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Sunday, April 30, 2006

New Internet Films

Two great films for you:

One is about Israel Past

The other is about Israel Future
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The Shabbat Candle Ladies

Liat, a young Israeli, rushes to catch her bus on this early Friday afternoon. "Shabbat Shalom!" an older lady greets her along with the warmest smile you have ever seen and hands her something small.

The Shabbat table is beautifully set with a handsome tablecloth, dishes, silverware, tall glasses, wine, flowers, challah - covered, and Shabbat candles. There is nothing unusual about that. What is unusual is that this table resides not in an apartment in Meah Sharim but in the middle of the sidewalk directly opposite Jerusalem's Central Bus Station.

Liat does not remember the last time she lit candles on Friday afternoon just before sunset to welcome in the Shabbat, but today she thinks she just might as she examines the two Shabbat "tea-light" candles that were handed to her. Liat smiles back at the older lady "Shabbat Shalom!" she answers.

If you ever happen to find yourself in the vicinity of the Jerusalem Bus Station on Friday afternoon - as so many of us do, be sure to sure to wish a "Shabbat Shalom" to those two or three women standing by that famous awkwardly placed Shabbat Table handing out Shabbat Candles. They are the "Shabbat Candle Ladies" and just watching them for a few minutes makes one so proud to be part of this wonderful land of ours.

A pair of chayalot (female soldiers) curiously approach. "Shabbat Shalom!" "Shabbat Shalom!" they cheerfully respond examining the candles they were handed. One chayalet pauses. "Oh, and Chodesh Tov too!" she remarks, offering the traditional "new month greeting" which this particular Friday just so happens to be as well.

Now a middle aged women passes by. At first she is hesitant but then accepts the small plastic package not altering her brisk stride. She too stops and then returns back to the Shabbat Candle Lady, beaming. She thanks her and the two have a brief minute long discussion. A minute, of course, is an eternity in Jerusalem on a Friday right outside the Central Bus Station.

Now comes a teen boy walking just ahead of his parents. The boy refuses the gift and rushes by - his father calls ahead to him and tell him to wait. The father nods and accepts the candles and continues walking as he shows them to his wife. She says something to him. He returns back to the Shabbat Candle Lady. "Can I have another one?"

They are the Shabbat Candle Ladies.

(Cross-posted at Point of Pinchas)
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Thursday, April 27, 2006


Kummunique - Kumah's Shabbat and Holiday Bulletin
Issue 26 "Tazriyah" 5766

Shalom! We are proud to present another issue of Kummunique.
This issue is filled with Aliyah and Eretz Yisrael inspiration - so enjoy!

In this issue you will find:

1. "Observing Holocaust Remembrance Day Through Aliyah" by Ezra Halevi
2. "At The Top Of Her Game After Only 5 Months In Israel" by Amir Mizroch
3. "From Brooklyn to the Negev desert" By Hanson Hosein

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006


The above photo was sent by Alejandro Steinmann Ortiz to my Kumah email address along with other Neo-Nazi and lewd images.

Here is the text of his email to me:

Subject: Shalom!

F--- you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Damned jews!!!!!!!!!!!You are sh-- of god!!!!

...and here is a self-photo that he included

So Nazis are alive and well.
But contrast that to an email I just received from


I'm a student at Salzburg University in Austria and I'll have to do a
presentation on a topic of my choice, I am thinking about choosing the topic
"why Jews should go back to Israel" and that is why I'm contacting you in
the hope that you could help me with that :-).

So I wanted to ask if I could use any information on your homepage and if I
could also use that short movie about making Aliyah (the one with Neo
:-)..)? And could you maybe tell me where and how I can find out more about
Jews making Aliyah in general?
Do you have any leaflets or prochures that you could maybe send me?

Maybe I should tell you more about WHY I want to talk about that topic, I
mean: I am not Jewish, non of my listeners are (as far as I know), but I
love Israel, I actually volunteered in Israel last year and it was just
amazing, Israel is such an amazing country and I see this as an opportunity
to just inform my collegues and my teacher about Israel, because there are
still so many prejudices.
I actually heard about your homepage from listening to Israel National
Radio, so I know quite a lot about Aliyah and stuff, but if you could
provide me with more information or if you could just tell me where I could
get more information about it, that would help me a lot!

So thank you in advance! :-)

Katharina Ludwig
Martin-Luther-Strasse 16

Two world perspectives: Neo-Nazism or Neo-Zionism. The choice is yours...
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Monday, April 24, 2006

My Hero!

Last night was awesome! The army secured the opening of an Arab village, Timnat Cheres, to let Jews pray at the graves of two Biblical figures: Joshua and Calev (Nun the father of Joshua is buried there as well). These two greats were all about making Aliyah to Israel, and continuing to make Aliyah once they arrived. They stood up to Jewish anti-Aliyah rhetoric, and feared not their non-Jewish enemies as well.


Here's some of the good ole' boys who showed up last night

The army was in a good mood - probably happy to secure Jewish prayer in the Holy Land

Here is one of the best monologues of all time, spoken by non other then Calev Ben Yefuneh from the book of Joshua Chapter 14:

6. Then the sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, "You know the word which the LORD spoke to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh-barnea.

Inside the tomb of Calev

7. "I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart.
8. "Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the LORD my God fully.
9. "So Moses swore on that day, saying, `Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God fully.'

10. "Now behold, the LORD has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today.
11. "I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in.
12. "Now then, give me this hill country about which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the LORD will be with me, and I will drive them out as the LORD has spoken."
13. So Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance.
14. Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite until this day, because he followed the LORD God of Israel fully.

Elan White prays amongst Chassidim

Here is a message from Rabbi Dov Begon - Founder and Head of Machon Meir

We Must go Forth and Occupy the Land

The spies carried out their mission. They were sent by Moses, who sent them to examine the quality of the Land and its inhabitants. They returned with the following report: "We came to the land where you sent us, and it is indeed flowing with milk and honey, as you can see from its fruit" (Numbers 13:27). Their sin, however, was in their interpretation of what they saw and the conclusion they derived from their erroneous interpretation:

"The land we explored consumes its inhabitants! All the men there are huge...We felt like tiny grasshoppers and that's how we appeared in their eyes" (13:32-33). The bad conclusion that brought calamity upon their generation was this: "We cannot go forward against those people! They are too strong for us [mimenu]" (verse 31). In Hebrew, "mimenu" can mean either "us" or "him". Rashi comments that the spies were saying the Canaanites were too strong even for "Him", for G-d! Their faith in G-d's power had been shaken!

Outside of the tomb of Calev

In contrast to the ten spies who sinned and brought the people to sin, Calev ben Yefuneh stood, one man against everyone, in certain faith and said, "We must go forth and occupy the Land. We can do it" (Numbers 13:30). Nonetheless, the vast majority of the people fell prey to the spies' sin: "That night the people wept" (14:1). They were smitten with despair: "All the Israelites complained to Moses and Aaron. The entire community said, 'We wish we had died in Egypt! We should have died in the desert! Why is G-d bringing us to this land to die by the sword? Our wives and children will be captives! It would be best to go back to Egypt!" (14:2-3).

Today we are at the height of an internal struggle regarding our relationship to Eretz Yisrael. We hear the same arguments made by the spies dressed up in different garb. The disengagement camp arms itself with rational arguments, that if we do not disengage from the Land, it will claim many victims ("a land that consumes its inhabitants"). They argue that unless we establish an Arab state in the very heart of our country, America and the world will be against us ("We felt like tiny grasshoppers and that's how we appeared in their eyes").

The Tomb of Nun, father of Joshua

Opposing them are the Jews of Judea and Samaria - akin to Calev ben Yefuneh. This population rids its heart of fear and delusion. They fill our hearts with faith and trust in G-d, who commanded us through the generations, but especially for our own generation: "Clear out the land and live in it, since it is to you I am giving the land to occupy" (Numbers 33:53). Today, those holding the temporary reins of leadership are following in the path of the spies by a readiness to cut themselves off from our land. Yet those who love Eretz Yisrael, those following in the path of Calev ben Yefuneh, will be victorious in the struggle to hold the entire length and breadth of Eretz Yisrael. May we be the living fulfillment of G-d's promise, "For the L-rd will not cast off His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance" (Psalm 94:14). Looking forward to complete salvation!

Full post and comments...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

It's Pesach in Israel!!!

The flowers are blooming...

The dog is in a good mood...

And the Jewish people head out to pray and be blessed at the Western Wall - in the rain!

The clouds miraculously show restaint when it comes time for the Priestly blessing

Our good friend Ilan brings us indoor into his Yeshiva

Malkah and Ilan's wife Shani pray with us as well

Our buddy Dovi shows up with his kid Yotam

Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu organizes a pro-Pollard rally in the Old City

When the Rabbi speaks...

People listen

And yet another sign of life in Israel: the Hurva Synagogue, destoyed in the Six Day War, is being rebuilt...

May we merit to see the rebuilding of the Third Temple as well
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Saturday, April 15, 2006

"Many Young Jews Moving to Israel" By Cara Fitzpatrick

From Naplesnews:

In elementary school, a boy on the playground told Scott Dubin that Jews believed in pots and pans, not Jesus. He ran home crying, convinced he had to become a Christian to fit in.

It was only when the Atlanta native visited Israel as a teenager that he felt at home. He resolved to move there as soon as he was old enough.

Now 23, Dubin will soon board a plane at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and leave the United States - and his American
citizenship - behind.

"April 24 will be the realization of a dream I've had since I was 15," Dubin said.

Dubin is one of a growing number of Jews in their 20's and 30's who are leaving family and friends in the United States to become Israeli citizens. Some feel a spiritual connection to what they consider the historic homeland of the Jewish people, while others want to live in a country where their culture is not in the minority.

They must face financial challenges, learn a new language, adapt to life in another country and confront the dangers of terrorism.

Although American Jews often are among the smallest immigrant groups - sometimes totaling just a few hundred a year - their numbers have increased in recent years, to about 3,000 in 2005 from 1,450 in 2001.

The trend has been dominated by young college-educated Jews: more than 66 percent are younger than 34, and 55 percent have at least a bachelor's degree, according to the Jewish Agency for Israel.

"It's definitely up," said Michael Landsberg, the North American director of the immigration department of the Jewish Agency. "When you see a jump from 1,450 to nearly 3,000 there is something happening here."

Landsberg attributes at least some of the increase to a sense that life in the United States has grown more dangerous.

"Since Sept. 11, there's been a feeling, 'If that can happen here then we might as well face life in Israel because nowhere is safe,'" he said.

Dubin, who graduated from New York University two years ago, said he was often asked why he would move to Israel, a country that is often in the news because of terrorist attacks from suicide bombers.

"I'm living in New York - the only city in the country that has been hit by a major terrorist attack," he said, describing his usual response to such questions. "People are still moving here. They move here because it's New York. My decision to move to Israel is not based on the frequency of terrorist attacks. I'm moving there because it is Israel. It's home."

Jewish immigrants have flocked to Israel, often fleeing religious persecution in their native lands, since before it became a country in 1948. In 1950, Israel passed a law guaranteeing that Jews, and even their non-Jewish spouses and children, can receive Israeli citizenship.

Since then, Jewish immigrants making "aliyah," a Hebrew word for Jewish immigration that literally means "to ascend" or "rise up," have come from all over the world, with large numbers arriving from Russia, Eastern Europe and African nations like Ethiopia and Morocco. Often, immigrants arrived with little more than a suitcase and the clothes they were wearing.

But a number of perks offered to new immigrants by various Jewish organizations and the Israeli government are drawing an increasing number of young Americans, Landsberg said. The Jewish Agency offers each immigrant a free plane ticket, a year of health insurance, grants for as much as $7,300, a taxi ride from the airport to anywhere in the country, language training and even a free place to stay for the first five months. Israel also gives immigrants in their 20's and 30's a free college education and a variety of tax breaks.

"There are really so many benefits today," Landsberg said.

Zack Katowitz, a 19-year-old freshman at George Washington University,plans to move to Israel in September. Katowitz has worked with a "shaliach," a sort of travel agent and mentor, to plan his trip and fill out the necessary paperwork, like health forms and a letter from his rabbi to verify his Jewish heritage.

"There's just a lot of paperwork," he said.

Yael Kaynan, 30, who moved to Tel Aviv from New York about eight months ago, spent a year preparing for the move. She saved about $28,000 because she expected to spend at least six months looking for a job. Instead, she was hired as a research associate at a university about three months before she left the United States.

"It was a bit of a windfall for me," she wrote in an e-mail message. "But a person in their 20's who is willing to do the roommate thing could easily make aliyah with a savings of no more than $3,000 and live comfortably if they got a job."

Life in Israel is even better than she expected, Kaynan wrote. Her neighbors compete to have her as a guest for dinner each Friday. Shop owners wave as she walks by and often come out to chat if they have time.

Although she took a huge cut in pay - from about $75,000 a year in New York to about $13,000 a year in Israel - she said the standard of living makes it possible for her to go out to dinner more often than she could in Manhattan.

Kaynan, who studied Hebrew before moving to Israel, has also had a few humorous moments adjusting to using a second language on a daily basis.

"I once arrived late to a meeting and apologized for being so ugly rather than so late," she wrote. "This caused my colleagues to roll around on the floor practically with laughter."

For Dubin, who leaves for Israel in April and plans to live in Tel Aviv, life in Israel is both the realization of a childhood dream and a way to prevent his children from experiencing what he felt as a child on an Atlanta playground.

"It's a nice feeling to know that my kids will grow up without having to wonder if their beliefs are strange," he said. "It would make me very happy if every Jew in America got on a plane and moved to Israel."
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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Pesach in Bnei-Brak

Google Video Below:
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Monday, April 10, 2006


Shalom! We are proud to present another issue of Kummunique.
This issue is filled with Aliyah and Eretz Yisrael inspiration - so enjoy!

In this issue you will find:

1. "They Tried To Destroy Us, We Won, Let's Eat" by Malkah Fleisher
2. "Have I Done the Right Thing?" by Go´el Jasper
3. "Understanding the Exodus Personally: The Kibbutz Haggadah" By Carol Novis
4. "Insight Into the Heart Of Israel" by Jeremy Gimpel and Ari Abramowitz

Check out our Pesach Kummunique at THE KUMMUNIQUE HOME

Here is the first article to wet your appetite:

"They Tried To Destroy Us, We Won, Let's Eat" by Malkah Fleisher

Passover is often degraded into a Jewish gastronomic experience. "Oh no, no rugelach!" "Oy, more matzah?" "Be careful to check and make sure there's no kitniyot in that pasta sauce!"

But Passover isn't about food. Did you hear that? PASSOVER ISN'T ABOUT FOOD.

As I declare war on things like bread crust and cereal flakes, I feel more strongly than ever that Passover isn't a "food" holiday. Passover is an intense, life-consuming meditation, a bold assertion of our odd identity in this world.

We eat matzah, we avoid leavened products like the plague (pardon the pun), we spend hours around the table partaking in symbolic foods, and recalling one wild night we experienced 2,000 years ago. For what?

Yishai kneads dough for this year's Shmura Matza

Sometimes we forget how personal our Jewishness is. Sometimes the Torah seems "legendary", our laws antiquated, our practices ritualistic (G-d forbid!). Passover comes to remind you that it's all so modern, it's all so personal, that it's as if it just happened yesterday - that it's happening right now. Your G-d has come to redeem you - right now. The world is being turned upside down in submission to your formidable righteousness, your intimate association with the Creator of the World - right now. You are being wisked out of your miserable rut and into the clean desert winds of promise - right now.

You tied the lamb to your bed post. You threw the dough together with shaking hands. You sat up all night, considering how to explain everything to the kids. You let tears fall as you heard the screams rise up out of Egypt. You pleaded with stubborn Jews who were too stuck, too lost to leave a land of squash, leeks, melon, onions, and garlic. You felt your shoulders slump as a massive army came to return you to bondage. And you saw G-d bend nature around His love for you.

For one night a year, we return to Egypt. Every year, we're freed, with an outstretched hand, with signs and wonders. We don't "commemorate" the exodus from Egypt. We don't "practice" Judaism. We live it - past, present, future, all fresh, all real, all relevant.

Eat the matzah. Drink the wine. You'll need your strength in the wilderness.

Here's a Passover recipe from a proud Kumah family, the Brenners of Beit Yatir:

Passover Apple Cake

2 cups potato flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
3 eggs
3/4 cup brewed, cold coffee (decaff)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups apples or pears, peeled and sliced
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Dissolve baking soda in the coffee. Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, stir in wet ingredients and blend. Add fruit and nuts. Pour into a greased pan. Bake at 180 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until it tests done. Cool cake for 10 minutes, then invert pan over plate. Sprinkle with powderd sugar (optional) and serve warm or at room temperature.

Check out our Pesach Kummunique at THE KUMMUNIQUE HOME
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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Unseasonable weather, ain't it?

By David Brinn from Israelity

As most of the country experiences 14 straight hours of heavy rain in a last gasp of winter weather, I'm reminded of something a friend once told me.

As we heard a radio weatherman forecasting rain, he commented, "Israel's probably the only country where a downpour can be thought of in patriotic terms."

I understood immediately what he meant - water is another one of those life and death issues in Israel, which is taken for granted in so much of the Western world. I haven't heard much recently about the level of the Kinneret - the country's only natural water source. But it can't be too good, as the rainfall until today has been rather mild.

So as I was leaving an event last night, and people were huddled in the doorway preparing to make mad dashes for their cars, there was hardly a grumble or a mutter to be heard. In fact, the only comment was from a heavily made up, high-heeled woman (who, if anyone, should have been perturbed at going out in the rain).

She said, "It's about time - we really need the rain. I hope it will last for a while." We all either nodded, or grunted in agreement before dashing off into the night.

Rain - good for the country, good for the farmers, I kept on repeating to myself this morning, as it took me twice as long as usual to get to work.

And my friend who had the insight those many years ago? He moved back to America.
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