Sunday, August 7, 2022

Deja Vu, Yes, Again

The State of Israel, various governments including Bibi Netanyahu have established a dangerous custom of stopping wars before we've won them.

The State of Israel, various governments including Bibi Netanyahu have established a dangerous custom of warning our enemy civilians before we attack their buildings.

The State of Israel, various governments including Bibi Netanyahu have established a dangerous custom of telling our enemies when we're ready for a ceasefire.

That's why:

  • our civilians suffer rocket attacks from the Gaza terrorists pretty much every year
  • our enemies aren't afraid of us
  • we never manage to actually win. It's the loser who's supposed to ask for a ceasefire, but we keep rushing to do it.
I'm sick of this. Aren't you?  This is so deja vu.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Kenes Shiloh 2022, Better Than Ever

I've included a selection of photos in no particular order.

There was  wealth of talks this past Sunday at the 11th Kenes Shiloh at Shiloh Hakeduma, Ancient Shiloh, the location of the Biblical Tabernacle. 

I particularly enjoyed the Biblical ones, since my "chevruta," the Bible study group I'm in has been learning Jeremiah, which was mentioned by some of the speakers. In Jeremiah the destruction is mentioned as a given, though there is nothing written about such an event prior. Good question.

The archeology section of the talks concentrated on new discoveries highlighting Scott Stripling, who was finally able to bring his professionally skilled volunteers for a dig and our home-grown archeologist Reut Leviatan Ben-Arye. 

In the "basilica," there was an exhibit celebrating one hundred years since the Danish expedition to Shiloh, the first modern dig here.

Shiloh Hakeduma, Ancient Shiloh is open weekdays, and I highly recommend visiting. There's lots to see and do. It can also be reached by public transportation, a short walk from the Shiloh Junction. Contact Phone: 02-5789122, Fax: 02-9948011 or


Scott Stripling

Reut Leviatan Ben-Arye

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Har Menuchot, Givat Shaul, Jerusalem, Walls of Graves

Yesterday I was at a funeral in Har Menuchot, Givat Shaul, Jerusalem. Unlike the usual noontime summer funeral, we didn't bake in the heat, nor get sunburned. After the ceremony in the airconditioned hall, we got into vehicles and traveled to the newly constructed graves.

 Yes, constructed; it's a building with wide, long corridors decorated by graves stacked four high. 

Each wall is labeled/coded to indicate which floor, section and level, so that the grave can be easily located. Yes, these are today's and tomorrow's graves. People can still request and pay more for an outdoor grave in more natural dirt, rather than the soil added by the Chevra Kadisha, but in a small country like Israel, where land is limited and expensive, these graves make more sense. If you believe in ecology and "saving the earth and natural resources," this type of cemetery is what you should request for yourself.

While walking down the long corridor, following a friend to her "final resting place," I couldn't stop mentioning how lovely it looks. As you can see in the photos, people have found ways to decorate and individualize the plaques. 

The older "stacked" section of Har Menuchot, Givat Shaul, Jerusalem is much less attractive. They remind me of "office drawers" in some archive. But this new section is actually lovely in the way that the Military Cemetery in Mount Herzl is attractive, though this one is indoors and Mount Herzl is a well-tended garden.

Apparently the administration of Har Menuchot, Givat Shaul, Jerusalem is constructing kilometers of buildings like these instead of wasting the Holy Land on the dead rather than the living.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Thankfully Not All Israelis Embarrassed Themselves Over Biden's Visit

Everyone who heard that I would be in Jerusalem today thought I had lost my mind; even I had doubts. But since cousins were in from the states, and this was their only day...

Why was this considered a ridiculous irresponsible day to be in Jerusalem?

Street closings for the Biden visit were expected to wreck havoc in Jerusalem. Well, that may have been true in some neighborhoods, but not the routes I and my cousins would be taking to meet each other. 

Israel always goes overboard when top American officials show up, and I'm not just talking about closing major roads and highways. Prime Minister Lapid and President Herzog were smiling so broadly, you'd think they just won the lottery, Nobel Peace Prize and had been crowned Kings of The World.

The so-called pundits on television stupidly took Biden's speech seriously confusing a "speech" with policy. Every time an American President comes they make the same idiotic mistake, and that includes the visits of Clinton, the Bushes and even Obama. Each president, no matter how little they think of Israel comes armed with an amazing pro-Israel speech. And each time we hear the same dumb commentary by pundits and reporters who think that these "I love Israel" speeches are actual policy. It's all cosmetics, like hair dye and plastic surgery.  

The young and memory challenged in the media either forgot or never knew and didn't research that it was davka Biden who was nasty to then Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Besides that, the United States has never really supported the State of Israel when we were in danger. To be honest, I don't care, since Gd's help from our prayers is what we really need. I'd just prefer that our government officials understand it, besides not making up stories about "friendship." We're not allies. We can't rely on the USA. The State Department makes real policy there. Donald Trump overrode it in favor of Israel, consistently going against State Department demands. That's a major reason why he is so hated in Washington DC. But that's another story.

Davka, today I walked through both the Arab shuq in the Old City and the Machaneh Yehuda Market besides taking the lightrail. 

It was business as usual in the Jerusalem I visited. There was no sign of the Biden visit until I got on the bus going home, and the driver was listening to the radio. But I don't pick fights with the bus drivers... I just took out my book and read it.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Shmitta 5782 Berry Picking at Bikurei Shilo

Moriah Rapaport Shapiro is seen here talking
to our group about Shmitta and the story of the 
picking farm Bikurei Shilo.
Shmitta, The Sabbatical of the Land comes every seven years, parallel or similar to our Holy Shabbat Sabbath which is every seven days. The big difference is that while Shabbat is required for all Jews in all parts of the world, and even universe, shmitta is only for those fruits and vegetables grown in the Land of Israel on Jewish owned Land.

During our two thousand years of exile, when Jews weren't working or owning the Land, shmitta became an unobserved and unknown mitzvah, even more so than the Mitzvot only observed in the Holy Temple. 

Shmitta only became relevant again when Zionist pioneers began farming in the Land of Israel. Rabbis, Jewish landowners and farmers-- many who weren't Torah observant have been struggling for well over a century to find ways to faithfully observe the mitzvah without damaging the economy. A few years ago, I reviewed a fascinating book about how the pioneers of Mazkeret Batya struggled for the rights to strictly observe shmitta, Rebels in the Holy Land, The Story of Mazkeret Batya.

Before we were allowed to pick the fruit, blueberries and raspberries, Moriah explained to us the history of the "farm" and psak, Torah decisions it's basing its shmitta practice. The fruit which is now ripening is the holy seventh 7th year fruit, so it can be eaten but not wasted. Any which must be thrown out is put in special receptacles, which they will handle later.

After the talk, we were each given a small container and set off to pick the fruit. The blueberries are delicious, a real treat. We got a lot of exercising while picking, since the ripe ones were low down on the bushes. There were very few raspberries ripe for the picking when we were there. Later in the season there will also be blackberries, Gd willing.

For more information on when to visit, open Sunday-Friday except for Jewish holidays, contact 0527966630. Bikurei Shilo is at the western side of the Shilo Junction and can be reached by car or bus. Individuals, families and groups are welcome. Their facebook page is in Hebrew, but you can message them in English. 

You can arrange tours and shmitta explanations in Hebrew and/or English for families and groups. Other activities are "tractoron" tours among the vineyards, bows & arrows, blow up playground activities, pitta baking, arts & crafts and more. Give them a call.

Besides the picking fruit, they sell all sorts of snacks including an "ice pop" made of their own fruit, which is absolutely delicious. There's also a playground for children.

We had a wonderful time, highly recommended for all ages.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid Switch Hats


Unlike when Bibi Netanyahu had promised Benny Gantz to "switch hats" and hand over the office of Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett kept his promise to Yair Lapid and followed the coalition agreement they had made just over a year ago. Within a few hours Yair Lapid will be Prime Minister of the State of Israel, and Naftali Bennett will be at his side helping him get acquainted with his new position, again unlike Bibi's abominable behavior a year ago.

Outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

Last night Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke to the nation on television and internet, since live TV can be accessed there, too. He announced that he's taking a leave of absence from politics and does not plan to run in the next Knesset elections on November 1, after summer vacation and Jewish Holidays. I have no idea what his plans are, but I'm sure that his family will enjoy the relative quiet after this difficult year. Bennett is extremely wealthy, so he doesn't need to look for work.

Minister of the Interior Ayelet Shaked will head Yamina at this point. I'm not making any predictions nor quoting rumors. When there's real news, I'll probably blog my opinion. As I've written before, I considered the coalition to be  wonderful attempt for Israelis of all stripes to work together, and it reminds me of the Holy Ketoret.

My husband and I made aliyah in 1970 when the Labor Party and Histadrut held all power in the State of Israel. The country hadn't yet fully absorbed the broad implications of the 1967 Six Days War victory. The IDF took credit for the miracle, and then three years later on Yom Kippur the Arabs attacked, and it took a too long and too many Jewish lives to push them back. Even after that it took almost four years for Labor to lose power and the Likud to take over. Too many Israelis couldn't imagine any other party and leadership running the country... Sounds familiar; doesn't it? I see deja vu. Been there done that. Within a few years Likud as we now know it will be history or a shadow of its present self, just like Labor today...

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Ketoret Government Incinerated By Political Prostitutes

No doubt some people won't like or get this title.

Ketoret Government:

The Bennett-Lapid coalition, which did manage to govern for a year and pass budgets is made of rather conflicting political parties. These parties decided to look for what they agree on for the common good. This reminds me of Ketoret:

“God said to Moses: Take fragrances such as balsam, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense, all of the same weight, as well as other fragrances. Make the mixture into incense, as compounded by a master perfumer, well-blended, pure and holy.” (Ex. 30:34-5)

Some of the ingredients of Ketoret are sweet and others bitter. There may even be some which are poisonous, but together they are holy. The Ketoret was necessary for prayer in the Mishkan Tabernacle and later in the Holy Temple. 

Watching the coalition MKs Right, Left and Center, Jews and Arabs working together reminds me of the Holy Ketoret. Honestly I would have preferred a more ideologically Right coalition, but the MKs weren't willing. Bibi and his henchmen held tight to the mafia of Likud and chareidi MKs, plus the rabble-rouser Right prefer the bullhorn to the nitty gritty of administration. 

As the Bennett-Lapid coalition was sworn in a year ago, we heard two things. The expert political pundits predicted that the coalition wouldn't last a month, and the opposition showed their true antidemocratic stripes by cursing and mocking, rather than accepting their defeat.

I have no doubt that Bibi Netanyahu could have cobbled together a viable coalition if he had wanted to, but he and his mafia had begun to enjoy the perks of office as "interim," "caretaker" government, which can't be voted out of office. They just keep calling periodic elections, no checks and balances, just POWER.

This past year Yemina MKs, not part of the strong Ketoret ideology were targeted and "urged" to break from their party. Instead of acting like moral people, they took their "seats" with them. Here in Israel there aren't personal elections. Those of us who voted Yemina got our votes stolen. If they wanted to leave, they should have resigned their Knesset seats. And because the fault of the government's demise was from them, we now have Yair Lapid as Prime Minister. Bennett didn't do any dirty trick like Netanyahu did to Gantz.

It's going to take a few more years to truly push Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu and his mafia out of power. Remember, or if you're too young- please listen, it took almost six full years after the horror of the "conceptizia" which almost caused our defeat in the Yom Kippur War for Labor to be voted out of office. Gd willing it won't take so long for Israelis to realize the dangers of the Bibi-chareidi rule. 


Back to Elections

Monday, June 13, 2022

Rabbi Pinchas Stolper, ZTz"L, Plugged the Assimilation Leak


NCSY National Convention 1967
That's me receiving Standards Award from Rabbi Stolper

Rabbi Pinchas Stolper passed away a few weeks ago. If you google his name, you'll find information and a number of obituaries. None of them touches on the man who was instrumental in introducing me to "Torah True Judaism" as he had called it, during my years, mid-late 1960s, in NCSY National Conference of Synagogue Youth of the OU.

Immediately upon reading an email announcing his death and planned burial in Jerusalem, I contacted a few old friends from NCSY who live here in Israel not far from me. It was clear to me that I had to attend his funeral. According to Jewish Tradition, attending the funeral honors the dead person, and a shiva visit comforts the mourners. From the announcement there wouldn't even be a shiva in Israel.

Who, you may be wondering, was Rabbi Stolper? And how close was I to him? To be perfectly honest, I'd never been invited to his home and don't remember much in actual personal conversations, except when we were preparing posters for the NCSY marchers in the 1967 Salute to Israel Parade, just after the Six Days War. Rabbi Stolper couldn't contain his joy at Israel's miraculous victory. Rabbi Stolper did attend my wedding in 1970 where he spoke about Israeli History from the vantage point of a Betari, which we had in common. See my husband's blog post about Rabbi Stolper on the Betar blog.

In 1963 when I first got involved in NCSY I was just looking for friends. We had just moved to Great Neck a few months before, and I didn't fit in at all. My family ended up joining the Great Neck Synagogue, an Orthodox shul which may not have been a good fit religiously, but the price was right. Orthodox we weren't, nor Sabbath observers nor kosher. 

Post World War Two most people considered Orthodox Jewry a dying breed. Considering the attraction of assimilation, poverty of the Great Depression, the trauma of Holocaust and the Jewish men who spent years away from home, the UOJCA, now called OU was desperate to keep Jewish teens Jewish. In the early 1950s they established NCSY. Member synagogues were encouraged to establish chapters and have activities for the youth. At that time there were few Jewish Day Schools, and not all the families could afford to send their children. Also, many member families were like mine, not at all religious. So NCSY had a dual aim:
  • Keep the religious kids religious.
  • Introduce Judaism to the non-observant and encourage them to follow the mitzvot
NCSY wasn't a Zionist youth movement. The term "aliyah" wasn't heard officially at all in the 1960s, though quite a few of my NCSY friends are living here in Israel now.

I'm not sure of the exact year, but sometime before my joining NCSY, Rabbi Pinchas Stolper had been appointed as National Director. He must have succeeded, because there was soon an Assistant National Director, Rabbi Chaim Wasserman. 

Rabbi Stolper was a Zionist activist and a Betari. He had been Natziv, Head of North American Betar in the very early 1950s. He and his wife tried living in Israel but went back to New York. Rabbi Stolper built an amazing youth organization with chapters, grouped by regions, all over North America. He was an amazing administrator. NCSY events went like clockwork; each session started and ended on time. Chapters hosted regional Shabbat programs. For teens like myself, this was our first introduction to Shabbat. Even those from religious homes learned to enjoy Shabbat even more than they had. We sang Jewish tunes and danced and sang and danced. I'm convinced that Torah True Judaism entered my heart and mind via my dancing feet and loud singing, not that I understood the words of the songs. The educational "sessions" were led by some brilliant people. There are things I remember to this day. 

At National Conventions, held in a large hotel, The Pine View, only Shabbat ended late. But that was the plan. Rabbi Stolper led the Havdala, and some of us girls were given lit candles to hold high. We were told that the higher the candle, the taller our future husband would be. Rabbi Stolper was most inspiring during Havdala.

The key to the success in reaching Jewish teens like myself was the tolerance of the staff of advisors. We were given time and acceptance while learning and experiencing Torah True Judaism. In those days, tzniyut modesty was rare, even religious women wore sleeveless and Orthodox synagogues hosted dances. Some OU member synagogues didn't have a mechitza separation and even had mixed seating. The OU was in a "war for Orthodox survival," and Rabbi Stolper was assigned to save Jewish youth. Yes, he and his staff worked hard stop the flood of assimilation, and they succeeded. The terms "outreach" and "baal teshuva movement" came afterwards. In the 1960s Yeshiva University Youth Bureau also had activities for teens on Shabbat and weeklong Seminars late summer and during winter vacation. It wasn't a national organization; I went to some of their events, too.

The Friday of Rabbi Stolper's funeral as one of my NCSY friends and I waited with his Israeli relatives for the bereaved children and body to arrive from the states, I wondered why there weren't mobs of people. From my perspective, Rabbi's Stolper's influence on North American Jewry was humongous, but it was half a century ago and more. Or can we say that his great success in strengthening Torah Judaism in teens has produced a generation that is incapable of fully comprehending what a miraculous success he had accomplished?

יהי זכרו ברוך

I wrote the following blog posts which also mention Rabbi Stolper and NCSY:

Thursday, June 2, 2022

What They Didn't Burn, Mel Laytner's Search for His Father's Holocaust Secrets, Book Review

What They Didn't Burn: Uncovering My Father's Holocaust Secrets by Mel Laytner is an amazing, riveting story. Laytner, an extremely talented writer, reveals a lot as he tracks down his father's secrets. Laytner, the elder of two brothers, discovered that his quiet father was not only a Holocaust survivor, but he had been a canny and successful black market wheeler dealer

I must admit that the author and I first met in the mid-1960s when I joined Betar. We've seen each other very infrequently over the years, but when I heard that he had finally published his father's Holocaust story I wanted to read it. Laytner gave me and my husband a copy.

Among our Betar friends, there are two distinct types, those like me and my husband whose parents were American born and raised, and there were those whose parents were survivors, or had left just in time. We whose parents were American raised can never really imagine what our friends had lived with, which frequently meant that their parents kept many secrets from them. 

Laytner's quest to discover the truth about his father took him many years. By the time he had the time to devote to it, few sources were still alive. He had to travel a lot to talk to people and see old government records in Europe. A few times his brother accompanied him, but mostly he did it alone. Laytner used his journalist skills to interview and research. His success and the subsequent book couldn't have been accomplished by someone without those skills.

Laytner's parents were both Holocaust survivors who worked hard day and night at all sorts of jobs, trying all sorts of businesses, too, when they got to New York. At one point they owned a candy store open seven days a week. That was the same drive that got them through the Holocaust, but during the Holocaust Laytner's father even traded diamonds on the black market, among other things. I'd say that Laytner inherited that drive, since he needed similar smarts to discover his father's true story.

Think of What They Didn't Burn as an exciting treasure hunt, and Mel Laytner takes us along for the ride. I highly recommend the book for readers of all ages.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ SparkPress (September 21, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1684631033
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1684631032

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Rosh Chodesh Sivan Women's Prayers

 Ladies, please join us

The spirit of the Biblical Chana can still be felt, along with the holiness of the Mishkan, Tabernacle.

Tel Shiloh is a wonderful archeological site with activities for all ages. Hologram, museum, movie and more. It's open daily except Shabbat.

For more information call 025789111 or email

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Promoting "Palestine" is Like Holocaust Denial

Remembering the dead.
Flat Lay photo for 52frames
Here in Israel we continue to pay a very heavy price for our existance. Israel, the Ancient Biblical Homeland of the Jews, well documented in archeology and history, is attacked by terrorists, bullets, axes, words and international proclamations.
Is the promotion of a "Palestinian State" an innocent mistake?
No, not at all.

The name "Palestine" stuck for one big reason; as Tom Lehrer sang "everyone hates the Jews." 

Thousands of years later, when Great Britain was mandated to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish State (see Balfour Declaration) in "Palestine," sic that name was still stuck on the map, even though a country of that name covering that area had never existed. There had always been a Jewish presence in the Holy Land, even after the destruction of the Second Temple and successive invaders ruled from afar. Britain took over from the Turks. The area they held covered both the east and western banks of the Jordan, all the way west until the Mediterranean Sea. According to the Mandate, all was supposed to be a Jewish State. 

Great Britain was enamored with the local nomadic romanticized Arabs and preferred them to the Jews, both the religious ones in the holy cities and the Zionist pioneers working hard to make the Land fruitful.

As part of Britain's attempt to sabotage a Jewish State, it brought in and promoted the Hashemites as rulers over the eastern bank of the Jordan and eventually invented a new country of various tribes where there had never been one. That's called Jordan today.

Despite lackluster international support, at best, the State of Israel thrives. With the Help of Gd we have been victorious in all the wars against us.

On the whole, though, international media and academics refuse to recognize Jewish rights and history to the Land and have been inventing and supporting the lie of Palestine sic.

This actually predates the Holocaust and has continued to this very day. Yes, Tom Lehrer got it right.