Join the Neo-Zionist

  • Receive our Kummunique:
    unique and informative emails
    about events, articles, and info
    to keep you in touch.

Kumah Mascots

Kumah Awards


Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Natan Gesher always told me NEVER to post copy-content, but there are exceptions and this is it. Tzvi Fishman has written an article that is surprisingly similar to my Kosher-Style article and therefore I thought it was fitting for our blog. This one is a must read for American Jewry before this Rosh HaShanna:

"Conservadoxy" by Tzvi Fishman

The concept of t'shuva means to return to one's source. Suppose a man is expelled from his house by thieves. The wrongdoing will only be corrected when the owner returns to repossess his house. This is true for the Jewish People on both a national and individual level. To achieve a state of true t'shuva and reunion with G-d, we have to return to our home in the Land of Israel. A Jew who becomes a baal t'shuva in Chicago has only returned a part of the way home.

The return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel is a necessary stage in the t'shuva of the nation and each and every Jew. This is the Redemption that we pray for. For instance, a Jew who becomes a baal t'shuva in Chicago has only returned a part of the way home. While his personal character and behavior have been sanctified by aligning his life on the pathway of Torah, he has traveled only half of the journey home. The "t'shuva train" is continuing on to Israel. The final stop is Jerusalem. Every Jew needs to bring his little light home to the Holy Land where it can join the great flame. He has to uplift his private, egotistical life, to the higher life of Clal Yisrael, and to merge his personal goals with the goals of the rebuilding of the nation. To rectify the blemish caused by the galut, he has to abandon the exile and join the ingathered to Israel. He has to actualize the words of his prayers, "And gather us together from the four corners of the earth." Otherwise, he is just like a parrot who mouths words without acting out their meaning (Kuzari, 2:24).

Here's another example. Let's say a non-religious Jew decides to return to G-d and make a commitment to Torah. He learns all about Judaism and embraces the mitzvot with the great joy and fervor characteristic of the newly religious. Except he decides that he doesn't want to put on tefillin. For whatever reason, whether because he feels it's a silly piece of mumbo jumbo, or because the little box looks strange on his head, or because tefillin are expensive, he decides that it isn't for him. Obviously his return to the Torah is incomplete. One could not even call this person an Orthodox Jew.

The same thing is true with the mitzvah of living in Israel. Jewish Law states: "A Jew should always live in the Land of Israel, even in a city where the majority of residents are idol worshippers, and not live outside of the Land, even in a city where the majority are Jews" (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer, 75:1:3). Our baal t'shuva from Chicago may do all of the other commandments with joy, but by not coming to live in Eretz Yisrael, he is showing that his belief in the Torah and in the G-d of Israel is incomplete.

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaCohen Kook would stress to his students that an Orthodox Jew does not pick and choice mitzvahs, saying "This commandment is pleasing to me, I will do it, but this commandment is too difficult, I will pass." This is the way of Conservative Jewry. If Shabbat is too much of a burden, they don’t observe it. If wearing tzitzit is too embarrassing, or uncomfortable, or old-fashion, then it isn't for them.

"Rejecting the commandment of living in Israel is a rejection of Hashem," Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda emphasized. "It is a rebellion against G-d, as it is written in the Torah concerning the Jews who refused to continue on to Eretz Yisrael after the exodus from Egypt. Hashem declares to them: 'You rebelled against the L-rd your G-d, and you did not believe in Me, and did not listen to my proclamation'" (Devarim, 9:23).

Not coming to live in Israel expresses a lack of faith of G-d. It is a denial of G-d's will for the Jewish People that the commandments be observed in the Land of Israel. Living in Israel is not a matter of personal preference. It is one of the commandments of the Torah required of each and every Jew, a mitzvah that our Sages declare is equal in weight to all of the commandments of the Torah (Sifre, Reah,80). It is such a great mitzvah because living in Israel is the cornerstone of our nation, and the foundation of all of the Torah.

"Being a Jew today comes with the basic requirement to be in Eretz Yisrael," Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda taught. "Every Jew who comes to Israel brings back to Zion an aspect of the Shechinah from the exile. Every additional Jew who comes to Israel, and every additional tree which is planted in the soil of Eretz Yisrael is another stage and step of the Redemption, in the same way that every additional piece of Torah which is learned, and every yeshiva which is built in Israel, is another stage in the returning of G-d's Presence to Zion" (see the book, "Torat Eretz Yisrael," Chapters 5-9, for an in-depth study of the mitzvah of living in Israel).

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda's father, Rabbi Avraham Yitchak HaCohen Kook, also stressed that the true t'shuva of the Jewish People is in our return to Eretz Yisrael. Again and again, in his letters and speeches, he called the Jewish people to return home to Zion. One public proclamation, sent out all over the Diaspora, years before the Holocaust, was entitled, "The Great Call."

"To the Land of Israel, Gentlemen, To the Land of Israel! Let us utter this appeal in one voice, in a great and never-ending cry. Come to the Land of Israel, dear brothers, come to the Land of Israel. Save your souls, the soul of your generation, the soul of the entire nation; save her from desolation and destruction, save her from decay and degradation, save her from defilement and all evil ­ from all of the suffering and oppression that threatens to come upon her in all the lands of the world without exception or distinction....

"Escape with your lives and come to Israel; G-d's voice beckons us; His hand is outstretched to us; His spirit within our hearts unites us, encourages us and obliges us all to cry in a great, powerful, and awesome voice: Brothers! Children of Israel, beloved and dear brethren, come to the Land of Israel, do not tarry with arrangements and official matters; rescue yourselves, gather together, come to the Land of Israel....

"From the time we were exiled from our Land, the Torah has accompanied Israel into exile, wandering from Babylon to France, Spain, Germany, Eastern and Central Europe, Poland, Russia, and elsewhere. And now, how happy we would be if we were able to say that she has returned to her first place, to the Land of Israel, together with the people of Israel, who continue to multiply in the Holy Land.

"And now, who is so blind that he does not see the L-rd's hand guiding us in this, and does not feel obligated to work along with G-d? A heavenly voice in the future will cry aloud on top of the mountains and say, 'Whoever has worked together with G-d, let him come and receive his reward.' Who can exempt himself from doing his part in bringing additional blessing and swifter salvation; from awakening many hearts to return to the Holy Land, to the L-rd's legacy, that they may become a part of it, to settle it with enterprises and buildings, to purchase property, to plant and sow, to do everything necessary for the foundation of life of a stable and organized settlement...."

My friends, the fact of the matter is that if you want to be a real baal t'shuva, you have to return to the place you came from, to the place you belong. And if you want to serve G-d as the Torah intended, you have to perform the mitzvot in Eretz Yisrael. If you are not already here, or not on the way, chances are that you are either lacking in faith, or your understanding of Judaism is mistaken. As the Day of Judgment approaches, find a few quiet moments and ask yourselves, "Am I really doing the best that I can to serve G-d by living here in Chicago, or Monsey, or Beverly Hills? Is my living in Chicago what G-d really wants?" If you truly believe so, then when you come to the following verses in the Rosh Hashana liturgy, you should either cough loudly to drown out the words, or quietly sneak out of the shul:

"Our G-d and G-d of our fathers, sound the great shofar for our freedom, and raise up a banner to gather together our exiles, and return our scattered from amongst the nations, and assemble our outcasts from the corners of the earth, and bring us to Zion, your city, with happy singing, and to Jerusalem, the home of your Sanctuary, with everlasting joy."

Labels: , ,

Full post and comments...

Imagine... (a post for Kumah's neo-Marxist readers)

Atomised domestic life is part of the misery of capitalism

ATTENTION: if you are not a neo-Marxist, this post is NOT for you. Move on, nothing to see here.


Imagine, fellow travelers, a world in which our Great Leaders, Dr. Karl Marx and Vladimir Ilych Lenin are triumphant!

Imagine that we are able to use our powers of subversion, honed so perfectly when we attempted to turn the USA Communist, on a new demographic. Not workers, but women. Comrade Engels lay the foundations for this great venture 120 years ago, in "The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State". Lenin would later describe it as "one of the fundamental works of modern socialism."

Comrade Sally Campbell explains:

Under primitive communism there was a division of labour between men and women, but this did not confer privilege to men. Women, who tended to be the main gatherers, were often given authority over men - because their work provided the main source of nutrition for the group.

The development of more advanced agriculture was the turning point. The invention of the plough meant the ability to produce more than was immediately needed by the group. It led to the development of elites who were able to control the 'surplus'. It also fundamentally changed the role of women in society.

In hunter-gatherer and horticultural societies women were able to fulfil their role as producers as well as playing their role in reproduction. Heavy ploughing and the use of domesticated animals changed this. A pregnant woman or one with small children couldn't easily carry out these tasks and they increasingly fell under the remit of men. Agriculture also demanded labourers. Where hunter-gatherer societies had tended to limit the number of children so as not to deplete resources, agriculture could be more productive with more children needed to help in the fields. So as men became exclusively responsible for production, women saw their primary role shift to that of child-bearer.

Greater productivity benefited every member of the group. But once the surplus fell into the control of a minority, inequalities and classes began to form. The division into 'public' and 'private' spheres of society appeared - with women operating mainly in the “private” sphere. The private family became the mechanism by which private wealth could be passed on from one generation to the next. This entailed a final degradation of women's influence. Men, because of their economic role, became heads of the household, passing their wealth on to their sons.

As Engels wrote: 'The overthrow of mother right was the world historic defeat of the female sex. The man took command in the home also. The woman was degraded and reduced to servitude.'

from The Socialist Worker Online

Now, imagine that we are able to successfully employ this mass ideology to take over the Western world. We can finally realize our dreams of domination! What was denied to our Red Communist fathers and mothers by Senator McCarthy and his ilk, we will achieve fourfold through the Pink Sisterhood.

The way to operate is this:

- infiltrate the academy and propaganda machinery ("media")
- rewrite the history of mankind as a history of subjugation of Woman by Man and present the nuclear family as a tool of oppression
- reach every single woman out there and build up a rage against "the Patriarchy" (we can use the same terms as we did in the original movement, just substitute "chauvinist pig" for "capitalist pig")
- by thus manipulating women, infiltrate the power structures (army, police, judiciary) and the political system
- wreak havoc on every possible level: create a pro-divorce cultural discourse; give financial incentives for women to break up their families; use empty phrases regarding "equality" to demoralize the army's fighting units; make brutal use of media-created sex scandals to terrorize and tame the State's and the military's leadership, humiliate the State internally and externally and bring down the symbols of power; cooperate with the enemy to the maximum degree, creating a protective shield around its agents while viciously prosecuting the State's police and military when it attempts to assert itself.

This will have a devastating effect on the entire West, and nowehere will it be more potent than Israel.

The Jews dream of rebuilding the Temple? Dream on, Yids! In a matter of one generation or two we can bring the House down. Their ideological leadership is not savvy enough to even begin to comprehend what we are doing. We even have many of their finest women on our side, convinced that they are operating in the service of justice, freedom and equality. The men are afraid that opposing us is a sign of "chauvinism" (we've implanted that guilt trip well inside everyone's minds) and are convinced that Judaism's "patriarchal" nature makes it inherently unjust. They will never dare mess with us: they will forever be cursing Shimon Peres and Yitzchak Rabin and Ariel Sharon, weaving their pathetic conspiracy theories but remaining blind to what is happening under their noses, grabbing this hilltop or another, espousing their pet causes (Temple, Aliyah, Pollard), expending all of their energies on their naive love for legends, while we bring their whole House down and eventually finish them off, every last one of them, with a shot to the head.


Full post and comments...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Be Very Jealous

ROME, Italy (Reuters) -- While some passengers only turn to prayer when jolted by turbulence, the Vatican made it standard on Monday by launching the world's first airline for Catholic pilgrims.

Complete with Vatican logos on headrests and air hostesses' uniforms, the inaugural flight travelled from Rome's Fiumicino airport for the shrine of Lourdes in France.

The charter flight's slogan spoke volumes about what its clients are doing above the clouds: "I'm Searching for Your Face, Lord".

"It is a spiritual journey," explained Francesco Gherra, one of the pilgrims who boarded Monday's inaugural flight hosted by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the former head of Italy's bishops.

The Vatican aims to serve 150,000 pilgrims a year on its chartered Boeing 737, run by Italy's Mistral Air.

Destinations range from the shrine of Fatima in Portugal to Mount Sinai in Egypt, where Moses is said to have received the 10 Commandments from God.

In-flight entertainment on the way to the world's holy sites will, somewhat predictably, be religious in nature, the Vatican said.

"The crew has been informed that there are (religious) messages that will be transmitted, that films will be shown during the flight," said Father Cesar Atuire at the Vatican office coordinating pilgrimages.

Keeping costs for pilgrims low is another Vatican priority, Atuire said.

The Vatican's venture into the airline industry did not go unnoticed by competitors, including Ryanair, Europe's biggest low-cost carrier.

The Vatican hopes to fly pilgrims from Rome to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, a route already serviced by the low-budget carrier.

"Ryanair already performs miracles that even the Pope's boss can't rival, by delivering pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela for the heavenly price of 10 euros," Ryanair said in a statement.

Labels: , ,

Full post and comments...

A Few Photos From Around Town

This is the First Rimmon - Pomegranate - Growing Outside My House

Gelato Ice Cream in Town

Rabbi Chaim Richman, International Director of the Temple Institute

Hebrew Labor Moving Company

Hebrew Mover

Homeless in Jerusalem (maybe better than homeful in galut...)

Cranes Build Jerusalem Unceasingly

The Good Jews of the Land

Burger King is Kosher

Labels: , ,

Full post and comments...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Those Donuts Better Be Badatz!

Malkah is going to love this one!

In case you missed it, last week the Jerusalem Post had a story about a very interesting Jerusalem Police Officer - a Satmar Chussid! Read on...
Gail Lichtman reports:
Black and blue

Joir (Yair) Lew is probably the last person you would think of as a uniformed volunteer in the Israel Police. It's not because of his age (he's only 31), or his state of health (he's obviously hale and hearty), or even the fact that he is a new immigrant (he speaks Hebrew fluently). But because he is a Satmar Hassid - a member of a haredi sect known for its opposition to secular, political Zionism and the State of Israel, as well as being vehemently against serving in the Israeli army.

So what is Lew doing as a member of Jerusalem's special uniformed volunteer police unit?

"I was brought up in England to be openminded and to love my fellow Jews," explains Lew, who was educated in a Satmar yeshiva and made aliya from London with his wife in 2002.

"Just as I want people to respect me as a human being, so I respect others. I hate the fact that people in Israel break Jews down into categories. All Jews are brothers whether religious or secular, Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Russian, Moroccan, or the like. I joined the police because I want to serve my fellow Jews."

In April 2006, Lew, who was unemployed at the time (he has since started working in a kibbutz factory near Jerusalem), was walking in downtown Jerusalem when he saw police officers recruiting for Yasham (the Hebrew acronym for police volunteer unit).

"The officers were really nice," Lew recalls. "And I was looking for something to do. So I took the information and called the unit. I went for the interview, filled out the forms, passed the background check and was accepted."

Naturally, before joining the unit Lew consulted both his father in England and a rabbi. "I asked if joining would be a problem," he says. "Both the rabbi and my father said essentially the same thing: There is a difference between serving the citizens of this country and serving the State of Israel. Serving Jews as a police officer is okay; serving the State of Israel as a soldier is not."

To some this may seems to be splitting hairs but to Lew it was the answer he needed to join Yasham.

Satmar Hassidim, who originated in an area on the Hungarian-Romanian border, base their opposition to the state on their belief that the creation of a Jewish state by Jews runs counter to God's will. However, they are taught to love the Land of Israel and the Jewish people.

Today, the majority of Satmars live in the US. Only about 900 families live in Israel, mainly in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak. Because of their opposition to political Zionism, they do not serve in the army and refrain from taking money from the State of Israel.

"During the Second Lebanon War, our rabbi, Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, told us to say tehilim [psalms] for Jewish soldiers fighting and being injured," Lew relates. "We said them for Jews not Israelis. All over the world, Satmars prayed for the health and peace of our brothers."

Yasham is a unique Jerusalem phenomenon and is the only police volunteer unit not part of the Civil Guard (Mishmar Ezrahi). Set up five years before the Civil Guard in 1969, to answer Jerusalem's special needs, Yasham currently has about 120 volunteers. This is down from some 250 at the height of the second intifada, but recent months have seen an upswing in interest and recruiting.

"The Yasham attracts volunteers from all walks of life - we have in our unit doctors, lawyers and professors, as well as street cleaners," says Yasham's chief operations officer, Maj. Robert Mountwitten. "But Lew is our only Satmar. In fact, he is currently the only haredi in the unit, although we now have another haredi volunteer who is in the vetting process."

Volunteers range in age from 18 to 65, and include both men and women. They must pass a security check, cannot have a criminal record and must be in good health.

"Those in our unit have to do at least 16 hours a month or four hours every week of volunteering," Mountwitten explains. "In the Civil Guard, volunteers usually do one shift a month. We are in uniform and armed. The unit operates in accordance with the powers extended to police officers by the Knesset. We do patrols, roadblocks, ticketing, etc. We basically have the same authority as regular police officers."

"The Yasham is important in that it gives a lot of extra man-hours to the police and fills in the gaps," he continues. "All of us feel that we are doing something for the security of this city and its people. And if bombs are not going off, it just shows that what the police and the army are doing is working."

Lew is proud of his service, which generally concentrates on security issues. "But we can and do stop vehicles if we feel that the way the driver is driving or something else could be harmful to the public," he says.

In the course of his service, he admits to encountering a few genuine humdingers. "I once pulled over a van that was driving on a main Jerusalem road at night without lights," Lew recalls. "The driver turned out to be a Palestinian who did not have a driving license, did not have an Israeli ID, did not have a registration for the vehicle and was transporting 10 illegal Palestinians in the van. This was a free man in a free world. I couldn't believe that he was driving an overloaded van filled with illegals, without a driving license, registration or ID and was dumb enough not to put his lights on."

On another occasion, Lew stopped a car that seemed too heavy and overcrowded. "The driver thought the whole thing was very amusing. But I was really serious. The man had a car full of children - there were five in the back seat. But when I had him open the truck, I was amazed to discover he had two more children in there. He said that if there wasn't an engine under the hood, he would have put some more children there."

Lew was on patrol in Mea She'arim and Geula during the protests preceding the gay pride parade. "I was driving in my car with the police light on top," Lew recounts. "I had garbage and rocks thrown at me. If I had been foolish enough to get out, I would have been beaten. The fact that I am a haredi man would not have helped. These protesters did not care. But once they were arrested, they quickly started to ask for a frum officer.

"When they were throwing stones, they didn't care if I was a frum cop or not. However, I don't think I can criticize them because once I was part of these demonstrations. When I was studying in yeshiva, I used to join all the protests, no matter what - no autopsies, no Shabbos traffic, modesty, etc. But I was never violent or threw stones."

On protest-free days Lew says he gets an entirely different reception on the streets of the city's haredi neighborhoods. "When I drive through on duty, in uniform, people stop and tell me how proud they are to see a haredi officer. They often ask how they can join the police."

Lew, who is fluent in English, Yiddish and Hebrew, understands German and speaks a little Hungarian, Romanian and French, has started learning Arabic. "I assume it will help me with my police work," he says.

As an Englishman, used to police traditionally armed with nightsticks, Lew is glad that he has never had to draw his gun. "I sincerely hope that I never will have an occasion to use it. And one day, I hope that police in Israel will not need weapons either," he says.

For more information on Yasham, call 050-563-3121.

Labels: , ,

Full post and comments...

Kumah Resurrection Threat?

Kumah has never received a death threat before, let alone a resurrection-then-death-again threat. We certainly have never been threatened with being "Palestinian Farmers Fertilizer." Guess we are stepping on some pretty nutty toes over here. Enjoy:


How are you palestinian farmers fertilizer?
I will have you slaughtered over and over again, i will torture you over and over again.
God will never forget and forgive the pain you have bestowed on the people of this world.
Every time they kill you I will make you live again so they can kill you again.
Did you enjoy killing cristians?
Did you enjoy killing Muslims?
Did you enjoy killing Princess diana?
Did you enjoy stealing and suffocating workers all over the world?
The time has come to slaughter you, I will make all the people you killed live again and they will tell the world who did it.
It was YOU.
May the slaughter begin, stupid f***ing Jew.

Sister Main Gauche of Compassion

Get your Jihad name from:

For the record, we didn't enjoy killing Princess Di - we were just following orders.

You think this letter was automated in addition to the Jihad name? And don't those Jihad names sound awful Christian?

In other news: Hebrew Yishai! (Check out the talkbacks. Never seen such lengthy, thought-out talkbacks in all my days)

Labels: , ,

Full post and comments...

Elul Niggun: Father in the Forest

A Father Calls out to His Children

"...This soulful melody is a dialogue between the Almighty Father and His children, the people of Israel. The Father looks for His children in the Diaspora, Galut, and implores them to return Home to the Holy Land..."

"Where have you been that you have forsaken Me?" He inquires of His children, "Dear children, please return Home, I feel forlorn without you."

The children's answer is "But, Father, how can we return when there is a guard blocking the door?"

*Matisyahu's more recent version of the niggun HERE

Labels: , , , , ,

Full post and comments...

A Return to the Pre-67 Borders

How about it? 67. As in the year 67 CE. When Israel looked something like this:

Why aren't we demanding that Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, not to mention the "Palestinians," return what's rightfully ours?

Labels: , , ,

Full post and comments...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why I Returned To...

As I was preparing for one of my shows at Israel National Radio, I came across this article by a Jewess who finds meaning in the newfound hard life in the Big Easy. Change "New Orleans" to "Anywhere in Israel", and I'll bet many of us would really relate to her. Even her discussion of local politicians hits home. As it is, she's seeking meaning near the Gulf of Mexico, not the Gulf of Aqaba, so it falls a little short for me, but let me know what you think:

Writer: Why I returned to New Orleans

Gail Naron Chalew -

Despite all the problems, says writer Gail Naron Chalew, life in New Orleans seems richer, more vibrant, and more purposeful, and you cannot put a dollar value on that.

NEW ORLEANS (JTA) -- Anniversaries are times to remember the past, and I am luckier than most people because my memories are preserved in print. They can’t be deluged by toxic floodwaters or spread to the winds.

I just have to read what I wrote one week after Katrina, or during that first year when I was living in exile in Baltimore, to churn up the emotion and passion that is life in New Orleans these days.

It is precisely this intensity that keeps me here.

For several months, my husband and I had been weighing whether to accept a generous job offer for him in another city. When we made the decision to stay, I knew it was the right one.

A theologian once said that spirituality is living in the more. By that definition, New Orleans is a very spiritual place.

But it is no longer “The Big Easy.” We cannot take for granted basic services like water, electricity, streetlights and smooth roads. Insurance, utilities and rent have skyrocketed, as has crime. Mental health and day care services are a fraction of what they were pre-Katrina. Although much progress has been made in fixing damaged homes and businesses, there are still abandoned homes with weeds taking over the lawns and debris marring the streets of neighborhoods that flooded.

My governor has bungled billions in federal funds designed to help homeowners rebuild. My senator is in a call girl’s phonebook, my congressman was caught with $90,000 in his freezer and was indicted for bribery, and my at-large councilman just pleaded guilty to corruption charges. I used to criticize the mayor for not taking a leadership role in the recovery effort. Given his recent remarks lauding the city’s high murder rate as keeping New Orleans’ brand alive, I only want him to keep his mouth shut until his successor is elected.

So why did we decide to stay?

Put simply, life here seems richer, more vibrant, and more purposeful, and you cannot put a dollar value on that.

We who have chosen to stay and rebuild are like the chalutzim, the pioneers who built the modern state of Israel. We feel a part of both making history and making a difference.

Fixing up your home, helping others salvage their belongings, eating out in a restaurant, even buying tchotchkes in the French Market—all that makes a difference.

But what makes life even more meaningful is the opportunity that disaster has provided to reinvent an entire city and its institutions, from health care to education to neighborhood redevelopment. Dozens of idealistic young Jews -- including my 24-year-old daughter, who is working for a micro-enterprise project in the African American community -- are flocking to New Orleans to make that difference, enlivening the Jewish community in the process.

New Orleans has become an incubator for these young people and their non-Jewish peers, providing them an environment characterized by a combination of significant challenges and significant responsibility.

Just as a marker of Baby Boomer status was being at Woodstock in ’69, this generation’s credentials might be measured by whether or not they were in New Orleans after Katrina.

As an aging Boomer, I cannot think of anything more rejuvenating than to be around these energetic, high-minded young people who believe they indeed have the power to change the world. They will be the political, education and community leaders of the coming decades.

My husband and I are staying in New Orleans because of a sense of obligation. He is a pediatric specialist in a city with few health care resources; here he knows he will make an impact.

As a volunteer, I have been serving as an informal liaison between the New Orleans Jewish Federation and Jewish groups from across the country come here and do the very unglamorous work of gutting and de-weeding and putting up sheetrock. Taking these volunteers on disaster tours and helping them have these meaningful experiences is my way of rebuilding the city.

We are staying also because the education that my 17-year-old son is getting by living in post-Katrina New Orleans is invaluable, despite the fact that his flooded high school is still not completely repaired.

He has learned the importance of self-reliance: if you see something that should be changed, then get involved and don’t wait for government to help you. He has learned the importance of local community: the first businesses to reopen were ones owned by locals, and many of the chain stores have decided not to rebuild. He has seen villains and heroes in action, and now is better able to distinguish between the two.

From his parents, who have rejected an easier life for a more meaningful one, he has learned the importance of fulfilling one’s obligations and valuing the intangibles of commitment and passion.

We are also staying for a less noble but no less important reason: New Orleans is fun!

We build into our schedule time to eat its great food, hear its great music, and savor its beautiful architecture. Just walking around the French Quarter makes us feel as if we are on vacation.

New Orleans stirs and then satisfies the passions; in the midst of tragedy, it celebrates life.

And what could be better than that.


Full post and comments...

THIS Year In Jerusalem!

The Chagim are coming! Every year here at Kumah we post pictures of how amazing the Chagim are here in Eretz Yisrael and every year I have the same thoughts. "It would have been cooler if we could post these awesome photos before the Chag to encourage people to make Aliyah before the Chag." Not just post them after it's all over! So this year I'm getting a head start. I'm posting some photos I took a couple of years ago... but don't worry you could be sure to expect the same wonderful chag here this year (or should Moshiach arrive an even more wonderful one, of course!)

Well if there was a lulav shortage you couldn't tell by visiting the "Arabah Minim Shuk" (Four Species Market)on Rachov Strauss...

There were "Simchot Beit Hashoavot" (Sukkot Parties) all over the Land. Here's the band "Simply Tsfat" playing at Shappel's.

And of course the traditional "Birchot Cohanim" at the Kotel where thousands of people from all over our Land are "Oleh Regel" and "rise up" to visit Jerusalem. Here the Cohanim bless us.

(Photo Credit: Woman Section Photos taken by "Leah").

Rain Threatened...

...But the sun persevered.

The Chief Rabbis were on hand...

...and in the Sukkah nearby.

A concert in the Old City's "Rova."

Ahh...cotton candy and popcorn. It must be Sukkot!

Singing and dancing at the Mir Yeshiva...

And at any of the many random enormous Sukkot around...

Sometimes even with a "Rebbe."

Yep... cotton candy and popcorn.

And at the Kotel on Hoshana Rabba Night...

...reading "Sefer Davarim" for the traditional "Mishana Torah" custom...

...While at Jerusalem's Great Synagogue Rav Herschel Schecter teaches Torah as part of the custom to learn Torah all night.

THIS Year - experience it LIVE!

Labels: , , , ,

Full post and comments...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Two Years Have Passed... Part II

To Lead is to Love

Harav Kook was no kook. He said that just as the Temple was torn down because of sin'at chinam - pointless hatred between brothers - so it shall be rebuilt thanks to ahavat chinam - brotherly love for love's sake.

Now that may sound like one of those meaningless syllogisms Shimon Peres loves to make up ("better a peaceful valley without terror than a terrorist pissing in the valley", that kind of tripe) but Harav Kook was no Shimon Peres. He meant what he said.

There is a certain stream among the religious Zionists that thinks Harav was kidding. People from this stream look for Jews to hate and make a vocation out of hating them. This is the erev rav, they say, this is the leftist scum that controls Israel. We are good, they are bad, they say. They feel good like that. They vilify the government and the army and most of Israeli society, and are content to be the "pure camp" in all of this filth.

This is a dangerous trend, imho. I agree that the Zionist dati camp is the best camp in Israel, if only in terms of its sane lifestyle and its strong family and community values. I envy you, to the point of wanting to join you. But by living inside this worldview I just outlined as many of you (us) do, you are missing the chance to lead. And make no mistake - the window of opportunity for an emuni leadership is there, it has begun to open up and it will open up more and more in the coming years, beckoning us to leap through it. But do we dare? Leading involves loving. You cannot lead someone you despise. You cannot lead someone whom you see as inferior to you.

The majority of Israelis are what Naomi Shemer called anashim tovim be'emtza haderech - "good people in the middle of the road." This includes much of what we call "the elites." Please, stop looking at "the elites" as a cohesive body, they are anything but that. Look for the cracks, look for the blocs we can woo to our side.

Israeli society was formed by secular socialist Zionists, with the emphasis on "Zionists." Its core values could be summed up in two words: "build" and "fight!". It was the country where, for the first time in millennia, Jews built a Jewish infrastructure for a Jewish land and fought like men to defend it.

Over time, socialism withered and died. Into the ideological vacuum stepped a very radical leftist ideology, a form of pacifistic gender-marxism which was the opposite of what Zionism was all about. The result has been a period of shameful behavior by Israel, an abandonment of its manly core values for belief in withdrawals and surrenders, which was coupled with a hedonistic obsession for sexual license and scandal and gossip-mongering, as it often has been in history.

I believe we are coming out of that dark period now. There are signs all around us that this is happening. The media is full of articles blasting pacifistic draft dodgers like Aviv Geffen and Ivri Lider - people who have been this society's pop icons. Heroism is being talked about more and more. This is oxygen for the Zionist soul. Without deep love and respect for our military, we are dead men and women, and our children, G-d forbid, are dead.

The heart of the people is good. Jews who fight for their homeland are good. We can work with them. And we don't necessarily have to follow them. We can lead them, too.

Everyone knows the Redemption involves (a) a great leadership and (b) the Temple being rebuilt and (c) military victories and (d) everyone making tshuva. But what order do these things occur in? I think it's a, c, b, d (though I'm not convinced everyone will ever make tshuva - there are some advantages to having a non-religious minority to keep everyone on their toes. Also, they can make good rock'n'roll...).

I think the first thing the leadership should lead to is military victory. As a result of military victory, it will be possible to rebuild the Temple. The Temple cannot be rebuilt when Israel is only fully sovereign and in demographic control of the land to the west of it!

Our enemy is the Muslim-Arab bloc in the Middle East. It is not necessarily all of Islam (see third graf here). If and when we defeat the enemy - which has reached the point of begging us to defeat it, if you think about it - then we can go about rebuilding the Temple. Tshuva will come naturally in that situation, but not just secular-to-religious tshuva, also hareidi-to-Zionist tshuva. When emuni Zionism is a winning brand, people will join it. We will see thousands of those pale Me'a Shearim types joining the Paratroopers, believe me we will. But right now, with a tiny measly state in the middle of a frothing sea of (frothing) Muslims, it's not so clear that we are winners.

To make all of this happen, we need to lead. And like I said, leading involves loving and respecting, not separation and despisal. We need to look for the good things in the mainstream Israelis, the "good people in the middle of the road." We need to see them as part of our camp, and ourselves as part of their camp. We need to come up with pragmatic plans and with down-to-earth reasons why these plans should be followed. "Because Hashem said so" does not fall into that category for these people. So it cannot be used. Modern techniques of PR need to be used. A Knesset lobby needs to be created. And it can't all be about Yesha. Saying Yesha over and over again does not solve anything. I'm sorry to say so, but climbing and reclimbing hills in Yesha - while important in and of itself - does not cut it anymore either. Are we goats or leaders? Do we have geopolitical vision or are we just self-content parakeets?

Harav Kook, so I once read, had a picture of Herzl on the wall in his office. We need to reach a point where a new Herzl has a picture of Harav Kook on his office. Then we will be on the road to making it, big time.


Full post and comments...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

More Nefesh B'Nefesh Olim!

Mazal Tov to the latest Nefesh B'Nefesh Olim! The 6th charter flight of the summer landed today with 225 new Olim! Click here for an article with lots of my pictures. For the full set, check out my 4 Facebook albums:
Album 1,
Album 2,
Album 3,
Album 4

Labels: , , , ,

Full post and comments...

Two Years Have Passed...

Wednesday, 8 Elul 5767 / August 22 marks two years since the completion of the destruction of Gush Katif. Rabbanim have called for a day of fasting, Teshuva and prayer, to remember the uprooted communities and families, and mourn the destruction of the shuls and Batei Midrash destroyed on this day.

Please continue reading for more details:

Wednesday will be marked by a special Mincha service at the Kotel, w/ Selichot & reading of "VaYichal Moshe" @ 6pm. Those joining the fast (which is considered a "Ta'anit Yachid") should indicate their intended participation during Tuesday's mincha (at the end of the Amidah).

For more details, please see: or call 02-9974424

Never Forget!
A list of videos, articles and media resources about Gush Katif HERE

Ynet: 8 Days in August

Labels: , , , , ,

Full post and comments...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Christian Jews - Scary Stuff

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Heroes Among Us!

Check out Part 11 of The Jewish Press' "MODERN ROLE MODELS" series, featuring our very "own" Ari Abramowitz shlit"a- featured by Nefesh B'Nefesh!

Also cited HERE , by another great Southern Jew.

Labels: , , ,

Full post and comments...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Feel Good Zionist Photos

This shot from space was sent to be by Shmuel Goldman and it is said to be a brand new photo from the Shuttle Endeavour. (Click on the photo to enlarge)

This pic of myself blowing the shofar at the NBN flight arrival this week was taken by Jacob Richman and can be found along with tons of other Aliyah photos on his site.

This photo was in a YNET article about Professor Hille Weiss and Hebron. It was taken when we went to protest Peace Now's pro-eviction rally in Hebron a few months ago. You can see myself on the left and Jonny Stein on the right. The caption in the YNET piece reads: "Rightists protest Hebron evacuation"

Also: check out this wonderful A7 article about the NBN arrival for more awesome pics.


Labels: , ,

Full post and comments...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Israel's Dancing Robots

No, I'm not talking about the current Israeli government.

I'm talking awesome, Bukharian-Jewish, young-religious, Robocup-scoring genius machines that make Israel look GOOD!! Don't you just love good news?

Israeli students shine at international robotics dancing competition
Three students of robotics from the Or Avner Yeshiva High School were congratulated by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week for their victory in Robocup, the Robot World Cup Initiative Dancing Challenge held in Atlanta, Georgia last month.

Gabriel Yisraelov, Itzik Yalizerov and Alex Chaimov beat 50 teams from 23 other countries with their creations Mommy, Mafrat and Brownie the dog.

Olmert was treated to an exclusive performance in which the robots, dressed in the traditional Bukharian dress of their creators' native land (all three immigrated to Israel from Bukharia, Uzbekistan), twirled to a slow song about the coming of the Messiah. Olmert was as impressed as the Robocup audience in the US, which gave the Israeli team a standing ovation.

Moti Meir, the winners' teacher, said that "Or Avner nurtured them and dedicated all of its resources toward helping them."

The 11th RoboCup tournament, held at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, consisted of two challenges, explained Chaimov. In one, each country's team competed against all the others. In the second, three teams had to work together to program a new dance for all their robots.

Teamed with Japanese and American students, the Israelis proposed a wedding. Dan the American robot would marry Mafrat - to Mommy's disapproval. Brownie would come to the lovebirds' rescue, barking at Mommy. The Japanese robot would join in the dancing when the couple finally got married.

Chaimov, 16, who built Mafrat, arrived from Bukharia just two-and-a-half years ago. The Bukharian natives' interest in robotics began before RoboCup. Chaimov created a "smart room," where motion sensors trigger lights to turn on when people enter the room and off when people leave. He hopes to develop a breakdancing robot next year - in the 11th grade.

Yisraelov devised a menora that lights up with realistic flames, which turn on and off in the correct order. Yalizerov invented a robot that is able to sense the color black, following any thick black line.

Diamond billionaire Lev Leviev, the Bukharian-born supporter of the Or Avner schools, called the three students his "dearest diamonds."

"None of this would have been able to happen if the school hadn't paid for our materials and our flight to Atlanta," said Yisraelov.

RoboCup is an international research and education initiative, and the first official games were held in Nagoya, Japan in 1993. Since then, the annual games were hosted by different countries around the world including France (1998), Australia (2000), Germany (2006).

You can view another article on this story at the Chabad website - apparently, Ohr Avner is a Chabad school. Way to go!

Labels: , ,

Full post and comments...