Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy Simchat Torah !

"Hoshana Rabbah" at the Kotel (Western Wall)

All pictures may be viewed HERE !


In a way I am glad that Sukkot is coming to its end; on the other hand, a Chag is always spiritual and especially Sukkot is my favourite holiday. However, I have been busy running to events all the way through and now I have just arrived in Tiberias to relax over Simchat Torah (starting tonight). See the Hakafot up in the north and going back to Jerusalem for Shabbat.

I will report about all the events I have been to next week and, furthermore, I am going to put plenty of pictures into the blogs. Including those from the "Jerusalem Christian Parade" yesterday.

"Chag Sameach - Happy Simchat Torah - Gut Yom Tov" to all of you !

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Today's "Jerusalem Parade" is a Christian Missionary Event


Thousands of people are going to participate in today's traditional Jerusalem Parade during Sukkot, and thousands of Israelis are going to watch it in downtown Jerusalem. Mayor Nir Barkat will be there and all kinds of celebrities. However, what the municipality doesn't admit is that the parade is run by the "International Christian Embassy" (Jerusalem) and that the goal of the entire event is nothing but missionizing the Jews.

Christians from all over the world have been arriving in Jerusalem for the past few weeks and what we see downtown are fanatic smiling Christian faces feeling pity for the Jews. "Well, if the Jews had accepted their false Meshiach J., Auschwitz would not have happened !" - so the opinion of many Christians.

American Evangelical Christians support our Netanyahu government financially. Anne Ayalon, the wife of our deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, is a reborn Christian and missionary. No wonder that more and more Christian keep on feeling secure in Israel. Moreover, they have started faking Biblical history.
They may fake whatever they want but they cannot cheat G - d !

Rabbi Yosef Ber of Brisk on Simchat Torah


Rabbi Yosef Ber of Brisk:

The phrase SIMCHAT TORAH literally means the joy of the Torah, to teach us that it isn't enough for us to be happy with the Torah, the Torah must be happy with us.

Jerusalem: Simchat Beit HaShoeva Photos

Chabad Meshichisten dancing at Zion Square.

Crowded Mea Shearim Street.

The mess with the drunk American Yeshiva guys hanging out of a window is starting.

See the three drunk Litvaks in the window on top.

One of the drunk Americans is hanging out of the window.

Entrance to Karlin - Stolin in Mea Shearim.

The Satmarer (Rebbe Zalman Leib Teitelbaum) Beit Midrash.

Synagogue of Chassidut Ruzhin - Boyan.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Monday, September 27, 2010

Simchat Beit HaShoeva in Mea Shearim


Many things have been written about the Simchat Beit HaShoeva celebrations in Mea Shearim. The fanatic Sikarikim threaten everyone in the neighbourhood. Women are not allowed to leave the house. A secular feminist student living in Kfar Saba and without any knowledge about the haredi world wanted to demonstrate in the middle of Mea Shearim. All kinds of weird issues about haredi have been raised by the secular press. The most funny event is probably secular women wanting to storm Mea Shearim in order to free haredi women. A joke because those haredi women look down on those secular feminist women. Do the secular really think that any haredi woman is listening to them ?

Last night I went to Mea Shearim with a friend and we didn't even get down until the end of Mea Shearim Street. As we entered from Kikar Shabbat, we found the neighbourhood's main street more than packed. Thousands of people were around. Almost all of them Haredim, young Yeshiva students and seminary girls. An unbelievable scene but far too crowded. My friend and me started taking pictures and no one yelled at us. In fact, plenty of Haredim took pictures themselves.

We walked a few meters towards the center of Mea Shearim Street and suddenly the crowd started moving from the other direction. I saw two cops trying to deal with the situation but they were pushed out by some Toldot Aharon Chassidim. Three other cops without uniforms were around but nothing helped. The reason for the chaos were a few drunk American Yeshiva guys living in a house nearby. Some of them yelled out of the window and others were dancing wildly outside.
Due to the pushing, the cops and everything else, hundreds of Haredim just stopped walking and started waiting for some action to happen. Someone threw a stink bomb and this was it. Haredi mothers from the neighbourhood pushed their children home. The drunk Americans didn't stop yelling. 

American parents should see what their kids are doing here ! 
Studying at the MIR Yeshiva but drinking and yelling at their Mea Shearim neighbours. One guy leant out of the window and almost threw up on the masses; another three Americans were sitting drunk on the ground.

After all the mess and the stink, we decided to go to Karlin - Stolin but there it was so packed that we couldn't even get near the entrance. However, Karlin had a screen outside and thus we saw what is going on inside. Chassidim dancing wildly.
The Satmarer Beit Midrash across (of Rebbe Zalman Leib Teitelbaum) was half empty and nothing was going on).

We took plenty of photos and I will put them into the blog soon. Hopefully American parents will see what their children are doing in Israel. Causing a mess for local Haredim and being the worst example to Mea Shearim children.
This was not a festive atmosphere but only a huge mess !

Yeshivat "Ateret Cohanim" buying houses in Jerusalem's Arab Quarter


The national religious Yeshiva "Ateret Cohanim" is known for buying property in Jerusalem's Arab and Christian Quarter in the Old City. Either "Ateret Cohanim" is trying to find a former Jewish owner of the property or simply trying to convince an Arab owner to sell his property to the Jews. Parts of today's Arab Quarter used to be Jewish and only became Muslim after the Arabs started with their pogromes. 

As soon as a Palestinian decides selling his property to "Ateret Cohanim", the Yeshiva is taking care of covering his identity and, if necessary, get him out of the country so that his Muslim "brothers" don't kill him.

Every Chol HaMoed Pessach and Sukkot, "Ateret Cohanim" offers free trips to the Jewish houses inside the Arab Quarter and I usually participate. I did yesterday and will do so today. This time, they even offered a trip to the controversial "Beit Yonathan" in the Arab village of Silwan (right outside the Kotel - Western Wall) but the trip was canceled due to security issues.  

When you leave the Western Wall through the tunnel (Kotel), you get into the Arab Quarter. About 70, 80 and 90 years ago, this area was Jewish. Many chassidic groups settled there and the entire area was full of Yeshivot and Synagogues. Until today you can still see signs of Mezuzot on the door frames. Rabbi Me'ir Kahane's brother has his Synagogue in the area and the Breslover Baal Teshuva Rabbi Eliezer Berland opened his Yeshiva "Shuvo Banim". Once Jewish life flourished right outside the tunnel but today you have to be careful due to the security situation.


 The Palestinians want an Islamic Jerusalem. At least according to the hundreds of posters on the walls.

Israeli police in the Arab Quarter. 
Without the cops and the army, more Jews would get attacked by Palestinians.

How do you recognize Jewish property in the Arab Quarter ?
You look for a Mezuzah, an Israeli flag, a bullet - proofed door and security cameras.
Sometimes the Muslim neighbours don't allow a Mezuzah or a flag and then you only find plenty of security cameras in the area. Every Jewish house has Jewish inhabitants and the Arabs hate that.

A Jewish house inside the Christian Quarter.
Many centuries ago, Jews started buying houses in the area. Why shouldn't they ? Jerusalem is a Jewish city. We can understand that Muslims live here but what actually do the Christians have to do with Jerusalem ? They don't belong here !
In the past, Christian priests told their followers to attack the Jewish neighbours.

The inside of the house. "Ateret Cohanim" would like to place sixty families into the house, as it is so large. The Christian neighbours, however, went to court and the court stopped the settling of the house. In the meantime, only a few families live there. The house also includes a Yeshiva.

The children living in the house served us visitors cold drinks.

Christian idol - worship stores around the Jewish house.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Gidon, the Messianic Jew, sleeping in Mea Shearim


I finally succeeded in taking pictures of the Israeli GIDON who is associated with the Jews for J. in Tel Aviv. For the past two years, the Yerushalmi Gidon has been actively participating in the activities of the Messianic Center "Dugit" in Tel Aviv. When he is in Jerusalem, he walks around in haredi neighbourhoods and sleeps in Synagogues around Mea Shearim. Watch out, as he may be laying out Messianic pamphlets in those Synagogues !

Website for Bnei Noach


Jews need to keep the Torah Mitzvot and Gentiles need to keep the "Seven Noachide Laws". A Chabadnik recommended the following website to those of you who may be interested in the Bnei Noach:

7 Mitzvot for the 70 nations !

Building a Sukkah means being a partner in Creation


The "Toldot Aharon" Sukkot pamphlet is quoting from the "Kaf HaChaim":

Whoever is building his own Sukkah, is making himself a partner in G - d's Creation process. However, the Jew building his Sukkah should do so with a special behaviour and Kedusha (holiness). 

I love this teaching !

Secular Jews in Mea Shearim


Now I understand why Mea Shearim is closing its gates and why outsiders are not always welcomed.
Friends from the ultra - Orthodox neighbourhood had invited me last Friday night and when I entered the living room, I saw three secular women sitting at the table. They were at least almost sixty years old and from the Tel Aviv area. Not too modestly dressed had they been walking around in Mea Shearim, looking for some Shabbat "action" and eventually ended up at that particular family. They were lucky to end up somewhere at all and this shows how patient Mea Shearim is sometimes.

When I entered, the women were already in the middle of an argument with one of the daughters of our host. Why everyone in the neighbourhood speaks Yiddish and why not Hebrew. Haredi schools are not too educated and any rude further comment you can imagine. Two seminary girls were sitting there as well and we had expected a nice Shabbat atmosphere. Instead we had to listen to all the cliches of the Tel Aviv women. The hosts tried to explain and were very patient but when the women announced that they had just come for a few hours and were now going back to Tel Aviv, our host blew up. She asked them why they had come at all and in the end even offered them to pay for a hotel in Jerusalem. Nothing helped and the three families (the husbands sat with the men in the Sukkah) insisted on going back. Especially the husbands.

The women had only come to argue with Haredim and I don't want to list all the prejudices they were spreading around at the Shabbat table. After they had left, our host took a deep breath and said that this was just disgusting. No wonder she doesn't want any secular or Reform Jews in the house. Let alone Gentiles.
Years ago, she used to have everybody but after all those arguments and fights, the Mea Shearim family just had enough and now only accepts other Haredim, Yeshiva Bochurim and seminary girls.
I have to say that I don't feel comfortable sitting at a table in Mea Shearim, listening to secular arguments or having Gentiles sitting there.

No wonder Mea Shearim shuts down and now we all have to suffer from those stupid visitors who just cannot or don't want to show any respect.

Sukkot Events in Jerusalem


1. In about an hour, the traditional (during Chol HaMoed Pessach and Sukkot) Birkat HaCohanim blessing is taking place at the Kotel (Western Wall).

2. Tomorrow (Monday, 27 September), the new Chabad Shaliach of the Rehavia neighbourhood, Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg is inviting every Jew to a Sukkot celebration at Jerusalem's Independence Park. Special attraction: A Sukkah Camel.
Time: 3 - 6 pm. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Good Parasha News


This morning I found a haredi store where I was promised to receive the original Parasha edition of the Toldot Aharon as well of their split - off Shomrei Emunim every Friday. At least I don't have to surf around the net for Parasha information anymore !

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Sukkot Pictures from Jerusalem

The CHABAD Sukkah at Zion Square

Sukkot in Ben Yehudah Street.

Jerusalem ist just packed with Sukkot. Especially in front of restaurants, cafes and bars where people love to sit outside in the Sukkah and eat or drink.

The municipality Sukkah of Jerusalem's Mayor Nir Barkat (at Safra Square).

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Sukkot 5771 in Mea Shearim


It won't be easy this year. Spending Sukkot in Mea Shearim as a woman may be a problem. Not necessarily for the local women of Mea Shearim but for us female visitors. Last Wednesday night I was walking through Mea Shearim and saw countless of posters. The Toldot Aharon only accept their own female members to their Simchat Beit HaShoeva celebrations. They even give out tickets to their members. Furthermore other chassidic groups limit the amount of visitors from the outside. 
I am planning to go next week but will have to face Chassidim refusing to let me in. I am spending this Shabbat with friends in Mea Shearim and will investigate the subject. Where I can go and when.

More than three years ago I started going to chassidic Tishes in Mea Shearim. Me and my friend where alone with the chassidic women. In those days there were hardly any visitors from the outside but suddenly everything changed. Groups started walking in and so - called "researchers" who are secular but saw the big money, dragged their groups into chassidic neighbourhoods. The moment I saw those groups, I knew the good days are over. Indeed, soon the chassidic communities got fed up and now we see the result. Mea Shearim is closing its gates to visitors on Sukkot. Not only due to the Sikarikim but due to too many visitors from the outside. Secular Israelis and national religious Jews. Especially the national religious girls love to start arguing with chassidic women. Mainly about Zionism / anti - Zionism and this is destroying the entire atmorphere. Now we all have to face reality meaning: Mea Shearim is closed !

Some silly women of Israel's Reform are planning to make a fuss by demonstrating in the middle of Mea Shearim. I am interested in making some pictures how the local population is going to respond. My own opinion is that those Reform women don't have any clue about haredi society and are only looking for provocations. 

The Gentile Children of Intermarriage in Israel


Just imagine, you as a Jew fall in love with another Jew and then the "Jew" turns out to be a Gentile. He was lying at you all the way through and hoping that eventually you would be so deeply in love with him that you wouldn't care about Jewish identity and religion an marry him.

A German Gentile called U. is giving himself the name "D. G." and a Romanian immigrant called "T. C." (whose father is Jewish but not his mother) is calling himself "Tu... C.". Both hide their non - Jewish identity and the latter is searching for a Jewish wife.

In the end everything will come out at the Rabbanut (Chief Rabbinate) but until then, the Gentile keeps in lying. Intermarried couples don't think about such results. A Jewish father and a Gentile mother will have Gentile children ! And those Gentile children, especially when living in Israel, are going to look for marriage partners when they are grown up. In most cases for Jews and then we will have another Intermarriage.

Hitler would be happy hearing such "good news": The Jews are destroying themselves.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lulav Photos from Jerusalem

My Lulav Set (not yet bound together).

The Lulav market in Jaffa Road / across the Machane Yehudah Market

Buying Aravot for the Lulav

Photos: Miriam Woelke

VeSamachta be'Chagecha

Photo: Miriam Woelke


Rain in Jerusalem: Just a few minutes ago it was pouring. Very unusual for September, as the raining period only starts in October. Maybe a good sign because Israel desperately needs rain.

Last night I went to buy my own Lulav. A set including the Etrog and I hope that I can rely on the seller when he checked whether all the items are kosher. The Lulav business on Sukkot is a huge business. Not only in Jerusalem. Even little haredi kids are selling sets in order to earn a few Shekels. And suddenly it doesn't matter anymore if you are male or female. Haredi boys and adults talked to me because they wanted to sell.

I am very proud of myself, as it is the first time ever that I bought a Lulav. All those years before I went to Chabad and shook a "public" Lulav.

The Hebrew edition of the haredi magazine "Mishpacha" has a huge article about the TOLDOT AHARON today. Don't get too excited: The article, as the entire "Mishpacha", doesn't publish too many critical issues and basically everything is just great and perfect in haredi society. So, don't expect any scandals uncovered ! This you have to do by yourself.

Jerusalem is busy and the Machane Yehudah Market is already flooded with buyers. The holidays cost us lots of money and prices for food are up. Let alone all the Etrog business and purchasing things for the Sukkah.

I know that there is a Halacha that a Jew shouldn't write on Chol HaMoed but there may be a Machloket about whether a Jew is allowed to write in case he is reporting about the holiday itself to other people. I will ask a Rabbi tonight about the issue. However, I am going to write about all kind of Sukkot events in Jerusalem. If the Sikarikim in Mea Shearim go wild, about the action in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and about the vicious Christian missionary parade through downtown Jerusalem.

"Chag Sameach - Happy Sukkot" to all readers !

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A kosher Sukkah in Auschwitz


Every Sukkot, Rabbi Mordechai Machlis keeps on telling the same story about a kosher Sukka in Auschwitz. He does it for his family and his many many guests.

This story is about his friend and teacher Rabbi Yitzchak Traube. Rabbi Machlis always concludes with the words that he does not know whether anything similar ever happened or whether this story has ever been published before. Listeners are always shocked. I want to share the story with others in remembrance of Rabbi Yitzchak Traube.

Rabbi Yitzchak Traube was imprisoned in the Auschwitz death camp for quite a while. Every morning, he and other prisoners were forced to walk along a certain road within the camp in order to get to work. The festival of Sukkot was approaching, and as Rabbi Traube walked along the road when he saw little branches laying there. He looked aside and saw a building which looked more like a ruin. Only the walls were left but without a roof. From now on, every day he pushed with his feet more and more branches to the side of the road. He had to be very careful because the guards might suspect something.

On Erev Sukkot, he left his barrack and ran to the place where he had pushed the branches. One cannot imagine in what danger he was. Leaving the barrack at night and being caught meant instant death. However, the rabbi was lucky. He put the branches over the walls, and this way he built a kosher Sukkah. Additionally, he had saved up some bread which he ate.

In the middle of Auschwitz, he fulfilled the Mitzvah of making a blessing on food and sitting in a kosher Sukkah.

Picture of the Day

The cover page shows a photo of Chassidut Toldot Aharon.

Saudis allow women to drive

Monday, September 20, 2010

The G - dly Verdict: "Measure for Measure - מידה כנגד מיד"


In Judaism we follow the theory of G - d's punishment taking place according to "Midah keneged Midah - Measure for Measure". When someone causes a sin (an Averah), many times G - d punishes the person in a way which has something to do with his sin.
As soon as we hear "Midah keneged Midah", we get scared and expect that maybe G - d is going to punish us right away. However, this is not always the case and many times the sin can take place and the punishment appears thirty years later when we have already forgotten about it. But G - d doesn't forget.

Where in the Torah do we find a case of an immediate punishment
"Midah keneged Midah" ?

After Adam HaRishon and Eve (Chava) ate from the "Tree of Knowledge - Etz HaDa'at" and there eyes "opened". And they heard the voice of G - d withdrawing itself in the garden ... The two hidbeding a tree.

Parashat Bereshit, and especiallt the topic regarding "Gan Eden - Paradise" is mostly described in a metaphorical way. The Talmud, for instance, suggests different explanations concerning the "fruit" Adam and Eve may have eaten. It is almost certain that it wasn't an apple but maybe a special kind of intoxicating date. Die Adam and Eve get drunk ? Another matter popping up is the garden itself ? Was there really a garden or is it also just a metaphor for something else ? Maybe for a higher state of mind ?

Kabbalistic sources claim that as soon as Adam and Eve ate from the tree, they lost all their higher soul levels as a punishment. From now on they were mortal and didn't know everything anymore. Then G - d came but hadn't he been there all the time ? And why could the two humans think that hiding behind a tree would help them escaping from G - d ?

If they had admitted their sin, things would have gone into a very different direction ... 

The grave of the RAMBAM in Tiberias, Part 1


Last Thursday I also went to the grave of the RAMBAM (Maimonides, 1135 - 1204) and here are the photos. Wikipedia mentions that there is a discussion about whether the grave in Tiberias is really the one of the Rambam or if her was buried in Egypt where he died.

"Welcome to the grave of the Rambam ! Please respect the holiness of this place !"

The Rambam's grave can be found in downtown Tiberias. Only a 5 minute walk away from the Central Bus Station. Before you enter the complex you have to pass a few souvenir stands (see above).

I don't know whose idea this was:
The 13 Principles of Faith hanging next to the toilet !

Walking up to the grave.

Before you get to the actual Rambam grave, to your left you can find further graves of very famous Rabbis. However, I will put those pictures into the blog a little later and first only concentrate on the Rambam himself.

The Mechitzah (separation between men and women) was pretty new to me. The last time I was there, the grave was accessible for anyone and we sat around the grave in a circle. Men and women together.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Sukkot is approaching


My favourite holiday is right ahead: Sukkot and I am very excited although I am not getting off from the bakery. However, I am leaving the bakery by the end of October in order to move up north. During Sukkot I will be mostly in Jerusalem besides some short trips to some settlements and maybe visiting "Kever Rachel" near Beit Lechem (Bethlehem).

Women are not allowed on haredi Lulav markets but HERE are some impressive photos !

Jerusalem is building Sukkot

All pictures HERE !