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Friday, November 24, 2017

Rethinking Thanksgiving

I have no doubt that many Americans will take umbrage, get super angry and upset at this post. While I was still an American, and yes I do retain official citizenship/passport, I learned of how immigration quotas were put in force to try to keep out undesirables, like Jews. This is a fact, not opinion.

Most American Jews ignore it. But check your American History. Early in the twentieth century, when official statisticians began to notice that massive immigration of Jews from eastern Europe was rapidly increasing the number of Jews, they instituted quotas based on much earlier statistics to keep Jews out.

Jewish refugees were never welcomed to the United States; they were grudgingly allowed in. For Jews, the Thanksgiving holiday was more of a "whoopee we got in," rather than "thanks for the hug."

Remember the closed doors prior to World War Two and afterwards. Jewish refugees, begging for a safe haven, were told to go elsewhere.

And for the "lucky ones" who did make it to the United States, staying strictly Jewish became another challenge. Even if there was a five day school week, important tests were on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. In addition, many jobs required work on Saturdays or Fridays after sunset. This continued well into the late twentieth century, and even though there are official laws now protecting "other sabbath days," the United States is still based on the Christian Calendar. That's life. You can make whatever adjustments you like, but you can't deny it. Many Torah observant, aka Orthodox, Jews use up all of their official "days off" or vacation days for the Jewish Holidays. That is the price of living in America.

Live where you wish, but  please don't call the USA the "promised land," because it isn't. The true history of the invasion by Europeans onto two incredibly large and rich in natural resources continents, isn't very pretty.

Thank Gd I am here in the Holyland, Israel. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

We Don't Need A Special Thanksgiving Day

Today I wrote the following on facebook:
In the 47 years since we left the USA for Israel, I think I've had one Thanksgiving dinner. But I thank Gd all the time I'm here.
And seven years ago, I wrote this post:
It's Not Thanksgiving If It's Not At Aunt Pauline's...
My old family Thanksgivings weren't like the ones pictured in magazines, television and movies. They were unique to my family, sort of holy in a way. And that's probably why when I moved to Israel as a young bride I never thought of looking for lanstsmen to make an American style Thanksgiving meal. It wasn't "Thanksgiving" I had once looked forward to every November, it was being with my maternal family, all of the cousins, aunts and uncles.

Since making Aliyah, moving to Israel, in 1970, I never missed living in America. At times I missed people, but I never once wavered in my conviction that I had done the right thing getting on that boat. My husband and I never once discussed living anyplace other than here in Israel. It was a given for us. Thank Gd. So many couples have decades, a lifetime of debates, discussion and discord about this issue.

I am so thankful I am here. It's Thanksgiving Day all the time.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Chanukah, Celebrate Rosh Chodesh Tevet

If you're like me, you're already making your Chanuka plans. Let one of those plans be to join us for Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh.

Rosh Chodesh Tevet is a two day holiday, and we've decided to meet on Monday, December 18, 2017, the 30th of Kislev, 5788, at 8:30am.

Shiloh Hakeduma, Ancient Shiloh, is a beautiful archeological park. If you haven't been there before, you can arrange to see more of it with the Visitors Center. We doven at the site believed to have been the location of the Mishkan, Tabernacle. Email them at  art@telshilo.org.il for more information, or talk to them when you arrive.

Women's Prayers at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh
Rosh Chodesh Tevet 5778
Monday, December 18, 2017
30th of Kislev, 5778, 8:30am
Hallel and Musaf for Rosh Chodesh
Tour of Tel Shiloh
Dvar Torah, Short Torah Lesson
Please come and invite family, friends and neighbors.

תפילת נשים ראש חודש טבת בשילה הקדומה, תל שילה
יום ב' 18-12-2017
ל' כסלו, תשע"ח 8:30
הלל ומוסף לראש חודש
יהיה דבר תורה קצר וסיור בתל
כדאי לבוא ולהזמין חברות, משפחה ושכנות

For more information about our monthly Rosh Chodesh Prayers , contact me at shilohmuse@gmail.com.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Terror: Car Ramming, My Story on The Radio

Tamar Yonah interviewed me by phone.
Photo by Yisrael Medad
This morning Tamar Yonah, a well-known Israeli radio personality, called me to interview me about "my terror attack." Over twenty years ago I was lightly injured in what was most probably the very first ramming by an Arab terrorist.

This should never be considered a "minor" terror attack. A woman was murdered and about twenty innocent Jews injured that day. An Arab terrorist drove his car into us. We were innocently standing at a bus stop, on the sidewalk when he made a sharp right and then a sharp left on my foot and knocked me down.

One of the greatest dangers of this genre of terror is that it is so easy. Anyone with a vehicle of any sort, can terrorize and murder with ease. Today this is well-known and not only in Israel. There have been many such attacks, even with heavy vehicles like trucks and tractors. But in early 1996, when I was knocked down, the police and politicians tried to claim it was an "accident."

You're invited to listen to the interview by clicking here and here.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Anti-Democratic Hypocrisy of The Israeli Judicial

A country's High Court or Supreme Court is supposed to make decisions based on the laws voted in by the democratically elected members of parliament. They are not supposed to be playing god. The judges are not supposed to be political, nor rule according to their personal ideologies. 

Tell that to the judges on Israel's High Court. They unabashedly say that they judge according to their moral compass, which davka isn't very moral.

Israel's Supreme/High Court Judges claim to be strengthening democracy in Israel.  But democracy is the rule of the people, not the rule of the self-appointed, self-perpetuating elite.

Members of Knesset are voted in on lists, so that the political opinions/ideologies/priorities of Israelis are preserved. That is very much the epitome of democracy as the rule of the people. When these judges overrule the democratically voted laws, because they don't like them, that is the the exact opposite of democracy.

Something must be done to "delete" the court from the Israeli governmental system. Yes, I know. Then the court will declare the new law "immoral." Let them move to Zimbabwe or some similar country.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Rosh Chodesh at the Kotel, Is WOW Sincere?

Like many Jews in Israel, who either live in Jerusalem or not all that far, I get to the Kotel, the Western Wall on occasion. It's usually very quiet and peaceful. You can find people praying quietly there 24/7, yes, every single day of the week and all hours of the day. There are Jewish prayer books on both sides, women and men. On the men's side there are Torah Scrolls taken out for the days and times they will be needed.

Some of the men pray as a group, and others say prayers and study the Torah quietly. The women's side is always quiet.

You see Israelis and tourists of all races and religions quietly and respectfully approaching to pray and photograph the holy site. I'm always impressed at how carefully the tourists try to obey the rules, just like they do with visiting churches and mosques.

Jews and non-Jews don the hats and scarves offered to them by the volunteers. I've donated some of my unneeded scarves a few times and enjoy seeing them worn by women who came to pray and want to be respectful.

This nice atmosphere is disturbed once a month, on Rosh Chodesh-the first of the Jewish Month, when the group called "WOW Women of the Kotel" noisily barge in with a large contingent of photographers. They come equipped with Torah Scrolls, many put on Tefillin and Tallit, even though mainstream Judaism considers it unnecessary for women. They make a lot of noise, which attracts protest and attacks from "the regulars." Their media people take lots of pictures of the disturbances. The women insist that the Kotel is theirs, too and that they have the right to pray there however they want. In a sense maybe they do have rights. When people come to pray quietly with their own prayer book, nobody checks if it's a standard "Orthodox" one.

This group only comes to the Kotel an hour or two a month, one day a month. 

There's a principle in law, Possession is nine-tenths of the law. Those who are at the Kotel 24/7 are the "owners." What we'll call "Orthodox Jews" pray more than once a month. They pray not only daily but three times a day. And many also study the holy texts most of their waking hours, or as much as they can fit into their days.

Those who pray daily, even more than once a day, don't do it as photo-ops, media events and protests.

I know that some of the women in WOW sincerely want to pray their way at the Kotel, but by barging in every month like this they will just keep on causing controversy. You have to start small and quietly. No press, of course. Show some true sincerity, and pray on other days.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Arab Terror Continues

The latest news is of more Arab terror attacks against innocent Jews:
Combined terrorist attack in Gush Etzion
Terrorist runs over two men, then attempts to stab soldiers before being neutralized.
Honestly, this is a very clear sign that the Arabs are far from ready to make peace with us. True PEACE isn't a ceremonial piece of paper.

The PA-Palestinian Authority continues to give salaries/stipends to terrorists and their families with the financial backing of the same international bodies and foreign countries that are pushing Israel to "make a deal with those terrorists."

  • Stop the dangerous farce. 
  • Stop the financial backing of the PA!
  • Immediate execution of all terrorists caught in the act!!
There's no need for a trial. Just EXECUTE!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Who is Funding Loser Leftist Ehud Barak?

I'm just identifying Ehud Barak as "Loser Leftist," because he hasn't shown an real party loyalty.
Some people may remember that he served a disastrous term as Prime Minister, early on in the "reign" of Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu. Following is wikipedia's listing of Israeli Prime Ministers:
9Benjamin Netanyahu
בִּנְיָמִין נְתַנְיָהוּ
(1949–)Benjamin Netanyahu 2012.jpgLikud18 June 1966 July 1999199614th27thLikud-Gesher-Tzomet• Shas• NRP• BaAliyah• UTJThird Way   10Ehud Barak
אֵהוּד בָּרָק
(1942–)Ehud Barak official.jpgOne Israel
Labor6 July 19997 March 2001199915th28thOne Israel• Shas• Meretz• BaAliyah• Centre• NRPUTJ[9]

11Ariel Sharon
אֲרִיאֵל שָׁרוֹן
(1928–2014)Ariel Sharon, by Jim Wallace (Smithsonian Institution).jpgLikud7 March 200128 February 2003200129thLikud• Labor-Meimad[9]• Shas[9]• Centre• NRPUTJ• BaAliyah• NU-Beiteinu• New Way• Gesher28 February 200321 November 20052003 (16th)30thLikud• Shinui[9]• NU[9]• NRP[9]• Labor-MeimadAguda[9]Kadima21 November 2005(4 Jan. 2006)[7]
14 April 2006Kadima• Likud[9]• Agudat     12Ehud Olmert
אֵהוּד אוֹלְמֶרט
(1945–)Ehud Olmert 2006May23.jpgKadima(acting, 4 Jan. 2006)[7]
14 April 20064 May 20064 May 200631 March 2009[8]2006 (17th)31stKadima• Labor• Shas• Gil• Beiteinu[9](9)     
Benjamin Netanyahu
בִּנְיָמִין נְתַנְיָהוּ
(1949–)Benjamin Netanyahu 2012.jpgLikud31 March 200918 March 20132009 (18th)32ndLikud• Beiteinu• Shas• Labor/Indep.[9]• Jewish Home• UTJ[9]18 March 20136 May 20152013 (19th)33rdLikud• Yesh Atid• The Jewish Home• Yisrael Beiteinu• Hatnuah6 May 2015Incumbent2015 (20th)34thLikud• Kulanu• The Jewish Home• Shas• UTJYisrael Beiteinu

Over the years that Barak has been out of office, his biggest public Israeli following seems to come from headline writers.

I know that this chart didn't come out all that well, but you can see that Netanyahu obviously learned a lot of the art of politics during his time in the opposition, after being deposed by Barak. For a clearer visual image, go to wikipedia.

You may not remember, but Barak was elected with the help of American advisors who suggested that he promise to withdraw from Southern Lebanon, which he did in such a hurry that valuable security information and equipment was left for the enemy. After that it all went downhill for him. And to make his reputation as a loyal competent Israeli even worse,  he then worked for an American  companies. Periodically these "comeback" headlines reappear. I don't trust him at all. Something stinks.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Taking a Poll: Will The USA Move its Embassy to Jerusalem?

Donald Trump isn't the first American President to have said he'd move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem. That pledge seems to be a pre-election requirement, though ignoring it is an accepted post-election given.

I'm listing four choices here. Please record your vote in the comments, thanks:

  1. Yes, Trump will move the embassy to Jerusalem before he leaves office.
  2. No, Trump won't move the embassy to Jerusalem.
  3. Trump will make moving the embassy to Jerusalem the candy to bribe Israel to accept his "peace deal."
  4. None of the above aka "other." Please elaborate, thanks.

American Flag flying over new Jerusalem Consulate

Monday, November 13, 2017

Trump, Kushner ad nauseum, Keep Your Deals for Yourselves

Believe me that Trump will get high approval ratings in the USA before the Arabs here will be willing to live in peace with Jews/the State of Israel. So, the bottom line is that instead of joining to world in trying to pressure Israel into suicide, Donald Trump and Jared Kushner should polish up POTUS's image in their home country. There's more of a chance they'll succeed in that quest.
Team led by Kushner works on ‘ultimate deal’ for Mideast
As I've written many times, a "deal" isn't peace. It's not the same as as negotiating with a plumber for a job or a bank for a mortgage/loan. And as an Israeli I would want a "money back guarantee" including generous compensation for damages before ever accepting their "deal." That would include an effective "undo" button to bring the dead back to life and full health to those injured by the Arabs.

Since not even Jared Kushner can offer a "deal" like I would require, there's nothing to talk about.

The truth is that Arab violence against Jews predates the Zionist Movement, which predates the state of Israel. What's most interesting is that although there was always Arab violence against Jews, more and more Arabs moved here from the surrounding areas, which weren't independent countries, as Zionists began to industrialize the area and use agricultural methods that required more workers. Arabs working for Jews has been a common thing for over a hundred years.

The immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel greatly improved the economic situation here, a phenomenon that continues to this day. When Arabs are confident that they can talk anonymously and safely, they will say that the last thing they want is to live under Arab rule. Arabs who work in our local Rami Levy are considered very lucky and financially secure. Israeli minimum wage is considered a high salary, and the clans which have passed the security checks do their best to keep their good name in order to keep the jobs in the family.

A major reason that there is so much violence and instability in the Middle East is because the countries and borders aren't "natural." The borders were drawn by Europeans making "deals." The various countries are made of clans and "tribes," who never got along well.

The most stable country is Israel. That is because the Jewish People have retained its religion, history, customs, language and Land for thousands of years, even during a long exile. Yes, even when exiled, Jews continued to live here in the Holy Land, visit, pray and long for it.

There are more important things for Kushner to do for his father-in-law, and I wish him luck. As long as he butts out of my business...

Keep your dealing at home!

Rami Levy Discount Supermarket employees many Arabs 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5778, Just One More Week!

Considering the clear blue skies of late and the almost zero humidity, it's hard to believe that the winter month of Kislev is just a week away. The dainty scattering of clouds are more suitable for Succot or just after. Gd willing the rains will begin to fall in blessed quantities. That's something extra to pray for when we gather next Sunday at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, for our Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers.

Women's Prayers at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh
Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5778 
Sunday, November 19, 2017 
1st of Kislev, 5778, 8:30am 
Hallel and Musaf for Rosh Chodesh 
Tour of Tel Shiloh 
Dvar Torah, Short Torah Lesson 
Please come and invite family, friends and neighbors. 

תפילת נשים ראש חודש כסלו
בשילה הקדומה, תל שילה
יום א' 19-11-2017
א' כסלו, תשע"ח 8:30
הלל ומוסף לראש חודש
יהיה דבר תורה קצר וסיור בתל
כדאי לבוא ולהזמין חברות, משפחה ושכנות

Please mark it in your calendars and planners.

Considering that Rosh Chodesh is a traditional Women's Holiday, and Shiloh has been the location for prayers, especially for women since the days of the Biblical Chana, our Rosh Chodesh prayer group is most fitting. For more information, you can email me, shilohmuse@gmail.com.

Shiloh Hakeduma, Ancient Shiloh is a recognized tourist and archeological site. It's open six days a week to visitors and offers tours and other facilities for groups and individuals in a number of languages. Contact art@telshilo.org.il.

And if you're wondering, yes, today's Shiloh is the very same as the Biblical city. All of the experts concur that this is the location.

Desperate Singles "Marry" on TV

Parshat Shavua

This week's Torah Portion of the Week, Chayei Sara, not just reports the death of our Matriarch Sara, wife of Avraham and mother of Yitzchak. A major portion of the narrative is about how Avraham's servant, Eliezer is sent to the "old country" to bring back a wife for Yitzchak. Chazal, our sages, debate the age of Rivka, the young girl who is chosen. She is from their family and, without prompting, shows the characteristics of generosity and kindness that Eliezer knew were required.

Rivka, who according to most was very young, had been told that she was going to be taken to a new country to marry a distant relative and agreed. And from the few words in the Bible, it's clear that both Yitzchak and Rivka got to a good start in their marriage.

Reality TV Plays Matchmaker

Davka, this past week I found myself watching a new series on Israeli television in which matches are made between people who have never met. People behind the scenes of this show received applications from volunteers, singles who have apparently given up finding a spouse or partner in all of the more conventional ways. The staff members are shown talking about the people whose pictures are on a table, and they explain why they think a certain two would make a good match. They are "introduced" in front of dozens of people, including family and close friends, besides the television crew, while standing under a "chuppah." And they are "sort of married" while the cameras are rolling.

They don't have a "real wedding," but the male of the duo is supposed to break a glass, as is done in Jewish weddings. And then after the party, they are sent off to Europe for a "getting to meet you" honeymoon. Yes, the camera crew follows them there, too. The photographers also follow them home as they attempt to live together, half the week in his home and half in hers, if I understood correctly.

The evening I saw this show, there were three couples. I saw them at a different stages of the process. One couple was back from their honeymoon and trying to see if it will "work." The other was on their honeymoon, and they didn't seem very happy. And the newest couple were shown having trouble from the beginning. The woman seemed to be trying very hard, according to her body language, to "make it work." The man almost stopped it entirely, since he didn't want to break the glass. He finally gave in and broke the glass.  I don't know if someone who refuses to cooperate has to return money or pay expenses. This couple didn't seem very happy. And later on, maybe during the honeymoon, the woman complained that he didn't seem to be trying very hard.

Statistics show fewer married couples than ever here in Israel, percentage wise. That must be the reason that there are people, males and females willing to take such risks. Even among the very religious here, the couple get to meet before the wedding. And their families get to know each other as they plan the weddings. The third couple in the show came from very different backgrounds which didn't show up sufficiently when the staff was matching them up. There are many singles who would like to be married. I think that the Biblical Eliezer did a better job than these television people are doing, because he really knew Yitzchak and his family.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Unsolicited Phone Calls Scam

Better safe than sorry. 

I refuse to give my credit card information over the phone, especially those unsolicited phone calls.
"I'm calling from microsoft...."
"This is the ---charity."
"I'm from your bank. Didn't you say you wanted a loan?"
"Your appliance service has expired..." 
Anybody can claim to be any identity on the phone, especially when they're calling you. That is especially when they have their numbers blocked.

Yes, I know that sometimes those calls are legitimate, but how can you tell them from the scammer? You can't.

For years after my late father-in-law, when visiting us, had once signed us up for a trial subscription to the Jerusalem Post, we got calls from them. My father-in-law had lived in New York, and soon after he had arranged that subscription, which was a waste of money, since the paper always came a day or two late, he passed away. The callers kept asking for "Harold," and I kept replying:
"Harold is dead. Please stop harassing us."
Eventually I had to add:
"I'm going to report you to the police for harassment."
Bli eyin haraa, I haven't heard from them for awhile.

For the fundraisers, I'm the party pooper who replies:
"I don't give over the phone." And then I hang up.
That's the best answer. None of us want to be robbed. It's one thing to give a bit of cash to a faux beggar at the door. In that case you still get the mitzvah, and the conman/woman gets the sin. Also you have control over the exact amount. Checks and credit cards are dangerous. They have a lot of information on them..

May your money go to legitimate causes and businesses. It's better to be cautious.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Torah Observant Jews Can Have It All! ORTHODOX JEWISH ALL STARS AWARDS

For "ever" it was a given that if a Jew wanted to "make it" in the world outside of the beis medrash, study hall, he or she would have to give up on or seriously compromise on Yiddishkeit. That was the impetus behind most of the assimilation of observant/traditional Jews who left the ghettos for lives in the "big world." And it's one of the main reasons that my parents were so horrified when I became religious over half a century ago.

Jew in the City

That's why I'm so amazed and just have to blog about ORTHODOX JEWISH ALL STARS AWARDS. Allison Josephs's aka Jew in the City has established an annual awards evening celebrating the success of Torah observant Jews in the United States.

Of course, I will always want more Jews to make aliyah, move to Israel and contribute their talents and energies to the State of Israel. But that's another issue.

I remember how daring and revolutionary it was in the 1960s for Jewish males to walk around with colored and decorated crocheted kippot. And women who needed to dress up had to have their gowns "fixed," since you had to choose between sleeves and backs. Rarely did a gown offer both.

Here in Israel, being Torah observant is also less of a barrier to success. The Moshiach is very close!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Israeli EFL has a Lot to Learn

This morning I posted about this topic more from the aspect of parents' responsibility to demand change. EFL Teaching in Israel, Sigh... Now I want to write about how the Israeli EFL teachers and the school administrations must demand change.

When I was teaching remedial English in a yeshiva high school I didn't expect my students to know much in terms of basic language skills, but when I started getting regular and even top English groups I was really horrified. There were almost no actual English speakers in these groups; they were the elite, the success stories of the system. And not only were they above average in English, but they were supposedly good or excellent students in other subjects, especially, those to do with Hebrew.

The standard, non-remedial, English curriculum expects/demands that the students write compositions in the 9th grade, if not earlier. One of the early chapters in the book from which I taught aimed to make the students aware of the difference between fact and opinion, objective and subjective. I was very excited by the high level and relative sophistication of this text book. But then I was shocked and rather devastated to discover that:

  • They hadn't a clue as to how to write a composition.
  • They had no idea of what the concept of "objective" meant.

That was just the beginning of my disillusion. I "reported" the problems to the administration and was brushed off.
Me: "How can it be that my top 9th grade students can't write compositions in Hebrew when they need them for English already?"
Boss: "Don't worry. They will learn how in the 12th grade for their Hebrew Composition Bagrut."
Me: "Duh?"
Then I discovered that even these "top" students barely understood the brilliantly simple and logical Hebrew grammar, which is easily divided into active and passive verbs and even adjectives. My horror only grew. These unfortunates had to learn Hebrew grammar from yours truly. So I tried a different "campaign."
If you want the students to do better in English, improve their Hebrew Language skills. 
For that idea, I was basically persona non grata.

The English Department in the Education Ministry also noticed the low level of basic language skills, including how your typical Israeli student has been learning literature. But, unlike my suggestion that this be remedied in their native tongue, the English Department has developed a curriculum that mimics an English language country. They pretend to be in "New Jersey."

You don't have to be a PhD, or maybe it helps not to be, in Linguistic Pedagogy to know that language skills, grammar, literature, composition etc are most easily taught, learned and kept in the brain when it's done in one's native tongue. When these things are taught in native tongue, then they internalized and are easily transferred to foreign languages. But the opposite isn't true. If someone learns these skills in a foreign language, they usually stay in that part of the brain. You'd be totally horrified to know what percentage of my students insisted that "there's no passive in Hebrew."

I titled this post as "Israeli EFL has a Lot to Learn," because there is something very crucial that the heads of the Israeli EFL bureaucracy must learn, and that's Hebrew. They must raise their Hebrew to a level in which they can enter the regular Hebrew-language system and teach all of their wonderful ideas and language skills in Hebrew to teachers and students.

Then the EFL departments can do what they should be doing, teach English.