Join the Neo-Zionist

  • Receive our Kummunique:
    unique and informative emails
    about events, articles, and info
    to keep you in touch.

Kumah Mascots

Kumah Awards


Sunday, November 30, 2003

"Lo yachmod ish et artzecha" - No man will desire your land (Shemot 34:24)

It seems we can't even give Eretz Yisrael away. The JPost reports today that the major Palestinian participants in the
Geneva Accords have pulled out. It seems that time after time, despite all of our begging and pleading, that we cannot convince the Palestinians to take our land. Maybe we should try instead to convince the Jews?
Full post and comments...

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Thanksgiving in Israel

Today is Thanksgiving, and I was thinking about the connection between a American Jews living in Israel and this American holiday. My wife has already bought Turkey legs in the Shuk and she is planning a Middle-East-style turkey day. No, we will not be watching the football game here in Beit-El, but hopefully we will host a friend of mine who is a chayal boded (a lonely soldier) in Nachal Charedi.

Many Zionist-types will do away with Thanksgiving on the premise that the holiday has nothing to do with us here in Israel. I respectfully disagree and I proffer a new meaning to Thanksgiving in Israel.

For one thing, we can thank America for being a great exile. Great exile - how's that for an oxymoron. Yet America has treated its Jews better than any other Galut in recent memory. So by eating Turkey in Israel, I will still remember the kindness that the US has shown me and my family, I will give homage to the great ideals on which America was founded, and I will be thankful for my American passport.

The other reason that I will celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving is to give thanks to G-d that, ironically, I no longer live in the United States. With all my warm feelings towards the US, and my fond memories of New York, I am glad and thankful to be here in Israel, the Jewish Homeland and the future of the Jewish people. I am here, and here, with G-d's help, I will stay.

But still, I'm a Jew from America, I have been shaped by many of America's values, and in many ways I am an American.

Maybe I eat Turkey here because I proud. American's in Israel should be proud that they chose The Spiritual Superpower over the economic and military superpower. American Aliyah is a great Kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of G-d's name. As my wife has said, American Aliyah is truly the spirit of Kommemiyut, an upright march to our Land. Aliyah for us is a pro-active positive choice and not the result of persecution or a poor living standard in America. And so... I'm proud to eat Turkey in Israel, and I'm proud to have chosen Israel over America.

Yet, though I choose Israel over America, I do not forget the kindness the America has shown me and I will stay true to the good values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

One problem though, we can't find any cranberries around here!
Full post and comments...

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

The Ideology Matrix - Politics and Political Goals

With most issues of public policy, you can predict people's stances based on their general political leanings. This is certainly true of the left and right in Israel, where their positions, especially on the "peace process," can be entirely predictable.

Therefore, it is fascinating when there is an issue that somehow falls in between the sides, and you get to see people wrestle with the issue, and often have people of wildly opposite politics reach the same policy conclusion.

The best example is the security fence. Let's look at the arguments:

Left: Let's build a fence on the Green Line, to unilaterally establish a Palestinian state.
Right: No fence - we don't want a Palestinian state.
Left: We aren't establishing a border - it's just for security.
Right: OK, if it's for security, we agree to build it, but let's include all the settlements.
Left: No, we don't want settlements - we oppose this apartheid fence!
Right: OK, no fence. Just one big Israel.
US: No fence - it pre-determines a border.
Right: Who is the US to tell us not to build a fence? We want a fence!
Left: No fence - the US is right, it's a racist fence!

It's never really clear the exact goal of the fence - everyone has a different goal, and tries to use the fence to accomplish it.

Now, there comes along a parallel issue - the "one-state solution." The UN originially suggested a two-state solution (two states west of the Jordan). Jews accepted, Arabs rejected. The Arabs continued to pursue the one-state solution (one Arab state) via terrorism and war. After 1967, Israel started to pursue a one-state solution of their own (a Jewish state). Then Oslo came, and took us back to the two-state solution. Now that everyone realizes that the Oslo process was a terrible failure, the one-state solution is coming back into vogue.

There are three forms that the one-state solution takes: the right-wing Israeli one, which involves Israeli sovergeinty over all the land. One such proposal is Benny Elon's proposal. (It's actually a two-state solution, but one of the states is Jordan.) Arabs have always been pursuing a one-state solution - an Arab state.

Lately, there has been a third proposal: a bi-national state, shared by Jews and Arabs. This idea can take two forms: The first the Canaan plan (the Jewish Week had an article about this in their last issue). They hope for a return to a multi-national population in Israel, where I suppose they hope that nationalistic Jews will be like grasshoppers in the eyes of giants. The goal of the plan is to eliminate the Jewish state and any bias towards Jews in the land. This is an easy sell to the leftists of the world, since it can be phrased in terms of democracy, equal rights, and racism.

The other plan, I just heard about yesterday, in the Jerusalem Post. The plan is a right-wing Israeli plan for the same thing - a bi-national state, but with a constitution guaranteeing that the state will remain Jewish. They use Lebanon as a model, which they say guarantees Christian, Sunni, and Shiite representation at the top of the government. I think that if I were looking for a model nation, I would not start with Lebanon. But that's just me. Obviously, the goals of those presenting the plan is to keep the state Jewish - it's just hard to imagine how they think it would work.

What's the point of this long post? That the right and left in Israel, as well as the Arabs, have a clear goal in mind. For the right, it seems like the goal is to get or keep as much land as possible. For the left, it seems like the goal is to jettison as much historically significant land as possible. For the Arabs, it seems like the goal is to expel and/or kill as many Jews as possible. No one says these goals outloud, but they try to make them come to fruition by wrangling with these hot issues, trying to somehow frame them in their favor. The right wants a fence if it will help them keep land, but not if it will prevent that. The left wants a fence if it will help them jettison land, but not if it prevents that. The Arabs want a fence if it will help them kill Jews, but not if it will prevent that.

All the above-mentioned goals are stupid and short-sighted. To have a more reasonable dialogue, and a reasonable progress, we need to be forthright about our goals. What is Sharon's goal? No one really knows. He certainly never says. What is the goal of the Left? It can't just be peace, or they would stop pursuing policies that lead to more bloodshed. THe Arabs are the ones who are clearest about their goals, but somehow, we don't listen.

First we need to state our goals clearly. When we do, I think people will realize that they are silly. Then, we need to start stating better goals. One organization that is trying to do this is Manhigut Yehudit, with their Jewish Road Map. Whether or not the details of their plan are the best details, the overall goal there is the best (and clearest) goal: for Jews to build an exemplary state, an or lagoyim, in our land, as discussed by our prophets (see, for example, Yeshayahu chapter 2).

This goal is a consistent message throughout Tanach, and it is in fact the goal of many Jews to be an or lagoyim. We can be a light to individual people by living a moral life on our own, in exile. But we can only be a light to the nations if we, as a nation, build a moral society in our land. Jews can be part of this light by moving to Israel, and helping to build our young state. When a million Jews go komemiyut to our land - optionally, not running away but running forwards, then we won't argue about whether the fence goes here or there. We will argue about a lot, but no one will argue the best survivalist tactic to preserve our hold on the land. It will be clear to everyone - Jew and Gentile - that Jews have returned to their land to fulfill their historical role: "Ki mitzion tetzei Torah, udvar Hashem m'Yerushalayim."
Full post and comments...

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The Holocaust, anti-Semitism, and Israel

I heard a speech by Daniel Goldhagen, author of Hitler's Willing Executioners, about two weeks ago (I've been slow to blog). He spoke about the topic of his book, that is, the complicity of millions of ordinary Germans in perpetrating the Holocaust. He concludes that they did so not because they were forced, or feared for their lives, but because they, like Hitler himself, truly believed that what they were doing was the right thing.

I spoke to the author afterwards, and asked him about the current threat of anti-Semitism. His perspective is very historical - in other words, he looks back, not forwards. But he did have some interesting things to say about what is going on now. He saw contemporary Islamic anti-Semitism as genocidal in nature, and very similar to that of the Nazis. He said that most of the other anti-Semitism in the world is of a more mild form, not the kind that could lead to another Holocaust.

But what about Islamic anti-Semitism? This could lead to another Holocaust, but Dr. Goldhagen felt that this could not happen now, due to the relative weakness of the Islamic world. He contrasted this to the relative strength of Israel, saying that this was the main difference in the world between 1939 and now.

I think it is important not to use scare tactics to convince people that another Holocaust is about to happen - it probably is not. But it is very important and instructive to look at the potential for genocide building in the Islamic world, and to recognize Israel's role in this. When we think about peace and the strategic future of Israel, we need to keep in mind the balance of power that Dr. Goldhagen mentioned, and make sure we keep it that way. In this way, strengthening Israel in any way is really the most effective means to combat global anti-Semitism.
Full post and comments...

Sunday, November 23, 2003


This last week, we read the parsha (Chayei Sarah) about the passing of our mother, Sarah. As is the custom in Israel, thousands of Jews from all over migrate to Hebron to pray at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, where Sarah is buried. Not being ones who like to miss out on holy, nationally significant and moving occasions, Yishai and I once again buckled on our sandals and hit the road to join our brothers and sisters (and our dear departed Mother) in Hebron, the Holy City.

I'll spare you the pain of our busrides - let's just say that we took 4 buses, there was a lot of shoving, I got elbowed somewhere I won't elaborate on, and we made it 10 minutes before shabbat. We peeled off our travel gear, threw on our shabbat clothes, and were down the road to Maarat ha Machpelah (the Tomb of the Patriarchs) before you could say Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaacov.

There were thousands and thousands of people. It was such a beautiful, colorful congregation of people, a veritable fashion show of hippie/biblical clothing (I collected a few store names that evening) and we were really psyched to be there. Davening (praying) was outside in the evening. With the night time energy and the lit-up Maarah, I got flash backs from my wedding night and I was really very moved.

Yishai ended up finding a Chabad minyan, which made him very happy, as we are huge Chabad/Rebbe lovers. I couldn't find a minyan which suited me, so I davened by myself - it was holy, holy, holy. There is something about Hebron. You feel as if your feet are rooted like trees, like you are part of the dusty dirt, like a pilgrim, an earthy princess of your people. But it feels like your energy, your soul, projects straight out of the center of your head and out of your eyes. You can feel in your skull the vibrations of the direct line between your forebears and you and your G-d. I know I sound like a flower child, but if you've been there, you know what I mean.

Here's a little Jewish trivia for you: According to the Jewish tradition, there are 4 holy cities in the world (we'll exclude Crown Heights, Uman, etc. for the time being, for the purposes of clarity and the common denominator), and they are all found in Israel.
The first and best known is Jerusalem. It has a sister element, fire. Jerusalem is a place of energy, of heatedness, the place where the whole land sort of ignites from. G-d used to send down fire from the sky to take our sacrifices from the Temple (be on the lookout for that again, soon).
Another holy city is Tiberias (Tiveria). Its corresponding element is water, as it is on the shores of the Kinneret. Rabbi Akiva is buried, there, as is the Rambam, and several other holy rabbis.
Tzfat (where Josh, Yishai's bro, is in Yeshiva), in the north of Israel, corresponds to air. The Kabbalah came out of Tzfat, and it is the world headquarters of mysticism. If you want to get transcendental and dip in the holiest mikvah in the entire world (the Ari's mikvah), head up there. The air is cool and clean.
Last, but definitely not least, is Hebron, holy city, city of Earth. There is so much to say about the religious and cosmic significance of Hebron, I'll narrow it down greatly to give you an idea: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah are all buried in the Tomb of the Patriarchs, as is the head of Esau. Great rabbis say that Adam and Eve are also buried in the Cave (the Tomb was built over the Cave of Machpelah), and I heard this weekend that a secret couple is also buried in the cave - none other than Moses and his wife, Tzipporah. Whoa. As if that weren't enough, Yishai, father of king David is buried there, and there is controversy over whether HIS mother, Ruth, is buried along beside him. David was king for 7 years in Hebron before his kingship in Jerusalem, and during the time of the Holy Temple, the Cohanim (priests) would wait to begin their work until the sun had risen in Hebron. It is said that all souls born into this world make their entrance through Hebron.

Now that you have the background, I'll move ahead with the story. Yishai and I went back to Maarat Hamachpelah on Saturday morning, and finally made it through the line to go into the building. We also made it into the Room of Isaac and Rebecca, a room which is only open to Jews 11 days a year thanks to a deal done between the Israeli government and the Waqf in response to an attack on the Arabs of Hebron by Baruch Goldstein. Yishai davened in the courtyard in the center of the building, and I davened in this room of Yitchak and Rivkah. I had a spot right by this hole in the floor which leads RIGHT DOWN INTO THE CAVE. After praying, I got down on the floor by this hole, put my face over it, and asked for a blessing from the great souls down below.

Later that day, we mingled with the people, went to the grave of Yishai and Ruth, and ate Shalosh Seudot at Baruch Marzel's house (he hosts approximately 300 people outside his small apartment every Chayei Sarah). Yishai met a man named Meyer, a citizen of Hebron, whose Singaporian mother and Indian father met and married here in Israel. Meyer took Yishai to this secret deep well in Hebron called the Well of Abraham, where Yishai took a mikvah dunk. The sun set, havdalah was said, and the glorious, whirlwind festivity had come to a close. Yishai did several interviews which will show up on Arutz Sheva's English website (be on the lookout). We ended up getting a ride back to Jerusalem from a man who served two years in Israeli prison for throwing tea in the face of a Knesset member who was protesting Jewish settlement in Hebron. Par for the course for me and the Yish.

Visit Hebron. You won't regret it.
Full post and comments...

Thursday, November 20, 2003

The GA and "Sabich"

So Yishai and I have just celebrated our 3rd GA together (awww). The GA (General Assembly) is a major meeting of the UJC (United Jewish Communities, aka: The Jewish Federation) which takes place every year. This year's event took place in Jerusalem, the Holy City. Four thousand American Jews converged on Binyaneh Haomah to schmooze and gain popular support and money for their projects, which spread way across the Jewish spectrum (Jews for Judaism, Peace Now (good luck with that), Elite brand foods, and of course, Kumah, among many others). Together with our brother (Yishai's bro) Joshua ha Tzadik (he's both indispensible and fun), we mingled, we exchanged business cards, we ate expensive food (though kosher at least).

We heard interesting speeches. Shimon Peres, long-time public servant here in Israel, made plugs for peace with our neighbors (stale, stale, stale) and said the Jewish people's salvation would rest in innovation and looking forward. He mentioned something about clothes that would keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and a jacket which would let soldiers lift heavier stuff ( Peres, what the hell are you talking about. I'm getting images of quasi-Saxon uberJews with half metal heads. You're scaring me.). Then Michael Steinhardt, Jewish philanthroper and benefactor of Birthright, got up and was basically like, "The Jewish people are in deep trouble here, people. We're assimilating left and right in America, and our kids can't even read a siddur, let alone want to use one. Whatever else we're doing, we'd better drop it fast and get our kids back on the path. This is an emergency!"
After his speech, Michael Steinhardt got a three minute standing ovation, while Peres, who'd gotten everyone out of their seats for a polite 15 seconds, looked a little jealous. Afterward, the crowd swarmed Steinhardt with handshakes and admiring looks, while Peres, who shimmied into every conceivable corner of the throng to get a little face time and adoration, ended up leaving with nary a person giving him a second look. It was a very satisfying sight, I must say. Netanyahu also gave a speech which I liked, despite myself. He's a smart guy with a lot of good ideas and is such a terrific speaker and people's person. I just don't know that I trust him.

The bottom line is that the GA was a very powerful event. A lot of good people got together in the best place on earth, and I think people came away inspired and motivated. Everyone loved the ideas Kumah presented, and a few people were honestly thinking about how to make lives over here.

Today, Yishai and I waited all day for a connection of ours to pan out so that we could finally get my Teudat Zehut (the strikers have a stranglehold on the whole country - it's impossible to get anything done). It didn't work out, but it did give us an opportunity to hang out with our friend Yonni Summit, who is a really special and hip Jew here in Jerusalem. He took us to this crazily-painted little food joint for something I've never eaten before - Sabich. It stands for Salat, Beitzim, Chatzilim (salad, eggs, eggplant), and as with many dishes here in Israel, is eaten in a pita. Yuuuuuummmm. So the next time you guys are in the Nachlaot neighborhood, check out this little corner of the Jewish world (run, apparently, through a sephardi yeshiva of baalei teshuvah).
Then Yoni drove us to our next destination and made some comments about maybe hooking us up with an old stove (score!!!!!!!!!). Yoni, you're the best. Good luck with those political math problems.

Unfortunately for all you ladies out there, our friend Yoni is taken. Yishai and I have already called a Sheva Brachot (no pressure, Yoni). :-)
Full post and comments...

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Those Damn Jews

Read this article from Arutz 7. It is really amazing - some members of the Israeli left, including former Shabak heads, are starting to panic. Since it is already well-accepted among them that the cause of all the problems in Israel is Jews living in Yesha, they are ready to go to extreme lengths to get rid of them. From the article:
Interior Minister Avraham Poraz has a novel suggestion for getting rid of the Jewish outposts in the Shomron. Speaking on Army Radio this morning, he proposed that after outposts are dismantled and evacuated, Israel cooperate with Arab forces from the Palestinian Authority to prevent Jews from rebuilding them. Poraz said that the forcibly evacuated outposts should be turned over to Arabs from the PA, and the Jews would then not dare to return and rebuild them, for fear of confronting the Arab militia.

I'm sure that if we attempt to cooperate with the PA in the removal of Jews from their homes, probably in a violent confrontation, then we will find a "willing partner" in the PA. Later in the article, a former Shabak head compares the "hilltop youth" to Hamas. So I guess that when the PA populates the outposts with Arabs, no one will know the difference.

I don't need to carry on about the insanity of these claims. But, what can we do? First, we need to put out a positive message, not a negative one. The left is panicking because our hold on Eretz Yisrael is getting stronger, and our opportunities to capitulate to terrorists are waning. So, what will we do next? We must focus on the positive, on Jews returning to their land and building an amazing, successful, and insiring nation. Second, we must continue to help populate the land. Not necessarily just Yesha, but all of the land. Let's let the voices calling to return to the land drown out the voices calling to abandon it.
Full post and comments...

Friday, November 14, 2003

So Far So Good

Dear Kumah!

Shalom everyone, sorry I have been so silent in the past few days since we made Aliyah. The reason is simply this - I have been so busy at work, which of course is a blessing in the Land of Israel. I am working for that media concern you may know well, Arutz Sheva - Israel National News. I am working for the English radio department and they have me doing all kinds of stuff from the highly technical to the highly mundane. In my short time here I have learned a ton. Malkah and I have been unable to do most of our bureaucratic business because of the government workers strike that has been going on for months. However, Malkah did enroll in Ulpan and she loves it. Malkah and I have not had the chance to see Israel yet and we haven't seen our own town - Beit El. This place is affluent, very pretty, and surrounded by Arabs. Abraham was here and Jacob famously dreamed here. Malkah and Yishai are starting here.

So far my slogan for figuring out life in Israel is: Nichye Ve'neer'eh (We Shall Live and We Shall See)

One thing that might excite you is my new idea for this radio station - I call it Jewish Campus Radio - that is, an internet radio show which will focus on American Jewish campus issues i.e. Birthright, Hillel events, fighting anti-Semitism, Israel programs, Jewish music scene, and obviously, Aliyah.

Do me a favor please - Give me some feedback about this idea and check out our radio station on the web and tell me what you think. There is an opportunity at this station to send out a message that matters. Your ideas are extremely valuable. Here is the site:

Upon my arrival I was immediately contacted by Kumites here in Israel who told me that we must get events going here in Israel for those who have already made Aliyah and are looking for like-minded and like-situated people. With G-d's help that is exactly what we will do. More info to come soon...

This Sunday is the begining of the United Jewish Communities General Assembly (GA) convention in Jerusalem. 4000 Americans will be here and so will we. A big rally is scheduled to raise the issue of Jonathan Pollard - may he be freed soon. Aliyah will also be an issue as will the future of American Jewry. I hope we can have some impact. If you would like to help Kumah this week at the GA, please get in touch.

This week's Torah portion clearly shows that there are times when one is tested. Abraham was tested to the utmost when G-d asked him to sacrifice his son. Moving to Israel is likewise a test - I have been amazed at how much Gashmiyus (mundane physicality) is involved in the fulfillment of this great Mitzvah. I am suddenly concerned about money issues, the purchase of this or that, space for junk, and all kinds of other issues. Its all smoke and mirrors. This is the place to be. As the driver of a hitchhiked ride told me - patience is the medicine for everything. And so is faith and trust in G-d.

Wishing you all the best and looking forward to seeing you,
Shabbat Shalom, Yishai
Full post and comments...

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Shmuel Sackett's speech last night

I went to hear Shmuel Sackett (from Manhigut Yehudit - Jewish Leadership) speak at YU last night. The event was organized by Shmuel Sokol from Mission for Israel. At the end of the speech, I spoke for a minute about Kumah, and the important first step of Aliyah. Mr. Sackett made Aliyah 13 years ago, and has been politically active there ever since. His work is having significant impact in the Israeli government. This can be an inpiration to those of us who want to make Aliyah, but don't think we can make a difference there. If you're not familiar with the Manhigut Yehudit organization, please visit their web site. For those of you in Israel, consider attending their upcoming conference in Binyanei Ha'uma, Tuesday, Rosh Hodesh Kislev, November 25th, at 6:30pm.

His message was a positive one. He spoke about the direction that Israel should move in, yet he barely mentioned the Arabs. So often we are so obsessed with current politics that we forget the long-term picture: to be an or lagoyim, a shining light to the world, from our exemplary Jewish society in Israel. That is different from striving to become a nation just like all the others, or striving merely to live in peace. It is a lofty goal, but it is one that is gaining steam in Israel, as people realize that the current alternatives are not working out.
Full post and comments...

Ulpan and the Intifada

I just finished my second day of Ulpan! I'm learning really quickly, I think (I hope). Readers, do not fear your inability to speak - Israel will make sure you learn, if you're committed to spending the time and energy. There are people in my class who didn't know the Aleph Bet (literally) when they got here, and now they're writing sentences. Everyone in my class is really fun - we laugh a lot, and people aren't embarrassed about their mistakes, which I think is key to the learning process.

Because I'm living in Beit-El, I have to take 2 buses to get to class (which means getting up at 6:00am - ichsa) - one long ride into Jerusalem (an hour) and then another short ride in the city (15 minutes). On the way home yesterday, I got on the short bus to the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem, where I would take my bus to Beit El. As I was sitting, I looked up and saw a man in a puffy black jacket sitting diagonally from me. He was speaking Arabic into a cellphone. I looked at him, he looked at me, and my stomach dropped. "This is it. This is the one that's going to get ME." An arab in a puffy black jacket, the exact puffy jacket I imagined all the suicide bombers (may they rot in hell for all eternity, those desecrators of The Name) wear. At the next stop, I hurried off the bus, about 3/5 of a mile from the Bus Station. I was totally freaked out. As I stood on the sidewalk, watching the bus go by, waiting for it to explode, I realized... it wouldn't, that I had misjudged the situation. So I thought "Wait a minute, every Arab around here wears a puffy black jacket, and winter's coming. Am I going to jump off of every bus that carries one of these guys?" On the other hand, I thought "But what am I supposed to do when I am afraid for my life, when I feel that someone is a threat to me? Ignore my instincts? What if I had been right?" I decided that it had to be somewhere in the middle. It was a bit of a depressing moment. I wish I were a little braver, but I wish I didn't have to be.
But then, on the long ride to Beit-El, I looked out my window at the gorgeous rocky hills outside of Jerusalem, listening to my walkman and reflecting on my new life. I saw a man standing on a hill above the road. He must have been somewhere between 15 and 19 (I'm not very good at estimating ages). As we drove by, I saw him hurl one rock, and then another, at our bus! He was too far away to hit us, so I don't think anyone even knew he was there, except for me. I was stunned. I was a target today, after all.
Full post and comments...

Monday, November 10, 2003

Shopping in Jerusalem

I just carried maybe 100 pounds (I'm not exaggerating) of groceries from Jerusalem back to Beit-El. Thank Hashem for Yishai's humongous backpack. I took a tremp (hitchhike) in to Jerusalem, despite my continual inability to understand questions people are asking me. I sat next to two other sweet hitchhikers - Tzofia and Leah. They practiced their English on me and did quite well. Turns out Leah's mom spent many years in the US. Turns out she is the daughter of the late Rav Meyer Kahane, z''l. I asked Leah if she had ever met her grandfather - she did, when she was little.

Last night Yishai and I saw Arabs working in Beit-El, I think for a private employer, carrying some heavy objects or something. This sort of activity, even in the private context, has to stop, particularly in a place where we are so adamant about the Jewishness and Jewish sovereignty of Israel. Can't we find some strong Jewish young men to do this work? Or can't we pay more so Jews will take the jobs? Aren't people complaining about unemployment while religious Jews hire Arabs in Israel? It doesn't make sense to me.

Full post and comments...

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Raining in the Holy Land

Yes, it's raining here in the beautiful Shomron. Yishai and I are in Beit-El - our first day with Israel National News. One of the offices has a metallic-type roof which makes the rain drops sound like hail. I can only imagine what rain will sound like in our caravan (B"H), where all the sides are metal.

We spent shabbat in Maale Adumim, a "settlement" of 32,000 people about 15 minutes from Jerusalem over that menacing veil of oppression, the green line (just in case you couldn't read my sarcasm, if you would ever drive over this "green line" you'd have no idea at what point you did so. If you were to ask me what the green line is, my most accurate, authoritative response would be "I have no idea.") We stayed at the home of our friend Jason Orenstein's parents, who made Aliyah about a year and a half ago. I spent a good deal of time talking with Bobby/Bubby, the family's 87 year old olah chadasha, who sang me a lot of yiddish songs. She said making Aliyah at her age was not so easy, but she was optimistic about a new yiddish organization her daughter, Jason's mom, would be taking her to soon. Good luck, Bobby the occupier, and have fun. I think she'll be alright.

I went to a website today called, where I picked up many, many hebrew slang phrases. Since the ulpan of my preference doesn't start until January 15, I'll try to learn some hip jive, LeTovot HaClal (in the public interest) (see, it's working!).

Anyway, mazal tov on the brachah (blessing) of rain here in the Holy Land. We must be doing some thing right.
Full post and comments...

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

I'm an Israeli

Shalom! Ani Malkah Fleisher. Ani Israeli! That's right, ladies and gentlemen, little Melissa Fleisher from Texas, with a 30 hebrew word vocabulary and a bank roll number which dare not be mentioned for reasons of appearing crazy or suicidal, has reached her promised home. My name is Malkah Fleisher, and I am a citizen of the Jewish State. (Send your mazal tov wishes to

No disdainful goyish El-Al worker, no frowning Israeli striker-to-be, no 2 hour wait for a taxi from the Airport, could keep me from enjoying maybe the second most important day of my life. Israel is amazing. It is beautiful here, the work necessary to get my bank account, my health insurance, etc. was Baruch HaShem, relatively painless, and the people who haven't been totally exhausted by the matzav are still raring to get to work and make this country a better place. Posters on highway dividers sport portraits of Rabbis. I wouldn't trade our Israeli frustrations for your American indifference any day of the week.

There's just so much hope here, despite it all. No one might say it, because I'm not sure they see it, but it's just such a clear part of the big picture...
Yishai brought our shofar on the airplane. Landing at 5:00 in the morning to get in before yet another government strike, we step off the plane and kiss the tarmac. Home, sweet home. On the bus, people eyeball our pins which say "I'm Making Aliyah" with a little gleam in their tired eyes. And we get to the terminal. My husband and I survey the landscape and he blows the shofar. Some 30 feet away, a so called "Hiloni" Jew looks at Yishai and says "Od Pam" - "One more time"- with a grin. Yishai blows the shofar and the man, probably in his mid-twenties, just like Yishai, with perfectly warped jeans and a shaved head, stands at attention and puts his hand on his head - his instant kippah replacement - listening intently. He was totally there, in the spiritual moment. At the end, he smiles broadly at Yishai and throws a kiss up to the sky. Never tell me this country is doomed. It just isn't so. We're going to win this thing - not just the right wingers, but all of us, all the Jewish people. We're going to win. Because we're all the same thing, the same body. And I, little Malkah Fleisher, am yet another organ that has grown into place.

Full post and comments...

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Tomorrow, Tomorrow

Tomorrow, with God's help, and perhaps (general strike of the airport authority notwithstanding) in solidarity ("Wherever we Stand we Stand with Fleishers") with the Aliya our holy friends Yishai and Malka, my wife and I will ascend Har HaBayit - the Temple Mount.

It is the the apex of the universe. The foundation stone of the tangible world and the seam-line between us and the Infinite. We have consulted (and will be accompanied by) the head of the Machon HaMikdash - the Temple Institute - with regard to all the halachic preperations men and women must undergo before their ascent and today we are spiritually prepping ourselves for the visit.

I really don't know what to expect. Our eyes are often able to view the infinite through the lens of beauty, but, like Rabbi Akiva, we know we will see foxes and wakf hooligans doing everything they can to keep us Jews away from the great spiritual electric outlet that is our Holy Mountain.

V'techezena Eineinu B'Shuvcha l"Tzion b'rachamim - May our eyes behold Your return to Zion in Loving mercy. We say that three times a day - and the words are quite clear - we are not asking God to return to Zion quickly while our living eyes can still behold it. No, no. We are asking God to allow our EYES the special vision of being able to see that He is already here. God eyes. Eyes of the coming world, as Reb Shlomo Carlebach always put it.

There is a great illusion standing there upon our Holy Mountain. It screams out - THIS IS THE WORLD WITHOUT YOUR HOLY TEMPLE!

But the great secret is that our eyes can behold - if we look from the right PLACE - a place of treading on the Holy Ground at such a critical time when so many in our community who LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE to visit the Kotel, who LOOOOOOOOOVE getting close to holy things - shield their eyes from.

Ze HaYom Assa HaShem. Today is the day. It is like no other. Who knows what will be tomorrow. Why are people not flying in from America to tread on this Holy Holy Ground that Avraham Yitzchak and Yaakov, the Rambam and so many others waited their whole lives to set foot on.

Zeh HaYom!

I am very excited. Thank You, God.
Full post and comments...


I didn't get the chance to finish that last one - oh well. I'm too tired to do it now. After much effort (!) we've finally packed up our house - I'll give you more details when that tiredness I mentioned is long gone - and are just hours away from the airplane which will bring us home to Israel. Unbelievable. With the proper time and energy to reflect, I'm sure I'd be battling waves of nostalgia, terror, excitement, worry, gratitude... as it is, I'm praying for a comfortable seat on the plane to sleep. I don't feel overwhelmed, I just feel unable to interrupt the momentum of this whole thing with too much emotion or intellectualism. I'm happy and eagerly anticipating the future, especially the moment when I can survey a home, whatever and wherever that will be, that is neatly arrayed and ready for me to leap into bed!
Full post and comments...