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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Around the World in 80 Days (minus 59)

So we're back from America. I wouldn't call it a vacation. I would say it was more a sweaty Rambo-esque mission to both visit all our relatives and to save Jewish America from an exilic demise while frantically scouring the increasing, suffocatingly abundant "consumer opportunities" available in the Land of Silk and Money for the necessary 12 baby presents we needed for babies who have recently been born or will be born here in the Land of Milk and Honey.


Now, understand - this was my first time back in America since I made Aliyah a year ago. I was raised my whole life in America, I was educated in America, I am a native English speaker - heck, I ate beef every week for 17 years (thanks, Mom). I was never outside America for more than 6 weeks at a time until - now.

So I arrive, white scarf tied blithely, crimson skirt flowing in the early Jersey morning, so far so good. Except the coffee at Starbucks cost $3.00 (13.50 shekel!!!).

First stop: The Chabad House of Wayne, New Jersey, it's good to be back. I LOVE CHABAD. But I don't relate so much to Israeli Chabad, who seem more focused on the meshichistic aspect (that the Rebbe is the Messiah) of Lubavitch than on the Kiruv part, Hashem bless them. So it's good to be back with a Chabad I recognize. Can't wait to go to Queens to visit the Rebbe.

Wayne Chabad House

Then back to the ol' home front - Yishai's mom's house, Wayne.
We say our happy hellos, we give presents from the Holy Land, we retire to our room to rest... and suddenly I find myself in a rather sour mood. And it's not going away. And it didn't go away for about a week. I was constantly tense, often annoyed. What's wrong with me? This isn't me! Why can't I just relax? I only realized after I returned to Israel what had happened, seeing as I was so elated immediately upon stepping onto the tarmac at Ben Gurion - I missed my soul. They say that you get an additional soul when you're in Israel. I realized that I'd grown used to having two souls, and that when my other soul was ripped from me when I left the Land, it had a marked effect on my state of mind. It was like operating on 50% CPU.

So we did the family visit thing - we saw grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, friends, old landlords, we swept the place!

Then one day we went into Manhattan. Manhattan, the ol' stomping grounds. I can crowd a Subway platform with the best of them. I had to brush up on my jaywalking (they give tickets in Jerusalem!), but I was there, I was in there like a pro. My mission: buy baby presents, buy boots for winter, buy souveneirs for friends in Israel, buy whatever else I thought was cool that I could get in the US easier than in Israel. The place: 34th street and 6th avenue. I'll spare you the sortid story. The end result - 2 hours later, I had in my hand a package of Reeses peanut butter cups, and eyes more glazed over than John Kerry's plans for fighting terror. Yishai met me at our predetermined location and looked at me in disbelief. "WHAT HAPPENED?!?" How could I have spent so much time and gotten so... well, nothing? "I just couldn't handle it," I told Yishai. "There's just too... MUCH. There's too much of everything, too much STUFF."

Hey - I like sheffa just as much as the next girl (sheffa means abundance ;-)). I wouldn't call myself a slouch in the shopping department. I don't feel the need to only have ONE pair of shoes like some of the Sarah Eemainu-like girls of Israel. But it was just overwhelming. What for? What do we need all this stuff for? I like stuff. I use stuff. I was obviously looking to acquire more stuff. But this wasn't shopping. This was a world, a mentality, a way of life.

Eventually, Yishai soothed my nerves, and we walked, hand in hand, to attempt to find those infamous Ugg-style boots which would be gracing my settler feet this cold Israeli winter. At his behest, I entered a store, then another, then another. On every corner I saw beautiful Jewish girls (I can still pick a Jewess out of a throng in Goyland at a hundred paces) bedecked from head to toe in the latest and greatest: sparkly hairclip, denim or leather jacket, cowlneck sweather, funky skirt, black tights, long black boots (or even Uggs - hey, it's a new world!), Fendi/Louis Vuitton bag, Nokia. And man, were they shopping.

Now hear this: It is every Jewish woman's right to shop. It's practically in the Ketubah. But I was... I don't know.... embarrassed by the way my sisters were living. And believe me, sisters, I mean this with love, I don't mean to hurt feelings, I just was shocked at how frantic, how determined the effort was by these young women to live in, to embody this consumer culture, the Culture of Purchase. What for? What could you possibly need? What void are you trying to fill? And I really feel that this Culture of Purchase attempts to do just that - to give people a purported way to fill a void in life - a lack of self-confidence, a lack of love, a lack of meaning. This culture propels you to sift and sift and sift through oceans of things you want, to seek out this time-consuming activity, and then to finally come out, wartorn and weary, with the few things you really need (that you actually really don't).

Before leaving Israel, I tried to prepare myself for the existential questions that inevitably come up when you confront your past. And I also warned myself against any condescension that might well up in me as a result of my decision to make Aliyah. I'm not sure this preparation helped much. I couldn't shake the feeling that my good brothers and sisters were living in something equivalent to the Twilight Zone. There is so much good Torah that comes out of America. Good shiurim, good rabbis, Artscroll and Feldheim. So much good Torah, so much dichotomy. WHAT ABOUT ISRAEL? What about a more wholesome, more meaningful way of life? Why not fill the void with something real? I left Manhattan in sorrow and confusion.

I know, I know, not such a pleasant blog this time. But tune in next time for part two of Yishai and Malkah's trip to America!
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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Words to Live By...

Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, made a speech to the 21st Zionist Congress, in Basel, Switzerland, in 1937. His words are as relevant today as they were then.

"No Jew is at liberty to surrender the right of the Jewish Nation and the Land of Israel to exist. No Jewish body is sanctioned to do so. Even all the Jews alive today have no authority to yield any piece of land whatsoever. This right is reserved to the Jewish People throughout the generations. This right cannot be forfeited under any circumstances. Even if at some given time there will be those who declare that they are relinquishing this right, they have neither the power nor the authority to negate it for future generations. The Jewish Nation is neither obligated by nor responsible for any such waiver. Our right to this land, in its entirety, is enduring and eternal. And until the coming of the Redemption, we shall never yield this historic right."
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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Messianic complex

Sharon said today in the Knesset (from the JPost):

You are wonderful pioneers, builders of the land, settlers on barren soil, in rain and through winter, through all difficulties. However, you have one weakness ? you have developed among yourselves a messianic complex," he said.

"You must remember that there were days, before you were born or were only small children, when other people risked their lives day and night, worked and toiled, made sacrifices, and performed their tasks without a hint of a messianic complex. And I call on you today, my good friends from Gush Emunim, to perform your tasks with no less modesty than your predecessors, on other days and nights."

See, Jews, the problem with you is that after witnessing the near-destruction of our people, and then wintessing oppressed Jews from all over the world flow ("kaafikim banegev") into the homeland we had been severed from for 2000 years, fulfilling millenia-old prophesies every day, you thought we might be onto something big, something Messianic. What idiots you are.
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Monday, October 25, 2004

Remember Rachel

Friday, October 22, 2004

Sometimes the Exile just seems to crawl along so slowly!!!

That is why we at Kumah came to the US with a loud message:

Neo-Zionism Targets American Jews

In an attempt to impassion the Jews of North America toward the Jewish destiny, Kumah, a grassroots, pro-Aliyah movement, has just wrapped up its Aliyah Revolution Tour 2004, aiming to inspire American Jews to come home to Israel. Kumah founder Yishai Fleisher and activist Zev Orenstein toured the East Coast, speaking to audiences in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Florida, in synagogues, homes, and colleges, about the future of Israel and the role of American Jews in the Jewish land.

On the road to Washington DC

At the Georgetown Jewish Student Assosiation with Jake, Justin, and Dan

While meeting with different groups considering Aliyah, Fleisher and Orenstein fielded questions on issues ranging from financial planning to finding the right community in Israel. Both stressed that the return of the Jewish people is the fulfillment of prophecies and the greatest project that the Jewish people have embarked upon in the last 2,000 years. They spoke passionately about studies showing that the majority of the Jewish people will soon live in the land of Israel. The speeches affirmed the Jewish ancestral connection to the land of Israel, the capacity of American Jews to improve the State of Israel, and the wonderful benefits of living a Jewish life in the Holy Land, in spite of the dangers.

At the home of Naftali and Michelle Strum in Park Heights, MD. Organized by Glenn and Gila Jasper

At Shaaray Tefilah Synagogue in North Miami Beach, FL coordinated by Yeshua Lede?, and sponsored by the Israel Committee of Shaaray Tefilah; Dr. Michael Goldstein and Dr. Mark Dennis

During the 3-week tour of America, Fleisher and Orenstein met with leaders of the Aliyah movement, handing out 2,000 pins with the message "Im Making Aliyah" and "Aliyah Revolution." They also distributed some 100 Matrix themed t-shirts sporting the slogan "Aliyah Revolution - It Has Begun," suggesting that Aliyah is the Jews' way out of the matrix of the Diaspora. The t-shirt utilizes the theme and appearance of the popular movie 'The Matrix' in which the hero, Neo, fights to free the human race from enslavement.

Yishai with Yeshua Ledee, a Kumah activist in North Miami Beach, and his kids.

For Kumah, the Aliyah Revolution is really about love - the love of Jewish people for one another. Fleisher told audiences: "When I asked my friends in Israel what I could bring them back from the US, they said how about a million Jews!' Now that?s love!"

In Monsey, the Aliyah Revolution is going wild!
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Friday, October 15, 2004

Kumah event in North Miami Beach

Yishai will be speaking this Tuesday, October 19th, at 7:45pm at Cong. Sha'aray Tefilah, located at 918 NE 172nd St in North Miami Beach, Florida. Yishai will be speaking on "Rectifying the State of Israel" through genuine Kumah Neo-Zionism.

The flyer is here. If you live in the area, please help publicize by placing the flyer in your shul.
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Wednesday, October 13, 2004

A new Sanhedrin?

Sanhedrin to be re-established in Tiberius
For the first time since the days of the Mishna and the Talmud in the fifth century, the Sanhedrin will be re-established in Tiberius.

After secretive preparations that lasted for over a year, the Sanhedrin - the Jewish "Supreme Court" that consisted of 71 Torah sages - will resume its operation after 1,500 years. The modern council will consist of dozens of rabbis who are to rule on Halachaic issues and draft new Jewish rules.

Anyone have more details on who is involved with this? We certainly do need to re-establish the Sanhedrin. But that level of legitimacy is hard to come by these days.
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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

My New Blog

I'm still working on making the layout nice and all but check out my new blog "Point of Pinchas" where I'll be tracking my Aliyah experience.

Yesterday, in honor of the US holiday I posted a little something about what Columbus had to do with the Aliyah Revolution.
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Sunday, October 10, 2004

'Please don't uproot that which was planted...'

Click HERE for an article I just wrote on the hilltop community of Givat HaRoeh.

Here is one of the better parts:

But Alex doesn't blame those with opposing viewpoints politically for the fracture within his people, but rather those remaining in the Diaspora out of preference. "I believe that the Jews choosing to remain in America are largely responsible for our lack of unity," he said. "Unity of our people doesn't mean we all have to think the same or agree on the issues, but it does mean we all have to return to the Land of Israel to fulfill our destiny. My father, whenever he goes back there to visit, he always tells people, 'if you would come here it would solve so many of the problems, not only metaphysically, but on paper.'"

True that. Emet. Selah!
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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Malkah and Yishai - Second Day in the USA

12:00PM - We discuss strategy for promoting Aliyah with Scott Dubin of the Jewish Agency's Israel Connection

2:00PM - We meet with a new friend, David Datny of Hasbara Fellowships, and talk about visiting North American college campuses

5:30PM - The Kumah Crew, Pinchas, Aryeh, Ben, Malkah, and Sarah, gets together at Jerusalem II Pizza in Manhattan to discuss future projects

7:30PM - My brother Josh picks us up in his car and we go to the Five Towns

9:00PM - We get interviewed by our friend Gavriel Sanders of Five Towns Radio

11:30PM - We head to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and meet our beloved Rabbi Levi Stolick

12:30AM - We promptly head towards the big dancing in the streets - gotta love Chabad

We finally got home at 2:50AM - Whew, what a day! Thank G-d Almighty!
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Monday, October 04, 2004

Nice Picture, But See The Caption

This picuture was taken yesterday by Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times.

It seems the New York Times has a certain skill when it comes to blowing captions:
"Orthodox Jews climbed onto an Israeli Army vehicle to bless soldiers patrolling in Gaza on Sunday during the holiday of Sukkot. At least eight Palestinians were killed in the northern Gaza Strip in renewed fighting."

So let's try to give this picture our own caption:
Only in Israel?
The Palm is mightier...?
More proof we're home?

On second thought I think this picture is just fine with no caption at all.

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Friday, October 01, 2004

Little Gifts for the New Year - New Jews Born in Israel!!!

Zeev Maghen and his Twins

Anne and Hodaya Orenstein

Miriam Aurbach and Osnat Sagiv with their brand-new-ones

Tamar and Yishay Hayardeni, and their Twins

MAZEL TOV - May G-d's Blessings Shower Upon All Of Us This Year, Amen!
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