Sunday, November 30, 2008

This is Not Your Father's Haveil Havalim (Issue #193)

Go read:This is Not Your Father's Haveil Havalim (Issue #193)

You can read past editions at blog carnival or by clicking on one of these links:

Nov 30, 2008 What War Zone???

Nov 22, 2008 Ima on (and off) the Bimah

Nov 16, 2008 West Bank Mama

Nov 10, 2008 Jewlicious

Nov 01, 2008 Esser Agaroth

Oct 26, 2008 What War Zone???

Oct 18, 2008 Ill call Baila

posted by Jack

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

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hypocritical Israel

In light of the horrific massacre in India this past week, with hundreds dead (over 300) and well over a thousand wounded, Israeli "security officials" criticized India's handling of the terror attacks.

"Israeli and international media quoted Israeli security officials as claiming the operation was risky and premature" (Haaretz)

"In hostage situations, the first thing the forces are supposed to do is assembling at the scene and begin collecting intelligence," a former official in Israel's famed anti-terror agency, Shin Bet, told The Jerusalem Post.

"In this case, it appears the forces showed up at the scene and immediately began exchanging fire with the terrorists, instead of first taking control of the area," he said. An article in another newspaper, Haaertz, said: "In the first several hours after the Mumbai incidents began, the response of the Indian authorities was slow, confused and inefficient." (India Today)

Hypocracy rules in Israel today as IDF soldier Gilad Shalit remains a hostage in Gaza -- a terrorist state created by Israel, and Israel's only stated way of freeing him, is the release of hundreds of murderous terrorists.

Today, Gaza Palestinians shelled the Nahal Oz IDF command center, resulting in 8 soliders wounded.

"Surgeons at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon were forced to amputate the leg of 21-year-old Noam Nikash of Beersheba. Doctors were trying to save his other leg.

Seven other troops, including two female soldiers, were lightly to moderately wounded after terrorists fired mortar shells from the Gaza Strip on Friday evening. The soldiers were taken to both Barzilai Hospital and Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, and an additional soldier was treated for shock.

By Saturday evening, six were still hospitalized, one in a serious condition, two moderate, and three were lightly wounded, according to Israel Radio" (Jpost)

Israel, the country that adopted the "turn other cheek" mentality -- resulting from the Oslo accords, the country that ran away from Gaza destroying Jewish communities left and right, exiling close to 10,000 Jews from their homes, are the last country on the planet that should be able to chastise anyone about how to deal with terror.
Yet my anger at Israel is displaced only by my sorrow and condolences for the families of the Jews murdered in Mumbai this past week.

Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg
Rivka Holtzberg
Rabbi Leibish Teitlebaum
Bentzion Chroman
Yohevet Orpaz

and at least 3 more unidentified Jews.

May G-d avenge their deaths.

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

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Kol Yisrael Areivim. Terror in India

24 hours later....12:56 PM The ZAKA organization volunteers who flew to India from Israel have been asked to enter the Beit Chabad building. The operation has not finished, and the fate of Chabad's Shaliach Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg is still unknown.

Pictures and Videos of the India CounterTerror Unit going into the Beit Chabad, here.

Israel Radio Channel 2 Miki Gourdus reports that he has heard from India reports that Gavriel and Rivka are still alive. Let's hope he's right! (1:19 PM)

Shabbat Shalom...


Update: 2:51 PM Reports from India are conflicting. Sky News reports the terrorists are demanding to negotiate with the Indian government over the release of hostages. Mumbai's a mess.

Update: 1:40 PM. :-(

Update: 12:07 India Counter Terror Unit operating in the Taj Mahal hotel, with over 100 hostages, including Israeli diamond merchants. Explosions heard in the hotel...

11:37 AM As I write this, the India counter terror unit is operating inside the Beit Chabad in Mumbai (Bombay) India, trying to free the hostages, including 6 Israelies (unsure if this number "6" includes the Chabad Shaliach Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg).

Initial reports say that the Gavriel and Rivka are unconscious, but alive, and therefore, they really need Chasdei Shamayim to pull through.

Your good thoughts, prayers and tehillim can help.
YNET: Report: 6 Israelis held hostage in Mumbai

(Video) Terrorists seize Chabad offices in Indian city, reportedly hold six Israelis hostage. Ultra-Orthodox organization officials say emissary, his wife unconscious. Local commando unit reports one gunman killed, four remain in building. Rabbi's son, nanny seen leaving place safely. At least 10 sites attacked overnight; 101 people killed, 314 injured
India News reports over 900 hospitalized.

Reports indicate that the "official" numbers are much worse than being reported; While YNET writes about 314 injured, the real number is much higher.

CNN reports that this is the largest Jihad terror attack since 9/11.

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Supporting Israelies at all Costs?

This post could have been called "The Magiya Li (מגיע לי) Syndrome" -- the, "I deserve it" post.

One of the unfortunate character traits you encounter in Israel is the "magiya li" syndrome, "It's coming to me, and I deserve it". Not responsibility for one's actions, but rather, the exact opposite!

This could include:

I deserve a management job, regardless of my qualifications.
I deserve my driver's license, despite having failed my drivers test 5 times.
I deserve to take off "sick days" from work, even if I'm not sick, because I "work hard"

There are literally thousands of examples like this that I see all the time (feel free to provide your own)

The latest one that smacked us all in the face is the story of 2 Israelis who were caught, convicted of drug smuggling in Thailand, and were sentenced to death.

Why do they not deserve the death penalty? "Magiya Lahem Yoter?" -- the drug dealers deserve better and NOT the death penalty? They deserve that the State of Israel go to bat for them, and Israel's foreign minister, Tzippi Livni personally intervene on their behalf?
"Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has become personally involved in the case of the two Israelis who were convicted of drug trafficking in Thailand and sentenced to death.

Her office said Tuesday that "Livni will act on all levels and if necessary she will even speak to the king to clarify our stance to the Thais."

Livni has announced that she plans to speak to her Thai counterpart after he returns from a visit to Peru. Her office said there was time to appeal the sentence, though no progress had been made yet." (YNET)
The 2 poster boys, Vladimir Akronik, 34, and Alon Mahluf, 37, were arrested one year ago for possession of 23,000 ecstasy pills.

The Mahluf family turned to Livni for help. "We'll turn this country upside down to get him out of there as soon as possible. He is an Israeli, a Jew, born here. The State has to take care of him. When I visited him in prison it was filthy. He has a room but he told me the food is horrible, there is no shower and no hot water,"

At what point do you say, "these are Jews and they don't deserve the death penalty" and when do you say, "these are drug dealer -- the vermin of the earth, let them rot. Why do they deserve any special treatment?"

When I visited Thailand for business a decade ago, there was a very clear bold statement on the landing card I had to fill out: "Drug Traffickers will be Executed" (same as in Manila)

You can't miss it on the landing card so what were these people thinking? (I know, drug dealers don't think that much to begin with)

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Comparing secular teachers to the Amoraim?

A guest post by Lurker:

This past motzaei Shabbat, R. Obadiah Yosef ignited a political/media firestorm, as he is wont to do from time to time. In his weekly drasha, he referred to secular school teachers as "asses"
("חמורים"). This drew the umbrage of numerous figures across the political spectrum. Typical was Education Minister Yuli Tamir, who called the comment "rude, baseless, and offensive to tens of thousands of public servants who faithfully carry out their difficult work".

But were the rabbi's critics fair in jumping to the hasty conclusion that R. Obadiah was insulting the teachers? Perhaps not. Many people forget that R. Obadiah expresses his ideas in esoteric Talmudic idioms, that are not readily understood by the likes of am haaratzim like Yuli Tamir.

When the rabbi called the teachers "asses", it is quite possible that, in fact, he meant it as a compliment. Only a few days ago, one JBlogger asserted that when the angel told Hagar that her son Yishmael would become a "פרא אדם" -- a "wild ass of a man" (Bereishit 16:12) -- he was actually blessing Yishmael, by declaring that Yishmael would become a desert-dweller as "successful and resourceful" as a "wild ass". Perhaps R. Obadiah was alluding to this, as a way of praising the secular teachers for their success and resourcefulness.

And today, former Meretz1 leader and noted Talmudic scholar Yossi Sarid, seeking valiantly to be dan l'kaf zkhut on R. Obadiah, brought a brilliant hidush in today's Haaretz (Hebrew version here) to support the thesis that R. Obadiah was actually complimenting the teachers by calling them "asses":

Who will explain to us now that the rabbi meant his statements as a compliment?
Lacking outstanding interpreters, I offer my services: Yosef is obviously basing himself on the Gemara, and the Gemara states2 that "[R. Zeira said in Rabba b. Zimuna's name:] If the greatest of [the early ones; i.e., the Tannaim] were angels, then we [the Amoraim] are but human beings; but if the greatest of [the early ones] were only human beings, then we are [like] asses [and not even like the ass of (the Tanna) R. Hanina b. Dosa or of (the Tanna) R. Pinhas b. Yair, but rather like other asses]." If that is the basis, what is all the fuss about? [The Tannaim] were not angels, that is already clear. At most they were human beings, and that is no small accomplishment, either. Therefore, under the circumstances, as the generations are in decline, we are doomed to be asses. The rabbi did not mean to exclude himself from this rule, heaven forfend: He is also among the asses.
Sarid is to be congratulated for his illuminating clarification of R. Obadiah's words. I would take issue with only one point: Sarid suggests that R. Obadiah "did not mean to exclude himself" from Rabba b. Zimuna's classification of "asses", and that R. Obadiah, in fact, regards himself as "also among the asses". This is surely incorrect, as R. Obadiah would never be so presumptuous as to place himself in the same category as the Amoraic "asses". He would undoubtedly classify himself as something considerably less.

1 Meretz is an Israeli political party; home to such haredi luminaries such as Tzvia Greenfield.

2 TB Shabbat 112b:
אמר רבי זירא אמר רבא בר זימונא: אם ראשונים בני מלאכים, אנו בני אנשים; ואם ראשונים בני אנשים, אנו כחמורים, ולא כחמורו של רבי חנינא בן דוסא ושל רבי פנחס בן יאיר, אלא כשאר חמורים.
This is a statement made by an Amora, contrasting himself and his Amoraic peers with the Tannaim, who are referred to as "ראשונים" ("the early ones"). Note that the English version of Sarid's article incorrectly translates "ראשונים" as "our biblical ancestors". This error (corrected above) is certainly due to the am haaratzut of the Haaretz English editorial staff; not to Mr. Sarid.

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

Monday, November 24, 2008

Remember When Jameel Was A New Blogger

So I was checking out my stats when I found that someone had come to me from Jameel's post: J-blogosphere Anthropologist - The Roarin' 60s.

I took a few minutes to read through the posts and the comments. Some of you probably think that he has always been the king of waffles, but at that point in time the waffle business was a long way off.

As I read through to the bottom I came across to links to other posts that cited Jameel's post. That included one that I had written called The Golden Age Of The JBlogosphere which linked to a post by Treppenwitz in which he discussed similar items.

And now here we are a bit farther removed from the first post and those that followed and I ask myself a few questions.

1) How do you determine when the "Golden Age" of the JBlogosphere is/was/will be?
2) Does it really matter and should we care?

But let's put the spotlight back on Jameel for a moment, after all it is his blog. You helped produce the Purim Podcast and a Jblogger conference. What is your next move, inquiring minds want to know.

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

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Regards from Another Planet

Participating in a Maged David Adom emergency medicine seminar offered me the unique opportunity to see Israel from down our seminar was moved here, to Ashkelon, at the last minute.

This isn't a different area of Israel, but a different planet. The area we're staying in -- southern Ashkelon, only a few miles from the Gaza strip, is not just a virtual ghost town, but a different planet, with rules of its own. Our 5 star hotel is booked by MDA...and the EU. Over a dozen "diplomatic" EU vehicles are parked outside, all used for jaunts into Gaza, to see the wonderful paradise the EU helped create. Why the EU stays in Israel in Ashkelon, instead of Gaza, is a mystery.

Upon starting our seminar, the ground rules were given out -- what to do in case of rocket attacks. Here in Ashkelon, a wailing up and down air-raid siren informs us we have less than 20 seconds to seek shelter. The ranking MDA official told us that just yesterday, it was sounded, so he's pretty confident the system is working correctly.

Meanwhile, the course has already been extremely informative, as I learned about the following conditions (among other things)

Reasons for Club fingers
Marfon Syndrome
Cushing's Syndrome

And...(I found this important) if someone is suffering from fever convulsions, I should check their blood sugar level as well to ensure that hypoglycemia isn't starting.

Regards from Qassam City,


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

Haveil Havalim #192 is Live

I am pleased to let you know that the Best of the Jewish/Israeli blog carnival is ready and available for your review: Haveil Havalim #192: The Thanks and Giving Edition.

Please help us promote the carnival by notifying your readers and those on your email lists.

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

Livni's Air Rage

From the NY Post (but reportedly also in Ha'aretz in Hebrew and NY Times)
November 21, 2008 --

ISRAELI foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who could become prime minister after February's general elections, threw a tempter tantrum aboard a recent El Al flight from Tel Aviv to Newark after she was seated in business class instead of first. "She really went berserk over the fact that there were kids near her," says a fellow passenger. "She kept grumbling about how she wanted to get off the plane, but couldn't because she absolutely had to be in New York for a meeting the next day. It was appalling." The Israeli consulate did not return calls.
We all know how difficult it can be in business class.

I guess Tzippi should hire this guy to help her out.

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

Friday, November 21, 2008


This has already been posted at my own blog (At the Back of the Hill, but I am opportunistically posting it here to give it wider exposure.

Background: On Thursday November 13 there was a confrontation between alleged Palestinian students and several Jewish students at UC Berkeley. Since then, the 'Students for Justice in Palestine' have ramped up the hate-filled rhetoric, on a campus already sodden with anti-Israel bias, in an attempt to have certain Jews expelled and the pro-Israel students silenced. The city and university at Berkeley have for a long time represented a far-left extremism, and as you can probably guess, being pro-Israel, being a Zionist, or even being a non-quivering Jew, are considered politically incorrect in Berkeley.

By John E. Moghtader & Elodie Resseguie

Long a hotbed of anti-Israel activity, U.C. Berkeley has barely had a strong pro-Israel presence on campus. Until now, with Tikvah: Students for Israel, the Zionist student group at U.C. Berkeley.

We are the group that stepped up to protest when academics John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt visited Cal in October 2007 to hawk their book, a nefarious smear job titled "The Jewish Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy."

We were also there last month when the virulently anti-Israel academic Norman Finkelstein came to speak.

Before the lecture, we respectfully distributed our literature outside. Once inside, Finkelstein’s level of anti-Semitic vitriol prompted a walkout of Tikvah students and others not associated with our group. We shouted out our opinions while exiting, as the crowd hurled expletives at us. Finkelstein and his colleague then continued delivering their insulting lies.

As a result, the dean of students is now seeking to discipline Tikvah and individual students for an "offense" which in the past barely warranted mention when undertaken by student groups involved in anti-Israel activities.

For example, when Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes tried to speak on campus several years ago, he was shouted down by members of Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Student Association. At the time the chancellor said, "Uncivil behavior, lamentable as it is, is not a crime, nor is it a violation of the Code of Student Conduct." No disciplinary action was taken against SJP or its members for that incident, nor when Nonie Darwish was likewise shouted down a year ago.

Only last week, SJP disrupted an innovative Zionist hip-hop concert on campus. Even though no Jewish students were involved in the physical altercation that ensued (contrary to what was reported in the school paper and what SJP claims), we wait to see how the university will deal with the assailants from SJP.

Other violations by SJP of the U.C. code of conduct — such as blocking of pedestrian traffic with demonstrations, the brandishing of fake firearms, physical harassment and intimidation of Jewish students — were presented to the dean of students but have been ignored.

What we see here is a double standard, one for the rest of campus and another for the Jews and those who actively support Israel.
Our tax dollars support the U.C. system, and Jewish donors are very prominent in supporting the U.C. campuses. It’s time for the Jewish community to become aware of what is happening at our university.

Meanwhile, Tikvah has a consistent record of positive, pro-Israel programming on campus. Until our inception a year ago, there was no substantive pro-Israel voice on campus. We changed that, attracting students of various religious and cultural backgrounds to our cause. We have collaborated with many off-campus groups, including the Israeli Consulate, Israel Peace Initiative, S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council, U.C. Berkeley Chabad, CAMERA, StandWithUs, JIMENA and more. Once again Jews walk with pride across Sproul Plaza.

We have also sponsored many successful events. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we took out ads in the student newspaper highlighting the civil rights leader’s strong support of the Jewish state. We have hosted lectures by Dennis Prager, Stanley Urman, Israeli Vice Consul Ishmael Khaldi (who spoke about being the highest-ranking Muslim in the Israeli foreign service) and others.

Last year we held two weeklong programs brimming with pro-Israel activities: Israel Peace and Diversity Week and Israel@60 Week (which included a widely attended on-campus Holocaust memorial on Yom HaShoah). We just finished our latest effort, Israel Liberation Week, and we have also been a positive influence on student government, with John Moghtader, a current senator in the Associated Students of the University of California, leading our group.

Regarding the Jewish Student Union and Berkeley Hillel, we must clarify misstatements that ran in j. Even though Tikvah is the largest and most active Jewish student group on campus, we have been allocated precisely zero dollars from the JSU this school year.
While the JSU and Berkeley Hillel remain silent, we are the ones on Sproul Plaza and around campus protesting the Finkelsteins of the world, educating students about Israel, organizing rallies and holding Holocaust memorials.

We were dumbfounded to find that Hillel is presuming to play some role in all this, as Tikvah has never been affiliated with Berkeley Hillel, nor have we ever received funds from them for any of our activities.

We are a grassroots student group. Our goal is to make sure Jewish students do not have to be subjected to a hostile anti-Israel, anti-Semitic environment on campus. That’s our bottom line.

John E. Moghtader, a third-year undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley, is an Associated Students of the University of California senator and president of Tikvah.
Elodie Resseguie is a fourth-year undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley and is on the Tikvah executive board. To learn more about Tikvah, e-mail or visit


Message above reproduced here as a courtesy. This blogger both sympathizes with them and admires their courageous stand.

Please give Tikvah your attention and support, visit their site, and blogroll it. Thank you.

Posted on Friday November 21, 2008 at 1:20 PM - Pacific Standard Time.

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

Shas: Yes we can.

translation; With G-d's Help. Yes. We can! Shas [party]

Is this really the new billboard sign for Israel's "Shas" Ultra-Orthodox Sephardi political party?

Its been flying around the web...

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

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tzippy Livni Rears Her Ugliness

As Tzippi Livni sees her Kadima party dive in the polls and her political rival Bibi Netanyahu and the Likud party continue to rise, Livni has reverted to the classical Israeli Leftist smear tactic: Bash Religious Jews.

Today's polls show the Likud gaining to 34 seats, Kadima doing down to 28, and Labor crashing faster than the Dow Jones -- plummeting to 10 seats.

Tonight, Livni started her pathetic "Mrs. Clean" attack on Netanyahu, the Likud and Religious Jews:

1. "The Likud is a party that knows how to say "no" to every topic, it [the Likud] cannot lead any plan in any field" (ynet in Hebrew)

Mrs. Livni: If that's so true, in a poll yesterday on IDF Galei Tzahal Radio, why do 78% of polled Israeli economists believe that Mr. Netanyahu is the best hope for Israel's economy, and not you?

2. "Kadima will represent Israel and Kadima will decide on the religious identity of a Jewish Israel, without selling the country to the Chareidim."

Mrs. Livni: Kadima alone will determine the religious character of the country? You're sounding more and more like the Labor party every day. If anything, you're selling the country to the Palestinians. You lie outright that Jerusalem is not currently under negotiations, yet media reports from the Palestinians say otherwise.

3. "Israel is not a monopoly of rabbis" (ynetnews)

Mrs. Livni: And the Knesset is not a monopoly of Kadima.

In a party with convicted sex predators (Chaim Ramon), a Prime Minister under multiple criminal investigations, and multiple Ministers convicted and indicted for crimes in all directions, perhaps Tzippi Livni should simply shut and try to clean up her own house?

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

My Wife is Too Cool

So I'm in a meeting (as usual) at work, and my wife calls.
She: "We just saw it"

Me: "Saw what?"

She: The Space Station and Endeavor space shuttle.

Me: Really?!

She: Yes, exactly like you wrote on the blog! It went from Southwest to Northeast across the sky. I watched it with some of the kids, our was very cool. wife's found my blog posting to be cool -- I'm honored!


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

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Modern PASSOVER: International Space Station

The next few days will offer Israel a very cool view of the International Space Station and the US Space Shuttle Endeavor -- viewable to the naked eye. (oops, that wasn't meant to get additional traffic)

November 19th 5:07 PM to 5:13 PM, traveling Southwest to Northeast

November 20th 5:33 PM to 5:38 PM, traveling Southwest to Northeast

November 21rst
6:01 PM to 6:03 PM, traveling South to North
November 22cnd
4:50 PM to 4:53 PM traveling Southwest to Northeast

Examples of what to expect:

David Tremblay Nov. 18, 2008, New Mexico USA

Pawel Warchal 17/11/2008

Xin Li, China, 15/11/08

Pieter Ibelings of Atlanta, Georgia

Though it's currently cloudy, maybe we'll get lucky this evening. Let me know if you spot it!

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

IDF Flees Qassam Rockets

In one of the more shameful acts of Israel's flight from terror, the IDF today closed its basic training "Zikim" facility in the Ashkelon-Gaza vicinity. This base had previously received it's share of Palestinian rockets, and a direct hit last year wounded 69 soldiers, some of them critically. Instead of retaliating, Israel's government and the IDF have chosen to flee.

The flag lowering "ceremony" saw four of the seven company flags usually flying on the base taken down, as the "training facility" part of the base was officially closed.

Though the IDF stated that "...the decision was made regardless of the rocket threat looming over the area, and that the fact that the base itself was hit by Qassam rockets several times, played no part in the decision," you would have to be rather naive to believe them.
Former Zikim IDF company commanders stated that "...the overall feeling was that the IDF was fleeing the base. Civilians are dealing with rockets landing in this area everyday," said one officer, "it's only appropriate that the military will have recruits here."

"If this was a legitimate ceremony you would have seen a lot more senior officers here, and probably the media," said another. "I guess the military is ashamed of what's going on."

The Gaza vicinity communities were not too happy with the decision to vacate Zikim either: "Whatever the reason, you have to think about how Hamas is seeing this move," one of the communities' security director told Ynet. "In their eyes it's a victory." (YNET)
This reminds me of how during the September 2000 Palestinian war on Israel, the resident of the West Bank Jewish communities would drive around in their regular cars, while the IDF would only allow their soldiers to drive in armored cars.

The IDF now flees the Gaza Qassam rockets -- and the message from Israel's Government to the Gaza vicinity towns of Sederot and Ashkelon is; "good luck, don't forget to turn out the lights."

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Questions, questions, questions

-- advertisement --

A lot of post High-School kids come to Israel with a lot of questions about Judaism, their Jewish identity, and how they fit it all together with who they are (or want to be). They also don’t want to go to Israel to be forced into a particular cookie cutter mold.

But the biggest question is do they finish their year in Israel with answers to any (or enough) of their questions.

One program in Israel hopes to specifically address that.

SIACH (translation: discourse) is a program designed for intelligent, inquisitive, and independent minds looking for answers, but not via the more traditional routes.

To begin with the program is both co-ed and pluralistic. They specifically want kids from different religious backgrounds (be it Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, or Unaffiliated) to participate.

A significant part of their methodology is interactive discussion and discourse (hence: Siach) as opposed to rote or intensive textual learning (though source texts do play an important role).

There is no doubt to me that this is the sort of place that XGH would like (or not, depending on his skepticism level on that particular day).

They don’t shy away from the tough questions as can be seen from their website:

“SIACH also features the study and discussion of Jewish perspectives on some of the most important and pressing issues of our time. Kosher sex, friendship, ethics of warfare, the status of women, “Who is a Jew?”, environmentalism, and issues in medical ethics such as abortion, euthanasia, artificial insemination, organ transplants and stem cell research will all be explored candidly and in-depth, and students will have the opportunity to reflect on how to relate these ideas to their personal lives.”

This program isn’t for everyone, that’s for sure. But there are definitely Muqata readers that (they or their kids) would find a unique program like this just what they have been looking for and couldn't find.

So check out SIACH for your Gap Year in Israel.

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

Change of Venue

Got a phone call yesterday from the Magen David Adom district dispatcher -- concerning the annual 2 day Emergency Responder/EMT and Ambulance Driver refresher course I'm registered for this coming Sunday and Monday.

"The venue has been changed from Jerusalem, we just wanted to make sure that's ok with you", the caller said.

"OK, where has it been changed to?"

"Ashkelon," the MDA representative told me, "and make sure to bring your ambulance driver's license, as you're all going to be on-call..."

With the sudden increase of rocket attacks from Gaza towards Sederot and Ashkelon, what better way for MDA to prepare, than to move the entire course of over 100 EMTs to Ashkelon?

"Is the convention center in Ashkelon rocket proof?" I asked.

The MDA person had no idea...

Replaying this conversation to my wife, she admonished me. "What a question! You drive everywhere, don't drive a bullet proof car, go all over the country...volunteer up north during the 2cnd Lebanon war, visited non-rocket-proof homes in Gush Katif, and now for MDA, you're suddenly asking if the convention center is rocket proof?!"

She's 100% correct...and I don't know why I asked. Perhaps the media is doing such a fine job of describing how bad it is there, that it subconsciously sinks in.

Rocket proof or not, I'll be there on Sunday. Let's hope its quiet.

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

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bizarro Hitchhiking

I've posted before about the dangers of hitchhikers (though not limited to Israel)

No, not for the people doing the hitching, but for the drivers.

As parents of teenagers in the Shomron, it's a constant battle explaining the risks of hitchhiking and setting reasonable ground rules [only from within our settlement going out, only with people they know, etc.]

Yet this past Erev Shabbat was truly the most bizarro hitchhiking experience I ever had.

My son had an "in-shabbat" in his yeshiva high school, and I drove him around 3 PM to his yeshiva. On the way back, I encountered the "tremp lachatz" (Stress Hitchiker).

This is when the hitchhiker actively guilt trip you to take them -- either by standing in the middle of the road looking rather forlorn or approaching the driver side window and asking you when you're stopped at a stop light intersection if you're going where they need to go.

Personally, I rarely cave in to such social pressure, but since it was almost Shabbat and I was in a decent mood -- when this particular hitchhiker asked me at a traffic light if I was going specifically to my settlement, I acquiesced.

The second he sat down in my car, my 6th sense went into the red zone -- something didn't seem right. I asked him his name, and he provided a Hebrew, Jewish name. Since he said he was going to my settlement, I asked him, "who did you vote for in last week's municipal election?" to see if he really was from my settlement...and he replied with a valid answer. Yet I kept looking at him strangely...something didn't click.

He understood, as if reading my mind.

A few seconds later, he looked at me and said,

"Yes, I'm a Druze Arab".


Now, I had heard the rumors over the years that our heterogeneous settlement was home to a rather eclectic bunch, including a small minority of non-Jews from the former Soviet Union. We all try to get along and succeed for the most part, despite secular-religious and political tensions.

Yet to come face to face with a Druze Arab, sitting in my car's passenger seat, on my way home for Shabbat, to HIS home settlement as well, was rather, unexpected.

Sensing the slightly awkward situation, he said, "I was an IDF career combat officer and tracker for 10 years," which did make the ride easier. We started exchanging stories as his life story took shape before me; he was married to an Israeli, Jewish woman, and they have a few children -- he says he has no problem with his wife raising them as Jews. I asked what language they speak at home and he replied mostly Hebrew but his children know Arabic as well.

"Do your immediate neighbors know?", I asked. He answered that he doesn't want to attract attention to himself, but some of his neighbors know.

"I try to respect everyone , especially the religious people on the settlement and refrain from ever having loud music come from our house, so as not to disturb their Shabbat....I give them the utmost respect and like them alot, and in return, they respect me."

"My daughters are just like me," he mentioned towards the end of our conversation..."their mother is Jewish and their father [me] is a mother is Jewish, and my father is also Druze..."

"So you ARE Jewish," I countered.

"According to Judaism, yes, I'm Jewish, but according to Druze tradition, the children's religion follows the father, so I consider myself my father."

He gave me his phone number for future reference, as I pondered this bizarre encounter.

Maybe he would join our settlement's counter terror unit?

What would annoy Euroleftists more; an Israeli Druze Arab living in a Jewish Settlement on the "Occupied" West Bank -- or him being part of our counter terrorist unit which helps protect and defend the settlement from Palestinian terrorists?

I still have to mull this one over.

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

Havel-Havalim, The “Mama Rachel” Edition

WestBankMama has just published the latest edition of the weekly round up of the Jewish/Israeli Blogosphere.

Take a moment and go read:Havel-Havalim, The “Mama Rachel” Edition

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

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dangerous Spam Alert [OT]

Completely Off-Topic.

I just received a very reasonable looking email.

I get packages all the time, and I just received an email from one of the delivery companies that my package won't be arriving by the date it was supposed to, and for more information to open the attached letter.

I nearly opened this reasonable sounding email, until (1) I realized that the package I ordered came last week, (2) I didn't have it delivered through that shipping firm and (3) the email it was sent to is not the email I use for ordering items over the internet.

I don't know what virus they infected the file with, but I am sure it was nasty.

So a warning to everyone out there. Don't open any innocent looking emails from delivery companies like UPS, FedEx, or DHL.

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

Photo of Victorious IDF Soldier Annoys Palestinians

The following picture of the grinning, "V" for victory IDF Soldier in the Gaza strip area has annoyed Palestinians to the point of exasperation.

On the Arabic "paldf" website, this picture has generated quite a lot of chatter from angry Arabs who believe the "V" for victory sign is reserved exclusively for them. (The Google Arabic to English translator is your friend)

Hope we start bombing Gaza soon to stop the continued rocket attacks against us.

We need to start using the "V" sign more often -- and be worthy of victory!

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bazooka Joe Contest

Anyone over 30 remembers that in the US, there used to be questions about kosher chewing gum in the 70s and 80s.

The "Paskez" brand gum was rather lame, and what people used to love getting from Israel was kosher "Bazooka Joe" bubble gum (with enclosed comic).

Of course, those days are long gone in the US, as there are many kosher chewing gums (or so I'm told) and in Israel, there's a plethora of options; MUST, Bazooka, Hubba Bubba, Orbit, and many others with kosher certification.

I admit, I never always understood the Hebrew comics as a kid, nor did I understand why Bazooka Joe's friend always had his sweater pulled up over his nose.

Regardless, Elite (Bazooka Joe's) has started a 2 million NIS campaign to pick a "new" friend for Bazooka Joe (and I doubt it will be called Bazooka Joe Settler).

Stay tuned, as Elite is due to launch their quest for a new Bazooka friend in the very near future. (source in Hebrew, here)

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

And the Winner of the Jerusalem Election is....

Still too close to call [1:01 AM]. Haaretz (in Hebrew) reports that in actual results so far, of 124 polling stations out of 707 counted, that Barkat is leading 48.9% to Porush 25.9%

Lurker, please feel free to update, since I'm sure you'll still be awake.

Lurker reporting:

2:30 am:

With 197 of 707 polling stations counted, Barkat now has 52.5%, Porush 33.3%, and Arkadi Gaydamak 9.65%.

The Channel 1 telephone poll predicts 50% for Barkat, 42% for Porush, 7% for Gaydamak, and 1% for Dan Biran (the old hippie stoner guy). Porush's people, however, seem completely unfazed, saying that they are privy to information that is far more reliable than Channel 1's poll, and that come morning, Porush will have won.

3:00 am:

Polling stations counted: 264 out of 707
Barkat: 50%
Porush: 38%
Gaydamak: 6.5%

At Barkat headquarters, they're already celebrating. And at Porush headquarters, they're still smirking...

OK, now I'm going to sleep...

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kosher Food

Here's something different that passed through my email box.

Remember when Supersol used to run their "American Food Week"?

That was great for those of us suffering from good food withdrawal. Now of course they don't have to do that anymore as Heinz Ketchup is pretty much ubiquitous anywhere in this country.

So now our problem is slightly different. You can easily and constantly find a range of American food products, but every store carrying American products is carrying the same exact stuff. There's hardly anyone bringing in anything new, different or exciting.

Despite all the amazing kosher food products available in the US, they are just bringing the safe stuff they are sure is sure to sell.

Don't get me wrong, I admit I am feeling a bit spoiled, but still... Boring.

Anyway, over at the they are going to be live blogging the Kosher Food Show in New Jersey.

Maybe some enterprising individuals will see this as an opportunity to bring over some different stuff.

I'm hungry.

(And don't forget to vote today).

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

Monday, November 10, 2008

Haveil Havalim #190 - Post Election Panic!

You are cordially invited to read the Jblogosphere's weekly blog carnival, Haveil Havalim #190 - Post Election Panic!

This week it is Jewlicious!

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

Peres: McCain and Republicans are like Hitler and Nazis

Speaking to my good friend this morning, "The Holy Hyrax", he expressed dismay at some of the crucial issues in Israel.

We summed it up that Israel has very little common denominator for its citizens -- which makes it very difficult to rally around any single idea.

On the flip side, Holy Hyrax gushed on about the wonderful spirit in America today, that despite political differences, Americans in general would like to rally around the new president elect, and are hoping for a better future.

Unfortunately, Israel has a lot to learn from America.

Perhaps the single person in Israel who is supposed to be a unifying factor is the President of Israel. While even the Chief Rabbinate is sectarian with separate Ashkenazi and Sephardi Chief Rabbis, there is only one President of Israel, and more than anyone else, the Israeli Presidency is supposed to be about unity.

Failing to grasp the simple concept of "unity", Israel's President Shimon Peres continues to spew rhetoric "in memory of Yitzchak Rabin", when in reality, its simply a political springboard to further his own politics (and bash opponents).

His latest vulgarity is probably the worst:
On the recent victory of US President-elect Barack Obama, Peres said he was "happy"... Obama's victory, according to the president [Peres], was a "moral victory" over racism, and the likes of "Hitler and Nazis." (Jerusalem Post)
While there may be liberal wackos in the US who think like that, I doubt that any serious politician is crass, obtuse or stupid enough to actually make such a brainless comparison...let alone the President of Israel.

Yet Shimon Peres is not only clueless on the spirit of American democracy and unity, his blind attempts to continue to seed hatred and disunity within Israel leaves one speechless.

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

Bibi begins capitulating already

A guest post by Lurker:
He's not even waiting until after the elections...
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said that if he wins the upcoming elections, he will continue peace talks with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu's office has said that peace talks launched last year by US President George W. Bush have failed to make headway, and he has signaled he would cut off the negotiations if elected.

But after meeting with Quartet envoy Tony Blair in Jerusalem Monday, Netanyahu said that he would move peace negotiations forward if he wins the election.
Cleary, it's the same old Bibi.
Think Benny Begin will have anything to say about this?
If not, that will be the sign that he's sold out, too.
And so it begins...

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

Kever Rachel Video

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

The Jerusalem Election

In one of the stranger mayoral elections for Jerusalem, a secular Israeli, Nir Barkat is running against Ultra Orthodox MK Meir Porush.

Porush's PR people decided he looked too "scary" in real life, so they chose a whimsical, SouthPark type cartoon character to represent him. I'm not sure I disagree with their assessment.

Meanwhile, I received the following from a reader today -- a flier reportedly being distributed in the Ultra Orthodox "Ezras Torah" neighborhood of Jerusalem.

Translation Below.


Rabbi Meir Porush has promised the Torah Giants:

All jobs in the Jerusalem Municipality will be manned only
by kippa wearing men and women with their hair covered
[ie, only Orthodox/Ultra Orthodox religious people]

Give your voice [vote] to an Ultra Orthodox Mayor

Yerushalayim is gonna love Porush,
from experience!!!

An Ultra Orthodox Municipal Council Majority is Possible!!

Now, I don't know about you -- but this seems rather unfair.

If Jerusalem is a large city with many sectors, why should single Jewish women who don't yet cover their hair be excluded from Jerusalem municipal jobs?

Why is Porush targeting single women and excluding them from the job market?

Expatriate Israeli, new French national and "citizen of the world" Avrum Burg (pictured at left) is supporting Porush. (Burg would probably also look better with a cartoon character when he decides to return to Israeli politics)

Perhaps this sort of exclusion is a French thing?

I'm baffled.

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

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Christian Brawl at Church

Nov. 9, 2008 Old City of Jerusalem, ISRAEL (AP) — Rival monks brawled at one of Christianity's holiest sites, and police have detained two clergymen for questioning.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says fighting erupted Sunday between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. The church marks the traditional site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

Police detained one monk from each side.

Rosenfeld says fighting flared over preparations for the annual ceremony held by the Armenians to commemorate the 4th century discovery of the cross believed to have been used to crucify Jesus.

Six Christian sects control the ancient church. They regularly fight over turf and influence, and Israeli police must occasionally intervene.

Perhaps someone should have turned the other cheek?

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

Today's Non-Racist Obama Roundup

Its unfortunate that one can't criticize President-elect Obama's policies any more without being labeled a racist.

(Cartoon on left, hat-tip to Yisrael Medad, via Elder of Zion. If you don't "get it", no explanation will help)

Is satire even permitted?

What will Saturday Night Live do?

Israeli Orthodox Jewish, kippa wearing, settler-supporting columnist, lays it out for us.
I am very sorry to disappoint you, but only two days have passed since Barack Obama's victory, and I still do not have firm conclusions. I haven't had the time to come up with them yet.

Moreover, even though a whole 48 hours have passed since Obama's victory, I still do not know whether his election triumph is good or bad for Israel. And it gets even worse: Not only have I failed to formulate an opinion in the past 48 hours, I am not even certain that in the past 48 years I have been able to form an opinion in respect to what is good or bad for Israel, which makes the situation even more complex. (rest is here)

Here's a great video clip of Barack Obama roasting Rahm Emmanuel in 2005 for a charity fundraiser of Epilepsy. If he can make fun of his future Chief of Staff, I don't think he would have a problem accepting honest policy criticism (or satire).

In fact, I don't think Obama's the problem at all -- its those that accuse everyone else of being a racist if you don't fall in line and say "Amen."

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

Those Evil Settlers

Labor Chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak @ last night's Saturday Night Rabin memorial rally, describing Jewish Right-wingers:
"We used to call them weeds, today they are no less than cancerous growths…There was writing on the wall then that we weren’t wise enough to see...this is not just writing on the wall, this is a sharp undermining of democracy, the rule of law, the IDF, police and all the authorities serving a normal society. We promise you Yitzhak, we will remove this evil from us."
Of course, if you attended the rally, Shimon Peres says of you:
"You are Israel's backbone; the difference between an inspirational democracy and anarchy, you are the ones who care, and Israel future and hopes depend on you."
Its very simple -- those who attend the Rabin Memorial political rally, are pro-peace, Israel's future, and the backbone of democracy.

If you didn't attend the political rally, are right wing or G-d forbid, a settler, then you are anti-peace, pro-war, racist, a cancerous growth...the embodiment of evil. (source)

R' Yuval Sherlo has an excellent op-ed piece directed at Shimon Peres on this very topic (still in Hebrew, will bring the link when it's in English) entitled; "This is not our Commemoration Rally" where he plainly states that it is not a Rabin Memorial Rally but a political one -- those with a different political outlook of the organizers are simply not invited, nor wanted.

1. Thanks to Commenter Abbi for the R' Sherlo link
2. Political Cartoon by Shai Charka, Makor Rishon Oct, 24, 2008

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