Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Laws of the Sukkah, According to Dr. Seuss


To me this is a favorite
I post it for every Sukkot.

These laws are very real, you'll see
They all have a helpful footnote!


Rabbi Arthur E. Gould, Sukkot 1999 - 2001
Rules of the Succah (with numbered footnotes)
(For more about the Laws of the Succah see

You can build it very small (1)
You can build it very tall (2)
You can build it very large (3)
You can build it on a barge

You can build it on a ship (4)
Or on a roof but please don't slip (5)
You can build it in an alley (6)
You shouldn't build it in a valley (7)

You can build it on a wagon (8)
You can build it on a dragon (9)
You can make the s'chach of wood (10)
Would you, could you, yes you should

Make the s'chach from leaves of tree
You shouldn't bend it at the knee (11)
Build your Succah tall or short
No Succah is built in the Temple Court

You can build it somewhat soon
You cannot build it in the month of June (12)
If your Succah is well made
You'll have the right amount of shade (13)

You can build it very wide
You can not build it on its side
Build if your name is Jim
Or Bob or Sam or even Tim

Build it if your name is Sue (14)
Do you build it, yes you do!
From the Succah you can roam
But you should treat it as your home (15)

You can invite some special guests
Don't stay in it if there are pests
You can sleep upon some rugs
Don't you build it where there's bugs

In the Succah you should sit
And eat and drink but never ...
If in the Succah it should rain
To stay there would be such a pain (16)

And if it should be very cold
Stay there only if you're bold
So build a Succah one and all
Make it large or make it small

Succah rules are short and snappy
Enjoy Succot, rejoice be happy.

1. Maimonides (RMBM) Mishne Torah, Hilchot Succah, Chapter 4, Section 1. The minimum height of a Succah is 10 tefachim. A tefach is a measure of the width of the four fingers of one's hand. My hand is 3 1/4 inches wide for a minimum Succah height of 32 1/2 inches. The minimum allowable width is 7 tefachim by 7 tefachim. This would result in a Succah of 22 3/4 inches by 22 3/4 inches.

2. The maximum height is 20 Amot. An Amah is the length from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. My Amah is 15 1/2 inches for a maximum height of 25 feet. Others say that 30 feet is the maximum.

3. According to RMBM the Succah can be built to a width of several miles. Shulchan Aruch also says there is no limit on the size of the width.

4. RMBM Hilchot Succah Chapter 4, Section 6.

5. RMBM Hilchot Succah Chapter 4, Section 11. RMBM states that one may construct a Succah by wedging poles in the four corners of the roof and suspending s'chach from the poles. The walls of the building underneath are considered to reach upward to the edge of the s'chach.

6. RMBM Hilchot Succah Chapter 4, Section 8-10 discusses the ins and outs of building your Succah in an alley or passageway.

7. There is a location referred to in the Talmud called Ashtarot Karnayim. According to the discussion there are two hills, with a valley in between where the Sun does not reach. Therefore it is impossible to sit in the shade of the roof of the Succah. I can't find the reference...hopefully next year.

8. RMBM Hilchot Succah Chapter 4, Section 6. You can go into a Succah built on a wagon or a ship even on Yom Tov.

9. RMBM Hilchot Succah Chapter 4, Section 6. OK, RMBM says a camel but dragon rhymes with wagon a lot better, don't you agree. Anyway, RMBM says you can build your Succah on a wagon or in the crown of a tree, but you can't go into it on Yom Tov. There is a general rule against riding a beast or ascending into the crown of a tree on Yom Tov.

10. Chapter 5 deals with the rules for the s'chach. Basically, you can use that which has grown from the ground, and is completely detached from the ground. So, for example, you cannot bend the branches of a tree over the Succah to form the s'chach. But you can cut the branches from a tree and use them as s'chach.

11. This would be a violation of the rule cited in the prior footnote.

12. Shulchan Aruch, Hilchot Succah, Perek 636, Section 1. The Succah should not be built sooner than 30 days before the Chag. However, if the structure is built prior to 30 days, as long as something new is added within the 30 days, the Succah is kosher.

13. Of course it's a well known rule that you must sit in the shade from the roof of the Succah and not in the shade that may be cast by the walls. It seems that this might affect the height of the walls, depending on the longitude of the location where you are building your Succah.

14. Technically, women, servants and minors are exempt from the Mitzvah of Succah. In our day we hope we know better than to read out half the Jewish people from the observance of Mitzvot. Of course, that's just a personal opinion of the author.

15. RMBM ibid Chapter 6, Section 6 explains that you should eat, drink and live in the Succah for the 7 days as you live in your own home. One should not even take a nap outside of the Succah.

16. RMBM ibid, Section 10. If it rains one should go into the house. How does one know if it is raining hard enough? If sufficient raindrops fall through the s'chach (roof covering) and into the food so that the food is spoiled - go inside!
The Laws of the Succah
Pninei Halacha
Rabbi Eliezer Melamed

Written by the rabbi
Dedicated to the speedy recovery of
Asher Ishaayahu Ben Rivka
1 - Guidelines to Kosher "S'chach"
2 - More Sun than Shade
3 - Some Laws concerning S'chach
4 - The Structure of a Kosher Succah
5 - A Succah under a House or a Tree
6 - Sitting under the Shade of the Succah

1 - Guidelines to Kosher "S'chach"
In order for the S'chach (roofing) of a Succah to be Halachically acceptable it must fulfill three basic conditions. The first condition is that the material from which the S'chach is made be earth-grown, from the plant-kingdom, like branches or bushes. Metal, lead, and plastic, although they originate from the earth, are unacceptable for S'chach because they are nonliving.

The second condition is that this earth-grown substance be detached from its source; so long as the branches are still attached to the ground, they are not acceptable for S'chach. Therefore, it is forbidden to build a Succah under a tree, using the tree's branches as S'chach.
The third condition is that the S'chach not be made from anything that can receive impurity; generally speaking, containers, clothing, chairs, and beds are the objects capable of receiving impurity. As a rule, any natural product that in its unaffected form cannot receive impurity, becomes capable of receiving impurity after it has been manipulated and made acceptable for the use of man; with its elevation to the status of a significant utensil it becomes suited for receiving impurity. From this point onward, should it come into contact with a corpse or any other object that causes impurity, the utensil becomes impure. From the moment that the wood becomes capable of receiving impurity, it becomes unacceptable for S'chach.

Therefore, it is permissible to roof a Succah with branches, bushes, or even simple boards like those used for construction, because they are not capable of receiving impurity. However, if the wood was at one time used as part of a chair, bed, or container, it is forbidden to roof a Succah with it. The Sages even forbade using the pieces of a broken container or bed for S'chach, despite the fact that they are no longer capable of receiving impurity, lest someone make the mistake of using them for S'chach while they are still whole. (Shulchan Arukh, Orekh Chaim 629:1,2).
The Sages also forbade building a Succah from foul-smelling materials, or roofing with S'chach from which leaves or worms fall, lest because of the foul smell or the falling leaves one leave the Succah and go into his house. Yet, if one already roofed with these sorts of branches one is not obligated to replace them. Still, if the stench in the Succah is so strong that people are unable to bear it, the Succah becomes invalidated in the eyes of the Torah, for it is not fitting for human habitation. (Ibid. 629,14; Mishna Berurah 38).

2 - More Sun than Shade
The S'chach must act as a shield against the sun. Therefore, so long as it keeps out most of the sunlight it is Kosher, for we follow the majority. Yet, if even half of the sun's rays manage to penetrate the S'chach, the Succah is rendered invalid. This is gauged by looking at the S'chach itself as opposed to the floor of the Succah. This is because the sun's rays widen as they pass through the holes in the S'chach and descend to the earth, and it sometimes appears that there is more sunlight in the Succah than there is shade. All the same, if an examination of the S'chach itself shows that the shade is greater than the sunlight, the Succah is Kosher.

If under a small portion of the S'chach there is more sunlight than shade, the entire Succah as a whole remains Kosher. In such a situation, even those who sit under the weak S'chach where there is more sunlight than shade, fulfil the Mitzvah of dwelling in a Succah. One must make sure, though, that nowhere in the S'chach is there an area that occupies seven square handbreadths (56 cm x 56 cm) .in which the sunlight is greater than the shade. If this is the case then this area of the Succah is invalid.
Occasionally the S'chach is not arranged evenly, such that for part of the day there is more shade than sunlight, while during the rest of the day the amount of sunlight in the Succah exceeds that of the shade. In such a situation, Jewish law says that the Succah is judged according to the situation at noontime, when the sun is in the middle of the sky. If at that time the amount of shade in the Succah is greater than the amount of sun, it is Kosher; if not, it is not Kosher (Rema, 631:5).

3 - Some Laws concerning S'chach
If in the Kosher S'chach there is an opening that possesses a width is three handbreadths (24 cm.), it is seen as causing a break in the S'chach and may quite possibly invalidate the Succah. This is because such an opening causes the Succah to be seen as not having three walls. If the opening's width is less than three handbreadths, yet contains enough room for the head or most of a person's body it does not disqualify the Succah, yet the one who sits under it has not fulfilled the obligation to dwell in the Succah. If the space is even smaller than this, it is as if nonexistent; therefore, one who sits under it fulfills the Mitzvah of dwelling in the Succah (Shulchan Arukh 632:2).

It is best to roof a Succah such that there be abundant shade inside. All the same, there should not be too much S'chach; there should not be so much S'chach that it becomes impossible to see the larger stars through it at nighttime. Yet even if one placed so much S'chach on the Succah that one cannot see the rays of the sun, the Succah remains Kosher (Ibid. 631:3). If, though, the amount of S'chach is so great that even the rain cannot penetrate it, Rabbenu Tam (Rabbi Yaakov ben Meir Tam) holds that such a Succah is not acceptable. This is because the Succah is meant to be a temporary dwelling, and if the rain cannot penetrate its roof, it is more like an actual house. One must abide by this ruling where possible (Mishna Berurah 631:6).

4 - The Structure of a Kosher Succah
A Succah that is taller than twenty cubits (about 9.6 meters) is not acceptable. This is because the Succah is meant to serve as a temporary dwelling, and a S'chach roof at such a height cannot be considered the roof of a temporary dwelling. If a Succah is shorter than ten handbreadths (80 cm.), it is not Kosher. This is because it is not possible to sit in it, and a Succah must be suitable for sitting. Its width must be at least seven handbreadths (56 cm.), for if it is any less than this even one person cannot sit inside of it with his meal.
The height of the Succah's walls must be at least ten handbreadths (80 cm.). They must be built on the ground, and if there is a space of three handbreadths between the ground and the base of the wall, the wall is unacceptable, for it is so wide open that even goats can make their way under it. It is permissible, though, that there be space between the tops of the walls and the S'chach; if the walls themselves reach a height of ten handbreadths it is possible for the S'chach to be placed up to twenty cubits high, i.e., the maximum permissible height of a Succah. And even if a large space is left between the top of the wall and the S'chach it remains acceptable, for we view the wall as if it continues to rise up to the height of the S'chach (Shulchan Arukh 630:9).

The Succah must have two complete walls and a third whose length is at least one handbreadth. This law, though, gets somewhat more complex. From the words of the Torah, we learn that a Succah must have three walls, yet the Oral Tradition teaches that for the third wall one handbreadth is enough. This handbreadth has to be what the sages refer to as "a wide handbreadth," i.e., slightly more than a handbreadth. This third wall must stand at a distance of no more than three handbreadths from the Succah's second full wall. Any space that is less than three handbreadths is termed "Lavud," or attached. In this manner, the third wall becomes a wall of four complete handbreadths - the minimum necessary requirement for an acceptable Succah wall. The Sages also said that the remaining space of the wall must be made fit through what is known as "Tzurat HaPetach," or the form of an opening (Ibid. 639:2). The laws of such concepts as "Lavud," and "Tzurat HaPetuch" are many and detailed, so much so that Rabbi Moshe Isserles (Rema) writes that the accepted custom is to build three complete walls, for not everyone is versed in the laws of Succah walls (Ibid. 630:5). Ideally, one should build a quality Succah possessing four complete walls. The Succah should also have an doorway that can be closed in order that it be comfortable for living purposes, protecting the one who dwells in it from the wind, the sun, and animals.

5 - A Succah under a House or a Tree
The Succah must be situated under the open sky, so that the S'chach, and not something else, be that which covers the one dwelling in the Succah. Therefore, a Succah made indoors, under a roof, is invalid. Similarly, it is forbidden to make a Succah under the branches of a tree.

It is permissible, though, to make a Succah next to the walls of a high building. Even if the walls of the building are very high and prevent the sunlight from reaching the Succah, it is Kosher. This is because only a roof or branches which are directly above the S'chach can render a Succah invalid; anything that is outside of the straight line running from the S'chach to the sky cannot invalidate the Succah.
If the branches that are above the S'chach are very sparse and the Succah's S'chach is so dense that even if the S'chach under the branches was removed, the remaining S'chach would be so thick that it provide more shade than sunlight, the Succah remains Kosher (Ibid. Orech Chaim 621:1).
It is also permissible to build one's Succah under clotheslines, for because their shade is very little, and their purpose is not to provide shade, they do not invalidate the S'chach below.

6 - Sitting under the Shade of the Succah
Fulfilling the Mitzvah of the Succah means sitting in the shade of a Kosher Succah. Therefore, if one spreads sheets under the S'chach for additional shade he has in fact invalidated the Succah. It is permissible, though, for a person to sit in a Succah wearing a big hat on his head, because the hat is an appendage to his body and is not seen as causing a separation between he and the S'chach.
Similarly, it is permissible to hang different types of fruits and paper ornaments from the S'chach, for the ornaments are an appendage to the S'chach and are not viewed as a separation between the S'chach and those dwelling in the Succah. One must make sure, though, that the ornaments hang within a four handbreadths (32 cm.) of the S'chach. Furthermore, even if the ornaments cover the entire S'chach, so long as they hang within four handbreadths of the S'chach, they are considered an appendage to the S'chach and do not render the Succah invalid. If one accidentally hung an ornament that dangles down below the four-handbreadth mark, so long as the width of the ornament is less than four handbreadths, it does not invalidate the Succah. One must be careful, though, not to sit under it. If the width of the ornament is less than three handbreadths (24 cm.), though it is permissible to sit under it, it is preferable not to. Rather, one should take care to raise all such ornaments to within four handbreadths of the S'chach.

One who sleeps in a bed to which a canopy has been permanently attached does not fulfill the Mitzvah of Succah. If the canopy, though, is of a temporary nature, its status depends upon its height: If the canopy is lower than ten handbreadths, it lacks significance and is considered an appendage to the Succah. One who sleeps in such a bed therefore fulfills the Mitzvah of Succah. If, though, its height is greater than ten handbreadths, the canopy possesses significance and one who sleeps under it does not fulfill the Mitzvah of Succah.
The space under a bed or a table inside the Succah, because it is created unintentionally, is considered temporary. Its status therefore depends on its height. If the space underneath the table or bed is of a height less than ten handbreadths (80 cm.) one that sleeps under it fulfills the Mitzvah of Succah. If, though, the space is greater than ten handbreadths in height, one who sleeps there does not fulfill the Mitzvah of Succah.
The same rule holds true when it comes to a bunk bed. If the space between the two beds is more than ten handbreadths, the one who sleeps in the bottom bed does not fulfill the Mitzvah of Succah. If the space, though, is less than ten handbreadths, one who sleeps in the bottom bed fulfills the Mitzvah (see Piskei Teshuva, 627:3).

If a protective covering is placed on the Succah it is clearly rendered invalid, for the covering acts as a partition between the S'chach and the sky. Yet, after the covering has been removed, the Succah again becomes acceptable. One must be careful, though, that when building the Succah this covering be rolled up to the side in such a manner that it not constitute a partition between the S'chach and the sky. This is because there are Torah authorities who hold that if at the time of the construction of the Succah the S'chach is overlaid with a covering, even after removing the covering the Succah remains invalid. The reason for this is that the act of making a Succah acceptable must be through placing the S'chach upon it and not through removing a covering from it (Bach, Mishna Berurah 626:18; but Rema is lenient, 626:3).

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Defense Officials Say They Do Not Fear a New Wave of Arab Violence After Yom Kippur Riots-- Yeah, right. Are They Working for the Tourism Board Now??


Yeah, right, “defense officials.” They really said they don’t fear a new wave of PA violence and refuse to connect the violence at the Temple Mount with the renewed rocket fire coming from Gaza? They said that?? Fools.

These fools also want us to believe that the rocket fire is all “small terror groups” who want to “cause trouble.” Yes. Yes. Of course. Come on! Seriously, if they can make a 14 year old girl start wearing a berka to the beach, I’m sure they can control “small terror groups” firing missiles at Israel.

And, of course the arabs in E. Jerusalem are closely connected to (probably related to) the arabs in Gaza. They are working in tandem and it will get worse. Right now, they will squeeze Israel from E Jerusalem and from Gaza. But, if Obama and the EU get their way, the arabs will squeeze Israel between Gaza, Judea, Samaria, Golan, and East Jerusalem. There won’t be a single spot in Israel that will be distant enough from the murdering terrorists to avoid rocket fire and death.

Why does Netanyahu, for ONE MINUTE, give them audience to spread their lies??? He, of all people, should remember the intifada, Gush Katif (where he was conveniently “late” for the vote, btw), and the Gaza war.

Does he lose his mind every time he meets a Western leader? Why the heck would he suggest he would even listen to one of their crazy ideas?

Now we have Iran aiming rockets at us too. The best we can hope at this rate is that, when (not if) they get their nuclear arsenal attached to the end of a rocket, that it blows up on the launch pad.

With leaders like this, it is a good thing we have The Big Guy looking out for us! I just wish Hashm would make a miracle and grow Netanyahu a backbone—but that would be something on the scale of the splitting of the reed sea.


Sep 29, 2009 23:28 | Updated Sep 29, 2009 23:47
Do J'lem clashes, Gaza rockets portend worse violence?

The Muslim Quarter was quiet on Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after clashes between Jerusalem Arabs and border policemen - which began on the Temple Mount Sunday and spread to the surrounding neighborhoods, continuing through Monday night.

The recent renewed rocket fire from the Gaza Strip has been rattling nerves in the South as well.

But defense officials said that they did not fear a new wave of Palestinian violence on the level of the second intifada. The clashes in Jerusalem and the rocket attacks from Gaza were not connected, they said.

Police on Tuesday continued to make arrests connected to the capital disturbances, which took place in the east Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan and Isawiya and in the alleys of the Muslim Quarter throughout Yom Kippur, after a group of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount were stoned by Muslim worshipers on Sunday morning. During the ensuing rioting, 18 police officers and 15 rioters were injured.

Police fired stun grenades to disperse the crowd in that incident.

Ikram al-Sabri, a member of the Islamic High Council of Palestine, was among those arrested on Tuesday, on suspicion of involvement in the Temple Mount riots, and police said more arrests were expected.

"There were a lot of police officers here on Sunday, and they closed this whole area off," Hamze, who works at a restaurant in the Muslim Quarter, near the entrance to the Temple Mount, said on Tuesday.

"It was pretty chaotic, and there were problems here yesterday, too - the police were out in full force and a lot of guys were throwing rocks at them.

"Whenever Jews go up to the Temple Mount, there's problems - just look at what happened after Sharon was there [on September 28, 2000]," he said.

Some claim that visit by the then-Likud chairman and opposition leader sparked the second intifada.

"There's talk on the street of a third intifada," Hamze continued. "But whenever I hear my friends say that, I tell them, 'What's the point? The Israelis already control al-Aksa - any time I want to go there, it's up to the police if I can go in or not."

Shopkeepers could be overheard talking about the unrest in Silwan, where two firebombs were thrown at homes belonging to Jews on Monday, and where on Tuesday, an Arab teenager was arrested by Border Police officers after throwing rocks at a Jewish resident.

Others were less talkative, with one shopkeeper telling The Jerusalem Post, "I don't know about any problems, I'm just trying to bring food home to my children."


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Extra! Extra!! Bibi Finds His BZ!! Tells World They Must Confront Terrorists and Dictators, Stop 9th Century Fanatics From Getting Nuclear Bombs


I often complain that Bibi talks a good game but can't bring himself to making the hard decisions when push comes to shove.

Today, it was good that he talks a good game.

With his beautifully constructed English, he took apart "I'm-a-nutjob"--the PM of Iran. He clarified that there is no room on the world stage for a crazy man like the PM of Iran, and how those countries who chose to listen to his speech "have no shame." See the Youtube of that moment here.

He made a clear connection between the terrorism in Gaza and the funding and technical assistance of Iran.

He made clear that the UN report about the Gaza war was completely upside down, stressing that, if the UN had been in existance, they would have "hauled out Roosevelt and Churchill" and charged them with "human rights" violations for fighting back against the Nazis.

It was a well done speech where, it was clear, Bibi had once again located his BZ.

But, as we all know, when it comes to actually doing the right thing, Bibi had better have a video of his own speech playing round-the-clock in his office.

I doubt he will do more than bluster before bowing his head, once again, Obama and giving up Israel's rights over its own land and people.

Netanyahu slams UN, challenges it to confront Iran
By Haaretz Service

In a dramatic address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran poses a threat to the peace of the world and that it is incumbent on the world body to prevent the Islamic Republic to obtain nuclear weapons.

In response to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claims about the Holocaust, Netanyahu began his speech by lambasting those who did not walk out on the controversial leader during his speech on Wednesday.

The premier also took aim at Ahmadinejad's litany of statements casting doubt on the Holocaust.
"Is this protocol a lie?" Netanyahu said as he brandished the minutes of the Wansee Conference, in which Nazi officials planned the Final Solution.

The prime minister also held up the architectural blueprints of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps that bear the signature of Hitler's deputy, Heinrich Himmler.

Netanyahu praised world diplomats who walked out of Ahmadinejad's fiery speech to the UN on Wednesday, though he used the speech to assail those who remained seated.

"Do those who listened to Ahmadinejad speech have no shame, no decency," the premier said.

Netanyahu warned against the dangers posed by Iran, imploring the West to confront the Islamic Republic's "religious fanaticism."

"The struggle against Iran pits civilization against barbarism," Netanyahu told the UN. "This Iranian regime is fueled by extreme fundamentalism."

The premier challenged the world body to prevent Iran from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Israel and the Western powers believe Iran's nuclear program is of a military nature, a charge the Iranians deny.

Netanyahu said the progress made in the postwar 20th century could be undone if Iran is permitted to build atomic weapons.

"History could be reversed if primitive fanaticism acquires deadly weapons," the premier told the UN. "The jury is still out on the United Nations, and the signs aren`t encouraging."

The prime minister also assailed the Goldstone Commission Report which accused Israel of committing war crimes during Operation Cast Lead, the three-week offensive against the Hamas-led Gaza Strip.

"Rather than condemn terrorism, some at the UN are condemning its victims," Netanyahu said. "It is not easy to fight terrorists firing from schools and mosques."

The premier said Israel has gone to "extraordinary" lengths to advance peace in the region, including the unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

"The Gaza disengagement was very painful for Israel," the prime minister said. "Israel withdrew from Gaza because we believed it would achieve peace."

Netanyahu took the UN to task for "remaining silent" while Gaza gunmen launched Qassam rockets at Israeli towns and communities in the western Negev.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A large and Magnificent 2,000 Year Old Miqve was Exposed in the Western Wall Tunnels

A large and impressive ritual bath (miqve) from the end of the Second Temple period was recently uncovered in archaeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out in the Western Wall tunnels, in cooperation with the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.

The miqve was discovered inside the western hall of a splendid structure that is located just c. 20 meters from the Western Wall. Parts of the building were discovered in the past and the Israel Antiquities Authority is currently exposing another one of the three halls inside it. It is one of the most magnificent structures from the Second Temple period ever to be uncovered.

The edifice is built of very delicately dressed ashlar stones and the architectural decoration in it is of the highest quality. From an architectural and artistic standpoint there are similarities between this structure and the three magnificent compounds that King Herod built on the Temple Mount, in the Cave of the Patriarchs and at Allonei Mamre, and from which we can conclude the great significance that this building had in the Second Temple period.

In his book The War of the Jews, Josephus Flavius writes there was a government administrative center that was situated at the foot of the Temple. Among the buildings he points out in this region were the council house and the “Xistus”- the ashlar bureau. According to the Talmud it was in this bureau that the Sanhedrin – the Jewish high court at the time of the Second Temple – would convene. It may be that the superb structure the Israel Antiquities Authority is presently uncovering belonged to one of these two buildings.

According to archaeologist Alexander Onn, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority,

“It is interesting to see that in the middle of the first century CE they began making changes in this magnificent structure – at that time it was no longer used as a government administrative building and a large miqve was installed inside its western hall where there were c. 11 steps that descend to the immersion pool. It seems that the city of Jerusalem grew in this period and it became necessary to provide for the increased ritual bathing needs of the pilgrims who came to the Temple in large numbers, especially during the three pilgrimage festivals (Shlosha Regalim).

Immersing oneself in the miqve and maintaining ritual purity were an inseparable part of the Jewish way of life in this period, and miqve’ot were absolutely essential, especially in the region of the Temple.”

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation acts to uncover the Jewish people’s past at the Western Wall, and the miqve is further evidence of the deep ties the Jewish people have with Jerusalem and the Temple.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi in charge of the Western Wall and the holy places, pointed out the cooperation between the Western Wall Heritage Foundation and the Israel Antiquities Authority which have joined together in order to discover the rich history of Jerusalem there, while strictly ensuring that no excavations approach the Temple Mount compound, contact with which is forbidden by Halachic law.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hearing and Listening: Thoughts for Rosh Hashanah 5770

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

Suppose that two people were walking by a synagogue on Rosh Hashana just at the time when the shofar was being sounded. The synagogue windows were open, so that both people outside heard the shofar. The first one thought: I wish to be included among those who are fulfilling the mitzvah of hearing the shofar. The second one simply kept walking, having heard the shofar but without paying any particular attention to the sounds. Did either, or both, or neither of them fulfill the mitzvah of shofar?

In fact, both of them heard the exact same sounds of the shofar. The only difference was in their intention. But the intention is exactly what determines that the first person fulfilled the mitzvah, while the second one did not. Both of them "heard" the shofar; but only one "listened" to the shofar.

This halakhic ruling underscores the role of proper intention in fulfilling the mitzvah. It is not enough just to hear the shofar as random sounds; rather, one must recognize--at least on some minimal level--that he is listening to the sounds of the shofar and thereby fulfilling the mitzvah.

Maimonides points out that the shofar is intended to awaken us from our spiritual slumber, to generate within us thoughts of repentance and personal renewal. For this message to reach us, we must be "listening". If people hear the shofar but do not tune in to its significance and its message, then they have missed the essential feature of this mitzvah.

There are those who attend synagogue services on Rosh Hashana and "hear" the shofar--but somehow the prayers and shofar and sermons don't stir up much spiritual energy for them. They are pretty much the same people after Rosh Hashana as they were before Rosh Hashana. There are others who are transformed by Rosh Hashana, who "listen" to the prayers, and the shofar and the sermons--and are genuinely moved. All these people may be sitting in the same synagogue, and yet the results are radically different. Some only "hear" the services; others actually "listen".

Whether or not we are spiritually energized by the High Holy Day season depends largely on ourselves. The more receptive we are to its powerful messages and the more we cultivate our own spirituality, the more we will experience religious meaning and spiritual transformation. Let us focus very carefully on our prayers, on the Torah readings, on the sounds of the shofar, on the sermons. Let us "listen" with great attentiveness. If we will "listen" and not simply "hear", we will not only find a key for greater fulfillment of the holidays but for greater fulfillment in our lives. Shana Tova.

***Please share the Angel for Shabbat column with your friends and neighbors. Please visit our website,, and join the Institute's efforts to foster an intellectually vibrant, compassionate and inclusive Orthodox Judaism.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

St. Petersburg Times OUTRAGE! Location of feature story about Israeli Wines published as "ISRAELI-OCCUPIED GOLAN HEIGHTS."


OMGD! I can’t believe this paper would put the location of a Jewish Winery in Israel as “ISREALI-OCCUPIED GOLAN HEIGHTS.” I guess Hezbollah is writing the headlines in St. Petersburg these days?

This isn’t Al Arabia, this is the St. Petersburg Times in St. Petersburg, Florida. Seriously folks—this is a really big issue . . . And, on a story about Rosh Hashanna, it smacks of anti-Semitism in a REALLY BIG WAY.

I think everyone needs to take a few minutes of their day to e-mail this newspaper and let them know that THE GOLAN IS ISRAEL.

What would people say if an American Newspaper wrote “Spanish Occupied Euskadi,” or “Turkish Occupied Kurdistan,” or “British Occupied Ireland” or any other loaded term referring to a nation with recognized borders who is an ally of the US. It is an outrage!

We can’t let this go unchallenged!

Here are some convenient links to the “Letters to the Editor” and the President of the Times so that you can demand a retraction and an apology from this paper immediately.

Likewise, you might suggest some changes in the future to the reporter, Alessandra Da Pra who inserted this little gem into this supposed review of Israeli wines for Rosh Hashanna:

  • Though that location is good for the grapes, it may give some consumers pause. The winery is located in the occupied Golan Heights. Israel seized the region from Syria during the 1967 Mideast War and unilaterally annexed it in 1981, a move that was condemned internationally. Individuals, grass roots movements and national and international non-government organizations have called for the boycott of settlement products as a means to end the occupation.

If you are a subscriber of this rag, here is a convenient link to “divest yourself” from their subscription. If you are a business in Florida who is currently advertising with this rag, you might want to send a comment or “divest yourself” from the St. Petersburg Times by e-mailing .

Finally, as a positive act, you might consider going out of your way to find these wines and purchase them, just to make sure that this article has not hurt their sales.

I tried to hotlink as many of them as I could in the article below.



For Rosh Hashana, raise a glass of fine kosher wine
By Alessandra Da Pra , Special to the Times

ISRAELI-OCCUPIED GOLAN HEIGHTS — Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown Friday, and families across the Tampa Bay area will come together for the kiddush, the traditional blessing over wine at the festive meal. The wine, of course, will be kosher, but now it may also be something else: good.

In the past, most kosher wine was a sweet, red-colored concoction sipped more out of duty than delight. Before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, Orthodox Jews scattered around the world made the wine at home, boiling it before consumption and ending up with a thick, heavy drink.

Kosher wine underwent a revolution in the mid 1980s as many wineries began to emerge in the land of milk and honey. The result is a range of sophisticated and affordable wines on par with their nonkosher counterparts.

"Kosher means who makes the wine, not how the wine is made," says tour guide Ella Shtibel at the Golan Heights Winery, which produces award-winning wines and exports them worldwide. Only Sabbath-observant Jews are involved in the winemaking process, under rabbinic supervision.

"The Golan Heights Winery produces the best wine in Israel," said Uri Gilboa, a wine critic and international wine judge. "The best of Golan Heights wine is at the same level of the best of Napa wine."

And often, at a better price as Israeli winemaking is still a young industry trying to find its spot in the international arena.

"These are very good wines, comparable with California and French wines," says wine collector Ken Barry, sipping a glass of Yarden muscat, a dessert wine fortified with oak-aged brandy. Barry was visiting the winery with his wife, Rae, from Scottsdale, Ariz. "There is a certain amount of snob appeal toward Israeli wine, not being reviewed enough."

Even without a lot of fanfare, wine connoisseurs are starting to take notice. The winery's 2004 Yarden cabernet sauvignon was included in the Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2008.

Complex and earthy and aged for 18 months in small oak barrels, the Yarden cabernet sauvignon is representative of the winery's top-tier Yarden label ($26-$32). Golan Heights also produces Gamla and Golan wines, all of which are kosher.

The Gamla line offers quality wines at a lower price point, such as the Gamla Chardonnay, a medium-bodied balanced wine with notes of lemon and vanilla (about $13). The Golan label includes a variety of young wines intended for immediate enjoyment, such as moscato, the light and aromatic dessert wine (about $15).

The Golan Heights Winery was founded in 1983 on a high altitude strip of land characterized by a cool climate and volcanic basaltic soil. Because of a stable climate throughout the years, grapes are quite consistent from one vintage to the other.

Though that location is good for the grapes, it may give some consumers pause. The winery is located in the occupied Golan Heights. Israel seized the region from Syria during the 1967 Mideast War and unilaterally annexed it in 1981, a move that was condemned internationally. Individuals, grass roots movements and national and international non-government organizations have called for the boycott of settlement products as a means to end the occupation.

Officially, however, there is no such boycott.

"The U.S. has no restrictions on products exported from the Golan Heights," says Ruben Harutunian, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Israel. "As a matter of fact, we receive lots of wine from that region."

Alessandra Da Pra is a former St. Petersburg Times staff writer. She is now a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem and can be reached at

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kiddush Hashm!


It's seldom that faith wins out over money these days, especially a lot of money, but the Yeshiva where these boys study has, obviously, made a strong impact upon the development of good middot and excellent ethics in these boys (I'm sure their parents have also had a great hand in this as well!).

Bless these boys and their strong ethical act. May others learn from their example.

Yeshiva Boys Cede Profits on Ramon Crash Footage
by Hillel Fendel

( Yeshiva boys near the crash-site of Assaf Ramon, son of fallen astronaut Ilan Ramon, photographed his plane burning and the arrival of rescue teams – but then refused to sell the exclusive photos so as not to desecrate the dead or offend the family.

The students study in the yeshiva high school in Maaleh Hever, a small community in southern Judea. When they heard the explosion of the plane, only about 1.2 kilometers away, they ran out to see what had happpened, taking cameras with them. They filmed the plane burning, the arrival of the emergency crews, and the hubbub around the incident.

Somehow, word of the pictures got out, and more than one news agency contacted the boys and offered to pay thousands of shekels for the exclusive footage. When the boys realized that an Air Force pilot had been killed, they consulted with their Rosh Yeshiva (rabbinical dean), Rabbi Amichai Chazan. He explained to them the importance of behaving ethically in such a situation.

The boys understood his message, and refused to sell. "I don't want to profit from this type of situation in which a soldier dies," said one student, Nehorai Hadad.

Instead of selling the pictures, the boys gave the photos to the army personnel investigating the crash – and dedicated their evening's Torah study in memory of Assaf ben [son of] Ilan and Rona Ramon.

Chief IDF Rabbi Avi Ronsky arrived in the yeshiva as well, and praised the boys' actions and the Sanctification of G-d's Name thereof. He spoke with them about the importance of thorough Torah study as the basis for military service excellence.

Maaleh Hever is a 15-year-old religious-Zionist yeshiva high school in which only a minimum of secular studies is offered; nearly the entire day is reserved for Torah study. At least two other similar institutions have been established in its wake, in Jerusalem and in Shaalvim.

"The time has come for you to liberate yourselves from fear and the ideological terrorism of neo-conservatives and the Israeli lobby"


Osama must read the Huffington Post and watch MSNBC. Seriously, these days, "The Israel Lobby" is a reference to the bottom floor of the King David Hotel.

However backward and seemingly out-of-touch these words seem to me, I still must take what he has to say with a bit of trepidation because it is so close to High Holy Days. This is the part of the year I start getting even more security conscious than usual.

We all need to carefully look at the things around us as the holidays approach and ask ourselves if there are any new people or any strange new things in our environment. A sudden uptick in the number of tourists photographing your shul, a couple of new congregants that seem a bit too eager or strangely out-of-touch, or some new traffic patterns around your neighborhood should all be things we don't take for granted.

Terrorists, unfortunately, don't leave things to chance, and if they are intending to hurt us, they will case the place first, make dry runs around our neighborhoods looking for all possible escape routes, and familiarizing themselves with the way things work.

Remember, High Holy Days are mostly on Shabbat and Sunday this year, so look for strangers and strange patterns on the weekend as you walk. Don't take anything for granted. Mention anything strange to the security person at your synagogue or to the federation security officer in your area. If it is nothing, fine. If it is important, they will take it from there.

I'd rather be paranoid and make a fool of myself than be silent and feel guilty for having failed to avert an attack.

Make sure you know how to get out of your synagogue fast. Mentally prepare yourself for such an event. Imagine what you would do if the place was suddenly dark, and pay attention to how you get around. Know where the fire extinguishers and the first aid kit are. Ask whether the synagogue has an emergency plan, and who is in charge.

Bin-Laden issues new tape warning U.S. against ties with Israel
By Reuters

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden warned the American people over their government's close ties with Israel in an apparently new audio tape posted on an Islamist website on Monday.

"The time has come for you to liberate yourselves from fear and the ideological terrorism of neo-conservatives and the Israeli lobby," Bin Laden's latest tape said.

"The reason for our dispute with you is your support for your ally Israel, occupying our land in Palestine."
The message, entitled "A statement to the American people", was around 11 minutes long and was posted a few days after the eighth anniversary of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks.

Reuters was not immediately able to verify its authenticity
but the website often is used by supporters of al Qaeda.

In the tape, the Al-Qaida leader said there had been no real change in American policy because U.S. President Barack Obama had retained people like U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates from the administration of former President George W. Bush.

"If you think about your situation well, you will know that the White House is occupied by pressure groups," Bin Laden said.

"Rather than fighting to liberate Iraq -- as Bush claimed -- it (the White House) should have been liberated."

The website had said earlier this month it would soon carry a "present" to Muslims from bin Laden on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan.

The leader of the group that mounted the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States is thought to be in hiding in the mountainous terrain along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

The attacks carried out by al Qaeda operatives in 2001 killed nearly 3,000 people.

The tape made reference to Obama's speech in Cairo in June, suggesting the message was recorded afterwards. The speaker also appeared to refer to criticisms former U.S. President Jimmy Carter made in June of Israel's Gaza invasion earlier this year.

Bin Laden's last apparent message was issued just before Obama's speech, where the president talked of a "new beginning" between the United States and the Muslim world.

In the new message, bin Laden also referred to U.S. military actions in Afghanistan to support the Afghan government against the Taliban, allies of al Qaeda, and support for Pakistan, which faces militant violence.

"If you stop the war, then fine. Otherwise we will have no choice but to continue our war of attrition on every front... If you choose safety and stopping wars, as opinion polls show you do, then we are ready to respond to this."

"You have only changed the faces in the White House," he said, referring to Obama who took office this year. "Obama is a weakened man. He will not be able to stop the war."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Litchfield. CT Historic District Sued by Chabad for Preventing Synagogue Expansion


There are a lot of questions to be answered here. For example, why would Chabad of Linchfield, CT want to erect a steeple on the synagogue? It seems such a strange addition to a Chabad house. Steeples are associated with xtian churches, not synagogues, and even if you look into the historical records, only Jews from reform congregations, who wanted to make their synagogues into churches (and sometimes even referred to their synagogues AS churches) were the only Jews to put steeples on their synagogues.

Does this rabbi have no clue as to what a steeple might suggest? If he wants to get "historic" why doesn't he look to the architecture of the Touro synagogue, a distinctly historic building with New England roots, built in 1758 in Rhode Island. It doesn't have a steeple!

As far as the histoic commission is concerned, I'm sure they have some valid reasons for not wanting the development of the synagogue, but I'm sure that they might have some invalid reasons as well. It is too bad that it is so difficult to separate the two.

For example, although the article states that "large churches" have been built in the historic district, they don't mention that those churches were renovations of existing structures. Perhaps the problem is that they don't want the renovation of an existing house?

Also, xtians often don't realize that synagogues cannot be built in a "church district" away from homes the way churches are (this is a perennial problem in the West, especially in "planned" communities). They don't understand that we can't drive to synagogue. We need to walk. In order to do that, synagogues have to be part of the fabric of a residential district.

I laugh when I see that a lot of the dissent we see in town council meetings, when they want to block a synagogue or yeshiva, has to do with the fact that the people don't want a synagogue or yeshiva in a residential area. A synagogue without a residential area is not a synagogue. No one could keep Shabbat. Of course the synagogue is in a residential area!

Another distressing issue in this article is that it appears that the city council member who is most blatantly outspoken against the synagogue is a Jew. I understand that she may not be religious, and that she may not agree with Chabad's way of looking at Judaism, but it's a dang shame this has to to look so bad to the non-Jews.

I hope this whole thing can be worked out, but I'm sure it is an uphill battle for Chabad. Certainly, we must fight for our rights, our synagogues, our religion, and our way of life. Jews are as American as the Revolutionary War which, by the way, we financed!

Lawsuit Filed: Jewish Group Says Litchfield Won't Allow Synagogue
The Hartford Courant
September 11, 2009,0,2788357.story


A religious freedom suit over the right of a town to restrict the building plans of an Orthodox Jewish group has been filed in federal district court in Hartford.

Chabad Lubavitch of Litchfield County, which has been active in this quaint, scenic town during the past decade, has been trying for three years to build a synagogue and a large addition to the 19th century house it owns just off Litchfield's historic green.

But under acrimonious circumstances that many critics have said bordered on anti-Semitism, the Borough of Litchfield's Historic District Commission denied Chabad Lubavitch's application in December 2007. Chabad Lubavitch is now suing on several grounds, including the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. The 2000 law prohibits government agencies from imposing regulations that would restrict a group's religious practices, unless there is a compelling government interest.

"The Litchfield community — Jew and Gentile — and its clergy, have been most welcoming and supportive in all our programs," Rabbi Joseph I. Eisenbach said in a statement after the suit was filed this week. The rabbi first became known in Litchfield County in 1996 after he won a highly publicized battle to install a menorah on the Litchfield Green during the December Hanukkah season.

"And it is a shame that some elected officials have made it their mission to try and block the Synagogue, with statements from a historic commission member claiming that 'there is no place for a Star of David on the Litchfield Green,'" Eisenbach continued."We had gone through the due process, and sadly we are forced to reach out to the federal government as a last resort."

Chabad Lubavitch operates out of a 1,500-square-foot, warehouse-style space in a small mall about a half-mile from the green. The group says these quarters are inadequate for religious services and its active, interfaith community programs, which include a preschool, a summer camp, arts fairs and a popular summer music festival.

In 2006 the group bought the historic but rundown Deming House off the green and filed applications with the historic commission to remodel it with such features as a wall made of Jerusalem stone and a steeple with the Star of David. The building plans are for a 21,000-square-foot addition behind the old house that would include a synagogue, living space for Eisenbach and his family, a community center and kosher kitchens.

A Meticulous Borough
Litchfield is famously meticulous about maintaining its historic district. The town's several square blocks of stately mansions, 19th century commercial facades and gardens behind picket fences have made the borough a summer haven for celebrities and one of Connecticut's most popular tourist destinations. Earlier battles over the town's pristine appearance have included a crackdown over a bed and breakfast owner's installation of flower boxes and the clothing chain Talbot's leasing commercial space on the green.

During hearings in 2007, members of the historic commission made many objections to Chabad Lubavitch's expansion plans. They objected to the size of the addition, even though the commission had granted permission for similar expansions to town hall and the public library. Several neighboring churches are as large, or larger, than the planned synagogue expansion. Eisenbach has said that his group made more than 40 changes to their architectural plans to accommodate early criticisms from the commission and worked to retain the historic facade of the Deming house.

But it was several pointed remarks made during the hearings about the planned synagogue's religious symbols that generated the most controversy and national media attention.

Commission Chairwoman Wendy Kuhne, for example, said during the hearings that the Jerusalem stone was "not indigenous" to the district and also said that the synagogue's planned Star of David "does not comply with the district."

In the controversy that followed, after Eisenbach and others pointed out that the Methodist Church next door displayed a stained glass window with a large Star of David — rescued from a demolished New Haven synagogue — Kuhne, who is Jewish, recused herself from the hearings.

During the hearings, according to Chabad Lubavitch's federal complaint, commission members also derided the group's building plans by comparing them to a "strip joint," and stating, about the Jerusalem stone, "Stone from Israel? We'll have to get the whole town out for this one."

"The defendants [the Litchfield Historic Commission] have engaged in a targeted and deliberate effort to prevent the Plaintiffs from developing the property and [using] it as a place of worship, while permitting other development within the town that is substantially similar to the modifications proposed for Plaintiff's property," Chabad Lubavitch's Hartford attorney, Kenneth R. Slater, wrote in the federal complaint. "This targeting has been based in large part on anti-Hasidic animus."

The group's plans to build in Litchfield have been supported by the Connecticut ACLU and other civil liberties groups, and Chabad Lubavitch has many supporters in Litchfield County. Lee Losee, the Litchfield borough warden — the equivalent of first selectman — is on record as supporting Chabad Lubavitch's plans. Many Christian ministers who have shared interfaith services with Eisenbach have also spoken out in favor of the group's expansion plans.

"It's a very big shame — I would personally even say a disgrace — that Litchfield denied these permits for Chabad," said the Rev. Thomas Drobena, the pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Torrington.

"Jewish-Christian relations are actually quite good out here in Litchfield County, and many of us regularly attend worship with Rabbi Eisenbach and at other synagogues.

"Jewish symbols are absolutely not a threat to a historic district," Drobena said, "and anyone who says they are just doesn't know their history. Christians and Jews share a common heritage that's really essential to the fabric of New England."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rabbi Angel on Parashat Nitzavim

The Truth and Nothing but the Truth

September 12, 2009

By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

The first section of this Shabbat's Torah reading expresses God's concern lest the Israelites revert to idolatry. As in so many other sections of the Torah, we are warned not to worship false gods. This is a grievous sin with terrible consequences.

But why would the Israelites--or anyone else--worship idols of wood or stone, silver or gold? What could be more foolish? Why was it necessary for the Torah to make so many strong statements against idolatry and its evils? Shouldn't we be intelligent enough to see the nonsense of idolatry on our own? What exactly is the temptation that would draw us in this wrong direction?

The Torah understands that people are gullible. When they are fearful or confused, they will believe almost anything. In desperation, people may turn to a physical entity that they think is "good luck" or to which they attribute magical powers--even divinity. They worship objects of wood and stones, silver and gold. The line between true faith and idolatry isn't always easy to distinguish.

What is the essence of idolatry? It is the attribution of false value to an object. Idolaters think that if they worship an idol, bow to it, bring it offerings--then it must be god! They convince themselves that a falsehood is actually true. Since others also foster the falsehood, this gives it the appearance of being true. The evil of idolatry is: believing in falsehood, abandoning truth. The Torah warns us not to fall into this trap. This applies not only to idols, but to everything and everyone. Demagogues and p.r. experts try to make us believe things we know to be wrong or unnecessary; a great many people succumb to these falsehoods. The Torah commands us to cling to truth, to reject lies.

In our society, there are many pressures on us to believe we simply must have this or that material thing in order to be successful and happy. There are many pressures on us to believe that this person or that person is wise or great, because of titles and honors that are bestowed on him/her. It is easy to fall into line with the crowd, and suspend our own clear judgment. The Torah warns us: do not be an idolater, do not veer from truth, do not falsely evaluate things or people.

The Talmud (Hagigah 14b) tells of four great sages who entered the "pardes" i.e. the world of profound speculation. Rabbi Akiva, one of the four, warned the others: "when you reach the domain of pure marble, don't call out 'water, water'; as it is written (Psalms 101:7), one who speaks falsehoods will not be established before My eyes." Rabbi Akiva knew how easy it is to mistake clear marble for water, a metaphor for how easy it is to succumb to falsehood instead of clinging to truth. The marble looks so much like water: but it is not water, it is cold stone. If you wish to pursue truth, you need to evaluate people and things as they really are--not as they appear to be.

***Please feel free to share the Angel for Shabbat column with your contact lists. Also, please visit the Institute's website,, and enter your opinion on our blog on the topic: Modern Orthodoxy's Allies: the Hareidim or the Non-Orthodox Movements? Your opinions are important.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hamas Steps Up Attacks Against Israel


This is a direct result of Netanyahu's show of weakness in promising a "building freeze" in Judea and Samaria. Every time he tries to suck up to the EU and the US, he ends up hurting Israel.

I think Netanyahu needs to get his head straight and start acting like a leader of Israel instead of an obsequious servant of Obama. If he really wants to make a difference, he needs to put his foot down, end the ongoing and dangerous situation in Judea and Samaria, and annex them, every inch, to the state of Israel.

If the arabs want to live there, they can sign a loyalty agreement as citizens of Israel, surrendering allegiance to any other nation, and pledging to support and defend the nation and the people of Israel. Otherwise, they can go back to Jordan, where they came from.

Israel is a JEWISH homeland, that's why they want it so bad. Ishmael is still jealous.

Hamas Escalates Attacks, Threatens "Fire and Iron."

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Gaza terrorists continued to escalate attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers Wednesday afternoon. The IDF neutralized several roadside bombs but did not respond to three shooting attacks on civilians carrying out maintenance work at the Gaza separation fence and at soldiers patrolling the areas.

The IDF denied a stream of allegations that Israeli forces made incursions into northern Gaza, reported by the Bethlehem-based Ma'an

Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Al-Qassam Brigades military wing of Hamas, warned Israel that "if it carries out a new war on the Gaza Strip, the responses won't by words; it will be by fire and iron. The only language the Israeli enemy understands is the language of force. The daily incursions carried out by the Zionist enemy is [sic] part of a programmed aggression. They fear anything [that] moves near the borders, even trees, foliage or sands.”

Wednesday's attacks followed an increasing number of mortar and gunfire attacks on Israel. Eight days ago, Hamas took responsibility for firing three mortar shells within a 24-hour period, one of the most intense assaults on Israel in months . . . [MORE]

Why Are Jews Liberals? When will the "buyer's remorse" for Obama Set in? Norman Podhoretz Wonders too!


This question has also plagued my thoughts. I wonder how perfectly wonderful religious people can become strangely irrational when it comes to politics. How could they vote for Obama, who doesn't want to support Israel and showed his contempt of Israel in the friends he kept, and ignore McCain and Palin, who clearly supported us?

Norman Podhoretz has a new book out that delves into these questions, and this is a commentary from him that appeared in today's Wall Street Journal.

Why are Jews Liberals?


One of the most extraordinary features of Barack Obama's victory over John McCain was his capture of 78% of the Jewish vote. To be sure, there was nothing extraordinary about the number itself. Since 1928, the average Jewish vote for the Democrat in presidential elections has been an amazing 75%—far higher than that of any other ethno-religious group.

Yet there were reasons to think that it would be different in 2008. The main one was Israel. Despite some slippage in concern for Israel among American Jews, most of them were still telling pollsters that their votes would be strongly influenced by the positions of the two candidates on the Jewish state. This being the case, Mr. McCain's long history of sympathy with Israel should have given him a distinct advantage over Mr. Obama, whose own history consisted of associating with outright enemies of the Jewish state like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the historian Rashid Khalidi.

Nevertheless, Mr. Obama beat Mr. McCain among Jewish voters by a staggering 57 points. Except for African Americans, who gave him 95% of their vote, Mr. Obama did far better with Jews than with any other ethnic or religious group. Thus the Jewish vote for him was 25 points higher than the 53% he scored with the electorate as a whole; 35 points higher than the 43% he scored with whites; 11 points higher than the 67% he scored with Hispanics; 33 points higher than the 45% he scored with Protestants; and 24 points higher than the 54% he scored with Catholics.

These numbers remind us of the extent to which the continued Jewish commitment to the Democratic Party has become an anomaly. All the other ethno-religious groups that, like the Jews, formed part of the coalition forged by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s have followed the rule that increasing prosperity generally leads to an increasing identification with the Republican Party. But not the Jews. As the late Jewish scholar Milton Himmelfarb said in the 1950s: "Jews earn like Episcopalians"—then the most prosperous minority group in America—"and vote like Puerto Ricans," who were then the poorest.

Jews also remain far more heavily committed to the liberal agenda than any of their old ethno-religious New Deal partners. As the eminent sociologist Nathan Glazer has put it, "whatever the promptings of their economic interests," Jews have consistently supported "increased government spending, expanded benefits to the poor and lower classes, greater regulations on business, and the power of organized labor."

As with these old political and economic questions, so with the newer issues being fought out in the culture wars today. On abortion, gay rights, school prayer, gun control and assisted suicide, the survey data show that Jews are by far the most liberal of any group in America.

Most American Jews sincerely believe that their liberalism, together with their commitment to the Democratic Party as its main political vehicle, stems from the teachings of Judaism and reflects the heritage of "Jewish values." But if this theory were valid, the Orthodox would be the most liberal sector of the Jewish community. After all, it is they who are most familiar with the Jewish religious tradition and who shape their lives around its commandments.

Yet the Orthodox enclaves are the only Jewish neighborhoods where Republican candidates get any votes to speak of. Even more telling is that on every single cultural issue, the Orthodox oppose the politically correct liberal positions taken by most other American Jews precisely because these positions conflict with Jewish law. To cite just a few examples: Jewish law permits abortion only to protect the life of the mother; it forbids sex between men; and it prohibits suicide (except when the only alternatives are forced conversion or incest).

The upshot is that in virtually every instance of a clash between Jewish law and contemporary liberalism, it is the liberal creed that prevails for most American Jews. Which is to say that for them, liberalism has become more than a political outlook. It has for all practical purposes superseded Judaism and become a religion in its own right. And to the dogmas and commandments of this religion they give the kind of steadfast devotion their forefathers gave to the religion of the Hebrew Bible. For many, moving to the right is invested with much the same horror their forefathers felt about conversion to Christianity.

All this applies most fully to Jews who are Jewish only in an ethnic sense. Indeed, many such secular Jews, when asked how they would define "a good Jew," reply that it is equivalent to being a good liberal . . .

Human Rights Coalition Against Radical Islam to Hold 9/11 Protest Against Sanitizing History, Victims without Perpetrators, Crime Without Punishment


The following is a press release is an invitation for those who want to attend the 9/11 memorial tomorrow, but who to do not believe we can speak of a "tragedy" and "victims" without speaking about the radical Islamic perpetrators of that crime who, even today, continue to wage a violent war against people of all nationalities and religions.

Don't let our politicians speak of 9/11 as if it were a some force of nature that just "happened." It wasn't. It was a crime against humanity. It was a vicious, pre-planned, murder of thousands of people by a group of radical extremists.

Those who executed the plan might be dead, but those who planned it and funded it are still running around the world preaching their hate to young people, planning more attacks, and killing innocent victims around the world.

We cannot let our history be rewritten by politically correct, sanitized, CAIR-approved speeches. We must be vigilant.


For Immediate Release:

The Human Rights Coalition Against Radical Islam (HRCARI), an organization of victims and targets of Radical Islam from around the world, will join the American 9/11 families in commemorating those slain on September 11, 2001. The vigil will be held at the Beacon Theater 74th Street and Broadway



HRCARI members - Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jews, Muslims and secular leaders -- will mourn the loss of ALL victims of Radical Islam -- from the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, from Mumbai to Madrid, Lockerbie to London, Bali to Beslan and Pakistan, from Somalia to Sudan, from Iraq to Israel, from the sailors on the USS Cole to the Coptic Christians in Egypt, and from Kenya to Kashmir.

This multi-ethnic, diverse, rainbow coalition for human rights will demand American government officials and the mainstream media connect the dots and report the truth about Radical Islam’s worldwide assault on human rights.

HRCARI will demand that our government take appropriate action to protect the civilized world and to slow, if not stop, the spread of Islamic Supremacistism, this oppressive, bigoted, homophobic, misogynist, racist and violent doctrine which has spawned so much death and destruction.

HRCARI will have a Memorial Vigil on 9/11 near Ground Zero. We need as much media exposure to show how diverse human rights victims of Radical Islam unite in solidarity with the American victims of Radical Islam, and 9/11 was sadly another assault in the war by Islam's radical cohorts while the government obfuscates and speaks in Orwellian tongues.

What is the meaning of 9/11, and what should we learn and remember ??

In light of the continued failure of our government and the mass media to acknowledge Radical Islam's worldwide threat to Human Rights, the Human Rights Coalition Against Radical Islam will have a reading of the global victims of Radical Islam to reveal the obfuscation and Orwellian language of the government in blurring the meaning of 9/11.

In addition to holding sacred the names of the 9/11 WTC victims, there will be a reading of other victims, including Pan Am Flight 103, Lockerbie, USS Cole, Hindu, Copts, Sudanese, Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Muslims, et al....whether Mumbai, Bali, Iran, Nigeria, Darfur, Israel, Lebanon, Pakistan, Madrid, . . . ..

HRCARI will have a Memorial Vigil near Ground Zero, on the morning of 9/11, just prior to the start of the 9/11 proceedings, to challenge government officials and the media to unveil the truth about the global assault by Radical Islam against human rights ( including assaults, mass murders and suicide bombings, hanging of gays, stoning women, honor killings, suppression of free speech ...), and to connect the dots as to that ongoing global war.

The Human Rights Coalition Against Radical Islam includes:
9/11 Families for a Secure America
ACT for America, Long Island & Manhattan
AISH Center
Alliance of Interfaith Resistance
American Coptic Union
American Center for Democracy
Americans for Peace & Tolerance
Arabs for Israel
Center for Security Policy
Chinese Community Relations Council(CCRC)
Clarion Fund
Damanga( Darfur Muslims)
David Project
Foundation of Nepalese
Global Movement Against Radical Islam
Hasbara Fellowships
Hindu Human Rights Watch
Indian-American Intellectuals Forum
Institute for Religion & Democracy
International Foundation of Bangladeshi Hindus
Jewish Action Alliance
Mothers Against Terrorism
Muslims Against Sharia
Namdhari Sikh Foundation
R.E.A.L Courage
Security & Law Society, Fordham University School of Law
Sikh Recognition Trust
Stand With Us
Sudan Freedom Walk
Women United: Code Red
Zionist Organization of America

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fed Judges Find "Intifada NYC" T-Shirts Good Reason to Fire


For what it's worth, I'm sure that this isn't the last we have heard of this case. If there was an opportunity for the Supreme Court to weigh in, it would be now.

I understand that the woman is pro-Arab (whether it is funded by public money or not, what else would we expect from an Arabic school? Seriously, if it were a Hebrew school, wouldn't we expect a pro-Jewish principal? Aren't the kids going there because they want a pro-Arab atmosphere--just like kids going to a publicly funded Hebrew school would want a pro-Jewish or pro-Israeli atmosphere???).

I understand she made the unfortunate decision to supporting a group of women who were making "Intifada NYC" T-Shirts (not only in bad taste after 9/11, but also really bad judgement for someone who was taking a very politicized
position as principal of the Arabic school).

I also understand that she must think we are all incredibly stupid to argue that "intifada" means "shaking off" and not "I want to kill as many Jews as possible so I can get my 72 virgins."

However, I wonder if the court was listening too closely with their "political" ears and not closely enough with their "constitutional" ears. After all, isn't this the same sort of argument made by the Israeli Supreme court when they convicted David H'ivri
in Israel for selling "No Arabs/No Terror" T-Shirts? Didn't we all support him against what we believed to be a really anti-free-speech decision by the Israeli court?

I think this principal is an idiot. I think this principal should go back to college and take a basic political science class, and I think someone needs to get her a newspaper subscription, but I don't agree that, tasteless as it is, an "Intifada NYC" T-Shirt should be censored.

If that is the case, then we are in for a lot of hell in the next few years. The FBI will have to get ready to raid Urban Outfitters and Hot Topic stores from coast to coast in order to confiscate their collections of T-Shirts, and most of us will need to remove one ore more bumper stickers from our cars.

So, as much as I can't stand this Arabic school principal, AND think she is a first-class dingbat, I have to agree that she shouldn't be fired for what she wrote on a T-Shirt. Maybe she should be fired for allowing space for the women's group who sold the shirt, but the T-Shirt message shouldn't be an issue.


US Court: Free Speech Does not Allow 'Intifada T-Shirts

by Avraham Zuroff

( A U.S. federal judge has confirmed that even freedom of speech has its limits. On Tuesday, Judge Sidney H. Stein of Manhattan’s Federal District Court dismissed the case of a founding principal of an Arabic culture public school who was fired for defending “Intifada” t-shirts. Debbie Almontaser, the former principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, claimed that her rights were violated.

In August 2007, Almontaser told the New York Post that the T-shirt wording “Intifada NYC” was sold by Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media, a woman’s group that she allowed to use her school facilities. She claimed that the Arabic word intifada means “shaking off”, and had nothing to do with the violent uprisings of Arabs within Israel in the 1980s and 1990s.

“The word basically means 'shaking off.' That is the root word if you look it up in Arabic. I understand it is developing a negative connotation due to the uprising in the Palestinian-Israeli areas. I don't believe the intention is to have any of that kind of [violence] in New York City. I think it's pretty much an opportunity for girls to express that they are part of New York City society ... and shaking off oppression,” Almontaser said in her interview.

Due to a “shake off” from complaining parents, the New York City Board of Education asked Almontaser to resign.

Shortly after her resignation, Almontaser sued the Department of Education, its chancellor, and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. She claimed that they not only violated her free speech rights, but also prevented her from regaining her job as a principal.

The Khalil Gibran International Academy is a public school in Brooklyn, New York City that opened in September 2007. It was the first public school to emphasize a curriculum of Arabic language and culture.

Daniel Pipes, a Middle East studies expert, objected to the school’s curriculum. “In principle it is a great idea – the United States needs more Arabic-speakers. In practice, however, Arabic instruction is heavy with Islamist and Arabist overtones and demands,” Pipes wrote ahead of the school’s opening.

Pipes later revealed that Almontaser received an award from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and that the school was designed in part by the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC). CAIR is an Islamist group that the FBI has linked to funding the ourlawed Hamas terrorist organization.