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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Just in time for Purim - SHIN!!!

My brother Joshua came up with a way for Jews to greet one another, a way to communicate that is strictly ours:

"V" may be for "Victory" but SHIN stands for SHALOM!

Then my brother came up with an ad campaign for the SHIN:

Aliyah Imagina-SHIN too!

This Purim, may we have a real NAHAFOCHU, a real flip. May the Jews of Chutz La'aretz awaken and leap at the chance of living in Israel. May the Jews of Israel fully appreciate the incredible gift that has been given to us. May our enemies plans for us be visited seven fold upon their head. May the whole world merit to celebrate in Jerusalem the light and joy of a true and full revelation.

Good Purim!!!!!
Full post and comments...

Friday, March 18, 2005

Aliyah Revolution with SIX NBN Summer Aliyah Flights!

Just Announced:

Nefesh B'Nefesh is proud to announce the flight dates for the most exciting summer of aliyah from North America, in history.

Opening the summer- a Double Event
From Canada and the USA
1)Dept JFK July 12, 2005
2)Dept Toronto July 12, 2005

3)Dept JFK July 26, 2005
4) Dept JFK Aug 2, 2005
5)Dept JFK Aug 16 or 23, 2005 (not final)
6) Dept JFK Sept 6, 2005
(I'm in the "July 12 JFK flight pool.")
Full post and comments...

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Crazy Settlers by Go´el Jasper

We're crazy settlers.

At least, that's what everyone tells us. That's what the newspaper says. That's what the new "security fence map" shows. That's even what relatives say when we invite them to visit us.

But it's strange, because I don't feel like a crazy settler. I do believe there are crazy settlers. I just don't think I'm one of them. Nevertheless, I figured you would be interested to know what the average day of a crazy settler is like.

I wake up in the morning, go to shul, come home and help Gilla (a little) get the kids ready for school. Then I drive to work. The kids walk to school.

Is that crazy?

When I get to work, I make myself a cup of coffee, check my emails and conduct the business of the day. Sometimes, I have the privilege of driving to Tel Aviv for a meeting, in which case I get to enjoy the unbelievable views that Israel affords me.

Is that crazy?

If I'm in the office, I eat lunch (sometimes) and daven Mincha. Every once in a while, someone knocks on my office door and walks into my office while I'm praying. When they see what I'm doing, they just close the door again.

After Mincha, I continue working, often until 8:00 or 9:00pm. Maybe that's a little crazy, but not in a "settler" kind of way.

Then, I turn off my computer, put on my coat and leave. I get in my car and drive home. When I get home, I spend some time with Gilla (and the kids, if they're still awake). Then, I daven Maariv, lock the front door and go to sleep.

I mean, what's crazy about that day? What's settler-like about that day?

I'm just living the life of someone who takes seriously the words of our prayers and of our Torah. I believe that this is the land promised to our forefathers, and that it is where all Jews should be living. Isn't that what we read in our prayers? In our Tanach (Bible)?

So, I don't really consider myself a crazy settler, even though you might. But, as I said before, I do believe there are crazy settlers.

I'll tell you what's crazy. Crazy is having to remove your kipah when you get to the office, or not even feeling comfortable enough to wear one around your own town. Crazy is having to pack an extra suitcase filled with canned food for any vacation you take. Crazy is raising millions of dollars for new synagogue buildings outside Eretz Yisrael, yet complaining about not having enough money to make Aliyah. Crazy is having a problem with the lower job salaries in Israel, and then spending $40,000 (or more) of your American salary on education for your kids.

To me, crazy settlers are people who call themselves Zionists, yet spend $250,000 redoing a house in some town outside Eretz Yisrael. A crazy settler is someone who toils away cultivating their yard even when there's no religious significance to doing so. A crazy settler is someone who spends an hour (or more) each morning and an hour (or more) each afternoon sitting in his or her car, driving kids to and from school.

Perhaps that crazy settler is closer than you think.
Full post and comments...
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Friday, March 11, 2005

Forgotten Dreams

An Aliyah Poem from Yissochar Dov Berg, a student at the Yeshiva in Bat Ayin.

Forgotten Dreams
Parshat Ki Tavo

When you come in to the Land
When will you come?
She's baffled by your abandonment
After all those years of pain and hardship
Trying to enter these borders
Suddenly when it's right open in front of you
You turn around, ignore her.

Those dense barriers couldn't prevent you
From doing all you could
You cried for her
You died for her
Yet never gave up hope
"A day will come," you told yourself
"When the struggle will pay off
My sufferings will have paved an open path
And I will rise in freedom to greet her
I will then behold her battered beauty
And nurture her back to health.
When that day comes?
I will never leave her
Or forget this pain I feel without her."

Something must have changed
Because now the doors are open
And she's right there on the floor
Lying in her shame
Neglected and abused
Repulsive to the eye
You quickly turn around
And slam the door behind

"There's nothing there for me
Just another land
I'm a lot safer here
Where I can live in more esteem
I feel bad about the shape she's in
But there's nothing I can do
The time must not be right
I'll wait for her attractiveness to return
Meanwhile this temporary substitute suits me just fine
We've built a strong life together
I can't just leave it all behind
Especially for THAT
But I'll raise their flags together
I'll show I still do care
I'll even send a get-well note
And check up now and then
That's a lot more than my share
Especially in this busy life
With this new substitute of mine
Which has become very dear to me."

That temporary dwelling is not your home
Here is where you belong
Stop acting as a tourist
While your wife is giving birth
And there's blood all around
All she needs is to hold your hand
But you remain behind the glass
Peering as an observer
Disgusted by the sight
You just stand there and shake your head
Murmuring "what a shame"

Does the blood scare you?
Are you afraid of life?
Would you rather still your own heartbeat
To live a comfortable numbness
Ignoring all her pain
All her cries
She doesn't want your gifts
All she needs is your presence
There's nothing else you can do for her
She needs to squeeze your hand
Share her pain
Heal together

When will you finally come
Take off your mask
Return to who you are
Come in from the sidelines
As an outside observer
Take off the neatly tailored suit
There's blood on the ground
Your house has been ransacked
Your family profaned
Don't abandon them when they are most in need
Wake up! It was just a temporary journey
HERE is the real you
We waited for you all this time
How have you forgotten yourself
How many times must we shake you
Wake up!
Look around
Do you remember this place?
Do you remember your promise?
Do you remember the tears?
When you come in to the Land
When will you come?
Full post and comments...

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Aliyah Reloaded!

On May 13, 2003 Nefesh B'Nefesh held an Aliyah information session at the Young Israel of Holliswood. In attendance among 40 future olim, were Kumah's very own Yishai, Malkah and myself. I had with me a nine-page proposal I had written up for Project SingOlim. I was planning on asking NBN's Rabbi Fass for help with the endeavor. Yet at the last minute I became hesitant - perhaps it was just cold feet. I turned to Yishai and asked him if he really thought it was a good idea. He looked at me and said - "Pinchas, look around. Today we sit with forty future olim, right here in the basement of Holliswood Jewish Center in Queens. Who knows? In ten year's this event will be held at the Hilton in midtown Manhattan!" Indeed he inspired me to talk to Rabbi Fass who turned out to be extremely receptive to the idea and even read the whole proposal on the spot right there in front of me!

It is not even two years since Yishai uttered those words to me.

Today, March 6, 2005, NBN will be holding two incredible and informative Aliyah events, one in New York City at the Lincoln Square Synagogue and one in Englewood, New Jersey at the Radisson Hotel! Click here for more details and to register - FREE.

In less than two years - Aliyah has gone from the basement of a Queens' shul to the Lincoln Square Synagogue and the Radisson Hotel. If that's not an indication of an Aliyah Revolution I don't know what is! Actually, they're might even be another term for what's going on before our eyes.

Among those on the winter 2004 NBN flight was an accomplished poet, Ray Walker. I spoke to her at JFK airport and offered her an "Aliyah Revolution" pin. She showed me that she already had a Kumah "I'm making Aliyah" pin! She then remarked, "Aliyah Revolution? This is not an Aliyah Revolution!" My jaw dropped as I my mind raced. "Look around this JFK terminal, Ma'am. There are 500 people making Aliyah today! How can you say it's not an Aliyah Revolution," I wanted to say but held back to hear her finish her sentence. She continued, "It's an Aliyah..." She paused and searched for the right word to use as any accomplished poet would. "It's an Aliyah... renaissance!" Her point was quite clear to me. A renaissance is a rebirth, a revival. Aliyah is not a new concept to Jews - though unfortunately too many Jews think of it as a new concept. Rather, Jews are waking up and realizing that the time has never been better to return Home. Basically - to follow along our Matrix theme she was saying it was Aliyah Reloaded!

But there is a revolutionary part to it. It is a revolution in terms of the way people think about Aliyah. People never before have made Aliyah by choice on such a massive scale! Never before have there been complete planeloads of Jews from North America giving up the "American Dream" for the "Jewish Dream."

Aliyah Renaissance? Aliyah Reloaded? Whatever you call it, something very special IS happening! And today's Aliyah seminars are proof. I hope to see you there... as we all take part in the Aliyah Revolution!
Full post and comments...

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Kumah Hosts NBN Aliyah Ambassador Noa Hirsch

Last night Nefesh B'Nefesh Aliyah Ambassador Noa Hirsch spoke at a Kumah event in Washington Heights at the first stop of her US speaking tour. Noa is a Kumah Oleh who made Aliyah as, what she calls "a test dummy" on the original NBN flight three years ago. She has lived in Jerusalem ever since. She spoke on the topic "Aliyah: Is it really a reality?"

Click here for a small part of what she talked about.

And special just for SingOlim:

Click here to hear what Noa had to say about making aliyah single and married.

You can still hear Noa live. Her schedule for the rest of her trip to the US follows:

4-Mar Friday Night
Home of Scott Chait
(AIPAC Group) Oneg Shabbat 750 Columbus Ave
New York, NY
(212) 665-7373

5-Mar Shabbat
Afternoon Congregation Ohab Zedek
Rabbi Schwartz
Seudah Shlishit Lecture 118-24 West 95th Street
New York, NY 10025
(212) 749-5150

6-Mar 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Lincoln Square Synagogue
NBN Seminar 200 Amsterdam Avenue
(212) 874-6100

6-Mar Sunday Evening University of Pennsylvania Lecture Hillel Building
Philadelphia, PA
Full post and comments...

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Hey - they are right about one thing.