Sunday, February 26, 2012

Haveil Havalim #349 Is Up!

4 of the Twelfth Month 5772

This week's edition of Haveil Havalim Blog Carnival is being hosted at Ima's.

It's the Happy Adar Edition!Link

If you are a Jewish/Israel-related blogger get involved with this growing blog carnival! Visit our Facebook Group for more information.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The NachlaOr Songwriter Showcase

30 of the Eleventh Month 5772
The NachlaOr Center was filled with Jewish music lovers Tuesday night for the first night in the NachlaOr Songwriter Showcase series. The evening was hosted by Mikey Pauker, my "homeboy" from Southern California, and one of the stars of the upcoming docu-series "Hollywood Reel."

Michael Bloom, a recent immigrant from Australia started off the evening with Jewish folk music, on the guitar.

Next up was Benji Elson, originally from New Jersey, also on guitar, with his upbeat mix of Jewish folk and reggae.

Jonathan Fialka, originally from Texas, followed on guitar with his own brand of very upbeat, Jewish music. His band is called Purimm, because his music is like the holiday of Purim, beyond boundaries!

Classically trained Moshe "Maury" Epstein displayed his range from folk to traditional Jewish camp songs.

Aryeh Ben-Chaim, originally from Chile, played his original music, accompanied by Carmiela Bernstein on the cello. One of his songs included "Mitzvah Gedolah Lihiyot be'Simcha" (It is a big mitzvah to live in happiness), as well as lyrics adapted from the writings of Rabbi Natan of Breslov.

Mikey Pauker closed out the evening on guitar with his original music, covering his spiritual journey.

Local percussionist Akiva Goldberg accompanied the musicians throughout the evening.

Pasta with homemade sauce and roasted peppers, was served up by NachlaOr member Avi, a student and the Jerusalem Culinary Institute. Avi topped the meal off with the best biscotti I've had in a long time!

Original Jewish music and dinner, in a friendly atmosphere in the heart of Jerusalem' s own artistic and musical neighborhood of Nachla'ot....

Did you miss out?

Keep up to date on NachlaOr's Torah, Music, and Chessed events, and show your support by visiting NachlaOr's website and by joining NachlaOr's Facebook Page.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Impending Conjunction Of Venus And Jupiter

30 of the Eleventh Month 5772

If you are in Jerusalem, make sure to look up in the Western evening sky toward the south.

You will see the first two heavenly bodies coming into view. They are not stars, but planets. Many of you will recognize the one in the lower right as Venus. The one to its left and up is Jupiter.

They will come within four degrees of each other on March 9. On March 13, they will with a degree of each other. On March 14, Venus will have passed Jupiter, but still within a degree of it.

I mention the event for those star enthusiasts to be aware of the coming show which is set to occur shortly.

How close to one another will these two planetary bodies appear in the evening sky?

Stay tuned! We will find out together.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Haveil Havalim #347: The Post Tu b'Shevat/Post Primaries Edition

20 of the Eleventh Month 5772

It has become increasingly difficult for me to create new and exciting names for the editions of Haveil Havalim I host. If you have any suggestions for how you continue to keep the spark in edition names, then BY ALL MEANS leave them below as comments.
Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It's hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack. The term 'Haveil Havalim,' which means"Vanity of Vanities," is from Qoheleth, (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon. King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other 'excesses' and realized that it was nothing but 'hevel,' or in English, 'vanity.'
This name came from the obvious Tu b'Shevat of last week. Last week was also filled with party primaries. In Israel, the Mere"tz and Likud Parties held their primaries. Zahava Gal-On was elected as the new leader of Mere"tz, and, well, in the words of one Likud Party member, "We will never know the actual results of the Likud Primaries." Although, Binyamin Netanyahu appears to have retained his power leadership of that party.

Meanwhile, in the U. S., Republicans were battling out. I have yet to take a close look at this week's submissions, so I have yet to know if anyone covered any of the primaries. Let's take a look....

But, first, I just wanted to let you know that I did not receive that many submissions this week. We have been operating a bit differently lately, communicating primarily through our new Facebook Group, and allowing each carnival host to choose the method(s) for receiving carnival submissions. So, that must be why I only received a handful of submissions.

Usually, I have to remind bloggers to keep their submissions to a maximum of three. Now, I am happy to remind you that you may, indeed, submit up to three, and should feel limited to only one submission. I suppose that lately you have been wanting to go easy on the carnival hosts, until we get the kinks worked out. Actually, there did not seem to be any kinks at all this week, save for the usual lack of enough hours in a day.

Well, that's enough chit-chat from my end. Let's get on with the show!


Joshua Waxman at the Parsha Blog brings us a collection of posts on last week's parasha, Yisro.

Yoel Meltzer presents Thoughts On The Sh'ma.

Tu b'Shevat

"I am the Lorax! I speak for the trees! I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues!"
-from The Lorax by Theodore "Dr. Seuss" Geisel

Sharon at The Real Jerusalem Streets presents Tu b'Shevat In Jerusalem.

Samantha at The Israel Situation provides us with A Zionist Perspective On Tu b'Shevat.

I provide my Esser Agaroth in The Legend Of Dried Fruit On Tu b'Shevat.


Baruch Dov Bear at Israel, Jews, and Judaism brings us The History Of the Words "Palestine" And "Palestinians."
Has anyone been keeping track of the "Iran Situation?" Tomer Devorah has been. See her Fallout From Iran, as well as a Special Guest Post.

Ruti at Ki Yachol Nuchal! has been, too. Check out Iran And The Bomb -- What, Me Worry?

Elder Of Ziyon asks "Why Is Gaza Running Out Of Fuel?"

Rivka at Bat Aliyah asks "Is Aliyah Really A Personal Choice?"

Ricki's Mom at Beneath The Wings recounts her unique and inconvenient experience, dealing with the Israeli Army in The Next Soldier (Obsessing Over Options).

My Esser Agaroth and I take you to The Most Dangerous Wedding In The World.

Jewish Israel attempts to warn us, and especially "right-wing" Jews friendly with Christians, of the dangers of so-called "Messianics" and Christian Evangelists in The Ultimate Desecration of the Torah performed by messianic Ralph Messer (Warning: Obscene). Shiloh residents are warned that this nut is on his way to visit you!

Batya at Me-Ander brings us a Reflecting Lucky Shot.of the Kotel, then at Shiloh Musings, she tells us of Settling On "Second Best," A Visit To The Kotel.

Robin at Around The Island presents Making History Come Alive In Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter.

Sharon at The Real Jerusalem Streets brings us Finds In The Old City.

Yocheved invites us to check out her blog It's My Crisis And I'll Cry If I Need To, which includes the post Here's How to Minimize the Pain, Embarrassment and/or Fear of Your Medical and Disability Life!

Last, but definitely not least, Jacob Richman from Good News From Israel submitted this link to 20 Hebrew LanLinkguage Funny Videos.

Outside Of Israel

at to Kiss A Mezuzah tells us about the classes she is taking to train to be a volunteer at the Jewish Home in San Francisco in Bay Area JHC Kol Haneshama - Class 1.

Ariel at The Torah Revolution believes that Nothing Is By Accident. Daled Amos provides the background information here in Why Does EU Impose Austerity On Greece, But Give Millions To Palestinians?

Sultan Knish tells us about A Farce In Syria.

Well, that's a wrap!

Connect with the Haveil Havalim community through our Facebook Group! There, you can find out how to submit posts to the carnival, and even volunteer to host. It's really not that hard!

Next week, Susan at To Kiss A Mezuzah will be hosting Haveil Havalim.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Most Dangerous Wedding In The World

Erev Shabbath Qodesh Parashath Yithro 5772

Last Wednesday night I attended the most dangerous wedding the world.

The hathan (groom), a former student of mine, made the news last year when, before his enlistment into the Israeli Defense Forces [IDF], he declared in advanced that he would refuse to carry out any order to throw Jews out of their homes, or to aid in the destruction of Jewish strongholds and villages. In spite of the various threats thrown at him, he stood by his principles and held ground. In the end the IDF refused to enlist him, undoubtedly due to the "dangerous" influence such a soldier might have on his fellow recruits.

But, that was not why his was the most dangerous wedding in the world.

At one time, the hathan's father was a student of Rabbi Me'ir Kahane hy"d. It was no surprise to see several of his former students present. It was great to see two and three generations from the same families together, carrying on his tradition of Torah and Jewish Pride.

One of the "next generation" in attendance was one of the heroic, "Tapu'ah Three," three teenaged women, who for months were unjustly incarcerated, for the sake of the Land of Israel was there, a friend of the kallah (bride).

There were several of us at the wedding from K'far Tapu'ah. In fact, I was speaking with someone from Har Berakhah at a neighboring table. I happened to mention that the five of us at our table were from Tapu'ah. He said that he could tell. I asked him if it was due to how we looked, or how we behaved. He said, "Both."

I am not entirely sure how one could so easily be able to identify us as being from a particular town. Nonetheless, the presence of so many Jews from the town often referred to as a "thorn in the side of the Israeli government" was not why this was the most dangerous wedding in the world.

Women stood separately from the men at the huppah, and refrained from dancing while in the presence of the men. They did so, not because they were told to. They did so, because that was what they believed was proper, and according to the wishes of the families of the hathan and kallah.

Some, ignorance, assimilated Jews might call this course of action as result of "the internalized oppression and brainwashing by the hierarchical patriarchy." Even so, the presence of modest women was also not why this wedding was the most dangerous one in the world.

There were a few armed men, and possibly women at this wedding, but nothing usually for a wedding in Israel, and thus nothing to make it the most dangerous wedding in the world.

This wedding was the most dangerous wedding in the world for one, and only one, reason.

Each and every one of wedding guests themselves was personally responsible for creating foundation of the most dangerous wedding in the world.

The wedding guests included residents of various yishuvim (towns) in Yehudah and the Shomron (Judea & Samaria), so called "settlers" from the serious, non-suburban yishuvim, such as Hevron, K'far Tapu'ah, Itamar, Elon More, and Mitzpeh Yericho. That fact alone did not contribute to why this was the most dangerous wedding in the world.

The guests also included Haredim, Litvaks, as well as various strands of Hassiduth.

To cap it all off, they were many non-religious Jews in attendance.

Jews from across the spectrum were singing, dancing, and celebrating TOGETHER.

Not only do those who control the government find this to be dangerous, but so, too, do the leaders of various groups of Jews. Many religious leaders do not want theirs to be influenced by non-religious Jews, or even other religious Jews of the "wrong" variety. Anti-religious do not want their children coming home, and all of a sudden begin putting on tefillin.

None of them want to lose control over their masses.

Jewish unity is dangerous.

That is why this was the most dangerous wedding in the world.


Note: Esser Agaroth is not a fan of using categories. If you have ideas for new and creative ways to describe Jews for the sake of emphasizing diversity, please let me know.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

A Jewish Rambo?

Tu b'Shevat 5772

The following article is well-worth posting in its entirety, so I am. But, first, here are a few comments.

I am not sure I would call David Stern a "Rambo." He's too nice.

Actually, even though we were neighbors for a while in K'far Tapu'ah, we never got to know each other.

Not only is David an expert in martial arts, and provide an important an much needed service in the Shomron (Samaria), but has also provided survivalist courses. I regret having missed his course, but was inspired to learn a bit with one of his friends. Those Jews not already familiar with their surrounds, know which plants are edible, where the natural sources of water are, and how to manage without electricity, are encouraged to learn about these and other survivalist topics.

Don't think that the food riots in Egypt and parts of Asia "couldn't happen here." They could. The Powers That Be, Iran, and are only three unpredictable variables at play here.

Do not underestimate our hostile next door neighbors either. While living in K'far Tapu'ah without a firearm, I would mentally prepare myself every Erev Shabbath. My weekly routine would include reviewing the potential, defensive weapons found around the house: hot water on the plata, kitchen knives, various cleaning agents, know, just in case. I felt pretty safe with our Belgian Shepherd in the house. Still, you never know. Better safe than sorry.

Be prepared. Hmm... Isn't that a motto of the Untied States Marine Corps?

Here's the article about David Stern.

YNET: Itamar's Very Own Rambo

In US David Stern was Marine who taught other officers martial arts, now he shares his skills with children in Itamar settlement. 'When children feel disconnected, this is a way to reconnect them,' he says

Tamar Trabelsi-Hadad
January 29, 2012

Few of David Stern's students in Itamar and in the center for boys who dropped out of haredi yeshivas know that their teacher was once in the US Marine Corps.

Stern, a 31-year-old martial arts expert, started exploring the field when he was a child. By the age of seven he was already training in three different methods of the arts. When he joined the Marines his skills meant that in addition to serving in one of the US military's most prestigious units he was also training officers in Krav Maga.

At the end of four years of service in the Marines, Stern flew to Japan where he trained with a Ninjutsu master and received a 5th Dan black belt.

Encounters with a Marine Corps rabbi led Stern to return to his Jewish roots and become religious. Seven Years ago he made aliyah, and after spending time in Safed he moved to the settlement of Itamar in the West Bank.

Stern teaches the children of Itamar various methods of martial arts. One of his students was Yoav Fogel who was brutally murdered in his home by terrorists 11 months ago. "Yoav was an especially smart child, relatively quiet, who knew a lot and was very social. He came to lessons for a while but left when he decided to invest more time in studying Mishna," Stern recalls.

Stern with a student in Itamar (Photo: Itamar Development Foundation)

"He had special charm that you don't see everyday. I remember the special connection he had with the other children. He had something different, something quieter, more serene, and more significant."

Stern says that ever since the brutal massacre the attitude towards martial arts in Itamar has changed.

With more children taking up martial arts, the classes are treated with more seriousness: "They feel that the horrific attack against the Fogel family obligates them to be prepared.

"I feel that the class gives them a sense of strength and security. I pray that if, heaven forbid, a child needs to use the knowledge he gains in my classes, he will be able to defend himself against terrorists.

"A child from Itamar studying martial arts is different from a child in Tel Aviv or Haifa who takes a self defense class. Here, we’ve seen that it's an existential matter. We are currently building a synagogue in Itamar in commemoration of its 20 terror victims and I hope that through my self defense classes we can avoid having victims in the future."

Stern also teaches at a center that offers haredi teenagers who feel disconnected from their environment an opportunity to connect with something. He teaches them martial arts once a week.

"When children feel disconnected, this is a way to help them feel connected. It's a way of life, a system that instills values and more than anything, it enables them to gain self respect – these are children who feel that they have failed in life.

"The most important thing is the discipline we give them. From my perspective, the most important thing is that at the end of the day, they believe in themselves."

When Jews Fear 'The Other'

Tu b'Shevat 5772

Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz, a community leader from the Nachla'ot neighborhood in Jerusalem, wrote the important piece below, which appeared in Ha'Aretz was much nicer, more eloquent, balanced, and more timely than my attempt last month, entitled Haredi Backlash From The Nachla'ot Abuse Cases?

Of course, I just HAD to throw in a comment to Ha'Aretz, which I doubt they will publish. I could not resist the opportunity to call hypocrites (in this case secular Leftists) on their hypocrisy:

Incidentally, to all of you "pluralists," true pluralism means being inclusive of all views, including those with which you do not agree. Pluralism is NOT being inclusive of ONLY those views you find to fall within acceptable parameters. Maybe, just maybe, those parameters are based on cultural bias. Leftists, are you paying attention?

Ha'Aretz: When Jews fear 'The Other'
Could not an authentic and deep faith in God's hand in the world provide us with a more confident sense of balance in regard to other Jews?

Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz
, February 5, 2012

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

(Bene Gesserit Litany against fear. From "Dune" by Frank Herbert)

I realize that only my fellow science fiction aficionado’s will be familiar with this classic passage, but fear as the mind-killer is very much a part of all of our lives.

I have no problem balancing on my feet, but place me near a ledge and, logic aside, I will instinctively withdraw - controlled by my fear. This fear may seem to serve me well - I have not fallen off of any cliffs to date - but I honestly wonder where this side of me reflects a larger withdrawal, and may keep me from living life to its fullest. Emerson said, "When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers."

I find it fascinating that we have a significant population in our Land that defines itself as "The Fearful Ones" – haredim. They have embraced withdrawal as a primary social modality, in what they must see as a healthy instinct for self-preservation. If we are to be fair, it is clear that the assault of Western values and culture on the ultra-Orthodox lifestyle is formidable; it is only natural that they should be afraid. But to me it is clear that while they think of themselves as the ones who fear God, it is fear of the world that most defines the haredi path. Could not an authentic and deep faith in God's hand in the world provide them with a more confident sense of balance, and allow them to draw closer to the “Ledge”?

(Click here to read the entire article...)

Monday, February 06, 2012

Lessons I Have Learned From Harry Potter

14 of the Eleventh Month 5772

In honor of my finally seeing the last Harry Potter flick, I have decided to list all those important things I have learned from the series:

10. Snakes are bad.

9. Giant spiders are not to be trusted.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
8. Rock cakes really are hard as a rock.

7. It's not a good idea to get your wand tied up in a knot.

6. Keep your friends close.
Sirius Black, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
5. Blowing up your aunt like a balloon may not get you in trouble with the government, but defending your own life, along with the life your cousin, will. (Hmm... Sounds like the Israeli Government)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
4. Progress for the sake of progress must be discouraged.
Delores Umbridge, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
3. A loyal friend can be more valuable than courage.
Cedric Diggory, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Luna Lovegood, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
2. It may take courage to stand up to your enemies, but takes even more courage to stand up to your friends.
Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
1. Help will always be given [at Hogwart's] to those who ask.
Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Haveil Havalim #346 Is Up And New Instructions For Would-Be Participants!

13 of the Eleventh Month 5772

This week's edition of the largest (and growing!) Jewish and Israel-related blog carnival, Haveil Havalim is up at The Israel Situation!

It's The Community Edition. Check out why it has such a title.

I'll be hosting the next week's edition, here at Esser Agaroth.

To submit a post, simply leave a comment to this post below. It won't be published. But, rest assured that I will receive your submissions this way.

Also, Haveil Havalim has been operating a little differently lately. Participating hosts and other bloggers have been communicating through our new Facebook Group.

Hosts sign up here, and list the particular ways s/he would like to receive submissions for the edition s/he is hosting.

If you have a Jewish and Israel-related blog, you are welcome to add yourself to this group. Then message one of the administrators with the web address of your blog.

Fans and commenters will also be included in this group, soon!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Legend Of Dried Fruit On Tu b'Shevat

13 of the Eleventh Month 5772
In memory of Eliyahu z"l ben Avraham on the occasion of his 18th yartzeit.

Dried FruitWhy do Jews eat dried fruit on Tu b'Shevat?

Beats the hell out of me.

Actually, that's not entirely true. The drying of food if an ancient way of preserving food, along with salting and picking. Dried figs, raisins, and other foods are mentioned throughout the Tana"kh (Bible).

But, where did this concept of eating dried fruit on Tu b'Shevat come from?

Well, rabbis from Europe wanted to eat, or felt it was important to eat, fruit from Eretz Yisrael on Tu b'Shevat. Before refrigeration, and current systems of transportation, dried fruit was the best bet for obtaining edible fruit from such a distance.

Now, the above is a theory presented to me by a friend from Shiloh, who chooses to remain anonymous at this point. If you have another theory, please share it.

You are certainly welcome to eat dried fruit on Tu b'Shevat. The point is to remember that if you eat...
Dried figs from Turkey
Dates from Jordan
Olives from Greece
Olive Oil from Spain
Wine from France

...then you are defeating the purpose of eating fruit from Eretz Yisra'el,...because you aren't.