Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Elijah the Prophet

Last night toward the end of the Passover Seder, the little kids at our table rushed to the door and opened it, waiting for Elijah the Prophet (Eliyahu HaNavi). My great-nephew Amichai kept said, "Where is he? Where is he?" The girls peeked out the door, but no Eliyahu.
Our door was open to the street, and we sat waiting for the wine in the giant goblet to go down a little - proof that Elijah had indeed visited us.
I thought about the open door. We were observing our Seder in Bet El, right next to the Arab town of Ramallah. No one thought for a moment that perhaps the open door wasn't the best idea. Last night was a lail shimurim (a night of watching). G-d has been particularly watching over the Jewish people on this special night for more than 3300 years already.
I wondered if the Jews living under the Roman tyranny had their doors open on the night of Passover. And if the Jews of Russia kept their door open during the time of the Chelminicki Massacres. Did the Mir Yeshiva students who had escaped from a burning Europe during World War II to Hong Kong have their doors open for Elijah the Prophet? Did the Jews of the Southern USA in the 1960s leave their door open while Klu Klux Klan members roamed the streets? Do the Jews of Paris and Gondar and Johannesburg have their doors open for Elijah the Prophet?
A NIGHT OF WATCHING
It suddenly hit me that opening the door for Elijah is not only a cute idea to keep the children awake. It is a tremendous show of faith in G-d. Tonight (last night) is said to be a lail shimurim (a night of watching) for all generations. We believe in you, Hashem, and we have faith that you will watch over us wherever we are, whenever we are.
Just as G-d protected us on that fateful night in Egypt, so may He watch over the Jewish people throughout eternity.
And just as the Jewish people returned from the exile to the Promised Land to rebuild the Holy Temple, may it happen in our day as well.
Happy Passover. THIS YEAR in Jerusalem!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Passover & Making the Omer Count

Just got back from the Seder and first day of the Passover holiday at my brother's house. Great seder. Terrific questions by the kids. Lots of wise words. Wonderful singing. Amazing food and spectacular desserts. In short - a memorable Yom Tov was had by the whole family.
One of the things that added to my personal seder was the new Hagaddah my husband bought me. (Thanks, dear.) A Hagaddah is the book that contains the story of the Exodus from Egypt and all the symbols and songs we have to remember that once-in-a-history-of-the-world event.

HISTORICAL HAGADDAH

Every year I try to learn the Hagaddah with new explanations of the classic. This year, I used an Historical Hagaddah by Rabbi Nachman Cohen. Rabbi Cohen gives a fascinating historical perspective to the stories in the Hagaddah. For example, did you ever wonder what that table full of rabbis was doing together in Bnei Brak? Why weren't they home with their families? Who was going to hide the afikomen in their homes if they weren't there?
I had heard over the years that the rabbis at the table had come together to plan the rebellion against the Romans.
Rabbi Cohen begins by saying that the rabbis (the most famous of their generation) had just returned from Rome on a mission to intervene for the Jewish people. They did not have enough time to return to their homes before Passover, so they stayed together for the Seder in Bnei Brak.
He noted that they were interested in not only the story of the Exodus, but how it affected their current situation under the Roman Empire's opression.
Rabbi Cohen also tells us that these rabbis were not the only ones who returned from Roman. There were more rabbis with them, including the nasi (the head of the Jewish people) Rabban Gamliel. Why wasn't he at the rabbis' seder as well. Rabbi Cohen maintains that there was a second seder being held with Rabban Gamliel and other great rabbis of the time. Why were the two groups not together?
The first group, as we had heard before, was the group of rabbis that were against the Romans. They wanted to know how they could proceed to act against the Roman tyranny.
Rabban Gamliel's group believed that the Second Temple (which had been destroyed by the Romans) would still be rebuilt one day soon. Rabban Gamliel believed that if the Jewish people could only hold out a little longer, the Romans would loosen their grip on the Jews and allow them to once again practice their religion and worship in their Holy Temple.
Just like today, different opinions in our great leaders and severe splits in the people. Who should we follow?
Rabbi Cohen delves into this and many other issues across the panorama of Jewish history. I shared some of his thoughts at the table, and everyone had much food for thought before we had the food for dinner.
This year's Seder is over, but there are still six more days to Passover, and IY"H, there's always next year. (No, I don't get a commission for selling this Hagaddah. I just wanted you to know about it.) You can contact Rabbi Cohen at ravnachman@aol.com .

MAKING THE OMER COUNT

Tonight we began counting the Omer, Sefirat HaOmer. It's actually a countdown to Shavuot. Wow, tonight was the first night, only 48 days to go until Shavuot and the commemoration of our stand at Mount Sinai.
It's great to count down to an event that is exciting for us, but it's not enough just to count the 49 days, we've got to make those days count.
Last year, my husband bought me a different book, called Sefiros by Rabbi Yaacov Haber with Rabbi David Sedley. (And no, I don't get a commission for writing about this one either.) I used to think that presents were jewelry or cool chotchkes, but I've come to appreciate quality books. When I first received the book on Sefiros, I sighed. Truthfully, I'd have rather received diamonds. But when I got into it, I realized this book really was a diamond.
It explains the meaning of every one of the 49 days of the Omer, and what we can do personally to incorporate the characteristic of each specific day and make it valuable for us.
For example, today was the first day of the Omer. It is characterized by pure chesed (loving kindness). The book suggests that we spend this day looking at the world and realizing that G-d's creation of the world and everything in it was a tremendous chesed (kindness) whether we all deserve it or not.
Then the book suggests that we can show chesed to others by giving some time to a friend or family member, and giving charity or doing a kind deed for someone else. It also suggests that we spend one day NOT thinking that the world revolves around us, us, us. If we think about others for this one day, we will perhaps learn to be less self-centered, and more like G-d wants us to be - caring kind individuals.
Wishing everyone a great rest of Passover, and 48 more days of value and growth.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Divine Retribution or G-d's Sense of Humor

The Passover Hagaddah is a book filled with Divine Retribution. G-d paid back the evil taskmasters in the Hagaddah, but what about in our day? Most people never expect to see justice in this world. Justice is for Heaven.
Well, sometimes G-d does show His Justice to man; sometimes He also shows His Sense of Humor. G-d has a sense of humor? Yes!

A Heavenly Laugh
**
An easy example of Hashem's sense of humor is former Knesset Member Shulamit Aloni's grandchildren. A rabid leftist and opponent to anything religious, Shulamit Aloni was blessed with grandchildren who are chareidi (ultra-Othodox). Alonei was so vehemently anti-religious and outspoken in that hatred of religious Jews that, the Jewish Agency website said, in 1992, after a year as Minister of Education, she was "forced to resign her position..." And how did Hashem have the last laugh? By giving her religious grandchildren. I can just imagine her taking her grandchildren - their payot and tzitzit flying - out for pizza.
What a site!!
** There are more humorous grandchildren stories, like those of Leon Trotsky. Trotsky was a Bolshevik revolutionary and a Marxist, and today his great-granchildren are running along the hills of the Shomron, taking over hilltops and learning Torah.
But I'm jumping ahead.


Divine Retribution
** As Seder night approaches, and we review the Hagaddah, we see again that every one of the plagues was a punishment for something specific that the Egyptians did. There is Divine Justice on every page of the Hagaddah.
** Having recently completed the holiday of Purim, we know that Hashem's divine justice shines here as well, with Haman ultimately swinging from the same gallows that he himself had built for Mordechai.
** And what a laugh G-d must have had when Haman came up with a fabulous way for the King to honor someone (Haman thought that person was himself!), and Achashverosh told him to do all that he said to Mordechai the Jew!! Egad!
** Fast forward about 3000 years. Yahya Abd-al-Latif Ayyash was a technological genius. His ability to dream up all kinds of technological ways to kill Jews earned him the title of the Engineer. Actually, he is credited with being the father of the suicide bomb. What a claim to fame. Was Ayyash's end G-d's retribution or His sense of humor?? Well, Ayyash himself was blown up with an advanced technical device - an exploding cell phone.
** Next...Surely you remember how the Israeli government did its best during the pre-and-post-State Days to completely assimilate the Yemenite Jews. The Torah-true Yemenite Jews fulfilled their dreams of coming to the Holy Land, and after they arrived on their "Magic Carpet", they were immediately coerced to cut off their payot, abandon their kippot, and turn away from their devotion to Torah and mitzvot. Most of the Yemenite Jews then lost the battle and gave up their observance of Judaism. So, it could very well be G-d's sense of humor today, or you might say His sense of justice, that the biggest Machzir B'Teshuva (person responsible for the secular Jewish people returning to Judaism) is a Yemenite Jew from one of those assimilated homes - HaRav Amnon Yitzchak.
** Remember Hurricane Katrina? Some people say it was Divine Retribution for the destruction of Gush Katif.
** The Disengagement from Gaza ruined the lives of 10,000 people from Judea, Samaria. Remember those post-Disengagement videos? They showed that the lives of every person (except Shimon Peres) that was involved in the "Disengagement" from Ariel Sharon to Yonatan Bassi and Moshe Katzav were ruined. That's classic Divine Retribution. (I tried to find that video, but wasn't successful. I did however find an interesting video of our misguided politicians speaking up in favor of the Disengagement and all the positive results it would bring:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F71vE7C225k )
** Back to G-d's sense of humor. Fifteen years ago, my friends and I had the zechut (merit) to lead a battle to save Efrat's northernmost hill, Givat HaDagan, from being turned over to the Arabs. We spent the summer on the hill and then were pulled down several times by the police. The government was determined to erase the Jewish people's connection to Givat HaDagan. They sent a tractor, as big as a house, to plow up the "streets" we had delineated and the civilization we had brought to the hill. As they overturned stone and earth, they tried to wipe away any Jewish connection to the hill. As the tractor worked, suddenly BOOM, one of its tires fell into a hole. After more investigation, it was found that the hole was actually a cistern that was part of a checkboard of water tunnels built thousands of years ago to bring water to the Holy Temple. So, G-d had a chuckle. "You thought you could cover up the connection of the Jewish people to the Dagan, well, I have helped you uncover Am Yisrael's two-thousand-year-old connection to Jewish history on the hill."
There are more and more examples, AND I INVITE YOU TO SEND IN YOUR OWN. But right now, we return to the source of this particular blog itself:

** Last week, the British government expelled an Israeli diplomat, because "they couldn't just sit back and do nothing" while British passports were used in Dubai where a top Hamas terrorist was assassinated. The British, who assumed that the Mossad, did the deed, refused to sit back and not react.
That's pretty ironic, since in the relationship of the British and the Jews, the British have usually stood by without reacting. They didn't react in Hebron in 1929 when the Jews there were massacred by their Arab neighbors. Neither did they react to the massacre of Jews in the Old City or the Yemenite Village, nor in Sheikh Jarrah when right under the noses of the British Consulate, a convoy of doctors, nurses and security personnel were traveling on a "protected route" up to the Hadassah Mt. Scopus Hospital. The Arabs ambushed them and 78 Jews were massacred, torn to pieces so that many could not be identified and had to be buried in a communal grave.
The memorial for those 78 Jews and one British citizen stands today at the scene of the tragedy, right outside the British consulate door.
Now...next door to the British Consulate is the Shepherd Hotel. In the 1930s this was the home of Haj Amin Al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem. Husseini was the biggest Middle Eastern anti-Semite of his time (if there was a contest) and a good friend and kindred spirit of Adolf Hitler, yemach shmo.
Husseini and his friend Adolf did their best to come up with joint-projects to wipe out the Jewish people to the very last.
The Shepherd Hotel was purchased by the tzaddik (pious man) and Jewish philanthropist Dr. Irving Moskowitz to be renovated for an apartment complex. To the horror of the world (agh!!), this plan has received the bureaucratic go-ahead for construction. May it speedily be built.
Moreover, there is no greater show of Hashem's sense of humor than this Double Gotcha - the fact that IY"H, one day soon 20 young Jewish families (hopefully with many laughing Jewish children) will be living Jewish lives of mitzvot and blessing in the home of Jew-hater Husseini, right next to the British Consulate.
Am Yisrael Chai.

An addendum: Since I originally wrote this article, a reader added this piece of divine retribution:
Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is in a state of Disengagement. He is disengaged both from life and death. His neshama (soul) has no menucha (rest), because he hasn't been buried. He is, in every way, in a state of hitnatkut (disengagement) just as the 10,000 people he had exiled from their homes are still in a state of limbo. Perhaps when the people of Gush Katif are finally settled into their future homes, they will be at rest, and so will Ariel Sharon.
Addendum #2: Nadia once reported to the Efrat list:
(Last January) A resident of Imanuel in the Shomron was accused of killing an Arab after he fired his weapon when his car was being stoned. Israel National News just reported that the Arab was actually killed by his own stone. His stone "hit the tire of the car and boomeranged straight back hitting the Arab in his skull-killing him immediately !" Now, that's G-d's retribution today.
Addendum #3: Mordechai once reported to the list:
(Last August) IDF Lieutenant General Amiad Faris, who was responsibe for the expulsion of Jews from the town of Kfar Darom in Gush Katif, was added to the list of those Expulsion figures who "received Heavenly punishments" for their role in the "Disengagement". Faris received a dishonorable discharge from the IDF, "after it was discovered he lied to insurance authorities about a traffic accident in which his wife was involved."
Keep them coming!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Garlic - National Pride

I went shopping for Pesach food today. While in the vegetable department, I saw something that was totally new to me. Two of the vegetable workers were tying up garlic, braiding the ends to make a kind of wreath.
I stopped for a few moments to watch this curious site. I told them that I had never seen such a thing, except perhaps in a movie. One of the workers told me, "You must buy this garlic. It is fresh. It is delicious. It is full of richness." Pointing to my little package of four small white garlics in a mesh bag, they laughed with disdain.
"Ha. You call that garlic. That is dry garlic from Greece. Look at this garlic. It is fresh and delicious; every time you cook, you can take off one head, and you can hang the rest up."
I told them that I really didn't need so much garlic, but they said, "We don't believe it. Do you understand that the little bag of garlic is from Greece, and this large wreath of garlic is an Israeli product (totzeret ha'aretz)! Wouldn't you rather have garlic grown in Israel?
Yes, I would. So I put back the dried garlic and picked up the wreath.
Now I can't wait to start cooking so that I can use my Israeli garlic. Yum.

Divine Justice or a Great Sense of Humor

Many people think there is no justice in this world, and believe that at the end of times the wrongs of the world will be righted. Well, sometimes we don't have to wait so long. Sometimes we see G-d's hand, his punishment against criminals or his Divine Sense of Humor.
What? You don't think G-d has a sense of humor?? How wrong you are.
More to come... (running out again)

Shepherds and Sheep

I awoke this morning to the humorous news that England had expelled an Israeli diplomat for the suspected improper use of English passports on the Dubai hit that successfully claimed the life of a mega-Hamas-terrorist.
What chutzpah!
Still, I found this news amusing for two reasons:
1) When Britain or any country sends its spies out to do a job, do they use passports from the United Hukamagama Islands? No, they use passports of whatever country they can forge at the time. (BTW, it hasn't even been proven that the Mossad assassinated the terrorist.)
2) The British are great in expressing righteous indignation on the killing of a terrorist, but when it came to terrorists murdering innocent Jews over the past century, they have been silent and worse, have turned their backs as terror hit...
In fact, how appropriate that today, just as England expells an Israeil diplomat for its possible connection to the Hamas terrorist's assassination, Israel announced the approval of 20 housing units at the former Shepherd Hotel in the Shimon HaTzaddik/Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
That Hotel is right next to the British Consulate, and just above the scene of the 1948 massacre of 78 Jews and one Brit in a convoy on its way up to the Hadassah Mt. Scopus Hospital.
From inside the Consulate, the British diplomats surely heard the first bomb that went off on the mile and a half road up to Hadassah. And then they surely heard more of the attack right outside their windows. Unfortunately the British response was slow at best.
The memorial to the 79 Jews killed under the noses of the British is right outside the British Consulate.
Now, IY"H, a new building fill of live young vibrant Israel-devoted Jews will stand right next to that spot as well, a neighbor to the British Consulate and a symbol of the fact that despite the terror of some enemies and the indifference of others, the Jewish People will rise again and continue through eternity.
There's much more to say about this, but gotta run now. More to come.
Am Yisrael Chai.

BTW, I went to the Shepherd Hotel and Shimon HaTzaddik/Sheikh Jarrah.
I recently completed two out of three videos about Eastern Jerusalem. You can see them at http://voices-magazine.com/voices-videos.php?id=121 and http://voices-magazine.com/voices-videos.php?id=122 . Pressed for time...I had a deadline on the Passover Issue of VOICES Magazine, I didn't have time to complete the third of the series. I hope to do it later today.
That video is a much longer one and a bit more complex. It is the story of the Shepherd Hotel, the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood and the Arab protesters in Sheikh Jarrah.
Pop by later today to read/see the rest of my report.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dutch TV & Me

I'm supposed to be working now (don't tell my husband), but I had to take a moment to vent about the interview I just did with Dutch Television. The interviewee and his entourage were all lovely people - polite, well spoken. Here are some short excerpts to the best of my recollection.

"Why did you come?"
"Where are you from?"
"How long are you here?"
"Who built this house?"
And then..."Whose land are you living on?" "Whose land is your house standing on?"
"My house is standing on the land of the Jewish people. I am living on land that is the focal point of my Biblical heritage. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob walked here. Eight minutes north of me, our matriarch Rachel is buried. Twenty minutes south in Hebron is the burial place of my matriarchs and patriarchs. Perhaps on the ground on which my home stands, David shepherded his sheep. Across the road is a place called Sde Boaz, the fields of Boaz, from the famous story of Ruth and Naomi."

"I don't mean the Bible. I mean more recently. 1948."
"Ah, 1948, this area was purchased by a man named Holzman (that means tree - like etz, etzion). In 1948 Jews lived here in five beautiful communities in Gush Etzion until the Arabs massacred some and took others into captivity."

"Well, what about those million Palestinian refugees who were forced to flee from their homes and had to run to other countries?"
"Well, what about those million Jewish refugees who were forced to flee from their homes in Arab countries. They ran from Syria and Jordan and Egypt and Lebanon and Iran and Iraq and they made new lives for themselves all over the world, and some thankfully, in the Land of Israel. Why today are there no Jewish refugees in France and English and America? Because they wanted to make a life for their children, and begin productive lives in their new homes. But the Arabs wanted to stay refugees and their host countries wanted them to stay refugees as a weapon against Israel."
"That is your pre-conceived notion."
"That is the truth."

"I am a student of history. I know the history of the Middle East all the way back to 1920."
"Ah, 1920, a good year. Then you know that in 1920, the Jews of Hebron had a very vibrant and large community, until the Arabs massacred them in 1929. And the Yemenite Jews lived in Kfar Teimanim (Yemenite Village) in Silwan until some were massacred and others had to be removed by the High Commission so they would not be killed by their Arab neighbors. And here in Gush Etzion there were also communities that were attacked by the Arabs."
No reaction.

"Well, what about the check points. And I saw with my own eyes an eight-year old on the floor at a check point, waiting for two hours, just because he wanted to go to school."
"And I saw with my own eyes, my friend from Tekoa who was stoned on the road, just because she was driving and for no other reason."
"Well, when people are desperate..."
"I have bad days too. My children also are sometimes late for school or bad things happen. I don't go out to the road and stone Arab cars."
"I don't know that you don't."
"Well, I don't! Do you?"
"No, I don't."

There's more, but chatting together has made me feel better. Thanks. How'd the interview go? Well, as my son Natah would say, "Whatever."

Jewish Eastern Jerusalem

As Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu prepares to meet American President Barak Hussein Obama, the controversy over building in Jerusalem grows more heated.
What's this all about?
Can we just take out a red magic marker and draw a line down to Jerusalem and divide it?
Voices joined Ateret Cohanim/Jerusalem Reclamation Project director Daniel Luria on a tour of Eastern Jerusalem to see how its Jewish and Arab neighborhoods are totally intertwined.
Our stops were:
* A Jewish house on the Arab side of Abu Tor.
* Beit Yonatan in the Yemenite Village (Silwan Valley).
* The King's Garden.
* Maaleh HaZaytim on the Mount of Olives.
* Beit Achim and Kidmat Zion on the Jerusalem side of Abu Dis.
* Beit Orot on Mt. Scopus.
* Shimon HaTzaddik (the Arabs call it Sheikh Jarrah).

Actually, Voices wrote about the controversy with the Beit Orot building project two months ago:

You're invited to explore this entire Eastern Jerusalem issue in our Voices TV video clips:

and later this month in Voices Magazine - you will be able to read it on line at http://www.voices-magazine.com/ .

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tel Aviv = Netzarim = Jerusalem

Tel Aviv celebrated its 100th anniversary this past year. You can't get much more permanent than that. One hundred years. Wow.
So, I guess it's no wonder when one wants to make a point that the future of a place is solid rock sure, he'd compare it to Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv=Netzarim
Many years ago, former Prime Minister Arik Sharon said that the fate of Netzarim (a town in the Gush Katif area) was the same as the fate of Tel Aviv. Orange folk (supporters of Judea, Samaria and Gaza) took that to mean that just as Tel Aviv would remain an integral part of the State of Israel, so too would Netzarim (despite the fact that it had been abandoned within Palestinian Authority Territory in Gaza).
Well, Netzarim and all of Gush Katif were destroyed, but their fate could have been very similar to Tel Aviv. Last year's Gaza war proved that Tel Aviv was just as fragile as Netzarim. From the former towns of Gush Katif, including Netzarim, missiles were shot at towns and cities throughout Israel - Sderot, Ashkelon, Beersheva, Ofakim. The fact that they could not yet reach Tel Aviv was luck in the last war. Tel Aviv won't be so lucky in the next, chas v'shalom.
It is more than five years since the destruction of Netzarim, and some may have forgotten the Netzarim-Tel Aviv connection.
Tel Aviv=Jerusalem
Recently current Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has brought up Tel Aviv again. He said, "Our policy on Jerusalem is the same as that of all previous Israeli governments in the past 42 years and it hasn't changed. As far as we are concerned, building in Jerusalem is like building in Tel Aviv."
That statement is to lead us to believe that of course the Israeli government will build throughout Jerusalem without any hesitation. Unfortunately, right after that statement, a cabinet member said that in reality, construction in Eastern Jerusalem is just as frozen as that of Judea and Samaria.
Of course, that must be impossible, because the Prime Minister said that if we can build in Tel Aviv, we can build in Jerusalem.
Hm.
On Motzei Shabbat (Saturday night) at the demonstration at the Gush Etzion Junction, Chief Rabbi of Hebron/Kiryat Arba HaRav Dov Lior told protesters, "The government tells us, 'You can't build here. You can't build there.' Tomorrow they'll tell us that it's forbidden to build in Tel Aviv."
Well, of all the statements about Tel Aviv that I've heard lately, this one seems the most correct.
No Building in Tel Aviv
The Palestinian Authority and their friends worldwide are trying every plan possible to weaken and chas v'shalom destroy the State of Israel - attacking on every front: http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2010/02/voices-of-purim-today.html and http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2010/02/voices-ofpurim-today-part-2.html .

Today they demand we not build in Judea, Samaria and our capital Jerusalem. Tomorrow, it is quite possible that they will demand that no building is allowed in towns and cities that were "stolen" from the Arab refugees of 1948. And since Tel Aviv-Jaffa is comprised of several ex-Arab neighborhoods like Abu Kabir, Salama, Sheikh Muanis, Manshiya and more, there's no reason not to believe that the PA will demand that Jewish building stop in Tel Aviv and make way for the return of "Palestinian refugees" to their original home.
You may be groaning right now, because you believe this is all far fetched. I wish you were right. This is one time I am hoping very sincerely to be proven wrong.


2 Updates - sadly reported

Last week I wrote about the ridiculous condemnation of the Ramat Shlomo building plan, being approved in its fourth stage. I think there were three more stages to go before anything really moved. Hillary, Biden and Obama threw fits about this non-issue. http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2010/03/me-thinks-lady-doth-protest-too-much.html
Well, whaddaya know?
This morning's news on Israel National News.com
Report: Ramat Shlomo Plan Frozen
"Ha'aretz revealed Sunday that Interior Minister Eli Yishai has decided to postpone progress of the plan for construction of 1,600 homes in Ramat Shlomo. While the plan will not be officially cancelled, it will be put into “cold storage” until at least September, when the ten month building freeze in Judea and Samaria ends. Yishai's office confirmed that the plan would not be completed before September."
I also wrote about last night's demonstration against the increasing danger on our roads with Arab stone throwing and larger violence. http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2010/03/protest-against-arab-violence-on-roads.html
Well, I woke up to this INN news report:
Arabs Rioting in Gush Etzion
"About 100 Arabs were rioting Sunday morning near Tekoa in Gush Etzion. The Arabs were throwing rocks at security forces. IDF troops were using anti-riot measures to break up the disturbance."
And why is all of this happening??
The answer is in a third article on INN.
Netanyahu Commits to New Round of 'Gestures'
"According to reports, Netanyahu wrote that in the upcoming talks with the Palestinian Authority, Israel would discuss the 'core issues' of Jerusalem and the return of descendants of Arabs who fled their homes in 1948 to Israel. Netanyahu has also agreed to a new round of “gestures” for the PA."

As all the speakers at last night's demonstration pointed out. As soon as Israel shows weakness, insecurity and self-doubt (do we really have a right to the land??) http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2010/03/our-country-do-or-die.html, Arab violence grows, whether it is in the form of kassams or in the form of rocks and molatov cocktails and shootings on the road, chas v'shalom.
Until our government takes lessons in self-respect and the history of the Jewish people in its land, we will continue to be on the losing side of the eternal debate, "Whose land is it anyway?"
The Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish People forever. It is our eternal inheritance. It's time that everyone - our government, the media, alllll our people - discovered that is something to be proud of!

Protest Against Arab Violence on Roads

I went out tonight to the Gush Etzion Junction to join about 200 other residents of Efrat/Gush Etzion, plus our rabbis and communal leaders to protest the growing attacks on the roads of our country. Judea, Samaria, Route 443, Jerusalem are increasingly becoming scenes of Arab violence.
At least two women and several men going to or from Tekoa this past week have been stoned by Arab youth. One woman was injured so badly that she was operated on in the hospital a few days ago. The others were shaken and suffered tremendous damage to their cars.
Jewish residents of Gush Etzion, Binyamin and the Shomron went out to their intersections to protest this rise in Arab violence.
At the Gush Etzion Junction, a crowd listened to local leaders discuss the situation.
Alon Shvut’s Chief Rabbi HaRav Gidon Pearl told the crowd, “We must not be afraid. We must raise the flag, return to our roots. We must learn from the courage of our forefathers, when the Jews killed the sheep (even though they were the god of Egypt) and they weren’t afraid. [The nations of the world] are making fun of us and shlepping us around. We must stop letting ourselves be trampled on.”
Kiryat Arba Chevron’s Chief Rabbi HaRav Dov Lior noted, “We gathered here to protest and request from the government to do something effective against the barbarians that are again threatening our movement on the roads and our quiet lives. They’re ambushing Jews all over the country. We have no doubt that they’re raising their heads because of signs of weakness on behalf of the leadership of Am Yisrael.”
“When the leaders of the Jewish people agree to a building freeze; when we ask the [Arabs] to sit down at the table with us... we’re lucky they don’t even want to come.
The Rambam said Iggeret Teiman explained that the character of Arabs is that when you look out for their good, in return, they always give you war.”
Rav Lior added, “When we tell the Arab, ‘Come. I want to help you and see to your needs,’ he doesn’t look at us like gentlemen. He sees weakness and then the wolf shows what he can do.”
HaRav Lior stated, “After the Six Day War, the government should have declared sovereignty over all the parts of Israel, not just Jerusalem – but all Judea, Samaria and Gaza. It should have begun a massive building everywhere. If they would have moved citizens in to live in Shechem and Ramallah and all throughout the country, our situation today would have been very different.”
“To our great sorrow, the people delayed in this, and since then the government has rolled on from problem to problem,” he said. “After the Six Day War, our brethren from the west should have come and not waited for anything else. Perhaps the present president will help them decide very quickly whether this is the Diaspora or the Exile. Why are Jews still in America? To see if the President of the United States will kick them out like Pharoah?”
Kiryat Arba’s Eliyakim HaEtzni observed, “When the Arabs of Hebron felt the British were with them, they massacred the Jews there [in 1929]. Today the Arabs feel the same way, and there are stonings and molatov cocktails are the road. I don’t want to think of what could come next.”
HaEtzni said that it was rumored that America is going to pressure Israel on things it never thought of before. He said, “The Americans want to make Area C smaller and give Arabs more land now! The Arabs want an Airport in the Jordan Valley, and if they get that, we won’t have control at all of what comes and goes in our eastern border.”
Then a woman whose car was stoned on the way from Tekoa to Central Gush Etzion said, “I am angry at my country. My children go to the Army, I pay taxes, and the government doesn’t protect me. I am angry at the Jews around Obama who forgot what it is to be Jewish.”
Then everyone turned southward and began marching on Route 60 toward El Arub to demonstrate that Jews should be safe to walk on any and every road in Israel.
If the government and the Army doesn’t begin protecting its citizens, the protests will continue and grow.
To watch the video, click on http://www.voices-magazine.com/ .

Friday, March 19, 2010

Rooted to the Land

My friend Valerie was stoned the other night in Eastern Gush Etzion near her town of Tekoa. She was injured pretty badly and is in the hospital now recovering from an operation. Why on earth would anyone stone Valerie’s car? She’s one of the nicest people I know.

Then yesterday a woman from Neve Daniel was stoned in Eastern Gush Etzion. B"H, she wasn't injured, so she didn't make the news. But do we need someone to be injured or worse, chas v'shalom, until we do something to save lives!!??
I had a very few minutes and decided to explore Eastern Gush Etzion. With time being so short Erev Shabbat, I didn’t get far.
I think everyone should drive around Eastern Gush Etzion. First of all, it’s interesting looking - green and gorgeous on one side and arid and sandy on the other. Secondly, more Jewish cars must drive through Eastern Gush Etzion, because our presence is important to our brethren and their towns. Thirdly, there’s great stuff to visit too – Herodion National Park, the pool and restaurant in Tekoa, Sde Bar goat and dairy farm, Shdema and nice folks in every Eastern Gush Etzion town.
Gush Etzion is a magnificent central area of Israel, and usually it is pastoral and idyllic. Unfortunately political turmoil throughout the rest of the country even affects the usually quiet region too.
(A perfect point to mention the demonstration against increased violence – Motzei Shabbat, 8:30 PM at intersections throughout the country. More here: http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2010/03/me-thinks-lady-doth-protest-too-much.html.)

I thought I’d find out more about the Arab villages around Eastern Gush Etzion. One of the closest ones is the village between Efrat and the T-Junction. It might be overlooked by someone driving along the road. It’s got some big aluminum sheds for stone production, but the village is actually behind the sheds, and more or less hidden from view. It’s called Al Masara. If you are driving toward the T-Junction, Al Masara is to the left, and there’s a decent sized friendly sign, “Welcome to Al Masara” hanging on a pole.
Internet sites say that for a few months, residents of Al Masara have faced off against Jewish soldiers as they demonstrated every Friday against the Wall. Why they’re demonstrating now, years after the Wall began, I don’t know, but…whatever.
After googling the town, I found an interview on the palsolidarity.com site with Mahmoud Zwahre, the Mayor of Ma’sara, member of the al-Ma’sara Popular Committee, and director of the joint council of nine villages South of Bethlehem. Zwahre said that the folks in Al Masara are not really affected by the Wall, but because they’re the educated town in the area, they thought they should be the ones demonstrating. Many Arabs who learn in Israel’s universities learn about social justice and freedom. Unfortunately, instead of applying these ideas to women’s rights or creating a better life for their people, they use their knowledge to demonstrate against Israel. I remember clearly almost 30 years ago, when Shimon Peres said something like, “We will educate the Arabs and then we will have peace.” Beautiful utopian thought. Well, Israel has indeed educated them, and now the educated ones are leading the actions against our soldiers and our country.
I found a two-month old video of an Al Masara demonstration - January 2010. The whole village came out – adults and children. They carried the Palestinian flag, plus a flag with a map of “Palestine” – no Israel – that was cut in half by a rifle and surrounded with PA flags. Peaceful image. They carried photos of their sons/brothers who were arrested for terror activities, and one mother even lamented that her son, serving a 99 year sentence, hasn’t seen much of his six year old son. I’m sorry this man hasn’t seen his child, but what did he think that might happen before he went out on a terror attack?
Rooted to the Land
An English speaking Arab said, “We are Palestinians. We are rooted to the land, like our trees…”
Fabulous quote!!!
For years, I have advocated giving youth in every community throughout Israel - on both sides of the green line - pieces of land to farm and plant, so they could feel “rooted” to the land, but it seems that we Jews just do not understand this concept.
We build cities, we build giant apartment houses, we build 250, 400, 500 meter homes of stone and steel, but we do not connect to the land. A house can easily be plowed away, just as the foundation of the Western Dekel synagogue was just broken into pieces only a few weeks ago. (See: http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2010/03/like-thieves-in-night.html ) But a tree digs its roots into the ground and won’t let go.
The Jewish people should learn from the Arab of Al Masara to become “rooted to the land, like our trees.” If we really do that, and teach our children to feel a deep rooted connection to Eretz Yisrael – and not just Judea and Samaria – everywhere north, south, east and west – they will finally understand why we are here, why this land is our blessed chosen land, and why we choose to live sometimes harder lives here than "the good life" in the fleshpots of Egypt and the rest of the Diaspora.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Me thinks the lady doth protest too much…

Me thinks the lady doth protest too much…And the Man doth not protest at all.

Actually the Hamlet quote really is, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks," but no one remembers it that way. No matter, it's the idea that counts.
Let's say the Lady is US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The woman had an absolute cow when plans for Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo neighborhood were okayed last week (or was she just looking for something to make a stink about – and do ladies have cows and make stinks??). Even the Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman called Clinton's remarks a "gross overreaction" to a "policy difference among friends." She wasn't the only one to insult and threaten Israel last week. US Vice President Biden said that Israel's move "imperiled" the US plan to launch periphery talks between Israel and the PA Arabs. Since then, Administration officials have been searching high and low for complex Thesauruses to find synonyms for "insult" and "imperil" so they can say the same thing in a hundred other ways and also be shown on prime time TV.
The European Union got into the act too. The leftwing site, Haaretz.com, reported, " In addition to the U.S. condemnation of Israel's announcement, the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers also condemned on Friday Israel's announcement approving new construction in east Jerusalem."
(Middle East peacemakers??? Oh puhlease, Haaretz…Has anything they've done over the years advanced peace, or have they just contributed to the isolation and abuse of Israel? Plus, Ramat Shlomo is NOT some tenement neighborhood in east Jerusalem and not in Eastern Jerusalem either. It is a beautiful area in Northern Jerusalem, next to Ramot, another larger and popular Jerusalem neighborhood.) Meanwhile, with the world against Israel and our own government misguidedly apologizing ad nauseum, our officials have also bought stock in Roget's Thesaurus, trying to find a host of new ways to say, "We are sorry. We are lowly. We are unworthy. Forgive us, master."
I mean, what are they scared of? That Clinton or Biden or PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said the announcement of construction one day in the loooong distant future threatens the periphery talks? Another, puhlease, don't be foolish. Nothing will stop those talks, because through those talks the Arabs can only come out big winners and the Israelis big losers. And the Arabs, US or EU can kvetch all they like, but there's no way, unfortunately, that they're not going to race to the table.
Meanwhile the isolation of truly friendless Israel has encouraged Arabs throughout the country (including Gaza) to step up its violence with stones, guns and missiles.
Hm, sounds like one of my blogs. See list of related articles below.
A Thesaurus of Excuses
Of course, there is an excuse for everything. Arabs shot up Route 443 near Modiin two weeks ago because Israel was going to call the burial places of our ancestors, Me'arat HaMachpela and Rachel's Tomb, protected landmarks. The rioting continued in Judea, Samaria and Eastern Jerusalem over the past few weeks, including a rock attack at a bus in Hebron. Then my friend, Valerie, was stoned near Tekoa (she has subsequently been operated on), and the excuse was the announcement of future Ramat Shlomo building, or perhaps it was because the Hurva Synagogue was rededicated (after Arabs destroyed it in 1948). Whatever! They haven't decided which excuse to use.
Back to... the lady and her cohorts protest too much. But the man doth protest not at all.
Instead of letting the US State Department say our municipal announcements "undermined trust and confidence in the peace process," why doesn't Israel's own Prime Minister say, "Constant Arab stone throwing and attacks on innocent Jews throughout Israel – Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria – are undermining our trust and confidence in the peace process, in the real intensions of the Arabs toward peace, and the position of the United States as an honest broker."
Why doth the man not protest at all?
"Israel will not sit down to periphery talks or any talks until there is a complete cessation of violence in every location in the country, whether within or outside the green line. As long as one rock is thrown, there will be no talks."
But the man doth protest not at all.
FINALLY SOMEONE DOTH PROTEST – and that someone is US
Well, finally, at least someone is protesting against this latest round of violence. And we must all go!! All of us. We must do our part to stop the violence. We are all sick of going to funerals of victims of terror. We're tired of hearing that any more of our friends are in the hospital because they were attacked by Arabs who were mad about Ramat Shlomo, Kever Rachel, the Hurva Shul or any other ridiculous excuse.
On Motzei Shabbat, we're going to protest the rioting – not just here in Gush Etzion, where I live, but all over the country.

Motzei Shabbat, Parshat Vayikra, 5 Nisan (March 20, 2010), 8:30 PM:

In Judea: at the Gush Etzion junction, for details: Yehudit Katzover - 050-7161818, Nadia Matar - 050-5500834
In Samaria: at the Hawara junction, for details: Esther Karish 052-8119042
In Benjamin: at the Talmonim junction, for details: Yitzhak Shadmi 052-2456696
Transportation from Kiryat Arba-Hebron to the Gush Etzion junction will leave at 8:00 p.m. from the Kiryat Arba Local Council.
Estimated conclusion: 10:00 p.m.

In my area, Kiryat Arba/Hebron Chief Rabbi Dov Lior, Efrat Rabbi Shimon Golan, Nokdim Rabbi Yaron Dorani and other community rabbis will speak, plus Dr. Amiel Ungar (writer and lecturer at Judea and Samaria University Ariel) and Kiryat Arba's Eliyakim HaEtzni.
The protest has been called by the Samaria Residents Committee, the Benjamin Residents Committee and the Judea Action Committees.
We all must be there. Every one of us.

For related reading: http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2010/03/our-country-do-or-die.html
http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2010/03/were-not-sure.html

http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2010/02/voices-of-purim-today.html

http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2010/02/voices-of-purim-today-part-2.html

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sue's Cool-inary Show - Yummilicous Treat for Pesach

Today I videoed Voices Magazine Food Columnist and reviewer Sue Epstein in her latest episode of Sue's Cool-inary Show – creating a yummy Passover snack for the family. The show can be seen on VOICES TV at http://voices-magazine.com/voices-videos.php?id=119. Meanwhile, here's the recipe for everyone to follow.

Caramel Matzah Crunch

A terrific snack for the kids! No matter how much of this you make it won’t be enough.


6 pieces regular matzah
1 cup (250 ml.) unsalted butter or margarine
1 cup (250 ml.) packed brown sugar
2 cups (500 ml.) chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1 envelope vanilla sugar or 2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C.) Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cover this with baking parchment. This is very important because the mixture becomes sticky during baking. Break matzo into approximately 2” pieces and arrange in a single layer on foil. Don’t worry if it overlaps. Place butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Do not stir. Cook a few minutes or until mixture comes together and does not look oily. Remove from heat and add vanilla sugar or flavoring. Pour mixture over the matzah. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until mixture is bubbling. As soon as matzah comes out of the oven, sprinkle with chocolate. It will melt from the heat of the matzah. After 4-5 minutes, spread chocolate as evenly as possible. Chill until the chocolate and the caramel are set.
Notes: If you have a Pesach food processor, grind the chocolate fine before sprinkling on the matzah and don’t spread it.
You can also use chopped, toasted almonds (sprinkle on top as chocolate sets).

You can learn more about this recipe on Sue's Cool-inary Show, http://voices-magazine.com/voices-videos.php?id=119 .

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Youth Film Festival in Efrat

After the tremendous acclaim for the recent Efrat/Gush Etzion production DAMES of the DANCE 3 - The 7 DAYS of CREATION, did you think that Efrat is only the capital of dance in Israel? Well...it's actual a capital of creativity of all sorts.
Today, Rosh Chodesh Nissan, more than 600 high school students came to Efrat from all over the country for the Festival Kol Noar (Youth Film Festival), headed by filmmaker Yarone Shane. The festival, hosted in the Efrat Community Center, is now in its third year and the foremost showcase of student films in the country.
A total of 150 graduation films, student films and one-minute personal films were submitted from 130 different schools over the past four months. The films were judged by a very respected panel of judges, headed by renowned filmmaker Menachem Golan (maker of some of the most memorable action and fantasy films of the past three decades -Masters of the Universe, Operation Thunderbolt [about Operation Entebbe], Superman IV, Death Wish, Captain America).
About 40 films were screened at the Festival throughout the day. There were also workshops on music in films, special effects, costumes and fascinating panels with Israeli filmmakers, actors, backstage technicians, and the head of Tel Aviv University's film department.
All film-enthusiasts are invited to participate in the rest of the festival, which ends at 10 PM tonight.
At 6:30 PM, the panel of judges, headed by Menachem Golan, will present awards to the winners of the festival. At 7:30 PM, there'll be a personal meeting with legendary filmmaker Golan, during which he'll recount stories of the film industries in Hollywood and Israel during the past 50 years. And then at 8:30, there'll be an open screening of the classic Golan film "Kazablan."
Tonight, the highlight of the evening will be a Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Mr. Menachem Golan by the Matnas of Efrat and the Efrat Local Council.
You are invited to these closing ceremonies at the Efrat Community Council. Now stop reading this blog and rush over to the Matnas. Roll 'em.
To view the VOICES TV clip about the festival, visit http://voices-magazine.com/voices-videos.php?id=118.

H&M Opens in Jerusalem

My 17 year old daughter had been reminding me every day for a month that the H&M Swedish clothing chain was set to open in Jerusalem on March 16th. That seems to have been a hint to "Save up your money, Ema." This morning as I drove her to school, she reminded me again, "This is it. H&M is opening." I said softly, "How nice," not wanting her to be more disappointed than she already was, that she had to go to school instead of to the big opening.
On the way home, I decided to pop by the Mall to see if there was any H&M excitement brewing on site. I was surprised to find that at 11 AM, a pretty long line of women and teenagers were already waiting to get into the store at Noon. Security was everywhere! After hearing about the massive hysteria at the H&M in Tel Aviv (did they think Elvis was going to make an appearance), I'd have thought folks would stay away from Jerusalem Opening Day. Tel Avivians rampaged into the store as if they were giving clothing away. And leftists demonstrated against opening H&M in our dear "oppressive" country.
But Jerusalemites would not be deterred. There they were, women and teens, sucking their H&M lollipops, pouring through the H&M catalogue and eager to walk down the red carpet into the new store.
I asked them why they'd wait so long to visit a store that they could just easily walk into tomorrow or the next day. The women on line just turned their backs to me. That was kind of wierd.
Passersby were taking pictures on their phones and describing the scene to their friends. "I can't believe how many women are waiting to go into H&M." "It's so crazy." "You should see what's going on here."
A red carpet was laid out in front of the store. Perhaps that meant that everyone who entered H&M would be treated like a celebrity. That would be a refreshing service.
Having browsed through the H&M catalogue, I'm not quite sure what the big deal is. The clothing looked like ...clothing.
No matter. We wish good luck to the new H&M, as well as all of Israel's stores. And may the Jewish people have many happy occasions to shop for.
On Voices TV, you can watch the crowds gathering before the opening bell at H&M: http://voices-magazine.com/voices-videos.php?id=117 .

Monday, March 15, 2010

Try G-d

It seems we have a crisis!! A crisis!!!! The president of the United States is unhappy with us, or more correct - he doesn't like us. The US Secretary of State is displeased with us. The US Envoy to the Middle East is insulted by our conduct. All American muckamucks seem to be disgruntled. Israel is so nervous that our government officials are having emergency meetings and press conferences and appointing special committees and subcommittees about the crissssssssis.
The State of Israel is 62 years old. In that time, we've put our trust in a whole slew of American presidents from Harry Truman to Richard Nixon and then Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton and George Bush. And what about the French? Like George Pompidou, Francois Mitterand, Jacques Chiraq, etc. etc.
Israel has leaned on all kinds of leaders from different countries, and it seems that the relationship has varied according to the whim of the particular leader. Remember when we were best friends with countries like Turkey?
Well, life turns on a dime, and international life turns on a euro (or whatever the coin is in China) nowadays. Israel has been told by just about every country in the world that it better tow the international line - give a state to the Arabs of Gaza and Judea and Samaria with Jerusalem as its capital, and stop building and developing Jewish life in areas beyond the "Green Line."
Even our good friends don't seem so good any more.
We've tried and failed with world leaders for 62 years, and we have lived from one crisis to another with country after country and with the United Nations too.
So, let me ask you...the world is against us. We feel like lepers. We're afraid of our shadows. We have no one upon whom we can rely. Why not try G-d? For thousands of years, the Jewish people have gone through crises and wars and cataclysmic events. One Being stood behind us and in front of us and above us. And that is the Leader of Leaders, the Master of the World.
Let's stop cowtowing to these so-called leaders of the world. And let's put our trust for once in the Leader of the World and see what happens.
Let's get Bibi to hold a press conference and say, "The State of Israel would like to announce that it is giving up its quest to make the world and its leaders happy with us. And from now on it is going to try to conduct itself in a way that makes the Master of the Universe happy with us."
And then, let's see what happens. I think it will be the beginning of Ultimate Good. How 'bout it?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Survived Ninth Grade

About 15 years ago, I was asked to substitute teach for first and second graders in a local elementary school in Efrat. (No, I'm not a regular substitute or a teacher of any kind.)
I was asked to teach first grade girls and second grade boys. The girls were adorable, and although they needed help with every single question I asked them, they were sweet and well behaved. The boys were good too, except for three of them. One little boy with a plastic hammer was walking around the class banging other kids on the head. Another little boy was grabbing things away from his classmates, causing protests all around the room. The third, truthfully, I don't remember, but he was plain misbehaving.
So I took these three to the front of the room. I took the hammer away from the first, and bopped him on the head with it. "How do you like that? Do you think that hammer bops are still a good idea now that you've felt them yourself?" I had the second give back everything he had taken, plus stickers from his own famous sticker collection. The third, I potched on the tush. Then I shooed the three back to their seats and they were angels for the rest of the class.
When the teacher for whom I had been substituting checked on the boys, she said, "This class usually challenges me every moment. How do you keep them so quiet?"
I told her, "I potched the the trouble makers and told them they'd better behave."
"What!!!" You can't hit children today!" Boy, that was news to me. B"H, she told me after the class was over, instead of anywhere in the middle.

Fast Forward
This week, 15 years after my first substitute teacher's stint, I found myself in the classroom with about 20 ninth graders.
I walked in and most of the boys knew me. And I knew their mothers. I thought that would hold me in good stead. Um, no.
I set up a lesson on Critical Reading, and while many of the boys participated, thanks to the antics of a few others, I quickly felt myself being dragged down into the quick sand of the substitute teacher torture pit. Suddenly, one of the boys realized that my handouts were funny. He raised his hand and commented on one of the signs I asked them to read.
Then another raised his hand, and one by one I had them reading signs or ads and commenting.
Somehow, the word Dubai came up, and then the Dubai assassination. None of them had ever heard about it. So, I gave them the blow-by-blow I had seen on youtube. I made football-like diagrams of which spy was where and where he went next. I asked them to analyze the assassination and prove who-dunnit!
Suddenly I felt the thrill that teachers the world over must feel when their class enjoys their lesson. It almost made me want to come back again. And I decided I would...in about five years.
This is a tribute to my friend, TTT, Toby the Teacher, and to teachers everywhere.
HOW DO YOU DO IT?? EVERY DAY?? And you actual teach them valuable things!!! Wow!! You are great!

Prisons and PhDs

Murderer/chief Fatah terrorist Marwan Barghouti is getting his PhD in Israeli prison. Mazel tov.
A terrorist since his teens, Barghouti was imprisoned in the 1970s and 1980s for his terrorist activities. While in prison, he finished his bagruyot (high school matriculation exams) in 1980.
Many Arab teenagers in Israeli prisons today take their bagruyot while in jail. The classes are small, and there are many teachers on site to help them. (BTW, I just called one of my friends whose son was arrested for protesting the destruction of Gush Katif. He was not allowed to study for bagruyot.)

We who believe that prisons should rehabilitate their prisoners surely look at prison bagruyot as a terrific opportunity to improve the future of the wayward and underprivileged Arab youth arrested for rioting, stone throwing, and all levels of attacks on Jews. It's a new beginning.
Young Barghouti also improved himself and began again until he achieved the murder of four Israelis and a Greek Orthodox priest, plus the planning of a mega-terrorist attack at the Malcha Mall (that B"H failed). He was tried for 33 other attacks (they were not pinned on him for lack of evidence).
Today an honored guest in Israel's prison system, Barghouti is treated like a superstar - allowed personal family privileges, permission to have meetings with all kinds of political leaders, and has even done television interviews right from jail stating, "I support the Palestinian intifada and the Palestinian resistace." So much for learning about peace in prison.
Now the piece de resistance, when he's not running the activities on the Fatah street from his cell (or cellphone), Marwan Barghouti has completed his doctorate in political science.
Jpost.com said, "Barghouti, 50, is one of several hundred Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons who enroll in studies at universities around the world, including in Israel."Barghouti wrote a 341 page thesis " with the help of hundreds of books and documents that Israeli authorities allow inmates to bring into prison" for the University of Cairo. The topic: “The Legislative and Political Performance of the Palestinian Legislative Council and its Contribution to the Democratic Process in Palestine from 1996 to 2008.” No comment.
So, mazel tov to Marwan. A doctorate is a tremendous accomplishment.

In June, it's almost four years that Gilad Shalit has been in a Gazan prison – just enough time for him to complete his college studies. I wonder what university degree Gilad Shalit has attained. I'd like to wish him mazel tov too.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

No Self-Respect

My friend's children live in the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood. They are fabulous young people and have terrific faith-filled neighbors. They also have Arabs in the area who are constantly hurling curses, stones and boulders at them. They say they've called the police on many an occasion and the reaction was either nothing or less than speedy. The police say they have a "policy of not tolerating disturbances," and that's a very comforting thought. I hope that will be true when Jews are being disturbed.
The riots this week near the homes of the Jews of the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood are very disturbing. Adding insult to injury is the fact that our own Jerusalem Post (not Al Jazeera or the New York Times) calls the neighborhood Sheikh Jarrah. Why don't they call Ramat Aviv by its Arab name of Sheikh Munis or Har Nof by its name Deir Yassin?
By constantly acknowledging the Arab scenario, the media and the government are weakening our Jewish roots and connections to this country, while strengthening our enemies. http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2010/01/truth-about-israeli-arab-aspirations.html
Alas.
The Israeli government should demand that Jewish neighborhoods be called by their Jewish names. But it goes back to the same discussion we've had several times already - our own government's lack of belief/confidence that this is our land.
No wonder they take visiting international dignitaries to Yad Vashem instead of living thriving Jewish sites of growth and development. They feel comfortable with Jews and Jewish communities that ONCE EXISTED but have long since been destroyed. They feel uncomfortable with living doing succeeding Jews today.
Shrug.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Internal Week - International Week

There surely have been many important events that took place over the past week, especially with United States President Joe Biden here, PA head Mahmoud Abbas flexing his muscles about Israeli building, Arab rioting over whatever the latest convoluted excuse, Iranian President Ahmadinejad's latest Israel annihilation speech, and the sad and confused eagerness on the part of the government to destroy whatever they can get away with in Judea and Samaria.
I acknowledge all these events as I look back at my own personal week.
On Sunday, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that America staged the 9/11 massacre of 3000 Americans in order to invade Afghanistan. And I packed my performance bag, filled my car with drinks and nosh, and got on stage in the Gush Etzion Theater for the first performance of DAMES of the DANCE 3 - The 7 DAYS of CREATION. B"H, it was a smash hit. http://voices-magazine.com/voices-videos.php?id=114

On Monday, I woke up very late (I'm embarrassed to tell you what time) and my husband took me out to brunch at the Gush Etzion Winery in order to celebrate the show's success. Meanwhile, Israel said that it's not REALLY going to have negotiations with the Arabs, but periphery talks (which is really the same thing). And we should be happy that we're having those talks, because the Arabs didn't want ANYTHING. In the end they were divided about having these talks or not, but they did us the favor of sitting down at the table with us. However, Abbas' office threatened that we'd better come up with an agreement within four months that will lead to the creation of a new PA State with Eastern Jerusalem as its capital, and Judea and Samaria as its country.
On Tuesday, I had a tap rehearsal (even though we're performing, we never neglect the basics :) ). Meanwhile Joe Biden came to Israel and said the road map had to be followed, with the destination - a PA State within Israel's borders. (Hm, who's the boss here - but we've dicussed that before.) And in Nigeria, a Muslim mob axed and hatcheted to death about 500 Christians. Christians take note: the UN called the pogrom "disturbing". (It would have been a bit less of a yawn had it been the other way around.)
On Wednesday, I interviewed the owners of the Gush Etzion Winery about the growth of Gush Etzion's wine industry and the winery's latest awards and citations of excellence. (Story to come.) And then I made a video with Voices' food columnist Sue Epstein on how to use up your chametz in delicious ways. Here's the video: http://voices-magazine.com/voices-videos.php?id=115
At around the same time, the Israel Home Front Command announced that in case of a war if hundreds of thousands of Jews had to be evacuated from their missile-torn homes, the best place to put them would be the towns of Judea and Samaria. Home Front Command said the people of Yesha are so warm, welcoming and caring, they'd be able to absorb their war torn brethren. (Seems to be a bit of confusion. The government wants to destroy many of those self-same communities that the Home Front Command hopes to use as a safe haven. Do you think sending the Jews of Haifa and Sderot to Bet Tzachur or Umm El Fahm would be a good alternative?)
On Thursday night, I was back in my black tights and tap shoes as I got on stage with more than 100 women in DAMES 3. I wanted to rest up all day, but the Civil Administration had the nerve to burst into Efrat at 5 AM and smash the foundations of a synagogue to be built in Western Dekel. And I had to go out and cover the story. What timing! Instead of relaxing, I was running around to film the site and interview the Mayor. Here's the video: http://voices-magazine.com/voices-videos.php?id=116 .
Then Thursday night, hooooray!! What an incredible evening! Efrat Councilwoman Ruth Golan (who was also the guest voice of the Tanach in our production) said, "What positive energy!!!" Unfortunately in Europe, the energy was not as positive. H&M opened its stores in Israel (almost trampling baby carriages in the frenzy) and anti-Israel organizations in Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, the UK, Austria, Canada and Ireland were planning to demonstrate because this European firm was going to make millions of Israeli shekels from us terrible folks. Let's trick them. Let's not buy from H&M and then everyone will be happy.
It's Friday, the morning after our show. One of our cast members has injured her leg, another her hand, and the rest are basking in the glory, B"H, of positive reviews and loving acclaim. And we magically change from stars to Jewish women preparing for our serene and holy Sabbath. Outside our town, we hear that the "West Bank" has been sealed off, because we're expecting Arab rioting. The reason was last month's designation of Hebron's Me'arat HaMachpelah and the Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem as national landmarks. That's called a delayed reaction. But if it wasn't that reason, there'd be another. I for one would be thrilled to drive on the roads without Arab cars on it. But I'll tell you a secret. I've already been out shopping today, and there are Arabs allllll over the roads, so I don't know what kind of shut down was imposed. But, you know what? It sounds good.
The kugels are waiting, but I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that there are still some tickets left for DAMES 3 at its Matinee performance on March 15 at 5 PM in the Matnas Efrat. It's a fabulous show, B"H, and we're performing especially for mothers and children on Monday. Introduce your child to the love of dance. Join us for a 90-minute escape from the outside world. http://voices-magazine.com/dames_survey.html
Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Like Thieves in the Night

The Israeli government seems to like the drama of entering Jewish areas and destroying homes and settlements and synagogues in the cover of darkness, like thieves in the night.
That's how they entered my town of Efrat this morning at 5 AM. With policemen and soldiers, the government's tractor destroyed the foundations of a synagogue in the very center of the community.
The Koresh synagogue was meant to provide prayer services for residents of Western Dekel, but right now the foundations of that shul like in ruins.
The media said that US Vice President Joe Biden was in a better mood today than he was yesterday after he found out that there would be a 1500-unit building project one day in Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo neighborhood. The world went into a tremendous uproar when they realized that 1500 more Jewish families would call Jerusalem home. Aghhhhhhhhhhhhh!
But today, Biden is in a better mood. The Civil Administration and security forces destroyed some buildings in Gush Etzion's rural town of Bat Ayin and the synagogue foundation in central Efrat.
Mayor Oded Revivi told Voices that Efrat had applied for permission for the synagogue to be built, but the government has demonstrated clearly that it does not want synagogues, just as it does not want outposts or any other building in Judea and Samara, or Jerusalem for that matter.
I wrote about this issue only a few days ago, http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2010/03/our-country-do-or-die.html.
Voices videoed the site of the destruction this morning, and spoke to Mayor Oded Revivi about the event. You can see it on VOICES TV http://voices-magazine.com/voices-videos.php?id=116 .

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sue's Coolinary Show - Banana Cream Crumble French Toast

Today I videoed Voices Magazine Food Columnist and reviewer Sue Epstein in her latest episode of Sue's Cool-inary Show. The show can be seen on VOICES TV at http://www.voices-magazine.com/.
Meanwhile, here's the recipe for everyone to follow. It's a perfect Pre-Pesach recipe. Enjoy.

Banana Cream Crumble French Toast (Serves 7-8)

This is a great and extremely versatile dish to use up leftover or stale bread. You can mix and match any filling ingredient to suit your taste. Spread the bread with cream cheese or cheese slices, peanut butter and jelly; sprinkle with nuts, raisins, craisins or any type of canned or fresh fruit.
Spray a 10 x 15" glass baking dish with Pam Spray. Place 14-16 slices of bread* into the dish.

8 eggs
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 bananas, sliced

Mix together and pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 250 degrees. Let baking dish set out while oven preheats. Top with Brown Sugar Crumble mixture and bake 45 minutes, until puffy and golden. Cover with foil last 5-10 minutes of baking so top doesn't overbrown.

Brown Sugar Crumble:

In food processor with steel blade, pulse just until combined:
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup molasses or other syrup

(This can be made ahead and stored in freezer until needed.)


Our Country?? - Do or Die??

When I was a kid in America, I remember the expression, "Our Country - Do or Die." What did that mean?? I really had no clue then, and I'm not so sure today, but I have a guess.
A country that cannot grow, that cannot go forward, cannot develop does not stand stagnant. It withers and dies.
Perhaps America's motto, "Our Country - Do or Die", meant that America had to spread from sea to shining sea, had to develop its cities, build its skyscrapers, establish its booming industries or it would wither and die.
Now Israel is faced with a situation of its own foolish doing. Our Prime Minister announced months ago that we would NOT build in Judea and Samaria for ten months (read: we will never build in Judea and Samaria if certain folks can help it). The towns of Yesha (Judea and Samaria) are facing a crisis. Their young people cannot move into their towns, because there are no homes available for building, no apartments available for rent, no vacant caravans. Okay, so young people won't move in? Not so simple. An aging population in Judea and Samaria means that without throwing one Jew out of his home, the communities of Yesha will die sad, but "natural" deaths.
Who needs Yesha anyway, the government might think? We've got Tel Aviv and Raanana and Petach Tikva, and with our "united" capital of Jerusalem, we're fine.

THE TRUTH

Many years ago, I wrote that the Arabs and the rest of the world know the TRUTH. The Israeli government makes a very definite distinction between Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.
Yesha is beyond the green line. It is the West Bank. It's ours today, but tomorrow is unsure. Jerusalem, on the other hand, is our capital and must always be united, or at least we've got to say that until we can sway public opinion into agreeing to give away Eastern Jerusalem.
However, the Arabs and the rest of the world know, there is no difference between Yesha and Jerusalem. And since Netanyahu has proclaimed a freeze (read: stoppage) on buildling in Judea and Samaria, the Arabs and the world want the same freeze (read: stoppage) in Jerusalem as well.
The Israeli government proclaims its sovereignty over Jerusalem with shaking knees. But the world hears the rattling knees and doesn't hear the proclamation.
The vote on building in Ramat Shlomo came up and was passed during United States Vice President Joe Biden's visit. Israel announces it's building in Jerusalem. The US throws a fit.
Instead of saying, "This is our capital, and we'll build where we want," all kinds of government ministers are screaming and yelling at the stupidity of the plan, of the announcement of the timing.
How tragic that our own government ministers don't know whose land this is, and especially whose capital it is.
In the past few months, I've been pretty disappointed in Minister Benny Begin, but he said something today that is true. Jpost reported on Begin: "When would be a good time?" he asked rhetorically. "If it happened 10 days before, they would have said we did it to harm the visit of the US vice president, and if we did it 10 days later, they would have accused us of saying certain things while he (Biden) was here and acting differently afterward."
All this is part of the problem I wrote about a few days ago. We just don't know/believe/understand that the Land of Israel truly belongs to the Jewish People. We do not have the faith to go forward to our national destiny. http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2010/03/were-not-sure.html
I hope we wisen up very soon, because if our capital cannot expand and prosper, it will, G-d forbid, just die. And without a heart, the body doesn't have much of a chance.