Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Underneath Jerusalem's CHORDS BRIDGE

Jerusalem and its "CHORDS BRIDGE". 
For those of you who may not see it: The shape of the bridge is supposed to represent a harp. In reference to King David. You will definitely stumble over the bridge while entering Jerusalem / Corner Herzl Boulevard. 

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Sium HaSHASS in Jerusalem


Every seven years, the cycle of studying the entire SHASS (Daf Yomi of the Talmud) is finished. Such a Sium is always a big event and thousands of Haredim were on their way to different celebration places in Jerusalem yesterday. 

Here are a few pictures in order to give you an impression:

See all pictures HERE !

Torah and Prayers without Kavanah


The Baal Shem Tov was once standing at the entrance of a certain Beit Midrash where the local Jews invited him to enter. However, the holy chassidic Master refused to enter the Beit Midrash and the Jews started asking him for the reason. 

"Because your Beit Midrash is full of Torah and Prayers which don’t leave me any space to enter !" responded the Baal Shem Tov. 

Suddenly the Jews understood his reason. A Jew who is deeply involved in studying Torah and praying to G – d should do so with a certain level of Kavanah (concentration). 

If you just learn and pray as a habit and without any deeper emotions and the intention of feeling the closeness to G – d, your prayers don’t go up to the Creator but remain down here in the lowest world of Asiyah. 

In the case of this particular Beit Midrash, the local Jews were studying and praying but did so without the necessary Kavanah. Thus, their prayers didn’t rise to the upper worlds and remained in the Beit Midrash. The Baal Shem Tov felt it and, therefore, refused to enter the building. 


I have heard this Baal Shem Tov story at different occasions and the narrators always claimed that it was a Reform Synagogue. However, I read the original story today (the Baal Shem Tov on Parashat Va’etchanan) where there is no mentioning of any Reform background. It also cannot really be this way, as the Reform movement came into existence much later.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Bits and Pieces of Chassidism


Although there is the famous claim that the Baal Shem Tov (1698 – 1760) was the founder of the chassidic movement, the basic idea of the movement consisted much much earlier. Already during Temple times, Kavanot, different ways of spirituality and closeness to G – d were a very common practise. Many centuries later, Jewish Orthodoxy in Eastern Europe concentrated on its leaders. A common Jew hardly knew anything about his religion but relied on the Rabbis. He prayed, kept kosher and the holidays but only a very few people studied Judaism in depths. The result was that Jewish spirituality got separated from the ordinary Jewish population. The Jewish leaders, on the other hand, treated their religion and the Torah study as an intellectual matter rather than involving their feelings. 

In the 17th century, the Baal Shem Tov revealed his mission and especially attracted ordinary Jews by letting them know that every one of us has a certain way and potential in order to connect to the Creator. Kavanah, feelings, emotions rather than only intellectual studies. However, the Baal Shem Tov did neither neglect nor reject higher Jewish studies such as Talmud or Halachot. 

 Signature of the BESHT

The first group of Chassidim were the students of the Baal Shem Tov and slowly, slowly, Chassidism spread all over Eastern Europe. White Russia had its Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (Alter Rebbe of the later Lubavitcher movement). Poland had its Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhansk and his student the Seer (Chozeh) of Lublin. 

Seen at the National Jewish Library Exhibition in Jerusalem

Photo: Miriam Woelke

From Lublin and the Chozeh over the Pryzsucha Movement – each chassidic community led a different internal lifestyle. Ideologies, spiritual orientations and identities were not always the same. The most famous example may be Rabbi Shneur Zalman who put many of his own interpretations into the teachings of the Maggid of Mezritch or the dispute between Lublin and Rabbi Simcha Bunim. When you look at the massive amount of chassidic literature being today, you may faint. Huge volumes of literature and in order to get a tiny idea, you already need a few years of study. In order to understand Chassidim and Chassidism it is essential to study chassidic writings. 

Until today, many chassidic groups are proud of their direct line to the Baal Shem Tov. Just look at Rabbi Nahum of Chernobyl, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, the Maggid or Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz. Only very few groups do not have a direct line such as, for instance, Toldot Aharon. 

Nevertheless, all chassidic groups have in common that their ideology is based on the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. Furthermore, all of those groups follow the ZADDIK concept. Some more and some less. As we know from history, Rabbi Elimelech and the Seer of Lublin were those who enthusiastically stressed the Zaddik Concept whereas Rabbi Simcha Bunim saw the Zaddik’s task from a very different perspective.

The Baal Shem Tov on Va'etchanen

 Mount Herzl / Jerusalem

Photo: Miriam Woelke

The Baal Shem Tov stresses the daily Torah learning. Nevertheless, this should be done with commentaries in order to provide us with understanding. A Jew should refrain from studying Torah, Talmud etc. without commentators because he could be in danger of interpreting things wrong. 

The daily learning gives us strength, Simcha and minimizes strange thoughts.

Birkat HaGomel and should I be totally frum now

Nature in Jerusalem

Photo: Miriam Woelke


I am still having a few difficulties grasping that I am still alive. I was tremendously lucky that the Egged bus didn't crush me to death and that I was, more or less, only slightly injured. After leaving hospital, I said Birkat HaGomel. Thanking G - d for helping me out of a life danger. However, the question may be whether one surviving a certain incident now has the obligation of becoming totally frum. Do I owe this to G - d and was this His intention by showing me where my "real" path is going to be ?

Personally, I am not sure and I better don't start questioning. I think that G - d and me  know very well that I am not this frummy type. I am anything but "obsessed" with prayer and constantly saying "Baruch HaShem". Although I actually do use the latter expression quite a lot. Surviving an accident doesn't necessarily mean putting on a skirt and running back to haredi society.

Of course, I am asking myself why this happened to me and why the bus just dragged me but didn't crush me. The truth is that I don't have an answer. A chassidic friend of mine would say that my laptop got crushed because G - d wanted me to show that the Internet is bad or that I shouldn't use Zionist (Egged) buses. Well, just kidding, but the truth is that everyone, including myself, may find a different explanation. However, reality is that none of us knows G - d's intentions and thoughts. 

What I am going to do is enjoy life and avoid getting stressed and worn out. Despite all kinds of problems and difficulties in life we should never forget the beauty. There are actually other things besides a career, job, laptop, money or reputation. Once you find yourself in a very difficult position where neither money nor being famous will help you out, you may come to the realization that you need some good friends (and G - d) standing beside you. Therefore, take yourself time to live your own life and don't get dragged into a routine where only materialism counts. Suddenly, one day,  you could start regretting having wasted your precious time on earth with too much vanity.

Photos of the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital (Jerusalem)


This week I am finally going to publish the detailed description of the Jerusalem Egged Bus Accident taking place three weeks ago. I am getting better but the 19 - year - old girl who was crushed between two Egged buses is still laying at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem. This week I am going to visit her again. Hopefully I will be able to talk to her. Last week when I was at the hospital I was able to speak to her mother while her daughter was undergoing surgery fixing her broken pelvis.

Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital is located outside Jerusalem and is a huge building complex almost looking like a town. Inside the hospital buildings you can find a post office, an office for tourist patients, cafes, a bank, a travel agency and even a councelling office in case one cannot pay his hospital bill. Not all costs are covered by the health care and I advise every Israeli citizen to get an additional care which is only a few Shekels more. 

In the middle of the Jerusalem Forest: The complex of the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital

Photos: Miriam Woelke



Once again, I want to thank you for all kinds of comments and e - mails wishing me a "Refuah Shlemah". I am recovering and even the pain of the bruised back and ribs is getting less and less. The pain hasn't disappeared totally but I am optimistic.

Unfortunately, I haven't found the time responding to all those sending me e - mails and it will take a while. However, I want to mention one incident receiving a rude mail from a woman complaining why I had the Chutzpah in not responding to her right away. Regarding this case I would like to respond now: There are actually people in this world who are sick and laying in hospitals. It is not a Chutzpah not answering the e - mail but it is a Chutzpah stepping on all those people who are actually ill. 

I consider this blog as a Jewish religious one and those who don't understand the actual meaning of the content should either reconsider their way of understanding or read somewhere else where people respond even if they are on their "deathbed".

How Syrian rebels manipulate the international media


On www.rotter.net I found some interesting information on how the Syrian rebels manipulate the international media. I am neither an Assad nor a rebel fan but just find it frightening that Al Khaida and further Arab terrorist organizations have been taking an active part on the side of the rebels. Thus, Syria is not going to turn into a democracy but what is waiting for us is another Ayatollah terrorist state.

Just like the Assad Regime, Syrian rebels are not afraid of using Photoshop and thus manipulating reality. The above photo (left) shows the original picture where Russian tanks gather near Georgia (Russia). The Syrian rebels, however, took are using the same picture claiming that Syrian tanks are gathering (see faked photo on the right).

Even the Austrian KRONEN ZEITUNG took over a photoshop from Syria.

We see the original photo on the right and the manipulated photo on the left (including the article from the KRONEN ZEITUNG).

The Syrian rebels have their agenda, so has Assad and so has the international media. The question is how far the readers are able to believe the news.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Jerusalem during the Second Temple Period


The Israel Museum in Jerusalem and its permanent exhibition of the city of Jerusalem during the times of the Second Temple.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Going to Yeshiva

Going to Yeshiva

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Tisha be'Av and Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi


Tisha be'Av is coming up this Mozzaei Shabbat and I don't even feel anything about the nine days. Instead I am busy with curing some further injuries being caused in the bus accident more than two weeks ago. Bruised ribs on both sides of the body is anything but pleasant. 

Yesterday was a bad day and I was full of pain. I took some "Dr. Feelgood" but still didn't know how to sit or lay down. I am really looking forward to making normal movements again.:-) Later on today, I am going for physiotherapy and maybe this helps a bit.

I was planning to prepare some articles but, once again, have to delay my description about the accident. Instead, a friend of mine, has written something very recommendable on her blog:

Tisha be'Av is ahead and I don't think that anyone could possibly feel the pain of the destruction of the Temples more than in Jerusalem. On Erev Tisha be'Av, the Kotel (Western Wall) will be filled with thousands of mourning Jews. Jews sitting on the floor of the Kotel Plaza and reading Kinot. Many of them even bring pillows or, believe it or not, mattresses, in order to spend the night at the Kotel. 

With a friend I am going to participate in the march around the Old City walls organized by the "Women in Green". Afterwards we are planning to go to a Shiur. Almost on every corner of Jerusalem you find different Shiurim throughout the night. 

Last night I went to my regular Shiur where we usually study Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi's opinion on Eretz Israel. However, Rabbi Chaim Eisen had put together a few Piyutim (poems) written by Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi. The Piyutim (some verses are part of the Kinot) were describing the tragic massacres of the Crusaders in 1099. As soon as the Crusaders entered Jerusalem on their First Crusade, all Jews and Muslims were killed by them. Furthermore, Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi wrote Piyutim on the massacres taking place in Toledo (Spain). Shortly after, he left Spain for Eretz Israel. According to Rabbi Yehudah, a Jew should YEARN for the return to Eretz Israel. He sees it as one of the biggest Mitzvot to live in Israel. After the massacres of thousands of Jews through Christians and Muslims in Toledo, Rabbi Yehudah came to the conclusion that the Diaspora is not a place for a Jew. A Jew should always strive for living in Israel, as this is the only place where he belongs. 

Diaspora Jews usually don't like to hear this but, in my opinion, Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi was right. Unfortunately too many Jews abroad were and are still not willing to give up their comfortable and convenient lifestyle. Just like those Jews remaining in Babylon while others moved back to Jerusalem and rebuilt the Temple.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How Angels look


One of my German readers asked me the following question:

What do ANGELS look like ?

My answer to this question only comprises the Jewish point of view ! 

Generally speaking, many famous Rabbis such as the Baal Shem Tov or the Rambam do not consider the angels as independent entities but as a symbolic expression of the different powers and actions of G - d. Thus angels do not exist individually but are rather part of G - d's inner being. 

The Talmud condemns human made images of angels as idol - worship. We are not allowed to draw or create any shape or form of an angel. As a result of that, people may be tempted to worship and angel and thus get involved into idol - worship.

A contradiction could be that  two Cheruvim were placed on top of the Ark (Aron HaKodesh). I once heard that, in this case, there exists a special explanation why those two angels were put onto the Ark. However, I haven't really dealt with the subject yet but, as far as I remember, Masechet Bava Batra brings up various explanations on the Cheruvim. 

A few further articles on the subject:

Yahrzeit of the ARI: "Photos from the Zfat (Safed) Cemetery"


I am preparing a few stories about the famous medieval Kabbalist, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, whose Yahrzeit we are commemorating today. Unfortunately I am not in Zfat today but can imagine how busy the cemetery must be today.

Prayer at the women's side of the ARI's grave

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Nevertheless, what has been bothering me throughout the year while visiting the cemetery: A couple of beggars hanging around at the grave of the ARI and going on everyone's nerves. They don't leave you alone unless you either give them a few Shekels or yell at them, as I did.:-)

Here are some photos from the Zfat Cemetery:

Plenty of Material


Because of the bus accident and me being injured, I have missed out lots of haredi news and further topics. Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv passed away at the age of 102, a couple of Yahrzeits of important Rabbis have been taking place in the meantime. Let alone the Parshot.

Today is another important Yahrzeit: The Kabbalist, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, passed away on 5 Av 1572. Due to this Yahrzeit, I am delaying the detailed report about the Jerusalem Bus Accident until tomorrow !

Gender Separation at Israel Museum Exhibition


The ISRAEL MUSEUM in Jerusalem is running a special exhibition on CHASSIDIM. I haven’t been there yet because I don’t care too much about Chassidic clothes and other items. A Kaftan (chassidic coat) can be long or shorter; it may have three or four buttons. I don’t care. What I am interested in are chassidic writings and ideology in order to advance my own religious life. In order to learn something and, up to certain degree, improve myself. This is why I am interested in Chassidut and not because I love Scheitels or Hungarian white socks.

Most of the books I read on the subjects were written by chassidic Rabbis. By Chassidim or those who used to be Chassidim and know society and ideology. I hardly ever read content written by outsiders or university professors. Their writings drive me nuts after having read three pages because you simply feel that those authors have no idea about society. Just to give you a brief example: I love the books written by Yitzchak Alfassi who is a Gerrer Chassid but also teaching at Tel Aviv University.

However, ISRAEL MUSEUM has received lots of publicity by announcing that a gender separation would be introduced for the special CHASSIDIM exhibition. This way, many more haredi visitors would come to the event. 

To be honest: Many of the Chassidim I know would neither go to the Israel Museum nor to any exhibition. They live their chassidic lives in Mea Shearim or elsewhere in Jerusalem and are simply not interested in finding themselves in a museum. I can just hear what a friend of mine would say if I suggested to her going to the exhibition. Then I get to listen to a whole lecture on Zionist organizations and buildings …:-)

Street Scene in Jerusalem: Kanfe'i Nesharim - Yemin Avot Junction

This morning: Junction Kanfe'i Nesharim Street / Yemin Avot in the Kiryat Moshe neighbourhood (Jerusalem). 

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Monday, July 23, 2012

Is MEGILLATH EICHA still being studied in the days of Meshiach ?


Is MEGILLATH EICHA still being studied in the days of Meshiach ? 

An interesting question, as most of us think that, once Meshiach has arrived, the Torah be will the same and valid eternally. However, Yom Kippur will be cancelled because there is no need for atonement anymore. People won’t even think about going against G – d. Jews and Gentiles alike. 

And yes, in the days of Meshiach, there will still be Jews and Gentiles but no more Gentile idol – worship such as Buddhism, Krishna or Christianity. With the arrival of Meshiach, the world will recognize ONE G – d. 

But coming back to the question: 

Is the Jewish world still going to study the "Book of Eicha" after Meshiach’s arrival ? 

The answer I found is YES. The Megillah is part of the Tanach and nothing from the Tanach may be erased, added or changed. And it is especially the study of the "Book of Eicha" making us even more appreciate the Ge’ulah (Redemption). Otherwise we may forget in what great times we live once Meshiach is there.

Traditional Tisha be'Av walk around the Old City Walls


As in previous years, the traditional Tisha be'Av March around the Old City Walls is, once again, taking place this Mozzaei Shabbat .

See the poster and all details at the link below:


The WOMEN IN GREEN are a Zionist group fighting against disengagemnt, giving Jewish land to the Palestinians and asking for a Jewish reign over the Temple Mount (Har HaBayit). 

Although the head of the group, Nadja Matar, is doing lots of demonstrating, sometimes, however, she reminds me of a ONE WOMAN SHOW. She likes to get attention. This, at least, is my own personal impression. 

Nevertheless, I always like to participate in the march, as this is the only time of the year when Jews are free to enter parts of Palestinian East Jerusalem. Usually Palestinians have unlimited access to all parts of Jerusalem but when it comes to the Jewish population, we should rather not dare to enter a Palestinian neighbourhood. In this case, you may find your head rolling down the road. 

View over the Jerusalem Forest and the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital

See the huge complex of the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in the background. Surrounded by the Jerusalem Forest and the Ein Kerem neighbourhood.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Sunday, July 22, 2012

UPDATE: EGGED Bus Accident July 9, 2012

 Sha'arei Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Before I start publishing a detailed report about the tragic Egged bus accident taking place right outside Jerusalem's Central Bus Station, I would like to give you an important update. As I have already written, I was also injured in this accident but not as severe as the young woman who got crushed in between two buses. 

My injuries are slowly healing but my mind was always with this 19 - year - old American girl whose first name is Jordan. I saw her in this horrifying position stuck between the buses and since, I have been asking myself whether she survived and if yes, how is she recovering.

Today I went to the hospital where she is still kept in intensive care. I was allowed to speak to her mother and, Baruch HaShem, Jordan is recovering slowly. She is suffering from severe injuries such as a broken pelvis and has to undergo further surgery. Her mother invited me to come back next week and then speak to her daughter.

I am glad I went to the hospital in order to find out what is going on. However, it is disgraceful how EGGED is dealing with the situation. Neither myself nor Jordan and her family have ever heard from Egged but, instead, we are forced to take lawyers who have to deal with Egged's insurance to get us compensation. No word from Egged itself. So, be prepared in order a bus may be rolling over you.

Furthermore, the media hardly reported about this particular incident witnessed by at least 100 bystanders. Hopefully, beginning with tomorrow, I am going to publish a fully description on the incident.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rosh Chodesh MENACHEM AV


Last Friday was Rosh Chodesh (Menachem) AV and made the Jewish world entering the nine days before Tisha be'Av. The Jewish month of Av stands for plenty of tragedies throughout Jewish history and I am always glad when this month is over. The only thing I do during the month of Av is looking forward to Elul. 

It was during the month of Av when the First World War began. The same with Hitler's Final Solution turning into reality.

On the 9th of Av, we are commemorating the destruction of the two Temples. The first time by the Babylonians and the second time by the Romans. Not too long ago, we read the weekly portion of "Shlach Lecha" telling us about Moshe sending out the spies in order to explore the land of Canaan. The spies returned and spoke in a slanderous way about the promised land. The Israelites began to cry and G - d said that there is nothing to cry about but from now on, He will give the Jews a reason to cry on that day. 

Nevertheless, it is up to us turning the month of Av into something positive. It is said that Meshiach will be born in the month of Av. In the times of the future Third Temple, Tisha be'Av is going to turn into a joyous day and we don't need to fast anymore.

Mourning about the Temples on Tisha be'Av

Also on Rosh Chodesh Av we commemorate the Yahrzeit of Aharon HaCohen, Moshe's and Miriam's brother. The day when Aharon passed away is explicitly mentioned in the Torah and the question is why ? Wasn't Moshe much more important than his brother ?

It says in the Torah that when Aharon died, ALL Israelites started to cry. It doesn't say so after Moshe and Miriam died. It goes without saying that the Jews were in mourning when they lost Miriam and Moshe but apparently not all of them. Aharon HaCohen was known for his great activities causing peace between two people fighting. As soon as there was a quarrel, Aharon started his job as a negotiator between the two parties.

The month of Av reaches its mourning peak on the ninth day, on Tisha be'Av. The day has almost the same Halachot as Yom Kippur with the exception that we are allowed to work, cook, go shopping, etc. However, with Rosh Chodesh, we are entering the final mourning period before Tisha be'Av and thus we are keeping additional laws:

1. New clothes should not be purchased during the nine days before Tisha be'Av. However, you are allowed to buy non - leather shoes for Tisha be'Av.

2. One should refrain from doing laundry.

3. Meat and wine are only consumed on Shabbat. At least until Tisha be'Av.

Ashkenazi Jewry is already starting tomorrow: As a sign of mourning, one should refrain from taking showers. However, in order to enjoy Shabbat, we are allowed to shower on Friday before Shabbat comes in. 

Sephardi Jews only stop taking showers on Mozzaei Shabbat before Tisha be'Av.  

5. No parties or festivities. No cinema and no music.

This week, on 5th Av, we are commemorating the Yahrzeit  of one of the most famous Kabbalists, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the ARI.

The Shabbat before Tisha be'Av, (28th July) is called "Shabbat Chazon".

According to the "Book of Creation" – Sefer Yetzirah", every Jewish month has its own tribe, letter, human organ, sense or horoscope.

The horoscope of the month of  Av is Leo, the letter is TED ט , the tribe is Shimon, the organ is the left kidney and the human sense is hearing. The latter comes from the spies when the Israelites heard their slander about the promised land. At the same moment when we hear something, we automatically differentiate between good and evil. 

Although the month of Av looks like a very bad month, we should never stop praying for the arrival of Meshiach.

Chodesh Tov – חודש טוב and have a great successful and healthy new month !!!


Traffic Chaos in Agrippas Street / Jerusalem


It has become harder to enjoy any freedom of space in downtown Jerusalem. Especially in the Nachlaot neighbourhood across the Machane Yehudah Market. 

Additional floors are being built on top of older buildings. Within the past years, Nachlaot has experienced a booming real estate demand whereas in previous years, in 2002 when I used to live there, a new flatmate could hardly be found. In those days, people looking for shared apartments rather preferred living in Old Katamon, the German Colony or the French Hill. Suddenly everything changed and now Nachlaot is the top address for sharing and new immigrants from the US buying houses. 

The hood has become an expensive area to live in. Carlebachers, self – appointed healers and artists, and now also plenty of Haredim have turned the former Kurdish and Moroccan immigrant slum into an overcrowded neighbourhood. Not only that but since Jerusalem’s new tram has started its job, almost the entire Egged bus traffic is going from King George / HaNevi’im Street through Agrippas Street up to the Central Bus Station. 

The Machane Yehudah Market is surrounded by Jaffa Road and by Nachlaot’s Agrippas Street on the other side. Agrippas Street is a long but narrow road and even before the buses came, the road was almost unable to manage all the car traffic. Let alone the masses of delivery trucks reaching the market every morning. Since last summer, the road has been constantly packed with thousands of Egged buses every day. Buses making their way from the Central Bus Station to Katamon, the outskirts, the German Colony, Talpiyot, Armon HaNatziv and vice versa. In times of rush hour, buses are standing in an endless line waiting to reach their destination which is the next bus stop across the Machane Yehudah Market. 

Right next to the road traffic, you find the sidewalks with thousands of people walking. Coming from the market with all their groceries, crossing the road in between the buses, bus stops located at the busy road … Agrippas Street has turned into a jungle. I rather prefer not to imagine a case where a bus is going wild, is having an accident and running into all those people on the sidewalks. 

Letting all the downtown traffic running through Agrippas is a big mistake but a real disaster has to happen until our Municipality may start thinking. Until then, people and buses continue making their way right next to each other.

I took all these photos last Thursday afternoon.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

The UN and Israel's Disengagement


What does the UN have to do with Israel's settlements and why is a special UN observer force necessary ? Who is observing whom and what ? Please also note that most UN employees stationed in Jerusalem are Arabs !
Strange UN vehicles are cruising through Jerusalem these days but hardly anyone seems to pay attention to the signs attached.

Photos: Miriam Woelke with special credit to FRUMLIFE who noticed the UN vehicles first.

Thursday, July 19, 2012



I am recovering from the accident. My back is badly bruised but it seems like I have to live with the pain for a while. However, I am in the middle of preparing new blog posts. Also about the bus accident where I was involved. My lawyer said that there is nothing wrong with writing details about the accident. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back after the Accident


A bus came rolling upon me last Monday evening. Location: Jerusalem, Central Bus Station. 

Three buses were involved in the accident and I got caught between two of them. One bus threw me against the second one and I was very lucky to have survived. Bruises and cuts, this is the result and I still suffer from the pain. However, my thoughts are with the young woman who got crushed between two buses. I saw her and it was a terrible experience being so full of pain and totally unable to help someone else. 

I was in hospital for one night due to my back injuries. Nothing was broken but bruised. However, I still have to manage with taking medication against the pain. Dr. Feelgood, so to speak. 

What I learned from this terrible incident ? That each of us needs to enjoy life. A day later I said BIRKAT HA'GOMEL with a friend although I know that one rather does this during the Torah reading. 

My decision, however, is to blog a bit less but concentrate on the book I am writing. Thus, I won't be blogging on a daily basis but 1 - 2 per week. More informative articles and getting my book together. 

Regarding the accident: The police are still investigating and I need to take a lawyer in order to deal with the legal stuff. What I won't do is concentrating on all the negative sides concerning life in Israel but rather on the positive. Society is not sending a bus after you every day.:-))) Meaning, Israeli society is not as bad as its reputation. 

It is necessary to look into the future in order to overcome the trauma and the shock of what kind of pictures I saw in the middle of the "bus battlefield". 

I want to dedicate this short article to the young American woman who is still hospitalized. I very much hope that her condition will improve !

Here a brief article about the bus accident:


getting healthy


thank you so much for all your good wishes. i will be back blogging soon. my health is improving, i have to deal with the pain and the rest will be dealt with among lawyers.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

no blogging for a while

this monday, i was involved in a very serious bus accident and have to thank g - d for still being alive. ambulance came, i was in hospital and now i am recovering. next week i will be back writing. as the police are still investigating, i will write details about the accident later. but i am definitely going to write about what happend.

Monday, July 9, 2012

New Clothes during the Bejn HaMetzarim


With yesterday's 17 Tammuz, the Jewish world has entered the three - week mourning period before Tisha be'Av. Those three weeks are referred to as BEJN HA'METZARIM but their task is not to make our lives miserable. Although we should remember the destruction of both Temples as well as the suffering of the Jerusalem population under the siege of the Babylonians and, later on, the Romans, our task is to do our own private CHESHBON NEFESH – Analyzing ourselves and how we relate to Mitzvot and G - d. Where are our mistakes and how can we slowly improve ourselves ?

Halacha commands us to follow certain laws during the Bejn HaMetzarim. One of those rules is that Jews don't get married until Tisha be'Av is over. Another rule is not to buy and to wear new clothes during those three weeks. Are we, at all, allowed buying or wearing new clothes during the Bejn HaMetzarim ? 

When we usually buy new clothes such as skirts, pants or shirts we say the "Sheyechiyanu" Bracha. However, we don't make Berachot on new shoes but some follow the custom symbolically marking the word AMALEK underneath their shoe. Like drawing the word with a finger. 

Nevertheless, are Jews allowed to buy and wear new clothes during the three weeks ?

The problem is not really the buying but wearing the new clothes. It says that one should refrain from wearing new clothes we usually make a blessing on. Underwear and socks don't need a Bracha and may be bought and worn during the three weeks. New shirts, pants or skirts may not be worn but can be bought. 

Some Rabbis even allow wearing new clothes until Rosh Chodesh Av !

Haredim and Arabs are joining the Israeli Army


Netanyahu decided that "Haredim & Israeli Arabs" have to join the army. The plan is to turn every single Israeli into a Zionist favouring a democratic system. 

For the past few weeks, the Israeli media just bombarded us with news against haredi society. Well, some journalists showed a bit of mercy for the haredi society and even wrote the daily reality no one else seems to take into consideration:

What is the army going to do with a few thousand more recruits ? At the moment, the Israeli army doesn't even have the capacity drafting all 18 - year old citizens who are willing to join. Plenty of them are being delayed because there is just not enough space. Furthermore, the government is not willing to provide special units for the haredi population. The present NACHAL HA'HAREDI has become a national religious unit and those two different groups don't go together. Not only because Haredim usually have a higher kashrut standard. 

The Haredim are already planning a demonstration of millions against the upcoming law. However, lets leave the Haredim but look at a more severe change in law. 

Israeli Arabs are due to be drafted into the army service too. The question is: Whom are they going to fight ? In case an Arab pilot is ordered to bomb Iran, he may prefer to rather dump his bomb on Tel Aviv.

This is just great for Arabs: They receive army weapons and military training. Let alone getting to know all military secrets. This is just perfect: The enemy will know about all the secrets and is thus able to lead a counterstrike. This way, the present State of Israel is going to commit suicide.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Christian Missionaries at the beach in Tel Aviv


I spent the day in Tel Aviv today and while walking along the beach promenade, two Russian missionary women came up to me. If I would like to have "something to read" and while asking, one of the women was reaching me a brochure. I knew they were Christian missionaries, as this is not the first time seeing them walking around. A bit more than a year ago I saw American tourists walking around trying to prostelyze Jews. 

The two Russian women today were targeting Jewish Israelis, as they first asked me whether I know Hebrew. It is high time that YAD le'ACHIM is sending out some of their volunteers to the beach area. Especially on Friday afternoons when the beaches are packed. 

I took two photos of those women

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Twilight in Jerusalem


Many of my photos may give you the impression that Jerusalem is a nice, clean and romantic town. Only part of this impression is true, as Jerusalem also its has ugly sides. Dirty, neglected and neighbourhoods where strangers shouldn't necessarily go to. The most "famous" bad neighbourhoods are Gonen / Katamonim around the Bar Yochai Street and Stern Street in Kiryat Yovel. 

Usually no tourist is going there anyway but from what tourists definitely should refrain is walking around in East Jerusalem after the sun went down. If you have to, at least, leave your cash and smartphone in the hotel safe.

Nevertheless, here are a few more photos showing the positive side of Jerusalem:

A street where I used to live some years ago.  Deep downtown Jerusalem and I was really happy there. Once, Chavazelet Street used to be the main connection between the Russian Compound / HaNevi'im Street area but today, the entire street has turned into a shopping mall with nice little cafes.

Twilight in Jerusalem

Photos: Miriam Woelke