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Sunday, May 30, 2004

To Racheli

On May 16, I wrote a satirical blog about the Arabs desire to live in peace with the Jews here in the Middle East. Following that article, there was a little comments war between Ezra, myself, and a woman named Racheli. Here's what Racheli wrote:

"...but you know there are heightened risks associated with life in the West Bank and Gaza. I'm not saying leave- live your lives in peace and prosperity whether the political authority is Palestinian or Israeli. But don't kid yourselves that what you're doing is worth state protection or that it is good for the State of Israel or the Holy Land. If you could live with your Arab neighbors I might feel differently, but to plant yourselves among them and spew invectives and create further division creates an impossible situation."

And here's what I wrote:

"...Thanks for posting regarding my blog. It's a shame to see a seemingly intelligent mind utterly warped by blatant rhetorical garbage. If you think that it is we Jews, who occupy a place the size of New Jersey, who can't live with the Arabs whose dictatorial empire comprises 10% of the world's land mass, well, I don't know what to say to you. Try and get some historical and cultural perspective. Read their newspapers and don't pay lipservice to respecting them - ACTUALLY respect who they are by believing what they say and stop treating them like children or puppies who don't know any better. And get off your duff, come over here, and actually see how we "settlers" live, who we are, and what we're up to, instead of regurgitating CNN's agendified swill."

Now, upon a lot of reflection, and some discussion with my husband, I have determined that I was too harsh on Racheli. RACHELI, I'M SORRY.

But just so you can understand why I wrote what I did, albeit too offensively, let's hit the points, one by one.

"but you know there are heightened risks associated with life in the West Bank and Gaza".

Well, sort of. On the one hand, yes, we live amongst Arabs (not because we move near to them, Racheli, but because they move near to us. For example, look at Beit El - word from residents here is that the overwhelming majority of Arab homes surrounding our yishuv didn't exist here just 10 years ago...), but on the other hand, so do Yerushalmis... and Jews in Ramle, etc. (these are places which can not be considered Yehudah or Shomron). And (G-d forbid!), the bombs aren't blowing up out here, they're blowing up in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. So you might say that there are heightened risks living in Tel Aviv as well. Facts are facts.

"I'm not saying leave- live your lives in peace and prosperity whether the political authority is Palestinian or Israeli."

If only. The day I'm handed a Palestinian residency card is the day I jump out of a huge baklava in a belly dancing costume singing "Habibi" for Yassir at the Mukata. The Arabs just aren't into the Jewish dhihimi thing anymore. If there's one thing that couldn't be anymore clear, from all of their speeches and all of their press articles and all of their hundreds of murderous terror attempts thwarted EVERY SINGLE DAY by the Israel Defense Forces, it's that WE'RE NOT WELCOME HERE. If we were, we'd have peace already. Why not suggest such a philosophy to the Arabs? Live here, dear cousins, whether the political authority is Palestinian or Israeli... what, don't you think it'll work?

"But don't kid yourselves that what you're doing is worth state protection or that it is good for the State of Israel or the Holy Land."

Now just one minute there. As for the Holy Land, I'm going to have to pull the Bible card on you. There's no discussion on this one. If you're going to be talking Holy Land, talk informed. There's no dispute amongst Torah authorities. The Holy Land loves the Jewish presence. End of story. As for my life being worth state protection, well, if mine isn't, yours isn't. And if it isn't the state's job to protect Jews in Israel, exactly what IS their job? Mill around Netanya with their AK-47s? Any Jewish soldier who is defending a Jewish home anywhere in the Land of Israel should be proud of himself and understand that every moment of his time is engaged in mitzvah. I can't think of anything that's worth MORE state protection than a Jewish village.

"If you could live with your Arab neighbors I might feel differently, but to plant yourselves among them and spew invectives and create further division creates an impossible situation"

Please see the land ratios I supplied in my initial comment. This is kind of like wanting to take away Tribal Land in Oklahoma because the Native Americans "can't get along" with the United States. Furthermore, the "plant yourselves among them and spew invectives" thing could just as easily apply to the whole State of Israel as it could to Yehudah and Shomron. What I mean is that teeny weeny Israel was also transplanted into a sea of Arabs. And we fought a few bloody battles with them. That being the case, it would have to be said that our Jewish existence here creates an "impossible situation". If that's so, in order to "right the wrong," we have to leave.... What about Arab "invectives," by the way? Somehow more acceptable? Why?

Anyway, Racheli, I'm sorry about the meanness. I shouldn't have spoken to a sister like that. I hope you'll forgive me.

I hope you'll come out to our neck of the woods for a visit. I'll make some baklava.
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Kumah T-Shirts!

Great news! Those amazing t-shirts you saw us wearing at the parade are now available online! Help support Kumah, and spread the word about the Aliyah Revolution, by wearing an Aliyah Revolution t-shirt!



Order them here!
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Monday, May 24, 2004


I wanted to reiterate Ben's thanks to all those who turned out to march with us. (Scroll down for the link the the pictures.) We all had a great time! And while we may not have been the largest or even the loudest group (like those Chai Riders right behind us) don't underestimate the impact we made yesterday.

This year I was lucky enough to hand out a large duffle bag's worth of "I'm making Aliyah" and "Aliyah Revolution" pins to the crowd. Yes, unlike most other groups marching, Kumah has always been crowd-friendly. And it's extra nice hearing what random Jews in the crowd have to say. One lady said "I'm going in three months!" Another fellow told me he already made Aliyah and was just visiting New York. One couple told me they just bought an apartment in Jerusalem. Others said "You're absolutely right: Aliyah is the only answer!"

The best was when folks looked down at the pin I handed them and back up at me and said,

"But I can't wear this, I'm not making Aliyah."

"Oh, really? Why not? You love Israel, right? So come on home!"

They smiled, nodded and clipped those pins right on. Yep, while they may not be coming tomorrow - yesterday we got a lot of people thinking. And that's the point. Sure, we all love Israel. But if we truly love our homeland why not be a part of her?
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Kumah Parade Pictures

Thanks to everyone who joined us yesterday for the parade. We had a lot of energy, a great turnout, and after the parade, you could hardly look anywhere without seeing someone wearing our pins.

Here are some pictures of our parade contingent: Salute to Israel Parade

We will soon be making the ALIYAH REVOLUTION t-shirts available for sale on the web site. Check back soon.

Special thanks go to Weisbrod Chinese Art for their generous support of our parade effort.
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Sunday, May 23, 2004


Below you will see pictures of our recent Kumah Clean-Up in Hevron, and in the next few days we will put up pictures from our the Israel Day Parade participation. You can support our exciting volunteer organization by insuring that we have funds to keep going! Give your money an Aliyah ------------------------------------------------------------------>
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Saturday, May 22, 2004

Pictures From Pre-Shavuot Kumah Clean-up of Tomb of Ruth and Jesse in Hevron

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Due to Popular Request: Preview of the Har HaBayit Aliyah Guide

Ben and I are in the process of compiling a halachic e-guide to ascending the Temple Mount. In the meantime, I am posting these maps, some testimonials (1,2) and an incomplete guide for the benefit of the person posting in the comments section who asked if the photos did not show Jews traversing on forbidden ground.

Here are some halachic guidelines as well.

This map demonstrates the route taken so as to only traverse on parts of the Temple Mount added by King Herod. (recommended route for one who is not knowledgeable regarding the permissible areas)

I would be happy to bring you through the process of ascending Har HaBayit should you be in the neighborhood. We have come a long way.
(Ezra at
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A Glimpse of a Jerusalemite's Yom Yerushalayim

Prayed at the Wall this morning after a night-long concert at Emek Tzurim (a former Arab garbage dump that was rehabilitated as a national park in the City of David) and before my third ascent to our Holy Mount Moriah.

The concert was great - could have used some more cow-bell.

Real jubilation in the air as hundreds of Jews from all religious paths ascended Har HaBayit.(file photo)

Soul-wrenching to stand opposite the spot where the Leviim sang and will sing the songs of ascent - the steps of the Holy Temple.

Would have liked to have brought a shofar, but...
"Holy Items Not Permitted"

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Sunday, May 16, 2004

The future of Israel.

Despite Ariel Sharon's undying wish to surrender Aza (Gaza), the untiring enemy in our midst just somehow doesn't want to befriend him. Gee, that seems so illogical...

You'd think that these wouldn't be the images that we'd be seeing of someone who's handing them a huge chunk of our land on the backs of our dead soldiers.
But then again, maybe we're just not being fair. I mean, all they want is a small, reasonable state carved out of land that's mostly being used by them. It's not like they want Tel Aviv, or Beersheva, Jerusalem or Tzfat, right? You right wingers are such overdramatic EXTREMISTS! Geez...

I mean, don't be unreasonable, people. With a little bit of sacrifice on our part, one day, we'll live side by side with them - us in our state, them in theirs....

We just need to see if we can renegotiate for Uganda...

If you don't come and claim your land, someone else less desirable would be happy to take your share. Loving Israel from 5700 miles away isn't making an impact here. Supporting Israeli Jews, even through cash donations, hasn't eased our fight to defend YOUR land from the dark intentions of our bloodthirsty cousins here. I'm going to put it in the bluntest terms possible: You're not helping. We love you and we need you, brothers and sisters. Change your life. Change history. Be our future. Move to Israel.
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Now Hair This

[Just one week left to the Parade. Scroll down for info on marching with Kumah! It's gonna rock this year! See ya there.]

So by now you've heard the news. It even made the front page of Friday's New York Times. (Below the fold but still the front page.) So it seems the Indian hair used in wigs sold around the world is often first used for idol worship practices. Therefore Jews can't derive any benefit from them.

It's a proud commentary on the commitment of G-d fearing Jewish women. Bonfires fueled by the wigs in question erupted in Israel as soon as the ban was issued. Similarly on the streets of Borough Park, Jewish women could be seen only in snoods this past Shabbat. The collective price tag for this ban will easily be well in the millions of dollars, but when it comes to idolatry G-d fearing Jews just don't take any chances.

With this in mind, as a public service, Kumah! presents a small section of the Talmud taken from Tractate Kethuboth, 110B:

Out Rabbis taught: One should always live in the Land of Israel, even in a town most of whose inhabitants are idolaters, but let no one live outside the Land, even in a town most of whose inhabitants are Israelites; for whoever lives in the Land of Israel may be considered to have a G-d, but whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who has no G-d. For is it said in Scripture, To give you the Land of Canaan, to be your G-d. Has he, then, who does not live in the Land, no G-d? But [this is what the text intended] to tell you, that whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who worships idols. Similarly it was said in Scripture in [the story of] David. For they have driven me out this day that I should not cleave to the inheritance of the L-rd, saying: Go, serve other gods. Now, whoever said to David, Serve other gods?? But [the text intended] to tell you that whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who worships idols.
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Thursday, May 13, 2004

A Friend, An Oleh, A Jew, A Hero

This is an article I just wrote for Arutz 7 about an new oleh from Serbia. Two close friends of mine both contacted me - nearly simultaneously - and asked me to write about this holy Jew.

May the Guardian of Israel avenge his blood.
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Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Parade Update

Thank you to those who emailed regarding the parade. If you haven't yet, please email me (ben at kumah dot org) to let me know that you will be marching.

We will be meeting at W. 53rd Street, between 5th and 6th Ave, at 12:30 PM. Projected time to begin marching is 1:00 PM. Please enter the meeting place from 6th Ave and 53rd Street.

Please wear colored t-shirts - any bright colors are good, particularly blue, green, and yellow.

See you at the parade!
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Monday, May 10, 2004

Remember this?

It has been over three years since I approached these Rabbis and Jewish Leaders asking them to put their names on a general call for American Jewry to go home to Israel.

Some reacted with consternation. "Don't people know this already," said one signer. I told him that what people DID know was that they couldn't remember the last time their rabbi, teacher or any other authority figure had told them that Aliyah was anything more than an admired option "for some" who are up to the challenge.

Now, as my neighborhood abuts another chock full of American yeshiva students doing "shana rishona" - their first year of marriage - studying in a Yeshiva in the Holy Land, it has become clear to me that although I gathered those signatures with a bit of a tongue-in-cheek approach (I mean, the wording is not very strong, but it is a positive message for many who limit their reading of signs to ones that carry heavyweight signatures) - it is a very powerful message that I would like to see replicated and spread.

Approaching one's Rabbi, teacher, or community leader and asking them to sign such a statement brings the topic to the forefront and whether the particular public figure says yes or no - it created a win-win situation in terms of pushing forward the objective of massive western Aliyah.

I invite all of you to approach any and all Rabbis, politicians and Jewish public figures and ask them to affix their signature to this document. You can print it out, collect signatures - with the title and name of the signer printed underneath - and mail it back to us to add to the web-declaration and eventually we may take out full-page ads in North American newspapers.

Sometimes the leaders of a generation need a little prodding to do the right thing. Let's do just that.
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The Parade is Coming!

For those of you who heard Rabbi Gold's speech, you remember his story about Charlie, the dog. Charlie was the dog of a family who lived near Rabbi Gold. When the family made Aliyah, they left Charlie behind. Some time later, the family bought Charlie a ticket to join them in Israel. When Rabbi Gold heard this, he says, "that dog is making Aliyah, and I'm not?!" And he decided to make Aliyah.

Just as Charlie never new that in his zechut, merit, Rabbi Gold's family made aliyah, so too, we never know it what little, subtle way, we can be a positive influence in someone's decision to make Aliyah.

Three years ago, before the Salute to Israel Parade, Yishai had been thinking about how we could make an impact at the parade. He came up with the idea of a simple, yet powerful, message. We'd bring a bunch of people who are in various stages of planning their Aliyah, whether they are going tomorrow, or looking to make Ailyah several years down the road, and we'd march down Fifth Avenue with signs that said, simply, "I'M MAKING ALIYAH." Nothing about America and Israel standing strong together, or about remembering our brothers and sisters in Israel. Just a simple, personal, message: "I'M MAKING ALIYAH." And when the hundreds of thousands of spectators see these young, enthusiastic Jews talking about Aliyah, they'll start to talk about it too.

We marched, and it was indeed amazing. There was so much energy and excitement as we marched, sang, and handed out flyers. We did it again last year, and handed out flyers, articles, and over 5000 "I'M MAKING ALIYAH" pins to close to a million spectators. The energy was unbelievable. And both years, we can proudly say that a significant number of people who marched with us are already living in Israel.

This year, it is again up to us to play the part of Charlie, and be that energetic Aliyah spark for so many people. The theme of this year's parade is, "Let's Go To Israel Now." What could be a better theme for us? In addition, while in the last two years we marched near the end of the parade, this year we will have a prime time location in the middle of the parade, at 1:00 pm, when the spectator crowd is at maximum capacity. We'll be marching with our trademark signs, handing out pins, and having a great time.

The parade is two weeks from today, Sunday, May 23rd. Check back on the site for our exact meeting time and location. Until then, I'd like to get a good count of who will be marching with us. Please get in touch with me at ben at kumah dot org, or post in the comments here, to let me know that you'll be joining us on May 23rd. This is our biggest opportunity of the year to make an impact; please make an effort to join us.
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Sunday, May 09, 2004

The Aliyah Revolution

So there has been some discussion on the blog regarding whether or not the revolution has begun. But what is a "revolution" anyway? Merriam-Webster offers several definitions.

2a : a sudden, radical, or complete change

This should be an ultimate goal of the Jewish People. Mass Aliyah today! Indeed Nefesh B'Nefesh went from one planeload of olim in 2002, to over three planeloads in 2003. How many more olim will be going with NBN this year?

But there is another kind of revolution. A kind that is easily overlooked.

2d : a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something : a change of paradigm {the Copernican revolution}

The example used - the Copernican revolution, when society changed its view of the Earth as the center of the universe - is particularly apt. Similarly Rabbi Gold discussed how despite its affluence and thriving communities history does not view Babylon as the center of Jewish life during the 600 years of the Second Commonwealth (the period of the Second Beit Hamikdash [Temple] ). Bare in mind that the vast majority of Jews did not live in Israel then. Only the "lowest of the low, the dregs of Jewish Society" resided there. All the wealthy and scholarly Jews lived in Babylon. Yet it is only well after the failure of the Bar Kochba Rebellion and the completion of Mishna in around the year 200 C.E. that we first start hearing about Jewish life in Babylon. As far as the Second Commonwealth goes "babylonian Jewry lived on the fringes of Jewish History." History was written in Israel. This was true then and it is true today.

We all know that favorite little mountain of ours which the Jewish World revolves around. And it's not anywhere in the U.S.A. - or even Canada. ( Hint. )

So in this sense the Aliyah Revolution has not only begun - it is well on its way! You don't believe me? Just go and ask any non-Jew where Jewish History is being written today. Yet oddly enough - not all us Jews live our lives focused around Jerusalem - or more specifically focused around getting home. And yes, when our last KUMAH event gets a packed crowd the night before final exams - that's a very good start. And when a Tehilla event fills up - with people asking real questions about real mortgages to buy real homes in Israel, it's even better! It's not just talk - it's happening. We ARE well on our way.

Yet, this Aliyah Revolution will be complete only when all Jews live by Rav Nachman of Breslov's famous words "Wherever I go - I am going to Eretz Yisrael!"

Interestingly, Merriam-Webster also gives another definition for "Revolution."

2e : a changeover in use or preference especially in technology {the computer revolution} {the foreign car revolution}

This got me thinking of a new pin or bumper sticker…

"I'd rather be in Israel."

Lag B'omer Samayach!
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Thursday, May 06, 2004

Bring in more chairs!

What a week!

So on Tuesday we got to hear words of inspiration from Rabbi Shalom Gold. If you missed the last Kumah event don't worry - you can still hear his complete lecture here. (And him answering questions here.) [Keep trying those links - if they aren't uploaded there yet - they will be there shortly.] And yesterday Tehilla had a chug [meeting] in Kew Gardens Hills on buying houses in Israel. Let me tell you, both events had one thing in common besides Aliyah. Both were packed. There weren't enough chairs set up! Yes, "bring in more chairs" was heard at both events. Can you imagine? What a simcha - more chairs! If this is not a sign that the revolution is gaining momentum I don't know what is. Indeed the Aliyah Revolution is picking up steam - as it sweeps across the globe. Be part of it!

UPDATE: The link to the complete lecture is now working.
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Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Oh, Gaza's not part of Eretz Yisrael? How about Cypress?

I keep hearing people saying, "but Gaza isn't even part of Eretz Yisrael" - both from Hareidi and not-as-outwardly religious friends. Now, I am not going to go into all the historical ties we have with Gush Katif (which are far deeper then our ties to Tel Aviv - not to rag on Tel Aviv, but just to use it as a straw man) - but I would like to just wonder out loud what people think God is talking about when He describes our borders to our forefathers.

I saw an interesting book two Shabbatot ago at Rabbi Yoel Rackovsky's house which delineates the differing opinions as to the borders of Eretz Yisrael. One of the minimalist views is shown in the picture above - but one view held that the entire Latitudinal height of Eretz Yisrael carried forth to the West (I guess until the Yam HaGadol - Atlantic), including chunks of Greece, Turkey, Italy and Spain (not to mention Cypress).

Can't wait to show up on all the google searches for "Neo-Zionist Expansionism"
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Monday, May 03, 2004

JPost reports that Tommy Lapid wants every Israeli teenager to go on the March of the Living. Seems like a worthy goal, until he says:
Only those who go there and see the death camps "can truly understand why we are here [in Israel]," Lapid said.
Avraham must have been very confused at the brit bein habetarim, having lived some 3700 years before the Holocaust.
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Jewish Leadership

The JPost reports that only 41% of the registered Likud voters, or 79,000 people, voted in today's referendum. (It's hard to believe that so many people were apathetic; perhaps people felt conflicted, and reluctant to take responsibility for this monumental decision.) That means that the difference between the two sides was about 15,000 people. This is not far from the number of people who joined the Likud through Manhigut Yehudit - Jewish Leadership. In addition, it is quite possible that the influence of Manhigut Yehudit in the party is the very reason why Sharon called for this vote.

We don't know what developments will occur in the coming days, but we do know that the possiblity for the believing public to influence the course of events is much stronger today than it ever was. This should encourage everyone: from the Israeli who feels that he has no voice, to the potential oleh who thinks he can do nothing to stop the apparent collapse. The future is in our hands!

UPDATE: It looks like Sharon is considering modifications to the plan, which may be similar to the plan I suggested.
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Some of the 'settler violence' at the polls

Sunday, May 02, 2004

First polls in from referendum

Maariv is showing four exit polls, showing the plan being defeated with between 56% and 62% voting against the plan. Official results are expected in a few hours.
UPDATE: With 94% of the results counted, 59.8% voted against the disengagement plan.
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