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Monday, September 29, 2008

Next Year in Shul (or Temple) in Jerusalem!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Google Translate Now Has Hebrew

Google can now translate Hebrew word into English words, paragraphs, or full web pages. And the reverse. Here is how this page looks in Hebrew.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Night and Day

There are two elements to one day, what we call daytime and what we call nighttime- daytime being when the sun is out and things are bright and nighttime being when the sun is set and things are dark. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches that the darkness of night represents the difficult times in life. Just as we grope in the dark without direction and unable to avoid stumbling blocks and obstacles, so too when we are going through difficult periods in our lives we often feel at a loss for direction and purpose. Lacking a guiding light we can often fall victim to despair. The daytime, however, refers to the more enjoyable periods of life, those times when we see the path laid out ahead of us and feel a degree of security.

There are two ways of approaching the order of day- the Jewish way and the non-Jewish way. The non-Jews, usually using a solar calender, hold that the day begins with the morning and that the nighttime represents the end of that particular day. Conversely the Jews, using a mainly lunar-based calendar, view a day as beginning with the evening and the actual daytime as being the latter part of the day. This is why Shabbat and other Jewish holidays always begin in the evening and last until the evening of the following day. This concept doesn't just apply to the calendar, but rather is a principle Hashem has put into the universe of which many things, one of which happens to be time, adhere to. For it says in B'reishit (Genesis) "And there was evening and there was morning, one day." Since the time of creation it has been a principle of the universe that first there is a period of darkness and afterwards it is followed by the period of light.

Rebbe Nachman teaches that therefore, when going through difficult times we can take comfort in the fact that though things may be difficult at the moment, it is guaranteed that eventually the light will shine forth in our lives and things will become better as it is a fundamental principle G-d has put into the world, and all we must do is hold out long enough to see our personal redemption come from whatever the obstacles may be. But if both the darkness and the light are part of a system setup by G-d, this begs the question why does G-d desire us to pass through this alternating experience of hardship and redemption in the first place? Obviously G-d doesn't do it for His own amusement as He is far beyond simple human thinking such as that, and because of His great love for us He only does what's in our best interest never subjects us to needless suffering. So it must be that He puts us through these processes in order that we should grow. People who stay in their comfort zone tend to grow lazy and slump whereas those who are held up against the fire of adversity are forced to grow and overcome in order to survive. This puts an interesting responsibility into our hands... since these life situations are presented to us in order that we should grow it seems incumbent upon us to actually see to it that when we come out of our "nights" into our "days", we have taken something away from the experience and grow to become a better human being. To do so is to fulfill G-d's will, to fail to do so is to essentially waste an opportunity provided to us by Him.

Human civilization is currently in the era of the Arab. As the western world sets into decline, the Muslim world in general, and particularly the Arab world is filling in the power vacuum and vying for ultimate control of the direction in which to steer humanity. This is mainly through Arab oil influence and its choke hold on international policy combined with the growing boldness of militant Islam and the western world's lack of effort to curb either. It seems as if conflicts driven by this change are sparking up in virtually every place across the world... the aggressive spread of Islam, or "terrorism" as it is most often referred to affects almost every group of people in every place to some degree or another. Often fought by underground militias which blend in with the civilians in major population centers as well as in the media and across the internet, those who oppose this movement are often at a loss for means to fight it, as its tactics are radically different from organized state militaries of the enemies of yesteryear. As more nations and peoples succumb to tolerance and eventual social if not military surrender of this movement, those left opposed to it face a world of fear and darkness and seemingly greater conflict that what is already upon us lays ahead.

In Hebrew the word for Arab (ARaVi) [ ערבי] and the word for evening (EReV) [ערב] share the same root, Ayin-Resh-Bet (the word for Arab only differing by having an additional letter Yud at the end). As the age of the Arab (ARaVi) sets in the world is indeed starting to fall into a deep darkness- a worldwide darkness of night (EReV). However as we discussed earlier, there are two different views to what evening means- the Jewish one of the day beginning and the non-Jewish one of the day coming to a close. Therefore this era is marking an incredible transition in the history of humanity, that from an age of a non-Jewish based experience and thinking to that of Jewish based thinking and experience. What exactly does this mean? As already stated, Hashem desires people to go through the nighttime-daytime experience so that they should emerge more developed. So too perhaps humanity as a whole is currently undergoing such a process.

And just what is the development that the world as a whole must gain through all this? A new perspective and relationship to G-d. The Ben Ish Chai, Gaon Chayim Yosef of Baghdad, comments on how in the morning prayers we recite "Hashem melech, Hashem malach, Hashem yimloch l'olam vaed" (Hashem reigns, Hashem has reigned, Hashem will reign forever) not in the order of past present and future but rather out of order starting with the present. He says this is because our faith in Hashem ruling over the past and the future is based in recognition that He currently reigns as evident through the miracles He does for us in these times. Having described the Jewish recognition of G-d, the morning prayers continue several paragraphs later to describe the differing recognition of G-d that the non-Jews will eventually have in future times when it says, "V'yomru bagoyim Hashem malach, Hashem melech, Hashem malach, Hashem yimloch l'olam vaed" (And the nations will say Hashem has reigned, Hashem reigns, Hashem has reigned, Hashem will reign forever). This recognition of Hashem differs from that of the Jewish nation as explained by the Ben Ish Chai in that it seems the future non-Jewish recognition of Hashem currently reigning and reigning for all future times are both first preceded by the statement that Hashem has reigned in the past.

Thus we can see the future nature of the non-Jews' relationship to Hashem and infer about their current relationship. The Jews currently recognize Hashem and His mandate over the universe entire, and all past or future aspects of His rule correspond to the same G-d who we currently recognize rules right now. Yet the G-d of Israel is also the G-d of the rest of the world and the father of all of humanity. It is His desire that all people in His world should come to know Him and forge a relationship with Him. Unfortunately, the non-Jewish nations of the world have not been able to achieve the perception of G-d that the nation of Israel has via the Torah that G-d gave to it as well as the revelations to the patriarchs Abraham, Issac, Jacob and to the entire nation at Mount Sinai. Yet once the world emerges from the current "dark of night" that it is currently in, it will have gained a new development from the night-day cycle. With the coming "light of day" and the arrival of Moshiach (the Jewish Messiah) the world will come to see the truth of Torah and finally recognize Hashem, the G-d of Israel, as the one true sovereign of the world. Once this occurs, unlike the Jews who currently proclaim Hashem as king, the non-Jewish nations will realize that it was Hashem who ruled all along and therefore because of that realization of the past they will also realize that it is Hashem who reigns currently; so too they will see that just as it was Hashem who reigned before it is Hashem that will reign in the future of all time. Thus the morning prayers say that they will proclaim "Hashem has reigned" each time before declaring that He currently reigns and will in the future.

May G-d grant us the patience and strength to endure the current and coming dark times so that we may survive to see the coming times of light that will follow, in our own lives as well as the world over.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

This Rosh Hashana - Bees Need Our Prayers

Honey in short supply as Rosh Hashanah nears: "There is a decline in production in the world," said Alon Ron, CEO of the Emek Hefer honey company. "It was a drought year, and when there's no rain, there's no blossoming and no nectar. Nature is changing, and we can see it in the harvest."

Israel no longer Land of Milk and Honey after 60% fall in honey harvest: The bad weather has compounded already reduced levels of honey production caused by the mysterious global phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) where hives across the world have suddenly been deserted.

Israelis discover cure for bee colony collapse-associated virus: At Beeologics, scientists are convinced that IAPV is the primary cause of CCD. "If you look how the disease spreads, it's very reminiscent of flu. Flu also starts in the fall and hits hard in the winter, the same is true of this bee virus," explains Paldi. "It's very contagious like a flu. In our opinion, we have something that's interacting very strongly with the environment to cause CCD. It could be interacting with pesticides, with improper nutrition, general stress - but that's not what's killing the bees. What's killing them is a virus and we believe that virus is IAPV."

ISRAEL: Bee-rating in the land of milk and honey: But there are problems, too. Many Israeli farmers suffer from agricultural thefts, targeting anything from livestock to pipelines -- and beehives. Hives are small, often remote and unguarded, and hundreds are stolen every year, in many cases taken to the Palestinian territories. Beekeepers complain of lax enforcement and ridiculously low fines for apprehended thieves.

An ancient Israeli site yields the oldest known archaeological example of beekeeping: The Bible refers to ancient Israel as the “land flowing with milk and honey,” so it’s fitting that one of its towns milked honey for all it was worth. Scientists have unearthed the remains of a large-scale beekeeping operation at a nearly 3,000-year-old Israeli site, which dates to the time of biblical accounts of King David and King Solomon.

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Na, This Guy Isn't Dangerous

Viral Video: Who Shall Live

This was forwarded to me from three people already.

I have a few serious issues* with it. But aside from those it's great.

(*See the full post for those issues.)

*1. Who are they to claim Naftoli Smolyansky, z"l, died before his time? Are they implying he was being punished by dying young for being a bad person and more importantly how will his family feel when they see this?

2. Using the images of the Merkaz Harav attack is in very poor taste and seems to imply they deserved it.

3. Is AIDS, a completely preventable STD, really a "plague?"

4. The Gush Katif expelled still wander, and it's their fault?

5. If these are all evil decrees, and repentance, prayer, and charity remove the decree... either that is false or we really blew it last year! Or is that the point they are trying to make?

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Getting Israelis To Make Aliyah

One of the saddest phenomenons I have witnessed since making Aliyah is the apparent apathy so many Jews living here show for the Land. Don’t get me wrong. There are so many Jews living here that are a true inspiration to the “Keep Making Aliyah” spirit. But there are far too many I meet (indeed even one is too many) that simply don’t feel anything special about this land.

When Jews living in America are apathetic toward living in Eretz Yisrael at least we could blame it on them being blinded by the “good life” of the “golden medina.” But when Jews who grew up drinking the water and breathing the air of Eretz Yisrael, and are still apathetic to the idea of living here and even warm to the idea of making Yerida – what excuse can we invent to explain this?

Actually that’s not really the question we should be asking. There are many answers we could give – ranging from government frustration to pure desensitization due to familiarity with the Land. Whatever the case may be here is the challenge I present to the reader and to my fellow Kumah bloggers.

What could we do to encourage all Jews – even though born and raised and still living in Eretz Yisrael – to keep making Aliyah?

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Say What!?

Anyone who knows me fairly well can testify I'm not exactly the biggest lover of the Arab people. I'm not even such a fan of them being my neighbors much less ruling over me. That's why I couldn't help but laugh when I spotted this little piece on Ynet about an East Jerusalem Arab running for mayor of Jerusalem. Yet after reading it I couldn't believe it but I could actually see myself voting for the guy... like... maybe... I think? [Total brain meltdown in 5-4-3-...]

I mean take a look at the guy's platform. He says he's against Jerusalem being divided, he wouldn't talk to Hamas or Fatah, at least until they can fix their own internal disputes (unlikely to happen anytime this century), and he is against allowing any more gay parades to take place within the city. Strictly platform speaking, this guy sounds like a good deal! Now I'm not eligible to vote so it doesn't really make much of a difference for me anyway, but this is the kind of philosophical curveball I couldn't ever expect life to throw this way. Perhaps this is just a testament to the sad state of our Jewish political leaders. Don't they say something about politics making strange bedfellows? I don't know about getting into bed with anyone, but a strange part of me I never knew existed before would at least like to shake this guy's hand.

Even though the election is a few months away, the race for the position of mayor of Jerusalem is becoming more and more interesting. In addition to the two main candidates, Nir Barkat and Meir Porush, a new, some would say surprising, face has entered – a Palestinian candidate by the name of Zohir Hamdan.

Hamdan, 53, the mukhtar (head) of the east Jerusalem village of Tzur Baher who is married to three wives and is the proud father of 18, announced his candidacy on Wednesday. In an interview to Ynet he says: "I was married to a Jewish woman from Tel Aviv, but we divorced about three years ago". His name has been mentioned before as a possible mayoral candidate, but according to Hamdan, those were just speculations; this time, its official.

Jewish friends call more than Arab. Zohir Hamdan (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

Hamdan was born in Jordan, and studied engineering in Beirut. "I love this country, that's why I came here in 1974. My father and other relatives were already here. It was a family reunion; it was my duty to come here for my father", he said, describing his love for the country and for Jerusalem. Since his arrival, Hamdan has held several jobs, among them chief negotiator for east Jerusalem.

"I have many Jewish friends"
Tzur Baher, Zohir Hamdan's village, was in the news recently for a different reason. Terrorist Hossam Dwayyat, who killed three people by running them over with a stolen bulldozer, was a resident of the village. However, Hamdan goes about things in the opposite direction, wishing to bring Jews and Arabs closer together. "I'm chairman of the co-existence forum in Jerusalem. I was the first one to bring co-existence into the frey. When the Tanzim were shooting at the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo, I sympathized with the residents of Gilo."

"I have many Jewish friends from all over the country," adds Hamdan. "I go to visit them; they visit me and shop in Tzur Baher. We don't have any problems here. Since I announced that I was running for mayor, the phone hasn't stopped ringing. More Jews call to congratulate me than Arabs".

Meir Porush
Porush: Don’t judge me by the length of my beard / Ronen Medzini
Ultra-Orthodox candidate in Jerusalem mayoral race holds cyber press conference in bid to court secular public: ‘I know there are a lot of people who have difficulty in accepting me…I ask that you judge me by my experience and abilities’

However, not everyone is happy with Hamdan's close relationship with Jews. Seven years ago, there was an attempt made on his life.

"Tanzim operatives shot me in 2001 because I was working for co-exsistence with Jews. I was shot in several places, including the stomach, and I ended up in the hospital for two months. Despite this incident, and the fact that the Palestinian Authority has told east Jerusalem arabs to boycott the elections, Hamdan remains unfazed.

'I will not divide this city'
The single Arab contender isn't interested in establishing a relationship with the Palestinian Authority. "I'm not interested in any contact with the PA. I don't care if they are mad. Am I scared? No. Elections? That's their own internal matter".

Hamdan also has a single minded position in regards to the political future of the Palestinian Authority. "Hamas and Fatah need to talk among themselves, sort out their grievances, Then they can talk about a Palestinian state," he explains.

Hamdan holds a similar position on the matter of east Jerusalem. When asked if he would agree to transfer Arab neighborhoods to a Palestinian state, his response was that "Israel took over these neighborhoods from Jordan in 1967, and a large majority of the population is Jordanian. They should ask Jordan, I will not divide this city."

Hamdan adds that the Security fence has greatly to do with the security situation. "That is a decision that was made by the State for the sake of security. I can't go into it due to my position in the city; if any citizen has a complaint I will help as much as I can. State security is important and I will not interfere."

'Aryeh Deri is a good man'

The large number of candidates doesn't deter Hamdan. "I wish them all of them good luck " he says, adding that he believes Aryeh Deri "is a good man."

"The whole country is guilty of corruption, not just him," he says.

As for businessman Arcadi Gaydamak, who promised that he will appoint an Arab deputy mayor should he win, Hamdan isn't impressed. "A person who is running should know what is going on here…people are interested in action, not talk. Whoever runs the city needs to be of the people, a person who knows the real needs of the city. The Arabs aren't holding their breath for Gaydamak. The Arabs will establish their own power center".

The Arab candidate isn't afraid to predict that in two months everything will change in the State capital, with him leading the change. "I will bring a new kind of politics to the city. My door will always be open, and you won't need to schedule a meeting months in advance", he promises. "With me, there will be no discrimination; the holy city belongs to all of us, and we will live here in peace and harmony, respecting all religions," he added.

'No gay pride parade'
When asked if he would approve holding the Gay Pride Parade in the city, Hamdan declared "absolutely not. According to all world religions, what they are doing is unacceptable, both in the Koran and the Torah. I'm not religious or an extremist, I respect religion. Personally, I negate these people. A person must maintain personal dignity, and in these matters there is none. That is my opinion, I may be wrong. Whoever loves Jerusalem –is not gay".

Hamdan emphasizes that his message is one of hope. "I promise to help out all the young people and build them homes, approve construction as much as legally possible, and stop home demolition in this city. I will enable all of the citizens of this city to live honorably, while respecting the law. No one can divide Jerusalem. I hope and believe that we will live in hope and peace between all residents".

History has shown that the Arab residents of Jerusalem don't like to vote in the Municipal elections, though Hamdan is sure that east Jerusalem resident will show up to vote in droves. "I'm telling you the Arab voter turnout will be huge, God willing. They used to be afraid of the PA, now they are seeing what is going on and they are just tired of the silliness in the Palestinian leadership. Look at was is going on in Gaza, everyone is killing everyone. The residents of east Jerusalem are tired of these stories," explains Hamdan.

Not the first candidate
If Hamdan does win, he will be the first contender from east Jerusalem who does so. However he isn't the first candidate from east Jerusalem and he certainly isn't the first Arab candidate.

In 1989 Hana Seniora, a Palestinian resident of Beit Haninah decided to enter the race. Massive pressure from the PLO caused him to drop out of the race. In 1998 Moosa Alian, a businessman from Beit Tzafafa, entered the race but did not get enough votes. Additional attempts were made by the Hadash political party and the Communist party, but with no success.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008


Dear Yishai,

Okay so its been awhile since I've written to you and you most likely don't even remember me, but figured I should give you an update.

So since I last wrote, I've been corresponding with Rav Lazer Brody, who has helped me to overcome my negativity and discouragement regarding aliyah. He also suggested that I change my name and gave me one that he felt would fit me. So, I am no longer Gavrielah, I am now Tehilla....

My 14 year old daughter is now living in Israel! She'll be there for the next three years for high school and plans to remain there after she graduates, make aliyah, do national service, and start her family.

I am still planning on making aliyah. I will go as soon as possible of course, but definitely within the next two years. I'm now a single parent, so that makes it tougher, I have to pay off quite a bit of debt, but I have no doubt that I will get there. I am also praying for a miracle that will make it possible right away. I am so incomplete here in the U.S., knowing that I am not where Hashem designed me to be, where ALL Jews need to be. But I will get there and in the meantime, I will be doing everything I can here to support Israel, to help and encourage others to make aliyah, to learn Hebrew, to be a Torah-observant Zionist Jew.

Yishai, you and everyone else at INR have played such a huge role in my life, in getting me to this stage. Thank you for your encouragement in the past year on the air and via email. Thank you for everything that you do in service of Hashem. If one day I merit to meet you and Malkah, I will be so thrilled. May Hashem bless you all beyond belief.

Kol tuv,

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Friday, September 12, 2008

What's the point?

While surfing the headlines recently I came across an article that left me scratching my head. It's about a dwindling Jewish community somewhere deep in the south that is taking drastic measures to ensure their numerical survival. Apparently they view their situation as dire enough that they are willing to fork over fifty G's to any Jewish family that agrees to move into town.

The question I'd like to ask is with that kind of money to burn why are they choosing to invest it in their community that has relatively (as far as the Jewish people are concerned) no Jewish past and from the current state of affairs also no Jewish future? Instead of trying to build up Jewish life in Dothan Alabama why not build up Jewish life in the land of Israel? Why not help feed the some of the hungry children of Jerusalem? If they'd like to keep the money closer to home, why not invest in some sort of Torah learning institution in the states? Heck, they could even give it to me! I wouldn't mind having pre-paid yeshiva tuition for the next half decade or so! Now it's not really my place to tell them what to do with their own money. You know how I know this? Because Hashem decided to put it in their wallet and not mine! That being said, it still doesn't sit quite well with me that amounts of cash that could help klal Yisrael so greatly seem to be being directed towards things that at best don't accomplish much of anything at all.

Being Elul and all I think the most important thing is not to get too depressed or frustrated over news such as this. Perhaps it's just Hashem's way of reminding us that while we may be finding fault in these things, we should really looking harder at the faults from within. But still! (sigh)...

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) - Larry Blumberg is looking for a few good Jews to move to his corner of the Bible Belt.

Blumberg is chairman of the Blumberg Family Relocation Fund, which is offering Jewish families as much as $50,000 to relocate to Dothan, an overwhelmingly Christian town of 58,000 that calls itself the Peanut Capital of the World. Get involved at Temple Emanu-El and stay at least five years, the group's leaders say, and the money doesn't have to be repaid.

More Jews are living in the South than ever—about 386,00 at last count in 2001, according to Stuart Rockoff, historian at the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, Miss. But young Jews are leaving small places like Dothan in favor of cities like Atlanta and Birmingham, Rockoff said, and dozens of small-town synagogues have closed.

"A lot of the older people have died, and not many of the younger ones have stayed," said Thelma Nomberg, a member of the Dothan temple who grew up in nearby Ozark, where she was the only Jewish student in public school in the 1940s. "We are dying."

Being outside the Christian majority was never a problem, Nomberg said, even six decades ago: She won the Miss Ozark beauty pageant at 14 and sometimes attended church with friends after sleep-overs.

Now a widow, Nomberg has watched two of her four adult children leave for Florida as Temple Emanu-El lost nearly half its membership, down to about 50 families. She can only hope the recruitment plan works for her synagogue.

Launched in June, the Blumberg program has put advertisements in Jewish newspapers in Boston, Miami, Providence, R.I., and Washington, and it plans to expand the campaign.

"I think it's important that we try to find young people that we could use in our religious school, our Sunday school and help in the way of trying to create more of a family-type atmosphere in our temple," Blumberg said.

Groups offered financial aid for Jews to return to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and Jewish organizations around the country offer moving assistance for relocating families. A congregation has loans and other benefits for Jewish families moving into an area near Boston.

"Our program is distinctive because it's Dothan, but it's also distinctive because of the type of financial assistance," said Rob Goldsmith, executive director of Blumberg Family Jewish Community Services, which will screen applicants and administer the grant program.

Trying to lure Jewish families to a quiet Southern town in a state with a reputation for hard-right politics and racial intolerance might be difficult. About 20 Jewish families have sought information about Dothan, though none has made the move.

Rockoff credits Blumberg and the rest of the congregation with fighting to remain in Dothan, where the synagogue has a full-time rabbi and the temple, which is aligned with the reform movement, hasn't missed having a Friday night service in decades.

"It is a small community, but they have some deep pockets to be able to do this," said Rockoff. "As a historian it is fascinating to see them trying to buck this trend."

Dothan lies at the heart of the South's peanut region, in Alabama's southeastern corner just minutes from Florida and Georgia. It's dotted with big fiberglass peanuts painted to resemble characters and people—there's even an Elvis peanut.

Little things are big here: The city boasts what it calls the world's smallest city block, a triangular traffic island near the civic center.

But the Blumberg foundation is selling prospective Jewish residents on Dothan's quality of life—its low cost of living, the heritage of its synagogue and its proximity to Florida beaches, about 80 miles away.

The city is the site of the down-home National Peanut Festival each fall, and it has a full schedule of community cultural events. It has two hospitals, a branch of Troy University and is just a short drive from Fort Rucker, the Army's main helicopter training base.

Downtown is filled with quaint red-brick buildings and colorful murals, and traffic never gets too bad on Ross Clark Circle, the perimeter road.

"We have Friday afternoon rush minute, and that's about it," said manufacturing executive Ed Marbletree, 69, who grew up Jewish in Texas but married a Dothan girl and has lived in the town since 1961.

Valerie Barnes grew up in Panama and moved several times before settling 20 years ago in Dothan and becoming active at the synagogue. She's never experienced any anti-Semitism and can't imagine living anywhere else.

"The biggest thing Dothan has to offer is that it's just a very family-oriented community," said Barnes, who directs a hospital foundation. "Our congregation is very vibrant, and we have a lot of things that we get involved in."

Rabbi Lynne Goldsmith didn't know quite what to expect when she moved to Dothan a year ago to lead the congregation at Temple Emanu-El, which was founded in 1929. She came with her husband, who directs the Jewish community services group.

A Connecticut native, the rabbi halfway expected the Alabama of old with wide-open racism and dirt roads.

"The Northeast has a really warped perception of what the South is all about, and I found out it was all wrong," she said. "The South is a wonderful place to be. The people are warm and friendly. There's very little traffic. And best of all, there's no snow."

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Day in the Life, Otherwise Known As Seventh Heaven in the Seventh Year

So we recently had this very interesting guest over, who was trying to get away from some issues in the US by finding himself in Israel for a week.

When our guest arrived, fresh from the Crowne Plaza in Tel Aviv courtesy of an old school Israeli cab driver, we pulled a few chairs out of the house, plopped them down in the road, served up some steaming joe, and gave our guests a few minutes to soak up the oxygen-rich, vanilla puddingy delicious air that we so habitually breathe up on our mountaintop every day. They checked out the view, eyed a few twitting sparrows, and sipped their piping hot Turkish coffee, with a few fresh figs our friend picked for us from her tree the night before (incidentally, she said I could pick as many as I want for myself - yesh!).

After a few minutes and some enthusiasting licking from Pilpel, our driver drove away, Yishai put the baby in a backpack, unleashed the dog, and took our guest on a hike all over our mountain while I recorded the Eyshet Chayil Show, assuredly showing him the Jewish burial sites, pointing out some frolicking gazelles, and telling the story of Jacob's dream, which happened here in holy Beit El. That night, we fed him meat and vegetables from a cauldron we and our friends/neighbors boiled around a campfire (say it with me: Poika!), as we talked about issues surrounding the Holy Temple, Jewish interrelations, and building on the mountain.

The next day, after a big breakfast of organic eggs that are free-range raised by Avri Ran near Itamar and a big glass of fresh, 7th year-fallow-grapes grape juice squeezed by Hillel Mann from the vineyards of the Beit El Winery, we took our increasingly spiritually-inspired guest to buy brand new Tefillin from the world-famous Beit El Tefillin factory. After an hour tour (FASCINATING!), our guest was fitted for his tefillin, bought a mezuzah, was blessed by a Tefillin-making Cohen, and sent on his merry way.

We dropped him off in next-door Ofra, where he rented a car to continue his adventures in the north.

Now I pose a question: was our guest on the best vacation ever.... or am I?
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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Temple Mount is HOT!!!

The Temple Mount is in the news:

Check out this article called "Rising Global Muslim Incitement: Jews 'Defiling' Jerusalem". In it you will find an amazing video of the Nazi-hate which fill the propagandized minds of our neighbors.

Then, check out the hottest debate in the Chareidi world regarding the Aliyah to the Temple Mount by my rebbe, Rabbi Moshe David Tendler. Rabbi Tendler is accusing Chareidi Rabbis of politicizing Halacha by disallowing Jews to go up. The Chareidi world is up in arms.

You know my opinion regarding going up. It's truly amazing to follow in the footsteps of Abraham and to be so close to Hashem. IMPORTANT NOTE: There are serious Halachic restrictions with regard to Temple Mount ascension, including the need to immerse in a ritual bath beforehand. If you do decide to go up please consult our Temple Mount Aliyah guide first. Shalom!

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Israel, At Last, Gets On the (Google) Map

Now you can make Aliyah, because google has mapped out Israel.

One small point, the street names are only listed in Hebrew, and can only be searched in Hebrew.

No word on whether or not English maps are on the way, though knowing google I'm sure they are.

Hat Tip: BigToe

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Yishai Speaks at Jewish Bloggers Conference