Showing posts from April, 2013

Ariel's Got "Yichus"!

This week is my youngest son Ariel's barmitzva. In his honour, I filmed and directed a dramatic 11 minute video which features Ariel's grandparents, their stories, and detailing his impressive ancestry. This was well received by family and friends. Ariel's got Yichus! Enjoy the video! (You can see it better directly on YouTube at: ) Special Thanks & Plug for Momento Media who skilfully did the editing for this movie. 

Ariel Morris Barmitzva Song - by Moshe Burt

It's my son Ariel's 13th Birthday, his barmitzva, and our friend Moshe Burt has produced this foot-tapping parody of the Beech Boys Sloop John B (which our family sings with the words of the shabbat song "Dror Yikra"). Thanks Moshe! Anyone who would like a fun song written for their special occasion should contact Moshe:  olehchadash

Magen: Child Abuse Warning to Parents & Kids on Lag BaOmer

According to the Child Protection Center in Jerusalem , Lag BaOmer has become an annual nightmare – it is the worst night of the year for child abuse. The reason for this is OPPORTUNITY. With thousands of children out-and-about, generally with minimal or zero adult supervision, often sleeping in the open, or wandering around till the morning hours – there is plenty of opportunity for perpetrators to attack children. Here in Beit Shemesh/RBS Magen has received numerous reports regarding suspected perpetrators - highlighting the need for increased awareness and vigilance in the community. PLEASE sit down with your kids before Lag Ba’Omer to calmly warn them about the nature of the risks and to give them practical tools and ground-rules. Some examples: 1. On Lag BaOmer do not walk or hang-around by yourself. Stay at all times with one or more friends. 2. If someone who is not a part of your family or group, who is older (eg. more than 2 years your senior), even if they look frum,

Just a Few Minutes from Beit Shemesh!

There is a wonderfully rich variety of historical and natural sites within just a few minutes drive from Beit Shemesh. This past Friday we went exploring, and chanced upon a system of large & spectacular caves close to Beit Guvrin, but outside of the national park. As you will see from the photos, the caves have many of the characteristics of the well-known caves of Beit Guvrin itself. The bell shaped formation, carved out of the limestone, with an opening through the high ceiling, and some triangular niches carved into the walls ("columbarium"). The se were apparently often used as a source for chalk, particularly for constructing roads in ancient times. The large deposits we found of white dust made for a spectacular and rather messy snow-ball-fight. There are around 800 such caves in the area around Beit Guvrin! Warning: while walking around off-the-beaten-track around Beit Guvrin, you must be extremely careful about where you put you

Delaying Lag B'Omer Bonfires - Loving Our Neighbors

Rav Chaim Soloveichik made a shul announcement this past shabbat that the Chief Rabbinate had asked that everyone celebrates their Lag Baomer bonfires on Sunday evening in place of Motzei Shabbat. Rav Chaim then spoke on the topic of "Love your neighbor as yourself" - which features in the weekly torah portion. Rav Chaim told us about Rabbi Spektor of Beit Shemesh who, many years ago, discussed the latest alterations being made at that time to the first eiruv around the new Ramat Beit Shemesh neighborhood with Rav Chaim. Rav Spektor said that the existing eruv is certainly kosher, but it used many "kulot" leniencies, because of the state of construction of Ramat Bet Shemesh. Rav Spektor explained that since there are many people in Beit Shemesh who are not shabbat observant and would carry objects in the public areas regardless of the existence of an eiruv, he rushed to have a sufficient eruv to ensure that people carrying would not be breaking shabbat by so doi


I recently wrote an article about my feelings on seeing a photo of Women of the Wall.  The intention was to share my feelings, and generate a discussion, even a debate, about the issues of acceptable boundaries in behaviour at our Holy Sites. However, it is clear that many fine people found the article itself hurtful and offensive. This was certainly not my intention and I have therefore taken down the article. I whole heartedly apologize for the hurt that this article caused and sincerely request ‘slicha’.

Just a Few Minutes From Home!

There are times when it's uplifting to join with a mass of people, doing the same thing at the same time. I guess it brings out some tribal group instincts, but honed to greater or at least more modern causes. A political demonstration can generate a surge of camaraderie. Many people who attend funerals of Torah luminaries (lehavdil) report a strong emotion as they move with the massive crowd. Sports attract large crowds to games with... large crowds. Being a part of that mass of humanity in the stands, supporting the home team, is a factor in why so many turn out for the game.    However, I don't really enjoy nature with a crowd. So on Yom Ha'atzmaut, and indeed on most public holidays in Israel, it can be challenging to find a beautiful spot, which is also quiet. The national parks are crammed with The People and the access roads are often jammed with traffic. However, I have often noticed that, just a short hop from the crowds, off the main park

Memories of Maggie

Asking a Brit like me, brought up during the time of Mrs Margaret Thatcher, of his memories of "Maggie" and you'll evoke a melange of macro and micro. Of national and personal experiences. Buried passions, rusty disputes, and biographical snippets. I never met Maggie - indeed I don't know if I've met anyone who met her! - but the events of Mrs Thatcher's period in the Prime Ministers office (1979-90) influenced and formed me, as they did many (all?) of my generation. Mrs T was the absolute political leader in the eyes of the Morris family. My dad, in particular, was a fan, a devote. Voting Conservative, reading the Daily Mail and Telegraph, welcoming "monetarism", and seeing only Maggie's side of the story, while despising her opponents, was as natural as having your tea with milk. It was only many years later, when I slipped into discussing politics (actually Gush Katif activism, which was then in its hey-day) with my visiting British

Offended by Islam

This is a very British outspoken response to Islamic intollerence. Brilliant. (Hat-tip: Life In Israel)

"Chasing The Devil"

This article is re-posted here from "Gotta Givem Hope" , with kind permission of the author Chaim Levin. A few comments before the article itself: 1. The article provides an important insight into the criminal investigation process in Israel, from the point of view of a child abuse 'survivor' who is an adult resident of the US, pressing charges in Israel. 2. The "imut" confrontation described is typically used in he-said-she-said cases. This is an emotional and often stressful process, which can be empowering for the victim. 3. Children however, are NOT required or generally encouraged by the legal process to confront their (alleged) abuser, lest it cause trauma to the child. Instead, the child is represented by the Child Investigator (ie the State). Children who are interviewed by the Child Investigator often report similar feelings of empowerment to those Chaim describes. 4. I have posted the complete article unedited; I have no privileged information

Beit Shemesh: Chaos As Gentile Buys Leavened Products

Introduction (4th April, 2013): This was an article I wrote on 1st April, which ths year coincided with the last day of (and after) Pesach in Israel. It was an April Fool. It appears to have fooled quite a few people. If you're one of them, and are still waiting for the chametz van - relax. Enjoy. Eat your chametz!! Gotcha!    --------- 1st April, 2013 Bet Shemesh, Israel Minutes after the close of the Passover Holiday , the city of Beit Shemesh in Israel was thrown into tumult. Jews around the world traditionally sell their leavened products over the seven or eight day period of Passover, to a non-Jew, as a work-around the religious ban on Jews possessing leavened products during the Holiday. The deal hinges on several legalities, including that the non-Jew who purchases the leavened products retains the right to buy the products outright immediately following the end of the festival. This is generally assumed to be a legal fiction, as to the best of anyone's kn