Thoughts On The New Year


It’s almost Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. This year Rosh Hashanah begins Sunday night, October 2nd. The upcoming year according to the Jewish calendar will be 5777.

I don’t know what the New Year will bring, but the one thing I’m sure of is that it will not be a quiet year. This past year was full of surprises and I’m sure the new year will bring even more.

To begin with, last October no one would have predicted that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Furthermore, while Hillary was expected to be the Democratic candidate, no one would have predicted that she would be distrusted by so many.

Here are a few more of the major events which happened this past year:

Iran was given $400 million in cash after four American hostages were released.

The Iran Nuclear deal went into effect and sanctions against Iran were lifted. This resulted in a huge infusion of funds into Iran which is likely to be used to continue to fund terrorism.

Horrific terror incidents occurred around the world, resulting in the tragic death of so many.

Refugees flocked to Europe and many other parts of the world and their sheer numbers guarantee that the character of many of these countries will be changed.

Russia signed a pact with Syria and now has a foothold in the Middle East.

The Zika virus spread to the United States.

Racial violence reared its ugly head in the United States and seems likely to continue.

Anti semitism has increased throughout the world , as has hatred of Israel. On many college campuses pro Israel students have been attacked, and pro Israeli speakers prevented from speaking.

Violence once again broke out in Israel as Palestinians took to knife attacks, shootings and and car ramming against Israelis.

Shimon Peres died and world leaders, including  Mahmoud Abbas, came to the funeral. However, representatives of the Joint List, the Arab party in the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) boycotted the funeral.

Britain citizens voted to leave the European Union. What will happen to the Union without Britain’s participation is unknown.

A number of Arab countries cut their ties with Iran. Some are even starting to dialogue with Israel, albeit under the radar.

Israel and Turkey reconciled their differences and mended relations.

Israel is once again being welcomed by some African nations.

That was last year. So what can we expect in the coming year?

A new president will assume the mantle of leadership of the United States. Where he or she will take the country remains to be seen.

A continuation of terror incidents seems all but certain, given that ISIS has not been defeated. Anti semitic incidents can also be expected to continue.

But since few of the events of 5776 could be predicted, I cannot begin to guess what will happen in 5777. The world is in a state of flux and anything could happen.

So what can we do? Let’s start the new year not only by praying for world peace, but by trying to do what we can to achieve it in a limited way by reconciling with family and friends with whom we have become estranged.

As Jews we must also pledge to support each other and the existence of the State of Israel. While we may not agree with all their policies, wholesale condemnation of Israel results only in whetting the appetites of those who seek its destruction. We must remember that, as the only Jewish state in the world, Israel is the one place that any Jew will be welcomed and accepted. Jews finally have a home of their own and a place to go when their host countries make life difficult for them.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and joyous New Year, a year in which world will finally achieve peace.










Categories: Israel, Politics, Pro Israel Post, Rosh Hashanah Jewish New Year | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tisha B’Av Blues: Anti Israel Attitudes and Anti Semitism Are Growing


Shalom Y”All:

As some of you may know, this Saturday night and Sunday religious Jews will be engaged in a 25 hour fast commemorating the many tragic events which occurred on Tisha B’av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av. These include: the destruction of both Temples on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – the First by the Babylonians, the Second by the Romans- and a number of other calamities including: the exile of over one million Jews to the Roman Empire and the loss of Jewish statehood and independence; the crushing of the Betar Revolt to restore independence to Israel and the death of over 100,000 Jews; the beginning of the First Crusade which resulted in the death of over 10,000 Jews in the first month alone; the Spanish Inquisition, the bombing of the Jewish Center in Argentina which killed 86 people and many others.

On the evening of Tisha B’Av we recite the Eichah- the Book Of Lamentations written by the Prophet Jeremiah which describes the suffering of the Jewish people at the time of the destruction of the Temple. During the day -up until about midday- we recite other lamentations concerning the many evils inflicted on the Jews and the suffering which the Jews underwent during their long exile.

In case you think that it’s fine to recount our history of suffering, but in fact, it’s different today since Jews are once again in control of the Holy Land and not in danger,think again. There are many powerful forces arrayed against us trying to separate Jews from their land and cause harm to Jews everywhere.

The ADL estimates that over one billion people in the world harbor anti semitic attitudes. Of that number, 19% are in the Americas, 24% Western Europe, 34% Eastern Europe, 22% in Asia, 23% in Sub-Saharan Africa, 14% in Australia and New Zealand, and 74% in the Middle East and North Africa. 9% of Americans and 14% of Canadians share these hateful attitudes.

The number of violent anti-Semitic assaults taking place in the United States rose dramatically last year. According to ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents,  there were 56 assaults last year, compared to 36 the year before. 941 incidents were reported in the U.S. in 2015, a 3 percent increase from the 912 incidents recorded in 2014. The number of anti semitic incidents on college campuses nearly doubled from the year before- 90 incidents on 60 college campuses, compared to 47 incidents on 43 campuses the year earlier. This means that on average there is one anti-Semitic assault in the United States every week, and at least two anti-Jewish incidents on average every single day. These numbers, of course, do not include all the anti semitic and online harassment on social media.

While there are more than 200 territorial disputes in the world, Europe does not label products as made in Chinese-occupied Tibet or Turkish-occupied Cyprus. The European Union only labels goods made in the West Bank and Golan Heights. 40% of European Jewish leaders view Anti Semitism as the most dangerous threat facing their communities. The large number of Muslim immigrants streaming into Europe who have Anti Semitic views has led to open hatred of Jews in countries with small communities of Jews such as Holland and Sweden. 63% of Poles believe in a Jewish conspiracy to run the world. French Jews are emigrating to Israel in record numbers. Hamas and Hezbollah are constant threats. And finally, Palestinians who kill Jews are honored by the Palestinian authority.

And then there is Iran, whose leaders vow to eradicate Israel. And as for Palestinians, who are our supposed peace partners, in a 2015 poll conducted by David Pollock, 72% of Palestinians stated that they believe that Jews do not have historical ties to Jerusalem and  83% of Palestinians believe that the area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea is Palestinian land to which Jews have no right. Only 12% agreed that both Jews and Palestinians have rights to the land.

These views are not surprising coming from Palestinians who have been suckled on the milk of Anti Semitism since birth. But for UNESCO’s Executive Board to adopt in April in Paris a resolution ignoring Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall area of  Jerusalem is quite another thing. When Jesus in the New Testament rails against the abuses in the selling of animals for sacrifices in the Temple, is that a mistake? Did he mean Mosque? And was Jesus a Moslem? Of course, since Mohammed would not be born for another 600 years, and Jesus brought Christianity, not Islam, to the world, this is ludicrous. This historical revisionism also raised its ugly head in the attempted rewriting of history by UNESCO in its declaration in October of 2015 that the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb are Muslim holy sites. Was Jacob a Muslim? Was Rachel, his wife, a believer in Islam? Where was Mohammed? UNESCO will vote on the Temple Mount ownership issue in October.

So, in summary, Jewish persecution and suffering are very much with us today. And when we chant the lamentations, let’s remember that Anti Semitism and the desire to eliminate Israel are not behind us, but very much in front of us. And let’s do all we can to expose it and not pretend it doesn’t pertain to us, or that it’s just a passing phase. It concerns all Jews everywhere.  The fight to protect Jews and the State of Israel is ongoing. This is one battle that must be won.







Categories: Anti Semitism, Islamic Terrorism, Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, UNESCO | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel At 68

Shalom Y”all:

Beginning last night and ending nightfall this evening, Israelis celebrate Yom YaZicharon- the Day of Remembrance. This is Israel’s Memorial Day, the day on which Israel commemorates and pays tribute to Israelis who sacrificed their lives for their country or were killed by terrorists. Unlike America’s Memorial Day which marks the unofficial start of summer and is celebrated by going to the beach and barbecuing, Remembrance Day in Israel is a solemn affair. Sirens sound, the media tells stories of the fallen, and people visit graves of soldiers killed in the line of duty and people felled by terrorist attacks. It may be that the reason Israelis take this day so seriously is because since most Israelis serve in the military or have relatives who do so, death through conflict is not as remote a possibility. Furthermore,  since Israel is such a small country, many many Israelis know someone who paid the ultimate sacrifice, or was injured in conflict, or through a terrorist attack.

As night falls over Israel, the celebration shifts from one of solemnity to one of jubilation- Israel Independence Day has begun. The juxtaposition of the two days reminds all that freedom is not free; it is achieved only through the sacrifice of others.

Although the current State of Israel is only 68 years young, about 3,000 years ago King David defeated the Jebusites and established the capitol of  the first independent Jewish kingdom in Jerusalem. Jews ruled Jerusalem for over five hundred years. They lost their independence when the Romans conquered the city in the year 66 (over five hundred years before the birth of Mohammed) and did not regain it until 1948.

What’s happened to Israel during the last 68 years? Israel has been involved in 13 military conflicts, eight of them  wars. These repeated military actions have resulted in the deaths of  23, 447 Israelis. This past year alone there were 68 Israeli casualties of terrorism. Israel today has 9,000 families who have lost a loved one to war or terrorism, including close to 5,000 war widows. Israel is currently threatened by Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Iran and the Palestinians.

In efforts to make peace, Israel uprooted 2,500 people from the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula (Yamit) as part of the peace treaty with Egypt. As a peace offering to the Palestinians, about 9,000 Israeli citizens were expelled from their homes in Gaza and in four towns on the West Bank,

How has the world reacted to Israeli’s presence in the family of nations?  For the most part by trying to: isolate Israel, delegitimize it and ultimately end its existence. It has even resorted to rewriting history. For example, UNESCO’s executive board recently adopted a resolution ignoring the Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall and pronouncing these and two other biblical Jewish sites,  Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs, to be Islamic holy sites. It referred to Hebron and Bethlehem as, “Palestinian sites.” 33 countries voted for this resolution, while only six countries- Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States-  voted against the resolution. Among the countries supporting the resolution were such Christian countries as France, Spain and Sweden. How they could do so when they know that the New Testament speaks of the  Jewish Temple in Jerusalem  and that  Jesus the Jew preached in Jewish Jerusalem hundreds of years before Mohammed was born, speaks to the lack of concern for truth and the power of Islamic constituencies within these countries.

Israel is also plagued by countless NGOS within its borders whose sole purpose is to harm Israel. For an in depth look at what these NGOS and some countries are doing to besmirch Israel, read Catch the Jew, by Tuvia Tenenbom.

Why the wish for Israel’s demise? The existence of the State of Israel is an anathema to those who hate Jews. Instead of Jews being totally subject to the whims of the governments in the countries in which they reside, 43% of the Jews in the world now reside in Israel, a country which is economically stable and has its own defense forces. So to try to bring about the downfall of Israel, the Jew haters criticize virtually every Israeli action. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 20 resolutions against Israel, but only 3 resolutions against all the other countries in the world- one against the Syrian regime, which has already murdered 200,000 of its people, one against Iran and one on North Korea. No resolution was adopted against human rights abuses in China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, etc.

The BDS movement is alive and well and continues to gain new supporters. Since  criticizing Israel is accepted, it’s not very far from there to anti semitic rants against Jews everywhere. One has only to see the signs carried by protestors in Seattle during anti Israel demonstrations during the Gaza war to see how this has translated to raw anti-semitism.

Anti-semitism is now espoused by many groups on the left, including Britain’s Labor Party. Anti Semitism is also on the rise in Europe and Islamic terrorists now routinely target Jews in places such as France. Therefore, among the 36, 000 people who immigrated to Israel last year, about 8,000 were from France. This number is expected to rise.

The Palestinians continue in their efforts to get Israel to make dangerous concessions by using the power of public relations to tell tales that aren’t  true, which most of the world is all too ready to accept.  France and others will soon try to force Israel to make dangerous, one sided, concessions at the Paris “Peace Conference” which, if adopted,  will result in strengthening Hamas and creating additional threats to Israel and the moderate Middle Eastern countries.

So on this 68th birthday, why should Israel celebrate? All this misery, loss of life and hatred are depressing at best. How has Israel reacted? By adopting an attitude of life must go on and let’s live life to the fullest. Israel has become the  “Start Up Nation ” and has invented many of the world’s most innovative products and services such as: amniocentesis, drip irrigation, desalination, drones, baby monitors, office printers, instant messaging, Pillcam, flash drives, Centrino computer ships, Waze,  and Get Taxi. Israel’s concern for others has led it to participate in many humanitarian efforts including being the first on the scene to give relief after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, and among the first to send aid to Japan after its 2011 earthquake. Almost daily, Israel rescues wounded Syrians from the war in Syria and treats them is Israeli hospitals. These Syrians are probably enemies of Israel and many may be members of Al Quaida affiliated groups. Since 2013, more than 2,000 Syrians  have been saved. This despite the fact that Syria has no diplomatic relations with Israel and has fought against it.

Israel’s military is among the strongest and most moral armies in the world, even notifying civilians in targeted areas (“roof knocking”) of upcoming attacks. ( The United States forces have now begun to do this in Iraq). Ultra Orthodox Jews and Arabs within Israel, especially Christian Arabs, are beginning to volunteer for the Israeli Army. (Like Jews, Druze Arabs are conscripted into the army and are truly loyal Israeli citizens.) Israel’s economy is robust. And, of course, unlike most Arab countries who refused to accept Palestinian refugees and now Syrian refugees, Israel absorbed millions of Jewish refugees, many from underdeveloped countries. Finally, polls indicate that Israel is one of the happiest countries in the world.

So let’s celebrate Israel’s miraculous existence and wish it a true peace with all its neighbors.

Categories: Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Jewish Holidays, Middle East, Politics, Pro Israel Post, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

The Passover Seder and Passover Pillows

Seder Elijah Cup

A Seder Tradition

As you all know, Passover is almost here. It begins at sunset on April 22 and ends nightfall April 29.

The highlight of Passover, Pesach in Hebrew, are the seders- one on the first night and one on the second night (In Israel there is a seder only on the first night. Everywhere else two seders are conducted.) The seder is a  festive meal, attended by family and friends, whose order and rituals and described in the Haggadah, the book which is read during the seder.

Before the seder we set up three matzohs, one on top of the other symbolizing the three categories of Jews-Priests, Levities, and the Israelites.

Then we arrange the  seder plate, which is placed next to the seder leader. The plate consists of six items- a shankbone or a piece of roasted meat, (Zero’ah) , a roasted hard boiled egg (Beitzah) , bitter herbs (Marror), bitter greens (Chazeret), the Charoset mixture, and a  non bitter vegetable (Karpas).

Here’s the explanation for these items:

The shankbone or roasted meat- Zero’ah-   represents the roasted lamb that was eaten on the eve of the exodus from Egypt.

The egg- Beitzah- symbolizes the Holiday offering brought by the Jews to the Temple. It was eaten as the main course of the seder meal. We use a  hard boiled egg, traditionally a symbol of mourning, to remind us of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Marror and the Chazeret-bitter herbs- symbolize the bitter life lived by the enslaved Jews in Egypt.

The Charoset- the mixture of nuts, apple, wine and cinnamon- brings to mind the bricks and mortar the Jews had to make when they were enslaved by Pharoah.

The Karpas-Vegetable- alludes to the very difficult work done by the enslaved Jews. The Hebrew letters for Karpas can be rearranged to spell to form an acronym for the Hebrew- samech perech, meaning 600,00 [performed} hard labor. It also symbolizes the spring harvest. This is the vegetable which is used to dip into salt water.

The Biblical book of Exodus commands each Jew  to tell their children the story of the liberation from Egypt at the beginning of Passover. The Haggadah is the way we perform this commandment. The Haggadah was originally put together by members of the Great Assembly, a group of Jewish leaders who lived between 410 BCE and 310 BCE. However additions continued to be made to it through the Middle Ages. The first known printed Haggadah containing the version we use today was published in 1485 in Venice Italy.

The Haggadah tells the story of the birth of the Jewish nation. It principally discusses the events in Egypt, from slavery to liberation, but it also covers the period from Abraham to the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Haggadah means to tell and the Haggadah is set up as a dialogue between parent and child. The child asks the four questions in the beginning of the Haggadah and the adult answers them throughout the Haggadah. Also, many of the activities performed during the seder are meant to stoke the child’s curiosity and lead to additional questions. However, all present- adults and children- are urged to ask questions and discuss the exodus from Egypt. It is a time of great joy and happiness and feelings of togetherness and everyone should participate.  The last part of the Haggadah consists of songs which were mostly added during the Middle Ages.

The Haggadah consists of 14 sections:

The first is Kiddush- the blessings over the first cup of wine

Urchatz- We wash our hands, but don’t make a blessing.

Karpas- We eat a small piece of a non bitter vegetable.

Yachatz- We break the middle of the three matzohs on the seder plate. The bigger piece is used for the Afikoman, which is hidden and eaten at the end of the meal.

Magid- We tell the story of the Exodus.

Rochtzah- We wash our hands to eat the matzah.

Motzi Matzah- We recite blessings over the Matzah.

Marror- We eat the bitter herbs.

Koreich- We make a sandwich of the bitter herbs and Charoset.

Shulchan Orech- We eat the festive meal.

Tzafun- We eat the hidden Afikoman.

Bareich- We say the Grace After Meals.

Hallel- We recite Psalms of praise to the Lord.

Nirtzah- Concluding songs. Many Sephardic Jews do not recite this section.

We drink four cups of wine during the seder, a cup for each of the four expressions used to describe our redemption from Egypt.

It is also a custom to lean to the left during the Passover seder. This is how the ancient royalty, nobility and the wealthy ate. Poor people ate while seated on the floor. Reclining during eating indicates a person of leisure who can afford to dine without worrying about interruptions that would necessitate him getting up. Since we are now free, we follow the custom of the nobility who ate while reclining on a sofa or on cushions.  We lean to the left as so doing frees the right hand for eating and prevents the choking that may occur when leaning right.

For the seder, the table is usually beautifully set, with many people using their best china. Everything looks so lovely. The tablecloth, flatware, dishes, serving pieces, Seder Plate, etc. All is picture perfect. But look at the pillows. The pillows used to lean on are just regular pillows taken from the bedroom. Classy, they don’t look.

Now and its sister site, have a solution for that. They feature unique Passover themed throw pillows and pillow shams. Here are a few examples:


Szyk Haggadah Cover Reproduction

The Wise Daughter

Say it like it is!


Celebrate Freedom Passover Pillow

How Sweet It Is!


To see the entire collection, click here and here. Satisfaction guaranteed.














Categories: Passover, Passover Throw Pillows, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

So Many Hamans Only One Purim

Shalom Y’all:

Purim is less than two weeks away. It begins after sunset on March 23 and ends after nightfall on March 24. In Jerusalem, it begins after sunset on March 24 and ends nightfall of March 25.

Still don’t have a Purim costume? Here are some t shirts, bibs and onesies to solve the problem.

Purim Queen Esther T

A real beauty.


My First Purim Long Sleeve Onesie

It’s Purim. Let’s Party.


#QueenEsther T Shirt

A Beautiful Woman Is a Joy To Behold.


Only One Purim T Shirt

So Many Hamans!

This year, Israel and the Jews are faced with many Hamans- those overtly Anti-Israel and Anti- Semitic, those who soft pedal their Anti-Semitism, and self hating Jews who aid these two groups.

Those calling for the destruction of Israel and Jews include: Iran’s leaders, Ali Khamenei and Hassan Rouhani; Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh of Gaza and Khaled Meshal of Qatar; Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah and ISIS. Of course, the members of the groups they lead are firm adherents to this Judeo hatred.

In the second category are those who preach a softer form of anti Israel and anti Jew hatred. These include, but are certainly not limited to: Mahmoud Abbas, who incites his followers to murder Jews and not only refuses to condemn the murder of Jews, but bestows honor on those who do so. Furthermore, his vision of a Palestinian state is one which is Judenrein- free of Jews.  Members of the United Nations who hold frequent hearings on Israel’s “human rights violations,” but refuse to condemn Palestinian violence and the thousands of United Nations workers who teach hatred of and incitement against Jews in the Palestinian refugee camps and schools are also part of this group, as are NGOs whose reason d’être is the dissolution of the Jewish State.  Members and supporters of the BDS movement whose real aim is to rid the world of the State of Israel are also included here.

In the third category are such groups as J Street, Break the Silence, Rabbis for Human Rights, etc. These groups seek to besmirch Israel in all ways possible and champion the Palestinian cause. They either don’t understand, or care, that the Palestinians do not trust or like them as Palestinians have pride in their heritage, while these Jews obviously don’t like theirs. These groups too would, despite their rhetoric to the contrary, like for Israel to disappear as a Jewish state.

Furthermore, some Arabs who are Israeli citizens and many who are permanent residents of Israel do not support the country in which they live.

In short, the world is currently a very dangerous place for Israelis and Jews everywhere. Many Jews, especially from France and Russia are emigrating to Israel and the numbers will only continue to rise.

So what can Israel do to improve the situation? Further relinquishment of its land and the establishment of a Palestinian state would only lead to additional territory controlled by Hamas and extreme danger for the existence of the State of Israel and neighboring Arab countries such as Egypt and Jordan.

Israel should revoke the tax exempt status of the many foreign funded NGOs who work against Israel’s interests and prevent these groups from being in Israel.

Israel should, and is, blocking the transmission of incitement over its air waves.

Israel can and should try to improve the lives of the loyal Arabs who live within its borders. Those Arabs who serve in either the military or perform National Service should be rewarded and all attempts should be made to integrate them fully into Israeli society.  For example, recently a group of Christian Arabs who served in the military were awarded scholarships by the International Conference of Christians and Jews in conjunction with the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum.

The towns of the Druze, Muslim Arabs who are required to serve in the Israeli army and serve with distinction, should be upgraded and all attempts should be made to fully integrate the Druze into Israeli society. The needs of the Bedouins should be addressed and attempts made to carve out a livelihood for them which is in concert with their heritage.

I believe that all Israeli citizens should be required to perform National Service. This, of course, will be very unpopular with many Arabs and Haredi groups. However, the program can be tailored to allow participants to work within their cities and society engaging in needed services which will help their communities. Performing national service will give all groups a feeling of being part of the State in which they reside. Those not wishing to serve should be asked to leave the country.

Everyone living in Israel should be required to sign a loyalty oath. Those unwilling to sign should be asked to leave Israel. It’s unfortunate that this should be a requirement for all Israel’s residents and citizens, but the presence of a fifth column in Israel is a fact of life.

Finally, Israel should do more to encourage Jewish emigration from all parts of the globe and make it easier for immigrants to integrate into Israeli society. Artificial barriers, such as excessive paperwork and failure to accept foreign credentials, should be removed and additional housing should be built throughout the country to allow both Israelis and immigrants to live within their means.

I also hope that the good Lord will see fit to quickly eliminate the threats that face us now and allow Jews everywhere to live lives of peace and tranquility.







Categories: Anti Semitism, Israel, Jewish, Jewish Holidays, Middle East, Purim, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chanukah Hanukkah Beginning in About Two Weeks

Shalom Y’all:

Chanukah Hanukkah is almost here. We light the first candle on the evening of December 6. For you last minuters, these bibs, onesies, t shirts and sweatshirts for kids are great gifts.

Hanukkah kids Maccabee Hoodie

Let’s Go Maccabees!

My First Chanukah Bib

Light the lights.

Hanukkah Dreidel Onesie

Spin the Dreidel.

Mommy's Latke Chanukah Hanukkah Sweatshirt

A real delight!

Dreidel Champ T Shirt

The best.

To see JewTee’s entire collection of Chanukah Hanukkah shirts, bibs, onesies, and gifts for kids and adults, click here.

In this midst of all last week’s horror, a bit of good news: Jonathan Pollard, the convicted American spy accused of passing secret information to Israel, was finally released this past Friday after thirty years in jail. But his troubles are far from over. He has to stay in the United States for the next five years and check in regularly with his parole officer. Furthermore, just to make sure he does not attempt to escape from  America, he is required to wear an electronic bracelet at all times.

Originally, he was not allowed to have any internet access (in today’s world that’s an information blackout), but his pro bono lawyers managed to allow him access if his computer usage is monitored at all times. This would include any computer he uses during the course of his employment. Needless to say, no employer would agree to have its computers monitored. He was offered a job as an analyst in a financial firm, but obviously he will not be able to accept the job offer if his work computer is monitored.

His lawyers have appealed these conditions and a hearing is expected to be held this coming week in a New York court. HIs lawyers, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman have called these conditions unreasonable, vindictive and unlawful. They say there is no reason to monitor Pollard because, after thirty years, he has no information that would be valuable to anyone. Furthermore, his disclosure of this stale information would result in a quick return to jail to serve out the rest of his life sentence.  This type of monitoring is generally used only for pedophiles, stalkers and those who are a danger to others. Pollard certainly does not fall into this category.

Two New York Congressmen, Eliot Engel and Jerrold Nadler asked US Attorney- General Loretta Lynch to allow Pollard to move to Israel if he renounces his American citizenship, like the Cuban spy who was allowed to return to Cuba after he renounced his American citizenship. No word yet on her response.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu asked President Obama to intervene to allow Pollard to go to Israel, but the President said he will not intervene.

One day all the facts in this strange case will come to light. Starting with the judge’s decision to hand down a life sentence for a crime which is usually punished with two to four years jail time, to the government’s failure to live up to its promises on the plea deal, to his Lebanese attorney’s failure to file a timely appeal to the life sentence, to the failure to obtain parole much earlier, the book on this case will be a runaway best seller. However, the likelihood it will be written and published anytime soon is quite remote.

At least Pollard is out of jail and can live relatively freely now.

Update: Pollard is under a house curfew from 7AM to 7PM every day. This means he cannot leave the house to go to synagogue before 7AM and after 7PM. Furthermore, he cannot accept dinner invitations on weekdays or the Sabbath that will entail his return to the house after 7PM.

As if this were not bad enough, even when he is allowed out- between 7AM and 7PM he is only permitted to go to a small area within New York City. This despite the fact that he is obligated to wear his GPS bracelet 24/7.

Since not only will his home computer be monitored, but his business computer as well, his prospective employer has withdrawn the job offer since that business, and any other business as well, does not want the government constantly monitoring its communications and actions.

This is freedom?






Categories: Jewish Baby and Kids T Shirts and Gifts, Jonathan Pollard, Politics, Pollard | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chanukah Hanukkah Is Almost Here

Shalom Y’All:

It’s been almost four months since we made aliyah, but it seems like years.

During this time In Israel we bought a new car, a new stovetop,  a new TV, and various small appliances which we should have bought in the States.

We’ve prayed in  a number of different synagogues, seen an excellent play in English, been invited to a Shabbat meal with two couples we did not know before, attended an Israeli wedding, and celebrated  the High Holidays, Sukkot and Simchat Torah here.

Despite the fact that the neighborhood we live in has both religious and secular residents, there were few cars on the street on Rosh Hashanah and no cars at all on Yom Kippur. In fact, on Yom Kippur, many kids ride their bikes on the streets throughout Israel since the streets are free of vehicles. On Sukkot, many food establishments have their own succahs and it is very interesting to see multiple sukkot on streets with restaurants. Jerusalem and many other cities have large public sukkot featuring free entertainment. There is a festive holiday atmosphere in Israel throughout Sukkot and Simchat Torah.

We’ve also spent loads of time filing out forms, including those required to: open a bank account and a checking account,  buy a car, obtain an Israeli Driver’s license-which requires multiple completed forms, an eye test , at least one driving lesson and a driving test, even though we have American licenses – obtain temporary Israeli passports issued after being in Israel for at least three months, but less than a year.

I also attend an Ulpan (one run by the City of Jerusalem) three days a week from 8:30 AM (everything begins early in Israel) to 1 PM. The Ulpan is a school for learning the Hebrew language. The government pays for the first 500 hours of instruction, which, at three days a week, is about ten months. The school administrator tests every student before she assigns them to a class. Those with no knowledge of Hebrew are assigned to a class which meets five days a week, while those with fairly good Hebrew skills attend only twice a week. The rest are three day a weekers. While instruction is in Hebrew, there is, in my humble opinion, too much of an emphasis on grammar. Too little time is spent on conversation. This may be because the classes are too large to engage in meaningful conversation.

The classes composition is like a mini UN. My class has a number of French speaking students from France, a Spanish and Portuguese speaking student from Brazil, English speakers from the United States, a Danish student, an Australian, a Canadian and other students whose origins I do not know since they are new.

It’s getting cool in Jerusalem, although it’s still much warmer in the southern part of the country.  Somehow, I neglected to take everyday turtlenecks with me and I have yet to find a store that sells them. Shipping them from America is very expensive, as the cost of shipping often exceeds the cost of the purchase. The only thing to do is to wait until someone I know visits Israel and is willing to bring a few items with them for me. It seems Israelis do not wear turtlenecks, although I’m not sure why. Correction: I have been told of a store that sells turtlenecks in Geula, a religious neighborhood in Jerusalem.

On a more serious note, there is a slight undercurrent of anxiety in the country due to the  Arab violence. While the threat is real, statistically the probability of any particular person getting hurt is much much less than the chances of getting hurt in an auto accident. Still, it’s unnerving and people at bus stops, for example, try to sit or stand with their backs to the wall. It’s most unfortunate that the incitement by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Isis has created a situation where young Arabs are led to believe that stabbing and killing a Jew is somehow defending Jerusalem for Islam and a desirable act. Building additional barriers around Jerusalem and increased intelligence have helped curb the violence here and the majority of the incidents are now taking place in the territories.  But, hopefully, this too shall pass. In the meantime, Jews are just a tad more careful and those licensed to carry firearms are increasingly doing so.

On a brighter note, Chanukah Hanukkah begins in three weeks. Here are some unique Chanukah shirts and gifts:

Make Latkes Chanukah T-Shirt

Funny Latkes Chanukah t Shirt

Hanukkah Lights Hooded Sweatshirt

Funny Hanukkah Lites Hoodie

Real Men Make Latkes Chanukah Tank Top

It takes a Real Man to Make a Perfect Hanukkah Latke

Oy To The World Funny Jewish Zip Hoodie

Funny Hanukkah Hoodie and Oh So True.

These shirts and hoodies come in many sizes, styles and colors. Buy one for yourself or give them as Chanukah gifts. See the entire collection at JewTee’s Chanukah Hanukkah Shirts and Gifts.

Categories: Aliya, aliyah, Israel, It Happened In Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Jewish T Shirts and Gifts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aliyah Adventure Part 3


I managed to divide our possessions into three:  to be shipped to Israel,  to be stored in a warehouse and to be given away. I couldn’t believe how much stuff I had accumulated in the years we lived in the house and how much of it I really didn’t need or didn’t even know I had. The give away stuff filled many boxes and contractor bags.

Before the shipping company came, we separated out everything that was going to Israel. When the company representative came, he looked at all the stuff and estimated the size of the container we would need- 20′, rather than the larger 40′. That was a relief because there’s no way a three bedroom apartment could hold the contents of the larger container.

The shipping company came, packed our stuff and loaded it into the container, which would not be opened until it arrived at our apartment in Israel. A much smaller truck came and took the stuff designated for the warehouse. Now we were left with everything we decided to give away. After the kids decided what they wished to have, we invited friends, then neighbors to take whatever they wished. A substantial amount remained. A call to a trash removal company and their estimate of the charges for removing the trash, convinced us that we had to figure out another way to dispose of the leftovers. We decided to simply pack it into boxes and contractor bags and put it in front of the house for passerby to take. This proved to be a win win idea. However, some stuff still remained and at the end we had to call the trash removal company to haul it all away the morning we left for the airport.

There was a ceremony at the airport for those going on the Nefesh B’Nefesh (the organization that helps those wishing to make Aliyah) charter flight and their family and friends. It consisted of speeches and more speeches, with refreshments on hand to keep people awake.

The flight was uneventful. When we arrived at Ben Gurion airport, we were loaded onto buses which drove us to an used terminal in the airport. When we stepped off the bus, we were greeted by soldiers and well wishers singing Hebrew songs and waving Israeli flags. It was very touching.

Inside the terminal, reunions with family and friends who came to greet the new arrivals and more speeches and refreshments. Then the passengers proceeded upstairs for processing and for their first payment of 1250 Israeli Shekels (about $300). Families receive more money and retirees a bit less. Future payments are sent to the home of the passenger and continue monthly for about 6 months. This money is intended to help new citizens ease their way into Israeli life. Everyone also enrolled in the health plan of their choice. Basic coverage is free for a year.

Two days later, we were given our Israeli passports, officially making us citizens of Israel. Photographers were on hand to record the occasion and produce magnet mementos.  Customs officials met with those who sent lifts to clear their shipments. Refreshments were enjoyed by all.

We were told to open a checking account at a local bank so that the Ministry of Absorption could send us our monthly checks. This was not an easy as it sounds. Choosing a bank in Israel must be done carefully. Most banks charge fees for both withdrawing and depositing money. A few do not. So it’s depositor beware.

Several days later, immigrants in the Jerusalem area met with representatives of the Absorption Agency to learn of the benefits to which they are entitled as new immigrants (Olim) and to give the Ministry the checking account numbers to which their monthly checks should be sent.

After this,we Olim are on our own, but we do have a Nefesh B’Nefesh representative to call should we have questions or encounter difficulties.

Categories: Aliya, aliyah, Israel, Jewish | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Aliya Adventures- Part 2 The Moving Blues-Part 1

Shalom Y’all:

The next step, which perhaps should have been done much earlier, was to find a place to live. We were initially looking to buy an apartment, but the deal for the apartment we wanted fell thorough.  At first we persisted in trying to buy another apartment since we felt that any money paid toward rent would be a waste. However, buying an apartment without actually seeing it is very difficult. My son-in-law went to see a few apartments for us and even took multiple pictures of the apartments. However, nothing quite met our specifications.

As the departure date grew closer, we got increasingly nervous and decided we would have to rent initially.

Our search for agents also proved difficult. Most of the agents we contacted had two or three apartments to show and after that they simply stopped looking for others. We were growing increasingly desperate. Many apartments that were advertised online were unavailable. Finally, we settled for a three bedroom apartment which did not have everything we wanted, was in so so condition, and was more than we hoped to pay. But as we had to live somewhere, it would have to do. Also, since we found it through an agent, we would have to pay a month’s rent for his services.

Now a word about Israeli apartments. Unfurnished Israeli apartments come without anything and by that that I mean anything- no appliances, closets, furniture, etc. Just plain empty. Renters are required to buy appliances, furniture and wardrobes and either take it all with them when they move, or sell them to the landlord and/or next renter. Then there are semi furnished apartments which come with appliances and maybe wardrobes, which Israelis use instead of closets. Finally there are furnished apartments which come with everything.

We were hoping to get a semi furnished apartment so that we could take our own furniture and ultimately move it to an apartment we would buy. This apartment was furnished, but the landlord agreed to remove whatever items we wished.

Since some of our kids live in Israel and some in the States, we decided that, although we had to sell our house, we would need to have a place to stay in the States when we come to visit our kids in America.  Our feeling is that for a for a week or two it’s OK to stay with the kids, but after that we become a burden. So we decided to buy a mother daughter house with one of our kids. However, since this house is not yet identified, much less purchased, we would have to put any furniture, appliances, clothes, or household stuff we wished to bring into paid storage.

Finally, since Israel uses 220 voltage instead of America’s 110, all our electrical appliances would not work in Israel unless we purchased a heavy duty transformer. We decided not to do so.  So we had to decide what to do with our appliances, both large and small.

Essentially we had to divide the contents of our house into five categories- Israel, storage in America,  remaining in the house, donations and disposal.

This meant going through the entire house and garage and evaluating their contents. I had no idea I owned so much stuff until I had to sift through it. Things I hadn’t seen for many years suddenly appeared. And, even though I hadn’t had a need for them all these years, now that I had them I had to decide what to do with them. For example, my vinyl records. At first I thought they must be worth loads of money, but a quick trip on Google convinced me that they were not worth selling. I would have to give them away since I had no means of listening to them. Old suitcases and various carrying bags would also have to be given away or disposed of, as would old cameras, phones and clothes.

There are various companies that ship possessions to Israel. But they all basically have three types of containers- shared, 20 foot and 40 foot. Obviously, the larger the container the greater the price. Companies send out appraisers to review the contents of the house or apartment and decide on the size of the container required. This means that what will be sent to Israel should be separated out so the shipper will be able to make an accurate judgement.

So the first thing we did was decide what to take to Israel. We decided to take neither large appliances nor small ones. We also decided not to take our couches, but to leave them in storage for our American home, since we did not know if the couches would fit into our rented apartment or our future apartment. That hurt, since these couches were barely a year old and I really liked them. Deciding which clothes and books to take was even more difficult, since we knew space would be an issue. Despite all my attempts to prune down my choices, I’m sure I still took much more than I will have room for.

To Be Continued

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Aliyah Adventures Part 1- Documents, Documents

Shalom Y’all:

Sorry I haven’t written in such a long time, but we’ve busy with Aliyah activities.

We decided to make aliyah after our pilot trip during December and January. Proceeding with aliyah meant the following:

First we had to decide whether we could afford to keep our house while paying for the rental or purchase of an apartment in Israel. The answer to that question was a no brainer- we could not. So we had to arrange for the sale of our house. We had intended to sell it without an agent, but an agent persuaded us that going solo would mean that lots of curiosity seekers and unqualified buyers would come to see our house, while he assured us, he would bring only real buyers to see it. Of course, he wanted an exclusive. We agreed to give him an exclusive for 45 days, after which the sale would be open to all. Of course, if we found the buyer ourselves, we would not be obligated to pay him a commission.

The agent assured us that we did not have to “stage” the house, but we did do our best to straighten it out. After two weeks, we had a buyer whom the agent convinced to meet our price. Contracts were drawn up and signed and the closing was set for mid May, with the stipulation that if we stayed in the house beyond that date, we would pay rent. As we are not planning to leave until mid July, that was a given.

Then we had to gather up all our original government documents including: passports, birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc. and obtain a letter from a Rabbi certifying our Jewishness. The latter was necessary to enter Israel under the Law of Return, which grants every Jew the right to settle in Israel. Then we had to fax these documents to Nefesh B’Nefesh, the organization that assists those making aliyah.

Now for most people while gathering the above is an inconvenience, for me it was much more difficult. I was born in Amsterdam Holland and the Dutch have not yet made birth certificates available online. Furthermore, at the time of my birth, the city was divided into different sectors and each produced their own birth certificates. After locating the area of my birth, we requested the birth certificate only to be told that there was a fee for it, roughly $17, which would have to be paid in Dutch currency. No, they don’t take credit cards, checks, or bank wires. Only cold hard cash. Our appeals fell on deaf ears and finally they suggested we ask a friend or relative living in Holland to bring the money to them. Luckily, I still have cousins who live in Amsterdam and one of them graciously agreed to pay the fee and procure the document. I’m not sure what would have happened had I had no contacts in Holland.

The birth certificate turned out to be hand written in Dutch. Surprise. At first, the Nefesh B’Nefesh officials we were working with asked that we get an official translation since they could not find my name, nor the names of my parents, nor my date of birth. Once we pointed these things out to them, they were satisfied. Or so it seemed.

My husband, who was born in Belgium, had much less of a problem since his Belgian birth certificate contained English headings for the pertinent data and was free.

After all the documents were reviewed and approved by Nefesh B’Nefesh, we, as do all aliyah applicants, had to make an appointment with the Jewish agency and present the original documents to the interviewer. The interviewer asks questions, reviews the documents and makes recommendations as to whether the person should be allowed to make aliyah. Within two weeks or so, the applicant is informed of the decision. Most, if not all applicants, are approved, as so were we.

The next step is deciding the date of the Aliyah and booking a flight with Nefesh B’Nefesh to Israel. The flight is heavily subsidized and people can either fly on a group or charter flight. or make their own arrangements. We decided to take a charter flight, which means flying with El Al on a special flight on which everyone is making Aliya. These flights are often met by Israeli government representatives at the airport and all processing for citizenship is done on the plane and in the airport. Arrangements for processing can also be made on the other types of flights.

Part Two – Moving Madness

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