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October 26, 2016 / 24 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘High’

All-Time High Israeli Tax Collection: $57 Billion So Far in 2016

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Over the first 9 months of 2016, the Israeli tax authority has collected an unprecedented 216.1 billion shekel, or about $57 billion, a full 5% more than during the same period in 2015, the Finance Ministry’s Accountant General’s Management Information Division reported Sunday. In fact, in September 2016 alone Israel has collected $6.67 billion, 12.3% more than in September 2015.

According to the report, tax collection has far surpassed early forecasts at the Finance Ministry, so much so that the Finance Ministry’s Chief Economist Yoel Naveh in mid-July pushed up the 2016 forecast and set it at 282.5 billion shekel, or $74.5 billion.

The new, record tax collection is expected to impact the government budget deficit. The 2016 budget permits government a deficit of 2.9% of GNP, or as much as $9.23 billion. But based on the tax collection bonanza, it appears government could go on a mad spending spree, especially on security, and still end up with only a 2% of GNP deficit. The accumulating government deficit over the past 12 months stands at only 2.2% of GNP.

Overall, government expenses in September stood at $8.05 billion, out of which expenses came up to $6.7 billion, interest payments on the national debt was $500 million, and interest and repayment of principal to Social Security came to $820 million.

Since the beginning of 2016, government expenses came to $55.28 billion, a 7% rise compared with the same period last year. Of that, civil ministries’ expenses rose by 8.9%, while the security apparatus showed more restraint with only a 2.2% rise in spending. The original budget plan, however, called for an 11.4% rise for civil services, while the security apparatus was actually scheduled to go down by 3.7%.


Israelis Ignore Warnings, Flock to Turkey for High Holiday Vacation

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Despite warnings by the counter-terrorism center against travel to dangerous Middle east destinations, Israelis this Rosh Hashanah are flocking to the clear blue waters of southern Turkey. Search indicators of the tourism website HotelsCombined show a 40% rise in searches from Israel for hotels in Turkey, again, despite specific warnings against going to Turkey this season. The demand is greatest for the coastal cities along Turkey’s southern Mediterranean shore: Antalya, Belek and Alanya, but demand for Istanbul vacations has also gone up by 30% compared with last year.

Israelis are taking warnings regarding Egyptian vacations more seriously, and while Israeli demand for Cairo hotels is up, requests for the Sharm Al Sheikh hotels at the southernmost tip of the Sinai peninsula have dropped by 22% compared with a year ago.

HotelsCombined CEO Eyal Segal says the sharp rise in Israeli demand for Turkish vacations is the result of an increase in the number of flights between Israel and Turkey, the thawing in the relationship between the two countries, and the reduced hotel prices in Turkey, just in time for the Jewish holidays.

“Israeli tourists by now have figured that every place is dangerous, which is why eco

nomic considerations overcome security concerns, and the average Israeli is not quick to panic about a flight to a country about which there have been warnings,” Segal said, noting that “regarding the Sinai, there we see a greater adherence to the warnings because tourists stand out and can be easily marked in the desert, as opposed to the big cities where they feel that the disappear in the crowd.”


High Holiday Blend

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

I went to Costco, where I bought a new box of coffee pods for my Keurig machine. I love Starbucks coffee, and was thrilled that the 2016 Holiday Blend was available; it’s one of Starbucks’s most delicious blends.

Then I sat and enjoyed my first cup of 2016 Holiday Blend, early in the morning while it was still dark outside. I enjoyed the smell. I enjoyed the warmth. And I enjoyed the taste.

It dawned on me that the holidays, at least those tied to the Starbucks Holiday Blend, were nearly four months away. Yet the company’s marketing experts had determined that the perfect time to release it at the beginning of September. They obviously concluded that people are only too glad to begin thinking about and preparing for the holidays in September – and it may even be good for the holiday shopping industry.

It also occurred to me that our holidays, the Jewish High Holidays, are just a couple of weeks away but didn’t see honey or pomegranates being advertised by or in the kosher grocery stores in June, or even during the past few weeks.

Thankfully, however, we have Starbucks and its Holiday Blend, and from that I believe we can draw inspiration for our holidays.

Let me tell you how I take my coffee. I drink it fresh, hot, and without any cream, milk, or sugar. When people ask me about it, I say: “God made coffee delicious just as it is. Why ruin it with milk or sugar?” Obviously, I wasn’t born liking it this way. Rather, I trained myself over time to drink it in this manner. But having developed this particular taste, I now dislike any flavor or additive in my coffee.

The High Holidays also have that character about them. They are somewhat strong and possess a distinct spiritual flavor. And so, based on the teaching of the Talmud, we eat honey to remind ourselves to pray for a sweet new year and we are quite happy to flavor our Rosh Hashanah with other sweet treats.

We celebrate the New Year in a spiritual way but we complement the spirituality with physical sweeteners. And some of these sweeteners can actually enhance our spiritual experience (although I think it is worth asking ourselves whether we are somewhat relieved not to have to focus entirely on the spiritual side).

But what if we began preparing for the High Holidays four months in advance? What if instead of buying more honey, we bought a new siddur, a new machzor, a new sefer? What if we, very slowly over a period of months, increased our spiritual intake and reduced the physical sweeteners and creamers in our life?

I think we might find – just as I discovered I didn’t need flavor enhancers for my coffee habit – that we have the capacity to become more spiritual and can actually get used to it. We might even discover we like it better that way.

It’s comforting to know this issue is not anything new. The Rambam in his explanation of the commandment to blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah tells us that in addition to the biblical directive to sound it, there is also a psychological aspect of hearing the shofar as it calls us to “wake up from your spiritual sleep.”

Certainly, even someone in a spiritual coma on Rosh Hashanah can be awakened by the sound of the shofar.

Our sages understood the importance of experiencing a spiritual awakening and advised us to sound the shofar for the entire month of Elul – not to advertise the holidays or make a profit, but to wake us up. They understood that if we hear the shofar for a month ahead of time, we will come to Rosh Hashanah having become accustomed to the sound, not in a monotonous way but with the capacity to hear it loud and clear – and to experience it without any sugar or honey.

If Starbucks has us spending our hard-earned money on its holiday coffee nearly four months in advance, we too can learn to prepare. Indeed, even more important than drinking it, we need, in the words of that favorite old expression, to wake up and smell the coffee.

That is a true High Holiday Blend.

Rabbi Shmuel Zuckerman

A Man Of High Rank

Monday, September 19th, 2016

There are those who gain their Olam Habah in one hour in this world. And there are those who spend every hour in this world infusing it with Olam Habah. Such a man was Uri Shlomai whose sojourn in this world was brief but who filled every waking moment with working for the klal.

Uri Shlomai left this world a few days shy of his 49th birthday after a 9-month battle with cancer. He left a grieving father, a heartbroken wife, a devastated son and three daughters and two distraught sisters. But more than that, he left a legacy of a life devoted to the nation and country of Israel.

Born to two Hebrew teachers who spent many years of shlichut in Canada, Uri served as a lone soldier while his family was in Montreal. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in Intelligence and had a long and distinguished army career.

After the army, in keeping with the practice of stationing an honor guard near the flag for Yom HaZikaron, he instituted a rotation of at least two people learning mishnayot every half hour near the flag on the main street of the Petach Tikvah neighborhood where he lived.

Uri volunteered for Magen David Adom and was part of an army contingent that was sent on a rescue mission to Nepal by Israel after an earthquake there in 2015.

In Nepal courtesy of ZAKA spokesperson.

In Nepal courtesy of ZAKA spokesperson.

With his high energy and commitment to contributing to the klal, Uri looked for gaps to fill. Even while in the throes of his illness he launched a Parshat Hashavua initiative.

Uri personified the ideal of the Mizrachi philosophy which has given Israel the cream of its society: people with dedication to hearth, home and community, an impeccable army service record and Torah learning.

After the army, Uri, who had a Master’s Degree in organizational consulting and strategic development as well as being a licensed life coach, sought to teach mastery of life both to individuals and companies. He not only believed in giving everyone the opportunity to live up to his or her potential, he insisted on it, but without being pushy or intrusive.

He was a devoted and loving and father to his four children and a wonderful husband to his wife Rinatya who also serves the klal in her job as an occupational therapist and matchmaker.

Despite the late hour, the heat and the humidity of August, and the short notice, hundreds of people came to say goodbye to this young man who had accomplished so much and died so young. It was a very long and difficult goodbye as he was eulogized by rabbis, his father and his children.

A few days before he died, Uri’s 11-year-old daughter Tamar, somehow instinctively knowing that to wait till his birthday would be too late, gave him a small painting she made for him depicting all the things he was best at. She called it “To the Best Father in the World.” It showed him giving her a big hug, his service to the country as a soldier, his volunteer work in MADA, and his hobbies, windsurfing and cooking. It was like she had prepared the canvas of his life to present in Beit Din shel Maalah. But she needn’t have worried. They have a record of his deeds there – an impeccable record for a soldier in Hashem’s army, one who received an early discharge with distinction.
Lillui nishmat Uri ben Asher Anschel, z”l.

Rosally Saltsman

Netanyahu Holds Security Meeting Ahead of High Holidays

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday held a meeting to assess the security situation ahead of the Tishrei holidays—Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. Netanyahu called for in creased police presence, especially in the Old City and around the Temple Mount, directing “determined action” against any attempt to violate the public order there. In the case of Jews on the Temple Mount, these actions are normally determined by the Waqf agents, who are empowered to assess the level of spiritual engagement exerted by any Jew on the Temple Mount, and to decide whether said Jews have crossed the line and got dangerously close to their Father in Heaven.

Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein to continue to prevent MKs and cabinet ministers from going up to the Temple Mount during this sensitive period, such sensitive period being defined as “always.”

The Prime Minister also directed that activity be increased against PA Arab incitement on social networks, including Facebook, with the goal of removing inflammatory content. He also instructed that a response team be established to refute disinformation about Israeli policy on the Temple Mount, such as the Jews are plotting to destroy the Al Aqsa mosque.

Netanyahu received an update on IDF operations and the reinforcement of units along the roads and inside Judea and Samaria communities.

Also participating in the meeting were Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Israel Policy Deputy Inspector General Zohar Dvir, Jerusalem District Police Commander Yoram Halevy, the deputy Director of the ISA, an IDF representative and personnel from the National Security Council.

David Israel

IDF Retaliates after Hamas High Trajectory Fire into Israel

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

The IAF on Thursday morning attacked three terror infrastructure targets belonging to Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip. The attack came in retaliation for high trajectory fire into the Eshkol Regional Council carried out earlier.

The IDF’s Spokesperson said that the IDF continues to view Hamas as being solely responsible for everything that takes place within the Gaza Strip. The IDF will continue to act harshly in order to maintain the quiet in Israel’s southern communities.

As The Jewish Press Online reported earlier, at least one mortar shell exploded in an open area of the Eshkol Regional Council, but local residents were unaware of the attack since the air raid system failed to activate. No one was injured.

David Israel

High Court Rejects Three Petitions Against Force-Feeding Prisoners

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday rejected appeals by the Israel Medical Association and a few NGOs against an amendment to the Prisons Act that permits forcing medical treatment on hunger striking prisoners.

Elyakim Rubinstein, the Vice President of the Supreme Court, said he was persuaded that there are possible situations in which saving lives requires having the amendment on the books, although he noted that he is not happy with it and suggested there may be other ways, within the exiting laws, to remedy such situations.

Israel Radio reported that one of the items in the contested legislation requires the judge on hand to consider how the death of a hunger striking prisoner might affect state security. The justices ruled that the court must give a preference to medical, rather than security considerations.

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/high-court-rejects-three-petitions-against-force-feeding-prisoners/2016/09/11/

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