Monday, October 31, 2011

Rabbi Berel Wein on the authencity of THE ZOHAR

Rabbi Berel Wein giving a lecture on the ZOHAR (Book of Splendor, published in 1290 by Rabbi Moshe DeLeon in Spain). The lecture took place at Yeshivat AISH HATORAH. 

I do agree with the statement of Rabbi Yaakov of Emden. Furthermore, the wife of Rabbi DeLeon said after her husband's death that he (her husband) wrote the book. When asked why, Mrs DeLeon said that a book written by an author such as Rabbi Shimon sells much better. Further, Mrs DeLeon justified her husband by saying that they desperately needed the income from the book in order to pay their rent and this is the reason why Rabbi Moshe DeLeon claimed that the true other was Rabbi Shimon. Let's call it one of the first public relation campaigns.:-)

75 % of religious runaways find their way back to Teshuva

Today's article in the Israeli paper MA'ARIV

Photo: Miriam Woelke

There is hope. Also for me ?

According to the latest poll among formerly religious Jews who left the fold, the vast majority (75 %) find their way back to religion after a while. This is what the Israeli daily MA'ARIV publishes today.

Please note, that the 75 % stand for national religious runaways only. Nothing, whatsoever, was mentioned about haredi Chozre'i be'Sheelah (Haredim becoming secular). Furthermore, the figure mainly refers to national religious runaways leaving religion while they were teenagers or pretty young in their early twenties. 

Some years ago, when I had this haredi drive becoming part of haredi society, something just blocked me all the way. I knew the haredi was the right way, as national religious society had never meant anything to me. Nevertheless, something kept me away even from being haredi. First of all probably my former flatmate who had become a religious "Vishnitz custom keeping" fanatic. Secondly, my own far too exaggerated, expectations. My body wanted but my soul just became a mess.

For the time being, I am neither defining myself as national religious nor as haredi. I look chiloini (secular) but don't really behave this way. Fanatic seculars see in me a religious fanatic from Mea Shearim, Sima Zalcberg who spied on the Toldot Aharon even accused me on the phone of being a Toldot Aharon spy. This was quite funny, as the Toldot Aharon wouldn't really accept me as their spy. Certainly not in my jeans camouflage.:-)

Haredi society, however, doesn't know to put me into a category. Not as soon as I start talking to them. "How come a woman in pants knows about haredi society, Rabbis, Torah, Halacha and even Talmud ? This can't be that someone from Tel Aviv understands great parts of the Yiddish language and knows haredi vocabulary".

Rabbi Akivah found his way at the age of 40. I am a bit older and still looking for my way. But, never give up hope ...

Pat Condell: "Happy Halloween !"


However, the Burka is not only an Islamic problem but some Breslov Ba'al Teshuva women in Mea Shearim and especially Bnei Brak seem to loose their minds as well.

Picture of the Day

Seen in Tel Aviv

Photo: Miriam Woelke

"Gilad Shalit" versus "Palestinian Terrorists"

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Oprah went to a Chabad Mikveh


Oprah goes understanding a Mikveh:

Bnei Brak and its modesty Madness

To all shops selling clothes: Selling immodest clothing is like selling unkosher meat !

Enough with the haredi immodesty. Meaning, immodest haredi clothing such as shorter skirts, too much make - up or women's clothing in shiny colours causing too much male attention. The graffiti has been in Rashi Street for quite a few years now.

Even if a woman just walks a few meters to the grocery, she should be dressed as modest as our foremother Rachel and not sloppy or causing negative attention.

The Edah HaCharedit and the Satmarer Rebbe (Rebbe Aharon Teitelbaum, I suppose, as Bnei Brak is full of his followers): Selling immodest clothes is like selling unkosher meat !

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Gaza shooting at Israel

Friday, October 28, 2011

Picture of the Day

Haredi Bnei Brak (near Tel Aviv)

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Parashat NOACH - פרשת נח

An old factory building. Seen in Tel Aviv.

Photo: Miriam Woelke


This Week's Torah Reading

This Shabbat, the Jewish world is going to read Parashat NOACH (NOAH). Almost everyone, sooner or later, has come across the story about Noach, his Ark and the Flood. However, Parashat Noach doesn't only consist of Noach and the survival of his family but also includes the "Tower of Bavel" built by evil Nimrod. 

In Noach's time, the world was still almost perfect. Adam and Eve (Chava) had messed up their task in Gan Eden (Paradise) and thus caused a change in humanity (humans became mortal, had to do Tikunim and did not have the perfect souls of Adam HaRishon anymore). Nevertheless, life was still great and easy. Noach's generation had plenty of food, illnesses didn't exist yet and a human life lasted for several hundred years. See Metushelach (Noach's grandfather) with a life span of 969 years or Noach himself who lived for 950 years. 

While going through all kinds of commentaries, I couldn't stop think about the Ark and suddenly had an idea. Maybe this kind of comment already exists somewhere but here is my short interpretation: 

The inside of Noach's Ark could symbolically also be seen as a small world with its own rules. Noach and his family went into the Ark and thus lived according to those rules. Why not comparing the life inside the Ark to the Torah life ? When a Jew lives according to the Torah, he a kind of separates himself from negative things in this world. This kind of separation may be the Ark. I am inside of it. In my own little world, so to speak. 

The question is: How far should such a frum Jew separate himself from the reality of this world ? Can he totally separate himself in order to be the perfect Zaddik without damaging his own personality ? Is it really that positive to separate oneself and maybe loose touch with the daily reality ? 

Noach was separated while being inside the Ark but, as soon as he left, he got confronted with the sad reality. Besides him and his family, almost everyone else had died in the Flood. The world was not the same anymore when he left the Ark. Life was different and some commentators claim that Noach couldn't deal with it, became depressed and started drinking. 

Is a total separation into Holiness (Kedusha) and Torah life what G - d wants from us ? How about all those beautiful things in life such as nature, music or art ? The sense of humor or the wisdom of other people. 

Every human being was created with an individual task and most tasks have something to do with other people. We are in this world in order to do Tikunim (soul rectifications) and most of our dealings have to do with our direct environment. Helping others or influencing them in a positive sense. As soon as I lock myself in a room and only deal with myself and Torah, I am unable to do my Tikunim I am only able to do when I relate to other people. 

Every person needs a balance in life and according to psychology it is not good when a person puts himself into an "Ark" and doesn't come out anymore. When a person only deals with one subject but ignores anything else. Each of us needs to do something completely different from time to time. Go out, speak to other people and simply enjoy life. 

Shabbat Shalom & and have a great, healthy and successful new month (Mar Cheshvan).


Gilad Shalit and the Lubavitcher Rebbe


The amazing story of how Jerusalem Shlucha Chana Canterman befriended Aviva Shalit and the 20 year old dollar from the Rebbe that resulted in recent blessings. 

By COLlive reporter Aviva Shalit, mother of the now released Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, placed a phone call Monday to Chana Canterman, a Chabad Shlucha in Jerusalem, to update on her son's health. 

"He's fine! He's fine!" Mrs. Shalit joyfully said. 

The connection between the two who live in the same country but spend time in different spheres began when the Shalit family began campaigning for their son outside the prime minister's residence. 

Sgt. Gilad Shalit was captured by Hamas terrorists on 25 June 2006 in a cross-border raid via underground tunnels near the border with Gaza. 

Chana and her husband Rabbi Eli Canterman, the Shluchim in the Talbiyeh neighborhood in Israel's capital, were one of the volunteers who provided meals for the Shalits in their protest tent. 

The Cantermans had the Sunday shift and have since become close friends with the Shalit family, visiting them often and praying together for Gilad's release from Hamas captivity. 

Chana would spend hours shopping and cooking beautiful meals for the family, a friend of the Cantermans said. 

"Slowly they had to bring larger amounts of food each week because everyone would visit on Sunday because they loved her cooking," the friend said. 


Naturally, they became close friends with Aviva and her husband Noam Shalit, providing not only food but emotional and psychological support during this time. 

"When I flew in to New York for the annual Kinus Hashluchos convention on 24 Shvat, I asked Aviva what I could bring her back from the U.S.," recalled Mrs. Canterman in an interview with 

"She told me, 'All I want is Gilad. I don't need presents.' All she thought about was her son." 

The Cantermans also made sure to come by for holidays, in addition to the Sunday visit. For Purim, they organized a festive meal for family and guests, and brought them Matzah on Pesach. During Lag BaOmer day, children came to the tent to say the 12 pesukim (holy passages). 

On April 17th, the day before last Pesach, Chana Canterman brought a special gift to Aviva Shalit along with her meal: a dollar bill that she had received from the Lubavitcher Rebbe that was to be given to a worthy charity. 

"Take this dollar," said Chana, "and may it be a Segulah (merit) that Gilad be released this year." 

Aviva accepted the dollar gratefully and carried it with her wherever she went. "It was a very depressing period for the family," Canterman recalls. "We wanted to give them an opening of hope and strength to continue waiting for the healthy return of their son." 


On the same day the Shalits received the dollar, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Shalits he replaced the official mediator from Chagai Hadas to David Medan. 

Miraculously, Medan began to receive messages from the Hamas with signs of Gilad Shalit being alive and in stable condition. 

On Rosh Hashana, Rabbi Canterman came by to blow shofar for them. A week later, they heard that Gilad was going to be released on Tishrei 20 - on Chol Hamoed Sukkos. 

The next day, Mrs. Canterman texted Aviva Shalit asking her if she can check the date written on the dollar from the Rebbe (Chabad chassidim often write on the bill when it was received). 

Mrs. Shalit excitedly replied that the date on the dollar that Canterman received over 20 years before from the Rebbe, was Tuesday, 20 Tishrei, the date that Gilad Shalit was released by the terrorists. 

And the year that dollar was given? 5751 - the Hebrew year chassidim spelled out as "the year we will see wonders."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Watch out ! Terrorists in Town !


Israel's right - wing has published a warning poster where you can see the photos of those Palestinian terrorists who were released in the Gilad Sgalit prisoner exchange. The terrorist on the poster are now back in East Jerusalem. 

Details on ARUTZ 7 (English) as well as on WALLA (Hebrew).

Rosh Chodesh Mar Cheshvan - The beginning of the new month Mar Cheshvan


Tonight (Thursday), tomorrow and on Shabbat is Rosh Chodesh Mar Cheshvan - the beginning of the new Jewish month "Mar Cheshvan".

A new month also stands for a new beginning in our lives. Not that we can only change to the better on Rosh Chodesh but especially this day is a kind of symbolic.

The official name of this month is CHESHVAN but, as the month doesn't include any holiday, the word MAR (bitter) was added. Cheshvan is also the month of Noach's flood.

"Sefer Yetzira - The Book of Creation" lists different characteristics for each Jewish month of the year: SCORPION is the horoscope of Cheshvan. The tribe of the month is MENASHE, the colour is PURPLE, the sense is SMELL, the organ are the INTESTINES and the letter of the month is NUN נ.

There are opinions claiming that, as Mar Cheshvan doesn't include any holiday, the month is reserved for Meshiach and his building of the Third Temple.

Let us hope that this may be the case today !

"Chodesh Tov - Have a great month !"

The WALLER Missionary Family


JEWISH ISRAEL has published an updated article about the messianic Waller family from Ariel being actively involved in prostelyzing Jews.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011



You can find the KIBBUTZ PROGRAMME CENTER in Frishman Street 6 / Tel Aviv. Very easy to find, as the location is right next to Ben Yehudah Street. The office itself is small and reminded me of the good old Kibbutz days. A typical Israeli office style from the 80ies.

Three young people in their early twenties were waiting when I walked in. A couple from Sweden being happy because they obviously got a great Kibbutz place, and another young guy who also got an offer to volunteer. 

Being a Kibbutz volunteer has always attracted young people from all over the world. Including myself. While I was studying at the university in Germany, I was looking for a cheap vacation and thus found out about Kibbutzim. The Jewish Agency organized the trip and I just had to show up at the Kibbutz Office in Tel Aviv and pick a place. 

What do you expect from the life as a volunteer ? You work about six hours per day, share a room with two or three other people. Some Kibbutzim used to offer those volunteers staying longer their own rooms. In my very first Kibbutz I got my own room after about four months. 

What else ? You won't spend too much money while staying on a Kibbutz. The Kibbutz provides food, your laundry is being done, you get two or three days off per month and some pocket money. It is a very convenient way to live for a couple of months. Even too convenient. I have never slept so much in my life as on a Kibbutz after coming back from work. I read a lot, as almost every Kibbutz has its own library. 

My first Kibbutz was almost entirely American and called GEZER (outside Ramle, south - east of Tel Aviv). I was either working with the chickens or in the dining - room and I loved being there. There wasn't too much to do and those looking for action went to Tel Aviv. I stayed for nine months and can say that I had a great time. The volunteers were treated very well and we were free to choose our jobs. 

My second Kibbutz was a much bigger Kibbutz: Revivim in the Negev. There I wasn't a volunteer but in my first Ulpan (Hebrew language course). And where do people work in Revivim ? In the plastic factory "Raviv". We had one day work, one day class and also there I enjoyed my time. Already then, Revivim was huge and the difference to Gezer was that most of the members didn't really know us and we didn't know them. Volunteers and Ulpan had their own section in the dining - room and adopted families didn't really work out. 

My last Kibbutz was Givat Brenner, one of the largest Kibbutzim in the country. Located near Rehovot and famous for its Disneyland "Beit Chalomotai - The House of your Dreams" where I worked in the snackbar. This was in the days when they still had the old Beit Chalomotai. Now they have a new one with Mc Donald's downstairs. 

I was very lucky with all three Kibbutzim and always look back with great memories. 

On Monday I went to the Kibbutz Office for a very different reason. My volunteer days are over, not only due to my advanced age. The Kibbutz movement only accepts people until the age of 35. 

This time I wanted to find out some further details about being accepted as a volunteer, as one of my German blog readers had asked me some specific questions. The Kibbutz Programme Center has a very detailed website, however, I still had a few things to ask. 

Director Aya Sagi invited me into her office and explained the application process.


Aya Sagi - Director of the Kibbutz Programme Centers in Tel Aviv

I told her that I was a bit shocked learning from the center's website that now potential volunteers have to sign up in advance. Let's say your are thinking about becoming a Kibbutz volunteer, you go to the center's site and fill in the application form. Then you wait for an okay and go to Israel. 

Until a few years ago, you could only show up at the Kibbutz Office and got a place. Now everything seems t be very formal. Why ? 

Aya Sagi explained that the Ministry of the Interior (Misrad HaPnim) has changed the regulations. An applicant has to give his name and passport number in advance. Once a week or every second week, Aya Sagi is going to the Misrad HaPnim in order to show the list with all the names. The Ministry is checking the names in order to decide if there is a danger of certain applicants staying in Israel. 

As we all know, many people from Third World countries, Eastern Europe, Thailand, India or China have discovered Israel as a kind of new paradise. Europe as well as the US have closed their borders and for the past years, thousands of foreigners have been streaming into Israel in order to stay here. Israel, however, considers itself as a JEWISH state and wants to avoid non - Jews staying in the country and maybe changing its character. Some Kibbutz applicants may use the volunteer's visa and, later on, infiltrate into the country and keep on staying illegally. This is the reason for the Ministry checking names and passport numbers. 

Another reason is the volunteer's visa itself. Volunteers signing up in advance already receive their special visa when they enter Israel. Once tourists enter the country with a tourist visa and later decide to volunteer in a Kibbutz, can hardly change their visa status. 

Health Insurance

It doesn't matter what health insurance you have. When you get to the Kibbutz Office in Tel Aviv you have to pay 340 Shekels (approx. 95 Dollar) for a general health insurance from the Israeli Kupat Cholim Klalit. This procedure is binding to all Kibbutz volunteers, as there have been problems in the past. Volunteers came with all kinds of different health insurances and when something happened, they didn't have enough money to cover the costs in advance. The Kibbutz had to pay and the volunteers left without returning the money. Until today, many Kibbutzim are still waiting for the money to be returned.

For how long am I  allowed to stay on a Kibbutz ? 

For six months. Nine months are possible but the Ministry of the Interior has to agree.

For those who are not getting accepted, Aya Sagi suggest a different volunteer programme called SAR – EL. Maybe their conditions are not that strict. Furthermore, people have the possibility to sign up for WWOOF Israel  - organic farms in Israel.
In the past, most Kibbutzim were part of the Kibbutz Programme and accepted volunteers. Today, on the other hand, only a very few Kibbutzim are still receiving volunteers. "It depends on the season, said Aya Sagi. There are months when there are less applicants such as August or December but the Kibbuztim are looking for people. And there are other months when there are more applicants but less work". 

In case that people come to the Kibbutz Office and there is no work, they may have to wait for a week or maybe two. It looks like the most popular volunteers are actually Germans. They have the work mentality and show up on time. Moreover they do what they are being told and don't start trouble. I can tell you different stories about some Brits, spoiled American daughters, Australians or South Africans. :-) 

Generally speaking, becoming a Kibbutz volunteer is not that cheap. The application fee is about 400 Shekels (approx. 100 Dollar) + the health insurance of 340 Shekels. Furthermore, you should have at least 800 Shekels (200 Dollar) in your pocket. Aya Sagi stated that sometimes it can also be a little less than 800 Shekels. However, no one wants you to be broke and cover your expenses. In addition, some Kibbutzim may ask you for a deposit of 200 - 300 Shekels. The money is being returned to you when you leave. At least as long you didn't cause any damage.

If you are interested or have already been a Kibbutz volunteer in the past, the Programme has its own  Facebook Page  !  

Go to work after making Aliyah !


I have seen too many English speakers from the US, Canada or England making Aliyah, receiving big cash from "Nefesh be'Nefesh" but not looking for a job. Especially young people in their early 20ies tend to see the big money. The amount alone seems to be very tempting. The kids make Aliyah, get the cash and buy new clothes, new phones, new everthing but don't look for a job. 

Plenty of new immigrants to Israel just hang around, spend the money and if nothing further works out, they are returning to their former countries. Despite how all Aliyah organizations keep on praising Aliyah and living in Israel, it isn't easy to make a living here but you should, at least, make an effort. Too many new Olim don't and end up flying back to New York or Jersey.

Beach Atmosphere in Tel Aviv

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The TOLDOT AHARON on Mozzaei Yom Kippur 5772 / 2011

Pictures of the Mea Shearim Shtieblach

The well - known Mea Shearim Shtieblach in Ein Yaakov Street. All local Mea Shearim inhabitants know it and the Shtieblach doesn't really have a Hashgacha. It is neither litvish nor chassidish but people from the neighbourhood just go.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Kibbutz & Jerusalem


Many years ago, I was a Kibbutz volunteer in Kibbutz Gezer (an American community near Ramle / south - east of Tel Aviv). Later on, I participated in two Ulpanim (Hebrew language course); once in Kibbutz Revivim (Negev) and in Kibbutz Givat Brenner (near Rehovot). 

Okay, all those Kibbutzim were secular and Givat Brenner used to serve sausages made from pork oil. Nevertheless, for a about six months on a row, it is a great experience being on a Kibbutz. Either as a volunteer or in the Ulpan. Also due to the bad financial situation, Israel's Kibbutzim have undergone severe changes and hardly anything is as it used to be in the old days.

On one of my German blogs, I sometimes write about Kibbutzim and also about how to become a volunteer. Due to a specific question from one of the readers, I, again, went to the Tel Aviv Kibbutz office yesterday and received some updated information. In the course of the day, I am also going to write the update in English for anyone interested. 

After the Kibbutz office, I went to see a friend in Jerusalem and only came back to Tel Aviv at midnight. When I got to the Central Bus Station, there was no local bus available anymore and I was too tired to walk all the way home. I started looking for a Sherut taxi and thus had to cross the Levinsky Park outside the bus station. What I saw where Africans ! No Israeli around but only plenty of illegal Africans hanging around in the park or sleeping in the street between the park and a building where prostitutes were standing outside and waiting for clients. It was not a pleasant situation. Especially because Tel Aviv didn't feel like Israel but like Africa. 

The new tram

Near the Ben Ben Yehudah Mall / Jerusalem.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Neturei Karta and "Palestine"

Graffiti near the Neturei Karta in the Mea Shearim market. 

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Sunday, October 23, 2011



Israel, Israelis being kidnapped by Arab terrorists and prisoner exchanges – all this is nothing new in Israel's reality but one difference may be that in the years before, the price of Arab kidnappers such as Fatach, Amal, Hizbollah, Hamas, etc. has been much lower than it is the case today. 1027 Arab terrorists were released in order to free one person: Gilad Shalit. Hamas is planning further kidnappings and we can be sure that the next price will be much higher than 1027 terrorists. 

I have started researching on the Internet as well as going through my private book collection in order to learn more about the entire subject. Who is with whom in the Arab world of terror and why ? How did Israel react and why Israel seems to be loosing ? By the way, I read that some Arabs were twittering (regarding Gilad Shalit) that Israel cares about its citiziens whereas Arab countries don't give a damn about their own people. 

The wider public should know about prisoner exchanges and kidnappings done by Arab terrorist groups who, today, are widely accepted as peace partners. The FATACH with Abu Mazen, for instance. Now Russia even invited representatives of the Lebanese Hizbollah for an official visit.  

Here is a short history about one of the first kidnappings carried out by Arab terrorists: 

On the eve of 1 January 1970, the nightguard Shmuel Rosenwasser (then 58 years old) was kidnapped by Fatach terrorists. This happened near the small Israeli town of Metullah near the border to Lebanon.

Four days later, the Fatach officially announced that the nightguard is in their hands. This is what the Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman writes in his book “By any means necessary” (“Medinat Israel Ta’aseh HaKol”). 

Shortly after the announcement, the Fatach demanded from Israel to release 100 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shmuel Rosenwasser. The Fatach was particularly interested in two terrorists being released:

1. Fatach Terrorist Mahmoud Hijazi, who was in command of a terror attack against Israel in 1965. Hijazi was the thrid person sentenced to death by an Israeli court (after Adolf Eichmann and Me'ir Tuviansky).

2. The first female terrorist Fatma Barnawi, sentenced to life imprisonement for trying to blow up Jerusalem's “Zion” cinema. The terror attempt took place in 1967. 

Secretly the Fatach was aiming for something higher and not only for a prisoner release. The moment Israel started negotiating with Fatach, it showed that Israel was recognizing the terror group. Until then Israel refused acknowledging Fatach, Palestinians or Yassir Arafat. For many years, it was forbidden to talk to such Arab groups as Fatach (the PLO) and if any Israeli did, he could be punished and end up in jail. 

You need to take a closer look at the time: In 1970, the Prime Minister was Golda Me'ir who had always stated that there was no such thing as a Palestinain people. Golda's Minister of Defence was Moshe Dayan. In those days, Israel refused any official talks with Arafat, the Amal or any Arab terror group. This is why the Fatach was very keen on seeing whether Israel would enter into negotiations with them. Israel, however, understood the hint and found a great way out of the dilemma. Golda Me'ir simply accused the Lebanese government for the kidnapping of Shmuel Rosenwasser. 

Already on January 2, 1970, an elite unit of the Israeli GOLANI force entered the Lebanese village Kila. Why Kila ? Because Shmuel Rosenwasser had been taken there after his kidnapping. 

The Golani soldiers didn't find Rosenwasser but arrested about nine Lebanese soldiers together with a couple of civilians. All of them were taken to Israel. Furthermore, the Golani soldiers confiscated plenty weapons and ammunition. 

The Israeli government was working on an additional plan: An Arab - Israeli prisoner should work as an agent for Israel. Eventually such a guy was found in an Israeli jail. The Arab agreed working as an agent and Israel let him escape from prison. The agent made his way to Lebanon, found some Fatach guys and told them about how evil the Zionists are, that he hates them and that he had just escaped from prison. 

The Fatach went for it and the Israeli government informed the local press about the case: An Arab prisoner had escaped from jail. The truth, of course, was not told to the media. A huge media coverage started and due to Israeli press reports, the Lebanese Fatach was convinced that the Arab (agent) had told them the truth. That he was one of them.

The agent did a great job and even found out where Shmuel Rosenwasser was held in captivity. However, due to the location the Israelis decided not to start a military operation. In the end both sides came to the conclusion that a prisoner exchange would be the best way out. 14 months after Shmuel Rosenwasser's kidnapping, he returned as a free man. The day was also his 59th birthday. 


"Medinat Israel Ta'aseh HaKol" by Ronen Bergmann

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Were Cain und Abel (Hevel) humans ?


We have just started reading the Torah anew and yesterday the Jewish world read Parashat Bereshit in the Synagogues. Bereshit as well as Noach are my favourite Parashot because through endless study, I have been building up a very special connection to those two Parashot. I just love writing about Bereshit and Noach although it is a neverending subject. 

Here is a Midrashic opinion taken over by the Rambam (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, 1135 – 1204): 

The Rambam wrote in his “Moreh Nevuchim – Guide for the Perplexed” (1:7), that only Adam HaRishon’s had a human shape whereas his first two sons Cain and Abel (Hevel) rather looked like animals. 

Certain commentators , e.g., the Abarbanel, explain that, first, Adam had misused his extremely high G – dgiven intelligence in a negative way. He preferred running after his own desires instead of using his intellect for a way of getting closer to his creator. 

G – d created man in His own image, meaning that man possesses intellect and the ability building a relationship to G – d. Thus one should always use his intellect in a positive way with a certain amount of Kedusha (Holiness). 

Only when Adam and his wife were thrown out of Paradise (Gan Eden), the two started a Teshuva process. The Talmud Tractate Eruvin 18b teaches that Adam did Teshuva for 130 years, then reunited with his wife and begot his third son Seth (Shet). During all those 130 years, Adam and Chava were separated. 

Whereas Adam and Chava begot their two firstborns when they were still acting against the will of G - d and not too serious about getting closer to Him, Shet was born under different circumstances. Besides the Rambam, especially kabbalistic literature teaches that Cain and Hevel weren’t of human shape but animal – like creatures.

Mea Shearim on Sukkot 5772 / 2011


Mea Shearim photos from last Monday night. 

The Synagogue of the MISHKENOT HA'ROIM and the Sukkah in the front.

The great Breslover Synagogue

The Synagogue of Chassidut SLONIM

Synagogue of Chassidut Toldot Avraham Yitzchak. 

Copyright / Photos: Miriam Woelke

The Halacha on the "Shalit Deal"


A reader of this blog sent me a very interesting link to an article describing the pros and cons of the "Shalit Deal" in a Jewish religious manner. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sukkot Impressions

Sukkot 5772 near the Western Wall (Kotel). 

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sukkot in BELZ

See all pictures HERE !

The forgotten Soldiers CHANAN BARAK and PAVEL SLUTZKER


Gilad Shalit – This is all what we hear. In particular from the media and Gilad Shalit's parents Avivah and Noam. For five years, Noam Shalit has made it very clear to us that we, as Israelis, have the duty to care about Gilad. At any cost.

And this “At any cost” has been causing plenty of criticism. First of all from the bereaved families of terror victims and, secondly, from the bereaved families of the two soldiers who died in the Palestinian attack on 25 June 2006. Four soldiers from Gilad Shalit's unit were injured, two got killed and Shalit himself was kidnapped and imprisoned in Gaza. The Shalit family has neither mentioned nor referred to the two dead companions of their son. In Noam and Avivah Shalit's mind, only Gilad exists. 

 Photo right : Pavel Slutzker z"l

Gilad Shalit was serving in a tank and the media falsely refers to the tank as  "the tank of Gilad". However, the officer of the tank was not Shalit himself but Lieutnant Chanan Barak (20) from the Negev town Arad. He was killed by the attacking Palestinian terrorists as well as the driver of the tank,  Sergeant  Pavel Slutzker (20). 

The mother of Chanan Barak would like to talk to Gilad Shalit as soon as possible in order to find out about the last minutes her son was alive. I doubt whether Noam Shalit would agree to such a meeting. 

Photo left: Chanan Barak z"l

Yesterday, Israel's daily “Israel Hayom” chose the gigantic headline "HERO" for its front page. Together with a photo of Gilad Shalit. With all respect to Gilad, I don't see him as a hero but as person who deserves honour because he suffered through a Hamas prison for five years. However, I very much doubt whether Gilad Shalit wants to be seen as a hero but just live his life in peace. 

The Israeli newspaper HAARETZ published a great article about the campaign of Noam and Avivah Shalit regarding the forgotten victims of the tank attack: Pavel Slutzker and Chanan Barak. 

"Amana Muna" or "The Internet Murder"


These days, people from abroad love to claim that all those female prisoners who are among the 1027 terrorists being released in the "Shalit Deal" must be innocent. Reason: Because they are women.

Let me tell you one thing: If you met one of those women, they wouldn't hesitate for one second of either cutting your throat or blowing you up and stick your intestines onto the next car antenna. 

 Example: The female killer of 16 - year - old OFIR RACHUM. 

Ofir Rachum

In January 2001, the 16 - year - old teenager Ofir Rachum was found dead near Ramallah. A few months before, he had met a young woman in an Internet chatroom and, apparently, fallen in love with her. At least twice, Ofir had made his way from his hometown Ashkelon to Jerusalem where he met the 20 - year - old woman. When he asked her why she spoke Hebrew with an Arab accent, she had a few answers for him. One was that she had just made Aliyah from Morocco.

In January 2001, again Ofir took the bus to Jerusalem where the woman suggested a little trip. Not knowing the area, Ofir didn't realize that the woman took him to Ramallah. On the way, a second car stopped and a Palestinian terrorist killed Ofir. The terrorist was a friend of the young woman whose real name is Amana Muna. It was Amana Muna who had arranged the killing of Ofir Rachum. 

The day before yesterday, Amana Muna was released from jail and sent to Gaza. Gaza was her choice and not a destination called Ramallah. Not only was she responsible for the murder of Ofir Rachum but while being in jail, Amana Muna had harassed and even tortured her Palestinian inmates. Now she was afraid of their revenge and chose being sent to Gaza where not too many people know her. If she had returned to Ramallah she may have ended up with a cut throat and dumped into a trash can. 

Interview with the father of Ofir Rachum regarding the "Shalit - Deal"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Simchat Torah


The two pictures show the inside one of the great Sukkot standing right in front of the Kotel (Western Wall). 

Tonight, we are having another holiday getting started: Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah ! In Israel, today is only half a day (like a Friday) and tonight and tomorrow a holiday. Tomorrow night and especially on Sunday, life goes back to normal.

Until then, enjoy the holiday and "Chag Sameach !"

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Toldot Aharon and a missing Mechitzah

Sukkot 5772 / 2011: No gender separation in Mea Shearim Street.

Photo: Miriam Woelke


This year, the Toldot Aharon were not allowed to set up a gender separation (Mechitzah) in Mea Shearim Street as well as in the market nearby. All the years before on Sukkot, the road had been devided by a fence wrapped in a kind of plastic folie or curtain. 

It was Israel's Supreme Court not allowing any further gender separation during Sukkot. The Toldot Aharon are upset but don't care too much about the "Zionist" court decision. The group's speaker, Rabbi Shmuel Pappenheim, stated in an interview that the Toldot Aharon do set up a Mechitzah around their own Beit Midrash and don't care whether the Supreme Court has anything to complain about that.

I had expected it but was still disappointed when I saw the proof: As in the year before, strangers where not allowed into the Ezrat Nashim (women's side) of the Toldot Aharon Synagogue during the Simchat Beit HaSho'eva celebrations. Me and a friend accompanying me already thought about dressing up as TA and just say WOS WOS all the time. :-)

Here the poster telling women who are not Toldot Aharon not to come to their Beit Midrash during Sukkot

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Let me tell you one more thing: Sukkot in Mea Shearim without the crazy Mechitzah and the modesty bridge is just not the same fun !!!

Gilad Shalid is back home


I don't think that the day can end without saying something about the release of Gilad Shalit. It was such a big issue in Israel and the media didn't stop reporting for one minute. Whoever could was watching the live reports about Gilad returning to Israel. Despite all discussions about freeing 1027 terrorists (about 450 today, the rest will follow soon), it was great and heartbreaking seeing Gilad Shalit alive. Israeli officials were already glad seeing him standing on two legs although he looked weak and pale. His father Noam said later on, that Gilad is lacking Vitamin D due to his captivity.

When we watched Gilad Shalit entering Israel, we forgot about all those murderers and terrorists celebrating in Gaza, Ramallah, East Jerusalem or Umm - al - Fachem. Israel is a small country and in certain situations we all feel like a family. Today the lost son came home but we cannot deny the feeling that the future will bring us more terrorists and further victims. The terrorists announced that they will continue their ways of terror and Hamas is ready to kidnap more Israeli soldiers and / or settlers in order to get many more of their murderous companions released.

Nevertheless, after all kinds of official talks and welcoming, this evening, Gilad Shalit landed at his home in Mitzpe Hila (northern Israel). His father, later on, gave a press conference where he stated that his son was held alone and had no one to talk to. At first, he was referred to as an enemy but, as time went by, his Hamas guards behaved towards him in a nicer way. 

Simchat Beit HaSho'eva and Hoshana Rabbah Night


Tonight, Hoshana Rabbah is starting and we Jews have the custom of studying Torah through the entire night. I would love to do so but have to work tomorrow. However, I am going to write some blog posts and hope to get some Sukkot happiness from Jerusalem over to you. 

As I had announced on Sunday, I went to Jerusalem yesterday. To the Old City, the Kotel and Mea Shearim in the evening. Unfortunately, the Mea Shearim Simchat Beit HaSho'eva celebrations started a bit late and I couldn't enjoy too much, as my bus back to Tel Aviv was leaving. Furthermore, many chassidic groups announced that their Ezrat Nashim (women's side) would only be open to women of their own group. Due to missing space for everyone. When I went to the Neturei Karta Synagogue "Torah ve'Yira" we found out that even the NK only let in women with invitations.

The Neturei Karta Synagogue of Yoelish Kroisz.

Photo: Miriam Woelke