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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Le Pen, Shechita and French Jewry

Quite a number of countries around the world have banned shechita, the Jewish way of killing animals for human consumption. They claim "humanitarian" reasons, but each of them permits hunting, which is the cruelest occupation imaginable. They call it a "sport." Not only are the animals "taken by surprise," but frequently the hunter does not succeed in a quick kill, and the wounded animal suffers terribly. There's nothing more inhumane than that, especially when in many, or most, cases the animal isn't even needed for food. This is sport, remember. Sometimes the animal is left to die or its skin/fur is used or the head is stuffed and displayed to show the prowess of the hunter, etc.

Shechita on the other hand is a very controlled ritual which not only requires training to teach the shochet, slaughterer, exactly where to cut and how quickly so the animal won't suffer a slow painful death. Also the knife has to be extremely sharp to facilitate a painless kill.

kosher chicken prepared for baking
It's interesting that unlike the antisemitic hypocrites in other countries, Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader has asked French Jewry to sacrifice easily available kosher food to try to squeeze Muslims out of France. Her proposal is based on two fallacies:

  • the millions of Muslims in France would emigrate if they couldn't easily get halal slaughtered (or kosher shechita which they accept) meat
  • French Jewry consider making life difficult for Muslims more important than local kosher slaughter
I think Le Pen's wrong on both accounts. 
  • France's Muslim population would find ways to keep themselves well fed on properly slaughtered meat and poultry.
  • French Jewry doesn't trust Le Pen, whom they see as antisemitic, and also has no desire to have to import kosher meat and poultry. Also the Jewish population is shrinking, since they dono't see a future in terror-plagued France. 
I agree with the pundits that Le Pen hasn't a chance to win.
She has said during the current campaign that she would ban the wearing of kippahs in public in France in order to facilitate a ban on Muslim clothes. She has also said that she would make it illegal for French citizens to have an Israeli passport.
Le Pen has called on French Jews to make these “sacrifices” to curb radical Islam and has promised to be French Jewry’s “shield” against Islam.
French Jewish leaders have called Le Pen a “candidate of hate” and urged voters to support the leading candidate, centrist Emmanuel Macron, to keep Le Pen from winning. He won the first round with 23.7 percent of the vote. Polls from Tuesday predict he would win the second round by more than 20 points. Jerusalem Post

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

An "Only in Israel Story," The Arab Bus Driver

Ever since reaching "a certain age," I've begun to claim the front-seat of the bus for myself.

Not long ago, after getting on a bus to Jerusalem, I realized they the bus driver was an Arab. This happens a lot, because as I keep saying:
"Israel isn't an apartheid state!"
Honestly, I don't inspect the driver when getting on the bus, so unless it's a driver I'm familiar with, I haven't a clue as to who's driving us.

I only realized that the driver was an Arab when he began to make announcements. Now, to be honest, drivers don't usually make announcements on Israeli buses. It took me a bit until I realized what was going on.

First he suddenly stopped the bus, and before getting off he said that "everything was fine." But then we saw him anxiously trying to make some calls and apparently try to report something. I was starting to get pretty nervous. Then he made an incomprehensible announcement. Incomprehensible between my rotten hearing and his heavy accent. He had to repeat it a few times for me.

He reported that something was wrong with the bus, and he was going to do his best to get us as far as Givat Asaf where there are lots of buses towards Jerusalem.

And then he addressed me in Hebrew, and of course I asked him to repeat it a couple of times.
"You know English? Are you from America?"
And then he suddenly spoke to me in excellent, slightly British accented English.
"Where are you from?"
"I've been here a very long time.
"But where are you from?"
"New York"
"I was there."
And before I knew it, the Arab bus driver was telling me a whole long story of how he had tried living in America to study and how outrageously expensive it is.
"It's much better here."
He seemed so very happy to be speaking English. It reminded me of when I used to work in Yafiz, Sha'ar Binyamin, when there used to be a lot of Arab customers. They loved speaking English to me and would tell me that it made them feel like they were back in America.

PS Yes, we did get to Givat Asaf, and a bus picked us up after only a couple of minutes.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Equating Judaism with Islam and Christianity Belittles Our Legitimacy

There are so many forms of antisemitism, and some are so artfully subtle. Not every antisemite is a raging violent Nazi.

Nazis have gotten all the "bad press," because they not only murdered others, besides Jews, but they attacked and conquered many countries in an attempt to take over Europe and then the world.

Personally, I'm more concerned about the "even handed" who give "legitimacy" to religions that promote "identity theft" and have "hijacked our Bible, historic narrative and Land. Yes, I'm referring to Christianity and Islam. That's why I'm not at all consoled by attempts to "include" Judaism's connection to Jerusalem along with Christianity and Islam by UNESCO. Equating the three religions is so historically inaccurate that I see it as a very obvious attempt to distort Judaism's role and connection not only to the Land of Israel but to the actual development of the two other religions.

Judaism, the Jewish People and History existed, with documentation, for two thousand 2,000 years before the beginnings of Christianity. Actually, Christianity first developed as a version of Judaism by Jews. It took a few hundred years for them to declare Jesus a god and leave the Jewish religion and people completely. But they never completely severed their ties with our Bible and Land, even when they set up their headquarters in the Vatican. That's why they call their bible the "new"testament. They see it as a revision of Judaism, and that's why I make a point of calling it the "Christian bible." To use their name for it is a recognition of their legitimacy. The thriving and continued existence of the Jewish People is highly problematic for Christian theologians, because their main principle is that they have replaced us as god's people.

Islam also developed to replace the Jewish People and its Koran includes some biblical stories for that purpose. One thing that the Koran does not include is Jerusalem. All of this emphasis on Jerusalem as central to their religion is more recent and insidious.

I, for one, am not at all comforted by any attempt to include Judaism in the group of religions connected to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. I think that lumping us all together is extremely dangerous and delegitimizes us, our religion and history. By accepting that problematic premise we are participating in an ideological Holocaust against ourselves.

Monday, April 24, 2017

My Family's Lack of Holocaust Story is the Biggest Story

For most of my life, ever since I first heard of the Holocaust in Hebrew School and on television, when the The Diary of Anne Frank came out my reaction has been.
It's not my family's story. My parents were born in America, and my grandparents all immigrated to there in the early twentieth century, decades before the Nazis.
And yes, I've written it here too on my blogs.

The late 1950's and early 1960's were when the general public learned about the Holocaust, because besides the Anne Frank story, which was packaged perfectly, the very young State of Israel managed to capture Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann and bring him to public trial.

Even though all of my grandparents were from European locations, Rogotshov, Nasielsk and Kiev, that had seen its Jewish population decimated by the Nazis I had never ever heard a single story that connected my family to that major and unprecedented tragedy. In addition, I grew up in Bell Park Gardens, Bayside, NY, which was housing for American war veterans, and none of the parents although over 90% Jewish, had European accents or were Holocaust survivors. In the local Conservative synagogue, Oakland Jewish Center, where I went to Hebrew School, I don't remember anyone coming in giving a first-person story of the Holocaust or saying that their family had escaped or experienced it.

Actually, the easy fact that my mother had neither cousins nor aunts and uncles in America wasn't attributed to the Holocaust until the poem Babi Yar was published and publicized in America. That's when my mother said that her mother's family was probably among the Jews massacred in Babi Yar.

The Vishnefskys of Rogotshov, parents of my mother's mother. And above that is a small photo of my mother's family, Passover, most probably 1948 or 1949.
This morning when I was trying to decide what to write, I first rejected Holocaust Memorial Day, because I don't have a "story." My father's father's family all left Nesielsk, Poland over a decade before it was conquered by the Nazis, so they were safely in New York long before the Nazis came to power. And we have heard nothing about what actually happened to my paternal grandmother's two sisters who remained in the USSR, except that they were loyal communists.

The truth is that we don't know if there are any heroic stories from my family, because nobody survived to tell us. And just now I've realized that I do have a story. My story is that my family members who stayed in Europe were all swallowed up in the black hole of the Nazi Holocaust not even leaving enough clues to discover a story. We can't even add their names.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Judaism Built on History and Memory, Part 1 Holocaust

Yes, there is a connection to this and to last night's post based on Pirkei Avot:
1. Moses received the Torah from Sinai and gave it over to Joshua. Joshua gave it over to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets gave it over to the Men of the Great Assembly. (Chabad)
Now that the Jewish World is commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day, it's also mourning the fact that there are fewer and fewer actual survivors who are capable of telling their stories to the younger generations.
Ignorance and amnesia – a deadly combination
World War Two, which included the Holocaust, ended over seventy 70 years ago, and that means that especially considering the problematic physical/medical condition of those who had survived, not too many people are still alive and in any condition to tell what they had suffered/experienced. Also, quite a few had kept all of those horrendous memories all bottled up in order to survive and thrive emotionally.

In recent decades there had been great efforts to convince survivors to tell/record their stories. And there have been many Holocaust memorials built all over the world. I've even complained that it's easier to raise money for these memorials than for any projects to try to increase Jewish identification, education and observance among young Jews.

Assimilation and intermarriage have been emerging as the direct result of Jewish embrace of Liberalism and Equality which aim to take down the social and cultural barriers between different religions. In many Jewish families living outside of Israel there is hardly a single marriage between two Jews on the horizon. What is most disturbing is that the acceptance of this situation is even described as a "Jewish value," and Reform Judaism makes "conversion" and the definition of "who's a Jew" simpler and more encompassing than ever. To do this they have gone farther and farther from traditional Torah Judaism, the Judaism that was passed on from Gd to Moshe and further in an unbroken line to this day.

At best they've kept the box and some superficial symbols but emptied them of Gd's authority over us. Convenience and modernity have replaced the Authority of Torah and Gd.

Modern "versions" of Judaism are also attempts to avoid/prevent antisemitism by making Jews less "different," as if the Holocaust was caused by the strict observance of Shabbat and Kashrut, two principles that separate the Jewish People from other religions.

The Nazi Holocaust had nothing to do with Judaism as a strict religion. Intermarried Jews, their children and grandchildren were murdered along with rabbis and their followers. Even German Jewish war veterans who had been awarded medals for bravery in World War One were included as Jews and not exempt as German patriots and heroes.

It is very necessary to look at the big picture, especially now that the individual stories are getting harder to hear.

The big difference between now and the world eighty plus 80+ years ago is that now there is a State of Israel, a Jewish State, which almost nobody really believed would happen way back then. And in addition, not only is strict Torah Observant Judaism getting larger and more popular, but even the non-observant Jews here in Israel are showing a strong interest in classic halachic (Jewish Law) literature and Philosophy.

Ironically, as Judaism is getting stronger here in Israel, Germany is at the forefront of the European Union and the concept of Europe as a People. Yes, I see the Hand of Gd in this.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers Chapter 1 in Macro

Pirkei Avot, generally translated as Ethics of the Fathers begins with:
1. Moses received the Torah from Sinai and gave it over to Joshua. Joshua gave it over to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets gave it over to the Men of the Great Assembly. (Chabad)
That's to show or remind us that Jewish Law is derived from Gd and has been passed on from generation to generation of Jews.

Yes, that's the message to the Jewish People.  But what about individuals, especially those who have returned to Torah Judaism after a generation or more of our family didn't observer mitzvot? Or what about the convert who has no family customs/memories to follow?

In my family I was considered a "rebel" when I became Torah observant, since my parents, and even some of my grandparents had thrown off the "yoke" of Torah. I didn't grow up with any strong religious memories or family customs. And sometimes I feel the alack.

The other day I was with a couple of friends. Besides me, there was a convert and one from a long unbroken line of Torah observant Jews. The convert and I spoke about things we had asked rabbis, while the one from the unbroken line admitted that she never had.

And I replied that many of the questions we asked the rabbi were simple halachik, Jewish Law questions, because for those of us who have no family customs to go by and no family to ask, it makes more sense to ask the rabbi.

Sometimes when you look for the answer yourself, you get more confused or end up getting it all wrong.

This reminds me of a game we played as kids. We'd pass around a "message." The first one would whisper something in the ear of the next child, who would whisper to the next, on and on, and the last one had to say it outloud. Most frequently, the message would be so garbled it bore no resemblance to the original.

In Judaism, that's why we still have copies of the Torah text and learn it all and the Mishna and Talmud on a regular basis. It's just too easy to get off track and distort things. And there's the tradition to learn Pirkei Avot every year after Passover. And Pirkei Avot reminds us that there's an unbroken chain from Moshe who heard from Gd when he and the Jewish People were on their way to the Holy Land after escaping slavery to Pharaoh in Egypt.

Friday, April 21, 2017

When Will MK Zoabi be Jailed and Stripped of Immunity?

It's totally outrageous, immoral, illogical and illegal for Balad's Haneen Zoabi to continue as a Knesset Member.
Zoabi said that Israel is “responsible for guaranteeing the rights of the prisoners and responsible for denying the legitimate rights of the prisoners and it is punishing the prisoners as an act of political revenge... it is violating [international] law.”
Zoabi added that Israel’s Arab citizens have an important role to play in backing the strike by “organizing demonstrations and keeping the issue on the agenda with public activities.” (Jerusalem Post)
Why aren't Israeli security and incitement laws enforced when it comes to the extreme Left and Arabs?

It is extremely clear that MK Haneen Zoabi is not loyal to the State of Israel and doesn't recognize its sovereignty. So, how could someone like that have a position of authority in the State of Israel's Knesset, parliament? It makes absolutely no sense to me at all.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Does The State of Israel Have The Guts?

To be a real "light unto all nations," a very nebulous subjective phrase, we the Jewish People and today's reborn State of Israel must be willing to do things other countries many not dare and even things that some Jews don't think are truly Jewish.

That's because so-called "Jewish Morality," sic, has been hijacked by concepts and ideologies far removed from Judaism and claim them as Jewish.

Liberalism and Democracy are not Jewish Values. They are modern western and European.

Judaism forbids us to "turn the other cheek," ignore attacks on us. The common practice here not to respond to rocket attacks on Israel if they didn't kill nor maim and caused no real "damage" cannot be defended according to Torah Judaism.

Making Torah Commandments more "modern," or PC-politically correct, was strongly condemned in the Bible. The Priest Aaron's sons were immediately executed by Gd for worshipping with a "strange fire."  And the first Jewish King, Saul, lost his kingship when he refrained from executing the Amalek king and killing all the cattle. Gd did not accept his excuse that the people wanted him to keep them alive for a big festive ceremony. There's no textual proof that the people made such a demand, and Gd's instructions weren't negotiable.

For the State of Israel to be a truly moral country, a "light unto all nations," according to Jewish Tradition we must separate from the ideology of the international Left, Gd willing.

This post is my reaction to the pain of the families who are still waiting for the Israeli Government to take effective steps to bring back their children's bodies from our immoral enemies.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rosh Chodesh Iyar is So SOON!

I know. It happens every year that we are barely recovered from Passover and suddenly it's Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's Independence day. There are barely a couple of weeks between the two. And even before Independence Day it's Rosh Chodesh Iyar, the first of the Jewish Month in which there are so many festive days. There's Independence Day, Lag B'Omer and Jerusalem Day. So, no doubt, this is a Rosh Chodesh you'd like to celebrate with us if you can.

Women's Prayers at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh

Rosh Chodesh Iyyar, 5777 
Thursday April 27, 2017 
1st of Iyyar, 5777, 8:30am 
Hallel and Musaf for Rosh Chodesh 
Tour of Tel Shiloh 
Dvar Torah, Short Torah Lesson 
Please come and invite family, friends and neighbors. 

תפילת נשים ראש חודש אייר
בשילה הקדומה, תל שילה
יום ה' 27-4-2017

א' אייר, תשע"ז 8:30
הלל ומוסף לראש חודש
יהיה דבר תורה קצר וסיור בתל
כדאי לבוא ולהזמין חברות, משפחה ושכנות

Please mark it in your calendar/diary/event planner so you can join us, Gd willing.

If you have more questions about it, please contact me shilohmuse@gmail.com with "Rosh Chodesh" as subject. Our women's dovening isn't a version of male synagogue prayers. We sing Hallel out loud and then doven Musaf individually.

You can visit Shiloh Hakeduma all weekdays. For more information call 02-994-4019.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Arab Terrorist Hunger Strike - Let Them Starve to Death!

Not for the first time, convicted imprisoned Arab terrorists in Israel have declared a hunger strike. And as far as I'm concerned, let them starve to death.
As I've said/written on many occasions, any Arab terrorist caught in the act, whether "successful," sic, or not, he/she, young or old, should be executed on the spot. There is absolutely no need nor usefulness nor value in giving Arab terrorists medical care, a trial, room, board, education, entertainment, a microphone/internet access etcetera. Allowing them to live and thrive, as they do in jail, just endangers us even more.

photo- Terror Attack: 1 Dead

And there must be a  way to fine/penalize the PA-Palestinian Authority for giving out stipends/financial rewards to the families of the terrorists.
PA defies US, will raise payments to Martyrs' families
Itamar Marcus

In defiance of the US, which is demanding that the Palestinian Authority completely stop financial rewards to families of terrorist "Martyrs" (Shahids), the PA is now raising the payments to the "Martyrs'" families. These PA payments include lifetime monthly allowances to families of suicide bombers, and other murderers who were killed during or after committing their crimes... (Palestinian Media Watch)
Why does the world sympathise with these terrorists?

There is only one answer:

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Counting The Omer, Looking Forward to The Next Holiday

Reminder for Counting the Omer when phone and computer are off. I've been leaving a "sign" right over the television, a place my eyes wander for the past few years. I find this to be the best way of remembering to count.
The Counting of the Omer, Sefirat Ha'Omer, is a pretty long process. It's 7 X 7 = 49, seven complete weeks long. And the numbers go up and up each night.

The Counting of the Omer begins on the second night of Passover and it ends just before the Shavuot Holiday. In Hebrew it is much more interesting, because seven, week, satiated and Shavuot, which means "weeks" or "oaths," are all written from the same root:


There's nothing like Hebrew as a brilliant language with so much meaning however you combine letters. There's no real "gibberish" in Hebrew. Every simple two or three letter combination can be linguistically interpreted somehow.

As we begin counting on that second night of Passover, we know that in forty-nine days, seven times seven weeks, we will all swear our allegiance to Gd, accept the Torah and be satisfied with it, Gd willing.

It's an amazing concept, and it repeats every year. Yes, it's connected to the commandment that we each must feel ourselves as having left Egypt and joined with Gd and Gd's Commandments to us. We first search for and destroy the chametz, forbidden leaved products, and then we start anew with matzot, מצות, which are linguistically, mitzvot מצות Gd's commandments. This is either confusing or comforting and satisfying in how it connects the Holy Days.

Passover celebrates our no longer being slaves of Pharaoh, and Shavuot celebrates Gd's giving us the Torah and our emergence as a People.

Even though the 49 days of the Omer is supposed to be a time of national mourning, there are, davka, two modern holidays in the middle, Israeli Independence Day and Jerusalem Day. These are the modern Holy Days that parallel the development of the Jewish People today. We've reclaimed the Holy Land as Ours! We are now a State/Nation after two thousand years of exile. And these significant days are during the forty-nine of the Omer. Gd controls timing, which is a reminder of how holy Israeli Independence Day and Jerusalem Day truly are.

Chag Sameach!!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Arab Terror Attack on The Jerusalem Lightrail

Friday a young woman was murdered by an Arab terrorist on the Jerusalem Lightrail. Authorities say he has a history of mental illness, but that's no comfort to the family. And, davka, the victim, 21-year-old Hannah Bladon, wasn't even Jewish.

Jerusalem Lightrail on a quiet day, not far from where the attack took place.

Jerusalem Lightrail on a quiet day, not far from where the attack took place.
As further proof that there's no apartheid between Arabs and others in Israel, the attack took place on the train where Jews and Arabs and tourists and non-Jews and everyone of all ages ride together and sit together and stand crowded together.

I was on the train just the day before. I noticed more security, but according to statistics Arab men 50+ are very low risks on the terrorist scale. Just shows that Profiling isn't foolproof.

I'm just curious, but how many international leaders have condemned this murder so far? Who has?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Biblical/Ancient Jews Fleeing Egypt WERE NOT Refugees

What's a refugee?
a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster (google)
The Jews who left Egypt weren't refugees, because they weren't Egyptians. They were descendants of a foreign tribe, different religion and culture who had been invited to stay in Egypt during a time of extreme famine in their own land. One can say that when they arrived in Egypt they had been refugees at that time. But then, once there was a new ruler/Pharaoh policy towards them changed and they became enslaved, and they were denied all civil rights, including the right to go back to their homeland.

That is the Passover Story. It's about a People trying to return home to their Homeland. It's not about people aka refugees looking for better economic conditions, educational opportunities or security in a foreign land. 

The Passover story is more like that of North African Jews being forced to hike thousands of miles to the Land of Israel or the European Jews on clandestine aliyah ships trying to sneak past the British forces that aimed to keep Jews out of the Holy Land.

The Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum

Aliyah Bet Naval Museum
In the 20th Century version, the British prevented Jews from entering the Land of our Forefathers, even when they knew that staying in Europe meant certain death by the Nazis.

Despite it all, the Jewish People did manage to return Home and establish a modern state, the State of Israel. There is no other people in the world that has done anything similar, especially after a two thousand 2,000 year expulsion.

The State of Israel is miraculous, and that is proof that we are Gd's People.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Pesach Sameach!
Have a Peaceful Shabbat and a Joyous Passover Holiday!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Ancient Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, The Place to Be on Passover!

Thousands of modern pilgrims from all over the showed up at the Biblical Site of Shiloh on the First day of Chol Hamoed Passover. For more information click here. Yes, it's open today, too.

There were activities for all ages, and the street theater gets better every year.

Enjoy! And of course the site is open year round. I invite women to join our Rosh Chodesh Prayers every month.

Women's Prayers at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh

Rosh Chodesh Iyyar, 5777 
Thursday April 27, 2017 
1st of Iyyar, 5777, 8:30am 
Hallel and Musaf for Rosh Chodesh 
Tour of Tel Shiloh 
Dvar Torah, Short Torah Lesson 
Please come and invite family, friends and neighbors. 

תפילת נשים ראש חודש אייר
בשילה הקדומה, תל שילה
יום ה' 27-4-2017
א' אייר, תשע"ז 8:30
הלל ומוסף לראש חודש
יהיה דבר תורה קצר וסיור בתל
כדאי לבוא ולהזמין חברות, משפחה ושכנות

Please mark it in your calendar/diary/event planner so you can join us, Gd willing.

If you have more questions about it, please contact me shilohmuse@gmail.com with "Rosh Chodesh" as subject. Our women's dovening isn't a version of male synagogue prayers. We sing Hallel out loud and then doven Musaf individually.

You can visit Shiloh Hakeduma all weekdays. For more information call 02-994-4019.