Good News and Bad News and A Request for Help

First, the good news. Baruch Hashem, my son got married this past Sunday, Lag B’Omer. The wedding was wonderful and we are all very happy for the young couple and looking forward to Shabbat Sheva Brachot with the bride’s family in Zfat.

Now, the bad news. Because of a long and complicated story with the Israeli army (which I may post about at some point but I cannot do it now) my son was arrested by the military police the Thursday before his wedding and taken to spend the night in prison. After a long and tense wait on Friday he was given a hearing and granted three days off in order to get married. He appeared before a judge again on Tuesday and was given another few days off. He was required to appear again before a judge yesterday, where he was told that he could finish his Sheva Brachot week but needs to go back to military prison next Monday morning. He will have a hearing again this coming Tuesday to decide how much time he will need to spend in prison before being released to start his army service.

As I have mentioned before in my blog my son decided to become a Chabadnik during his high school years. The Chabad community is doing its part to help him, as is the Dati Leumi community in my yishuv. People with connections are helping behind the scenes.

Now I would like to call upon the most important community I know of – the righteous women of Israel. I would appreciate prayers for my son to receive the shortest possible stay in prison so that he can join his young wife. I am sure every woman can imagine how difficult it would be to start married life with a long separation from your husband, especially one so completely unexpected.

Thank you and G-d willing we will hear only good news!

Post script: Just to be clear, my son has been spending his time since high school either learning in yeshiva (both in Israel and in Brooklyn (770) or doing what is called  “shlichut” (community service). He has spent time in India organizing meals and religious services for Rosh Hashana, which also included walking in the pouring rain for half an hour in order to blow the shofar for a pregnant woman who could not make it to the Chabad house. He has traveled to other interesting (and dangerous) places in order to be the shaliach tzibur (conduct the prayers) for Yom Kippur where there was noone else to do so.  Back in Israel he spent a year working as a volunteer in a religious high school for boys with special needs.

His uniform is black (hat and suit) versus green, but he has been spending his time contributing to Klal Yisrael just the same.


I Couldn’t Agree More

I couldn’t agree more with Leah Aharoni in this opinion piece. What do you think?

The “Unsung” Heroines

Rafi at LifeinIsrael has an interesting post about a young religious woman who has competed in the singing competition The Voice here in Israel. For those of you who don’t know, women singing in front of men is prohibited by halacha (Jewish law) as it is seen as immodest and provocative. (For those who doubt that this is so – just look at this beautiful girl and listen to her sing. I can’t think of anything more provocative than that – even if she is dressed modestly).  A woman is allowed to perform for other women.

What concerns a lot of people is that her decision to go against halacha in this case is very public, and other religious girls will see this and perhaps follow her example.

What bothers me is the fact that there are literally thousands of girls who may be as talented as she is, but choose to follow the halacha and either channel their talents in other ways (performing for women only, for example) or who focus on other things in their lives. These girls do not have a public “heroine” who represents them, and perhaps they think that they are alone.

We need to let these girls know that it is praiseworthy to follow the law and keep to values that have sustained the Jewish people for thousands of years. They need to hear that they are heroines for resisting the temptation of temporary fame.  They need to be recognized for being modest – in the truest sense of the term. Real modesty is not measured only by skirt or sleeve length, it is measured in a more holistic way – by the choices a woman makes and her behavior.

I for one salute all of the “unsung heroines” out there. Kol haKavod!

I Love Happy Endings

Elisheva Hai, the widow of Rabbi Meir Hai, who was killed in a terrorist attack a few years ago, remarried yesterday.

She is the mother of seven children, and she showed great courage in picking up the pieces of her life and moving on. She continues to live in Shavei Shomron, a yishuv near Kedumim, and her new husband will join her there.

What I find remarkable and inspiring, is that after the terror attack she not only put her life together – she went on to volunteer to help others. At one point she decided to do chesed by helping to arrange matches. After setting up her future husband with others, it was suggested that she go out with him herself, and the rest is history.

People sometimes wonder how Israel survives all of the terrorist attacks aimed at us. The answer is twofold – help from G-d, and the strength of our people. Elisheva Hai is just one example.

What Do YOU Wish for Your Children – Compare and Contrast

I came across this article quoting the wife of a Hamas operative saying that the Palestinian mother  “instills in her children the love of Jihad and martyrdom for the sake of Allah,” – and “I am constantly praying: ‘Allah, make the end of our days be in martyrdom.”

In other words, she prays that her her husband and children will kill themselves in order to kill others (Jews, in her case). This is her greatest goal.

I don’t know about you, but I pray for other things for my husband and children. I pray for them every day using my own words, and on Friday afternoon right after lighting the Sabbath candles I use the text in my siddur (Jewish prayerbook).

Here is this prayer in part:

“May it be your will Hashem, my G-d and G-d of my forefathers, that You show favor to me [my husband, my sons….] and all my relatives; and that You grant us and all Israel a good and long life:….Privilege me to raise children and grandchildren, who are wise and understanding, who love Hashem and fear G-d, people of truth, holy offspring, attached to Hashem, who illuminate the world with Torah and good deeds and with every labor in the service of the Creator…..” (taken from the Complet Artscroll Siddur)

I thank G-d every day that he made me a Jew, and I am profoundly grateful that the spiritual goals that we strive for are achieved by living a good life – illuminating the world with Torah and good deeds….

One Tough Lady

I must be getting more Israeli. When I first came to the country and I would hear about the confrontations in the Knesset and I would be slightly embarrassed.

Now I enjoy them.

Today’s confrontation was between MK Anastasia Michaeli and MK Ghaleb Magadele, who called her a fascist. She then poured a glass of water on him and vowed to complain to the ethics committee, saying that he should learn how to speak to a woman. Michaeli, part of the Israel Beiteinu party, is well known for her feistiness, as well as being the first MK to give birth while in office – to her eighth child, no less. Recently she has received death threats for her proposed bill to ban the use of the PA system by mosques when calling their members to prayer. (After twenty years in my yishuv I can tune them out, but during Ramadan they can get pretty loud).


Good People, Doing What They Can For Israel

Glenn Beck is already here in Israel and has visited Itamar already. There are lots of people who will join him too, including 92 year old Helen McDaniel.

Thank G-d for good people who are doing what they can for Israel. In case you haven’t heard it enough, we thank you.


Virtual or Real, Visit Kever Rachel Today

Today, the 11th day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, is the Yahrzeit (day of death) of Rachel Imeinu (Rachel the matriarch).

For those of you in Israel who can take the time – go visit in person.

For those of you far away, or who cannot make it physically, take a virtual tour.

You Go Girls!

When I turned 12 I refused to have a Bat Mitzvah, even though my parents offerred me one. I was petrified of speaking in public (still am!), so I opted out of a ceremony. I think I made the right decision, as it turns out that the Yom Kippur War started just two days later. It would have been weird to celebrate while a war was going on, even one thousands of miles away.

The New York Times has an article about a group of ninety-something women finally having their Bat Mitzvot. Although written a tad condescendingly (suggesting that the women were concerned about the overall lenght of the ceremony because of weak bladders was in poor taste) on the whole the article is upbeat.

If you want to read some other great stuff, go on over to What War Zone and see this week’s Havel-Havalim….I have to completely agree with Benji about Bank Looney – Yiyhe B’Seder my foot!

And last but not least, check out this month’s Kosher Cooking Carnival…..


I don’t usually read Hebrew books for pleasure. I read the Makor Rishon newspaper every week for the news, but until now I always thought that reading a novel in Hebrew would be too difficult, and that I wouldn’t enjoy it.

That was until our yishuv librarian came over and recommended “Mikimi” by Noah Yaron Dayan. I told her that the book had to be “meod moshech” (“very engrossing” in slang) for me to enjoy it in my second language. She assured me that it was – and she was right.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story, Dayan was a very popular radio show host on IDF radio, and she also had a tv show (I am not sure on which station since we don’t own a tv). In short she was a very secular celebrity – with all of the trappings that go with this, including interviews in the papers, people asking her for autographs, etc.

In addition, as she tells it, her life was excruciatingly superficial. She describes how she was constantly surrounded by lies. One example is the five page magazine spread on “the real Noa” – where the author brings a whole wardrobe for the photo shoot, and then claims in the article that the clothes belong to Dayan.

As luck would have it, she meets up with a boyfriend who is just as unhappy in this superficial life as she is. At one point a mutual friend barges into their apartment with a small book by Rabbi Nachman of Breslav. He then takes them to the window to gaze at the stars – at “einsof” (“infinity”). They think he has completely lost his mind. He describes this great Torah class he has started to attend, and makes himself such a pain in the neck that Noa’s boyfriend, Ben, makes a deal with him. “If I go to one of these Torah classes with you, will you promise never to mention Rabbi Nachman ever again?” Their mutual friend agrees. Unknowingly the couple has started on a journey that will turn their lives upside down.

Noa waits anxiously in their apartment the next week for Ben to come home from this class. She expects him back in an hour, and after six hours pass she is frantic. Ben comes home a changed man – and he finds it difficult to explain why. Noa almost loses her mind when he insists that he will go back the next week to hear Daniel, the Rabbi who is both down to earth and extremely charismatic.

As you can probably guess Noa ends up attending the class too – and is very touched. She is both attracted to what the Breslaver is teaching her – and scared to death. She is so scared, as a matter of fact, that she tries to run away. She convinces Ben to go with her to Holland, and freaks out when Ben wants to light Chanukah candles. Thinking that she can run even farther from her Jewishness, she suggests they go to a remote little village in the boonies of Holland. After showing up there, they find the one and only bed and breakfast run by none other than Jacob. You guessed it, Jacob is Jewish, and proudly shows off his little sefer Tehillim (book of Psalms).

Accepting the fact that she can’t run away from it – Noa starts slowly to become observant. What is so wonderful about the book is her honesty about the way there. Most people who know b’aalei teshuva (those who become observant Jews by choice) know that they were once secular, and now they are Orthodox. A lot of b’aalei teshuva are ashamed of their past, and do not want to describe the details of their transition. Dayan gets over this embarrassment (which almost leads her to lose the love of her life) and writes it all in the book. She talks about the emotional highs and lows – the fear of not knowing what to do, the fear that she is changing too much, and the sadness that comes with causing her parents and sister pain – along with the tremendous joy at finding her path in life.

I enjoyed the book immensely. I do not follow the Breslav derech (“way of life”) myself, but I very much admire those who do. Their honesty and unabashed love of G-d and other Jews is an example for all of us. If I daven (pray) with 1/10th of their kavana (“intention”) I am doing well!!

If you want to read first hand about how one very sad and lost person found meaning in her life – go out and get the book. It is worth the time – even if Hebrew is your second language.

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