Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Blog Carnival Of Our Community

Hi folks,

I am Jack and I am the admin for Haveil Havalim, the blog carnival of our community. Now that the dust has settled somewhat from the conference I wanted to take a moment to promote H.H. again.

If you are unfamilar a blog carnival is a sort of blog event in which a series of posts are highlighted/promoted about a particular topic. In respect to Haveil Havalim it is a weekly event that is hosted on various blogs within the JBlogosphere.

Each week the host serves a variety of different posts that deal with Israel, Judaism, Torah, Culture, Politics and Personal. If you are new to the JBlogosphere or interested in finding out what is going on it is a great way to gain some insight.

It is also a fantastic way to gain more exposure for your blog and to learn about other blogs that you might find to be of interest. One of the things that I like about it is that it is inclusive and not exclusive. It is one of the few places in the world where you will find all Jews interacting with each other.

Blogging has enriched my life and I have made some good friends through it that I probably never would have met otherwise. H.H. has been a valuable part of it.

I'd like to encourage you all to participate in it. Even if you choose not to host you can always submit posts. The best way to do so is through the Blog Carnival form. Please remember that we ask that you submit no more than three posts at a time.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at my blog or via email talktojacknow-at-sbcglobal-dot-net.

For a list of past editions of H.H. please click here.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

I'm Sorry

-- Advertisement –

I am going to file this under totally unusual.

This advertiser doesn’t want money from you.

This advertiser doesn’t want you to buy anything.

And for that matter they don’t want to sell you anything.

All this advertiser wants from you, is for you to say you’re sorry.


What did I do? You, I know, but me?

– the National Jewish Outreach Program, is running a program ahead of Yom Kippur. They want to collect the largest number of apologies in the world and post them on their blog. The apologies can be simple emails, videos, pictures, or postcards.

You make your apologies, they’ll post it.

And I went through their blog already, and there are some interesting, funny, weird, sad, serious and sorry apologies up there.

NJOP is calling it Project Forgiveness.

So please forgive this advertising intrusion, and go to the
site and contribute – not money – but an apology.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Did Reut read the wrong haftara?

Guest post by Lurker

WARNING: Contains spoilers for Srugim episode 9 ("ניקוי יבש").

Last week, Jameel was too busy with flying to America and back to blog about that week’s Srugim episode, so I’ll pitch in to provide the obligatory post now. (It’s a week late, but better late than never…)

  • When Yifat and Hodaya object to Reut’s plan to date both Yochai and Noam at the same time, Reut defends herself by asserting that Rav Shlomo Aviner paskened that this is allowed. Well, apparently this generated quite a hubbub, to the point that Rav Aviner himself has responded to Reut’s claim, as reported by YNet. (The Hebrew version has a bit more in the way of details.) At first glance, he seems to be denying what Reut said, but read to the end:

    Rabbi Aviner responded: "Certainly not," and proceeded to explain that dating two men simultaneously is generally a dishonest and immoral act. However, the rabbi admitted that there are some exceptions to the rule.

    "Only in unusual cases, when the woman is older and time is running out, and the guy takes his time making a decision," is it ok to multi-date.

    Rav Aviner’s exception would seem to imply, then, that it’s OK for the women in the bitza. (I’m not sure what he’d say about inviting two dates to the same Shabbat dinner, though.)

  • The episode’s closing scene, where Reut read the haftara, was emotionally powerful and beautiful. I do have a nitpick, however:

    In episode 7 ("תפסיק לפחד"), when Yifat meets with the gabbai to plan her kiddush, he tells her that she can do the kiddush either that Shabbat or in another three weeks; and that the two intervening Shabbatot are Shabbat Mevorkhin (the Shabbat before Rosh Hodesh) and "the Kaufman bar mitzva".

    In episode 9 ("ניקוי יבש"), when Reut reads her haftara, it is a week later, on the following Shabbat. I.e., it takes place on the Shabbat that the gabbai had referred to as Shabbat Mevorkhin. But the haftara that Reut reads is the one for Shabbat Rosh Hodesh (Yeshayahu 66)! Therefore it wasn’t Shabbat Mevorkhin -- that would have been the previous Shabbat (episodes 7 and 8). So, if what the gabbai said was right, then Reut read the wrong haftara.

    Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

The JBlogosphere Community?

Wikipedia's Defintion of Community: A number of ways to categorize types of community have been proposed; one such breakdown is:

Geographic communities: range from the local neighbourhood, suburb, village, town or city, region, nation or even the planet as a whole. These refer to communities of location.

Communities of culture: range from the local clique, sub-culture, ethnic
, religious, multicultural or pluralistic civilisation, or the global community cultures of today. They may be included as communities of need or identity, such as disabled persons, or frail aged people.

Community organizations: range from informal family or kinship networks, to more formal incorporated associations, political decision making structures, economic enterprises, or professional associations at a small, national or international scale.

Dov "he wants you to buy his book" Bear paraphrased R' Gil Student from Hirhurim as follows:

When Gil said that he didn't think the Jewish blogosphere is a true community the angels cried (Disagree) (I think he's dead right. Lots of different communities may exist within the J-blogopshere, but the J-blogosphere is not a community itself: We don't have common interests, and no one views the blogosphere as a distinct segment of society. We speak of aliya-nics, or skeptics, or TorahTrue-niks, not of "Jewish bloggers")

What does it mean, "the J-Blogosphere is not a community itself?"

Is Judaism today a community itself? Is Israel a community itself? When R' Gil said he wouldn't want to expose his readership to the "Haveil Havalim" blog carnival, does that mean he is anti-community? Of course not.

The lowest common denominators of Judaism and Israel today have eroded down to close to zero. What do Neturai Karta and Humanist Judaism have in common? The Chadash political party and Tekuma? The Treppenwitz blog and Lisa Goldman? DovBear and the Muqata? Jewlicious and Netanyahu (well, we know one is much funnier than the other one)
I'm honestly shocked that the "Who is a Jew" controversy didn't materialize over the past JBlogger conference, since the exact same controversy is applicable to "Who is a JBlogger", or more precisely, "What is the JBlogosphere 'community'?"
It's rather silly for DovBear to say "the J-blogosphere is not a community itself: We don't have common interests, and no one views the blogosphere as a distinct segment of society."
One could say the exact same thing about Jews. What common interest does a Neturay Karta Jew from Kiryas Joel have with a skeptic orthoprax Jew, a totally athiest Jew, and an aliya-minded minded Jew? Perhaps nothing, but they are part of the "Jewish Community" (even if some of them would hate the defintion, and would scream and rant that they have nothing to do with each other) -- and yet there was far more criticism of calling last week's event, a "JBlogger convention" than say, a UJA appeal.
No organization, company, or event has a monopoly on the "JBlogosphere." No one owns it, runs it, manipulates it, or controls it -- JBloggers write what they wish. whenever they want, and however they want.
It's open to pretty much anyone.
To all those harping against the community aspect of it -- give it a rest. I found lots of new friends through it -- even though others think its insane to find friends through any sort of virtual "sphere." I found many new ideas through it, learned alot, and contribute my point of view. And I had a blast meeting so many of you in the US and at the convention
Contribute to the KCC or Haveil Havalim, lurk around it, or ignore it -- it doesnt really change the "community" apsect of it. The JBlogosphere exists, just as the "Jewish Community" exists.
Yet don't overdo it -- as CK from Jewlicious said at the convention, "maybe you should get out more often...get a bike or something."

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wanted: Har HaBayit guide

From Lurker

My family and I are interested in visiting Har Habayit (the Temple Mount) this Wednesday morning, together with some friends. I know that this is short notice, but I am looking for someone familiar with Har Habayit, who would be willing to come and be a guide for us, both in terms of explaining what's what up there, as well as the halachic issues of where one may walk. You can contact me here.

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who commented and who e-mailed me. (And to Anonymous -- clearly this was a far more reasonable quest than a tour guide for gehinnom...) However, it now looks like we won't be able to do this Wednesday morning. But if anyone out there has any suggestions for a good Har HaBayit tour guide, or is one him/herself, I'm still interested.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Who Wants to Win a Waffle Maker?

WestBankMama had the pleasure of meeting our fine host, Jameel. Here is what she had to say about him:
Jameel must have Botox laced into those smiley faces he wears, because although
he claims to be 40 he looks like an 18 year old! (That’s a compliment).

The first person to provide proof of this wins a new waffle maker and Jameel's secret waffle recipe.

P.S. Jameel, you were right, I just might have to remind you of this from time to time. Folks, this is why we love the guy, he has a good sense of humor and is quite tolerant.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Haveil Havalim #179

It is finally live, the Best of the Jewish/Israeli Blogosphere. You can find it here.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Video Highlight of the Evening

This video is probably the funniest point of the evening.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Calling Srugim Number Nine...

Note: This is NOT a spoiler for Srugim #9.

Did any of you go to the Cinematheque in Jerusalem to see Srugim? Or meet the characters? Or see Laizy the Director?

Did any of you see episode #9?
I missed it so far, becauce I was in the USA last Monday on behalf of Nefesh b'Nefesh (I still have one or two more posts to write about that, as well as the JBlogger conference).

However, life in Israel goes on. If you thought I was going to let a trip to the US prevent the Muqata blog from getting exclusive pictures of Laizy, "Yifat" and "Amir" -- you have got to be kidding. (We all have our priorities).
Note: These pictures are NOT photoshopped and are 100% authentic.

Last week, Laizy, together with Amos Tamas (Amir) and Yael Sharoni (Yifat), showed up at my yishuv. Not wanting to miss out, my oldest grabbed our handy "Muqata" banner (used exclusively for Aliya Homecoming arrivals and Srugim cast appearances) and made sure to take some pictures with Laizy and cast.

Come on, what could be cooler?

Fine, I'm sure the "Lion of Zion" will make some snarky remark about Srugim being a soap opera, but I have yet to find anyone who dislikes the show.
Blogging will be light this week, since we're going on vacation; camping at the beach and then going up north to the Golan)

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Friday, August 22, 2008

Haaretz on the JBlogger Convention

Still reeling from the Anti-Haaretz backlash in the JBlogosphere over the previous smear piece on the JBlogger convention, Haaretz came clean and reported the convention AS IT WAS.

More than 200 Jewish bloggers, most of them immigrants from North America, attended the First International Jewish Bloggers Convention in Jerusalem this past Wednesday. Attendees seemed as much if not more interested in meeting fellow bloggers than in panel discussions dedicated to the agenda of taking Jewish blogging to the next level. "Everybody knew already how to get traffic, so there was nothing new," said German-born Miriam Woelke, publisher of several blogs about Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox communities in Israel.

"It's kind of nice to see faces of people that I only read online," David Abitbol, one of the panelists and founder of Jewlicious, told Haaretz. The anonymous author of Chardal, who moved from Los Angeles to Yad Binyamin last year, said that putting faces to names was indeed his main reason for attending the conference. "I have conversations with these people all the time, but they are faceless people. It's nice to have a normal conversation."

While all blogs represented at the conference dealt in some way or another with life in Israel, the spectrum ranged from immigration through carrying guns in Israel to discussions of Jewish law, board games and interior design. Another 1,300 bloggers followed a live Web cast of the event on their computer screens.

While many were asked by the Haaretz reporter if they thought it was inappropriate for Netanyahu to be giving such a long speech, and to be present in the first place, the respectfully covered it as it was:

The keynote event of the half-day conference, which was organized by the pro-immigration group Nefesh B'Nefesh, was a speech by former prime minister and current opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, which touched on his campaign more
than blogging. The Foreign Ministry also made a presentation on branding Israel in a better way.

Rounding off the article with my my new best friend, Benji Lovitt, I think Haaretz did a great job covering the convention.

The blogosphere gives everyone a voice and there's lots of great hasbara [public relations] we can do at a grassroots level," said Texas-born Benji Lovitt, a 33-year-old comedian and author of What War Zone???, a blog that takes a humorous look on everyday life in Israel. "My approach is to try to show that Israel is more than you see on CNN. It's actually not the scary, depressing place you think it might be but it's a place of vibrancy and fun and blogging is a way to spread the word about that."

See Haaretz? If you will it, it is no dream.
And the conference was lots of fun. Thanks to Nefesh b'Nefesh for hosting it, to WebAds for Powering it, and to the sponsors IsraelMall [including the WaffleMaker raffle], Sun [with the fun t-shirts as well], and Office Depot. (And of course, DovBear and his parsha book raffle)
Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sadly, Bat-El eliminated at Oympics.

My daughter couldn't care less about my blog this morning and what I had to say about the JBlopgger conference last night -- all she wanted to see was how Bat-El was doing in the Taekwondo competition.

Unfortuantely, she was elimiated from the finals and lost to Martina ZUBCIC from Croatia. (video in Hebrew, here)

Next time, she'll come home with the gold.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Post Convention Thoughts

Was fun to see many of you there yesterday.

Comments I received:

"You're alot less scary looking in real life than I imagined"

"Where's your beard? How can you be a settler without a beard?"

"Why didn't you bring waffles with you?"

"You look too young to be your age"

"I don't believe you're really Jameel"

"No yellow smiley? I'm dissappointed"

"Hey everyone (pointing to me) -- THIS GUY'S JAMEEL"

"Why are you anonymous -- is your blog too stupid for you to want to take credit for it?"

"Where's Joe Settler?"

"Is that guy (doubletapper) for real?"

"Can you please explain the waffle thing again?"

"Are you really promoting the DovBear parsha book?"

"How can I get srugim on DVD..."

"I was sure you lived in Beit-El"

Overall, seeing many, many of you was very rewarding, and it was a pleasure. I'd love to link to each and everyone of you in this post, but I'm on vacation for a bit so I have to keep this short for now, but it really was an honor to see you all.

I'll be back.



Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Today is JBlogger Convention Day!

Good Morning JBlogosphere! (OK, it's late morning).

Gil has just finished eating a bowl of Cheerios in the Promised Land and got misty eyed when reciting Al-Hamichya. (BTW, IIRC, the "Holy Land" concept is sort of foreign to us, and the term "Promised Land" is much more correct).

Don't forget (how could you?). Today is the JBlogger Conference in Jerusalem (sponsored by Nefesh B'Nefesh and Powered by WebAds) and if you cant show up (don't bother registering to appear in person if you haven't already, the convention is wait listed, over-packed, and standing room only) -- however, you CAN register to see it Broadcast LIVE, ONLINE from the comfort of your own personal space. Actually - the register link is gone, replaced by the Webcast link itself. Regardless, it's here.

CORRECTION - If you haven't registered you can still watch live from the registration page, you just can't participate in the chat room.

The broadcast starts today, at 5:30 PM Israel time, 10:30 AM, New York/Eastern Daylight Savings Time, 8:30 AM HolyHyrax and Jack Pacific Daylight Savings Time -- see you there!

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Aliya Blogging @ 35,000 feet

Just got email that read as follows: I'm watching the live webcast (through the tears in my eyes) and I just saw you in the audience listening to R' Fass! Kol HaKavod for taking part. I look forward to your reports. You look exhausted.

Well, I am exhausted, because I barely had time sleep a wink on the plane. It was simply exhilarating to accompany a plane of our Jewish brothers and sisters on their way home. I had to talk to many of the people and hear what they were thinking. There simply was barely any time to sleep.

I will blog a bit more after I wake up sleep a bit, but here's my first post of a few...

Our Nefesh b'Nefesh charter ELAL plane, "Sederot" has 6 hours and 53 minutes left to land in Israel, yet I must admit, I'm on a high.

Sitting next to me are David Bogner from Treppenwitz, CK from Jewlicious, Robert Avrech from Seraphic Secrets, and R' Gil Student from Hirhurim. Behind me is Frum Satire, and in front is Esther Kustanowitz from "My Urban Kvetch" -- If Aliya is living the dream, then is the dream flight for a pro-Israel JBlogger.

And it gets better. Nefesh B'Nefesh didn't treat us like a bunch of blogger social misfits (that we are?) -- they gave us blogger/press badges, executive lounge WiFi access, business class check-in...and put all the bloggers together as well -- in the business class section of the plane.

The captain's pre-take-off announcment was surprisingly moving; "It is our honor and pleasure to be taking you new olim home, to Eretz Yisrael."


For 2 thousand years, Jews yearned for a land which was mostly inaccessible. The means were not there to live, it was close to impossible to get there, and Eretz Yisrael remained a daily hopeful prayer...but today, we were going home. 240 new olim are on their way back home -- the actualization of the daily prayers of their parents, grandparents and ancestors.


Anyone who has flown on an ELAL flight knows of the strange custom that people clap when they land, applauding the captain and air-crew or the flight. (Personally, I always found that if they doubted the ability of the captain and crew to get us to our destination?)

On this flight, the clapping and cheering started when the plane took-off.

As cynical and jaded that someone might be after close to 18 years in Israel, I found myself moved by story after story of the olim on the plane. Not content to just speak to the olim I was assigned to interview, I spoke to dozens of people on the flight -- "Mazal tov! Where are you moving to? Where are you from? "

And the answers were astonishing.

"We want to give to Israel, not take from Israel. We want to offer Israel...we are moving to be givers...." said Saul & Elaine Schreiber, new olim moving from Phoenix.

These young and idealistic grandparents are retiring to Israel -- moving to the community of Ra'anana. "We wanted to move while we are in good health so we can contribute to Israel", said Elaine. Their personal resumes are nothing short of breathtaking -- these olim are quality veterans of service to the Jewish community. Saul is a retired Orthopedic surgeon, and Elaine has always been active in service to the Jewish community, and has served in a dizzying number of senior positions for the Jewish Community -- just to name a few; president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, National Board Member of the OU, AMIT, Vice Chair of the UJC -- and the list went on.

(switch to home)

I have so much more to write, but I need to sleep a bit and spend some time with my kids, who by the way, insisted on coming to see their Abba "make aliya" and arrive at Ben Gurion airport for the arrival ceremony. Greeting me was a whole pack of enthusiastic kids and my wife, hoisting a huge "muqata" banner, waving Israeli flags and cheering.

It couldn't have been a better homecoming.

My oldest daughter summed it all up -- "Abba, when I grow up, I want to work for Nefesh B'Nefesh. It was really wonderful seeing all those olim arrive today..."

Living the Dream,


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Night before Aliya

This coming Monday morning, at 10:30 AM, another few hundred North American Jews will arrive at the JFK airport in preparation for their flight home.

Its now slightly after 1 AM in NY, and I'm honestly very excited for the privilege to join this flight. I recall almost 18 years ago, the night before I moved to Israel. I couldn't sleep. Tossing and turning with anticipation, excitement, and a bit of trepidation, I could barely squash the jumble of thoughts which prevented me from sleeping.

Songs danced around in my head. Homeward Bound, ושבו בנים, Take me home, אם אשכח ירושלים, and so many others.

In the end, I didn't sleep. It was too much. I didn't sleep on the plane either...all the way home to Israel -- It was far too exhilarating.

But that was almost 18 years ago.

I spoke to one of the families tonight that I will be escorting home on tomorrow's flight. They had already put their kids to sleep, and were very excited about the flight...the culmination of their planning, hopes and dreams to return home.

Please join me over the next few days as I blog about 2 families and their journey home.

My thanks to Nefesh b'Nefesh and Webads for arranging this special trip.


PS; And special, special thanks to my wife and children, for their understanding -- while I "disappeared" for a few days to accompany this special flight.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Haveil Havalim #178 - The Tu b'Av Edition.

Come enjoy Haveil Havalim #178 - The Tu b'Av Edition. C'mon, it is good for you and you might even learn a thing or two.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Frum Jewish Kid Spectating the Olympics

Yes, we already all know about Israel's killer-frum-Olympian, Bat-tel the Taekwondian. (note, her competition starts Aug 20th)

But did you know about the frum kid in Beijing who is blogging the Olympics? Yes, he wears pants. Yes, he keeps shabbat. Kosher too.

See the blog of a frum Olympic spectator in Beijing, BarryTime. (link fixed - sorry about that)

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Making The Jump

I think the readership on this blog would very much appreciate these two posts - Apple, who just recently visited Israel, wrote a post about Plans: (excerpts, read the whole thing)
Living in Jerusalem for those two weeks was the closest I've ever come to truly feeling like Israel could be a permanent home for me in all the time I had spent in Jerusalem thus far. One day, while I was walking down King George towards home, a chill ran through me and gave me goosebumps that were quite unconnected to the blazing heat of the day. My goosebumps were the result of the awesome, spine-tingling, tearfully exciting feeling that I experienced at that moment of a simple and incredible love of the place I was standing in. I need to be here, I thought to myself. I love this city. I love this country. This will be my home.

I do have concerns, though. I know that day-to-day survival in Israel is based on more than an overwhelming and abiding love of the land. I am not afraid of the bureaucracy that everyone loves to hate, or going food shopping, or speaking in Hebrew every day. What I am afraid of is not finding a job that gives me enough satisfaction so that I won't regret having left family and better job opportunities (and with that, more ways to support and build a family) in America. I'm afraid of the loneliness that will come from moving away from all my family and most of my friends. Those things aren't small concerns - they're big ones, and for that reason, making aliyah after graduation isn't a cut-and-dried plan just yet. There are lots and lots of details to consider and people to talk to and network with before I can really, truly commit to this.
That in turn spurred a post of my own on making the jump:
Over the years, it seemed as if all of my parents' friends, relatives, and mentors would make aliyah or lived in Israel. R' Schubert Spero was the rav of the Young Israel of Cleveland, and made the move around 1980, if I'm not mistaken; he was joined by countless other Clevelanders who ended up in places such as Harnof, Efrat, and many other areas throughout the country. Cousins of ours made the move: Romberg, Rock, Weisberg, Weisberg, Weisberg... Friends: Sukenik, Zivotofsky, Reich, Jacobson, Becker, May, Neustadter, Spero... the list was endless. When I got to Israel, I had over 40 places I could feel comfortable calling up and asking to come visit, and surely many more that I could have if I'd wished.

My two years in Israel were amazing ones for me, but hard ones for the country. It was 2001-2003, and the intifada was at its worst. But even with all of that, there was *something* about being there that was indescribably incredible, and partway through my first year there, I told my parents I'd be staying a second year. I still remember the flight back to the United States at the end of that first year - I found myself literally shaking at the prospect of leaving the country, tempered only by the knowledge that two months or so later I would be returning. In the middle of my second year there, I started speaking to a lot of the friends and relatives there about the idea of attending Bar-Ilan instead of returning to the United States. After a little investigation and understanding the feasibility of it, it was still suggested to me - unanimously, I should add - by all of the people who had made aliyah that I should first get my degree, get married, and work a number of years in the US while saving up money before doing so. That if I wanted to make aliyah and stay, the best path for me was to actually spend some time away from Israel.
Wherever I am, my heart aches to come back to Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Tisha B'Av Shoes

A few days too late. Big deal :)

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

What is a JBlogger?

This has been bothering me for a while.

When I mentioned the JBlogger convention to another blogger a few weeks back, he reacted with surprise, "Who would ever want to go to a JBlogger convention? Its just a bunch of grumpy complainers who criticize everything."

That took me aback. "Is my blog one big rant?"


"How about these blogs? (And I listed a whole bunch)"

No, they aren't either.

"Well, why do you think they are all negative?"

Truth is, he did have a point. You can easily spot the negative blogs...and many of them by the level of complaining they had towards the upcoming JBlogger convention (thought not all).

"Why aren't there Arabs in the JBlogger convention? Why is it a right-wing looney settler convention? Why aren't Orthodox bashers invited? This is representative?!"

There are blogs that harp almost exclusively on many issues that plague the Jewish and Israeli world. Be it bashing Rubashkins, exposing dangers to the Jewish community from within, or kvetching in general. In fact, I personally started out that way as well - almost exclusively ranting at Israel's Disengagement from Gaza and the Northern Shomron. What I realized soon enough was that ranting alone wouldn't change anything (except for letting me blow off steam).

Yes, you can still blog and be a grump, but those aren't the people I'd want to meet in person.

To build a readership one needs a lot more than negativity. To interact with the JBlogosphere, no one wants to see a mega-kvetcher.

The best JBloggers mix it all together; sometimes a kvetch, a story, something insightful, a thought on Torah, maybe many thoughts about the importance of Israel, controversy in Israel, issues in the community here and abroad, some politics and an occasional waffle.

It takes all kinds to build a community, virtual or real-life. Those that I enjoy meeting and would be interested in meeting are the funny, positive, interesting ones...those who want to make a difference. The sort of people you would want as friends or neighbors.

When I first joined the JBlogosphere, I felt like a Johnnie-come-lately who had missed the boat.

I'm glad I was wrong.

Looking forward to seeing you at the JBlogger Convention next week (you can view it via the web as well), or at the SerandEz/BeyondBT melaveh malka on Motzei Shabbat in Queens.

Or around the JBlogosphere.

Signing off for now...flying tonight.


PS: Read the following as well by Aussie Dave, "The Egoes Have Landed" -- hat-tip to Juggling Frogs!

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Srugim...your weekly fix

** Episode 8 Spoiler and more **

Well, we certainly hit a raw nerve last week in our weekly Srugim post (83 comments so far)

I spoke to the show's director, Laizy Shapiro yesterday and he was more than happy to read the comment thread, and will be providing some feedback in our upcoming exclusive interview.

(The only thing pushing off the interview is preparation for my upcoming trip on behalf of Nefesh bNefesh to the US. I haven't even thought about packing...all I've done is check my passports for expiration, spoken to my wife and kids about what they want me to buy, and figured out Shabbat plans)

Laizy did convey the following important message: The show will not spiral down into a negiya/intimacy routine -- that topic will definitely not be the "theme" of the show.

As discussed last week in the comments concerning Yochai's behavior, he did feel incredibly guilty -- to the point of asking Reut to marry him. Her (revulsion? shock?) that a marriage proposal was his repentance for kissing he, left us hanging as to whether she actually accepted or not. Though when she told Yifat and Hodaya that Yochai has proposed, they automatically assumed she said "yes" -- (who wouldn't say "yes" to get out of the Katamon Singles Swamp?) and danced wildly around her singing "Kaytzad Mirakdim Lifnei Hakallah")

1. The big news last week was about the importance of a Shabbat Kiddush for newborn baby girls to ensure they would speedily find their intended ones. This past shabbat, a neighbor had a kiddush for his grand-daughter's birth, and I made sure to bring over some single malt scotch and eat from the yerushalmi and potato kugels -- you can never be too sure when it comes to finding a shidduch.

2. Amir gives his only kippa clip to Nati, and is confused why all the girls give an enthusiastic "shabbat shalom" to Nati, yet ignore him. Nati informs him that his kippa fell off, and Amir returns to shul to find a temporary replacement. The large white kippa he gets offers him a chance encounter with a group of singing Carlebachians in the park, and they invite him to sing along with them. After hours, Amir gets up to go, but they wont let him leave till he sings them his personal song...from his soul. Surprised, Amir gets "into it" and I was very impressed. Reminds me a "Kah Ribon" tune that goes around in my head, but I have no clue if I made it up myself or it its a memory fragment from somewhere else in time...

3. Nati didn't show up at Yifat's for lunch after she poured out her heart to him. Big Surprise. Not.

4. I'm happy to report that for those of you in the Jerusalem area who don't have YES, and don't download Srugim episodes from the internet (I think there might be about 6 of you) and in honor of Tu B'Av...

There will be a showing of all the Srugim episodes at the Jerusalem Cinematheque Theater (11 Derech Hevron, Jerusalem)
  • August 14 at 9:30 PM, episodes 1, 3, 4
  • August 21 at 9:30 PM, episodes 2, 5, 6
  • August 28 at 9:30 PM, episodes 7, 8, 9
Tickets/reservations at: 02-565-4333

The show's director, Laizy Shapiro will be at this Thursday's screening; Srugim actors will be at the different screenings as well.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

NBN Sponsor Spotlight:

NBN Sponsor Spotlight:

“Where are you registered?” was the third most common question I was asked by people in America after I got engaged (“Who actually agreed?” was the first, and the second really isn’t important in his forum).

And so the search began. We looked high and low on the internet, and there was absolutely no online wedding registries where family friends from America could send us the gifts we wanted in Israel (and certainly nothing in English and geared to Olim).

Low and behold, just a few years too late comes with a brilliant idea I should have thought of first.

They’ve set up the first and only online shopping mall in Israel geared towards English speakers and Olim.

They’ve got linen, pots, dishes, appliances, gifts, furniture, baby stuff, Judaica, and everything else for the house. And for the most part their prices are quite competitive with the other online Israeli stores.

First of all, if you’re about to make Aliyah this is great because you can find out what’s available in Israel and how much it costs and then don’t have to bring it over on a lift. You can order it online and it will be sent to your new home.

If you’re looking for wedding, bar/bat mitzvah, brit, birthday present for your friends or family in Israel, is a convenient and easy way to shop for them.

I’m actually surprised its taken anyone so long to come up with something so obviously needed.

And of course, it makes sense that is a sponsor of the Nefesh B’Nefesh International Blogger Convention. Afterall, his fellow Olim are the audience.

So check out and support your fellow Olim, not because he is a fellow Oleh, but because he’s got a good online shopping mall, with a wide selection with competitive prices on most products.

Like their logo says, "Shopping in Israel has never been easier."

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sorry about the Disengagement...

I wanted to blog on Tisha B'Av about it being 3 years since the "Disengagement", but the post didn't materialize.

Then I saw an article last week -- a letter from a soldier, "Maayan" who participated in removing people from their homes in Gush Katif. I wanted to translate and didn't have the time. Arutz Sheva translated it and saved me the effort. The soldier, from a left-wing kibbutz who had never stepped foot inside a settlement till she was sent to evacuate it -- publicized her story -- a request for forgiveness, in an interview with Yedidya Meir on the Kol Chai radio station.

The whole transcript in Hebrew is here. Parts of it are translated into English here (via A7)
"It began when we were sent to Bdolach to help pack up the nursery school. I was simply amazed to see the entire nursery still there, with all the toys and all the games as usual, despite the fact that they were supposed to be evicted three days later. Nobody had packed. While we were packing, a woman came and yelled at us, 'Go away, don't pack, who gave you permission?!' I wanted to talk to her and ask her why she was angry at me.

"Suddenly, she asked me, 'Do you know what they are planning to do with us, or where they're planning to take us?' I didn't have the answer, but I was sure that someone else did. I told her, 'I'll make sure that someone will take care of you. The State certainly has a place for you to live.' I was sure that if this turned out not to be true, we as an ideological movement and as citizens would organize to protest such a thing.

"Three years is not a short time, and things should have straightened out already. But year after year we see that this is not the case. I'm very ashamed to look these people in the eyes. I am ashamed that I represented the values of the State, while the State forgot these values."

Later, apparently the same day, Maayan's army unit was taken to another town-to-be-destroyed, Kfar Darom:
"We entered Kfar Darom. This was the first time I was in Gush Katif. I saw that it looked just like a Kibbutz - large lawns, very nice one-floor houses. I had always thought that 'settlers' meant caravans and poverty, but suddenly I saw how beautiful the place was.

We got to the houses of the families, and then it became very, very hard. The pain that was there, we also felt. We waited for a long time outside the houses, watching from the side as the officers went in and tried to talk with the families. There was one family that decided to leave on its own, but they had an 11-year-old boy who refused. He just yelled and cried and sobbed.

"At one point, his father and brother said they refused to let any soldiers come into their house, and that they would take the boy out by themselves. When they took him out, he simply cried and screamed and kicked. I could see that this was no show. He was doing this in his father's arms. He cried and asked, 'Why are you doing this? How can you leave the house?! Why are you listening to them?!'

"It was a traumatic experience. My [girl]friends started to cry, for the first time. One of them next to me said, 'You'll hear these cries of his as you're giving birth.' It was truly jolting. The cries of that boy are with me every day. They really are."

This reminds me of a post I wrote just after the Disengagement...
Gush Katif, Shirat Hayam. 18-August. The IDF and police have totally surrounded the Beit Knesset of Shirat Hayam, so that a sea of black, blue, and green totally hides the sand in all directions. Atop the shul's roof, is the loudspeaker poll, which allows for 360 degree announcements (which used to be used for security purposes). One of the newer residents of Shirat Hayam. who moved into a tent, 1 month earlier -- Moshe Feiglin, takes the microphone and addresses the soliders.

"I want to tell you a story which happened in the Shomron hills last year. As many of you know, the Israeli government has declared war on many settlements and outposts over the past years, and has used trememdous force to accomplish this objective. In one outpost, Border Police destroyed the house and expelled the family living there. Yet, something happened. One of the border policemen later on decided to be "chozer b'tshuva" and become closer to Judaism. He asked his rav, how to repent for demolishing a fellow Jew's home. His rav replied that he needed to find the family of the home he demolished, and ask their forgiveness. After searching for some time, he located the family, and explained his predicament. The family didn't forgive him, and the dejected policeman returned back to his rav for additional guidance. His rav told him that he would have to rebuild the home for the family.

For the past year, this policeman has left his job, and is building a home for this family, with his own 2 hands, brick by brick.

Soldiers and Police - I ask that you bring a pen and paper with you to every home you "visit" in Gush Katif, and write down a contact number for each family. For the day will come when you too will want to repent for what you are doing now, and you will need to find each family individually, and beg for forgiveness, and maybe even have to personally rebuild these homes.
Its been a G-d awful 3 years.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tisha B'Av.

Till I post about Tisha B'Av, you can read the Havel Havalim Tisha B'Av edition over by Snoopy the Goon.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Thursday, August 07, 2008

REMINDER: Saturday night - Walk around the Walls of the Old City

-- Advertisement --

Tisha b'Av (9th of Av) is this Saturday night. Just remember to join the traditional Walk around the Walls of the Old City.

Every year on Tisha B'Av, thousands of Jews gather and walk around the walls of the Old City, in a fitting tribute to its destruction, and hope for its complete rebuilding.

This year the evening starts (like always) with the reading of Eichah on Motzei Shabbat (August 9, 2008) at Kikar Safra at 9:30 pm followed by the walk.

Here is a video from Tisha B'Av last year:

The Walk around the Walls of the Old City of Jerusalem is a very emotional and inspiring experience. It is relevant way to appreciate this day.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Frum Olympian Girl who Kicks Boys

Yes, she is wearing pants.

It's not easy to modestly kick the daylights out of people with such high kicks, wearing a long denim skirt.

Israel's only religious Olympian at Beijing is 20 year old Bat-El Gaterer from the Jewish settlment of Kochav Yaakov -- and she's on the Taekwondo team.

Yes, we're mighty proud!

Twenty-year-old Gaterer grew up at the Kochav Yaakov settlement not far from the West Bank city of Ramallah. At the age of nine, she registered for a street fighting class and her coach suggested she focus on footwork. Recognizing her potential, he referred her to the Achi-yehuda Dojang club and its team in Jerusalem. Gaterer began learning Taekwondo when she was 12 and hasn’t stopped kicking since. While studying at the girls’ seminary in Ofra, she also started training with Israel's national team.

“Everyone at seminary accepted it (Taekwondo practice) and supported me,” said the Olympic delegate.

And they didn’t have a problem with you practicing with boys and wearing pants on TV?

“The only reason for practicing with boys is the simple fact that there are more of them on the team.”

But isn’t it problematic for you in terms of “negiah” (banned physical contact with the opposite sex)?

“No. It’s a kicking match. I don’t see it as problematic.”

Gaterer failed her first attempt to qualify for the Olympic Games. She sought to reach one of the first places in the Taekwondo World Championship, but only came in fifth. Later on she made up for it by taking the Bronze Medal at the Taekwondo European Championship – and a ticket to China. She hopes to further surprise her fans in the Olympic Games.

What about practice or competitions held on Saturday?

“There’s no practice on Saturday. And my Olympic matches don’t fall on Saturdays. We checked it.”

Could you imagine representing Israel in the Olympic Games?

“I didn’t even dream of it, but when I started training I got to like the idea. Not to mention the fact that I once thought of becoming a pilot or an astronaut.”

What are your chances to win a medal?

“I hope for the best.”

Does practicing Taekwondo changed you or are you just as observant as before?

“I am just as religious as I was before.”

And you never contemplated quitting it (religion) for career’s sake?

“Never. At first it was really hard to incorporate the two, but I did it.” (YNET)

Go Win the Gold for us all!

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

What's Wrong With Driving An Ice Cream Truck

On Sunday my good friend Jameel ran a post called One Big Rumble Jumble Sunday Post in which he made a few comments about some of the Google searches that led people to his blog.

One in particular caught my eye:
For example; the google search for "Drive an ice cream truck?" ranks my blog as the 8th most popular result. Since when did I ever post about driving an ice cream truck? The answer is never, but count on guest commenter Jack to bring some oddity to my blog...
I was most disappointed to see that this blog is only the 8th most popular result for "Drive an ice cream truck?" But, we'll work on that and see if we can't help him improve those results, we must always strive for excellence.

Furthermore what he calls oddity was really just basic news reporting. If you'll recall all I did was report that Jameel was the recipient of a JWB award. Not only that, but there was a mighty fine discussion of what song his truck would play.

Let's take a moment to review some of the suggestions:
"Anachnu ma'aminim bnei maminim? Eretz yisrael sheli yafa v'gam porachat? Lo tira mihem?"

PT's Shoshannas Yaakov

uh...Na Nach Nachma...
Let's open the discussion back up. What do you think his truck would play?

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

The Srugim Singles Swamp (continued)

**spoiler alert for episode 7**

The only show I consistently bother watching on broadcast TV is the weekly series of Srugim, the show about the Katamon religious singles swamp. Colleagues at work informed me that were going home early, to make sure they see it. Despite the buzz for the JBloggers convention, there is so much more buzz about Srugim.

From week to week, the show keeps getting better. It's definitely not a Jewish version of the "Friends" comedy show, but a stark depiction of real-life for this unfortunately-large community. The bittersweet beauty of the show is in its refusal to hide uncomfortable issues under the rug and approaches them head-on, though I'm sure some are disappointed by that decision (such as those who prefer to paint life in simple shades of black and white)

In last night's episode, Yif'at goes to a "mekubal" who informs her the reason she is having relationship problems is because her parents never had a kiddush in her honor when she was born. Dismayed, she goes across Jerusalem to a shul where no one knows her, so she can offer to host a shul kiddush on shabbat to resolve her shidduch and zivug crisis. Its amusing (though completely realistic) as the shul gabbi argues with her that she must bring kugel as well, and that a quiche wouldn't be acceptable without kugel. She angrily argues, "does G-d really care if I bring kugel or not?" He incredulously replies, "for something as important as a kiddush to resolve your shidduch problems, why wouldn't you bring kugel?!"

We watched the relationship evolve between Re'ut, the slightly rebellious, push-the-religious-envelope character... and Yochai, a student at Yeshivat Mekaz HaRav. Last week, Re'ut figuratively twisted Yochai's arm to teach her how to recite the Haftara, which she wants to be able to read at a women's tefilla group, in honor of her mother's yahrtzeit. Yochai, who normally teaches boys to prepare their bar miztva Torah readings, is adamant against against teaching Re'ut for reasons of tzniut (modesty) -- not wanting to hear her "sing" the haftara. She guilt-trips him into helping because she wants to honor her mother's memory, and he agrees that if he recites the haftara along with her, he'll be able to "look the other way" as she reads.

This week, Reut invites him to a Friday night "Ubiquitous Katamon Religious Singles Shabbat Dinner", complete with all the awkwardness of a new person showing up to a dinner where everyone already knows each other. To make matters worse, Yochai arrives slightly late -- just after a big fight where one of the roommates (Hodaya, daughter of a rabbi) defiantly turns off the light in the fridge (she forgot to turn it off before Shabbat). The primary roommate, Yif'at yells at her for desecrating the Shabbat and shouts that in her apartment, there will not be any chilul shabbat. Hodaya storms out.

After dinner, Re'ut asks Yochai to walk her home to her apartment...the climax being the "goodbye" scene when Re'ut invites Yochai up for coffee. He naturally and expectedly refuses, as one would expects of a student at Merkaz HaRav.

And then, with tension rising, surprising us all, he awkwardly kisses her, abruptly apologizes and flees down the block.

The look on Reut's face is priceless.

Instead of the expected happiness (attributing to her rebellious nature, wanting to go out with him, and wanting him to teach her to read the haftara, when it's becoming clear that she has ulterior motives), she has a look of querulous disappointment. As if saying, "this person I respect so much for his religious stature...has fallen..."

We're shocked and dismayed.

Did he let himself down? Will refuse to teach her or meet her again?

Did he let us down?

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Israel Baseball Update

Guest posted by Air Time

The atmosphere around the game was great. Before Israel took the field against Czech, they played national anthems, and introduced the players and each team waved their flag around.

But the Czech team was loose and ready to go; we were tight and nervous and played like it. It didn't help that Czech's pitcher was 5"6' and considered to be the top 12 year old pitcher in all of Europe. Look for him on ESPN later this summer during the Little League World Series. His name is Lukas (I have his last name somewhere but can't find it right now.

We scored two runs against him in the first game of the tournament, on the way to a 10-1 win, but the Finals was his game. He was sharp and unhittable, with a devastating change up and fastball that was pure smoke.

Combine his pitching performance with poor pitching on our side, dismal fielding, and players not doing their jobs, and we had all the ingredients for a 10-0 loss.

Still, no Israel team had ever played in a Juvenile tournament's championship game. Our second place finish was fantastic, and our six game winning streak during the two tournaments set a new standard for Israeli youth baseball.

In the end I was proud of our kids. Throughout the tournaments we participated in, they played hard, represented themselves, and most importantly, represented Israel well. During the last game, kids from other teams were chanting Pro Israel chants, and were disappointed when we couldn't get the win.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Monday, August 04, 2008

Team Building at the JBlogger Conference?

You know it's coming up soon.

You registered. (And I registered my wife too)

The buzz is everywhere.

Mom in Israel already compiled a list of bloggers planning to show up (register with her as well)

Even if you aren't on the panel, just showing up is worth a JIB award.

How can you go wrong?

Great food, meet bloggers, commenters, maybe even learn something new.

Yet, with all that said, I'm still hard at work convincing Nefesh B'Nefesh not to implement some of the "team building" activities that the IDF intelligence division has been using for it's elite officers. The IDF is at the forefront of everything today, so why not follow their lead in team-building techniques as well?

Then this story appears today:
Senior IDF officers from various technology, intelligence and special-operations' units were summoned to a 10-day workshop, which included lectures, tutorials and coaching sessions – as well as a fire-walk.

The workshop and been conducted for several years and with great success, a source in Military Intelligence told Yedioth Ahronoth. The fire-walk, however, was a new addition, introduced for the first time this year.

And walk they did: Three of the officers suffered light burns and were treated on site, a fourth required medical attention, and four others ended up seeking independent medical care.

Sources in Military Intelligence later commented that while the importance of leadership workshops in great, the fire-walk was a redundant, dangerous exercise, which could have ended much worse; adding that the only thing the officers learned from it was that if you walk on hot coals – your feet will get burnt. (YNET)
I certainly hope this isn't what Baila meant when she described the appearance of her feet as a "unexpected bonus" for making aliya?

And yet...I'm still concerned about my anonymity.

Do I wear a smiley face? A Burqa? Tell everyone I'm Rafi...or JoeSettler...or DovBear?

Too many questions.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Parents Forget Child in Airport, Fly to Paris

I feel bad for this kid. (MominIsrael has the scoop)

Left behind at the airport while the family rushed to catch a flight to Paris, they managed to get 5 of their kids on board, but forgot their 4 year old daughter in Duty-Free at the Ben-Gurion airport.

My kids were all over this story yesterday evening. How did they forget her?!

In addition to the abandonment trauma this kid might have felt (have no idea if it's long term), this kid will forever be reminded by her siblings that she was left behind.

Perhaps the parents thought of a new, innovative way to get baby sitting services for their kids. At the Ben-Gurion airport, you can buy items in duty free and leave them at the airport, picking them up on your return...

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Sunday, August 03, 2008

One Big Rumble Jumble Sunday Post

Crawling to the finish line a few days after Ezzie, sometime today (Sunday) the Muqata blog will proudly host it's 500,000th page view since this blog's inception about 3 years ago.

Sometime over the weekend, the 350,000th visitor arrived as well, marking another serious milestone.

That said, while I don't use silly techniques to get additional page views, such as "click here to continue reading this post," I am well aware that not all of those who come visit the Muqata Blog are here for their daily dose of Israel, aliya, or whatever's going on in my head.

So many google searches end up here on a daily basis, it's frightening. I've been keeping an open file with google searches that bring readers here so that I could post them now without having to spend too much time.

For example; the google search for "Drive an ice cream truck?" ranks my blog as the 8th most popular result. Since when did I ever post about driving an ice cream truck? The answer is never, but count on guest commenter Jack to bring some oddity to my blog...

Others include:

halacha, cannibalism
Seaweed needs hashgacha
find chocolate camel milk
friendly kiss hello to a jewish person
Tapuzina specifications
foreman grill waffle
elite chocolate competition
how to make a poisonous drink.
kissing the hand after a handshake jewish
big voice warning systems from israel
mbd yidden german band
neutering cats halacha
burkas ramat beit shemesh

Lately, the top searches with bring people to my blog through are "srugim" and "Jameel, blog." It seems that everyone's heard of the Jameel/Muqata blog, but many have trouble finding it.

To make their lives easier, besides the number 1 ranking in google for "Jameel" or Muqata (side note, this blog totally displaces the fake Muqata in Ramalla where Arafat is entombed) there are other blogs which point to the real muqata blog [mine]. (like The Muqata or The Muquata)

During the second Lebanon war, this blog was listed in Wikipedia, but arab bloggers got very offended and quickly removed the entry. They should see this video instead on boycotts and Israel.

(hat-tip- SKE)

And yet, I get mail from all over the planet of alleged sightings of me. This snapshot came from the SixFlags amusement park in Maryland. For the record, I don't work there, have never visited there, and its clearly an example of identity theft. Then I get mail about a movie I'm allegedly starring in. Again, that's not me, I don't endorse the film, nor have I seen it.

However, being that I'm only posting once today and trying to cram everything into this one post, it's important that I mention the following 2 news items.

Many people are making a huge deal out of Israel participation in the upcoming Olympics. I have seen articles claiming that the entire Jewish world will be watching with pride as the Israeli team proudly carries the blue and white flag in the Olympic stadium in Beijing.

Yes, we'll be proud of them, but the real story which is of much greater consequence to the Jewish nation is taking place right now.

Friend of the blog, AirTime, is currently in Italy coaching Israel's National Juvenile baseball team. AirTime reports:

This afternoon we are playing in the finals against the team from Czech Republic. We beat them a few days ago 10 to 1, but we are expectng a much closer game this time. The kids have played great, and are ready to bring home the championship for Israel.

Our game is at 330 local time, 430 in Israel and 930 East Coast time. You can follow the game live online at here. Click on Arezzo August 1-3 link, and from there you can follow some links to see play by play action online. Daniel is starting in left field, and probably batting seventh. Going into this mornings game he was leading the team in batting, although he struck out in both his at bats this morning.

If ever there was a time that the Jewish people held it's breath, this is it!

Wishing AirTime and team the best of luck -- we're all counting on you guys! (And of course, kudos to Veev for putting up with this important national mission)

Lastly, and very seriously, it never ceases to amaze me that Palestinian and Arab spokesmen that appear or are interviewed in the Israeli media, routinely announce without a hint of embarrassment that there never was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, and absolutely never on Har Habayit where the Al-Aksa mosque temporarily resides today. Of course, that explains why they refuse to allow Israeli archaeologists on the Temple Mount, and is also the reason why the Waqf routinely destroys any archaeological finds that might G-d forbid "prove" that there used to be a first or second Jewish Temple.

While this find isn't from the Temple Mount, the historical importance is huge. Haaretz Reports:

Israeli archaeologists have unearthed a seal impression belonging to a minister of the biblical King Zedekiah, which dates back 2,600 years, during an archeological dig in Jerusalem's ancient City of David. The finding helps corroborate the story pertaining to the biblical minister's demand to have the prophet Jeremiah killed.

The seal impression, or bulla, with the name Gedalyahu ben Pashur, who served as minister to King Zedekiah (597-586 BCE) according to the Book of Jeremiah, was found completely intact just meters away from a separate seal impression of another of Zedekia's ministers, Yehukual ben Shelemyahu, which was unearthed three years ago.

Both ministers are mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38 1-4) along with two other ministers when they came to King Zedekiah demanding the death of the prophet Jeremiah for preaching to the besieged city to surrender.

Read the rest of it here.

On that note, try to avoid Kosher restaurants this week that advertise, "Make This the Best 9 Days Ever at Our Kosher Dairy Restaurant." They've totally missed the point.

Hopefully, this year we'll all be feasting on Tisha B'Av -- at the rebuilt Beit HaMikdash in Yerushalayim.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

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