Monday, May 6, 2013

Shabbat in Givat Ze'ev with the Ever Family



I was about to go into "panic mode" having missed the last Friday afternoon bus from Jerusalem to Givat Ze'ev when Gad Ever, one of my closest friends, called to inform me he was still in the Jerusalem area and would pick me up from the Central Bus station and take me to the West Bank settlement where his parents moved about five years ago.

As Gad and I traversed highway 443 which connects Givat Zeev with Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv, we watched the sun dipping beyond the hills to the East. Shabbat was approaching. Soon, public transportation in Israel would shut down, and people around the country would put away their mobile devices in preparation for the Sabbath, the national day of rest.

Givat Ze'ev is a thriving settlement just northwest of Jerusalem. It's named after Ze'ev Vladimir Zhabotinsky, perhaps the single greatest Jewish leader of the 20th century. The population of Givat Ze'ev numbers about 11,200. Most of these are young families. The flourishing municipality has continued expanding under Binyamin Netanyahu's government.

Having said a brief "Hello" to Gad's mom, I took the next half an hour to take some pictures of the serene countryside. I imagined how much my parents would perhaps enjoy living here one day. I imagined this Judean town growing into a sprawling city. "One day," I thought, "...it will be possible."

Shabbat at the Ever's was a refreshing experience. Gad's parents came to Israel from Yemen as little kids. His dad fought in the Sinai Campaign of 1956 and the Six Day War of 1967. The Ever kids all served in the army--the boys along with the girls. It's a family that's time and time again risked their lives for the future of the Jewish people. A majority of families in Givat Ze'ev are exactly the same.

His parents recounted stories about the past, and of course, his mom treated me to the finest Yemenite delicacies. As Shabbat came to an end and I was all packed and ready to go, she shoved a bag full of food into my hands.

"Here, you'll enjoy these!" She was thanking me for helping explain her something on Facebook. No good deed goes for naught in the Ever household because this is how they were raised, and this is how their parents and grandparents were raised. Israel is a country of many unfamiliar faces; many different colors and brands. It takes time to learn to appreciate them equally. For me, it's been a journey; one I wouldn't ever think of doing any other way.

As the new week begins in Israel, we welcome fresh opportunities. There are problems on the horizon in Syria and Iran, but Israel will handle these in due time. Meanwhile, people are getting married, communities are being built, and Israel continues to grow. No one really buys too much into the troubles those on the outside are predicting for our tiny state. You won't hear a word of complaint from Gad or his parents at least.

As Givat Ze'ev continues to grow, so does the rest of Israel. Now is the time to take the bull by the horns, and continue building in Judea and Samaria. I wish all of you a shavua tov, a good week from an area in Jerusalem which the world considers part of a future "Palestinian" state. May it, too, continue to grow.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

On Yogurt and Life (or should it be "On Life and Yogurt?")

As I opened up yet another cup of yogurt, a thought struck me: I've been having yogurt ever since we moved to America in '89. I had a taste of the delicious liquidy convocation for the first time when we were staying in a small town just South of Rome en-route to Chicago.

I'd continue having yogurt: chocolate, banana, covered with whipped cream, cookie yogurt, etc, etc to the billionth dimension from then on.

The different types of yogurt I'd had have been a reflection of my life. When I made Aliya in '01, I began my yogumance with new, Israeli yogurts. This lasted till I left Israel in '06. The yogurts I had in Chicago from '06 till my return to Israel a year and a half a go were uhm...OK just like everything else in America: Earth's "only" bastion of freedom, the "last" Superpower. Whatever...

Anyhow, when I came home to Israel, my yogumance just kept on rolling. I took in ginormous (this term has existed since time immemorial but I bow to Ze'ev for re-introducing us) quantities of yogurt with a conviction I'd never had before. And I must admit: they were good!

In any case, I'll wish y'all--whether you're in Chi or in J'lem; Sin City (Tel-Aviv)--or somewhere out in the Northern burbs, a mighty good night and may the best team (Bulls) win!

Oh, and uh...no yogurt for you!

This here wacky post brought to you by your one 'n only...

Letting Go of Old Ties

I'm "done" with a few people I considered close friends. I'm very happy they were part of my life, but I feel I'm entering a new phase and these people have no place (and honestly speaking don't belong) in it. Here's a poem that's dedicated to old friendships, the things I learned from them, letting go of the old, and continuing onwards...because "forward" is the only direction that exists in my life:

We met,
We bonded,
We spoke over lunch,
Now, it's time to part,
At the chess club in Ramat Aviv--
Or in Eilat,
We had good times and bad,
The time to part has come,
And while I feel sad,
What must be done has no way of escaping you or I,
As much as we can try,
To put the past behind us,
To make up and focus on the things that bind us,
We must travel far,
Leave familiar places, lands,
Foreign soil, foreign hands,
Will hug us as we prevail,
You in your world--
I in mine,
Time?
Time shall mend all pain,
It doesn't really matter who will fall--and who will rise 'n shine.

Does it?

Does it really matter if I'm at fault or you?
How will this effect us 10 yrs down the line?
I haven't stolen from you (G-d forbid),
What's mine I've earned (or my parents have given me),
What's yours is yours forever,
And once again kids will cry,
And once again, there will be lemonade and my favorite drink, Lemon Lime...

For Heaven's sake...
Why does any of this matter enough to me?
I should be completely cut off by now--
From her, from you,
Why does it matter?
Am I as crazy as everyone else?
Certainly, I'm no go-getter!
Not as much as she was, no way!
But I'll have my day, you'll see,
You didn't believe in me?
Didn't think I'd climb up out of this?
That I'd give up?
No way--not me!

And for the few, the "chosen" that never stopped believing?
The ones that never lost hope, that always believed?
Is there a present in store for them?
Only G-d knows
Who am I anyway?
Dust and dirt--
עבל אבלים
I'm quoting him again.

The end comes so quickly,
It met a so-called "settler" today,
Any one of us might be next,
Life is fast, we must make the RIGHT choices,
Not the best--but the "right!"
Flight?
From Israel (from life)?
Impossible.
We're all "settlers" here...
My people: have no fear!

Old friends will always be the best,
The first will always be the first,
The first fruit tastes the best,
When one quenches his thirst--
It's best the first time 'round,
No matter what it is,
--or is it?
Up to you to decide, my new-found group of friends,
You shall "define" my future,
My future will "define" yours,
We will laugh over lunch in J'lem
Taste the first seeds of Judean pomegranates,
Drink the wines of Samaria.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Tribute to My Mom Who Celebrated her Hebrew Birthday Yesterday

The most tender mother,
The closest, most dear friend--
You've given me the world,
You're always in demand.

When I'm alone, and the sky is black,
I think of you,
Imagine giving back,
Imagine being there for you like you've been there for me,

Thank you, Mom, for all your kindness,
Thank you for your love,
And all your generosity.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Taking Stock of Past Accomplishments

The climb upwards could only go one way: up. That's how I felt 5 years ago today. I was walking a tightrope and felt I would be pushed over at any given second. I was scared, depressed, alone.

Time has passed, old wounds have healed, and even though there have been fresh hurts and pains, life goes on. Thank G-d! Thank G-d I'm here, breathing, speaking, healthy and happy. I have so much to be grateful for.

I was asked to list my 5 biggest accomplishments today. I'd say these have been as follows:

1. Making Aliya at the age of 19, and returning to Israel a year and half ago.

2. Getting back up when I was severely depressed and feeling alone a few years back.

3. Making tshuva--repentance.

4. Getting my high school GED after having been kicked out from school for behavioral issues (my mom is the one most responsible for this one).

5. Getting my BA degree even though I didn't want to, in other words, overcoming myself. I did this without the presence of G-d in my life, and yet, I still managed. This makes it bigger.

Let's all continue praying for the health of Adelle Chaya bat Adva. May she regain her strength and return to full health ASAP!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"In Every Generation and Generation, A Person Must See Himself as If He Left Egypt"


This Torah lesson is dedicated to the speedy recovery of Adelle Chaya bat Adva. May G-d keep her and save her from every evil and danger.

It says that in every generation, a person must see himself as he, himself, left Egypt. The path from slavery to redemption is one that the Jewish people partake in in every generation--on a personal and national level. I'm a first generation immigrant to America--and Israel. My parents left the Soviet Union in '89, when I was seven years old. I'm a testament to my people's unbroken spirit and our unwavering desire to remain Jews no matter the cost.

When we left the USSR, I didn't know I was Jewish. My father had been a refusnik for 10 years. He'd spent time studying Hebrew. We believed we were moving to Israel, so he wanted to get acquainted with the Holy Language, the tongue our forefathers used in their daily lives.

His teacher and mentor, Arye Volvovsky (ייבדה לחיים ארוקים) spent three years languishing in a Soviet jail cell because he had the audacity to spread the light of Judaism. Even in jail, he practiced Jewish law, and was even able to encourage his fellow cellmates, who were spending jail time for less noble reasons than him, to support the Zionist cause. They probably benefited from their time with Arye more than they would have being at homes with their families.

My great-grandparents were all haredi Jews. I've seen family pictures with my great great grandparents and their children. All wore the traditional Jewish garb of the times. I'm proud to come from a family with a rich history of Torah scholarship.

I'm also proud to say that I got my ברית מילא (circumcision) at my own request after we came to the US. I was eight years old. My ancestors all espoused a spirit of self-sacrifice. They went out of their way to fight the pro-Soviet Jewish police, and I felt I was following in their footsteps. It was nothing out-of-the-ordinary. Jews have been making bigger, most dangerous sacrifices for the past three and a half centuries.

I merited to leave Soviet Russia--the Egypt of our day. Both my father and I made a vow never to step foot on Russian soil. "Never again" in my family means never again to Communism. Never again to Jews being oppressed and denied the right to follow in our ancient way of life.

I was invited to the Pesach seder to R' Ariel, the head Rabbi of Ramat Gan, a truly great man with so much knowledge and wisdom to give. Maybe I'll tell my story. It's the story of leaving Egypt.

"In every generation..." Strong words, but yet, in every generation, the ugly head of anti-Semitism rears itself again and again. The two concepts are interconnected. Seeing ourselves as if we were the ones to leave Egypt and fighting the powers of Jew hatred are the same thing. We need to remember and not to forget. Remember and internalize the fact that the Gentiles don't want us here--not in Israel and not in the world (I like to stay away from generalizations, but even so...)

My family's history and my own story are examples of the Jewish people's unbreakable spirit, and our ability to see ourselves as if we left Egypt. We actually did. For others, it might be a little harder to imagine leaving slavery for freedom, but it actually happened to us.

חג מצות כשר ושמח! ממשיכים להיתפלל להחלמה מהירא של אדל. שניזקה לנקום באויבינו. שבת שלום ומבורך מארץ הקודש ובבשורות טובות לכולנו



Monday, March 18, 2013

A Torah Lesson Dedicated to the Speedy Recovery of a Little Hero, Adele Chaya bat Adva



Adele Chaya bat Adva is 2 years old. I don't know all the details, but I do know that she was in the car with her mom when the latter lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a bus as a result of Arabs throwing stones at Jewish motorists in the area. She was rushed to a hospital and remains in critical condition.

The angels are watching over her as I write this. I just finished davening Arvit, and reading a number of tehilim in her merit. May the Holy One Blessed Be He have mercy upon Adele bat Adva. May He grant her a long, happy life full of good deeds, charity, and kindness towards her fellow human beings.

May this conflict end. May we live and prosper in our historical homeland, the Land of our forefathers, the Land of Israel. May our neighbors learn to love and respect us, and may we merit unity amongst one another. May all the fighting stop. Please.

I spent Shabbat in Givat Ronen near Har Bracha in the Shomron. The tiny yishuv neighbors Shchem (Nablus). It was a singular experience: "singular" because of the combination of the people present and the fact that we were in the midst of the Land, the beautiful, unforgettable, one of a kind Land that we, as a people, have dreamed of returning to and settling for millenia.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

L.A. Lakers' Star, Kobe Bryant, Calls Hawks Player Out After Fouling Him and Getting Injured


L.A. Lakers' former MVP and 5-time NBA champion, Kobe Bryant isn't known as the nicest of people. He's gotten into small-time scraps with opposing players from time to time, and isn't the perfect teammate as reported by multiple sources over the years. But the great thing is (and this is really, really great) that LA is likely to miss the playoffs outright. I certainly hope they will!

Kobe landed akwardly after missing a fadeaway in the final seconds of Wednesday's loss to Atlanta. He claims that Dhantay Jones, who was guarding him on the play, purposely stuck his foot out to prevent all-powerful Kobe from landing right. Having watched video of the play, my feeling is that Bryant is just upset about missing the shot, and that he likes to cry to the press about his little run-in's with players like Jones, whom he apparently has some history with.

In other NBA news, Miami has now won 20 straight. I don't think the Heat will lose again till well into the playoffs, perhaps the Conference Finals--or even the Championship. I'm beyond certain the Heat will win it all this year. It doesn't exactly take a brain surgeon to predict this much.

Who'll win it all in 2014? My first pick would be Miami again, but a few teams from the West such as the Clippers and Oklahoma City might have a decent shot too. I'm prepared to count out San Antonio for the next few years. That's one team you shouldn't expect much from, especially when Duncan, Parker and Ginobili are set to retire a few years down the line.

When will it finally be Chicago's turn to rule supreme? DRose should be ready to go next season, and we might actually make some noise in '14, but don't expect a finals run. Miami is just too good with their 3-Headed Monster. Maybe when the Heat finally disolve their roster or at least trim it a little bit, Da Bulls will gain some type of momentum in the East. I think maybe 2016 will be that magical year for Chicago. Why 2016? I don't know, it just sounds good!

On Continuing Where You Started, and Not Giving Up (and My New Job at Judaica Web Store)


I've learned a lot of valuable lessons over the past few years. Continuing onwards with my mission, and not giving up are two of the most important ones. I've overcome so much, but there's still so much ahead of me. I realize I need to keep a steady pace if I'm to reach the goals I've set for myself. In general, I believe it's important to set realistic goals, and follow through on them.

As far as what's been happening in my life lately, I got a really interesting job working at a company in Givat Shaul. I've been assigned the task of writing product descriptions for their website: Judaica Web Store. I've found that they're offering some really nice items like: Ahava hand and body cream, nicely-priced Passover gifts, etc, etc...

On the topic of setting goals, work is one of these for me. I believe that hard work improves a person, making him a better human being. Only by doing hard work, can we hope to give back to society--and the world.

Wishing everyone a great month of ניסן, new strength, and a renewal of old friendships!

שניזקה כולנו לגאולה שלמה בקרוב בימימו! אמן

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Can the Miami Heat be Stopped?



As Lebron Jame's Miami Heat continue their domination of the NBA, the concrete answer that enters my mind to the question posed above is "No, they can't." Point blank period.

The latest tour de force came at the expense of one of this year's Eastern Conference disappointments, Atlanta Hawks, currently in a tie with Boston for 6th/7th and 14.5 back of Miami in a Southeast Division that was decided before the opening tip of game 1 this year.

Dwyane Wade has had yet another All-Star season. He scored 23 points on Tuesday night, in a game that was never in doubt from the starting whistle. The unflinching Miami squad extended their winning streak to 19 games.

Now's the time for me to start saying "I told you so!" to all y'all. I made a bet with a close friend of mine that the Heat would go on a 7-peat when they put together their freak show three years ago. It didn't happen. Dallas got the better of them in '11, but folks, it's gonna be all Heat from here, and they're not gonna be de-throned for another 4-5 years with D. Rose sidelined for G-d knows how long.

This is a true freak show, make no doubt about it. James is a machine on a mission, D Wyade is a special specimen not to be forgotten, and Chris Bosh is all that and a bag of pistachios. Take it to the bank, guys: El Heat will at least 5-Peat!

Reporting from the capital of the world...this here disgruntled Chi Bulls fan...and we thought we could do it...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Learning at Aliyos Yerushalayim with Rabbi Snyder and Roi

I had a great time learning Torah at Aliyos Yerushalayim yesterday. The regular crew was on hand for the most part, but a guy I'd never met before happened to be my chevrusa.

I found learning with him an eye-opening experience. You know how it goes: you meet someone and don't expect much of them till they flat out blow you away with some of the most profound things you've ever heard. Well, this was the case with Roi last night.

We opened up one of the Mishnayos on the shelf. Ta'anis. It seemed Roi had gone over the material before. While his Hebrew's far from perfect, he really had a good handle of the stuff we were going over.

One of the most interesting things we discussed was the concept of how we pray for rain (מוריד הגשם) after the end of Pesach. One of the Tana'im asks why we shouldn't pray for rain the whole year around if we're praising Hashem for granting us the water--rather than asking him to fulfill a specific request (like we do in the rest of the prayers in the שמונה אשרה). Even though it might not be the season for rain, can't we still praise the Almighty?

Update: Hugo Chavez in the Process of Interviewing for a Position in Hell


Here's my preview of the interview the Devil is having with (ex) Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chavez:

Devil: Welcome to my abode, my son! What can you offer us here on the dark side besides the bootylicious behinds of Sean Penn, Danny Glover, and my favorite Jew, Noam?

Hugo: Uhm...thanks I guess. Are you George W. Bush?

Devil: No, Saddam here. I called you down here because I was looking for an intellectual. Weren't you the one who read The Warrior's Oracle, and some stuff by Ortega Y Gasset? Don't you know anything about Senorito Consentido?

Hugo: No, I'm just a thug, and everyone knows that except for you apparently. What exactly were you expecting!?

Devil: Hugo, but you're such a sexy stud, can't you tell me about your dirty underwear or something?

Hugo: Well, I threw my first wife to the curb after she refused to...

Devil: Yes, my beloved dictator, tell me more...

Hugo: Well, the b#### wouldn't stay in the kitchen. Did I forget to mention women need to stay in the kitchen?

Devil: I, too, believe in that, my dictator buddy. Tell me more about your life...

Hugo: I was born in the capital of the Barinas State whose capital is, well...Barinas...There's some oil there, and some cows who munch on grass...you know, Devil, grass...

Devil: Yeah, of course I know about grass, now tell me more!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Here Come the 'Hawks!


Just in case you haven't noticed, the Chicago Blackhawks have ravaged the rest of the NHL since the 2013 campaign got under way. They've won a franchise-best 10 in a row, and have extended their points streak (the amount of time they've gone without losing in regulation) to 29 consecutive games.

The 'Hawks are 1st in the West and 1st overall with an incredible record of 20-0-3. This is pretty much unheard of in a league with a history of relative parity.

Bryan Bickell scored twice and Patrick Kane, who's in the running for the NHL MVP award (second only to Sidney Crosby) connected on a big one in the third. Corey Crawford has been sensational in goal all season long. He's in the running for the Vezina Trophy for top goalie of the year. And that's just one season after a sub-par 2012 during which he allowed all types of mistakes. Pretty impressive for a team that suffered a major let-down last year, huh!?

There's still a long season left to go, but the 2013 NHL lockout has forced a shorter season on those poor, disenchanted hockey fans. To be sure, there are 25 games left in the NHL season. I just hope those pesky 'Hawks keep flying high till it's all said 'n done, and Lord Stanley's Cup is hoisted once again atop the Chicago ice.

 

Monday, March 4, 2013

A World Without Facebook


It's been a week since I quit the T-Rex of social media that what's-his-name founded aka Facebook. I can't say I've missed it; on the contrary, I've had a lot more time for taking care of daily chores and working on my day job.

Facebook doesn't need me--and I don't need Facebook to survive in this crazy, senseless world full to the brink with all types of "interesting" phenomena to go around the block and then some, etc, etc to a million degrees.

I need me some peace of mind, and gosh darn it, I'm gonna get it! Living in Israel, about 15 min's ride from the "Occupied Territories" (boy, would I love it if the our cousins in "Palestine"--wherever that happens to be--quit occupying our land), this might just be a difficult proposition, but I'm gonna see to it that I get this one task done!

Facebook or no Facebook, it's still vital to focus on the goals ahead: get elected to the post of Prime Minister, followed by a destructive take-over of the world...or maybe just stay on as the product description manager at this here place smack in the middle of nowhere. Whichever the case may be, I'm about to get it done and it doesn't involve Facebook.

So there, let's raise a shot of L'chaim to a world free of social media and the Internet--oh wait, I'm using it right now. Gotta go, sorry folks, I need to save the world!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Once Upon a Busy Place in Baka



Bagel Bite is a restaurant in Baka, a neighborhood that used to be home to a few thousand Arabs. Today, it's a blossoming district of Jerusalem neighboring Talpiot and the German Colony, about 40-minutes walk from the center of town, and another 15 to the Wailing Wall. It's a busy place. You'll hear excited voices at any time of the day--or night. There's always something to do here.

Even though I live in a highly contested area, you won’t hear a word of politics at Bagel Bite because it’s a mixed staff of Jewish and Palestinian workers who try to have as much fun as possible while making a living selling bagels, and an assortment of foods ranging from muffins to sushi (sushi was recently added to their already-packed menu).

I've been coming here ever since I moved from Efrat to Jerusalem a year ago. It's a nice place with friendly waiters who do their best to make you happy, leaving you wanting to hand them a big tip. I’ve made some really good friends amongst both the staff and the usual customers. Somehow, I feel this is my “home away from home.” I come to Bagel Bite whenever I have a writing assignment, or need to finish a translation project. In fact, I’m sitting here now writing this.

One of my closest friends at Bagel Bite is a young Palestinian called “Baha.” I recently helped him put together an application to a German university. Yesterday he approached me and thanked me for having performed this act of kindness towards him. And the result: he was accepted to study there! Now, it’s on to bigger and better things for my friend, Baha.

Bagel Bite allows people of different backgrounds to come together for a hearty meal. It’s a place to read a good piece of literature, sip a cup of Latte, or do some work. I’m grateful to the Bagel Bite staff for treating me like I’m one of theirs. Even though I recently started working full-time, I continue frequenting this busy place in Baka in search of the company of good people, and a refuge from all the hustle and tussle of our beautiful capital.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Gush Katif: I Remember


They would not budge

If it were them

Let go now?

“Hard”, “tragic”

                               In their words

No room for mercy

Self-annihilation

                           In my words

Tragedy strikes

Have we not learned?

                                             Words

Spoken by generations gone

Inquisitions, pogroms

                                  Not loud enough

Did they hear?

Maybe more

 

Our land whose?

                           Do you want my land?

No, peace

Back home

                         Do you understand?

Freedom at last

Gathering of exiles

                                Who is talking?

History here

One only

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Illegal Sudanese/Eritreans and Unemployment in Israel

Note: A few months ago, I published a post on why I was a proponent of the African refugees staying in Israel. Since, then, I've had many discussions on the topic with my friend and roommate, F. He provided the clarity I needed to re-examine my position on the subject at hand.

It's been tough finding a full-time job lately. I've been asking the usual question of "Why?" and it would appear that the problem lies in the illegal immigrants who've made their presence felt in Israel.

Over the past 10 years, thousands of Eritreans and Sudanese have made their way from Northeast Africa through the Sahara Desert to Israel, the only country that comes close to resembling a "democracy" in the Middle East.

The smart thing to do would have been deemed as "inhumane" by all the "peaceful" humanists who felt no pangs of anguish when Gush Katif was being evacuated. The government should have acted quickly and decisively (something our government almost always fails to do) in sending the "refugees" (these are people who, unlike of my family who was really fleeing religious and ethnic persecution in the former USSR, are coming to Israel on the pretext that they're running away from ethnic cleansing) home.

We haven't yet, and it may be too late by now. Just as was the case with the Russians who came to Israel in search of work and a better lifestyle, and who weren't halachically Jewish, we're already feeling the consequences of the illegal African immigration wave. The Russians brought theft, vodka, and prostitution with them. Now, it's the Africans' turn.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Shabbat at Ma'aleh Ha'zetim with the Fleisher's

From left to right: me, Yishai Fleisher, Shlomo Alegra

I had an amazing opportunity to spend Shabbat at the Fleisher’s a few weeks ago in Ma’aleh Ha’zetim. It’s a Jewish complex in the middle of Ras el-Amud in Eastern Jerusalem, an Arab neighborhood that answers to the Palestinian Authority politically, but is geographically a part of the Jewish State. People here don’t serve in the army, or do any kind of national service like everyone else in Israel. They’re also not required to pay “arnona” or the very expensive land tax all Israelis are obliged to pay. They do benefit from medical coverage, vote in Israeli elections, and work in Jewish neighborhoods.
Yishai Fleisher, the man of the family, is a long-time political activist. He was born in Israel, but his parents moved to the States, where he grew up. His wife, Malkah, is just as dedicated to the cause of a Greater Israel. They met in the States, and got married in Hebron. Yishai is the founder of Kumah. He served as the head of Channel 7, Israel’s primary right wing media source for many years.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

An Inside Look at Two-Week Old Israeli Election Results



Israelis went to the polls 13 days ago. The elections resulted in the joint Likud-Yisrael Beitenu (Likud Beitenu) list getting 31 mandates, Shelly Yechimovich’s Labor with a decent showing of 15 seats (up 7 from the previous elections), the Jewish Home under the leadership of Naftali Bennett got the expected 12, and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid (There is a Future) surprised everyone including themselves by getting 17 seats.

As far as the smaller parties, Shas (the ultra-Orthodox Sephardic party) got 11 mandates which is pretty much the accepted standard for this party, United Torah Judaism getting 7, Meretz with a great result of 6 MK’s (they had only 2 in the previous Knesset), Tzippi Livni’s Hatnuah (The Movement) with 6, Kadima (previously Israel’s largest party) with a measly 2 seats, and the Arab parties with 13 mandates altogether (much like the infighting in the Arab world, the infighting amongst the Arab parties is what does them in year in and year out). Otzma, headed by Michael Ben-Ari, and Arye Eldad, did not cross the electoral threshold.

The results gave the right a clear majority: 61 to 59 according to most local media outlets, but a staggering 78 to 29 if we’re to include Yesh Latid, which has a very right wing economical agenda and whose leaders are willing to be a part of either a right—or left wing coalition as amongst the “right” bloc, and rule out the Arab parties who won’t be included in any coalition.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Missionaries and Messianic Jews: Worse than Islamic Terrorists

I've been approached by some weirdos on Twitter lately: people who claim that the in-gathering of the Jewish people will bring about the second-coming of their pagan god. I have a big, big problem with Messianic "Jews," many of whom aren't halachically Jewish and happen to be the biggest anti-Semites in the world--worse than Muslim terrorists.

These organizations: Jews for Jews and Yad L'Achim deal with issues that demand a lot of attention from the Jewish world. Missionaries are one of the biggest threats to Judaism today.

I firmly believe that Messianics are more dangerous to the continued survival of the Jewish people than Islamic terrorists. Both are obviously evil and strive to wipe us off the map. One is the progeny of Ishmael, while the other is the work of Esav.

Ishmael was a "man of the sword," whom nothing good has ever come of. His "hand was in everything," as the Torah states. Esav, on the other hand, accomplished his goals by virtue of a completely different method. He was wise, studied Torah (he learned from Isaac), and knew how to get the best of his pious brother, Jacob.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Someone Hagglin' Hagle or it Just Him?

Great article on a guy Bami has hand-picked to be his next Secretary of Defense:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/an-off-kilter-chuck-hagel-fumbles-on-iran

Dissecting a Yahoo article on Israel


The following is a "news" piece by: Dominic Evans and Khaled Yacoub Oweis, both of whom are clearly heavily biased against Israel, and one of whom is clearly an Arab (Israeli media outlets such as the JPost employ Arab writers whereas a news source like Yahoo or the New York Times would never employ a pro-Israel journalist to cover the Middle East).
 
BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) - Syria warned on Thursday of a possible "surprise" response to Israel's attack on its territory and Russia condemned the air strike as an unprovoked violation of international law.
 
Damascus could take "a surprise decision to respond to the aggression of the Israeli warplanes", Syrian ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim Ali said a day after Israel struck against Syria.
"Syria is engaged in defending its sovereignty and its land," Ali told a website of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Syria and Israel have fought several wars and in 2007 Israeli jets bombed a suspected Syrian nuclear site, without a military response from Damascus.
 
Eitan says:  Please notice how there's no mention of the almost year-long civil war in Syria and the thousands of civilian casualties murdered by the Syrian army and the rebels there. All the attention is focused squarely on Israeli "aggression." Also, there's no Israeli side. They're quoting Syrian sources, Hezbollah, and the terrorist state a.k.a. "Russia." Biased reporting? You tell me!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Primer of Tomorrow's Elections in Israel

Based on an email from Steven Toltz:
 
Tomorrow, about 5 million Israelis will go to the polls to vote for our next government. The way it works here, unlike the States, is that we vote for a party. Whatever percentage of the vote a party gets ends up being the percentage of the 120 seats in the Knesset that they get. To earn seats, a party must receive a minimum of 2% of the vote. There will be 34 parties to choose from, but realistically, only 12-15 will earn enough votes to be in the Knesset. Then, the fun begins…
 
After the elections, the President of Israel, Shimon Peres, will perform his only non-ceremonial duty—he'll meet with the head of each party and try to determine who has the best chance of forming a coalition (a minimum of 61 seats).

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bullying in American Schools: A Testimony

I believe that bullying is the biggest reason for all the recent violence in America. Note that all the shootings were carried out by troubled youngsters who felt the need to take out their anger on their peers for having been brutally mistreated and put down for years. In no way am I justifying their acts, but they did what they did for a reason; a reason deeply rooted in the way public schools in America are run.

Bullying has been shown by studies to cause immense psychological damage lasting for entire lifetimes. I was the target of a lot of bullying growing up and attending Niles West high school in Skokie.

I remember how my dean, Mr. Erickson, a vulgar, violent man, who'd been placed in a role not fitting his personality and character values, bullied me so much that I often felt compelled to cry even though I'd been brought up in a home where crying wasn't really accepted.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Parshiyot Shmot and Va'yera: Lessons in Determination


Parshat Shmot begins with the listing of the "70 souls" coming down to Egypt. It briefly mentions Joseph's passing, and continues to tell us about how the new Pharaoh, who "didn't know Joseph," and perhaps didn't care much to remember him (Rashi), was afraid that the Jewish people would join Egypt's enemies in case of an all-out war with her enemies.

We're told about Pharaoh's decree to kill Jewish baby boys with the hope that the girls would intermarry and assimilate into Egyptian society. We witness the selfless behavior of Shifra and Pua, the two righteous birth-maidens.

We witness the bitter reality the Jewish people are faced with: they're living in exile, far from their homeland, far from their "natural" habitat where they have the capacity to thrive on a national level. They're oppressed and forced to perform back-breaking manual labor of building the Egyptian cities Pitom and Ra'amses. With time, they sink lower and lower, but never do they hit "rock bottom." They always remain G-d's chosen people thanks to the covenant between Hashem and Avraham.
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