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Thursday, December 30, 2004

"Keep Making Aliyah"

Here is some footage from the Israel end. Kumah folks really came through for Nefesh'b'Nefesh's first Winter flight. We had our new "Keep Making Aliyah" pin, along with our classic "Aliyah Revolution" pin on everyone getting off the plane.

Later that night, The Kumah Welcome Home Bash rocked with over 100 attendies.

All kinds of Jews got off the plane

Glen, Gila, and the Jasper Kids

Two elderly Holocaust survivors finally arrive

The Dan family awaits their daughter Shanna and son in law Boaz

Neo-Zionist baby

The Israel National Radio crew: Tamar, Malkah, Eli, and Yishai

Take a few minutes and listen to the exciting sounds of the arrival:
First Hour
Second Hour
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Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Yocheved Chaya Goldman, just 10 weeks old, part of the Aliyah Revolution, will become the youngest olah in Israel in just a few hours.

Sisters Irma Haas, 97 and Hilde Meyer, 94, Holocaust survivors, admire Kumah's "I'm Making Aliyah" pins as they are on the way to finally making their lifelong dream a reality.

More Pictures - LOTS more of 'em are on the way - check back here soon!

UPDATE: As promised here are some more pictures taken by Kumah on Tuesday, December 28, 2004 at JFK - the first winter NBN group flight ever! Captions not required as these photos speak for themselves!

Full post and comments...

"I'm Moving to Israel Today!"

For those of you didn't catch that soon to be Oleh standing outside the early show on CBS this morning (See Ben's post below) we bring you a screen shot:

The sign reads "I'm Moving to Israel Today! New York Today... Home Tomorrow! Go Aliyah!" Hopefully the temperature in Ben Gurion Airport will be a little warmer than 17F!
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"Bin'areinu Uv'zkenenu Nelech"

Pinchas told me last night that his 2.5-month-old cousin will be on the Nefesh b'Nefesh flight today. And this morning, my neighbor Danny told me that there will be two sisters on the flight, aged 94 and 97 (see post below). It just goes to show that you're never too old or too young to make Aliyah.

BTW - for the guy who was standing outside CBS studios this morning with a sign that read, "I'm making Aliyah to Israel today," I just want to let you know I saw you. Yasher koach on your "pirsumei nisa" - publicizing the miracle of the ingathering of the exiles.
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Monday, December 27, 2004

One Day Away!

Here's a press release about tomorrow's NBN flight followed by an Arutz-7 story.

90+ Year-Old Sisters Realize Dream on Final Immigration Flight of the Year

MEDIA ALERT: The last of four dedicated EL AL aircraft in 2004 filled with more than 200 North Americans immigrating to Israel will depart from JFK Airport December 28th. This flight will bring the total number of immigrants assisted by EL AL in its partnership with The Nefesh B'Nefesh Organization and the Jewish Agency for Israel, to nearly 2,000 this year.

This final Nefesh B'Nefesh flight of 2004 will carry a whopping 95 singles to Israel plus some very young-at-heart senior citizens, including:

* Sisters Irma Haas, 97 and Hilde Meyer, 94 -- Holocaust survivors finally making their lifelong dream a reality;

* Ray Walker, 85 -- a New York poet, teacher and activist for the JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance) who will volunteer in Israel for terror victim aid organizations;

* Jean Quinn, 67 -- a great grandmother who will volunteer on an archeological dig in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Nefesh B'Nefesh Organization ( ) is working in close cooperation with the Jewish Agency of Israel ( ).

WHEN: Tuesday, December 28, 2004 2:30 p.m. - departure ceremony and pre-flight media briefing

WHERE: Terminal 4, JFK International Airport Red Carpet Area (near the EL AL check-in area)

WHAT: The departure ceremony will include speeches by Consul General of Israel Aryeh Mekel, Nefesh B''Nefesh co-founders Rabbi Joshua Fass and Tony Gelbart as well as Yoav Weiss from EL AL Israel Airlines.

And from Arutz-7:
Holocaust Survivor Sisters To Move To Israel

A unique pair of sisters is among over 200 immigrants arriving in Israel Wednesday from North America.

The flight carrying the new immigrants is the fourth such El Al flight from North America chartered by Nefesh B'Nefesh organization and the Jewish Agency for Israel this year. Over 3,000 Jews immigrated from North America through the Nefesh B'Nefesh program thus far.

While Nefesh B'Nefesh immigrants are generally young families and professionals, this week's flight includes two special seniors: Irma Haas, 97, and sister Hilde Meyer, 94, who both survived the Holocaust. Born in Germany, they fled to Holland during World War II, but were ultimately deported to the death camp at Bergen-Belsen. Miraculously, both sisters survived, although their husbands perished. Following the war, the two relocated to America, living the past 50 years in Manhattan and Englewood, NJ.

This Wednesday, they are delighted to realize their lifelong dream of living in Jerusalem.

The 2004 olim (newcomers) come from 33 US States and five Canadian provinces. "As 2004 ends, our young organization has helped thousands of people to begin building new lives in Israel," said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, founder of Nefesh B'Nefesh. "Our highly regarded absorption system is based on a philosophy of top service, sympathetic support and up-to-date professionalism. The system has helped assure a smooth landing for all our olim."

Of the 1,600 immigrants on Nefesh B'Nefesh's premiere flights in 2002-03, 99% remain in Israel. 93% of the families have one or both spouses employed, 95 children were born to the new olim and 18 weddings were celebrated.

Arutz Sheva's IsraelNationalRadio will be at the airport to cover the arrival live on air. The broadcast can be heard Wednesday on
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Sunday, December 26, 2004

Important NBN Flight Update

According to confirmed information from NBN, Olim are scheduled to arrive at JFK at 1:30PM on Tuesday (not in the Morning as originally announced by Kumah.)
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Thursday, December 23, 2004

In the morning they arrive, at night we party...

To Usher in the Next Phase of the Aliyah Revolution

KUMAH proudly invites you to:

Wednesday December 29, 2004--18 Tevet

8:30 PM

at "SEVEN" on Jaffa Road, Jerusalem

(above the new Sbarro's near Kikar Tzion)

Guests of Honour: The New Olim!!

Featuring the sounds of the Aliyah Revolution with

Acharit HaYamim, The End of Days Band


All of Israel is Invited, Especially Recent Olim
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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Sendoff/Greet the NBN Olim with Kumah Next Week!

This coming Tuesday, December 28th yet another 200 Olim will be leaving from JFK airport in New York on the first ever winter Nefesh B'Nefesh flight! They are scheduled to arrive Home Wednesday morning, the 29th. We are organizing a Kumah contingent in New York to sendoff the Olim along with another one in Israel to welcome them Home! Join us and be part of the Aliyah Revolution!

If you are in New York and can make it:

1. E-mail Pinchas at Kumah dot Org.

2. If you are driving and can give any lifts let us know where you are coming from.

3. Public Transportation: Take either
- the LIRR to Jamaica Station
- the E, J/Z subways to Sutphin Blvd-Archer Ave, Jamaica Station
- the A subway to Howard Beach/JFK Airport Station
And transfer to the AirTrain ($5). Take the AirTrain to Terminal 4.
(Other options can be found here: )

We expect Olim will be checking in all morning and there will be a press conference/mini ceremony at around Noon. So we'd like to meet at Terminal 4 - El Al Departures - at around 11:30 AM or so. Check back here as we confirm the exact time. This may still change!

I've been there for lots of sendoffs already and it's always really exciting, really emotional, and loads of fun! Hope to see you there!

If you are in Israel:

Those who wish to attend must:

1. Register ONLINE: at

2. AND email if you want to reserve bus space.

3. IMPORTANT NOTE: The bus leaves Binyanei Hauma at 7:30am Wednesday morning. (NOT 8am as previously stated in e-mails.)

Consider the following a personal invitation from Yishai:

You are cordially invited to join us in greeting the 200 new Nefesh'b'Nefesh Olim arriving Wednesday morning the 29th of December. This is NBN's first winter flight, and the majority of the Olim are singles!

There will be a Nefesh'b'Nefesh bus leaving for the airport at 7:30 AM Wednesday - the bus will leave from Binyanei Haumah (Jerusalem International Convention Center).

This is going to be a great day B"H, and I look forward to seeing you all at the airport.


UPDATE: According to confirmed information from NBN, Olim are scheduled to arrive at JFK at 1:30PM on Tuesday (not in the Morning as originally announced by Kumah.)
Full post and comments...

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

My Friends, the Baby Factories

So, many of you may have noticed that there is a phenomenon of rather hefty women in Israel.

"What?! Malkah, what the heck, man? You are so RUDE!!!!"

No, no, there is no nation-wide epidemic of obesity, Chas v'Shalom! I'm rather talking about the inordinate number of pregnant women. Pregnant women in snoods, pregnant women in plunging necklines, on the bus, in your ulpan, at your office. It's hip to have a bun in the oven here in the Land of Milk and Honey.

Many, MANY of the women I know are in various stages of the baby-making process. I've got 3 months, 6 months with early contractions, 8 months and yakking all the time, 1 month old baby girl, 3 month old baby girl, 6 month old baby girl, 3 month old twin boys, 5 month old pug-nosed little boy. 5 of my neighbors are pregnant, in various stages. And that's just the people I'm in regular contact with.
I also must extend my sphere of baby-making love to Julie, my dear, dear friend back in America, who's been on bed rest for 2 months, with 2 months left to go. Oy! And a mazel tov to Duvi and Chana Rivka Gross on the birth of a baby boy in Flatbush. As many of my dear Kommemiutniks are reading this, they're probably thinking "wow - does Malkah know that WE'RE pregnant, too?" So I'll probably be hearing from more of you soon. Mazel Tov, I'm very happy for you, whoever you are.

In honor of the whopping number of big-tummied ladies, I've decided to write a blog about segulas (auspicious practices) for pregnant and birthing moms. If you're birthing right now, it might be a little late for you to be thinking about this, and I think it's weird that you're reading our blog during this time, you should probably be concentrating, but we'll get you on the next go 'round. Breathe! Breathe! Hee hee, HOOO. Hee hee, HOOO.

You're probably wondering how I know about all this stuff. Well, as some of you know, I have a show on Israel National Radio called the Eyshet Chayil Show on Israel National Radio. On my show, among other cool guests, I feature a lady named Chana Weisberg, author of a nice book on spirituality in pregnancy called 'Expecting Miracles'. You can also read some of her stuff on I was looking through her site, and I thought "Gee, does the whole Jewish "with child" scene know about these funky customs and symbolic ways of praying?" So I decided to let the baby-making world know what's up, right here on

Segulot aren't Jewish voodoo. We have a G-d, and the segulot are customs that all relate back to a single wish-granter: the Big Guy Upstairs. Prayer is the best way to get your feelings across, the rest is icing on the cake.

The Talmud (Brachot 60a) offers these guidelines for prayer during pregnancy:
- During the first three days of conception, one should pray that the pregnancy be accepted by the body.
- Until 40 days after conception, one may pray for the specific gender of the child. (However, the request must be qualified and put into perspective. "All things being equal, God, it would certainly be nice to have a little girl after all those boys! We would certainly prefer it. But as in all things, we defer to Your wisdom, knowing that only You understand the grand scheme of things.")
- From 40 days to three months, one should pray that the child not suffer any deformity.
- From three months to six months, one should pray that the pregnancy not result in miscarriage.
- From six months to nine months, one should pray for a safe delivery.
Now is the time to connect, sisters. Go get 'em.

Segulot for the Beginning Stages of Pregnancy:

1. Not Announcing Your Pregnancy to Anyone for the First Trimester

Some people don't announce at all until their pregnancy is visible! In any event, this is a segula against the evil eye (tfoo, tfoo, tfoo), who upon your public announcement of your happiness during this delicate time, may seek to destroy it. Science states that pregnancies are more of a sure thing after the first trimester. If, Chas v'Shalom (!) one should lose a pregnancy, she also doesn't have to face the entire prematurely-informed public with her grief.

2. Investing in Spiritual Development

Chana cites a case of a father-to-be asking a rabbi when he should start educating his child about religion. The rabbi answered: "Twenty years before the child's birth." Your spirituality is filtered down to the kid, so a lot of women take up more Torah learning and davening during this time. According to the Talmud, an angel privately tutors babies on the Torah, in utero. So your (and your husband's) additional Torah knowledge help the baby learn from the angel.
The Talmud also brings an example of a mother who would stand by the entrance to schools for Jewish study in order to make sure that her child would love the Torah. The baby she had was Rabbi Yehoshua, one of the greatest rabbis in Jewish history.

3. Investing in Your Emotional Health

This includes not engaging in slander, gossip or crude talk, as well as not becoming angry, and not looking at anything that's scary (like horror movies or Michael Jackson).

4. The Way You Dress

Many women try to dress more modestly during pregnancy. Extra modesty in dress is a segula for a more pious kid. Raise those necklines, lower those hems. I also read that more modest dress is a segula for having children for those women having trouble.

5. Kashrut

Just like a lot of women watch their nutritional content during pregnancy, Jewish women are extra careful with the spiritual content of their food during pregnancy. Even strictly kosher women try to take extra steps to keep kosher during their pregnancies, as they believe that the kashrut of what they eat has a direct effect on their babies. For info on koshering your kitchen, check out an explanation at

6. Melave Malka

Eating King David's post-shabbat meal is a segula for bringing the rest and holiness of Shabbat into your week. For you particularly emotional-wreck-type pregnant ladies, this is a segula to keep you even-keel during the week.

7. "Raziel HaMalach"

Word is that this book of Jewish mysticism was written by Adam (the first person). Apparently is so holy, that it can't be read or even opened. They say that you should double wrap it and keep it in the house to promote Divine blessing. They also say you should bring it along to the birth and put it under your pillow, as it is a segula for an easy birth. The idea of having something too holy to open sitting around seems pretty freaky, but I read somewhere that they print it super small and that it comes already sealed in one wrapping, for those of us who are easily overcome by temptation.

The Ninth Month

1. Going to the Mikvah

Pregnant women are known to do a ritual bath (without a blessing) in the ninth month, a kind of spiritual bath before the birth. If you have a friend who's having trouble having kids, go to the mikvah with her on her mikvah night: you go in first, then leave, then she dunks in the water that you just dunked in - it's a segula for her to get pregnant. You can find a mikvah anywhere in the world at

2. Charity

What do we say on Yom Kippur? Teshuva, Tefillah, Tzedaka Maavirin et Roa HaGazeirah - Repentance, Prayer and Charity Annul an Evil Decree. That doesn't apply just to Elul, but to the whole year. Birth is another type of Yom Kippur. Some women give charity during labor itself. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov highly recommends this, and draws a direct correlation between charity and ease of birth, basically saying that as charity opens G-d's ear to you, so charity will open the womb (as pain during childbirth is a curse that G-d placed on Chava after the sin of the Forbidden Fruit).

3. Peticha

This means "opening" in Hebrew, and it refers to the opening of the ark to retrieve the Torah before Torah reading. Have your husband go to shul and request this honor during your ninth month. In Jewish mysticism, the word used for the womb is the same as the word for the ark. Therefore, there is a mystical connection between the opening of the ark and the opening of the womb when it's time to give birth. Having special kevana (concentration, intent), is especially good for him during the opening of the ark.

4. Challah

As Chana Weisberg, from puts it, "There are three commandments that are associated especially with women- lighting of Sabbath candles, attendance of the ritual bath and all the laws surrounding that,a nd making and separating challah. All of these commandments are traditionally credited with bringing about "Shalom Bayit" or peace and love between husband and wife." Chana once told me that G-d is particularly attentive to our prayers during the separation of challah , so she prays for women who are having trouble having children during this time. Other women pray for all kinds of things. Preggers - pray for the health of the baby, for a good birth, all that good stuff.

Get this: I know of some women who, in their ninth month, prepare a challah dough or a cookie dough, and then as they get that first contraction or whatever indication they get that they're going into labor, they bake up cookies or bread and give it to married women who don't have kids yet, as a segula for them to have kids. I think this segula is awesome.

5. Your Mezuzot

Check 'em. Make sure they're kosher. In the merit of keeping a mezuza, G-d guards our homes from harm. And the people inside. I have friends whose baby was sick for months. After putting up a final mezuza in one of their doorways, which they'd failed to put up when they moved in, their baby was well in a week.

The Big Moment: B-Day

1. Good verses to say (thanks for the great compilation, Chana):

- (Shemot 11:8) "And all of these servants of yours will come down to me and bow down to me, saying 'Go out, and all of the people who are at your feet!' and only then will I depart."
- (Shemot 1:19) "And the midwives said to Pharoah, 'The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are lively. Before the midwives come to them, they give birth."
-(Tehillim 19:6) "And he is like a groom coming out from his wedding canopy, rejoicing like a hero who has run the whole way."
- Recite Tehillim 20 12 times and chapter 100 once.

2. Give that Charity!

3. Keep a siddur, Tanach, or Noam Elimelech under your pillow

By now you've got quite a stack under there.

Mazel Tov!! You Did it. But you're not done with your segulas.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches that right after the birth the parents should show the baby Hebrew letters. He says "It is true that the child was just born, and cannot yet distinguish between light and dark or between sweet and bitter. Nevertheless, since the child has already come into the world and possesses eyes with which to see the world, we should see to it that before the child's eyes should be the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, from whose combinations all of creation has come into being."

So you've read through this huge blog. And you're asking yourself "Cool - but what does this have to do with Aliyah? What does this have to do with Kumah?" The answer: Not only are Jewish women known to be the merit of the Jewish people (Moshiach will come in the merit of the Jewish women of the generation), but they are the purveyors of her building blocks. As my husband, Yishai, is always saying "There are two things you see a lot of in Israel: Pregnant women and cranes." The Jewish women are the builders of Israel, and the possessors of her future. It's looking pretty bright from here.
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Thursday, December 16, 2004

More on Chanukah in Gush Katif

Friday, December 10, 2004

Proof of Miracles, Proof of Survival

...And the AP caption:

Israeli Jewish settlers celebrate the third night of the Jewish festival of Chanukah as they light candles in a Menorah Thursday, Dec. 9 2004, made by pieces of mortar shells that had been fired by Palestinians in the Jewish settlement of Neve Dekalim in the Gaza Strip (news - web sites). (AP Photo / Tsafrir Abayov)
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Tuesday, December 07, 2004


the menorah....

This year, Hanukkah in Israel seems a bit dispirited. No wonder. After three years of the blood-thirsty Intifada, the emergence of a massive movement of global anti-Semitism, and the painful, on-going rifts amongst the Jewish people coming to a head, the celebratory spirit of Hanukkah in Israel is noticeably subdued.

Post-Zionism has brought to question all the values that Israel once held dear. Some Israelis see the whole Zionist enterprise as unjust, war-like, and imperialistic. We are no longer the heroic Davidic underdog, but rather we are a Goliath-like, conquering war-lord who crushes the weak. Our self-image has been damaged by this movement and our values have become distorted.

Ariel Sharon's actions leave one with the impression that the Palestinians indeed have a just claim on the land, and that the State of Israel has somehow dispossessed the rightful owners. The Supreme Court routinely blocks Tzahal (the IDF) from doing what's best for Jewish security. The government releases terrorist prisoners and uproots Jews from their land. Innocent, G-d fearing Jews are put on trail, detained, and harassed by their own country. The system in Israel has become, in many ways, anti-Jewish. How can we celebrate the Holiday of Lights in this time of darkness?

It is exactly at these moments that Hanukkah comes to strengthen and encourage us. Unlike most of our holidays, Hanukkah is not about a great beginning, a foundation miracle, or a time of atonement. Hanukkah is about Tikkun - about fixing a situation that has gone horribly awry. The Maccabees faced a time when Judaism itself was being totally undermined. Greek Hellenism managed to sway the hearts and minds of Jews away from the study of Torah and the precept-centered life to a life preoccupied with beauty, secularism, and hedonism. The Temple itself, once a center of worship and holiness, became the center of lewdness, depravity and lasciviousness. The country-side, which once saw Jews traveling to Jerusalem for the three holy pilgrimages, was now made to witness the desecration of holy sites, holy objects, and holy days. Many Jews threw off the yoke of Heaven and went willingly with the tide of sexual immorality. Others, who refused, were forced to bow to idols on pain of death. A great darkness descended on the Land of Israel and it seemed that the whole history of the Jewish people was for naught.

It was in such a time that the Maccabees revolted. They managed to push back the foreign influence in the land; they cleansed the Temple, and burned holy oil again on the Menorah. Their victory was as much against the Syrian Greeks as it was against the Jews who supported them and their culture. And it was indeed miraculous. They were few and weak, but they conquered their powerful enemies, and captured the hearts and minds of the Jewish people. They put Jewish history back on track.

Therefore, we celebrate Hanukkah not only to mark our great military victory or to remember the miracle of the long-lasting oil. On Hanukkah, we Jews celebrate the strength that G-d gives us to pull ourselves out of darkness, to redeem ourselves from epochs when everything seems to be going downhill, when all we want to do is to give up, when we have no hope because it seems that all is lost and that it is all our fault. Hanukkah is about rededication, rebirth, and renewed strength, and it is dafka (precisely) now, a time when darkness has set on the Jewish people and on the Land of Israel, that Hanukkah has its greatest significance.

Today, the message of Hanukkah is that we can overcome the powerful external forces that are crashing against us, and we can take back the spirit of the Jewish people. With the power of faith in G-d and with firm resoluteness for action, we can defeat the sense of defeatism that is so prevalent in Israel today, and we can turn this time of dreary despondency into a time when Israel shines forth as the greatest light the world has ever seen. Israel is the world's sole Spiritual Superpower, and no Jew-hating Osama, no blood-loving Arafat, and no anti-Semitic Frenchman can ever sully or extinguish the pure light of the Holy Menorah, which will one day illuminate the entire world from Jerusalem.

Check out this site for more great Hanukkah Torah
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Friday, December 03, 2004

OU Prez in JPost: Sorry...

As we figured last Sunday, President Savitsky now says it just didn't come out right.

Via 'If I Forget Thee':

"I deeply regret the remarks I made concerning past motivations for aliya..... and I apologies for them. I am sorry that these remarks, which were part of a lengthy discussion on aliya and many other topics, denigrated, albeit unintentionally those who have made aliya over the years." - President Savitsky in the 12/2 Jerusalam Post
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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Confused in Israel

A pair of stories on the JPost web site come together to create quite a telling picture of a nation which has lost her way.

From Story 1:
For a city once proud of the co-existence between Arabs and Jews, Lod is like a war zone these days. Police have set up roadblocks throughout the city to crack down on the drug industry. Residents refuse to walk the streets at night, fearing attacks by drug addicts.

But Rosa, who has been the victim of several attacks and robberies, has faith in Deputy Mayor Amil Hadad's plan to fund the evacuation of Jews from her neighborhood of Ramat Eshkol. The plan is what keeps her and the last remaining Jews in the neighborhood optimistic these days.

From Story 2:
In the Katzir case, an Arab couple that lived near the communal settlement petitioned against the rejection of their application to build a home in Katzir. The community in the Galilee was established by the Jewish Agency via the ILA. The court ruled in 2000 that the state could not allocate land based on religion or nationality.

So, to sumarize, it is wrong for the JEWISH Agency of the JEWISH State to allocate land based on religion. But it's good news when Arabs mayors fund the evacuation of Jews from their homes (in pre-1967 Israel, no less). I must admit, now I'm confused too.
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