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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Judaism Built on History and Memory, Part 1 Holocaust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers Chapter 1 in Macro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

When Will MK Zoabi be Jailed and Stripped of Immunity?

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

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

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Does The State of Israel Have The Guts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rosh Chodesh Iyar is So SOON!

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

Women's Prayers at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Arab Terrorist Hunger Strike - Let Them Starve to Death!

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

photo- Terror Attack: 1 Dead

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

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

There is only one answer:

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Counting The Omer, Looking Forward to The Next Holiday

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Chag Sameach!!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Arab Terror Attack on The Jerusalem Lightrail

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

Biblical/Ancient Jews Fleeing Egypt WERE NOT Refugees

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

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

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

The Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

Women's Prayers at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

USA 2020 Presidential Elections Begin

Yes, I have no doubt that American Presidential Election Campaigns begin long before polling day, and no doubt that 2020 has begun.

As I have written, Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign began in around 2007 when she realized that Barack Hussein Obama was going to get the Democratic nod for 2008. For her cooperation aka "silence," she was promised clear sailing in 2016, which she got. She spent a good portion of that waiting time sewing up all of the heavy donors, so that nobody, with a chance, could afford to run against her.

There's already talk about Michelle Obama running for the Democrats in 2020. She does have a strong chance to beat some Republican contenders, unless the Right versus Left demographics, family size, continue to influence voting results. While the Left in America will gladly vote for a woman, regardless of her policies, the Right is more cautious and is wary of another Obama in office. This has nothing to do with gender and color. Many are terrified of the America being planned/envisioned by the Left and political Democrats. So even the most feminist of Republicans will prefer voting for a man who shares her ideology.

And in the Republican Party, those who are hoping for 2020 to be their year are already trying to make points around the country, like  Ted Cruz. The Republicans had a nice healthy, young crowd who competed against Donald Trump during the primaries, so no doubt that a few of them will use that experience to try again for the Republican Nomination.

Let's just pull up a seat, since the show has already begun.

Monday, April 10, 2017

What's Brewing in The Middle East?

Passover percolator perking companionably by the Kneidlach
In my house it's just "Turkish" coffee in the Passover percolator, but the headlines make it seem like we're more like in the "eye of the storm." Syria is close to Israel, a lot closer than it feels here in Shiloh.

In northern Israel, Shiloh is in the center of the country, I have no doubt that people are more aware of what is happening in Syria. From the press, it seems that injured Syrians are being treated in Israeli hospitals at our taxpaying expense. I wonder how much of these humanitarian acts are reported in the international media and by human rights organizations including the United Nations which spends lots of time condemning Israel for alleged violations.

Here are a few headlines:

Assad's allies say U.S. attack crosses 'red lines'
U.S. air strike gives Tillerson a boost for Moscow talks

And it's not as if the rest of the world is peaceful. There have been more terror and antisemitic attacks in Europe recently.

In just a few hours, we'll be turning off all electric media and communications devices to celebrate the Passover holiday.

Chag Kasher v'Sameach to All
Have a Wonderful, Joyful Kosher Passover

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Passover: Choose Your Battles, and Kitniyot isn't Mine

I enjoy my usual coffee, made in a Passover percolator, served in a Passover mug on my specially covered counter.
For those not living a Torah Jewish aka Orthodox life, there are innumerable issues that make no sense at all. And even for those who do, once you compare the different customs, especially concerning Passover foods -permitted and forbidden- confusion reigns supreme.

Until about a century or so ago, there wasn't all that much "mixing" between the Jewish communities aka eidot, so for example, the most Torah observant and knowledgeable Sephardic Jews of Tunisia and Morocco had no idea that their traditional Passover foods couldn't be eaten by an Ashkenazi Jew in Russia or Germany. And the Ashkeniz Jew would find it incredible that his Sephardic brethren had never eaten or even heard of Gefilte Fish or kneidlach.

But today, whether in Brooklyn, London or Jerusalem you will find many families of mixed Jewish ethnic backgrounds struggling at times to create menus and traditions that halachically (according to Jewish Law) suit all members of the family around the Seder table. My family is one of them.

I'm always praising this mix and sincerely consider it a sign that the Moshiach and Redemption are close. The blurring of these diaspora identities certainly are required prerequisites for the true Jewish Messianic Time and the building of the Third Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

My husband and I are strictly Ashkenaz and don't eat kitniyot*, legumes, whether dried, fresh or just derivatives. We've survived so many Passover Holidays on this restricted "diet" that it seems silly/unnecessary to accept/adopt one of those well-publicized general rabbinic statements that the "kitniyot restrictions" are no longer valid.

In principle I do not follow in any way public rabbinic announcements by rabbis I don't know and didn't ask. Actually, I consider it highly problematic for rabbis to make "grand announcements" to the general public. When have had a question we ask our local rabbi who knows us, and we know him.

I must say that our Passover observance has changed in the last decade plus, especially since our daughter married a Jew whose family made aliyah from Tunisia. It started when they would come to us, and we'd allow them rice on our Passover table. My daughter would make it in our pots, because rice isn't chametz, and it's perfectly permitted for them. And in recent years they host the big family seder. They serve both kitniyot and non-kitniyot foods. Everyone eats what they consider permitted on Passover. And we enjoy being together which is most important.

There are so many families like ours, nowadays, that these old ethnic divisions/differences won't last much longer Gd willing. Let them die a natural death. Don't rush it, please. It's better all around for the unity of the Jewish People to go slowly, so a Passover menu will happily include Gefilte Fish and hummus eaten with shmura soft matzot. That will be the type of meal celebrating the Chanukat Habayit of the Third Temple, Gd willing.

*Here are a few sites which will explain what this means:

Easy Sefira Reminders

The Torah in Haiku

Over the years I've tried lots of ways to remember to count "Sefirat Haomer." And finally, I found the simplest way possible, which works all but on Friday night and the last night of Passover. I just set a special alarm on my phone. And for the last night of Passover and Friday nights, when I don't use my phone, I paste up the, number where I'll see it. At least I hope I'll see it.

Chag Kasher V'SameachHave a Kosher and Joyful Holiday