Hamas War

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Haiti Earthquake Death Toll versus Chile's Earthquake Death Toll

According to the experts, Chile's very recent earthquake was much more serious, devastating than the one in Haiti.  So, you'd think that if Haiti claims 200,000 or more dead, there should be many more in Chile.  At least I, the CPA's daughter, expect it.  So, far Chile is only talking about hundreds of dead.  A million and a half people displaced, homeless, but the actual death toll is much, much less.

Of course, there are probably some very objective reasons for this difference.  
  • How densely populated were the two areas hit by the earthquakes?
  • How sturdy and "quake-proof" were the buildings?
Death tolls, counts, are very difficult unless, like Nazi Germany extermination Holocaust of Europe's Jewish population, it's well-planned and records are kept.  It's because of the exceptionally careful and accurate German record-keeping that it's possible to prove that they contributed to the murder and death of six million Jews and millions of others.  Natural disasters go at an inhuman pace, without any control.

Haiti is a poor, corrupt and disorganized country.  The chances are that the government isn't very accurate in any of its population counts, and that makes it much easier to falsify, inflate, exaggerate death tolls.

The lower the official figures are in Chile, the more inaccurate the Haitian ones seem.

Chile's Earthquake Dwarf's Haiti's

8.8 is a lot more devastating than than the 7 plus in earthquake terms and numbers.  Haiti is a very different sort of country from Chile.  Haiti is part of an island southeast of Florida, while Chile is on the western part of the south American continent.

When I turned on the television after Shabbat, I was shocked to hear about the 8.8 earthquake in Chile.  What's next for the Americas?

As after every natural disaster, even in places which normally don't welcome Israelis, Israel has offered to send aid to Haiti.

This pre-Purim earthquake is just another lesson for us to remind us that G-d controls everything.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Haman as Matchmaker? Just Call Him Yenta?

Purim Sameach, Joyful Purim, One and All!

Today, Shabbat, pre-darkness, was really The Fast of Esther, but we don't fast on Shabbat, except Yom Kippur which overrides everything.  Now it's Purim.  Back to Shabbat...

At this Shabbat's Shiur Nashim, Women's Torah Class, the most long-standing, ongoing Torah Classes in Shiloh, having passed twenty-eight years already, I kept wishing that I could take notes.  It's forbidden to write on Shabbat, so you'll have to trust my memory.

King Achashverosh didn't inherit the crown of Persia.  He married into it.  It was Queen Vashti who was of royal blood, the daughter of the previous king.  That's a good reason why she refused his demand that she appear for his friends.  She was not only the queen; she was  a king's daughter and expected to be treated just right.

Now, I've always wondered why Achashverosh had given so much authority to Haman.  It's one thing to make him a "department head" or something similar, but to give him the royal ring and stamp, kingly authority...  Isn't that too much?  What did Haman have over Achashverosh?  Did Achashverosh owe Haman for something?

The palace intrigues intrigue me, like all politics.

Suddenly it hit me.  Maybe it was Haman who arranged the marriage of Princess or was she already Queen Vashti with Achashverosh.  The rabbi who gave the class said that it could well be.

So, nu, should we call Haman... Yenta? 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Purim Pet Peeve

There's something really dangerous about the Purim holiday.  From my illustrations, you can guess that I'm not referring to the extra calories, usually from sugar, whether eaten in candy form or drunk in booze.

I find the noise painful.  And it's also distracting.  When I'm at a noisy reading I can't concentrate and follow the words in the Megillat Scroll of Esther.  We're supposed to listen to every word, following the words written on the page.

For some inexplicable reason people think that making noise is the big mitzvah, not listening to the Megillah.  Maybe that's connected to the very superficial "What Purim means to me" that I heard on television.

If you insist that it's important to "stamp out Haman's name," then do it right, only when his name is said.  That means that young children, too young to read the text shouldn't have groggers, noisemakers, rattles, drums, hammers etc.

Prepare for the holiday by reading Megillat Esther, especially with the kids.  Mark Haman's name on the text.  It is a book without the Name of G-d, so there isn't any problem.  Take responsibility for your children.  If they make noise at the wrong time, take away the noisemaker, and make these rules clear before Purim.

Have a Happy and Healthy Purim
Let's Defeat Our Enemies

Jews Returning to Judaism From The Strangest of Places

Sometimes I have dreams of a cousin's child or grandchild, or children or grandchildren suddenly contacting us curious about his/her/their Jewish roots.  These aren't people born and raised in traditionally anti-Semitic cultures like the young Polish man featured in a New York Times article, who went from antisemitic skinhead to Orthodox Jew.  An entire branch of my American relatives, descended from the same maternal Jewish grandmother has been living as christians for three generations already.

This morning when I clicked on the article sent by the Gansteh Megillah about the young Jew in Warsaw, I thought of my cousins and of the pain my grandmother in Olam HaBa, the next world, must feel knowing that her grandchildren, great-grandchildren and their children, too, have no connection to Judaism.  Some are Jewish according to Torah-Jewish Law.  About all of the non-Jewish descendants of my grandparents... another sad story, in need of many prayers. 

Over fifty years ago my widowed aunt took her children from the poor but very Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood, where she had lived for many years.  She moved to Miami, Florida, and discovered a new reality, brutal antisemitism.  One of my cousins was constantly attacked.  Without family support system, she encouraged her children to become like the neighbors and leave Judaism behind with the freezing weather of New York.  From what I was told, she thought she was doing them a favor.  No doubt that her personal connection to Judaism was weak, and she probably blamed G-d for her sorrows, a handicapped first-born, widowhood and poverty.

It was easy to keep their new religion a secret from the New York relatives.  When my cousins married non-Jews, it was credited to the general intermarriage by young American Jews.  Not in a million years did we ever think that my aunt had encouraged her children to live as christians.

My aunt's youngest child is a daughter, who has a number of children including daughters of her own and grandchildren from them.  These children are Jewish according to Jewish Law.  Do they know it?  Will they ever show an interest in Judaism and return?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mercy to One's Enemies, Ask a Cancer Surgeon

The world hasn't calmed down since senior Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was executed in Dubai.  The United States Judicial is debating whether or not it's legal to support "just the" humanitarian projects of terrorist organizations.  Aren't things a bit upside down?  Has the world gotten their priorities twisted?  Sure, no surprise.

The timing of this scandal is just so... Jewish. Yes, it is. Next week is the Purim holiday, and this coming Shabbat is Shabbat Zachor.  One of the themes of Purim is that things aren't what they seem to be.

Do you want an espionage story?  Who was the greatest female spy?  Queen Esther, of course!  She managed to win the Queen of Persia competition, go through every stage of the contest, passing for Persian, without giving even a hint of her true identity.  Not only was she Jewish, of that annoying foreign people, but she was related to that nosy, trouble-making Jew who was always stationed himself at the gates.  Not only did he boycott the feasts celebrating Achashverosh's kingship, but he wouldn't bow down to high officials, like Haman.

In today's world, Mordechai and Esther couldn't have pulled it off.  Those new security X Ray machines strip us of all make-up, clothes and wigs.  The technicians attempt to play G-d, see what we're hiding.  But G-d sees what's really inside, under the bones, muscles etc.  G-d sees our soul, our essence.

"The world" is defending evil, being merciful to our enemies.  That only strengthens evil and makes life more dangerous for all.

Ask a cancer specialist.  If a cancer is growing on one's face or limb, what should one do?  We must remove the cancer, even if it means scarring and handicaps.  If we don't, the cancer will take over the body and the patient will die a horrid painful death.

Terrorism is a cancer, and we must do everything to destroy it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Very Disappointing, Purim as a Secular Holiday

Tonight's IBA Israel English TV News went to a popular (I'd even say trendy) religious girls high school and interviewed some of the students about Purim.

Purim is a very important holiday.  I admit that it does fit the Jewish Holiday Joke:
"They tried to killed us.  We won, so let's eat."

It's the only Jewish Holiday that has no direct contact with the Land of Israel.  The story takes place in Persia, around the Court of King Achashverosh.  King  was very Ronny Reagen in that he delegated authority, though he didn't have Reagen's ideology to keep him focused.  When one of his top people reported insubordination by one of the ethnic minorities, he gave him full responsibility to handle the issue.  That was Haman whose final solution was to destroy every living Jew, from baby to elderly.

The Jewish People were saved due to the brilliant teamwork of Queen Ester, Mordechai and of course G-d working undercover, mustar, hester pannim.

Now, how did the students in this religious girls' high school answer the question:
"What does Purim mean to you?"

They talked about costumes and acting crazy.  They sounded more like secular kids in North Tel Aviv than religious girls in Jerusalem.  It's a very superficial Purim for them.  Honestly, I don't know if the kids in Shiloh are educated any better about Purim.

Something very surprising went through my mind as I listened to the girls talking about Purim. L'havdil, very different, to differentiate... In Christian countries like the United States Xmas is like a national holiday, with all the shopping, parties, vacations etc.  There are people who claim that it's just a "secular holiday," or the celebrations are, even though it's an extremely significant one in the christian calendar.  As a deeply religious, spiritual person, I respect other religions and I'm sad to see religious holidays deteriorating into just commercial and secular celebrations.

Israeli History Began Thousands of Years Ago

This is supposed to be the "pro-Israel post" West Bank Mama requested for a special round-up.  I'm not quite sure how to approach the assignment, and I'm still not sure what I'll write even as I type this.  I hate the defensive type of article, because it legitimizes the attack by going over the negative points.  I'm of the "Never complain and never explain" fans. 

Each of us has a different approach to defending/promoting the existence of the State of Israel.  A few months ago I was interviewed by Ben Hubbard of the Associated Press.  My interview got very mixed reviews by friends and fellow Hasbara, information corps, members.

Since I generally like to get to the root of problems and not just "whitewash" them, I'll concentrate on history, simplifying it best as I can.

Today's modern, Twenty-first Century world has few nations with histories thousands of years old.  The State of Israel is the modern country for the Jewish Nation/People.  That's the nitty-gritty of the situation, ha'eekar, the main point.  For some peculiar reason, that has always bothered people, other nations.

This coming Shabbat is Shabbat Zachor, the Shabbat we're commanded to remember that the world is against us and wants us destroyed.  In Maftir, the final Torah reading on Shabbat, we hear of how the Jewish People were cruelly attacked by Amalek as they/we exited from Egypt.  It's customary to reread it over and over in different accents and tunes so that everyone understands.  Is it translated into various languages abroad?  I should hope so.  Every Jew must understand what happened to us thousands of years ago and how it still happens today.

Yes, in simple words, that's what it's all about.  No country, no international organization can be counted on to help us!  I'm not paranoid, I'm just plain pragmatic when I say that we can only count on G-d and on ourselves.

The Haftara, (Biblical versus 5 book Torah) reading this Shabbat will tell how Saul, the first Jewish king sinned by not immediately executing all of Amalek.  For this awful sin, we're paying until this day, because our enemies are the descendants of king Agog who managed to impregnate a woman during those forbidden hours King Saul gave him to live.  That's what happens when one is merciful to one's enemies. 

Samuel the Prophet had been mentoring King Saul, a very disastrous and ill-conceived plan.  A leader must be a leader through and through, not a figurehead.  Saul was succeeded by King David, and Samuel retired.  King David didn't need that sort of intense and detailed mentoring.  It's clear when you read King David's T'hillim, Psalms.  He had a direct connection with G-d, like Moses did.

Samuel, Saul and David were our main historical figures during the first stages of the Jewish Kingdom, after our tribal federation, after our slavery in Egypt and after our Forefathers, Abraham, Issac and Jacob wandered around our HolyLand.  We are their descendants in every way.  None of the nations that had been here in our HolyLand then exist today, only us.  We are forced to fight new enemies for the same reasons we fought Amalek thousands of years ago.

Our very survival is proof that we're supposed to be here.  We were exiled as a nation, but Jews always lived in the HolyLand.  Now we have returned as a Nation as a People, not just individuals.

The public readings of the Purim story as told in Megillat, the Scroll of Esther which took place historically after King David, always has me amazed.  It reinforces the fact that we're the direct descendants the continuation of that ancient people and the ancient story.  Jewish People all over the world read it and celebrate our historic victory over Haman and all those who wanted us totally destroyed.

Today the simple fact that there is a State of Israel for the Jewish People proves that we are supposed to be here.  The fact that we have survived with our history, tradition, religion, language etc is totally extraordinary and inexplicable by normal laws of nature.

Let go of the goyishe non-Jewish culture and mind-set.  Soon we'll be celebrating Passover.  "Avodim hayeenu l'Paroh b'Mitzrayim..."  We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt..."  The problem was/is the enslavement to Pharaoh, to that foreign culture.  Free yourself of foreign values and priorities!

Chag Purim Sameach
Have a Truly  Joyful Purim

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The New World of Spies and Espionage

Nowadays, it's harder to keep a secret.  The world shrank.  And Big Brother is watching every move.  Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh's executioners techniques are now old-fashioned too twentieth century for this world.

Even worse, the usual code of silence has ended.  James Bond would really need a drink if his operators treated him like the British are treating the Dubai assassins.

Could this unheard of break with normal espionage etiquette be because it's believed that Israel executed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh?

Yes, A Sports Bar and Grill in Jerusalem!

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A Sad End to A Great Aliyah Story

This morning I received a letter from a friend of a friend with a link to an article about a young man who had made aliyah with his identical twin brother, served in the IDF, Israeli army and then returned to the states for university studies.  He was recently killed in when a drunk driver rammed into him.  That was  Avi Schaefer.  I was in shock.  I remember photographing them making aliyah when I accompanied a Nefesh B'Nefesh flight.

Yes, that's them with their proud father and younger brothers.  I don't remember all the passengers on the two planes I flew on, but I do remember them.

HaMakom y'nachem...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jewish Heritage History Tour

 A couple of months ago AFSI's Helen Freedman and I met in Jerusalem.  We brainstormed for a theme of next May's trip to Israel.  I suggested "Crisis in Leadership" as the them and invited her to bring the group to Shiloh.  Shiloh is the Jewish historic/Biblical location for transition from a troubled tribal federation to a kingdom. 
  • And who instigated this major change?  Chana
  • And where did it take place? Shiloh
Today is very much like the time of Judges and Eli the High Priest.  Our people are lost and rudderless.  We need a leader, someone to help us escape the chaos.  When Chana prayed for a son, she prayed for a successor to Eli, one strong enough to help the Jewish People return to G-d and be a strong nation.  Isn't that what we need today?

That's why I thought that AFSI should follow, Chana, Samuel, Saul and David as their route.  Please join the tour and visit the sites of Jewish History.


Americans for a Safe Israel/AFSI has been leading Chizuk (support) missions to Israel for over fifteen years. Our concentration has always been on the threatened communities of Israel. Our upcoming trip, May 9-17, will follow the same mandate, although the itinerary is always different.

Participants make their own travel arrangements, and meet the group in Ben Gurion airport on Monday morning, May 10, at 8 AM when we board our private bus and head for the Shomron. One of our must visit places will be the threatened home of Major Roi Klein in the Hayovel neighborhood of Eli in Samaria. David HaIvri will be our guide through Bet El, Tapuach, Kedumim, and as many of the Shomron communities as is possible to visit. Batya Medad will give us a special introduction to Shilo. Overnight will be at the beautiful Ashel HaShomron hotel in Ariel.
We’ll continue to Yerushalayim where the festivities celebrating the re-unification of Jerusalem in 1967 will begin with a gala event at Beit Orot on Har HaZaytim. A tour of the Temple Mount with Rabbi Richman, exploring east Jerusalem with DanLuria, marching in the Yom Yerushalayim parade, and being in Ir David for the Moskowitz Zionism awards event are all part of our program.

The liberation of Hebron occurred one day after the liberation of Jerusalem, and so AFSI will be in Hebron with David Wilder to celebrate that event. Israel Danziger will guide us through the surrounding struggling communities in the southern Hebron hills. Back in Yerushalayim, Arieh King, will lead us on a special insiders tour of the communities within the Jerusalem municipal borders which are under threat.

Shabbat will be spent in Yerushalayim with Ateret Cohanim leading us on a walking tour of the Old City and Sunday will be devoted to viewing the situation in Sderot with Alon Davidi, touring the new Negev communities with Dror Vanunu and other good friends from the former Gush Katif communities, and meeting with the Shomrim, who are guarding the Jewish farms from marauding Bedouin Arabs. Our mission concludes with a gala farewell dinner in Ashkelon.

THERE IS NO OTHER TRIP THAT COMPARES TO AFSI’S IN ITS COMMITMENT TO HANDS ON SUPPORT FOR THE PEOPLE & LAND OF ISRAEL. Please call AFSI, 212-828-2424; 1-800-235-3658; or email: afsi@rcn.com to make your reservations. For reports and photos of previous AFSI missions, and a detailed itinerary of the upcoming May trip, you are invited to visit the AFSI website at: www.afsi.org

Just In Time For Purim

A certain Jblogger insulted the Kosher Cooking Carnival a while back by claiming that kosher food recipes had no place on a halacha (Jewish Law) blog.  That preposterous statement surely disqualifies him as an expert in kashrut.  My reaction was:

"I wouldn't eat from his kitchen."

There is no kosher food without halacha, and this wouldn't be much of a Jewish blog (jblog for short) without mentioning the latest Kosher Cooking Carnival, this time located in Adventures in Mama-Land.

If you'd like to host one of these monthly Jewish blog carnivals, please contact me.  We now follow the Jewish calendar.  And please send in all posts concerning kosher food, whether it's tradition, recipes, halacha, or cookbook and restaurant reviews etc.

CUFI’s Robert Stearns warns of Evangelical shift to the Left:

Posted by Jewish Israel

CUFI’s Robert Stearns warns of Evangelical shift to the Left:
In response to Rev. Robert Stearns’ scheduled appearance as a panelist at the 7th Annual Jerusalem Conference, Jewish Israel recently released a report on some of Stearns’ missionary activities and connections in Israel. We expressed to an organizer of the event our reservations regarding a missionary presence at the conference. Stearns did appear at last week’s conference and Jewish Israel offers the following synopsis and commentary on some of the major and disturbing points covered in his remarks. ...more

Yad l‘Achim Considers Suing Messianic Attorney Calev Myers
Jewish Israel has confirmed with the offices of Yad l’Achim that they are considering plans to take legal action against evangelical attorney Calev Myers who has published defamatory material against the organization. Attorney Yoram Sheftal has recommended that the counter-missionary organization Yad l’Achim sue Myers for slander. Myers, the Founder and Chief Counsel of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, has relentlessly pursued Yad l’Achim, counter-missionary activists, Orthodox politicians, and the Torah observant community at large in writings and speeches.But last July he may have pushed the envelope too far with a JIJ e-newsletter article which has been described as “an appalling piece of hate speech”...more

Ambassador Oren cautions against messianics and proselytizing
Following an address at a church in Irvine California in which he thanked Christians for their support, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, raised the red flag on proselytizing and messianic Christianity in an interview published in the Christian Telegraph. “I have no statistics on the size of the Messianic community, but I think certainly that the State of Israel wants the Jewish people to remain Jewish…we are very sensitive to the notion of proselytizing -- very sensitive.” Do Ambassador Oren’s prudent remarks signify something of a departure from former Ambassador Daniel Ayalon’s no holds barred embrace of evangelicals?...more

Tovia Singer Authors Response to Christian Missionaries:
Rabbi Tovia Singer’s new book “Let’s Get Biblical!” is hot off the presses and addresses the fundamental question of “why doesn't Judaism accept the Christian messiah?" In addition, the book exposes how, “over the course of many centuries, the Church systematically altered the Jewish Scriptures in its authorized translations.” The book was reportedly written “in direct response to the growing effort of numerous fundamentalist Christian organizations which aggressively target Jews for conversion… In contrast to most ecumenical Jewish-Christian literature published today, this book makes no attempt to reconcile the Synagogue and the Church.”...more

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Real Reason the Leftists and the "Progressives" sic, Especially in Israel, are in Such a Tizzy

Leftists like to call themselves doves, and doves are just short-sighted pigeons versus the much more intelligent far-sighted hawks.

Some leftists have just woken up to the fact that they're losing the war, because of demographics.  To put it very simply.  They just didn't have enough children.  They thought they were so clever preserving the environment that they delegated reproduction to those with different values, the Right and the culturally deprived.

So, who's having the last laugh?

In Israel, it's not very funny, because the Left is fighting hard against the more religious Right.  Not only do the Israeli Left have fewer children than the Right, but the IDF soldiers and officers are more religious than in the general population.

Simple math proves that this is a growing trend.  The lesson is:

If you want to take over the world, have more children!

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, Dubai and Why It's Not For Israel To Destroy Iran's Nuclear Reactor

I certainly have no inside knowledge about the execution of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, in Dubai.  The world, the media etc want to believe that it was Israel.  Those who admire Israel insist that only Israel could have pulled it off so professionally and those who revile Israel want to show how evil and untrustworthy Israel is, daring to illegally use and tamper with foreign passports etc.

Since most vast majority (this is no 55%) of the world has neither sympathy nor friendship for us, no matter what happens they'll find some reason to condemn us.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was an evil man.  There's no real debate about it, even among those trying to catch Israel on "technicalities."  Generally, the world and media are silent over these sorts of events.  There's a code of silence, because each country's espionage experts know that if they investigate the deeds of another country, their own "specialists" will be endangered even more.  So here we have an example of how the antipathy for Israel will now make it harder for Great Britain's real life 007's, "Bond, James Bond."

Ever since I heard the ridiculous idea that it's up to Israel to destroy Iran's nuclear reactor, I envisioned the world condemning Israel if it's foolish enough to do it, successfully or not.  Yes, there's a major chance that the world will never move against Iran's bomb, but I still don't see why it's up to Israel.  When U.S. President George Bush The First went to war against Iraq, Iraq attacked Israel, not the United States.  Nobody cared.

Israel must remember that we're alone.  No country supports and defends us.  We must do what is good for us and stop looking for approval and support from others.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Solution to the "Women to the Back" Bus Dilemma

This could very well be one of those pre-Purim jokes.  I wouldn't be surprised if the the Jerusalem Post had been conned when they published this piece about individual, portable mechitzot (curtains) for men to wear in airplanes to prevent them from seeing movies, women etc.

Let the men who insist that women should sit in the back of they bus, because they don't want to see them wear those "portable mechitzot" when traveling on the bus.  The driver should just announce each stop in advance like in the subways or the Long Island Railroad.

And don't forget the simplest solution for the man who doesn't want to sit next to a woman on the bus...  stand.  Yes, I'm serious and I've told men to sit together to free seats for women.

There are two very important elements ignored on the "mehadrin," women to the back buses.  One is דרך ארץ  derech eretz proper behavior between human beings, and the other is old-fashioned common sense.  On these buses, a man can't help his mother, nor can a woman help her father nor a husband a wife, etc.

Whether the ‘personal mehitzas’ is a joke or not, there are men who live as if they're wearing a lampshade on their head for many years.  I can never forget how some young chareidi men sat on the bus when a very pregnant me (almost twenty-seven years ago) stood uncomfortably.  An old woman got up to give me her seat.  Very loudly, I told her that she needed to sit, too, but those young boys should be getting up for me.

I admit that I'm no rabbi, not all that learned in Torah, but there's no doubt in my mind that it's a greater mitzvah to do "chesed," good deeds to other people than to cut yourself off and ignore others.

Shavua Tov uMevorach
Have a Good and Blessed Week

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's Friday, and Shabbat is Approaching

As a Torah Jew, I'm a Shabbat observer.  That means that Friday is a race against time.  Since certain types of "work," as defined by the Torah not modern western concepts, are forbidden from Friday just before the sun goes down until Saturday night, when at least three stars can be seen shining at one glance, I don't know if I'll be back on the computer today.

If you're looking for something to read online and you haven't yet visited all the posts linked in Havel Havelim, I suggest checking out the blog, Love of the Land.  They offer lots of good links.

Have a wonderful Shabbat.

Cracks in The Obama Fan Club

The honeymoon seems to be over for the United States President Obama and the American public.  Like a "modern marriage" in the western world, the wedding and official couple-hood are more a deneumont than the beginning of something new and exciting.

Barack Hussein Obama rode in like a prince in shining armor to rescue Americans from the Bush Republicans.  Now that the armor is off, and they see what they have, disappointment is setting in.

Obama's handlers did a great job in getting him elected.  The campaign was brilliant, but being United States President is a lot more complex.  Pet causes of the Left, like the environmentalists, were sure that he would be their savior, but now they're very disappointed.

A totally different group was horrified when he appointed Rashad Hussain as special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Those counting on Obama's Health Care promises are up for more disappointment, because it's not all that easy, and the bill won't be passed and activated all so soon.  And there's no guarantee that it will really serve the needs of all those who voted for him.

The United States economy isn't getting any better, but the Chinese is.  I grew up during the hottest time in the Cold War.  Nobody could have predicted that a half a century later the USSR would be dead and Communist China would have such a strong economy.

He's easy to mock.  But considering the landslide of his election, he may still be electable in 2012.

Israeli politics is different.  The jokes against politicians are mean or none at all.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Shiloh's Special Double Purim

Ever since we Israeli Jews returned to Holy and historic Biblical Shiloh over thirty years ago, our custom has been to celebrate both days of Purim.  We are in the same location as the Biblical city of Eli the Priest and Samuel the Prophet.  Remains of Shiloh's ancient wall can still be seen.
Shouldn't that make us like Jerusalem?  But although Shiloh was our ancient capital for 369 years, long before the Purim story of Queen Ester, Mordechai, King Achashverush took place in far away Persia, the decision of the rabbis has been that we celebrate two days of Purim. 

The first day is the main one, when we say the special brachot, blessing, and the second we just do the Mitzvot, the special Purim commandments, like hearing the Megilat Esther, giving mishlo'ach manot, food gifts and eating a festive meal.

Our Chief Rabbi, HaRav Elchanan Bin Nun gets asked every year if anything has changed.  Has it been decided that we keep just one day?  The two days is because no Jews lived in Shiloh for many years.  Rav Elchanan has announced a special shiur, Torah class on the topic tomorrow morning.

We're here in Shiloh twenty-eight years.  I've gotten used to the doubly celebrated Purim holiday.  I no longer mind it.  I couldn't imagine having one day.  If we have to just celebrate the first day of Purim, it would be like Passover Seder for my married daughter; one year with us and one year with her mother-in-law.  If we are to just celebrate Shushan Purim, other people would have to make a schedule.  So, if the Rav is going to announce "just one day," he should really do it more than a week before the holiday.

So, I presume that there won't be any chance, so late in the season.

"Big Brother" in Dubai, The Assassins

Watching this video documentary of the hit squad in Dubai, it's like seeing something from an episode of C.S.I. or The Agency.  It's also a reminder that because of security, we're not as "alone" as we think we are, especially when we want to be.

On television, the cast would find the professionals who executed Arab terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in just over forty minutes.  The above film takes almost as long and leaves everyone with questions.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Words, Words, Words

The Jerusalem Conference ended tonightLast year I managed to be there for many of the sessions.  I walked around and listened and took notes and pictures, too.

This year I couldn't make it, since I take care of my elderly father.

I must admit that I enjoyed the "action" last year, the feeling that so many of us cared about the same things.  I saw old friends, and yes, some of the speeches were good.  But they were speeches and had no influence on anything.

Most people said what they felt the audience wanted to hear.  OK, I admit that I'm a cynic, though I prefer the description, "pragmatic."

Nothing will come from the "wise words."  And some of the words weren't wise at all.  I guess I didn't really miss anything.

Handicapped Accessibility

Our neighborhood synagogue has expanded and been renovated.  One change is a new front door, and this one is set up for a wheelchair.  Actually, we have two wheelchair ramps.  There's one in the back to a "room" which is partially set up as a second Ezrat Nashim, Women's Section.  (In Orthodox Torah-based synagogues men and women sit separately.)  The main Ezrat Nashim is a gallery/balcony.  The stairs leading up to it are too difficult for many, young and old, with babies and physical handicaps/restrictions.

My son is opening a sports bar-grill in Jerusalem, and there, too, will be facilities for the handicapped.  Today, it's the norm.

For those wondering why the Israel Museum is undergoing very major renovations and the only indoor exhibits are in the Shrine of the Book complex, it's to straighten the floor, make it all one level, instead of that once trendy step up-step down from room to room.  In the 1960's when the museum was planned and constructed nobody thought of easy equal access.  The post-World War Two world was young and healthy.  The disabled were hidden and made to feel guilty for being different.

Actually, Israel was relatively good to the handicapped in some ways.  In the 1970's I went to a concert in Jerusalem with a friend who needed a wheelchair.  She had bought us two tickets and also told them that she'd need a place to sit in her wheelchair.  She was given a great spot for her wheelchair and a comfortable plastic chair was brought for me to sit next to her.  When she tried to give them the tickets, they told her that it was unnecessary, since a certain amount of space was allocated for the handicapped for free, as a service.  I don't know what the practice is today, but she was amazed.

When we made aliyah in 1970, there were few elevators in Israel.  Even large medical clinics required the ill and handicapped to walk up and down stairs.  I'm sure nothing is perfect today, but the situation has improved.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Citizenship, Voting, Pandora's Box Beware

I'm an American Citizen from birth.  I have the right to vote in United States Elections, though I've never done it.

That's why I have the right to say that I don't think expats should vote.  I disagree with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who has been promoting a law to allow Israelis living abroad to vote.

I believe in voting with one's feet. You should vote where you live. When I want to give my opinions about America, I blog.

And now the young and now disappointing Likud MK Tzippi Hotobilli is promoting giving more Arabs citizenship. What's the point? I only see dangers. These things can't be reversed. It's not like a computer game.

I'm glad I didn't vote for Likud.

The "Follow Orders or..." Campaign

Growing up in post-World War Two America, one of the difficult questions people asked concerning the Holocaust was:
"How could otherwise good people participate in such evil against innocent Jews?"

During trials and in other situations, when asked, many people, especially the soldiers, would reply:

"I was just obeying orders."

The fact that these "orders" was totally cruel, evil and immoral didn't make them think and rebel.  To me that was always more frightening than what went on in Nazi leadership.  It taught me that ordinary people don't think.  They can't be relied upon to take risk, even for good, righteousness.

During the time leading up to Disengagement, there were many debates about whether Israeli soldiers would blindly obey orders to destroy homes, lives and communities.  I'm sure that I'm not the only one devastated by their cooperation.  Since then, the campaign to strengthen the "obey orders" mentality hasn't let up.

When I received the following email from the heroic, idealistic and thank G-d uncompromising Nadia Matar of Women in Green, I knew that I had to post it:
The following is an email I sent to the Efrat email list in reaction to the lecture that is supposed to take place tomorrow in Efrat under the title:
"Refusal of order-where does it lead us" with the participation of Oded Revivi, mayor of Efrat, Rabbi Yuval Sherlo, Pinhas Wallerstein,Rabbi Yoel Kretzmer from the Kibbutz hadati, Moshe Feiglin and Amotz Shapira, head of Kol Yisrael radio

I am happy that other Efrat residents have also expressed their outrage at this evening and have asked to cancel it.


Ashamed- by Nadia Matar

Shavua tov

I just want to say that this entire kenes titled "Refusal of orders - where will it lead us" is a big mistake and harms the struggle for Eretz Israel greatly.

I am not talking about the fact that it is completely lopsided, 5 mamlachti (pro-government in principle) extremists against one loyalist of Eretz Israel-

reminds you of Popolitika where they always had one token rightwinger among a sea of leftists just to be "yoitze zein."

But I am talking about the very fact that Efrat bichlal, in general, has this kind of kenes.

As if the national camp bichlal has a problem of "sarvanut" (refusal of orders).. .

There is no sarvanut in the national camp. All our boys serve in the army. None of our boys refuse to carry out orders related to fighting the enemy. The left has a problem with sarvanut - with many of them not going to the army or some extreme leftists even refusing to attack Arabs when they need to. THAT is sarvanut.

In contrast, when our soldiers refuse to carry out the order of pinui yishuvim - the problem is not with our boys who show loyalty to Eretz Israel but the problem is with the illegal, immoral and anti-Jewish order of uprooting yishuvim.

The politician who gave the order of uprooting yishuvim and the officer who demands from his soldiers to carry out the order - THEY are the problem. THEY are betraying Zionism. THEY are betraying Eretz Israel . THEY are betraying the army's ethical code that says that a soldier in the IDF will fight the enemy and protect his people, and not the opposite.

This kenes that Efrat is organizing is mamash falling into the trap of the Leftists.Or maybe, on second thought, it is a kenes to try and please the leftists.... . once again! And I ask: what is going on here????

Last month Efrat held a kenes, inviting the pakid in the minhal in charge of the "freeze" to lecture on "building possibilities" during the freeze.

Less than 15 people showed up, but that is beside the point.There was really no need for such a kenes. The moetsa could have written down all the instructions of the minhal as to how one is allowed to maybe close a porch, and publish it in the Efraton. But it was a PR move to tell the authorities: unlike the other yishuvim where they don't allow pakachim in, we are nice. We collaborate with the authorities. Please like us. We are not the Shomron G-d forbid. We are m-o-d-e-r-a- t-e-s.

Now we have a kenes coming up with mamlachti extremists who all (except Feiglin) believe that soldiers have to be blind and deaf robots, and that orders are "above all", and must be obeyed no matter what.

And I ask - What is going on here?

In one word, the message coming from Efrat's moetsa (who is behind the 2 evenings ) to the authorities is:

Please love us, we are goodie-goodies- we are moderates- please include us in your upcoming plans- please let us be in the settlement blocs -

And don't worry...when you will uproot Tekoa, and Nokdim and Ofra and Bet-el...we the leaders of Efrat will make sure our boys carry out the holy orders.

I am so ashamed that Efrat is behind this kenes; I have no words.I am happy to see others have also expressed their outrage at this lecture and have asked to cancel it.

I guess time has come to organize a kenes titled:

"What did we do wrong in our mamlachti-dati education, that a religious person can even think of obeying the illegal, immoral and anti-Jewish order of uprooting Jews, destroying yishuvim and thus betraying Zionism and Judaism?"
With great sorrow,

Nadia Matar


Monday, February 15, 2010

Jewish-Israel Heritage Trail

That's a great idea!  That Israeli hiking trail should take the trekkers on a journey of Jewish History, the genuine article, not the post-Zionist abridged version.  No history for dummies, please.  I like the idea of a Jewish-Israel Heritage Trail.

Shiloh should have a very central place in it.  Ditto for Shechem, Hebron and Jerusalem.  After the exodus from Egypt and the forty years of wandering, when Joshua finally brought Bnai Yisrael, the twelve tribes of the Children of Israel into the HolyLand, it was Shiloh where the capital was established and the Mishkan, Tabernacle rested for 369 three-hundred-sixty-nine years, yes, years.  Shiloh is given a very specific location, south of Levana and east of Beit El, so this little triangle of a trail must be on the route.

Search as much as you can, but you won't find Tel Aviv mentioned as an important historic, Biblical city with Jewish significance.  Shechem is, and so is Beit El, Hebron, Jerusalem, Beersheva and Bethlehem.

I can think of some great routes following the lives of our forefathers, Abraham, Issac and Jacob.  Don't forget Joseph who hiked all alone to his brothers in Shechem.  As a youth, King David hiked from Hebron to his soldier brothers and then embarrassed them and King Saul, because it was he, young David who killed the boasting philistine, Goliath.

Take out the Bible and plan your heritage hike.

Turmoil in The IBA, Israel Broadcasting Authority

Ironically No real surprise that contrary to Prime Minister Binyamin's talk, pledges, promises that hasbara, information, public relations for the good name of the State of Israel is one of his great priorities, it's davka his government which is planning the end of the IBA, Israel Broadcasting Authority including Israel's very professional English-language news broadcasts.

Yesterday's IBA Television newscast began with a plea by veteran editor, journalist and broadcaster Steve Leibowitz asking viewers to protest the demise of the station.  This isn't the first time that Israel's foolish, short-sighted politicians have tried to close down the English news.  But this time, it's more than just that.  The entire broadcasting authority, including the Kol Yisrael, Voice of Israel radio is in danger.

Last night, I waited up to see one of my favorite shows, Law and Order.  Instead, a sign was on the screen proclaiming union sanctions.  No broadcasting after 11pm.

I have plenty of complaints about the IBA, foremost is that they tax all TV-owning citizens even if they don't broadcast to our parts of the country.  (People need to pay for either cable or a private satellite dish.)  But even without a television set or being in or near Israel, anyone with a computer modem can receive the newscasts on the internet.  If the politicians have their way, the English radio news shows, heard all over the world, will also end.

There's no substitute for IBA's and Voice of Israel English News.

Voice you protests now!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The United States, A Christian Country

I grew up in mid-Twentieth Century United States.  I always lived in areas which were mostly Jewish, but I never had a doubt, no doubt at all that the United States was at heart, mind and media a Christian country.

As I remember, the early history and its stories of religious freedom were about various Christian groups, not full religious rights for all religions, Hindus, Muslims, Jews and any others.  We lived with other Jews to feel more comfortable.  The local New York City public schools were closed Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur.  No other Jewish Holidays seemed to be known.  We weren't religiously observant. 

In neighborhoods like ours, the schools kept the "winter holiday celebrations" pretty G-dless and sans Jesus, too.  We sang about snow, Santa and dreidles.  The only "religious" song was "Silent Night," which most of us Jews didn't quite understand.   Easter,  I associated with bonnets and decorated eggs.  I never caught onto any religious message about it from the TV shows; it remains an enigma.  Yes, television was the great educator and assimilation tool.

May father learned English in school and both my parents learned American customs and values there.  But I learned from the TV.

As a teen I felt that I had to choose between being Jewish and being an American,  Being American meant accepting christian customs and priorities.  In Great Neck North, NY, I had a teacher who would complain that the Jews ruined things for Great Neck.  I was amazed and asked what she had meant:
"Before the Jews came, we had such beautiful Christmas pageants."

Every once in a while I hear or read discussion about the place of Christianity in America.  I accept it as the dominant ruling religion.  That's why I strengthened my Judaism, became Orthodox (Torah observant) and moved to Israel.

Jewish Israel gives presentation at Jerusalem Rabbinic Conference

Posted by Jewish Israel

On February 11th, Jewish Israel participated in a rabbinic conference held in Jerusalem on the topic of “Activities of Christian organizations and Evangelicals in Israel”.

The conference was organized by Rabbis Elchanan Bin Nun of Shiloh, Gidon Perl of Alon Shevut, and Elyakim Levanon of Elon Moreh. A wide range of rabbinic leaders from across Israel attended the conference, and a number of representatives from the Council of Young Israel and the Rabbinical Council of America were also present.

The aim of the conference was to present the rabbinic establishment with an overview of the challenges we face as a result of the burgeoning Israel-evangelical relationship. The ultimate goal is to strengthen halachic guidelines and to set clear and accountable boundaries vis a vis Israel’s dealings with the Gentile community.

The conference was closed to the press per the organizer’s request.

Jewish Israel’s Rabbinic Director Rabbi Dr. Sholom Gold and our Rabbinic and Academic Advisor Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey Woolf were among the featured speakers.

Jewish Israel’s Public Relations Director Shulamit Leibler gave a comprehensive powerpoint presentation which illustrated the magnitude and complexity of the challenges we face due to growing evangelical influence in every sector of Israeli society...more


Missionary Stearns to participate in 7th Annual Jerusalem Conference: Rev. Dr. Robert Stearns – an evangelical who is actively promoting a messianic Christian revival in Israel and is supporting missionaries in Israel – has been invited as a panelist for a plenary session scheduled for Wednesday February 17th as part of the 7th Annual Jerusalem Conference. Israeli members of government, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and Minister of Science and Technology Daniel Hershkowitz , are among those sitting on the panel with Stearns. Jewish Israel gives an overview of some of Robert Stearns' evangelistic activities directed at the Jewish State more


COMING SOON: Jewish Israel Reviews Rabbi Riskin’s Lecture
Recently Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Efrat gave lectures in Jerusalem and Efrat respectively on the topic of "Jewish-Christian Dialogue, is it permissible? If so, is it desirable?". Representatives from Jewish Israel attended the lecture held in Jerusalem and took notes. We received an unedited audio tape and have forwarded that along with our initial impressions to our rabbinic director and academic advisors for their review. We should be posting our full commentary in the coming days...more

Chodesh Adar Tov! Havel Havelim Rosh for Chodesh Adar, Not A Joke

Chodesh Tov one and all.  This year we have one Adar but two days of Rosh Chodesh Adar.  It's supposed to be a happy time, but somehow my computers aren't cooperating in publishing this Havel Havelim.  I tried the method I used when blog carnival was down, but things change in Adar, and it didn't work.  Eventually, G-d willing, I'll have this posted on both my blogs, and I hope and pray that you intrepid jbloggers will post about and pass the links around so a maximum of readers will have the great opportunity to to read the posts from the humongous international collection of Jewish bloggers, jbloggers as we're known.  

I've probably lost some posts along the way, those I added, because they didn't arrive via blog carnival, so if you can't find yours, please send it in the comments.  I'm pretty sure I caught all of the junk/spam they forwarded, if I missed something, please let me know via the comments.  And of course please feel free to write something nice in the comments if you think it applies.

Havel Havelim is the most veteran of the jblogger carnivals and probably one of the longest running blog carnivals there is. Blog carnivals are like "floating" internet magazines. They float from blog to blog, like "floating crap games," l'havdil.

Havel Havelim, the international jblog carnival, was established by Soccer Dad, and is now run by Jack. The term “Havel Havelim” is from Kohelet, Ecclesiastes, which was written by King Solomon, who built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other “excesses” and finally realized that it was nothing but norishkeit, “havel” or in English “vanities.” I think that King Solomon and his father King David were the original "bloggers." The books they wrote, when you take them chapter by chapter, can easily be described as blog posts. The stones they used to write on made them last, so that we can read them now. I doubt if today's technology will preserve our words for so long.

There are two other jblogger carnivals, the Kosher Cooking Carnival and JPIX 
which showcase everything about kosher food and picture posts with Jewish themes. If you're interested in hosting a KCC, please contact me.

leah aharoni presents Game Theory Exercises for Children posted at Ingathered.

Allison Josephs presents Birthday Musings | Jew in the City posted at Jew in the City.

rickismom presents An Open Letter to My Fellow Chareidi Community MembersBeneath the Wings, saying, "I really don't know where this fits best. Perhaps Israel...." posted at

Mordechai Torczyner presents Poll: What makes a great Purim Seudah?The Rebbetzin's Husband. posted at

Yisrael Medad presents My Right Word: COUNTERPOINT"S 1986 NIF ReportMy Right Word, saying, "MyRightWord reminds us that the New Israel Fund was unmasked back in 1986 - but few paid attention" posted at

Yisrael Medad presents Mocking Tonge Site Up posted at My Right Word, saying, "MyRightWord hopes the new mocking Jenny Tonge site will go viral"


Lady-Light presents Shouting One Down: Better than Intelligent Questions?Tikkun Olam, saying, "(Please forgive me for the last-minute submission. I have an excuse...!)
Heckling on campus: the answer to "free speech.""
posted at


Mimi presents Shuk: Nazareth in the Galilee posted at Israeli Kitchen, saying, "Walking through the Nazareth shuk was like visiting another country."

Neil Fleischmann presents Mr. Rogers Goes To The Senate posted at NY's Funniest Rabbi.

Yosef Greenberg presents A New Face on the Grandfather Clock posted at Yachdus, saying, "Trends in the Chareidi marketing, especially relation to the Internet."


Shifra blogged about Gush Katif Remembrance Day on Ink and Quill.

Yosef Greenberg presents Thank You David Ben Gurion For Spreading Torah Learning posted at Yachdus, saying, "Why is there so much Torah learning in Israel?"

Lady-Light presents Honest Questions about Israel and Palestine posted at Tikkun Olam, saying, "If people admitted the truth about the history of how Palestine became Israel, and the role of the Arabs in that history, they would see that the Arabs and British are to blame for the state of the Middle East today."


SnoopyTheGoon presents Ahmadinejad discovers Avatar posted at SimplyJews.

Ciaran Blumenfeld presents The Tastemaker Challenge: Show me the Kugel!Momfluential Media, saying, "Thought this was a funny post about a recent blogger potato challenge - they left out the Jews! Must have been afeared of our Kugel." posted at


Joel Haber presents When a Handshake Isn’t Just a Handshake posted at Fun Joel's Israel, saying, "Based on a response to the post I included in last week's Havel Havelim."

mother in israel presents Wedding Costs posted at A Mother in Israel, saying, "Part of a series on Israeli weddings in the religious community."

Jacob Richman presents New Israeli Educational Stamps Posted Online posted at Good News from Israel, saying, "Thanks!

harry presents Listen to the music posted at Israelity.

harry presents Super group jams in Jerusalem posted at Israelity.

Ben-Yehudah presents Good News! ...But Not Really That Good posted at Esser Agaroth.

Ariel Ben Yochanan presents Israel Is Anti-Jewish posted at The Torah Revolution, saying, "B"H - Israel is the only country in the world today who's regular army engages in distructing synagogues and harrassing its Jews."

SnoopyTheGoon presents The Point of "No Return" posted at SimplyJews.

Joel presents Oren Smiles at J-Street: So? posted at The Israel Situation, saying, "My weekly addition to the Israel Situation. This week, we discuss Michael Oren and J-Street"

Soccer Dad presents Israel Adds Cyber-Attack to IDF posted at Defense Tech.


Paul Kipnes presents I Almost Made Myself Cry at the Bar Mitzvah posted at Or Am I?, saying, "A Bar Mitzvah of a special needs child brings tears all around."

Soccer Dad presents Bernard Lander, ז?ל posted at Cross-Currents.

Hadassah Sabo Milner presents Tznius Question posted at In the Pink.

Hadassah Sabo Milner presents Teens and Purim Drinking posted at In the Pink.

~JP~ presents Shabbos Practices posted at NGOmeter, saying, "My (almost) weekly Jewish post that relates to NGOs @NGOmeter. Thanks for putting in the work this week!"

Lady-Light presents Another Jew comes Back to Tradition posted at Tikkun Olam, saying, "(Batya, please choose the 3 posts of mine which you like the most). I always love these stories of secular Jews returning to the fold; it warms the cockles of my heart...!"


Ilana-Davita presents Kosher Meals on Cathay Pacific posted at Ilana-Davita.


Bored Jewish Guy presents Guys have feelings too posted at Bored Jewish Guy.

Rahel presents My Audition Adventure posted at Elms in the Yard, saying, "What happens when a middle-aged American expat auditions for Kochav Nolad? Find out...."

rutimizrachi presents Amazing, but true. posted at Ki Yachol Nuchal!, saying, "G-d was clearly teasing me. Yes, He does have time to play jokes on people, even while He's busy with maintaining Creation. He's G-d, after all..."

I've also discovered that it's best to just go where G-d sends us.

Lady-Light presents My Virtual Family posted at Tikkun Olam, saying, "Thank you--I love you all!!"

And here's more in the saga of my caring for my very elderly father, are all these expensive aids a scam?


Lady-Light presents Afraid to Name the Enemy? Take it Away, Latma TVTikkun Olam, saying, "This is under "politics" because of political correctness, the prevalence of which, in the United States, is preventing it from seeing the truth and acting accordingly.
It's also funny--especially that American Hebrew accent!"
posted at


Binyamin miller presents FNQ – 5 q's for the Week - Controversial Stories in Tanach posted at Fear No Question, saying, "5 questions on how to deal with sins of Biblical characters"

Josh Waxman presents The Samaritans make Yisro bow posted at parshablog, saying, "It is a general feature of the Samaritan Torah that they "fix" the text to solve difficulties. This is something to keep in mind if you would think to rely on a Samaritan variant as preferable to the Masoretic text. Three examples from this week's parsha alone. They make Yitro bow to Moshe; they make the nation hear the sounds; and they emend Har Eval to Har Grizim, which they deem holy. There are others. Also, Ibn Ezra argues against Lower Biblical criticism."

Josh Waxman presents Charoses and the authenticity of the Zohar posted at parshablog, saying, "If named Tannaim or Amoraim mentioned in the Zohar think the tapuach is the apple, but according to true Chazal the tapuach is the citron, then how could the Zohar be anything other than a forgery?"

Yechezkel presents Ad K'dei Kach - The Ten Commandments Revisited posted at Achas L'Maala V'Sheva L'Matta, saying, "Looking at the Ten Commandments from a new perspective. It's deja vu all over again."

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