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


Monday, November 30, 2009

TLATD #3: Living in Israel During a Recession

The discussion of the Gemara (BB 91a) turns to the economy of Eretz Yisrael. It explains that to protect the economy of Eretz Yisrael certain staples (wines, oils and fine flours) were not allowed to be exported. The concern is that exporting these items could lead to a shortage and a price hike which would create hardships for the local population of Eretz Yisrael.

It is important to note how focused not just Tanach is on Eretz Yisrael, but even the Talmud Bavli which was written in Babylonia. The Gemara continues to explain that we are equally concerned about the economy in Eretz Yisrael if prices dropped too much (60% of its original value) and a special prayer would be recited on Shabbos in such an event. This seems much like the way Jews all over the world pray for rain in Eretz Yisrael and on Shabbos for the well-being. The Jewish people are always focused on our true Homeland.

The Gemara then makes an extraordinary statement about living in Eretz Yisrael. "One may not leave the land of Israel to go live outside the land unless two se’ah of wheat cost a sela." In other words inflation would have to reach a whopping 100% before one would be permitted to leave Eretz Yisrael according to the Rabbis. Rabbi Shimon however disagrees and holds this is only true if one can not even find wheat to purchase but otherwise, even if wheat costs double leaving the Land is forbidden.

A proof is brought for R’ Shimon's strict position from the Meggilas Rus. Artscroll's translation: "And similarly R’ Shimon ben Yochai used to say: Elimelech, Machlon and Chilyon [who left the Land of Israel during a famine and moved to Moab where they died not long after,] were the great men of their generation and the caretakers of their generation. And for what reason were they punished? Because they left the land of Israel to go live outside the Land."

Labels: , , , ,

Full post and comments...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Weirdest Ever Shoe Name

Winner of the "Uh, What?" Award:

For your galavanting pleasure

The so-comfy-it's-a-crime Sota Water. Walking where you should have never tread before!

By Aerosouls - I mean, Aerosoles.

Stay Faithful, Stay Orthopedic, Stay Aerosoles.

Labels: ,

Full post and comments...

Why Aliyah Is Important For You?

by Michael Berezin

Wherever you might be right now there is one thing that is certain, you are a Jew. You might be a Jew living in New York, you might be a Jew living in London, you might even be an accountant. Its even possible that you might be looking for a whole new way to identify yourself, either way no matter what, you are a Jew first and a Jew last. It is important to clarify that because by speaking of Aliyah and its importance we need to understand what being a Jew and living in Israel has to do with each other. There are many countries and regions in the world filled with all kinds of people. There is but one country promised to one people, explicitly stated by G-d, and that is the land of Israel for the Jewish people...

We just read the Torah portion of Chayeh Sara which starts off with the acquisition of a plot of land. The reason explained for this seemingly unimportant monetary deal to be stated so explicitly is that it was in fact important. Avraham wanted it to be clear that this land purchused in Chevron was in fact acquired fair and square so that there could be no future claims on it. Despite Avraham's best intentions, Hevron is a place that is constantly under siege by an enemy surrounding it.

So what does that mean to you?

It means something incredible! You have an inheritance to claim! So heavy it gets two exclamation points.

Ok great, heard it all before, but I am happy where I am.

How does one argue with happiness?

The answer is that if you really think you are happy it might be that you are. Now imagine being even happier and being on the right side of History. Sure you can wake up in your comfortable suburban town. You might even be making decent money although these days probably not. One thing though is that you are missing out on being a part of connecting the dots to our past, present and promised future. Our destiny was not France as it was not Spain, England, Germany, or do I even dare say the United States Of America. The one thing that all the places where we once flourished have in common was that they either persecuted us or threw us out just when things seemed to be going so well.

History is not linear there are lessons to be learned and miricles to be realized. The modern state of Israel although far from perfect is our destiny. Why because it's about the land. The land that was promissed to our forefathers. there is no other reason to explain how after two thousand years of exile, would we have the wherewithall to vanquish our enemies time and time again when there numbers far outnumber ours as well as their resources.

Does anybody think the Jews of Berlin the most assimilated and progressive Jews of the world could have ever dreamt of a reality where they would be viewed as Jews first and dealt with accordingly?

We are on the cusp of a whole new realty with the threat of Iran and a Muslim population bent on world dominance, where are you gonna put your faith?

Don't wait for the wrong time, sieze the right time and the right time is now. Why? Because you are Jew and Israel is not just your destiny but a part of your identity. Aliyah- Just do it!


[I found the following text when I Googled "Why Aliyah is important for you?" -Yishai]

One of the profile questions on which I found on Pinchas' Blog is: "Below describe in you own words why Aliyah is important to you. If you already made Aliyah also talk about your experience making Aliyah:"

I got a bit carried away and here is my answer....

I came nearly 9 years ago for a Yeshiva "summer program" after my first (and subsequently last) year of college. I loved yeshiva, but I despised Israel, Israeli apartments, Israeli meat (or what tried to pass as such), Israeli attitude, fighting to the death with taxi drivers over 30 cents and most importantly the fact the milk comes in bags.

I anxiously left after around a year and counted down the days until I would go home for Pesach (I guess an "anti-omer" of sorts) and then learn for the next zman in the US.. The moment the plane took off I already regretted my decision, got this gnawing feeling in my kishkes and knew it would not be long before I was back...

6 Months later I was and I have been here since, and don't plan to leave (unless I am expelled from my house in the next few months by the shilton hakofrim/memsheles zadon).

Why Israel? Honestly I ask myself that question every day and have yet to come up with a satisfactory answer. It is certainly not the bad attitude, rudeness, poor hygiene, lack of amenities, high prices, even higher taxes, small cars, bad meat, pitiful salaries, 6 day workweeks, deathly bureaucracy, or the dreaded milk in bags. Certainly not the rashayim in the government and supreme court. Definitely not the threat of being shot or blown up every day for the crime of waking up that morning (or in my case, early afternoon).

I think when it comes down to it, I like the fact that in Israel, being Jewish is normal and the natural thing to do. In Israel you just ARE Jewish, period. The difference between a mildly assimilated American Jew and even the most secular Israeli is astounding. No one (ok fine, no one excluding a statistically insignificant fringe minority) would dream of not getting married under a chuppa, or giving their kids a bris. Almost everyone goes to shul on Yom Kippur, a majority fast, and upwards of 90% leave Egypt each year at a Pesach Seder. Every student (even in the most heretical anti-religious schools) must learn Tanakh and Jewish History. We speak Hebrew, we use Shekalim and everyone kvetches to their heart's content (as if there is such a thing). You have to go out of your way to find treife restaurants (even in Tel Aviv) and there is no city, town or neighborhood without a shul(an orthodox one at that). People stop for hitchhikers, invite perfect strangers to their homes for Shabbos and let their little kids roam around unsupervised in the streets (or send them to the store to buy milk in bags). Maybe it is the fact that I can read about certain events in the Chumash and the Gemara and get in the car and go there. Shabbos Chaaye Sarah in Chevron, Lag B'omer in Meron, Birchas Kohanim in Yerushalayim, and for a change Tu B'shevat actually matters. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I scoff at the walls of the Old City which are a mere 400 years old, on my way to Daven at one which was built over 2000 years ago. I remember as a wee youngin' being impressed when we went to visit a house on Long Island which was a whopping 300 years old, in Israel 300 year old artifacts are worth less than yesterday's election poll results.

In America I was a weirdo, a fanatic, a fossil, a relic from the past hanging on to his culture which became obsolete centuries if not millennia ago. Even in Schnorrer Park and Flatbush you are surrounded by people with customs and culture very different from ours and can't help be inundated and influenced by it. Even the shtarkest of Jews in America has a different attitude and way of life than his cousin in Bnai Brak or Beer Sheva. In the streets of The Old City, Meah Shearim or Hebron I am just another brick in the wall just some Harry trying to get to the mikeveh before it closes. Elsewhere I am a tourist attraction.

But I think what really spoke to me and still impresses me to this day is the level of living l'shaim shamayim and mesirus nefesh which is routinely displayed everywhere you look. Yidden who dedicate their lives to serving the Aibishter, have kids without cheshbon, live on hilltops without water or toilets and spend all day arguing about nuances in 2000 year old religious debates because "it is a mitzvah". The entire value system even when compared to worldwide frum communites is just different. Stores which open "after shachris" and close whenever the falafel runs out because the baal habayis has done his histadlus for the day. Everyone is in debt, live in overdraft but somehow manage to put food on the table and marry off their kids. There is no logical explanation for it and hashgocha pratis literally blows in the wind here. I am not saying that living L'shaim shamayim and mesirus nefesh are impossible to find in America, but in Israel you don't even have to look and certainly doesn't come as a surprise.

Sure we can make a list of all the things wrong with Israel (and Israelis) (take milk in bags for example) and still not be finished before the next appearance of Halley's Comet and there is clearly much room for improvement on many fronts, but when push comes to shove, if you are REALLY interested in "being Jewish" Israel is THE place to do it.

That said, I've been here for almost 10 years and it STILL bothers me to no end that milk comes in bags.....

Labels: , ,

Full post and comments...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Video: Kosherfest with Yishai and Malkah

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Study: North American Olim Huge Boost to Israeli Economy

(Published by moi at IsraelNN a couple days ago)

A new first-time study conducted by accounting and consulting firm Deloitte Brightman Almagor Zohar and commissioned by the Nefesh B'Nefesh aliyah organization shows the overwhelming contribution North American immigrants to Israel have made to the country's economy.

The analysis was conducted based on accumulated data provided by Nefesh B'Nefesh (NbN) about 18,000 immigrants who made Aliyah through the organization between the years 2002-2008.

According to the study, households of NbN immigrants "pay back" the Israeli government's investment in them within the first year of their arrival, and are already a significant source of income for the country within five years.

The 6,493 households which made aliyah through NbN between 2002 and 2008 have yielded a whopping 989 million shekels, with the cost of absorbing them standing at only NIS 528 million, leaving the immigrants' contribution at NIS 461 million so far.

Visiting friends and family of NbN olim have also given their boost to the economy by supporting the national tourism industry to the tune of NIS 347 million. Adding this to the tally, NbN olim are accountable for a total GNP contribution of NIS 808 million (over $212 million). Considering the passage of another year and the continued employment and success of North American olim, that number could be higher than NIS 1 billion (almost $262.5 million)

Education and assets
Tali Barda, director of the Department of Strategic Consulting of Deloitte Brightman Almagor Zohar says the success of North American olim can be tied to three key factors:

1. The high level of higher education found among NbN immigrants. Their level (75% have a bachelor's degree or higher) is significantly higher than the average in Israel.

2. NbN immigrants tend to arrive with a lot of valuable assets.

3. Many tourists are attracted to Israel by NbN olim, whose families and friends have pumped hundreds of millions of shekels in tourist dollars into the economy.

Other interesting findings include the considerable number of children immigrating (46%), the high employment eligibility of immigrants (81% of adult immigrants are at the age of employment), and their overwhelming success in finding a job (almost 90% are employed within 1 year of arrival).

Immigration from the United States and Canada "is contributing qualitative strength to the state," said Chairman and Founder of Nefesh b'Nefesh, Tony Gelbart. Over 150 doctors have come to Israel through the organization, said Gelbart, as well as hundreds of high-tech businesspeople and 1,500 new soldiers.

Nefesh B'Nefesh was founded in 2002 by Tony Gelbart (a Jewish businessman and philanthropist from the USA) and Rabbi Yehoshua Fass. Working in conjunction with the Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel, they have brought over 23,000 new immigrants to Israel from the US, Canada, and England in the last 8 years. To learn more, visit their website at

Labels: , , , ,

Full post and comments...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Watch 'Obsession' Free this Thanksgiving

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nefesh B'Nefesh Hanukkah Flash Mob

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Music Keeps The Spirit Up and Up!!

Here is an email testifying to the efficacy of the album:

"Just got the AR disc and loaded into onto my mac. Playing it. It is GREAT. The Moshav Band song really pulls at my heart strings. I am there in SPIRIT. Pray that the goof catches up as quick and gets there. For now, I continue to long daily for THAT day. Thanks so much. Best present. You made my month of Kislev. Toodles from Chutz. Shimmi from NJ"


Labels: , ,

Full post and comments...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

TLATD #2: The Fantastic Tales of Rabbah bar bar Chanah

Daf Yomi this week discusses the Fantastic Tales of Rabbah bar bar Chanah, twenty or so stories that Rabbah heard or witnessed that are just so unbelievable it’s obvious they are allegories.

In one tale, Rabbah witnesses a giant frog, the size of “sixty houses” swallowed by a sea-monster which is in turn swallowed by a giant raven. The raven lands on a massive tree. Rabbah exclaims “come, see how strong that tree was!” Rav Pappa remarks that if he hadn’t been there he never would have believed it!

The Gra explains (see "The Juggler and the King" for a detailed discussion of the Gra's explanations) how the frog is symbolic of the Torah Scholars (who make noise day and night studying Torah.) The sea-monster is the evil
inclination which can doom the scholar. The raven, a bird that abandons her young to the good will of Heaven, symbolizes the solution to defeating the evil inclination sea-monster. Put all your faith in Hashem.

The tree symbolizes all those that support Torah. In Babylonia, where Rav Pappa was from, the people did not support torah learning as much as the Jews of Eretz Yisrael did. In was only after Rav Pappa came to Eretz Yisrael that he saw the incredible philanthropic acts of the people of the Land of Israel. If Rav Pappa hadn’t seen it with his own eyes he wouldn’t have believed it.

The truth is, the hand of Hashem is much more visible here in Eretz Yisrael. The entire survival of the State of Israel is completely dependent on each year’s rainfall. In short faith is a little bit easier to come by here and it’s this faith that leads to so many acts of kindness people living far away from Israel would have to come and see to believe.

Labels: , , , ,

Full post and comments...