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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hi, You From Joisey?

Growing up in North Central New Jersey, I was fascinated by the fact that in the small stretch of land from Long Island to Philadelphia there were so many different accents. Think about it: People from Long Island, Brooklyn, Bronx, urban New Jersey (Joisey), suburban North Jersey, South Jersey and Philadelphia all speak with a different accent. I took this quiz (Hat tip: Turning The Tide) and it correctly identified where I come from. Try it!

The Tenth Of Tevet

This is a jblog, so I can't let this day go by without mentioning it. Click here to learn the significance of this day. In the meantime I have a headache.

You might also want to visit The Temple Institute, which has done a tremendous job of making the idea of the Temple relevant and understandable for many.

To those who fast, may it be meaningful.

The Wicked Witch Is Dead

The megalomaniac, warmonger, and mass murderer Saddam Hussein is dead. Good riddance! See his execution here (Hat tip LGF).

I'll never forget "Nachash Tzefa", the sirens, putting my two infant children in "Mamatim", and the time I spent in sealed rooms wearing a gas mask because of this tyrant. May his name be blotted out!

Update:
For some reason the following passage from the book of Samuel comes to mind:
Then said Samuel: 'Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites.' And Agag came unto him in chains. And Agag said: 'Surely the bitterness of death is at hand.' And Samuel said: As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Will Olmert Win The "Fiskie"?

It's time for "Fiskie" and "Oriana" nominations at Little Green Footballs. That is to say that it is time to nominate candidates for the "Idiotarian" and "Anti-Idiotarian" Awards. Judging from the comments on the thread, our Prime Minister Ehud Olmert may make his way on to the ballot. Today's news proves that he deserves it:
With Israeli consent, Egypt transferred 2,000 rifles and 20,000 magazines to Fatah through the Gaza-Egypt border in a bid to counter Hamas' armament drive.
What a fool! We all know who those arms will be used against! Here is my input on the LGF thread:
Ehud Olmert is the paradigm idiotarian. There are a lot of members in the current Israeli government that deserve the award (Peretz, Livni, Tamir etc.) but Olmert, the Prime Minister, is also the prime idiotarian.
Who knows, he may be the first Israeli to win the "coveted" award.

Update: Olmert isn't on the ballot. You can't win 'em all!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Quote Of The Day

Here:
That is, historical knowledge is so meager among ordinary people and "intellectuals" and academics, even regarding events within living memory, like the Holocaust, like Palestinian Arab collaboration in the Holocaust, that one cannot take it for granted that people know anything.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Not Your Own Private Idaho

Details Here.

Walking For Israel

Please check out the Walking For Israel Blog:
Walking for Israel was created by Shlomo and Chava in support of the vision of Meir Panim. We believe that Tzedakah can create a bridge of tolerance and understanding; generating a spirit of community among all types of Jews and non-Jews as “we are all created in the image of HaShem (G-d).”

We would like to raise enough money to buy the very much needed 5 trucks for Meir Panim’s Power of Giving project.

Stay tuned as we plan to post much, much more over the next weeks and months before we, G-d willing, begin our 2,173 mile, 5-6 month journey walking the Applachian Trail from Georgia to Maine beginning on May 1, 2007.
Thanks.

Dani Maman: Jimi Hendrix With Peot

Being that I am an amateur musician, one of the things that I do when I go to a wedding is to check out the band. The last wedding that I was at had a really good band, particularly the guitar player. He caught my attention immediately, not because of his long black frock and side-curls to match, but because he was playing at a level that was a few leagues above your average wedding band. He was wailing away, bending the strings to the limit, and moving up and down the neck with blinding speed. I got a chuckle out of the guy by telling him that he is "Jimi Hendrix with peot."

Someone told me that is name is Dani Maman, and that he is a ba'al teshuva. After a few Google searches, I learned that he used to be a member of a "mythological" Israeli rock band that was called "Gan Eden". Afterwards he spent some time in Germany, playing in different bands. He returned to Israel, played with "Gan Eden" again but left the group after he returned to his Jewish roots.

During the meal Maman played the opening licks to "Hey Joe" and I thought to myself that singing "Hey Joe, where ya' goin' with that gun in your hand?" wasn't exactly fitting for a wedding. Never fear, he changed the words to "Ani Ma'amin Be'Emunah Shleima Be'viat HaMashiach"(I believe with a complete faith in the coming of the Messiah)! The crowd loved it. He also played an instrumental version of "Hotel California".

I think that Dani is an example of the proper way for one to do teshuvah. He didn't throw the baby out with the dirty bath water. Becoming orthodox did not mean putting down his guitar (except on Shabbat, of course). Dani is using his great talent, and channeling it to avenues of holiness. Chazak U'varuch!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Rabbi Yitzchok David Grossman

I was at a wedding in Jerusalem last night. The mesader kiddushin was the renowned Rabbi Yitzchok David Grossman, who came all the way from Migdal HaEmeq to perform the ceremony for a former student. The cosmic camera caught him under the chupah:

Rabbi Yitzchok David Grossman

Monday, December 18, 2006

Mistranslation of the Day And Other Errors

The award goes to ynetnews, in their article about the neighborhood Meah Shearim:
Mea Shearim (namely, 100 Gates) is actually a living relic of glorious Jewish communities that perished and no longer exist in the lands of their origin.
Well, Meah Shearim can mean 100 gates, but in this case it means a hundredfold. Wikipedia gets it right:
The name was taken from Genesis 26:12[1], as a prayer and blessing that the community would thrive and expand: Isaac sowed in that land, and in that year he reaped "מאה שערים - a hundredfold"; God had blessed him.
This is not the only mistake in the ynetnews article:
Because of the natural growth rate of the neighborhood residents, additional residential neighborhoods were built around it. The region turned ultra-Orthodox without warning in the 1940's, under the influence of Rabbi Sonenfeld, one of the most extreme rabbis at the time, who would not accept Chief Rabbi Cook as his spiritual authority.
Actually, the community was ultra-Orthodox from his its inception. Once again Wikipedia succeeds where ynetnews fails:
Meah Shearim (sometimes Mea Shearim), is one of the oldest neighborhoods of extramural Jerusalem. It was established in 1874 by a company with originally 100 shareholders in order to provide decent housing to the growing "Old Settlement" of the old Jewish Quarter. The original inhabitants were members of the Perushim community, whose parents and grandparents, disciples of the Vilna Gaon, had arrived in Palestine in the early part of the century.
What's more, Rabbi Sonnenfeld passed away in 1932(!), making it very difficult for him to influence the going-ons in the neighborhood during the 1940s:
Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld (1849 - 1932) was the Chief Rabbi of the Ashkenazi Haredi Jewish community of Jerusalem during the years of the British mandate and co-founder of the Edah HaChareidis. He was originally given the name "Chaim", however, the name "Yosef" was added to him while he experienced an illness.
The Wikipedia entry on Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld also contains the following important information:
Contrary to a number of distorted accounts, Rabbi Sonnenfeld had a warm relationship with and mutual respect for Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, although the two were vigorous opponents in many areas. Indeed, in 1913 the two travelled together to Northern Israel to try to return lapsed Jews to Orthodox Judaism.

Happy Hannukah



Sunday, December 17, 2006

Versailles Tragedy In The News Again

I already blogged about the sentencing of thw owners of the Versailles Hall. Today there were more convictions in connection with the tragedy:
Four people were convicted of manslaughter Sunday by the Jerusalem District Court for their roles in the collapse of Jerusalem's Versailles banquet hall four years ago.

All four defendants - Uri Pesach, Shimon Caufman, Dan Sheifer and Pal-Kal inventor Eli Ron - were found guilty of manslaughter, despite the prosecution's attempt to convict them on charges of murder.

A fifth defendant, Yaacov Adiv, the promoter and contractor for the hall, was cleared of his charges after the judge determined that there was no causal connection between his negligence and the hall's collapse.

On May 24, 2001, the third-floor of the Talpiot hall caved in, killing twenty-three people and injuring nearly 400 of the 700 guests. Witnesses described a grisly scene, with people clinging to the sides of the floor, while others struggled to free themselves from the rubble.

In November, the three Israeli co-owners of the banquet hall were sentenced to prison for their roles in the hall's collapse. Avraham Adi and Efraim Adiv were given 30 months in prison, while Uri Nissim was ordered to serve four months in prison followed by four months of community service. Adi and Adiv planned to appeal.


Here is the film of the tragedy. It is mind boggling to see people dancing and smiling moments before they plunge to their death. Viewer discretion is advised.

Waiting For The Light To Change

The corner of Jaffa and King George in Jerusalem:

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Early Morning In Jerusalem

This photo was snapped at the junction of Farbershtein and Kanfei Nesharim:

Ceasefire Blues And The Rocket's Red Glare

I've got the "ceasefire blues", as our partners for peace continue to send us love notes:
Palestinian Authority terrorists fired five Kassam rockets at towns in Israel's western Negev Tuesday night, in ongoing ceasefire violations. Prime Minister Olmert said his patience is running out.

Speaking with reporters in Berlin Tuesday night, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, "I know how easy it is to return to violence, but we are exercising self-restraint and are not retaliating." The prime minister pointed out that Arab terrorists from Gaza have attacked Israel more than 20 times with rockets since the ceasefire agreement was reached in late November. The latest attacks followed four days of quiet on the Gaza front.
And the world is silent.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

They Also Stole Children From Ashkenazim

So you don't think that Yemenite Jewish children were stolen from their parents during the State of Israel's early years? This may change your mind:
A storm is raging throughout the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel and the US following testimony that a boy from the Hasidic Satmar community in NY was allegedly kidnapped from his parents more than 50 years ago and adopted by a Christian Canadian couple.

The most popular ultra-Orthodox weekly, "Family" is conducting an in-depth investigation into the mysterious story. According to findings so far, some 50 years ago a Hasidic family from Bnei Brak gave birth to twins. One of the twins died immediately after birth and doctors later informed the couple that the other child had also has passed away and had been buried.

Doctors told the family that the baby had become ill and his condition deteriorated until he met his death. The stricken parents had no choice but to accept the news, however reportedly they always bore a persistent doubt as to the circumstances of their child's death. This doubt was reinforced some 18 years later when the "dead child" received a military induction order. The shocked family attributed this to nothing more than an unfortunate error.

About a month ago, in a Canadian city, thousands of kilometers from Bnei Brak, an only child opened his mother's will after she passed away. The words darted in front of his eyes and almost made him faint.

"You are a Jewish child from the city of Bnei Brak in Israel," it was written in the will. "We adopted you when you were just a few days old and we raised you without revealing your true identity. You are now entitled to know the great secret we kept from you."

The surprised son, who was raised as a non-Jew, didn't waste time and set out on a voyage to trace his biological parents.

The man in question, who works at one of the important intelligence agencies in a Western country, was quick to find his Jewish family at the Satmar community in New York, where they moved to from Bnei Brak.

The mother passed away four years ago and the father is now 85-years-old. Besides the twins, the couple had an additional 11 children throughout the ensuing years.

Two weeks ago, the man made contact with one of his biological brothers in New York, he recounted his story and asked to meet. At first, the shocked brother found it hard to believe the story, but ultimately agreed to meet his "brother." Upon their meeting it became quite clear there were clear physical similarities between the two.

For the past few days the man has been undergoing a series of genetic tests to determine his true identity and his connection to the family in question. Only after receipt of the final results will the brother tell the elderly father that his lost son has been found after an absence of 50 years.

It will also become apparent whether this man's story is the Satmar version of the missing Yemenite children in Israel.
I also had my doubts about the "missing Yemenite children", so I started to question friends of Yemenite descent. All of those that I talked to claimed that children were stolen or almost stolen from their family. One rabbi told me that he was born in a tent, because it became common knowledge among the Yemenites in the ma'abarot that by giving birth in a hospital there is a risk that the baby will be stolen. Someone else told me that his Grandfather save his Aunt from being stolen by bribing the hospital guard. Once I was at a Yemenite wedding and I asked the people sitting at my table about the scandal. They told me to be quiet, pointing to an old Yemenite that was also sitting at the table. They told me that he still has not recovered from the child that was stolen from him, and that it would pain him to hear the subject mentioned.

BTW, this coming Shabbat the Torah portion tells us about how Joseph's brothers sold him.

Prisoners in Zion

Don't miss this video, Prisoners in Zion.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sunday, December 10, 2006

In Need Of A Caption





Any ideas?

(This photo was taken at the junction of Levinski Street and Har Tzion Street in Tel Aviv.)

The State Of The Nation





I shot this as from bus no. 405 as it pulled out of the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station on the way to Jerusalem. I think the state of these flags reflects the state of the nation under the present government. We want Mashiach now.

A lot of people in Israel including myself are more at ease now that serial rapist Benny Sela has been apprehended. Jpost has a timeline of Sela's escape and recapture.

Is Mt. Zion on Olmert's chopping block? Let's hope not.

Bradley Burston and Larry Derfner continue to write silly columns.

The Israeli Electric company is going to become Sabbath observant!

Some people have no shame.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Bibi Blog

Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu has become a blogger. You can read his blog (in Hebrew) here. (Hat tip: ynetnews, although they get the Bronx cheer for not providing a live link.)

Update: ynetnews added a live link.

Don't Miss This Post

Jameel put up a really great post just in time for Hanukkah: A Settler's Olive Tree. Check it out!

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Good Land

6 And thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in His ways, and to fear Him. 7 For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths, springing forth in valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and honey; 9 a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass. 10 And thou shalt eat and be satisfied, and bless the LORD thy God for the good land which He hath given thee.(Deuteronomy Chapter 8)

Jewish School Vandalized In Acco

So far the only one covering this story is Arutz 7:
Arab marauders smashed up a Talmud Torah in the northern city of Acco (Acre) over the Sabbath, painting Arabic graffiti and swastikas on the walls, destroying furniture, and scattering holy books.


The latest and gravest escalation in the struggle between Jews and Arabs in the mixed city of Acco, just 8 miles south of the Lebanese border on the Mediterranean coast, occurred this past Friday night. Rabbi Avraham Shushan, a rabbi at the school at which the vandalism occurred, told Arutz-7's Shimon Cohen that a worshiper who arrived for early Sabbath morning prayers was the first to discover the destruction:

"He saw the lights on and the windows broken. He went in and the sight shocked him. All the walls had swastikas, and the Arabic words 'Hamas' and 'Allahu Akbar' [Allah is great]. Destruction all over - it looked like Sodom and Gomorrah. The vandals went into the classrooms, dumped out the equipment, turned over the principal's office, and threw the Torah books in all directions. They took expensive equipment worth thousands of shekels. The worshiper went by foot to the police and called them to come, which they did... He told me about it on Saturday night, and I called Rabbi Yashar, the rabbi of Akko. He came and cried out, 'What is this, Nazi Germany here?'"


Update: ynetnews

In The Sticks

It's good to get out of the city from time to time and to hike in the sticks. Here's a photo of Beit Zayit as seen from Motza.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I Find This A Little Hard To Swallow

With all due respect to the former residents of Netzarim and Atzmona, I find this mamlachti stuff a little hard to swallow. (Warning: link contains photographs of politicians)

Holiness In The Holyland

Bereishit 28:16:
And Jacob awakened from his sleep, and he said, "Indeed, the Lord is in this place, and I did not know [it]."
Rashi adds:
and I did not know [it] For had I known, I would not have slept in such a holy place.
Being in a holy place requires that one behave accordingly. I take this as a personal reminder: I've been living here for the past 20 years or so. I must always remember that the land of Israel requires an extra measure of holiness for those who live here.

I work in the holy city of Tel Aviv. That's right Tel Aviv is part of the land of Israel, and it is therefore holy! Unfortunately the holiness of the land is not always revealed in the behavior of its inhabitants. I won't elaborate.

This situation is temporary however. The pursuit of materialism for its own sake is an empty endeavor. The crazed rush after a luxury apartment or a fancy car is the pursuit of the foolish and the ignorant. It is the occupation of those who have not taken the time to understand their own souls, of those who do not realize that these things are not going to bring happiness. Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto in his classic Path of the Just explains the phenomenon:
Furthermore, if man had been created solely for the sake of this world, he would have had no need of being inspired with a soul so precious and exalted as to be greater than the angels themselves, especially so in that it derives no satisfaction whatsoever from all of the pleasures of this world. This is what our Sages of blessed memory teach us in Midrash (Koheleth Rabbah), "'And also the soul will not be filled' (Eccelesiastes 6:7) What is this analogous to? To the case of a city dweller who married a princess. If he brought her all that the world possessed, it would mean nothing to her, by virtue of her being a king's daughter. So is it with the soul. If it were to be brought all the delights of the world, they would be as nothing to it, in view of its pertaining to the higher elements." And so do our Sages of blessed memory say (Avoth 4:29), "Against your will were you created, and against your will were you born." For the soul has no love at all for this world. To the contrary, it despises it. The Creator, Blessed be His Name, certainly would never have created something for an end which ran contrary to its nature and which it despised.
I said the situation is temporary. The thirst for Torah is growing in Tel Aviv. Once abandoned synagogues are once again filling up. Jacob's children are waking up and realizing that "Indeed, the Lord is in this place..."

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Blogger's Block

I am still suffering from a severe case of Blogger's Block. As John Lennon said,"I've got nothing to say, but it's okay."

Here's a picture of Tel Aviv from the La Guardia St. Bridge looking northward:

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I Don't Want...

to write about the "ceasefire", Benny Sela, or the strike. I am still suffering from a serious case of blogger's block.

Just for the sake of posting something, here's a picture I took of a Tel Aviv skyscraper:

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Nothing To Say

My wells of inspiration are just dry today. If you want something interesting to read click here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ceasefire breached: 2 Qassams fired from Gaza

*yawn*

Bradley Burston's Palestinian Problem

One of the characteristics of the Israeli leftists that I have had the priviledge(?) of arguing with, is an adamant refusal to deal with reality. Facts are meaningless, and evidence is something to be ignored. They have an idea, a goal, an agenda. They will stick with their premises even they have been proven wrong over and over again.

Ze'ev Orenstein at Israel Perspectives recently noted that Ha'aretz columnist Bradley Burston has a problem with people that speak the truth. According to the "talkback" guidelines for his weekly column, "A Special Place in Hell", the use of the phrase: "There are no Palestinians" or derivatives thereof is prohibited. I might have been surprised by such closed mindedness, however Burston's inability to deal with this annoying fact, up to the point that he promises to unapologetically censor "talkbacks" that mention it, is entirely consistent with the leftist Israeli mindset.

Baruch Gordon, the Director of English Media at Arutz Sheva, apparently reads Israel Perspectives (not surprising since Arutz 7 publishes Ze'ev's articles from time to time), and he published an op-ed that echoes much of what Ze'ev wrote. He closes with the following:
Your rule of deleting derivatives of the statement 'There are no Palestinians' does not coexist with your "guiding principle of openness of dialogue." One of them must go.

I urge you to retain your openness, and allow the political right to freely express historical truths which support its agenda.

I await your reply.
I hope that Baruch isn't holding his breath.

Haveil Havalim #95 at Smooth Stone

Check it out!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Lock Your Doors! Benny Sela Is On The Loose!

As if Kassam rockets and suicide terrorists were not enough to worry about:
(IsraelNN.com) Israel Police’s highest priority has shifted from preventing terror attacks to apprehending Benny Sela, the convicted serial rapist who escaped on Friday.

Police are investigating the events that permitted Sela to flee, with Public Security Minister Avi Dichter calling the escape a “disgraceful failure.”

Sela, who was apprehended on December 13th, admitted to at least 13 rapes and sexual attacks, and was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Police have published Sela’s photo in all major newspapers, announcing that all policemen in the country have his photo. The search concentrates in the Greater Tel Aviv area, with special attention placed on border crossings, land, air and sea. Over 2,000 policemen and volunteers are taking part in the manhunt.

Sela escaped en route to a Tel Aviv area court.

What He Said

A bullseye by Joe Settler.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hasn't The Olmert Government Failed Miserably?

Patrick from Clarity & Resolve:
I generally steer clear of Israeli politics because I'm not there. But when I see three young heroes languishing in the clutches of Islamic monsters for more than half a year, a massive debacle in Lebanon (admittedly, largely as a result of vociferous worldwide one-sidedness), and then when I see what's going on in Sderot... I can't help but think: Hasn't the Olmert government failed miserably?
According to a recent poll, many Israelis agree with Patrick:
According to a poll conducted by the Yedioth Ahronoth daily and the Dahaf Institute headed by Mina Tzemach, if the elections were to be held today, the Likud party would receive 20 Knesset seats, compared to 12 it holds today.

Kadima, led by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert , crashes to 15 Knesset seats, nearly half of the seats it has today.

The Labor Party, led by Defense Minister Amir Peretz , gets a similar amount of seats, compared to the 19 it holds today.

Both Peretz and Olmert are paying for the failures revealed during the Lebanon war. More and more people have been recently calling to replace Peretz as defense minister.
Ehud Olmert is soon to learn that media spins are not a substitute for leadership and effective government.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Baruch Dayan Haemet

One of the great halakhic authorities of the generation, Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg - author of Tzitz Eliezer - passed away in Jerusalem Tuesday morning at the age of 89.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ibn Tibbon And The Genius Of Vilnius

Ibn Tibbon translated the book "Duties of the Heart" from Arabic into Hebrew. In the introduction to his translation he sets down three requirements for one who wishes to embark on such an effort:

1) He must know the language that the original work is written in

2) He must know the language that he is translating the work into

3) He must understand the matter that the work deals with


Conditions 1) and 2) are fairly obvious. The third condition is less so. It is often lacking by those that translate Hebrew into English when the subject matter deals with religious issues.

Why am I writing this? I just saw the English version of a Hebrew article that I mentioned yesterday. As I read it one paragraph made me smile:
The first speaker at the conference, Head of the Hebron Yeshiva Rabbi David Cohen, quoted the Genius of Vilnius, Rabbi Eliyahu, in saying “The evil urge, it’s spice for people is the Torah, and for modest women.


This is the original Hebrew:
ראשון הדוברים, ראש ישיבת חברון הרב דוד כהן, ציטט את הגאון מווילנא ואמר כי "היצר הרע, התבלין שלו לאנשים הוא עסק התורה, ולנשים הצניעות



The "Genius of Vilnius" is of course better known as the Gaon of Vilna or the Vilna Gaon. I wonder if the translator would translate "Rabbi Sa'adyah Gaon" as "Rabbi Sa'adyah Genius".

The rest of the translation is nothing sort of a disaster. It should be the following: "For men, the antidote for the evil urge is learning Torah, and (the antidote) for women is modesty."

I have a feeling that the ynetnews translation was done by a computer program or a drug addict.

When A Picture Just Doesn't Do Justice

The Belz World Headquarters in Jerusalem at night:

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Cosmic X In Hareidi Land

A meeting to strengthen tznius (Tzniut, modesty) was held last night in Jerusalem's Tamir hotel. The fathers of girls learning in the Beis Yaakov Seminary High Schools were asked to attend the meeting. Cosmic X was there.

Several rabbis spoke, stressing the importance of tznius as the foundation of a true Torah home. They urged the public to resist the fashion trends of "the street" and to preserve the character of the Jewish home.

Some of the greatest rabbis of our generation, including Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman attended the meeting.

An exclusive Cosmic X photo:



BTW, ynet has a good article about the meeting (in Hebrew). Most of the talkbacks unfortunately reflect the ignorance of most Israelis with regards to Jewish concepts.

Photo Feature: Fear and Rage in Betrayed Sderot

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

These Are Your Intellectuals, O Israel!

Check out this article by Dr. Muli Peleg, a political communication lecturer at the Netanya College. The guy goes overboard in the first paragraph:
The real question associated with the "battle for Jerusalem" between the ultra-Orthodox community and the homo-lesbian community was not the pride parade or its prevention, but rather, the racist and fascist attitude objectors displayed towards those who initiated the parade.
Did you catch that? Those that opposed the "Gay Pride" parade displayed a racist attitude! How long will people use words that they don't understand? What does racism have to do with opposition to the parade? Does this guy think that the homosexuals are a race? I've already blogged that people have a habit of calling their opponents racists without understanding the meaning of the word.

The rest of the article isn't any better. Particularly offensive was this sad piece of demagoguery:
What would the Orthodox do had Jewish law marked the left-handed, elderly, and all those above six feet or blue-eyed as unworthy and deserving of stoning?
I've seen this kind of argument raised by those who oppose Brit Milah (cicumcision). They ask, "If God told you to cut off your entire sexual organ would you do it?" Of course the answer is that the "law of the Lord is perfect", and the Torah does not request silly, harmful, and/or unnecessary acts.

A quick search in Google teaches us a little bit more about Dr. Muli Peleg:
Samuel Peleg, or Muli Peleg as he is known in Israel, is a long time peace activist. After his military service as a tank commander in the Israeli Army, he became the spokesperson for the Peace Now movement and then became the close advisor and confident of Yossi Beilin, the former Minister of Justice and the initiator of the Oslo Agreements (1993) and the Geneva Accord (2004). Professor Peleg has been a top advisor on leadership and peace processes for the Peres Center for Peace and the New Israel Fund. He has also counseled the Prime Minister’s office, the Foreign Office and the National Security Council.
These are your intellectuals, O Israel!

Tel Aviv's Hassidic Restaurant

It is difficult to find a non-kosher restaurant in Jerusalem's Jewish neighborhoods. In Tel Aviv, the situation is different. There it is often difficult to find a kosher restaurant. During my current working-hours-exile in Tel Aviv I met a Belz Hassid near their Cheder on Ahad Ha'am Street, and I asked him if he knew of a strictly kosher restaurant in the area. He told me that at the end of Mazeh Street near the intersection with Allenby Street there is a restaurant called "Yeshurun" owned by a Chabbadnik, and that he himself eats there. I stored that information in my brain for later retrieval.

A few days later I went to the restaurant. There are certain places in Israel that entering them is like entering a time warp. "Yeshurun" is one of them. The cuisine is stictly Eastern European. You will find all the classic "Jewish" food that your grandmother (if she was Ashkenazic) cooked: Gefilte Fish, Kasha, Cholent, Knishes, Latkes, etc. The owner of the restaurant, Zusha, can be heard chatting with his workers not only in Hebrew but also in Russian and Yiddish. This is probably as close to being in a shtetl as you can get in downtown Tel Aviv.



Zusha is a Lubavitcher Hassid, and he runs his business like one. Children that learn in a nearby school stop by after school hours to receive a free treat from Zusha. Sometimes it's a candy, sometimes it's a soft drink. The day I was there, Zusha was handing out doughnuts.

Did I say the treat was free? Well, it's almost free. If you want a treat from Zusha you have to say the verse, "Here O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one." And of course the proper blessing must be recited over the treat in question. (This is reminiscent of the Midrash where the patriarch Abraham teaches his guests to thank God for the food that he served them.) The kids don't seem to mind paying the price.



By the way, the food is pretty good.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Teacher, Why Are Our Desks Made Out Of Concrete?

That's the question that students in Ashkelon will soon be asking their teachers:
The Home Front Command is planning to provide concrete desks for students in Ashkelon as a solution to the threat of Kassam rocket attacks. The desks for the children will give them instant shelter in the event of a Kassam strike on a school, the Home Front Command said.

The rockets have reached the southern port city at an increasing rate, raising fears of an explosion at one of the city's chemical, electric or oil and gas facilities.
If I were a teacher, I would answer them: It is because of the foolishness of all of the politicians, professors, journalists and army officers that supported the disengagement plan.

Question Of The Day

I saw this in Tel Aviv the other day. The graffiti reads, "Who, what, how and how much(many)?" A very interesting philosophical question. I would like to know the answer myself.

P.S. If you are the guy that wrote the graffiti, I recommend that you open up a blogger account, instead of dirtying the walls of Tel Aviv. You have a great future as a jblogger.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cosmic X In Kahane Land

Last Thursday I went to the annual memorial gathering in honor of Rabbi Meir Kahane z"l. Rabbi Kahane wrote numerous books and articles. Some of his literary output was on sale at the entrance to the hall:


Inside the hall was full of family, students and admirers:



A film was shown showing how Rabbi Kahane's murder was perpetrated by the same Al Qaeda terror cell that was later to attack the World Trade Center.

Several people spoke. Noam Federman attributed the violent resistance to this year's gay pride parade to the self-sacrifice of Yishai Schlissel, who is now serving a twelve year sentence for stabbing three people in last year's march.

Yossi Rabin encouraged the younger people to get to know Rabbi Kahane via his books.

Shmuel Cytryn declared that he is a Kachnik, that he was born a Kachnik and that he will die a Kachnik.

I admire these guys, but I do not agree with them on every issue. This being so, if Meir Kahane were alive today I rather vote for him than vote for any party currently in the Knesset. He proved to right about a lot of issues. Unfortunately, the Knesset turned our democracy into a farce by making the Kach Party illegal. They made a joke out of themselves by redefining racism. We are all suffering as a result.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Rabbi Meir Kahane Was Not A Racist

In honor of the memorial for Rabbi Meir Kahane, that will take place tonight (at 6:00 PM at "Heichal David", 14 Oholiav Street in Jerusalem), I would like to utter this simple truth: Rabbi Meir Kahane was not a racist. Anyone who has a working knowledge of the English language and is familiar with Rabbi Kahane's ideology know this is true. Here is the definition of racism:
Any action, practice, or belief that reflects the racial worldview—the ideology that humans are divided into separate and exclusive biological entities called “races,” that there is a causal link between inherited physical traits and traits of personality, intellect, morality, and other cultural behavioral features, and that some “races” are innately superior to others.
Rabbi Kahane's opposition to Arabs in Israel was not due to any genetic/biological differences that may exist between Arabs and Jews. I remember at least one case of an Arab that converted to Judaism who joined Rabbi Kahane's Kach party. Rabbi Kahane's desire to rid the land of Israel of its Arab dwellers was based on his understanding of Arab national/religious aspirations here, and that they will never live with us in peace and harmony.

Kahanes opponents purposely applied the racist label to him because they lacked the intellectual ability to debate him on the issues that he raised. It is also interesting to note the following from britannica.com:
By the 19th century racism had matured and the idea spread around the world. Racism differs from ethnocentrism in that it is linked to physical and therefore immutable differences among people. Ethnic identity is acquired, and ethnic features are learned forms of behavior. Race, on the other hand, is a form of identity that is perceived as innate and unalterable. In the last half of the 20th century several conflicts around the world were interpreted in racial terms even though their origins were in the ethnic hostilities that have long characterized many human societies (e.g., Arabs and Jews, English and Irish).
Rabbi Kahane was a great Jew, towering above the shallow Jewish "leaders" who were unwilling to honestly discuss and face the issues at hand. May his memory be a blessing.

Update: An anonymous commenter to this blog claims that Rabbi Kahane thought and wrote that Arabs are biologically/genetically inferior to Jews. I challenge anybody to bring a source to this outrageous claim!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

No More Gay Pride March Posts

That's it, I've had enough. I think that I have made my opinion clear, and I think that those who disagree with me have also expressed themselves clearly. That's all folks. Life goes on. Let's hope that nobody gets hurt. It's time to put the fire out. Step 1:



Step 2:




Step 3:

Monday, November 06, 2006

Mazuz Approves Rape Of Jerusalem

INN:
Att. Gen. Menachem Mazuz ordered Jerusalem Police Commander Ilan Franco on Sunday to issue a permit to allow the homosexhibitionist parade to march through the streets of the holy city of Jerusalem.
We the people have to finance the march of the degenerates. This, in spite of the fact that 90% of Jerusalemites oppose the parade:
Ninety percent of Jerusalem residents, including secular and religious people, are against holding the planned parade by homosexuals in the capital this Friday, according to Voice of Israel government radio.
I'm pretty disgusted.

A Question For Supporters Of The Gay Pride Parade In Jerusalem

Why is having your reproduction system aroused by someone of the same sex something to be proud of?

Kahane Was Right

Another sign of the times:



The memorial gathering will be on Thursday at 6:00 PM at "Heichal David", 14 Oholiav Street in Jerusalem. I hope to be there.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Sign Of The Times

Seen in Jerusalem last Friday:



And Saturday night:
Hareidi religious Jews took to the streets once again Saturday night in massive demonstrations spreading to numerous neighborhoods in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the country.

Demonstrators had been advised by the Hareidi Rabbinical Court not to carry out demonstrations Saturday night, but rather to wait until Franco made his decision on whether to authorize the parade. The announcement by Rabbi Yitzhak Tuvia Weiss was broadcast by cars traveling through the religious neighborhoods.

Nonetheless, the streets were packed with protestors shortly after the end of Shabbat in defiance of the recommendation. Streets were blocked in the following Jerusalem neighborhoods: Meah Shearim, Geula, Givat Mordechai, Kiryat Moshe and Bayit V’gan. Some of the demonstrations escalated beyond voicing protest.
Today is the day that the police chief can save Jerusalem's honor by preserving the city's holy character:
Jerusalem Police Chief Ilan Franco will make the pivotal decision Sunday whether to permit the homosexhibitionist parade to march this Friday through the streets of the holy capital city.
We'll see what happens.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Synagogue Vandalized In Tel Aviv

Ynetnews:
Tel Aviv police pursue unidentified persons who smashed windows of Geulat Yisrael synagogue in Tel Aviv. Left behind graffiti warning: 'If we don't march in J'lem – you won't walk in Tel Aviv'.
Meanwhile, things are heating up in Jerusalem:




I fear that last year's violence will look like a girl scout meeting compared to what is going to happen this year.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Police Considering Calling Off Homosexual March

From INN:
Jerusalem Affairs Minister Edri has asked the police to consider banning the Homosexual Parade in Jerusalem, scheduled for nine days from now. The
police are leaning towards calling it off.

The police announced last night (Tuesday) that they were planning to deploy in top-level strength for the event - a declaration perceived by some to be a salvo in the public-opinion war over whether or not to allow the march. One internal police source said the announcement was publicized merely to stir up anti-march sentiment; official police sources denied this.
INN has a few other interesting articles dealing with the subject. When Tolerance Invades by Ellen W. Horowitz exposes the march for what it is:
The force-fed tolerance festival (the Gay Pride parade) planned for November 10th is nothing more than a ruthless assault on traditional Jewish values and the sanctity of Jerusalem...This isn't about pluralism, freedom of expression, the principle of equality and freedom of assembly. This is about the deliberate and planned trampling of the religious and moral sensitivities of the people of Jerusalem, and of those who hold that physical intimacy and sexual expression should be sacred, holy and private. And, like the homosexual approach to sex, those who predict violence while at the same time promoting the event are being both brutal and sadomasochistic.
How I Almost Became a Lesbian by Kaelly Langston is also worth reading.

Another Cartoon From The Yisraeli

Click on image for an enlargement:

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Homosexual Rape In Jerusalem

No thank you, we don't want it. The religious Jews don't want it, the secular Jews don't want it, the Moslems don't want it and the Christians don't want it. The mayor doesn't want neither does the city counsel. But they are forcing it upon us. The "gay pride parade" is scheduled to take place November 10th, and the holy city will once again suffer a gang rape by these unfortunate and pathetic creatures.

Now that I work in "gay friendly" Tel Aviv, I get to see what the homosexuals would like to do to Jerusalem:



This building is smack in the middle of Tel Aviv, near the Shalom Tower. The first floor features a bar called "Feel". You can see that the facade is made up of a huge picture of men in various stages of dress (or undress). On the second floor resides the "Aram Naharayim" synagogue. Opening a bar under a synagogue is a pretty sick thing to do. Opening a homosexual bar is an outrage.

Homosexuals, please don't force yourselves upon us. We are not willing to bend over.

Memorial Service For Rabbi Menachem Liebman zt"l





A year has gone by since Rav Liebman passed away. A memorial sevice will be held at the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva on Wednesday at 8:15 PM. I hope to be there.

Here's an article (in Hebrew ) about Rabbi Liebman zt"l.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Great Weather Today In Israel: Rain




We received a good dose of rain this morning, thank God. The rainy season has officially begun. Today is the 7th of Marcheshvan, the day when the Jews in the land of Israel start praying for rain (Ashkenazim - ותן טל ומטר, Sephardim - ברך עלינו). During the rainy season, good weather is rainy weather. I was at the sea of Galilee last week and it more than three meters under its optimal level. We really need rain. So get your umbrellas out, put away your sandals, and don't forget to pray.







(image from http://www.israelweather.co.il/week.asp)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Kangaroo Court Is Now In Session

Oy vey.

Did Rav Ovadia Really Say This?

IsraelNN.com:
Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is quoted in the weekly hareidi-Orthodox Mishpacha magazine expressing his opposition to a member of the hareidi community serving as president.

The statement in directed at the candidacy of Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, a popular presidential candidate.

Rabbi Yosef, the Shas Party spiritual leader, stated that the presidency is no place for a hareidi Jew, explaining that while “we try to influence the Jewish character of the state,” there is no place at the secular ceremonies and the like.

The statement will make it difficult for any of the hareidi parties to support Rabbi Lau’s bid, including UTJ and Shas.
I feel that something is missing here. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef himself, in his role as Chief Rabbi, also had to take part in "secular ceremonies and the like." I would like to know exactly what Rav Ovadia objects to. In the meantime I'm left with a question mark.

Update: The Sunken Synagogue also saw this one.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Kidnapped AP Photographer Granted Access to Witness Terror Preparations in Past

If you sleep with dogs you may wake up with fleas:
(IsraelNN.com) AP photographer Emilio Morenatti, who was reported kidnapped Tuesday in Gaza, was trusted by PA terrorists who in the past offered him an inside view of Al-Aksa Brigades terrorists preparing for attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers.

Morenatti photographed one Al-Aksa terrorist laying a bomb and another carrying an explosive belt to be used in a suicide bombing. He also seems to have accompanied terrorists on an attack.
Be sure to read the entire article, which links to blogs AbbaGav and LGF.

More On The Conjugal Visit

The controversy continues:
Dozens of reporters representing Israeli and international media outlets waited Tuesday morning for Larissa Trimbobler, who arrived for her first conjugal visit with her husband Yigal Amir, who murdered former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin 11 years ago.

The Israel Prison Service provided the couple with a special room which will be at their disposal from 8:30 a.m. till the afternoon hours.

Trimbobler arrived dressed in black with a light blue hat and a scarf, and was carrying a plastic bag. She was smiling, but refused to talk to the reporters waiting for her and answer their question.
Nehemia Shtrasler couldn't help but write some nonsense about the affair. I don't have time to fisk everything that that he wrote, but the following paragraph is totally inane:
And the murderer did not just murder Rabin. He severely harmed democracy, altered the significance of the voter's declaration, and stilled a historical process. It is fair to assume that if Rabin were alive, the Oslo process would have continued, the agreement with the Palestinians would have taken shape, Hamas would not be governing the territories, and our political and social circumstances would be immeasurably better.
The truth is that the Oslo process was long dead when Rabin was murdered. Busses were blowing up all over the country and Rabin trailed Netanyahu in the polls by about 20%. Indeed, the rally that Rabin was murdered in its aftermath was a desparate attempt to increase support for policies that were already failing. But the Israeli left has never let the facts confuse them.

Jblogosphere reacts to Lieberman joining the coalition

Tel Chai Nation: Avigdor Lieberman sells out

Am Echad: Heil Lieberman!

Shiloh Musings: Avigdor Lieberman reminds me of Clinton

Cosmic X: * yawn *

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Conjugal Visits For Yigal Amir

As the anniversary of Yitzchak Rabin's murder approaches, I expected the usual media preoccupation with Yigal Amir, but this is really funny:
Yigal Amir’ request for a conjugal visit from his wife Larissa Trimbobler has been authorized, and the two will be able to meet as early as next week.

The Israel Prisons Authority said Friday that the Shin Bet recently lifted the security restrictions imposed on former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s killer, citing that he no longer poses a public threat and will therefore be allowed to meet with his wife for fertility reasons.

The permit granted by the Shin Bet for the conjugal visit is due to expire in six month’s time, but the Prisons Authority said Amir and Trimbobler may meet in the coming week.

The Prisons Authority said a surveillance camera follows Amir’s every move 24 hours a day, but it has not yet been decided whether he will be watched during the conjugal visit.
Wow, will this be broadcast with commentary by Moshe Negbi? Perhaps Amir should sell media rights to the highest bidder.

If this weren't bad enough we have the reaction of "Defense Minister" Peretz:
Minister of Defense Amir Peretz expressed his dissatisfaction with Shin Bet’s decision to permit Amir a conjugal visit.

“It is unbelievable that restrictions have been eased for the murderer of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin,” he said.
The guy is so preoccupied with Israel's security! MK Eitan is much more logical:
However, Knesset Member Michael Eitan (Likud) said, “I find it hard to believe that Israel’s security will be jeopardized if the murderer Yigal Amir is allowed a conjugal visit from his wife.

“If Amir is forbidden from meeting his wife (for fertility reasons), it should be done according to a court ruling and not in accordance with the incomprehensible considerations of the Shin Bet head,” he said.
Of course, such a major event could not be ignored by "Peace Now":
(IsraelNN.com) Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer is calling on Public Security Minister Avi Dichter to invalidate an Israel Prison Authority decision to permit Yigal Amir a conjugal visit with his wife, Dr. Larissa Trimbobler.

Oppenheimer challenges the legitimacy of Amir’s marriage to Trimbobler, adding he also tried have his sperm smuggled out of prison on one occasion. As such, due to his unacceptable behavior, the conjugal visit should not be permitted, Oppenheimer maintains.

Amir is serving a life sentence after being convicted of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Yariv Oppenheimer, get a life!

Update: Another "reason" to stop Amir from having children:
(IsraelNN.com) MK (Retiree Party) Moshe Sharoni stated Yigal Amir, the convicted assassin of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, cannot be permitted to bring children into the world.

Sharoni stated any children born to Amir “will be miserable and bear the sign of Caine on their foreheads their entire life.”
Aren't you touched by this guy's concern for Amir's future offspring?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

On The Way To The Lake Of Galilee...

1) I saw that they named the Jordan Valley Highway after Rechavam Ze'evi. Cool.

2) While driving through the Jordan Valley,on the Western side of the Jordan River, I received the following SMS:
Welcome to jordan (sic) and thank you for using UMNIAH GSM network. We wish you a pleasant stay in Jordan. For customer care inquiries please dial 1333.
Not cool.

The Israeli Judicial System May Stink...

but I'm glad that I don't live in France.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

אמא לא הכירה, את יונתן שפירא

If the radio plays that song one more time I will smash it! :)

5th Anniversary Of Ze'evi's Murder Coming Up

From INN:
Respected Cabinet Minister and IDF General Rehavam Ze'evi was murdered five years ago in a Jerusalem hotel by three Palestinian terrorists - and the public is invited to take part in the memorial.

Ze'evi was shot to death close to 7 AM as he was going to his room to tape an interview with Arutz-7 on the morning of the 30th day of Tishrei, 5762. The date falls out this year on Oct. 22, this coming Sunday.
I once had the priviledge of meeting Rehavam Ze'evi. We were both at a protest in front of the Orient House in Jerusalem. If my memory does not fail me, the reason for the protest was the fact that then Prime Minister Shimon Peres would not let soldiers that were posted near the Orient House fly the Israeli Flag (He did not want to hurt Arab feelings). So MK Ze'evi and other outraged Israelis came to do what Israel's Prime Minister forbade: to wave the Israeli flag in the heart of Jerusalem.

After the protest we talked. MK Ze'evi, who had reached the rank of General in the IDF, remarked that Shimon Peres never served in the army. I asked him if he was sure, since I thought that I had once seen a picture of Peres, dressed in an army uniform, chatting with David Ben Gurion. Ze'evi replied that the picture must have been taken on Purim (a day when many Jews wear costumes).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Don't Rush Electoral Reform

Finally some public debate on the issue. I have to say that I agree with most of what is written here, particularly the following:
Some of what most ails our system, incidentally, stems not from its technical framework but from the content we, the voters, pour into it - following fads, being swayed by polls and paying too little attention to issues. (Jpost could add to the list, "and buying every spin of the Israeli MSM .) Avoiding the difficult and unpleasant, while seeking magic solutions to deep-seated existential problems, will inevitably lead to bad government.
How do you spell "Kadima"?

More On Last Night's Wedding

It used to be that religious weddings in Israel were more or less the same. The ceremony had several steps, and as a guest at the wedding one more or less knew what was going to happen.

Nowadays every wedding is different, special production. Sure there is a bedecken, blessings under the chuppah, and a meal. But everything before, in between and after is specially crafted according to the bride, groom and their families. For instance, last nights wedding included a lady with a guitar singing before the bedecken, a film about the groom during the meal, and other unique features.

It was nice, but I am a fan of the old, simple style. The simplicity and faithfulness to tradition binds the ceremony to the rest of the nation, whereas all of these special features put the emphasis on the individual. I can't help but feel that there is also a matter of "keeping up with the Jones (or Cohens)" here. That is how it seems to me.

Gush Katif Expellees Fighting In The Gaza Strip

Last night I was at a wedding and I met a relative who was expelled from Gush Katif. He is fortunate in that unlike most of the victims of the expulsion, he is employed. As I inquired about different members of his family he mentioned that his oldest son is in the army, and had been involved in recent fighting inside the Gaza Strip.

And they called the expulsion plan "disengagement".

While Olmert sends the sons of the expellees to fight in Gaza and Lebanon, what are his children doing? The answer please:
The Olmerts' daughter Danna is a university lecturer of literature and a self-professed lesbian who lives openly with her partner in Tel Aviv. She is a member of Machsom Watch, a group of Israeli women who monitor checkpoints for human rights abuses and often confront Israeli soldiers on behalf of Palestinians. Her older sister, Michal, holds a master's degree in psychology and runs creative thinking workshops. Married, she lives in Tel Aviv and is known to share her siblings' leftist political leanings, but is not as outspoken.

The Olmerts' son Shaul completed his military service, signed a petition of Yesh G'vul, a group of Israeli Defense Force soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories, and now lives in New York.

Their younger son, Ariel, dodged military service altogether and is studying French literature at the Sorbonne in Paris. Both sons have retained their Israeli citizenship and are eligible to vote.
Should I laugh or cry?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Lieberman Pushes Presidential System in Israel

Is the Israeli political system getting ready for an overhaul? Here are the details of legislation that is being proposed by Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party:
The legislation was proposed by Lieberman and several of his party colleagues. Its purpose, as explained in the bill itself, is "to enact a presidential system with total separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches... The ministers will not be Knesset Members, and the Knesset will thus be able to dedicate its work to legislation and parliamentary review over the government... The Knesset will be able to fire the Prime Minister by a 2/3 Knesset majority (80 MKs), but will not be able to dissolve a sitting government - thus guaranteeing governmental stability for four years."

The proposed legislation also states, however, that the Prime Minister will be able to call new Knesset elections if he sees that he does not enjoy the support of a Knesset majority.

In addition, the legislation would raise the minimum vote threshold for parties to enter the Knesset. Only parties that receive at least 10% of the popular vote will be able to be represented in the Knesset, in order to prevent the current situation in which "small parties have power above and beyond their electoral representation." In the current Knesset, only Kadima, Labor, the Likud, Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu surpassed this minimum or came close. The three Arab parties - even taken together as one bloc - as well as the Pensioners, Meretz, National Union-National Religious Party, and United Torah Judaism (Agudat Yisrael-Degel HaTorah) did not receive this minimum.

Some MKs of Yisrael Beiteinu have already indicated that 10% might be a bit high, and that they would be willing to agree to a lower minimum rate.
Unfortunately, I have not heard or seen any real discussion of the issue, i.e. the pros and cons of the Lieberman proposal. On my way to work this morning I saw billboards from the "Israeli Democracy Institute" that were against the proposal. I thought perhaps I might find an expalnation of why they are against it on their web site. So far I haven't found anything.

The present government is lousy, but I am not so sure that changing the system will make things any better. For it is not only the government that is corrupt...and anyone who has been reading this blog for the last year and a half knows what I mean!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Tovya Is Alive And Well And Living In...

Actually I don't know where he lives, but he is alive and well! Not too long ago I wondered what happened to him, and I finally received an answer:
Cosmic,

I am alive (I think ;-) and sorry for not getting the emails, I haven't checked the old email in so long...

I actually got married, I am expecting a baby boy in February '07, and started a waste management corporation (that is actually doing quite well, hence the reason for the lack of blogging time these days).

I will try to stop by the blogs as often as possible, but I have been so darn busy. Thank you for noticing I was gone though, I am quite happy to know that you cared that I was gone.

Be well my friend, and I will comment as often as possible.
Yes, real life does take precedence over blogging. I can only wish Tovya and his wife all the best.

Havel Havelim! The Succot Edition!

Succot may be over but be sure to check out Havel Havelim! The Succot Edition! at Shiloh Musings. Way to go, Batya!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Last Post Before Sukkot?

I hope to be offline for the entire holiday, spending my time in the Sukkah with my family, and perhaps doing a little bit of travelling around the country. For all of you who celebrate the holiday, may it be happy and meaningful. Chag Sameach!

More On Kapparot

Last week I fisked an inaccurate, agenda-driven article on ynetnews about the custom of kapparot. Today I saw an excellent article on the subject, presenting the pros and cons in a responsible and accurate fashion, on the Arutz 7 web site. Cosmic X readers: take a look at both articles and you will see why Arutz 7 is the best source of Israeli news. If anyone from ynetnews is reading this post, please take note!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What Is A Secular Jew?

Just saw this at The Israeli Tikkun Blog ( by way of Haveil Havalim #88):
Here in Israel that is not true – here, if you are Jewish you are orthodox or at least traditional, which means accepting the orthodox way, while not fully practicing it, or else you are secular which means that you an orthodox Jew playing hooky- for the past century or so.
I like that. Now it's time to grow up and stop playing hookey.

The Preparations For "Disengagement" Hurt IDF Preparations For War

No, I'm not the one who said that. IDF General Yiftach Ron-Tal claimed this in an interview with the K'far Chad magazine, as reported on the NRG web site. Read the article (in Hebrew) here. He also said a few other important things that will hopefully be translated into English. Arutz 7, where are you?

Update: Here are some links in English:

Officer's criticism of army stirs row


Ron-Tal calls on Halutz to resign

IDF general urges army chief to quit his post over 'failure' of war

Retiring IDF Officer Calls On Halutz To Quit

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Attacking The Custom Of Kapparot

Here's another silly article from ynetnews. Personally I use money for this custom, but to attack those that use chickens is really pretty silly.

The first kapparot basher is, you guessed it, a Reform "Rabbi":
Rabbi Gilad Kariv, from the Reform Movement, claims that this custom bespeaks a lack of compassion and mercy, attributes that generally characterize the Jewish people.

“Slaughtering chickens is an unfit custom that goes against Jewish feelings regarding animals”, he explains. “Judaism has always emphasized that the concepts of atonement, soul searching and repentance are dependent on an inner spiritual endeavor that man undertakes to correct his ways. The concept of Kapparot shifts the emphasis to external ritualistic expressions”.

Kariv contends that the ritual slaughter of the chickens, and the hardships they encounter on the way, cause unjustified suffering. “Anyone who walks through the markets can see that the manner in which the chickens are held before the Kapparot is insufferable. There is no veterinary supervision and no concern for the feelings of these poor creatures.”
I suggest that Kariv open the book of Leviticus before he opens his mouth. But then again, He and his colleagues are smarter than God, and they have already taken out any reference to the Temple and animal sacrifices out of their prayer books.

Next in line to bash the custom is Chedva Vanderbrook, a board member of the Jerusalem Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals:
“It does not make sense that we are asking to purify ourselves on Yom Kippur through the slaughter of a helpless animal,” says Chedva Vanderbrook, a board member of the Jerusalem Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“Waving a slaughtered chicken around the head is a pagan custom that should be abolished. The slaughter poisons and hardens man’s heart. It is absurd that people are asking for life by taking the life of another creature, especially when Kapparot can be done with money”.

Vanderbrook, a social worker by profession, claims that in light of the welfare crisis in this country it is better to think of more efficient ways to practice Kapparot: “Needy people, who once received the slaughtered chicken, would today prefer a cooked and prepared chicken, and would always prefer money. In many cases the chickens are not given to poor people, but are cruelly tossed to the side."

As a child, Vanderbrook experienced Kapparot and to this day, she claims that she will never forget the sights and sounds.

“We would buy chickens a few days before Yom Kippur and they would wander through our garden,” she retells, “Before Yom Kippur the butcher would arrive and I would go to my room and hide under the covers in order to not hear the cries of the chickens. It was a difficult and cruel experience. Children who are exposed to this custom either become cruel adults or are traumatized.
Yeah, right. The ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem are just full of cruel or traumatized people. By the way, are these the same animal rights activists that were so concerned about cats and dogs when people were cruelly thrown out of their homes?

The article does end on a good note with a quote from Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu:
Despite this many people will still choose to continue slaughtering the chickens. One can hope that they will try to prevent any abuse on the way to the slaughter. The chief Rabbi of Tzfat, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, explains that Jewish ritual slaughter is the least painful way to kill chicken or cattle.

According to him, kosher Jewish slaughter is “ done in a way that the chicken feels no pain”. When it comes to the custom of Kapparot, Rabbi Eliyahu says that one must be very careful in how one handles the animals, and “that one should take extreme care not to harm them”.

“The Torah does not forbid the use of animals for work or for food, but the Torah does teach us to be considerate of them and forbids cruelty towards animals”, he stresses. “This is a very important commandment; Judaism preceded the world by 3000 years in regard to its concern for animals.”
For those who would like to learn more about the custom here are a couple of links.

Rabbi Meir Kahane And Israel's Leadership Crisis

Yesterday I had a discussion with a non-religious, left-leaning friend about poliitics and we both bemoaned the lack of a worthy leader to lead the State of Israel at the present time. Then I came upon a long interview with Rabbi Meir Kahane, and I thought how much we lost when this man was murdered. The entire interview is amazing, and certainly worth reading. However, this particular snippet really caught my eye:
Q: Do you expect to come to power through elections alone?

A: Yes... But if you ask me what is going to happen in this country in the near future, I’d answer that things aren’t that simple. The economic problems are so very serious; the government is a fraud, just like every other government. Democracy breeds governments that are fraudulent, because a government which has to rely on its voters for its existence cannot tell the truth. The bitter truth. If they say: ‘We have to cut down on this… we must reduce that... people won t vote for them. Therefore the government has to lie. That’s what democracy is all about! Democracy is like a compost, it nurtures fraud and lies. And it must lead to a dictatorship eventually. Because since a democratic government doesn’t have the courage to take the steps that are needed, problems are bound to get worse, and in the end the people will accept dictatorship. This train of events may happen here, precisely because the majority of people in this country have no experience of democracy. Even without Kahane, democracy means nothing to them. Therefore we might get a dictatorship here, if the unemployment situation gets worse.


Q: In your opinion, who would be the best candidate as a dictator?

A. At this moment, Sharon, without any doubt. He has the best claim. But he is a very, very bad person.


Q: Why?

A: He is very bad! I’m not talking about his political views. I don’t judge him according to his views. He’s bad. He’s a liar. He has no moral principles. He has no ideals. He’s capable of doing anything, and I’m just as afraid of him as the Left are.
We can't say that we weren't warned!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Generation That Doesn't Know Pollard

From time to time I meet American Jewish youth visiting in Israel. Not to long ago I met a guy who must have been about 25 years old on the bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Outside of the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem we passed some activists that were handing out "FREE POLLARD" leaflets (in Hebrew). I asked my American acquaintance if he knew who Pollard was. He replied, "No," and I was really disappointed. But then again, this young man was probably about 5 years old when Pollard was incarcenated!

On Rosh HaShannah among our dinner guests were two bright young women who are spending a year studying in Israel. I thought to myself, "These women weren't even born when Jonathan Pollard entered prison. In spite of this, they must have heard of them." Imagine my disappointment when they told me that they have no idea who he is.

I cry not for Jonathan Pollard. True, he is suffering. However, I cry for American Jewry which has apparently lost its backbone, if it ever had one. During these Ten Days of Repentance, the abandonement of Jonathan Pollard is a sin that is sitting heavily upon all of us.

השיבינו ה' אליך ונשובה

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

To Be A Holy Nation

These days between Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur are a time for introspection and making a true effort for self improvement. The subject of "Shmirat HaBrit" is one that is often swept under the carpet. This is a shame considering the seriousness of the matter. Arutz 7 has an important article dealing with the subject and providing important links. Check it out.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Preparations For Rosh HaShannah

In Israel we are very busy getting ready to greet the New Year. There is a lot of shopping to do, a lot of cooking to do. Where will we daven this year? Which guests are coming to stay with us? Which Divrei Torah will be said? The coronation of the King is about to take place. May it be a good year for Israel and for all of the world.

In the meantime a lonely Jew sits isolated in a jail cell in the "land of the free and the home of the brave". As we eat apples with honey and all of the other delicacies, he will probably receive his regular prison rations. The man, a victim of a terrible injustice, has been languishing in prison for over twenty years. His name is Jonathan Pollard.

His Jewish brothers do not really care. He is an embarassment for them, a nightmare for law abiding American Jews afraid of being accused of dual loyalty. No!!! We are more German than the Germans American than the Americans! Stars and Stripes forever! Baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet! The Israeli politicians that used him are also embarassed by him and have done nothing to help him. He was thrown away by those corrupt "leaders" like one that throws a paper cup into the garbage. For them he is gone and forgotten.

Some of us have not forgotten you, O Yohanatan! Rabbi Aviner for instance:
Did you know that Jonathan Pollard is in an American prison because he spied for the benefit of Israel, and is slowly bleeding to death before our very eyes, and no one knows how much time remains; and that every single day that he is there, we are, every one of us, liable for the sin of "Al ta'amod al dam re'eycha" - "Do not stand idly by your brother's blood"?

Did you know that Jonathan Pollard did not do damage to the United States, but rather gave us information about Iranian, Iraqi, Libyan and Syrian nuclear, chemical and biological warfare capabilities - all being developed for use against Israel - and information on ballistic missile development by these countries; as well as information on up-coming terrorist attacks planned against Israeli civilian targets? This was information that should have been supplied to Israel according to official US policy at the time, but which was being illegally withheld. Because Pollard relayed the information to us, he saved thousands of lives. Did you know that every single day that he remains in prison, we are liable for the sin of: "If you refrain from rescuing those who are taken to death and those on the verge of being slain - and you will claim 'But, we did not know about this.'"? (Mishlei [Proverbs] 24:11)
May the upcoming year be the year that Jonathan Pollard is set free.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Controversy Surrounds Burial Of Herzl’s Children In Israel

Arutz 7 reports:
The remains of two of Theodore Herzl's children will be brought to Israel this week from France for reburial, according to the wishes of the Zionist leader. Herzl's remains were brought to Israel in 1949.

The children, Paula and Hans, will be reburied in the Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem. The coffins will be flown to Israel on Tuesday night and the remains will be reburied the following day. A third child died in the Holocaust.

Although I consider Arutz 7 to be the best source of news from Israel, I think that here they have committed the sin of omission. It is no simple matter that Herzl’s offspring, in particular his son Hans, are being buried next to their father, as Charles Bremner reports from Paris:
The transfer ends decades of delays and wrangling over the remains of Pauline Herzl, who died in Bordeaux of an apparent drug overdose in 1930, and Hans Herzl who shot himself dead there the day after in an act of grief.

Herzl, who died in Vienna in 1904 at the age of 44, wanted his descendants to be buried in the Jewish state that he hoped would one day be created.

The three Herzl children, who were brought up to be future “royalty” of a Zionist nation, were long an embarrassment to Israel’s founders.

The religious establishment opposed the return because suicide is forbidden in Judaism and because Hans had converted to Christianity.

Herzl’s other daughter, Trude, who was also mentally disturbed, died in 1943 in the Nazi concentration camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia. Her remains were never identified.
This article from the Jewish Agency web site covers Hans’ spiritual wanderings in more detail:
Hans lived in London, alone and destitute, eking out a living mainly by translating his father's writings. In 1924, 20 years after his father's death, Hans, desperate for a change in his life, joined the Baptist Church; then, in rapid succession, became a Catholic, a Protestant, a Unitarian and a Quaker, oscillating wildly between the delusions of grandeur that had gripped his father and bouts of depression brought on by his sense of abject failure.
So how is it that Hans is being brought to burial in a Jewish cemetery if he converted to Christianity and committed suicide? Back to the Bremner article:
Investigations showed that Hans, who was educated in England, had reverted to Judaism and joined a London Synagogue.

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Ammar approved the reburial on Mount Herzl, the national cemetery where the Zionist founder was buried in 1949, after being convinced of Hans’s reconversion. His mental illness mitigated his act of suicide, the religious leaders decided.
Speaking of controversy, MK Zevulun Orlev gets the “anti-democracy” award by trying to prevent the distribution of a CD which exposes the negative side of Herzl and other Zionist leaders. Read the article and don’t miss the talkbacks. The knee-jerk reaction of some people, and their inability to deal with the issue at hand are truly amazing.

Update: Here's the video that Orlev is upset about. (It is a simplistic and one-sided view of these leaders, nevertheless certain facts about these leaders that have been hidden from the general public and are worth knowing are presented here.)
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