Showing posts from 2011

Sanity In Bet Shemesh

While the entire world is hearing about the "darker" side of Bet Shemesh we would like to tell (or remind) you about a sparkling gem in the midst of our city.

Lema'an Achai. Smart Chesed.

For over 11 years Lema'an Achai has been the voice of reason and sanity providing the tools to build better and brighter futures.

Lema'an Achai helps ALL those in crisis. Men and Women. Religious and not so religious. Ashkenazi and Sefardi. Young and old.

Poverty and hardship don't discriminate. Nor do we.

You can be a partner in our amazing work that has changed hundreds of lives for the better.

As we conclude this tax year please consider a generous tax deductible donation to help strengthen Lema'an Achai, a bastion of sanity that unites Jews from all stripes for the common goal of helping others in need.

Please visit our website at . Take a look around and donate generously. Share this message with your friends. Everyone should know of the beauty o…

New Driving Regulations In Israel...

Humour, well used, is the sharpest weapon.

Proportionality in Bet Shemesh

I was contacted yesterday to ask if I would be willing to participate in a BBC panel of Beit Shemesh residents, to discuss the situation at Orot Banot.
When the Israel Defence Forces undertake operations against terror groups, Israel’s critics throw the word “disproportionate” into their (knee-jerk) condemnations.
As in: The top UN human rights official says Israel's military response to the firing of rockets at its territory by Palestinian militants is "disproportionate.",7340,L-3645919,00.html
Here in Beit Shemesh, the dispute between the ultra-orthodox “Sikrikim” and the Orot Banot school, has indisputably become the main news-story in Israel.
Whereas the news abroad is full of human-interest stories, here in Israel's corner of the Middle East we’ve got existential threats from Iran's Nuclear bomb, the Syrian civil-war, Islamic Fundamentalists elected to power in Egypt, Hamas joining with the PLO… Some reasonably serious new…

Fatal Beating

I rediscovered this gem of Rowan Atkinson.
As a graduate of two English boarding schools, I can relate...

Given the situation in some talmudei torah (chedarim), perhaps this sketch would go over better in Yiddish?

("Mild" bad language warning).

A Law Unto Themselves

The battle since the start of this school year, for OrotBanotSchool, has reached national status.
8 year old American olah, Naama Margolies, from Beit Shemesh, has become a national icon, due to a Channel Two News report aired this Saturday night.
Naama explains how scared she is to travel the 300 metres from her home to school. And, in front of the cameras, and in spite of her mother’s words of encouragement, Naama refuses to walk there.
Naama is clearly traumatized by the protesting Sikrikim (extremist chareidim) who have demonstrated outside Orot Banot modern-orthodox girls school for the past half-year. The demonstrators reportedly scream insults ("whores!""shikses!"), spit and throw various objects at the young school girls. 
Her mother explains that, although her family is orthodox, in the eyes of the kanoim, they are not.
The report continues by interviewing a chareidi-from-the-street (in his car) who justifies and apparently agrees with attacks on 7 yea…

Mindless Hooliganism or Pre-Emptive Strike?

The incursion Monday night by dozens of 'settler' youth into the Ephraim Army Base in Samaria has received severe condemnation across the political spectrum.
In the course of the incursion, it has been reported that IDF vehicles were vandalized; tyres were set on fire; subsequently base commander, Col. Ran Kahane, was attacked in his car and lightly wounded (Later Note: although this "injury" seems to have been denied now by the IDF spokesman).
The condemnations have come from Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Barak, right wing MK's, rabbonim and settler leaders, such as Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan.     
This incursion follows a series of aggressive acts, allegedly carried out by "settlers" as a part of "Tag Mechir" (Price Tag) policies. These include setting fire to a carpet in a mosque, a previous incursion into an army base (damage to vehicles), and graffiti scrawlings on the homes of left wing activists.
These acts have been wid…

Burkas and Bikinis

This YouTube video shows an interview of a "Talibanit" lady, sporting her burka, a full head covering veil; the interview is apparently conducted by her husband.
The husband asks his wife several questions about why she wears a full-face veil and multiple layers of clothing, the response of people in the street, and how she responds to critics, from the secular through to the ultra-orthodox?
The lady replies that she wears this non-standard dress in order to be more modest, and in imitation of women (both Jewish and non-Jewish) from previous eras, including the Mothers of the Jewish people, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel.
She explains that whereas many people encourage her in this, she experiences particular hostility in the ultra-orthodox neighborhoods, such as Meah Shearim in Jerusalem.
She claims that she has been spat upon, people have tried to forcibly remove her veil, and she has even had rocks thrown at her.
The lady declares her love and acceptance of all Jewish wo…

Sexist General or Funny Joke?

Here's Israel's Joke of The Day:

Observing some army field excercises, Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak, asks IDF's Chief of Staff Benny Ganz: "What are those chayalot/women soldiers doing over there?"

Ganz leans over to Barak and says: "Singing".


Hmmm. I guess you had to have been there.

As indeed were some news crews.

Benny Ganz joke was caught on tape, aired and created something of a storm.

Ganz was referring to a recent controversy about whether or not chayalot should entertain troops, in particular religiously observant soldiers, some of whom object to hearing women singers on religious modesty grounds ("kol isha").

In that context, it's quite a clever and funny quip. Yes, I admit it, I giggled.

However, given that even Hilary Clinton has recently joined the criticism of chareidi gender segregation policies in Israel, (although interestingly enough, not the same practices in Hilary's own back yard, in ultra-orthodox commun…

Absurd Finger Pointing By Clinton & Panetta

Recent statements by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have finger-pointed at Israel about the stuck-in-the-mud status of the "Peace" Process with the Palestinians, criticized Israel for not having made-up with Turkey, Jordan and Egypt, as well as undermining the practicality of an Israeli or US first-strike on Iran.
I noticed this week a tucked-away article in Israel Defense magazine, interviewing Moshe (Bogie) Yaalon, Minister of Strategic Affairs, in which the interviewer notes that the preparation and publication of the IDF 5-year plan, has been delayed from 2012, to 2013. Yaalon says: "It is a long process which requires an entire year. It is now being revised in light of changes in the region…"
Each of the issues raised by Clinton and Panetta, the Palestinian Peace Process, the situation with Turkey, the situation with Jordan, the situation with Egypt, and the military option on Iran are very different strategic issues …

Exclusively Revealed: The Men Who Sabotaged Iranian Defence Facilities

In the past two weeks, two top-secret Iranian military facilities have been damaged in mysterious explosions.
On Monday there was a large explosion reported in the western Iranian city of Isfahan. Isfahan is the home of a nuclear materials processing plant. That facility first went into operation in 2004, taking uranium from mines and producing uranium fluoride gas, which then feeds the centrifuges that enrich the uranium. Since 2004, thousands of kilograms of uranium flouride gas were stockpiled at Isfahan and subsequently sent to the enrichment plant in Natanz.
The reported incident occurred about two weeks after Gen. Hasan Tehrani Moghaddam was killed together with 20 other Guard members Nov. 12 at a military site outside Bidganeh village, 40 kilometers southwest of Tehran. General Moghaddam was the head of Iran's Missile Programs, and his death is a significant blow to the Iranian military leadership. Satellite photographs (see above) of the military facility show extensive da…

Gotcha! Pope Didn't Belt-Up!

Hurriyet Daily News has reported that an unnamed German citizen has brought a complaint to the court in Freiburg, Germany, alleging that the head of the Catholic Church Pope Benedict XVI broke the law by not wearing a seat belt.

The Pope toured Freiburg on September 25 & 26 this year, using his unique Popemobile.

The Popemobile is apparently fitted with a seat belt in the rear; however, it seems the Pope omitted to belt-up during the tour of Freiburg, perhaps due to the vehicle traveling at walking pace, as you can see in this video.

The customised vehicle is reportedly capable of travelling at 160km/h if required. There are longstanding security concerns for the Pope, particularly since the assassination attempt (which critically wounded the Pope) on Pope Paul II in 1981, and so the idea of a 'quick getaway' in the Popemobile is a practical requirement.

The point being made by the plaintive is that:

1. No-one is above the law - even the Pope*.

2. Especially ("bedavka…

UK Ambassador Honours Lema'an Achai

Friday morning's official visit to Lema'an Achai and Beit Shemesh by British Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould and British MP Richard Ottaway was a great success!

The Ambassador and Member of Parliament were accompanied by Mrs Nikki Ottaway (Richard's wife and a Court Magistrate) and Nathalie Tamam, Political Director of Conservative Friends of Israel.

The distinguished visitors came to Lema'an Achai in Ramat Beit Shemesh, in order to spotlight the community-based charitable social services organization, as an example for the British Government to take note of - and as an example of the positive impact of British Olim on Israeli society.

The UK Government has promoted a concept of "Big Society", which is to say that the grass-roots are being called upon to take on complementary and supplementary roles to Government services, including in the charitable sector.

Conservative Member of Parliament, and Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Policy, Mr …

Joke of the Day

Bill Gates (about as gentile as anybody can be) advertised for a new chairman of Microsoft Europe. 5,000 candidates show up at the job screening. They are assembled in a large room. Among them is Maurice Cohen, a French Jew, a small, bearded, bespectacled man. Bill Gates thanks the candidates for coming but asks all those who are not familiar with the JAVA programming language to leave; 2,000 people rise and leave the room.

Maurice Cohen says to himself, "I do not know this language but what have I got to lose if I stay? I'll give it a try". Bill Gates then asks all those who have no experience of managing teams of more than 100 people to leave. Another 2,000 people go.

Maurice Cohen says to himself, "I have never managed anybody but myself but what have I got to lose if I stay? What can happen to me?" Then Bill Gates asks all candidates who do not have outstanding academic qualifications to rise and leave; 500 people remove themselves. Maurice Cohen says to hi…

British Ambassador Coming to Lema'an Achai

Britain's Ambassador to Israel, HE Matthew Gould  Hon. Richard Ottaway MP, Head of UK Foreign Affairs Committee

On Friday the 25th of November, the British Ambassador to Israel, His Excellency Mathew Gould, and the Head of the UK Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, Hon. Richard Ottaway MP, will make an official visit Lemaan Achai, as part of their general visit to Beit Shemesh.
This is a tremendous opportunity to spotlight the important contribution of British olim to Israeli society in general, and the remarkable achievements of Lema'an Achai in Beit Shemesh in particular.
If you would like to be officially invited to His Excellency's visit to Lema'an Achai, please contact me (David Morris),  and/or to the Beit Shemesh City Reception at Pais Eshkol, please contact Harley Stark from the BetShemeshMunicipality ( 
-- TTFN, David
P.S. Do you have any Union Jacks (British flags)? Or know where to get them in the coming days?? Any other British p…

Understanding The Weak Link in the Eurozone

Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain are on the terminally ill list. Earning themselves the lack-luster title "PIIGS".
And the Euro-Zone itself appears to be on the verge of collapse.
I am not an economist, and probably neither are you. So it's hard to follow the causes and effects of this crisis, never mind intelligently guage its future.
Here's my best effort to share with you my understanding of the problem. This is not authoritative in any way – please feel free to correct me in the comments section.
In post-War Europe, the idea of a coalition of European countries, sharing certain economic & political values, financial mechanisms and strong performance – basically a rich (white?) man's club – certainly had its attractions. While uniting past bitter enemies in a common pursuit of economic stability and controlled growth, the coalition also faced off as a bastion of capitalism, against Soviet Block Communism.
Since the 1950's, this has been a remark…

Baking Oat Matzos Already!

It's that time of year – between Sukkot and Chanuka – oat matzo baking!
Some 30 years ago, Rav Ephraim Kestenbaum's daughter Lisa was diagnosed with coeliac's disease – an allergy to gluten. Nevertheless, their local orthodox rabbi told Rabbi Kestenbaum that Lisa should eat a small quantity of matzo on Passover. Rabbi Kestenbaum was deeply troubled by this – how could he make his daughter eat something which was harmful for her?
Rav Kestenbaum is both a talmid chacham (learned in Jewish sources) and a chemical engineer.
He therefore decided to find a work-around. A way for his daughter to fulfill the incredibly important commandment of eating matzo on Passover, while not causing Lisa to become ill....
After several years of investigation and experimentation, Rabbi Kestenbaum invented the oat matzo – which are mehadrin kosher matzos for Passover, and which are not harmful for ceoliacs to eat.
The first gluten free oat matzos were produced in the Kestenbaum family kitchen i…

Should Parents Hit Children?

A graphic video published on You Tube has sparked off a national debate in the USA, about parental corporal punishment.
The video shows (then) 16 year old Hillary being whipped with a belt by her father, Judge William Adams. Her mother also participates in the beating. The punishment was for using the internet to download games and music.
Warning: This video contains violence and is not appropriate for family viewing.

Many countries around the world have outlawed corporal punishment in schools; in 1979, Sweden became the first country to ban physical punishment of children, including by their parents.
Since then, 30 more countries have passed bans on corporal punishment at home, and even more have banned it in schools, according to the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children.
In the USA, while there are laws against child abuse, it is legal in all 50 states for parents to hit their children, and for schools in 19 states to physically punish kids. About 80% of A…

An Englishman in Israel Responds to Iranian Nuclear Crisis

I knew this was the time to get two boxes.
Still in preview mode, the not-yet-published IAEA report on Iran is reported to include solid evidence that Iran's nuclear program goes well beyond medical research and power generation, and is actually to produce nuclear weapons. The obvious target for these is us, Israel.
Increasing probably scenarios include that Israel will soon launch a tactical attack on Iranian nuclear facilities; Iran would likely respond with massive ballistic missile bombardments on Israel; Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, perhaps even Syria, would all join in and blast us with literally tens of thousands of long range missiles. Unconventional warheads, such as gas and biological weapons are quite likely to be used. Hezbollah is planning to infiltrate the northern border and capture whole towns.
For us in Bet Shemesh, we'd be in the thick of the missile debris.
I have no influence on Israel's defence policy, much less Iran's. I'm not even…