Monday, April 28, 2008

Tanach Tiyulim!

There is nothing as fun as taking a "Tanach Tiyule" in the Land of Israel!
Here I am standing on the site of Ein Dor, where King Saul came to ask the "Witch of Ein Dor" to call up the Prophet Samuel from the grave to tell him what to do about the war against the Philistines.
Note to Classic TV Enthusiasts: could the writers of the '60's sitcom "Bewitched" have been Tanach students? After all, Samantha's mother - the biggest witch of them all - was named "Endora."

Barbie May Yet Save Western Civilization!

In what may be the biggest clue yet as to the inherit weakness of world-wide Islamo-Fascism, the government of Iran has revealed that they are very, very afraid of BARBIE.
The Jerusalem Post reports:
A top Iranian judiciary official has warned against the "destructive" cultural and social consequences of importing Barbie dolls and other Western toys.
Prosecutor General Ghorban Ali Dori Najafabadi said in an official letter to Vice President Parviz Davoudi that the Western toys was a "danger" that needed to be stopped.
Iranian markets have been inundated with smuggled Western toys in recent years partly due to a dramatic rise in purchasing power as a result of huge increase in oil revenues.
In Monday's letter, Najafabadi called for a crackdown on the smuggling of these toys which threatened Iranian culture.
We should be AIRDROPPING BARBIES into Iran every day until the little girls rise up against their evil oppressors and demand freedom - "ACCESSORIES NOT INCLUDED!!!"

Thursday, April 24, 2008


In the shade of the old oak tree of Gush Etzion, on "Tanach Tiyuleem" from Hevron to Jerusalem, "In the Footsteps of the Olei Regalym" (Pilgrims). We explored parts of the Derech Avot (Highway of the Fathers)and Roman roads in the Gush, as well as the Tell of Hevron, where King David hung out when he "reigned in Hebron for seven years."
The Land of Israel is delicious. Our tour guide, Aryeh Routenberg (Kfar Etzion Field School) is considered by many as the pre-eminent
tour guide of tiyulei eretz yisrael. He rarely guides in English his tiyulim are truly works of art.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"A Crime by One Jew is a Crime by All Jews"

My grandfather David Lieberman (of blessed memory) wrote in a letter to me in 1972 the following: "If a newspaper tells of a rape, a murder, a theft, a hijacking or any act contrary to recognized good social behavior, I hold my breath till I can't find a name that sounds Jewish. A crime by one Jew is a crime by all Jews. That's the way it has been, that's the way it will always be." He wrote that to me in the context of how the Gentile world views us. It's as true today as it was when he wrote it in 1972. This accusation of Ben Ami Kadish (pictured here), a U.S. Jew who worked for the U.S. Army, spying for Israel only goes to the heart of the question - to whom do we (American Jews) owe our loyalty? As an American Jew who has made Aliyah and now lives in Israel, I advise any U.S. Jews who want to "help" Israel - move here. That's the only way you are going to help. Espionage, spying, treason and subterfuge in the name of "helping" Israel will only hurt us.
I have to agree with what my Grandfather wrote to me 35 years ago. A crime by one Jew is a crime by all Jews - in the eyes of the Gentile world. I cringe at what I know American Gentiles are saying today about this accusation. Remember the Rosenbergs.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Burning Our Chametz - Right Outside My Bedroom Window!

When Pesach falls on Saturday night as it does this year, there are some complications regarding the search for and burning of chametz (anything with leaven). This morning (Friday) we burned all the chametz we found in our search last night - and when I awoke to the smell of fire, I realized that YES INDEED, the main chametz-burning station in my Jerusalem neighborhood (Nachlaot) is RIGHT OUTSIDE MY BEDROOM WINDOW... a.k.a., "The Dumpster."
Everyone knows "The Dumpster." It is famous for being ground central for recycling stuff as well as the home of at least a hundred feral cats and the dumping area for almost everything (including trash). Well, now I know that it's also chametz burning headquarters in this part of town. These pictures were taken from my back balcony.
Controversy - whether or not to recite the bracha annulling all possession of chametz? At least seven Ashkenazi rabbis have walked by and admonished the crowds NOT to recite the bracha until tomorrow after Kiddush (before 11:30am) as we still "need" bread (pita or something with chametz in it) to make Motzi AFTER Shul but BEFORE the halachic hour when all chametz must be burned and annulled.
However the Timini (Yeminite) Orthodox are saying VERY long recitations of something from their Siddur which sounds fantastically Kabbalistic when they are burning their chametz. The Ashkenazi Haredeem are shaking their heads "no" but the Timini are doing it anyway. As far as the regular run-of-the-mill Sephardi, some of them seem to be reading something from their siddurs but not all of them. And the poor people like me who became observant as adults and were not raised FFB - "Frum From Birth" - are just trying to figure out WHAT TO DO WHEN.

Note to "Anonymous"

FYI - no one named "Anonymous" gets to have his / her comments published on my blog. If you have something to say, have the courage to use your name.
But I will respond to "Anonymous" 's accusation that I "hate Muslims." Far from it. I love them like I love everyone created in G_d's image. What I hate is radical fundamentalist Islamic Jihad-ism and what it has done / is doing / intends to do to our world. YOU should hate it too, unless you're someone with a death wish - in which case I recommend becoming a heroin addict which will get you there quicker and leave less of a mess behind.

Orthodox Jew Booted from Plane for Praying

This just in ... and it would have never happened if it had been a Moslem man saying his prayers at the rear of the plane!
FYI for uninformed readers...this Orthodox Jewish man was reciting the Shemona Esrei of Maariv, and it is forbidden to move from the place you begin the prayer until you finish the prayer, which is why he couldn't return to his seat until he finished his recitation.
Halacha (Jewish Law) states that Maariv can't be recited until 3 stars are visible in the night sky, which is why he couldn't have done it any earlier (like in the airport itself while waiting for the plane). Because the plane was flying WEST (towards San Francisco) he couldn't have done it while the plane was in-flight because it would be lighter not darker the more west-ward the plane went, and by the time it would be dark enough it would be too late to say the prayer.

Praying passenger removed from plane at NY airport
(c) Associated Press
A passenger who left his seat to pray in the back of a plane before it took off, ignoring flight attendants' orders to return, was removed by an airport security guard, a witness and the airline said.
The Orthodox Jewish man, who wore a full beard, a black hat and a long black coat, stood near the lavatories and began saying his prayers while the United Airlines jet was being boarded at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday night, said Ori Brafman, a fellow passenger who spoke about the incident by phone from San Francisco, where he lives.
When flight attendants urged the man, who was carrying a religious book, to take his seat, he ignored them, Brafman said. Two friends, who were seated, tried to tell the attendants that the man couldn't stop until after he'd finished his prayers in about 2 minutes, he said.
When the man finally stopped praying, he explained that he couldn't interrupt his religious ritual and wasn't trying to be rude. But the attendants summoned a guard to remove him, said Brafman, a writer who had been visiting New York to talk to publishers.
The plane, Flight 9 to San Francisco, took off without the man. It landed at its destination as scheduled, Brafman said.
Robin Urbanski, a spokeswoman for United Airlines, a subsidiary of UAL Corp. with headquarters in Chicago, confirmed the man was taken off the plane and put on another flight Thursday morning.
Urbanski said flights cannot depart if all passengers are not in their seats, which risks a delay, and it is important that passengers listen to the instructions of the flight crew.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs area airports, and the Transportation Security Administration, which handles airport security, said Thursday they weren't involved in the incident.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tyuleem Season!

("field trip") of the season today with my Ulpan class, we went to Cesarea and Zichron Yaakov on what has been so far the hottest day of the year. At Cesarea all the "grown ups" were doing grown-up things, but I (and the one lone child who accompanied his mother) ran to the ocean to stick our poor tired very overheated feet into the wonderfully refreshing Mediterranean Sea.
At Zichron Yaakov (the 3rd of the "Moshavot," the "Mothers" of the Moshaveem from the first and second Aliyahs) we visited the cemetery, where our pioneers lay quietly waiting for their souls to be restored to their bodies. As one of the early pioneer mothers said when the Turks and then the British tried to drive them out:
"We'll eat the stones if we have to, but we aren't leaving."
Amen, sister!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Giving Directions

Only in Jerusalem can a couple of Russian women stop me on the street and ask, "Efo ha ohel Christos?" ("Where is the tomb of Jesus?") and I can reply: "Which one?"
We then discuss if they are looking for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (located inside the Old City) OR the Protestant alternative, "Gordon's Calvary," located outside the Old City walls just northeast of Damascus Gate.
Once we determine which way they want to go (in this case, they wanted to go to where the Russian Orthodox Christians think Jesus is buried, i.e. the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) I gave them directions and they went on their way.
I love living here.

Friday, April 4, 2008

"Dudu Dag" - The BEST FISH in the Shuk!

Nestled in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda Shuk is "David Dageem" (David's Fish), which I call "Dudu Dag" ("Dudu" is the nickname for David and "Dag" is "fish" in Hebrew).
Pictured here is Yoseph, all of 22 years old and the expert in all things fishy - the cooking and cleaning and preparation of, as well as history, origin, etc. Buying fish for Shabbat at Dudu Dag is a weekly ritual I've come to love - everybody gathers at the counter and Yoseph, Dudu and the restof the Dudu Dag Gang proudly display their latest catches - pictured here is a whole GROUPER, part of which I'm cooking for dinner tonight (soaking it first in lemon water, then adding a bit of oil, salt and pepper and grilling it before it goes onto the blech....) There are many purveyors of fish at the Shuk but only ONE Dudu Dag! Enter through the Agrippas side where "Etrog Man" (the juice guy) is, between the Open & Covered Shuk entrances, go straight down and you'll find Dudu Dag right there. Shabbat Shalom!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

From Long Beach to JTown - Shul By The Shore Reunion

A small but important meeting of "Shul by the Shore" in Jerusalem took place at Cafe Rimmon when SBTS Alumni Caroline Schlagel and her Israeli boyfriend Radik came to town to visit. Pictured here is Caroline (a fellow Sagittarian world-traveler) with me at Cafe Rimmon. Rabbi Abba Perlemutter - where are you when we need you?
Visit to find out more about the best place in California (and probably all of the U.S. as far as I'm concerned) to connect to your Yiddishkite - and the best "connector" ever, Rabbi Abba Perlemutter!