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November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Bnei Brak’

Inside the Vishnitz Sukkah

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Vishnitz Chassidim and their children attend an event for the upcoming Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, in Bnei Brak on October 12, 2014. They’re learning inside a massive Sukkah.

Simchat Torah marks the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle, and will be celebrated on October 15.

Vishnitz Sukkah 2

Bnei Brak Gets Solar Energy

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

A Haredi yeshiva in Bnei Brak has become the city’s first Torah institution to install a solar electricity system.

According to the Behadrei Haredim website, the solar energy panels were installed on the Ahavat Chesed beit mid rash, an off shoot of the city’s Ponevitch Yeshiva.

In the past, the website said that haredi rabbis had prohibited the use of solar power because they feared the electricity would be used on Shabbat. They changed their minds when the Israel Electric Company announced it would pay a lower tariff for energy produced on Shabbat, so those who do not use electricity on Shabbat would not lose out.

The 30 kilowatt system is expected to save the bet midrash about NIS 35,000 a year for the 25-year warranty of the panels.

Yom HaZikaron in Bnei Brak

Monday, May 5th, 2014

On Sunday night, Haredi Rabbis and Jews in Bnei Brak took part in a Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) ceremony for fallen soldiers.

Yom HaZikaron in Bnei Brak 2

Terrorist Captured from Bnei Brak Attack

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

The Arab terrorist who stabbed a Haredi man near Bnei Brak on Sunday was captured by police early Monday morning. The stabbing happened near the Geha bridge which is between Petach Tikva and Bnei Brak.

The terrorist, a 34 year old resident of Shechem (Nablus) told police said he stabbed the Jewish man to take revenge against Israel.

Bury Me There

Monday, February 17th, 2014

On a recent trip to Israel I made a tour of burial grounds. Not the great archaeological sites, although I did spend some magical hours at the Western Wall when almost no one was there. Neither did I make pilgrimages to the graves of venerable rabbis. I have never felt comfortable with the idea of visiting relics and tombstones of saints. It’s true there is a rabbinic tradition of praying at the graves of our great and good but it has never made any rational sense to me. After all, it is the soul and spirit that animates and inspires us, not some earthly remains. Even the graves of my own parents, great Jews and human beings by any standards, on Mount of the Olives in Jerusalem, mean little to me compared to their constant inspiration and presence in my mind and heart. This time I went looking for somewhere to be buried myself.

It’s not that I care, to be honest. Yes I adhere to Jewish tradition and want to have a traditional burial. But that’s for convention, not because I think I will notice any difference. After all, I do believe that when my soul returns to its Maker, the physical me will disappear into the eternal cycle of molecules and atoms. And I certainly do not believe in the kabalist’s idea of gilgulim, that our souls are recycled into other bodies. As if spiritual souls retain physical characteristics. Even resurrection seems to me to be an abstract concept. The great Maimonides conceded that he neither understood how it worked nor what it entailed. To me it has always meant that soul, spirit, is indestructible, precisely because it is not physical. I always liked the way the Talmud dealt tongue-in-cheek with Cleopatra when she asked Rebbi Meir (Sanhedrin 90b) if she would come back to earth dressed or naked.

Pascal ’s famous wager was that it makes sense to bet on God. If He doesn’t exist, what have you lost? And if He does, you’ll look a right fool when you die. Perhaps I should worry about missing out on all the resurrected bodies marching up to Jerusalem. But I can’t believe that being buried on Mount of the Olives gets me there quicker than being buried in Bnei Brak, Bushey or Long Island. Do I worry that great rabbis such as Rebbi Akiva or those who were burnt to a cinder will miss out for not being buried near the Temple? No sir, I do not. I have much more faith in the Almighty’s capacities than I do in abstract traditions dressed up in human language.

If the Almighty wants my physical remains, He will come for me wherever they are. If not, it will be too late anyway. Finding a burial place was caused by wanting to save my children the expenses and by what would be most convenient for them should they be interested. They and my grandchildren are, bless them, scattered over four continents. Who knows what migrations, marriages, or moves might take place over time. But the one place that will always be the center of Jewish life is Israel, no matter what the government’s policies are. That’s where all Jews are expected to visit at regular intervals, if not to settle permanently. So it makes sense to be buried there, according to my way of thinking. But exactly where there?

Mount of the Olives is crowded and expensive and at this moment in time not all that safe. Har Hamenuchot, the massive Jerusalem burial mountain to the west, is an industrialized mausoleum. In some parts it is multi-tiered, a car park for the dead. There are one or two favored spots one has to bargain for, and nearby are the graves of heroes who died for the state as well as rabbis and criminals. But it’s too big, too impersonal, and finding a grave is like a treasure hunt.

I looked in Bnei Brak at places revered for the great scholars buried there. But the tombstones were crowded barely inches apart, littered with planks and cardboard, the detritus of people scrambling over stones, through mud and dust to get to a barely accessible slab. Surely the souls of the dead do not hang around on earth to have friendly conversations with old friends from the Carpathian mountains or sit at the feet of dead scholars studying Talmud together (or playing cards).

The nicest place I found was Ramat Beit Shemesh. Set up on a hill amongst pine trees about half way between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, it is nicely kept and much more aesthetic and personal. The people who run it are humane and considerate. It even has special sections for foreigners, as if the Americans prefer not to be buried too near the English or the Israelis. My kids could always pop in on the way up to Jerusalem or down to Tel Aviv if they were minded to, without having to worry about traffic. And they could breathe in the heady pine scents of the hills our ancestors once walked. Christianity might have pretty country churchyards. We are more concerned with life than death. But this is a good compromise.

Part of me says, “Concentrate on living, to value and enjoy every breath one takes now.” And the other part of tells me to be practical, make preparations, “repent one day before you die.” Isn’t that paradox what being religious is about? The spirit, the grand ideas, the delights of special days and great religious experiences still need the support of dull mundane habits and rituals. You can’t have a house without foundations. As for me, if I haven’t passed anything on from my forebears to my children by now, I doubt I’ll do it after I’m gone.

‘Capital of Samaria’ Ranked As Israel’s Safest City

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

A new poll conducted by Israel’s Ministry of Public Security in order to determine the effectiveness of urban policing programs in 13 different Israeli cities found that residents in the city of Ariel, in Samaria, feel the safest from criminal activity.

Ariel is home to 20,000 residents, of whom 92 percent responded saying that they feel secure in their community.

Following Ariel were two cities located in central Israel that were tied – Givatayim, outside of Tel Aviv, and Bnei Brak. The northern city of Carmiel ranked fourth in that category.

The cities with the lowest sense of security were the mixed Jewish-Arab cities of Lod and Nazareth, with only 70 percent expressing that they felt protected.

“There is no internal crime or violence in Ariel,” said Avi Zimmerman, Executive Director of the Ariel Development Fund to Tazpit News Agency. “Graffiti is as criminal as it gets here.

New Draft Law a Gift of Hope to Impoverished Haredim and to Israel

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

The latest incarnation of the Haredi Draft Law, aka “The Perry Law,” is an excellent piece of legislation.

The Haredi community suffers from serious problems, which are affecting the rest of the country as well.

Haredi towns and neighborhoods are among the poorest in Israel.

The cycle of poverty in which Haredim are stuck is due in part to the way governments have dealt with the draft issue in the past (no army service—no work permit), but, just as significantly, due of the way the political leaders (“askanim”) of the Haredi community have created a social structure that locks people into the cycle of poverty, thus also guaranteeing their reliance on those same leaders for education, social acceptance, and money.

Israel’s society also suffers from Haredi poverty, because when such a large segment of the population relies on welfare payments, the effect on the economy is devastating.

The new Haredi draft law has just passed its first reading, and will now undergo review in a special committee chaired by Jewish Home’s MK Ayelet Shaked, before it is sent back for a second and third round in the Knesset.

This law is not so much about getting Haredim into the army in the near future, as it is about immediately permitting Haredim into the legal workforce, thus breaking the cycle of poverty.

The new law divides Haredi society into three age groups:

If passed, the law will immediate allow Haredim ages 22 and up to enter the workforce if they wish, and never have to worry about being drafted again. They will receive a permanent exemption. They can also sit and learn forever, if they so choose.

Next, the law will allow Haredim ages 18-22 to defer their draft until they reach age 24, and then, at age 24, they may decide if they want to serve in the army, do national service, go to work, or stay in kollel and learn forever. In other words, to this age group the law guarantees temporary exemptions until they may receive a permanent exemption. But, once again, they would be able to legally join the workforce in 4 to 6 years.

The third age group are Haredim who will turn 18 in the year 2017.

Out of this group, 1,800 will receive exemptions to sit and learn Torah, for the first time effectively sanctioning Torah study in the Jewish State as the full equivalent of military service.

The fate of rest of those who turn 18 in 2017 will depend in some way on what today’s 18-22 age group does over the next 4 years.

The government intends to set a draft quota of 5,200 Haredim out of the approximately 8,000 who will reach 18 in 2017. Out of that quota, 3,000 will enlist in the IDF, 2,200 will do National Service—most likely in their own communities. The remaining 2,800 will receive permanent exemptions.

But, if the full 5,200 quota isn’t met, then the envisioned 2,800 exemptions will be automatically reduced to 1,800.

Give and take.

Incidentally, last year some 2,200 Haredim were drafted. Out of that group, 1,300 enlisted in the IDF and 900 did national service.

This year, the total number of enlisting Haredim is expected to reach 3,300. Not so far from the envisioned quota ( which could change following the committee review and the Knesset debate).

Indeed, Haredi youths are already at close to two-thirds of the draft quota of 4 years from now, and the sky hasn’t fallen.

This isn’t a one-way street as the IDF will gain as well. We think merely adding a large group of soldiers who are mature, disciplined, who don’t curse, and who keep the Mitzvot would go a long way to improving our army—but the much more important result of the law should be felt immediately, with Haredim who did not serve in the army legally taking on jobs to feed their families, with honor.

We happen to believe that, just as Haredi young men will surely make for a better, more civilized and more Jewish army, so will mass entry into the workforce have a similar positive influence on Israeli society.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/new-draft-law-a-gift-of-hope-to-impoverished-haredim-and-to-israel/2013/07/14/

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