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!

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

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.

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:

Thursday, December 14, 2006

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..."
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