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Posts Tagged ‘tzvi fishman’

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter One: Anatevka

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Nemerov, the district Police Commissioner, reared his horse in the air.

“Three days,” he warned. “The Jews of Anatevka have three days to clear out of the area.”

Tevye spat in disgust at the ground. “Three days,” he brooded. Three days were all the authorities were giving the Jews to sell their belongings and evacuate the village they loved.

It didn’t matter that the Jews had lived in Anatevka long before the Russians. The Police Commissioner didn’t care that Tevye’s great-grandfather, may his memory be a blessing, had cleared the forest by the lake and built the first house in the region. It didn’t matter to the Czar and his soldiers that for as long as anyone could remember, the Jews had dutifully paid the taxes which had laden the Czar’s table with food, while the pantries of the Jews remained bare. Nor did it matter to them that the Jews had cleaned out the stables of the Russian landowners, chopped their wood, sewed their garments, and delivered their milk. It didn’t matter that a Jew would bow in respect when a Russian passed by, just to keep peace. Nor did it matter to them that the decent folk of Anatevka had no other place to call home. They were Jews, and that was that. The Czar, may he and his loved ones be cursed, had made his decision in the interests of the motherland. His order was final. The Jews had three days to get out. The butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers of Anatevka had been declared enemies of the state.

The usually goodhearted milkman spat in anger as the Police Commissioner and his soldiers rode out of the village. Then he looked up at the heavens and prayed.

“My Father and King, Whose ways are perfect and just, and Who does only good to His people – even if we can’t understand Your kindness in throwing us out of our homes – after the Jews of Anatevka have journeyed to some faraway land, may the Czar and his Cossacks be swallowed up into the earth.”

Not that all Russians were as wicked as the Czar and his soldiers. After all, the same God had created all people, Jews and Russians alike. Loving God meant loving all of His creation. But sometimes, it wasn’t so easy. When someone kicks you out of your home, and treats you like dirt, it’s hard for a man to be grateful.

Where would they go? Tevye didn’t know. To Broditchov, in a distant part of Russia, where the pogroms had not yet struck? To America? To Poland? To the Land of Israel? To England? Or France? Tevye didn’t have time to think up a plan. He would simply go along with everyone else in his village, wherever the Almighty led them. After all, had Abraham known his destination when God told him to leave his birthplace for some faraway land? As the Torah says, “And Abraham believed!” He trusted in God. Without complaining, he packed up his belongings and went.

Tevye’s head kept spinning like it did when he drank too much vodka on Purim. There were so many things to arrange. How do you pack a lifetime into three days? Maybe he should have pulled the Police Commissioner off of his horse and given him a good thrashing. Maybe he should have rallied the Jews to rebellion. But what would that have accomplished? Reports of pogroms had reached them from all over Russia. Burnings, lootings, evacuations, the slaughter of innocent women and children. Just because they were Jews. How could they rebel? Did the Jews have an army? Did they have weapons with which they could fight? Was Tevye Judah the Maccabee, that he could rally people to follow him? What kind of resistance could the lowly Jews muster?

Tevye trudged back to his tiny castle, the home he had built long ago with more youthful hands. Was a house merely pieces of wood that a man could so easily sell it? What about all of the years, the memories, the joys, and the sorrows? True, Tevye thought, he could have survived just as well without all of the sorrows, but that was the life of a Jew. There were good times and bad. A house could be sold, but what about all of the memories engraved in the planks of the walls? Well, he supposed he could take his memories with him.

The Jewish Press to Serialize Tevye in the Promised Land

Friday, June 15th, 2012

In keeping with The Jewish Press’ long tradition of bringing our readers the finest in Torah and Jewish Literature, along with news of the Jewish world, we are happy to announce the upcoming weekly serialization of Tzvi Fishman’s award-winning novel, Tevye in the Promised Land, which will begin this coming Monday.

“The Jews of Anatevka have three days to clear out of the area.”

Thus begins Tevye’s unforgettable journey to the Promised Land. Tzvi Fishman’s stirring family saga of the continuing adventures of Sholom Aleichem’s beloved character, Tevye the Milkman, immortalized in Fiddler in the Roof, takes up where the original stories left off.

At a crossroads at the outskirts of their Anatevka village, Tevye and his daughters meet up with a troupe of Zionists headed for Palestine. Just then, as if the Almighty is pointing the way, the Anatevka mailman comes running with a letter from Tevye’s long-lost daughter, Hodel. Her communist husband, Perchik, has been exiled from Russia, and they are living in the Holy Land on a non-religious kibbutz!

Clinging to the Torah and the tradition he loves, Tevye has to defend his daughters, not only against the modern lifestyle of the Zionist pioneers, but against malaria-infested swamps, deadly plagues, swarms of locusts, Turkish prisons, and Arab marauders. With steadfast determination and faith, Tevye perseveres through non-stop trials and hardships in rebuilding the Jewish Homeland. While trying to do his best as a father in marrying off his daughters to suitable husbands, Tevye himself finds a new bride to take the place of his deeply-missed Golda. Finally, as World War One threatens to destroy the Jewish settlements in Palestine, Tevye joins the first Jewish fighting brigade since the days of Bar Kochba and Rabbi Akiva. In a daring secret mission, he helps the British rout the Turks.

Now in this sweeping, literary adventure, Sholom Aleichem’s beloved milkman, Tevya from Anatevka, is back as he journeys with his daughters to the Holy Land to become a pioneer settler in the Land of Israel. With Golda, Tzeitl, Hodel, Hava, Ruchel, Bat Sheva, Perchik, and Hevedke Galagan at his side, and characters like Rabbi Kook, the Baron Rothchilds, and Zeev Jabotinsky appearing along the way, Tevye’s trials of faith continues in this dramatic and deeply inspiring saga – a novel your whole family will never forget.

“I thought I knew everything there was to know about Tevye, but reading Tevye in the Promised Land, I kept turning page after page after page….” Haim Topel, star of the movie, “Fiddler on the Roof”

Filled with laughter, heartbreak, and joy, Tevye in the Promised Land is the compelling story of a people’s rebirth, and a triumph of Jewish Faith.

Winner of the Israel Ministry of Education Award for Creativity and Jewish Culture.

A Jewish Hero Grows Up in Brooklyn

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Let’s continue our Book Week tribute to Rabbi Meir Kahane with a look at a truly wonderful biography published last year, Rabbi Meir Kahane – His Life and Thought written by his wife, Libby Kahane, who lives down the street from me in Jerusalem. The biography is Volume One of the never-dull story, covering the years 1932-1975. Presently, the Rebbetzin is working on Volume Two. I don’t want to give away my age, but for me the book is a combination of nostalgia and a saga of modern Jewish history, covering the Rabbi’s early years, his development into a passionate Jewish leader, willing to risk everything in his towering love for the Jewish People, the struggle for Soviet Jewry, the birth of the Jewish Defense League, the Kahane family’s aliyah, and Reb Meir’s first political battles in Israel. All in all, it’s an inspiring story of a true Jewish hero that every Jew should read.

Today, we will look at a passage about the Rabbi’s early days at The Jewish Press, which continued to publish his writings for thirty years until he was murdered by an Arab terrorist during a visit to New York.

Tomorrow, God willing, we will post a surprising section describing his youth that had a dramatic impact on me, teaching me that everyone has the potential and ability to build himself into a person of greatness, in whatever field of endeavor that he or she chooses to pursue.

From Chapter 8, Newspapers (1961-1963):

One year, Meir took the children to the annual “Salute to Israel” parade in Manhattan. The kids came home waving small Israeli flags Meir had bought them. The next morning, our light blue car had the word JEW painted on it in large black letters. After hours of scrubbing, I finally managed to remove all the black paint. I never felt the same about my neighbors again.

Since he had to drive through Flatbush for his editorial job at The Jewish Press, the location of the Mirrer Yeshiva was now more convenient than that of the Chaim Berlin Yeshiva. Every morning after his newspaper deliveries, Meir went to study at the Mirrer Yeshiva.

Meir drove a manual-shift Austin, which was handy for stop-and-go newspaper delivery, and I had a secondhand light blue Rambler for shopping and car pools. We lived modestly but comfortably on the income from Meir’s newspaper route, occasional private Hebrew lessons, and The Jewish Press.

Meir’s earliest writing in The Jewish Press reflected his preoccupation with Torah study. His first weekly column was “The Shiur of the Week.” Topics included the permissibility of delivering clothes to a laundry that would wash them on Shabbat, the lighting of Shabbat candles, and the blowing of the shofar on the High Holidays. He wrote “The Shiur of the Week” under the pen name Hamaor Hakatan (the small light), a play on the name Meir, which means giving light.

He began to write another column, “A Small Voice,” under his own name at about the same time. The first few columns had the title “A Still, Small Voice,” a phrase from I Kings 19, in which the prophet Elijah hears the word of God: “… but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, a still small voice.” From 1960 to 1962, “A Small Voice” dealt with topics such as South African Jewry, religious laws in Israel, the Eichmann trial, the Bnei Israel Indian Jews, Christian missionary activity among poverty-stricken Israelis, and freedom of speech for Nazis in the U.S.

In “A Small Voice” of June 10, 1960, Meir attacked critics of David Ben-Gurion:

“No one can deny the tragedy inherent in the picture of a Jewish prime minister publicly contradicting the Bible… [But] among the voices of criticism raised were clearly heard those of the Scandal Mongers. They are the voice of those that are always ready to criticize the government of Israel…. Every sin and every transgression is shouted forth, while the good is always interred in silence….”

Meir then gave details of recent Israeli legislation that promoted adherence to Jewish law. For example, “The husband who defies the rabbinical court and refuses to grant a divorce to his wife will be jailed for contempt of court until he complies.” This legislation freed many women from being agunot, chained to their husbands, a situation all too common among Jews in the United States. “Certainly there is much that is wrong with Israel today…. But there is much that is right with Ben-Gurion and with Israel also, and I would be more impressed with the tears of the Scandal Mongers if they acknowledged this…. ”

“Hebrew Book Week” Interview with Tzvi Fishman

Monday, June 4th, 2012

The “People of the Book” are the People of the Torah. But Jews don’t only love the Torah – they love all kinds of books. “Book Week” is beginning in Israel, when book buying reaches a crescendo. In just about every city of the country, you’ll find crowds of book lovers flocking to outdoor book fairs, lured by the discounted prices on the season’s new book, as well as on classics from the past. To put our Jewish Press website fans in the mood for a little book reading as well, we’ve decided to interview our new blogger, Tzvi Fishman, who is also a popular and prize-winning novelist, about some of his books and the role of literature in Jewish life.

Yishai Fleisher: Let’s start out with your popular novel, Tevye in the Promised Land. In Israel, it’s been a longtime bestseller. Especially in the national religious community, everyone’s read it, adults and young readers alike. For Jewish Press readers who may not be familiar with the story, the novel begins where “Fiddler on the Roof” left off, with Tevye the milkman and the Jews of Anatevka being expelled from their beloved village. Your action-filled adventure brings Tevye and his family to the Holy Land where he becomes a pioneer builder of the Land. What motivated you to write the story?

Tzvi Fishman: When I became a baal tshuva and left Hollywood, I felt bad about leaving Tevye behind in galut. Like millions of other Jews, I loved Sholom’s Aleichem’s famous character, as if he were a part of my own family. When I saw the film of “Fiddler” as a totally assimilated teenager, it blew me away. Outside of the movie “The Ten Commandments,” it was the first time I had ever seen something “Jewish” on the big screen. I fell in love with the character. His lively relationship with God gave my soul a poke that awakened something Jewish inside. I didn’t become a baal tshuva on the spot, but the movie planted the seeds. When I finally made aliyah, I wanted to bring Tevye along with me, to share in the incomparable blessing. So I repainted the character and set him in the middle of the amazing pioneer saga of how Israel was reborn.

YF: You hear a lot of people claim that aliyah is difficult, but no one has ever encountered more challenges than Tevye. He faces highway robbers, storms at sea, mosquito-infested swamps, plagues of malaria, Turkish thieves, marauding Arabs, locusts, secular Zionist suitors who sweep his daughters off their feet… yet he always clings to his incredible faith in God.

TF: Just like the Jewish People. He’s a symbol for all of us. The trials he faces are a miniature version of the trials we have had to face as a People throughout Jewish and in rebuilding our homeland.

YF: Your book of humorous and satirical short stories about Jewish life in Israel and the Diaspora, Days of Mashiach, was recently published in France. How did that come about?

TF: Among the avid lovers of Tevye in the Promised Land was a person who worked as French translator. She took it upon herself to translate the novel, which was subsequently published in France. When the book sold a lot of copies, she translated my book of short stories and some non-Jewish publisher grabbed it, which is sort of a miracle because the book is super right-wing, religious, pro-settlement Israeli. But the publisher insists that the stories have a universal message and compares my writing to Kafka and Voltaire, whatever that means.

YF: It means he thinks you’re a good writer. In your novel, The Discman and the Guru, you have your young Holden Caulfield-like protagonist, Sam Singer, set off from LA on a quest to find God which takes him to London, Paris, Rome, India, Mecca, and finally Jerusalem, where he nearly sets off World War III for trying to pray on the Temple Mount. Is his journey autobiographical?

Beyond Words – Rabbi Meir Kahane at His Very Best

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

One of Rabbi Kahane’s most powerful essays, “What Makes Bernie Run?” was published in The Jewish Press in 1976. Unfortunately, its scathing message is as true today as it was back then, almost 35 years ago.

We have written about programs like Birthright in the past. Sure it’s a great thing to send young Jews to Israel for an inspirational visit. If even one Jew ends up marrying a Jewish mate because of it, and coming on aliyah, then all of the millions of dollars are worth it. But, after these kids return to their college campuses and their enticing shiksa classmates, their experience in Israel will all too often turn into a fading memory with snapshots they can show to the shiksas they marry. If he is still charged up from his visit, maybe Bernie will insist that Brigette undergo some worthless conversion. Maybe he’ll get her to light Sabbath candles and tell their kids that they’re Jews. And when they grow up, maybe Bernie’s gentile’s children will pass themselves off as the real thing and get some poor Jewish sucker to marry them. What a mess it will be! There will even be “Jewish” weddings where both the bride and groom are gentiles. Soon in America, you won’t be able to know if the person you are marrying is really a Jew, or if he or she innocently believes they’re Jewish because that’s what their parents told them, and the rabbis and temples and Jewish establishment all went along with the charade. And now that the Attorney General in Israel has cleared the way to pay reform “rabbis,” thus recognizing their services to their communities, this terrible danger may spread to the Holy Land where intermarriage has been less than one percent up till now.

Rabbi Kahane envisioned it all. Here is his article. It’s long, but it’s an incredible, dynamite piece of writing that tells the truth in the brilliant, straight-to-the-jugular way which characterizes the Rabbi’s writings. He published 22 books and authored well over 1,000 articles before being assassinated in 1990. With the brave backing of The Jewish Press, he wrote scores of essays for the newspaper using a variety of pen names. But until last year, the overwhelming majority of his articles were only available in the archives of The Jewish Press building. Now, after a heroic ten-year effort by David Fine, a seven-volume set containing many of these articles has been published. Called Beyond Words: Selected Writings, 1960-1990, the collection spans 3,500 pages with most of the best articles that Rabbi Kahane ever wrote.

Beyond Words also includes several indexes in Volume 7 that enable the reader to find articles by subject, by title, and even by the references in the article to specific quotations from the Torah and the Talmud. To order in Israel, call 02-582-3540.

WHAT MAKES BERNIE RUN?

Rabbi Meir Kahane

(Federal prison, Manhattan, Lag Ba’Omer, April 29, 1975)

Once there was a television program, which centered about the theme of intermarriage. The heroes of the piece were named Bernie and Brigitte. The American Jewish Establishment put great pressure on the particular network that televised the series and the program was ultimately dropped. Bernie and Brigitte were no longer. They had been canceled…

How relatively simple it was to cancel Bernie and Brigitte on television and how much more difficult to struggle against the curse and cancer of intermarriage and assimilation that exists in real American Jewish life. How simple to picket a television series to death and how hard to stamp out the disease that afflicts us daily in the real-life existence that is the lot of American Jewry. lf we no longer find Bernie and Brigitte strolling hand in hand across our television screens we need only look at our campuses, at our streets at our neighborhoods, Bernie is alive and well.

What makes Bernie run? What makes Bernie run after Brigitte? What makes Bernie run away from Judaism and cut the chain of generations? What makes Bernie run away from the Judaism that his great-grandfather clutched at the risk of loss of happiness material wealth and so often very life? What makes Bernie run? This is the question that drives the American Jewish Establishment to frantically set up committees, study groups, surveys and commissions. This is the question that drives them to study the problem again and again and then again. This is the question to which they allocate so much time and so much communal money. This is the question that is at the top of their puzzled order of priorities, over which they scratch their collective well-groomed heads: What makes Bernie run?

Who Thinks about Jerusalem During the Seventh Inning Stretch?

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Many Diasporians argue: “Why should I live in Israel when I can do the mitzvot in the Diaspora just as well?”

Firstly, the mitzvah to live in Israel is a commandment of the Torah, and you can only do it if you live in Israel. An Orthodox Jew does his or her best to observe the commandments as completely as possible. It isn’t always easy to keep kosher and pray three times a day, but we do it. The same applies to the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisrael which our Sages teach is equal in weight to all the commandments of the Torah (Sifre, Reah, 80).

Secondly, the value of a mitzvah performed in Israel is greatly magnified when it is performed in the Holy Land, where the commandments are supposed to be performed, as opposed to its value when performed in an impure gentile land whose atmosphere is filled with spiritual barriers. As the classic treatise on Jewish belief, “The Kuzari,” teaches: “The Land of Israel is especially distinguished by the Lord of Israel and no performance of the commandments can be perfect except there. Many of the Torah’s laws do not concern those who do not live there, and heart and soul are only perfectly pure and clean in the place which is known to be especially selected by God” (Kuzari, 5:23).

Thirdly, many people have a distorted understanding of Judaism, believing it to be merely a list of ritual commandments like keeping kosher and putting on tefillin. They don’t realize, or haven’t learned, that the Torah is, first and foremost, the constitution of the Jewish Nation, the Nation of Israel, as we say in the blessing over the Torah, “who chose us from all of the nations.” Hashem chose us as a Nation and brought us out of Egypt to be “a Nation of Kohanim and a holy People.” We can only be a Nation in Israel. Anywhere else in the world, we are scattered individuals, or communities, but we can’t be a Jewish Nation with our own Jewish government, Jewish army, Jewish language, Jewish calendar, Jewish courts, and the like. We need our own Jewish Land for that. In addition to having to do our own private mitzvot like keeping Shabbat, our mission is to sanctify the Name of God in the world and that is done through the life of the Nation in Israel, and not as always fragile minorities in foreign lands, as the horrors of Parshat Bechukotei make clear. Thus, to sanctify the Name of God and increase His honor in the world, we have to be in Israel.

Fourthly, people shouldn’t be fooled by the temporary “haven” they have found in America. Throughout history, wherever Jews lived, sooner or later, the goyim reminded us, in a very unpleasant fashion, that we were strangers in their land. People are deluding themselves if they think it can’t happen in the United States. In a way, it already is. Intermarriage is skyrocketing, decimating America’s Jewish community with a kiss.

The Hebrew word, “aliyah,” means “an ascent.” One speaks about “going up” to Israel. Since Israel is the Holy Land, anyone who moves here from the Diaspora is considered to be on a journey of spiritual ascent. One reason is that in joining the rebuilding of the Nation of Israel in Eretz Yisrael, he, or she, is elevating his private, individual life to the much greater life of the “Clal,” of the Jewish Nation as a whole, sharing in its most cherished aspirations and dreams.

Tragically, a misunderstanding of Judaism is taught throughout the Diaspora, which sees Diaspora Judaism as an end in itself, and not what it really is – a punishment of exile in foreign lands until we return to our own Holy Land. Instead of teaching their communities that the goal of each and every Jew should be to live a Torah life in Israel, as is explicitly expressed in our daily prayers, and repeated again and again in the Torah, Jewish leaders and educators in the Diaspora work toward strengthening Jewish life in the exile itself. Because the educational goals of the Jewish establishment in the Diaspora are misdirected, many of our Jewish brothers and sisters who live there don’t know any better. In their innocence, they believe they are doing the right thing in educating their children to become successful Americans, Frenchmen, or Australians, instead of encouraging them to build their lives in the Jewish homeland as proud independent Israeli Jews. The result of this tragic policy is the growing rate of assimilation that is decimating Jewish communities around the world, except in Israel where assimilation hardly exists.

If I Were Prime Minister

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Now that everyone is talking about elections in Israel, I’m thinking of throwing my kippah into the ring. Whether elections come now or in another year, we need new faces and new ideas to give the country the push it needs to become a true light to the nations.

In all modesty, my novels have won me a pretty fair following in the religious community, so I could very well garner the necessary number of votes to get elected to the Knesset. I won’t run with a big party like the Likud. Why bring my followers to join the Likud, only to have them betray the Land of Israel in some peace deal? When you belong to a political party, you can’t blame the rotten things they do only on the “bad guys.” As a member of the party, you have collective responsibility, so you’re to blame too. So why should I strengthen the Likud when I know that they are ready to chop our Holy Land in half?

On the other hand, I can’t run with the religious Zionist parties because I’m too far to the right for the consensus they are hoping to achieve. And I’m too big a Zionist for the Haredim, so I’ll have to run alone.

Here are some of the main points of my platform:

*All Arabs must leave the Land of Israel.

* Israeli sovereignty will be declared over all the borders of Biblical Israel.

*Any Israeli politician who voted in favor of the Oslo Accords will be deported from the country to the island of St. Helena.

*All Israeli politicians who voted in favor of the Evacuation of Gush Katif will be brought to trial and sentenced to hard labor, rebuilding the Jewish communities which they destroyed.

*The judges of the Supreme Court will be replaced by Torah scholars who will judge all cases according to Torah law.

*Israeli television, radio, and all newspapers will be run and governed by a board of rabbis, and all left-wing producers, directors, writers, and anchormen will be fired.

*The nuclear facilities in Iran will be immediately destroyed.

*Relations with the United States shall be suspended until Jonathan Pollard is freed.

*A national educational campaign on the importance of modesty will be initiated, similar to past campaigns on highway safety and the danger of cigarette smoking. After a massive, year-long public campaign, women who dress immodestly will be fined. Repeated offenders will be imprisoned.

*No women will serve in the army. Army service will be reduced to 2 years. Special glatt-kosher brigades with daily Torah study will be established for Haredi recruits. Serious yeshiva students will be allowed a 5 year deferment before beginning a shortened, 1 year course of military service. All Diaspora Jews under 30 years old will be obligated to serve for a year in the Israeli Army or forfeit their right to visit the country.

*We will establish Project Cyberspace Shield whereby special anti-Internet-porn satellites and cyberspace jamming equipment will be designed and put into operation on a national level to keep Israel porn-free.

*Teacher’s salaries will be tripled.

*The new “String Bridge” at the entrance to Jerusalem will be dismantled. A 40-story-high musical Harp of David will be erected in its place.

*Illegal refugees from Sudan will be taught to play basketball, baseball, and soccer. Outstanding athletes will be sold to professional teams overseas and the revenue will be apportioned to yeshivot. The rest of the Sudanese will be returned to Sudan.

*Once the Arabs are evacuated from the Gaza Strip, the city of Gaza will be rebuilt to look like Brooklyn, in anticipation of Mashiach’s coming – may it be soon!

The full election platform is still being developed. Blog readers are invited to send in further suggestions.

See you at the polls!

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/felafel-on-rye/if-i-were-prime-minister/2012/05/08/

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