Monday, February 28, 2011

Ta'anit Esther and International Agunah Day

Ta’anit Esther has been designated as International Agunah Day, a day when Jews all over the world will hopefully come to recognize the growing problem of get (Jewish divorce)-refusal within Jewish, and especially observant Jewish society.
With the holiday of Purim approaching, and before it Ta’anit Esther (the Fast of Esther), I sat down to chat with Dr. Rachel Levmore, a well-known and respected Toenet Rabbanit (Rabbinical Court Advocate) and coordinator of the Agunah Prevention Project for the Council of Young Israel Rabbis and the Jewish Agency. Dr. Levmore not only counsels and represents agunot in Bet Din, she has authored Min’ee Einayich Medim’a, a sefer on the halachic issues involved in get refusal and the development of prenuptial agreements.
Dr. Levmore explained the relationship between Esther (who was married to King Achashverosh) and agunot (women whose husbands refuse to give them a get).
Dr. Levmore comment that Esther was locked into a marriage of which she wanted no part. Her affliction was indeed like those of agunot – living in fear and even living a double life so that her husband would not uncover “ammunition” that could give him further reasons not to grant a get. Ta’anit Esther and International Agunah Day are also connected in the way Esther brought salvation.
Esther knew she needed the unity of Am Yisrael for salvation. She called everyone to join her, empathize with her in order to reach the rescue of all those who are suffering.
Those who are fighting to aid agunot are calling out to Am Yisrael. Join us in unity.
When everyone will understand the deep problem of get refusal, then we can do away with this blight on Jewish society.
Dr. Levmore noted that Esther turned to the rabbanim after the Purim miracle, and asked them to write the story of Purim for generations to come, and include it as a holy book of the Tanach. “We similarly turn to the rabbis to develop halachic rulings that will insure that there will be no more victims of get refusal. The solution will come when the rabbanim agree on a proper solution and implement it.”
One preventative solution has already been mandated by the Rabbinical Council of America in the United States for every couple that marries under its auspices - a prenuptial agreement for the prevention of get refusal. The agreement used in Israel is called the Heskem Lekavod Hadadi (the agreement for mutual respect). It is a halachic monetary agreement that exhibits respect from one spouse to the other (and both partners obligate themselves in the same manner). It cuts the possibility of bitter get refusal, because of the money involved in the agreement. Rachel said, “As we say in America, ‘money talks.’”
Dr. Levmore continued, “All couples should be signing this agreement automatically before they get married,” because of three reasons:
1) Tikkun olam (fixing the world) – we will correct a bad situation that exists in the dati (observant society).
2) Personal protection – no one is planning on getting divorce, but if someone signs the agreement, then if G-d forbid, he becomes part of the 30% who do get divorced, he minimizes his losses through the agreement.
3) By becoming involved, young people today have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take part in the historical development of a solution to a global problem that affects all of Orthodox society all over the world.
People must push rabbis to face the agunah problem head on, really relate to it, and come out with deeper halachic solutions.
The agreement can be found at .
Hear Dr. Rachel Levmore speak about the connection between Ta’anit Esther and International Agunah Day, as well as the solutions to get refusal:
On March 7, Dr. Levmore will be participating in a panel discussion at the OU Israel Center on the topic of Agunot, and a new documentary film titled Women Unchained.

No Free Lunches

Well, if you've read my blogs over the past few days, they're all about our terrific and much-needed vacation break in Ashkelon.
And now that I'm home, I'm drowninggggg in laundry, mess, WORK.
I know that if you get a vacation, you've gotta eventually pay, and boy, have I been paying.
So, with a desk piled up to the sky, 100 emails to returns, dozens of phone calls waiting for me, and rehearsals three days/nights a week for my upcoming show DAMES of the DANCE 4 - The Promised Land, I am doing my best to complete my tasks one item at a time.
Wish me luck.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kibbutz Negba - By Chance

We were driving back from Ashkelon when we saw a sign for the Yoav Monument. Since the area we were in was called the Yoav Region, I thought that the Monument would reveal what "Yoav" was all about. (But that, my friends, is for another blog.)
I asked my husband to turn off the road to visit the Yoav Monument, and he agreed. After driving for about ten minutes in the middle of green fields, we still saw no monument, but we did spot a brown sign that read, "Tower and Stockade".
I knew about the Tower and Stockade (Choma and Migdal) kibbutzim from our travels to Kibbutz Yad Mordechai in the Negev and Kibbutz Chanita on the Lebanese border. Choma and Migdal kibbutzim were put up in the middle of the night in the Pre-State of the 1930s by young idealistic Jews who were trying to hold on to the Land of Israel before the British could partition it.

According to the Society for the Protection of Israel's Heritage Sites, "a wooden tower crowned by a searchlight for observation and signaling was constructed in the middle of the settlement, surrounded by a few huts. The entire area was enclosed by a wall, 1.80m. in height, built of two wooden fences, between which was a gravel infill as protection from bullets. Within less than three years, 55 new communities were established - a leap from nothing to a period of intensive progress. 'Tower and stockade' settlements were established throughout the country, from kibbutz Dan, in the North, to Kibbutz Negba in the Negev (South), many of them in areas where there was formerly no Jewish Yishuv (community)."
These settlements and their builders, my husband explained to me, were the forerunners of today's hilltop communities and the hilltop youth. The situation is just about the same - the land is threatened, Arabs are building and spreading out everywhere without stop, and the Jewish people were forbidden from building. IY"H, the results will also be the same - dozens of new communities throughout Eretz Yisrael.
Kibbutz Negba
As we entered Kibbutz Negba, founded in 1939 (then, the southernmost Jewish settlement in British Mandate Palestine), we were greeted by an actual Tower and Stockade. It was exciting to see right before me, what I had only read about in such heroic stories. We took a bunch of photos and then entered Negba, which is called an Open Museum.
On display right outside is an Egyptian tank, which was gifted to the children of Negba by the IDF. The young people of Negba fought the Egyptian forces for three months in 1948. They were members of Hashomer Hatzair from Poland. They fought valiantly. During the first onslaught of the Egyptian forces, about 150 young people held out against 1000 Egyptians. In the second onslaught 200 young people and reinforcements were faced with 2000 Egyptians. The kibbutz was destroyed and many of its defenders fell in battle.
Off to the left of the entrance of the kibbutz is a cemetery and a war memorial to those Negba fighters who died in battle.

But Negba wasn't only about war, it was about going on, growing and prospering. Across from the EgyptianBut Negba wasn't only about war, it was about going on, growing and prospering. Across from the Egyptian

But Negba wasn't only about war, it was about going on, growing and prospering. Across from the Egyptian tank is the settlement's first tractor and first plow. The ability to grow their own food, along with the building of its first water tower helped Negba survive.
Cart Town
As we walked around Negba, we noticed many little carts parked here and there. Meir Mindel, manager of the Negba Heritage Centre, told us that several of the young defenders of Negba were still alive, B"H. They're in their 90s, and since it's not so easy to get around, they all drive these little carts.
But the carts were all parked, and their drivers were no where to be found. Meir told us that while they couldn't get around physically so well, they still like to learn, and a bus picks them up every week and takes them to university for classes.
Meir said, "These people are the ones who made the history of this place." Perhaps when we return next time, we'll get to meet some of the original hilltop youth.
You can see here the IDF war memorial, the abandoned Egyptian tank, the shell scarred water-tower, and the first tractor to have ploughed the soil in this area. The Open Museum emphasizes major events of modern history of Israel: the Land Acquisition in 1930; the Immigration of the pioneers in 1933; the possession of the site in 1939; the War of Independence in which 150 defenders managed to hold off attacks by some 1000 soldiers of the Egyptian Army. And exhibition also relates to modern day Negba, a proud and optimistic kibbutz, that has found a successful mix of agriculture, industry and tourism.

For more information or even a tour by Meir Mindel, , , 0505560554.

Pre-State Ashkelon

As we continued to explore Ashkelon, we went to the old city center to visit the Ashkelon-Museum/Chan. It was a pretty eye-opening experience.
The Museum stands on the corner of Independence Square. B"H for independence, because exactly at this square, Egyptian forces paraded their Jewish captives during the War of Independence. The Egyptians had gotten that far!!

B"H for the kibbutzim and the young fighters throughout the Negev that actually held off the Egyptians from overrunning the entire country.

After Biblical days, Ashkelon was called Majdal. In fact, a large part of the museum was an exhibit that explained the debate over changing the town's name. After the British Mandate when Majdal was saved from the Egyptian invasion, its name was eventually changed back to Ashkelon.

Ashkelon's shores were the recipient of only one successful illegal immigrant ship in Aliya Bet. A ship from Rena, Romania, set sail on March 6, 1939 with 720 refugees bound for Eretz Yisrael. The ship sailed for four-and-a-half months before it reached Ashkelon's coast. Unfortunately the British intercepted it, jailed the refugees, but after two months of interrogations, the immigrants were released.

Three ma'abarot (immigrant tansit camps) were set up for immigrants from Arab countries, as well as Romania and Poland. The first homes built in Ashkelon in 1951 were inhabited from olim from South Africa and South America.

Ashkelon's residents still have strong ties with South American countries, and a sculpture exhibit outside the Ashkelon Heichal HaTarbut (Cultural Center) is made up of sculptures dedicated to the various nations of South America - Guatemala, Uruguay, Panama, Honduras, etc.
And hopefully, there'll be a movie clip to come soon too.

Samson, Oh Samson, Where Are You?

Ashkelon is Samson and Delilah town! Everywhere you go, they are referenced. Ashkelonim (residents) believe that their city is the place where Delilah betrayed her husband, had his long locks cut, and rendered him weak and defeated.
At a lecture we attended by Ashkelon Academic College Professor Avi Sasson, we heard that this wasn't the case. Samson was never in Ashkelon, unless he walked through on the way to Gaza. The audience was shocked. Of course Samson was here. His image was throughout the city, in addition to the Samson Grocery, the Samson Car Dealership, the Samson Cleaners, the Samson Gym, etc.
In fact, on the beautiful Ben Gurion Boulevard, an entire sculpture garden is devoted to Delilah's betrayal.
Here are some excerpts from the tragic story. Judges 16:15, "She said to him, 'How can you say, I love you,' when you...[have not] told me what makes your strength so great?"
Judges 16:19, "She...had him shave off the seven locks on his head, thus beginning to afflict him, and his strength departed from him."
Judges 16:21, "The Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes."

Judges 16:29-30, "Samson grapsed the two central pillars upon which the building rested...Samson said, 'Let my soul die with the Philistines!"
As I was walking past the sculptures, I saw a group of soldiers looking at them as well. I told him, "Take heed, boys! These sculptures are a lesson to you in how to choose a wife. You don't choose her for her curves or her face. You choose her for her heart."
At first, they laughed, but then they said, "You're right. We'll remember that."
I hope they will.

Ancient Ashkelon

The last time I went to Ashkelon with my kids, we visited the Ashkelon National Park that includes its original walled city and loads of ancient ruins.
On this trip, we explored Ashkelon’s ancient history in three different places – the city’s museum in mid-town, the Ashkelon Academic College and at a lecture for Ashkelonim (residents) at the Yad L’Banim center.
The museum, a once-Arab Chan (wayfarers station), included photos of the old Crusader Wall, as well as Roman Era jewelry, clips (at left), doo-dads.
Archaeological findings stood right in the lobby of the Ashkelon Academic College administration building. The exhibit said that the “origin of the name ‘Ashkelon’ is probably the Hebrew monetary word, ‘shekel’.” This alluded to the city’s standing as a commercial port city. It flourished during the time of the Canaanites around1800 BCE and was captured by the Philistines three centuries later. It must have been a famous successful city, because when King David eulogized King Saul and Jonathan, he mentioned the “streets of Ashkelon” (Samuel 2, 1:20).
It fought the Assyrians, was captured and destroyed totally by Nebuchadnezzar in 604 BCE. Under Persian rule, it was a city of Tyre. It had its ups and downs (captures and independence) and it was a city state that produced its own money (at left -a very big deal). Much later during the Byzantine period, it was a major stop on the Christian pilgrims’ route to Jerusalem. Then it was on and off captured by the Muslims, alternating with the Crusaders.
Well, it was a port/trading city, of course everyone wanted it. It was a very big exporter of oil, wine, textiles, and onions. In fact, as we learned from Ashkelon Academic College Professor Avi Sasson, onions were a symbol of Ashkelon. And one of the reasons the rulers built big walls around the city, was to protect their onion crop from the sand of the ocean.
Professor Sasson also noted that King Herod, who built Bet HaMikdash, Me’arat HaMachpela and the city of Caesaria, also built an ampitheater and other buildings in Ashkelon. Where are these structures today? Well, it seems, the professor said, that since there were no building materials available at the time in this area, that other cities took the stones from Ashkelon to build their own places, like Yaffo.
One weird Ashkelon fact: Professor Sasson said that a cemetery for 1000 dogs was found in Ashkelon, while digging for a new building. He said that while there are many theories for this weird cemetery, he believes that since Ashkelon was a place of business, and shepherding dogs were part of that commerce, the dogs were honored and buried in a respectable way. (BTW, the building was indeed erected, and some of the dogs’ bones were relocated to Ashkelon’s National Park.)
One very disappointing fact: Professor Sasson said that while Ashkelon is celebrated as the place that Delilah chopped off Samson’s hair, that never occurred there at all. There was a cry in the room, and an indignant elderly gentleman stood up, “We are Ashkelonim and we know that the legend of Samson occurred here.” The professor said, “You can tell your grandchildren stories of Samson and bravery, if you wish. But be true to yourselves. Samson never came to Ashkelon.” Aghhhhhhh! Silence, shocked silence.

Bustling Ashkelon

One of my favorite cities in Israel is Ashkelon. I love the sea. I love the Miami Beach, Florida, feeling (the buildings are beige and white stucco; there are orange and kumquat trees in the yards). And I love the sun on a cold winter's day.
Of course, while we were there it was cold, rainy and perfect for my neighborhood, but it didn't seem to "go" with Ashkelon. The ocean was grey and forbidding. The waves were totally out of control. And of course, there were teenage surfers in wet suits, who didn't care that folks were shivering just watching them.
We walked past the marina, and the boats were absolutely jumping off the water - having a tug of war with the thick ropes that held them to the docks. They seemed excited to see us walk by, and they greeted us with a little splash. But we made a quick getaway when we saw the first bolt of lightning over the ocean.
Two more things I love about Ashkelon: 1) Their traffic lights are numbered. Isn't that cool? When you give instructions, you say, "Go to traffic light 6 and turn right!" And it works great. 2) They're always building. Building like crazy.
Each of Ashkelon's five neighborhoods has its own schools, public facilities, and of course, its own mall.
Ashkelon is currently a 125,000 person city and it is building homes and municipal structures to ensure that it is 140,000 person city by the year 2020. Watching all the building in Ashkelon, I'm sure they'll make it.
One more point about Ashkelon's population. It encompasses many olim - 40,000 who immigrated to Israel since 1948. There are Russians and Ethiopians, but there are also many olim from Arab countries. In fact, driving around Ashkelon, we noticed several synagogues that had names that indicated the members were from Lybia and Iraq.
There are also special clubs for each group - special arts and education clubs, even special libraries - so that they can be absorbed into Ashkelon and also still maintain former cultures and traditions. While we were in the Heichal HaTarbut (Cultural Center), we even saw posters for theatrical performances in Hebrew with translations to other languages. Something for everyone.

One Please

My husband took me away for a few days for a much needed break.
On our way, my husband stopped the car for a late Mincha afternoon prayer. I sat in the car quietly reading, and everything was fine until I heard shots.
Well, I didn't know what kind of shots they were. I didn't know if we were in a dangerous neighborhood (I didn't know there might be dangerous neighborhoods in Israel. Chas v'shalom. Could it have been a gang war?). All I knew is that I heard shots.
I tried to stay calm. I tried to ignore the shots that seemed to be getting closer - first over the hill, then at the top of the hill, then somewhere nearer, but I didn't know where.
When my husband came back to the car, I told him that I was about to drive around so I wouldn't have to be locked into this parking lot with shots fired around me.
He listened for a second and said, "Cap gun."
Cap gun?
"Yes, Purim is getting closer, and so there'll be more cap guns everywhere."
Boy, that was one loud cap gun.
The shooter was firing off hundreds of caps, one right after the other - a rapid fire cap gun, if there is something like that.
My husband was fascinated. "Wow, he's sure got a lot of caps. Do you know, when I was a little boy in Israel in the late 1950s, when we went to the store to buy caps for our gun, the storekeeper said, 'How many?' You could buy one, two, ten, whatever, but you paid by the cap. You can get a box like today. You couldn't even afford a box like today. I usually bought one and saved it, saved it, saved it, anxiously waiting for Purim when I could finally boldly shoot off my ONE."
Wow, I didn't know that. How special that ONE must have been! I thought of my husband waiting all year with great anticipation to fire off that ONE.
He added that lots of things in Israel were bought in ONEs. If you needed a bandaid, you went to the pharmacy and bought ONE. There were no boxes of bandaids, just ONE bandaid at a time.
And if you wanted a drink of soda, you didn't buy a six pack of Coke. You went to a soda fountain store (like a coffee shop) and you ordered one drink of soda. They gave you a glass, added flavoring and squirted in seltzer. Voila, one glass of soda.
When I think of all the waste today, and how nothing is special any more, I'm going to remember my husband's ONE.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pizmon Etzion

The favorite TV show of my dearest mother (ad 120) is Dancing with the Stars. There are these three judges, and they watch these movie/TV/music/sports stars tripping the light fantastic with professionals and doing usually a very terrific job of it. These judges meanwhile have to come up with clever and pithy comments after ever dance, while simultaneously rating each performer and keeping the crowd happy.

Well, that's sort of how I felt tonight as a judge of Pizmon Etzion, the class choir competition of the Orot Etzion Boys School in Efrat.
The boys in all classes from 3rd to 8th grade competed. They were judged on the song itself, their delivery of it, their choreography and performance level. Scores were based on 100%.
Twenty classes competed and I gave out one 100 during the evening. That 100 went to the 5th Grade class of Hei 2. They sang Revach from Miami Boys Choir. They were just fabulous performers. They were enthusiastic, together, and they even tried to get the audience to participate. (I hope I'll be able to find time to post their performance. I think I videoed part of it.)
The entire project was terrific. The boys rehearsed for three weeks in their classrooms. They learned their songs, and some clever dance steps. But more than that, they learned that the more they put into something, the more they'll get out.
Most students (whether in religious or secular schools) learn that the amount of effort they expend studying for a test or doing a homework assignment is parallel to the grade they're going to get. That's an individual achievement.
But when you perform, it's not about you being your best, it's about you being your best for your fellow performer. It's about the whole picture. It's a fabulous lesson in team work and in connecting to and encouraging others to do their best.
You could see many of these classes really "got it." They were in synch with each other. They were proud of each other. That's a tremendous lesson.
The other judges (Reuvein Quint, Yonatan Fund, Bentzi T. and Rivka Moriah) and I were very clear on the groups we thought did their best to: work together, unify for the good of others, AND sound great. There were three winners in each division of the school. But the truth is that all the boys won. They had a fabulously fun evening, they cheered on their friends and they were cheered too. The energy in the Efrat Matnas was turned all the way up, and the fun quotient was tremendous.
The MC, Rav Noam, was especially good. He kept the audience excited and happy the whole night.
Not an easy task, but a terrific night.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Wish I Could Dance

I wish I could really dance.
I mean, I dance. I move my leg here, my arm there. I turn a little. I twist. I go up. I go down. But I don't really believe that I can dance. However, I want it so badly, perhaps I make people think that I really am dancing.
Tonight I watched real dancers dance.
Tonight I attended two back-to-back rehearsals for DAMES of the DANCE 4 -
THE PROMISED LAND. The first was a teenage hip hop number. Wow, those girls are so filled with energy. They were skinny rubber bands bopping all over. Their number was so fun and full of action. Terrif!
Then I watched the Master Dancers perform.
Oh my gosh!! They just took my breath away. They were just magnificent, angelic, gorgeous.....skinny!! Really, I was gasping for breath just watching them.
We are a little less than five weeks from our upcoming production of DAMES of the DANCE, and B"H, I really see it taking shape.
It's going to be a terrific evening. Almost 100 dancers bring the audience to its feet in applause, IY"H.
I'm going to do my best to keep up, but I really wish I could dance. I'm going to keep trying.

Photos by Rebecca Flash Kowalsky,

Purim Cheer - Where it Really Belongs

Remember the fabulous PURIM PROGRAM for our CHAYALIM (soldiers), post-high-school-yeshiva students and bnot sherut (national service girls), organized by Ayelet Avrahami of Matnas Efrat? Just in case, you don't remember:
Ayelet and a whole band of volunteers put together incredibly yummy and fun Purim Mishloach Manot packages for our soldiers, who are serving the country anywhere from the Golan down to Eilat.
You, lovely kind supporters, donate money for this project, and Ayelet buys get things for each active duty soldier, as well as small packages for boys/girls that are in sherut leumi or yeshiva.
Ayelet said that Efrat wants to hug its post-high schoolers, and show, "Efrat has its soldiers and its children in its heart."
There are currently about 700+ post-high schoolers, of which about 400 are in active duty. Money has already come in for this project, but Ayelet says the Matnas needs 15,000 NIS to make it really happen.
Let's make this a fantabulastic Purim for our high schoolers who are away from home. Let's show our appreciation for all they do.
If you're from the Efrat community and you have an automatic bank order at Matnas Efrat, you can donate directly through the email – .
If you're from outside the communitiy, you can donate to the Matnas via Visa/Mastercard by calling 02-993-2935.

Watch Ayelet speaking about this terrific project in English at and in Hebrew at .

Trees Update

Speaking of trees...You might remember reading that my family planted trees in Eastern Gush Etzion on Tu B'Shevat:
Well, today I visited those trees, and you know what???? They're growing little teeny buds.
I was so excited to see those little buds, I stared at them for quite a while. I felt like a mother, looking at her adorable little child.
We had made a circle of stones around the trees, and today weeded within the stone border. I wanted that little circle to be brown and rich, no weeds or stray grass bothering our trees.
I'm sorry I didn't bring my camera, but next time I visit Eastern Gush Etzion again, I'm going to be sure to remember it. And by that time, maybe the buds will be even bigger.
Hooray for trees planted in the soil of Eretz Yisrael. And hooray for the fact that I was able to dig in that soil today myself. It felt great!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kumquat Harvest - The Giving Tree

I remember a story I used to read to my children about The Giving Tree. It gave shade. It gave fruit. It gave the children a branch to hang a swing. It gave to the family that loved it.

Well, I have a giving tree too. It is a kumquat tree. I love it. My entire family loves it. Seriously, I think it's leaves wave at me as I walk by each day.
Twice a year, it gives us the most delicious kumquats in the world.
When we moved in, the tree was smaller than my youngest child, and today it just about towers over our house, its boughs heavy with gorgeous fruit.
I have a deal with the tree. Every day I leave my house, walk past my wonderful tree, and take one of its kumquats. I say a blessing before eating the fruit, and then I say, "Thank you, tree." That makes both the tree and me very happy.
The kumquat tree usually gives two seasons of fruit - around Rosh Hashana and around Purim. I use the delicious little golden eggs in my Purim Mishloach Manot (food bags). This year the kumquats are ready early - possibly because of the warm winter. And so the kumquats have been hanging on my tree screaming, "We don't care if it's not Purim. Pick us. Pick us."
So, because this tree must be picked, my husband and I decided to have a Charity Kumquat Harvest. Anyone who wanted to pick could come with their children and a check for a local charity.

The harvest was yesterday. The kids had such a fabulous time. The mothers too. I wasn't home to photograph it, but after watching a few families laughing and adoring our tree, my husband remembered his camera and took some pictures.

Everyone really enjoyed harvesting the tree, searching for the perfect orangey ovaly sweet kumquates. They ate kumquats, they puckered up their mouths from the sweet-tart taste and then ate another, they picked them to take home, and they gave checks to feed the needy of our area.
So, the giving tree keeps giving. What a blessing!
PS - I thought that the tree more or less finish with its kumquats, but the giving tree keeps giving and we've got more room for another harvest. If you'd like to participate, you're welcome to come with your kids and a check made out to the Kimcha D'Pischa charity of your neighborhood.
Photos by Israel Katz.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Middle East Dominoes?

Are we seeing a deadly games of Middle East Dominoes?
* Tunisia
** Egypt
*** Algeria
**** Yemen
***** Jordan
****** Palestinian Authority
******* Qatar
******** Saudi Arabia
Our neighbors are looking very shakey from here. And if they shake, our stability is more difficult to maintain.
Hashem yishmor. May G-d protect His People from danger.

Yechezkel, What Happened to You?

I was writing the script for DAMES of the DANCE 4 - THE PROMISED LAND, when I stopped to check on something.
I was up to DANCE 5, the dance about the prophet Yechezkel, who prophesied from Babylon at the end of the First Temple about the Temple's destruction, then about the building of the Third Temple, the resurrection of the dry bones of the destroyed people and the re-establishment of a new king. In Yechezkel 37:26, we see hope in the midst of the exile, "And I will form a covenant of peace for them, an everlasting covenant shall be with them; and I will establish them and I will multiply them, and I will place My Sanctuary in their midst forever."
While I was reading about Yechezkel, I came upon this recent Muqata blog:
It seems the tomb of Yechezkel, which is in modern day Iraq, has been turned into a mosque. The words describing Yechezkel and identifying his burial place were all plastered over.
What would happen if Israel would cover over the writings on the Al Aqsa Mosque or the Church of the Nativity? The world would go nuclear, G-d forbid. But Yechezkel's tomb is desecrated and his presence erased from his burial place, and not a peep. The fate of Yechezkel's tomb in Iraq is upsetting indeed.
But it seems to be a trend of erasing Jewish life everywhere. The Yechezkel event follows the decision by the Iranian government no longer to consider the Tomb of Mordechai and Esther in Hamadan as a protected site.

I guess countries around the world saw that Israel allowed the destruction of the Tomb of Joseph (which was recently renovated), and they took license from that act. But then again, foreign nations have been erasing Jewish presence, Jewish accomplishments and Jewish history from the time that Abraham dug his first wells through the Pharoah who forgot Joseph, all the way through the present.
Shouldn't there be some international organization that watches over holy sites around the world?

Question: Are Jewish burial places outside of the Land of Israel at risk? Certainly, they are in Arab countries, you might say.
But I remember reading a newspaper article that a famous rabbi's grave was going to be covered over in Eastern Europe to build a mall. The name of the rabbi slips my mind right now, but if you, dear reader, remember, please add his name in the Comment box.

Except for varied periods, the lives of the Jewish people were difficult in the Exile. It seems that their deaths are difficult too.

Baby Cyclone

I just went upstairs to the kitchen to get myself a cup of coffee and was shocked by the cyclone that must have hit my home. Toys, books, stuff all over the floor. A dining room table piled up with who-knows-what. Kitchen counters that are in more disarray than a simcha hall after a Chassidic rebbie's wedding.
B"H, it's not the kind of cyclone that those poor folks in Queensland, Australia, just suffered. (May Hashem help the good people there to recover ASAP.)
My home has been hit by a tiny tornado, or perhaps tiny tornadoes. They're called my grandchildren. And there is nothing happier for me than when my children and grandchildren come for Shabbat.
Their parents are strict and really keep them in check. (They are lovely little people, thanks to their parents' guidance.) At Savta's (grandmother's) house, everything goes. The kids are king. I'll read any book, play any game (unless it's at 2 PM when my Shabbat eyes are closing) There's Shabbat pekelech (goodie bags) filled with forbidden foods and there's any fun you like. Now, this may get me in trouble with parenting experts, but pish tosh. I wait on baited breath for their every visit, and I want to make sure that they remember what fun they had too.
So, I guess it will take me two days to clean up from 25 hours of fun, but it was well worth it. And although I might faint from embarrassment if a stranger walks into my house right now (please don't drop by my house right now), I don't really mind. I am grateful for the mess, because it means that my house was filled with happiness and hubbub over Shabbat.
My blessings to you all, dear readers, a baby cyclone. It's messy, but the nachas can't be beat.

The Posters are Here

On Friday I received a very heavy package from the Post Office. It turned out to be the posters for my newest show, DAMES of the DANCE 4 -The Promised Land.
Now I have to worry about where it can be hung without someone covering it over in two minutes. That will be the challenge.
In Efrat/Gush Etzion, there seems to be a poster maniac who follows around poster-hangers and then covers over their posters in a manner of moments. I've tried to catch him, but no luck yet.
Meanwhile, here's a copy of the newest poster.

If you can join us on March 22, 27 or 30th, we'd love it.
You can order your tickets on line:

DAMES 4 - "The Promised Land" is going to be fabulastic. It tells the story of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael, from the time of Avraham Avinu to the present.

Our performers will be tapping to JOSHUA FIT THE BATTLE OF JERICHO, modern dancing to THE BATTLE OF DAVID & GOLIATH, stomping to BUILD BEIT HAMIKDASH, belly dancing to ALIYA LEREGEL, parading to the Israeli Army Parade Song, balleting to AIN LI ERETZ ACHERET, hip-hopping, jazz dancing, and lots more!
Find out more here in our video clip: "Why We Dance":
Every shekel made on DAMES OF THE DANCE goes to KIMCHA D'PISCHA to feed the needy of Gush Etzion before Pesach!
Thus far, the past three DAMES have raised (bli ayin hara) nis 120,000
Hooray. Looking forward, IY"H, to a fabulous Season #4.
Good dance. Good deeds.