Why Jerusalem Day Is Important For Jews

                  

Last night and today Israelis celebrated Jerusalem Day, or Yom Yerushalayim, as its called in Hebrew. This year marks the 50th anniversary of this momentous day.

Just why are they celebrating and why should Jews everywhere celebrate the day? This day marks the high point of the Six Day War, in 1967, when Israeli soldiers liberated eastern Jerusalem and the Old City and were finally able to see, touch and pray at the Western Wall, the Kotel.

Why is this important? Tuesday of this week Trump paid respects to the holiest site in Jerusalem by praying there. Prior to this, during the illegal Jordanian occupation  of the eastern half of Jerusalem (from 1948-1967). Jews were expelled from the area and were barred from praying at the Wall. Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs were also off limits. Jerusalem was a divided city, divided in half by a concrete wall topped by barbed wire. Jordanian snippers regularly fired into Western Jerusalem. As a result of the Six Day War, Israel regained control of all of Jerusalem. It reunified the city and extended Israeli law to all its parts. It also guaranteed freedom of worship and protection of the holy sites of all religions.

Is this the only reason the Six Day war is important? Not all all. As a result of the war, Israel more than tripled the size of the area under its jurisdiction, from 8,000 to 26,000 square miles, about the size of New Jersey. Israel captured the SInai (which it later returned to Egypt), the Golan Heights (from Syria), the Gaza Strip (which was controlled by Egypt) and from which Israel withdrew its forces and expelled its citizens in 2005, and the West Bank.

It was a momentous miraculous victory. Three armies- Egypt, Jordan and Syria were massed to attack Israel. Frenzied mobs called for its destruction. The United Nations peacekeeping force assigned to Sinai to keep peace between Egypt and Israel was forced to leave by the Egyptians. Israel stood alone against three armies. A victory by those forces would have, Heaven forbid, resulted in the elimination of the Jewish State. This was one war Israel had to win. And win it did, but the victory came at a high cost. Israel lost twice as many men in proportion to its population as the United States lost in its eight year war in Vietnam.

And what if Israel had won, but had not captured any territory. Well, the Golan Heights would have remained under Syrian control. That means that Israel would have been infested with Hezbollah and ISIS fighters. Jerusalem would have remained a divided city, with the Old City of Jerusalem remaining under Jordanian control. Jews would have been barred from the Wall and from living in East Jerusalem. Israel would, in fact, have been hard pressed to remain stable and safe. Without ’67, Israel’s enemies would be demanding their rights to Tel Avi, Haifa and of course the western part of Jerusalem. The ’67 war turned Israel into a viable nation.

Why is a united Jerusalem important to all Jews? Jerusalem is the capital city of Israel, the land of the Jews. It was Israel’s capital thousands of years ago and has never been the capital of any other country. It is the heart and soul of Israel. Jerusalem cannot be divided. Asking Israel to do so, is not only against Israel’s interests, but also against the world’s interests. Israel safeguards all holy places and allows freedom of access to all. In contrast, the Jordanians who control the Temple Mount refuse to let Jews even mumble a prayer on the Mount, but they let their children play sports on the plaza. So much for its holiness. Control of the holy places by the Palestinians, or even international forces which can be expelled by the host country, will not ensure freedom of access to all. Rachel’s Tomb, which is in Bethlehem, is now covered by concrete and barred wire to ensure the safety of its visitors. The Tomb of Joseph in Nablus is not safe for Jews to visit. The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron requires an armed Israeli presence to protect worshippers. In short, only Israel guarantees the safety of Holy Places under its rule. Furthermore, it would not take long for Hamas to take control of any area ceded to the Palestinians  by Israel. Those would be dangerous times for Israel and its neighbors.

But there’s more. In order for Israel to remain viable, it needs to have defensible borders. It’s neighbors have waged war against it and while Israel has signed peace treaties with some, others are waiting to pounce on it. And Israel must remain strong, very strong. Israel is the last place of refuge for Jews. As anti semitism and terror raise their ugly heads in all parts of the world, Jews now have place of refuge, a place where they can live openly and freely as Jews and where all can pray at the holiest of all synagogues. Those are real reasons to celebrate.

Categories: Anti Semitism, Hamas, Israel, Jerusalem, Jerusalem Day, Middle East, Politics, Pro Israel Post, religious freedom, Terrorism, Yom Yerushalayim | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Freedom Is Not Free- Remembering The Fallen Heroes

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Israel will be 69 years old on  the night of May 1, 2017.

Those 69 years have been filled with both joy and sorrow. Israel has fought in 8 wars and military operations since its founding in 1948. Over 23,000 soldiers have been killed as a result of these operations and over 3,000 civilians have lost their lives due to terrorist attacks.

In a country as small as Israel (the most recent survey showed that Israel has about 8.7 million people), almost everyone has either had a family member killed or injured, or knows someone who was so affected.  

Therefore, unlike most Americans today, Israel takes Memorial Day very seriously.  

In 1968, The United States Congress changed the date of Memorial Day, which was originally May 30, to the last Monday in May to create a three day weekend. This has diluted the purpose of the day. On Memorial Day in the United States, the U.S. flag is lowered to half staff until noon. Americans who have lost family members or friends in the various wars and conflicts in which the United States has been engaged visit cemeteries to pay tribute to the fallen. Many attend Memorial Day parades which feature veterans and members of the various Armed Forces. There is also a National Memorial Day Concert which takes place on the lawn of the United States Capitol.

However, for most Americans the Memorial Day weekend means the unofficial start of the summer season, the Indy 500, NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, The Memorial Tournament golf event, the final of the NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship, and, of course, Memorial Day Sales and barbecues.

In 2000, perhaps in response to the dilution of the meaning of the day, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, asking people to stop and remember the fallen at 3:00 P.M on Memorial Day Monday. To mark the Moment, Major League Baseball games halt, Amtrak train whistles sound across the country, and other organisations do what they can to remind Americans to observe the Moment.

For Israel, the pain of the loss of the fallen is very fresh. This year another 97 people were added to that roster of heroes. There are over 9,000 bereaved parents in Israel, almost 5,000 widows and close to 2,000 orphans under the age of 30, all of whom lost a family member fighting for Israel’s right to exist. This number does not include the relatives and friends of the over 3,000 civilians killed by terrorists.

Israel understands all too well the debt of gratitude it owes to its soldiers and its heroes who sacrificed their lives so that Israel could exist and be free. Therefore, Israel’s Memorial Day, Yom Hazikaron, is taken very seriously.

It officially begins with a one minute siren, heard throughout the country, at 8 P.M., during which the entire nation stands still for one minute. Even traffic is halted. This is followed by an official State Ceremony at the Western Wall (the Kotel) in Jerusalem and other gatherings and services throughout the country. (Israelis take this moment so seriously that yesterday, Sunday,  a group of Israelis on a flight from Marrakesh to Munich stood silently for one minute  at 8 P.M.)

For the next 24 hours, all theatres, cinemas, nightclubs, bars, etc. are closed. Radio and television station broadcast programs portraying the lives and heroic deeds of fallen soldiers and play melancholy music which conveys the mood of the day.

A second memorial siren, this one lasting for two minutes, is sounded at 11 A.M. the next morning, marking the beginning of the public recitation of prayers in the military cemeteries throughout the country. The official service is held at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem. Flags are lowered to half staff, special memorial prayers are recited, government officials speak, and a wreath is laid. The ceremony usually concludes with a military gun salute.

At 1PM another national service takes place at Mt. Herzl, this one honoring the memories of those felled by terrorist acts.

This year over 1.5 million Israelis are expected to pay their respects at the graves of those killed in Israel’s struggles.

Schools are open, but almost every high school in Israel has a “memorial corner” with the pictures of the school’s graduates who were killed defending the State. Some high schools organize their own Yom Hazikaron ceremonies and invite the families of the fallen graduates to participate.

Students wear white shirts and blue pants, or skirts, to school that day and soldiers wear their uniforms to the military cemeteries.

A few minutes after sundown, when Memorial day ends, the official switch from Yom Hazikaron to Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, takes place. In a ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, the flag is raised from half staff to the top of the pole. The president of Israel then delivers a speech of congratulations, and soldiers representing the Army, Navy, and Air Force parade with their flags. This is followed by a torch lighting ceremony, marking the country’s achievements, Many municipalities have their own flag ceremony in which students march with the Israeli flag.

Israelis celebrate Independence Day in a number of ways. Many cities have nighttime activities, fireworks and free concerts. Many spend the night singing Israeli songs and dancing Israeli folk dances. During the day, many families go on hikes and picnics. Others barbeque at home or with family and friends.  Army camps are open to the public and many museums and cultural institutions offer free admission and programs. The day concludes with the granting of the Israeli Prize to individuals who have made unique contributions to Israel’s culture, science, arts and humanities.

The juxtaposition of these two very disparate days and moods is both very moving and meaningful. It helps us realise that freedom is not free. There is a high price to pay and we should be eternally grateful to those who pay it.

Let us  hope that no additional names will be added to the list of the fallen and that we will finally be able to live together in peace.

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Categories: Israel, Israel Independence Day, Israel Memorial Day Yom Hazikaron, It Happened In Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Jewish Holidays, Yom Haatzmaut, Yom Hazikaron | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So Many Hamans- Anti Semitism Rears Its Ugly Head

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Shalom Y’All:

As you all know by now, since the election of President Trump, the number of anti semitic incidents in the United States has risen dramatically. In the ten days following the election, for example, there were more  anti semitic incidents. Since then headstones at Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis, Philadelphia and Rochester have been overturned; more than 100 Jewish institutions, mainly  JCCs, in at least 26 states and one Canadian province have received bomb threats; synagogues and Jewish schools have been vandalized; swastikas drawn in New York City subway cars; and Jewish families harassed by neo-Nazis. Anti Semitic incidents on college campuses are also on the increase.

In New York City, the NYPD, reported that anti-semitic incidents were up 94 percent over this time last year. 35 anti-Semitic incidents occurred in January and February of this year.

President Trump finally spoke out against anti semitism, but that does not seem to have made any difference.Despite the arrest of an alleged perpetrator of eight of the JCC calls, most likely a copycat caller, yesterday at least ten Jewish Community Centers and four Anti Defamation offices received threats.

But the increase in anti semitic incidents cannot be blamed on Trump followers alone. In both 2014 and 2015 there were more far more hate crimes in the U.S. targeting Jews than any other religious group. An ADL study in 2015 found that about 9% of the U.S. population harbors anti semitic views. There was a 45% increase in campus anti semitism during the first half of 2016.

 There were more anti semitic incidents in the UK last year than any year since 1984, when they first started keeping records, a whopping 1309 anti semitic incidents (an average of over three incidents daily).

While France’s 450,000 Jews are less than one per cent of the country’s population, over 50% of racist attacks in the country are against Jews.

However, a recent survey by the Pew Research Center designed to gauge Americans’ feelings toward various religions showed that Jews elicit the “warmest” feelings of any religious group. The finding held true across all groups — Catholics,  Protestants, atheists and members of all age groups, although among millennials, Buddhists were regarded more warmly than Jews. Too few Muslims were interviewed to accurately determine their feelings towards Jews. 

Acts of kindness and concern followed many of the anti semitic attacks. Muslims raised money to restore a vandalized cemetery and the Senate sent a unanimous letter to the White House urging it to boost security measures at Jewish institutions and assure that hate crimes  were investigated and punished.

So what’s going on here? Here are a few possible explanations.

2014 was the year the Gaza war took place and anti Israel rallies often contained heavy anti semitic overtones. In Seattle, posters depicted a Jew eating a gentile child accompanied by a cup of blood to wash it down.

The election of Donald Trump who was supported by the alt right has apparently given some people the mistaken impression that, after years of political correctness, it’s now OK to publicly display racism and anti semitism.

The far left also suffers from anti semitism, as has been demonstrated at various college campuses throughout the country and its support of the BDS movement.

So are these recent incidents the work of a crazy biased individual or group of individuals, or are they symptomatic of a larger problem?

The constant barrage of anti Israel propaganda coming from both the media and the United Nations has contributed to creating the mistaken feeling that Israel is a bully that harms poor, innocent Palestinians who just want freedom and their own state. (This Palestinian propaganda could not be further from the truth). Some of this has been generalized to include Jews everywhere, who are all seen as supporters of Israel, though this is, alas, not the case.

Trump’s support for Israel may have angered a few anti semitic individuals who have decided to act against Jewish institutions.

But whatever the cause, Jews should not fear. The vast majority of American citizens like Jews and Jews are not in imminent danger. Because there is no state sanctioned Anti Semitism does not mean that Anti Semitism in America is not a reality.  Those who truly want to live a fully Jewish life without the need to hide their identity or Jewish practices, should move to Israel. Those who choose to remain here and in other countries of the world should remain vigilant, but secure in the knowledge that, should the situation worsen, Israel is waiting for them.

Purim is almost here- Sundown March 11-Sunset March 12. As we will read in the Megillah, Purim is the story of an anti semite who tried to destroy all the Jews in the Persian kingdom. His plan was foiled by Queen Esther and he and his followers were ultimately killed. The Jews united then and the Jews should unite now, and make sure to be there for each other and to help one another.

Let us pray that, as we were saved then, the Jewish people should continue to be saved, our enemies should be defeated, and the State of Israel should continue to prosper.

To see the JewTee collection of Purim shirts and gifts, click JewTee Purim Shirts and Gifts.

Happy Purim!

Categories: Anti Semitism, Jewish, Jewish Holidays, Purim, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

The 2016 Election-Final Thoughts

hillary-donald    In the final hours before the the majority of the electorate goes to the polls to elect the 45th President of the United States, I thought a final analysis would be in order.

First, the campaign itself. One of the most hotly contested races ever, the two candidates have very different views and the views of their supporters reflect this.

Here are some of the major differences between the Clinton and Trump supporters interviewed and reported on by PEW:

Over 80% of Trump supporters believed that America is worse today than it was 50 years ago. Only 19% of Clinton supporters agreed.

Most of the Clinton supporters interviewed,(72%) believed that it is harder for women to get ahead than men, while only 31% of Trump supporters agreed.

Close to 80% of Clinton supporters believed that white people have advantages that Black people do not and 57% said it’s much more difficult to be black than white in the United States. Only about a quarter of Trump supporters agreed with white advantage and just 11% believed that it’s more difficult to be black.

This trend is also evident in the amount of Clinton supporters who felt that undocumented immigrants are no more apt to commit serious crimes than citizens (84% vs 43%). Of course Trump supporters were far more likely to favour a wall between the US and Mexico (79% vs 10%).

A majority of Trump supporters (57%) felt that Muslims living in the US should be subject to additional scrutiny, while just 15% of Clinton supporters agreed. 66% of Trump supporters thought that terrorists have greater ability to launch a terror attack against the US now than in 2001, while only 24% of Clinton supporters agreed.

The vast majority of Clinton supporters (72%) believed that government should do more to help the needy even if it meant that the US would assume greater debt, while only 21% of Trump supporters agreed.

83% of Trump supporters felt that government is wasteful and inefficient, while only 31% of Clinton supporters agreed.

Other polls show that support for Clinton is much greater among those with a college degree, while Trump is favoured by those with a High School diploma or less. Rural citizens and gun owners tend to prefer Trump, while urbanites favour Clinton.

Most Americans do not trust either candidate or share their values. But tomorrow, they will have to choose.

Tomorrow, the American people will let their voices be heard. No matter who wins, there will be many very unhappy people. The fact that Bernie Sanders was able to seriously challenge Hillary Clinton and that his supporters were so enthusiastic, means that the Democratic party is split between those who like the status quo and those who wish the party were more “progressive” or as some say, more socialist and to the left. If Hillary is elected, she will have to adopt some of these views.

The Republican party is a mess. Many within the party do not support Trump and some are even voting for Hillary. However, the fact that such a large swath of the party support Trump indicates that there is serious dissatisfaction with mainstream Republicans and that party members are looking for an outsider whom they believe will bring about change.

If Hillary wins, I fear the reaction of Trump voters. Trump has indicated he would not accept the final tally, but contest it. Such an action would be disruptive, but America has gone through something somewhat similar in the Bush Gore election of 2000. In that election, Florida ballots were recounted, and the outcome of the election unknown for more than a month afterwards. It also required the intervention of the Supreme Court to rule on the balloting procedures. However, while people were not happy during this period, there was no civil disobedience. Life went on as usual. I’m not sure things will be equally as calm should Hillary win.

Should Trump win, Hillary supporters will be very upset, but I don’t believe the unrest will be as great.

However, no matter who wins, America is now deeply divided and there is a large core of very angry people. My hope is that the election will go smoothly and that supporters of the losing candidate will graciously accept the results. During these last few years, American prestige around the world has plummeted. I only hope that the aftermath of this election will not be another step in its decline.

Let’s join together as Americans and strive for unity, or as a minimum, mutual respect.

Categories: 2016 Election, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On The New Year

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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

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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. http://www.ruthfullyyours.com/2014/07/16/shocking-anti-semitic-hatefest-in-seattle-appalling-must-see-pictures/

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 JewTee.com and its sister site, http://www.cafepress.com/passoverpillows have a solution for that. They feature unique Passover themed throw pillows and pillow shams. Here are a few examples:

szyk_haggadah_passover_woven_throw_pillow

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.

HAPPY PASSOVER!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

HAPPY PURIM!

 

 

 

 

 

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

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