Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Haredi World this Week


The main haredi topic of this week was the passing of the well - known Bnei Brak Rabbi Michel Yehudah Lefkowitz. More than 100,000 people came to his funeral.

Rabbi Michel Yehudah Lefkowitz passed away

B"H

The town of Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv has its own great Torah scholars and Rabbis. Among others, the litvishe Ponivezh Yeshiva is one of the most famous study places in town. A student doesn't just join Ponivezh but has to have a certain background in Jewish studies and strong haredi family roots. Those studying there cannot be modern and usually don't participate in watching movies or any other modern - Orthodox Shtick.

Only a few days ago, on 27th June,  Rabbi Michel Yehudah Lefkowitz, one of the heads of Ponivezh passed away and more than 100,000 people came to his funeral. 

Here is a video with the famous Rabbi:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Christians are not welcomed in Meron !

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Is goes without saying that MERON is a JEWISH place where the grave of the famous Tanna Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is located. Despite the fact that Rabbi Shimon had nothing to do with Christianity or any other idol - worship religion, the Israeli government has been offering Meron including the site of the Kever to Christian tourists. Moreover, Jewish visitors to Rabbi Shimon's Kever have been complaining about secular and Gentile Kabbalah studies near Meron.

I don't understand what Christians and secular Jews are thinking: If you really want to show any honest Kavod to Rabbi Shimon and his teachings, you would never behave in such a way. Furthermore, I don't get it what Christians have to do with a JEWISH Rabbi, Tanna and Scholar.

Christian tourists groups in Meron ?
This would be a real disgrace of a Jewish site !

More blossoming trees in Tel Aviv


Photo: Miriam Woelke

1st July 2011: Public Transport Reform in the Tel Aviv Area

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Starting on JULY 1st:

The Tel Aviv Public Transportation System is undergoing severe changes. Some bus routes are going to be cancelled or changed. On other routes, new buses will be added.

One of the most important changed:

The ticket price is going up from 6 Shekels (at the moment) to 6,40 Shekels !!! The purchase of one ticket for 6,40 Shekels grants you unlimited transfer within Tel Aviv and the neighbouring towns such as Bat Yam for 90 minutes.

See all the changes and new schedules here:


and here

Photos from the "Jerusalem Light Festival" 2011, Part 3

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A few more photos from the "Jerusalem Light Festival" 2011 which I was visiting on 20th June.






At the Churvah Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter



The festival has become a real business. Just look at all the stands at the square in the Jewish Quarter.






The CARDO in the Jewish Quarter. The CARDO is an ancient Roman shopping mall from Damascus Gate (today: East Jerusalem) leading into the Jewish Quarter. 



Excavations in the  Cardo



Copyright / Photos: Miriam Woelke

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Arresting Rabbi DOV LIOR

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Rabbi Dov Lior, (photo left) Chief Rabbi of Hebron and the nearby Kiryat Arba, is not as controversial as his Wikipedia may state. Secular Israeli Jews might follow the opinion that Rabbi Lior is an “extremist”; the religious world, however, sees him as a Rabbi who stands up and knows his job.

Yesterday (Monday), Rabbi Dov Lior got arrested by the Israeli police but was released after a few hours. The reason for the arrest was his refusal showing up at the police in order to state why he agrees with the book “Torat HaMelech” published by Rabbi Yitzchak Shapira.

Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Rabbi Dov Lior is not above Israeli law but has to keep it as every other citizen. Religious society including the two Chief Rabbis Jonah Metzger (Ashkenazi) and Shlomo Amar (Sephardi) protested against the arrest.


For about a year now, many secular Israelis, especially the left – wing media, is going wild about the book “Torat HaMelech” by Rabbi Yitzchak Shapira

“The book should be banned and all people involved thrown into jail !” – so the proclamation of Israel’s left – wing media. The press as well as the Shabak (internal secret service) have been running a witch – hunt against parts of the national religious and settler movement.
 

It is possible that certain statements appearing in the book could be seen as controversial but one has to understand the halachic background. Instead of dealing with the subject in a religious matter, the left, including opposition leader Zipi Livni, has behaving like a bull in a china shop without any understanding what the book is really about.

In 2009, the Israeli Rabbi Yitzchak Shapira published his book “Torat HaMelech” where he is making some statements such as “Jews have the right to kill Gentiles when they are endangering Jews. Israel’s press as well as the international media, however, just picked the headline “Jews can kill Gentiles !” Without any explanation of the entire context and meaning. This way, haters of Jewish religion started another campaign against Jewish Orthodoxy.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu definitely has his own interests because he is striving for further peace talks with Abu Mazen. The negative publicity about “Torat HaMelech” could "endanger" the peace process and Netanyahu also wants to show his “good will” towards the Palestinians. Thus, those national religious settler “fanatics” need to be punished. Nevertheless, Abu Mazen himself is not even interested in sitting together with Netanyahu.

It goes without saying that Rabbi Dov Lior is not above the law and should have gone to the police in order to make a statement why he endorsed Rabbi Shapira’s book. However, everyone now planning to complain about the book’s statements should ask himself whether he has actually read and understood the book instead of making propaganda about a topic he has no clue whatsoever.

Sefer Kushiot: Why Avraham and Yaakov received new names from G - d




Photos: Miriam Woelke

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I love those questions asked and answered in SEFER KUSHIOT. Basically the entire book consists of Q & A. Here is a short example:

Why did Avraham and Yaakov receive new names from G - d whereas Yitzchak's name was never changed (by G - d) ?

Anyone has an answer ?
If not, look into the book.:-)

Lecturing Judaism


My Parashat HaShavua (Torah Portion) Preparation

Photo: Miriam Woelke

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I am a person who has always been sitting down with books. As a matter of fact, I grew up with books and nothing has changed until today. However, for the past 14, 15 years, I have almost exclusively studied "Sifrei Koidesh - Jewish Religious Books". Gemara in a professional litvishe women's seminary and some courses at Bar Ilan University. I have participated in an academic university course about "Jewish Symbolism" but I have remained a Yeshiva person. I am not at all into Chavrutah but going to lectures of great Rabbis and sometimes university professors. I love it when the lecturers are professional and really know their field ! In other words, I am not wasting my time with people lecturing who actually know nothing and will always remain Internet Content Thieves as well as Wikipedia Fans.

Once I went to a lecture of such a person at the "Orthodox Union" in Jerusalem. A lecturer quite known in the modern "Orthodox" Anglo world. Whatever the person said sounded interesting although the person concentrated on many subjects at the same time. As a scholar or student in Judaism, you cannot do this but limit your research. However, some people don't even bother with research.

There were some subjects this particular lecturer mentioned and I became interested. As I always do, I got the right books in order to find out more. To my regret, I realized that he had made some vital mistakes. One huge mistake regarding the false Meshiach Shabtai Zvi and I noticed that this mistake has its roots in a Wikipedia site. Since, I am not too excited anymore about going to "any" class but choose lecturers according to their knowledge, background and amount of research. There are plenty of people lecturing and trying to sell any subject but do they really have a clue about what they are talking ?

I also think that certain specific information should not be published but remain within a small circle. After all those years of study, I have topics which I wouldn't publish and even if, only parts of it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Turkish Jewry: Chazan Isak Macoro from Istanbul

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Turkey has a long Jewish history and is, until today, populated by Jews. One of the Jewish places with a famous history is the city of IZMIR (Smyrna). However, Izmir also stands for a sad point in Jewish history, as the false Meshiach Shabtai Zvi was born there in August 1626.

Here is a Sephardic song sung by the famous former Istanbul Chazan (Cantor) Isak Macoro (1918 - 2008)

Blossoming Tree in Tel Aviv



Photo: Miriam Woelke

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The latest Neturei Karta Campaign: "Don't divide Jerusalem !"

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Many Israelis are fighting for a united Jerusalem and are against any plans of our present government and American Hussein Obama to divide Jerusalem. Turning East Jerusalem into the capital "Al Kuds" of Palestine.

Nevertheless, the anti - Zionist NETUREI KARTA started its own campaign against a Jerusalem split into two parts. The NK wants ONE united Jerusalem under PALESTINIAN rule.




Dear Neturei Karta members !
For how long are you planning to live under Palestinian rule ? As history shows, Jerusalem has been full of pogroms in the past and the Palestinians may cut your throat too. Then what ?

The World stands on three things ...

"SISALEK" Ice - Cream in Ge'ulah / Jerusalem


Photo: Miriam Woelke
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A few days before Pessach, I bought an ice - cream at Jerusalem's haredi ice - cream store SISALEK in Ge'ulah / near Mea Shearim. The price for one ball is rather high but I liked my milchig date ice - cream.

SISALEK has a milchig and a parveh counter but not too many Haredim from the neighbourhood buy at the store. A "Rabbi Rubin" Hechsher is hanging in the window and Rabbi Rubin is not too accepted among various haredi groups and directions. Chassidut Belz, for instance, is stricly against Rabbi Rubin Hechsherim and doesn't come near such products. The Edah HaCharedit, at the nearby Kikar Shabbat, has its own standards anyway.

For whatever reason, and I am a little surprised about it, SISALEK decided to stick with Rabbi Rubin.


Links:

Picture of the Day


Jerusalem in March 2011

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Sneaky Christian Missionaries in Jerusalem

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ESSER AGAROTH took some photos of sneaky Christian missionaries in Jerusalem's shopping mall Ben Yehudah Street. 




Some time ago, I took a photo of this Israeli guy who is associated with the Messianic Jew group in Tel Aviv. His name is GIDON and I see him from time to time running around in Tel Aviv. He is a bum and while staying in Jerusalem, he eats at the house of Rabbi Mordechai Machlis (on Shabbat) and sleeps on the bench in Mea Shearim Synagogues. 

However, Rabbi Machlis has no clue who this guy is and Gidon shows up for Shabbat meals keeping quiet but just stuffing himself with Jewish food.


Chazan Simon Cohen performing in Tel Aviv


Saturday, June 25, 2011

The History of Libyan Jewry


The BEN SHAIF SYNAGOGUE in Zliten / Libya. The picture was taken before the Second World War. 


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Already in the year 323 before the Common Era, there were Jews living in Libya. In fact, the Roman Emperor Augustus granted the Jews settling in Cyrene / Libya special privileges. And, as you will notice easily, this happened long before Muhammad had his vision and founded Islam. Or in other words: Long before Islam came into existence, Jews were living in Libya !

Once a prosperous community, the 20th century turned out to be a disaster for Libyan Jewry and today, we don’t find any Jews left in Ghadaffi Land. On 5th November 1945, a pogrom took place in Libya’s capital Tripoli where 140 Jews were killed. Background: In 1911, Italy had occupied the North African country. In 1931, Four percent of the total population were Jewish. Then the country had 550,000 citizens from whom 21,000 were Jews.

By the end of the 1930ies, the anti – semitic Benito Mussolini announced new decrees making the lives of the Libyan Jews miserable. In 1942, the German Nazi Wehrmacht Army occupied the country and those who believe that Hitler was only killing Ashkenazi – European Jewry should study the history of the Jews of North Africa. As soon as the Wehrmacht started its war in North Africa, the soldiers immediately arrested many Jews and sent them into labour or concentration camps. A sad part of the history of North African Jewry and, unfortunately, not too many people have been investigating the history.


A photo from a long forgotten past: Jews in Libya


In June 1948, more Arabs started rioting against the Jewish population and killed 12 of them. Furthermore, they destroyed 250 Jewish houses. The Jews started leaving Libya and many moved to Israel after the foundation of the state. In 1969, the Dictator Ghadaffi came to power and confiscated all Jewish property. He also decreed that Arabs don’t need to pay back their debts to the Jews anymore.

The last Jew in Libya died in 2002.


Sources:


"Laila Lavan - WHITE NIGHT" 2011 in Tel Aviv - Schedule

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Only available in Hebrew: 

The schedule of the Tel Aviv “Laila Lavan – White Night” this upcoming Thursday. Those who are looking for some Yiddishkeit (Christian Missionaries NOT wanted !): There are a few activities taking place with Rabbi Israel Me'ir Lau (Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv) at the Great Synagogue of Tel Aviv.

Iraqi Jews in Israel (1950)



Two Iraqi Jews after their arrival in Israel (1950). 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Photos from the "Jerusalem Light Festival" 2011, Part 2

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Some further photos from the light festival in Jerusalem 2011. The festival itself closed its gates on Wednesday night.


Palestinians selling drinks and snacks at Jaffa Gate.



At the "Archeaology Park" next to the Kotel (Western Wall).







A bit hard to recognize: An old building inside the Jewish Quarter whose outer wall became a cinema screen.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Why do we need Cohanim (Temple Priests) and Levi'im (Levites) ?

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This Shabbat is "Shabbat Korach". The Torah tells us that Korach was the son of Yitzhar and a relative of Moshe. He started rebelling against the leadership of Moshe and Aharon, as Korach himself became jealous and didn't want to accept that it wasn't his task leading the Jewish nation.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook (1865 – 1935) asked the question why, in Judaism, we need Cohanim (Priests) carrying out special duties ? Can't we just all be equal ?

In his answer, Rabbi Kook compares the need for a Jewish priesthood with the organs of a human body. Every single organ has its function and task in order to keep us alive. Moreover, every society consists of different professions and capabilities: One person is a scientist, another is a farmer and a third person may be a plumber. Although each of them has a different task and ability in life, together they all have one goal: Keeping human society alive.  The same with the Jewish people. Everyone has his individual place and task !

See the entire commentary of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook HERE !

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The SEFAT EMET and the ARIZAL on PARASHAT KORACH



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The SEFAT EMET commentated that G – d wanted Korach to be "Klal Israel". The whole community is holy, no matter if someone is just carrying the Mizbeach or doing something else. Meaning, we should accept our G – dgiven task and consider ourselves as important. Not always running after something which isn't meant to be ours !

Jealousy takes a human away from the world. Sometimes you need to step down and not always consider yourself as so important but rather follow G – d's will.

Did the earth swallow Korach ?

The famous medieval Kabbalist, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (1534 - 1572) from Zfat compares the power struggle between Moshe and Korach to the same kind of struggle between Cain and Hevel (Abel). Rabbi Luria teaches us that a certain negative soul level of Cain was reincarnated in Korach. Moshe actually contained two reincarnations:

a) Seth (Shet), the third son of Adam HaRishon and his wife Chava (Eve).

b) Secondly, a certain positive soul level of Hevel (Abel) who was killed by his brother Cain.

Unfortunately, Korach followed his inner bad side, became jealous and thus stopped thinking logically. Couldn't he see that G - d wanted Moshe and Aharon leading the people ?

Israel's Cottage Cheese Rebellion


Photo: Miriam Woelke
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It was a Haredi from Bnei Brak starting the Israeli rebellion against the manufacturers of cottage and white cheese. Especially cottage cheese is extremely popular in this country and children just grow up with the famous cheese. 


Until a few years ago, a plastic box with cottage could be purchased for 3 and something Shekels. Less than one US Dollar. Today, most supermarkets ask for almost 8 Shekels (almost 3 Dollar). Please consider that the prices for food and groceries have been going up constantly but, on the other hand, ordinary wages have remained the same. Especially religious families with many children as well as Israelis with a low income are suffering from the price increases and many households have to get along with less food than two or three years ago. 


Some Facebook Groups against the price increase of cottage and white cheese have been launched and Israelis jumped on them. "Let's boycott the cottage cheese !" and believe it or not, for the first time, a Facebook group may cause a change. The cottage producers admitted that they may have made a mistake and will think about a price reduction. As far as I know, the supermarket chain "Rami Levi" is offering the cheapest cottage at the moment.

New DUSHINSKY Beit Midrash in Beit Shemesh

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Chassidut Dushinsky recently celebrated the opening of a new Beit Midrash in Beit Shemesh.

All photos HERE !

If it wouldn't say BEIT SHEMESH in the article, I had thought that the photos were taken at the Dushinsky Synagogue in Jerusalem / Shmuel HaNavi Street. The style as well as the Aron HaKodesh look very much alike.

Ingrid und Jörgen's Flotilla to Gaza


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Christian Missionary Couple Christine and Peter Darg sneaking into a Jewish Shiur


The Christian Missionary couple Christine and Peter Darg were sneaking into Rabbi Mordechai Machlis' Parasha class (Nov. 2010).

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A friend texted me a message a couple of hours ago and asked me to turn on my computer immediately. She had sent me a few messages and when I read them, I was shocked but not at all surprised. Israel’s anti – missionary site JEWISH ISRAEL mentions, among other Rabbis, Rabbi Mordechai Machlis from Jerusalem in their latest article

Rabbi Machlis is a national religious Rabbi, born in New York but has been living in Jerusalem for the past thirty years, who brought tremendous kindness into the holy city. For almost thirty years, the Machlis’ are known for their Shabbat hospitality where everyone is invited to come.

Of course, there are also guests exploiting the Shabbat meals for their own negative purposes. Gentiles and, in particular, Christian missionaries. Many Gentiles just show up in order to have a free meal. They are not interested in seeing a Jewish Shabbat but showing up dressed immodestly, huge crosses on chains hanging down from their necks and pulling out photo cameras. Sometimes a missionary gets up in order to make a vicious speech but the Rabbi usually stops him.

Due to the fact that everyone is invited and free to come, Gentiles also show up at the Rabbi’s weekly Parasha classes every Tuesday. Now it came out that the Christian missionary couple Christine and Peter Darg appear in one of the Machlis videos . They obviously sneaked into one of the Shiurim. Missionaries always want to “learn” from Jews in order to pick up phrases and words. Later on, they use all this for their own evil missionary purposes when they try to convince other Jews believing in Christian idol – worship. The Dargs appear in the video and they can proudly announce this to their donors. It definitely pays off for them and they also attract more Christian missionary followers.

Whether Rabbi Mordechai Machlis had been aware of his missionary guests in the house is still unclear, as the Rabbi hasn’t given a statement yet. However, JEWISH ISRAEL brings some interesting facts about the Dargs and their evil missionary ideologies.

For years, me and some friends have been warning Rabbi Machlis about too many Gentiles and thus missionaries in the house. There were quite a few complaints from Jews who didn’t want to spend their Shabbat sitting at the same table with Christians and their crosses around the neck or ringing cell phones. The Rabbi and his family are not too excited about their Gentile guests but, so far, the Rabbi has been too kind to say anything against them. Now after the article on JEWISH ISRAEL, Rabbi Mordechai Machlis has to watch his reputation. Too much kindness can sometimes cause a great damage.

TODAY: Home Front Command Drill in Israel

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Don't forget the nationwide drill of the Home Front Command (Pikud HaOref) today. Details HERE !

Photos from the "Jerusalem Light Festival" 2011, Part 1

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The "Jerusalem Light Festival" has become a real attraction and success. Not only locals and foreign tourist have been rushing around the Old City in order to participate in the three tours of the festival. Thousands of Israelis from all parts of the country have been participating as well. 
I was there last night and really enjoyed myself. The weather was nice and warm and there is hardly anything better but walking through Jerusalem's Old City by night. 
The Light Festival is located in the Armenian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter as well as in the Muslim Quarter. Normally it is not too save walking around in the Christian or Muslim Quarter. Not when you are a Jew. However, last night, it was, as there was plenty of Army Border Police (Magav), police and further security staff.

It was extremely peaceful with only one negative incident. As far as I witnessed. At the entrance to the Christian Quarter, a teenage Arab freaked out and got arrested by the Israeli border police. 

I made some great photos and will put them in parts into the blog. Not only from the festival but also photos from the Arab village Silwan where the CITY OF KING DAVID is located !

The Light Festival is closing its gates tomorrow (Wednesday) night !


At Jaffa Gate











Old City Wall (built by the Turks) with view onto the Arab village Silwan.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Black Jews dressed in Belz Clothes and Yerushalmi Hats

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Last night, while touring the "Jerusalem Light Festival" in the Old City, I saw a few rather strange guys near the Kotel (Western Wall). Some readers may call me a "Rassist" for saying that but I don't care.

In Jerusalem, it is not necessarily unusual that some Ethiopian Jews wear haredi clothes. Not really the haredi style but rather a black hat (not a Borsolino) and maybe a white shirt. However, those three of four black young guys I saw last night were dressed in a kind of Belzer clothing style and one guy wore a flat Yerushalmi hat.

First I thought that this may be the freaky Rapper Shyne and his gang. Actually it could have been although one of those black "Chassidim" was called by the name YIGAL. 

Excuse my "Rassism" but it was just weird seeing those guys dressed in Belz or Yerushalmi, as I know too well what the born Chassidim think about them. Nevertheless, the Belzer run a Yeshiva for male Baalei Teshuva Jews and Shyne used to study there.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sephardi Torah Commentaries & MIKRE'OT GEDOLOT

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One of my Germany readers was looking for a Torah with Sephardi commentaries only. As far as I know, there is not such a thing and people who are interested in a certain Sephardi commentary usually purchase the book of the author.
The most famous TANACH (Torah, Prophets and Writings) commentary collection is included in the “Mikre’ot Gedolot”. In Hebrew only ! Those commentaries, however, were not exclusively written by Sephardi Rabbis but also by Ashkenazim.


The MIKRE'OT GEDOLOT commentaries include, among others, Rashi, the Ohr HaChaim (was of Sephardi origin), the Kli Yakar, the Sifte’i Chachamim, the Ramban (was of Sephardi origin), Sforno, Ibn Ezra (was of Sephardi origin), Targum Yehonatan or Onkolos.

And this is how it looks: The original Torah text on top of the right side of the page; surrounded by all kinds of commentaries.



Below: Part of a MIKRE'OT GEDOLOT Set


Photos: Miriam Woelke

Sephardi Rabbis


Picture of the Day


Seen in Tel Aviv

Photo: Miriam Woelke

"Laila Lavan - WHITE NIGHT" 2011 in Tel Aviv

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Jerusalem is celebrating its “Light Festival” but a great and also traditional event is going to take place in Tel Aviv on 30 June 2011 (Thursday): The “LAILA LAVAN – WHITE NIGHT” with its art, cultural events and anything you can imagine.

 Maps are available as soon as you get to the first stop. The events are spread all over the city and most of them are free of charge. Some artists, as famous pop singers, may charge entrance fee.

The most popular event of the “LAILA LAVAN” is located in Rothschild Boulevard. See my report from last year HERE !

Jerusalem Light Festival 2011

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As I am in Jerusalem today, I am seriously taking a brief visit at the famous “Light Festival” into consideration. The “Jerusalem Light Festival” is taking place in the Old City and the shows are going to start at 8pm.

Ka Echsof - Chassidut Karlin

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A Pi'ut from Rebbe Aharon the Great, the founder of Chassidut Karlin.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

GUSH KATIF - A chapter in the story of Israel


In my opinion, the most interesting stand at the book fair 2011: 
The settlers who were thrown out of Gush Katif in 2005.

 Photos: Miriam Woelke
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In August 2005, the Expulsion from Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip took place and former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did his utmost to get the Jewish settlers out in order to return the Gush to the Palestinians in Gaza. The Israeli government expected peace but the opposite has been taking place. The Hamas took over and has been firing rockets and missiles onto Israeli territory since.

Today almost all of us know that the expulsion was a big mistake. The Sharon government had promised a great deal of compensation to the settlers but not everything has been carried out. People lost their homes and their jobs. Until today, many settlers are suffering from a trauma of being thrown out of one’s own home and squeezed into temporary trailer homes.

The MERCAZ KATIF – KATIF CENTER was established in Nitsan, located between Ashdod and Ashkelon. The Center is offering tours in Hebrew and English documenting the history of the Disengagement Plan of 2005 and the uprooting of 21 thriving communities. Furthermore, the tour will lead you to the present housing of former Gush Katif inhabitants who also guide the tour.

The KATIF CENTER offers different tours. From two hours to an entire day. 

If anyone is interested, please book in advance. For reservations call Orit Berger 054 – 5953953 or oritberger33@gmail.com

Available in ENGLISH & HEBREW: http://www.gushkatif.co.il/

Further Links:


Photos from Gush Katif