Monday, December 28, 2020

Rosh Chodesh Shevat- Women's Prayers at Tel Shiloh


Ladies, don your masks and join us for Rosh Chodesh Prayers at Tel Shiloh, the site of the Biblical Mishkan Tabernacle.

Rosh Chodesh Shevat 5781

Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh

Thursday 14/01/2021 8:30am

  ראש חודש שבט תשפ"א 

תפילת נשים בשילה הקדומה

  יום ה' 14/01/2021  8:30 בבוקר


Even if you can't join us, it's worth visiting the archeological park/site of the Biblical Shiloh. There's lots to see and do for all ages. For more information: 02-5789122, visit@telshilo.org.il.




Wednesday, December 16, 2020

FROM THE FOUR CORNERS, A Book Review

 


Emunah Vered Murray's collection of stories, some short memoirs, about converts FROM THE FOUR CORNERS: INSPIRING STORIES OF CONVERTS TO JUDAISM is truly an inspiring book. Each of the people included in her book has a very special and unique story. And there are so many other equally compelling converts to Torah Judaism that Murray can compile more volumes in a never ending series. 

As someone born Jewish to a non-observant family who took on a life of Torah and Mitzvot, I've always considered converts to Judaism on an amazingly high level of righteousness. When I think of the opposition and incredulous reactions I had faced from family and friends, imagine what someone born as a non-Jew accepting Judaism must face just blows my mind away. To me everyone who converts to Torah Judaism is a brave hero to have persevered. 

I've never met most of the people included in this anthology, but two stand out as people I know well, my neighbor and first Tanach (Bible) teacher Rabbi Nissan Ben Avraham and my good friend, though we cheer for different IFL football teams, Ruti Eastman.

Every single one of the people included in this book has a unique and compelling story adding richness to the entire Jewish People. Unlike most any other religion, Judaism discourages converts. A potential convert must convince a rabbinic authority that his/her conversion is totally sincere, without any hidden agenda and that the potential convert has a sincere spiritual need to join the Jewish People. Many converts included in FROM THE FOUR CORNERS and others I know have gone through various stages and "versions" of Judaism before they became Torah Observant (called Orthodox in the USA) Jews. In many cases there are seemingly insurmountable obstacles, which they manage to conquer on their path to Judaism. 

Read FROM THE FOUR CORNERS and get to know the extraordinary people who  work in a vast variety of fields from music to Torah to Mathematics and all in-between. They include men, women, young and old. All but one live here in Israel. There's no way to stereotype or generalize about the various converts included in this book except for their love of Judaism and sincerity. 

Buy FROM THE FOUR CORNERS for yourself and others. It makes the perfect gift and is available from Pomeranz Books online and in Jerusalem, plus Amazon.

Product details

  • Publisher : Independently published (December 10, 2020)
  • Language: : English
  • Paperback : 298 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1674122527
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1674122526

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Elections? Here We Go Again or Not?



Those of you who know me know that I just can't lie about things. To be honest, I think that Bibi, who's a few months my junior, should retire gracefully. I don't mind having elections, but first Bibi Netanyahu must retire and schedule primaries in the Likud.

Of course, Bibi must not compete. Whoever wins the Likud primaries will be its candidate for Prime Minister, #1 on its list. 

The other political parties, plus some new ones of course-- as this is Israel, will put together their lists hoping that their #1 will have a chance for the top job. And other parties will just hope to pass the minimum needed to get Knesset seats. 

Both before and after elections there will be wheeling and dealing as political parties try to gather enough MKs to craft a viable ruling coalition. 

That's how it's supposed to work. The problem is that it hasn't worked well for years. We've had too many elections that resulted in chaos rather than a ruling coalition. A few months ago when Netanyahu finally put together the most unwieldy coalition ever, it proved to be a total and utter disaster. He offered the world to Blue and White's Benny Gantz, who along with Gabi Ashkenazi, broke away from Yair Lapid. Almost everyone of their MKs got important positions as ministers, while veteran Likud loyalists were left with empty plates. Yemina's Naftali Bennett, who had pledged his party's loyalty to Likud's coalition  and had worked well in various positions when there was no coalition, was treated really badly. So Bennett went into the opposition.

Gantz and Netanyahu, the two Benjamins, Benny and Bibi, did not get along at all. The coalition turned out to be a non-functional nightmare.

I've also lost track of how many "Corona Tsars" there have been since Naftali Bennett's great success in keeping Israel's numbers of COVID/Corona victims amazingly low. The regulations make no sense in most cases. I can't understand how ridiculous they are. 

At this point the process to disband the government isn't yet over. Maybe Bibi will pull something out of his hat. Stay tuned for the next episode...

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Bennett-Bibi Parallels to Kings David and Saul

Tonight on tv, Israel's Chanel 11, I watched מהצד השני Mehatzad Hasheini "On The Other Hand" with Guy Zohar.


Guy Zohar picks a few issues each program and gives his own spin. Tonight he talked about something he thought peculiar. Naftali Bennett, head of the Yamin Hachadash (New Right) Party, a name I really don't like, though their platform is good, refuses to say that he's campaigning for the position of Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Of course, it's clear that he is, and he is doing very well in the polls under the question "Who should be the Prime Minister of the State of Israel?" For the longest time number two after PM Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu was "none of the above," and now Bennett is well ahead of all competitors and closing in on Netanyahu. His biggest problem is that we don't vote for Prime Minister, we only vote for party Knesset lists, and the party that does the best gets first crack at trying to form a coalition which will be headed by its number one.

Zohar showed clips, almost ad nauseum of New Right's Ayelet Shaked and Matan Kahane saying that Bennett is best suited to be Israel's next Prime Minister. He seemed to find that rather strange. I guess that Guy Zohar isn't familiar with the Tanach, Bible. 

This Bennett-Bibi scenario as presented by Zohar immediately reminded me of King David while King Saul was still alive and ruling. No matter what King Saul did against David, which included trying to murder him, David held back his followers from harming King Saul. Even though Samuel the Prophet had already anointed him, David insisted that he would never harm the king. And Bennett keeps saying that no elections are happening right now, so Bennett is not campaigning against Netanyahu to replace him as Prime Minister.

As I've said many times, as rocky as the present coalition is, the two main components Likud and Blue and White are both terrified of elections, since their leaders know very well that they've lost popular support. That's the glue holding the Bibi-Gantz government together. The political party showing most improvement in the polls is Bennett's New Right.

This is very much a three way competition. Gantz has no real chance to form a ruling coalition on his own. Bibi's attacks on Bennett over the years, even though he did give him good positions in his last interim government, also parallels King Saul's treatment of David. Even when trying to kill David, King Saul would sometimes order him to come and calm him with sweet music.

David eventually became King of the Jewish People and Land. I wouldn't dare try to predict who will be the true successor to Bibi Netanyahu. It may take a few short terms by successors until a new strong leader takes the helm.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Rosh Chodesh Prayers, Tevet 5781, Save The Date


This morning I walked down to Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh to meet friends for our Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers. 

Next month Rosh Chodesh Tevet will be Wednesday December 16, 8:30am.

 תפילת נשים בשילה הקדומה ראש חודש טבת, יום ד', תשפ"א, 16\12\2020 8:30 בבוקר מוזמנות 

Save the date and join us.

Shiloh Hakeduma is a wonderful archeological park with all sorts of activities for all ages. It's open every day except Shabbat and Jewish Holidays. 

Contact the office for more information. 02-5789122, visit@telshilo.org.il There should be special activities during Chanuka. 

Yes, this is the real Shiloh, where the Tabernacle stood for close to four hundred years, and Chana prayed for a son.






Tuesday, November 10, 2020

American Election Results- Was There Cheating?


I've never voted in American Elections. When we made aliyah, moved to Israel, twenty-one 21 was the voting age. I was twenty-one, but there was no way I was going to wait around in New York another couple of months just to vote. So I never did. But I've always made every effort to vote in Israeli Elections.

Voting laws are different in Israel. First of all we have Identity Cards with photos, and you can't vote without showing yours. Your name/number is marked off when you come to vote. You can only vote in your assigned voting station, with very few exceptions. There are no overseas/mail or any other way of voting, except for active soldiers and diplomatic staff. Those ballots are double or triple packed with all ID information listed. They can't be counted until all other votes have been tallied. Then the ID numbers on the outside envelopes are checked with the IDs which had been listed as voted in the various voting stations. If that number is listed as having voted, the ballot is declared invalid. Cheating is possible, but difficult. Also voting laws are the same in every city/locality, so all citizens have equal rights.

It is very different in America. The United States does not have picture IDs. Apparently, states and even cities have their own different voting laws and regulations, so all citizens aren't equal, no equal voting rights. There are even locations which declare that it's illegal to demand identification. Cheating is easy, and that can't be refuted. And anyone who thinks that there's no cheating is naïve at best.

IMHO for the United States to have any semblance of fair elections, the entire process must be overhauled, including the introduction of picture Identity Cards. And voting laws should be national, not local laws. That's the only way all citizens will have equal rights.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Exploring Local Shopping Center aka Shiloh Industrial Zone

About a mile from my house, downhill, is the "Aizor Ta'asi'ah," Shiloh Industrial Zone, which also has all sorts of stores. I hadn't been there for a couple of years, since we shop in the supermarket closer to our home. We also don't have a car, so although walking down is easy, walking up is another story. But this week, just before the rains began, a neighbor and I decided to do our walk down there to look around. She drove over, and then she drove me back up. 

Besides the more industrial carpentry shop and aluminum door/window place and the large hardware/building supply place, there are stores. There's a supermarket, discount toy, crafts, miscellaneous store like the old time "five and dime." We discovered a barber shop, shoe shop and other businesses that have closed down. There's a state of the art fitness center, which is closed until the government decides otherwise; the owner was there, so we stepped in to look around. There's even a very attractive store that sells wall tiles, bathroom fixtures and faucets. I'd like to take a better look when we redo our bathrooms. Not everything was open, because of the lockdown. 

The Shiloh Industrial Zone can be easily accessed from Highway 60; turn off to Shiloh.

Here are some photos.

















Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Sort of Locked-down Jerusalem, Corona COVID Life

Yesterday I escaped to Jerusalem for a few hours. To be honest, it's rather risky. For me, my age makes me one of those who should be avoiding people. And in terms of corona COVID statistics, Shiloh is much, much greener/safer than Israel's Capital Jerusalem. But I'd been home for over a month and a half. To say I was going stir crazy is no exaggeration. As "jails" go, Shiloh may be rather benevolent and friendly, but waking outside, zooming with friends and family, facebook, whatsapp etc just aren't enough. 

Following are photos, some with captions of sorts to illustrate what I found in the Holy City of Jerusalem.

Body language says it all. 

No eye contact. People are masked in more ways than one. No unnecessary touching of anything. It's like we're all within our personal portable jails, even when on the lightrail.

Depending on where you're looking, life looks almost normal, but for after 10am too many stores are totally shuttered.

With typical Israeli ingenuity, these fabric and notion stores are trying to sell their wares. Those who know how to sew are the lucky ones, because clothing stores were boarded up. 

Shopping for fabric required explaining to the sales staff what you wanted, choosing and then "ordering" for immediate "delivery." I discovered that many storeowners adopted this method of sales, as if they were pizza or felafel places.
Very lonely Jerusalem street with most stores totally shut until the government allows them to open.
Even some shoe stores have adopted the immediate order/delivery system, though I presume they permit people to try on their shoes first.

I just can't imagine buying shoes I haven't tried on. My feet and body are just too unique and delicate to trust online shoe shopping.
I almost bought a few packs of these gorgeous masks, but then I ran into a good friend who told me that she bought the same ones much more cheaply in Rami Levi. I must find someone to buy me some pretty colored masks there.

One thing for sure, disposable masks have dropped dramatically in price.
Prices have dropped, but the stores are locked. I guess you can order online, but I like to see and touch items first. That's how I judge quality.

Just in case those trying to get into the main post office have no idea of what two meters, aka social distancing, means, there are little boxes on the sidewalk to show you where to stand. 

People were very obedient. It's taking awhile, but Israelis are beginning to accept the concept of physical distancing when downtown doing errands.
After filling my backpack with Israeli craft beer, Shapiro's to be exact, I was overjoyed to discover that HOBBY was "open." Of course "open" meant that customers couldn't enter.
I stuck my head and phone in as far as I could to see the colors of the jersey yarn HOBBY was selling. Then the salesgirl had to bring them to me. 

Not all of them looked the same up close, but I had no time to have her run back and forth the way I would have chosen. Also there were people lined up waiting to "shop." I'm glad to have a new stock of jersey yarn to crochet more bags.

In all honesty, I think that these craft, sewing notions and fabric stores should be open the public just like pharmacies are. For many of us crafts are valuable medical tools, occupational therapy. And this is a great time to teach children these wonderful arts and crafts instead of their just using computer apps to make "works of art."

Gd willing corona COVID will disappear quickly, and everyone should be healthy and healed. Let this lockdown nightmare be quickly over. 

I'm glad to have accomplished a lot in my Jerusalem escape. And in case you're wondering, I ate nothing while there, but I walked a lot.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Save The Date: Rosh Chodesh Kislev


Chances are that Rosh Chodesh Kislev will be colder than Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan was. And Gd willing we'll have already been blessed by a nice rainfall or two or more by then. But whether we'll need to equip ourselves with coats, umbrellas or whatever's... we'll still need to mask up. 

The world has changed, but the Jewish Calendar hasn't. We're still governed by the moon's cycles, adjusted periodically so holidays will fall in the correct seasons. There's nothing more amazing than the Jewish Calendar which has rooted us to the Land of Israel, even during millennia of exile. I consider our ancient/modern calendar the unmistakable proof that the Land of Israel is the true home for the Jewish People. Our religion/calendar revolves around the seasons in the Land of Israel.

Rosh Chodesh Kislev falls in early winter. I keep track of Rosh Chodesh, because of our Women's Prayers at Tel Shiloh, Shiloh Hakeduma. This year:

Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers, Tel Shiloh

Tuesday, 1st of Kislev 17-11-2020, 8:30am

For more information shilohmuse@gmail.com

תפילת נשים שילה הקדומה

יום ג', א' כסלו תש"פ 8:30

לפרטים נוספים shilohmuse@gmail.com 

Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh is a stunning archeological site, the location of the Biblical Tabernacle. Tours can be arranged for the entire family, all ages. 02-5789122 visit@telshilo.org.il 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Simchat Torah in Stereo Plus

Eleven years ago I didn't celebrate Simchat Torah. It was the Jewish year 5770 I had rushed to New York to bring my elderly father to Israel. The holidays fell like this one, 5781, with Succot beginning on Shabbat and Simchat Torah the following Shabbat in Israel and Sunday in New York. I kept thinking of that crazy time yesterday as I could simultaneously hear the prayers of two, and sometimes three different outdoor prayer groups near my house. Yes, stereo plus.

Perched in my "private row of seats" by my front door I could usually hear most words very clearly from the outdoor minyan (prayer group) in the park across the street and the sounds of the prayers from where our neighborhood synagogue was praying behind our house. Sitting in our livingroom I could hear much of the prayers across the street and sometimes even some of the praying even further away.

Photo of the outdoor minyan prayers in the park across the street, taken on Succot Chol Hamoed, when permitted.
But the stereo plus, three different outdoor prayer prayer groups could be heard very clearly when I went to hear the Yizkor* prayer behind my house. The Yemenite minyan was praying outside on the other side of our synagogue building very loudly. So I heard them, our prayer leader and the prayers from the park. 

Simchat Torah was full of songs and prayers in the air.

Our neighborhood has so many outdoor prayer groups; it's amazing. I think that more people are praying together than ever before. We're in lockdown, so few people have to rush to work or school. I really enjoy that the sounds of prayers fill my house.

We have turned life of lemons into lemonade.

*Yizkor is the prayer said for the dead on certain Jewish Holidays.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Rule of The Streets/Mobs/Demonstrations Anti-Democratic and Very Problematic

I was born and grew up in the United States and came to age in the 1960s when anyone how cared about an issue demonstrated in the streets, sidewalks or wherever we could, generally with police permits. I chose Jewish causes, Israel and freeing Soviet Jewry. I even met my husband at a SSSJ Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry demonstration. Most of my peers in public high school demonstrated for Civil Rights for black Americans. While some states technically had the same laws for all citizens, other states treated Negros, as they were called then, as second class citizens, not even allowing them to practice all their rights. 

One thing our demonstrations had in common were that we cared about issues. The idea that one could dare protest/complain about the results of elections, like the recent Not My President protests in the USA, or try to replace an elected official by shouting in the streets was unimaginable. I had been taught that such a thing would be illegal, immoral and anti-democratic going against the principles of due process or electoral system. When a mob aka demonstration demands that only their political opinion is correct certainly is not democratic.

When you live in a democracy, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Sometimes you're happy with the results, and sometimes you're not. You may even be very upset and think your fellow citizens are WRONG or insane, but that's life. You may even think the law should have prevented someone from holding office, but you're not the law. Even if you and your friends are all convinced that someone shouldn't be in office, street demonstrations aren't the way to change leadership. There are laws, electoral process.

I'm no fan of Bibi Netanyahu, and I don't think that I've ever voted Likud, but those demonstrators out every night near the Prime Minister's residence don't represent me. In a very biblical Korach* way, they're just saying "no" to Bibi as Prime Minister, and their leadership is not revealing whom they want as PM. 

That's because saying "NOT BIBI" can get a bigger mob than touting Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid or some other name they haven't had the guts to pull out of their hat. A big reason is because the polls are very clear. Bibi Netanyahu is still number one when people are asked:

Whom do you prefer as Prime Minister of Israel? 

Number two in the polls is Naftali Bennett, and the fiscal funders (follow the money) of these demonstrations dread Bennett even more than they dislike Bibi. I heard one of the leaders on TV complaining about that. The ultimate aim of the protests is to put one of "their people" in as Prime Minister, and they see it a failure that davka Naftali Bennett of Yemina is rising in the polls. 

For years the anit-Bibi leadership has been looking for a figurehead from the Left to galvanize the Israeli public and succeed him as Prime Minister. It hasn't happened for two reasons:

  • There just isn't anyone from the Left capable of leading a Center-Left party and attracting enough votes to knock Likud out of the running.
  • Getting lots of Knesset Members voted in does not guarantee its party leader becoming Prime Minister. Tsippi Livni as head of Kadima preceded Gantz as a losing winner. 
Crafting/negotiating a coalition is a skill, apparently more complicated and difficult than getting votes. That's why we needed three elections in such a short time. The present coalition is the most chaotic and dis-united ever. The only reason the two main parties haven't divorced is that their leaderships are terrified of new elections. That's the one thing they agree on.

Back to those demonstrations. 
  • Only elections can change the government,
  • Only internal Likud primaries can change the leadership in Likud.
  • The street isn't where prime ministers are chosen in a democracy.
A few thousand people chanting in the streets or even tens of thousands chanting in the streets can't and shouldn't have the power to change a government. And it's immoral to even think they can do so. They should follow legal process and the electoral system. Politics is a profession demanding many skills. If they want to change the leadership, they must use the electoral system not loud speakers. 

Photo by Rachel Brynien, Used With Permission
For the first time, tonight's demonstration was set up with chairs for social distancing. Previous demonstrations were crowded, as one can see in newspaper reports and TV news. 

For more of my Korach posts click here.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Forget "Herd Immunity," "Swedish Model," It's Evil

Israelis who don't like the idea of wearing a mask and keeping "social distance" to avoid contracting or spreading coronavirus/COVID tout the "Herd Immunity," "Swedish Model." Unfortunately they're ignoring the truth. It's evil.  "Herd Immunity," "Swedish Model" is just a benign sounding euphemism for Survival of the Fittest, or killing off the weak.

They see the financial ramification of this policy is "good," because it eliminates the physically weaker members of society. The old and weak are the people who will get sick and die much earlier. 

The higher the average age in a country the more vulnerable its financial stability. They have fewer young productive earners supporting the needs of the elderly and medically vulnerable. Allowing a pandemic to rage "eliminates" those who will be costing the country large sums over the years.

Thank Gd Israeli politicians, as rotten as they may seem at times, have been trying to protect the elderly and weak.

I just hope and pray that ordinary Israelis will be willing to keep their masks on and follow the other guidelines to keep us all safe and healthy. Please remember that even previously healthy people have died or become infirm from corona/COVID, not just the obviously vulnerable.


Monday, August 31, 2020

Celebrating Fifty 50 Years in Israel, Part 2

Yes, I was pregnant that first year in Israel, and before the
year was up, we became parents.
Many of you have been asking for more of my stories about our early days in Israel, fifty 50 years ago. So here goes...

If you've walked to the Kotel from Jaffa Gate, or reverse direction, by following the inside of the city walls, you'll recognize where I'm standing.

Living in the Old City of Jerusalem, which wasn't referred to as the Rova Yehudi, Jewish Quarter, in those days was thrilling. It was both a tourist site and building site.

Some days we'd open the door of  our home the Maon Betar, corner of Rechov Plugat Hakotel and Rechov Hayehudim and discover it blocked off by swarms of tourists. Once some tourists got all excited to see us, because they were friends of my parents and had promised to look for us.

Another day, when I was already close to my due date with our first child, I discovered that the pathway had been dug up, and it was a deep drop to the planks of wood that had replaced it. I closed the door and turned around. That was the end of my shopping, or I had thought. One of the guys living in Maon Betar insisted it was safe and helped me down. Later that day when he stepped down, the wooden plank broke. I'm so grateful I hadn't fallen; I would have needed the Emergency Room.

The photo on the left is from a few weeks after we had docked. If you look carefully you'll notice that my jaw is a bit swollen. No I wasn't hit.

About half way through our voyage to Israel, I began feeling what I suspected was an impacted wisdom tooth. I was in terrible pain. Our table mates in the dining area gave me a bottle of strong booze and instructed me in simple pain control. I'd dampen some cotton with the booze and keep it where the pain was. It got me through the rest of the boat ride.

Soon after we docked, we began inquiring about top notch dental care. While today's Israeli dentists are on a high level, fifty years ago, the situation wasn't as good, to put it mildly. A friend possibly Emanuel "Adam" Hanegbi, the father of Tzachi Hanegbi ,or David Federman, the father of Noam Federman, recommended that I go to Hadassa Hospital in Ein Kerem which had a dental clinic considered the most modern in the country.  They agreed with my guess; it was an impacted wisdom tooth. That's where I had it operated on. When the surgery was over, I was told to keep ice on my jaw. The only problem was that I didn't have any ice. So when we got off the bus we asked for some in a restaurant. And when we got back to the Old City, we got more from our neighbor Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Segal.

These two photos are from our first Chanuka. The guys in the Maon Betar took the mitzvah of pirsum haness, publicizing the miracle very seriously. With the help of cans and kerosene thy lit up an "impromptu" Chanukiya (menorah) using the rooftop domes of our building.

Further installments will get harder, because I don't have too many photographs.

I'd love to hear your reactions to these stories.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Yes, Things are a Mess Here

Blogger is having some sort of age crises and has decided to make major changes. The graphics/layout that has kept me happy for years has gone demented or to the "next world." I've just wasted tons of time trying to restore it all, but for nought. AKA yes, I've failed.

At the present this is the best I can do.

BLOGGERS WE MUST UNITE IN PROTEST

I don't have any more patience for this. It's just a "blog," not major heath, life/death whatever.

No real surprise that they've chosen a time when we're masked, almost gagged.


Gd willing, I'll soon be laughing about it. Yes, this blogger mess should be my biggest problem.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine- Book Review

"Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine- The Journey of an Unstoppable Woman" by Jodi Samuels is a very unique memoir. Samuels tells honestly of her life, a journey full of surprise turns. Think of buying a ticket to an unknown destination on a route full of surprises. No doubt that in another decade or so, Jodi Samuels will treat us to Part 2. I'm looking forward to more of her adventures.

Jodi Samuels pulls no punches when describing her background. Her conventional Jewish South African childhood wasn't what you'd expect for a Jerusalemite, who routinely entertains dozens of disparate guests, including strangers, at Shabbat meals, travels the world beyond frugally, while strictly observing Shabbat and kashrut. Simultaneously she is an adventurous serial entrepreneur and has established a number of international charities. Samuels is also a wife and mother; one of her children has Downs, which requires even more of her time and effort.

No doubt you've heard the adage:
If you want something done, ask a busy person.
And since, Jodi Samuels is beyond busy, she gets much more done than the few sic things I've mentioned.

Jodi Samuels and her husband didn't take the simple aliyah route my husband and I did from hometown chuppah to Israel. They first lived in some of the most out of the way locations in Australia, where her purification "dips" in the mikvah had to be daytime on deserted beaches. Not even Chabad could provide something better. From there they ended up in the polar opposite sort of location, the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In between "breaths" Samuels travels; she visited forty foreign countries before the birth of her first child. Samuels and her husband now have three children. Two of her tricks are sleeping very little and making lists.

I can't do Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine justice; it's exhausting just trying to list Samuels' accomplishments. You must read the book yourself and give it as gifts. It's inspiring; Jodie Samuels is truly inspiring!

 Israel sales: Jodisvoice.com

Amazon Product details:

Buying via Amazon, click here.
  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Emek Valley Press (June 30, 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9655992640
  • ISBN-13: 978-9655992649
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)

Monday, August 10, 2020

Celebrating Fifty 50 Years in Israel, Part 1


I've chosen this photo to head my celebratory post, because it's "dreamy," and for me life in Israel, the Holy Land is definitely living a dream.     
next to the boat
next to the ship
                                                                                          

Some of you may have read my husband's post about our aliyah, move to Israel,  Fifty Years to Our Aliyah.   I promised friends and family my version of the story. My "version" isn't to disparage my husband's. It's just that everyone knows that we all remember things slightly, or sometimes not quite "slightly," differently. Each perspective adds to the richness and accuracy.

Neither my husband nor I come from  a Zionist family. Not only wasn't the idea of moving to Israel an ideal we were raised with, but the idea was never even mentioned. My Uncle Izzy had been one of the American volunteers on the pre-state ships defying the British bringing Holocaust survivors to the Holy Land, but he didn't talk about it at all. 

It was only after a few years of my being a member and office holder in NCSY-National Conference of Synagogue Youth and a prominent activist in SSSJ-Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry that a high school friend, Dennis Avi Lipkin, introduced me to the concept/ideology of "aliyah-moving to Israel, the Holy Land, the Land of Israel." Dennis brought me to a Betar Zionist Youth Movement meeting, and I was hooked. 

The more I had learned about American History, the more I was convinced that the United States was a Christian country. I wanted to live as a true Jew in the Jewish State. Aliyah was the perfect solution. My time during my final high school year was split between becoming more Torah Observant, campaigning to rescue Soviet Jewry from the communists and preparing myself for life in Israel. As you may well imagine, that left little time for studies. I even skipped my GNN'67 graduation, because it was interfered with NCSY National Convention. Priorities!

Betar prides itself on being welcoming to all Jewish youth, regardless of their religious observance or not. I quickly imagined that a religious Betari would be just perfect for me, although during that first year as a member, nobody seemed to fit the bill. The following summer, between high school graduation and the beginning of my studies in YU's Stern College for Women, I attended SSSJ's "Fast-In for Soviet Jewry" on the Tisha B'Av fast. That's where I met  "Winkie" who is today known officially as Yisrael Medad and is now my husband. He had just returned from a year in Israel.

Just under three years after we had met for the first time, we got married and two months later we boarded the Greek Lines Anna Maria along with over five hundred others making aliyah to Israel, the Jewish Holy Land. We were all set to live the dream.

with family, our bon voyage party
our bon voyage party, with family

Family and friends accompanied us onto the ship for a rousing bon voyage party. We were full of smiles, though not all the family felt the same. We had made the arrangements, and even had a job lined up. It was a fait accompli for sure. Fifty years down the road we are still in Israel, as are our children and grandchildren.

We weren't the only ones traveling on the Anna Marie to begin new lives as Israelis in Israel. Over five hundred other Jews were with us. Besides friends and family wishing all of us a bon voyage, there were news crews. I was interviewed for a television news show. I remember explaining that as a Jew I needed to live in a Jewish country not a Christian one. Our families reported that they featured me and my answer on TV.

For close to two weeks we enjoyed the vacation facilities, three meals a day, movies and entertainment on the ship. They provided lots of kosher food. Not only was there a separate kosher dining room, but a sizable section of the main dining room had been roped off for kosher food only. We were assigned to a table in the main dining room which we shared with a family moving to Jerusalem. 

There were a few other newlywed couples, pre-children, like ourselves, and we enjoyed their company. Towards the end of the "cruise" there were two stops, Lisbon and Piraeus, so we got to tour a bit. Finally we docked in Haifa Port after Shabbat, September 5, 1970.

Jewish Agency and government Aliyah clerks boarded the ship to register us as "Israelis." There were also journalists excited to write write up the historical unprecedentedly large aliyah from the USA. In addition we were greeted by a young New York Betari, Barry Liben, who was on the program my husband had been on four years earlier. Barry had been entrusted with the responsibility of finding us accommodations for our first night together in Israel. He joined us on the special bus to Jerusalem and then snuck us into the dormitories of Machon Limadrechei Chutz L'Aretz, where he was studying. Barry had convinced one the of the girls to give me a bed and my husband was in his room. A few years later, Barry married my husband's cousin and built a thriving travel business

hanging laundry, Maon Betar
hanging laundry in Maon Betar

The job we had was actually in my husband's name. He was the dorm counselor/director of the Maon Betar in the Old City of Jerusalem. Residents were university students, singles and special cases... 

We were given a one bedroom apartment with minimal kitchen and furnishings. It didn't have a washing machine, and I'd fill the bathtub with laundry, which I washed by hand. Then I'd hang it on the unfinished terrace. After a few months the terrace was closed off and roofed. So my husband began hanging it on the domed roof of the building, which puzzled the Arab women who hung their wet laundry on the neighboring roof tops. 

I think this post is long enough as an "introduction" or part 1. Gd willing, I'll write more in the future about our first year in Israel as Israelis.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Tikkun Olam: ISRAEL VS COVID 19, Book Review

Tikkun Olam: ISRAEL VS COVID 19: How is One of the Planet's Smallest Countries Helping to Tackle the World's Biggest Challenge? by Jodie Cohen is headed with: "Tikkun Olam." I found the book fascinating, but I wonder if Tikkun Olam was the true impetus for the early successes of Israeli start-ups and science/medical researchers in the "fight against" corona virus aka COVID 19.

Tikkun Olam literally means "repairing the world."
Tikkun Olam: In Jewish teachings, any activity that improves the world, bringing it closer to the harmonious state for which it was created.
Tikkun olam implies that while the world is innately good, its Creator purposely left room for us to improve upon His work.
All human activities are opportunities to fulfill this mission, and every human being can be involved in tikkun olam—child or adult, student or entrepreneur, industrialist or artist, caregiver or salesperson, political activist or environmentalist, or just another one of us struggling to keep afloat.
Tikkun Olam is a popular label, rationale. Many Jews of all persuasions tend to adopt/embrace philosophies, politics, visions and aims far removed from Traditional Jewish Values, label them as "Tikkun Olam" and then promote them as if Gd commanded. That's why I try to avoid that label.

As Israeli medical researchers and scientists quickly rushed into Olympic finals for innovations and cures to banish the dangers of COVID 19, I think it was more the pragmatic A Cure Needs to be Found and the innately Israeli competitive instinct We Must Win or We Die rather than Tikkun Olam. Don't forget that Israel's medical industry is a big money-maker, and you make more money when you're first.

Sorry for this negative sounding introduction. It's not to put down all that amazing facts listed in Jodie Cohen's Tikkun Olam: ISRAEL VS COVID 19: How is One of the Planet's Smallest Countries Helping to Tackle the World's Biggest Challenge?

Tikkun Olam: ISRAEL VS COVID 19: How is One of the Planet's Smallest Countries Helping to Tackle the World's Biggest Challenge? tells the stories behind the scenes in the quest to find cures. Cohen also mentions various Israeli organizations that help people all over the world in numbers and effectiveness far beyond our small numbers. This unique combination of competition, "do-gooding," improvisation and risk-taking is very much the Israeli persona.

Having spent half a century living in Israel, we made aliyah (moved here) as newlyweds, I take Israel's success as "normal." To me, the rest of the world suffers some sort of "disability," and that includes the Jews who still reside there.

I recommend ISRAEL VS COVID 19: How is One of the Planet's Smallest Countries Helping to Tackle the World's Biggest Challenge? because I like to brag about the great things we're doing here in Israel. And even more, it's food for thought, definitely not limited to a dry science report.

When thinking of Israel as a "start-up nation," it's important to examine the wide range of patents and breakthroughs Israelis can be credited with. This information, as of June, 2020, will be found in  ISRAEL VS COVID 19: How is One of the Planet's Smallest Countries Helping to Tackle the World's Biggest Challenge?

Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Minterne (June 12, 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9655992217
  • ISBN-13: 978-9655992212
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)