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August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Anglo’

Jewish Home Primaries Today, Vote for the Anglo

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Today, the Jewish Home party (formerly known as the National Religious Party) is holding primaries for its list of candidates for the Knesset. It’s not clear how many seats the party will get in the next Knesset.

Its Knesset list will be merged with the National Union, reportedly at a 1:1 ratio. The total number of seats will likely be higher than the two party’s have today in the Knesset, which is seven.

Some polls even show the joint list receiving up to 13 seats. I would guess that those who want to vote to the right of the Likud now no longer have the option to vote for Yisrael Beteinu since those two parties will have a joint list, and they will be forced to vote for the Jewish Home.

The election of a new head of the party – Naftali Bennett- who is well known and who is interested in reaching out beyond the parties traditional base of support, will also give the party a boost.

But this is Israel and anything can happen between today and January 22nd – the date of the general elections.  For those candidate’s running for a spot on the party’s slate, they can’t rely on the party getting 13, 10 or even 8 spots. They need to get as a high as possible on the list.

As the Jewish Home has a total membership of around 54,000 every vote will count in that tight race.

One of the candidates is Jeremy Gimpel, who originates from the U.S.

I have to admit, I wasn’t very pleased at first with the announcement of Gimpel and his talk/radio show partner Ari Abramowitz that they were running for the Knesset.

It was clear to me that even if the party would net five seats either on its own or as part of a joint list with the National Union – two more than it has today – it would be very unlikely that two of the five would go to two English-speakers hitherto unknown in Israeli politics.

I am also very active in the Likud, where members will be voting in a primary race for a party that has 27 seats and is and will be leading the country. I didn’t like the idea of people joining a party to vote for one person when they could be joining a party and have influence over approximately 27 Members of Knesset.

I also see the Jewish Home as a sectarian party. It has its public – the national religious community – and it cares about that sector’s interests.  As a Zionist, and even as a religious Zionist, I believe it is irresponsible for a politician or a party, to behave this way. Laws, the budget, policies: these must be drafted in consideration of the national interest. I understand that the Israeli electoral system promotes this behavior, but it should be resisted.

Perhaps Naftali Bennett, who was only elected party chairman on November 6th, will indeed broaden the party’s scope. But that is yet to be seen.

Nevertheless, Gimpel (and Abramowitz) saw an opening in the generally closed-to-newcomers Israeli political scene. The Jewish Home would be holding primaries for the first time. It did not have a membership base. All candidates running for a spot would be starting from scratch. Whoever they registered by the deadline would become the voters in the upcoming primary.

In the Likud, by contrast, there are 123,000 members, which is a relatively small number, but there is a 16-month waiting period before members can vote. Primaries are held at least 6 months before the scheduled date of the general election. So any Knesset campaign would need to already have registered a bloc of members at least 22 months in advance of the general election date. Practically, it would have to be even earlier since the general elections are almost always held earlier than scheduled.

This election cycle they will be held in January 2013, nine months earlier than scheduled. The primaries in the Likud will be held on November 25th. To be eligible to vote in the primary, one must have registered by July 25th, 2011, more than two years ahead of the scheduled date of the general election.

My Life, Your Decisions?

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

A friend of mine recently came back from visiting her son and his family in Israel. As a bunch of her friends joined her for coffee and an update – several of them also have children who made aliyah – she shared with us her frustration at not being able to communicate with her school-age grandchildren. Since both her son and daughter-in-law grew up in English speaking countries, our puzzled expressions must have been obvious. “The children only speak and understand Ivrit,” she stated, shaking her head sadly, “and even though I can read and daven lashon kodesh, I’m not fluent in actual Hebrew.”

“Don’t their parents speak English at home?” someone asked.

No, our friend answered, explaining that her son had asked his rav after the birth of their first child whether they should speak English to her. The rav told him that only Hebrew should be spoken until their kids are older and in school. Something about English could be a “foreign” influence and might negatively impact the children’s love for Eretz Yisrael. Once the kids were entrenched in limudei kodesh, it would be OK to introduce English.

But now, with the passing of years, none of the grandchildren were interested in hearing and learning English, she lamented.

We all expressed our sympathy for her frustrating situation and went on to speak about other matters, but I was deeply disturbed by what I had heard. This idealistic couple who had made aliyah had deprived their children of a golden opportunity to effortlessly pick up a second language, simply by speaking to them. And even worse, the language was English, whose mastery is desperately sought by millions of people globally, despite its innate difficulty.

The day would perhaps come when as young adults, they would want to visit relatives or go touring, or attend school or look for work in Canada or the USA (since they are citizens through their parents) and knowledge of English would have been a priceless asset. The window of opportunity was closed since toddlers are especially adept at acquiring language, but not older children.

But what I found especially disturbing was that the decision to refrain from speaking English to their children was not the parents’ decision – but their rav’s. Rather than discuss the pros and cons of teaching their kids English between themselves, or with input from their parents and others who are in a similar situation they asked their rav, and of course, his opinion became the psak.

And this is what I find so disconcerting – what I rightly or wrongly perceive as a growing trend amongst too many people to cede decision-making on personal, not halachic or hashkafic, matters to the Rav.

In the not too distant past, heimishe people would call their rav when there were halachic issues that needed resolving, like what to do about a meat skillet that a cheese omelet was cooked in. At times, the rav also was approached to be a mediator, or an impartial participant in a dispute; or to give an eitzah to help someone make an informed decision on some important issue.

But nowadays, it seems that people are asking the rav to make the decision for them – on matters both big, small and in between.

One could almost conclude that there is a new form of co-dependence, with seemingly intelligent, capable men and women asking to have their lives micro-managed by a rav, and the rav unhesitatingly obliging them.

Getting advice or some clarity about an issue from a learned spiritual leader has been a time honored tradition in our community, but what is happening is that many individuals are abdicating their responsibility to make choices for themselves and their families.

My friends tell me of their 20- and 30-something year old single children, who when a shidduch is redd will run to their rav to ask if they should go out with that particular individual – often leaving the parents out of the loop.

I am not saying that a rav shouldn’t be asked for some input, but what is happening is that he will decide for the person. Why can’t young people, who for most part are mature, educated and bright – and highly decisive at work – formulate their own conclusion?

Whatever happened to taking responsibility for your own life? Why are more and more Yidden afraid to make the hard and even the easy decisions that can impact their day to day lives, and/or their future, preferring instead to “passing the buck” and defer to someone who though very learned, can never quite “walk in their shoes?” And why would a rav want to take on the tremendous responsibility of micro managing someone’s life? Why willingly put yourself in a position that has the potential to undermine someone’s emotional and physical well being, or a family’s shalom bayis or one’s kibbud av v’aim?

Anglo Ultra-Orthodox Threaten to Bolt Beit Shemesh Coalition Over Lack of Dialogue

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

BEIT SHEMESH- In an effort to prevent future conflicts between religious factions in the embattled city of Beit Shemesh, which has made headlines in recent weeks due to a sometimes violent running fight over the location of a religious Zionist girls’ school, the Tov party, which represents English speaking members of the Ultra-Orthodox community, has issued a call for the municipality to establish a “Rabbinical committee” to engage in preemptive dialogue regarding controversial issues.

Eli Friedman, who holds the party’s one seat on the municipal council, issued an ultimatum to Beit Shemesh Mayor Rabbi Moshe Abutbol, stating in a letter plastered around the city on broadsheets that unless such a committee is formed, he will be “forced to abandon the municipal coalition and serve the entire Beit Shemesh community from the side of the opposition.”

Tov, widely known to residents as “the moderate haredi” party, only holds one seat in council, making its defection to the opposition less of a substantive threat than a symbolic gesture of disapproval.

“Out of a desire to increase love and friendship between the various communities here in Beit Shemesh, we turn to you with a request to establish a rabbinical committee that will be comprised of [rabbis] from all the religious and haredi communities as well from the old city and from the new,” the letter read.

According to Friedman, the proposed council’s role will be to “sit and work out every public issue that might ignite the fire before it actually happens, with the objective to resolve it and provide a solution, to arrive at a common ground from the perspective of ‘talmidei chachomim [Torah scholars] increase peace in the world’, and in order to prevent the recurrence of violent acts and thuggery that cause chilul Hashem [desecration of the name of God] and give a bad name to the entire haredi community in the city and around the country.”

Recent protests outside the Orot Banot school, during which schoolgirls have been verbally attacked and spat upon for alleged immodest dress, are not “the first and only time a chilul Hashem has been caused by the extremist residents of Beit Shemesh,” Friedman explained.

Taking responsibility on behalf of the Ultra-Orthodox community, the party leader wrote that “it is obvious that unless steps are taken against this evil phenomenon we will not be able to say ‘our hands did not spill the blood.’”

The Tov party, he continued, has “given in many times in the past in the name of peace and unity in Beit Shemesh” but can no longer “be quiet and give in, as we are witness to the horrible results of what is happening in front of our eyes, and their influence on all the haredi communities across Israel.”

“The goal of TOV is to mend tears, and not to deepen them, our interest is also to glorify the name of our city and not to distance different groups of residents from it.”

The Municipality has thus far declined to respond to requests for comment from The Jewish Press.

Speaking with The Jewish Press, party activist and Anglo department head Mendy Newman stated that, in his estimation, it is important that “there be a non-political venue for dialogue between the various [communities] in the city with the goal of resolving religious tensions before they flare up.”

“It is not enough to deal with issues as they arise,” he said, “but rather the city government must take positive steps to increase dialogue and unity between all residents of the city in an effort to avoid future problems.”

The Mayor, together with Rabbi Shmuel Pappenheim, a local Ultra-Orthodox activist affiliated with the anti-Zionist Edah Haredit umbrella organization, have held several meetings between the local zealots, known as the Sicarii, and leaders of the religious-Zionist community in the past, but these meetings were ultimately unsuccessful.

Advocating a system of preventative dialogue, rather than holding talks after matters have spilled over into the streets, Newman told The Jewish Press that the proposed forum “could be very helpful in preventing religious conflicts and forging common ground on issues.”

However, despite the blow to the Mayor’s prestige that would result in the Tov party’s defection, Mayor Abutbol has so far declined to respond to the ultimatum.

While “we have not received any response from the Mayor to our idea,” Newman stated, “we have only heard positive responses from various [rabbis] throughout the city,” though he declined to cite which rabbis have signed on to the initiative.

Rabbi Yaakov Haber, another local American Ultra-Orthodox leader and the Rabbi of the  Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun synagogue in Ramat Beit Shemesh, has also publicly sought a solution to the issue of the “chillul Hashem” that Orthodox Jews believe the recent conflict to have caused.

According to locals, the Rabbi recently held a town hall meeting in which residents were encouraged to offer suggestions regarding ways in which to increase unity between the various sectors in the city.

New Immigrant Real Estate Quest Is Determined By a Variety of Issues

Monday, November 21st, 2011

The wave of Anglo immigration to the Jewish State during the past decade has played a key role in changing the demographic complexities of towns and cities across Israel, as well as improving the bottom lines of more than a few private and public building companies.

In pristine suburbs such as Beit Shemesh and Modi’in, the influx of new immigrants has raised the quality of life quotient, as well as local real estate prices. Though exact figures are hard to determine, there are numerous indicators which show that Anglo immigrants have invested a minimum of $300 million dollars into Israel’s burgeoning real estate marketplace during the past decade (according to a variety of real estate brokers, most Anglo immigrant families will spend anywhere from $250,000 to $600,000 towards the purchase of a home or apartment). And with an additional 3,000-4,000 new olim making the move to the Promised Land on an annual basis, local real estate agents and builders will continue to reap the benefits.

According to Nefesh B’Nefesh, most new immigrant couples and families tend to rent apartments during their first year in Israel, as part of getting acclimated to their surroundings. Once couples and families have integrated themselves into Israeli society, the quest for a dream property begins in earnest. The ‘quality of life’ checklist to determine if a particular town or city suits a new immigrant’s needs could include: Job opportunities, reputable education, variety of religious and cultural outlets, easy access transportation, parks, shopping and activities for children.

In cities such as Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and Modi’in, living close to friends, family and business colleagues have impacted local real estate markets. Up until late 2010, when the Bank of Israel changed the interest rates and tax rules governing “buyer’s groups”, a sizeable number of new immigrants had banded together to purchase entire residential complexes!

Which cities continue to offer a variety of real estate opportunities, as well as a high-quality of life quotient to current and potential olim? Here is an abridged list of the Top 10 marketplaces:

Jerusalem-The idea of owning a property in the Holy City continues to lure a select group of singles, couples and families alike. There is nothing like experiencing the history and unique lifetsyle within the city’s fascinating neighborhoods. However, a lack of new building projects and skyrocketing rental rates is pushing many young couples and families to more affordable suburban regions in close proximity to Jerusalem.

Beit Shemesh-This city of over 100,000 residents, along with its Haredi satellite, Ramat Beit Shemesh, was the first suburban Jerusalem region to benefit from the initial wave of Anglo immigrants via Nefesh B’Nefesh. The affordable housing, large green parks, quality schools, as well as direct rail and bus service to hi-tech and business centers in nearby Jerusalem (20 minutes) and Tel Aviv (45 minutes) has lured thousands of English-speaking immigrants.

Modi’in-Equidistant between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, with a direct rail link to Ben-Gurion Airport (15 minutes), Tel Aviv and beyond, the country’s fastest growing metropolitan region, has attracted hundreds of Anglo families to the newly constructed Kaiser and Buchman neighborhoods. As a result, prices in Modi’in have risen dramatically in recent years. The city of Modi’in continues to work closely with the Anglo community in developing more educational options, religious centers and activities for youngsters. During the past few years, Beit Shemesh and Modiin have boasted quality Little League and adult amateur baseball programs.

Rehovot-A massive construction boom is underway within close proximity to the city’s various hi-tech zones and the Weizmann Institute. Many of the residential projects are beginning to attract significant interest from established and new immigrant Anglo families. The city, which is located in the heart of the Coastal Plain, highlights an excellent educational, religious and cultural infrastructure. Upgraded bus, rail and highway links can whisk residents to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in less than an hour.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/aliya/new-immigrant-real-estate-quest-is-determined-by-a-variety-of-issues/2011/11/21/

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