Showing posts from 2015

Uri Lupoliansky's Celebration

This week Uri Lupolianski had his sentence dramatically reduced in a Supreme Court appeal, from six years in prison, to just six month of community service.

Lupolianski expressed joy and relief at this judgement - saying he will continue his good works at Yad Sarah; he headed to the kotel to celebrate & thank God.

Lupolianski emerged from the court session looking ebullient and told the gathered media that he “would continue to work for the good of the country.” (JPost)

According to Arutz 7:

MKs Moshe Gafni (UTJ) and Uri Maklev (UTJ) have expressed their pleasure with the reduced sentence, saying, "We are happy and congratulate him with wishes of good health. He should continue with the good deeds that he has been doing for decades, and should continue helping the Jewish People."

The reason for the huge reduction in sentence by the Supreme Court was that Lupolianski's health is apparently deteriorating due to cancer and the Court decided this would put the defendant a…

The Wedding War Dance

Immediately following the claims that the Shabak (Internal Security Intelligence Forces) have used forms of torture on the Jewish suspects of the horrific Duma arson attack, a shocking video has now been released, showing a wedding dance with young men wielding knives, guns and even stabbing pictures of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh (who died shortly after the arson from his wounds).

I share the disgust which has been widely evoked by this video.

The music itself is a well known song "Zochreini Na", based on a verse in Judges 16:28, quoting Samson, blinded in Gaza, saying “let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes”

"זכרני נא וחזקני נא אך הפעם הזה האלוהים, ואינקמה נקם אחת משתי עיני מפלשתים"

The song was was written and popularised by Dov Shurin and it has since become a staple at many weddings. Here is Dov Shurin himself at the Chabad HQ 770:

On some occasions, the song is accompanied by "shtikim" (pranks) - with revelers waving ei…

When Torture Is Legal

Details are emerging about the treatment of the young men arrested as suspects in the horrific Duma murder case.

According to the two suspects who have just been released, to the parents and to their lawyers, these suspects have been held for three weeks in isolation, prevented from seeing their lawyers, sexually abused, physically tortured (including being bound in a doubled-up posture), systematically deprived of sleep (itself a form of torture) and refused permission to practice religious requirements.

Reportedly, at least one of the men has attempted suicide by slitting his wrists and stated to the court that he's willing to sign any confession, to anything, if only they will let him out.

If true, this would not only be outrageous in itself, but would cast considerable doubt on any confessions extracted under these circumstances.

The response from Government Ministers, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett and Internal Security Minister Gilad…

Terrorists Using Primitive Methods

Last night's Security Zone program on Army Radio, with Tali Lipkin Shachak, discussed the dual issues of nuclear and conventional threats to Israel's security.

At one point in the program they referred to the current horrors of knife and vehicle attacks by Palestinian terrorist as "primitive". Certainly when compared with the Iranian Nuclear Threat, etc.

Spontaneous attacks by people who, generally, do not have previous records of terror activities, or even training, armed with a kitchen knife (or even scissors) or simply aiming their car at a group of pedestrians and running them down, are methods which could have been practiced hundreds or even thousands of years ago (perhaps a horse instead of a car). Yes, they are primitive.

Additionally, they have tended to aim for 'hard' targets, such as soldiers, armed security guards and 'settlers' (many of whom are armed).

With promises of a direct path to heaven, these terrorists have a death-wish.

Not surp…

Uziah Tzadok - Phenomenal!

This year's Music School (Beit Sefer Lemusika) TV contest was won by Uziah Tzadok.

This young boy is a phenomenal singer and also has poise and innate modesty - in short - Star Quality. It's also touching that he's a sidelocks/peot-wearing Yemenite boy from a large orthodox family.

I recommend watching the three clips:

1. Uziah singing Kesh'halev Boche
2. Uziah's mentor Yoram Gaon visits the Tzadok family
3. Having won the contest, Uziah Tzadok and Yoram Gaon sing a duet.

Trump's Blunder

Obama's administration and like-minded folks have been excessive in their apparent blindness to the exclusively Islamic relationship to terror.

The clear and current danger of such politically-correct values is that they hamper the US ability to counter terrorism, when they cannot even name it. It is essential that screening for terrorists and potential terrorists use statistics to their advantage, not to the advantage of the terrorists.

If (effectively) 100% of terrorists are Muslim, then failing to shortlist intelligence and security search criteria to include ethnicity and religion, is a nonsense.

Donald' Trump's controversial proposal for a blanket ban on all Muslim immigrants, until such a time as "the representatives of the US government know what's going on here", has stepped too far in the opposite direction.

Yes, practically, such a step would severely impede the entry of potential terrorists into the USA.

However, Trump's statement is SO politi…

Shtar - Beit Shemesh Rock Group Excels at Eurovision Pre-Conetst

Local Beit Shemesh anglo-band "Shtar" scored top marks in the pre-qualifier contest for Eurovision.
They also came over as mentches - fine fun frum people.

I was proud!!

"Mida Keneged Mida" - Turkey, Russia and Israel

Have you noticed the parallels...

2010: Turkey sends a flotilla of ships to break Israel's naval arms-blockade on Gaza.

2015: Russia sends Su-24 aircraft to bomb Turkmen Syrian rebels, probably enters Turkish airspace.

2010: Israel navy stops & boards the ships, resulting in 9 dead.

2015: Turkey shoots down the Su-24; pilot and one other dead.

2010: Turkey's leader Erdogan is hopping mad.

2015: Russia's leader Putin is hopping mad.

2010: Israel says they had every right to stop the ships. UN Agrees.

2015: Turkey says they had every right to shoot down the Russian aircraft. US agrees.

2010: Erdogan insists on formal apology from Israel.

2015: Putin insists on formal apology from Turkey.

2010: Netanyahu expresses regret.

2015: Erdogan expresses regret.

2010: Erdogan not satisfied.

2015: Putin not satisfied.

2010: Erdogan imposes diplomatic and commercial sanctions on Israel

2015: Putin imposes diplomatic and commercial sanctions on Turkey.

Deja vue?

150 Years Old and 20 Years New

I had the privilege of visiting the off-the-map Jewish community of Giessen last week; Giessen is a small German town, located an hour outside Frankfurt.

As I come from such a community myself, Harrogate in Yorkshire, England, I could closely relate to the struggles for existence where the entire Jewish community is measured in lower three figures.

My guide was Mr Dov Aviv, who is Chairman of the Giessen Jewish Community.

Dov himself originally hails from Jaffa, Israel, and has lived in Giessen for around 30 years. He originally moved to Giessen to take a degree at Giessen University in Veterinary Medicine - at the time there were no equivalent courses in Israel  - later switching to dentistry, which he still practices in the town.

The Jewish community numbers around 400 people, of whom the overwhelming majority (90%) emigrated from the Soviet Union after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The community center is a small campus of buildings consisting of a synagogue, an events hall, admin…

Should Charities Have National Emergency Campaigns?

The major Jewish/Israeli organizations regularly initiate and participate in fundraising campaigns when there are high-profile events, often tragic and/or dramatic, in Israel, such as Wars, terror and other crises (which we should not know of). These include campaigns by UJA, The Joint, KKL, and numerous other highly respectable and respected NGOs.

Literally hundred of millions of dollars of donations are raised in these often intense and emotive campaigns. With national emergencies (unfortunately) hitting Israel approximately every two years, these fundraisers have almost become part of the fundraising calendar.

A posting by member of the Fundraisers Forum in Israel asks his fellow fundraising professionals about the ethics of fundraising from tragic circumstance: "The major issue is how much mileage can we make out of others tragedy?" 

I think it is legitimate for organizations who supply services which are particularly in demand during such national emergency events, such…

Feels Like Russian Roulette

Yesterday there were two more terror attacks - a 38 year old Arab stabbed Jews at prayer in a synagogue in Tel Aviv, murdering two, and at Gush Etzion, 20 minutes from my door, an Arab terrorist shot and murdered three people, two of whom were Jews.

One of these victims was Ezra Schwartz, an 18 year old yeshiva student from Boston, USA. Ezra was studying at Ashreinu, a local Beit Shemesh yeshiva for American students.

Terror attacks have become a horrific nightmare part of daily life in Israel, particularly in the past two months.

With each news broadcast and social media report of more terror attacks, a subjective filtering of the horror takes place. What happened? Where was it? Could anyone I love or know be a victim?

I have recently had the nagging surging feeling that I'm involved in some ghastly and terrifying game of  Russian Roulette.

Myopic Swede


The National Religious Pay The Highest Price

My son's yeshiva high-school, Yashlatz, is in mourning.

Aged just 18, Netanel Littman, a 12th Grade pupil, was gunned down this past Friday, together with his father Rabbi Yaakov Littman, both murdered on their way to their family's Shabbat Chatan wedding celebration.

Posters and newspaper cuttings are on the school's walls, and the somber students take turns to talk about and eulogise their fellow student and beloved friend Natanel.

At the evening prayer last night, they announced that Natanel had committed this past Simchat Torah to learn a large number of tractates; he had not been able to complete this gargantuan task. They asked for volunteers to complete the learning on Netanel's behalf.

Yashlatz has been through such horrific tragedy before, including the savage terror attack at the adjoining Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, where 8 boys were murdered by an Arab terrorist in 2008 - five of whom were teenage boys from Yashlatz.

According to staff at the school, at least 4…

Terror and Security on Road 60

One day after the murder of Yitzhak and Natanel Litman and just two hours after the car-ramming terror attack on an Israeli car near Psagot, I took my son  Raphael and his family back to their home in Gush Shilo last night.

Road 60, the main North-South road through Judea and Samaria, the site of these and countless recent terror attacks, was quiet. Hardly any traffic, and no sign of security measures, such as increased patrols, check points, visible army presence, etc.

Just a few kilometers of lonely road.

The fact that the murderers of the Litmans were able to perpetrate the murders and escape, points to a paucity of basic security on this known danger.

There is no reason that every part of that and similarly exposed roads cannot be monitored live by video.

And there is no good reason that every part of that road cannot be physically patrolled and protected at all times.

Whereas there was political will to improve security in Jerusalem, and so thousands of troops were brought in an…

"Most anti-Israel interview ever"

Naftali Bennet under a severe grilling by Tim Sabastian of the arch-anti-Israel BBC - puts up a spirited counter-attack.

Woman approaches Security Guard, and pulls knife out of her bag

A Day in Tel Aviv

It doesn't sound too exotic or adventurous - I took a day off this week to tour around Tel Aviv and had a surprisingly varied and enjoyable time....

1. Beit Hatfutsot -

When I last went there (over 20 years ago!) it was called the Diaspora Museum, now the Museum of the Jewish People.

It is located at the Tel Aviv University campus and, with a little help from Waze, was fairly easy to find.

The ground floor has a nice looking cafe (I don't know if it is kosher - didn't go in) and an exhibition about the United Colours of Judaica - which was temporarily out of commission due to maintenance. Otherwise auditoriums, which were hosting conferences and talks. Not much doing.

The second floor is the main exhibition area, and is grouped according to 'theme' rather than strictly chronological. There are few genuine artifacts but the exhibition was extensive and varied.

The Mazal Ubracha temporary exhibition was potentially jarring for some orthodox Jew…

Photos from a Friday Afternoon Walk in the Hills

Click on the photos to view full sized

There is no need to travel more than 15 minutes from Beit Shemesh to find stunningly beautiful open countryside. I headed out this past Friday afternoon to Nachal Machasia (to the right of the road between Beit Shemesh and Nes Harim).
The rugged storm-darkened skies brought out dramatic contrasts and depth of the landscape.

In my two hour stroll, the only other person I saw was a lone shepherd tending his flock.

That Outrageous Status Quo

Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly and internationally stated and re-stated that Israel's policy is to "uphold the status quo on Temple Mount".

As the Arabs are currently inciting hatred and terrorism against Jews, spilling innocent blood, using Israel's purported actions on Temple Mount as the pretext - it makes sense for Netanyahu to expose the fallacy & lies of the Palestinian narrative.

It was pragmatic for Netanyahu to explain: "Muslims pray on Temple Mount; non-Muslims visit Temple Mount."  

However, in so doing Netanyau has missed an opportunity to expose the absurd and outrageous situation that is called the "status quo".

The current practice of outlawing Jews and Christians from praying at this most holy site - and giving that right exclusively to Muslims - is blatant discrimination.

And the arrest of Jewish "visitors" for crimes such as mumbling psalms, or mouthing prayers, is simply absurd.

This absurdity has been publicise…

Yitzhak Rabin Anniversary - Yes, Time for a Cheshbon Nefesh/Taking Account

Israel is marking 20 years since the assassination for Yitzhak Rabin.

During these two decades, left wing leaders and activists have been calling for right wingers to do a "cheshbon nefesh" - a critical self-evaluation - about the events leading up to the murder.

Shimon Peres and Rabin family members to this day, continue to point the finger at right wing politicians. This year, Peres said he "can never forgive" Netanyahu and Arik Sharon for "watching posters of Rabin dressed in an SS uniform, in Zion Square, and failing to intervene".

I agree that it is time for such an accounting.

This accounting and self-evaluation should come from the Left.

How is it that, for twenty years, they have used the Rabin assassination to divide rather than unite the Jewish people?

Ever since Leah Rabin, Yitzhak's wife, initiated a witch-hunt against rabbis, politicians and activists, blaming them for spilling her husband's blood - the Rabin memorial days have becom…

So Many Scams...

Last week I was in China (on business) and my guide was almost scammed.

I bought some scarves as gifts, and 'won' some lottery tickets. The lottery tickets were processed at the back of the store, in the expensive jewelry section ($1000's per piece).

My guide scratched the cards, and then the sales lady went into raptures of excitement that my guide had WON. Apparently a rare event! A Free piece of jewelry - any item my guide wanted. (At that point, I was curious if the guide would acknowledge that the lottery tickets were actually mine, not the guide's...).

Anyway, the sales lady turned around the Lottery Rules Notice posted on her desk, to reveal a few hidden terms & conditions.

ALL the winner had to pay was the sales tax on the free jewelry.

Fortunately, at that point another member of my party intervened, to advise the guide and me to get the heck out.

The scam was to get 15% ("tax") of an outlandishly overvalued piece of worthless jewelry.

Got to stay sha…

This Close is Too Close

It is difficult for non-Israelis to grasp the incredible proximity of "News" in Israel, to our personal day to day lives.

In other countries, when (or if) they switch on the evening's news broadcast, it more resembles yet another soap, about might-as-well-be fictitious, or far away, places and people - than anything about their world, their lives.

Here in Israel, the daily news is about us, our families, neighbours and friends.

The current crazy situation in our streets, with daily stabbing, driving-down and other terror attacks upon random citizens effects each of us, and their circle, in the most palpable way.

In my case, I bring the following examples:

1. Last week (while I was abroad) my visiting parents took a selection of my kids out to a restaurant near the central bus station in Jerusalem.

Part way through the meal, there was shouting and a disturbance from outside. Customers in the restaurant started shouting, in clear panic. The restaurateur hurriedly invited…

I'm Back!

I have been on international travel for the past couple of weeks, and so the dearth of posts on this blog.

I'm back, and so readers can now expect the usual couple of posts a week, as previously!

Normal service is resumed!

Help tell the stories of the forgotten Jewish refugees of Ukraine

A Guest Post by Samuel Sokol

Jews have always been scapegoats during times of trouble and the current Ukrainian crisis is no different.
While anti-Semitism in France and other western European nations generates the headlines, the Jews of Ukraine are facing the the greatest humanitarian catastrophe in the Jewish world in 2015. Thousands of Jews have been made homeless by the military conflict that has decimated their communities in Donetsk and Luhansk while both sides of the conflict bandy about casual accusations of anti-Semitism at their enemies for propaganda purposes, falsely turning the issue into a Jewish one.

However, their stories are greatly at risk of being forgotten.
As the award winning Diaspora Affairs (Jewish World) Correspondent at the Jerusalem Post I have been traveling back and forth to Ukraine on a regular basis since the outbreak of the Maidan revolution, collecting testimonies from participants, activists and refugees. While reported from the barricades in Kiev, se…

There's Still Beautiful Hills Around Beit Shemesh!

"My" fields across from Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph, are being transformed into new neighborhoods.
Whereas this entails the wholesale destruction of the natural and historical wonders there, all is not lost for nature-loving residents.

Yesterday afternoon, me, my three (single) kids and our dog Messy, headed out into the hills in the Ella Valley.

Starting at the track which is popular with thousands of visitors who visit the rare "termosim" flowers there in the spring, now deserted, we headed up into the steep track to the hills towards the south.

In our three hour hike, during the 'crowded' Chol Hamoed Sukkot holiday, we passed just a father and his son on their mountain bikes. Aside from that, we had the hills to ourselves.

I used a recently downloaded Ap, called Amud Anan, which is an excellent map application, showing one's location, walking trails and terrain map. One of the features is highlighting points of interest, with descriptions and photos pro…

Happy Sukkot!

I wish you and your family a Chag Smeach - a truly happy and enjoyable Sukkot!

Recomended for Chol Hamoed: The Biblical Museum of Natural History

I highly recommend a family visit to The Biblical Museum of Natural History, a national asset located in Beit Shemesh, founded and run by Rabbi Natan Slifkin.

Book a tour and take your family for an inspiring, fun and educational experience you won't forget!

More info here:

Sarit Hadad Sings Boreh Olam + Slichot in Hebron

(Kol Isha warning!)

Sarit Hadad performed at Maarat Hamachpelah in Hebron this Erev Yom Kippur; it looks like for a women's slichot program.

Sarit Hadad is a wonderful singer and the place, content and occasion combine in a moving performance.

Missing Boy Miracle Story - True To Boot

Miracle stories can be uplifting spiritually - and therefore a reasonable topic for Yom Kippur.

This one is actually true; I have spoken and verified this today with the people I know well and who were the characters directly involved.

A boy from our community recently went missing; as news got around, there was a tremendous response from dozens of people here, who publicised details about the boy, his last sightings, etc. Tehillim meetings were held, newspapers were alerted who covered the story, and each hour brought more concern for the boy's safety...

A week passed since he had last been seen, and there was a feeling of panic. Memories of The Three Boys, the three students who were kidnapped and murdered last summer, were on everyone's minds.

Meantime, the police publicised the boy's information, but otherwise came up blank.

There was a private initiative to print up posters, and put them up in places where he may be, and generally raise public awareness.

On the Frid…