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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rome’

Leaving Israel – a First Impression

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

My first real sense that I was really going to do this thing – leave Israel without my husband and children and go on this business trip was saying goodbye at the airport. It has, for the last decade or more, me saying goodbye to them and driving back home, sad that he or she has left, but less sad than before because there was always the knowledge that I was where I wanted to be and they, whoever they were, would come back, come home.

This is the way it has been each time with my children – so far Amira and Elie and Shmulik only; this is the way it was the few times my husband has flown. This is how it has been each time Yaakov and Chaim went to that other home, the one of their parents, until they came back (or will come back soon) to the home they’ve chosen for themselves.

This time, for the first time, it is me leaving. My bags being packed, my clothes and things, and my husband left to drive the car back to the amazing life and home and family we have built in Israel. I had my first doubts then…because there is another love that I left. I take my family with me – in my heart, in too many phone calls already with Aliza and my husband.

To SMS text messages or emails or pictures I am taking to show them…the cars for Shmulik and Davidi; the hotel for Aliza; the stores and signs for Amira…and I’ll find something to take for Elie too.

But what I couldn’t take with me was that other love of my life – Israel. Leaving Israel behind was more painful than I can explain. There was never a question I’d go back to my family, but I found myself promising Israel that I’d be home soon too. How insane is that? Never mind, this is my blog and I can express my insanity here, so there it is.

So, my first impression of leaving was tremendous pride – reinforced later when I landed in Rome Airport.

In Israel – Terminal 3 Departure Hall – where all outgoing passengers go – is amazing. With all of my experience of two airports (London and Rome), I have to say Israel shines. There is free Internet – use it, surf, have fun.

There are free charging stations – for phones (including plugs for the universal USB, the iPhone and more) and empty plugs so I recharge my laptop and work a bit. All the duty free shops – tons. American chocolate…don’t ask, tons of alcohol – too bad I don’t drink…(can’t stand the taste).

I called my oldest daughter and joked that I was moving there permanently. What more could you need – wide open spaces, bathrooms close by (ones that are cleaned for you, no less), free Internet, a wide variety of food stores – including one called Chocolate and More.

What more could you need?

I was a bit disappointed that the Alitalia plane arrived late and so we got a late start.- but in the scheme of things, it wasn’t that big a deal. I think I just expected everything to run so perfectly – but not a big deal.

Within a short time, I was off…as I sat waiting on the plane to take off, a wave of…something, came over me. Melancholy? I’ve always loved that word. Hesitation? I’m not sure.

I took out my camera and felt the need to take pictures…this is Israel – and I promise you, Israel, I’ll be home very soon.

Leaving Israel…from the runway, from the air…that last glimpse backwards…that’s my next post…

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Rome Jewish Leader Must Pay Court Fees of Convicted Nazi

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Italian tax collectors have ordered the president of Rome’s Jewish community and a TV reporter to pay the court fees of convicted Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke, who lost a lawsuit against them in 1996.

“I won’t pay,” Jewish Community President Riccardo Pacifici told Italian media, but under Italian law, “all parties involved” must pay the fees to register the sentence if the guilty party is judged to have no assets.

Pacifici and TV reporter Walter Vecellio recently received a bill from the state tax collection agency for about $345, according to reports.

Priebke, 99, a former SS captain, is serving a life sentence under house arrest for his role in the 1944 massacre of 335 Romans, including about 75 Jews, in the Ardeatine Caves south of Rome.

His suit against Pacifici and Vecellio stemmed from the clashes that erupted after his initial trial in 1996, the year after he was tracked down in Argentina and extradited to Italy. A Rome military court found him guilty but freed him because of extenuating circumstances.

Scores of protesters, many of them militant young Jews, battled with police and tried to storm the courthouse. After eight hours, Italy’s justice minister ordered Priebke rearrested. He was retried in 1998 and sentenced to life in prison.

Zuckerberg Stiffs Waiter in Jewish Restaurant

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Honeymooning Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his bride, Priscilla Chan, paid $40 for lunch at a Jewish restaurant in Rome’s historic ghetto but did not leave a tip, according to Italian media.

Newspapers ran pictures of what they said was the billionaire couple’s bill at the Nonna Betta restaurant — Jewish style artichokes and fried zucchini flowers (both Roman Jewish specialties) as starters; one order between them of ravioli stuffed with artichokes and sea bass; tea and water.

The total came to just 32 euro – about $40 — including the cover charge for bread that is normal for restaurants in Italy.

Staff at the restaurant were quoted in newspapers as saying the couple did not leave any gratuity.

“I asked him ‘how was it?,’ and he said ‘very good,’ ” Nonna Betta’s owner was quoted as telling the Corriere della Sera newspaper. “I had gone up to him and said, ‘Are you …?’ and he said, ‘Yes.’ ”

Media reports said the couple went on to Capri after Rome.

Radical Judaism Is Wrong

Friday, February 17th, 2012

On my recent trip to Israel, I was disgusted to hear about the abuse of women at the hands of those calling themselves religious Jews. I expect better of my brothers and sisters. I do not wish to hold them to an unfair standard, but I do wish to hold them to the same standard I hold other people – that of being decent human beings. There is no excuse for spitting on little girls and there is no reason to believe you can practice gender apartheid in a Jewish land. If you want to make women second-class citizens, may I suggest relocating to Saudi Arabia?

I wish I could just hide behind the thought that it’s a fringe minority, but Jews have always been judged as a whole and usually judged by the worst of us. Sadly, with the advent of the Internet, anything Orthodox Jews do will be seen by the world at large. One cell phone and a wi-fi link and everything we do is on Youtube to be mocked by the world.

Yes, there is a serious problem in the Jewish world. The line between secular and religious has become a vast chasm of ignorance on both sides. Many seculars call religious self-righteous parasites, many religious call seculars worthless sinners. Both can present numerous proofs for why their side is correct. Both are doomed to fail because such strife has always been condemned to utter futility.

We are forgetting the lessons of the churban Beit HaMikdash, how we were not finished off by Rome, but destroyed ourselves through mindless hatred and zealotry. We bled each other dry through violence and bigotry until we were weak enough for Rome to come in and step all over our broken bodies. Rome did not defeat us – we defeated ourselves. Every side has reasons to believe that they are right, but in the end, rightness carried out wrongly only leads to more wrong.

Some are using their talents to make Orthodoxy more attractive to Jews. The delightful Allison Josephs of “Jew in the City” answers questions about Judaism with a wit and an elegance that makes me more proud to be Jewish. She presents us as rational human beings with intelligent reasons to practice an ancient faith. Her work is so incredible that instead of answering questions myself, I often just link to her videos because they are so much better than me fumbling for an answer.

Others are using their talents to make Judaism noxious in the eyes of others. They insult less religious Jews, trying to make them feel ashamed. They make evil videos mocking Jews who are at a different point in their spiritual journey. They mock anything secular, claiming they are doing it in the name of Heaven. They do not just devalue ideas, they also devalue people. It is an incredible thing to see people so thoughtful with what goes into their mouths, but so hateful with what comes out of it. They call themselves religious leaders, but they are mere frauds who have no love of Israel, and disguise their evil with a mantle of righteousness. They are the modern day Doegs, the beautiful facades with an empty core. They do not teach out of loyalty to their fellow Jews, but for the satisfaction of gaining more power.

When people reach out to them with real problems, they slap them down and mock them some more. Many even insult non-Jewish people, in hopes of proving their Judaism. They are the ones who burn advertisements in Israel, who spit at little girls, who harass women in the street with foul language. They are the tzniut patrol who harangue women just trying to take their children to school. They are simply modern day zealots who seek to restore a terrible and evil form of Judaism.

If that is Judaism, then I can imagine I would prefer to become a squirrel than become like them. I am blessed with the education to know that these people are the flakes on the head of Judaism, annoying and to be shaken off. Many secular Jews are seeing these people and missing the real people, the good and moral ones who love humanity and seek to unite Jews under a common mission.

Behind every off-the-derech person is a zealot, often a teacher who used his or her position abusively and destroyed Judaism in this person’s eyes. I have often advised my friends that it takes a lifetime to build but a mere second to destroy. All the beauty of Torah can be poisoned by a single cruel and humiliating remark, which bruises the person’s heart for years to come.

If we take on the mantle of heaven, we have a duty to be ambassadors for the Torah. Ambassadors for a country may not surrender their countries’ essential mission, but rather must convey it in a pleasant, respectful manner, which raises them in the eyes of others. They are held to a higher standard because they are given a special mission, a mission to represent a higher ideal. It sounds familiar, no?

The Meaning of Today’s 10th of Tevet Fast

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Asara B’Teves, the 10th of Teves, commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar that ultimately culminated with the First Temple’s destruction on the 9th of Av the following year.

Of course, Jewish residents of our holiest city have been no strangers to military sieges. One of the most famous was led by the Assyrian monarch Sancheirev against the Judean king Chizkiyahu and his small nation (recorded in II Chronicles 32), over a century before Nebuchadnezzar rose to power. This siege ended miraculously when Hashem orchestrated the sudden deaths of nearly the entire Assyrian army.

Other well-known sieges of Jerusalem include the Roman encirclement that resulted in the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, and the one led by the emperor Hadrian and his leading general Julius Severus in 135 CE in response to the revolt of Bar Kochba.

Yet one of the saddest and most painful sieges in Jerusalem’s history was imposed not by a force of gentile invaders but rather by one group of Jews against another. The siege marked a climax in an internal struggle that had been raging for centuries within the Jewish nation, and would ultimately result in the destruction of our Holy Temple.

After the death of Yehuda Aristobulus (103 BCE), Alexander Yannai became king. Yannai was the son of Yochanan Hyrcanus, grandson of Shimon and great grandson of Matityahu. He would rule for twenty-seven years, until 76 BCE.

Following Aristobulus’s death, Yannai married his brother’s widow Shlomtzion through the process known as yibum, or levirate marriage. At the beginning of their marriage, Shlomtzion prevailed on her new husband to deal kindly with the Pharisees, who represented the majority of the Jewish people and were the guardians of the Torah-true tradition dating back to Sinai. Her brother, Shimon ben Shetach, was the leading sage of the time and Yannai conferred with him on both political and religious matters.

But this peaceful arrangement would not last for long, largely because of Pharisee disproval of Yannai’s territorial ambitions.

Over time, a sizable rift developed between Yannai and his people, one that would lead to violence, bloodshed, and civil war. Many sages were tortured and killed. Others were forced to seek refuge, either by fleeing the country or by going into hiding.

Taking advantage of this situation were the Sadducees. Using their close relationship with Yannai, they secured practically every significant political position for their party. Even the Sanhedrin came under their control, the result of which was numerous errors in judgment and practice. (The Sadducees lacked sufficient knowledge in Jewish law. Their insistence on a literal interpretation of the Torah further guaranteed these errors.)

The strain between the two sides remained palpable yet subdued. In 90 BCE, however, all of that would change. Yannai set out on another military campaign into Transjordan. After experiencing initial successes, Yannai was repelled in a battle against the Nabateans. Caught in an ambush, Yannai “was thrown down into a deep valley… and hardly escaped with his life” (Josephus, Antiquities).

Yannai and his forces fled back to Jerusalem. The news of Yannai’s setback resonated with the Pharisees. Sensing an opportunity to rid themselves of their oppressive ruler, they rose up in open rebellion against him.

* * * * *

The civil war that followed would last six painful and torturous years. All told, in excess of fifty thousand Jews died. As the war progressed, Yannai and his supporters seized the upper hand. In desperation, certain Pharisees struck a deal with Demetrius III of Syria, inviting him to invade Judah. Many Jews joined the Syrian forces. The year was 88 BCE.

Demetrius, whose army was nearly double in size compared to that of Yannai, soundly defeated his adversary in a battle near Shechem. Yannai and his remaining forces fled. Out of pity and concern for their fellow Jews, six thousand Jewish fighters who had been serving under Demetrius now switched sides, forcing the Syrians to leave the battlefield and return home.

The Pharisees hoped Yannai would reciprocate this display of good will with a new attitude of his own. If their rebellion had not impressed upon him the need to rule over them with justness and kindness, perhaps this gesture would. Sadly, Yannai refused to come to terms with his people.

Shlomtzion and Yannai had two sons together. Neither of them, however, was viewed as a suitable candidate to succeed Yannai.

The elder son, Hyrcanus II, was a quiet and private man. He lacked the natural leadership skills and personal drive to serve as leader. Temporarily, he assumed the office of high priest and was regarded as the eventual heir to the throne.

His younger brother, Aristobulus II, was of a vastly different temperament. He was bold, ambitious, and a fearless warrior. For those reasons, he, too, was deemed an inappropriate fit to succeed Yannai, and would be limited to a secondary role in governmental affairs.

Apple Country

Monday, November 14th, 2011

One of the cool benefits of living way north of the GW Bridge and the Big Apple is that we are in real apple country.  On a whim, we can take the kids to a local orchard not ten minutes from our house, and become one with nature.  It feels just like the olden days – only back then, the farmers would pay hired hands to pick the apples, while we actually pay the farmers to please, please let us harvest their fruit.

With our toddlers in tow, it took the better part of a leisurely hour and a half to collect our bushel’s worth.  There were all kinds of folks up in those trees.  You can easily spot the real apple connoisseurs:  they come equipped with a knife and magnifying glass – and they taste each variety, talk about it, inspect it, thumb their noses at subpar apples, and toss them to the ground disdainfully.  I think they had fancy foreign accents too, but that could be my imagination working overtime.

Then there were plenty of families like ours.  Our apple criterion was not quite the same as those snooty gourmets, but it was based on our own very strict checklist.  To get into our basket, the apples:  1) must be reachable by someone smaller than three feet tall (there are only so many times Mommy and Daddy can pick you up), 2) must have no soft spots, and 3) no worm holes.

So we picked our Granny Smith and Rome, our Cortland and Macintosh, and we were on our way.  It cost us 25 bucks for the experience – but honestly, I think we wound up with 50 pounds of apples.  Back home, I started unpacking our produce and panic struck.  HELP!  What’s a gal who never baked an apple pie in her life to do with oodles and oodles of apples?  OK – I can make Puff Pastry Apple Purses, and even my 4-year-old can help.  Great!  The Purses were super.  Only 88 apples left.

I remembered that as a kid, one of my favorite treats was a caramel apple.  (I discovered a rocky road version – almost too fab for words.)  I was all ready to fire up the caramel, when my other half interjected that it would be such a waste — he doesn’t like caramel apples.

I should have been able to predict this impasse.  Since the day we got married and discovered that I’m into fish and salads and he’s all about meat and potatoes, we rarely relished the same meals.  Why should we agree on apples?

The man wanted candy-coated apples.  He yearned for candy-coated apples.  It had something to do with his childhood, a day at the beach, or the circus or something, a fight with his brother, a gift from his sister, I don’t know.  All I knew was that a candy-coated apple would resolve a long-standing ache in his heart.

I put away the caramel.  After all, I’m an adult.  I can give up my caramel apple if it means that much to my husband.  You know, I never thought I would enjoy the process, but we had such fun.  I discovered that making candy-coated apples is a great activity to do with the kids, and we munched and crunched our way to family bliss!

 

Candied Apples

Prep: 10min

Cook: 30 min

Cool: 5 min

Total: 45 min

Yield: 15 Candied Apples

 

INGREDIENTS

15 apples

2 cups white sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1 1/2 cups water

8 drops red food coloring

The Real Occupiers: Judea, Circa 50 CE

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations show no sign of abating and the voice of collective dissent now echoes well beyond lower Manhattan. During the past few weeks, the movement has spread nationally, as protesters across the country came together in a leaderless association that rails against corporate greed and social inequality.

These American protestors were joined recently by tens of thousands of others worldwide, in hundreds of cities throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. Organizers of the global demonstration said on their website they were demanding a “true democracy” for the international community. The global demonstrations came on the same day that finance ministers and central bankers from the G20 met in Paris to discuss solutions to the debt crises engulfing Europe.

Demonstrators in Rome turned violent, but crowds elsewhere were largely peaceful. In London, the atmosphere was energetic, with activists chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “We are the 99 percent” in different languages. In New York, protesters marched through the financial district to a rally in Times Square, banging drums and chanting, “We got sold out, banks got bailed out,” and “All day, all week, occupy Wall Street.”

Sadly, the word “occupy” conveys a very different connotation for the Jewish people today. Since the inception of the state of Israel, the term has largely been used to portray our nation’s return to its ancient homeland as a merciless imposition on the lives of millions of Arabs.

In the more distant past, however, the term referred to a foreign, non-Jewish presence in our Holy Land, usually accompanied by some degree of religious and/or economic persecution. In some instances, the occupation was so intense and oppressive that it forced our forebears to take a strong public stance in hopes of improving the political landscape.

Such was the case nearly two thousand years ago, in the century preceding the destruction of the Second Temple. At that time, Judean residents expressed displeasure with sustained economic and governmental heavy-handedness, perpetrated first by the Herodian rulers and then by Roman procurators. They gathered en masse to “occupy” their capital and their country, and attempt to force the hands of their tormentors.

Shortly before his death in 4 BCE, King Herod had bequeathed his kingdom to his three surviving sons: Archelaus, Antipas, and Philipus. Archelaus received the largest territory, which included Judah, Idumea and Samaria.

Herod’s death allowed the people to breathe a long-awaited sigh of relief. Surely nothing could match his extended reign of terror (Herod had ruled for nearly forty years). Upon ascending to the throne, Archelaus reinforced that impression. He received the people warmly, assuring them of future cooperation. Confident of his friendship, the Jews asked for the release of their political prisoners, and sought relief from the heavy taxation imposed by Herod. Archelaus indicated that he would satisfy their requests.

After a period of intense communal mourning for a number of sages who had been executed by Herod, the people asked for more. They wanted retribution against Herod’s advisers who had been responsible for the death of those scholars, the removal of his recent High Priest appointee, and the expulsion of Greek officials from the royal court.

This time, Archelaus made no commitments. He was tiring of their continuous requests, and was readying to set sail for Rome to secure Augustus’s consent to his appointment. Archelaus sent word in response with his officers for the people to wait until after his return. This, in turn, angered the people.

Soon after, on the eve of Pesach, the growing resentment burst forth. At the Temple, the Jewish masses again expressed their deep sense of loss for the murdered sages. Fearing an uprising, Archelaus positioned one thousand mercenary soldiers there, with orders to remove any unruly worshipers.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-real-occupiers-judea-circa-50-ce/2011/10/26/

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