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December 3, 2016 / 3 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘muqata’

Shlissel (Key) Challah: The Loaf of Idolatry?

Friday, May 6th, 2016

The post was originally published in 2011, but as this is the week some might bake shlissel challah, we are republishing the article.

JUDAIC STUDIES ACADEMIC PAPER SERIES, Authored by Shelomo Alfassa: The Origins of the Non-Jewish Custom Of “Shlissel Challah” (Key Bread) “The Loaf of Idolatry?

You can read it all here, or see the following key point from the research paper:

– Every year Jewish women, young and old, partake in the Ashkenazi custom to place a key (such as a door key to a home), inside the dough of a loaf of bread that they bake. This custom is known as shlissel challah—shlissel from the German language shlüssel (key) and challah or hallah from the Hebrew for bread.

– The baking of a key inside a bread is a non-Jewish custom which has its foundation in Christian, and possibly even earlier, pagan culture. At least one old Irish source tells how at times when a town was under attack, the men said, ―let our women-folk be instructed in the art of baking cakes containing keys.

– Keys were traditionally manufactured in the form of a cross, the traditional symbol of Christianity, a physical item all Christian commoners would posses in their home. On Easter, the Christian holiday which celebrates the idea of Jesus “rising” from the dead, they would bake the symbol of Jesus—the key shaped like a cross—into or onto a rising loaf.

– The modern Jewish custom of baking the symbolic shlissel challah, annually takes place on the shabbat immediately following the holiday of Pessah, when tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of religiously observant Jewish women practice this observance.

– In Christianity, baked goods associated with keys are commonly called “Easter breads,” and in Europe they are also known as ‘Paschals,’ as the holiday of Easter in the East is known as “Pascha” or “Pascua.” This is most likely the reason Christians often call Easter breads baked with keys Paschals.

– While the custom is said to be mentioned in the writings of Avraham Yehoshua Heshel (the Apter Rav: 1748-1825) and in the Ta’amei ha-Minhagim (1891), there is no one clear source for shlissel challah.

And while people will say there is a passuq (Biblical verse) attributed to it, there is not. And, even if there were, a passuq that can be linked to the practice is not the same as a source.

Micha Berger, founder of the AishDas Society, [orthodox] calls this type of logic “reverse engineering,” it‘s like drawing a circle around an arrow in a tree, and subsequently declaring the arrow is a bulls-eye. The idea of baking shlissel challah is not from the Torah; it‘s not in the Tannaitic, Amoraitic, Savoraitic, Gaonic or Rishonic literature.

– Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim19 of Mesora.Org [orthodox] teaches that:

The Torah teaches that Hashem punishes the wicked, and rewards the righteous. It does not say that challah baking or any other activity will help address our needs…When the matriarchs were barren, they did not resort to segulas, but introspected and prayed… Nothing in Torah supports this concept of segula; Torah sources reject the idea of a segula… baking challas with brachos cannot help… segulas are useless, and violate the Torah prohibition of Nichush [good luck charms]. It does not matter if the charm is a rabbit‘s foot, a horseshoe, a challah, key or a red bendel. The practice assumes that forces exist, which do not, and it is idolatrous. – On the far end of the scale, it can be said that shlissel challah observance is a nothing less than “the way of the Amorites.” It is precisely this type of behavior and observance which Jews are supposed to separate themselves from, so it doesn’t go on to influence our thoughts and deeds. Am Yisrael was not created to lose itself in such folklore, and Judaism without disciplined study is nothing but folklore. Judaism allows and encourages the use of our minds. It‘s never too late to realign our path with Torah sources, not blind faith practices which are trendy, in, or cool.

– Educated Jews should help to promote Torah sources to our friends and neighbors, not false practices which are of non-Jewish origin and have nothing to do with Judaism.

100 Amens to that!

Jameel@Muqata

Israeli Dragnet Surrounds Ramallah After Terror Attack by PA Police Officer

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Israeli security teams surrounded Ramallah overnight; according to a local source, only residents who could prove their status were allowed in and out of the city.

The soldiers sealed off the Palestinian Authority capital following the shooting of three Israeli soldiers by a PA police officer.

The dragnet came in response to an attack on Israeli soldiers earlier in the day by one of the members of the personal security team for Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.

The officer drove up from Ramallah to the IDF checkpoint next to the Jewish community of Beit El. He got out of his car holding a handgun and shot three Israeli soldiers at point-blank range, seriously wounding two and a third less severely. Other soldiers immediately returned fire and killed the terrorist on site.

Less than two hours later, Arab terrorists attacked Israeli vehicles driving along Highway 443 – the old Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway – next to the Dor Alon gas station on the road. Although stone-throwing attacks on moving vehicles can be and have often been deadly, in this case no Israelis were injured.

Also Sunday evening, a young Arab was arrested after soldiers noticed he was acting in a suspicious manner near the Gush Etzion Junction. The wannabe jihadist was armed a heavy iron chisel, which he later confessed he was preparing to use in an attack on Israelis.

Hana Levi Julian

How to BBQ for Shavuos

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

We received word that #1 Muqata fan Eric doesn’t think our Shabbat BBQ of chicken is manly enough, and we need to throw something from a cow onto the fire.

So in honor of Shavuot, and to make #1 Muqata fan Eric happy, here you go… something from a cow…

Source: BBQLodge

Jameel@Muqata

Palestinian Authority Snubs Obama, Joins Intl Criminal Court at The Hague

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is playing ‘chicken’ with U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli leaders.

The Arab leader, known to locals by his terrorist name, ‘Abu Mazen,’ signed papers Wednesday for the PA to officially join the International Criminal Court at The Hague. In doing so, Abbas called the bluff issued by Washington and by Israel’s government, a warning that such a step would lead to dire consequences.

The move came one day after a vote at the United Nations Security Council nixed a PA resolution sponsored by Jordan, demanding Israel withdraw its forces from all areas conquered in the 1967 Six Day War. These include much of Jerusalem, areas restored to the capital that were lost when Jordan seized parts of the city during the 1948 War of Independence.

More than half a million Israelis now live and work in the areas of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria demanded by the PA. Sites holy to the three monotheist faiths that were cleaned of the filth and garbage that accumulated during the years of Jordanian occupation are also situated therein.

“There is aggression practiced against our land and our country, and the Security Council has let us down; where shall we go?” Abbas said dramatically in a speech delivered from his headquarters, the Muqata, after signing the Rome Statute – the founding charter of the ICC – and 21 other international treaties and conventions.

“We want to complain to this organization. As long as there is no peace and the world does not prioritize peace in this region, this region will live in constant conflict. The Palestinian cause is the key issue to be settled.”

The fly in the ointment here is the fact that the Rome Statute stipulates once a nation has joined the Court, it then also becomes culpable for the crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide committed by its own government as well. Abbas may well have signed the death warrant for the Palestinian Authority all on his own, without the United States or Israel ever having had to do a single thing.

Hana Levi Julian

Jewish Donors Funded Harvard Students’ Trip to Arafat’s Grave

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

A college trip to the Middle East, advertised as one which “aims to engage a diverse cohort of undergraduate student leaders of all faiths and backgrounds with Israeli history, culture, and politics,” sounds like it will be a positive experience.

Now add to that, the fact that the trip is co-sponsored by Boston’s equivalent of the Jewish Federation – the Combined Jewish Philanthropies – and supported by Harvard’s Hillel, and it sounds like an amazing trip.

But on this particular Harvard college trip to the Middle East, the students who were supposed to be learning about “Israeli history, culture and politics,” made a side trip to pay homage to one of the worst terrorist leaders of modern times, someone who was single-handedly responsible for the murder of thousands of Israelis – men, women and children, Jews, Christians and Muslims: Yassir Arafat.

The students are on this “Harvard College Israel Trek 2014” right now. They arrived in Israel on March 14, and thanks to the miracles of social media, we know that while visiting Israel, they took a detour. According to one of the participants, Awais Hussain, Harvard ’15, they spent Sunday, March 17, in “Palestine.”

tweet from Hillel and Boston CJP-sponsored Harvard College Israel Trek 2014 participant.

Tweet from Hillel supported and Boston CJP co-sponsored Harvard College Israel Trek 2014 participant.

But a tweet from a tour guide provided even more detailed information about what these Hillel and CJP-funded Harvard trekkies did while they were in “Palestine.”

They visited the burial site of arch-terrorist Yassir Arafat, which is at the muqata, located in Ramallah.

 

Harvard Students on Harvard Hillel and Boston CJP sponsored trip to Israel, visiting Arafat's grave. March 17, 2014.

Harvard Students on Harvard Hillel and Boston CJP sponsored trip to Israel, visiting Arafat’s grave. March 17, 2014.

According to the Trek’s website, “[the] Israel Trek is made possible by the generous contributions of a number of family foundations and Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies. The Trek is supported by Harvard Hillel​.”

The fact of this trip and the fascinating detour it took was discovered by a college student, Daniel Mael. The Jewish Press spoke with Mael on Tuesday evening, March 18.

“I was checking through Twitter for news stories, and I happened to check #Israel, when the tweet of the Harvard Trek students at Arafat’s grave showed up,” Mael said, explaining how he came upon the pictures of the Harvard Students.

“So I Googled ‘Harvard College Israel Trek,’ and looked through the posted information,” continued Mael. “I was horrified to see that Harvard Hillel is a supporter, and Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies is a sponsor of a trip that includes a visit to the grave of one of the world’s most notorious Jew-murdering terrorists.”

Hillel International had not responded to a request for comment before this story was published.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

US Betrayal Opens Great Opportunity for Israeli Saudi Alliance

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Here at the Muqata think tank, we’ve been analyzing the changes happening around us, and envisioning what a new Middle East could look like, or turn into, if given the chance—based on the real state of affairs in our region. Obviously, we’re looking to develop the best possible realistic scenario for Israel as can be, based on current parameters.

America’s betrayal of long time allies, and its shifting of alliances to the worst of the worst of the Islamic fundamentalist governments, has encouraged a sea change for the entire region.

After U.S. failure to turn Egypt into a fundamentalist Islamic state, it’s now turning to firmly prop up the Islamic Republic of Iran. The end result is that any hope for a popular uprising that would throw out the Ayatollahs is now lost.

A revitalized, aggressive, fundamentalist, and obviously nuclear Iran constitutes a clear and present danger to all the countries in the region, not just Israel.

The recent U.S. betrayal of its long time allies has taught Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Gulf States the lesson of an exaggerated reliance on the world’s biggest super power.

America’s Middle East policy has always relied on the three legged stool of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran. When America lost Iran, it tried to replace it with Iraq, then with Egypt, but each attempt resulted in unexpected consequences.

For the U.S., the Iran deal represents a much sought after return to an old and familiar Mid-East policy, never mind the fact that this time Iran and Turkey are very much Islamic, and have developed an imperialistic appetite that threaten their neighbors, most emphatically the Foggy Bottom stool’s third leg, Saudi Arabia, which isn’t buying any of it.

It’s no accident that there has been noise about the Saudis preparing to assist Israel in a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Gulf States, too, save for Bahrain, are in Israel’s corner, having had thriving business relations with Israel (and shhh, even Settlers) for years. They all view Iran as a radical menace and Israel as its stabilizing antidote.

At the Muqata think tank, we’ve come up with what could be a very realistic realignment, and a plan for a truly new Middle East (Tom Friedman, eat your heart out).

Saudi Arabia has money. Lots of money. Lots of oil too. And of course, lots of desert.

But they don’t have innovation, they don’t have technology, and they no longer enjoy that sense of security they used to have.

Israel has innovation. Israel has technology. Israel knows how to make deserts bloom. Israel has security. But Israel, while becoming energy independent, doesn’t have oil or money (on the Saudi scale), or the production capability to stand alone.

Actually, both states could use better production capabilities.

Both also have had the same reliance on the U.S. to supply them with military platforms.

It’s also no secret that Israel’s military technology and know-how is superior to that of the U.S., but the latter is making sure that the former not be allowed to compete with industries in the American military industrial complex.

And don’t get us started on Israel being forced to take the less than wonderful but shockingly expensive F-35.

Ask yourself, what would happen if Saudi Arabia were to change its buying habits?

Let’s say they decided to buy an Israeli designed advanced fighter jet. Let’s say Saudi Arabia invested in Israeli green tech, to make their deserts bloom.

Let’s say that Saudi Arabia made a new alliance with Israel, based on mutual defense and mutual interests.

It would require of the hyper conservative Saudis to do something brand new, something they wouldn’t have dreamed of doing only a five years ago, when their ambassador to the U.S. was considered an adjunct member of the Bush cabinet. But those days are gone, and the Saudis, perhaps more so than Israel, are fearing for their lives.

One could think of worse reasons than the will to live for cooperation between historic enemies.

If such a pact—which could be denied ad nauseam by both sides—were to happen, we would definitely see Egypt and Jordan joining in. Secretly (at first).

The new Middle East would include Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf states, vs. Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Gaza.

JoeSettler

The Wrong Time to Dance

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Last week marked the usual emotional roller coaster that is Israel every year at this time. Yom HaShoah, remembering the heroes and martyrs of the Holocaust, followed by Yom HaZikaron, honoring our fallen heroes (and martyrs to Arab terrorism), followed by Yom Ha’Atzma’ut, the miracle that was and still is the birth of the State of Israel, after and within all of the chaos. Someone said to me yesterday that the most moving videos on Israeli television happen on Yom HaZikaron, due to the incredible power of the events and people we remember. What follows is a very sensitive struggle with the emotional train wreck of memory and current events by a dear friend of mine. There are only questions…

Yehuda was rummaging through a box of toys in the corner of the room when he suddenly paused and called out, “Harmonica! Kochava’s harmonica!”

Kochava Even-Haim, z"l

Kochava – Yehuda’s nursery school teacher, who had taught him, and adored him, for two years in a row. She was murdered by terrorists within hours of greeting us at a back-to-school night at the beginning of what was to be Yehuda’s third year in her warm embrace, an embrace that evaporated in a spray of bullets. Though she has been gone a year and a half, Yehuda, now almost eight years old, still refers to her often.

“Yehuda, did Kochava play the harmonica?” But Yehuda did not answer me; he was already running over to the window, harmonica in hand, and he began pleading to the clouds, “Hashem! Give me back my Kochava! I want her! I want to play with her! Why did she die? Send her back to me from the sky!”

The pure and raw prayer of a mentally disabled child. The pure and raw emotion of a soul unable to comprehend the hatred that leads to murder, but masterfully gifted in absorbing and offering love.

Yehuda and his mother, Jennie, at Yehuda's siddur party

A few weeks later, I finished a work meeting in Jerusalem, and was relieved that due to careful advanced planning, I would be free for the next thirty minutes. I had set aside that time before and after the Yom Hazikaron siren for undistracted private moments of reflection. Yom Hazikaron has become more and more personally meaningful in the five years since we made aliya. Fallen soldiers and terror victims are no longer a list of anonymous names, but are now my neighbor’s brother, my colleague’s uncle, my son’s nursery school teacher. And with a draft letter for my eldest son already sitting in the house, Yom Hazikaron is also a sobering reminder that I too, am about to be drafted, into that elite unit of Israeli mothers who are proud by day and sleepless by night.

I spent the fifteen minutes before the siren in front of the computer, watching interviews with parents, and siblings, and girlfriends of soldiers who died in military training accidents. The interviews were broadcast as the familiar notes of Yom Hazikaron’s mournful songs played in the background, a holiday soundtrack so uniquely Israeli.

11 a.m.: As the siren blared, softly at first, and then strengthening in its haunting blast, my tears were already falling. I moved closer to the window, ten flights up from the street below, to watch the cars pull over to the side of the road, and the pedestrians stop midstep, as all joined in a united moment of silence and prayer. In those opening seconds of the siren, my thoughts were focused on Kochava, and on the bereft parents interviewed online, and on my son’s draft notice. I thought about those parents’ acceptance of their tragedy, their talk about finding meaning in moving forward, and in living life as a memorial to the goodness of their sons. My eyes moved from the still cars below to the apartment building under construction across the street. Standing at my tenth floor perch, I was able to see directly into the open window of a room in which three Arab workers hovered over a large piece of metal. I heard myself gasp as the siren hit its loudest pitch, for at that moment, the workers dropped their tools, and in the room high above the street below, began to dance together. And laugh. And dance some more. And as the tears of the Israelis on the street below flowed, these workers danced. I desperately wanted to believe that their dancing was in no way connected to the wailing siren, but the timing of their smiling nods at each other as the siren blasted was painful to observe from my hidden vantage point, which at that moment felt so very far away from those workers, who were in fact just a few feet away from me. My vision was blurred by my own hot tears as my mind jumped to the parents of the fallen soldiers, and then jumped again to Yehuda crying out with his harmonica for Kochava, and then jumped again, as our thoughts do without our control, to the image of a triumphant Palestinian gleefully waving his bloodied hands out the window to the rowdy crowds on the street below, hands bloodied as he and his friends savagely murdered two Israeli soldiers who had taken a wrong turn in Ramallah over ten years ago.

Jameel@Muqata

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/the-wrong-time-to-dance/2012/05/02/

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