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April 28, 2015 / 9 Iyar, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘jewish culture’

Storms Send Israeli Mimouna Celebrants Indoors

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

It was a “dark and stormy night” indeed on Saturday night, putting a damper on traditional Moroccan “Mimouna” festivities that were set to follow the Sabbath and the day after the end of Passover in Israel.

Mimouna is a traditional celebration that never fails to bring together all of Israel’s North African Jews and the best of North African Jewish cuisine — despite the fact that cooks have been racing the clock after Passover to prepare the delicacies to be consumed by the crowds.

The celebration itself, culturally a joyous one, is also steeped in Torah tradition. One belief links the name “Mimouna” to the name Maimon – as in Rabbi Maimon ben Yosef – the father of the Rambam, the great Torah Sage, Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon, also known as Maimonides. Another belief connects it with the Hebrew word for faith (emunah) or to believe (ma’amin), symbolizing the past redemption of the Jews from Egypt, and having faith and belief in the future Messianic redemption of the Jewish People. As it says, “In the month of Nisan the Jews were redeemed, and in Nisan they will be redeemed in the future.”

In 2011, an article by the Jewish Agency for Israel explained the Jews of Morocco began celebrating the Mimouna several hundred years ago. “When Passover ends and the Jews are still not redeemed the Moroccan Jews do not lose their faith; as the Sages said, ‘Even if he tarries, I will expect him every day.’” In the article, the Jewish Agency noted that the Moroccoan Jews celebrate Mimouna on the evening after Passover because they believe that ‘during this night the heavens are open to our prayers…. As a result of this belief it was customary in many places in Morocco to set up matches between young men and women on the Mimouna eve.”

This year, stormy weather with thunder, lightning and downpours all around Israel led to cancellations of some Mimouna celebrations that were planned for Saturday evening and even a few planned for Sunday. Others, however, simply moved indoors and continued the party.

On Mount Hermon, however, residents in the area faced at least 10 centimeters of snow (four inches) by the end of the Sabbath. Forecasters also issued a flash flood warning for coastal areas, the Judea Desert and the Dead Sea region.

In the south, Sderot, Ashkelon and Be’er Sheva municipalities all canceled their festivities – as did Kiryat Bialik and Hatzor HaGlilit in the north.

Rain was expected to continue overnight Saturday and into Sunday, in an unexpected winter-like weather front that is crossing the region and is not expected to leave the area until at least Monday.

Netanyahu Heats Up Mimouna Celebration

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Israelis heading to Mimouna celebrations around the country may have had to fight the weather to get there but at least in one city many thought it was well worth the battle.

One of the “hottest” celebrations was held at the northern coastal town of Or Akiva, where Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah made their annual appearance.

Speaking to the gathering, Netanyahu told party goers it is “time to unite the country.” Among the promises he made to celebrants were vows to lower housing prices and the cost of living. “We promised to do it, and this will be our first task,” he said, “after putting together a coalition.” Another essential priority, he added, was the need to ensure the nation’s security – another promise he vowed to keep.

In the Diaspora, the Sabbath was observed automatically as the “eighth day” of Passover, as the holiday is always observed outside the Land of Israel; but in Israel, only seven days of the holiday are observed. This year in Israel, however, the Sabbath was observed as a “de facto” eighth day, since Passover ended just as the start of the Sabbath began, at sunset on Friday — leaving no time for rabbis to buy back the chametz and allow for the return of kitchens to pre-Passover status.

Israeli Guards Protect Citizens from Terror and Chametz on Passover

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

How do you know when you’re in a Jewish country?

When the security guard at the entrance blocks you from coming in because you are carrying… no, not a weapon … something almost as bad:

CHAMETZ!!!!

Sounds odd, right? But it’s true. It’s against the law in Israel to display or sell any product containing chametz during Passover. Chametz is also prohibited in the nation’s hospitals and other public institutions.

That includes national parks and nature reserves around the country, where security personnel this week are checking visitors’ bags for food as well as bombs, guns and ammunition.

Anyone caught bringing leavened bread or any other form of chametz must stay outside until they are willing to surrender or dispose of the offending item.

In northern Israel, a gaggle of surprised visitors to Afula’s city park were seen eating their sandwiches outside the gate because a security guard at the entrance had stopped them from entering the area.

“The Afula municipal park is a public facility that serves the residents of the city and its environs and so the public is asked to refrain from bringing in chametz during the holiday, as is customary at many other public institutions,” the municipality explained in a statement.

At Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center, security personnel are well prepared in a variety of languages to deal with the inevitable perplexity they face from foreigners unaware of the law. Security checkpoints are well prepared with large metal shelving units set up next to the security desks so the guards can simply place the contraband on a shelf until it can be disposed of properly.

For many bemused non-observant Jewish visitors to the Holy Land, it is their first experience with true observance of the Jewish Laws of Passover — in places they least expected to discover such enforcement.

“Bikinis at the beach in Tel Aviv might lead you to think that Israel is very secular,” commented a tourist who requested anonymity when speaking to JewishPress.com during the intermediate days of the holiday on Tuesday. “But then you try to bring your picnic lunch in when you visit a friend at the hospital, or to the nearby park. And suddenly it’s a whole other world.”

Chabad Sends a Seder to Soldiers in ‘The Middle of Nowhere’

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

In the middle of nowhere, a group of Israeli soldiers guarding the nation’s border with Jordan prepared to meet the Sabbath Queen with a canned Passover Seder.

But facing the holiday with army-issue rations was not a pleasant prospect. So as the sun began to sink closer to the horizon, the men put their heads together.

Who could possibly provide a decent meal for these guardians of Israel on the eve of the Festival of Freedom – out in the middle of nowhere?

“Call Chabad,” advised one of the soldiers. Quickly someone Googled a number and came up with Rabbi Shimon Elharar, Chabad-Lubavitch emissary and head of Chabad of the Dead Sea.

A quick conversation ensued. Food he could provide; of course he had the contacts.

But who could get it to the soldiers in time for the holiday? They were, after all, literally in the middle of nowhere. Just about inaccessible. The sun was nearing the horizon. No Jew could make that trip and get back in time without desecrating the Sabbath.

And the soldiers could not leave to pick it up.

Enter a hero named Azmi, a righteous Arab Gentile who certainly will have his place in the World to Come. Azmi picked up the food from a restaurant where Passover preparations had been made.

At 6:30 pm, Azmi delivered the food to a position designated by the soldiers, just in time for them to set up before the start of the special Passover Sabbath seder.

“Today by chance I met an IDF soldier at one of the checkpoints at the Dead Sea,” Rabbi Elharar told JewishPress.com in an exclusive interview. Hearing his voice, I asked if he had been among those who were assigned to guard the border on Friday night and when he said “yes,” I asked how the seder had gone.

“What a huge smile lit his face!” the rabbi said. “He said ‘Yes indeed, the messenger made it on time. We were so amazed. We had a great holiday celebration.

“Wow – Chabad really is everywhere.”

Child Labor

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

No, these aren’t illegal child laborers making Matzah in some underground sweatshop. It’s a bunch of kids making Matzah in an underground Chabad House in Efrat.

Man Arrested at Temple Mount Entrance with Contraband

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

A 27 year old Jewish man was arrested on Sunday morning at the entrance to the Temple Mount.

Police found Tefillin on his person.

When searching the young Jewish man before he went up onto the Temple Mount, the police discovered the man was wearing Tefillin on his arm.

Tefillin are generally worn during prayers. Despite an explicit court order allowing it, the police do not allow Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, the Jewish people’s holiest site, for fear of upsetting the Arabs.

A lawyer from the Honenu organization is working to free the man from jail.

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Twenty-Eight: Waiting for the Baron

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

When word arrived that Baron Edmond Rothschild was coming for a visit, with none other than the famous Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the colony turned into a frantic beehive of activity. Since the death of Theodor Herzl, Weizmann had become one of the driving forces behind the Zionist movement in Europe. The Russian-born chemist had become a leader of the World Zionist Congress, and his diplomatic skill, erudition, per­sonal magnetism, and dedication to the Zionist cause had won the respect of political leaders throughout the world. The rumor of the pending visit was started by the driver of the monthly supply wagon on one of his trips out of Zichron Yaacov. He said that the Baron and Weizmann were due to arrive in Palestine for an inspection of all of the settlements, and that the Morasha region was being considered as the next major development area of both the Keren Keyemet, Jewish National Fund, and the Jew­ish Colony Association. That meant a possible investment of millions and millions of francs to turn the quiet village of Morasha into a bustling agricultural center. The billionaire phi­lanthropist and the charismatic political leader were known to be friends, and if they were impressed by what they saw on their visit, it was almost certain that the Baron would spread money like fertiLazer throughout the hillsides of Morasha.

In the excitement, no one bothered to ask how the driver of the monthly supply wagon was privileged to such exclusive information. As the news spread from settler to settler, the dream of transforming the struggling yishuv into a model metropolis seemed absolutely assured. Someone said that the scientific-minded Weizmann planned to build a university on the crest of the Morasha hillside. Another said the area was slated to be turned into a modern industrial park. It was even rumored that the Baron Rothschild was thinking of Morasha as the site of a new summer mansion.

Hearing these wild fantasies, Tevye scoffed.

A boobe-miseh if I ever heard one,” he said. “And I sup­pose that the Mashiach is on his way too.”

His reference was to the Jewish messiah, whom the Jews had expected for two-thousand years. Faithful to the promises of the Prophets and Sages, the Jews waited for his coming every day. The Hasidim were especially on alert for his arrival. If nightfall came without a sign of his appearance, they took solace that certainly the Mashiach would come the very next day to usher in the awaited age of salvation. It was a dream Tevye had fostered every day of his life. He believed it with all of his soul. If only the Jews would return to their Maker in repentance, surely the scion of King David would come to rescue the downtrodden nation.

Tevye was far more skeptical regarding the coming of Baron

Rothschild.  But when the Company manager, LeClerc, arrived with the very same news, Tevye also caught the fast-spreading fever. His imagination proved as fertile as his neighbors. Not only would Morasha become the Paris of the Middle East, Tevye could very well become one of the wealthiest men in the region. Stranger things had happened in life. Hadn’t Joseph, the simple shepherd boy, become ruler of the mighty land of Egypt? Every schoolboy knew the story. And what was the secret of Joseph’s success? His dreams!

LeClerc assembled the settlers together outside of the barn as the sun sank over the distant ocean. The historic visit, he said, was just three days away. Because of political developments in Europe, the entourage had embarked sooner than planned. After brief stops in Rishon Le Zion and Zichron Yaacov, the Baron and the Doctor of Chemistry were arriving in Morasha to scout the site them­selves to determine if the expansive, virgin region could be transformed into a center of Jewish immigration for the hundreds of thousands of Jews whose lives were being threatened by the worsening persecutions in Russia.

Needless to say, LeClerc continued, it was imperative that the Morasha colony and its settlers put on their finest appear­ance. To this end, a shipment was due to arrive the next day with building supplies, paint, flowers and plants, new clothes for the settlers, and enough food to prepare a banquet for a king.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/the-book-shelf/tevye-in-the-promised-land-books/tevye-in-the-promised-land-chapter-twenty-eight-waiting-for-the-baron/2013/02/26/

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