on.

Dear friends,

Today's [J@M: a few weeks back, the] New York Times carries a review of a film called "Hot House" that goes inside Israeli prisons and examines the lives of Palestinian prisoners. We're not recommending the film or the review. But we do want to share our feelings with you about the beaming female face that adorns the article. You can see it here.

The film is produced by HBO. So it's presumably HBO's publicity department that was responsible for creating and distributing a glamour-style photograph of a smiling, contented-looking young woman in her twenties to promote the movie.

That female is our child's murderer. She was sentenced to sixteen life sentences or 320 years which she is serving in an Israeli jail. Fifteen people were killed and more than a hundred maimed and injured by the actions of this attractive person and her associates. The background is here.

Neither the New York Times nor HBO are likely to give even a moment's attention to the victims of the barbarians who destroyed the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem and the lives of so many victims. So we would be grateful if you would pass along this link to some pictures of our
daughter whose name was Malki. She was unable to reach her twenties - Hamas saw to that.

Though she was only fifteen years old when her life was stolen from her and from us, we think Malki was a beautiful young woman, living a beautiful life. We ask your help so that other people - far fewer than the number who will see the New York Times, of course - can know about her.

Please ask your friends to look at the pictures - some of
the very few we have - of our murdered daughter.

They are at http://www.kerenmalki.org/photo.htm

And remind them of what the woman in the Israeli prison - the woman smiling so happily in the New York Times - said last year. "I'm not sorry for what I did. We'll become free from the occupation and then I will be free from prison."

With so many voices demanding that Israel release its terrorist prisoners, small wonder she's smiling.

With greetings from Jerusalem,

Frimet and Arnold Roth
On behalf of Keren Malki

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Through Fire You Were Destroyed, through Fire you will be Rebuilt

Today at mincha, we put on tefillin and said in the Shmona Esreh:

כי אתה ה' באש הצתה ובאש אתה עתיד לבנותה,
כאמור: ואני אהיה לה, נאום ה', חומת אש סביב ולכבוד אהיה בתוכה
ברוך אתה ה' מנחם ציון ובונה ירושלים

And while it's hard to see in my head the image of the Beit Hamikdash and Yerushalyim burning, the images of burning shuls in Gush Katif came to mind.

Here are recent satellite pictures of the remains of Gush Katif...

And yet, the words of last night still reverberate:

תרחם ציון כאשר אמרת ותכוננה כאשר דיברת. תמהר ישועה ותחיש גאולה ותשוב לירושלים ברחמים רבים. ככתוב על יד נביאך: לכן כה אמר ה‘ שבתי לירושלים ברחמים ביתי יבנה בה נאם ה‘ צבאות וקו ינטה על ירושלים"

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Tisha B'Av; 30 years and back.

Last night as a I lay in bed, I wondered about a Tisha B'Av posting for my blog.

I already wrote a posting yesterday afternoon, but it rests incomplete as a draft -- a fragment of what I and many others felt 2 years ago on Tisha B'Av, hours before the Disengagement.

Instead, a totally different memory came back to me -- a 30-something year-old latent recollection...

Trying hard to focus on the memory, the colors from the 70's seemed a bit faded -- not as vibrant as they must have been that hot, humid summer day in suburban America.

My mother had gone grocery shopping on Tisha B'Av afternoon and asked me to carry in the groceries from the car.

Shlepping them back and forth, I picked up a 24-can case of what must have been "Pathmark" brand cola, and one of the cans slipped out and fell on the pavement.

It started hissing -- and as I picked it up it exploded...cola...everywhere.

I believe I was fasting at the time (it was definitely before my Bar Mitzva), and the can's contents showered me the point that it was dripping from my hair. Of course, I didn't drink any and I laughed at what a funny sight it must have been.

Picking up the remaining cans, I resume walking to my home down the path when I was stopped by a car's honk from the street.

Turning around, I walked back to the car, (still carrying a dripping case of soda cans), and I walked to the passenger side window. The window slid down, and the driver was the Rabbi of our shul. I smiled broadly and said "hi," as cola continued to drip down my forehead onto my shirt.

The Rabbi seemed a bit annoyed at my demeanor; perhaps it being my cola-soaked shirt or my jovial smile on Tisha B'Av afternoon -- and he asked that I get my father from our house. I hardly noticed the distinguished person sitting in the front passenger seat, near the window I was poking my head through.

I ran to the house, got my father, and continued putting away the groceries.

About 20 minutes later, my father returned to the house and asked if I knew who was sitting in the car with our community Rabbi.

I had no clue...

My father, shaking his head in disbelief looking at my cola stained shirt on Tisha B'Av said to me, that was one of the Gedolei HaDor...that was Rav Soloveitchik zt'l..."The Rav."

I knew who the "Rav" was...and immediately felt rather uncomfortable (and I was a kid at the time!)

That Tisha B'Av in the 1970's was the first time I would meet the "Rav".

Why did this memory pop into my head last night after 30 something years?

It might have been the mention of the Maimonides school in the NY Times and the excellent responses by R' Gil Student or Chana.

Maybe it was a Tisha B'Av fragment of hearing the Rav mournfully sing Eilee Tzion, the last of the Kinot from Tisha B'Av morning (I recall hearing it on audio 10 years ago, and was impressed it's still on the same site -- you can hear other shiurim from the Rav there as well).

Perhaps it was a only reminder that things always go wrong on Tisha B'Av.

Maybe I'll write a bit later about Tisha B'Av 2 years ago.

Till then, may we merit the redemption of Am Yisrael today.


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Calling it like it is.

What better way to start off Tisha B'Av, then to be threatened with a law suit by the Wonkette blogger?

Personal friend of the Muqata, Yisrael Medad, wrote the following on his blog, "My Right Word"
"Wonkette" Antisemitic?
Wonkette, that foul-mouthed but titilating blogger of Washington foibles, seems to have gone anti-semitic. Editor Alex Pareene and Interns Nick Mueller and Lauren Spohrer may be responsible for this post which refers to someone they call "Rudy-Jew-liani " who gave an interview to the "Jew York Times".
He received the following in return:
You know, it's kind of poor manners to go accusing people of being antisemitic based on nothing more than you being too lazy to read the site and know any of the references.

But since you don't, and since you so thoughtlessly and wantonly libel our editors and the owners and stockholders of our company, I will direct you to the specific reference from the day before, which just happens to be a viral video on YouTube that everybody in politics is talking about:


You can go ahead and apologize on your site now. Send us the link when you do and I'll send that to our lawyers and that will be the end of that.
Read the rest of Yisrael's reply on his blog, here.

Orthomom: What do you think? Will Wonkette run for the school board in the 5 towns to complete with Pamela?

Free Speech, Tisha B'Av, Blogging...seems like a recipe for disaster.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Monday, July 23, 2007

Jews in the News

Sunday's NYT magagine has something good about modern Orthodoxy, written by a graduate of one of the better MO day schools. As part of the larger discussion, he tells how his school handled the study of evolution (a rabbi gave a creationist introduction) and recounts some of the lectures he and his classmates were given about sex.

I expect those of you think MO is nothing but shortcuts and prikas ol will be unpleasently surprised.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Space junk on it's way to Israel?!

As if the threat of Iranian nuclear warheads and Palestinian terrorists aren't a big enough danger to Israel, The Russian-language webzine in Israel, "Kursor.co.il" announced today that there's a possibility that space junk from the ISS (International Space Station) will hit Israel.

Since my Russian isn't as good as my Arabic, I had to use the google language translator program, which provided the following translation from Russian:
Israel [to be] struck by space debris

This week the crew of international space station to drop 700 kilograms of open space debris. According to sources at NASA, the ISS will be withdrawn from the container with 635 kg of various waste and ceased operation of the telescope weighing 100 kg.

All the "space ship" will rotate in the orbit for 300 days, gradually approaching the earth. Then it will go down in the atmosphere, which is projected scientists, the vast majority of debris burn up. However, the container itself disintegrate into many pieces, about 17 kilograms each. These fragments and obrushatsya land.

According to the forecast of the National Space Agency of the United States, most of the world's oceans absorb waste, but may be under siege and coastal areas, including in Israel. To track the movement of debris to set up a special radar station. Revelations of them will be transferred to computers and operators sprognoziruyut been falling pieces of the container and warn of the population.

According to Israeli experts, the exact warning could be followed for 1,5-2 hours before the fall. Citizens are "problematic" areas advise home or evacuate. It is also suggested that the reinforced roof can withstand the impact and protect residents.

Remember Skylab? (Old man Jack and PsychoToddler might, but I doubt Ezzie will have ever heard of it)

That was also a summer scare.

Coincidence? I think not.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Calculated Risk

Received from A Simple Jew.
"When people are asked why they are unwilling to settle in Eretz Yisrael right now, they have all types of cheshbonot - calculations - as to why now is not the time. One says his chesbon is that his children need to finish school or college; another's chesbon is that he has to vest his pension, and so on. If we look in the Torah, though, we will see that before the Jewish people entered Eretz Yisrael, they first killed the King of Chesbon. Once the King of Chesbon is killed, the decision to move to Eretz Yisrael becomes easy."

(Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook )
While the decision might become easier, I won't fool you into thinking the implementation is simple.

It's a start just to dream of moving here.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Nice Post by RWAC

It (click here) echoes arguments I've made about Moshiach. In particular: why should we think that malchus Dovid is going to be any better the second time around? Anyone who studies Nach can't help but notice that Jewish kings were, for the most part, like kings everywhere: corrupt, shallow, selfish and greedy. As Samuel promised:
This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day."
Why should we expect that the King Moshiach will be any different from his Davidic ancestors? With the exception of Josiah and Hezekiah, and maybe one or two others, all of the Jewish kings after Shlomo "did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord." All of them abused their power, and mistreated their subjects. Not one of them brought us any closer to God or any kind of fulfilment. They were weak. Unstable. Corrupt.

The solution, I think, is not a King Moshiach, but a president Moshiach, someone who, like the Rambam said, will be an ordinary human, but one without unchecked power. Unchecked power, see, always leads to ruin, and it's a poor student of history, indeed, who'd ever wish to bestow it again on a human being.

Crossposted at DovBear

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Gaydamak: I’m a haredi without a kippah

"I’m a haredi without a kippah"

How's that for a quote?

I wonder what jblogosphere (and part time lurker) Chareidi blogger, "Ed" would say to such a statement?

While such statements probably don't win Gaydamak any fans in the Chareidi community, there is still much to be said for this statement.
"I will be the next mayor of Jerusalem, God willing," said billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak in a Hebrew-language interview with the strictly Orthodox radio station Kol Chai on Wednesday.

Gaydamak, who normally only speaks English or Russian in public, was confident he had the haredi vote. Despite his admittance to not keeping Shabbat or kashrut, he said, "I am haredi, without the kippah".

When asked about his stance on yeshiva students enlisting to the army, he said, "Why do we need an army? To protect the Jews. Our country is Jewish. If young men don’t study Torah, we won’t be a Jewish country, so why would we even need an army?"

Gaydamak called his purchase of Jerusalem’s Bikur Holim hospital "a mitzvah, not business", and vowed that it would be the best hospital in the country. "Many doctors promised me they would return if I, Gaydamak, am there," he said. (YNET)
While this will probably draw cynical snickers from some of our Chareidi readers, there was an article in Makor Rishon a few weeks back with the subtitle, "Who was the IDF Officer who ate clams, but voted Mafdal (Mizrachi)?"

No, it wasn't about a Modern Orthodox IDF officer who ate treif, but about a non-religious IDF officer, Erez Gerstein who had a deep connection to Israel and Judaism -- and died protecting Israel.

I guess while not all of Israel's kings were the finest of Torah-observers, the rabbanim at the time still gave them lots of respect for furthering the cause of Jews and Israel.

Food for thought. (Ed: What do you think?)

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Not "Only in Israel" pictures

Seems like these pictures don't only happen in Israel.

So far, I've hardly seen any US bloggers reference this big story in NYC.

These pictures (IMHO, anyway) are very reminiscent of 9/11 and eerily remind me of JoeSettler's posting here a few days ago about the 3 weeks and 9/11.

Picture Source.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Only in Israel Pictures (edition 3)

I seriously doubt the majority of you have ever seen these "only in Israel" pictures before. If you know where these pictures are from, give a shout out in the comments.

You may be eligable for a frozen muqata waffle!

Coin operated air conditioning or heating (2 NIS for 20 minutes).

A memorial candle dispenser machine. (hat-tip: MikeAge)

Question: How many brachot does the following unfortunate person have to say?

A Canadian jogger happened to be carrying an iPod at the wrong place at the wrong time. Lightning struck his body during a thunderstorm, and the current ran along the path of the earphones and into his head, causing injuries to his jaw and ear eardrums. The patient's physicians say the combination of sweat and the metal earphones directed the current to his head.

I can think of at least 3...

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Security Systems

אם ה' לא ישמור עיר שווה שקד שומר

If G-d will not watch over a city, a gaurd's watch is for nothing.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Monday, July 16, 2007

"It MUST be the Torah!"

I was at a client last week providing some computer graphics training. One of the art directors needed some assistance, as she was having some trouble with the project she was working on. It just happens to be that this art director is Jewish (I believe she's a BT). In any regard, she shows me the problem that she's having on the computer screen and after thinking about it for a moment, I asked her to try a certain function. She did, and the problem went away.

The look on this woman's face was pure joy. She couldn't believe that I had "figured it out". Just for the record, the problem she was having wasn't one that I had seen before, but intuition just seemed to lead me to the solution.

The art director, however, was just in total shock, as she couldn't figure out how in the world I had made the connection between her problem and the ultimate solution (admittedly, the two things seemingly had nothing in common at all). She demanded that I tell her how I figured it out. Unfortunately, I didn't have an answer for her. I just said it kinda clicked in my head and went with a hunch. She didn't believe that. In any regard, I left her desk to continue my rounds at the company.

The next day, I passed by her desk and she jumped up and said the following:

"I still can't get over how in the world you figured that problem out yesterday. I discussed it with my husband last night and we both decided that it MUST be the Torah. It must be! You learn Torah and only someone who has that kind of mind could possibly come up with that specific solution to the problem."

Since then, it has become a phrase used often at the company. Even the non-Jewish employees now want me to "use the Torah" when I help them with their computer problems.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Sunday, July 15, 2007

VIP Terrorists and The New Middle East President

Tonight, as we start the "9 days", the 9 days of mourning for the destruction of the Jewish Temples, the Batei HaMikdash -- those that mourn the destruction will not eat meat, drink wine, listen to music, go to parties, or buy new clothes.

Some will not be mourning tonight, but will be celebrating.

A gala party is scheduled to commemorate the reign of Israel's incoming President, Shimon Peres.

Two rabbis from the Military Rabbinate will sound shofars, and the Knesset speaker will call out: "Long live the president of the State of Israel" and the MK and the crowd will respond: "Long live, long live, long live".

The song "Chafetz Chaim" will then be performed by a junior choir, and will be followed by a speech by outgoing acting President Dalia Itzik and a song by Israeli singer Avihu Medina.

As Israel leading failed visionary of the "New Middle East" prepares to enter the Presidential Home, the garbage trail of Oslo continues to pile up in his wake.

Palestinian Terrorist Nayef Hawatmeh -- the secretary-general of the Democratic Front for the Liberation (DFLP) of Palestine , mastermind of the Maalot massacre and others atrocities is being given the VIP welcome to Ramalla, at Israel's acceptance.

Woe onto us.

This is the embodiment of the 9 days; no self esteem, inviting terrorists into our borders, and crowning the fool who made it all possible.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Feeling Jewish

My problem with Jewish holidays is that they try to force you into certain moods or emotional states at specific times, and that simply doesn’t resonate with me.

Sukkot irritates me when I have to spend up to $25 on a lemon. I never feel repentant on the days leading up to Yom Kippur, and when Yom Kippur comes around, I tend to feel I missed the opportunity yet again. Purim simply makes me angry with all the drunks running amok, smashing on your car, and so on. You get the idea.

But the Three Weeks, the Nine Days, and especially Tisha B’Av have always been especially problematic. Here we are, right smack in the middle of summer break and suddenly we have to be downcast and depressed. No swimming. No music. No fun.

And three weeks of this artificially enforced emotion and behavior – can be way too much. (Yes, I know some people will strongly disagree with me at this point, and good for you that you are able to keep up being down and depressed for 3 weeks on end. Can I recommend Prozac?).

Occasionally sitting by the steps leading up to Har HaBayit I might feel a twinge, but again I know it was in part compulsory and driven by outside forces and demands. Intellectually I understood it, but the feelings were mostly not from inside. After all, for me, the Temple Mount looks like it always does, I didn’t experience the destruction, or see what it was like before, or visit it and walk in its courtyard. It was an intellectual understanding.

That all changed on 9/11.

Suddenly the bedrock and foundation stone of the world I live in was rocked, shaken, and fractured. It wasn’t the building itself, but the steadfastness, and constancy that it represented and previously existed, that was destroyed.

I wasn’t necessarily feeling grief for the thousands of victims or a few buildings, but rather for what was destroyed for me as a result. The veneer of a continuity, steadfastness, and civilization that I was a part of. The reality of my environment. The idea that something so huge and permanent could be gone so instantly and everything around it can suddenly change and disappear and perhaps no longer be safe.

It was literally at that point that I first felt what the destruction of the Temples must have been like to the Jewish people then and how it should feel to us today.

And while the strong shock is gone when I visit the site of the Twin Towers, the impalpable feeling of loss and destruction still remains.

It is that shock and loss that the Rabbis of the Churban try to have us remember and feel every year. And that is why they instituted such a long period of annual mourning because they (and as a result, we) were so devastated by this loss and this was their natural reaction, and they wanted it to be ours too.

It is only now that I have what to draw from, that I understand emotionally what this loss means to the Jewish people. I can now begin to grasp the enormity of something that I before took for granted because I knew of nothing else.

I have internalized, at least in part, the emotional impact and meaning of Tisha B’Av.

I can think of no other way to finish this post than with "L’shana haba b’Yerushalyim habnuya".


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

A Bungalow in the "Country"

Ah...to be on "camp time."

Then again, you can move to Israel where there are plenty of places that offer the upstate NY "country" mountain environment -- specifically, Yehuda, Shomron, the Galil, the Golan and the Negev.

Its much better to spend Shabbat Nachamu here than in Woodbourne.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Friday, July 13, 2007

Bait and Switch

While Jameel likes to crown of himself the King of Barbeques, he will happily acknowledge that I, JoeSettler, taught him everything he knows when it comes to barbequing hot dogs and steaks. I guess that make me a Kingmaker.

There are probably a few American in Israel who brought over their BBQs from the US on their lift. Along with the BBQs many presumably brought along the 20 lb. LP gas tank that came with the system (the ones that cost a mere $10-$15 back then).

I, of course being different, also brought my gas tank to Israel, but I brought mine with me on the plane as carry-on luggage. Of course, that was before 9/11. Still, it was an interesting story getting it through the security check (after they couldn’t get it through the X-Ray machine – can you imagine they tried?!) .

I quickly learned a lesson from friends of mine.

Those gas canisters are mighty enticing to some people.

It used work here sort of like printer cartridges do today. You returned your tank to a store and received a different when it was ready. No big deal when you are talking about the same cheap Israeli balloons that used to float around.

But our American tanks were something different, something desired - they were twice as big as the largest Israeli size and were clearly made of higher quality parts.

At least 2 friends of mine, right off the boat, lost their gas tanks to the stores that switched them. Of course their old balloons were never to be found again, and the storeowners cheerfully explained to them that they only switch canisters and never, ever return the originals ("and some other customer got them") – that was policy.

Remember, this was almost 2 decades ago, and customers (especially green ones) didn’t have much recourse.

I learned from my friends' mistakes and shopped around until I found a store that promised to not switch them (Gaz Nuni on Bar-Ilan St in Jerusalem) and they kept to their word.

Unfortunately, all that ended a few years ago when one day I walked into Gaz Nuni and they told me they can no longer fill up my balloon. The law had changed and it was decided that American balloons aren’t up to Israeli standards so they aren’t allowed to fill them anymore. It would be illegal to fill them – they’re considered substandard!

My American balloon was outlawed.

It took a while, but eventually I found a “hole in the wall” shop that would quietly refill my balloon as long as I didn’t make a fuss about it. And that lasted for a while, and over the years I sent them a few quiet customers, until I (like Jameel), out of convenience, eventually ran a gas pipe directly from the wall to the BBQ.

I’m writing this today because JerusalemCop desperately called me up this week trying to find out where he could fill up his American balloon.

It took some research, but I found my “hole in the wall” shop again, and they did their thing for JerusalemCop. Unfortunately they told JC that this would probably be the last time they can do it, as their supplier was afraid of getting caught and was no longer willing to refill the tanks.

As compensation, they said if they can’t fill it up again next time, they offered to go to his home (for free) and help him retrofit his BBQ to (“superior”) Israeli standards when this tank ran out.

In all seriousness, I think that was nice of them to offer.

I still want to know what is substandard about my American gas tank that is/was sold in America in every Sears in the country.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

What to do during the Nine Days?

If you are looking for something interesting and relevant to do during the Nine Days, this is it.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Is the Shasmobile for sale on ebay!

Move over Batman.

Why settle for anything less than the official Shasmobile, the BMW owned by Shas spiritual leader and previous Chief Rabbi, R' Ovadya Yosef?

Is this 2005 BMW 7-Series 735 on ebay that of R' Ovadya Yosef?

In the revision history of the vehicle it says:

Item Specifics: - Cars & Trucks
Changed Sub Title from BMW Formerly Owned by Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef to BMW Formerly Owned by Chief Rabbi.

You just gotta love those American flags on the windows...

Spudiktip to Amshi the Amshinover

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


Despite it all: Aliyah from North America will be Unprecedented!

Despite the appearance of headline-grabbing, post-Zionist, and party hack politicians -- a specially chartered El-Al flight carrying 220 new immigrants from North America landed Tuesday morning in Tel Aviv.

Israel has it's share of problems; A lion's share of corrupt politicians and convicted (or under investigation) criminals make up Israel's government.

Yet, despite it all, Jews from North America are proudly moving to Israel, to make a difference.

Upbeat articles by the JPost and YNET. Haaretz, dour as usual, has this instead.

Pictures courtesy of Jacob Richman (see them all here)

May yesterday's new immigrants have an easy and successful integration into life here, and help strengthen our country spiritually and physically.

Eretz Yisrael welcomes it's children back home!

Welcome Home.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sudanese Refugees in Israel.

Warning: Politically Incorrect Posting ahead.

Despite my support for stopping Sudanese terror in Darfur, I am firmly against Israel accepting the oncoming tidal wave of Sudanese refugees.

Background: Over the past week, dozens of Sundanese refugees have illegally crossed over the border from Egypt into Israel. What started a year ago with a dozen Sudanese refugees seeking refuge in Israel has grown to approximately 1400, with 58 entering Israel illegally last week alone.

These refugees are coming to Israel via Egypt, where an estimated 3 million of them live.

Now, as much as I understand the plight of the Sudanese in Sudan and the dangers they face there, the primary reason they are smuggling themselves into Israel is for better economic opportunities (it can't be that great in Egypt).

That said, there's a world of difference between Israel providing refuge to those fleeing a murderous regime, and naively opening up it's gates to a Muslim community seeking economic advancement.

Israel is not a land of unlimited economic opportunity; in fact, the opposite is quite true. Israel's economy can not survive a massive influx of these refugees.

If you start accepting these refugees into Israel, it will only encourage more.

Israel is not based on "Give me your tired, your weak, your poor Moslem refugees" -- we try to deal exclusively with Jewish immigration. There are 22 Moslem countries who are more than capable of dealing with this issue, so that Israel's already burdened economy does not have to accept this problem as well.

And we have more than enough problems to worry about today which are not being addressed amply.

Hilel Halkin, a contributing editor of the NY Sun criticizes Israel:
One cannot, as an Israeli, feel anything but shame at the way one's government has reacted to the influx of hundreds of Sudanese refugees, many of them from Darfur, who have recently crossed the border from Egypt into Israel.

Or perhaps one should say "has not reacted," because apart from stating its intention of returning them to Egypt, Prime Minister Olmert's government has done nothing while the penniless Sudanese whom have been rounded up by the army, whose patrols have found them on the Israeli side of the desert border between Sinai and the Negev; taken to the Negev's main city of Beersheba; dumped unceremoniously in its streets; and left to fend for themselves with what help they have been able to get from local authorities and volunteer organizations.
Halkin's shame at Olmert and Israel is totally misplaced, since his expectations are totally displaced from reality.

Israel isn't capable of dealing with it's own, self-created refugee problem of those evicted from Gush Katif.

Don't get me wrong; the people from Gush katif didn't flee genocide, but that Israel can't even get their act together for their own citizens, should be proof enough to Halkin that his criticism is off the mark.

Just today the Jerusalem Post reports the following:
The majority of former Gaza periphery residents are in dire conditions, says a report published by an ad hoc parliamentary committee established to determine the aftermath of the 2005 disengagement.

Israel Radio reported Tuesday afternoon that most of the evacuees were still living in temporary housing and that hundreds of families were dependent on assistance from welfare services.

The report also found that the percentage of unemployed Gaza periphery evacuees was double their number before the disengagement.

The Ministry of Education estimated that approximately half the schoolchildren from evacuees' families did not return to normal functioning, that about a third of them needed extensive help in studying and that many of the children needed support and professional counseling.

Junior high- and high school pupils exhibited a decline in achievements and lower concentration span.

School counselors reported an increase in abuse of controlled substances, decline in the development of social skills and rise in suicidal thoughts among teenagers.

The report was published preceding a discussion on the disengagement evacuees' condition in the Knesset's State Control Committee.
Some might say that Israel has the moral imperative to accept Sudanese refugees, in light of the Holocaust.

To them I say, there weren't any Jewish countries back then to accept Jewish refugees. Today, we have only one, tiny country.

And we don't need to sacrifice it.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Sabrina the Lion rescued by Hamas

Armed Hamas "forces" raided a hideout of a notorious drug ring, and stumbled upon Sabrina the lion who was stolen at riflepoint two years ago from Gaza Zoo. Malnourished, missing four teeth, claws and part of her tail, Sabrina returns to the zoo...

Photo by AP
Photo by Reuters

Haaretz reports that the lioness Sabrina has been returned. I wonder what their angle is; they hate Hamas (even though they are Palestinian), so why would they publish a story which makes Hamas look good?
GAZA - Malnourished, declawed and missing some of her teeth and the tip of her tail, Sabrina the lion was returned to the Gaza Zoo yesterday after Hamas fighters rescued her from thieves who stole her two years ago.

Zoo officials said the animal's captors had been using Sabrina as a prop, charging people five shekels to be photographed with her.

"The [thieves] had cut off the end of her tail, the black hair that is considered to be the symbol of pride of African lions. I am very sad for her. She must have felt very humiliated," said zoo veterinarian Saoud al-Shawa.

Sabrina was stolen from the facility soon after she and her brother Sakher were brought to Gaza from Egypt as cubs.

She was found during a Hamas raid on the compound of a Gaza clan, said officials of the Islamist group that seized the territory in a brief civil war last month.

Zoo officials said Sakher had roared inconsolably when his sister was stolen. Reunited, he nuzzled her neck and the two siblings began to play
I hope Gilad Shalit is treated better by Hamas than this lion was treated...though Hamas has more benevolence towards this animal than they have towards Jews.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Monday, July 09, 2007


To the list of things I find confounding about our religion let me add this: Every shabbos morning after the musaf kedusha there is, in our shul, a mass exodus of men going to the alcove to fetch their hats and shtreimals. These men have, for the most part, used a talis to cover their heads until this point, but following kedusha this mode of covering seems no longer acceptable. Suddenly, hats and shtreimals are needed. Can anyone explain why?

(I asked someone about this last week. He said (with a shrug), "This is what you do," and added that one shul auctions the privilege of bringing the Rav's shtriemal to him. Last year, it brought in $15,000.)

[Cross-posted at DovBear]

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Jameel: The Junk Stuff Collector

Before I get to my family simcha roundup post (and thank you to guest bloggers), we interrupt this blog for an important and insightful posting into the dark recesses of Jameel's psyche.

Oscar (tm) can't possible be me.

I'm not usually grouchy.

Oscar doesn't have a yellow smiley photo-shopped onto his head.

And yet...my wife and I had a discussion last night about one of my habits.

The "collection" habit.

As a kid, I had dozens of collections; Israeli stamps, coins, bottle caps, comic books, science fiction books, Hardy Boys books, plumbas** (I bet I was one of the few kids on the planet with a plumba collection), my MASH scrapbook, Star Wars scrabook, BattleStar Galactica trading cards, my electric train set (HO and N scale)...and a few other odd things thrown in, like my microscope, telescope, and erector set.

(My Star Wars #1 Comic book in mint condition)

Since we live in a finite-sized home (with no basement), the amount of collectible stuff I can retain is not unlimited, and our topic of discussion last night turned to...another collection of mine:

Nekuda magazines.

Nekuda is a monthly publication of opinion and discourse, mostly pertaining to the communities in Yehuda and Shoron, but not limited to them. I have over 13 years of them in a box in our home, that my wife said is simply a waste of space...and they should be thrown away. I'm having a difficult time accepting it, and don't want to part with them.

Mind you, I agree with my wife; I don't really need 15 years of magazines, but there is so much valuable historical and cultural information in them; photos, stories, and reporting during a critical time of historical importance to the settlement movement, that I can't easily just throw them out.

I guess I'd be able to throw them out or give them away after going through them and scanning in all worthwhile pictures....but I don't know when I can do that. Do you want this collection?

Any ideas?

Are you a desperate collector?

A spouse of a desperate collector?

**From Wikipedia on R' Yaakov Yosef, Chief Rabbi of New York.

Although Rabbi Yaakov Yosef fought a losing battle in the kosher meat and poultry industry, he managed to achieve some notable accomplishments, including the hiring of qualified shochtim, introducing irremovable seals ("plumba") to identify kosher birds, and setting up Mashgichim to oversee slaughter houses. He also took an active role in the first yeshiva on the Lower East Side, Eitz Chaim, which had been founded in 1866 (and was the forerunner of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary).

Wherever I am, my blog (and collection of stuff) turns towards Eretz Yisrael

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