Archive for the ‘Essays’ Category
“Dear, Isn’t That an Air Raid Siren?…Better Head Down to the Bomb Shelter…They’re Shooting Missiles at Our House Again…Darn”Written by Marty Roberts on December 12, 2011 – 10:23 am -
Guess that’s life in Southern Israel these days…
So me and the wife are settling in the other night for our evening ritual of TV series and snacks. I’m setting things up and Ellen is downstairs getting into her ‘jammies and sweats.
She calls me, but, me being a new member of the 60+ generation and a bit hard of hearing even before qualifying for membership in the AARP, I don’t answer, so she tries a bit louder.
“WHAT?”, my witty reply.
“It’s a siren”, she says, a bit louder this time. “You better get on down here”.
“Oh, crap”, says me, “We’re going to miss the beginning of Boardwalk Empire!…”Okay, okay, I’m coming…and I’ll bring the dogs.”
I realize that we better get in the “safe room”/bomb shelter that every home in Israel is required by building code to have. It’s rare that Hamas hits anything with their primitive missiles, but every now and then there’s a wrecked house, and there’s even been a few dead people.
So we gather downstairs, in the basement, under a doorjamb, far from any glass windows, but NOT QUITE in the bomb shelter itself. It’s kind of too cluttered with old cribs, books, dental molds and bird food for a full size human to fit in, let alone a couple and three dogs. Besides, the missiles don’t usually hit anything, right? But that siren is still wailing and it’s kind of a scary sound, even after the tenth time hearing it and running (slowly) to the shelter. Better safe than sorry.
So after a couple of minutes the siren stops. Ellen says, “Let’s go upstairs and watch TV”.
“But the orders say we wait in the shelter for10 minutes to be sure nothing explodes”.
“But we’re not REALLY even in the shelter.”
After about 90 seconds, we get tired of standing there like fools, so we head up and hit the popcorn (now a bit burned), sunflower seeds. Boardwalk Empire, House and Dexter are waiting.
I turn to Ellen about an hour later and say, “You know, I was just thinking. How weird is it? There are people that are actually shooting rockets and missiles at our house. For real. They want to blow up our house and kill you, me, the dogs and the children. FOR REAL!!! Could you imagine that if we were still living in America?”
“Shhhhh…”House” is starting.
I guess you get used to anything after a while.
Life in Southern Israel…
Tags: air raid siren, bomb shelter, hamas, missiles, rockets, southern israel
Posted in Essays, Life in Israel, Palestinians, Terror, Terrorism | No Comments »
Maybe yes…maybe no. At best, we could certainly do better, considering the importance of the mission…
This article, by my good friend David Sinigaglia, presents valuable insights for those Jews contemplating aliyah/immigration to Israel, as well as lots of food for thought for those of us fortunate enough to already be “living the dream”, making our homes here, where we belong…in Eretz Yisrael…
Your comments and discussion are more than welcome…
WELCOME TO ISRAEL!
By David Sinigaglia
Our mission is to fulfill our vision: to cause the State of Israel to become the home of most of the Jewish People.
To date, the State of Israel has a population of ca. 6.3 million Jews, while the Diaspora holds 9 million Jewish residents (amongst whom are 1.5 million Israelis).
Our national mission, to bring our brethren to the Jewish Homeland, is not going well, despite all our many attempts to do so. Though Israel welcomes Jewish refugees, Holocaust survivors and other Jews drawn by their belief in God, those still considering the possibility of making aliyah (choosing to live in Israel) remain quite hesitant. Many of these potential immigrants (olim) even purchase significant properties when visiting, yet decide not to live here. If they were to join us, they would strengthen our security and enhance our economy.
Jews residing in the Diaspora do not usually feel that they belong to their place of residence, though it is hard for them to admit it, especially when their families may have been there for generations. The situation is different for Israelis residing abroad, who generally admit feeling alien where they live, because they naturally belong in the Land of Israel.
Our brethren in the Diaspora lack a sense of belongingness and responsibility due to the geographical distance between themselves and Israel, and also due to differences in the culture from where they reside.
Nonetheless, living in the Diaspora (when there is no physical threat) has certain economic rewards, often surpassing those possible in Israel, and offers the peace-of-mind of the “guest”. This does not mean that our brethren are not concerned about the situation in Israel, nor that they do not express these concerns, but their concern and care dwindles with the geographical distance…
No doubt that, despite the State of Israel’s small size, it causes a great stir amongst our brethren abroad, but they choose to support what best serves their interests from a safe distance, where they need not take responsibility for the outcomes. Make no mistake, though they care, they choose to live a life of tranquility—not one of pressure. This changes when they come to visit Israel, especially when they come to settle as olim.
Visitors reaching Israel for the first time, testify that they immediately “feel at home” once they have gotten off the plane and that this sensation is accompanied by feelings of ownership and belongingness. No doubt this is also quite satisfying, but it is overshadowed by other things not to their liking. These visitors undergo a process of comparison between their prior expectations and what they actually experience during their stay. The evaluation of the outcome depends on the size of their expectations, as opposed to the striking reality they face. What they feel is first internalized and then followed by a process of confirmation, depending on the answer to the question—Is what I see and hear the norm or are these merely unusual incidents?
150 assorted cultures (galuiyot)
Another difficult process undergone by the visitor is a direct result of his/her comprehension of the common denominator between us—we are all Jews. Despite this fact, our guest may feel some discomfort among us, because he/she will still find it hard to identify with the strange Israeli surroundings. This difficulty stems from the multitude of cultures we have gladly absorbed. We must understand our visitors’ inability to easily recognize his/her identity when surrounded by unfamiliar cultures. Our visitors must internalize their various ongoing emotions throughout their stay, until they are either accepted or forgotten.
This process causes our guests to ask themselves where they belong, which greatly effects the decisions they make—on the one hand. In the Diaspora, they feel different, in Israel they feel a sense of belonging, but they find it hard to identify with the surroundings. Not knowing Hebrew makes this even harder. However, those who often visit Israel know what to expect and it is their frustrated expectations that keep them based in the Diaspora. The case for Israelis that live abroad (yordim) visiting Israel is different; Israel is entirely familiar and holds no new expectations. Nonetheless, yordim-visitors are always comparing the goings-on in Israel to the Diaspora, strengthening their reasons for choosing to reside abroad and forcing them to justify their return to the Diaspora after their trip.
There is no doubt that Israeli culture, which has been forming over the years, is an amalgamation of all the cultures from which the immigrants came from, and places in which the yordim currently reside. Israeli culture has integrated some 150 different cultures brought to the Homeland by returning Diaspora Jewry. It would be wrong to say that Israeli culture today has taken its final form, because it is still undergoing transformation and it has not yet fully coalesced. It is being affected from many directions; some claim that there is a significant Middle Eastern influence, but this is not true. Certainly the Anglo-Saxons and Europeans here are very influential in fashioning Israeli culture.
It is not a surprise that most of the visiting Israeli yordim do not choose to remain, but return to the Diaspora, because this is the very reason they left and reside abroad, in different cultures. Those yordim know and feel that Diaspora culture is foreign to them, yet they still prefer it to current Israeli culture, which they had a hand in fashioning.
The burden of responsibility
Add to the cultural differences existing between Israel and the Diaspora one more significant factor—the acceptance of responsibility. Diaspora Jews do not bear the burden of responsibility for actions of their governments. The Jewish minority in the Diaspora always feels that it is the government who dictate the guidelines, and that the Jewish community has little or no influence on policy matters. However, in Israel, Israeli citizens have significant responsibility, manifested when determining the form of government, the kind of election process (direct, by parties, etc.), in matters of national security, regarding issues of religion and state, medical services, education and more.
The emotional process experienced by those Jews not presently living in Israel, whether they are visiting yordim or Diaspora Jews, is both complex and ambivalent. On the one hand, the visitor feels he/she has finally reached “home”; on the other hand, “home” is far away. Most of the “Children of Israel” know that, even if they have not been asked directly, He has commanded them to make aliyah and to reside in His land—the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisra’el). The Jewish People accepted the commandment to “act and hear” [Exodus 24:7]—our legacy, whether a Jew is a believer or not. This is not easy for those not living in Israel and feels even worse for those attempting to escape from admitting it.
Many Diaspora Jews are troubled by the fact that they are subconsciously aware that they were not “consulted” before being commanded to make Israel their home. This is not a simple test of faith, because were it not for that Biblical injunction, Jews would not have been persecuted in the Diaspora and our People would never have established the Jewish Homeland in the Land of Israel. Therefore, it is possible to understand (though not to accept) the reasons behind the ongoing Jewish criticism of Israel, as being part of the Jewish character. Remember that, even in Biblical times, ten of the twelve “emissaries” sent to spy on the Promised Land did not want to enter and live in Israel …
There are those who claim that Israel’s situation, existing surrounded by enemies, has affected Israeli culture. Clearly, the constant threat to the State’s existence has great influence on the state of mind of Israelis. It is hard to point to any particular culture negatively affected. To the contrary, adversity has made us stronger. The I.D.F. gives Israelis a sense of security and pride, and the nation always pulls together when threatened. In fact, it is the polarity between observant Jews and secular Jews that has had the greatest impact on the presiding atmosphere. It was said in times of old: “Your destroyers and those who laid you waste will go forth from you” [Isaiah 49:17]. Indeed, we have witnessed serious situations caused by our own lack of support for one another. Since we know who our external enemies are, their influence on Israeli culture is relatively insignificant; our culture is primarily derived and shaped by internal forces.
Size is another factor influencing the formation of our culture. Our nation is one of the smallest amongst the nations of the world, making us feel like a “baby brother” who should mind his older siblings. One concrete expression of this sentiment is the endless infiltration of foreign terminology into daily, spoken Hebrew—supposedly letting us feel more “international”. Stores with English names have sprouted like mushrooms all across the country; this is meant to convey the feeling they are offer everything “not Israeli”. The trend today is to give newborns foreign names, indicating a lack of trust in the Hebrew language and low self-confidence. By choosing to say: Ahlan! (an Arabic greeting) and Yallah, bye! (a mixed Arabic & English parting phrase), Israelis denigrate our marvelous, ancient language.
“You can take the Jews out of the Diaspora, but it’s hard to get the Diaspora out of the Jews.”
Why have I written all this? In order that we may fulfill our mission. We must get all our brethren in the Diaspora to want to come and participate with us in the building of our common Homeland, for the glory of the Jewish People in the Jewish State of Israel. The real challenge, even before we convince our brethren to make aliyah, is for those of us living in Israel to reach a state of rest and security. However, in order to attain such a supreme state of mind, we must first sense that this is our “chosen land” and that we truly have no other. Only then will we be able to honestly recommend to others to come and share our wonderful country.
Sadly, a large portion of the Israeli population does not feel this way and even has contrary beliefs. A significant number of Israeli citizens would prefer to live abroad if they could do so. This fact is evident in the manner in which returning Israelis are received. They hear questions such as: “Why did you come back?” “Wasn’t it good there?” Such comments are typical and frequently heard. This, instead of a gracious reception: “Welcome home!” In regard to olim, Israelis are a bit more cautious, yet they warn the newcomers of intimidating absorption problems they will encounter.
A lack of consideration for our fellowmen/women
This social problem is not related to the matter of national security, nor to the economic situation, since most olim now come from wealthy countries, and are professionals with prior occupational experience; most of those who have already settled in are making a decent living and successfully supporting their families. The problem begins and ends with the fact that those who come to visit, who are considering aliyah, are unable to identify with Israeli the culture they are experiencing.
There is a rampant lack of healthy interpersonal relations, a deficit of brotherly love and mutual respect, and too much egotism. These are manifested in virtually all areas of life: in the way people speak, by the littering, by irresponsible driving behavior, in the way people shove into elevators, by the poor service offered by government clerks, especially those who deal with new arrivals, by the bad service given by waiters and waitresses in restaurants, hotel receptionists, medical personnel, etc. Guests in Israel come in contact with this bad behavior from the moment they reach passport control in the airport, when the official does not even glance at the person whose passport he/she is stamping—never mind a smile and word of welcome …
Even when visiting Israeli synagogues, this lack of genuine welcoming spirit can be felt, especially when compared to the warm welcome received by newcomers to any synagogue in the Diaspora. The (unjustified) reason for this is that the Diaspora synagogue also serves as a Jewish social/community center, where Jews go to meet their brethren. Here, in Israel, we are overwhelmingly all Jewish, even in the supermarket, so it is erroneously presumed that there is no need to radiate warmth and to joyfully welcome guests in the synagogue.
Most Diaspora Jews currently reside either in European countries or in the Americas. The cultures to which they are exposed differ radically from Israeli culture. If we wish to draw them here, we must first mend our ways and change our behavior. We should do this not only to promote aliyah, but because our present behavior is unseemly. We should begin by changing the behavior of government agencies and all the red-tape encountered during attempts to get business permits or building permits for a new home.. How must a newcomer or a returning Israeli feel after being shunted around from one government office to another, not to mention the generally disappointing reception.
Israelis who reside in the Diaspora hope to succeed economically, but are also taking the opportunity to escape the very cultural environment they helped to create. We have heard, over and over again, that many Israelis prefer to take their vacations abroad, where they are less likely to run into their fellow Israelis, or, at least, so they say. The facts indicate otherwise, because those same vacationers feel more secure and are later pleased when they encounter their countrymen/women during their travels. So from what are they really running? Israelis go because they actually prefer the way they are treated by foreigners, rather than the disgusting way they themselves and other Israelis usually treat each other.
It is true that the economies of the large wealthy countries, supported by 3/4 billion citizens, are larger than the Israeli economy and always will be. Therefore, the supposed “revelation” that it is easier to make a decent living abroad is questionable. However, with all the challenges before us, if we could only increase the Jewish population of Israel from six to nine million, our economy would grow significantly stronger, as would our national security and proprietorship in our Homeland.
Every delay in beginning our mission engenders more dangers. We know that the rate of growth of the Jewish population in Israel is small in relation to the rate of growth of the non-Jewish population. It is possible that in 30-40 years the Jewish State will no longer exist, as long as we remain a democracy. It is not realistic to compete economically with other countries, and we certainly cannot compete with the relative growth of the global economy, but we can and must strengthen our country—so we do not collapse socially and economically.
A large threat hanging over us is the brain-drain, the migration of Israeli minds to the Diaspora. Meanwhile, the rate of aliyah is decreasing from year to year, because we have failed in our mission to bring our brethren here.
The “product” that will captivate the customers’ hearts
Thus far, our mission has failed because the methods were faulty. Over the years, we tried to push our brethren to come, rather than drawing them here; this was our tactical error. No one likes to be pushed, but everyone likes to be enticed. We invest massive sums in promotional public relations and send many ambassadors and consuls to improve our image and convince Jews to come. Meanwhile, many Israelis live abroad (yordim), without attaining the economic success they had sought in the Diaspora, and so they malign Israel to justify their residence abroad. What chance of success does this give the Israeli emissaries?
(There was an increase in 2009, but only because the economic situation was worse elsewhere. Especially, there was an increase in “returning”
Israelis for the first time in over ten years.
The thing that most damages the image of Israel in the eyes of Diaspora Jews (and others) is our own poor social behavior. The most significant investment we can make is right here in Israel (not in the Diaspora)—we must change our behavior (for our own good) and the image we convey of our behavior (for all our sakes). This does not mean that we should imitate them to find favor in their eyes, because Israeli culture has many virtues of its own. But since we are the “product” and they are the “customers”, to make them “buy” us, the “product” must be built and packaged in manner attractive to the eye, ear and heart of the “customers”. This can be done at no cost, but solely by means of changing our way of thinking and behaving in our country. This does not suggest that Diaspora Jews are better human beings than we are, but if we want them to fall in love with us and our country, we must better understand what is preventing them from having such feelings.
It is clear that the State of Israel will continue to welcome Jewish refugees from anti-Semitic lands, from all the surviving tribes of Israel. However, potential olim from developed countries and Israeli yordim who sought economic advancement abroad require a different approach; we must learn how to best bring them here. In the capitalistic world in which we live, the formula proposed herein is easy—a no cost solution that will provide a flourishing economy for residents of Israel.
The recipe for success
So, how do we start to fulfill our mission? First, we must begin treating ourselves and others decently, properly, politely and respectfully; only then do we give credence to the saying: “I have loved my neighbor as myself” [paraphrasing Leviticus 19:18]. Who would want to be like me, while my behavior is inappropriate? Let us make Israel the cleanest country in the world, one in which the citizens radiate love and good fellowship, peaceful ways and friendship. In this manner, we can draw our brethren to us from the Diaspora, to join us in building our Land, as it is written [Hosea 11:4]: “I led them with chains of human kindness and bonds of love.” Underneath our tough “shells”, the citizens of Israel are warm-hearted. We must receive our guests with love, thank all those who invest in building our economy and see to their proper return on investment.
The decision is ours, that of the residents of Israel, to act immediately to realize our vision. I know and believe in all that our People have accomplished during the 60 years of the State of Israel’s existence, supported by the achievements of the Diaspora Zionists and the early settlers (halutsim), is unique in the world. There is no other nation that can point to such accomplishments. Nonetheless, our mission is not to brag about our past actions, but to bring about Jewish population growth in Israel from other countries. (Again, we will always gladly absorb Jewish refugees seeking a safe-haven from those countries where they feel threatened.)
We need not demean our past achievements, but we must view this entire process as an ongoing means of enhancing our “existence” and our “survival”, both in the world and in the Land of Israel. The rate of assimilation of our brethren abroad rises every year and is currently over 55%. Thus, the suggested, self-sustaining action can also save our People, not just our Homeland.
“May the salvation of Israel come from Zion, when the Lord restores His People; Jacob shall rejoice and Israel shall be glad.” [Psalms 14:7]
David Sinigaglia, was born in Florence, Italy, and made aliyah to Israel in 1935. He was raised and educated in Israel and England, served in Israeli wars and also spent many years in the Diaspora.
David has founded companies and factories in Israel and abroad, managed companies and factories in Europe and the United States, and has been responsible for the livelihoods of thousands of employees. Sinigaglia and his wife returned to Israel from Las Vegas, and built their home in Meitar, in the Negev, with the intention of helping their brethren realize the vision of returning the Jews to Zion.
Today, he is encouraging financiers and investors to support Negev development. David is also involved in business consulting to promote local companies, based on his wealth of international experience.
Sinigaglia has resided alternately in Israel and abroad, seeing Israel from near and far. All that he has presented here, he has experienced personally—physically, spiritually and emotionally. His feelings and those of countless friends and acquaintances brought about his vision and the method for its realization.
“It is not my intention to preach to my Israeli brethren, but to present them with a hopeful solution to a problem recognized by all of us.”
Tags: Aliyah, david sinigaglia, israel
Posted in Aliyah, Essays, Jewish People, Judaism, Life in Israel, Religion | No Comments »
The circle is complete…The circle that started with King David first sitting in Jerusalem as the ancient capital of the Jewish state…We have returned…This time, to stay…
It is only under Jewish sovereignty for the past 44 years that people of ALL faiths, Christians, Muslims and Jews, have been allowed free access to their holy sites in Israel’s capital.
Prior to 1967, under Muslim control of Jerusalem, only Muslims were allowed access to the holy places. It was (and is) considered a desecration for Jewish or Christian “infidels” to tread on any area that the Muslims consider holy…basic anywhere that they do not want Christians or Jews…
No effort was made to maintain, develop or preserve the sites considered holy to Judaism and Christianity. To the contrary, synagogues were made into stables and used as latrines, Jewish gravestones were used to pave roads, and anybody not of the Muslim faith was allowed to enter the holy places of Jerusalem.
Once the Jews re-took control, all this changed…In Jerusalem, the re-united Capital of Israel, under Jewish control…
Free access to ALL faiths to ALL sites, ongoing excavations and development of the sites holy to all faiths, while carefully preserving their sanctity and historic significance.
And so it will remain…And so it MUST remain…
Jerusalem Poll: Oppose international control of holy places 73%:21%, Oppose construction freeze 67%:23%
Reprinted from IMRA.org.il
Would you oppose or support having part of Jerusalem part of a Palestinian
Oppose any part 66% Support some Arab neighborhoods 23% [rest of table not
recorded in time]
Would you agree to international control of the holy places within the
framework of a peace agreement?
No 73% Yes 21% Don’t know 6%
Should construction be frozen in Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the ’67
Build 67% Freeze 23% Don’t know 10%
Reprinted from YNetnews.com
Many years ago, I heard a speaker – a self-proclaimed Zionist – taking Israel’s national anthem, HaTikvah, to task. In her opinion, it didn’t speak to the Zionist dream, the true feeling of the Jewish heart aching to return home, or the mission of Zionism. She suggested that “The Impossible Dream” from the hit Broadway musical “The Man of La Mancha” take its place as the national anthem. The very words, she thought, encapsulated everything Zionism and Israel stands for:
To dream the impossible dream,
To fight the unbeatable foe,
To bear with unbearable sorrow,
To run where the brave dare not go…
CLICK to read more…
Tags: 67 war, Jerusalem, jerusalem day.israel
Posted in Essays, Holy Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Jewish History, Jewish Holidays, Life in Israel | No Comments »
Another Middle Eastern myth…busted…
The rioting, revolution and unrest in the Arab Middle East is at the top of most newscasts these days…and with good reason.
The potential outcome of regime change in pro-Western, Israel-tolerating Arab nations, like Egypt and Jordan, may, indeed, be earth-shattering. The likelihood of some REALLY bad guys (the Muslim Brotherhood) taking control of the largest Arab country in the Middle East (Egypt), not to mention this anti-American, Israel-hating militant group taking control of the largest, strongest, American-built Army in the Middle East is more than scary…think, ARMAGEDDON…
But one key point stands out amidst all the turmoil…
Did you notice, not once, ever, any time, anywhere has the issue of the palestinians been even whispered in connection to the Arab discontent in the region…not even ONCE…
The truth is, the Arab world could not care less about the “plight” of their palestinian “brethren”…witness the lack of true aid to the people, other than supporting the families of murderers of Jews…witness the lack of support for true peace with Israel, which can only help the Arabs living in Israel. The palestinian issue is conveniently used as an excuse for the Arab nations’ hatred of the Jewish State and their plans for her destruction.
General Petraus, the US State Department and President Barak Obama and Co. might want to reconsider their fantasy-based Middle East policy. Their presumption that all will be fine and dandy in the Middle East just as soon as the Israeli-palestinian conflict is resolved is a very BIG mistake. They are putting all their eggs in the wrong basket, basing the entire Western world’s Middle East policy on a gigantic error.
Time for the West to wake up to reality…things are not always what they seem to be…or necessarily what you WANT them to be…no matter how much wish them to be that way…
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Tags: Egypt, israeli-palestinian conflict, Jordan, Middle East, problems
Posted in Egypt, Essays, International, Islam, Jordan, Middle East, Palestinians, Religion, United States | No Comments »
It is SUCH a pain in the tush (butt) for a Jew to keep kosher…the Jewish dietary laws mandated by the Torah. So many yummy foods that a Jew may not eat…seafood, bacon, not to mention cheeseburgers and meat with a creamy French sauce.
Then there’s all the trouble you have to go through to make sure that your meat is slaughtered properly, even if it IS of a kosher species, and that, of course, makes it much more expensive. Now, once you have your properly slaughtered kosher meat, you’ve got to go through the long process of ridding it of blood…salting and on and on. And do NOT get me started on liver…hardly worth the trouble required by the Torah to prepare just to enjoy a little chopped liver.
Oh, yeah, and then, since Jewish dietary law forbids mixing milk and meat, you have to have two sets of everything…dishes, utensils, pots, pans, dishwashers, sinks…talk about burdensome! Not to mention that you have to wait six hours after eating meat before you can eat a dairy product. What, am I expected to go around with a stopwatch? What did they do before every watch had a digital timer on board? And it sure would be nice if I could eat in any old restaurant that my non-Jewish or non-religiously observant friends choose for our night out, or that required attendance business lunch.
So, why bother? Why do I, just because I was born Jewish, have to jump through all these hoops just to have a little nosh? And don’t give me that “health” answer…no pork because of trichinosis centuries ago, it’s more healthy, yadda yadda yadda…none of which is true OR the reason we Jews have to keep kosher.
Bottom line is…Jews have to observe the dietary laws of kashrut (kosher) because G-d said to…period…
But if maybe this is not enough for you, my thinking friends, there is a whole world of spiritual reasons, none of which make any rational sense, as to why a Jew may not eat certain foods or certain mixtures of foods, and on and on with the minutiae of kashrut…their is something special about the Jewish “Soul”, or Spirit, that which turns our body from a lifeless blob of flesh into a living, talking, thinking human being…This special Soul is damaged by taking in non-kosher food. Non-kosher food is spiritually unhealthy for a Jewish Soul…but there is absolutely NO way that you can understand this on a rational level.
I did, however, run into something interesting as I was studying the Torah reading for this Sabbath, the portion of Shemini, where, among other topics, the basis for the Jewish dietary laws is laid out.
On the verse that tells us, “these are the living things that you may eat”, the medieval Torah commentator, Rashi explains the following…To what can this idea be compared? (the idea of dietary laws that limit and proscribe what a Jew may or may not eat and how)
Rashi says, it is like a doctor who tells a sick person to go ahead and eat whatever he wants…it doesn’t matter anyway…your case is hopeless…nothing can save you anyway, so you might as well enjoy it while you can…as opposed to the OTHER sick person, who DOES have hope of being saved…cured of his illness…HE is ordered by the same doctor to partake of a strictly controlled diet, only eating certain foods and mixtures of foods, consuming certain special medicines and avoiding at all cost other, harmful foods…all in the interest of restoring and preserving good health…
Jewish dietary laws…kosher…Mandatory universal Jewish health insurance…THAT is how G-d is insuring the spiritual health of his Chosen People, the Jews…
Food for thought…
Tags: Health, insurance, jews, kashrut, kosher, shemini, spiritual, torah, universal
Posted in Essays, Health, Jewish Law, Judaism, Religion, Torah and Bible, Weekly Torah Portion | No Comments »
There is nothing quite as beautiful as the Negev Desert of Israel in the Spring. The rains have just about ceased, and the wildflower displays are almost surreal in their splendor. The air is cool and crisp, but it’s just warm enough to be out and about in short sleeves. If you are out for a hike, even short pants are in order. Almost everything is green, not the usual shades of brown, with the exception of wild splashes of color that are the wildflowers and the blooming cacti.
Out for my fitness run yesterday, the new growth springing up everywhere was striking.
When we moved to our beautiful little community in the Negev some 12 years ago, the vista was pristine. Our community overlooked what is called a Wadi, or small desert canyon, to the south, with the immature saplings of another Israel National Fund Forest trying to hold their own against the heat and dryness of the harsh desert clime.
The nearest Bedouin community was barely visible, just over the horizon, a small collection of unimposing private homes, some with small livestock corrals. The only sign of religious institutions to be seen were the small synagogues still under construction near the center of our town. Not a mosque to be seen.
The Bedouin, although Muslim, were not particularly “religious”, and extremist elements were almost unheard of. We had to watch out that a pair of jeans hung out to dry in the yard would not be snatched by a “visiting” Bedouin, and it would not be too wise to leave your bicycle unattended in the driveway, but other than theft, which has been a characteristic of wandering desert Bedouin tribes throughout history, no Fundamentalist threat.
Many young Bedouin served in the Israeli Army, and most were good Israeli citizens. Pretty good tractor and bulldozer drivers, too, and they knew where to get the best earth, rocks and plants for your new garden.
As I ran yesterday, I saw that the adjoining Bedouin community was no longer on the distant horizon. It was sinewing itself well down into our Wadi, with buildings, tents and corrals flowing over the hills, almost blending into the now maturing forest.
I also counted SEVEN, yes seven minarets punctuating the vista. A sign of the radicalization taking place in the Israeli-Arab community, even amongst the Bedouin, who previously were quite separate, even antogistic towards their more permanently situated Israeli Arab brethren.
The majority of their building is illegal, as they squat on huge chunks of public land and make it their own by their presence there in numbers. Almost unheard of is the scene of Israeli police forcibly removing Bedouin from their illegally established communities, the horror that we witnessed in Amona, the tragedy of Gush Katif, such scenes not being at all “PC” in today’s Israel, unless the victims happen to be Jewish “settlers”.
It is estimated that one-half to two-thirds of those living in the Bedouin towns are not Bedouin at all any longer, but palestinian Arabs that have used the ploy of marriage to Israeli Arab citizens to infiltrate into Israel. It is that element that is building the mosques, many of them on land that does not even belong to the builders, but to the State of Israel. THIS is the demographic time-bomb being discussed in the media.
The weekly sermons are blasted over the mosque loudspeakers every Friday…We can hear them clearly in my backyard…and the words are NOT words of love. The sermons are shouted out by the fundamentalist Immans, stirring the crowds gathered in prayer into a screaming, murderous frenzy.
The hatred of Jews, even in Israel, is being planted, cultivated, nurtured by fellow citizens of our own country…awaiting the imminent harvest of the inevitable violence to come. Talk is of the next intifada, the next Arab uprising in Israel.
Unfortunately, most of Israel, and, certainly, our leaders are still asleep at the wheel…
Posted in Essays, Islam, Life in Israel, Palestinians, Religion | No Comments »
“tradition“- custom or practice taught by one generation to another
We attended a wedding last night near Yavne, in Israel. There is nothing quite as lovely as a Jewish wedding…the start of another beautiful Jewish family…and it’s especially beautiful in the Jewish homeland, the Land of Israel.
Before a Jewish baby is even one week old, as we bless the new Mom in the synagogue with wishes for a speedy recovery from the trials of childbirth, we are already also blessing the newborn with visions for her future, to “build a faithful Jewish home in Israel”. When the young couple stands under the “Chuppa”, the Jewish wedding canopy, and enter into the contract of marriage under Jewish Law, it is the culmination, the realization of the blessing first bestowed on the newborn child.
I really DO cry at weddings. Something about the ecstatic but frightened young couple looking into each others eyes and seeing their future unfolding…or maybe, for me, it’s the parents of the bride and groom, as they escort the end product of their lifetime labor of love forward to their new independant future together, helping them to start the next chapter of their lives, hoping and praying that THIS fruit has not fallen too far from the tree
that bore it.
I don’t totally understand the free flow of my prolific tears, perhaps that will be the topic of another essay…
As the ceremony builds up to the groom’s declaration, “If I ever forget thee, O, Jerusalem”, and culminates in the crushing of the glass under his foot, an eternal rememberance of our holy capital’s destruction and the subsequent exile of the Jewish people from our homeland, I am used to hearingthe band break out in Jewish-Chassidic song, to the cries of “Mazel Tov, MazelTov” by the gathered friends and family. A brisk hora is the usual sounds that escort the couple to their isolation room for a quick snack and recovery
prior to the gala party.
Not last night. No band…there was a DJ,which is OK…there are plenty of Chassidic CD’s around…but after the crushing of the glass, the mega-watt speakers blasted out,
“You know, you make me wanna’ SHOUT…”
It made me wanna cry even more.
I love the old rock and roll, probably even more than most. I have even been known to appear in a club or two with my “oldies” band. I can even tolerate the supersonic volume levels and flashing multi-strobes of today’s audio amp systems. I am, and always will be, after all, a child of the sixties.
But a Jewish wedding is a place for tradition, a time to preserve the old, not to introduce the new. It is not a time for self-expression, for innovation. It is the mega-centuries-old traditions, based upon Jewish laws and customs, that bind our generations together, across time and space. Different Jewish ethnic groups may have developed variations on the theme, but each is a tradition unto itself. A Jew should never feel out of
place at a Jewish wedding.
There is a certain sense of comfort in knowing that at a religious ceremony there will NOT be any surprises. The surprises can come in the party to follow, with the young couple finding outlets for expression of the unique form of love that only they have discovered…
But, please, not under the Chuppa. It’s worked pretty well for about 3000 years.
Posted in Essays, Judaism, Life in Israel, Religion | No Comments »