Sunday, June 16, 2013
Jerusalem songs - those songs which evoke such longing for the Holy City, sung by those of us who languish in the gap between Jerusalem Above and Jerusalem Belong - are part of my soul, my Jewish Neshama, and part of yours as well if you're a Jew, no matter where you are - Jerusalem, or anywhere else in the world.
Songs and compositions about Jerusalem have expressed the Jews' longing for their holy city for thousands of years. Although King David's Psalms did not mention Jerusalem often by its name, his imagery offers some of the earliest-known poetry that relates to the capitol of the Jewish nation and people.
Specific early references to Jerusalem occur in Divrei HaYamim -- Chronicles I -- which records David's purchase of Har HaBayit. Samuel 6:5 and Psalm 122 capture the majesty of the time when King David brought the Aaron -- the Ark of the Covenant -- to Jerusalem and housed it on Har HaMoriah in a tent.
David's son, King Solomon, built the first Temple in Jerusalem, referenced the city continuously in his Song of Songs. In Shir HaShirim -- Song of Songs -- he wrote "I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and by the hinds of the field, that you awaken not, nor arouse love, until it pleases."
Perhaps the most famous literary reference to ancient Jerusalem is recorded in Psalm 137 "by the rivers of Babylon" . When the Babylonian captors asked the Jews to 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion' the Jews responded "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my chief joy." This quote continues to be a traditional part of all Jewish wedding ceremonies till today.
Poetry and imagery of Jerusalem continued to dominate the literature of the Jewish diaspora throughout the years of dispersion and exile. Yehuda HaLevi, in his 12th century poems, wrote of the Jewish nation's yearning to return to Jerusalem. "Beautiful land, delight of the world, city of Kings, my heart longs for you from the far-off west."
Early settlers in Ottoman and British Mandatory Palestine continued the tradition of including Jerusalem in their poetic literature. Hayim Nachman Bialik referenced Jerusalem repeatedly in his works. Naftali Imber published his poem Tikvateinu in 1877. "Our hope is not yet lost, the hope that is two-thousand years old, to be a free nation in our land, the Land of Zion, and Jerusalem." Tikvateinu became the basis for today's Israel national anthem, HaTikva.
An extensive American project, the Lowell Milken Archives, has now begun to collect many historical Jewish songs and compositions which reference Jerusalem as they trace the history and development of the region. While the majority of its work follows the progression of the American Jewish community through its music the Milken Archives also includes music of pre-State and post-State Israel, contributing, as it expands, a vast amount of knowledge and understanding of Israel and Jerusalem's history and maturity. Its founder, Jewish businessman Lowell Milken hopes to raise the spirit of American Jews through this music.
The materials that the Archive has collected examine the lives of early Jewish pioneers who settled throughout the Land of Israel. The Archive's Israel Suite includes specific compositions about Jerusalem that examine the poetry and music that has accompanied the development of the modern, multi-ethnic city.
The Milken Archive contains recordings several early composers. Two works by Julius Chajes, Adarim and Old Jerusalem are featured. These compositions reflect perceptions of early 19th century aliyah until statehood and afterward. They reflect the exotic ambiance of Jerusalem through words and musical elements. Meyer Kupferman's work The Shadows of Jerusalem doesn't mention Jerusalem by name but, in a memorial to the memory of his family that was murdered by the Germans during the Holocaust, he references the symbolism of Jerusalem as the hope for redemption and the symbol of Jewish unity.
The Six Day War inspired some of the most profound and moving pieces about Jerusalem. Naomi Shemer's 1967 Jerusalem of Gold is still recognized today as the premier composition of modern times about the joy and exhilaration that the Jewish people felt at having been reunited with their sacred sites. The Milken Archives presents an additional recording. Canticles for Jerusalem by Vivian Fine is a liturgical composition which was created for mezzo-soprano and piano using Yehuda HaLevi's "Libbi B'Mizrach" as the music's inspiration.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Hence my supposition that Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat whom, up until now has received my full support for his initiatives attempting to bridge the reality gap between "Yerushalyim Lemallah" and "Yerushalyim Lemattah," has fallen into a time vortex (there are at least three of them just in my neighborhood alone!) and become, once again, an 8-year old boy.
Only an 8 year old boy would think it's a great idea to bring a bevy of Formula 1 Race Cars to Jerusalem, the Holy City, for a two-day (including Erev Shabbos!) road race reminiscent of the Long Beach Grand Prix.
Mayor Barkat - I'm FROM Long Beach, I lived there for 13 years prior to moving to Jerusalem in 2007, and let me assure you: Jerusalem is no Long Beach!
Nevertheless, the Jerusalem Formula 1 (dubbed "The Peace Road Show") has come to town, and the entire male population has lost their minds, and find themselves wandering around the Formula 1 car exhibit and the racetrack (sometimes with the sheepish excuse of "taking the kids to see the cars").
Hello - reality check!!! Are we a Formula 1 City - or are we a Formula 613 City? You KNOW the answer, folks! We're SUPPOSED to be "Ir haKodesh," the Holy City, we should be racing to perform the 613 mitzvot not racing to win a trophy.
Maybe it's a mitzvah for a grown man to act like a kid (perhaps that's covered under one of the other mitzvot, like the one commanding us to guard our health - after all, it IS healthy to think young, right?)
Oy, the smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd. Or is that the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd? Either way - it's "A Day at the Races" in Jerusalem, just another Jerusalicious adventure living in the Holy Land.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
The wind is blowing and the muezzins are wailing at the edge of the Judean Hills. O, Jerusalem.
Your gold and pink-tipped dawn entices mornings for a thousand thousand years.
Who are we to press ourselves against the fabric of your eternal skirts, you who clothe yourself in the dawn and throw back the windows of the sky to cry to Heaven ...
Who are we to seek your shelter, your succor, your face?
Day is revealed like a veil removed to kiss the face of G*d
And who can sleep while your children are stirring, crying and calling for the one who binds all beneath her wings?
The voices of your supplicants rise in the morning air
Answered only by another day
Talit and Tefillin, bells and incense, rugs and beads
A cacophony of praise echo and bounce from stone to sky, carried on the breeze...
Each morning before we renew our ancient grudge
We sing of Your One-ness with divided hearts and double minds
Each offering imperfect by the blood it bears.
O Jerusalem, unique one
Your mornings rise upon us all, alike.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Now that pain management is possible I'm balancing my need to be Comfortably Numb with the necessity of being Uncomfortably Frum.
That is: I'm considering the halachic necessity of bringing a lawsuit against the owners of the bakery/cafe where this accident occurred on Friday afternoon because their illegal (poorly built, utterly unmarked and unrailed ) sidewalk extension is 99% the cause of my injury. I accept 1% of the blame for not having eyes in the back of my head.
So, what do I need now - an Orthopedist, a lawyer and a rabbi - and in what order???
Sunday, November 21, 2010
I came to Tzvat to have adventures with my friends Andy and Nili Alpern - but instead Andy became my schlepping, sitting, translating and do-it-yourself gurney-pusher ER pal and Nili became my shower-aide. NOT what we had planned!
Israeli doctors opinion on issuing narcotic or at least interesting pain meds "to go" differ wildly with Jewish American Princesses from Woodland Hills. "Bite the bullet" is never a comforting phrase.
"Oh you should be just fine. You don't need anything stronger than Tylenol"
"Excuse me doctor but do I look like someone who would break their own arm just for a Vicodin?"
"You look like an intelligent woman" he said, "Here, have a Traumadex." This after 40 hours of excruciating pain and precious little pain relief.
But, B"H, I'm among friends (who else but Virgo Nili get into the shower with me to help wash my hair and under my right arm?) and I'm getting a ride back to Jerusalem this afternoon ... I've always depended on the kindness of strangers. That's how I met Andy and Nili in2006 - and that's how strangers turn into friends and friends turn into family...thank G-d! Because who else but family would get into the shower with you and help you wash your aching, bruised-up and traumatized body?
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Staying in the home of Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum, who is the head of the Midreshet B'erot Bat Ayin, an educational program for women and the author of "Women at the Crossroads," a woman's perspective on the weekly Torah portions. Her home is just as glowy-flowy and beautiful as one would expect of the woman who singlehandedly defined the "Bat Ayin Woman" look, lifestyle and (if I can be so bold to say) the actual nusach of the Orthodox "Natural Woman," in her own image and the image of her vision of the modern (as in modern-day, not in modern attitudes) Orthodox (but not Haredi) woman.
When I say "glowy/flowy" I'm NOT denigrating the look OR the lifestyle, believe me! The Bat Ayin woman dresses modestly and gloriously - long flowing skirts and dresses, many light layers of cotton, wool (in Winter - that is, if we ever HAVE a winter again) and natural fabrics - colorful, feminine, lovely, and 100% Kosher - i.e. you won't see a married woman here without her hair covered (in the Bat Ayin Style which looks best on women whose hair resembles Marge Simpson's conical "do" - and if you don't have a tower of hair to wrap up in a colorful shawl or tichel you can BUILD volume with more scarves!), you won't see a young lady here in pants, you won't see (thankfully) women in dark, thick polyester suits and cable-knit stockings on a day where temperatures top 100 degrees. Simply for having solved - in a creative, beautiful way - what I've been calling "The Frum Fashion Problem" - Chana Bracha deserves a medal. For having created an entire culture of learning, growth and positive reinforcement of women, she deserves much more.
Yesterday (although I arrived late) I got to visit the Bat Ayin OUTLET store and scored on some much-needed clothing (the prices were CRIMINALLY LOW, come here for the shopping if nothing else!) and then had a leisurely & delicious dinner (home-made chicken soup, wine and sauteed vegetables with meat/pea patties ... ummmm!) with my old friend Sara Talia Webb, who LITERALLY lives in a Hobbit-Hole in Bat Ayin - a very charming machsan (storage shed) built into a hillside which is only accessible by following a narrow rocky path down, down, down until you think you're about to hit the riverbed - and then: voila! Instant coziness created by Sara Talia's warm and welcoming, loving spirit. Such nachas! After dinner she took me to visit another old friend, Shaul Judelman and his new kallah Shayna Liebe (Ashley Greenspoon), who live out literally - LITERALLY - at the edge of nowhere. A perfect place for honeymooners to create their own nest!
So I'm off to explore for a short time, then the next stage of my road trip will begin ... who knows where I'll end up? (OK, I think I know, but you know ... YOU NEVER KNOW!)
- The Road goes ever on and on
- Down from the door where it began.
- Now far ahead the Road has gone,
- And I must follow, if I can,
- Pursuing it with eager feet,
- Until it joins some larger way
- Where many paths and errands meet.
- And whither then? I cannot say.
- - Bilbo Baggins
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Provoked beyond mere vexation at the interminable "Endless Summer, Part 3" weather and unable to wait anymore - "Ain le ode savlanut, b'claal!" I'm on my way to raise up holy sparks from below and liberate Heaven's blessings from above. The only way I know how to do that is to GO SOMEWHERE.
Combining (not to be confused with "The Combina", but that's another subject) expediency with necessity, or work with pleasure, or practicality with impulsiveness - whatever the alchemical mixture was, it came to me in a flash - first stop: BAT AYIN, the beautiful, secluded sort-of-hippie very frum/Baali Tshuva-ish Torah enclave to which I've NEVER (can you believe it?) been but which has produced some of the most AMAZING, holy Yidden I've ever known and loved.
I've been invited to bring RADIO FREE NACHLAOT out to Bat Ayin to do interviews, perhaps broadcast a live class in progress, and basically soak up the holy eco-Torah vibes in hopes I can transmit all that awesome natural organic Torah goodness to our world-wide listening audience. I hope to do so. I also hope to find a hammock somewhere and simply ... sway. At least for a little while.
Where will I go after Bat Ayin? Where will I be for Shabbos? Don't know yet - I only know "I'm on the road to find out..."
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Well, screw all that. I want my Jerusalicous back!
Last night I had dinner with my old friend Estelleigh Franenberg, widow of my dear childhood pal Barry ("Uncle Barry") Franenberg, who is visiting the Holy Land for the very first time. We were so delighted to spend time with each other even though it's been many years since we were together in the flesh, so to speak. Our children are grown, our husbands (who were best friends from high school until their deaths, less than a year apart - 1999 and 2000) gone, but as I said to Estelleigh as we were hugging and squealing like schoolgirls: We're not old, we're simply deliciously ripe mature women who have been through hell and come out the other side - we're soul survivors!
Yeah, that's right. Soul Survivors - our souls have endured a lot of crap but we don't smell any worse for wear - in fact, we're downright FRAGRANT with the scent of triumph - triumph over loss, grief, fear, uncertainty, and all the other things that come crashing down upon one's head when your spouse dies leaving you holding the bag - or in our mutual cases, leaving behind children who need shoes, food, a roof over their head, education, braces, and all the other "normal" things one wants to bestow upon one's offspring for their own good.
We didn't crawl into the corner and die ourselves, oh no we didn't. Last night we celebrated as two fabulous friends, women of great accomplishment and strength, and looking into each other's eyes we saw reflected there the image of our own innate deliciousness - yes, it was a very JERUSALICOUS-worthy get-together, one I will treasure for years to come.
Give Thanks and Praise to the Lord and it WILL be alright! It just might take a little longer than you'd prefer, that's all.
Friday, June 26, 2009
(C) 2000 Lorelai Kude All Rights Reserved
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Women's rights activists scheduled a protest Wednesday attended by mostly young women. But the group was swamped by counter-protesters — both men and women — who shouted down the women's chants.
Shiite backers of the law say that foreigners are meddling in private Afghan affairs, and Wednesday's demonstrations brought some of the emotions surrounding the debate over the law to the surface.
"You are a dog! You are not a Shiite woman!" one man shouted to a young woman in a headscarf holding aloft a banner that said "We don't want Taliban law." The woman did not shout back at the man, but told him: "This is my land and my people."
Monday, April 13, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Is the shit hitting the proverbial fan in your life? In the lives of people around you? Has "crisis" become a commonplace and constant feature in your daily existence? As on Earth, so in Heaven - and conversely, even more so.
So how does this affect daily life in the Holy City, the place we call Jerusalem, Israel? We who dwell here look at each other with knowing eyes. You who dwell without can only see us on TV, read our blogs, listen to uninformed talking heads discuss us in the press. You can't see anything, and you know less than nothing. We, however, are going into this with Eyes Wide Open on one hand, and Eyes Shut Tight on the other. For you see, there's always Another Hand...especially here, especially now.
Every soul that has ever been born before is rushing back for the Final Act, we're all here and we're all now and the stage is set...
(enter Bugs Bunny with a cane, in top hat and tails)
Overture! Hit the Lights!
This is It! The Night of Nights!
No more rehearsing, rehearsing of parts ... we know every part by heart!
And oh what heights we'll hit -
On with the Show! This is IT!
Saturday, February 28, 2009
On February 18th, CNN reported:
Pakistani government officials announced Monday an agreement with the Taliban to allow strict Islamic law, or sharia, to be implemented in parts of North West Frontier Province. It marks a major concession by the Pakistani government in its attempt to hold off Taliban militants who have terrorized the region with beheadings, kidnappings, and the destruction of girls' schools...Sharia is defined as Islamic law but is interpreted with wide differences depending on the various sects of both Sunni and Shia Islam. So far, the Pakistani Taliban's interpretation of sharia has included banning girls from school, forcing women inside and outlawing forms of entertainment.
Today, CNN reports: Somali President Sharif Sheikh Hassan said Saturday he will give in to a rebel demand that he impose Islamic law, or Sharia, in the African country — an effort to halt fighting between Somali forces and Islamic insurgents. However, Hassan told a news conference he won’t agree to a strict interpretation of the law, which forbids girls from attending school, requires veils for women and beards for men, and bans music and television.Meanwhile, on February 9th, the Daily Express reported that Sharia laws are being applied in secret in Muslim communities throughout Great Britain, "in clear defiance of the country's legal system." The Daily Express reports:
Islamic scholars sit in mosques, converted living rooms and even a former pub to issue fatwas, or rulings, and adds that they have decided thousands of cases over the last 25 years.
This fresh development assumes significance in the wake of the condemnation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, statement calling for an “accommodation” of some Islamic legal codes within the British legal system.
Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorists have effectively waged war for their value system and way of "life" (if you call living under Sharia law a life) from within and from without - via war, terrorism, kidnapping, rape, violence, etc. to force governments to bow to their will, and from within by infiltrating communities and demanding the right to set up their own court systems within the sovernity of other countries - the equivalent in the U.S. of a state like Texas being allowed to completely disregard Federal law in favor of their own home-grown version of justice, but still consider themselves a part of the United States.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
BOYCOTT SONY ERICSSON and call their Investor Relations / PR people and tell them why!
Follow the money. Without Sony Ericsson's sponsorship dollars, there IS no tennis tour. Putting pressure on the UAE is useless, and the WTA itself has already proved to have neither morals nor balls (no pun intended).
Sony Ericsson Global Communications and PR
Aldo Liguori (London) +44 20 8762 5860
Merran Wrigley (London) +44 20 8762 5862
Simone Bresi-Ando (London) +44 20 8762 5863
IN THE U.S.:
North America Corporate Communications
Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications Inc.
7001 Development Drive
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709 USA
Telephone: 919/472-1400 (EST time zone)
GolinHarris for Sony Ericsson
GolinHarris for Sony Ericsson
Reference the following story from CNN:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- The United Arab Emirates has refused to grant a visa to a female Israeli tennis player, preventing her from competing in the Sony Ericsson World Tennis Association Tour in Dubai, the WTA said in a statement Sunday.
The move runs counter to WTA policy, which says no player should be barred from competing in a tournament for which she has qualified.
"We are deeply disappointed by the decision of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) denying Shahar Peer a visa that would permit her to enter the country to play in the Dubai Tennis Championships," said Larry Scott, chairman and chief executive of the tour.
"Ms. Peer has earned the right to play in the tournament and it is regrettable that the UAE is denying her this right.
"Following various consultations, the Tour has decided to allow the tournament to continue to be played this week, pending further review by the Tour's Board of Directors.
"Ms. Peer and her family are obviously extremely upset and disappointed by the decision of the UAE and its impact on her personally and professionally, and the Tour is reviewing appropriate remedies for Ms. Peer, and also will review appropriate future actions with regard to the future of the Dubai tournament," Scott said."The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour believes very strongly, and has a clear rule and policy, that no host country should deny a player the right to compete at a tournament for which she has qualified by ranking."
Friday, February 13, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
A treat for every voter
Twenty-one-year-old Amotz Eyal launches campaign intended to increase voter turnout on Election Day
As polls predict a grim turnout for Israel's Election Day and forecasters announce stormy weather is brewing, many politicians urge the public to get out of the house and vote. But one ex-soldier believes words are not enough, and he is offering additional incentive. Amotz Eyal, a 21-year old from Psagot, has launched a campaign to bolster the voter turnout all over the country, together with the Yehiam Association for values and love of Israel.
The campaign includes a half-a-million text messages that will be sent to citizens calling on them to vote, as well as hundreds of billboards to the same effect and transportation to ballot boxes.
Also, in an unprecedented move, Eyal has enlisted 30 volunteers to travel from city to city and hand each voter a Krembo: An original Israeli treat made of a biscuit covered in cream and a thin layer of chocolate.
Eyal stressed the campaign was non-political. "It doesn't matter which side of the political spectrum you are on, a low voter turnout should scare you," he told Ynet.
"A government chosen by just part of the people is an illegitimate government… People need to understand the importance of voting, so we've decided to give them a symbolic treat. A person who gets a Krembo after putting his ballot in will understand that he has done a good, useful, and important deed."
Eyal said he realizes the treat will not be the sole reason people leave their homes to vote, but he believes it may persuade doubters as to the importance of voting.
"We have the power to influence not just the current elections but also future ones. A person who has performed his democratic right is worthy of respect, especially these days, it's not a trivial matter," he said.
Social activism has been Eyal's pursuit since his release from the army eight months ago. Upon returning his equipment in Tel Hashomer's Induction Base, he embarked on a march all the way to the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem in order to hand him a letter decrying corruption among politicians.
"These things are important to 21-year olds as well," Eyal said. "I know a lot of people who want to help but are afraid to launch big and complicated projects. I have no fear, and they should stop being afraid and start doing."
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Tsafrir was incredibly special. He's "appeared" on this very blog several times, and has been an important friend to me since making Aliyah. We worked together extensively this spring and summer on the Israel World Television project, and I was expecting him at my wedding this coming Wednesday here in Jerusalem.
No one was a more passionate defender of the Jewish People's right to the Land of Israel. I feel like Tsafrir is in Heaven arguing with HaShem right now and demanding He save His people and His land immediatly.
Here is a report from "Writing the Wrong" -
Like the light that continues to travel from a star that has died - long after it has gone. We must continue in this light.
We shall see this through - with a sense of deep loss - and carry on with the courage that Tsafrir had.
This evening - after Shabbat - a message came through that Israel and the Jewish people have lost a hero - Tsafrir Ronen- a moshavnik from the north. He was an unusual man - fiery in his defense of Israel, had made documentaries about our history and rights to the land and was working to create a TV channel directly from here in order to tell the Jewish narrative to the world. . Tsafrir was unique- a secular Israeli in his 50s -with a completely traditional attitude towards Eretz Yisrael as he always called the Land. He knew where each of the tribes had lived, the Biblical name of each city and he cherished the dream of continuity in the future because he knew from where we had come.
Tsafrir was knowledgeable in the history of the region and the promise of less than 90 years ago by the League of Nations which committed to the re-creation of a viable Jewish homeland including what is today Jordan and Palestine. It pained him to see the continuous whittling down of even the western territory - that which is called 'Palestine' and comprises only 22% of the original promise - in an effort to appease others - and the ongoing efforts in the interest of a fictitious 'peace process'.
During Sharon's 2005 'expulsion' of Gush Katif and 4 northern communities in Samaria, one of the latter in this catastrophe was Homesh and Tsafrir was involved in Homesh First - a return to that place -as a start. He also traveled to Hevron frequently to stand with those who live there. This was a long trip each time from his home up north but he did what he thought was right for the country. Surely the recent forced expulsion of Jewish families from Bet HaShalom in Hevron and the policies of some Israeli governments played a part in undermining his health; he was so completely invested in preserving the integrity of Israel.
During some conferences where Tsafrir was among the speakers, others referred to their notes; Tsafrir spoke extemporaneously - from his heart - impassioned by his deep love for Eretz Yisrael and how this is a Land to be cherished. His spirit and actions transcended all of politics.
Today, Chanukah - a holiday that commemorates heroism of our people - we have lost a modern day hero. We are in a state of shock and grief; our response must be to continue his work. Our deepest condolences to his wife, children, and the other members of his family.
WRITING THE WRONGS
FORUM FOR PRO-ISRAEL ADVOCACY
Doris Wise Montrose, President and Founder
All Board Members
Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
Eli E. Hertz, President
Myths and Facts, Inc.
Joel Blasberg, Filmmaker
Withdrawal From Gaza
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Israeli farmers perform rain ritual
December 22, 2008
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israeli farmers re-created a ritual described by a 16th century Jewish scholar in the hopes of bringing rain.
The farmers from the Upper Galilee, led by Rabbi Eliyahu Biton, on Sunday encircled the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai located on Mount Meron while shaking the Four Species that are traditionally used on Sukkot, the daily Ha'aretz reported.
Yosef Karo, a 16th century religious scholar, composed the special prayer for rain. According to Karo's book "Maggid Mesharim," much rain fell after Karo and his students completed the ritual.
Israel is experiencing an exceptionally dry winter this year, with rainfall in most areas at about 40 percent of normal.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Erev Chanukkah in Mahanae Yehuda shuk, the giant menorah being prepared to light up the night for all. You won't see a Christmas tree here nor will you hear the jingle-jangle of bells, reindeer whinnying nor yuletide caroles being sung by a choir - although you may see folks dressed up like Eskimos.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
"Democracy in Action" - at least that's what it looked like in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem, where I exercised my civic duty by casting my first-ever ballot as an Israeli Citizen. The Jerusalem Mayoral race has been far more pressing than the recent US Presidential Elections, and, sticking with that analogy, it looks like my boy Nir Barkat will in fact be the next Mayor of the Holy City. Nir is a successful businessman who understands running the municipality of the world's most important city is no job for criminals or saints...just a "ben-oni" with a brain, some common sense and the wherewithal to get the job done. I loved the voting experience itself, which was preceeded by campaigners lining the street leading up to the school where the polling place was located - something that is actually illegal in the U.S. Once inside I was welcomed into a little room (pictured) where I was scrutinized by a nice mix of secular and religious poll workers, who gave me my ballot envelopes and sent me behind the secret "Voting Modesty Curtain" (pictured) where I put the pieces of paper into the colored envelopes (white into white, yellow into yellow). Can I just say Thank G_d I can read enough Hebrew to know for whom I am voting!!! Actually quite a satisfying experience.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The gift of Cheshvan is the gift of intensity and the accompanying insights one obtains when turning that intensity within to discover the depths of one's own soul. Scorpio has three animal symbols usually associated with it - the Gray Lizard (the one who slithers), the Scorpion (the one who stings) and the Great Eagle (the one who soars). By elevating Scorpio's propensity to investigate the darkest and wettest of places within one's own psyche (or that of others), Cheshvan's energy can be used to find the nuggets of beauty, the sparks of holiness, and elevate them from beneath the mud and slime to the most exalted heights. Don't be satisfied with slithering through the mud, nor with stinging others with defensive poisons - transform that powerful energy into the eagle-like ability to soar and transcend even the uttermost depths of the darkest nights of your soul.
The following overview of Cheshvan is from the Gal Einai Institute, a United States non-profit organization dedicated to disseminating and implementing the inner wisdom of the Torah--Kabbalah and Chassidut--as taken from the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh
The Month of Cheshvan According to The Book of Formation (Sefer Yetzirah)
Each month of the Jewish year has a corresponding color, a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, a zodiac sign, one of the twelve tribes of Israel, a sense, and a controlling organ/limb of the body.
Cheshvan (or Mar-Cheshvan) is the eighth of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar.
In the Bible, Cheshvan is called chodesh bul, from the word mabul, "the flood." The flood began on the 17th of Cheshvan, and ended the following year on the 27th of Cheshvan. The following day, the 28th of Cheshvan, Noah brought his sacrifice to G-d and G-d swore never again to bring a flood upon the earth to destroy all mankind, and then revealed the sign of His covenant with the world, the rainbow.
Cheshvan is the only month which has no holidays or special mitzvot. We are taught that it is "reserved" for the time of Mashiach, who will inaugurate the third Temple in Cheshvan.
Nun is considered to be the letter of Mashiach, as is said (with reference to Mashiach): "before the sun, is his name Ye-non [from nun]" (Psalms 72:17). As a verb-root, nun means "to reign." As a noun, it means "the heir to the throne" (from nin). The eighth month is the month of Mashiach, for eight signifies the eternal revelation of the supernatural (the consummate state of rectified nature being the secret of the number seven). Whereas the "harp" of this world possesses seven strings, the harp of Mashiach possesses eight strings. Just as 8 transcends 7, so does 50 (the numerical value of nun) transcend 49, 7 squared. In this world, the nun is bent over, confined by the boundaries of nature. With the coming of Mashiach, the nun "straightens out" (the shape of the final nun), breaks through the boundaries of nature, and descends "below the line" into the subterranean realms of reality in order to reveal there G-d's all-encompassing Infinite light.
Mazal: Akrav (Scorpio - Scorpion)
Our sages teach us that the scorpion is the most deadly member of the general category of poisonous creatures whose archetypal figure is the primordial snake of Eden. The word akrav derives from the word akev, "heel," as is said: "and you [the snake] shall bite him [man] at the heel" (Genesis 3:15). Thus the akrav symbolizes the consummate "bite" of the snake at the heel of man. While in general, the poison of the snake is "hot," the poison of the scorpion is "cold." The Mashiach is the one and only soul who can overcome, kill, and ultimately revive the primordial snake (in order to convert it to good). (The soul of Mashiach and his continuous state of consciousness manifest the ultimate rectification of "heat," "burning" solely in his love for G-d and Israel, as well as that of "cold"-absolutely "cold" to the false vanities of this world.) This is the secret of the numerical equation: Mashiach (358) = snake (nachash). Akrav (372) = Mashiach (nachash) plus David (= 14; nun is the 14th letter of the alef-beit). The root-letters of Cheshvan permute to spell nachash (in Cheshvan the nun is "straightened out;" in nachash it is "bent over").
Menasheh is the firstborn of Joseph. Deriving from the word "to forget" (literally "to leap, up and away"), Menasheh implies the power of the tzadik (Joseph) to make us forget the hardships, trials and tribulations of this world, with the coming of Mashiach. By the power and sense of Menasheh, all of the pain of this world will transform and metamorphose into the pleasure of the Messianic era. The name Menasheh permutes to spell neshamah, "soul." Menasheh represents the sense to reveal the Divine soul in Israel. In the Bible, Moses is called Menasheh, for Menasheh is Moshe (Moses) with an additional nun (the letter of Cheshvan). Of Moses is said: "he is the first redeemer and he is the final redeemer" (See Shemot Rabbah 4:2; Zohar 1:253a; Sha'ar HaPesukim, Vayechi; Torah Or, beginning of Mishpatim). In his first lifetime (as "the first redeemer") he did not achieve the "50th gate of understanding" (the understanding of G-d Himself, as it were, and His deepest intention in the creation of the universe). When he returns as Mashiach, he will be given forever the "50th gate," the nun of Mashiach, the secret of Menasheh (Moshe-nun. In the Zohar we are taught that when Moses first passed from this world he received the "50th gate" and was "buried" in the Mishnah, another permutation of Menasheh, Moshe-nun. Through the study of Mishnah (in the time of exile) we reveal the neshamah of Israel and thereby merit the redemption of Moshe-Mashiach and the revelation for all on earth of the "50th gate."
The sense of smell is the most spiritual of all senses. The Hebrew word for "smell," rei'ach, is cognate to that for "spirit" (ruach). Our sages teach us that smell is the one and only sense that "the soul enjoys and not the body." "Soul" (neshamah) is a permutation of Menasheh, as mentioned above. The sense of smell is the only sense (of the five common senses) that did not participate, and thereby was not blemished or polluted, in the primordial sin of man in the Garden of Eden. It is the sense which saved the Jewish people in the time of Mordechai and Esther, who are called Mor veHadas ("myrrh and myrtle," the two primary sources of fragrance). It is explicitly stated that the sense of Mashiach is the sense of smell. "And he shall smell in the awe of G-d"--"he shall judge by smell" (rather than by sight or hearing. Isaiah 11:3; Sanhedrin 93b). By his sense of smell (his ruach hakodesh, "holy spirit") the Mashiach will know how to connect each Jewish soul to its Divine root, and thereby identify its tribe (branch) in Israel.
The word for intestines (dakin) derives from the word "minute" (dakah) or "particle" (dak). It implies the power to dissect into fine, refined parts. In the process of preparing the incense for the Temple (the consummate expression of the sense of smell in the Temple service), one would say (over and over), "grind well, grind well" (hadek heitev, heiteiv hadek: hadeik from dak). All of the sacrifices in the Temple service are meant to produce a "satisfying aroma" (rei'ach nichoach) and please the Divine sense of smell, which implies the Divine "satisfaction" with the service of His children Israel in particular and with His creation in general. Our sages interpret the phrase rei'ach nichoach as "I am satisfied (nachat ruach), for I have spoken and My will has been fulfilled." This Divine satisfaction with man and creation was first expressed on the 28th of Cheshvan, when Noah offered his sacrifice to G-d. Due to His satisfaction, G-d swore to Noah never again to destroy the world by flood. As is expressed explicitly in laws of the Torah, it is the fats of the intestines that when offered on the altar produce the "satisfying" aroma for G-d. For this reason the intestines are seen to control the sense of smell.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
North American Jewish Database Created by Christians Targeting Jews for Aliyah - or Targeting Jews for "Removal?"
Tonight the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem hosted "Israeli Night," capping off their annual "Feast of Tabernacles" celebration which brought nearly 10,000 Christians from around the world to Jerusalem. Malcom Hedding (pictured), ICEJ's Executive Director, on stage with former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Ayalon( pictured), introduced a mysterious pot-bellied Russian man (not pictured, as - unbelievably! - I didn't have my camera with me!), who who presented Mr. Ayalon (now co-chairman of Nefesh b'Nefesh, which just replaced the Jewish Agency as the sole provider of Aliyah in North America) with a database said to contain "the names, addresses and phone numbers of every single Jew in North America." The database was being presented to Mr. Ayalon ostensibly because of his role with Nefesh b'Nefesh, and the idea of happy Christian telemarketers phoning Jews all over America after dinner every evening offering them free one-way tickets to Israel sent the audience of thousands of already G_d-giddy Christians into fits of cheering, clapping and hallaluyah-ing.
Hello...am I the only one here who thinks that Christians who have a list of every Jew in North America can be scary, even sinister? Christians who want to "help Jews make Aliyah" can quickly turn into expulsionists. Jurgen Buhler, the ICEJ's International Director, strutted around the stage of tonight's event, quoting from the Book of Ruth and warning Israelis that, just as Ruth said to Naomi "Wherever you go I shall go, Your people shall be my people, your G_d shall be my G_d," we Jews "won't be able to get rid of us (Christians)." They're sticking to us - listen chevre, we've been warned!
Wow, the Christians are going to follow us everywhere. Why don't we take them to Yeshiva? Many have such a deep and sincere love of Israel and the Jewish People, but they don't know Torah and they worship idols. So - yesh ba'aya, there's a problem.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Malalai Kakar, 41, who led Kandahar city's department of crimes against women, was leaving home Sunday when she was killed, said Zalmai Ayubi, spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor. Her 18-year-old son was wounded, he said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility.
Militants frequently attack projects, schools and businesses run by women. The hard-line Taliban regime, which was ousted in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, did not allow women outside the home without a male escort.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the assassination, as did the European Union, which said it was "appalled by the brutal targeting" of Kakar.
"Any murder of a police officer is to be condemned, but the killing of a female officer whose service was not only to her country, but to Afghan women, to whom Ms. Kakar served as an example, is particularly abhorrent," the EU said in a statement.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tests in mice showed that resveratrol, when altered using a compound called acetyl, could prevent some of the damage caused by radiation, the researchers told the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology meeting in Boston.
Drugs made that way might be used in a large-scale radiological or nuclear emergency, said Dr. Joel Greenberger, a radiation oncologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
"Currently there are no drugs on the market that protect against or counteract radiation exposure," he added. "Our goal is to develop treatments for the general population that are effective and non-toxic," Greenberger said in a statement.
"Small molecules which can be easily stored, transported and administered are optimal for this, and so far acetylated resveratrol fits these requirements well."
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
The event, organized by the United Jewish Student Council (UJSC), was originally planned as a one-period demonstration that would have been held during the first class of the school day, but was scaled back due to heavy pressure from school administrators.
The orange clothing was intended to spark memories of the days of fighting the 2005 Disengagement, when 25 Jewish communities were destroyed and more than 8,000 Jews were expelled from their homes in Gush Katif and northern Samaria.
According to organizer Yosef Rabin, the day’s events were a moderate success. In addition to students, some parents got involved with the project as well -- even parents whose children were in public schools, or whose children were too young to go to yeshiva, as in the case of the Packer family in North Carolina.
Students in eight states across the United States and Canada had originally planned to organize events at their schools, but at the last minute, the group from Canada pulled out, “because the school administration announced that all activity was strictly forbidden because of fear that the ‘tzniut [modesty –ed.] dress code would be infringed.’ This was of course ridiculous,” said Rabin, “but it put enough fear in the students.” (MY PERSONAL NOTE HERE: FURTHER EVIDENCE OF THE INSANITY OF SOME - not all but some - HAREDIM WHO HOLD SO-CALLED"MODESTY" AS A HIGHER VALUE THAN THE LAND OF ISRAEL ITSELF. WHAT IS INHERITLY IMMODEST ABOUT THE COLOR ORANGE????)
For the budding young activists, Rabin had nothing but praise. “The schools did not drag the students to a protest; they got up and understood that something had to be done,” he said with great satisfaction. “This may spark something larger, and we will work to make that happen.”
Rabin was particularly impressed with the Jewish students in the public sector. “What I found very encouraging is that Jews in secular US public schools came forward and were eager to help. You could feel this love of the Jewish People and G-d,” he said.
Noting that a light rain had fallen for the first time this season in Israel the following morning, Rabin wondered if perhaps the Land had not been blessed “after this small tikun (correction) that occurred in Jewish schools in the US – you know that chazal [our Sages –ed.] teach us that Hashem listens especially to the tefilot [prayers –ed.] of children,” he added.