Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Israeli "Artists" on the Dole

The artists that refused to appear in Ariel made a lot of noise. In the end, I think that they and their colleagues will probably regret this refusal, a cheap imitation of ignorant artists from abroad that refuse to appear in Israel at all.

What's more, the commotion caused by these artists brought to light a fact that is rarely brought to the attention of the public, a fact that they would probably prefer remained concealed deep in the books of the Israeli Government's budget: these people are on the dole.

According to the paper "Yisrael Hayom", the various theaters in Israel are supported by the state to the tune of 88 million shekels per year. The "HaBima" theater receives 25 million, the "Kameri" was given 11 million, 8.8 million goes to "Beit Lisin", 6.6 million shekels is allocated to the "Gesher" theater, 5.5 to the Be'er Sheva theater, another 5.5 million to the "Khan" theater in Jerusalem, 3.3 million to the Haifa Municipal theater. The remainder is given to various small theaters.

Why in the world does the government have to subsidize theaters? Did the American government have to fund Oscar Hammerstein? Did George and Ira Gershwin receive subsidies? It is especially hard to ignore the above questions when one looks at the great contribution that Jews have made to the American entertainment industry, in contrast to the dismal output of the Israeli theater.

To date the Israeli theater has not produced anything of note. Where is the Israeli musical that was so appealing that it was performed all over the world in different languages, an Israeli "Fiddler on the Roof"? Unfortunately it has yet to be written. What's worse, often the plays and musicals produced in the Promised Land are post-Zionist, anti-Torah tirades that appeal to a very small percentage of the public. I am willing to wager that if the theaters had to survive solely on the basis of ticket sales, the quality of what they offered the public would improve greatly.

The subsidization of Israel's theaters is an anachronism that is not only harmful to the tax paying public: it prevents any real creativity by the artists themselves. Unfortunately, chances are that the Israeli public will continue to payroll the often exorbitant lifestyles of these actors, directors, playwrights etc. These "artists" on the dole will lack any incentive to produce anything original or appealing. Instead, they will continue to preach their puny politics to people of their own ilk at the expense of the Israeli taxpayer.

I think it is fitting to finish this post with Rabbi Nechuniah Ben HaKana's prayer (Brachot 28B):

מודה אני לפניך ה' אלהי ששמת חלקי מיושבי בית המדרש ולא שמת חלקי מיושבי קרנות שאני משכים והם משכימים אני משכים לדברי תורה והם משכימים לדברים בטלים אני עמל והם עמלים אני עמל ומקבל שכר והם עמלים ואינם מקבלים שכר אני רץ והם רצים אני רץ לחיי העולם הבא והם רצים לבאר שחת

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We Simply The Best

I was in Haifa recently and I bought the wife and kids some pizza:

This "All American Pizza" was actually quite delicious. The guy that designed the box was obviously not "All American". It should say, "We Are Simply The Best". In Hebrew, the form of be in present tense is very rarely used. That's probably the reason that it was left out here. This is a common error among native Hebrew speakers wishing to communicate in English.

Friday, August 20, 2010

It's Already the Tenth of Elul!!!

10 Elul 5770

Will the month go by without any serious Teshuvah?

Here's a link to some posts on Elul. Some of them IMHO are even worth reading!!!: [click]

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Best Article About the "Disengagement" Ever

Moshe Dann tells it like it was and is:
The expulsion of 10,000 Jews from their homes five years ago was not a localized event in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria. It was a national implosion, a national disgrace. It caused enormous physical, psychological, social, cultural, military and strategic damage to the entire nation – and it still does. Like an ecological disaster, its foulness still seeps through our foundations, and continues to poison us.

Undermined by enforcing a political agenda, the entire political system, the media and judicial institutions refused to act responsibly. Basic civil and human rights of Jews were abandoned. Those responsible for welfare and proper compensation misled and lied; led by Sela, the Disengagement Authority, our country was in denial. Our own political and many spiritual leaders – those for whom we voted, in whom we trusted – failed to organize and prevent this catastrophe. Ministers who disagreed were fired; public debate was suppressed.
Read the rest!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jerusalem Calatrava Bridge Update

It's been a long time since I put up pics depicting the bridge's progress. You can see that the train tracks are ready:

There's an ongoing war with the "graffiti artists". White paint covers up somebody's thoughts:

This piece of graffiti has not been as yet painted over. Did somebody have a Bar Mitzvah? Is this in honor of the shayetet?

The view from the other side of the bridge. All that's missing are the trains:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Third of Elul - Yahrzeit of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook

Today I was at an memorial for the 75th anniversary of Rabbi Kook's passing away. It was held in in the recently reopened Hurva synagogue in Jerusalem's Old City. Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, the dean of Merkaz HaRav spoke first:

Later on, Rabbi She'ar Yashuv Kohen, the Chief Rabbi of Haifa, spoke:

Here's a picture of the synagogue taken from the entrance. Notice that what was left of the synagogue's eastern wall was included in the new building. Speaking from the pulpit is Rabbi Yehoshua Magnes:

And now, lehavdil, is Zionist leader Menachem Usishkin's elegy for Rav Kook, as brought to us by Rabbi Chanan Morrison:
Today, Usishkin announced, the Jewish people is cloaked in deep mourning. One of the preeminent scholars of our generation has departed.

But I will not speak about his greatness in Torah. The speaker after me [Rabbi Meir Berlin] will speak of this. I will speak, not of the Gaon [brilliant scholar] Kook, but of the man, Rabbi Kook....

The first time I heard his name was from that unique individual of our generation, Chaim Bialik. After Bialik's first visit in Eretz Yisrael, he gave me a report of everything he saw. But his greatest enthusiasm was about a Jew whom he had met, then rabbi of a small community in Jaffa. He told me wonders about this man's wisdom, his Torah and breadth of knowledge, and his tremendous expertise. Not only in Torah, but also in all the latest philosophies. And over all of this, Bialik added, hovers a personality of giant stature in its depth, love and dedication, and in its way of relating to the new phenomena in the world.

When I made my second trip to Eretz Yisrael, I knew of course that I must meet this man whose fame precedes him. I then recognized that Bialik's words were true. [Rav Kook] was flowing with ideas - brilliant, sparkling ideas in all aspects of life. When one spoke with him - or more precisely, when he spoke, for it was impossible to have a conversation with him, he would always fill the conversation, while others would listen and absorb - one would gain from him such a wealth of ideas and views, that sometimes one had to struggle to fully grasp their depth. One could not help but be enthralled with the brilliance of his ideas and the beauty of his imagery. After conversing with him, one always left the room with some new view, some new concept, some new insight, whether or not one agreed with him.

Even though his views on life, especially regarding our [national] life in Israel, were original and dazzling, he remained with both feet firmly entrenched in our ancient traditions. He did not move a hair's breadth from the tenets of our fathers and our ancestors. Yet he possessed a radically different approach on how to bring understanding of this tradition to the new and renewed world that confronts us.

First of all, there must be a soul-connection between the previous generation and the new generation. His admiration for youth in general, and particularly the youth living in Eretz Yisrael - youth who are thousands of miles away from his own worldview - this was a father's understanding of his son, a father who wishes to instruct his son and draw him close with insight and love.

Many of you have heard his remarkable reply to a prominent rabbi - a rabbi who criticized him for his cordial relationship with the anti-religious youth. 'How can you join forces with these people in common causes?'

And the Rav responded:
As you know, the Holy Temple had [separate] courtyards for kohanim and for Levites and for regular Israelites and for women. And there was one place called Kodesh HaKodashim, the Holy of Holies, which only the High Priest was allowed to enter once a year, on the holiest day of the year.

All this was true when the Temple was standing. Then there were separate areas for each sector of the nation, and each person knew where he was permitted and where he was forbidden to enter.

However, what do you think it was like when they were building the Temple? Then there were certainly no barriers. The workers went to any place that required their skills. Even into the Holy of Holies. [See Me'ilah 14a: 'They build with the mundane and sanctify it afterward.']

Nowadays, the Rav concluded, we are building the Third Temple. We are in the period of building. There are no - and there must not be any - barriers between the young generation and us, between the religious and the secular. We are all busy with one project; we all work toward one goal. First, let us build the Temple. Afterward we may speak...

This was his philosophy, from the first day that he arrived in the country, until his final day.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Did You Ever See an Avocado Tree?

Here in Israel, people eat a lot of avocado. I was in a Moshav near Nahariya, where I saw this and couldn't resist photographing it:

A little bit about the avocado from Wikipedia:
The avocado (Persea americana) is a tree native to the Caribbean, Mexico,[1] South America and Central America, classified in the flowering plant family Lauraceae along with cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel. The name "avocado" also refers to the fruit (technically a large berry that contains a large seed) of the tree, which may be egg-shaped or spherical.

Avocados are a commercially valuable fruit and are cultivated in tropical climates throughout the world (and some temperate ones, such as California), producing a green-skinned, pear-shaped fruit that ripens after harvesting. Trees are partially self-pollinating and often are propagated through grafting to maintain a predictable quality and quantity of the fruit. Avocados are perennial.
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