Tuesday, January 31, 2012

10th Yahrzeit of Daniel Pearl


If you ever ask me for my most read blog post ever, here is the sad answer: The most hits I am getting on the video of Daniel Pearl's execution. Throughtout the year and not only on his Yahrzeit (day of death). 

Tomorrow, ten years ago, on 1 February 2002, Daniel Pearl was murdered by Islamic terrorists in Pakistan.

Has anything changed since then ?


Daniel Pearl Foundation

Daniel Pearl's Execution

The video is extremely graphic !!!


If the video doesn't work immediately, move over it with your cursor !

Shoah Clip: "Rainbow in the Night"


Rainbow in the Night, a short YouTube clip, is a brief but exceptionally powerful video created specifically for today's fast paced generation. Using stunning cinematography, a haunting score, hard hitting lyrics and vocals that will touch the deepest recesses of the soul, this historical work offers a glimpse into World War II Krakow as seen through the eyes of a survivor. Beginning with footage of a 1939 original oil painting of a synagogue being ravaged by the Nazis, shown at a private event in the survivor's home, Rainbow in the Night is an exquisitely emotional journey, as the survivor recalls first the warmth of his childhood home, then the shock and disbelief as people are forced to leave their homes for the Krakow ghetto, taken to an extermination camp and after enduring unspeakable cruelty, finally liberated. Set against a backdrop of utter despair and hopelessness, the survivor relives the inexplicable power that enabled him to persevere, the rainbow in the figurative night that promised better days to come. Culminating triumphantly with our hope for the future, the faces of hundreds of modern day Jewish children, Rainbow in the Night is both a euphoric tribute to the indomitable human spirit that enabled the Jewish people to survive against all odds and also a call to arms, to rekindle the spark of Jewish pride and unity among Jews worldwide, as we continue to rebuild the generations that were destroyed by the Nazis. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tal Law - חוק טל


Again, the Israeli government has to decide about the extention of the controversial “Chok Tal – Tal Law”: Young male Haredim who are enrolled in Yeshivot are, according to the "Tal Law", exempt from the army service. 

Every time, the law is being discussed anew, all kinds of new / old criticism is coming up. At the moment, the time making a decision is not the best: For the past weeks, Israeli left - wing organizations as well as the secular press have been spreading the worst propaganda against haredi society as a whole. Without pointing out various differences between various haredi groups and ideologies. 

I can understand those Israelis who are joining the army service without any complaint. They see it as their duty to protect and fight for our country. I can also understand that regular Israeli soldiers are upset about an entire (haredi) society not joining the armed forces. On the other hand, I do understand many Haredim who do not join the Israeli army. One of the main reasons why they don't are society reasons. Young Haredim are reluctant to go to the army, as they fear being rejected from their own society. Especially regarding Shidduchim or that family members won't be accepted at great Yeshivot. 

More than a decade ago, the army unit “Nahal HaCharedi” was founded. The first soldiers joining this haredi unit were Haredim. However, a little later, the "Nahal" made the mistake of accepting more and more national religious soldiers. The difference is that national religious soldiers do agree to certain "light" standards such as eating kosher food with a "Chief Rabbinate - Rabbanut" Hechsher. Most Haredim do not. Haredim don't really want to serve in this unit anymore, as they don't consider the "Nahal" as entirely haredi but as something "modern Orthodox". Nevertheless, there is quite a high amount of Haredim who would like to serve in the army if the religious standards were higher. The more Rabbis were favouring the army service, the more Haredim would actually join. 

Haredim as well as national religious men claim that the army itself doesn't want too many frum soldiers. Despite all criticism, does the army really need so many haredi soldiers ? The generals say YES but reality appears to be different. The Ministry of Defense has been spreading quite shocking reports: In another 10 years or so, the Israeli army is going to face a lack of soldiers. How then will we be able to defend our country ? As expected, the press found the guilty side: The Haredim. On the other hand, the media also pointed out that the amount of secular Israelis looking for exemption from the army, has been constantly growing. The number 1 refusals are coming from secular Israelis living in Tel Aviv. 

I don't have any solution to offer. On the one hand, I do understand the haredi public and its refusal of going to the army. On the other hand, I have lots of sympathy for Israeli soldiers complaining about the "Tal Law". Why do they have to serve while others sit in Yeshivot or simply do nothing besides enrolling ? As a matter of fact, there is a high amount of young Haredim who are enrolled in Yeshivot but hardly participate in any studies. 

I know a national religious Rabbi whose son has become haredi. The son was anxious becoming a soldier but the father didn't let him go because he was too afraid that his son may die on the battlefield. The result was that the son didn't join the army but the service could have changed his life into more positive directions. Bored and not knowing what to do in life, the son went a little astray due to money matters. 

By the way, a couple of years ago (when I was still younger), I asked the army whether I can still join. Due to my advanced age, I couldn't but was offered to volunteer at a checkpoint. The problem was that I need to earn a living and thus didn't sign up. 

Privacy on the Internet ?


It always shocks me witnessing how much private information people publish on Facebook. Family pictures, phone numbers, relationships or even what they eat.

A Video published by the Israeli Ministry of Justice

What is "Zionism" ?


Rabbi Me’ir Kahane is more than a controversial subject. Until today. Many Jews think Kahane was a rassist, too violent or simply too much. Unfortunately, I haven't had the time writing about Rabbi Me'ir Kahane but my friend "Frumlife" does at the moment:

I put this blog post also into my German blog and I am exctited to see if the German readers are going to commentate or show any reaction.:-) Once I quoted from the religious books of Rabbi Yitzchak Ginzburgh and was criticized for mentioning him. Rabbi Ginzburgh would be a rassist too and why I am mentioning such people. 

It doesn't matter if Rabbi Ginzburgh or Rabbi Kahane, before criticizing, people should take a closer look into their religious writings. Both of them are into politics but both are still Rabbis with great Torah commentaries. Personally, I am not a Kahanist and don't think that Israel should throw out all Arabs. Instead, I am with the Israeli politician Aryeh Eldad who says that those Arabs living in Israel, should accept our country as a Jewish state and keep Israeli law.


Kahane Writings

It is winter and Israel


It is raining and freezing cold in Israel. In Tel Aviv, everything below 20 degrees Celsius is considered "winter". Although our country needs lots of rain, as the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) has been drying out and now needs 4 meters in order to fill up, after a while, this wet weather is going on my nerves. Especially when you go to the market and you are only able to carry one bag, as your other hand is holding an umbrella.:-)))

People are suffering from cold viruses and yesterday, after work, I also took a pill and went to sleep. However, here some rainy expressions from Tel Aviv today :

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Song by Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk

This song is credited as composed by the Tzadik Rabbi Reb Elimelech of Lizensk. It was passed down by his famed Talmud the Rabbi Naftul Tzvi of Ropshitz, who then passed it down to his son-in-law Rabbi Usher Shaya of Ropshitz, who passed it down to his son-in-law Rabbi Feivish of Brezhan, passed it to his son Rabbi Leibish of Brezahn, who passed it to his grandchildren and great grandchildren that survived the WWII to pass it on to us. A beautiful 'Heilige' nigun that tlak to the depth of your heart.

The KOTZKER REBBE on Parashat BO

Photo: Miriam Woelke



A famous and popular teaching by the Kotzker Rebbe (Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgensztern, 1787 - 1859): 

"Hashem said to Moshe: COME (BO) to Pharaoh ..."

Why is G - d telling Moshe to COME to Pharaoh instead of GOING to Pharaoh ? Moshe is not there yet and still needs to go to Pharaoh in order to speak to him. 

The Kotzker Rebbe sees the BO as if G - d Himself is already there. He is a Pharaoh's and waiting for Moshe to COME. This implies that, wherever the Jews are going to, G - d is already there. Even in the Diaspora, the Jews are not alone. 

Whenever we feel alone, we are not, as there are two "people": Me and G - d.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ahallel Amallel

Talmud Chagigah 12a: Adam HaRishon


The Talmud Tractate Chagigah 12a teaches that Adam HaRishon (Adam) reached from one end of the earth to the other. 


Like many Aggadic statements these measurements are not meant literally. Rather, the Gemara refers to the measure of mind. Adam’s mind was able to comprehend all that was from one end of heaven to the other and all that was between heaven and earth.

Rabbi Daniel Frish on the “Yetzer HaRah”


Read a previous introduction on Rabbi Daniel Frish here: 

The second chapter of the book “Kedusha veZniut – Holiness and Modesty” written by Rabbi Daniel Frish talks about how a man should free himself from his lust. Getting rid of the animal lust inside of him. A man was created with this lust but he has to learn how to use it in a positive, hence, modest way. Lust and passion must be used in a pure sense. Example: Lust can be turned into the highest kind of unity when a husband is having relations with his wife. 

On the other hand, a man has to be extremely careful because lust can arouse the greatest “Yetzer HaRah – Negative side in each of us”. A man’s task is to overcome his “Yetzer HaRah”he needs great strength. Furthermore, he should build fences around himself in order to prevent certain dangers beforehand. 

How does a man study Torah in a pure sense ? When he is keeping the union with G – d; keeping himself away from all negative influences. Thus, he will not be vulnerable to thoughts of negative lust but able to have pure relations with his wife. The result of this will be that the couple is going to have righteous children. 

How can someone overcome his “Yetzer HaRah” ? By using his Chochmah (wisdom). 

A great danger of arousing one’s “Yetzer HaRah” is being in contact with other Jews who don’t stick to Torah Mitzvot. However, the worst “Yetzer HaRah” of a man is always aroused by women, as a man can easily have second thoughts. 

We always have to remember that each of us has a Nefesh. In Judaism, souls rise to different levels and a “Nefesh” is the lowest state of a soul. Nefesh means that a human being is satisfying his needs such as eating, drinking, desires, passions, lust, materialism, etc. The Nefesh is mostly referred to a kind of animal soul, as on this level, we behave like an animal. We drink, eat and satisfy our worldly pleasures but don’t think that there is something higher. Example: Spirituality. Instead, we just follow our instinct in order to survive. 

Those who stick to the way of Torah and are thus able to overcome any negative powers trying to lead him astray is called a “Ba’al Torah” and a “Ba’al Mitzvot”. In order to withstand outside influences, a man has to build fences around himself. One of the names of G – d is “Shad – dai”. The Hebrew word “Dai” means “Enough”. When G – d was creating, He finally said “Dai – Enough”. A man has to do the same and say “Dai” when it comes to a certain situation where he could go astray. 

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tel Aviv: The "Great Synagogue" by Night


A surprise visitor from Jerusalem came to see me in Tel Aviv today. And when friends meet, they go out to eat and have a good cup of coffee. This is what we did.:-)

I received some comments and will publish them after Shabbat is over. Have a great Shabbat everyone - Gut Schabbes - and enjoy the following photos from Tel Aviv's "Great Synagogue" !

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chabad in Jerusalem's Ben Yehudah Street

Chabad Meshichisten offering Tefillin to every male Jew. Until a few years ago, the Meshichistim had a center located in Ben Yehudah Street but then moved to a different place nearby. What I didn't know but one of the Meshichistim told me: The Ben Yehudah group was sent out to Kfar Chabad once in a while in order to collect donations. Example: Each Meshichist had to walk around separately in Kfar Chabad, ring on doorbells and ask for Zedakah. Apparently some Kfar Chabad inhabitants got mad when, every other minute, a different guy was standing in front of their door asking for money.

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Chassidishe Parashat BO


Various commentaries on this week's Parashat BO:

MK Israel Eichler expelled from Knesset


Knesset member, Rabbi Israel Eichler (Chassidut Belz), was expelled from the Knesset this afternoon, when he called leftist Zipi Livni (head of the Kadima party) an ENEMY (to Haredim). As a matter of fact, Zipi Livni has been trying to make propaganda against haredi society. Her party is in danger to disappear after the next Knesset elections, as her competitor, Haredim hater and journalist Ya'ir Lapid, is founding his own party and is said to take away most Kadima voters. Zipi Livni learnt from Lapid how to attract secular voters of Israel's population and thus trying to save herself from unemployment.

Jerusalem - Opposition leader Tzipi Livni blasted Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias for refusing to give priority affordable housing to households where both partners work. "The housing minister's decision is an insult to those who went out to the streets (to protest)," she said, adding that the measure makes the benefit only accessible to the haredi sector. MK Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism) responded by calling Livni "our enemy," prompting Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin to expel him from the session.

Picture of the Day: "At the Kotel"

Comments on Chabad


For some time now, another blogger has been flooding me with comments on Chassidut Chabad. I am not willing to publish long comments from Chabad books or endless comments by Chabad members.

I have nothing against Chabad but if someone is such an excited Chassid, he should rather publish all his ideas on his blog and not using mine as a platform.

After the Burnout


Exactly one year ago, I was suffering from a severe burnout attack. Besides work, I couldn't do anything else anymore. Depression, work, depression, work. Although many people claim that they are unable to sleep while suffering from a burnout, I was always able to sleep. However, I stopped eating because I had lost any appetite.

I am a worker and when I work, it is hard for me to stop. Especially when I like what I am doing. Then I just turn into a hopeless workaholic. First, you don't notice the signs your body gives you. I knew that something was wrong but kept on telling myself that I must have caught some kind of a virus. Probably the flu. 

One day, your body is just falling apart and you are hardly able to move let alone to think. The only thought in your mind is how you could get out of this situation. The problem is that, at first, you are not even aware of a situation. 

Eventually I took two steps: Talking to a friend and joining a support group. In my opinion, people don't just suffer from a burnout but there sticks something deeper in their personality. This is why one should definitely analyze why a burnout is happening to him and why he got himself into this kind of situation. Furthermore, one has to learn how to live. Take breaks, go out and take time off. At least an hour or two hours per day and just be with yourself. 

I won't forget this kind of experience I had a year ago. Especially because I learnt a lot about myself. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Haredi Street Sign

Gender Separation on Israeli Buses ? Problem Solved !

Ladies upstairs, men downstairs.

Rosh Chodesh SHEVAT (שבט)


Starting tonight, we are going to celebrate "Rosh Chodesh", meaning the beginning of the new Jewish month of SHEVAT. 

The month of Shevat already hints to the upcoming spring although, many times, it doesn't look so at first sight. The weather forecast for the upcoming days of the week will be anything but spring time. On the contrary, temperature is going to drop again and we are expecting heavy rain showers.

To me, Shevat stands for a month making me older on an annual basis, as I celebrate my birthday in this month. As a matter of fact, I am getting to an age where a birthday may be not always be seen as such a happy event.:-))) 

Judaism doesn't necessarily define the role of our birthday. I think the only time a birthday is mentioned in the Torah is the birthday of Pharao. Nevertheless, I learnt that one should be happy on his birthday and pray to G - d, as we have a special power on this particular day.

Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of a new Jewish month) is the first Mitzvah (commandment) the Jewish people received as a nationA new Jewish month always stands for a new beginning in life. Not that we always have to wait until a new month shows up but changes can be made on a daily basis. However, a new month seems to give us new strength and adds motivation. 

Shevat is the eleventh month of the Jewish calendar and has 30 days. On the first of Shevat, Moshe began reading the Book of Deutoronomy (Sefer Devarim) to the Jews. His inheritance before he passed away in the month of Adar (following Shevat).

According to the kabbalistic book "Sefer Yetzirah - The Book of Creation", every Jewish month symbolizes a Hebrew letter, a colour, a Jewish tribe, a human organ and a horoscope: 

The colour of  Shevat is blue - green, the letter is Zaddik (צ), the tribe is Asher, the organ is the stomach and the horoscope is Aquarius - Dli (Bucket) in Hebrew. Moreover, Shevat symbolizes the two human senses "eating" and "taste". It says that a Zaddik (righteous person) eats in order to satisfy his soul. He only eats as much as he needs to live.

The Aquarius symbolizes water which is a metaphor for Torah. Jews cannot exist without Torah and water. Aquarius is an "air sign" and those of you who were also born in this month stand for rebellion, changes and spontaneous decisions. People born in Shevat are always searching for their own identity, are open to new ideas and usually don't fit in anywhere. At least not too easily. Furthermore, they hate monotonya and are extremely communicative.

Many famous Rabbis died in Shevat and we are going to commemorate plenty of Yahrzeits:

4 Shevat: Rabbi Israel Abuchatzeira, the Baba Sali, 1890 - 1984

5 Shevat: Rabbi Aryeh Yehudah Leib of Ger, 1847 - 1905, the Sefat Emet and the founder of Chassidut Gur (Ger)

10 Shevat: Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe. 

14 Shevat: Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, 1935 - 1983

22 Shevat: Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, 1787 - 1859

25 Shevat: Rabbi Israel Salanter

29: Rabbi Nosson Zvi Finkel, the Alter of Slobodka, 1849 - 1927

Halacha: We add the prayer Yaale ve Yavo - Gebetes in the Amidah and the Birkat HaMazon. It is customary that women refrain from housework.

Chodesh Tov - A great, healthy and successful new month to all of you !

Fish have to be kosher

 Fish baked in coconut milk


In Sefer Vayikra (Leviticus), G - d is giving the Kashrut (kosher) laws to the Jewish people because He wants His people to eat kosher food. For instance, the Jewish Kabbalah explains that kosher food influences our souls in a positive way. 

Sefer Vayikra (Leviticus) 11:9 teaches that kosher fish need to have fins and scales. Vayikra 11:10 teaches that everything that does not have fins and scales in the water, seas and streams, may not be eaten. 

What if a fish only has scales or fins ? Is the fish still kosher ?

The Mishna in Talmud Chullin 66 defines that kosher fish must have fins AND scales. Furthermore, variousTalmudic commentators discuss the meaning of scales. Example: Scales should be removed with a knife and in case the knife cannot remove those scales, there may be a doubt whether such scales can be considered scales. Some scales may be attached or even part of the skin and then there could be a doubt if such a fish is kosher. However, most fish we buy on markets have scales which can be easily removed by a knife.  

Fish or creatures from the sea which are not kosher: Shrimps, shells, crabs, eel or crayfish. 


Where are the skeletons of Noach's Generation dying in the Flood ?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tel Aviv "Diaspora Museum" is opening an exhibition on Eichmann kidnapping and trial


At the beginning of February 2012, the “Diaspora Museum – Beit HaTefuzot” located in Tel Aviv, is going to open an exhibition on the SS - murderer Adolf Eichmann. Furthermore, the Mossad is releasing secret documents to the wider public. Those documents will also be shown at the exhibition. 

Adolf Eichmann was arrested by Mossad agents in May 1960. He was flown from Buenos Aires to Israel where, later on, his trial took place. He was found guilty and was executed on 31 May 1962. 

For those who have never been to the Tel Aviv “Diaspora Museum”: It is definitely worth a visit. It is not only a religious museum but it shows the Jewish history of the Diaspora. How Jews used to live in different countries and the most extraordinary exhibition: Various small models of former Eastern European Synagogues. Most of those Synagogues were destroyed by the Nazis during the Second World War. It was very impressive seing the Synagogue of the Vilna Gaon which was also destroyed by the Germans. 

The "Diaspora Museum" is located in Ramat Aviv and the best way to get there is by taking bus no. 25 from King George Street in Tel Aviv. 

Photos from today's newspaper edition MA'ARIV

The Eichmann - Trial on Youtube

A little GUR (Ger) Propaganda


Chassidut GUR (Yiddish: GER) is the largest chassidic group in Israel. The Gerrer Rebbe lives in Bnei Brak but his largest Beit Midrash is located in Jerusalem. When you speak to a Gerrer Chassid and mention the Belzer, he will tell you that Gur is much more important than any Belzer or Vishnitzer in Israel.:-) 

Gur has very strict rules and too many outsiders are making the mistake by only looking at the Toldot Aharon, Satmar or any other member of the "Edah HaCharedit".The best books about Gur have been written by the Gerrer Chassid Yitzchak Alfassi who was also teaching at Tel Aviv University. 

Gur is a very closed society and it is almost impossible making the members talk about their own inner matters. Female members are not even allowed to talk to their friends about any insights on their marriage.

Today, Gur is a powerful group and the Rebbe is one of the wealthiest people in the country. Furthermore, Gur with Yaakov Litzman, is running the show of the Knesset party "Yahadut HaTorah".  

More details on GUR:


The Gur girl's seminary "Beit Yaakov" in Bnei Brak

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Chassidim in the Holocaust and Germany's Media Reports


This Friday, 27th January, the world is going to commemorate those millions of Jews who were killed by the Nazis during the Third Reich. On the one hand, Germany's media has been reporting against Faschism, Hitler, "Wannsee - Conference" and anything connected to the crimes carried out between 1933 - 1945. But, on the other hand, Germany's entire press still hates religious Jews and writes about them just like the anti - Semitic magazine "Der Stürmer". Only a left - wing Jew is a good Jew, this is how the German media thinks until today.

Chassidim during the Holocaust

Rambam: "Knowing G - d"


The Rambam (Maimonides, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, 1135 – 1204) lists in his “Mishna Torah” various basic Jewish principles. Already in the first paragraph of the Mishna Torah Tractate “Sefer Mada”, the Rambam states that the fundamental Jewish concept is to “know” G – d. “To know that G – d exists. To know that G – d is the creator of the universe and any existence. There was no one before Him and before the creation process, only G – d alone existed and nothing or nobody else". 

The question comes up why the Rambam uses the word “to know (Hebrew: YADA) G – d” and not “to believe in G – d”. 

First, man has to accept that there is a G – d. He must internalize that G – d is the creator of all existence. As soon as a person does accept the existence of G – d, he can continue to believe in Him and start doing Mitzvot. However, in Judaism it is extremely important to KNOW that there is a G – d but belief is not a condition. For instance, a Jew can accept that G – d exists but he doesn’t have to believe. Nevertheless, by acknowledging G – d, this particular Jew already follows the most basic principle in Judaism.

Sunday, January 22, 2012



An Israeli documentary on the Israeli Sephardi - haredi SHASS politician ELI YISHAI.

The documentary is in Hebrew only !

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"Escape from Sobibor"


On 27th January, the world, or, at least, parts of it, commemorate the liberation of the German Death Camp Auschwitz. Today, the day is called "Holocaust Remembrance Day". 

Due to the upcoming event I am putting the famous movie "Escape from Sobibor" into the Blog. 

"I am Jewish"


This is a great video every Jew should watch. May you agree or not, it does arouse a lot of Jewish pride in yourself. 

Shidduch Call


While I was trying very hard being a member of haredi society, different haredi friends were trying very hard getting me into their Shidduch “programmes”. I, on the other hand, wasn’t too interested, as I had enough difficulties managing my own daily religious life. As a Ba’al Teshuva (newly religious) you are mainly focusing on your own actions and I found it too hard listening to on another person whining. I have had enough problems with myself and didn’t want another person around telling me his difficulties in life. This way, I always escaped any Shidduch attempts successfully. 

Once I had two and sometimes three other female Ba’al Teshuva flatmates, and all of them were extremely busy finding their right match. One evening the phone was ringing and I answered. Another Shidduch guy was calling for one of the flatmates. I told him that she is not at home and he can call again later. 

I was about to hang up but he started asking me how this particular flatmate looks. If she is thin or fat, tall or short and what I think about her. Actually I found that quite disgusting and told him that he can call and ask her himself. 

“So, how about you”, he continued. “Are you looking for anyone ? Would you like to meet me because you sound interesting ?” 

I just hung up and didn’t tell anything to the flatmate who, later on, went out to meet that guy. 

By the way, it didn’t work out between them anyway. I was just surprised about the Chutzpah of this guy. Maybe I should have asked him whether he is thin or fat but one thing I can tell for sure: He was definitely stupid.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Brooklyn: Christian Missionaries target Haredim


It is always surprising how Christian missionaries love to turn around Jewish ideologies in order to justify their own ridiculous self - invented idol - worship religion. 

Now missionaries are planning to build a new center in Flatbush / New York. Maybe using the new book written by Shmuel Boteach who incredibly helped fanatic Christians getting new ideas about how to target Jews. 

In Israeli haredi circles, Shmuel Boteach got a new name: "The Priest". 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Parashat Va'era: "Small and big Miracles"

 Seen in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem

Photo: Miriam Woelke 

At the beginning of this week's Torah Parasha, Parashat VA'ERA, G - d informs Moshe that the forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov only new one of His names: E - L  SHAD - DAI. According to the Ramban (Nachmanides), G - d acts under the name of E - L SHAD - DAI when He causes a "minor" miracle. Meaning, a miracles not causing a change in nature. Instead, the miracle occurs in accordance with nature and, many times, people don't even notice it. The forefather did. They did notice smaller miracles when they were saved from famines or the worst enemies and didn't ask for THE big miracle where G - d appears like the super hero. 

Moshe, on the other hand, got to know G - d under the highest name: Y - H - V - H. According to the ZOHAR, this is the name G - d used when He created the universe. However, there are opinions that our forefathers knew all kinds of different names of G - d but didn't ask for anything else but E - L SHAD - DAI. They simply didn't see a need for a huge almighty G - d but rather lived their lives. 

In the times of Moshe, G - d appeared under a different name in order to change nature and let bigger miracles happen. Miracles the whole world would know about, as they were obvious for everyone. The "Ten Plagues", for instance or "Yetziat Mitzraim - The Exodus". The Man or Miriam's Well in the desert. Miracles we can not even imagine today, let alone grasp. 

However, until today we are making the mistake of searching for huge and visible miracles. G - d should act and show us something impressive and not only providing us with enough food. Instead of acknowledging and being grateful for smaller miracles happening to each of us on a daily basis, we are searching for a G - dly lottery win. Another splitting of the sea instead of thanking G - d for granting us another day of life or not to be run over by a car. For going into the supermarket and buying some food instead of sitting in the street begging. 

Where is our appreciation today ? In the days of Internet, Smartphones and Youtube ? We are striving for the perfect Internet speed, more technology and a convenient life but what we don't see are all those tiny little miracles happening to us every day. Surfing through Facebook won't bring us satisfaction and happiness but sitting down and thinking about life and how everything somehow worked out and makes sense, does. When we want to make a phone call, we don't need the latest iPhone but any phone. Even the one for a few Shekels or Dollars. The same applies to miracles: I don't need the most gigantic miracle when a little money for a meal is enough.

STRANGERS - An Israeli Short Movie

Häagen - Dazs ice cream no longer kosher

Chassidishe Tanz (Dance)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Woman who wanted to be Haredi

 Seen in Bnei Brak (near Tel Aviv)

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Today I cannot even tell where exactly I met this woman. A single mother, maybe in her early fourties. The mother of a little daughter who, one day, walked into a Jerusalem coffee shop and sat down in order to enjoy her cup of coffee. A Haredi at her age was sitting at the table next to her's and somehow they ended up talking.

When a member of the haredi society hears about such an incident, the usual reaction is: "Well, the guy is not really religious". "He may be a pervert or just nuts". "Definitely something wrong with him". 

When the woman told me her story, I explained that, under normal circumstances, no haredi man would start talking to a strange woman sitting in a coffee shop. If there was anything strange about the guy ?

The woman said NO, nothing strange and he turned out to be an honest man. Apparently interested in her and even prepared to marry her and accept the daughter. However, there was only one condition: She, the secular woman, had to become haredi. Not right away like today eating at a non - kosher Mac Donald's and tomorrow joining the Mea Shearim women's club. He had asked her for a gradual change. Slowly, slowly, Teshuva, modest clothes, skirts, long sleeves, etc. 

I asked her whether she would be aware of what that means. She wasn't, as she didn't know the haredi side of life. 

"Are you willing to do it?" I asked.

"Yes", she replied and I saw her eyes shining with all kinds of excitements. No doubt, she was in love. 

I have never seen her again but hope that it worked out.

Pedophiles in Nachlaot (Jerusalem)


Last Friday's edition of Israel's no. 1 newspaper "Israel Hayom - Israel Today" a long article about a pedophile gang operating in Jerusalem's Nachlaot neighbourhood was published. First I couldn't believe what I read. Nachlaot ? The rather romantic side of Jerusalem located next to the Machane Yehudah Market ? Pedophiles in Nachlaot ? How can this be ? I have lived in Nachlaot and also worked there but didn't notice anything. Who can look behind the walls and closed curtains ? Crime can happen anywhere. Even in the most romantic location on earth. 

According to "Israel Hayom", between 50 - 100 children have become victims of a pedophile gang in Nachlaot. The paper didn't mention whether also kids from the local haredi community are involved. However, according to some parents, a few gang members are not Jewish but, once again, the paper failed to report about the origin of those pedophiles. 

Many parents spoke about their children becoming victims but the police claim that too many of those parents tried to solve the problem themselves. Further, the police state that some of the accused pedophiles don't know each other and thus, could not have worked together as a gang. There may be only one accused person of being guilty but if so, he didn't abuse 50 - 100 children but maybe "only" a couple. In other words, the police don't believe that all those children were abused and the cops state that some accusations may only be "Lashon HaRah - Slander" against those people being accused to be pedophiles.


Photos: Miriam Woelke

See further details as well as the newspaper article translated into English here: