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.


Thursday, April 28, 2022

We're Also Holocaust Survivors...

I had never really considered my family as being connected to the Holocaust, since all of my grandparents made it from Eastern Europe to the USA a couple of decades before World War Two. 

Both of my parents were born in Brooklyn, NY, just like me. I grew up in a neighborhood built after WWII for US military veterans. Our parents spoke native New York English. We didn't hear Yiddish at home. We were American Jews. I first heard about the Holocaust when the Anna Frank Diaries was being publicized, and then there was the Eichmann Trial. None of this was connected to my family.

My father had lots of aunts, uncles and cousins on both sides in New York. My mother had siblings, no aunts, uncles or cousins. When I was older I discovered that my mother's father had been born an orphan in the Ukraine. His father had been murdered in a pogrom, before he was born, and his mother died in childbirth. He was raised by grandparents. My mother didn't know which ones, and as a young man he went to America. My mother's mother left her family in Rogotshav, Belarus for New York, when married to her first husband. They had three daughters, but he died leaving her a poor widow. A few years later, she married my grandfather, who was widowed with two sons. Together they had four more children, including my mother.

My mother was never told much about all the family left in Rogotshav. My grandmother died before my third birthday, just before my brother was born, and I already had two children by the time my mother discovered that she had had an uncle in London. By then he had passed away, but with the help of HIAS my mother and her siblings discovered cousins in London and New Zealand.

After World War Two, neither my grandmother nor her brother ever discovered or heard from any surviving relatives. So, I guess you can say that my cousins, our children and grandchildren are the only SURVIVORS of the Vishnefsky Family of Rogotshov*. 

It's strange to think that it has taken me so long to realize that even though neither my parents nor grandparents suffered in concentration camps, death marches etc, we are part of the story.

Holocaust Memorial Day, 5772, 2022

*Honestly, I'd love to discover more Vishnefsky relatives.

That's where my Vishnefsky Family had lived

Strange Posts

 Recently I've found strange posts here. I did change my google password, but they continued, so I just deleted all the "extra" people who used to be able to blog on this blog.

I hope that helps.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Haggadah for the Curious – 3, Perfect Addition to Our Collection

Haggadah for the Curious – Volume 3 by Rabbi A Levin will be very welcome at our Seder. Rabbi Levin has miraculously managed to compile a variety of commentary, comments and questions that will interest all ages and all levels of Jewish knowledge and observance. Call it your "ONE SIZE FITS ALL" Haggadah.

Besides the fascinating content, I really enjoy the simple graphics and large, legible print. That's especially good for those of us whose eyesight isn't what it used to be and for the young children and grandchildren new to reading. Of course, in a few years it'll probably be stained with wine as all well-used family Haggadot are.

Here's a sample page.
Instructions are clear, even to those not experienced with the Passover Seder or forget details from year to year.

Commentary is in the form of questions and answers which guides the Seder leader in helping others at the table to think and ask even more. Of course, anyone at the Passover Seder may ask questions and add his/her two cents, inspired by the commentary in Haggadah for the Curious – 3. A Passover Seder is not supposed to be a performance; it's more like a Beit Medrash, Jewish Study Hall where people discuss and even argue. We're commanded to think and talk about what happened to the Jewish People thousands of years ago when leaving Egypt and not doze off as "head of the house" drones on. The lessons learned are valuable for all time, meaning today, too.

As I was reading through Haggadah for the Curious – 3, I almost immediately learned something new. Growing up in a minimally traditionally Jewish home, we never leaned over when drinking the seder wine or eating the ceremonial matzah. We read the narrative up to the meal and not all of the instructions. Actually we only drank two cups, since we didn't continue the seder after the meal. Early in the Haggadah Rabbi Levin gives a lot of detail about the "leaning" while drinking the wine and eating the matzah. After saying that 45 degrees is important, he then reminds us that being in pain cancels that out. I like the common sense in that. One surprise is that the one who will lead the Seder should be the one setting up the Seder Plate, which should be done when standing and as a "ceremony" announcing the items as he places them down. I had never heard that before.

In Haggadah for the Curious – 3, I also discovered a couple of completely new things to do with the wine poured for Eliyahu Hanavi. We have always kept it out and then poured it in the sink, forbidden for shmitta- kedushat shvi'it. According to Rabbi Levin, the Zachor L'Avraham 40:66 says to pour a little into the cups of all the seder participants, since it's segulah for health and healing. Suggestion #2 is to cover it overnight and then pour it back into the bottle and then use it for morning kiddush, according to Vayeged Moshe 30:5. What do you do with Eliyahu's wine? Where did you get your custom?

No doubt it's clear that I highly recommend buying In Haggadah for the Curious – 3 as a gift for yourself and/or others. It can be found in Judaica book stores or ordered from Mosaica Press or Feldheim.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

US Ambassador to Israel Nides Supports Apartheid


a system of keeping groups of people separate and treating them differently, especially when this results in disadvantage for one group

Read this Jerusalem Post article, if you don't believe me.

Nides: Israeli settlement growth infuriates me, calls it 'stupid things'

It's clear that Tom Nides want Jews to be separate from Arabs and treat them differently, putting them, the Jews, at a terrible disadvantage

That's called APARTHEID.

Arabs can live and build wherever they want, but Jews are completely restricted.

That's called APARTHEID.

Over half a century ago in 1967, Israel defeated three armies which had coordinated attacks against Israel to destroy it completely, and they weren't shy about stating their aim. Egypt attacked from the south, Jordan from the east and Syria from the north. Egypt's Nasser proudly boasted that they were going to shove us into the sea, our western border.

Thanks to Gd, Israel did the impossible and won resoundingly on all three fronts. In the process our borders changed for the better, giving us the Golan Heights in the north--so the Syrians could no longer use it as a base for attacking Israel. Our squiggly impossible to defend eastern border moved to the Jordan River, and the Sinai Peninsula* to the south fell into Israeli hands, too. International Law and precedent always accepts such border changes, however for some strange reason the international community still insists that Israel has no rights to any of the land.

I'd call that ANTISEMITISM.

What do you think?

Jewish Communities like Shiloh "infuriate" Tom Nides

*Rather inexplicably Menachem Begin, when Prime Minister, offered Nasser's successor Anwar Sadaat the Sinai and destroyed all the Jewish communities, towns and farms which had been established after our victory.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Old Jewish Joke Helps Explain Russian-Ukranian "Conflict"

Today's Jerusalem Post online

Some of you may have known people who grew up speaking a few languages, because of shifting borders and consequently the need to speak the language of the rulers. Yes, in many parts of the world, borders between countries are rather fluid, shifting like sand on the seashore, or so it seems from far away. 

There's an old Jewish joke*:

Just after World War One, when Poland gained its freedom from Russia and even took over parts of Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania, two Jews meet near Lvov. 

One says, "isn't it wonderful we're no longer in Russia?" 

The Second Jews replies, "what difference does it make? Russia is antisemitic, and so is Poland." 

"Ah," responds the first Jew. "True. But I can't stand those Russian winters."

There was a time when other countries barely cared or noticed changing borders. Some border changes are the results of targeted invasions or aggression by a neighboring country. Other times, it was the results of war, either foreigners played god drawing borders, like after World Wars One and Two, or after after the "dust settled," OK the shooting stopped like Israel's victories in 1949, 1967** and 1973. 

This is what I wrote on Facebook:

I know that a lot of people will think that I'm totally insane and disagree without really thinking about what I'm saying. But before I say it, please understand that I've been a "student" of politics and history pretty much all my life, and I'm over 70 years old. I've always seen things differently. That's how I ended up living the life I now live. And I've never been shy about voicing my opinions. They are my opinions, and I have a right to them. I don't trash/insult others for their opinions when they disagree with me and I expect the same manners, behavior.
So about what's going on between Russia and Ukraine...
That whole area is under flux and has been pretty much forever. Barely a hundred years since communists made USSR, and it didn't last long. Honestly, not all of the countries that resulted when the USSR broke up can really exist independently. I'd butt out.

The area of the FSU Former Soviet Union certainly hasn't "settled" into secure viable borders. Many of the countries won't remain viable independent states. That's the way it is, sort of like yin/yang. International organizations and foreign countries just can't legislate true sovereignty. That doesn't mean they don't try, but it's ineffective. And just because the Ukraine is humongous doesn't mean that it can defend its independence. Size isn't everything

*thanks to my husband, Yisrael Medad, for the text of the joke

**For some peculiar reason, many countries and international organizations have condemned Israel for the 1967 Six Days War's resulting border changes, even though it was a defensive war. Losing the war would have meant the end of the State of Israel, and the post-war borders make much more sense, as they are easier to defend, more suited to the topography and allows Israelis access to the key locations of ancient Jewish history.