Showing posts from April, 2014

Taking The Holocaust, Nazis etc Out Of The Rhetoric

Daniel Goldman posted an article on Holocaust Remembrance Day about the use of Holocaust terminology and imagery in Israeli political campaigns and rhetoric.

Daniel observes that he has personally been called a "Nazi" several times during the recent contentious Bet Shemesh local election campaigns, mainly by screaming kids. One could add that the Abutbul campaign used Holocaust imagery (barbed wire around some Chareidi kids - illustrating the alleged risks to these children if Eli Cohen were to be elected) in their official ads.

Furthermore, even the most respectable politicians in Israel will use Holocaust references - such as Benjamin Netanyahu in his speeches about the Iranian threat; or this week, in reference to the PLO's agreement with Hamas:

"Hamas denies the Holocaust while trying to bring about a new Holocaust through the destruction of the State of Israel," Netanyahu said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting.

Menachem Begin was renowned for us…

Double Standards of Kosher Booze?

I shopped for some shabbat delicacies at a chareidi/chasidish store in Beit Shemesh.

The thought struck me - how come everything in this store, which isn't nailed to the floor, has mehudar hechsherim.

Except for the liquor section.

Kashrus stamps are not just on all foods (including commodities such as salt and rice), drinks (including water), but also on disposables, soaps, detergents, cosmetics, even toilet paper.

The only exception is the area behind the check-out, which is well stocked with spirits, such as whisky, drambuie, vodka, liqueurs and imported beers.

They have no Bdatz stickers.

Nor "even" rabbanut hachsherim.

To the best of my knowledge, these drinks are not produced under any hashgacha/kashrus supervision whatsoever.

Why the double standards?

Or is the last vestige of kashrus sanity, right there on the booze shelf?

Pesach Journal Part 2: Back Towards Egypt

On the second day of chol hamoed (intermediate days) of Pesach, we decided to head due south from Beit Shemesh.

An hour and a half later, including taking stunning backroads through the vineyard-rich Lachish region, and bypassing Beersheva, we finally took a small desert road off the 211 to Shivta.

Shivta is a Nabatian town, dating back two thousand years.

The ancient houses, streets and public buildings are remarkably as-is, from when the town was destroyed in an earthquake almost 1500 years ago.

The Nabateans were a nomadic people who controlled the spice roots from Yemen towards the Gaza coast.

In order to preserve their culture and livelihood, the Nabateans apparently had three rules (also recorded in the Tenach, Jeremiah 35):

1. Do not build permanent houses
2. No agriculture
3. No wine.

By the time Shivta was built, all three Nabatean rules had clearly been broken - at least by the residents of the town.

The houses were as close to permanent as one could reasonably imagine, hav…

Pesach Journal, Part One - On Our Doorstep

On the first day of chol hamoed (intermediate days) of Pesach, our family dutifully packed ourselves into the car, and headed off to The North.

We didn't have very definitive plans, but highlighted a couple of trails and sites we found online (on the Tiyuli site).

After an hour in the car, we had still barely reached the exit from Beit Shemesh, and Waze, along with the radio updates, was predicting an extended haul through holiday traffic jams to our destination.

We spontaneously decided to change plans, and changed direction.

Beit Shemesh is located in such a beautiful and history-rich region, why spend our scarce vacation time, schlepping through the traffic to other parts of Israel, which are surely no more beautiful than what we have right here on the doorstep?!

Heading South, we pealed off Route 38, just opposite the Ramat Beit Shemesh junction, followed a randomly chosen track into the forest. After a 100 yards, we dumped the car, and hit the trail, heading generally eastwa…

The Beauty of Working Together

Over the past few days of Passover preparations, I had the good fortune to participate in a sequence of events which share a common denominator - the beauty of working together.

Monday - Lema'an Achai's Kimche Depischa
Tuesday - Beyachad's Kimche Depischa with Shaalei Torah
Wednesday - Matzo baking with Ohr Shalom and Lev hatorah

On Monday, Lema'an Achai, a leading charity in Beit Shemesh & Ramat Beit Shemesh, organized and handed out well-stocked food packages for the festival to around three hundred local families in financial crisis.

The organization of the distribution was meticulous, and respectful for the families who received. The project required the assistance of so many donors (still needed! Click here to give your Kimche Depischa donation), volunteers and professional staff; I found it moving to see this epitome of community chesed in action.

On Tuesday evening, Shaalei Torah Yeshiva (where my son Ariel learns) in Ramat Beit Shemesh, joined forces with the …

Demands to Cancel Eyal Golan Performance in Beit Shemesh

Eyal Golan is a leading "Mizrachi" pop artist in Israel, but Golan is no longer best known for his singing, but rather for his allegedly unsavory private life.

Eyal Golan was arrested, along with six other men, in November 2013, due to allegations that he had engaged in relations with under-aged girls.

The other men included Dani Biton, Golan's father, who is still facing charges of statutory rape.

Biton, 61, is suspected of exploiting his proximity to his son’s fame to lure underage girls and then having sexual relations with them. He and Asulin are also suspected of giving the girls money and gifts to sleep with them.

Although the criminal case was dropped in February 2014 against Golan, due to lack of evidence, the scandal has drastically impacted his reputation and slashed the demand for Golan's concerts.

Haifa Municipality cancelled Golan's planned concert in their city, due to protests; the front-line small town of Sderot is still continuing with their plans…

Dr David Pelcovitz Apologises

Dr David Pelcovitz, the child protection advocate, has published a letter of apology.

This followed the publication last week of a letter written by Dr David Pelcovitz which was submitted to the judge prior to the sentencing of convicted child sex abuser Even Zauder. The publication of that letter resulted in a series of articles (including on this blog, asking for an apology from Dr Pelcovitz) & public outcry, particularly from members of the child protection lobby and activists.

These articles leveled criticism at Dr Pelcovitz and at the many leading Modern Orthodox rabbis who had "lined up" to support the convicted pedophile and child abuser, Evan Zauder, apparently while ignoring the plight of Zauder's victims.

An article in Yeshiva University's student paper The Commentator included an excerpt from an interview with Dr Pelcovitz, who claimed he had understood that "the only charge he was aware of against Zauder was child pornography use".

The actu…

Victims' Advocate Defends Dangerous Perpetrator

[For the purposes of full disclosure, I am a fan of Dr David Pelcovitz. Dr Pelcovitz was instrumental in encouraging me to establish the "Magen" child protection organization in Beit Shemesh, and has been highly supportive of the organization, presenting at Magen awareness evenings, impacting the lives of hundreds of adults - and countless children].

A few years ago, I was asked to write a letter of reference to the court for a man convicted of shooting and seriously injuring three young men in a park. The man had shot at these kids, at close range, while under the influence of alcohol, and the three young men could easily have been killed.

I agreed to write that letter, which basically consisted of my introducing myself to the judge, acknowledging the serious nature of the crimes the man had been convicted of - and bringing to the judge's notice (truly) admirable characteristics I knew first hand about the man.

Out of the many letters submitted on the man's behalf, m…