Sunday, July 25, 2021

Pre-Yom Kippur "The 40 Day Challenge" Good All Year

The 40 Day Challenge: Daily Jewish Insights to Prepare for the High Holidays by Mark Wildes is a well written, beautifully presented guide to help us improve our lives not just the forty days before Yom Kippur but all year long.

As I rushed to finish reading The 40 Day Challenge so I could get this book review posted early enough to help market the book in time for Rosh Chodesh Ellul, I realized that the messages/exercises are really for all year long. Teshuva-Repentance and improving our religious observance, between man and Gd or man to man must be done 24/7. Judaism isn't a part-time religion. 
Rabbi Mark Wildes is the Founder and Director of Manhattan Jewish Experience (MJE), a highly successful Jewish outreach and educational program that engages and reconnects unaffiliated Jewish men and women in their 20s & 30s with Judaism and the Jewish community. In its 22 years of existence, MJE has successfully reconnected thousands of previously unaffiliated Jewish men and women with Judaism and the Jewish community, hundreds of whom are today living committed Jewish lives and sending their children to Jewish Day Schools. Rabbi Mark also teaches an outreach training seminar at RIETS, Yeshiva University’s rabbinical school, training new leaders for the future.
Forty is a special number in Judaism, and Wildes did a wonderful job in finding forty challenges for us to attempt. When you finish the forty, please don't put the book  away hoping to remember to take it out next Rosh Chodesh Ellul. Just start again from number one.

Each chapter ends with a question to help the reader succeed. The question puts the challenge into simple doable terms. Here's an example from the chapter about "gossip."


It's clear that Wildes doesn't expect us to become perfect overnight. But he does show that we can gradually in small steps.

I highly recommend The 40 Day Challenge as the perfect gift for yourself and others. It's not written in highfalutin fancy language. The 40 Day Challenge has a clear accessible message. All of us can use it to make our lives better. To purchase the book, click here- Kodesh Press.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Truth About Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream in Israel

I guess it's a slow week for big news, since only now are people realizing that when they buy Ben & Jerry's ice cream, they're supporting radical Leftist political issues, including those opposing Israel's security and the 1967 Six Days War survival/victory. 

Check your history books. No other country that survived a war in which its enemies had sworn/aimed for its destruction has ever faced demands to retreat from land won in such a war

My husband bought this container of Ben & Jerry's
chocolate ice cream in the local supermarket.
The licensee who runs Ben & Jerry's here in Israel is up a creek. The people who control the actual business are Radical Leftists who are cracking the whip in anger because the Israeli "end" is selling all over the country including places like... Shiloh. Apparently the licensee has been warned that his license won't be renewed since he refuses to tow the party line.

Therefore, many Israelis are davka buying Ben & Jerry's ice cream to show their support for the gutsy guy. 

Those of you ice cream eaters living outside of Israel, you have a choice:
  • Support anti-Israel radical Leftists by buying Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
  • Support the State of Israel -all of it- and patronize other ice cream brands.
I recommend Häagen-Dazs, which was founded by Rose and Reuben Mattus, who were generous donors to many institutions here in Israel. I even met them once when they came to Shiloh. IMHO davka Häagen-Dazs is a far more superior ice cream.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Rosh Chodesh Elul, Sooner Than You Think

This coming Sunday is the Fast of Tisha (the 9th) of Av, the saddest day on the Jewish Calendar. It commemorates not only the destruction of our two Holy Temples but the dangers of disunity of the People of Israel.

The recovery of these tragedies has taken two thousand years. Yes, we're now in a state of building and revival, of which the Modern State of Israel and the miraculous survival of the Jewish People are proof that Gd is most powerful. The Jewish return to Ancient Biblical Shiloh is part of this process. 

We live in Shiloh, where the Mishkan Tabernacle, which predated the Holy Temple stood for close to four hundred years. During that time Jews came from all over to pray. Most well-known was Chana Hannah who prayed for a son. Gd gave her Shmuel Samuel.

Now every Rosh Chodesh, beginning of the Jewish Month, women come to Shiloh to pray together. Next Rosh Chodesh is Ellul, 5781, Monday, August 9, 2021, and at 8:30am we'll meet to pray.

תפילת נשים ראש חודש אלול, תשפ"א, יום ב' 8:30 9\08\2021

For more information email shilohmuse@gmail.com, subject "Rosh Chodesh"

Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh is a beautiful archeological park with lots of things to do. It's off of highway 60 and is also accessible by public transportation. 02-5789122, visit@telshilo.org.il




 



Monday, July 12, 2021

Touring Beit El, Kfar Ivri, and More

Last week I joined a group of women from various parts of the country under the leadership of my neighbor Rachel Sela for an amazing tour.

There were only three stops/locations, and each was special representing our undeniable connection to the Land of Israel and Bible.

First we went to nearby Beit El, where they have a visitors center dedicated to the story of Jacob's Ladder. But for us the significance of Beit El concerned the split of the Davidic Dynasty, long after our Forefather Jacob slept and dreamt in Beit El.


Next stop was the real Givat Shaul, Hill of Saul, where archeologists have found remains of palaces from Biblical times. But this structure has nothing to do with the bible at all, though it was meant to be a palace. In the mid-1960s Jordan's King Hussein wanted a summer palace in  eastern Jerusalem, which he illegally occupied at the time. We were there on a very hot day, but the winds blowing through the incomplete shell were strong.

The Hashemites are long gone, and Jerusalem has grown tremendously under Israeli sovereignty.



Afterwards we visited Beit Hashivah, which although is in an Arab neighborhood and part of Jerusalem, the land is really owned by Jews. Prior to Israeli Independence there had been a Jewish farming village there, Kfar Ivri, near the present neighborhood of Neve Yaakov, which also has a history of being a Jewish farming village. 

We met some of the Jewish residents, new and old who told us the story and how they are trying to revitalize this Jewish neighborhood. A number of young families now live in the building, and there's a yeshiva where men learn during the day.

Over fifty years ago, my husband and I spent a few Shabbatot there as guests of one of the original families, so it was very moving for me to finally return.

The oldest and most veteran of the Jewish residents is the well-known Ezra Yachin, pictured on the left. In his youth is fought in the pre-state underground Lechi, aka Stern Gang. He has written many books about his experiences and related topics. His memoir, Elnakam is published in both English and Hebrew.

Ezra still travels around the country talking to young and old about his life and Israel's history.

We ended our tour with dinner on the roof of Beit Hashivah. It was truly a wonderful day.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Kenes Shiloh 10 כנס שילה

Tuesday afternoon-evening I was among the many Bible, History, Archeology buffs who had a wonderful time at Shiloh Hakeduma's Kenes Shiloh 10 כנס שילה.

As I do every year, I took the tour to see the new findings. There wasn't much, because corona forced many of the usual digs to be cancelled. But tools had been found. 






After the tour showing us what had been discovered recently, there were a large variety of lectures. Of course, not all the speakers agreed with each other. I think that the lectures were recorded. For more information, contact Shiloh Hakeduma; facebook page.








Looking forward to next year's Kenes Shiloh, Gd willing. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Those Were The Days... Good Trump US-Israel Relations


Two years ago Jerusalem's iconic String Bridge was all lit up in honor of American Independence Day, while Americans, Israelis and people like us celebrated in nearby Binyanei Hauma at a humongous strictly kosher bash hosted by the American Embassy in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion
with me and my husband
This was the greatest evening imaginable showing a whole new relationship between the United States and Israel. President Trump was the first American President to follow the long time pledge and finally move the Embassy to Jerusalem. 


Over the years we had been invited to some Independence Day events by the then American Consulate, but they were comparatively pathetic. Also at those consulate events 99.9% of the food was traif, meaning not kosher. There would be one table from a kosher hotel. And a high percentage of the guests were Arab, not Jewish Israelis.

With David Friedman as Ambassador the menu and guest list were very different.

In addition, the embassy and consulate gave us American citizens good service. Now there's none. Things got difficult during the peak of COVID corona, but now that it's no longer a real danger here in Israel, there hasn't been a resumption of services.
  
A couple of months ago I had to get something notarized by an American notary. In the past we could just get and appointment in the US Consulate, later Embassy, and then no muss, no fuss and minimal charge, it was done. Now, not even American Passports can get renewed. No consular services are available in Israel. Is the Biden-Harris administration trying to send Israel a message?

US-Israel relations have gone down hill rapidly since Biden-Harris were elected.


Monday, June 14, 2021

Guide To The Perplexed, Israeli Political System Simplified


Prime Minister Naftali Bennett 

After over half a century in Israel, I have a pretty good idea how the political system works. I don't think it's like many others. I'm going to try to simplify it here, aiming to say how it's run in positive rather than negative sentences/points. I will try to use easy to understand terminology.

  • The Israeli Political System is a parliamentary democracy.
  • The Israeli Political System has only proportional representation.
  • Israeli citizens vote for political parties*.
  • The 120 Knesset seats are proportionately divided among the political parties that received a legally set percentage of the votes and more.
  • After votes are fully counted, the political parties negotiate a coalition government, because no single party has ever gotten a majority of the Knesset seats.
  • The Prime Minister is chosen/voted in by the majority of Knesset Members who generally are in the political parties that have joined the coalition. 
  • Coalition negotiations decide which participating political parties get which ministries, committee chairmanships and other important positions.
  • When a government falls and new elections are called, the sitting government continues until after a new coalition is voted in.**
*Each political party has a numbered list of candidates who become MKs according to election results.
**That interim government cannot be voted out. Netanyahu had spent the last few years as interim Prime Minister, perfectly safe from losing his position as long as no new coalition run by another party could be formed.

Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett

I hope that this explanation is clear. If you have any questions, please write in the comments. 

This isn't the place/post to complain that YOU think it's a dumb system. The purpose of this post is just to explain the existing  Israeli Political System.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Just Call Me A Cockeyed Optimist or a Pragmatic Extremist


For the past few years, the State of Israel hasn't had a stable government. We've been bouncing and rolling from elections to elections. Even the brilliant political magician Bibi Netanyahu has failed. OK, one of the reasons is that his tricks have worn thin, and not too many party leaders are willing to trust him anymore. I can't keep up with all the elections in the past couple of years, so I checked on the internet.

Wikipedia 


Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, whose sum total of Knesset Members is less than that of the Likud, managed to gather other political parties across the Israeli political spectrum and form a coalition. Gd willing it'll be voted in next week. 

I've shocked many friends, real life friends and facebook acquaintances/followers with my enthusiastic support of this proposed unity government. 

On one hand I really am a political extremist, but I'm also an activist and pragmatist. I've been following Israeli politics for just over half a century. I know perfectly well that only the coalition can really get anything done. 

If you just want to criticize and demand from the outside, that's one thing, but if you really want to improve life in Israel you have to work within the system. During the past few years, when we've been in and out of election mode, the sitting, interim or whatever the title is Prime Minister has had a lot of power. You can't vote him out of office, because he's already out of office, and all the time that there isn't a new coalition, the old one is in charge.

When this whole mess started, I was not one of those calling for Bibi's ouster. In many ways he had been doing a great job. I think the "corruption cases" against him are trumped up political shenanigans. But Bibi's treatment of Naftali Bennett and his crazy over-stuffed failed coalition with Gantz and his public interference in other political parties has shown a very dangerous side of Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu. He's also damaging the Likud party by not giving a chance to the younger generation. 

If Bibi had retired at seventy 70, like most government workers are forced to do, he would have left with his reputation glowing and untarnished. But in the past year and a half, even many of his supporters feel it's time for him to retire from the job. 

Actually I can't promise that the new Bennett-Lapid-Saar government will succeed or last terribly long. It may do very well, and then we'll see the chareidi parties trying to finagle their way in to preserve their institutions, the way the old NRP National Religious Party used to. 

I like the fact that Right-Left, Religious-Secular, Jew-Arab are all talking and looking for ways to make the State of Israel a better country for all of us. Gd willing these youngsters will teach us old fogies how to work and live together.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Why Isaac Herzog is Now President of the State of Israel, Even Though The People Wanted Miriam Peretz

Isaac Herzog newly elected President of the State of Israel

The State of Israel has both a Prime Minister and a President. Their roles are very different as are the methods used to elect them.

As I typed the final words of the previous sentence, I realized that superficially what I had written wasn't exactly true. Both the Prime Minister and the President are voted in by Members of Knesset. The major difference is that once once the President is voted in, he or she then will no longer need approval from MKs. The position is more formal, diplomatic, almost like a monarch who meets and greets foreign ambassadors and delegations. The President will also represent the State of Israel at various foreign events freeing the Prime Minister and other government ministers from these formal occasions. That's one of the reasons that in the time leading up to today's elections that the press made a big deal over the fluent English of Herzog versus Peretz's weaker English speaking abilities. 

When it comes to the public, Miriam Peretz is far more popular than Isaac Herzog. I read and reviewed her biography-click here and immediately joined the fan club. Peretz is a former teacher, and two of her sons were killed in army action. She has become a unifying symbol of faith, patriotism and survival. I have no doubt that Peretz would make an excellent President, but in the decades that Herzog has been involved in the Israeli political scene, including being head of the Jewish Agency, his political connections and smarts in Israel and abroad are unsurpassed. Even in the secret ballot, Miriam Peretz hadn't a chance.

If Peretz really wants the job of President of the State of Israel, she now has seven years to campaign.


Miriam Peretz with some of her children

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Israel Must Win This War!

Yes, it's a war.

Israel was attacked by Gaza-Hamas, which has been stocking up on sophisticated rockets, while pleading poverty and worse. 

I got this on facebook a couple of days ago, so now it's out of date. Israel has been attacked even more.

Israel has been continuing a dangerous cycle of getting attacked, gently and morally sic hitting back, then agreeing to a ceasefire. A few years of quiet and then the Arabs start again, with much more sophisticated weapons. And we never solve the problem. We never win.

This time WE MUST FIGHT TO WIN!

It's the only way to have peace. Forget what the world says. They hate us.

This time lots of long-range rockets from Gaza, which have plenty of and a couple from Lebanon. Next attacks will only be worse. Let's win.

Did you hear me?

LET'S WIN

Let's say it again:

LET'S WIN!


Sunday, May 9, 2021

"White Privilege" The Big Antisemitic Lie

re: language/word/term

I get terribly offended by the relatively new term "white privilege." Honestly, it's antisemitic. 

That nasty term hides/denies how most Jewish immigrants struggled in their early decades in America.

The vast majority of Jews who moved to the United Stated in the previous two centuries were fleeing poverty. The wealthy didn't come, only the poor. 

The "WASPS" didn't want them and quickly passed a quota law to keep Jews out. FDR wouldn't even fill the quota when those fleeing the Nazis tried to legally enter the United States. And if you check your history, Harry Truman didn't improve things after World War Two. Holocaust survivors had a very difficult time getting visas to live in America.

Sabbat observing Jews were discriminated against and needed new jobs weekly, or made do as independent peddlers. 

It didn't help that the Great Depression was making it hard on many. The last to be hired and first to be fired were Jews. 

Many Jews went to work as young as possible to help their families. Even those who graduated high school as academics ended up working, since they couldn't even afford the "free" universities. 

Those using the term "White Privilege" are inventing a false history, a lie. I find the term very offensive.

Zachor Remember