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December 7, 2016 / 7 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Zion’

Next Year in Jerusalem — Maybe

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Rabbi Meir Kahane published this in The Jewish Press 40 years ago. Some things just don’t seem to change:

The synagogue is filled from end to end. Every seat is reserved, every inch of space taken up. The Yom Kippur Neila service is drawing to an end. A day of repentance, prayer and charity fades to a close. A congregation, elevated for a day at least, watches as the Shofar is raised and a long, clear, vibrant blast fills the hall. Five hundred voices cry out spontaneously —

“L’Shanah Ha’Ba’ah b’Yerushalayim!” “Next Year in Jerusalem!”

The crowd files out to begin yet another year of bitter exile amidst television and Miami Beach.

The synagogue is dark and hushed. A few candles flutter in the corners, their flickering flames lighting the pained and saddened faces of the congregation sitting on low benches waiting for the Tisha B’Av services to begin, and the mournful tune of the Eycha — Lamentations — rises softly, punctuated by the sobs of the mourners of Zion. Every mind is shattered as the picture of the beloved homeland, bereft of its children, comes to mind. Every pious Jew sitting in the room sighs and dreams of the day — may it soon come — when God will allow him to, once again, kiss the soil of the homeland — courtesy of a three-week American Jewish Congress guided tour, and then back home again to the painful fleshpots.

A religion which develops a split personality is a religion in danger. A faith whose adherents begin to merely pay lip service to its tenets is in the first stages of atrophy. When individuals create a dichotomy between what they believe and what they practice, it calls for serious re-evaluation.

The dream of settling in Israel is a basic part of the Jewish faith. It is an obligation, but it is more than that; it is a dream. How many seas would the tears of our ancestors have filled as they wept for the privilege of returning to Zion? How piercing would have been the totality of their cries as they prayed to the All Mighty to “speedily bring us from the four corners of the earth and smash the yoke of the nations and bring us upright to our land!”

Who can begin to fully quote the letter of the obligatory law to settle in the Land of Israel, as expounded by our Rabbis, and who can adequately describe the acceptance of the spirit of that obligation by our ancestors, the dreamers of Zion? What would they not have given for the opportunity of returning and walking four cubits on its soil? How they would have flocked to the airports and harbors as the great vision approached fulfillment!

I write this as a traditional, observant Jew. For myself, I have written and spoken and pleaded a thousand times over to all Jews of America to leave and return to Israel — not for religious reasons — but for the elementary need to save their lives. I believe in the marrow of my bones that the days of the Jew in the United States are numbered and that there is coming a storm of physical brutality that portends a holocaust. What 48 prophets could not convince Jews to do, says the Talmud, Haman’s ring accomplished. There is a Haman’s ring in the American Jewish future, and for the sake of our children and grandchildren, the time to evacuate is now. I have said this and will continue to say this to all Jews. But to the observant ones there is another, an added, perhaps, an even more important reason.

Every traditional Jew must take a long and deep look at himself. He must ask difficult and painful questions. How is it possible to honestly pray three times a day to the All Mighty to restore us to Zion when that restoration is ours at the cost of a few hundred dollars, courtesy of El Al? What rationalizations can we invent to answer those who question our lamentations for Zion when the Jewish Agency is prepared to grant long-term loans for housing and transportation for those who wish to settle in Israel? What can hide our shame as we fervently proclaim, “Next Year in the Land of Israel,” when next year has already come, when the gates of the Holy Land stand open, when the obligation to return can and demands to be fulfilled?

Tzvi Fishman

Don’t Ask What Israel Can Do For You – Ask What You Can Do For Israel

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Book Week is coming soon in Israel. In America, there’s also a book week, but it’s called Jewish Book Week to distinguish it from Chinese Book Week, and Italian Book Week, and Afro-American Book Week, and Puerto Rican Book Week, and Comic Book Week. In Israel, since everyone is Jewish, except for the Arabs who don’t read books, it’s simply called Book Week.

Actually, it’s really Book Month; since the “People of the Book” love books so much, stores continuing running their discount sales for weeks. For me, Book Week is starting today, when a newly published French translation of my book of short stories, Days of Mashiach,  is being featured at an all day “French Book Fair” being held at the Menachem Begin Center in Jerusalem. The collection of wry and humorous stories about Jewish life in Israel and the Diaspora is being put out by a non-Jewish publisher who compares my writing to Kafka and Voltaire. My prize-winning novel, Tevye in the Promised Land also appeared in a French translation, and it seems that I have a somewhat of an avid following in France.

Anyway, with Book Week around the corner, it’s a great time to devote the blogs we will be writing in the upcoming month to talk about some of the most important books in the world – Jewish books of course. I love books and I hope you do too. While many of these book reports will be scholarly in nature, and not regular blogs, I will try to intersperse the heavy stuff with my normal spicy felafels on rye.

This week, between our celebration of Jerusalem Day and Shavuot, in order to better understand the supreme importance of the Land of Israel to the Jewish People and Torah, we will be examining a series of poignant essays written by Rabbi Kook in his classic work, Orot. Presented here are condensed versions of the full commentaries which appear in the book, Lights on Orot – Eretz Yisrael, which I had the privilege of co-writing with the distinguished Torah scholar, Rabbi David Samson of Jerusalem.

Certainly one of the most important Torah treatises of our times, the book, Orot, explores the deepest understandings of the Nation of Israel, and Israel’s Redemption. In beginning his treatise with a series of essays on Eretz Yisrael, Rabbi Kook explains that a proper understanding of the Nation of Israel and Torah can only be obtained after one first recognizes the significance of Eretz Yisrael to the Jewish People. To understand who we are as a Nation, and to actualize our role in the world, we must first understand the special relationship between the Divinely-Chosen People and the Divinely-Chosen Land.

Rabbi Kook’s unique style is both poetic and deeply intellectual, and so you will have to bear with me as I endeavor to explain his writings with the seriousness that is due them. As I mentioned, Rabbi David Samson, one of Israel’s top educators, and a longtime student of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, aided my understanding of Rabbi Kook’s immensely deep and incomparable writings.

The first essay of Orot is not only a study of our connection to the Land of Israel, it is also an introduction to the Segula of the Nation, one of the main themes of Rabbi Kook’s writings. This Segula, a Divine inner attachment to God, unique to the Jewish People, is the key to understanding the unity of the Nation of Israel, the Torah, the Land of Israel, and God.

Tzvi Fishman

A Russian Refusenik Remembers Jerusalem

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

As one of the “youngest” holidays in Jewish tradition, Jerusalem Day holds a special place in the Jewish calendar today.  It marks the reunification of Jerusalem during the Six Day War of 1967, the first time that the entire city had come under Jewish sovereignty in thousands of years.  Even before King David conquered and built his monarchy in Jerusalem over 3,000 years ago in 1000 BCE, the city has always been the most holy city in Jewish tradition.  There was never, however, an official Jewish holiday that honored the city until after June 1967.

When Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, the tragic event spurred thousands of years of mourning for the sacred capital.  The remembrance of the destruction of Jerusalem and hope for its rebuilding manifested itself in Jewish holidays, prayers and even on the happiest of occasions—weddings –with the groom’s breaking of the glass cup. Jews would turn and pray in the direction of Jerusalem three times a day. There were even efforts throughout history where Jewish people attempted to restore political sovereignty over the city and re-establish it as the national capital.

For Yuli Edelstein, the Minister of Diaspora and Public Affairs, who as a Russian refusnik was sentenced three years in a Soviet Labor camp, Jerusalem Day holds deep significance. Tazpit News Agency interviewed the minister in light of Jerusalem Day which falls on Sunday, May 20 (Iyar 28) this year. “I was very young when the Six Day War happened and I remember everyone around me being terribly scared,” Edelstein told Tazpit News Agency. “According to reports on Soviet radio, Israel was disappearing.”

“A close friend of the family came by to tell us that the Soviet radio reports were lies. “”I just heard that the Arab armies destroyed Israel not once, but twice!” he told my parents.”

Edelstein grew up under the repressive and restrictive policies of the Soviet Union era, which muted Jewish traditional and cultural life for decades. State-sponsored anti-Semitism also prevented Jews from working in certain government sectors and advancing in their work.

Edelstein explained that his family felt a great sense of hope now that Jerusalem had come under Israel’s hands. “We felt great relief when we heard later that Jerusalem was actually in the hands of Israel and not in the hands of the Arab armies from Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. The Jews in Russia and the Ukraine were astonished that little Israel could win the war.”

“The reunification of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount in Israel’s hands, and the outcome of the Six Day War, changed the standing of Israel in the eyes of Jews across the world, but especially for the Jews in the former Soviet Union,” said Edelstein.

“For at least two million Soviet Jews, a reunited Jerusalem brought a feeling that there is a homeland and that they must start fighting for the existence of Israel. There was a whole change of attitude—one from relief to pride.”

Edelstein himself was born in Czernowitz in what is now the former Soviet Union. In 1979, he applied for an exit visa to Israel but was refused as Soviet policy rarely allowed its residents to emigrate and so Edelstein became a dissident.  As a Russian refusenik, Edelstein was actively involved in Zionist circles in Moscow and taught Hebrew secretly.  He was arrested by the KGB in 1984 on false charges of drug possession and was sentenced to three years in a grueling Soviet labor camp. He was released in 1987 and was finally allowed to immigrate to Israel with his family.

“For me, Jerusalem is more than just a capital to be proud of.  As the former Minister of Immigrant Absorption, I can say that for Jews who immigrated to Israel–from as far as Ethiopia– making aliya to Israel always meant returning to Jerusalem, to Zion.”

Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency

Why Help Build America When We Can Help Build the Land of the Jews?

Friday, May 11th, 2012

In his current article in The Jewish Press, “A New Song,” Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt advocates finding “a new rallying call, a new idea with which to inspire the troops and turn values into action.”

“Each generation speaks its own language and needs its own message,” he writes.

So far, so good. However, I would like to offer a different rallying call than the one he ultimately chooses.

“Hewed by Hashem into the core of our soul is the need to effect change in the world we inhabit,” he continues.

This too is very true. In my opinion, however, the question is, where should we, in this generation, focus our efforts? In strengthening Jewish life among the gentiles in a foreign land – as he proposes – or in striving to build a Torah society in the Land of Israel, as advocated by the Torah and the Prophets of Israel? What is the message that we should teach our children? That their future is in America, being productive American Jews, or in Eretz Yisrael being productive Jews in the Holy Land?

Rabbi Rosenblatt wrestles with this question in the course of his thought-provoking article, writing, “I feel a primal need for perspective, to understand who I am, who we are, and where our community is headed.”

In my mind, the meaning of “our community” should not only be America’s Orthodox/Haredi community, but the community of all of American Jewry, for, as our Sages teach, every Jew is responsible for his fellow. It is no secret that American Jewry is being decimated by assimilation. The longer the Jewish community remains in America the more the assimilation will grow. So I ask – what’s the point in working to strengthen something that is destined to dwindle out and end? The exile is a curse which is not supposed to continue forever. Now that Hashem, in His great kindness, has re-opened the gates to the Land of Israel and has given us our own Jewish State, isn’t it time to come home? True, for adults who are already established in their ways, moving to a new country is a difficult challenge, but our children have the wherewithal to fulfill the great mitzvah of living in the Land of Israel, a mitzvah which our Sages teach is equal in weight to all the commandments of the Torah (Sifre, Reah 80).

Encouraging Jewish youth to be accountants, or businessmen, or scientists in America, is well and good, but it can’t be compared with playing a part in the Redemption of Israel and becoming of a building of the Jewish Nation in Eretz Yisrael. In my humble opinion, this is the new call we need to rally and inspire our troops!

Yes, in recent generations, the Orthodox Jews of America have done wonders in guarding and strengthening the observance of Torah. As Rabbi Rosenblatt notes, his parents’ generation built Flatbush, and his generation built Lakewood. Certainly, these are praiseworthy achievements. But that was before the establishment of the State of Israel and shortly after its birth, when we didn’t have a choice. But in the face of the subsequent modernization and miraculous development of Medinat Yisrael, instead of adding on to Flatbush and Lakewood, or sending out battalions of Haredi “laypeople” to win a spot in the American marketplace, as the author of the article advices, why not put our efforts into re-locating these holy and talented young people to Eretz Yisrael?

This is especially true when the author writes: “As a result of our weak secular education and greater insularity, our generation is struggling to make ends meet. Parnassah options are often limited. If not employed in klei kodesh, most of us work for or start small businesses, frequently competing with each other to service the needs of our community. We are often recipients of governmental aid, a possibility our parents’ generation wouldn’t have considered.”

Rabbi Rosenblatt writes a great deal about Kiddush Hashem, but being dependent on handouts from the gentiles is the very opposite. In fact, as the Prophet Ezekiel teaches, the presence of Jews in the Diaspora is one big problematic disgrace:

“And when they came to the nations into which they came, they profaned My Holy Name, in that men said of them: These are the people of the Lord, and they are gone out of His land” (Ezekiel, 36:20).

This prophecy informs us that the unnatural situation of Jews living outside the Land of Israel is a desecration of God. Why? Because in the eyes of the gentiles, our presence in the Diaspora proclaims that God lacks the power to keep us in His Land. That was back then in Ezekiel’s days. Now, in our time, when God has returned the Land of Israel to the Jews, the situation is even worse, for it seems, in the eyes of the gentiles, that in clinging to our Diaspora communities, we prefer foreign lands to His.

Tzvi Fishman

Norwegian ‘Father of Peace Studies’ Blames Jews for Oslo Massacre, Recommends ‘The Protocols’

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

A Norwegian sociologist who pioneered the discipline of peace studies and conflict resolution made anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements during a public lecture and in an article.

Johan Galtung, called the “father of peace studies,” also made anti-Semitic and anti-Israel remarks in an email interview with Haaretz.

Galtung claimed that there is a possible connection between Anders Behring Breivik, the anti-Muslim Norwegian terrorist who massacred 77 people, mostly children, last summer and Israel’s Mossad; he said he believes the Mossad might have given Breivik his orders.

The speech was made last Sept. 30, and a critical article about the speech, as well as several written exchanges between Galtung and the author, were reprinted last week in the Humanist magazine.

Galtung wrote in one of the exchanges, according to Haaretz, that Jews control the American media. “Six Jewish companies control 96% of the media,” he wrote, including the names of journalists, publishers, TV networks and movie studios that he claims are controlled by Jews.

He also wrote that “seventy percent of the professors at the 20 most important American universities are Jewish.”

Galtung recommended that people read  the anti-Semitic screed “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and said that “It is impossible to do so today without thinking of Goldman Sachs,” the international investment bank founded and run by Jews.

JTA

Ulpana Hill Residents Apprehensive But Hopeful As Deadline Approaches

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

BEIT EL, ISRAEL – “Gush Katif number two.” “Another Amona.” “It will topple the government, split the nation, and drive an irrevocable wedge between the people and the leadership.”

These and more have been used to describe the very real crisis now unfolding in Israel, particularly in the pro-Land of Israel camp: The inexorable march toward Iyar 9 (May 1), the date by which the government promised the Supreme Court it would destroy five apartment buildings in the Ulpana Hill neighborhood of Beit El.

This is not just your everyday outpost or caravan site. Thirty families, with over 70 children, live there, in beautiful three-and-four story stone structures, just a 25-minute drive north of Jerusalem. Givat HaUlpenah was initiated and funded by the government of Israel under then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak, which also gave the future residents $20,000 grants to live there. Now, these same buildings – with six families in each – face imminent destruction, courtesy of the same government of Israel, and the residents have been offered nowhere to move.

Some 500 people, most of whom were members of the ruling Likud Party, visited the neighborhood on Sunday. Knesset members, residents and others gathered together to either pledge or demand support in the ongoing struggle to save Givat HaUlpenah. Among them was resident Didi Dickstein, chairman of the official Neighborhood Committee and a student at Ariel University. But he actually has an even more interesting – and tragic – entry on his life resume: His parents and one of his nine siblings were brutally murdered by Arab terrorists one Friday afternoon ten years ago as they were on their way to spend Shabbos in the Kiryat Arba area.

“I don’t usually like to tell this story,” Dickstein told The Jewish Press. “In fact, no one at Ariel University knows it. Not only that, but I and my brothers were all granted an exemption from serving in the army, yet we didn’t take it; we have all served or are serving in the IDF.”

But this case is an exception, Dickstein feels: “This is precisely the type of issue that our parents raised us on, and taught us to believe in and work for: Great faith and love of the Land of Israel. [They had moved to the southern Samaria town of Psagot only several months before they were murdered.] They believed in this greatly. My wife and I, personally, are merely renting the apartment that is currently under threat; we can just pick up and leave. But what’s going on now is not just our personal problem; it’s a national struggle.”

Looking at the dry facts of the case might cause one to marvel at the great faith in and love for the state of Israel Dickstein expresses. In brief, the land on which Givat HaUlpena lies was purchased from an Arab over 12 years ago, and construction on the neighborhood received government funding and was completed relatively quickly.

Abruptly, however, something changed: A man with the same name as the seller – they are cousins – claimed he was the actual owner and that his cousin had taken the money fraudulently. His proof? A piece of paper signed by a Palestinian Authority official to that effect.

The powers that be did not wait for a resolution to the “case of the clashing cousins” in a regular District Court, where monetary claims are supposed to be adjudicated. Instead, left-wing elements brought the case to the Supreme Court. When the point was raised that the ownership had not yet been determined, and that one of the cousins was apparently lying, one of the judges – Uzi Fogelman – said, “What, we should wait five years for a decision?”

And so, based on such considerations, together with a government commitment to “empty” the land based on the cousin’s claim and left-wing pressure, the nation’s highest court issued the ruling: “The buildings must be destroyed by May 1.”

As these words are being written on Monday, Prime Minister Netanyahu is convening his top ministers in an attempt to find a solution. He has no more desire than anyone else to see a situation in which soldiers or police have to fight hundreds of citizens, as happened in Amona six years ago, to pave the way for men, women and children to be forcibly removed from their homes – and then to have their homes bulldozed, with cameras from around the world recording all for posterity.

As of now, however, the homes are still set to be razed – but the faith of Didi Dickstein and his neighbors is strong.

“The truth is,” he said, “on a personal level, we have a clear feeling that we are being treated as fourth-class citizens, or lower, denied fair legal proceedings, and that our country is actually against us…. But on a national-historical level, we have no doubts that we are on the right track. This week we will celebrate Israel Independence Day, and we will joyfully sing one of my father’s favorite songs, Kol Tzofayich‘Your watchmen sound their voices…seeing God return to Zion.’ He even named three of his children after this verse: Tzofiyah, Renana, and our nine-year-old brother who was murdered, Shuva-el.”

Hillel Fendel

Zion Oil & Gas to Sponsor This Year’s CUFI Summit

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Zion Oil & Gas announced Wednesday  that it will sponsor both the “Night to Honor Israel” banquet and the “Ambassadors” reception at the 7th Annual Washington-Israel Summit of Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

In a press release, John Brown, Zion Oil and Gas’s Founder and Chairman John Brown said “Zion is proud to be a part of the CUFI Washington-Israel Summit and to support CUFI’s educational and public policy work in support of Israel.”

The company, a Delaware corporation, conducts onshore explorations over 218,000 acres for oil and gas between Haifa and Tel Aviv.

CUFI is a powerful American association of pro-Israel churches and Christian religious organizations with a sizable membership and strong youth movement.

The Summit will take place in Washington, D.C. during July 16-18, 2012 with Pastor John Hagee (CUFI Founder and National Chairman), Michael Oren (Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S.) and Richard Rinberg (Zion’s Chief Executive Officer) scheduled to speak.

Malkah Fleisher

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/zion-oil-gas-to-sponsor-this-years-cufi-summit/2012/04/19/

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