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September 27, 2016 / 24 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Holiday’

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

And Today… On the Temple Mount

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Amazing, the ever-vigilant Israeli police manage to stop every single Jew who tries to visit the Temple Mount with a prayer book/siddur, an Israeli flag, or with any sign or clothing that could be remotely associated with Judaism or Israel… yet these 2 Arab children dressed in full Hamas terror outfits along with toy guns managed to openly walk in and around for a photo op in front of everyone.

Simply inconceivable.

Someone pointed out on the Muqata Facebook page that these children dressed as terrorists are terrorists. But they aren’t — yet.

Right now, these children are victims of child abuse by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and their own parents.

Israel also granted 500 Gazans access to the Temple Mount today, as a goodwill gesture for their Eid al-Adha holiday.

Perhaps the police let these kids walk around as Hamas terrorists so those Gazan visitors would simply feel more welcome and at home.

Jameel@Muqata

The Perfect Holiday Gift: New Missile Alert System from Home Front Command

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

The IDF Home Front Command on Thursday revealed a private home siren that provides real-time warnings in case of a missile attack, Globes reported. A collaboration of the Home Front Command and Beeper Communications Israel, the home warning kit will be offered for sale to the general public this fall, but the cost is not yet finalized.

Home Front Command Planning Department Commander Col. Itzik Gai explained the value of the new product saying that the windows in most homes are closed with the air conditioning working in summer and in winter, making it difficult to hear the sirens. The new device will improve the chance that members of the household hear the alerts in time to evacuate to their safe rooms.

The Home Front Command has already pushed for the development of apps that provide real-time warning about incoming missiles via mobile phones and home computers. The new, personal warning system offers an enhancement of those apps. “The national siren system will continue to be the bulldozer for delivering warnings to the public, but the personal systems will be supplementary components,” Gai told Globes.

The Home Front Command divides Israel into 264 siren areas in which an alarm is activated as soon as a missile’s flight path and landing have been analyzed. In the area where the missile is expected to hit, the alarm system will be activated. Like the apps that were already in use during Operation Protective Edge two summers ago, the new home warning system will kick in only if a missile threatens the user’s particular area, leaving everyone else to continue with their daily routines.

“We’re already thinking about delivering an earlier warning focused on a single square kilometer,” Gai said, adding the signal could be sent to a smart watch.

JNi.Media

EasyJet Claims ‘Disruptive Passengers’ to Blame for Separation, Removal from Flight

Monday, May 9th, 2016

EasyJet Airlines categorically denied having removed and separated Jewish passengers from the rest of the travelers on board a flight from Barcelona to Paris on May 1, in a statement to media on Monday by Andy Cockburn, the airline’s director of public relations.

“Flight EZY3920 from Barcelona to Paris Charles de Gaulle on 1 May 2016 with 180 passengers on board returned to the gate in Barcelona and was met by police due to a group of passengers behaving in a disruptive manner,” said Cockburn, as quoted by JTA in several Jewish publications.

“All passengers were asked to disembark at the request of the police so they could speak to a small number of passengers in order to investigate the incident…. [EasyJet] does not tolerate abusive or threatening behavior on board,” he added.

JewishPress.com and Cockburn exchanged phone calls numerous times on Monday but each time JP returned the call, Cockburn was unavailable or could not be reached. Messages were left on both sides and emails were exchanged as well, but contact was elusive.

Even if some passengers were “disruptive” it still is not clear why an entire flight was forced to disembark, nor why only the Jewish passengers were required to remain secluded for six hours in a separate section of the terminal under armed police guard, nor why their captors refused to answer their questions.

Cockburn’s contention that the Jewish passengers were separated at the request of the police so they could be questioned under investigation does not make much sense, unless the police were only probing Jews. However, the spokesperson’s final comment that the airline “does not tolerate abusive or threatening behavior on board” seems to imply that Jews were behaving in an abusive or threatening behavior on board prior to takeoff.

Hana Levi Julian

A Family Holiday: Happy Birthday Israel

Monday, May 9th, 2016

At the end of every Shabbat, Eliyahu the Prophet sits under the Tree of Life and inscribes the merits of Israel — Medrash

If you’ve been watching the news, listening to the radio or keeping up with your Facebook or Twitter, you’ve surely noticed that the world is not a very friendly place. In fact, it can be downright daunting.

Nonetheless, recent polls have shown that the vast majority of Israelis (84% of those polled) are not only among the world’s most frequent and vivacious complainers (we tend to complain non-stop just about everything), but are also among the happiest and most satisfied people in the world. Our “happiness quota” places us 11th in the Western world, much higher than the U.S. and other leading countries. We seem to feel (after we’ve finished complaining, of course) that despite all the dreadful things there are to complain about, this is a great country to live in.

How does one explain this strange phenomenon?

Some of our kids have a simple explanation. “Obviously,” they say, “things aren’t so bad here after all. In fact, they’re pretty good.” They prove the point with a simple new minhag they’ve adopted.

Every Saturday night, immediately after Havdalla and before anyone runs off to turn on his phone or start his weekday activities, each family member relates one good thing he saw, heard or took part in during the week. Here’s what my grandson had to say:

“I’ll often ask people to relate something nice that happened to them during the week. They’ll respond with ‘Hmm… I can’t think of anything.’ But how could that be? An entire week went by without one single good memory? Didn’t anyone smile at you on the bus? Or help you out? Or return a lost object? Didn’t anyone do you, or someone else, a favor?

“Noticing nice things is like exercising a muscle. We’re so busy running around that we don’t take time to see what’s actually happening. If only we’d pay attention, we’d see that the world is full of good people. And the more we get in the habit of developing an ayin tova – a good eye like Avraham Avinu – the better the world looks and the less cynical we become.

“Some people,” continued my grandson, “think being more observant just means you’ll see more things to aggravate you. But it’s not true. We have to concentrate on the good. And there’s so much of it! From individuals, from organized groups, and from the government.”

Here are a few stories I’ve personally heard.

A fellow arrived at an emergency aid station and had to be transferred immediately to a hospital. But he insisted he needed to go home first to get some money. The paramedic handed him fifty shekel as a gift from her own pocket and sent him to the hospital. When he was released, he came back to the station three times until he found the paramedic and returned her money.

A boy left a pair of expensive new Tefillin in a taxi in Eilat. They were a gift from his grandfather. His name was in the bag, but not his address or phone number and he didn’t know the number of the cab or the name of the driver. Three weeks later, he received a call. The cab driver found the Tefillin and waited for a passenger going to Jerusalem. The passenger brought them back and called all the same family names in the Jerusalem telephone directory until he found the boy’s family. He refused to take any payment for returning the Tefillin. He himself was not a religious man.

Yaffa Ganz

New Jersey Businesswoman Launches ‘Give18’ for Victims of Terror

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

A New Jersey businesswoman has launched a new initiative to encourage her fellow entrepreneurs and their customers to donate funds to help Israeli victims of terror.

Ora Assayag says she decided to launch the “Give18” campaign after watching the latest flare up of violence in Israel on TV screens and reading daily reports about the latest attacks.

Customers can automatically donate 18 percent of the price of their purchases to Operation Embrace through the Give18 campaign. Assaya, who is the founder and CEO of Ora’s Amazing Herbal, has already started the campaign in her own business.

Operation Embrace is a non-organization that supports programs and projects that help victims of terror in Israel and the United States.

“We realize that little we do or say here in America can have a direct effect on ending terrorism and bringing safety and security to the citizens of Israel, but that does not mean that we can’t lend a helping hand to those who need it most,” said Assayag. “In Hebrew, the number 18 represents life.

“We hope this effort will be noticed and implemented by other local businesses so that we as a community can help even more,” she added.

With the holidays coming up, it’s the perfect way to make a difference and do our part in helping to right the terrible wrongs taking place in Israel.”

Jewish Press News Briefs

The Maccabeats’ Latest Chanukah Tune is a Real Sizzler! [video]

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Some Chanukah holiday music videos provide dynamic melodies, interesting lyrics and if you’re lucky, a few good visuals thrown in for good measure.

But how many can you honestly admit actually include a decent latke recipe?

The Maccabeats a capella all-male singing group has done it again, bringing together all the best elements of great Jewish holiday entertainment in one tidy little music video for Chanukah.

Chomp on!

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/the-maccabeats-latest-chanukah-tune-is-a-real-sizzler/2015/11/24/

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