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October 9, 2015 / 26 Tishri, 5776
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Culture Wars: From The Maccabees To Matisyahu’s Beard


For Jews, assimilating out is easy – but the real challenge is to assimilate in, to process 3,500 years of Jewish history, knowledge, and texts, and to somehow find a way to be modern, creative, and free, yet still in line with Jewish tradition.

Being proudly Jewish and cleaving to our authentic spirit is real beauty. Never surrender.

Yishai Fleisher is managing editor of Jewish Press Online (www.jewishpress.com).

About the Author: Yishai Fleisher is the Contributing Editor and PR manager at the JewishPress.com, and Israel's only English language broadcast radio show host (Galey Yisrael 106.5FM). Yishai is an Israeli Paratrooper, a graduate of Cardozo Law School, and the founder of Kumah ("Arise" in Hebrew), an NGO dedicated to promoting Zionism and strengthening Israel's national character. Yishai is married to Malkah, they have two children, and they live on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

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4 Responses to “Culture Wars: From The Maccabees To Matisyahu’s Beard”

  1. Yishai – Excellent article! Thank you for writing what is on the minds and in the hearts of so many of us!

  2. Debbie says:

    Well said Yishai – I agree wholeheartedly with Tehilla’s comments. You put so well what so many of us are feeling. As an American Jew yearning to live in Israel I find this time of year both a joy celebrating Hanukkah with my children, but also sometimes difficult as worry the kids are overwhelmed with Christmas symbology. Keep on writing because we love what you’re saying!

  3. Debbie – having raised my oldest in the US and now my youngest in Israel, I can tell you there is a WORLD of difference in raising them here! If at all possible, for your children’s future, consider Aliyah while it’s so much easier now than decades ago. Celebrating Chanukah – such a minor holiday in the grand scheme of our year – in Israel is full of meaningfully rich and fun activities for kids.

    Celebrating Rosh HaShanah, Sukkot, Pesach, Shavuot… well, my words can’t do justice to the spiritual high of witnessing even Chilonim (secular) practicing the rituals. Oh, and then there’s Shabbat!!! The first time a bare-headed bus driver wished me “Shabbat Shalom” as I was exiting his bus on a Friday morning, it gave me chills.

    Values are another big difference… in the US our older children placed a high value on the material world. In Israel, where most people have accepted a slightly lower standard of living (i.e., our home is about 75% the size of what we had, I don’t feel pressured to wear $1500 sheitels & $500 Shabbos suits, and we don’t have 3 vehicles or pay $12k/year for Hebrew day school or feel peer pressure to spend Chol Hamoed Pesach at Disney!), our children trade “Rebbe” & Jewish soccer team cards instead of baseball & Yugio cards and actually get excited about visiting Rabbis, Kever Rachel & Macpelah. And during Chanukah, the story comes alive for the kids when visiting (and reenacting) the places where the Maccabees lived and fought.

    The bottom line; no matter how insulated and religious a community in the galut might be, it’s still not the “real thing”. We were practicing there for life here and it would have been so much easier to have begun here in the first place. There are many of us waiting here to help anyone who wants to make Aliyah. Visit nbn.org.il, voleh.org, almosteden.co.il, etc.

  4. Uzi says:

    Didn’t hear the details about the walk of shame, yet.

    I also really love the Ein Prat Fountainheads. They are quickly making joy Israel’s #1 Export.

    So the Golden Arches will spell M for Masada? Or should we Dial M for Murder?

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