Sunday, October 31, 2010

BEIT YAAKOV in Gan Sacher / Jerusalem


Modest haredi girls from the haredi girl's school BEIT YAAKOV (see their blue clothing) in Jerusalem's Sacher Park (Gan Sacher). I took the picture about two months ago.

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Yitzchak ben Avraham


Parashat TOLDOT starts with the words:

"And these are the generations of Yitzchak Ben Avraham (the son of Avraham) - Avraham begot Yitzchak".

Why does the Torah mention the same content twice in the same sentence?
Rashi commentates that G - d wanted to make it very clear that, despite the advanced age of Avraham and Sarah, Avraham was the father of Yitzchak and not Avimelech or anyone else. In fact, there were rumours going around in those days that Avraham could not have been the father of Yitzchak but that Sarah had another man. This is the reason why G - d stated very clearly that Avraham was the father. Furthermore, G - d created Yitzchak very much in the image of his father. Meaning: The totally looked alike and people got mixed up whether they spoke to the father or to the son.

In Parashat Lech Lecha 17:18 ff., G - d lets Avraham know that He is going to continue the (Jewish) generations with Yitzchak. Moreover, G - d is going to continue His covenant with Yitzchak.

In Parashat Vayera 22:2 ff., G - d commands Avraham to take Yitzchak (the Torah refers to Yitzchak here "Avraham's only son") and go to the Land of Moriah (today's Temple Mount). What follows is the "Akedat Yitzchak - Sacrificing Yitzchak". Although Avraham also takes Ishmael with him, he later on tells him to wait and goes away with Yitzchak in order to sacrifice him.

In Parashat Chaye Sarah 25:21 ff., we become aware of the main difference between Ishmael and Yitzchak. In Chaye Sarah, the Torah calls Ishmael the son of Avraham to whom the Egyptian Hagar, Sarah's servant, gave birth.

Parashat Toldot, however, starts with the list of the generations of Yitzchak. Yitzchak the son of Avraham; Avraham begot Yitzchak. Whereas Parashat Chaye Sarah refers to Ishmael more as the son of Hagar, the servant. The RASHBAM states in his commentary that there is a main difference here: Ishmael is the son of the servant and Yitzchak is referred to as the "real" son of Avraham. The Rashbam and the Kli Yakar commentate that the verse in Toldot mentions only Avraham who begot Yitzchak. Furthermore, the Kli Yakar states that the Torah refers to Ishmael as the son of Hagar because he took over her bad behaviour as well as the Egyptian culture. Yitzchak only followed the traditions of Avraham and waited until he found a righteous wife and did not take any Canaanite woman as a wife. Ishmael, however, married an idol -worship woman.

The commentators see the main difference in the two statements of the Torah about Yitzchak and Ishmael and the entire content shows us that Yitzchak was chosen by G - d and not Ishmael (as the Arabs claim).

Shabbat "Chaye Sarah" in Hebron


Thousands of Jews came to Hebron last Shabbat. The Torah Parasha "Chaye Sarah" announced the death of our foremother Sarah and the Jews keep on gathering at the "Ma'arat HaMachpelah" in Hebron when the Parasha is read.

All pictures HERE !

Picture of the Day


Rashi Street or Chabad House ?

Seen in Tiberias.

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Yahrzeit of Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi


Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi (1909 - 1983) used to be a famous Yemenite Kabbalist who founded the Yeshiva "Nahar Shalom" in Nachlaot / Jerusalem.

A very popular story is being told about him in Jerusalem but no one seems to know for sure if it is really true:

Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi loved to sit outside in the yard of his house and enjoy the sunshine. His house was located right next to the Yeshiva "Nahar Shalom" and until today, you can take a look at those buildings.
One day, a seven floor building was being built next to his facilities and the sunshine didn't reach the yard of the Rabbi anymore. Rabbi Sharabi was so upset that he cursed the new building. Other say that he cursed the new building because it was much higher than his Synagogue behind it.

The building was supposed to be an office and shopping center but what happened was that in the course of all those years, the majority of the shops went bancrupt. There are some private people renting apartments and some branches of Jerusalem's Municipality have their offices inside. However, on the ground floor, all shops never made it but only one: Our Bakery !

Why the bakery ?
It is said that before the bakery moved in, the father of the owner took away the Sharaby curse. Rabbi Alon used to be a famous Kurdish Rabbi in Jerusalem and he was the father of Chezi Alon, the owner of our bakery.

Curse or not ? Fact is that no shop has ever made it in the building and our bakering is making plenty of money ! By the way, Rabbi Sharabi's students buy our products and no one speaks about the curse anymore. Nevertheless, the building is inofficially called the "haunted building" and a tourist attraction among Israeli visitors.

Last Wednesday night, Yeshivat Nahar Shalom was commemorating Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi's Yahrzeit:

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Slut in Jeans

Seen in Jerusalem.

Photo: Miriam Woelke


I went to Rabbi Mordechai Machlis' house last Friday night. Not too prepared, as I had just returned from Tiberias and was tired. A friend of mine pushed me to the Machlis' and here we were. Well, I was in pants and death tired.
And when I wear pants, of course, some people from Mea Shearim have to run into me. They hardly ever do so when I wear a skirt and I am dressed in my worst modesty. Once I am not, everyone just comes running and the same happened at the Machlis house.

An aquaintance of mine from Batei Ungarin (Mea Shearim backyard) was also at the Machlis' and saw me in Jeans. She is a divorced Baalat Teshuva and thus, knows the "sinful" world. However, her first reaction was whether I had also come by car. Well, if I wear jeans so I must drive a car on Shabbat.

I did't really understand her logic and told her that I don't take taxis or any cars on Shabbat.

Then a guy I know started talking to me and the young Mea Shearim woman asked me if I have an affair with him. I wear jeans, probably drive on Shabbat and thus I must be a slut as well. She didn't use the word "slut" but her accusations were going into that direction.

I told her that I don't use cars on Shabbat and that I simply know the guy and talk to him. TALK and not having sex with him.

What came into my mind were two things:

1. She is definitely going to tell my Mea Shearim friends from the same backyard about my pants. Maybe about the "car" and the "boyfriend" too.

2. Why is she complaining at all ?
At the Machlis', people do not sit behind a Mechitzah or in other words: There is no gender separation in the livingroom.
The meat served by the Machlis family has the "Rabbi Rubin Hechsher" which is not acceptable in Batei Ungarin. Even the Belzer Chassidim don't eat "Rabbi Rubin".

Tomorrow night I will be at the Machlis' again. Probably wearing pants but walking and not using a car. Talking to some males I know and not turning into a slut. However, as soon as I will be back in Batei Ungarin, I am the car using immodestly dressed slut.

See what can happen when you come home tired and a friend pushes you to do something in order to get some chickensoup for your ongoing cold.

Mohammad and the British


Israel's daily "Israel Hayom" has a news tody which quite struck me:
What is the most popular boy's name in England ?
The majority of England's parents name their newborn son MOHAMMAD.

33% of today's British population is Muslim and thus, the news is not such a big surprise. However, when I read it I had to think of my old English teacher Mr. Anthony Jenkins from Birmingham. He lived in Germany but passed away some years ago. During his lifetime, he taught us real old British English including Shakespeare quotations. Mr. Jenkins wore old tweed jackets and behaved in a totally English way. He was strict but had a great sense of British humour and it is his fault that I spell in a British way (torch) and not in an American way (flashlight). :-)

Nevertheless, I wonder what Mr. Jenkins would have to say about all those Mohammads populating England today.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The sons of Avraham and Keturah


This week's Torah Parasha "Chaye Sarah" (25:1 ff.) informs us that Avraham married a second time after the death of his wife Sarah. He married a woman named "Keturah" and most Torah commentators agree that Keturah this is nobody else but "Hagar" (Ishmael's mother and concubine of Avraham).

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch states in his commentary that there was nothing unusual about Avraham marrying a for a second time because he lived 35 years longer than Sarah. After he married Keturah she bore him a few more sons called Simran, Jakschan, Medan, Midian and Shuach. G - d wanted Yitzchak as another forefather of the Jewish people. Also because Sarah was Jewish. A Gentile mother Hagar with her sons would have been able to fulfill that task.
After Avraham and Keturah had raised their children, Avraham saw that he didn't succeed in raising them spiritually. Only Yitzchak had the same thoughts as him but all the other children had different souls. In order to avoid fights about the heritage between Yitzchak and the other sons, Avraham sent his and Keturah's sons to the east.

This is the reason why we sometimes find "Jewish" ideas or behaviour in the Far East. Although the sons from Keturah were not Jewish, they had still taken over certain kinds of attitude from Avraham. Some people of the Far East may have a slightly Jewish behaviour, as their ancestors may have been Jews who got dispersed before and after the destruction of the First Temple.

Today, hundreds of maybe thousands of Indians call themselves "Bnei Menashe - Sons of Menashe" (one of Yaakov's sons). Nobody is able to say whether this is really true. Fact is, that not every Gentile can come and make a claim to be Jewish in order to get Aliyah rights for Israel. Many of those Indians were allowed to immigrate to Israel but had to undergo conversion. Their true intention as well as the extremely fast conversion is questionable and when you ask me, those Indians are not Jewish. Israelis usually don't let them integrate into their society and consider the "Bnei Menashe" as Asian slaves and fake converts in order to seach for a better lifestyle. 
On the other hand, the Indian "Bnei Menashe" do anything but integrate. Simply because they are not interested in Israeli society but rather into Israeli social benefit. They keep on claiming to be "Bnei Menashe" although only the Meshiach can stipulate which Jew is from what tribe. Moreoever, the Indians in Israel demand their rights and ask for the same life just like in India. Only with a bit more cash.

If we could, we would send those false converts back just as Avraham did with his and Keturah's sons.

Pictures from the Galilee

Source: Wikipedia


Living in the northern Israeli town of Safed (Zfat) is not for me. There is not much going in town and I simply cannot breathe spirituality the whole day. One needs a balance and so I am moving to my balance called Tiberias. 

The main income source of Zfat is tourism but, unfortunately, many tourists have never heard the name "Zfat". When you look at history, Christians don't have anything to do with the town but for Jews, Zfat has always had a great impact. During the middle ages, most Jews in Israel lived in Zfat and the nearby Tiberias. The ARI (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria) as well as the RAMAK (Rabbi Moshe Cordovero) used to live here and teach Kabbalah to a very small circle of students.

Zfat is definitely worth a visit, no matter what your religion is. The Old City is cozy and packed with cobblestone. The most requested souvenirs are the Zfat - made Havdalah candles from the local candle factory.

There is an Egged bus leaving a few times a day from Jerusalem to Zfat. Bus no. 982 leaves from Binyanei HaUma. The ride takes about 3,5 hours (including a 15 minute break near Afula) and costs 44 Shekels (approx. 12 Dollar).

Here are some photos from Zfat:

Entering town

I will be in Zfat for a few days next week. Also tomorrwo I am going to the Galilee but not as far as Zfat:

Tiberias at the Kinneret (See of Galilee)

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dona Gracia Nasi Mendes


A great video about the life of Dona Gracia (1510 - 1569). Dona Gracia who tried to help European Jewry escaping the Inquisition by bringing them to Tiberias. Unfortunately, the plan failed because Dona Gracia died.

However, the video includes a few mistakes:

1. Dona Gracia wasn't reported to the Italian authorities by her servant but by her sister. Before, her brother - in - law had died and left all his money including the business to Dona Gracia and not to his wife. He obviously felt that Dona Gracia would be the better businesswoman of the two sisters. Her sister was so upset that she reported Dona Gracia as a secret Jew. A stupid act because both sister got arrested.

2. Dona Gracia died near Istanbul but is NOT buried in Jerusalem. In fact, no one knows the exact location of her grave.

3. Dona Gracia wanted to settle the Jews in Tiberias but not in Safed (Zfat). Some people say Tiberias and Zfat but it actually was only Tiberias.

Anything but Rabbi Nachman


Last night, Jerusalem's Breslover Nanas had a big party at the parking lot across the Supreme Court. I suppose that they were celebrating the Yahrzeit of their Rebbe Israel Odesser who died a while ago and is buried in Jerusalem. 

While passing the event, I was just reminded of a small conversation I had with an elderly Breslover a few weeks ago. The Breslover was from Bnei Brak and one of these hippie artist type. Baal Teshuva and always expressing his Breslov joy. When I asked him if he maybe belongs to the Berland (Rabbi Eliezer Berland, the Baal Teshuva Rabbi in Breslov) or Arush (Rabbi Shalom Arush, another Baal Teshuva Rabbi and a former student of Berland) movement he told me that he is only following G - d. When he said so, he look towards heaven and even pointed up his finger.

In order to go a bit on his nerves I said that I actually prefer the original Breslover movement from Mea Shearim where Rabbi Schechter is the head of the communities. And, as we know, Rabbi Schechter doesn't really allow any newcomer coming too close. This is why Rabbi Berland had enough and founded his own movement. 

The Breslover, however, made a very interesting response:
"I search and prefer Rabbi who uplift me. Who are bringing all kinds of Jews closer to Judaism. But I do not associate with those Rabbis who reject Jews and only concentrate on their own little community".

The Breslover was right and this was his personal opinion about Rabbi Schechter.

Despite our discussion, I started asking myself what it really means being a Breslover Chassid. Isn't the movement today a bit out of control and several Rabbis just took over and do their own "show" ? What about Rabbi Nachman and Rabbi Nathan ? Or are the Schechters, Arushs and others are more important today ?

"Kerum" or "Embarrassed to depend on Others"


Talmud Tractate Berachot 6b gives us an interesting insight on people's feeling.

Rabbi Yochanan and Rabbi Elazar said:
"When a person is dependent on others, the colour of his face changes like that of a KERUM".

What is a Kerum ?
When Rabbi Dimi came to Babylonia from Eretz Israel, he said: 
"There is a certain bird found in cities by the sea that is called a Kerum. And when the sun shines on it, it changes to many colours. Likewise, when a person has to rely on others for the provisions of his needs, his faces changes colour out of embarrassement.

In Judaism it is forbidden to embarrass anyone who owes you money in public. Moreover I would like to take the idea of embarrassment a little further. Just think about your behaviour at work. The boss is yelling at you and sometimes you refrain from justifying yourself or respond because you depend on this job. You are embarrassed and afraid to loose your source of income and thus you keep quiet.

It is strange how such dependencies can change a person's way of behaviour.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Riots in Safed (Zfat)


Safed (Zfat) is a cozy small town in northern Israel. The Old City is full of cobblestone and ancient Synagogues and surrounded by the new city. Not much to do and there is hardly any work available. As a matter of fact, I keep on asking myself from what the Zfatim (inhabitants of Zfat) live. 

I have been there many times within the past few months and will be there again next week. Sometimes in the mornings I like to walk down one of the two shopping streets in order to go to a bakery and buy some breakfast. This may take place between 7 - 8am and what I have always noticed is that at this hour, more Arabs than Jews populate the shopping street where the bagel place and the municipality are located. Although I know that there are different academies for all kinds of students, I was still surprised about the high amount of Arab students. Simply because I thought that Zfat is a Jewish city and, further down in Tiberias, I have never noticed anything like that happening.

Last Mozzaei Shabbat, a riot started in the Old City of Zfat. First of all, the Palestinians hung up a Palestinian flag on their mosque and the second reason seemed to be that the Chief Rabbi of Zfat made a decree (Cherem) that no Jew in town is allowed to rent out apartments to Arabs. So far, I don't know who fought against whom. It is said that some Chabadnikim and Arabs were involved. When I go there next week, I will find out more and write about it.

Jewish landlords renting out their property to Gentiles such as Muslim or Christians has become a problem lately. Not only renting but those landlords are also willing to sell their house to Arabs. This has been happening a lot in Jerusalem's neighbourhoods Neve Yaakov, Pisgat Ze'ev or on the French Hill. Arabs usually arrive with a suitcase full of cash and are willing to pay any sum to the Jewish seller. The next morning the Jewish tenants wake up and suddenly have an Arab landlord or an Arab neighbour. 

The same in Tel Aviv where Jewish landlords rent out their places to foreign workers from the Philippines or Africa and thus ruining entire neighbourhoods. For instance: A Philippina accepts a small but extremely expensive apartment and how she pays the rent is to move another five or six Philippinas into the place. 

It looks like the same is now happening in Zfat with the Arabs and I don't understand why the academies cannot provide them with their own dormitories.

Karlin - Stolin in Tiberias

Karlin - Stoliner Chassidim on their way to their Beit Midrash which is the former house of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, 1730 - 1788.
The Stoliner have bought the house.

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Toldot Aharon Rebbe making Havdalah in Boro Park

Last Shabbat Vayera 5771:
The Toldot Aharon Rebbe making Havdalah in Boro Park.

Messianic Jews and Missionary Violence


My personal opinion is that messianic Jews do not have much of a brain because otherwise they would realize their contradictions. One wild messianic side is following me and I have to say that their content is absurd. Pulling quotes out of content and the best is when they say that Chabad is running Israel's anti - missionary organization "Yad Le'Achim". I don't know how I would call this claim. Probably "stupidity".
Chabad is not running the show at all and what missionaries, including messianic idol - worshipers, usually do is spreading false rumour. I think that they are so stupid to believe it themselves.

However, Yad Le'Achim has a new warning:
Messianic Jews want to infiltrate into the Knesset.

Furthermore, the haredi site "Chadrei HaCharedim" is reporting about an incident taking place in Rishon LeZion (near Tel Aviv). The Yad Le'Achim volunteer Benny Wolkan was handing out flyers at a missionary event and got brutally attacked by a Christian missionary.

The Dushinsky Rebbe and his sleeping Chassidim


The above picture shows the Dushinsky Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Zvi Dushinsky, at a children's even in Beit Shemesh. Why do so many Chassidim sitting at a Tish around the Rebbe always have to fall asleep ?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Israel's secular press at war against Haredim


Once again, Israel's secular press expresses its hatred against haredi society. The two biggest secular newspapers, YEDIOT ACHARONOT as well as MAARIV publish facts and stories against Haredim. The usual stereotype subjects: Haredim don't go to the army, they are lazy and don't work and secular students get less benefit than haredi Kollel students (relig. institution for married men).

Israeli haredi websites see their secular counterparts as a further attempt for spreading hatred against Haredim. Why always the Haredim ? Because they don't write wild comments to the secular media ? Because they keep quiet ?
In a way it is disgusting how our secular press works: They are so much in favour of foreign workers and their children. Gentile children have a right to stay in Israel. Even more than the Haredim because those children from Philippina and African workers would go to the army afterwards. Haredi kids don't.

Such comparisons make me sick and I start asking myself why those journalists don't move abroad. If they prefer a Gentile society so go to wherever you are happier and eat your pork.

The same with regarding the Middle East conflict. If you don't like Israel and don't want to buy products made in the settlements, so go and immigrate to Gaza. The Hamas will be extremely "happy" seeing all this Jewish Israeli journalists streaming in.

Our government including Jerusalem's Mayor Nir Barkat are doing their best to turn Israel into an assimilated country. No further Jewish concepts but democracy and tolerance. We have to be like everyone else and those who are bothering have to vanish.

I think that more Haredim should go to the army. And yes, haredi society doesn't have the best school education and it needs to be improved. And yes, more Haredim should go and work because not too many are such Talmidim Chachamim. In fact, many Haredim are bored in Yeshiva but continue due to society pressure. More Haredim have to get educated and there already has been a rise in enrollments for haredi academic institutions. More and more Haredim want to get educated, own a computer and try to learn English and science.

However, the hate our secular press is trying to cause is almost on the same primitive level as "Der Stuermer" (anti - Semitic magazine from the Nazi Julius Streicher during the Third Reich). Only negative stories are being presented and nothing positive about society. Secular university students work in order to finance their studies, go on reserve duty and raise their children in case they are a parent. Haredi married students just behave like parasites although many of them have joined the job market.

Why always the haredi issue ? Why are there no further reports on how many illegal Africans are streaming into our country on a daily basis ? And why is there no further report an the increase of poverty ? It really looks like that there is an interest in getting rid of religion. Now it is the Haredim and, later on, the national religious.

Further Details:

The Catholic Church against Jews and G - d


Does this news surprise us ?

For more than a thousand years, the church(es) have been trying to destroy Judaism and the Jews. Pogroms, Talmud burnings, the Inquisition. Martin Luther was one of the greatest anti - Semites ever, the Catholic church accepted Jewish children from desperate parents during the Holocaust but never returned them. And, last but not least, Pope Pius didn't do anything in order to protect the Jews from the Holocaust nor did he let the Jewish children leave the monastries after the war was over.

Now some bishops again conclude that the Jews are not the "chosen people" anymore and, instead, G - d has chosen the Christians. Or in other words: The Catholics, as Catholics only consider them as the true Christians and will go to hell paradise.

The concept of claiming that G - d left the Jews and chose the Christians instead was already the ideology of the Apostle Paul. Until today, the Catholic church has kept its anti - Semitism and you can hope for whatever you want, there will never be a change. By the way, can you imagine that G - d would choose a bunch of pedophile priests and bishops (including their protecting Nazi Pope) as the new chosen people and rulers over Israel ?

Further links on how the churches manipulates:

Blood Libel before Pessach

Why the church rejects the Talmud

Why Christians believe that the Torah is invalid

Stealing Jewish children during the Holocaust

The Torah is not in Heaven

The Church and the Talmud

The graves of the Rambam and Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai


Last Thursday, I went to the grave of the RAMBAM. I have done so quite a few times lately.

The RAMBAM (Maimonides, 1135 - 1204) in buried in Tiberias / northern Israel.

The grave of the Rambam in Tiberias / northern Israel.
The Mechitzah (separation between men and woman) goes right over the grave.
This is pretty new and I find it rather strange.

Memorial Candles

The grave of the famous Talmudic Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai near the gravesite of the Rambam.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Further Link:

Why the RAMBAM is buried in Tiberias

Picture of the Day

Seen at the promenade of the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) in Tiberias.

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tiberias and the haredi World

The Kinneret outside Tiberias 

Photo: Miriam Woelke


Just take a serious look and realize the high amount of Haredim living in Tiberias (at the Sea of Galilee / Kinneret).  Quite a few chassidic groups, besides Chabad and Breslov, have settled in Zfat (Safed). However, Zfat has a more Carlebach hippie, national religious society whereas Tiberias (approx. 35 Kilometer down in the valley) has a more haredi presence besides secular and traditional Jews. 

Chabad and Breslov are the stronghold of Zfat but in Tiberias you even have groups of the old traditional Yerushalmim coming for a visit. Sometimes to open new communities or Synagogues. Tiberias is definitely becoming more haredi and I am asking myself how the Haredim deal with the humidity coming from the lake and the terrible heat.

Jerusalem cops dress up as Haredim


The leftist daily "Yediot Acharonot" proudly presents the latest police action: 
Some Jerusalem cops would dress up as Haredim, walk through Mea Shearim and thus searching for haredi criminals. My first thought was that the Mea Shearim know each other and wouldn't trust anyone new coming from the outside. The first question Haredim usually ask is about Jewish background. To claim that you belong to Satmar or Toldot Aharon would be impossible. They all know each other and if not, they keep on inquiring about your family and who is related to whom. Furthermore one needs to know Yiddish and has to behave like a Haredi. 

An undercover cop may claim to be a newly Baal Teshuva and all kinds of invented stories but born Haredim don't see any reason informing such a person about their private life. Who is who and what is going on, those kind of information only belong to insiders and unless you haven't lived in Mea Shearim for years, you will never gain too much. The same with me as dressing up as a Palestinian, for instance.

However, four undercover cops dressed up as Haredim have caught one of the fanatic Sikarikim who made an attempt to attack a national religious Knesset politican coming to pray into the neighbourhood. It is not a good thing to attack anyone but I have to say that Mr. Katzele from the National Religious Party is just going wild about the Sikarikim. Not unusual for someone national religious, as many of them don't like any Haredim. And Katzele uses the opporunity. 

I am not justifying the violence of certain Sikarikim but there should be a limit of how the police reacts. Declare war to all inhabitants of Mea Shearim just because a Katzele is freaking out and leading his own private war ?

The Sikariki Avraham Cheshin was caught and I must admit that I have never heard about him before. Cheshin / Chashin, is he Ashkenazi at all ? Now he is under house arrest and waiting for further investigation.

On the other hand, there is definitely some violence going on in Mea Shearim. Just as in every other neighbourhood and society. The only difference may be that the locals of the ultra - Orthodox neighbourhood keep quiet and don't call the (Zionist) police. I am not talking about Sikariki violence but what about child abuse, drugs or domestic violence ? The people involved may ask their Rabbis for advice but none of them would ever inform the police unless a murder happens.

Sending undercover cops is not the best idea and may lead to unnecessary suspicion. When I go for a Tish and ask a question, chassidic group members may already suspect me of being a spy. However, I don't have a proper solution to offer. Sometimes it may be ridiculous sending in undercover cops dressed up as Haredim. And there are other times when it could be useful discovering some cases of secret domestic violence going on in the hood.

The Gaza Prison


See how the people living in Gaza are "imprisoned" by the "evil" Israelis:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Go North - Living in Northern Israel


The Aliyah organization "Nefesh B'Nefesh" (NBN) offers a special "Go North" programme for new immigrants (Olim) to Israel. 

Nefesh B'Nefesh is organizing Aliyah to Israel from Canada, the US, England and France. In other countries, the Jewish Agency is still in charge.

For many years, most Olim settled in the big centers such as Tel Aviv, Modi'in, Netanyah or Jerusalem. The French like Ashdod, the Russians too but also Haifa and Carmiel. Young Olim love the action in Tel Aviv and the more religious ones prefer Jerusalem. Moreover, Beersheva in the Negev has become quite popular among English speakers and the city has changed a lot. Cosmopolitan and bars instead of the Beduine Market on Thursdays. 

Now NBN offers the north. Maybe because the centers are too overcrowded, too expensive and job opportunities are getting less and less. The north, however, doesn't offer too many jobs either unless you move to Haifa or Carmiel. Nevertheless, the north has a great landscape, the inhabitants are not so stressed and it is much more quiet and peaceful (when the Hizbollah keeps quiet). 

Many new immigrants are making Aliyah with lots of enthusiasm. A new country, a Jewish country, no more justifications for being Jewish, Zionism, whatever. And in order to live like a real Zionist pioneer, one maybe should settle in the north or south. Going against the mainstream !

After all, many new immigrants don't consider certain society problems before moving up north. There are places where the local population mainly consists of Sephardic Jews. Jews from Morocco, Kurdish Jews, Jews from Iran or Iraq. A totally different mentality compared to Ashkenazic Jewry. Let me give you just one example: Tiberias at the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) has a high percentage of Sephardic Jews. And Sephardic Jews are known for not having too many English language skills. They usually speak Hebrew, their languages from their former Arab countires or French (as the Moroccans). 

There are new immigrants, especially English speakers, who settled in the Golan Heights or other places up north and they are totally isolated due to the lack of Hebrew. After making Aliyah, it will take you a long time to learn Hebrew. One Ulpan (language course) for six months is not very efficient and only provides you with some basics. In order to have real conversations or make friends, you need to continue studying. As a result, many Anglo immigrants living up north are lonely. They may live in a small town or a village but without further contact to the local population. 

The young Chabadnik Eli Naiditch from the Chabad - Hostel "Ascent" in Zfat has met such lonely people and is now trying to get in touch with Nefesh B'Nefesh in order to arrange regular meetings with Anglo immigrants from the north. I personally think that this is a very good idea although Eli has just started building up connections. 

New immigrants settling in the north deserve a high level of respect because it is anything but easy living there. Not too many jobs opportunities, lower salaries and not too much action either. Tiberias or Zfat don't even have a cinema. So be prepared !

Yahrzeit of Rachel Immenu and Rabbi Meir Kahane

Photo: Kahane Blog

I am not this "Kahane Chai" type. Protesting around and holding speeches with all kinds of fanatic content. I do believe that there are some good Arabs and not everyone is a terrorist.

Although I am not too much into Rabbi Meir Kahane and his movement, I do have to admit that most of the statements he made actually became true. Just look at our looser prime ministers, our mein looser Ehud Barak and the Muslim Barak Hussein Obama including his slave Shrillary.

I wish there was a Meir Kahane today and maybe our country would finally wake up and not deal with a prime minister who is making decisions according his polls (Netanyahu). Instead we are commemorating the 20th Yahrzeit of Rabbi Meir Kahane next week.

Further link to Rabbi Kanahe's teachings:

Huge Yahrzeit event at the Jerusalem Renaissance Hotel next week.

Photo: Miriam Woelke

The second important Yahrzeit already took place yesterday when thousands of Jews gathered at the grave of our foremother Rachel. The grave is located outside Bethlehem (Beit Lechem) and rather looks like a military base. To my shame I must admit that I have never been to Kever Rachel although there is a local Egged bus from Jerusalem to the grave. I think it is bus number 163.

Further information provided by ARUTZ 7

The Grave of King David in Jerusalem


There is definitely no lack of ancient graves in Israel. Some parts of the country are almost flooded with graves of Zaddikim (righteous / famous Rabbis). However, there are also many doubts about whose grave it really is. Is the location of Rabbi Akivah's grave really his grave ? A local from Tiberias told me the story that many many years ago, a woman lost her way in the dark and ended up falling into a pit. Suddenly she heard voices and the one voice spoke to her. The voice of Rabbi Akivah who said that he is buried at this particular spot. The woman escaped from the pit and, on her way back to Tiberias, marked her way with stones. Since then, people believe that the spot is the grave of Rabbi Akivah.

Furthermore, the location of the graveside of King David on Jerusalem's Mount Zion is more than controversial. Especially because it was mainly the Catholic Church claiming that the spot was the grave of David HaMelech. Others ask, whether King David is not rather buried close to his son Avshalom in the Kidron Valley (near Mount Zion).


Memorial Candles 

The Ezrat Nashim (women's side)

The grave of King David ? 
Covered by a red silk cloth.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Kikar Paris (Paris Square) in Jerusalem

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Was the explorer CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS Jewish ?


For quite some time I have been running a special series on my religious German blog. I am taking all kinds of celebrities and try to proof, via Wikipedia or other sites, whether this particular person is Jewish or not. Yesterday I chose the explorer Christopher Columbus because there have been quite strong rumours that he is of Jewish origin.  

However, describing Christopher Columbus means historical research, as he discovered America (he, after all, caused the colonization of the continent) in 1492 but, at the same time, the year 1492 also stands for one of the worst tragedies in Jewish history.

Was CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS (1451 - 1506) really a Jew ?

Columbus himself claimed to be from Genua / Italy. Nevertheless, until today,   various theories about his origin have been spreading around. Was he Portugese or Spanish ? Was he from Poland, Greece or even from Norway ?

Some claim that Columbus was a Jew but was forced to hide his true Jewish identity. When you look into the history of those days, you exactly understand why Columbus would have to do so. The 15 hundreds were the days of the Spanish Inquisition and the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain. The Catholic Church tried anything in order to eliminate the Jews and Judaism as a whole. The Torah and the Talmud as well as religious Jews had become a danger to Christendom and the church was afraid that the Christians may discover the beauty and truth of Judaism and thus leave the church. What if the Christians found out that their "Meshiach" J. was nothing but a fake and the church a corrupt bunch of loosers ?

The Spanish King Ferdinand II. of Aragon and his vicious wife Isabella of Castilia agreed to introduce the Spanish Inquisition. It was them together with the church signing the decree. Only a few years later, on 13 March 1492, the decree for the Expulsion of Spanish Jewry was signed by the same people. The Expulsion was announced four months before it actually took place. The Jews had only two choices: 1. Convert to Christianity or 2. Leave Spain. Many Jews left for northern Africa, Portugal, Holland, Turkey, Italy or other countries but others decided to stay and convert (become Conversos). They thought that they could keep Judaism inside their homes and to the outside they were acting as Christians. Many times this didn't work because the Inquisition was everywhere and constantly checking on every converted Jew.

For hundreds of years, the Jews had been enjoying great freedom in Spain. After the destruction of the Second Temple, thousands of Jews had moved to Babylon. There they founded famous Yeshivot (e.g. Pumbedita) and basically had a good life. After a while, it became a fashion to move to Spain and soon thousands of Jews moved because Spain meant freedom of religion. The Jewish Kabbalah mostly comes from Spain. Just look at the ZOHAR published by Rabbi Moshe De Leon in 1290.

After hundreds of years, the fanatic Muslims "Almohad" stormed through Spain and became a threat to the local Jewry. Just ask the Rambam (Maimonides). Things got really bad as soon as the Christians took over. The church started pogroms, Talmud burnings and countless Jews were tortured and killed. The Popes in those days wanted the Jews dead or converted to idol - worship and this is the reason why Columbus may have kept his true identity hidden. In case he was Jewish. 
Wikipedia states:

Some researchers have postulated that Columbus was of Iberian Jewish origins. The linguist Estelle Irizarry, in addition to arguing that Columbus was Catalan, also claims that Columbus tried to conceal Jewish heritage.[23] In "Three Sources of Textual Evidence of Columbus, Crypto Jew,"[24] Irizarry claims that Columbus always wrote in Spanish, occasionally included Hebrew in writing, and referenced the Jewish High Holidays in his journal during the first voyage.

Simon Wisenthal postulates that Columbus was a Sephardi (Spanish Jew), careful to conceal his Judaism yet also eager to locate a place of refuge for his persecuted fellow countrymen. Wiesenthall argues that Columbus' concept of sailing west to reach the Indies was less the result of geographical theories than of his faith in certain Biblical texts—specifically the Book of Isaiah. He repeatedly cited two verses from that book: "Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them," (60:9); and "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth" (65:17). Wisenthal claimed that Columbus felt that his voyages had confirmed these prophecies.[25]

Jane Francis Amler argued that Columbus was a converso (a Sephardi Jew who publicly converted to Christianity). In Spain, even some converted Jews were forced to leave Spain after much persecution; it is known that many conversos were still practicing Judaism in secret. The correlation between the Alhambra Decree, which called for the expulsion of all of the Jews from Spain and its territories and possessions by July 31, 1492, and Columbus's embarkation on his first voyage on August 3, 1492, has been offered as support for this claim.

I don't think that we are able today to find the correct answer to the question whether Christopher Columbus was Jewish. Maybe he was and maybe he wasn't.  The only fact we can draw from this is the date 1492. A year of celebration for the US but a year of tragedy in Jewish history. The Expulsion of the Jews from Spain and thus new pogroms and attempts of elimination organized by the church.

How the "poor" Palestinians live in Israel - Part 2


Do those posh buildings belong to rich Israeli Jews?

No, those houses are part of small Palestinian towns near Umm al Fachem (norther Israel).

See further photos HERE !

Photos: Miriam Woelke