Hamas War

Sunday, December 30, 2018

More on Bennett-Shaked, Israel Not Governed by Laws of Nature and Math

It's less than twenty-four 24 hours since  Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked shook things up by announcing that they're breaking from the NRP-Jewish Home Party and establishing the New Right. No surprise that many people claim that they are making a mistake.

The popular  reason that most everyone is giving is one of Mathematics. By breaking away and forming a new party, they are diluting the chances of the so-called Right wing Likud to continue in power. Of course, according to logic, the Laws of Nature and Numbers they seem correct. But as I titled this post:
Israel Not Governed by Laws of Nature and Math
If the State of Israel, the Jewish People and the Land of Israel were like any other in the world:
  1. We certainly would be been defeated/destroyed in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, 
  2. if we hadn't been invaded and destroyed in the 1967 Six Days War.
  3. Most probably, there never would have been a State of Israel, since on paper we had so little going for us when we declared Independence on May, 14, 1948.
  4. A "normal" people would have been so beaten, both physically in terms of numbers and emotionally, that any remaining Jews would have taken the express train to complete and utter assimilation after the Holocaust. 
  5. Or most probably, like our ancient contemporaries/enemies, we'd be no more than a footnote in history. 
Israeli politics is more than plain numbers. There must be balance in the ideological spectrum, and our political spectrum has been over-heavy on the Left for a long time. There are quite a number of Far Left parties, both Arab and Jewish, but there hasn't been a strong unabashed Right Pro-Jewish Rights in the Land of Israel for much too long. That's why political positions that had once been only heard from the Far Left are now heard in the Center and what I'll call the "Lite Right."

Although the media loves to call Likud an ideologically Right party, the truth is that it's Center-Right. As is the NRP establishment which  controls certain aspects of the Jewish Home Party. It kept reigning in Bennett and Shaked to the Center, which is what the NRP is all about. For the NRP, it has always been a claim to fame that they could mould themselves to suit any coalition, Right, Left or Center.

Think of the ideological aspect of the political scene here as a Tug of War. The Far Left has been tugging and there is no equivalent balance/weight from the Right. Some of you may be saying:
"What about Avigdor Lieberman?"
To be perfectly honest, he has his own unique views, which change periodically according to what he thinks will give him more electoral support. Or to follow my "Tug of War" analogy, his rope isn't attached to the one everyone else is tugging. He's just faking it.

I don't pretend to be a fortune teller, and I don't have any recent direct contact with Naftali Bennett or Ayelet Shaked. So, I certainly can't guarantee that the New Right will be what they are saying it will be. One thing I do know is that Prime Minister Netanyahu firmly believes that to be Prime Minister, he must keep to what he considers the political center. I heard him say so in person. Gd willing, Bennett and Shaked don't hold that opinion.

Naftali Bennett visiting us when he was head of YESHA Council

Saturday, December 29, 2018

2019, 5779 Israeli Elections, Party Time, Bennett-Shaked Shake Things Up

Tonight, Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked announced that they were breaking away from the NRP (National Religious Party) aka Jewish Home Party and establishing a new political party that would be to the Right of the political spectrum and open to all shades of religiosity. Bennett and Shaked are calling their party the "New Right."

In all honesty, I'm not surprised. I'm more surprised that they managed to stay in the rather staid NRP for five years. When Bennett told the old leadership, the ones who handle the money and property of the venerable old party, that the secular and female Ayelet Shaked was an indispensable part of his leadership package, I have no doubt that they were more shaken up than the British Royal Family when Harry made his relationship with Meghan Markle public.

Just under forty years ago, the Techiya Party was established by legendary Geula Cohen and Yuval Neeman. It was a straight-talking Right party, which I supported and mourn its demise. In the 1992 elections, it didn't receive enough votes to pass the minimum threshold and ceased to exist.

My guess is that the New Right is a 21st century version of Techiya, and from what Bennett and Shaked said at the press conference tonight, they would be happy adopting something I heard Geula Cohen say at a Parlour Meeting in Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem.

Geula was asked:
"Is Techiya a religious party?"
Geula replied:
"Techiya isn't a religious party; it's a Jewish party."
I have never liked religion as a criteria for politics and government. We have to work together.

What do you think?

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Just Wondering, How Accurate are The Polls?

Do the election polls really show what the 2019 results will be in Israeli Knesset Elections?

First of all, we don't yet know for sure which parties, new and old, will be vying for a share of those one hundred and twenty 120 seats. We must also take into account that the votes for parties that don't reach the minimum number are added to a "pot" of surplus votes which are then distributed among the winning parties by a very complicated formula. And the parties running still have to decide on their lists. Some of them use the democratic primary system, frequently with "reserved" spots given to wannabes chosen by the party leadership. Other parties are run like private "families." Some are run by committees, and the question is:
Who appointed the committee members?
With all this uncertainty, it's really hard to know today what will be in three and a half months' time. For the latest political election polls, I check on Jeremy's Knesset Insider. He keeps track, and in each post he also shows the right/left balance. Of course, this is just the "potential" and lots of guesswork, since there are political parties which shift right/left according to which way they think will bring them votes during election time and power in coalition negotiations.

Just to remind you that in Israel we vote for Knesset seats only. We do not vote for Prime Minister. Also, no political party gets a majority of the 120 seats, so that a potential prime minister must be a tremendously skilled and talented wheeler-dealer aka negotiator. This is the reality of Israeli government, political system.

Will Bibi's "center" policies win him another term as Prime Minister of the State of Israel?

Monday, December 24, 2018

Have You Heard The News?

Here I am voting in the most recent Knesset elections, March 2015
Bibi has called for elections. This year 5779 and soon 2019, Passover cleaning will also mean cleaning up all the campaign litter.  Yes, the date chosen is April 9, which is the 4th of Nissan, just a week and a half before the Passover Holiday. Yes, here in Israel we function on two calendars simultaneously.

And if you're curious, I haven't a clue as to which political party to support.

I don't know if I've ever voted for the Likud. The first time we voted, in 1974, there wasn't a Likud Party. There was Gahal, which was the Herut and Liberal parties. Herut, Freedom was headed by Menachem Begin. In those days, Begin was our political and ideological hero. And the Liberal Party was the non-socialist one. They were the two parties on the Right, while the Labor Party was on the Left, and the 1st of May was still celebrated by them.

We missed the 1977 elections, since we were on shlichut, doing Zionist youth work in London. Shlichim don't get absentee ballots, though embassy staff do.

When we returned home to Jerusalem, miraculously, Menachem Begin was Prime Minister. For the first time in Israeli history a non-Labor/socialist was in charge. But then Begin did what Labor never dared to do, something that Begin if in opposition would have condemned, he made a treaty Peace Agreement with Egypt's President Sadat, gave Egypt the Sinai and destroyed a slew of Jewish communities. After that I supported Geula Cohen's Techiya Party. I voted for them until they faded from the political scene, when they didn't get enough votes to make it into the Knesset. Since then I feel like a political orphan.

Over the next three and a half months, until Knesset Elections, I'll be in political pundit mode. Gd willing expect more posts. I warn you that I have more questions than answers. Let's talk. That's what my comments are for. Also please feel free to share this post and the subsequent ones.

What do you think? I welcome your comments.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Tevye in The Promised Land, Great Adventure

Last night I finally finished the first volume of Tzvi Fishman's Tevye trilogy, Tevye in The Promised Land, and I loved it! I have the following two volumes waiting for me to read, but I'm taking off time in between each one to write reviews.

Fishman's jam-packed historical novel is superb. Tevye in The Promised Land is an extremely well-written example of a very difficult literary genre. He manages to create both believable characters and place them in accurate and factual historical context. Tevye in The Promised Land is full of surprises and actual historical figures. And if you were wondering, Fishman's Tevye is based on the character invented by the famous Yiddish author Shalom Aleichem, which can be seen on stage and screen.

Especially since I had read and reviewed Rebels in the Holy Land, which is about the early history of Mazkeret Batya, I can really believe that so many things could happen to one family and the awful things about Baron de Rothschild's administrators. The early Zionist pioneers, even the least religiously observant, were true tzaddikim, holy Jews. They had to put up with and overcome difficulties that dwarf everything that modern olim, immigrants to Israel must deal with. And in modern olim, I include people like myself who made aliyah almost a half a century ago.

The early Zionist pioneers had to cope with and conquer difficulties that rival the greatest fictional adventure stories. First of all, traveling in those days was extremely dangerous and difficult. Today you can safely and routinely fly to Israel from places in less than a day. Over a hundred years ago, lovers of Zion had to trek by foot, horse-drawn carts, unreliable boats and more. The trip could take months or longer.

When the immigrant arrived, he/she wasn't always allowed in to the Holyland. Whether the ruling occupier was a Turk or British, they had the same agenda, STOP JEWS FROM ENTERING. Their sympathy was with the Arabs, who had no national aspirations, which was what the occupying powers liked.

Even when Jews, like Tevye and his family, managed to get permits to enter the Promised Land, that didn't promise them an easy time. Besides the utter poverty, there were illnesses, locusts, Arab terrorism, impossible regulations by the Baron's staff, land unfit for agriculture, continued antagonism from the occupiers, tension/competition between the religious and secular Jews and even more challenges. Fishman has Tevye and his family encounter and cope with them all. They also get to know and work with some of the greatest real life historical giants of the times, such as Rabbi Kook, Zeev Jabotinsky, Yosef Trumpeldor among others.

Before Tzvi Fishman's aliyah, move to Israel, he was a Hollywood screenwriter. And I must say that his Tevya saga is just perfect, not for a two hour movie, but for a long-running television series.

I highly recommend Tevye in The Promised Land. It's a book that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Children will love it, too. If they are too young to read it themselves, it's the perfect book to read to your children or students. As you read it, you can supplement it with history of the time, if clarification is necessary. I've already started on volume 2 and the third is waiting for me.

  • Paperback: 580 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1466220872
  • ISBN-13: 978-1466220874

Friday, December 21, 2018

Saga Riding the Ariel Arab-Filled Buses, Yesterday

Yesterday, again, I needed to catch a bus to Ariel from the "shfeilah," west of Shiloh, after a festive luncheon with friends in Pardes Chana. This time I was dropped off at the Oranit/Elkana bus stop, which I hoped would give me a better chance to get on a bus than at the Yarkon Junction. 

In the afternoon, buses to Ariel are full of Arab workers who get off before Ariel. The buses are so full that most don't even stop unless someone needs to get off. At the Oranit/Elkana bus stop, generally a few people get off, so there's a better chance to get on the bus, and in addition there are a few more lines going to Ariel. 

After close to ten minutes of waiting a bus came that did let passengers off from the back, but the driver didn't open the door. BTW, I was waiting with a bunch of Arab men for a bus to Ariel, no other women or Jews. A few Arabs went/snuck in by the back door, something I wrote about a few weeks ago. I got closer to the front door and tried to get the attention of the driver and succeeded. 

The bus driver opened the door and signaled to the men waiting that only I was to board the bus. Happily I did, even though all I could see on the bus were Arab men. The driver also asked the man sitting in the first seat to get up so I could sit. Yes, not for the first time, I sat next to an Arab on a bus. 

My view from the front seat of the bus to Ariel. Our road was clear, while most vehicles were traveling towards Yarkon Junction and beyond.
The bus was packed, with people standing in the aisle until we got to the Revava Junction. That's the last stop on the Trans-Samaria Highway before turning into Ariel. And that's where all of the remaining Arabs got off. Look to the right of the picture below, and you will see dozens of cars, Arab cars. Sometimes I've seen a market setup there, too. There was lots of noise coming from it, which we could hear on the bus. That's where the Arab workers leave their cars or get rides home to their villages. Also some Jewish passengers get off there at the Revava Junction and cross the street to go to communities in the northern Shomron, Samaria.

When we pulled out of that bus stop, the bus was almost totally empty. A few minutes later we entered Ariel, and I got off at the Ariel University. I walked to the trempiada, hitchhiking post there and miraculously got a ride to Shiloh within a couple of minutes. My neighbor took me straight to my door. Gd is great!

Shabbat Shalom U'Mevorach
Have a Blessed and Peaceful Shabbat

Thursday, December 20, 2018

American Left Defends Anti-Israel BDS as "Free Speech"


While Democratic leadership supports the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which targets US companies that join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Jewish state, two powerful senators in Democratic politics expressed their opposition to its passage on Wednesday....
Among the senators claiming that BDS should be protected as "Free Speech" are Jews, and no surprise that the extreme Leftist J Street also opposes the bill.

American Jewry on the whole are extreme in their unquestioning support of the Democrats and the Left. I don't think there's an actual Mitzvah, Torah Commandment they observe more than voting for Democrats.

Even today, when the 21st century Democratic Party has adopted policies that support the destruction/annihilation of the State of Israel, Jewish Americans have continued their unquestioning support.

It's no secret that most American Jews eat the Torah-forbidden ham and shrimp, besides not having a clue that there's a fast day mid summer called the 9th of Av when we mourn the destruction of our Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Intermarriage has passed the tipping point, and it is now the norm, except in the most Torah observant circles. It is also rationalized/justified with Leftist slogans of "equality" and "free speech."

American Jewry has become so pro-Left Democrat that many actually oppose the American Embassy in Jerusalem, davka, because it was opened by a Republican President. That's the proof that they have ceased to think as Jews; they are now religiously Leftist Democrats.

I'm saddened by this development. And I'm pessimistic. The future of the Jewish People is here in Israel, no place else. Europe and other parts of the world are no better for Jews to remain true Jews.

Here I am marching in the 1970 Salute to Israel Parade with NCSY, just a couple of months before making aliyah, moving to Israel. It was the best move we could ever have made, B"H, thank Gd.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Is This Art?

It could be. Maybe it's a glass mosaic aka stained glass? There's something haunting about it, like a Vincent Van Gogh painting when his demons were overpowering him.

Well, the truth is that the "technique" is related to "demons," but not the imaginary kind, not the kind of a schizophrenic, chemically imbalanced mind.

Yesterday, when I got on the bus home from Sha'ar Binyamin burdened with heavy shopping bags, the closest unoccupied seat was by a cracked window. I try not to sit by cracked windows. The buses that ply our routes have bulletproof windows. They are also strong enough to stay whole/unbroken if a rock is thrown at it. To be accurate, that's true until you see cracks like this one had.

bus window cracked by Arab terrorists attack

The recent increase in Arab terror attacks, davka, on the road we travel, has killed, injured and caused damage. Thank Gd yesterday's trip to and from Jerusalem was uneventful, but we can never take an easy and safe trip for granted.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Only in Israel, Terror Victims, Cared for by All

Decades ago, when a horrendous fatal car accident halved a local family, the injured survivors were cared for in the same hospital room, where they sat shiva together. Many times since, I've seen pictures of hospitalized family members, of both sexes and various ages, in the same hospital room. It's a very humane and comforting policy, which doesn't exist in other countries.

The young couple, Shira and Amichai Ish-Ran, who as a result of an Arab terror attack outside of Ofra, not only were injured, but as a result of Shira's injury, their baby didn't survive. They are now together in Shaare Tzedek Hospital in the same room. Obviously, after such physical, medical and emotional trauma, they have a lot to deal with. Separation would have only made it worse.

According to Jewish Law, there's no mourning, shiva-all the usual restrictions, after the death of a tiny baby under a month old, so friends came to sing to them.

Do you see this in other countries? Only in Israel.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Adam Junction Tunnel/Underpass, Yay! צומת אדם

Way back when, in the early days, first couple of decades of living in Shiloh and the development of Mateh Binyamin, the Benjamin Regional Council, all of the yishuvim, communities off of what is now Kvish, Highway 60 and those on the parallel section of the Alon Road, considered ourselves as suburbs of Jerusalem. The first fifteen years or so we lived in Shiloh, there wasn't a Kvish, Highway 60. We traveled via the eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem and Ramalla, passing Beit El's western side, then the Jalazoun refugee camp and Waadi Charamiya to get to Shiloh. Then there was no Adam Junction connecting Adam, Jerusalem, Ramalla and the Shomron-Binyamin.

Even though we had to drive through Ramalla and those Arab neighborhoods, the trip, even by bus, was about an hour from Shiloh. With time and even after the bypass roads, Jerusalem seemed to get much further away. The past few years has become a nightmare for those who need to travel to and from Jerusalem. Traffic jams began as early as 6am.

For the past few years, I've been telling people that Shiloh has moved to the Petach Tikvah area, since it's so much easier to get to Rosh Ha'ayin, the Yarkon Junction, Petach Tikva and Hod Hasharon. Many of my neighbors, who have cars, take care of all sorts of official things in the nearby city of Ariel. Lots of people tell me that they can't remember the last time they've gone to Jerusalem. I sleep in Jerusalem the night before my Matan classes. This way I can see friends and family, plus get to class easily in the morning.

There's a whatsapp group I'm in for reporting traffic jams; as of right now it has 257 members. Until close to a week ago, there were constant updates about traffic jams. In recent days it has quieted down, except for the traffic stopping as a result of terror attacks and car accidents, which is another topic completely. Why has traffic speeded up? Why has Jerusalem moved closer?

There's now a tunnel/underpass at the Adam Junction. Vehicles needing neither Adam nor Ramalla now drive directly, unhindered. Rush hour is now fast rather than slow, B"H, thank Gd. Take a look!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Terror ATTACK, Not "Incident"

I'm a rare breed. I love grammar, and I have a very sensitive ear to the nuances of language. I've written many times about how important it is to word bombing, shellings, rocket attacks, etc in "active" rather than "passive." Also, please don't word things giving the impression that a gun spontaneously aimed itself and shot someone.

Please don't write/say:
"Weapon fired at..."
"Missiles were launched at..."
Calling a terror attack an "incident" also makes me furious. The definition of "incident" is:
  1. an individual occurrence or event.
  2. distinct piece of action, or an episode, as in a story or play.
  3. something that occurs casually in connection with something else
I also go rather ballistic when I read about people/Jews "who perished" in the Holocaust, as if it was a natural disaster, like an avalanche.

By using "parve" gentle words and inaccurate grammatical forms one is actually distorting the truth.

It is not an "incident, something that occurs casually" when Arab terrorists shoot at innocent Jews standing at a junction.
Photo of the "live" via facebook funeral of prematurely born Amiad Yisrael Ish-Ran.
Accurate reporting and writing is extremely crucial in Israel's war for survival against the cruelest of enemies, Arab terrorists and their supporters. Don't be shy about writing clearly and bluntly.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

No Words... אין מילים

Many people here in Israel and the Jewish World know exactly what I mean.

A tiny baby died today.

The tiny baby was one of the youngest victims of Arab terrorism.

The tiny baby was even younger than Yehuda Shoham, HaY"aD, a neighbor of mine, who at the age of five months died as the result of a terror attack less than twenty years ago.

There have been so many Arab terror attacks against innocent Jews that it's hard to remember them all, and it's hard to remember all of the victims.

But for the past few days many of us have been praying for this tiny baby, whether we know the family or not. Actually, many of us have discovered that we do know the family. And even if we don't have a personal connection, how could anyone remain disengaged from the story of a young beautiful couple who had been among a handful of people trying to get a ride outside of Ofra and were shot and injured by Arab terrorists?

The most seriously injured was a young woman,  married barely a year ago. She was pregnant with their first child. And now the baby is dead, and the young mother has to recover from life-threatening injuries.

Our thoughts, love and sympathy are with Amichai and Shira Ish-Ran, their family and close friends.
Baruch Dayan Ha'emett
ברוך דיין האמת
Blessed is The True Judge
Section of Shiloh Cemetery
The cemetery was started when Rachella Druk, HaYa"D, was murdered by Arab terrorists over twenty five years ago.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Pray For Victims of Arab Terror

As Chanukah neared an end Arab terrorists attacked a roadside trempiada, hitchhiking post outside of Ofra in the most cowardly of ways. They shot at the innocent people waiting for rides. It's a place I sometimes find myself at, because people going to and towards Shiloh pass by. My practice is to check the bus app efobus to see when a bus to Shiloh should be arriving. And if there isn't a bus within a reasonable amount of time, I wait outside on the sidewalk, behind the barriers.  The barriers can prevent a regular car from hitting people, but it won't stop bullets.

Over half a dozen people were injured including a young pregnant woman. Her baby was delivered prematurely as soon as she got to the hospital. They all need our prayers.

רפואה שלימה:
 התינוק בן שירה יעל, שירה יעל בת ליאורה שרה
Complete recovery to:
Tinok (baby) ben of Shira Yael
Shira Yael bat Leora Sarah

Prayers from the Holy Site of Shiloh
No "peace plan" will stop terror, only physically eradicating the terrorists and their financial backing will be good first steps. It will take generations to change their belief in terror and hatred of Jews and Israelis.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Wonderful Weather, Rain and Rosh Chodesh Prayers

It's winter here in the HolyLand, and if we don't get lots of rain in the winter, that's bad news. So, when we had three days of rain, I was happy.

Our sages tell us that weekend/Shabbat rains are the greatest gifts from Gd. It's a time we're not supposed to travel. We are lucky to live near the synagogue, so there's no inconvenience. As long as electricity works, and the heat is on, I'm not going to be tempted to complain. 

This morning, when the sun showed its golden strength, not hidden by clouds and rain, everything was sparkling and clean. Leaves looked like emeralds, decorated by rubies, diamonds and other gems. The blue silk sky was exquisite as I walked down to Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh for our Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers. Yes, Gd planned the dry sunny weather to coincide with our Rosh Chodesh Tevet prayers.

Next month is Shevat, and the Rosh Chodesh Women's Prayers at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, site of the Mishkan, Holy Tabernacle will be on the 1st of Shevat, 5779, Monday 7-01-2019, 8:30am.

כולן מוזמנות, תפילת נשים, ראש חודש שבט, א' טבת, יום ב' ,7/01/2019 , 8:30, בשילה הקדומה, תל שילה

We sing Hallel out loud, but the rest of the prayers are said silently and as individuals. There will be a tour of the Tel and Divrei Torah, Gd willing, in both Hebrew and English. If you'd like more information, please contact me shilohmuse@gmail.com with "Rosh Chodesh Prayers" as subject.

Shiloh Hakeduma, Ancient Shiloh is open six days a week. It's a recognized tourist and archaeological site. Contact them directly at visit@telshilo.org.il, 02-5789111.

Gd willing this winter will continue with frequent rainy periods, like we're having now. It should be for a blessing. And we must remember that a drought is a curse/punishment.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

There is No "New Testament;" Don't Use the Term, Please

I try to be very careful about my terminology. One of the things we learn in Judaism is that words have power. A couple of popular rhymes of my childhood from my childhood are in direct opposition to Jewish theology and values:
sticks and stones can break my bones,
but words can never harm me

losers weepers
finders keepers
We Jews are "the People of The Book," and that has two lessons for us. One is that every word and word choice has power. It is possible to destroy a person with the wrong word, even if only intended as a "joke" or to "tease." Also, "The Book" is our Tanach, Bible, the Jewish one, and it has never been revised, added to, by Gd.

There is No "New sic Testament." The meaning behind that term, especially as it's used in conjunction with the "Old sic Testament," sic, is that Christianity is the Gd sanctioned revision of Judaism, which no good Jew accepts.

Judaism is the only religion of the True Gd. The basis of Judaism in in the Tanach, Bible. And the basis of Judaism is that we have only One Gd and are forbidden to worship a human.

There is a Christian bible, and there is the Tanach, Bible. I'm not shy about pointing it out, even when the speaker is a renown Jewish lecturer/expert. We must be very careful in the terminology we use, because words have multiple meanings. Just because a term is the "accepted" one by the general public, does not make it Kosher.

Chanukah is the Jewish Holiday during which we celebrate our victory over the Ancient Greeks and Hellenists, the assimilated Jews of the time. It's the perfect time to inspect our language and rid it of foreign anti-Jewish terms.

Chag Urim Sameach
May You have an Enlightened Holiday

Chanukah, day #3

Monday, December 3, 2018

What Really is The Light of Chanukah?

One of the big misconceptions about the lights on the chanukiya, Chanukah Menorah is that they are to compensate for the shortness of winter days.

True, the Chanuka holiday occurs when daylight is shortest, and here in the Holy-Land it may rain, though very rarely snow. But we are forbidden to use the light for anything practical. It is not supposed to be the light for the room, or the street, or for reading, cooking or anything else one needs light.

The light of the chanukiya, Chanukah Menorah is to publicize the miracles that Gd performs for us, even more often than we may notice. Yes, specifically, on Chanukah, we celebrate the fact that time and time again, Gd is on our side. When the odds and the experts say that we're about to be defeated, such as when the powerful Ancient Greeks invaded our Holy land and forbade us to observe Judaism, we defeated them and returned Jewish worship to the Holy Temple.

Over the millennia, this has happened time and time, again.  Also, please remember that the Modern Greeks aren't ruling and occupying the Holy Land any more. None of our ancient enemies exist today. They may have won many battles, but we, with the help of Gd, the One True Gd, have won the war.

עם ישראל חי
Am Yisrael Chai
The People of Israel Live

That is what the lights of the chanukiya, Chanukah Menorah shine and broadcast to the world.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Where do You Light Your Chanukiya, Chanuka Menorah?

The light of our Chanukiya, Chanuka Menorah, is supposed to be a sign to the world that we, the small Jewish People, cannot be defeated by big, strong armies. It's not supposed to be a light that physically illuminates. The Light of the Chanukiya, Chanuka Menorah is not to be used for any practical purpose, like reading or navigating and certainly not to light up a room.

We've always set up our chanukiyot on window sills facing the main street. Since our custom has always been that everyone old enough to have some understanding of the mitzvah should light their very own chanukiya, there have been years when both our meter plus window sills were full of chanukiyot.

Nowadays, there are rarely more than just the two of us rattling around this empty nest. Our big family Chanuka celebrations are generally at the kids.

Many of our neighbors light their chanukiyot outside, by their doors or right on the sidewalk. The mitzvah of פרסום הנס pirsum haness, publicizing the miracle, is taken very seriously.

What are your family and community chanukiya-lighting customs?

Friday, November 30, 2018

Learning to be Late and Accepting Blessings

For as long as I've known how to tell time and been old enough to have control over "arrivals," I've been fixated and obsessive with being not just "on time," but early. I've never seen a stated "time to start" as an approximation. For me, even as a little girl going to a birthday party, I was horrified, totally mortified at the idea that I may be late.

No matter what the occasion, I'd treat it like catching a train or plane or making sure I made it to the theater well before the curtain was to go up.

When I got older, I learned that, at least here in Israel, times stated for wedding invitations were always much earlier than we needed to be there. After arriving too many times while the caterer was still having the tables set up, we learned how much time we had to add to the "invitation time." Here in Shiloh, it took a few years to learn that events are on what they call "Bnai Akiva time," which is nothing like the exact scheduling in NCSY or the LIRR.

Since we don't have a car and not only can't one rely on the bus schedule, besides the fact that sometimes there aren't buses from Shiloh to our destinations, I've learned to accurately plan my departures for all eventualities. But yesterday afternoon/last night, even I failed.

I needed to get to a "surprise party" in Kfar Saba by 6:30pm. With the help of google maps, I discovered that with bus connections at both the Yarkon Junction and Morasha, it would be very doable. There is even a 5pm bus to Kfar Saba from Ariel, though is goes through Rosh Ha'ayin. My plan was to give myself two and a half hours, which should have made me about a half hour early, at the latest.

Man plans and Gd laughs, as they say. At 3pm, I got a message from my kids that there had been a horrific fatal accident "outside of Ariel. The roads are blocked in both directions." Click here for report and photos.
"Maybe you should meet one of us in Jerusalem, and we'll take you." My kids suggested.
Considering that going via Jerusalem also would include traffic jams and double the distance, I declined.
"The Trans-Samaria Highway is wide road. No doubt it will be cleared by the time I get there."
To be honest, I was wrong.

At first it seemed like "business as usual" in Ariel, lots of buses and traffic near the university. I even declined to get on a Petach Tikva bus, because it wasn't going to Morasha, which would give me the quickest and best public transportation to Kfar Saba. Since I couldn't find the bus stop to the direct bus, I waited for the 386, which not only goes to Morasha, but it doesn't do the "grand tour" of Ariel. It's a great bus, but although the electric sign kept saying it was coming, the bus never showed, nor did any other for at least a half an hour. Finally, in desperation I took the next bus to arrive, which was a 296. The driver said that he goes to Yarkon but not Morasha. He warned us that the road was still blocked, and he may need to make a detour.

Actually, even with all the delays, I still had a good chance of being on time. That's how much "extra" time I had allocated to my trip.

The driver was optimistic and even said that it looked like the road had opened. But as we got a few kilometers from the accident scene, all we could see was the long line of lights of cars stuck in traffic. Yes, it was very dark by then. I began to realize that I'd probably be late and arrive long after the joyous "surprise."

When we passed the almost totally burnt up bus, all that remained was the spooky skeleton, I became very grateful for the fact that I was on a functioning bus, sitting comfortably and safely. Gd willing I'd arrive safe and sound, albeit a bit late. It wasn't the end of the world.

At the Yarkon Junction, I quickly caught a bus to Kfar Saba, and one of my kids picked me up to take me the rest of the way. I was glad, because even with the help of Google maps, I'd have trouble finding the house in the dark.

Yes, we walked in after the guest of honor, but it was before the "program." We had a wonderful joyous time. It was no tragedy to be late. It certainly wasn't the end of the world. Everyone was happy to see me and appreciated the efforts I make to attend all events. B"H, going home was easy; we had a ride with one of our kids, who would anyhow have passed Shiloh on the way home.

It's so important to remember to say תפילת הדרך Tefilat Haderech, the Traveler's Prayer when you start a trip. It may not guarantee a safe journey, but it reminds us that all journeys have their potential dangers, and we must thank Gd for our safety.

Waiting for rides/tremps and buses yesterday, Eli Junction and the Ariel University bus stop

Thursday, November 29, 2018

What was That Demonstration?

Yesterday afternoon, on my way home from Jerusalem, I noticed about a dozen or more people lined up by the road just outside of the machsom Hizme, the security barrier at the northern city-line. There were Jews and Arabs, and they were holding signs. We went by too quickly to read them, and nobody, including the bus driver had a clue as to what was the purpose of this demonstration.

So, if you know, I'd appreciate your writing it in the comments here, thanks.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Beersheva, First Jewish City, Miraculous


old well
photo by Yocheved Golani,
As I wrote in A Jewish Grandmother, yesterday I went to Beersheva for an f2f with friends from all over Israel. We were given a mini-tour by a friend who kept reminding us that she's not a tour guide, although it was very clear that not only does she love her chosen city, Beersheva, she loves its history, too.

Our guide mentioned something I don't think any of else in our group had thought of before. Beersheva was the very first "Jewish city." It's the city of Abraham and Sarah, as depicted in the Bible, Tanach.

When one thinks of a spot in the middle of the desert, which is a very accurate way of describing Beersheva, having an ancient city there seems rather difficult and far-fetched. Today's modern waterworks, piping etc creates a different reality, but how did people live in the middle of the desert thousands of years ago?

Gd created the earth with hidden natural resources. The Negev Desert isn't as dry as it seems on the surface. Underneath what we know as Beersheva, there are many natural springs, bodies of water, which can be accessed. Even people in ancient times were able to access enough hidden water supplies so that they could live in Beersheva.

The accepted translation of Beersheva, באר שבע is "seven springs/wells." As I've written previously, explaining my understanding of a verse in Tefilat Chana, Hannah's Prayer, the word שבע can mean either seven 7 or satisfied/sufficient. We can interpret the name Beersheva to mean "sufficient water." The idea can be considered quite miraculous for a location smack in the middle of the desert. But remember that we're talking about the Holy Land, where miracles are the norm and a call to Gd is a "local" one, thank Gd.

Only grave in British Commonwealth ANZAC Cemetery

near Beersheva bus and train stations
All photos, except if credited differently, were taken by me.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Bibi's Still in The Saddle, Which is What Israelis Want

If you're interested in Israeli politics, keeping updated via Jeremy's Knesset Insider is a very good idea. Every week or so, Jeremy posts results of various political polls, which indicate how Israelis would most probably vote if elections were to be held "now." The only thing I can't stand about his blog is that the color graphics, white on dark green, make it very problematic to copy/paste on this blog. I have to change to colors.

One of my favorite poll questions is:
Who is most suited to be Prime Minister?
The Walla poll published on Nov 21 2018 asked it, and the results are:
36% Netanyahu, 14% Don’t know, 12% None of the above, 11% Gantz, 6% Saar, 6% Lapid, 5% Livni, 4% Bennett, 3% Gabbai, 2% Liberman
That means that both "don't know" and "none of the above" are more popular than the second most popular politician.

I've been following Israeli politics for half a century, and the very simple reason why Gantz did "so well," being number two albeit with only 11% of the vote is that he doesn't have a political track record. Even in Shiloh, where I've been part of the election committee for decades, the least known candidate frequently does amazingly well. "Familiarity breeds contempt" seems to be part of Israeli political culture, although the exception is Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.

One thing you shouldn't forget is that here in Israel we don't vote for Prime Minister. We vote for Knesset lists in the form of political parties. To be Prime Minister, one has to be able to form/negotiate a coalition. That makes certain poll data most crucial:
the Right-religious/Center-Left numbers
The results have been pretty consistent, give or take a seat, for the longest time:
66 [66] Current Right-Religious Coalition
54 [54] Current Center-Left-Arab Opposition
They are the best reading of what Israelis want in a government. And the truth is that no matter when elections will be, whether this government lasts the full five years, or just close to it, the next Israeli Government will be very similar to today's.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Arabs on Ariel Buses, Another Problem

In the past I've written about the ongoing situation in which the buses from the Petach Tikva, Tzomet Yarkon Junction area going to Ariel are overloaded with Arabs to the extent in which they skip bus stops leaving Jewish passengers stranded. I wrote about it here, here and here.

Yesterday afternoon I was there again in the afternoon and needed a bus to Ariel. One bus passed without stopping, but soon afterwards another one came. I was able to board the bus and had to walk until close to the back of the bus until I found a seat next to a female IDF soldier just across from the rear door.

I relaxed, used the cellphone Siddur app to pray the Mincha afternoon prayer and then didn't pay much attention to what was happening on the bus. I heard someone ask the driver to open the rear-door, and then a bit later I someone pressing on my right shoulder and arm.

The bus had somehow filled with Arabs. There must have been at least thirty 30 men crowded into the narrow aisle, so those of us sitting in aisle seats kept getting pushed and shoved. I found myself crowding into the space of the young woman sitting next to me, while simultaneously pushing the Arabs off of me. I apologized to the woman by mentioning that the driver isn't allowed by law to fill the aisle. She replied that an Inspector just boarded.

The Inspector asked to see our tickets, and I could hear and see him confirm that many of those Arabs did not have tickets. Apparently when I was busy with my eyes on my screen Arabs had boarded via the rear door without paying. When he got to me, I mentioned the unbearable crowding, and he replied that by law it is forbidden to have more than I can't remember if he said eight or ten people standing in the aisle. BTW the bus driver was an Arab, too.

I don't know what the procedure is in other places, but here in Israel, if an Inspector discovers that a passenger hasn't paid, the driver is fined. When the inspector got off, I could hear (and not understand) very loud talking in Arabic. That is very rare. Generally the Arabs are extremely quiet on the Israeli buses.

Thank Gd they are starting to send Inspectors on the buses. Never dull...

While waiting for a bus at the Yarkon Junction, I spotted this plane coming from the nearby Ben Gurion International Airport

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Israel, The Holyland, is Not Europe

So far, so god. The early winter crocus flowers are blooming. They are the signs that water has seeped into the ground, and winter has begun here in the Holyland.

Quite a few decades ago, I took a course to improve my Hebrew. One thing I got out of it was the fact that the early Hebrew writers here couldn't get European seasons out of their brains. They continued to refer to the "first buds of spring" and other such literary images that aren't part of the Holyland reality. New York, where I grew up, and most of North America is very much like Europe. The winter is dark and snowy. You don't see the "buds" and flowers until spring. Then it all blooms and continues throughout the summer.

Here in the Holyland, it rains only in the winter. By early-mid summer, unless you irrigate your garden, everything just dries up. Many people try to imitate, recreate the gardens of Europe or North America. It's a waste of water and distorts perception of the Israeli climate.

Israel begins to green in early winter, after the first few rains. Winter flowers start blooming, too. By the end of winter the ground is covered with wildflowers and greenery. As the weather heats up in the spring, and the rain ceases to fall, the flowers dry up and die.

In addition, oranges, which since the middle of the twentieth century are a staple of Israeli agriculture, only get sweet (fully ripe) after the first rains.

Chazal, our sages, teach us that the quantity and quality of rain are dependent on how well we Jews keep the mitzvot and treasure the Holyland. Gd willing, we will deserve rains of blessing.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Pre-Election Political Shenanigans

I was going to call this "Pre-Election Political Maneuverings," but that would put everything on a higher level.

Along with a large percentage of Israelis, I'm disgusted by our Prime Minister's fake "war" to stop the terror from Gaza which had burnt up a large portion of southern Israel and made life total Hell for Israeli citizens living there.

photo credit: חמ'ל הדרום Chamal Darom

  • Instead of really fighting the terrorists to destroy them, Netanyahu went back to the farcical warnings to empty buildings technique. Nobody was fooled, not the terrorists and not any Israelis. What did we accomplish by bombing a few empty buildings? To be honest, absolutely nothing.
  • Since we're months, barely a year, before scheduled elections, and elections could be called at any time,  Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman surprised nobody by resigning. That's so he can campaign from the Right of Bibi's Likud. 
  • That left Bibi with the narrowest of coalitions, so of course Bennett and Kahlon are now competing for the Defense Ministry and threatening to topple the government.
  • Deja vu, elections will no doubt be soon
Let's see who's really the best chess player.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Chanuka, Rosh Chodesh Tevet, Women's Prayers Tel Shiloh

We're a week into Kislev, and not only is Chanukah almost here, but Rosh Chodesh Tevet, is, too.

Gd willing we will have our Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers at Shiloh Hakeduam, Tel Shiloh, site of the Mishkan, Holy Tabernacle on the 1st of Tevet 5779, 9-12-2018, 8:30am.

כולן מוזמנות, תפילת נשים, ראש חודש טבת, א' טבת, יום א' ,9/12/2019 , 8:30, בשילה הקדומה, תל שילה

We sing Hallel out loud, but the rest of the prayers are said silently. There will be a tour of the Tel and Divrei Torah, Gd willing, in both Hebrew and English. If you'd like more information, please contact me shilohmuse@gmail.com with "Rosh Chodesh Prayers" as subject.

Shiloh Hakeduma, Ancient Shiloh is open six days a week. It's a recognized tourist and archeological site. Contact them at visit@telshilo.org.il, 02-5789111.

Shabbat Shalom U'MevorachMay You Have A Peaceful and Blessed Shabbat

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Bibi, We Israelis are Totally Disgusted With Your Policies, Voices From The People

Even on the French English language tv news, best of the pathetic choice of news channels we have on our television, has been broadcasting how disgusted the Israeli public is with the farcical and dangerous so-called "ceasefire."

I don't think too many people believe anything that Avigdor Lieberman says or does. We've been watching him long enough to know that he's less reliable and more volatile than Prime Minister Bibi Binyamin Netanyahu. Most of us haven't a clue as to which party to vote for. In Israel one votes for political parties, which have lists competing for Knesset seats. The largest party gets a chance to form a coalition, with its leader, number 1, as Prime Minister. If they don't succeed, then the next largest party, or the party which the most others tell the president can form a coalition gets a chance. It's obvious that Lieberman has chosen this time, maximum a year before elections, to start maneuvering himself to the "Right" of Bibi to attract voters. Deja vu, he has done this sort of thing before.

Following are quotations from friends and various blog links about our feelings:

Praying for Relief

We are very VERY upset over this ceasefire which is not solving the problems we've been suffering for months: The incendiary balloons; the shelling of the Eshkol area and Sederot whenever the mood strikes Hamas, and not ending the violent weekly demonstrations that have led to incursions over our border. We've come out pf this like a dog with its tail between its legs. I personally am LIVID because I have NO DOUBT that if such things occurred in Tel Aviv, the govt would have acted much differently AGES ago. We have large swathes of land burnt to a crisp. Can you believe Batya that on one of the yishuvim on the border crops could not be planted because their yearly allotment of water had been used up by putting out fires???? WE ARE FED UP! It's not enough that we had a HORRIFIC 24 hours with well over 400 rockets; they now send the rockets at a much swifter pace than before one right after another, boom, boom, boom. I salute those manning the iron dome that they were able to keep up with the pace that Hamas set. We are tax paying citizens and our young people do NOT deserve to grow up in the shadow of such terror.

Ceasefire call was shameful! These kids are suffering.

They would NEVER EVER do this to kids in Tel Aviv. I'm so sick of this elitist government. All they care about is getting votes.

"About shooting at empty buildings: Buildings don't set up or send bombs, rockets, or bullets. Kill terrorists instead of letting them strike from another location."

"All of this could have been prevented if the prime minister would support a war to end all future attempts at war. Gaza should become a lifeless crater." Or use my quote that "We surrendered Gush Katif for peace? I want that land back!!!!!!!!!!"

The govt better get off it's behind (I'd use a different word but I'm polite) and DO something. Enough putting off the inevitable! The present situation (of incendiary balloons here in Netivot and all over the south; the huge swathes of land burnt to a crisp; the ongoing violent demonstrations almost daily) cannot go on! WE HAVE HAD IT! ENOUGH! You can quote me, Batya!

If You Condemned Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting But Not Rockets At Israel, You Are a Hypocrite

Another Round from Gaza

Just waiting

What is wrong here?
After 470 rockets and a ceasefire was called so that Egypt and UN can work out a permanent agreement.
Now Celebrations break out on the streets of Gaza after Hamas declares victory.
And once again the resident of the south have been abandoned by our government.
Residents of the south furious, are holding a demonstration at Tzomet Sderot.
Time for elections...

Trauma and Terror: The View from the South