One morning recently, I woke up to find that someone had plastered our yishuv community with signs proclaiming, "Join the Likud Political Party." The signs and subsequent Internet and SMS messages informed us that party workers would soon be around to sign us up.
Today is a very special day; it is the fourth day of Chol HaMoed Sukkot; it is the first day of the end of the building freeze in our community. Will the freeze end or will the cute trick of the Arabs work? They demanded a 10-month building freeze in Judea and Samaria, and then they waited nine months before they decided to sit down to start negotiations with Israel. When they finally did sit down, the first declaration of the Arabs was that the freeze must continue. The world leaders promptly agreed and declared that it is only right that if the Arabs finally agreed to negotiate, Israel should freeze building in Judea and Samaria. "How could we evil Israelis start building again when the Arabs so graciously agreed to talk to us?"
Israel Independence Day is a national holiday in Israel. This year it falls on Tuesday, April 20th and is celebrated either publicly or within the family circle. The ceremonies begin eight days earlier with Holocaust Memorial Day. One week later, we commemorate Israel's fallen soldiers and terror victims on Memorial Day. As the sun sets, the national flag is raised from half-mast, the music begins to play, and the festivities begin in honor of Israel's 62nd anniversary.
Every time a Muslim terrorist commits an atrocity, the insane reaction of our liberal societies is to punish everyone collectively. Several years ago, a terrorist tried to detonate an explosive hidden in his shoe. As a result, every airline passenger is now required to remove his shoes and pass them through an x-ray device. It is common in airports to see long lines of passengers walking barefoot or in their stocking feet, queued up and waiting to have their shoes checked. Instead of forcing all Muslims to fly barefoot, every single passenger is inconvenienced to avoid racial profiling.
When Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak attempted to break the link between the Har Bracha Hesder Yeshiva and the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), few of us were surprised. Ehud Barak is the head of the Labor Party who seems to be using this anti-religious "weapon" in order to make a political comeback for his failing leftist party. His anti-religious position is well known, and his attempt to discredit Rabbi Eliezer Melamed and the Hesder Yeshiva movement is not unexpected. In the past, other politicians have used their opposition to religion to improve their political status, and Barak knows that he and his party are falling apart.
We have now lived in Israel for more years than we lived in the USA, and our joy in living in Israel knows no bounds. We are living in our homeland with our people. We loved America and are proud to be American citizens, but Israel is our home. We strive each day to keep our focus on the wonderful things that life in Israel offers. We are happy that Israel and the USA are allies and help each other. Unfortunately, we are often upset and concerned by the political situation and by the attitude of the world to the Jews.
Pesach, the holiday of freedom, is over but in Israel we have several other holidays of freedom immediately following Pesach. Unlike the rest of the world, Israel takes Holocaust Memorial Day very seriously. Not only is there an official, government-sponsored ceremony at the Kotel in Jerusalem, but many large and small communities also commemorate the day. We remember the six million who were murdered and gratefully acknowledge that we are alive and free, despite the terrible attempts by many nations to eradicate us.
More than 1,000 days have passed since the unprovoked abduction of a Gilad Shalit, a young Israeli soldier, by the Hamas terrorist government of Gaza. Unlike the Arab terrorists being held in a "country club" atmosphere of the Israeli jail system, with TV, library facilities, exercise rooms and other amenities, Gilad is being held in primitive conditions. He is not even allowed to meet with Red Cross representatives.
The Israeli elections are over. New Knesset members have been sworn in. Ehud Olmert resigned several weeks ago, and his party will not form the new government. Despite all this, Ehud Olmert is still the Prime Minister of Israel!
In America elections usually involve two major parties and two or three minor parties.
That was what we were promised - "one united religious political party." It did not last too long.
Tony Blair, the Middle East envoy for the Four Great Powers, told an interviewer that PM Olmert has already made a deal with Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Arab Authority.
Last week, I raised my hand holding my little red voting card and voted myself out of office.
There is a great scene in "Fiddler On The Roof" where a donor gives a beggar one kopek. "Why only one kopek?" asks the beggar. "I had a bad week," replies the donor. "If you had a bad week," responds the beggar, "why should I have to suffer?"
Many Americans may wonder how it is possible for Ehud Olmert to still be prime minister of Israel after having resigned on September 21.
Two Israeli soldiers have been returned from captivity - dead!
Have you noticed that some problems just won't go away?
Having recently celebrated Israel Independence Day, I wonder why so many Jews refuse to pray for the State of Israel and for our Jewish sons and daughters who serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Do you understand the daily rocket attacks against Sderot, Israel?
When things get bad, I must remember that thousands of people in Israel are doing wonderful mitzvot daily, and we cannot become discouraged.
In recent weeks, there has not been much good news from Israel. Many of us had expected Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign due to the police investigations against him, but he has brazened them out.
Let me begin by wishing all of my readers a very happy and healthy new year. This past year was filled with many wonderful joys and several sorrows, but we thank Hashem for another year of life.
Part I of this series introduced the 6,000-mile driving tour to the Canadian Rockies that my wife, Barbara, and I took in the van driven by my brother, Avi, and our sister-in-law, Martha.
Our fourth Shabbat was observed in Toronto. My former Chabad chavrusah, Yosef Baruch Spielman, had arranged Shabbat hospitality for us at the home of his niece and nephew, Elisheva and Rabbi Chaim Weinman.
Part I of this series introduced the 6,000-mile driving tour that my wife, Barbara, and I took in the van driven by my brother, Avi, and our sister-in-law, Martha, to the Canadian Rockies.