Showing posts from October, 2013

Want to Boycott Israel? Listen Carefully...

So you want to boycott Israeli products?  You think Israel is doing things wrong? Think again...

(Hat tip, Nathaniel Blumenstein!)

Haredi Women Run for Office

I think there is a change coming in the Haredi, or Ultra-Orthodox world.  A group of women in the town of El'ad*, a town South East of Petach Tikva which is Ultra-Orthodox decided to run in the elections for City Council which were held yesterday in Israel along with other City Council and Mayoral elections across the country. They defied convention by even getting their names on the ballots. 
Women in Ultra-Orthodox tradition are supposed to be private people, not public.  They are not supposed to be vociferous, even with regard to improving community or town services; basically, they are required to take care of their homes, children, perhaps work and sometimes are the main breadwinners (usually as teachers in Ultra-Orthodox schools) while their husbands "learn," meaning they study the Torah, written and oral, specifically concentrating on the Talmud, the oral law. 
 Instead, these women decided that issues important to them, their children and the community were not b…

Thank G-d (-and Women and Rabbis) for Shabbat!

After those awful stories below I wanted to bring in the Shabbat on a positive, holy, spiritual note.  Shabbat is a beautiful mitzvah (commandment). It is actually the Fourth Commandment (emphasis mine):
"Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath unto the Lord your G-d. On it you shall not do any manner of work -- you, your son, your daughter, your man-servant, your maid-servant, your cattle, and your stranger that is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath Day, and hallowed it." Shabbat was the day that Hashem (G-d) rested after creating the world in six days, as written in the book of Breisheet (Genesis) of the Torah.  We emulate G-d by resting on the seventh day, and ushering in a holiness that is not present in the same manner the rest of the week.  Shabbat…

We Need to 'Cut Out the Evil from Within Us'

Two stories which disgusted me, but we can't hide our heads in the sand (that would be too much like the Catholic church did before the stories of the pedophile priests were revealed), the story must be told.  It is the only way we have a chance at elevating ourselves to be the true "light unto the nations" we are supposed to be.  Excerpts below, first here, and then here.

Bnei Brak man suspected of raping young boys in haredi town of Modi'in Ilit By BEN HARTMAN 10/17/2013 Police say father of one victim came forward after meeting with rabbi to ask if he should go to police.
modiin ilit Photo: Tovah Lazaroff Modi’in Illit Police have arrested a 20-year-old resident of Bnei Brak suspected of involvement in attacks on several victims, including a sexual assault on a nine-year-old boy.
Police noted that the victim’s father went to his rabbi and asked whether or not he should notify authorities of the alleged abuse. The rabbi t…

Who Was Christopher Columbus...Really?

This coming Monday we celebrate the 'official' holiday of Columbus Day, ostensibly recognizing the great explorer who "discovered the New World."  Not only is this technically not true, as there were numerous others who came before him, also here.  But worse, Columbus may not have been the wonderful humanitarian explorer we thought he was.  In fact, if the following is true, he was a horrible human being.  The page just linked above is very compelling.  Go there.

Read on (excerpted below).  And happy Columbus Day.
Columbus Day? True Legacy: Cruelty and Slavery
Once again, it's time to celebrate Columbus Day. Yet, the stunning truth is: If Christopher Columbus were alive today, he would be put on trial for crimes against humanity. Columbus' reign of terror, as documented by noted historians, was so bloody, his legacy so unspeakably cruel, that Columbus makes a modern villain like Saddam Hussein look like a pale codfish.

Question: Why …

Cheshvan is Really M'rachSh'van-Say That Five Times Fast

Who knew? Actually, I knew that the names of the Hebrew months were derived from Babylonian names, and I also knew that there was a controversy over the name of the Hebrew month which follows Tishrei, commonly known as "Cheshvan," or sometimes "MarCheshvan," with various and sundry explanations for the prefix "mar," which means 'bitter,' or could possibly mean 'droplet' as in 'water droplet.'  The common explanation given is that, in the first case of 'mar' meaning 'bitter,' we refer to this month as bitter because there are no holidays in it, and it comes right after the month of Tishrei, chock-full of Holy Days, from Rosh Hashana to Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah (with Yom Kippur and Sukkot in between, to boot).  In the second meaning of 'mar,' meaning a droplet of water, the reference is to the rainy season starting in the month of Cheshvan, which actually is a blessing--one hundred eighty degrees opposed i…

Is the Jewish "Get" Archaic?

I hesitate to write this post, because it will be controversial.  Many of my readers might disagree with my view, but I'm certain there are also those who will agree.  In addition to which, I hate to air our 'dirty laundry,' in public, because this blog has readers of other faiths as well, and we respect each other for our beliefs, as disparate as they might be.  However, I feel the need to bring this important issue up for discussion, in order to effect change for the good--and so, read on...

Within the last few days, there were some frightening news stories about two "Orthodox Rabbis" in New York who were arrested by the FBI for arranging--for a hefty fee--the kidnapping, beating and sometimes torture of men who had refused to divorce their wives, that is, refused to give their wives a religious Jewish decree of divorce, called a "get." From The New York Times:

...While it’s common for rabbis to take action against defiant husbands, such as barring th…

Dror Yikra: The Maccabeats Do it Again

I had been thinking about posting since October 4th, about so many different things--the U.S. government-closed for business, and the consequently dropping value of the dollar vis a vis the NIS (New Israeli Shekel), Israel's new medical inventions (artificial cartilage-see next post), etc.

But I haven't felt up to par this week (was sick last Shabbat, and it dragged on), so instead I'm posting the next Maccabeat video, of--what else?--the Cup Song!

Great beat, lyrics fit--our new zemer* for Shabbat afternoon zmirot?...don't know if it's as good as singing Dror Yikra to The Sloop John B, but--learn the harmony, we'll sing it together!

Here is a so-so rendition of Dror Yikra to 'Sloop John B,' without the harmony; but you can figure it out (my kids and I do it much better...).

Shabbat shalom.

*zemer: liturgical poems, religious songs and psalms traditionally sung Friday night and Shabbat afternoons
*zmirot: plural of "zemer."

Israeli 'Wash Your Hands' Rap

The hospital Shaare Tzedek in Jerusalem has a special place in my heart, because many, many years ago, my cousins, who were in the Israeli cement industry at the time, helped build it in the early 1900s.

They're now in the 21st Century, with a "hygiene rap" by hospital staff which has gone viral-no pun intended.  If you always forget to wash your hands, this Israeli rap should help you remember!  It's entirely in Hebrew (with Hebrew subtitles as well), but pretty self-explanatory just by viewing.  Basically it raps about how washing one's hands will get rid of the germs--germ played by the lady in green, who infiltrates the hospital.

The Oldest Siddur in Existence

A 1200 year old Hebrew siddur (prayerbook) was revealed late September by an antiquities collector.  It is to date the oldest one in existence. I could not find any information on when or where archeologists found it, or how long they've had it before it was revealed.
The notice came into my inbox on Janglo, linking to the article in the Jewish Forward. The Forward servers seem to be down so I can't access the article now, but read below and marvel: it is older than the oldest Torah scrolls we have today.  Hopefully we'll be able to learn more about Jewish practices in the 9th Century, and compare them with our practices today.  Are the tefilot (prayers) the same, or different? Amazing...and very exciting.

A 1,200-year-old parchment Jewish prayer book that is billed as the oldest in existence was introduced Sept. 27 by a prominent private collector of Biblical artifacts.

The complete 50-page book with original 13-by-10 centimeter binding features early Babylonian vowel…

Sequel to Post Below: Saudi Arabian Women Fight Back

Please read my previous post first.  This is sort of a sequel to it: Saudi Arabian Islamic women are fighting being 'enslaved,' as it were, by filing lawsuits against the government from preventing them from driving cars.  I firmly believe that certain totalitarian religions will eventually implode.

True Jewish Values: What Orthodox Judaism Should Be

There was a time, in the not-so-distant past, when ultra-Orthodox parents would sit shiva if a child of theirs left Orthodox Judaism.  To them, it was as if their child had died.

That does not sit well with me, to say the least.  My child will always be my child, and I will love them forever--even if they choose a path of life different than mine.  I would prefer, of course, that they continue to be religious, even a little.  Why? Because I believe it is one of the most wonderful religions out there. Orthodox Judaism has a beautiful way of life--regardless of whether it is "true" or not.  Because I tried, as best I could with the tools that I had, to teach them the positive values of our religion, the beauty, kindness, love, which are manifested through chesed* and tzedakah*, caring for others in the community, in our close Orthodox kehilah*.

The Jewish religion, as practiced through the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly rituals, plain and simple: makes time Holy.  It create…