Sunday, September 28, 2008

The New Year Seder
Translated by Rabbi David Sackton and Rabbi Chaim Tscholkowsky.
Drawings by Esther Tscholkowsky.

People everywhere are familiar with the Passover Seder, but few know that there is a traditional Seder for Rosh Hashanah as well. Our Sages of Blessed Memory have said, "A sign has meaning." They therefore instituted the eating of various fruits and vegetables to serve as good signs (simanim) for the coming year. This physical expression helps to deepen the intent and meaning of our prayers. We pray that we will be counted among the righteous in judgment and that the A-mighty grant us a year of sweetness and joy. The vegetables listed below were selected for their form, taste, or name which serve as a ‘siman’ for a good year.

The Rosh Hashanah Seder is conducted at the beginning of the evening meal on the first night of Rosh Hashanah, and according to Sephardic custom, on the second night as well. One should study these instructions carefully before conducting the Seder so that by reciting the prayers with a full heart, he can arouse himself toward repentance.

A. The dipping of bread into honey.
1. The hands are washed and the appropriate blessing recited.
2. The blessing over bread is then said and the bread is dipped in honey and eaten.
[During the year we dip our bread in salt as a remembrance of the salt used with the sacrifices in the Temple, but tonight we dip in honey as a sign for a sweet year.]

B. Partaking of the dates. [The Hebrew word for date -‘tamar’ sounds like the Hebrew word for cease - ‘tam’.]
1. The date is held in the right hand and the blessing, "Who has created the fruit of the tree" , is said. (One should have in mind all other fruits which will be eaten during the festive meal).
2. A small portion of the date is eaten and the following prayer is recited:
"May it be the will of our Heavenly Father that our foes cease to harass us."
3. The rest of the date is then eaten.

C. Partaking of the pomegranate.
1. The pomegranate is held in the right hand and the following prayer is recited:
"May it be the will of our Heavenly Father that our merits increase like the seeds of the of the pomegranate."
2. The pomegranate is then eaten.

D. Partaking of the apple with honey.
1. The apple is dipped into honey and the following prayer is recited:
"May it be the will of our Heavenly Father to renew for us a
good and sweet year."
2. The apple is then eaten.

E. Partaking of the gourd - 'kara'. [The Hebrew word for gourd - ‘kara’ sounds like the Hebrew word for tear or rend - ‘kara’]
1. The gourd is held in the right hand and the appropriate blessing, "Who has created the fruit of the ground" , is said. (One should have in mind all other special vegetables which will be eaten during the festive meal).
2. A small portion of the gourd is then eaten and the following prayer is recited:
"May it be the will of our Heavenly Father that any bad decree be torn up and that our merits be read before You."
3. The rest of the gourd is then eaten.

F. Partaking of the black-eyed peas. [The Hebrew word for black-eyed peas - ‘rubyah’ sounds like the Hebrew word for increase ‘yirbu’.]
1. The following prayer is recited over the black-eyed peas:
"May it be the will of our Heavenly Father that our merits increase."
2. The peas are then eaten.

G. Partaking of the leek. [The Hebrew word for leek - ‘karti’ sounds like the Hebrew word for cut down - ‘karet'.]
1. The following prayer is recited over the leek:
"May it be the will of our Heavenly Father that our enemies be cut down."
2. The leek is then eaten.

The reference to ‘enemies’ in this prayer includes the evil brought about by one’s own wrongdoing.

H. Partaking of the beet. [The Hebrew word for beet -‘silka’ sounds like the Hebrew word for remove - ‘salek’].
1. The following prayer is recited over the beet:
"May it be the will of our Heavenly Father that our enemies be removed."
2. The beet leaves are then eaten.

I. Partaking of the fish. (Note: Many Moroccans have the tradition to have no fish on the table at Rosh Hashana because the word for "Fish" in Hebrew is too close to the word for "Regret" in Hebrew and may bring bad luck.--Michelle)
1. The following prayer is recited over the fish:
"May it be the will of our Heavenly Father that we be fruitful
and multiply like fish."
2. The fish is then eaten.

J. Partaking of the ram's head.
1. The following prayer is recited over a piece of meat from a ram’s head:
"May it be the will of our Heavenly Father that we be as a head and not as a tail."
2. The meat is then eaten. The head of a sheep or of any other animal or fowl may be substituted. Some even use a fish head.

The Rosh Hashanah Seder is now completed. We continue with a festive meal.

Translated by Rabbi David Sackton and Rabbi Chaim Tscholkowsky. Drawings by Esther Tscholkowsky.
The material on this page may be reproduced for non-commercial educational use only.

Those wishing to send a donation to our elementary school should address their letters to:
The Mount Zion Children Education Center
"New Year Seder"
Attention: Rabbi C. Tscholkowsky
P.O.B 6426
91063, Jerusalem, Israel

"Ksivah vechasimah tovah!" A great year to all from the children and staff.

I'm Ashamed! US Embassy Shows Callousness, Insensitivity, and Cruelty to Persian Jew Wishing to Spend High Holy Days With Family


OK, now that this story is out, I'm sure the woman simply has to ask the US embassy for asylum because she probably won't be able to return to Iran at all. She took a great chance to make this trip, and probably spent her life's savings. It is not inconceivable that the police state of Iran knows exactly who she is and have probably already arrested her whole family.

The US authorities who denied her a visa should be sent to Iran for the holidays. I think they need a reality check, don't you?

As for me, I will call my representative ASAP, and I will give a call to the US embassy as well. This is so disgraceful I can't even begin to count the ways that I am ashamed of my country regarding this incident.

The US lets hundreds of thousands of Mexicans cross our border indiscriminately, and don't do anything about it, will one Persian Jewish woman who wants desperately to see her family really make a difference, even if she DOES stay? (I hope she does. No Jew should be in Iran!!)

I'm also ashamed that the embassy is still in Tel Aviv. The Capital of Israel now and forever is JERUSALEM. G-d willing, our next US president won't be a wuss and moves it where it should be.

US shatters Iranian Jew's dream,7340,L-3602782,00.html

Woman who arrived in Israel secretly planned to travel to US to meet siblings after 28 years, but American embassy denied her a visa

Itamar Eichner
Published: 09.27.08, 16:07 / Israel News

A Jewish woman residing in Iran recently arrived in Israel for a secret visit. The woman, who has not seen her siblings, who reside in the United States, for 28 years planned to travel to America for an emotional reunion. However, her dream was shattered after the US embassy in Israel rejected her visa request, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

The woman arrived in Israel secretly via a European country, and planned to travel to New York for the holidays to see her siblings. After she landed in Israel, an Israeli relative who speaks some Persian accompanied her to the American embassy in Tel Aviv. At the end of her interview, an embassy official rejected her visa request.

The official said that as there was no Persian translator in the embassy, he was unable to verify her story and could not conclude that she does not intend to settle in the US. The official proposed that the woman's siblings travel to Israel to see her here.

The woman's Israeli relative approached the Foreign Ministry and Jewish Agency and asked for their intervention in order to resolve the problem. Following the request, the Foreign Ministry turned to the US General Consul in Tel Aviv and asked that the request be reconsidered on humanitarian grounds. Foreign Ministry officials told the Americans that they will personally guarantee that the woman will not stay in the US, but to no avail.

Responding to the story, the American embassy said that in order to be granted a visa, applicants must convince embassy officials beyond any doubt that they do not intend to immigrate to the US.

Nir Yeshiva Students Incite Arabs by BREATHING, WALKING in Hevron. Attacked by Arabs.


I know several young men in the Nir Yeshiva, and I can tell you--these are not young men who "incite." They are pious young men, strongly religious young men, young men who care deeply about Torah.

I am sure they were doing something crazy like . . . walking. You know how a Jew walking on Shabbat is terribly inciteful to the arabs. We just live to incite them this way.

Actually, a Jew LIVING is incitement to many of them. A Jew BREATHING is incitement.

So, here we have fifteen stories in the press this morning about how evil the Jews are who attacked arabs after they stabbed a nine year old boy, but I don't see any politician condemning the attack on these Yeshiva boys or on the attack of the nine-year old two weeks ago.

Hmmm. Sounds a bit biased to me--but, don't forget, the nine year old was "inciting" the same way the Yeshiva boys were inciting. After all, he was alive and breathing and probably WALKING on Shabbat.

No wonder they attacked.

Now I understand perfectly well why the politicians are so quiet about those attacks on the Jews but can't stop talking about the attacks on the arabs. It all makes sense now.

The Price of Prayer: Arabs Attack Jews near Patriarchs' Cave
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

( Arabs attacked two Jewish youths with stones and foreign objects Saturday night and then stoned soldiers who were called to rescue them. One of the youths was hospitalized with a broken nose. The attackers escaped.

Hevron Jewish community leaders said they recently warned IDF Hevron brigade commander Colonel Udi Ben Mokha that there has been a severe escalation in attacks on the Erez alley, the only pedestrian path linking Kiryat Arab with Hevron.

They said attacks have become almost a daily routine, and range from stone throwing to blocking the path with garbage, stones and foreign objects and putting pedestrians in danger of an ambush. Attempts by Arab terrorists to stab soldiers guarding the entrance to the Tomb of the Patriarchs holy site also have become a routine event.

Attacks have become almost a daily routine.

During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which concludes this week, Jews discovered Hamas flags scattered inside the prayer halls of the holy site. One of the Jewish worshippers said there was a distinct smell of urine, apparently from a Muslim who defiled the area, next to the Holy Ark containing Torah scrolls.

Arab attacks during the Sabbath were not restricted to Hevron, and one Israeli driver was lightly wounded in a shooting attack near the community of Alei Zahav in Samaria. The attackers used a tactic common in the first Intifada in the early 1990s, blocking the road with rocks and then firing on the driver when he stopped his vehicle to clear the blockade. Another vehicle sustained damage. The attackers escaped.

Other attacks occurred near Beitar Illit, west of Efrat, where Arab terrorists threw a firebomb at a Jewish driver, and in Shilo in Samaria, where attackers damaged a vehicle with stones and rocks. The driver escaped unhurt.

US Textbooks Outrageously Innacurate Regarding Israel, Jews


What do we expect? The same neo-liberal academic anti-Israel groups that are taking over the American campuses are also the same neo-liberal academic anti-Israel groups who are writing the textbooks under contracts from big publishing companies and being accepted by the "progressive" Jews (i.e. self-hating neo-liberal academic anti-Israel) sitting on the text-book committees in California and Texas.

By the way, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Those same companies who put out your kids' textbooks are the same companies who put out their standardized tests--you know, the ones the taxpayers pay for but we aren't allowed to see, we aren't allowed to know who grades, we aren't allowed to know how they are graded, and we aren't allowed to audit regarding their questions and their scores--even after the tests are given? You know, those tests that determine whether your child moves from grade-level to grade-level? You know, those tests that grade your kids' teachers?

Yeah. Those tests.

So, I guess my idea that the tests are a way to get hold of the next generation and make sure the teachers teach what the liberal establishment wants them to believe may not be that far off, right?

In order to pass their classes and their standardized tests, your kids have to swallow this stuff whole and regurgitate it on command. Nice, huh?

Oh, but we need "accountability" right? Tell me, please: Who is holding the text book companies and the test-makers accountable to make sure they are asking unbiased questions? Who is holding the textbook companies and test maker accountable for the taxpayers money?

You want accountable? Make THEM accountable.

Visit and open your eyes!!

Sep 25, 2008 19:42 | Updated Sep 26, 2008 11:46
'US textbooks misrepresent Jews, Israel'

American elementary and high school textbooks contain many "gross misrepresentations" of Judaism, Christianity and Israel, according to a book-length study released this week by the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research.

"It is shocking to discover that history and geography textbooks widely used in America's elementary and secondary classrooms contain some of the very same inaccuracies about Christianity, Judaism and the Middle East as those [used] in Iran," the IJCR said in a summary of the findings of the five-year study.

In examining the 28 most widely-used history, geography and social studies textbooks in America, researchers Dr. Gary Tobin and Dennis Ybarra found some 500 instances of "errors, inaccuracies and even propaganda" on these issues. Tens of millions of schoolchildren in all 50 states use the textbooks, according to Tobin.

Among the "outrageous misrepresentations" the study found was "a denial of the Jewish roots of Jesus," as when the textbook The World relates that "Christianity was started by a young Palestinian named Jesus."

"Textbooks include negative stereotypes of Jews, Judaism and Israel," the authors write. "For example, textbooks tend to discredit the ties between Jews and the land of Israel."

According to Tobin, "you're much more likely to learn about Jewish terrorism before the founding of Israel [in the textbooks] than about terrorism against Israel since that time."

Among the claims made about Israel in some of the textbooks are that Arab countries never initiated wars against Israel, Arab nations desire peace while Israel does not and that it was Israel that placed Palestinians in refugee camps in Arab lands, not Arab governments. No mention whatsoever was found relating to the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries who were forced out after the establishment of Israel.

In their treatment of Judaism, too, the textbooks showed a negative bias, according to the study. They often expressed a view that "Jews and Judaism are legalistic," and that "Jews care only about the letter of the law and ignore its spirit," the study found. The Jewish God is presented as "stern and warlike," and not compassionate, as is highlighted in other religions. In some instances, Jews are charged with deicide in the killing of Jesus.

The study also found that 18 textbooks used "unscholarly and disparaging 'Old Testament' terminology for the Jewish scriptures when discussing the origins of Judaism."

The study compared language used in describing Jewish and Christian belief with that describing Muslim belief. "The textbooks tend to be critical of Jews and Israel, disrespectful about Christianity, and rather than represent Islam in an objective way, tend to glorify it," says Ybarra.

"Textbook publishers often defer completely to Muslim groups for their content [on Islam] because they want to be sensitive to Muslim concerns," he explained. "So they write that Mohammed is a prophet of God, without the qualifier you should have in a public school that shows you're teaching about religion, rather than teaching religion."

One example among the many cited in the study is in World History: Continuity and Change, in which a glossary entry on the Ten Commandments describes them as "Moral laws Moses claimed to have received from the Hebrew God Yahweh on Mount Sinai."

The same glossary describes the Koran as a "Holy Book of Islam containing revelations received by Muhammad from God" - without a conditional qualifier.

"Islam is treated with a devotional tone in some textbooks, less detached and analytical than it ought to be," the study finds. "Muslim beliefs are described in several instances as fact, without any clear qualifier such as 'Muslims believe... .'

"No religion should be presented in history textbooks as absolute truth, either on its own or compared to any other, or they all should be."

"All in all, there are repeated misrepresentations that cross the line into bigotry," the authors write.

The textbooks examined in the study are published by some of the largest publishers in America, including Pearson, an $8 billion dollar company which is one of America's largest textbook publishers, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, a global corporation with revenues totaling some $2.5 billion.

The publishers, however, are not bigots, Tobin emphasizes. "I learned in graduate school that you should never try to explain something with conspiracy when you can account for it with incompetence," he says. "That's what you've got here. The fact that publishers don't use scholars to write the textbooks, but amateurs," is a major source of the bias in the texts.

"If the person writing about the founding of Israel isn't an expert in the field - and he's not - he'll go to whatever sources he can find, such as Google. Any misinformation he finds can get into the textbooks."

The lack of expertise among the writers is only one of the many "systemic ills" the study found in the textbook publishing process. "Developing a textbook and getting it adopted in the major states of Texas and California is so expensive that only those competitors with the deepest pockets stand a chance of succeeding. Only three mega-publishers (down from nine in less than twenty years) control the K-12 textbook market, meaning that more and more titles are concentrated in fewer hands. Errors in one book now stand a greater chance of replicating themselves across other books because they may originate from the same source."

These structural weaknesses leave the textbook industry susceptible to pressure from certain groups. "We do not believe that textbook publishers are 'out to get' anybody or any group," the authors note in the study. Rather, "they are subject to all kinds of external pressures so that the higher pursuit of truth and accuracy can be sacrificed to narrow interests."

"Arab and Muslim interest groups... promote a pro-Arab, pro-Palestinian agenda in textbooks' lessons on the Middle East," the study finds. "For example, the Council on Islamic Education has weighed in during adoption processes to oppose the direct and unconditional use of the term 'Israel' for the Israelite monarchy in textbooks, lest anyone make the connection between modern Jews' claims to Israel and the kingdom that existed in the same location 3,000 years ago."

Says Tobin: "If the president of Iran wants to blast Israel at the UN, he can use American textbooks to do so."

Never Forget? They Forgot. Austria Builds Ruling Coalition with Neo-Nazi "Freedom Party"


This is what happens when Holocaust Denial becomes accepted and the youth forget history. We have the re-emergence of the Nazi party in Austria.

This is a disgusting situation, and I am hoping the EU will start actively shunning Austria if this coalition comes to power.

But I won't hold out hope. The EU has also forgotten the Holocaust, shielding their anti-Semitism in stories about how they aren't "anti Jewish" they are just "Anti-Israel."

Yeah, right.

Sep 27, 2008 23:22 | Updated Sep 28, 2008 1:21
The end of Austrian-Israeli relations?

Sunday's Austrian election could mean a break in diplomatic relations between Israel and Austria if extreme right-wing parties enter a coalition government. Heinz-Christian Strache, who leads the Freedom Party, took part in paramilitary activities with neo-Nazis in the late 1980s and has been known to use the Nazi salute.

According to polls, the Freedom Party could garner close to 20 percent of the vote. In 2000, the inclusion of the Freedom Party in the Austrian government prompted Israel to recall its ambassador to Vienna.

Then-prime minister Ehud Barak said the party's presence in the government "should outrage every inhabitant of the world."

"The Jewish people, wherever it may be, led by the State of Israel, will never allow the world to conduct business as usual in light of the events in Austria and their possible implications," Barak said at the time.

In a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post last week, Dan Ashbel, Israel's ambassador in Vienna, said, "We are very concerned about the situation and parties who are xenophobic and base their policies on xenophobia. It is a danger and it is a very sad fact that this repeats itself."

The Freedom Party is campaigning using anti-immigrant slogans, such as "Asylum fraud means a flight home," and is exploiting anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments to win votes.

The Freedom Party is aligned with self-styled Austrian chief rabbi Moshe Aryeh Friedman, who was barred from the Vienna Jewish community after he took part in the "World Without Zionism" conference in Teheran in 2005 and praised Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"The rabbi is a good friend of mine... Why, we've even had him over to the house!" said John Gudenus, a Freedom Party politician who has been convicted of denying the Holocaust. In Austria, it is unlawful to cast doubt on the extermination of European Jewry as a historical fact.

On Tuesday, the Freedom Party held a press conference to announce a parliamentary inquiry into the expulsion of Friedman's children from Vienna's oldest Jewish school. Raimund Fastenbauer, general secretary of the community, told the Post "the Freedom Party is giving assistance to Mr. Friedman."

Fastenbauer said the move was justified because Friedman failed to pay school fees and because of his participation in the World Without Zionism conference.

Friedman "is educating his children with Holocaust revisionist views. He is not a chief rabbi and has no followers. He is a crook," Fastenbauer said.

Ariel Muzicant, president of the Austrian Jewish community, said the Freedom Party, as "a party with closeted Nazis, is not acceptable as a governing partner."

Strache, the Freedom Party candidate for chancellor, has aligned his party with the Iran and strongly opposes sanctions to force a suspension of Teheran's nuclear program. The party's founder, Jörg Haider, who has praised Nazi policies, broke ranks in 2005 to head a new rightist party, the Alliance for Austria's Future.

The alliance is running under the slogan "Austrian for the Austrians. For your sake."

According to a recent Gallup poll, the Alliance for Austria's Future is set to secure 8% of the vote, doubling its result in the 2006 election.

When asked if Israel would recall him if the extreme right-wing parties became part of a government coalition, Ashbel told the Post, "When the question begins with 'if,' we cannot give an answer. We have to see what type of government will be here."

"One should be careful" with polls, he said, citing the polls that had Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni trouncing Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz for the Kadima leadership earlier this month instead of squeaking by with a 431-vote margin.

Giant's Horowitz Sent to AAA


Well, now Horowitz doesn't need to chose between baseball and High Holy Days . . .


Not exactly ‘shanah tovah’ for Giants’ Brian Horwitz
by andy altman-ohr
staff writer

Brian Horwitz, who made a brief splash with the San Francisco Giants back in June, was in the news again last week, but the news was not good for the Jewish outfielder.

In order to free up a spot for another player, the Giants took Horwitz off their 40-man roster on Sept. 18. Technically, they outrighted him to their Triple-A team in Fresno, but since the Grizzlies’ season is already over and since Horwitz was not one of the minor-leaguers the Giants called up this month, the move was highly procedural.

It does not bode well for Horwitz, who’ll turn 26 in November. Not being a September call-up and now being taken off the 40-man roster are indicators he doesn’t figure in the Giants’ future.

As of now, the former Cal player who grew up in the San Fernando Valley remains in the Giants’ farm system, still needing two more seasons in the organization to become a free agent. But the Giants are stacked with outfielders, meaning he’ll be hard-pressed to make the team coming out of spring training next year.

Horwitz began 2008 with Fresno and was hitting .294 when the Giants purchased his contract in late May. He smacked two homers in his first 14 major league at-bats, becoming a mini-sensation whose San Francisco teammates nicknamed him “The Rabbi.”

But regular playing time faded and his statistics fizzled, and the Giants optioned him back to Fresno in early July. Back in Triple-A, he failed to flourish, hitting only .253 over the final month to drop his final batting average to .277.

In four previous minor league seasons, he always hit above .300, often well above it.

He hit for more power this season (nine home runs for San Francisco and Fresno combined), but observers noted that he became less effective as a spray hitter and also struck out more often than he did in 2007.

The Giants removed Horwitz and a pitcher from their 40-man roster to free up spots for pitcher Merkin Valdez and infielder Kevin Frandsen coming off the 60-day disabled list.

“Too bad for Brian, he’s a good guy,” said Grizzlies radio announcer Doug Greenwald, the son of former Giants announcer Hank Greenwald. “But he’s still in the system.”

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Joseph's Tomb Closed to Jews Because a Minor Israeli Official Wants To Punish "Settlers"


Imagine a minor Israeli official closing off some Mosque during Ramadan to punish the arabs for not condemning an attack. What would happen?

The entire country would be shut down with riots and violence and protests.

But some two-bit dictator of a minor Israeli official can violate an international agreement (just a little thing known as Oslo--that guarantees Jewish access to Joseph's Tomb), and "punish" Jews during an important religious time because he is angry that the Jews wouldn't condemn an attack on an Arab village after the arabs attacked a nine year old Jewish boy.

Did he ask that the arabs condemn the attack on the boy? Does he punish the arabs in the same way he is punishing the Jews?

This is completely unjustified, and completely illegal. He should be immediately fired.

Sep 27, 2008 23:32 | Updated Sep 28, 2008 2:15
Holy site closed to 'punish' settlers

Following recent settler violence in the West Bank, the IDF Central Command canceled a number of scheduled visits to Joseph's Tomb in Nablus last week and says it will not permit any until the settler leadership forcefully condemns the attacks, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The decision was made by Samaria Brigade commander Col. Itzik Bar and was delivered to the settler leadership by Maj. Nehemia Hen, who is in charge of settlement security in the area.

Jews have been allowed access to Joseph's Tomb since the beginning of the year in monthly visits coordinated with the Samaria Brigade.

Each time, at least five buses were allowed access to the tomb, which is located on the outskirts of Nablus. It was the site of heavy fighting in the beginning of the second intifada in 2000, prompting the army to withdraw from the holy site, which was later ransacked by Palestinians.

But following the settler rampage through the Palestinian village of Asira el-Kibliyeh in response to the stabbing of nine-year-old Tuvia Shtatman in Yitzhar on September 13, the IDF decided to suspend visits to the tomb.

Eli Rosenfeld, a Samaria Regional Council employee who is in charge of coordinating visits to the tomb with the IDF, said he received a call from Hen on Wednesday informing him that they were suspended until further notice.

"Hen said that the IDF wanted the settler leadership to condemn the incident two weeks ago in Asira el-Kibliyeh as well as the burning down of olive trees near Gilad Farm, even though there is no proof that settlers were involved," Rosenfeld told the Post.

"He said that there is nothing to talk about until future notice."

During the Jewish month of Elul and ahead of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, Rosenfeld said, Jews are particularly interested in visiting the tomb. On Thursday, Rosenfeld was hoping to be able to escort a rabbi from New York who flew here especially to visit the tomb.

"We have been fielding thousands of requests to visit the tomb," he said. "Now there is nothing we can do."

The IDF Spokesman's Office confirmed that the visits had been suspended but said this was because of "operational concerns" that would last until some time in October.

Rosenfeld rejected the claim, saying that Hen explicitly told him that the brigade commander's decision was a "punishment" for the settlers for not condemning the recent violence.

"There is no security reason why we can't go in to pray there," he said. "The IDF operates in Nablus almost every night and they can easily accompany us, like they have done for the past year."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mazuz Rules Conversions Will Stand; Rabbinate cannot stop or delay the marriage of proselytes who can produce proper paperwork


I'm not sure how much pull Mazuz's decision will have with the religious courts, but I think it is a nice gesture, at least, in protecting the sanctity of conversion in Israel.

The Sherman decision will, I'm sure, stand as one of the most derisive decisions in the history of Jewish courts. I don't know what history will say about the decision, but it appears that Mazuz will allow those converted by Druckman's Beit Din to marry into the Jewish people regardless of how they rule--provided the wedding couple can find a rabbi who will perform the service.

The article seems overly positive. I am thinking this is not the last word, and that Mazuz has only opened the wound and poured some salt into it (which is better than letting it fester, but not good enough to healing it, either).

Perhaps Mazuz was waiting to see the make up of the Rabbinic Committee before he made this ruling. That committee swung decidedly toward the religious Zionist and Sephardim and away from the Haredim. This could have been the sign that Mazuz was looking for before attempting to stir up the swarm that is likely to begin forming soon after this article was published.

Stand by and see what happens.

Mazuz: Drukman's conversions stand,7340,L-3601478,00.html

AG gives legal opinion in case pertaining to Rabbinical Court's doubting validity of conversions performed by ousted head of Conversions Court; says statement calling for their annulment has no legal standing

Published: 09.25.08, 09:07 / Israel Jewish Scene

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said Wednesday that the High Rabbinical Court's statement suggesting that the conversions preformed by Rabbi Chaim Drukman, former head of the Conversions Court, should be overturned, has no legal or halachic standing.

Thousands of conversions preformed by Rabbi Drukman and Rabbi Chaim Avior have been called into question, after the High Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem decreed they must be disqualified. The controversial statement was made just days before Rabbi Drukman was ousted as chief of the Conversions Court.

Mazuz was aked to weigh in on the matter by the High Court of Justice, following a petition made by a woman whose conversion was disqualified by the Ashdod Rabbinical Court some 15 years after it was decreed.

Addressing the woman's case, Mazuz said that the Ashdod Court's ruling "was lacking in ways undermining its authority in the matter… moreover, the decision was detrimental to the basic laws of natural justice and procedural fairness."

As for the High Rabbinical Court's statement questioning the validity of Rabbi Drukman's conversions, Mazuz noted that "beyond the fact that the High Rabbinical Court should never had been called upon within this case, the statement cannot be considered binding to anyone not directly involved in this specific case.

"Therefore, the ruling made by the first instance (the Ashdod Court) and the one made by the appellate court (the High Rabbinical Court), and any statement made as to the validity of the conversions performed by Rabbi Drukman over the years, do not apply to anyone not privy to the case."

The Rabbinate, added Mazuz, cannot stop or delay the marriage of proselytes, as long as they can produce the proper documentation.

"As long as a conversion decree has not been rescinded by the appropriate religious authority, no rabbi or marriage registrar has the authority to question its validity," he said.

Attorney Susan Weiss of the Center for Women's Justice, who represented the woman in question, said Wednesday that Mazuz's brief was "good news ahead of the New Year," adding it indicated that the legal system was taking a clear stand in favor of both converts and the common good.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rosh Hashana According to the Sephardic Tradition of the Turkish Jews


This is a beautiful document, collected and edited by my friend Shelomo Alfassa. It presents the traditions of the Turkish Jews for Rosh Ashana.


Rosh Ashaná
Edited by Shelomo Alfassa

Our Tradition Our Culture™ Education Sheets, based on the Sephardic religious traditions as practiced in the Ottoman Empire, those which had been handed
down to us from Castile, Spain.

The guidelines for the Our Tradition Our Culture™ series were developed by Prof. Nissim Behar zt"l of Istanbul, in his Ladino work, La Práctica del Judaísmo, based on the Shulhan Aruh.

The information provided here is authentic, and has been endorsed by the Hahambashi (Chief Rabbi of Turkey) HaRav Raphael E. Saban zt"l, and has been endorsed by the Beit Din (Jewish Court) of Turkey.


Note: Please handle/dispose of this document appropriately as it contains sacred material.

Introduction to Rosh Ashaná: The Tradition as We Know it from Turkey, Handed Down from Spain

The Hebrew year begins with the two days of Rosh Ashaná – the 1st and 2nd of Tishri (days of Divine Judgment, which begin the ten days of awe (Yamim Nora’im) through Yom Kippur. On Rosh Ashaná, the King sits on His throne as a judge, certainly, but also as a merciful Father – who desires that we repent and do teshuva. All creatures pass before Him, “like a flock of sheep”. The verdict will not only determine the material situation of everyone during the whole year, but also the spiritual level which one will attain – as a results of the efforts one has made towards that goal during the month of Elul. We implore God to “inscribe us in the book of life”. On the other hand, because He is the King of all creatures, we have to commit ourselves to accept His Will – as it is expressed in the Commandments of the Torá.

On Rosh Ashaná, we pray essentially for the effective revelation of God’s reign in this world, and for the rehabilitation of all humanity by agreeing to be God fearing. It is in proportion to the extent of subjecting oneself to the reign of God – by practicing His Commandments __ that His Kingdom becomes ever more evident.

It is the sounding of the Shofar, which we are duty bound to hear on Rosh Ashaná, that sets our soul in motion to adhere more closely to the Torá. As Maimonides said, the blowing of the Shofar is an appeal to our conscience, to rouse those who have fallen asleep in life – to awaken them to realize their vain pursuit after ephemeral shadows, which conceal the truth of Torá and make us forget our Creator. “The sounding of the Shofar confuses Satan” because Satan is the embodiment of the evil inclination, which we subdue by waking up to the real truth.

“God is your shadow.” As the shadow follows a person, God behaves with us the way we behave with Him. When we wake up from slumber and are mindful of Him, He is mindful of us and deals with us accordingly and mercifully.


1. On the night of Rosh Ashaná, one should pray Arvit with great concentration, as the Day of Judgment begins then.

2. If Rosh Ashaná falls on Shabbat, one says the Beracha of “Me’en Sheva after the Amida of Arvit, saying “Hamelech Hakadosh” instead of “Hakel Hakadosh”, and ending the Beracha with “Mekadesh Hashabbat” only. If by mistake one said “Hakel Hakadosh” and already finished the Beracha, there is no need to repeat it.

3. If Rosh Ashaná falls in the middle of the week, we say “Yom Terua Mikra Kodesh” in the Amidot and in Kiddush, but if it falls on Shabbat, we say “Zichron Terua Mikra Kodesh”. If by mistake one said “Yom Terua” on Shabbat, or “Zichron Terua” on a weekday, there is no need to repeat the Tefilla.

4. Upon returning home after Arvit, the table should be set and the candles lit, just as on any other Yom-Tov. Kiddush is recited, mentioning “Sheheheyanu” on both nights of Rosh Ashaná. As it is doubtful whether “Sheheheyanu” should be repeated on the second night of Rosh Ashaná, it is preferable to have a new fruit on the table when reciting Kiddush, so that the Beracha should apply to the fruit too. In any case, the Beracha of “Sheheheyanu” is said.

5. On the night of Rosh Ashaná, we eat certain fruits and vegetables over which we recite a special “Yehi Ratzon”, praying for a good year.

Kiddush is recited, followed by “Netilat Yadayim” (blessing after washing the hands) and “Hamotzi”. Instead of dipping the bread in salt, we dip it in sugar or honey. After this, we eat an apple with honey, and, among other things, leek, spinach, dates, the head of a fish or a ram. According to one opinion, we first recite the “Yehi Ratzon”, and then the Beracha, after which we eat the food, according to another opinion, however, one should first say the Beracha, taste some of the food, then say the “Yehi Ratzon” and eat the rest. It is preferable to say the Beracha of “Ha’etz” over any fruit such as grapes and eat some, intending to include the apple in the Beracha too. Later, one recites “Ha’adama” over any vegetable, having in mind all the special vegetables of that night. After this, one can say the “Yehi Ratzon” and eat everything without a Beracha.


1. On Rosh Ashaná we arise early, even if we are not accustomed to doing so during the rest of the year, in order to attend the services in the Synagogue from beginning to end.

2. In the first Beracha of the Amidot of Rosh Ashaná and Yom Kippur and all the days between them, we add “Zochrenu”. In the second Beracha of each Amida, we add “Mi Chamocha” [who is like You]. If one forgot to do so, the Amida is not repeated. We finish the third Beracha of these Amidot with the words “Hamelech Hakadosh” instead of “Hakel Hakadosh”. If one mistakenly said “Hakel Hakadosh”, or if one is in doubt as to whether one said “Hakel” or Hamelech”, the Amida must be repeated from the beginning.

3. After the Amida the prayer “Avinu Malkeinu” is said.


1. On the first day, two Sifrei Torá are taken out. From the first one we read “Va-A. Pakad Et Sara” until “Yamim Rabim”, calling up five people. If it falls on Shabbat, seven people are called up. If on regular Shabbatot more than seven people are called up, one may do so on Rosh Ashaná too. The Maftir is called up for the second Sefer Torá, reading “Ubachodesh Hashevi’I Be’echad”. Half Kaddish is recited, and we read the Haftara of “Vayehee Isch Echad”.

2. Two Sifrei Torá are also taken out on the second day of Rosh Ashaná. From the first one we read “Vayehi Achar” until “ve’et Ma’acha”, calling up five people. We say Half Kaddish, and the Maftir is read from the second Sefer Torá, as on the previous day. The Haftara is “Ko Amar A. Matza Chen”.

3. It is customary to call up the Tokea to the Torá. If the Tokea is paid for his job, this is not necessary.


The sound of the Shofar reminds us of a similar sound which was heard on Mount Sinai. We should hear the voice of the Shofar not only on Rosh Ashaná, but every day of the year. It should penetrate our hearts and reach the depths of our souls. This echo should continue to resound in the hearts of generations to come. We prepare ourselves for the great day on which the sound of Mashiah’s Shofar will be heard – on that day the Redemption will be complete, for all the nations of the earth. The Divine Sovereignty will be acknowledged by all to be the ultimate justice and truth, and peace will reign upon the entire world, as Yeshaya prophesied: “When the great Shofar will be sounded, all those gone astray in the land of Ashur and in Egypt will come and bow before the Lord on the holy mountain of Jerusalem”.


When hearing the sounds of the Shofar, every person should concentrate, and intend to fulfill the Mitsva of Shofar. On this awesome day, the Creator of the world sits on His Throne of Judgment, and all His creatures pass before Him like a flock of sheep. All a person’s deeds are mentioned and inscribed before Him in the Heavenly Books. Nobody knows when he is being judged. The sounds of the Shofar which every Jew is obliged to hear, move us to the depths of our hearts, and remind us that our only help is Teshuva. The Shofar lets the Divine Voice be heard in us, telling us: “Return to the Almighty, and He will surely have mercy on you on the Day of Judgment”.


1. The Shofar is the horn of an animal, preferably that of a ram. It must be bent. The horn of a she-goat or a deer may also be used, but one should obtain bent ones.

2. The horn of a cow or ox may not be used as a Shofar.

3. One may use the horn of an animal even if the animal was not slaughtered with Shechita and is therefore Terefa.

4. The minimum size of a Shofar is 10 cm. (3.9 inches), which is approximately the width of four thumbs of a hand. This is so that when one holds the Shofar with four fingers, at least some part of it is still visible beyond the hand, either on the wide side of the Shofar or on the narrow side. If the Shofar is shorter than this, it is Pasul (invalid).

5. Before Rosh Ashaná, one must check that the Shofar is in good condition, as it must not have any cracks either lengthwise or in the direction of its width, even if they are patched.

6. In a case of emergency, if no other Shofar is available and the lengthwise crack is small, it may be used, if thread or something similar is tied around the crack. If the crack is big, the Shofar may not be used.

7. If the Shofar is cracked in the direction of its width, and the crack is small, the Shofar is Kasher. If the crack is big, it is only fit for use if there are 10 cm. From the mouth of the Shofar to the crack.

8. A Shofar is not valid if at its mouth there are cracks, even if they are patched.

9. If a Shofar has a small hole and one wishes to repair it, the hole must be plugged with the same material from which the Shofar is made. It is then considered Kasher if most of it is not defective, and if the sound remains unchanged.

10. If only a defective Shofar is available, it should be shown to a Rabbinic authority to decide whether it is fit for use.


1. The Shofar is blown and its Beracha recited while standing. If this was done while sitting, the obligation is nevertheless fulfilled.

2. Before Mussaf, 30 notes are blown, during which the Tokea stands while the Congregation may sit. These Takiot are termed “Tekiot of Sitting”. During Mussaf, the Shofar is sounded again, while everyone stands. These are termed “Tekiot of Standing”.

3. Before sounding the Shofar, the Tokea expresses his readiness to help everyone fulfill their obligation of listening to the Shofar, and the listeners must intend to fulfill their obligation.

4. When reciting the Beracha over the Shofar, the Tokea covers the Shofar with his Tallit, holding it in his hand.

5. The Shofar is held in the right hand, and before blowing, the following Beracha is said: “Baruch Ata A. E. Melech Ha’olam, Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Lishmoa Kol Shofar”. This is followed by the Beracha of “Sheheheyanu”.

6. If the Tokea begins to blow the Shofar and is unable to continue, another person may be substituted for him. There is then no need to repeat the Beracha or the series of Tekiot already blown by the first person. Even four or five people may substitute for one another for blowing the Tekiot, without having to repeat the Beracha.

7. If the Tokea does not manage to sound the Shofar after having recited the Beracha, another person may be substituted for him, who need not repeat the Beracha, but bases himself on the Tokea’s Beracha.

8. If the person who acts as a substitute did not hear the first Tokea reciting the Berahot, he should recite them quietly to himself, as the Kahal already heard them from the first Tokea.

9. If, after having recited the Berahot and sounding some Tekiot, it is realized that the Shofar is Pasul, the Beracha and Tekiot must be repeated. If one began to blow the Tekiot on a Shofar Kasher, and during the Tekiot the Shofar became Pasul, one should continue the Tekiot on a different Shofar which is Kasher, without repeating the Berahot.

10. If a Tokea blows the Shofar in several Synagogues, he repeats the Beracha with “Sheheheyanu” ateach place, with the intention to make each Kahal fulfill their obligation.

11. If a person was unable to attend the Service in the Synagogue, and a Tokea comes to blow the Shofar in his home, he should stand up while listening to the Tekiot.

12. One must be extremely careful not to interrupt the Tekiot with coughing, yawning, or talk, because all the Tekiot must be heard properly.

13. The Mitsva of Shofar is only fulfilled if the person listening intends to fulfill the Mitsva, and Tokea intends causing the Mitsva to be fulfilled. The intention of the Tokea should be to include anyone who is able to hear him, whether they are standing in the Synagogue or elsewhere.

14. Although women are exempt from fulfilling the Mitsva of Shofar, they have taken this Mitsva upon themselves, and it has thus become an obligation for them. Therefore, if a woman is unable to attend the Synagogue, a Tokea should come to her home and blow the Shofar for her there. However, he should not recite the Berahot.

15. If a Tokea talked between the Berahot and the Tekiot, he must repeat the Berahot, even if he spoke of subjects connected with Tefilla. If he spoke about something relevant to the Tekiot, the Berahot need not be repeated.


1. IT IS PERMISSIBLE to blow Shofar the whole day, from sunrise to sunset. If one blows the Shofar after daybreak, the obligation has been fulfilled, although it is really too early.

2. If Rosh Ashaná falls on Shabbat, the Shofar is not blown. It is forbidden to carry or touch a Shofar on Shabbat.

3. It is forbidden to eat before listening to the Shofar. However, a weak person who is unable to last without food until after the Tekiot, may recite Kiddush after the Shakharit prayer, and have some Mezonot with drink.

LAWS CONCERNING THE TOKEA (One who blows the shofar)

1. Women, children and deaf people are exempt from the Mitsva of Shofar, and may therefore not blow the Shofar. A blind person is obliged to hear the Shofar, and may in theory be a Tokea, but it is preferable to take a perfectly normal person for the job.

2. Three days before Rosh Ashaná, the Tokea must study and practice the laws of the Shofar, including the profound thoughts (Kavanot), which ought to fill his mind during the Tekiot. He must also purify his mind, and search his heart for any wrongdoing.

3. Women may blow the Shofar, although they are exempt, but it is preferable that a man should blow it for them.

4. A man blowing Shofar for women does not recite the Berahot, but they should recite them on their own, if they are able to do so.


1. When one leaves the Synagogue after the Morning Service, one should be in good spirits, confident that God has listened to our prayers and has accepted the sound of the Shofar. One should eat, drink and praise the Creator. The meal should include the study of Torá, keeping a serious atmosphere.

2. It is customary not to sleep on Rosh Ashaná during the day, but to devote one’s time to the recital of Tehillim or the study of Torá. If one is extremely tired, and would find it impossible to concentrate on the Minha prayer, one should rest for a short while, as long as this is after midday.


1. After Ashrei, we say “Uva Letzion” and Half Kaddish. If Rosh Ashaná falls on Shabbat, a Sefer Torá is taken out for reading the Perasha. (Three people are called up, as on an ordinary Shabbat.) The same Amida is said as at Shakharit, with Chazara, followed by “Avinu Malkenu”. If it falls on Shabbat, we say “tzidkatecha”.

2. After the Minha prayer, we have the custom of reciting Seder Tashlich. We go near any gathering of water, such as the sea-shore, a river bank, a fountain, a spring or a well, and recite the verses of “Mi El Kamocha”, followed by a certain prayer printed in the Machazor of Rosh Ashaná.

3. If the first day of Rosh Ashaná falls on Shabbat, Tashlich is nevertheless recited on that day. According to others, Tashlich is postponed until after Minha of the second day.


1. On the third day of Tishri, the day following Rosh Ashaná, we are commanded to fast, i.e., men from the age of Bar Mitsva, and women from the age of 12 years.

2. If the third of Tishri falls on Shabbat, the fast is postponed until Sunday, as on Shabbat we may not fast, with the exception of Yom Kippur.

3. Sick people are exempt from fasting, even if they are not dangerously ill.


1. After a person’s verdict has been established by Heaven on Rosh Ashaná, a person is given a chance to reconsider his deeds and make amends in his behavior, purifying his soul and doing Teshuva – since on the day of Yom Kippur his verdict is finally sealed. There are ten days between Rosh Ashaná and Yom Kippur (including both), and these are called “The Ten Days of Teshuva”.

2. During these ten days, we include in each Amida “Zochrenu” and “Mi Kamocha”, and substitute “Hamelech Hakadosh” for “Hakel Hakadosh”. The Beracha of “Hashiva Shofetenu” is ended with the words “Hamelech Hamishpat” instead of “Melech Ohev Tzedaka Umishpat”. After Modim we add “Uchetov Lechayim Tovim” and “Ubesefer Chayim”.

3. During these ten days, we recite “avinu Malkenu” after the Amida of Shakharit and of Minha.

4. The Shabbat between Rosh Ashaná and Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Teshuva, since we read the Haftara of “Shuva Yisrael” – “Return, O Israel, to your God”.


1. Man was created with a free will, and was given the possibility to choose between good and evil. It is wrong to believe that a person was predestined from birth to be good or bad. A Person has within himself two opposing forces, which enable him to be either as righteous as Moshe Rabbenu, or as wicked as King Yerovam. Thus, a sinner is held responsible for all his wrongdoings.

2. A person must try his utmost to abandon his sinful ways and correct his behavior. When doing Teshuva for some particular misdeed, he should confess it orally.

3. It may appear, that a person should have to repent only of wrongdoings such as theft, immoral acts, etc. However, just as Teshuva applies to evil deeds, so, too, must one repent of evil traits of character, such as hatred, jealously, mockery, anger, the seeking of honor or luxuries, etc.

4. Evil traits of character are even worse than evil deeds, because once a person has become spoiled by them, it is extremely difficult to rid himself of them.

5. A person in the process of Teshuva should not think that his sins have estranged him completely from the Sadikim: he should know that, owing to his Teshuva he is loved by his Creator, and considered as though he had never sinned. Moreover, the merit of one who does Teshuva is extremely great, since he was able to overcome his evil instinct after having “tasted” the sin. Thus our Sages have declared: “He who does Teshuva occupies a higher place than a complete Sadik”.

6. A person doing Teshuva must be humble and modest. If unscrupulous people insult him by reminding him of his previous wrongdoings, he should accept the offence silently, and be happy to be given an opportunity to suffer for them. The shame he feels for his sins will increase his merit.

7. These are the prerequisites for genuine Teshuva:
a. Repentance for the sins committed.
b. Taking upon oneself not to repeat the sin.
c. Confessing the sin orally.
d. A constant feeling of remorse and heart-break at the memory of the sin.
e. Doing acts of charity, in accordance with his means.

8. The most meritorious among those who do Teshuva is one who confesses his sins publicly, and expresses his sincere repentance.

9. The Teshuva of a haughty person who covers up his sins is insincere. It is not necessary to confess in public sins which did not involve other, i.e., they involved only one’s relationship with the Creator. A person who reveals such sins lacks a sense of shame.

10. Although sincere Teshuva is accepted at any time, it is most acceptable and welcome during the “Ten Days of Repentance”, between Rosh Ashaná and Yom Kippur.

11. Yom Kippur is the greatest day for Teshuva. On this day, the Jewish People’s sins are forgiven, both those of the community and those of the individual. Every person must therefore complete his Teshuva on that day, and confess his sins with “Viduy”.

12. Yom Kippur, with its Teshuva, atones solely for the sins between man and his Creator. If a person wronged his fellow-man, he must first beg the other’s forgiveness and correct his action before his Teshuva is accepted.

Some Rosh Hashanna Stuff--A Seder in French/Hebrew, and a Basic Primer for Rosh Hashanna


Just a few things I came across in going through my holiday files this year, preparing for the High Holy Days.

The first is a nice illustration I came across that I thought you might like to use if you are preparing early for your Rosh Hashanna Seder and you happen to speak French or Hebrew.

The second thing is a small primer that I prepared to share with as a handout for public school teachers in helping them understand what Rosh Hashanna is, and some Rosh Hashanna symbols. It is very basic, but I think it is good if you ever need to explain some of the symbolism of Rosh Hashanna to a group who doesn't have the background to understand Rosh Hashanna (it would probably be good for a Sunday school class of young children at the synagogue, come to think of it . . . ).

I hope these are helpful as you prepare for the Holiday!

Kol Tov!

May you be sealed for a blessing in the coming year!!

A Rosh Hashanna Primer
by Michelle Nevada

Rosh Hashanna means “Head of the Year,” and represents the beginning of a new year. This Rosh Hashanna will begin the year 5769.

Although it is known as the “Jewish New Year” it is not a time for celebrations. It is a serious time when Jews are judged by God, and God determines how our next year will be.

During this time, we are called to account for all our misdeeds, we are expected to apologize and make amends to those we have harmed, and we are required to accept the apologies of those who have hurt us.

These are some traditions of Rosh Hashanna:

What we Do
Wish each other a good year filled with blessings.

How we do it
We bless one another to be inscribed in G-d’s symbolic “book of life.” We say: “L’Shana Tova!”

What it means
It is actually short for the phrase, ““L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem!” (May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.)

What we Do
Blow the Shofar during services in synagogue.

How we do it
A ram’s horn, which has been hollowed out, is blown like a trumpet in order to “awaken” us to our duties (in Hebrew “mitzvoth”) in this world.

What it means
The ram’s horn reminds us of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac, and how God showed mercy and provided a ram for the sacrifice instead.

What we Do
Eat Symbolic Foods

How we do it
We eat a special holiday meals with friends and family that include fish heads, apples and honey, and round loaves of bread.

What it means
The head of a fish represents our hope to be at “the head and not the tail.” Apples dipped in honey represent a “sweet new Year”; bread baked into round loafs remind us of the continuity of life.

What we Do

How we do it
Empty our pockets or throw bread into a body of water.

What it means
It represents the casting off of sins as we begin a new year.

Haredim lose majority on Rabbinate Council, Sephardim Gain

This is significant news for Israel. The Chief Rabbinate Council choses the Chief Rabbi, and the votes of the religious nationalists and the sephardic rabbis are gaining momentum. This is very important. The fact that Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, the head of a nationalist Zionist Yeshiva was elected the head of the council is very good news for the nationalist cam (and in my humble opinion, good for Judaism as a whole).

The greatest upset of the day was getting Ovadia Yosef's son on the council. He was, according to the Haredim, "lenient" in his ruling regarding the shmita year, allowing a heter for sale of produce so that farmers wouldn't go out of business. The heter has been offered since the earliest days of Israel, and the banning of the heter by the Haredim was a new thing. Because Avraham Yosef didn't go along with the Haredi ban on the heter, he was shunned, and the Haredim tried to keep him off the council. The Haredim also allowed this issue to destroy the block voting in the Knesset that would have prevented Livni from taking over. In the end, they lost the battle AND they lost the war.

Thank G-d.

Religion is not supposed to be something set aside for religious extremists who don't regard the rest of the Jewish people as "Jewish enough" to be considered am Yisrael. They crazy zealotry the Haredim have shown in the past few years has led to the overturning of thousands upon thousands of conversions, and countless problems with marriages, burials, and divorces.

I am hoping that this election will begin the process of healing the religious life of the country. It is fine if the Haredim want to be more holy than the rest of us, but they shouldn't try to take over the whole religion. This is a religion of living, breathing regular people given to us by G-d. It is our birthright, not the sole possession of one small faction of people who think they know what G-d would want.

Merkaz HaRav Dean Elected to Chief Rabbinate Council

( Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, who took over the helm of Merkaz HaRav upon the death of his father last year, tops the list of Ashkenazi rabbis on the newly-elected council.

Heading the list of Sephardic rabbis is Rabbi Shimon Elituv, the Rabbi of the Binyamin Regional Council.

The council comprises the two Chief Rabbis of Israel, the Chief Rabbis of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Be'er Sheva (even though Be'er Sheva is no longer Israel's fourth-largest city), and ten rabbis - five Sephardic, five Ashkenazi - who are chosen every five years.

Of the 150 members on the electoral body, including rabbis, rabbinical court judges and public figures from around the country, an impressive 96% showed up to actually vote. Of these, 117 voted for Rabbi Elituv.

Rabbi Elituv is new to the Sephardic list, as is Rabbi Avrahan Yosef, son of former Chief Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, who received 102 votes. They join Kiryat Ono's Chief Rabbi Ratzon Arusi, the head of the Yemenite Jewry in Israel, co-founder of a Jewish Law court system that deals with monetary cases, and a Ph.D. in law with experience as a lecturer in Tel Aviv and Bar Ilan Universities; Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu of Tzfat, son of former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu; and Rabbi Yitzchak Peretz of Raanana.

Rabbi Shapira, with 80 votes, is the son of the late Chief Rabbi Avraham Shapira. He is new to the Ashkenazi list, as is Rabbi Yaakov Roja, the rabbi of the Zaka medical emergency volunteer organization. They join Rabbi Yitzchak David Grossman of Migdal HaEmek, Rabbi Yosef Gliksberg of Givatayim, and Rabbi Yitzchak Ralbag of Jerusalem.

Long-standing member Rabbi Simcha HaCohen Kook of Rehovot, a grand-nephew of the saintly Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, was not chosen for another term.

In addition to Rabbis Shapira and Eliyahu, as well as others who are sympathetic to the cause, the religious-Zionist camp had hoped to have either Rabbi Tzephania Drori of Kiryat Shmonah or Rabbi David Stav of Shoham and the Tzohar Rabbis Organization elected to the Council.

MK Nissan Slomiansky (National Religious Party) told Arutz-7's Shlomo Piotrokovsky why the elections are important: "The Chief Rabbinate determines and decides many important public issues, such as we saw in the past year: conversion, Shemittah, etc. It is very important that religious-Zionism, which recognizes the State and looks for ways to be lenient within the framework of Jewish Law, be represented on the Rabbinate Council."

Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger has described the Council as a "body with great potential to determine the course of religious-secular co-existence." When he was first elected to the Council six years ago, he said, "The Council is like a Rabbinical government, and we are like ministers, and we have tremendous responsibility," for example, in "bridging the gaps in relations between religious, hareidi, and secular."

The Council will also be instrumental in choosing the country's next Chief Rabbis.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Finally! A Feminine Feminist

By Dr. Yael Kassorla

When I was 21, I was going to college in Ohio. I had decided to major in English, and I had signed up for one of the required classes, “Women Playwrights and Artists.” I wasn’t thrilled with the topic, and to this day I barely remember what was studied, but I do remember the professor. I remember her mostly because she wasn’t what I had expected from a “feminist” professor. I was expecting some incarnation of Bella Abzug or Jane Fonda, but she looked more like a 15th century Flemish painting. Her dress was detailed and decidedly frilly; her hair was a mass of tightly curled blonde ringlets, and her face was pale and pink-cheeked, lashes and brows so light they blended into her skin.

I waited patiently for her to speak; and when she did, in carefully enunciated English with a hint of a Chicago accent, it was if the whole world opened for me. She said, “Every one of us must find our own definition of what a feminist is. My definition of a feminist is this: a woman who is proud of what it is that makes her a woman.”

Up until that point, to me, a feminist was someone who hated men but who, strangely, also wanted to emulate them. Feminists wore pantsuits and sensible shoes, they never had their nails done, and they were imperious and bossy. I had never considered that I could define a feminist any way that I wanted to, and that a feminist could actually be someone like me—someone who liked dresses and the color pink, someone who looked forward to the love of a good man, someone who wanted children and a house and a fulfilling career that augmented rather than replaced a family. I sat there, hearing nothing else of the lecture that day, contemplating the idea that I could actually be a feminist—but on my own terms and by my own definition.

I was almost giddy with the idea that no one owned the words or definitions in the world. I didn’t have to be beholding to the National Organization for Women, or quote Helen Reddy songs to be a feminist. I could define words for myself. I could define myself. I left that classroom energized with the possibility of being proud of being a woman, of being proud of myself.

I had been freed from the false dichotomy of “feminist-vs-feminine” and realized that I could be both. I set out to try to be both, and, along the way, I discovered that there were role models everywhere—women defining, for themselves, what it is to be a woman. My mother and my older sisters, for example, had always been there for me to draw strength from. They are Western women, strong in their convictions, their opinions, and their faith; but loving and kind to their families and their friends, loyal to their country, and unafraid to cry in public.

They are women that know you can’t go through life alone, that life is made up of compromise and failure, give and take, laughter and tears. They are women who rely upon their husbands to be there. They are women whose husbands rely upon them. They are women whose business colleagues call when they need advice, or who pick up the phone to ask advice of others. Their manicured hands are scarred by cooking a thousand meals, and softened by the touch of a baby’s toes. They have a closet full of fat clothes from their pregnancy, regular clothes they can finally wear, and clothes they vow they will someday wear again.

And they aren’t alone. They are also the women who choose to stay home. Women who bake bread in the morning, kiss their husbands goodbye, drive their children to school, and go home to clean their houses, make dinners and wash clothes. If they had a moment in their busy schedule, they would sit down and tell you why they no longer practice law or see patients any more and how they love their lives, their husbands, and G-d. They are feminists, in their own way, and they define themselves.

I was tired of the images that the media and the politicians tried to feed about what a woman should be, but too busy to look for an icon. I watched a battery of pantsuit-clad, sensible-shoe wearing women clomp across the stage—newscasters and politicians, pundits and talk-show hosts. They all wore the stamp of acceptable, carefully controlled women’s images manufactured by the media. They represented what I was supposed to be, but not what I am or ever wanted to be.

When Sarah Palin crossed the national stage, however; I saw something new.

Suddenly, on national news, I saw myself. I connected. I saw her walk across the stage and knew that this was a feminist like me, a feminist who defined herself. She is a feminine feminist. There she stands in her dress and her stylish glasses and her beautiful shoes, and I say to myself, “Where have you been?”

She has a manicure and kids, a career and the love of a good man. She has faced challenges in her family and met them. She has a disabled child and a loveable but uncontrollable teenager. She has enemies accusing her of being a bad mother because she is working; and a bad worker because she is a mother. I have been there too, and I know how she feels. She is real, and she is everything I am and ever wanted to be and more.

The media seems perplexed by Sarah Palin’s sudden stardom, but I have no doubts about why she is so popular. Finally, the women of America have a REAL feminist to look to. We are not told we have to be militant women with bad haircuts who want to be men. We are not told we have to wear pants and prove that we are smart. We are your mothers and your sisters and your professors and your doctors. We love our kids to a fault. We wear perfume. We make mistakes. We need men, we love men, and we know that men and women are different. We are happy for that difference, proud of it, in fact.

So, Sarah Palin, don’t worry about what they say about you. They aren’t saying anything they didn’t say about us too. We’ve got your back. Now, go out there and make us proud, keep them guessing, and never let them define you.

Dr. Yael Kassorla is an instructor of English at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

A window on the massacre

By Nadav Shragai

Twenty years ago, a Jew around the age of 70 entered the home of Gershon Gera, a researcher of the Land of Israel and its photos, and placed a package of pictures wrapped in old brown paper on the table. "You'll know what to do with these," said the man, who refused to identify himself or explain where the photos came from. He rushed out of the house. When Gera opened the package, he was shocked. Inside were 111 photos of corpses, victims of the 1929 massacre in Hebron, a short time after their murder, as well as photos of the injured. On the back of each photo was the name of the victim, age and where he or she was hospitalized (if that was the case), alongside other details. Gera set this material aside.

As a serious researcher, his wife Shulamit explained a few days ago, he was unable to publish material whose origin was unknown. A few months ago, seven years after Gera died, his wife transferred the collection of photos to Noam Arnon, one of the most famous restorers of Hebron's Jewish community, who himself researched the community over the generations. Today the photos can be viewed on the Internet site of Hebron's Jewish community, with the following warning: "Extremely harsh pictures. Viewing is not easy."

For Arnon and the Jewish community of Hebron, this is additional documentation of the horror that forms part of the right to restore the city's Jewish community. "In addition to the ancient heritage of the patriarchs and the legacy of the Jewish communities that resided here for hundreds of years," says Arnon, "we constantly face the sacred mission of redeeming the blood of these unfortunate victims by building and making the statement that this community, which the slaughterers of 1929 sought to destroy, is continuing to exist. My friends and I are fulfilling part of their will and restoring life to this place."

Arnon and the Committee for the Jewish Community of Hebron are planning a large event next year to mark the 80th anniversary of the massacre. The photos they received from the Gera family will allow them to publicize the massacre beyond its Hebron context - the collection the unnamed individual placed on Gera's desk includes documentation of the massacres in Motza, Tel Aviv, Safed and elsewhere in Israel. These materials helped Arnon match photos of corpses to photos of the same people when they were alive, correcting errors in earlier reports that mistakenly attributed the victims of the riots in other places in Israel to the rioting in Hebron.

One example, says Arnon, is Rehavam Ze'evi's book about the massacre in Hebron, which featured photos of several of the victims, such as Yaakov Albucher or Yitzhak Shimon, and listed them as victims killed in Hebron, while they were in fact killed in Jerusalem and nearby. Arnon notes that in Tel Rumeida's cemetery, where some of the victims of the Hebron massacre are buried, there are two graves with unidentified corpses. "Perhaps this collection, combined with other materials, will bring us closer to resolving this mystery," he says.

As those who directly link today's Jewish community in the City of the Patriarchs to the Jewish community of bygone, Hebron's Jewish residents encourage research and various publications about the history of the city and its Jews. Recently, two books were published that can be of interest even to those who do not necessarily identify with the restoration of Hebron's Jewish community.

The first is Arye Klein's book, "Hatzerot B'Ir Ha'avot" ("The Courtyards in the City of Hebron"), which deals in part with the western section of the old city's market street, outlining its geographical-historical developments and recounting the story of the Jews who lived there.

Klein, a tour guide and Israel Studies expert who has lived in Hebron for 23 years, cites the unknown story of two brothers, Alexander Zisha and Arye Leib, from the Hoisman family, who left Hungary in 1853, went to Jerusalem, and after 13 years, made their home in Hebron.

The two brothers were members of the Karlin Hasidic sect, and because they did not belong to Chabad Hasidism, they did not make their home in Hebron's "Jewish court." Alexander Zisha's home was known as Me'arat Hamachpela (Tomb of the Patriarchs) because of its structure. His descendants acted as emissaries of the Chabad rabbi, Shalom Duber, to purchase Beit Romano, which today houses the Shavei Hevron Yeshiva. Klein describes a situation of closeness and good relations between the Arabs of Hebron and its Jews, such as the ties between Alter Rivlin, who spoke Arabic and Syrian-Aramaic, and was appointed as the Jewish representative to the Hebron city council.

The second book is "Shikhehat Hevron" ("The Neglect of Hebron"), published by Yona Even. This is basically a photographed collection of articles published 70 years ago by her father, teacher and journalist, Eliyahu Yehoshua Levanon. Levanon recorded his impressions of his stay as a teacher in Hebron's Jewish school. "It is very difficult for a Jew to fill the job of a journalist in Hebron," Levanon wrote in the 1930s, and tells of the "beggars' scorn for the bribes at the Tomb of the Patriarchs" and of the "danger of having a stone thrown to the head."

"Before the 1929 riots," he wrote on another occasion, "teachers went eagerly to work in Hebron. Since then they have avoided going there, and Hebron has become like a town that has been banished."

"I did what is expected of every soldier or officer," he said.


Another soldier of the IDF is a hero today for killing the terrorist, and I started to think to myself--why is it that the soldiers know so well how to react in these situations?

Of course, it is because WE ARE IN A WAR, and soldiers have been trained for that.

Get ready for more of the same now that every arab with access to a car, truck, heavy equipment can be a "martyr" for the cause of . . . what is that cause, again?

They don't need a cause. They just want to kill us.

Can you imagine them sharing Jerusalem with us? Can you imagine the level of terrorist activity that will permeate ever square inch of our Holy City when some terrorist organization like Hamas is set loose as a quasi-government in Jerusalem, providing just enough thug-power to keep the flow of money going to attack us, and allowing the rest of their people to fester in poverty and crime.

Look at Gaza people. Doesn't this tell us what will happen in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria if the traitorous government succeeds in its plans to destroy us from the inside?

No Jew will be safe in our own land. That's what they want. They want us to be vulnerable. They want us to be afraid to pray, to live, to succeed.

Don't look for a reason. There is no reason. They are Amelek.

Officer who killed Jerusalem terrorist: I did what was expected of me,7340,L-3600707,00.html

Lieutenant who shot dead east Jerusalem resident who plowed into crowd with BMW recounts incident. 'I was afraid terrorist would put vehicle in reverse and run over more soldiers and civilians, so I aimed for his head and shot him 11 times through the windshield,' he says

Efrat Weiss
Published: 09.23.08, 09:14 / Israel News

"I realized that it was a terror attack, so I cocked my weapon and shot the perpetrator," recounted Lieutenant Elad, 23, the officer who killed the east Jerusalem resident who plowed a BMW into a crowd of pedestrians at a busy intersection in central Jerusalem near the Old City on Monday evening.

At least 17 people were reportedly wounded in the attack, most of them soldiers belonging to the Artillery Corps.

"I did what is expected of every soldier or officer," he said.

A few hours after the incident Lieutenant Elad, who serves as deputy company commander in the Artillery Corps, said "We left for a 'Selichot Tour' in Jerusalem (Selichot are Jewish penitential prayers said during the High Holidays) on two armed buses carrying some 80 soldiers. We walked from Jaffa Street toward the Old City walls.

"I was walking with a group of soldiers. We arrived at Tzahal Square, where a large group of soldiers was situated on a small traffic island. Then I saw a BMW speeding toward the soldiers, and then soldiers flying over the car, which eventually hit the wall of a building; I understood it was a terror attack and immediately cocked my rifle."

The officer said that he feared the terrorist would recuperate and resume the attack. "I noticed that the terrorist was beginning to recover and I was afraid he would put the vehicle in reverse and run over more soldiers and civilians, so I aimed for his head and shot him 11 times through the windshield," he said.

According to Lieutenant Elad, at this point a civilian and police officer approached the vehicle and fired one or two bullets each at the terrorist.

"I continued to point my rifle at the terrorist and ordered the soldiers to seal off the area for fear the car was booby-trapped," recalled the officer, a married father of two from Givat Shmuel.