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May 24, 2016 / 16 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘years’

An Unyielding Marriage of 3500+ Years: Yom Ha’atzmauth

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

This year’s Yom Ha’atzmauth commemorates the 68th anniversary of a marriage that has lasted more than 3,500 years. This may sound like a paradox, but it is the inescapable truth about the Land of Israel and the Jews. No marriage has lasted so long, been so deep in its commitment and so overwhelming in its love as the one between the Jews and their homeland. Yet no marriage has been so painful or so tragic, for the partners were forced apart by the Roman Empire nearly 2000 years ago. The bride and groom pledged unconditional love but were not reunited for another 1878 years. But for all those years, nothing – absolutely nothing – could emotionally separate the partners even when they were thousands of miles away from each other. This marriage did not depend on where the partners were located, but rather where their souls dwelt.

For the marriage to succeed, the Jews, metaphorically and unprecedentedly, lifted the Land of Israel from its native soil and transformed it into a portable homeland, taking it with them to all  four corners of the earth. Only in 1948 were the people and its land physically reunited.

The founding of the State of Israel, then, is not the beginning of the marriage between the land and the Jewish people, but rather a reaffirmation of the marriage commitment that took place thousands of years ago between God and Abraham. The State of Israel was not established in 1948, but more than 3,000 years ago when Abraham purchased the cave of Machpelah in order to bury his wife Sara. It was reaffirmed a few hundred years later when the Israelites inherited the land under the leadership of Joshua, immediately after Moshe’s death.

But no marriage should be taken for granted. Not even after 3,500 years. When a bridegroom offers his new wife a ring as a sign of commitment, he knows that this is only the first installment of an ongoing pledge. No marriage can endure if both partners do not constantly reinvest in their relationship. The moment a marriage is counted in years rather than marked by shared striving for new opportunities, it has come to an end. Only a mission – a common dream – can sustain a marriage, and only something greater than it will allow it to succeed. To paraphrase Aristotle, marriage is a single soul dwelling in two bodies. But a soul that has lost its purpose has lost itself.

Ironically, a significant part of the people of Israel today are struggling to stay spiritually wed to their land. Rampant materialism, secularism and religious fanaticism have eroded Israel’s sense of Jewish identity and the historical consciousness that gives meaning to its national existence. Growing numbers of its people lack Jewish self-understanding and question why they should live in this country at all. It is true that the wonderful Israeli soldiers are ready to sacrifice their lives for our country. But how long can this continue when Israel is nothing more than just a country? People are willing to die only for that by which they have lived. And human beings can live meaningful lives only when they know that there is something eternal worth dying for.

It is thus crucial to identify the element that has bound the two partners together for these thousands of years. And that element is, unequivocally, the mission to be “a light unto the nations,” as pronounced by God to the prophet Isaiah. The marriage was created to give birth to a wellspring of religious and moral teachings that will suffuse mankind with the knowledge that life is holy and that God awaits man’s response to His call in order to redeem His world.

This then is the task of the Land and People of Israel: to elevate the human race so that it becomes a link between the divine and the earthly. For life is a mandate, a privilege – not a game or mere triviality. The Jewish people married the land in order to create a model society to be emulated by all mankind.

It is the rabbis who consecrate a marriage. But that is only part of their task. As pastors, their responsibility is to ensure the marriage’s success and tend to it if it flounders or stagnates. This is the task of Israel’s religious leaders today. They must transform the Jewish people by creating a spiritual longing for its unique mission, thereby restoring their marriage to its full potential after the long and difficult separation.

True religious leaders should not be “honored” or “well respected.” Rather, as men of truth they should stir unprecedented awe among Israelis and all Jews. Simultaneously their towering personalities should draw people closer with their overflowing love.

The times demand unwavering religious and moral guidance. The religious leadership must extricate itself from the morass in which has become mired. In an unprecedented initiative, it must steer the ship of an inspiring, rejuvenated Judaism in full sail right into the heart of Israeli society, causing shockwaves that will impact every aspect of life. It can no longer be concerned just with the kashruth of our food, or with our Jewishness. Above all, it needs to inspire the kashruth of our souls. Like the prophets of old, our religious leaders must generate a spiritual revolution, triggering an ethical-religious uproar that shakes the very foundations of the state. Their complete failure to do so is nothing less than a tragic dereliction of duty. Israelis are waiting for such a move, and there is little doubt that their response will be overwhelming.

Only then will the Jewish people re-engage with its land. Only then can the Jewish people stay eternally married to its land. Only then will no third party, whether it is European Anti-Semitism, BDS efforts, Moslem Extremism, Jewish self-hate or the deceitfulness of UNESCO dare to interfere in its matrimonial bond. This is Israel’s hope and future.

May God bless this eternal marriage!

Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo

A Hundred Years Ago

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

It was in 1916 that 37-year-old Albert Einstein was appointed president of the German Physical Society. That same year Einstein presented his theory of general relativity.

Also in 1916, Emma Goldman, the Russian-born anarchist known for political activism in America, was arrested for lecturing on birth control.

Babe Ruth was a star pitcher in 1916.

Babe Ruth was a star pitcher in 1916.

The year 1916 was when Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman elected to Congress. Later that year, a baby boy named Issur Danielovitch was born to immigrant parents in Amsterdam, New York. He eventually changed his name to escape anti-Semitism. The world came to know him as the beloved actor Kirk Douglas.

President Woodrow Wilson appointed Louis D. Brandeis an associate justice on the Supreme Court, a position he would hold for the next 23 years. Brandeis, a native of Kentucky, was the first Jew to sit on the court.

The Jewish world mourned the death of the great humorist Sholem Aleichem. Memorial services were held in most cities with sizable Jewish populations.

The Jewish population of America was estimated at almost three million in 1916. Most did not have the means to afford even a basic Ford automobile ($440), let alone the most expensive model ($975). Ford Motor Company produced half of America’s cars and 40 percent of the world’s.

Weeghman Park, which would become Wrigley Field, opened on Chicago’s north side. Named after the owner of the Chicago Cubs, it became the first stadium in which fans were allowed to keep any balls hit into the stands. Weeghman made the decision following a fight between ballpark workers and a fan who caught a foul ball and didn’t want to return it.

Albert David Lasker, from a German Jewish background, bought a controlling interest in the Cubs in 1916. Lasker became wealthy in the advertising field and rooted for the Cubs from his home in Galveston, Texas.

In later years, when radio reached most American homes, Lasker would gain fame as the father of the “soap opera.” Lasker’s idea was to present programming that would tell a continuous story as a way of selling products through commercial advertising.

Newspapers were the way to reach most Americans in 1916. Jewish baseball fans at the time were following Erskine Mayer, known as the Yiddish Curver. The 6-foot righthander of the Philadelphia Phillies had won 21 games in each of the previous two seasons, but slipped to a 7-7 record in 1916.

The talk of the baseball world in 1916 was a 21-year-old left-handed pitcher on the Boston Red Sox named Babe Ruth.

Ruth won 23 games for Boston and compiled nine shutouts while recording the league’s lowest earned average – 1.75. And with 13 scoreless innings, Ruth helped Boston beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series.

Ty Cobb, generally considered baseball’s best player of that era, said Ruth was one of the toughest pitchers he ever faced. No one at the time could imagine that in just a couple of years pitcher Ruth would leave the pitcher’s mound for the outfield and become not just baseball’s greatest hitter but an internationally recognized icon of the American pastime.

Irwin Cohen

Vital Statistics: Israel Has Grown from 806,000 to 8,522,000 Citizens in 68 Years

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

On Israel’s 68th birthday, its population has reached some 8.522 million, as compared with 806 thousand when the Jewish State was established, according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).

Jews account for 74.8% of the overall population, with about 6.377 million. Arabs constitute 20.8% with some 1.771 million. Non-Arab Christians, members of other faiths and unaffiliated non-Jews are 4.4% with some 374 thousand citizens.

Israel has increased by 182 thousand citizens since last year, a growth of 2.2%. In this period some 195 thousand babies were born and about 47 thousand people died. In addition, about 36 thousand olim arrived in the Jewish State.

Some 75% of Israeli Jews are “Sabra,” native-born, and at least half of them are second generation natives. Back in 1948 only 35% of Israeli Jews were native-born.

In 1948 there was only one city in Israel — Tel Aviv — with more than 100,000 residents. Today there are 14 such populous cities, out of which 8 hold more than 200,000: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Haifa, Rishon L’Tzion, Petah Tikvah, Ashdod, Netanya, and Be’Er Sheva.

According to the CBS prediction, in 2035 Israel will reach 11.3 million citizens.

Here are a few Then and Now stats, courtesy of the CBS:

In 1948 there were 11.5 Jews in the world, out of whom 6% lived in Israel — today there are 14.3 million, out of whom 43% live in Israel.

In 1948 there were 806,000 Jews in Israel — today there are 8.522 million.

In 1948 Israel’s annual GDP (in 2015 rates) was $6.66 billion. Today we are happy to report things have become much better, with the GDP reaching $294 billion.

Back in 1948 Israel’s annual per capita GDP (in 2015 rates) was a measly $5.25 thousand — today, folks, it’s $35.10 thousand.

Unemployment in 1948 reached 7.2% of the available workforce, today it has gone down to 5.3% (of course, a lot of stuff has happened in between).

In 1948 Israelis spent 42% of their income on food — today only about 16.2%.

Household appliances: in 1948 only 12% of Israelis owned washing machines, it’s up to 96%; in 1957 57% owned an icebox, 37% owned a refrigerator — today 99.9% own refrigerators, some of which give Internet, but the ice cube maker is broken; in 1963 13% of Israelis had a telephone at home — today 73% have a landline phone (those numbers are in steep decline) and 96% own at least one cellphone.

Cars: in 1951 there were 34,103 cars on Israel’s roads — in 2014 the CBS counted 2,966,727 cars, or 87 times the 1951 figure. Thankfully, Israel’s road testers have been on strike for almost three months and so the number of new Israeli drivers has been checked for a while.

Trains: in 1950 1,557,000 rode Israel’s train, in 2014 48,541,000 rode it, 31 times the 1950 figure.

Higher education: in 1949/50 there were 1,600 students in Israeli universities and fewer than 200 diplomas were awarded. In 2014/15 there were 310,000 students out of whom 72.5 thousand received academic titles.

But there’s one sad component in these CBS stats: on election day January 21, 1949, a whopping 86.9% of eligible voters participated in the first Knesset elections; on March 17, 2015 only 72.3% did. Israel still beats the US by double digits, but we’d like to see the voting increase in both countries.

See you next year with even happier stats!

JNi.Media

Drop in a Bucket: US Giving Gaza $50 Million in Aid Over 5 Years

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

The United States on Monday announced a $50 million aid program for the Gaza Strip, AP reported. The money, distributed by the US Agency for International Development in partnership with Catholic Relief Services over five years, will be used for humanitarian assistance and jobs creation. Unemployment in Gaza is estimated at more than 40%.

Donald A. Blome, the US consul general in Jerusalem, said the money will help pay for “the dire needs that are obvious in Gaza.”

No one in the State Dept. on this occasion addressed the green elephant in the tent, namely the fact that Hamas has squandered millions of its assets on war preparations against Israel, while Gaza has become today’s metaphor for poverty and neglect.

According to the World Bank’s fact sheet, economic activity in Gaza remains volatile and almost entirely dependent on aid and remittances, with growth rates determined by (i) the level of aid inflows and (ii) the degree of trade restrictions. Gaza’s final consumption is 1.6 times larger than its GDP, and its investment a mere 5 percent of GDP, predominantly in housing. Estimated exports are very low at less than five percent of GDP. Gaza’s GDP per capita is half of that in the PA, and its poverty rate is roughly twice as high as those in the PA.

According to the PA Ministry of National Economy, Gaza has sustained damages of roughly $3 billion since initiation of the 2014 conflict with Israel.

The Palestinian Food Industries Union estimates that Gaza’s food industry has suffered damages estimated at around $150 million, with many factories in inoperable condition. The largest factories that used to provide up to 70% of local market needs were destroyed and will face a slow rebuilding process, as access to construction materials will likely be limited.

Data collected by the PA’s Gaza Coastal Municipal Water Utility (CMWU) and Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) indicates a significant shortage of water services and a severe public health threat to the population of Gaza.

The energy crisis in Gaza has been identified as a primary constraint to economic development even prior to the current conflict. The capacity of Gaza’s only power plant (GPP) was restricted by limited fuel availability due to the trade restrictions and a poor distribution network. The GPP remains inoperable to date and power outages of up to 18 hours a day continue in most areas across Gaza. This has exacerbated the already challenging electricity sector situation in Gaza. Electricity network damage of an estimated $42.5 million has been sustained.

So the $50 million over 5 years from the US should work miracles.

David Israel

Eighteen…

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

By the time I started this blog, Elie was 19, almost 20 years old and about to enter the army. By the time I really introduced Shmulik, he was close to entering the army as well. Somehow, with the lull between Shmulik leaving and Davidi entering, I have more time to share who Davidi is, long before he will enter the army.

He turned 18 this past week (though his English birthday is actually next week), full of school and wanting to start driving lessons and one other major milestone that will change who he is. He is going to Poland in a few weeks. If you’ve never been there, you can’t imagine the impact standing in a gas chamber will have on you. You just can’t imagine seeing ashes and ashes, ovens that were used to burn the remains, cemetery after cemetery, and so much more. To go as a Jew to Poland is to focus, for a time, not on those who walk the earth today, but those who are buried beneath it (if they were lucky enough to be buried).

Right before Amira was going into her last year of high school, she told me she wanted to go to Poland. Her school has a policy not to take students out of Israel and so they don’t organize a trip to Poland. It was something, this pilgrimage, that was very important to my oldest daughter but she was afraid it would be too much for her and so she asked me to come along, told me she needed me.

What could I do? I went. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done…for many reasons. I left in Israel, tiny Aliza – only 2 and a half years old. Amira’s son is now 2 and a half years old and I think Amira now realizes how hard it was for me. I missed the others terribly, but somehow, my arms ached to hold Aliza most of all. My husband was amazingly supportive. I wish, sometimes, I had gone with him. I felt bad crying in front of Amira and had I gone with Lazer, we would have cried together. But his parents were Holocaust survivors; he has no interest in going back to the places where they lost so much.

I dreaded the trip that would take me out of Israel, away from the others.Once I landed in Poland, I realized that it would be impossible for me not to see, not to feel. I had thought I was going to support Amira and yet, in many ways, she supported me. It was a brutal trip, agonizing in so many ways.

As I sat this week, listening to the itinerary of where Davidi will go, my eyes filled with tears. I know the route they will take, the places they will see, and the agonies he will feel. He is supposed to tell them if we had relatives in one of the cities where they will visit. My great-grandmother lived in Cracow with my grandfather’s two sisters. They will spend Shabbat there; walk on roads my grandfather once walked. I know only the names but not where they lived. My mother has copies of letters that her grandfather wrote to her father. I’ll have to ask her if she has copies of the envelopes…if she has an address. Do I want my Davidi to go there?

When my mother-in-law and father-in-law went back to the small village where my father-in-law had grown up as a child – many years after the war had ended – he was greeted with a knife by the woman who had moved into his father’s home. It seems Lazer’s father, had lent her some money and she thought his son had come to call in the loan. When my father-in-law explained he only wanted to show his wife and daughter the home in which he had grown up, the woman allowed him to enter.

Paula Stern

If He Is Released, I Will No Longer Be Able to Live

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Editor’s note: Adi Moses was eight years old when she was injured in a Palestinian terrorist attack that killed her pregnant mother and five-year-old brother.

You know the story of my family. In 1987 a terrorist threw a firebomb at the car my family was traveling in. He murdered my mother and my brother Tal, and injured my father, my brother, his friend and myself. It is a story you know. But me, you do not really know. I was eight years old when this happened.

While my father was rolling me in the sand to extinguish my burning body, I looked in the direction of our car and watched as my mother burned in front of my eyes.

This story did not end that day in 1987. This story is the difficult life I have led since then. I am still eight years old, hospitalized in critical condition. Screaming from pain. Bandaged from head to toe. And my head is not the same. No longer full of golden long hair. The head is burnt. The face, back, the legs and arms, burnt. I am surrounded by family members, but my mother is not with me. Not hugging and caressing. She is not the one changing my bandages.

In the room next door, my brother Tal is screaming in pain. I call out to him to count sheep with me so he can fall asleep. Three months later, little Tal dies of his wounds. I am seated, all bandaged up, on a chair in the cemetery and I watch as my little brother is buried.

For many months I am forbidden to be out in the sun because of the burns, so I wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts to school. In July and August as well. And under the clothes I wear a pressure suit meant to [prevent hypertrophic] scarring. It is painful and hot and itchy.

Here I am at twelve years old, undergoing another operation to correct a scar that limited movement in my leg. And then I am celebrating my bat mitzvah. And my mother is not at the celebration. So I cry quietly at night and write to her.

I grow older. I don’t like that people in the street stare at me, don’t like it when the cashier at the supermarket asks, “Oh, child, what happened to you?” I don’t like it that every such look and every such question make me run and cry.

I reach the age of fourteen and still live in Alfei Menashe. I have a father, an older brother and friends, I am a good pupil. But I also have unbearable scars. I do not have a mother. So I lay in the road and say to myself that if a car comes, whatever happens, happens. But it doesn’t happen. So I pick myself up and return home. All those years of adolescence, my friends’ preferred activity is to go to the beach. But I don’t go because I have scars. Because I am burnt. And I am ashamed.

Then I am eighteen and want to enlist but I am not drafted. The army refuses to take responsibility for my scars. So I volunteer in the military and serve for a year and a half.

At college I meet new people who, of course, ask me what happened to me. I respond “terror attack.” And they always answer “wow, really? I thought hot water spilled on you when you were little.”

Today I am thirty-four years old, exactly my mother’s age at the time of the attack. From now on she will forever be younger than me. And still, at least four times a week I answer questions about what happened to me.

I am thirty-four years old but the last few days I have returned to being that eight-year-old facing that burning car and waiting for her mother to come out of it. Yitzhak Rabin, who was minister of defense at the time of the attack, promised my dad they would catch the terrorist. And they did. And they sentenced him. To two life sentences and another seventy-two years in prison. And you Cabinet ministers? With the wave of a hand you decided to free him – he who caused all of this story.

Adi Moses

The Advantages of Being in the ‘Israeli Bubble’

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

The Forward has an article claiming that our “Israeli Bubble” is dangerous and shields us from reality.

Ironic, but also predictable. The effectiveness of the barrier is twofold: It has stopped terrorist attacks, and it also has made it possible to live in (West) Jerusalem or in Tel Aviv and pretend that the Occupation doesn’t exist.

Unfortunately, this is a delusion — a bubble — with severe consequences. South Jerusalem, after all, is home not just to the German Colony’s liberals, but also to the neocons at the Shalem Center, now Shalem College, who for decades have peddled the idea that there is no hope for peace with the Palestinians, and (in the words of Daniel Gordis, one of Shalem’s most articulate spokesmen) we should settle in for 100 years of occupation. Regrettable, Rabbi Gordis says, but inevitable.

This is a self-fulfilling prophecy, of course. Claim that there’s no Palestinian partner, undermine those Palestinians who are, and lo and behold, soon there will be no Palestinian partner. If you will it, the 100-year war will be no dream.

But the real delusion is deeper still: that somehow, the rest of the world will sit idly by and allow this situation to worsen, year after year, decade after decade, without finally turning on Israel. In the bubble of southern Jerusalem, Israel is a complex but miraculous place where kids can play in the street, the Jews have a home and bus drivers read Shakespeare. The matzav, the “situation” with the Palestinians, is an unfortunate side-note to an otherwise complicated, fascinating, problematic, multi-faceted, beautiful, tragic enterprise in Jewish self-determination.

Outside the bubble, however, the Palestinian “situation” is not a side-note but the primary tune. It’s everything else about Israel that is merely secondary. To most of the world, Israel is defining itself by the Occupation, and all the rest is commentary.

I disagree.  I think we see things much more clearly from here.  There are no distortions.  When you look into a “bubble” from the outside you won’t get an accurate view.

Over twenty years ago, when one of my daughters was looking for a place to do Sherut Le’umi, National Service, she and a few friends went to a city they considered far from the then intifada and politics of the yishuvim (Jewish communities in YESHA, Judea, Samaria and Gaza) they lived in.  They just wanted what they imagined to be a “normal” place.  Imagine their surprise when the greatest topic of conversation at the Shabbat table was  happening in YESHA.  At home they didn’t hear as much.

Here in Shiloh we go on with our lives.  The parents of young children are worrying about who will be teaching their kids next year and rushing around to buy books, clothes and school supplies, just like everyone else.

In Yafiz, (and Rami Levy,) Sha’ar Binyamin, where I work, Jews and Arabs are jostling around together shopping.  We’re living proof that people like Jay Michaelson who wrote the Forward article haven’t a clue.  They’re letting their ideology distort their vision.

The calm here isn’t a lie.  The Left and all those who claim that the Arabs will explode in violence aren’t objectively predicting.  They are instigating and encouraging Arab violence by making excuses and rationales for the Arabs.

I’m on the inside.  I work with Arabs.  And if the world, including Israeli Leftists, media, politicians, academics and community workers would just leave things alone we would eventually achieve a true peace.  It will take a long, long time, but it can happen.

True peace can’t be negotiated.  True peace comes from the inside and works its way out.  Faux peace, implemented by “treaties” is external and wears off, like the “democracy” of the “Arab Spring,” which has been proven a deadly farce.

Visit Shiloh Musings.

Batya Medad

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/shiloh-musings/the-advantages-of-being-in-the-israeli-bubble/2013/08/06/

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