Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Heartbreak of Terror Victims' Families

For the past two days the main news has been the appeals by families of terror victims that their loved ones' murderers should not go free in the prisoner exchange. The High Court was turned down every petition. No heartbreak, no reasoning were justified by the courts. The exchange has to go through just as planned.
Sherry Mandel of Gush Etzion lost her son Koby to Arab terrorists. In http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=242130, she wrote of the pain that still haunts her today, and her desire to keep innocent people from becoming the next victims of these Islamic terrorists.
My heart goes out to all the terror victims' families who feel that the blood of their loved one will not be avenged on this earth. I am so sorry, but IY"H, G-d will avenge their blood.
My heart breaks for the Schijveschuurder family that lost their parents and siblings. The story of the bravery of the young Schijveschuurder children and their parents who died in the Sbarro massacre will never be forgotten. And yet one of the surviving Schijveschuurder was so desperate after the court denied his family's plea to rescind transfer for Ahlam Tamimi, the Arab woman who was instrumental in the attack, that he graffitied the Yitzhak Rabin memorial in Tel Aviv as a way to protest the upcoming deal.The Mayor of Tel Aviv Ron Huldai said, "Hands that allow themselves to hurt what is sacred and important to the people of Israel must be cut off," he said. A stone is sacred and important? And a child of terror victims is not? A stone is sacred and important, and its defacer should have his hands cut off???? Well, what should happen to the murderer of a mother, a father, a child? Someone should show Ron Huldai what in the world is really important - Jewish children and parents, alive, laughing, running, learning Torah. 
The Schijveschuurder's story is beyond sad. Their family was taken from them. And now their murderers will walk free. We pray that the release of Arab terrorists does not make other Schijveschuurders. Hashem yishmor.
We pray for Your Salvation to save us, Hashem.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Celebrating Terror

Last night on the Sabbath as we were about to enter our Sukkot, we heard shooting or fireworks or something and rushed outside. On the road was a line of 50 to 100 cars driving slowly passed my town. Every few moments the lead car shot off fireworks. Since the Jewish communities in my region were celebrating Shabbat, all was quiet around us. So the sound of the fireworks seemed louder than usual.
It was the beginning of the jubilant Arab celebrations of the release of Islamic terrorists with blood on their hands - cold blooded murderers.
Does anyone see that there is something wrong with celebrating terror, idolizing terror, worshiping death?
IY"H, we will be celebrating soon the return of Gilad Schalit, a Jewish soldier (may he really return and be alive and well). We will be celebrating life, as they continue to celebrate terror and death.

Friday, October 14, 2011

More on Gilad Schalit from Cheryl Mandel and Stewart Weiss

Unfortunately some of my friends are parents of fallen soldiers. I received this from my friend Cheryl Mandel whose son Daniel was killed in Shechem.
"Stewart's article captures how I feel.Love and shabbat shalom, Cheryl"

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Stewart Weiss
Subject: The Schalit deal

The following article appears in today's (Fri, Oct. 14, 2011) Jerusalem Post. Comments may be sent to me and/or letters@jpost.com. Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach.



Judaism, and Jewish history, is an amalgam of both glory and grief, celebration and sadness. Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut are rolled into one.Yizkor memorial prayers are recited on Simchat Torah. The breaking of a glass punctuates a wedding and bitter herbs and salt water are a part of our Pesach Seder.

Blessing and bitterness, it appears, always seems to operate in tandem.

And so it is with the Schalit deal.  On the one hand, we will get our soldier back, after five long years of waiting, weeping and hand-wringing. We will save a precious life and return joy to his family.  At the same time, we will be risking the future of many more lives, while sacrificing some of the most fundamental principles of Israeli policy, held sacrosanct since the founding of the State.

Is it worth it?

In one fell swoop, we cross numerous red lines that once defined our national resolve. We turn our back on the policy of never negotiating with terrorists, an absolute which PM Netanyahu once held sacred and vowed never to break. We release upon our civilian population more than one thousand murderous criminals, dedicated to the destruction of our nation and the genocide of our people. We strengthen our enemy Hamas militarily, diplomatically and politically, while mortally weakening our supposed partner, the Palestinian Authority. We embolden our foes to strike again; already there are warnings that attempts are being made to kidnap another soldier and hold him for hostage in return for more prisoners.

Is it worth it?

Of course, we know all the cliches: We are a merciful people, who value life above all other values. We are a strong people, who will “know how” to protect our citizens. We are “men of our word,” who promised to rescue any soldier left behind in the field.

But clichés don’t save lives, and aphorisms don’t insure security.

There is a limit to mercy; the Talmud wisely teaches us that misplaced mercy is, in reality, abject cruelty. When we release bloodthirsty monsters who shoot to death babies in their cribs, or blow up a Sbarro restaurant or a Moment Cafe full of customers, we show cruelty to the victims of these acts as well as of the next massacre they will surely plot to perpetrate.

While we bring a soldier home in return for freeing these terrorists, what message do we send to the soldiers who risked, and often sacrificed their lives in securing their capture?  Why should a soldier put his life on the line to apprehend a terrorist, knowing they can be summarily freed for the next Israeli hostage?

And how much faith can we put in a government that has failed, time and again, to do what it takes to make us safe after making sweeping, unilateral concessions to the enemy? When we ran out of southern Lebanon with our tail between our legs, did not Ehud Barak swear that he would keep our northern border quiet and peaceful? Thousands of rockets later, we see how faithful he was to that pledge. And when we “disengaged” from Gaza – splitting the nation and incurring national trauma – did the powers that be not insist that this would be the first step in a peaceful arrangement with the Palestinians? Sderot, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheva may have a few words to say about that hollow promise, as Gaza has turned into the world’s largest, deadliest terror base.

Most frightening is the breakdown of law and order engendered by the Schalit deal. We held trials, presented evidence and convicted criminals of the worst possible order to long sentences, including life in prison.  Releasing them in the face of blackmail and extortion not only proves that crime – against Israel – does indeed pay, but that justice is a wishy-washy principle to be compromised, waived and discarded when we deem fit.  Former Justice Minister Dan Meridor, though he voted in favor of the deal, told me that the moment we agreed to make an exchange we abdicated our moral high ground and traded principle for pragmatism.

Next week, our family will observe the 9th Yahrtzeit for our son Ari, who fell in battle against Hamas terrorists in Nablus. At the shiva, Ari’s commander-in-chief Lt.Gen. Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon – one of just three cabinet members to hold his ground and vote against the prisoner “swap” – promised us that the IDF would do whatever it takes to bring our son’s killers to justice. Thankfully, two of the terrorists in the three-man cell were tracked down and disposed of; the third was finally brought to trial three years ago and sentenced to 27 years in jail. By what right will he, God forbid, be set free, after destroying our family?

The Schalit deal, of course, is a fait accompli and will go through. The well-financed, well-run campaign to free Gilad will preclude any but the most resolute to stand in the way of the public opinion juggernaut. Though we caved in completely to Hamas – agreeing, in the end, to 100% of their demands – at the end of the day, they were stronger and more determined than we were to have their way and dictate the terms.

The real question is what will happen in the future. Will we now, finally, let it be known that we shall never again bow to terrorist demands?  Will we institute verdicts of life in prison with no possibility of release, regardless of the circumstances? Will we consider the death penalty for the most heinous crimes? Will we stop coddling the terrorists we capture and withhold from them the privileges they deny our prisoners?

Most of all, will we recognize that we are at war, that we face a cruel, barbaric and motivated enemy, dedicated to doing whatever it takes to wipe us off the face of the earth? Will we be equal to the task, using all of our ample resolve and resources to defeat them? Will we have the courage to tell our soldiers that there are conditions under which they may have to give up their lives, times when the safety of the nation outweighs that of the individual? Will we have the self-respect to believe in our cause and to defend it, come what may, against any and all comers, regardless of world, or national, opinion?

There is one yardstick to measure what is good for Israel, and what is not: When there are smiles on the faces of the terrorists, there must be tears in our eyes. But if, in the end, we have lost this battle, let us at least vow to win the war.

 (The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra'anana; jocmtv@netvision.net.il)

More on Gilad Shalit, Terrorists and Sukkot

I told my children and grandchildren that Gilad Shalit would be home for Sukkot. They almost jumped out of their chairs. "B'H," they said. Then I told them that the price for his release was about 1300 murdering terrorists.
My daughter-in-law said, "You know, Ema. If you had said that at any other time I would be frightened, but here in the sukkah we understand a different message. People all over the world are afraid of evil. They lock their doors. They close themselves up tight."
"We people of faith go out into our flimsy Sukkot with no lockable doors on them. Not only do we eat there and spend the day there, we and our children sleep there. Sukkot reminds us, and we always need the reminder that Hashem watches over His people. He is our roof, our lock, our protection. So you tell me terrorists will soon be freed. Of course, I tremble, but I look at our sukkah and I have to have faith in Our Protector, and pray that we all deserve His protection."
Chag sameach.

Gilad for Terrorists

I was cooking on the eve of the Sukkot holiday when one of my friends called, "Are you listening to the news in the kitchen?" No.
"Gilad Shalit is coming home."
I almost dropped my pan of chicken.

"About 1300 Arab terrorists are going to be released in exchange for Shalit."
My head was spinning. The first thing I did was whisper a silent prayer asking G-d that Gilad really come home safe and sound and that this should be the beginning of all good things for our people, our soldiers and our nation. And I asked G-d outloud to protect us all from evil.

Then I called my friend, Cheryl Mandel, whose son - an Israeli Defense Forces officers - was murdered a decade ago in Shechem (Nablus) when he and his soldiers went to capture wanted terrorists.

I asked her if she knew if the terrorists who killed her son Daniel would be released for Gilad Shalit. She explained that the Arab terrorist who shot Daniel was killed during the operation nine years ago. The two others that were involved had been sent to prison. One had already been released and she didn't know the fate of the second.
"How do you feel about all this?" I asked.
Cheryl said, "If I could get Daniel back even now almost ten years later, I would do anything. I am happy for the Shalit family. No one should ever be in their shoes. They did everything they could to fight on behalf of their son."
"And yet," Cheryl admitted, "I'm worried about the price that's being paid for his release."
She said one more thing, "I have to congratulate the Shalits for being able to always keep Gilad on the front burner of the Israeli government and the Israeli public. That took tremendous effort, but it helped bring their son home."
I agreed with Cheryl. I am very happy for the Shalit family. I am very grateful to Hashem that Gilad Shalit would be released, IY"H, from the hell that he has been living for the past five years.
Gilad Shalit is everyone's son. Most Israelis have sons in the Army. We send them with faith in G-d, but with heavy hearts because we know that Israeli soldiers put their lives on the line for our people every single day. If G-d forbid anyone's son was kidnapped, that parent would want what the Shalits wanted - his son home no matter what the price.
But that's where a government and generals come in - they're supposed to want their soldier back and do anything possible to get him back. But they're also supposed to make sure the price they pay is not too high.
Over the past years folks talked about getting Gilad Shalit back by turning off the electricity in Gaza, turning off the water, bombing terrorist headquarters, flattening streets one by one. What happened to that? I'm sure the Army had its own plans and even tried who-knows-what (we'll probably find out in twenty years). But meanwhile nothing worked, and all kinds of political considerations went into this deal - trying to prove that the Egyptian government is legitimate, trying to get Hamas back into popularity, etc..
As everyone was clapping themselves on the back for suddenly being so involved in Gilad Shalit's release I thought of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. He's responsible for the safety of every single Israeli, not just Gilad Shalit. He's responsible for the safety of every soldier. He must have been tortured since he came into office (and especially in the past few weeks) trying to figure out how he could get Gilad Shalit home. He has surely been tossing and turning, saying the names of the Jewish victims of Arab terror whose murderers were about to go free.
He has probably held his head in his hands saying to himself, "What should I do? Can I allow the perpetrators of the Ramallah lynch and others like them to go free to murder again? But can I let Gilad Shalit remain in the depths of hell? Our soldiers are depending on me. But our nation is depending on me to keep them safe. How can I allow terrorists out of prison? But how can I not do everything possible to bring our soldier home?"
I don't envy the Prime Minister. No matter what he does is wrong. And when the media begins rolling the celebration parties held throughout the world when the Arab terrorists will be freed, the Prime Minister, the State of Israel and the Israeli Army will be laughing stocks.
G-d forbid, if a terror attack happens, millions of people will say, "We told you so. Statistics show that Arab terrorists return to terror. You knew it would happen."
Israelis everywhere can fall back into the Fear Mode - being afraid to go out of their homes or towns, being afraid to let their children out of their sights, being afraid to go to town or to any gathering. But I am asking my brethren not to be afraid. Reach deep into your faith.
The Jewish people have been in terrible straights time and again over the last four thousand years, and we're still here. Bad things happen, but good things happen too, and B"H we're still here.
There's only one thing to concentrate on as Gilad Shalit returns home and our people brace themselves for the possibility, G-d forbid, of danger ahead. Pray for G-d's help and then declare, "Am Yisrael Chai (the Nation of Israel lives)."
Am Yisrael Chai, we live and IY"H we will live on forever and one day hopefully soon, we will greet the Meshiach and rebuild our Holy Temple.
May G-d watch over the Jewish people and bring home Gilad Shalit, Jonathan Pollard and all our MIAs today.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Difference in the Pre-Yom Kippur Swing

As the evening of Yom Kippur neared, It was time for my family to "shlug kappores". To shlug kappores (yiddish) literally means to beat a scapegoat. There's no real scapegoat, but there is something that takes your place and absorbs your sins. 
Some people use a chicken and others use money in exchange for sins. Good deal. But putting your sins into money isn't so dramatic. That's why many people choose the traditional kappores chicken.
In America, we went on the eve of Yom Kippur to my Shul in order to do kappores.
There were two mountains of cages side by side - blue cages and red cages. Many of each color were filled with squawking chickens. 
We stood in line, paid our money and then a nice yeshiva Bochur (young man) took out a male chicken from a blue box for each man/boy and a female chicken for each girl.
He held the chicken for the shlugger if s/he wanted, or if s/he was brave enough and not repulsed by wildly waving wings and hysterical chickens, he handed the fe/male shlugee chicken to the shlugger.
After the appropriate blessing and a triple-circled shlug, each chicken was then moved to the mountain of red boxes.
Everyone knew that the chickens in the red boxes were going to be donated to a needy yeshiva. That made us feel very good. So not only were we getting rid of our sins, we were doing an extra good deed by donating the chickens. We never imagined the interim stages of preparing the chickens, but we knew the chickens would miraculously become yom tov (holiday) dinner for the yeshiva boys.
We moved to Israel 19 years ago just in time for the High Holidays, and therefore exactly on the eve of Kappores Shlugging time. 
Meanwhile, Kappores had changed to Kapporot. There were a few more changes in store.
I asked around our new neighborhood about a shlugging spot, but folks said I had missed Kapparot by Beit Chabad, and the best place to find chickens for Kapporot was Machane Yehuda, Jerusalem's fresh produce shuk.
Okidokie. We popped all the kids in the car and drove to the shuk.
It was packed, bustling, exciting.
We got on a long line in a shuk alley waiting for the chickens.
We edged closer and closer, and suddenly I noticed that a man in a black apron was just handing folks chickens. 40 NIS. Boom, chicken. Next, 40 NIS. Boom, chicken.
I told my husband to finish waving his chicken quickly before the apron man came to me with my chicken. He said, okay. 
But then there was another surprise (read: shock) for me. We drew closer to the table. The boys in front of us waved their chickens with lots of energy and handed them to the man behind a table. But instead of putting the chickens into red cages, he took each one and right then and there, lopped off its head.
Did you understand that? There were no red cages, only headless chickens. 
I almost fainted on the spot. In fact, perhaps I did faint, because everything after that is a little hazy. I remember the chickens being de-feathered on a spinning wheel, and then place in a bag.
We were handed bags of dead chickens and walked in a daze to the car. Actually the boys were fine, but I was barely conscious. My husband smiled, "Fresh chicken for the holidays."
I retorted, "What are you talking about? I can't eat a chicken that I know personally." The chickens lay for weeks in the freezer. Eventually my husband put his foot down and demanded we eat the perfectly good chickens. I don't remember how or if I brought myself to eat the chicken I had held in my hands. She had made the ultimate sacrifice. She gave her life for me.
I have never done chicken Kapporot in Israel again. I prefer money now. The money goes to charity and is kind of like the chicken in the red box.
While I prefer just about every aspect of Jewish life in Israel than in the Diaspora, my weak stomach prefers the Pre-Yom Kippur Swing of my old home.
I believe the "red boxed chicken" will go to a good cause, and there's nothing yuchhy involved. Then again...I surely know the headless chicken gives you the real feeling of "who shall live and who shall die", but I'll just try to keep doing good things so that I can pray to be blessed and sealed in the Heavenly Books to live, live, live. Shana tova. A happy healthy prosperous and peaceful new year.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What's Up, Efrat?

New year, new ideas.
My hometown of Efrat has lots of activities and projects planned all the time. But it's difficult to let folks know. The second you hang a poster, someone else hangs another over yours, so I decided to help folks out with a regularly schedule news program to detail all the upcoming happenings. To make it even clearer, here are the upcoming events.

You can also watch the newsy broadcast here: WHAT'S UP, EFRAT?? (ps - It's coming in Hebrew soon too.)

WATCH the Short VIDEO version:
WATCH the Long VIDEO version:

READ the Calendar version:

SUNDAY, Daled Tishrei, October 2
Efrat, Elazar and Neve Daniel began the day with a power failure at 11:04. Don't forget that we're going to court with the electric company on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 8:30 am in Tel Aviv District Court.

MONDAY, Hei Tishrei, October 3
The Torah Tape Library presents Rav Avraham Twersky on Aseret Yemai Teshuva at 8:45 in Tiferet Avot.

TUESDAY, Vav Tishrei, October 4
At 8 PM in Tiferet Avot:
The Committee for Gush Katif Bridal Showers welcomes women from Efrat and all over Gush Etzion for a ladies' night out for chesed – We'll be welcoming the olot chadoshot of our area while we hold an evening to benefit the kallot of Gush Katif. Daphne Pearl and Ilana Kohn will crack us up with their skit about Aliyah, and one of the founders of Gush Katif, the world-famous celery lady of Netzer Chazani, Anita Tucker will give us an update about our Gush Katif brethren. Six year later and they're still Jews without homes.

WEDNESDAY, Zayin Tishrei, October 5
The Women's Bet Midrash wants to prepare us for Yom Kippur with shiurim from 8:30 in the morning to 1:00 PM. Featuring HaRav Meir Shpiegelman, Dr. Tehilla Elitzur, HaRabbanit Esther KiTov, Rebbetzin Shani Taragin, Dr. Ora Wiskind-Elper, and Sara Jo Ben Zvi.

At 9 AM there's a special tefilla and then at 11 AM a women's shiur at Kever Rachel with Rachel Emeinu Scholar and Author Atara Gur. The topic:
 “Moshiach Ben Yosef, Moshiach Ben David.”

Wednesday night from 6:30-8:30 PM, Rav Nissan Nachshon invites you to swing your sins away at kapparot at Bet Chabad. Order your chickens from Sarah Nachshon.

Thursday and Friday 

Yechiel Fishman of the Zayit Raanan Shul has organized a tour of the Western Wall and Erev Yom Kippur slichot. Many families (including children) enjoy a night of fun and meaningful prayer. This will be the night between Thursday and Friday next nearest 7:10:11, Erev Yom Kippur. Leaving at 2:30 AM from Zayit Raanan and returning to Efrat at 7:30 AM. The bus is organized with music, a guide, everything ready for a great experience.

Sunday, 11 Tishrei, October 9 – Tuesday
Efrat's Matnas is holding kaytanot for our littlest residents. Find out more at the Matnas 9932936.

And what would Erev Sukkot be without the annual Massaot of our youth. Ezra is off to Carmel on Sunday and Monday, Yud alef and Yud Bet Tishrei, October 9th and 10th.
On Monday and Tuesday, Bnei Akiva will be off to the Negev and Dati Scouts will be off to Tel Azaka.

The Efrat Matnas has lots of excitement for our 5-10 year olds from Sunday through Tuesday – from 9 AM to noon. Musical activities, the movie the Prince of Egypt, jumping castles, preparing sukkah decorations, a play for children and a workshop on preparing Yummy Sukkot food. Speak to the Matnas 9932396.

On Monday, 12 Tishrei, October 10, the residents of the Dagan invite everyone to bring their toddlers to an afternoon of Sukkot fun at 4 PM.

The Matnas of Gush Etzion is holding its Gush Etzion Arts Festival – amazing performers, theater, dance, talented folks coming right here to Gush Etzion. It is a must!!

Tu B'Tishrei we're in our beautiful Sukkot. We hope everyone enjoys their chag.

Wednesday, October 12

Children are invited to help decorate the Zayit Raanan sukkah at approximately 11 AM. 

Friday, October 14
Friday morning , the first day of Chol HaMoed Sukkot, we're all (you too) going up to our eighth hill, Givat HaEitam, for a simchat bet hashoeva from 11 AM to 1 PM. Activities for adults and children alike. Do you want Eitam to be part of our future Efrat? Well, show it with you feet.  More details to come.

Motzei Shabbat Chol HaMoed
There's going to be a simchat beit hashoeva in Park HaPizza on the Zayit. Terrific music and Efrat's Chief Rabbi Rav Shlomo Riskin will be joining in the festivities. Begins at 7:30 PM.

Sunday, October 16  of Chol HaMoed at 5 PM, the community is invited to a Hachnasat Sefer Torah in the Zayit Bnei Beitcha.

Also Sunday, travel to the Shomron with the One Israel Fund and terrific tour guide Eve Harow. With IDF permission, visit the Altar of Yehoshua on Har Eival, untouched for over 3,000 years from the first days of our conquest of Eretz Yisrael.

Monday, October 17 of Chol HaMoed
A fabulous Musical Hallel at the Zayit Raanan Synagogue on Monday Chol HaMoed, 16/10/11, beginning at 8 AM. Everyone is welcome.

Tuesday, October 18 of Chol HaMoed
Spend the morning in the Jordan Valley, and the afternoon in the Hills of Shomron. Experience harvesting of the dates at Mevo'ot Yericho, see where
your lulav grows.

Tuesday night Hoshana Rabba October 18
Shiurim in English at the Feifer home beginning at 8 PM

Thursday, October 20 – Motzei Simchat Torah
We'll all be dancing at Hakafot Shniyot outside Bet Knesset Shimon V'Esther in Dekel Alef.

Let's begin the post-yom tov season in a giving way, by giving blood on Monday October 24 from 6-10 PM at the Efrat Medical Center.

And acharon acharon Chaviv –
On Motzei Shabbat, Alef Cheshvan, October 29, Parshat Noach, 8 PM, women, teens and girls are invited to join their favorite dance teachers and choreographers and hundreds of their friends for an exciting evening of DANCE NIGHT. We're gonna kick up our heels all together in fun and fantastically dance the night away. Yes, we're going to open the new season of DAMES of the DANCE 5. Get your dancing shoes and join us.