Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Har Menuchot, Givat Shaul, Jerusalem, Walls of Graves

Yesterday I was at a funeral in Har Menuchot, Givat Shaul, Jerusalem. Unlike the usual noontime summer funeral, we didn't bake in the heat, nor get sunburned. After the ceremony in the airconditioned hall, we got into vehicles and traveled to the newly constructed graves.


 Yes, constructed; it's a building with wide, long corridors decorated by graves stacked four high. 


Each wall is labeled/coded to indicate which floor, section and level, so that the grave can be easily located. Yes, these are today's and tomorrow's graves. People can still request and pay more for an outdoor grave in more natural dirt, rather than the soil added by the Chevra Kadisha, but in a small country like Israel, where land is limited and expensive, these graves make more sense. If you believe in ecology and "saving the earth and natural resources," this type of cemetery is what you should request for yourself.


While walking down the long corridor, following a friend to her "final resting place," I couldn't stop mentioning how lovely it looks. As you can see in the photos, people have found ways to decorate and individualize the plaques. 

The older "stacked" section of Har Menuchot, Givat Shaul, Jerusalem is much less attractive. They remind me of "office drawers" in some archive. But this new section is actually lovely in the way that the Military Cemetery in Mount Herzl is attractive, though this one is indoors and Mount Herzl is a well-tended garden.


Apparently the administration of Har Menuchot, Givat Shaul, Jerusalem is constructing kilometers of buildings like these instead of wasting the Holy Land on the dead rather than the living.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Thankfully Not All Israelis Embarrassed Themselves Over Biden's Visit

Everyone who heard that I would be in Jerusalem today thought I had lost my mind; even I had doubts. But since cousins were in from the states, and this was their only day...

Why was this considered a ridiculous irresponsible day to be in Jerusalem?

Street closings for the Biden visit were expected to wreck havoc in Jerusalem. Well, that may have been true in some neighborhoods, but not the routes I and my cousins would be taking to meet each other. 

Israel always goes overboard when top American officials show up, and I'm not just talking about closing major roads and highways. Prime Minister Lapid and President Herzog were smiling so broadly, you'd think they just won the lottery, Nobel Peace Prize and had been crowned Kings of The World.

The so-called pundits on television stupidly took Biden's speech seriously confusing a "speech" with policy. Every time an American President comes they make the same idiotic mistake, and that includes the visits of Clinton, the Bushes and even Obama. Each president, no matter how little they think of Israel comes armed with an amazing pro-Israel speech. And each time we hear the same dumb commentary by pundits and reporters who think that these "I love Israel" speeches are actual policy. It's all cosmetics, like hair dye and plastic surgery.  

The young and memory challenged in the media either forgot or never knew and didn't research that it was davka Biden who was nasty to then Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Besides that, the United States has never really supported the State of Israel when we were in danger. To be honest, I don't care, since Gd's help from our prayers is what we really need. I'd just prefer that our government officials understand it, besides not making up stories about "friendship." We're not allies. We can't rely on the USA. The State Department makes real policy there. Donald Trump overrode it in favor of Israel, consistently going against State Department demands. That's a major reason why he is so hated in Washington DC. But that's another story.

Davka, today I walked through both the Arab shuq in the Old City and the Machaneh Yehuda Market besides taking the lightrail. 




It was business as usual in the Jerusalem I visited. There was no sign of the Biden visit until I got on the bus going home, and the driver was listening to the radio. But I don't pick fights with the bus drivers... I just took out my book and read it.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Shmitta 5782 Berry Picking at Bikurei Shilo


Moriah Rapaport Shapiro is seen here talking
to our group about Shmitta and the story of the 
picking farm Bikurei Shilo.
Shmitta, The Sabbatical of the Land comes every seven years, parallel or similar to our Holy Shabbat Sabbath which is every seven days. The big difference is that while Shabbat is required for all Jews in all parts of the world, and even universe, shmitta is only for those fruits and vegetables grown in the Land of Israel on Jewish owned Land.

During our two thousand years of exile, when Jews weren't working or owning the Land, shmitta became an unobserved and unknown mitzvah, even more so than the Mitzvot only observed in the Holy Temple. 

Shmitta only became relevant again when Zionist pioneers began farming in the Land of Israel. Rabbis, Jewish landowners and farmers-- many who weren't Torah observant have been struggling for well over a century to find ways to faithfully observe the mitzvah without damaging the economy. A few years ago, I reviewed a fascinating book about how the pioneers of Mazkeret Batya struggled for the rights to strictly observe shmitta, Rebels in the Holy Land, The Story of Mazkeret Batya.

Before we were allowed to pick the fruit, blueberries and raspberries, Moriah explained to us the history of the "farm" and psak, Torah decisions it's basing its shmitta practice. The fruit which is now ripening is the holy seventh 7th year fruit, so it can be eaten but not wasted. Any which must be thrown out is put in special receptacles, which they will handle later.

After the talk, we were each given a small container and set off to pick the fruit. The blueberries are delicious, a real treat. We got a lot of exercising while picking, since the ripe ones were low down on the bushes. There were very few raspberries ripe for the picking when we were there. Later in the season there will also be blackberries, Gd willing.

For more information on when to visit, open Sunday-Friday except for Jewish holidays, contact 0527966630. Bikurei Shilo is at the western side of the Shilo Junction and can be reached by car or bus. Individuals, families and groups are welcome. Their facebook page is in Hebrew, but you can message them in English. 

You can arrange tours and shmitta explanations in Hebrew and/or English for families and groups. Other activities are "tractoron" tours among the vineyards, bows & arrows, blow up playground activities, pitta baking, arts & crafts and more. Give them a call.

Besides the picking fruit, they sell all sorts of snacks including an "ice pop" made of their own fruit, which is absolutely delicious. There's also a playground for children.

We had a wonderful time, highly recommended for all ages.