Sunday, July 30, 2006

Yalla ya Nasrallah! (and other interesting YouTube videos)

I'm just going to keep adding interesting videos I come across from YouTube, especially those which pertain to the current conflict. Note that the vast majority of this stuff is in Hebrew, but It's all still worth checking out anyway even if you don't speak the language. Shavuah Tov, Matt

Yalla ya Nasrallah

I just found this new Israeli music video on I'm going to be singing this one for a while. It is hilarious and is subtitled for those of you who are uncomfortable with Hebrew.
This website seems to be the official site of the song and has some fun games where you attack Hisbullah by throwing eggplants and televisions and can box nasrallah, all while listening to different versions of the song. These can all be put on your cell phone, by the way.

Wafa Sultan speaks up

...on Al Jazeera of all places...

Israel bombs targets in Lebanon and Gaza

I just thought this was really cool. They know what they're doing.

Bombing in Tel-Aviv 17-APR-06, Israel-10

Note: This is from APRIL of this year. I just want to show what kind of acts Hamas is pulling off, those against CIVILIAN targets. To my knowledge the closest thing King Falafel has to anything military is a security guard down the streat to prevent these monsters from killing the innocent. (Hebrew) This was one of the two homicide bombings during which I was in Israel and both bombings occurred at the same exact place.

Israel Tourism Video

This is one way to get tourism up...

יצפאן - יחד כל הדרך

I know this is dated, but Yatzpan is hilarious! I usually have little idea what's going on, but even if you don't understand Hebrew just the way they act is hilarious. I would call this the Israeli SNL, except it's actually funny. I think I can identify a lot of the people in it: Hassan Nasrallah, Yassir Arafat, Sheik Yassin, Mahmud Abbas, Ariel Sharon, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, The Pope, Queen Elizabeth (who for some reason they lampoon constantly for unknown reasons... maybe that's why the BBC is so blatantly anti-Semitic) Saddam Hussein (as to the people next to him, I feel the guy to his right/our left is someone who looks suspiciously like Muammar al-Khadaffi and the guy on his left/our right could be Ayatollah Ali Khameni. I think I saw Bush there for a second. Wow, I think I got all thirteen. Go me! Do I really know that much about Israeli politics and satire? Here's my guess
standing from left to right: Mahmood Abbas, Muammar al-Khadaffi, Saddam Hussein, the Pope, Queen Elizabeth II, George W. Bush;
sitting from left to right: Hassan Nasrallah, Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak, Yassir Arafat, Ahmed Yassin. Anyone have any corrections for me?

NOTE: looking back at old posts, I realized I've actually seen this sketch on an El Al flight (see this entry: Thoughts on a Long Plane Flight)


uh.... I saw this about a year ago and just found it again on this site. Weird...

IDF - Singing with Israeli troops * 7/28/06

Is this Kabbalat Shabbat? I'm glad that there are ways that the IDF can entertain its soldiers while they're on the front line. It is important to keep one's soldiers in good spirits. Weirdest Kab Shab ever, though.

Shirat HaSticker -- Dag Nachash

Music video of one of the most powerful songs ever, IMHO. Look here for more info about this song. I took a class where the first thing we discussed was this song and I also taught a class on this video.

אלי יצפאן חריף HEBREW ISRAEL

חריף, all this guy wants is some חריף, spicy sauce and, damn it, he wants it spicy, a problem with which I can comisserate. Does the customer remind you of a young Joe Pesci a little?

יצפאן במכולת

Yatzpan in the Makolet (Bodega). Expired and moldy things in a Makolet? {voice of sarcastic disbelief} No... The funny thing is this seems very plausible. This seems very much like some of the Makolet cashiers I have had the pleasure of purchasing from in Israel.

Prayer Service for Gush Katif at the Kotel

From last August on Tisha B'Av 5765 (or around that time), the eve of our exile from Gush Katif and the rest of Gaza.

Mass Prayer at the Western Wall, Part 2

more of the mass prayer rally

Inciting Children

Wow, makes me want to kill Zionists. What the hell is wrong with the Palestinians? They're brainwashing their children to be cold-blooded murderers.

Teaching Palestinian Children to Aspire Death for Allah

poor children. Child Services should take them away from this abuse.

Pallywood: According to Palestinian Sources

Why it's important not to believe everything you see, especially from Arab, BBC, and CNN sources...
In Jenin, The men accidentally tip the funeral bier, dropping the corpse. When they regroup, the corpse climbs back on the bier

Walid Shoebat

The former Palestinian Bomb-Maker-turned anti-terrorism speaker on FoxNews. We at the Columbia/Barnard Koach sponsored him a little while back to speak at Columbia.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The future of the Middle East

In a war that is the fault of the terrorists, Hamas and Hisbullah who have shown their true colors (yellow), the people that are going to come out worst, besides the aforementioned terrorist groups which are on the path to their own obliteration, will be the Palestinian people. Hamas has just caused the downfall of their people. They have set back any possiblity of a restarting a "peace process" decades and unilateral withdrawal is no longer a possibility. Kiss a Palestinian state goodbye, you blew it. Now you are going to have to go back where you came from, Egypt and Jordan or else you will just have to accept your potential of being an Israeli citizen, that is, if you actually recognize Israel. The Palestinians never have recognized Israel and call for the complete destruction of it in their Charter:
Article 15: The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national (qawmi) duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine. Absolute responsibility for this falls upon the Arab nation- peoples and governments-with the Arab people of Palestine in the vanguard. Accordingly, the Arab nation must mobilize all its military, human, moral, and spiritual capabilities to participate actively with the Palestinian people in the liberation of Palestine. It must, particularly, in the phase of the armed Palestinian revolution, offer and furnish the Palestinian people with all possible help, and material and human support, and make available to them the means and opportunities that will enable them to continue to carry out their leading role in the armed revolution, until they liberate their homeland.

Article 19: The partition of Palestine in 1947, and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time, because they were contrary to the will of the Palestinian people and its natural right in their homeland, and were inconsistent with the principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, particularly the right to self-determination.

Article 20: The Balfour Declaration, the Palestine Mandate, and everything that has been based on them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of their own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.

Article 21: The Arab Palestinian people, expressing themselves by armed Palestinian revolution, reject all solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine and reject all proposals aimed at the liquidation of the Palestinian cause, or at its internationalization.

Article 22: Zionism is a political movement organically associated with international imperialism and antagonistic to all action for liberation and to progressive movements in the world. It is racist and fanatic in its nature, aggressive, expansionist and colonial in its aims, and fascist in its methods. Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement, and the geographical base for world imperialism placed strategically in the midst of the Arab homeland to combat the hopes of the Arab nation for liberation, unity, and progress. Israel is a constant source of threat vis-à-vis peace in the Middle East and the whole world. Since liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence and will contribute to the establishment of peace in the Middle East. That is why the Palestinian people look to the progressive and peaceful forces and urge them all, irrespective of their affiliations and beliefs, to offer the Palestinian people all aid and support in their just struggle for the liberation of their homeland.
Article 23: The demand of security and peace, as well as the demand of right and justice, require all states to consider Zionism an illegitimate movement, to outlaw its existence, and to ban its operations, in order that friendly relations among peoples may be preserved, and the loyalty of citizens to their respective homelands safeguarded.
The people that advocate such a thing are like Nazis and seeking Genocide against the Jews.

It's like Homer Simpson's (or as he's known in the muslim world, Omar Shamshoon) twisted logic that if I don't see it, then it is not actually there. You can't ignore a State which has had unparalleled influence in the . All you see is 'an occupying power' which is in the way of your caliphate.

Now you're calling your rockets Khybar Rockets? This propagandaish term is shades of the Battle of Khybar in 629 CE where Muhammad led a cowardly attack against a small group of defenseless Jews in Hejaz. Well, Muhammad led another attack against the Jews, but this time we're ready. Terrorists your game is through, 'cause now you have to answer to, Israel, f*** yeah! You're waging a fruitless fight against, pound-per-pound, the greatest military in the entire world, who, by the way, has God as their Commander-in-Chief. No, I'm not talking about Olmert or Katsav, I'm talking about God, the Lord of Hosts. No, this war is seemingly going to lead to a new middle east. As I have maintained in one of the signs I made for the Rally, there can be no peace without security. This comes at everyones cost. Dictators and terrorist leaders cannot survive without war. If Ahmadinejad and his boss the Ayatolah want to stay in power and not have another uprising, they need to distract their own people from their crappy leadership by turing the eye of Sauron away from Mordor and to Gondor... {ahem} Israel so they can destroy the ring (aka the civilized world) undetected (Lord of the Rings perversion). Another two signs I made said "Israel supports America's War on Terror" and "America supports Israel's War on Terror". This doesn't bode well for the terrorists and does not bode well for the civilians amongst whom they are cowardly hiding. Hisbullah has got to go!

We pulled out of Lebanon six years ago, we disengaged from Gaza a year ago, yet another thing to mourn on Tisha B'Av, and yet it is from these two fronts, as the dark comedy of Dry Bones points out, that we now need to defend ourselves against terrorists who have occupied the space we pulled out of. We pulled out in the name of peace; they came in in the name of war.

I also want to mention that Russia excluded Hisbullah and Hamas from its list of Terrorist Organizations today. I think Russia's about to go rogue again...

Finally I present an article from this week's Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles written by my congressman, the Honorable Brad Sherman
Iran's War on Israel
by Rep. Brad Sherman

The border raid by Hezbollah that sparked swift and strong Israeli military reaction in southern Lebanon was not only an act of war by Hezbollah, but an act of war by proxy by Iran. It is inconceivable that such a provocative act could have been undertaken without the knowledge and approval of people at the highest levels of Iran's government.

The warfare was even foreshadowed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who in a burst of inflammatory rhetoric warned in advance that Israel would be hit by an "explosion" of Muslim anger.

"The fury of Muslim nations is getting more intense," Ahmadinejad said. "It is likely to reach an explosion point soon. If this day arrives, the shockwaves of this blast will not be restricted within our regional boundaries and will strike the supporters of this fake regime."

The day after the Iranian president uttered those words, the attack was launched by the Hezbollah terrorist organization that Iran founded and funds.

Congress rightly has condemned Hezbollah for "engaging in unprovoked and reprehensible armed attacks against Israel on undisputed Israeli territory." The House passed a resolution by a vote of 410 to 8 supporting "Israel's right to defend itself, including the right to conduct operations in Israel and in the territory of nations which pose a threat to it."

Hezbollah, Hamas and Ahmadinejad have all declared that their policy is the destruction of Israel. They advocate the ethnic cleansing of 5 million Israeli Jews. They advocate genocide. In their quest for peace, Israeli leaders have made concessions, but now the terrorists are using the very territory from which Israel has withdrawn to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible. Israel withdrew from Gaza, and now kidnappers and missiles come from Gaza into Israel. Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon, now kidnappers and missiles come into Israel from southern Lebanon.

The Israelis must know that when they vacate a territory, it will not be used as a rocket-launching pad against Israel, and that if it ever is, that Israel will have the full support of the United States. We all want peace, but we cannot have peace; we cannot have any Israeli territorial concessions unless Israel knows that those concessions will be met with goodwill, not missiles.

There are some who say the Israeli reaction has been "disproportionate." It cannot be overstated that the recent outbreak of warfare was not simply a reaction to one event. The truth is that there have been five kidnapping raids and hundreds of missiles fired during six years of attacks. If anyone is going to say that Israel's reaction is disproportionate, let them say that Israel is doing too little.

There also are those who have called for a cease-fire. I hope we get there soon. But this all started with rockets and kidnapping, and it would be a phony cease-fire unless the soldiers are returned, and unless Hezbollah is disarmed as required by U.N. Resolution 1559.

There are those who talk of prisoner exchanges, but we should not tell Israel to exchange the guilty for the innocent. Some have called for the release of women and minors held in Israeli prisons. Yet is it clear that terrorist organizations have increasingly used minors and women to perpetrate suicide attacks. It was, after all, a woman who was arrested in 2001 for helping to carry out the bombing of a pizza restaurant in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including seven children. It is also the stark reality that teenagers have been caught carrying pipe bombs and attempting suicide attacks. Should Israel release those who would resume their terror?

World opinion matters in the Middle East. We should step up our efforts to help our friends in Israel. The United States should spearhead diplomatic efforts to isolate the terrorists who have targeted Israel. We should call every major ambassador from Europe and demand that Europe list Hezbollah as a terrorist entity. We should insist that European governments prevent their residents from sending money to Hezbollah. Finally, we must demand that the World Bank stop making concessionary loans aid to Iran, the source of the money and the missiles that Hezbollah is firing on Israeli civilians.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) is a senior Democrat on the House International Relations Committee and the ranking Democrat on its International Terrorism and Nonproliferation Subcommittee.

DVAR TORAH: Devarim/Shabbat Chazon

Unfortunately, as mentioned in my previous entry, my computer is broken and I must write ths on a computer devoid of hebrew fonts or my usual resources.

This week's haftarah, the very beginning of the book of Isaiah, is officially my favorite because it is also the most difficult to "perform". It changes trop five times, alternating between normal haftarah and that of the book of Lamentations. Sure, it's a depressing haftarah, but as the second floor of MSRH from 2002-2003 (Holler! J! T! S!) will remember, the second biggest obsession on the floor (besides Prof. Seth Schwartz) was Eicha trop. We would converse in it! Some fun facts about this trop is that it is used in more forums than any of the other trops. There is a verse in this week's Torah portion, Dvarim 1:12, I believe, that begins "Eicha Esa Levadi", which is traditionally read in Eicha trop in the midst of all the torah trop. (I want to point out that this is one of the only cases where a weekday reading is longer than the first aliyah of shabbat. It goes from 1:1-1:11 on monday wednesday but on Shabbat the first one ends on 1:10 so as to not begin the second aliyah with eicha trop. So this haftarah is also mostly in eicha trop, as is the haftarah for the morning of Tisha B'Av which is entirely in Eicha outside of the penultimate and final lines. The chapter of Megilat Esther which I have performed for the past two years is Chapter four, which I chose because it has more Eicha trop than any other chapter. Interestingly Eicha and Esther trops are very closely related, with the former being the minor of the other's major.

Alright so the haftarah, which, by the way, is one of only two haftarot I have layned since my Bar Mitzvah, the other being my actual Bar Mitzvah haftarah, Machar Cbodesh
(I like the exotic ones...), is trying, like so many other Haftarot, to be a wakeup call. For the most part here, God is berating us for being stubborn idiots. The prophet writes, "the oxen knows its owner, the ass recognizes its master, but Israel doesn't know, My nation doesn't recognize". Oh snap! God goes on to compare us to Sodom and Gomorrah, tells us we have blood on our hands, and bewails what we have done and what has forced our fate. Very powerfully, He says that He doesn't desire fire offerings and sacrifice, in fact these rituals seem hypocritical to Him without backing it up with intention, they make Him sick. He wants us. He wants us to make teshuva. He does allow us ways out, if we would but purify ourselves by turning back to the Lord, "our sins would be expunged, if they are red as scarlet, they can be white as snow. The Tabula Rasa is just waiting for us, if we would but listen and heed. The crescendo and whenever I read this verse I read it loudest and slowest and with most emotion because it contains the title of the trop: "Eicha Hayta L'Zona, Kirya Nemana!" How the faithful town has become a whore!" Righteousness replaced by murder...

Toward the end, there is disagreement as to which verses you return to haftarah trop for the final time. The first time I leyned it, I did it with the penultimate verses, but last time I read it with the last four verses. The third-to-last line is questionable in its inflection "purging your dross with lye"?!, what does that mean?! and in the fourth-to-last verse, who are God's enemies and adversaries. I don't know, but we get to the normal pessimism of the majority of haftarot so I choose to read it in normal trop.

On this the third shabbat of the Tlata D'Puranuta (Aramaic for Three [Weeks] of Admonition), we are coming on the home-stretch, we descend in these three weeks into a very steep, very deep valley, but fear not, for following Tisha B'Av it's all up-hill (which is not actually fun if you're walking, because it's a lot harder), and for seven weeks we will be comforted (you will see next week for Shabbat Nachamu).

I apologize if I seem a little scattered. I took a looooooooooooong jog/walk today and am pretty tired...

Have fun with the Eicha trop (such a morbid obsession...)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

My computer is dead; long live my computer!

My laptop has a chronic blue screen of death, namely "Unmountable Boot Volume". D'oh! Gotta get that fixed and can't even start it in safe mode. I need to find my Windows XP CD...

DVAR TORAH: Rosh Chodesh [Menachem] Av

I have to shortly head to mincha/maariv, but I wanted to quickly mention a few words of Torah about Rosh Chodesh Av. Adar is known as the month where we increase happiness "Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B'Simcha" says the Babylonian Talmud in Taanit 29a, "When we enter the month of Adar, our joy is increased". However this statement is preceded with the fact that "Mishenichnas Av Mametin B'Simcha", "When we enter the month of Av, our joy is diminished". Indeed, this is the very day some 3200-odd years ago that our first High Priest, Aaron, died in what was the only Yahrzeit pointed out in Scripture. The Rabbis have guesses as to when Moses dies (7 Adar), Miriam (10 Nisan), King David (6 Sivan), but the only one which is mentioned by God in His Account is Aaron's. Aaron is also the person most excessively mourned according to comparing to other examples of death in the Torah. (In the past I wrote a Dvar Torah regarding these examples of death rituals, so look back in the archives to find it.)
The aforementioned aphorism (hooray for tongue-twisters!) for the month of Adar is sung to a peppy, joyous, and quickly annoying melody. I created a song for the Month of Av which is basically the same meloy for the Adar one but in the minor and slower. It's really an homage to the "America, F*** Yeah! (Bummer Re-mix)" from "Team America: World Police" (but don't tell anyone it came from there).
From now until after mincha of the 10th of the month of Av, which happens to be next friday afternoon, we increase our mourning which we have been observing for the past 12 days since the 17th of Tammuz. Now we are not permitted to eat meat or drink grape products. Some people won't even bathe. However, there is a law that I studied in BT Moed Katan (which I will leave to you to look up because I have to head to services momentarilly) that if one is an istanis, in layman's terms, a weakling, which we would consider anyone living comfortably in America, is allowed to bathe if it would make them completely uncomfortable not to. Americans, unlike Israelis, are accustomed to bathing daily. Israelis don't have instant hot water and therefore are less likely to bathe daily. Therefore religious Israelis are more likely to not bathe during these days then religious Americans. Also one is not allowed to launder clothing or wear freshly (define freshly...) laundered clothes. The prohibition against shaving and cutting hair and no music (though some consider non-live music to be okay, and almost all consider recorded a capella to be permissible) also continues.

Alright, davening...

Chodesh tov, chodesh nechama. May you have a good and comforting month in this month of comfort, Menachem Av. And may our mourning turn into joy very soon.

Meanwhile, I have located a new site for Jewish a capella, after nine weeks of forbidden time (seven weeks of the omer and the first two of the three weeks) following the death of FiveTownsRadio which provided an Sefira/Three Weeks-friendly a capella feed, I have discovered, which if you click on the right side of the page, on Listen Now, you can get an a capella feed. Excellent, because I have been listening to books on tape on iPod, but now I have something else to listen to.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Pro-Israel Rally in Los Angeles

What a spectacular rally! Though it was considerably smaller than the one I attended at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on April 15, 2002 (A date I will probably never forget), I would say around 15,000 souls, and it got an excellent crowd completely behind Israel and its policy and its victory. Not only that but we got The Governator™, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Mayor of El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de la Porciuncula (also known by its informal name, LA) who can slide into third (see Hollywood All Star Game entry), Antonio Villaraigosa, many Rabbis, Ministers, Priests, I think we even got an Imam on the stage.

The counter-protest, by the way, had maybe 30 people. There were more police officers standing in riot-formation in front of them than were counter-protesters (who were a boulevard away from the rally). I present a picture of this as proof from the bus we were taking as we left.

I saw maybe 100 people I knew there. Peeps from camp, school, and the shul abounded. There were maybe two dozen people next to me wearing Camp Ramah in California t-shirts. I didn't recognize most of them, thought they were Madors, and it turns out, as I was talking to some of the mishlachat, that Camp had sent CAMPERS to the rally, Machon and Tzofimers were sent as part of their Etgar program! I took my campers surfing on Etgar. They took these kids to a crowd of 15,000?!

Partisan didn't matter here, Arnold, a Republican and Antonio, a Democrat, both got wild applause from the quintuple-digit crowd. Arnold has tons of charisma and the crowd was completely behind him. He also was dressed in a Ben Gurion (short-sleeve dress shirt, top 2 buttons unbuttoned and slacks) He said that Israel, like any other country, has a right to defend itself against terrorists in any way it sees fit. I don't remember who said it, but one of the speakers said that it's disgusting how if it were any other country, the world would support a country in its fight against terrorists, why not Israel? Ahnold mentioned that his first state trip as governor was to Israel and that he's gone to Israel many times since the '70s and he likes his relationship with the Jewish state. Arnold concluded by saying "Am Yisrael Chai!" Whoa! Mad pops and props for the Terminator. The Mayor, who to me will always be known as the elected official who slid into third at Dodger Stadium (sorry, I'm not stopping with that), will also be known as the mayor who danced with Craig Taubman as he sang "Am Yisrael Chai" (Arnold wasn't playing that game but clapped enthusiastly along). The Ramah kids, with their ruach, fueled those singing flames... We've got ruach, yes we do, we've got ruach, how 'bout you, Alonim? Alonim was mentioned by an Israeli shaliach on the stage and there was utter silence and a little masked hatred among the Ramah peeps. This Ramah-Alonim war will never end, will it? Anyway, the Mayor said "Shalom!", to which a couple thousand people enthusiastically (albeit with the 100 degree humid heat) responded "Shalom!". He spoke of tikkun olam and tzedekah (one of the Machonis was jumping up and down and exclaiming "the mayor just said 'tikkun olam'!!!") Tony V. also talked of the city of Sderot, the town that is perpetually hit by which he added as another sister city of Los Angeles (When I was in Eilat I saw a sign saying that LA was its sister city, but I also thought it was Tel Aviv..., what ev.)

I have come to the conclusion that all of my major elected officials are Pro-Israel
President Bush: Pro-Israel
Governor Schwarzenegger: Pro-Israel (and says he employs Israelis)
Mayor Villaraigosa: Pro-Israel
Senator Feinstein: Pro-Israel (and Jewish)
Senator Boxer: Pro-Israel (and Jewish)
Congressman Sherman: Pro-Israel (and not only Jewish but an active member of my shul)
Congressman Waxman: Pro-Israel (and Jewish)
City-Councilman Weiss: Pro-Israel (and Jewish, also one of the first on the scene when my Synagogue was firebombed Yom Haatzmaut 2002)

I have left inline articles about the event:
Governor, Mayor Attend Pro-Israel Rally

(CBS) LOS ANGELES Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attended a pro-Israel rally Sunday in Los Angeles, drawing criticism from Muslim leaders concerned about violence in the Middle East.

Meantime, a Los Angeles-based relief agency announced it is sending medical supplies to help victims of the hostilities in Lebanon and Gaza.

The pro-Israel rally, which drew an estimated 10,000 people to the Jewish Federation on Wilshire Boulevard near the heavily Jewish Fairfax District, was meant to "show this community's support for Israel and to promote peace during this time of conflict," according to a statement from the federation.

Wilshire between Crescent Heights and Robertson boulevards was closed to accommodate the crowd. Helicopters circled overhead while Israeli and U.S. flags flapped in the hot summer air.

Pro-Israel signs were abundant, particularly those of the Tarzana-based Council of Israeli Community that read, "Wherever I am, I am with Israel,"

About a dozen motorcyclists roared north on Crescent Heights at the start of the rally, sporting Israeli flags on their bikes.

One sign read "Free Lebanon," and one person was arrested when a small group of counter-protesters clashed with ralliers.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gave back-to-back speeches, both in support of Israel's right to exist and defend itself.

"We are all here to do one thing," said Schwarzenegger, "and that is to support the state of Israel -- every nation has the right to defend itself against terrorist attacks."

The governor also said he is praying for peace for the people of Lebanon.

"They have been affected by these terrorists as well," he said.

The governor talked about the many trips he has taken to Israel, eliciting cheers from the crowd.

"I have been to Israel many times," he said. "I started in the '70s as a body-building champion. I went back in the '80s as the Terminator. I went back in the '90s to open my Planet Hollywood restaurant, and Israel was the first country that I visited after I became governor of the great state of California."

The governor ended his speech with his often-used line from the Terminator movies -- "I'll be back."

Villaraigosa greeted the crowd with the Hebrew word for peace, "shalom," and also voiced his support for the Jewish state.

"I know for many of you it may feel like a small thing to come to a rally in West Los Angeles on a hot and balmy Sunday afternoon," he said. "But to the families in Haifa -- who have been terrorized in recent weeks by relentless rocket attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah -- this gathering is no distant gesture."

"We are here to be counted and to demonstrate to the people of Israel that we can be counted on," he said. "We are here to stand up and demonstrate the strength of our solidarity. And we are here today, each and every one of us, to affirm our mutual commitment to peace."

Rabbi Steven Z. Leder of Wilshire Boulevard Temple expressed gratitude for non-Jews supporting Israel.

"I want to thank members of the non-Jewish clergy and elected officials," he said. "They are here today to stand for us as we stand for Israel. They represent people outside of the Jewish community who care about us."

In addition to the governor and mayor, speakers included other elected, religious and community leaders, but Muslim leaders who met Sunday aimed their criticism at Schwarzenegger and Villaraigosa, as well as the Bush administration.

"We take issue with the governor and the mayor taking sides on this issue -- the pro-Israeli side -- without consulting residents of California and Los Angeles," said Salam Al-Marayati of Muslim Public Affairs Council. "The mayor and the governor should not drag us into this foreign conflict."

In addition to rallying, the Jewish Federation is raising funds for Israeli children facing rocket attacks in Israel.

The federation has advanced $100,000 to the United Jewish Communities as part of a national initiative to raise $1 million a week for Israeli children. The funds will help provide emergency kits, counseling, aid to the elderly and disabled and summer camp in safer areas of the country for children, among other needs.

"The people in Haifa, Sderot and other Israeli towns under siege by rocket fire are suffering," said John Fishel, president of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

"Their security is threatened, and most are understandably terrified and traumatized," he said. "As a result, the federation will continue to provide emergency support above and beyond our regular and ongoing support of the people of Israel."

To support the national fund-raising effort, the Los Angeles federation has created an "Israel in Crisis Fund." All donations to the fund will be sent to Israel immediately, without any portion going to overhead, according to the federation.

Donations can be made by calling (866) YOUR-FED or from the federation Web site at

Associated Press (AP)
Calif. Pro-Israel rallies draw political heavyweights
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined thousands of Israel supporters in the withering heat Sunday to rally behind Israel's recent attacks in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

Loudly condemning the "relentless rocket attacks of Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel," Villaraigosa drew a cheer when he said: "We're here to defend (Israel's) unassailable right to defend itself."

Schwarzenegger also affirmed Israel's right to self-defense and offered prayers for peace in Lebanon.

"I hope they can recover their country and live without violence or strife," he said.

The rally here and another in San Francisco came as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice departed for Israel in the first U.S. diplomatic effort on the ground since Israel began bombing Lebanon on July 12.

Police estimated some 2,000 to 3,000 people attended the Los Angeles rally and said no major disturbances were reported.

A group of about 20 held signs that called for an end to "Israeli war crimes in Gaza," but that did not disrupt the rally's block party atmosphere or the crowd's expression of support for recent Israeli military actions.

Dorit Kashman, 54, an Israeli who has lived in the United States for 15 years, carried a sign that read "Hezbollah started the war. Now let them stop it!!!"

"We have been suffering in silence," she said. "Now we are defending ourselves."

Moti Levy, 63, described Iran as "the source of terrorism" and Israel as a "defender of the free world."

"If there is some hesitation by Israel, terrorism will spread," he said.

Southern California Muslim leaders meeting Sunday to discuss the Middle East violence criticized Schwarzenegger and Villaraigosa for supporting Israel.

"It's not in the jurisdiction of the city or state to get involved in foreign affairs," said Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. "Dragging Los Angeles and California into the Middle East conflict is counter productive."

In a separate pro-Israel rally in San Francisco Sunday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told a crowd waving blue-and-white Israeli flags that Hezbollah and Hamas rocket attacks against Israel represented "clear acts of war."

"Israel is not fighting just to protect its citizens," Feinstein said. "It is fighting to secure its borders. It is fighting for its very existence."

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom also appeared briefly at the rally near San Francisco's Ferry Building, waving to the crowd from behind dark sunglasses.


AP staff writer Marcus Wohlsen contributed to this story.

Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Blog
Los Angeles Fire Department Stands By As Over Five Thousand Rally

On Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 12:07 PM, ten Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, eleven LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Hazardous Materials Team, four EMS Battalion Captains, two Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, one Division Chief Officer Command Team, and other LAFD support personnel operating under the direction of Deputy Chief Roy Kozaki responded to a Unified Command Stand By at the "Support Israel Rally" at 6067 W. Wilshire Bl in Park LaBrea/Fairfax.

The Los Angeles Fire Department, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Police Department spent a significant amount of time pre-planning the various aspects of the event. A Unified Command with LAPD and LAFD command staff were implemented and strategically positioned at the Los Angeles Museum of Art to assist in the overall management of the incident. Under the Command post, Divisions, Branches, and Groups were established to handle various aspects of the incident.

In an effort to provide rapid Paramedic intervention during the event, several Medical Task Force Teams were formed and strategically located throughout the venue. Additionally, the LAFD deployed two Bicycle Paramedic Teams and one "Gator" Team. The "Gator" Team consisted of two Paramedics operating a six-wheeled All Terrain Vehicle. The "Gator" was outfitted with Advanced Life Support tools, a stretcher, and other necessary equipment. The size and configuration of the Bicycle Paramedic Teams, and the "Gator" teams provided paramedics the opportunity to navigate crowds, circumvent traffic, and deliver critical patient care faster.

As the event progressed throughout the late afternoon, the Los Angeles Fire Department assisted numerous individuals with medical needs ranging from heat related emergencies, to minor physical injuries. The exact number of people treated and/or transported is still being tabulated.

Submitted by Brian Ballton, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Jerusalem Post
10,000 gather in LA to support Israel Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 24, 2006

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined a crowd of 10,000 at a pro-Israel rally Sunday organized by the Jewish Federation Council of Los Angeles.

Rabbi Marvin Hier opened the rally by saying, "We are here today to stand, shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters. Just a year ago, Israel had a dream of a new era of peace and hope for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. But the terrorists turned that dream into a nightmare.

"Israel withdrew unilaterally from Lebanon and Gaza, but the Palestinian response was Hamas and Hizbullah who crossed into Israel, murdered and kidnapped her soldiers, rocketed her cities all because they're objective is a Middle East free of Jews. Something we can assure them, they will never live to see.

"Everyday, the critics of Israel want to rewrite the script," said Hier, "change the focus, insert new catch phrases collateral damage - disproportional response - collective punishment.

"What would the nations of the world do if there were 10,000 rockets in the hands of terrorist organization, threatening their borders? I'll tell you what they would do. They would do exactly what Israel is doing and no one would criticize them for it."

Hier introduced Schwarzenegger as, "a great friend of the Jewish Community, a man who during the intifada, when the tourists were gone and the hotels were empty, and the people were down in spirit made his first foreign trip to the State of Israel as a sign of his friendship and admiration."

To listen to Schwarzenegger's speech, click here

Schwarzenegger told the crowd, "It is great to be here during this difficult time Israel is facing. We are all here to support the State of Israel.

"While we all regret the loss of innocent life, there is no doubt that Israel has the right to take all appropriate steps to keep its people safe.

"I have been to Israel many times," he said. "I started in the '70s as a body-building champion. I went back in the '80s as the Terminator. I went back in the '90s to open my Planet Hollywood restaurant, and Israel was the first country that I visited after I became governor of the great state of California."

"There is nothing Israel wants more than to live in peace. That is why I am happy to be here to be supportive of that here today ...Am Israel Chai...I'll be back," said the governor.

Also at the rally were LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA); Jewish Federation President John Fishel; County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky; City Councilman Jack Weiss; Israel's Consul General Ehud Danoch; Federation Board Chair Michael Koss; and numerous Jewish and Christian leaders.

There are probably more, I just don't want to look for them now.
My photographs are forthcoming as soon as I can find my USB cord for my camera

I went to dinner on Pico-Robertson and everywhere was packed, possibly because everyone came out of the woodwork for the rally and then everyone wanted Kosher afterwards. We ended up at Elat Burger.

I also want to commend the Jewish community of Los Angeles. Everyone was supporting one-another today and people donated water and flags (and the money to purchase them) and parking was made availiable for a very nominable fee. The day went off without a hitch. I even found a birthright person who invited me to a Moshav Band concert. Yay, I like the Moshav Band.

Daryush Pragerzadeh

AKA Dennis Prager, this is the honorary Farsi name the Persian synagogue of Nessah dubbed upon the famous Jewish talk-show host. First I would like to speak about what he said and then discuss another realization that I made just by being at that shul.

I have to say the man is very charismatic and I totally agreed with much of what he said. I will try to present some of what he said. His main topic was “Why be Jewish?” but the talk quickly degraded into what was going on in the Middle East.

We started by talking about the. He mentioned Hamas’ official slogan, translated into English, “we love death more than the Jews love life”. This death-obsession is very similar to an enemy we experienced in the past, namely, ancient Egypt, whose greatest contribution to the world were magnificent tombs, the pyramids. Their greatest gods were gods of the dead and their bible was the Book of the Dead. Judaism, Prager said, was more obsessed with life than any other culture. We say that an hour here is better than all eternity in the World to Come.

Judaism wants to see a complete separation of life and death. One may not consume milk and meat together because milk symbolizes life, the only thing that can keep a mammal alive in its earliest months, and meat is death because it took an animal’s death to provide the meat. There were other examples of this that I do not currently recall.

So, why be Jewish? He talked to us about that he agrees with the Jews being the Chosen People. Once Christianity realized it, they left their dark age in Europe, and the most successful country in the world, America, also happens to be the most ardent supporter of Israel. The most maligned countries in the world are the muslim countries and france, which happen to be the most anti-Semitic. The ultimate test of entering

Meanwhile he says, think what you want about ‘67 borders and what-have-you, but he said that anyone that does not support what Israel is doing right now is not only anti-Israel, but “an anti-Semite” and is perverse. If you say that you want Israel not to fight the terrorists then you are a terrorist and a horrible human being. I cant give what he said justice, but listen to 870 AM from 9 AM-Noon weekdays if you are in LA. I haven’t listened to him yet, but I assume he’s just as good as he was today.

It’s amazing that in the middle of summer, when you would expect everyone to be on vacation, there were about 2,000 people at the Nessah synagogue, and apparently they get 1,500 on a normal Shabbat when there is not a world-famous radio-talker speaking. Even more amazing, it seems that the average age of people there was around the age of just learning how to drive. There were mostly teenagers and twenty-somethings there, when you would expect most people this age to be at camp or doing something other than going to shul. In comparison, VBS’s attendance on days when there is not a High Holiday (ie: every day other than three in a year) is probably 10 times smaller and the person of the average age is collecting Social Security.

Seeing the successes of the Nessah Synagogue, I have decided to go ahead with my idea to do something about the situation at VBS. Having spoken to many members of the daily minyan, including a number of Board Members, I have come to the conclusion that there is a consensus that there needs to be a change. This is from the people that still show up. Kal VaChomer, the people that don’t certainly feel this way or else they would probably be showing up. Or just coming out of guilt for the High Holidays.

More to come later, but for now I need to go to the super-hugh Pro-Israel Rally at the Federation which will also be attended by the Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Friday, July 21, 2006

My Rabbi’s Infamous!

My uncle showed me an interesting “Alert” in Kashrus Conscience ( regarding a certain hecksher

The following symbol (olive branch) is found on Challah at Trader Joe’s on the West Coast. We do not recommend it. The certification is from Rabbi Ed Feinstein from Temple Valley Beth Shalom, a Conservative temple.

Great, my it seems my Mashgiach career at VBS is off to a good start… I’m already at a disadvantage, apparently, for working at “a Conservative temple”. Now nobody is going to trust my Hashgacha for this reason?! The funny thing is, knowing Rabbi Feinstein, I’m sure he’s going to frame the article in his office when he gets back from Israel and will be proud of ruffling a few Orthodox feathers. Let’s not forget that “infamy” contains the same root as “fame”!

This Shabbos I'mgoing to the Nessa Shul, officially a Persian synagogue, to hear Dennis Prager speak. I don't always agree with what he says, but as faithful readers and people who know me can attest, I always value hearing people of most opinions. It is the reason I went to hear John Ashcroft speak at Columbia in the Fall.

Alright, I got a little carried away there. I hope my fellow Angelenos will join me on Sunday at 4 PM at the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles on 6505 Wilshire for the Israel Solidarity Rally.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Beryl?! Dos Is a Yiddisher Nomen! Of course Beryl is going north, he's going to visit his relatives in Brookline like a nice Jewish boy!

Alright, I'm going into the jacuzzi and read a few chapters of 1776 (I'm a jacuzzi-reader!) and then I'm going to do a few dozen laps in the pool.

Shabbat Shalom

DVAR TORAH: Matot-Masei

6 different rare trops (everything but the shalshelet)
-story about mercha chfula at the VERY END of Matot
-munach which has effect from yerach ben yomo, yerach ben yomo itself, karnei fara (only other time any of these appear in Bible is in 7th Chapter of Megilat Esther, but you never notice it because it is part of the name of Haman, the recitation of which we stamp out
-Journeys (“Shirat HaYam”) trop is read by many on some of the verses of the Journeys, including the one about going through the Sea of Reeds and anywhere else where an especially notable miracle happened
-Sof Sefer: We end the seventh aliyah with the special trop that ends each of the five books of the Torah.

If you are a regular reader of my Divrei Torah, you know my obsession with oddities in the text, including rare trop, or cantillation. Well, this week we have hit the mother lode! This week there are SIX different rare trops in the joint torah portions of Matot and Masei. Making sense of why the particular sections contain these rare tropes, well, תיק"ו
(though there are no dots…)

The first of these rare trops (keep count at home, kids), a Mercha Kfula (which looks like two commas) is found at the very end of our first parasha. I found this out the hard way a couple of years ago. I read that there was a mercha kefula (literally “double mercha”) in the Parasha Matot. I decided to look for it and looked through the entire torah portion, 3 chapters, and finally found it on the penpenultimate word. Oh well.

We next revisit the special trop we used at Shirat HaYam, the Song at the Sea of Reeds we had in Parashat Beshalach in Exodus, when we recite the names of places on our journey where especially miraculous events occurred, including the Sea of Reeds itself.

Next we have three in a row. Yerach Ben Yomo, Karnei Fara, and the Munach that precedes the Yerach ben Yomo. A call munach the wildcard trope because its melody changes depending on whatever trop follows it. Since the Yerach Ben Yomo only occurs once in the Torah, I consider the sound that the munach makes here significant enough to call it a rare trop. Yerach Ben Yomo means a day-old moon, meaning the first crescent you see of the new moon. I guess the symbol for it could be considered as sort of a moon crescent. Practically, it is an upside down etnachta and it sounds exactly like how I do Sof Aliyah on the High Holidays. Karnei Fara, Cow Horns, follow, also in its only appearance in the Torah, and guess what, it looks like cow horns! Everyone that does it tries to make it up because nobody actually knows it because nobody actually learns it. When I learned trop, the only rare trop I was taught was Shalshelet, which, incidentally, is the only rare trop not in these parshiot. Anyway, the only other time these three trops appear in Bible is in the 7th Chapter of Megilat Esther, but you never notice it because it is used during the name of Haman, the recitation of which we stamp out.

So that’s five. The sixth rare trop here, only seen five times in the Torah, is Sof Sefer, the special ending we do for the seventh aliyah that ends a book of the Torah (which is then followed by Chazak Chazak V’Nitchazek!)

Alright, now to the real stuff. At the end of these parshiot, we are effectively at the end of the journey to the Promised Land. The book of Deuteronomy is basically a retelling (it is Greek for “second telling”) of the three center books of the Torah, so it effectively ends here. However, there seems to be a genre transition, whereas the book of Deuteronomy seems to be the exclusively “morally ethical” book of the torah, we see shades of that here, in two particular examples: A very intriguing story faces us within these final parshiot which can teach us a lot about solving collective action problems (a political science term, look it up). The people are about to cross over the Jordan to begin to take the land (which won’t actually happen until the Book of Joshua). The tribes of Reuven, Gad, and half of Menashe see the beautiful land they conquered from Sichon, king of the Amorites and Og, king of Bashan on the East Bank of the Jordan, a land good for grazing cattle, and they want to settle down there. Moses gets angry that they are ditching and they have an argument. A great compromise is reached. They will inherit the land, and their wives and children can stay there, but the men must participate in the fight against the Canaanites and only after all the land in Canaan is conquered can they return to their homes, the East Bank shall be these 2 ½ tribes’ inheritance.

Second we have the Arei Miklat, the cities of refuge. If one accidentially (and only accidentially) killed someone (for example if someone is swinging an axe and the axe-head flies off the handle, striking and killing someone), then they can flee to one of these six cities, three on each side of the Jordan (the answer to the previous issue of whether or not the 2 ½ tribes can settle in Transjordan is once again in the affirmative) and are safe from goalei-dam, blood-avengers, family members of the person who you accidentally slew who in ancient societies had the right to vigilante justice. For as long as the accidental manslaughter-er stays in the clearly marked city, he is safe from bounty-hunters, but if he steps out, he’s fair game. Once the High Priest dies, he is home-free and nobody is allowed to touch him for this matter. Last summer on a literally lightning-packed Friday, I created a game of Ir Miklat which was basically a game of tag with six hula-hoops as Irei miklat. We had to move it indoors when the field was struck by lightning. Anyway, this gives people the chance to remain alive when they didn’t mean another person harm. It should be noted that in second temple times the Irei Miklat were no longer voluntary cities of refuge but instead prison cities which had the added feature of protecting the rest of the citizens from the dangerous criminals.

This is running long so I’m going to stop.

Chazak Chazak V’Nitchazek!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Life is a Beach-house...

I don't only write about Judaism and Israel, I also have some fun (outside of the fun talking about Judaism and Israel) too. A couple of days ago we gained back our grandmother's beach house in Marina Del Rey. Now she, my parents, sibling (the one that's not in Israel, anyway), uncles, aunt(s), and cousins have been hanging out there. It's great having it back after so many years of renting it out.

Uncle Jonny and I did a major moving operation yesterday, disassembling, moving, and reassembling my cousin's bed, maneuvering a couch outside doors too small for it and even up two flights of stairs too narrow for it (along with Josh), driving a U-Haul, all that Jazz. I got to hold Future Aunt Jen's (fan club website) three Daytime Emmys when we got some furniture at her house. That was pretty cool. They were much much heavier than I expected.

I have spent hours in the Pacific ocean bodyboarding (or as I have always called it by its childish 80's-era name, boogie-boarding). I have also attempted to watch Crash while listening to the crash of the waves next to me. I have even started to practice my three aliyot for this Saturday above the beach. I brought my old telescope my cousin bought me over a decade ago and plan on using it soon once I clean the lenses and find the elbow attachment that allows me to peer down at it as opposed to crouching and looking through up through the eyepiece. I expect to find it never. Maybe I should invest in an Equatorial Tripod, which is a bit cheaper than a Sefer Torah, but guess what, they're both on sale! That's the main criterion for my mother buying anything.

I plan on getting my bike's tires repaired so I can bike on the great bike path that goes through the infamous Venice Beach. For now, I'm going to walk my dog on the Venice boardwalk.

Even in scary times, I want to acknowledge the great work of the Israeli police, not only the funniest police force in the world (many of the officers are hilarious), but the best at catching terrorists before they attack:
Monday, a Palestinian terrorist carrying a 5-kilo bomb-vest was intercepted in Jerusalem downtown’s Tzahal Circus primed for a suicide, 7/17/06

I also want to include a translated transcript of Prime Minister Olmert's address last night to the Israeli Knesset:
Address by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

The Knesset, July 17, 2006

Madam Speaker,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Members of Knesset,

At the outset, I offer condolences, on my behalf and on

Behalf of the government, the Knesset and the entire nation,

To the families of the victims - both civilian and IDF. I

Also send best wishes for recovery to the wounded, and a

Huge embrace for the families of those kidnapped and the

Boys themselves.

Over the past few weeks, our enemies have challenged the

Sovereignty of the State of Israel and the safety of its

Residents - first in the southern sector, then on the

Northern border, and deeper into the home front.

Israel did not seek these confrontations. On the contrary.

We have done a lot to prevent them. We returned to the

Borders of the State of Israel, recognized by the entire

International community. There were those who misconstrued

Our desire for peace - for us and our neighbors - as a sign

Of frailty. Our enemies misinterpreted our willingness to

Exercise restraint as a sign of weakness.

They were wrong!

Madam Speaker, Members of Knesset,

The State of Israel has no territorial conflict, neither on

Our southern border nor on our northern one.

In these two areas, we are sitting on the recognized

International border - both vis-à-vis the Palestinian

Authority in the Gaza Strip, and in Lebanon.

We have no intention of interfering in their internal

Affairs. On the contrary, stability and tranquility in

Lebanon, free of the rule of foreign powers, and in the

Palestinian Authority, are in Israel's interest.

We yearn for the day when peace will prevail between us, for

The mutual benefit of our peoples from both sides of our

Common border.

The campaign we are engaged in these days is against the

Terror organizations operating from Lebanon and Gaza. These

Organizations are nothing but "sub-contractors" operating

Under the inspiration, permission, instigation and financing

Of the terror-sponsoring and peace-rejecting regimes, on the

Axis of Evil which stretches from Tehran to Damascus.

Lebanon has suffered heavily in the past, when it allowed

Foreign powers to gamble on its fate.

Iran and Syria still continue to meddle, from afar, in the

Affairs of Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, through

Hizballah and the Hamas.

Even if last Wednesday's criminal attack against an IDF

Patrol was carried out without the consent of the Lebanese

Government and without the assistance of its military, this

Does not absolve it of full responsibility for the attack

Which emanated from its sovereign territory. Just as the

Fact that the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority opposes

Terrorism against Israel does not relieve him and the

Palestinian Authority of their responsibility for the attack

Carried out from their territory against our soldiers in

Kerem Shalom. They are both fully responsible for the

Safety of our soldiers who were taken hostage.

Radical, terrorist and violent elements are sabotaging the

Life of the entire region and placing its stability at risk.

The region in which we live is threatened by these murderous

Terror groups.

It is a regional - as well as global - interest to take

Control and terminate their activity.

We can all see how the majority of the international

Community supports our battle against the terror

Organizations and our efforts to remove this threat of the

Middle East.

We intend to do this. We will continue to operate in full

Force until we achieve this. On the Palestinian front, we

Will conduct a tireless battle until terror ceases, Gilad

Shalit is returned home safely and the shooting of Qassam

Missiles stops.

And in Lebanon, we will insist on compliance with the terms

Stipulated long ago by the international community, as

Unequivocally expressed only yesterday in the resolution of

The 8 leading countries of the world:

- The return of the hostages, Ehud (Udi) Goldwasser

And Eldad


- A complete cease fire;

- Deployment of the Lebanese army in all of

Southern Lebanon;

- Expulsion of Hizballah from the area, and

Fulfillment of United

Nations Resolution 1559.

We will not suspend our actions.

On both fronts we are exercising self-defense in the most

Basic and essential sense. In both cases, it is a matter

Whose importance and significance go far beyond the size of

The military units involved.

We are at a national moment of truth. Will we consent to

Living under the threat of this Axis of Evil or will we

Mobilize our inner strength and show determination and


Our answer is clear to every Israeli, and it echoes today

Throughout the entire region.

We will search every compound, target every terrorist who

Assists in attacking the citizens of Israel, and destroy

Every terrorist infrastructure, everywhere. We will persist

Until Hizballah and Hamas comply with those basic and decent

things required of them by every civilized person. Israel

will not agree to live in the shadow of missiles or rockets

against its residents.

Citizens of Israel,

There are moments in the life of a nation, when it is

compelled to look directly into the face of reality and say:

no more!

And I say to everyone: no more!

Israel will not be held hostage - not by terror gangs or by

a terrorist authority or by any sovereign state.

In the life of a nation there are moments of transcendence,

of purification, when political and sectarian disputes which

separate us are replaced by a sense of mutual

responsibility. I highly value and appreciate the way the

Opposition has been conducting itself in the Knesset these

days. The human competition and personal rivalries are

dissolved and instead our feeling of mutual responsibility

arises, our sense of partnership, and primarily, our eternal

love for our people and our land.

This is such a moment!

All of us - Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and Circassians

- now stand as one person, as one nation, subject together

to the same hatred and malice,

and fighting against it in consensus and partnership. When

missiles are

launched at our residents and cities, our answer will be war

with all the strength, determination, valor, sacrifice and

dedication which characterize this nation.

There is nothing we want more than peace and good neighborly

relations - in the east, north and south. We seek peace, we

pursue peace and we yearn for peace. At the same time,

there is nothing we reject more than an attempt to harm us

and make us give up our right to live here, in our land, in

security and peace.

On behalf of the people of Israel, on behalf of all the

residents of the country, I came here today, Madam Speaker,

to announce to the world: we seek neither war nor direct

confrontation, but we will not be deterred from them when

the need arises. Only a nation that can defend its freedom

truly deserves it. We are entitled to our freedom, and when

necessary, we know how to fight for it and defend it.

My fellow Members of Knesset,

The strength of the State of Israel relies on the strength

and capability of the IDF. This strength is the main

guarantee to preserving and defending our lives on this

land. The best economic and human resources of Israeli

society were invested in building this strength.

I want to extend from here my heartfelt gratitude - and that

of the Government and the people of Israel - to the IDF

soldiers and commanders, the security services, the Israel

Police, the rescue forces, the firefighters and the other

security forces.

I wish to read from the "Prayer for the Welfare of Soldiers

in the Israel Defense Forces". Millions of Jews - in Israel

and the world - pray for the safety and success of those who

defend our nation, from the Lebanese border to the desert,

and from the Great Sea unto the approach of the Arava, on

the land, in the air and on the sea.

"May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us

to be struck down before them.

May the Holy One, blessed be He, preserve and rescue our

fighters from every trouble and distress and from every

plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in

their every endeavor.

May He lead our enemies under our soldiers' sway and may He

grant them salvation and crown them with victory".

The strength of a nation is measured not only by its

military capabilities.

The strength of a nation is measured by its welfare and

morality, its strong and solid economy, its modern and

developing market, its export of technologies and products

for the most advanced world markets and its ground-breaking

academic research. In all these, each and every one of us

has good reason to be proud.

But above all, the strength of a nation is measured in times

of trial, when the home front becomes the front, when the

citizens of the country show admirable fortitude, patience

and stamina and allow it to operate against its enemies.

I had the privilege of witnessing these inner strengths in

the years when I was Mayor of Jerusalem. For years, our

capital was subject to the most murderous terror attacks.

The resilience, patience and restraint of the residents of

Jerusalem and the entire citizens of Israel are exemplary.

I recall a conversation with Rudy Giuliani, who was Mayor of

New York during the terror attacks of September 2001. I

called to offer encouragement to him and the residents of

New York following the collapse of the Twin Towers, and he

replied: "Ehud, if the New Yorkers can withstand it like the

Jerusalemites do, then we will defeat terrorism".

Madam Speaker,

Ladies and gentlemen Members of Knesset, Citizens of Israel,

Even in these days, hundreds of thousands of Israelis stand

at the front line of fire, like soldiers in the battlefield,

fighting for our life and honor.

It is clear to us that the circumstances imposed upon the

residents compel us to address their special needs, in all

aspects. The government will lend immediate assistance,


The government of Israel, under my leadership, derives

strength from the stamina of the Israeli public. We are a

brave and determined nation. I am proud today - perhaps

more than ever before - to be an Israeli citizen.

Thanks to you, our enemies come up against a united nation,

which fights together, shoulder to shoulder. We do not

surrender and we do not panic.

We believe in the justice of our cause, because there is no

battle more just or moral than ours - a battle for the right

to a peaceful and normal life, like any other human being,

any other nation and any other state.

We fight for the right of children like Omer Pisachov, may

his memory be blessed, a 7 year old from Nahariya, who

wanted to visit his grandmother Yehudit Itzkovich, may her

memory be blessed, and enjoy the Sabbath dinner she


We fight for the right of citizens like Shmuel Ben-Shimon,

may his memory be blessed, a 41 year old from Yokne'am who

left every morning for work in the railway garage in Haifa

to support his wife Natalie and their small children;

We fight for the right of citizens like Monica Lerer, may

her memory be blessed, a 50 year old from Nahariya, to drink

coffee on the terrace in the country to which she immigrated

from Argentina;

We fight for the right of girls like Ella Abukasis, may her

memory be blessed, a 13 year old from Sderot, to play the

flute and read books, as Ella enjoyed doing.

We fight for everything that everyone in the enlightened

world takes for granted and never imagined that they would

have to fight for - the right to a normal life.

It is a difficult battle! It may become even more difficult.

It is a painful test, and we may have to bear more

suffering. Such a battle is never easy. It is strewn with

pain and suffering, sacrifice, and casualties.

But, we have no intention of giving up our desire to live a

normal life. We will not apologize for this desire, and we

do not need anyone's approval to defend ourselves.

Citizens of Israel,

This is a difficult time of trial for all of us.

The State of Israel has withstood much more complex trials -

and triumphed.

We have always known how to mobilize our inner strength,

equanimity, wisdom and patience, in order to overcome our


Finally, I wish to speak on a more personal note to the

families of Shalit, Goldwasser and Regev, the families of

the soldiers who are held hostage by the Hamas and


You, and mainly your children - our children - are always on

my mind.

Last Wednesday, only five days ago, at 10:00 am, Aviva and

Noam Shalit sat in my office. They, and I, want Gilad home

more than anything. While we were discussing the situation,

I - and Aviva and Noam - received the painful news that Ehud

(Udi) Goldwasser and Eldad Regev had been kidnapped.

On their departure, Noam and Aviva left a picture of Gilad,

taken close to the date of his kidnapping.

Unfortunately, pictures of three boys now stand in my room.

Many times during the day I look in their faces, into their

eyes, and embrace them in my heart. I do not forget them

for one minute. They were there on our behalf and for our

sake. We will do everything and make every effort to bring

them home. We will do this, but not in a pattern that will

encourage more kidnappings.

There is almost no one who can understand the place you are

in. Even when we do not talk directly, I feel and hear what

you want to say to me, and I embrace you with love,

understanding and agreement.

The place I am in compels me, ultimately, to make fateful

decisions, for life, and sometimes even for death.

I have no strength other than that which you have bestowed

upon me.

I have no courage other than that which G-d, my faith in the

justice of our cause and my sense of supreme responsibility,

have instilled in me and have prepared me for these fateful


Madam Speaker,

I see before me the kidnapped boys, those standing in the

front line and in the line of fire, those brave and

determined ones who are fighting today and who could - G-d

forbid - be the target of tomorrow's kidnapping.

We will defend all of them, on behalf of all of them we will

fight, and with all of them before our eyes - the civilians

in the line of fire, the kidnapped fighters and their

families - we will continue, without hesitating, without

capitulating and without fretting, until our goals are


I wish to conclude by reading an extract from Prophet


"Thus said Hashem: a voice is heard on high, wailing, bitter

weeping, Rachel weeps for her children; she refuses to be

consoled for her children, for they are gone.

Thus said Hashem: restrain your voice from weeping and your

eyes from tears; for there is reward for your accomplishment

- the word of Hashem - and they will return from the enemy's


There is hope for your future - the word of Hashem;

And your children will return to their land".

We will triumph!

I love with that closing reference to "Kol B'Ramah Nishma" that PM Olmert dons a yarmulke that was in his pocket and takes it off afterwards. Cute.

Peace (and I mean that literally)!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Bush drops the S-bomb on Israel's behalf

There is an article on CNN (which has since been changed, censorship style) featuring a recent naughty word said by our seemingly puritan president (who if actually was puritan would have gotten flogged for saying a swear-word) It seems once again that our president didn't notice the open mic before him. Six years after calling a reporter a "major-league asshole" to an audience

Bush frustration sparks expletive

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush expressed frustration Monday at attempts to get U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to do more to end the conflict in Lebanon.

In the conversation, Bush also says he plans to send U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the Middle East.

During a photo opportunity where there was an open microphone, Bush was heard expressing his frustration to British Prime Minister Tony Blair using an expletive.

Bush and Blair were aware that the event was a photo opportunity and that the media was present. Blair later turned off the microphone.

Earlier in the day, Blair and Annan called for the deployment of an international force in southern Lebanon, in order to end the spiraling conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

The text of their conversation is as follows:

Bush: What about Kofi Annan? I don't like the sequence of it. His attitude is basically cease-fire and everything else happens.

Blair: I think the thing that is really difficult is you can't stop this unless you get this international presence agreed.

Bush: She's going. I think Condi's (U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) going to go pretty soon.

Blair: Well that's all that matters. If you see, it will take some time to get out of there. But at least it gives people....

Bush: It's a process I agree. I told her your offer too.

Blair: Well it's only or if she's gonna or if she needs the ground prepared as it were. See, if she goes out she's got to succeed as it were, where as I can just go out and talk.

Bush: See the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over.

Blair: Cause I think this is all part of the same thing. What does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine, if he gets a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way, he's done it. That's what this whole things about. It's the same with Iran.

Bush: I feel like telling Kofi to get on the phone with Assad and make something happen. We're not blaming Israel and we're not blaming the Lebanese government.

Sorry, I had to do it. I got the pics from

Flip-flopping Iranian leader

I watched on the news today that the Presdent of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud_Ahmadinejad said the "Zionists" are acting the same way as Hitler did when he murdered the Jews. Um, didn't he DENY the Holocaust?


Friday, July 14, 2006


Today (Thursday) I shotgunned the Torah reading because nobody was assigned to do it, but no worries: it is the second most read Torah reading in the Torah and I knew it well. I also served as Gabbai and Shaliach Tzibur. Boy, they’re really putting me to work at VBS, I also had to roll the Torah at go-time and make sure Avinu Malkeinu was added (I combined the two to give me time to roll from Deuteronomy to Exodus). “So this was the second most-read Torah reading, what is the first?”, you may ask. Well, to answer your question, this week’s regular Torah portion, Pinchas, contains the most read section of the Torah as a Torah reading. My synagogue, has Torahs specifically for this single Torah portion which is read every Rosh Chodesh (maximum 18, I think a year) festival (both Yom Tov and Chol HaMoed) (9+8+2=19 in the diaspora), plus the High Holidays (3), so besides the normal Torah cycle, you get the back section of this Torah portion read about 40 times a year out of the Torah scroll. Ki Tisa, the portion we read for the fast day, morning and afternoon, gets about a quarter of that, far behind in second place.

My favorite, it’s time for a scribal oddity. God gives Pinchas his covenant of peace:

פינחס בן־אלעזר בן־אהרן הכהן השיב את־חמתי מעל בני־ישראל בקנאו את־קנאתי בתוכם ולא־כליתי את־בני־ישראל בקנאתי: לכן אמר הנני נתן לו את־בריתי שלום:
(Numbers 25:11-12). “Because Pinchas turned my wrath from Israel, and was zealous for My zealousness toward them and I didn’t obliterate them in My zeal. Therefore I say that behold I give him my covenant of peace.”
The last word, Shalom, peace has a scribal curiousity. The vav in that word is severed broken vav This peace is somehow broken, somehow diminished and comes at a great price. “Freedom isn’t free, it costs folks like you and me”, we learn in the movie Team America: World Police. This I believe is the only broken letter in the entire Bible and if it is not drawn as broken, then the entire Torah scroll is disqualified. There must be some real importance to this little broken letter.

Maybe this is a commentary that can apply today. This peace that Pinchas secured was only able to be obtained after bloodshed. Our freedom at Passover came at the cost of the Egyptians, who we recognize by spilling wine at the mention of the plagues that led to their downfall and truncating our Hallel praises on the latter days of Passover in commemoration of their drowning defeat at the Sea of Reeds. In the case of Pinchas, God’s wrath only abates after Pinchas kills people that intermarried. I think today that, although Israel only wants to dwell peacefully, as it has forever (such as in the fast day afternoon’s Haftarah which we just read (Isaiah 55:12), about better times when “you shall dwell in peace”) our neighbors will not let us exist as such (some don’t think we should exist at all or that we do exist at all) and we must fight for our survival in order to secure peace.

Also contained in this parasha is the story of Tzelophchad’s daughters. Tzelophchad is a man who died in the desert and according to Rabbinic Tradition he is the “some guy” who God ordered stoned to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath. He left behind only daughters and when the geneology was discussed and the laws of succession and inheritance set, the daughters of Tzelophchad complained to Moses because only sons inherit. Moses consults with God for a judicial decision he doesn’t know the answer to, I believe, only three times in the Torah, in this case, in the aforementioned case of the guy gathering sticks, and in the case of impure people who are unable to offer the pascal lamb during the prescribed time. It is this case of the daughters being able to inherit and own land that I find revolutionary for the time. Although their rights are very limited compared to them, this is possibly the first case in ancient history of women being able to be landowners. We see time and time again that God is especially merciful and caring about the destitute, the stranger, the orphan, the widow, the sick, and this shows that in a world that in some cases to this day is male dominated, and completely male dominated until very recently, there is a glimmer of hope for women and for others who are not seen as the so-called upper echelons of society. Judaism doesn’t have to be a Plutocracy where only the rich are in power; though the Talmud suggests the High Priest should be wealthy there have been High Priests who have been extremely poor, and his collegues are supposed to help him get around that law by furnishing him with money. One of the most famous High Priests, Joshua, in one of my favorite haftarot, is seen as having torn dirty clothing and being extremely poor. Satan tries to accuse Joshua and God denounces Satan and gives Joshua clean clothing becoming of a high priest. Half of the prayers we say at the beginning of the morning service are dedicated to God’s taking up the plight of the destitute, “Blessed are You Lord our God King of the Universe who restores sight to the blind… clothes the naked… raises up the bent… gives strength to the weary…” introduce our service in Birkot HaShachar. “God protects the convert, relieves the orphan and the widow” we find in Psalms 146:9. Even in terms of Tzedakah which we are commanded to immerse ourselves in, we are commanded to perform it while maintaining the highest possible dignity for the poor we help, and the highest form of Tzedekah is helping someone find gainful employment so they no longer have to perform the embarrassing task of begging and panhandling. We don’t watch when the poor gather from the corners of our field to protect their dignity. Even the poorest of the poor must give Tzedekah, poverty isn’t an excuse in Judaism to not do acts of kindness and it is a great boost of self-esteem to be able to help others, regardless if you are the poorest person in the world.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

המצב HaMatzav, the Situation in Israel as it now stands

Two katushas launched from Lebanon have hit Haifa and seven have hit the holy city of Tzfat. This is war!

In Haifa, Jews, Druze, Muslims, Christians, adherants of the Bahai faiths, all live in peace, but now they are all under attack.

Apparently Hizbullah is denying any role in the attack on Haifa.

I am also hearing reports of the Israeli recapture of Gush Katif in Gaza.

I find it very important to keep as updated on news as possible. There are a couple of good websites for Israeli news from many ranges of political ideology.

-The Jerusalem Post is good for its quick snippets, is considered to be relatively unbiased, and allows for user talkback, a feature which I have taken advantage of on occasion. The thing I like most is that they have an RSS Feed (if you use Mozilla Firefox, you can add it when you are at the Jerusalem Post website by clicking on the orange sound icon on the right side of the URL bar) which means I can access a list of their most recent or most prominent articles when I am anywhere on the internet

-Next we have Israel National News put out by Arutz Sheva, which is pretty right wing.

-Ha'aretz is considered to be a good left-wing news source

-Yedioth Achronot has the most print readership in Israel and I present its English edition.

-I was just told about Debka by my uncle. It looks like it is quickly updated. I am not sure of its political affiliation

-If you understand Hebrew (and I guess they exist even if you don't) there are Hebrew news sources which are given much more attention than the english editions and if you understand Hebrew, you are best reading these, the original hebrew versions of news sources I have already mentioned: ידיעות אחרונות, הארץ, ערוץ 7. (It's really cool, by the way, how my Edit program turned this listing right-to-left)

-As for international news sources, I am not objectionable to CNN's coverage. Though I completely disagree with their one-sided approach against Israel, because they have an RSS feed that already comes bundled with Firefox, I also read BBC's Middle East Report. I should probably read MSNBC and FoxNews, shouldn't I?

-I am a proud member of the JRants network, an aggregation of Israel and Jewish-themed blogs. There is always a wide range of opinions on Israel and Judaism. Definitely check this out and you may find someone whose opinions you would like to read.

Alright, so these are increasingly tense times and war is looking very likely, against Lebanon, against Hamas, and perhaps against Syria (maybe even Iran!). We must pray for the victory of Israel and of ultimate peace. I will continue to update this article as I see fit or add new ones.

I just watched on CNN the Lebanese army goosestepping and in flag formation, a blatantly Nazi reference. They were dressed in colors and from overhead looked like the Lebanese flag, the Hisbullah flag, and the Palestinian flag.

I think that we may see a repeat of the 1982 Lebanese war when we captured their capital city of beirut. We have already taken out their main airport.

UPDATE 2:20 PM PDT: I heard a report that the Katyusha rockets that hit Haifa, which Hisbullah is denying actually came from Iran! If that is true, oh man, time for a regional war.

UPDATE 7:50 PM PDT: I've been fasting since 11 PM, so I may not be so coherent right now, but I find it ironic that one of the most right-wing voices in Israel right now is Amir Peretz (Hebrew; Yiddish), head of the leftist Labor party and Minister of Defence ([sic], they use British spelling in Israel). Maybe this is because the Palestinians keep bombing his village, Sderot with Qassams... Anyway, he is saying that they will not allow Hizbullah to remain in the south of Lebanon on Israel's northern border and even in the unlikely chance that Lebanon returns their hostages safely to Israel, I think that Israel will continue until they blot out the حزب الله terrorist organization from the south.