Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chag Sameach !!!

Seen in Jerusalem

Copyright / Photo: Miriam Woelke

Sukkot Forecast


Sukkot is starting tonight and I just bought my Lulav and Etrog. Everything is ready for the Chag. Being in Jerusalem on Sukkot is just great and in order to transfer the tremendous Jerusalem Yom Tov atmosphere to the Diaspora Jewry, I am going to put lots of pictures and videos into this blog. From the BIRKAT HA'COHANIM to Mea Shearim. 

Apropos Mea Shearim, this year there won't be a gender separation in Mea Shearim Street but many chassidic groups won't let any outsiders participating in the Simchat Beit Ha'Shoeva celebrations. The reason is very simple: Mea Shearim will be flooded with Jewish visitors over the Chag and if all Synagogues let in everybody, there wouldn't be space for the chassidic group members anymore. 

Here, for instance, is the announcement of Toldot Aharon not to let outsiders participating in the Simchat Beit Ha'Shoeva:

Seen in Mea Shearim

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Last Thursday night, I participated in a Hachnasat Sefer Torah at the Chabad House in Rehavia (Jerusalem). The local Shaliach there is Rabbi Israel Goldberg. It was a great celebrations and I am going to put lots of pictures as well as a few videos into the blog in the course of this week. 

Hachnasat Sefer Torah in Chabad - Rehavia

Photo: Miriam Woelke

One of the ARBA MINIM markets in Jerusalem. I am going to publish more photos as well as a video !

And, of course, the Simchat Beit Ha'Shoeva celebrations in Mea Shearim will be a huge subject. 

Photo: Miriam Woelke

I haven't seen it in years. I think the last time may have been back in 1996 or 1997. The weather forecast for Sukkot includes RAIN. It already started raining last night and despite the heat of 33 degrees Celsius, winter is slowly crawling in.:-)

The Talmud states that rain on Sukkot is a bad sign but there is also a Machloket. I just hope that the weather is finally cooling down and we actually do need plenty of rain. 

Have a great Chag, Chag Sameach and Git Yom Tev !!!

A kosher Sukkah in Auschwitz


Every Sukkot, Rabbi Mordechai Machlis keeps on telling the same story about a kosher Sukka in Auschwitz. He does it for his family and his many many guests.

This story is about his friend and teacher Rabbi Yitzchak Traube. Rabbi Machlis always concludes with the words that he does not know whether anything similar ever happened or whether this story has ever been published before. Listeners are always shocked. I want to share the story with others in remembrance of Rabbi Yitzchak Traube.

Rabbi Yitzchak Traube was imprisoned in the Auschwitz death camp for quite a while. Every morning, he and other prisoners were forced to walk along a certain road within the camp in order to get to work. The festival of Sukkot was approaching, and as Rabbi Traube walked along the road when he saw little branches laying there. He looked aside and saw a building which looked more like a ruin. Only the walls were left but without a roof. From now on, every day he pushed with his feet more and more branches to the side of the road. He had to be very careful because the guards might suspect something. 

On Erev Sukkot, he left his barrack and ran to the place where he had pushed the branches. One cannot imagine in what danger he was. Leaving the barrack at night and being caught meant instant death. However, the rabbi was lucky. He put the branches over the walls, and this way he built a kosher Sukkah. Additionally, he had saved up some bread which he ate. 

In the middle of Auschwitz, he fulfilled the Mitzvah of making a blessing on food and sitting in a kosher Sukkah.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

LULAV Photos from Jerusalem

Lulav Market in Jerusalem

Photo: Miriam Woelke

It is time to purchase Lulav and Etrog and I am already starting to panic because today is Thursday and tomorrow Shabbat is coming in. Tonight I am planning to participate in a "Hachnasat Sefer Torah" at a Chabad House in downtown Jerusalem. Special guest will be Israel's Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger. I am going to make photos as well as a video. 

Nevertheless, if nothing is working out today or tomorrow, I am definitely going to buy my Lulav and Etrog on Sunday morning. Not in Mea Shearim though because they don't allow any women into the Arba Minim markets.:-) The reason is: Zniut, as male and female could mingle and, in the crowd, touch each other. 

The best time to spend Sukkot is in Jerusalem. Birkat HaCohanim, festivals in the Jewish Quarter (bring your own food otherwise you get ripped - off), shaking the Lulav and, of course, the celebrations in Mea Shearim. Unfortunately, Mea Shearim has been closing down its Sukkot Tishes for the wider public, as it has gotten far too crowded over the years. When me and a friend started to go Tishing a few years ago, everything worked out fine. However, a few months later, groups started walking in and self - appointed secular researchers sneaking around ruined the entire atmosphere. The good thing is that I have friends in the neighbourhood and a bit of insider information where to go. 

Here are a few links to Lulav pictures one and two years ago:

My neighbours are ready for Sukkot.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Jew should look at his First - Class - Ticket


Last night, I went to Chabad for KOL NIDRE and left the Synagogue more than excited. First of all, I liked the service very much but the Rabbi also told a few great chassidic stories and I would like to share one of those stories with you, as it is extremely inspiring.

There once was a poor Jew called Moshke. He had absolutely no money and was hardly able to support his family with his small income. In order to get to work, Moshke had to take a train. Walking would have been too far but he couldn't afford buying a train ticket. What he did was getting on the train and hiding himself under one of the backbenches in the last wagon. Hopefully no conductor would discover him and ask for a ticket.

Everything went well until, one day, Moshke won the lottery. He was so glad that, finally, he was able to buy a ticket just like everyone else. Now he was a rich man but, after buying the ticket and getting onto the train, he, again, hid himself under the bench in the last wagon. This time a conductor discovered him but Moshke stretched out his hand with the ticket. The conductor looked at the ticket and said: "What are you doing here ? This is a First - Class - Ticket and you are sitting under a bench in the regular department".

What we should learn from the story is that every Jew has a First - Class - Ticket in his hand but we have to use it. Instead of feeling so low we should stand up straight and use our G - dgiven potential in every way. Don't make yourself so terribly low and meaningless but show your self - confidence !

Pictures from Jerusalem: "Talpiyot, Gilo, Malcha & Machane Yehudah"


Yom Kippur is over and countless Jews in Jerusalem are following the tradition of building their Sukkah for the upcoming Sukkot (on Sunday night).

However, here are a few photos beyond Sukkot:

View from Talpiyot to Gilo

View from Talpiyot to the Malcha neighbourhood (in the background)

Industrial Zone Talpiyot / Jerusalem

Near the Machane Yehudah Market

Machane Yehudah Market

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Achmadinejad at the UN

Today, also Goebbels or Hitler would be allowed to speak at the UN !

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Shana Tova ve'Gmar ve'Chatimah Tova to all Jews !

Kapparot Revenge

Chabad Kapparot at Jerusalem's Machane Yehudah Market this morning.

Rebbe posters at Jerusalem's bus stops. Chabad (Lubavitch) wishes a happy and sweet New Year, as well as a speedy redemption, to all Jews.

Erev Yom Kippur shopping at the Machane Yehudah Market

Seen in Jaffa Road / Jerusalem

Copyright / Photos: Miriam Woelke

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik: "How negative events can cause new Opportunities"


It is anything but easy figuring out the Soloveitchik family. In order to get a picture, I have been collecting books, photos and plenty of articles. The strange thing is that modern Jewry and the national religious movement mainly concentrate on Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (died in 1993). Don't get confused with the "Beit HaLevi" because here I am referring to the philosopher Joseph B. Soloveitchik.

Haredi Jewry often quotes the Brisker Rav as well as all the other Brisker Soloveitchiks. I am interested in both directions but do prefer the Brisker family tree.

As Yom Kippur is right ahead, I would like to share a Soloveitchik story about how we can learn from negative events.

As far as I know, the first Rabbi Soloveitchik mentioned was Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik who lived in the days of Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin. It was in Slobodka (Vilijampolė) / Lithuania where Reb Moshe was running a successful lumber business. He had inherited all his wealth from his parents but one day, he just lost the business and all his money. 

The Jews in town started speculating about why Rabbi Moshe had lost his business. How could it be that G - d took all the money from him leaving him a poor man ? Of course, people started guessing and some came to the conclusion that Rabbi Moshe may have not given enough Zedakah. However, there was no definitive answer, as we don't know G - d's thoughts and intentions.

After loosing his business, Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik didn't  really know what to do with himself and started learning at the local Beit Midrash. After some time had passed, he and other Jews noticed how talented he actually is with his Torah studies. He became an excellent scholar founding the great rabbinical Soloveitchik dynasty. 

If Rabbi Moshe hadn't lost his wealth, he would have carried on with his business without entering a Beit Midrash and discovering his real talent and task in life. Because he lost his business, he got the great opportunity of starting something new and even founded a rabbinic dynasty. 

From this we can learn that not everything negative happening to us should get us into depression. Sometimes we must loose somethin in order to find a new way in our life. We may be successful in one field and think that this is it. However, what if it turns out being a dead end and, in the end, we are left with nothing. Hopefully we get over it and start something new. Start a new life and suddenly we realize that loosing something valuable in the past wasn't the end of the world but a new opportunity for the future.

Later on, Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin chose Rabbi Moshe's son, Rabbi Yosef Soloveitchik, to marry his daughter Rielka. The beginning of the Soloveitchik dynasty. 


The Brisker Rav by Rabbi Shimon Yosef Meller

Yom Kippur 5773 / 2012 Times Jerusalem

At the Kotel (Western Wall)

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Tomorrow afternoon the highest Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, is going to begin. The official Yom Kippur times for Jerusalem are:

Candle Lighting Yom Ha'Kippurim: 4.56pm (16.56)

Yom Kippur, the fast, ends on Wednesday night at 6.06pm (18.06). 

Please be aware that all Egged buses will stop running at 2pm tomorrow (Tuesday) ! Those of you who are planning to travel should do so early in the morning. Furthermore, restaurants and shops are going to close around the same time. At 2pm. Even in secular Tel Aviv !

In case you are in Jerusalem, you are Jewish and still don't have a place for "Kol Nidre" or the actual service including "Ne'ilah" on Wednesday, there are different places in the Old City where you can go. From Aish Ha'Torah to the Heritage House / Jeff Seidel / Aish Programme to Chabad (Zemach Zedek). Not to forget the Sephardic Center in the Jewish Quarter or Rabbi Israel Goldberg, the Chabad Shaliach in Rehavia.

Yom Kippur: Everyone Falls

Courtesy of

Shalom & Welcome to New York, Achmadinejad !


The Iranian Dictator Mahmoud Achmadinejad has arrived in New York and is enjoying life at a local hotel. This Tuesday or Wednesday, he is due to give his speech at the UN. A date of special significance for the Jewish people, as we are going to celebrate YOM KIPPUR. The day where G - d is judging the Jews for a another year, and usually G - d does so with mercy (Rachamim) and kindness (Chesed).

The NEW YORK POST is welcoming the dictator is a special way:

Feel the love, Mahmoud — and taste the gefilte fish.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived last night at the Warwick Hotel in Midtown in advance of his annual hate-spewing address to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday — and The Post tried to deliver him a gift fit for a despot.

The anti-Semite’s special welcome basket — from New Yorkers with love — included such locally procured goodies as Gold’s Borscht, Manischewitz Gefilte Fish and smoked whitefish from the world-famous Murray’s Sturgeon House on the Upper West Side.

If Ahmadinejad (pronounced: I’m a dinner jacket) needed midnight munchies during his visit to this infidel city, there were also plenty of H&H bagels, onion bialys and Zabar’s cream cheese.

Read the entire Welcoming HERE !

A Jewish gift basket with Gefilte Fish for Achmadinejad

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Worldwide Jewish Prayer for Meshiach: Today at 5pm Israel Time

"Master of the World, We the children of Israel ask for Moshiach to redeem us now and with mercy from exile and all suffering to reveal your Name in the world and to bring peace...Amen"

KOL NIDRE and its Misinterpretation


Kol Nidre is one of THE most Jewish prayers of the Yom Kippur service. The word "prayer" is a slightly out of place, as Kol Nidre is not really a prayer. People rather call it a chant or saying. However, Kol Nidre is an ancient text sung in an ancient heartbreaking melody. Usually it is said before sundown and Ma'ariv. 

With Kol Nidre we begin the very long Yom Kippur prayer service. The Aron (Ark) is opened and three Torah scrolls are being removed and put onto the Bimah. The Shaliach Zibur takes one of the scrolls into his arm and the other two are taken by two respected community members. There is the Minhag that the men wear at Tallit at this point. In most cases the Shaliach Zibur is a rabbi whose task is to sing the Kol Nidre three times. 

The history of the Kol Nidre goes back to the "Responsa of the Geonim" (approx. 800 – 1000 CE). The purpose of the Kol Nidre is to annul all our vows which we might do during the new year until Rosh HaShana. The famous Jerusalem Chabad rabbi, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, writes in his book "A Guide to Jewish Prayer" that this ceremony is an emotional release for all participants (Kehilah). The Kol Nidre has a deep emotional meaning; our soul rises to higher levels and, thus, gaining inner peace for Yom Kippur. 

As I was doing some research on this subject I found out that already in the Middle Ages the church was spreading rumours and hatred, as they misinterpreted the meaning Kol Nidre. Not, that this kind of causing hatred and anti – Semitism is anything new, however, until today these misinterpretations seem to be quite popular among Christian websites. Nothing has changed, so to say. Certain websites still keep the old claim alive that Christians are better business partners than Jews, as one can rely on a Christian promise. Jews never keep anything because they have their Kol Nidre which annuls all promises. Welcome back to the Middle Ages. 

Why do we say Kol Nidre ?
Many people especially like to make a vow when they are angry. "If you do not such and such, I will never speak to you again" – is one of the most popular and common vows. As soon as we overcome our anger we forget about our vows but G – d does not and could later accuse us of not keeping anything. The Kol Nidre annuls such kind of vows in advance and it has nothing to do with being a good or bad business partner. 

However, the Jews of the Middle Ages did use the Kol Nidre for something else. Many of them were forced by the church to convert to Christianity and many did so. The new "Christians" went to church and said whatever Christian things in public but as soon as they came home, they prayed Shacharit. The show was over. Let's get back to our real life. 

Whatever church forced them to vow, the Jews did but always keeping the Kol Nidre in mind which annuls everything right away. This was probably the reason why the church of the Middle Ages got fed up and invented some ground for more hatred.

Cantor Shalom Mendelson singing KOL NIDRE

Zniut in the Jewish Quarter (Rova)

Poster seen in the Jewish Quarter.
Old City of Jerusalem.

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Jerusalem by Night

The rebuilt HURVAH - Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City

The expensive MAMILLA MALL between Jaffa Gate / Old City and Jaffa Road.

At 2.00am in Jaffa Road / Downtown Jerusalem. You may get the impression that there is still lots of action going on but one should be careful at this time: Drugs and alcohol are very common among younger people such as Yeshiva students as well the the local KIKARISTIM (Young drug addicts and homeless youth hanging around at various places downtown. Many of them are actually Off - the - Derech kids with haredi background). 

 Photos: Miriam Woelke

Sukkah Decoration in Jerusalem


Mea Shearim and further haredi areas are preparing for the "Arba Minim" markets starting right after Yom Kippur is over. One of the biggests markets will be at Kikar Supnik (Binyane'i Supnik / Dushinsky). Of course, I am going to take pictures but in Mea Shearim and surroundings, my access will be limited due to the fact that I am female. Nevertheless, this year, I am also getting my own Lulav and Etrog. 

A shop offering Sukkah decoration. Seen in Jaffa Road / Jerusalem.

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Pashkevilim in Mea Shearim keep on warning the local population to watch their money and not to spend everything due to the upcoming holidays. There are further warnings against false Shochtim offering Kapparot in the area.

I haven't decided yet whether I am going to one of the Kapparot places in order to take pictures. For quite a few years I haven't participated in this custom anymore. Before I used to give money but the chicken I have never done. 

Those of you who are interested in seeing some Kapparot pictures may have a look here:

The Ramban calls is a "foolish custom" and every year anew, Israeli animals rights activists keep on demonstrating against the mass killing of chickens. The truth is that those who insist on doing Kapparot with a chicken won't give up their custom due to a few animal activists. I prefer to stay away from the chicken Kapparot, as the fowl isn't treated that nicely. Hundreds of chickens are being squeezed into small cages and neither get water of food but just waiting to die.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S3 versus a useless Apple i5


It seems as if humankind is really loosing it. The new Apple i5 has been released and people stand in line for hours in order to buy the device. However, when you start thinking: Is there really such a great difference to the i4 ?

I admit not to be among the Apple worshipping community but, instead, I am still in love with my Samsung Galaxy S2. A friend of mine and an owner of the i4 has been complaining for a long time that my phone is easier to handle and that Samsung is not charging any money for every single app. In addition to that, my pictures come out much better and the S2 has been offering a panorama view for ages. Apple is only offering it now on the new device but, according to my friend, she downloaded an app offering panorama pictures on her i4 long ago.

I just consider those Apple fans standing in line for a phone which is basically just like the "old" i4 and has nothing new to offer but the design, the weight and a bigger screen, as not facing reality. Today many people just buy Apple because they want to show off but if you are looking for something to work: Get a Samsung Galaxy.

By the way, I am not getting paid by Samsung but I am simply stating my opinion.:-)

Friday, September 21, 2012

How Jews should reply when Christian missionaries ring at their doorbell


The Israeli anti - missionary organization YAD le'ACHIM brings an interesting story regarding Christian missionaries ringing at your doorbell:

The writer, a rabbi in Atlanta for 40 years, is the former editor of Tradition magazine. The author of nine books, he presently serves on the editorial committee of the Encyclopedia of Mitzvot.


Many years ago, while a rabbi in Atlanta, I answered a knock on my door one Shabbat afternoon. Standing in front of me was a fine-looking couple - obviously non-Jewish.

"Shabbat Shalom, rabbi," they said, and asked to have a word with me. I sensed that they were missionaries and asked them what the subject was. They replied that they wanted to talk to me about the "Son of God." 

I suggested that while I respected their personal beliefs, in Judaism there is no such thing as a son or mother of God, that ours is a very strict monotheistic faith, and that our God is one, not two, and not three. I added that before attempting to convert Jews, they should consider converting Christians to Christian teachings, because throughout history, Jews had seen very little of Christian love and of turning the other cheek. 

End of conversation. 

WELL, AT least they were honest. Today, missionaries are much more subtle. 

For one thing, they often pose as Jews themselves. And, most significantly, they do not initially ask Jews to accept Jesus as the son of God, nor mention that in Christianity, Jesus is worshipped as a divine being. 

Contemporary missionaries realize that Jews - even secular, non-religious Jews - have a visceral revulsion at the idea of a human being as divine. They also realize that, for Jews, the figure of Jesus symbolizes a church that has for millennia condemned Jews to purgatory and eternal damnation; that the church, in the name of Christian love, has been responsible for oceans of Jewish blood because of the Jewish refusal to accept Jesus as a divine being; and for the belief that Jews deserve to suffer because of this refusal. 

Aware of all this, many contemporary missionaries have apparently altered their strategy. They are now appealing to Jews from a pseudo-Jewish perspective. In order to entrap Jews, in other words, much missionary activity has been Judaized. Jesus is no longer Jesus; he is now "Yeshua," a nice, Jewish-sounding name - as seen in recent missionary ad campaigns on Jerusalem's buses. 

A close reading of some of today's missionary material shows that the central belief in the divinity of Jesus and his role as "lord and savior" is hardly mentioned. Today's emphasis is on his supposed role as messiah. Further, many missionaries themselves now refer to themselves not as Christians but as "messianic Jews." They wear yarmulkes, don a tallit, and even have their own "rabbis." 

The State of Israel is a crucial target for such missionaries, and many so-called messianic Jews are actually born Christians who have given themselves Jewish names and moved to Israel for one reason: to proselytize Jews. 

THIS NEW strategy is illustrated by several recent media articles. The Washington Post ran a news article on June 21, picked up from the Associated Press, about "messianic Jews" who claim that they are discriminated against in Israel - a questionable accusation. The article's description of messianic Jews made not a single reference to the divinity of Jesus. It slavishly followed the news release of the missionary group that issued it - which was careful not to mention the fact that so-called messianic Jews believe Jesus is the son of God. 

Even The Jerusalem Post made no mention of the divinity of Jesus in its article last Thursday about the three-day messianic conference taking place that weekend. 

An innocent reader comes away from such articles with the impression that "messianic Jews" are simply another group within Judaism. There are Orthodox Jews, hassidic Jews, haredi Jews, and there are messianic Jews - all part of one big, happy Jewish family. 

WHAT WE see here, in effect, is a renewed assault on the fundamentals of Judaism - not the traditional frontal assault, but, in a shift in tactics, one that attempts to infiltrate through indirect means by blurring the Jesus-as-God aspect of Christianity and stressing the Jesus-as-messiah aspect. Many missionaries feel this roundabout approach is less threatening to Jews, more "Jewish-friendly." 

In view of this renewed offensive against the basic beliefs of Judaism, some obvious truths must be reiterated: 

First and foremost is the cornerstone belief of Judaism: God is a pure and unadulterated One. He is singular, the unity of all unities, alone, unique, and indivisible. He cannot be transformed into two or into three - and certainly not into statues or figures. He is not and never was human, and he has no physicality, no father or mother. 

Millions of Jews have gone to their deaths proclaiming Shema Yisrael - Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. Over and over again the Hebrew Bible prophetically warns against the inevitable attempts to dilute and distort this unity (see Deut. 13). 

Further truths follow from this cardinal principle: 

1. It is a distortion to claim that one can be a Jew and at the same time believe in Jesus as a god or as a messiah, or a prophet or savior. 

2. It follows, therefore, that terms such as "Jews for Jesus," or "Jewish Christians" are grotesque perversions. Such terms are misleading, misguided, misconceived, and ultimately a miscarriage of truth - for no Jew can believe in any divinity other than the One God, and no Jew can view Jesus as anything other than a teacher of another faith system. 

AS FOR the true identity of the Messiah, we have no specific knowledge, as Maimonides states in his Code, in Hilchot Melachim. In Judaism, the Messiah will not be a divine creature but a man born of a man and woman; he will inaugurate an era of universal peace, spirituality and enlightenment, and will gather in all Jewish exiles to the land of Israel, as outlined in Isaiah 11. 

 Jesus has not fulfilled any of these prophecies. Furthermore, he is worshipped as a deity by another faith. For converts to Christianity to claim that they are "messianic Jews" is thus another pathetic distortion. 

Having said this, it is important to state that Judaism has no quarrel with those who choose not to follow the pure monotheism of our faith. 

We are not a missionary religion, and the benevolent behavior of the modern State of Israel toward non-Jewish religious minorities demonstrates Jewish magnanimity to those who do not follow Jewish ways. We have only respect for those who wish to worship their own deity in their own way, and to live ethically and lovingly with all people. We condemn those who would demean or use violence against believers of another religion. 

AT THE same time, missionaries should know that Judaism disdains those who would entrap unlettered Jews through deception and falsehoods. To try to persuade innocent Jews that there is no real difference between Judaism and Christianity - even when these attempts stem from "love and friendship" for the Jewish people - is an example of such deception. 

We welcome genuine evangelical love and friendship and cherish evangelical support for the State of Israel. But evangelicals must realize that words like "love and friendship" are very hollow when they come at the price of apostasy and betrayal of the millennia-old faith of the Jewish people. 

Jews understand that the conversion of the Jews to Christianity is a central tenet of many Christian sects. We know that missionary societies around the world budget many millions of dollars annually in order to "save" Jews. If this is a basic teaching of evangelicals, so be it. But Jews can learn from them. We too should be budgeting millions to save fellow Jews around the world, and especially in Israel, from ignorance and Jewish illiteracy. 

The old secular Zionist order, in its haste to be accepted by the outside world, deprived entire generations of Israeli Jews of even elementary knowledge of our Jewish heritage - with the result that too many Jews have no idea of what Judaism stands for, or of the deep chasms that separate Judaism from Christianity. 

We must become missionaries to ourselves. It is long past time for us to deliver serious Jewish learning to our people. This is particularly needed for newcomers to Israel from lands like Russia and Ethiopia, who are particularly vulnerable to the artful blandishments of clever missionaries. They, together with all Jews, need to know how to reply when the doorbell rings.

Don't forget to change your clock !


It doesn't concern the Edah and its members but it is still important to know:

Daylight saving in Israel is going to end tomorrow night (Mozzaei Shabbat). In the night from Mozzaei Shabbat to Sunday, the clocks are being turned back one hour (from 2am back to 1am). 

The time is going back to normal but the hot weather is staying with us for the time being. At the moment it looks as if we are going to have a hot Yom Kippur (about 27 - 30 degrees Celsius).

The Teshuva Pressure

Ritual washing hands in front of the Kotel (Western Wall)

Photo: Miriam Woelke

So, here we are. Yom Kippur is right ahead of us and the present "Aseret Yame'i Teshuva - Ten Days of Repentance" are just screaming out to us: "Teshuva, Teshuva, Teshuva !"

Usually when I hear the word TESHUVA, I just see a tons of Mitzvot and rules right in front of me. Such an amount of Mitzvot piling up to a mountain. This is the time when I start panicking. I don't necessarily see myself as a failure but there are times when you feel that you simply cannot make it. To get out of this pressure situation, you keep telling yourself that everything has got so bad that you probably won't make it anyway. So, why then start at all ? The word TESHUVA alone seems like a huge burden and the only solution is: Escape.

Last night I went to a Shiur where the Rabbi was talking about Yom Kippur and Teshuva. There weren't too many people because the Shiur started right after Zom Gedaliyah was over. However, those few people listening to the Rabbi apparently thought like me. One woman asked the Rabbi whether we now have to do a perfect Teshuva. All of us looked at the Rabbi with the hope that he may say NO.

To make a long story short, he didn't say NO but he did give us hope. 
Teshuva doesn't mean correcting the whole world and turning into the most perfect person within a few days. Instead Teshuva begins within ourselves. We should ask ourselves what we can do. In small steps and not a speedy exaggerated kind of Teshuva. 

Sit down and think about what YOU can do. Don't look at the world or your neighbour but your own little step of Teshuva according to your potential. With what are you comfortable and how you should continue in the future ? Don't think about huge changes but tiny little steps on you path of becoming a better person.

When the Rabbi said "Tiny Steps" we were all happy. Suddenly Teshuva didn't sound like such a great and impossible burden but a task we can learn how to deal with. There is no need for becoming a complete person within seconds and this is what encouraged us to get some Teshuva done.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sukkot Atmosphere

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Anti - Semitism in the Arab World


It seems as if the world is going nuts. Radical Muslims have been threatening western society's freedom of speech and even US as well as European politicians are willing to give in to the Muslim riot mob. Western civilization has to decide what it prefers: A life with freedom of speech or the Muslim Sharia law. If the world is giving in now due to a stupid video called "Muhammad Movie", the free world is going to loose its freedom and radical Muslims will reign. At the moment it looks as if Youtube has already given in, as it started deleting Muhammad Movie videos. I just wish that they would also delete all the anti - Semitic neonazi and Arab videos but no one cares about those videos . 

Maybe we Jews should also start rioting as soon as another anti - Semitic TV series or cartoon is coming out. Anti - Semitism in the Arab world is very common and widely accepted. Hardly anyone is raising his voice anymore when Egypt, Turkey or Iran are broadcasting their anti - Semitic TV series. Imagine, all Jews would go as wild as the Muslim world now. But I guess it wouldn't matter to the world because we are "only" Jews.


Terrorism - Info

Arabischer Antisemitismus (Wikipedia)

New Trends in Arabic Anti-semitism from Henrik Clausen on Vimeo.

Jerusalem's Beauty

The Knesset

Photos: Miriam Woelke