discarded lies: friday, april 27, 2018 6:09 am zst
grinding the peppercorns of truth
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guest author: Efraim
'We're having a blast.'
That's what I often reply to concerned callers. We have friends and family all over the country, in fact all over the world who have called. It's nice to hear from them. Their first question is how is everybody. After my attempt at foxhole humor my answer has been, "Everyone's okay, tfu, tfu. tfu." So far the Kassams have fallen all around us but not on anyone's home. One landed in our orange groves (a few broken branches and some orange juice). Two landed very close to the school which is closed and empty. One landed in the middle of Moshav Mivtahim right by their Bet Knesset [synagogue] and caught an 80 year old man returning home from services, out in the open. He received serious wounds but will recover.

On our moshav a lot of the families, especially those with small children, have accepted invitations from friends and relatives in other parts of the country to stay with them for the duration. The Area Council (sort of like a county government) has arranged for programs to take the kids out of the area on a daily basis. On the fourth day of the war, a trip was organized for the kindergarten children and first and second graders of this area, to an amusement park at Kibbutz Givat Brenner. My daughter who has a new two-week old son at home couldn't accompany her two eligible children so I, the resident grandfather, was pressed into service. It was a fun day away but to tell you the truth after spending three hours on a bus filled with noisy children accompanied by loud Mizrachi (Middle Eastern style) music which the bus driver needed to help him drown out the noise and focus on his driving, and an additional three hours in an even louder indoor amusement park; when I got home I was looking forward to a nice calming evening of tzeva adom alerts [Red Alerts] and exploding Kassams. But the kids had a good time and their mother got some time off. Yesterday, my daughter and her family left to spend the weekend at her brother-in-law's family in the north. Though that means four adults and eight small children sharing one house, which is not easy or comfortable, it is a relief to my wife and me, and also saves on phone expenses as I won't be calling her after every nearby Kassam explosion.

The second thing some callers ask is for an explanation about what is happening. There are a lot of aspects to this. First of all there is the military aspect. Back in 2002-2003 the Palestinians were very big into suicide bombings. They and their sympathizers were selling the idea that the suicide bombers were their answer to Israel's F-16s and that it seemed like Israel had no military answer. Of course, Israel had a military answer and it began with operation Defensive Shield, where the IDF went back (most people forget that the IDF had been withdrawn under the Oslo Accords) to the Palestinian population centers and in some very bitter fighting destroyed much of the terrorist infrastructure and killed or imprisoned a lot of terrorists. You may remember operation Defensive Shield. That was when the Palestinians faked a massacre in Jenin with the help of major international news agencies. The IDF then set up a series of road blocks to prevent the transfer of terrorists and their weapons/explosives from one place to another within the Palestinian Authority. Finally, mainly because of public pressure, the government reluctantly undertook to build the defensive barrier (the "wall"). It was this combination, though expensive in lives and money, that reduced the suicide bombings originating from the West Bank from two a day to about one per year.

Three years ago Ariel Sharon decided to withdraw the IDF and the Israeli settlers from the entire Gaza Strip (and symbolically the northern West Bank, as well). This ended attacks on the settlers there and allowed the IDF to concentrate on border defense. The net result was an end to suicide bombing from Gaza. The Hamas in Gaza, frustrated at not being able to strike at Israel with suicide bombers, went over to the use of Kassam rockets. These are inaccurate and at first were poorly made. The IDF response was to eliminate the firing positions close to the border, pushing the rocket firing crews farther away from their main target, which was the city of Sderot. This involved flattening Palestinian citrus groves and other cover but it was successful. However, there was a learning curve at work on both sides and each side countered the other's moves with improvements of their own. Most of the time the IDF stayed ahead of the game but once in a while the Hamas pulled off a success like the one where they tunneled under the border barriers and successfully attacked an IDF position capturing Gilad Shalit, who, if he is still alive, is currently being held prisoner in Gaza.

About six months ago the Hamas agreed to a ceasefire proposed by Egypt. Of course, for a while they tried to continue firing Kassams through various proxies but the IDF made it clear that this subterfuge was unacceptable and this firing died down. All during the cease fire the Hamas would fire a rocket or two from time to time, and they were constantly planting explosives along the border to cause casualties to border patrols. There was some sniper fire directed at agricultural workers near the border, a few mortar shells fired across the border and some attempts at infiltration but it was relatively quiet. A couple of weeks before the end of the ceasefire the IDF located a Hamas tunnel adjacent to the border and attacked it. Nothing much changed. There were a few Kassams fired before the attack and a few after but the Hamas was shaken up by the event because their tunnels had usually gone undetected by the IDF and this one had been detected. As the end of the six-month cease fire approached, the Israelis made it clear what our response would be in the event that the ceasefire ended. Tzipi Livni, our foreign minister, flew to Cairo and, after speaking to Egyptian president Mubarak, had a news conference where she announced that Israel's response would be overwhelming. The Egyptians, Jordanians, the Palestinian Authority and others told the Hamas that they should renew the ceasefire for another six months. The Hamas refused and unilaterally announced that the ceasefire had come to an end. Almost immediately the kassam and mortar attacks increased reaching one day to eighty rockets and mortar rounds.

Last Saturday morning Israel opened up a coordinated air attack on Gaza. We were at home for our customary Saturday morning brunch with our children and grandchildren. I heard what sounded like someone moving furniture. I thought that maybe there were practice maneuvers at a nearby army base. My son-in-law said that it was the beginning of the offensive. And so it was. We expected a big reply from the Hamas but that didn't come for almost five hours. In fact the expected response was about 200 Kassams a day. However, the Hamas has not been able to come close to such a level in the first five days of the fighting. Even more importantly, the Israel Air Force has done a good job of keeping Palestinian civilian casualties to a minimum. Everyone here realizes that civilian casualties only help the Hamas to generate international support. As it is the world press seems to have dropped the term "militants" when talking about Hamas casualties and prefer to call them "Palestinians", not differentiating between combatants and noncombatants and projecting a false image of large numbers of civilian casualties. I suspect that if an Israeli bomb doesn't go astray in the next day or so and wipe out an apartment house full of innocent civilians, the Hamas may be forced to blow one up on their own.

One final note and then I will sign off. I've followed several debates on a number of forums about the current fighting. It seems to me that there are certain truths about the Hamas to which the Palestinian sympathizers and Hamas apologists seem blind and as a consequence their words have become less and less relevant to an analysis of the current fighting. These truths are:

1. The Hamas refuses in principle all direct negotiations with Israel

2. The Hamas refuses in principle any possibility of recognizing Israel.

3. The Hamas refuses in principle any possibility of peace with Israel

The important words in these three are "in principle". These are positions that the Hamas take NOT in response to anything Israel has done but rather in response to what Israel is; i.e. an entity whose very existence for them disproves the truth of Islam.

Some additional truths that the sympathizers and apologists must contend with are:

4. Hamas has adopted classic 19th and 20th century anti-Semitism as part of its working ideology. They proclaim that they are in conflict with the Jews not just the Zionists or Israelis, and that the Jews are responsible for all of the world's ills both now and in the past.

5. Though Hamas gained power democratically, it is not a democratic movement and maintains its power over the society through force and internal terrorism.

6. Though Hamas and their apologists may talk about international law, the Hamas is a serial violator of the Geneva Conventions.

7. Both peace and the welfare of the Palestinian citizenry are of absolutely no value to the Hamas. They are an organization which prides itself on its love of death. They take greater pride in the production of martyrs than in increasing the living standards of its people.

As I wrote above, unless sympathizers with the Palestinian cause and Hamas apologists can recognize and address these truths, then they really have nothing of importance to say on this conflict.
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Dulce lo vivas
For a Sweeter Passover, Old and New Sephardic Delights. I hope you have Passover recipes you'd like to share.
No dish is as Spanish as a creamy flan. But hers is made with oranges, almonds and sugar, with no cream or condensed milk that would keep it from sharing a kosher table with meat dishes. Dishes like these were also cooked by Jews who stayed in Spain after the expulsion and pretended to convert to Christianity.

“To prove that they were like Christians, the Jews made flans, but used orange juice, sugar water and almonds so they could eat the flan with a meat meal,” she said.

Olive oil makes Mrs. Bensadón’s bittersweet chocolate mousse kosher for a meat meal.

“This is a contemporary dessert from Tangiers, a city with a blend of cultures,” she said. “Originally this recipe included butter and cream, but we replaced it with olive oil, making it ‘parve’ or neutral.”

Almendrados, which date from the 15th century or earlier, are cookies made of ground blanched almonds, lemon zest, egg and sugar. They are left out to dry for a day before baking. (In the recipe given here, I’ve called for 12 hours in the refrigerator.) I have tasted this type of cookie in many guises, and often the dough spreads out too thinly. But with Mrs. Bensadón’s method it kept its shape perfectly.

We have found examples of these cookies from 1491,” said David M. Gitlitz, professor of Hispanic culture at the University of Rhode Island. After the expulsion, he said, a Jew who was passing as a Christian “was accused by the Inquisition of buying almond cookies from the Jewish quarter in Barbastri in Aragón.”
How cool is that?
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guest author: annie
How to prepare for Shabbat - by a frazzled housewife

In his last Bloggie Bet Midrash post on Yitro Joem brought the commentary from The Gra that says that

“Kavod refers to things that are done before Shabbos, in its honor, while Oneg refers to the things that one enjoys on the day itself. So, the festive meals, an extra measure of sleep and the like fall under the designation of oneg, and all the Shabbos preparations are actually part of the mitzva of Shabbos as well, in the category of kavod. The Gemara (Shabbos 119a) goes to great lengths to describe the ways that the great Rabbis would involve themselves in preparation for Shabbos: shopping, carrying bundles, splitting wood, fanning the fire, roasting, and salting.. The Rambam says that even an “important person” who wouldn’t normally go to the shuk himself, is required to do so in honor of Shabbos.”

Zorkie wondered in her comment how a Jewish housewife prepares for Shabbat and how we observe it, so I thought that since bloggie is an educational bloggie, I’d enlighten you regarding my experience in this regard..

To give you a bit of background: my household consists of hubby and me, 2 boys - one in the IDF, one in yeshiva, and a teenage daughter. I also have a married daughter with 3 gorgeous little girls (but that’s a whole different subject) who live in the north. I also have most of my siblings plus parents and inlaws within a 10 minute radius of our house.

A general background to Shabbat observance in an Orthodox household:

Food: We eat two main meals on Shabbat: one on Friday night and one on Shabbat morning, both after synagogue services. We recite Kiddush (blessing over wine) and Hamotzi (blessing over two loaves of challah) at each meal. There is a third meal, “Seuda Shlishit” (lit: third meal) on Shabbat but that is usually just a light meal, although many people have lechem mishneh (two loaves of challah) here too. All food preparation must be completed before Shabbat begins an hour before sunset on Friday afternoon. This includes all cooking, baking etc., and boiling water. Food may be kept warm on Shabbat either in a low oven or on a hot plate, but not on an open flame (e.g. gas burner).

House and Personal preparation: Again, from the above quote via Joem:

One is also required to bathe and to dress in special clothes before the Sabbath queen arrives. The Shulchan Orech says that one should not change into weekday clothes until after Melave Malka on Motzei Shabbat

The house is cleaned and tidied in honour of the Shabbat Queen. We bathe before Shabbat and wear clean clothes - “Saturday best”.

So how do I go about it?

My preparations for Shabbat really begin early on in the week. We often have guests for Shabbat meals, either assorted family members or other friends. Around Tuesday or Wednesday I go through my cupboards and freezer to check what I need to buy for Shabbat, and do the shopping. I will start my cooking on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on what is on the menu, how many (if any) visitors we’ll be having, what time of year it is (Fridays are very short in the winter) etc., and if I have anything in the freezer (I cook in bulk so I don’t always have to make the entire menu from scratch). Meanwhile, the house gets cleaned in honour of Shabbat too. I have a cleaner every 2 weeks, so in between it’s up to me and my slaves (the rest of the household).

By Thursday night I like to have the bulk of the cooking done, meaning gefilte fish or chopped liver or some other first course, chicken soup (obviously!), potato kugel, home-made parve ice cream, leaving just salads or other light dishes or cake to be made on Friday. If I’m making cholent I’ll have the beans soaking overnight.

Friday is the most chaotic day of the week. If hubby is in the country his job is to go to the local grocer and buy basic stuff like milk, bread, eggs, etc. Of course he brings the challot home (it’s the one thing I’ve never made I’m ashamed to say) and has been known to pop into the greengrocer to buy any fruit and veg that I’ve forgotten too. He then goes off to work (unlike many people in Israel who have Friday off) and he only returns at the last minute. Meanwhile, I will put a chicken to roast in the oven, get the cholent ready to put on the gas, and any other last minute cooking that needs to be done before Shabbat, plus clearing up the bombsite that is my kitchen. Additionally, any last minute laundry and ironing also needs to be finished before Shabbat. Of course Friday is the day my son comes home from the army (if he gets leave) and he walks in with a huge bag of smelly laundry which could probably walk to the washing machine on its own. It also needs to be washed and dried by Sunday morning. Life gets even more interesting if my other son walks in after 3 weeks in yeshiva with his huge bag of washing which - natch - needs to be done by Sunday. And when hubby is away on business (pretty often) - guess which day of the week he walks in with - you guessed - 1 or 2 weeks’ worth of washing. His can wait though. An aside here though - both my sons know how to use the washing machine and even know how to iron their shirts, which is a great help as you can imagine.

I won’t even mention what utter chaos reigns when my daughter, son-in-law and the 3 grandchildren come for the weekend. Suffice to say that this involves making up 5 beds, feeding the hungry masses after their long journey, bathing 3 lively little girls, mopping up the floor, and getting them dressed (and staying clean!) for Shabbat too.

As the day progresses the level of controlled panic rises. Yells, shouts and threats are liable to be heard as I try to cajole and chivy everyone to do their tasks and get themselves showered and changed. The hot water immersion heater usually needs to be switched on because even an Israeli summer sun cannot supply enough hot water to cope with all the washing up of pots and pans, plus an entire family showering within the space of 1 hour. (Shower earlier in the day? What an alien concept!)

By mid afternoon the children (or me) have laid the table in the dining corner with the “good” Shabbat tablecloth and the good dishes. Any last minute polishing of the silver kiddush cups or my candlesticks takes place around now. I fill up an electric thermos with water and set it to boil and then keep warm. This will be our source of hot water over Shabbat for hot drinks, warming baby bottles etc. Depending on the state of the kitchen floor (varying from “dirty” to “wouldn’t let my enemy’s dog eat off it”) it will get a mop-over. This job is usually volunteered for by my teenager, who uses the opportunity to dance around the kitchen singing into the mop handle as if it’s a microphone. American Idol she ain’t. :-)

Then comes the juggling act of heating up all the food, timing it so they all come to the boil at more or less the same time, and placing them in the oven on a low temperature or on a hot plate.

The last thing that gets done is what I call my Mad Swiss Watchmaker act. Because we don’t switch electricity on or off on Shabbat we use time-switches to do it for us. Outside on our landing with our fuse-box we have a series of time-switches (commonly known in Israel and Jewish communities worldwide as “Shabbat clocks”). We have one for the lights, one each for our 2 airconditioners, and in the kitchen one for the oven and one for the hotplate. Certain electrical appliances remain on all the time obviously, like the fridge, freezer and a couple of lights in the hallway so that there’s light even in the night.

At this point, hubby gets home from work, usually hiding behind an enormous bunch of flowers, and he dives into the shower. A few minutes later we hear the “all clear siren” (the same one that we hear in wartime) which announces the arrival of Shabbat. (A new invention in Jerusalem is that a PA system plays Shabbat songs for a few minutes isntead of the all-clear because of people’s jumpy nerves. I think it’s a beautiful idea. It hasn’t reached our area yet).

That all clear siren is the best sound in the world. I announce to the general houselold, “I’m lighting up!” to give everyone fair warning that I’m bringing in Shabbat. I light my Shabbat candles and the most wonderful peace descends upon my house.

And I collapse into the nearest armchair.

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This is who they want to behead
A British Muslim in the Armed Forces: "My brother’s sacrifice was for peace and understanding". I wish Muslims would figure out once and for all what Islam means for everyone and cut out this crap about how it's "misinterpreted by a few". This guy's co-religionists are prepared to kill him in the name of their common religion and he's all "oh, but you're interpreting Islam wrong!" I'm so sick and tired of this, I can't even tell you.
So why did my brother and I decided to join the British Army, having been born in Pakistan and being proud Muslims? Our education was a combination of the Western form, in private schools, and religious education in a local mosque in the evenings. Both have been equally important for the nurturing of mind, body and soul. Our late respected teacher, who taught us Koran, was the ideal combination of deen wa duniya — religion and the world.

It was people such as him and my parents who taught us to respect people as fellow humans rather than on the grounds of their religious, ethnic and geographical identities. What I also remember is a famous saying by the holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Actions are by intentions.” It is one’s true intentions and not the physical act itself that qualifies one for Allah’s reward in the afterlife.
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The better he knows Ahmadinejad, the more he loves him
"We didn't kiss once, we kissed 20-30 times" says Moshe Aryeh Friedman, self-proclaimed "chief rabbi of Vienna's Jewish community", about his meeting with Ahmadinejad during the Iranian Holocaust Denial conference. If I were you Mr. Friedman, I wouldn't exactly brag about that. But then again, I wouldn't be praying for my people's destruction either. Neturei Karta delegate to Iranian Holocaust conference: I pray for Israel's destruction 'in peaceful ways'. I really detest this guy; I hate his cluelessness, hypocricy and self-righteousness and I hate that he's soiling the memory of the dead.
Friedman does not try to hide his admiration for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who in the past termed the Holocaust a "myth" and has called for the destruction of Israel. "I had more than one meeting with his excellency, President Ahmadinejad," Friedman said. "The president first recognized me at the conference in Tehran and he was especially friendly. There may be only one picture in which we are photographed kissing, but in fact we kissed 20 or 30 times." Friedman also claims that on his earlier trip to Iran, he visited the residential compound of the Iranian president and reached "the bedroom of Khomeini." Ahmadinejad, he said, chose to remain in a modest three-room apartment with his wife, "who is from a good family." Friedman said "there aren't too many people who know him better than I do."

According to Friedman, the second reason for his trip was to present an international peace plan, by which Israel would cease to exist, Jews of Polish and Eastern European origin (and their whole families) would return to their place of birth, and Jewish of Iraqi origin would return to Iraq "the moment a functioning democracy is established there." Friedman said the Iranian president expressed support for his plan and promised "to give religious freedom to the Jewish minority that remains in Palestine." Friedman added that he "wanted to bring the situation back to what it was, before the establishment of Israel."
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guest author: cba
The cba family’s new Christmas tradition
This year my family (and two friends of my daughters) started what I hope will become a regular Christmas tradition. Yes, a committed Jewish family with a Christmas tradition--it’s not quite as weird as it sounds…

A couple of months ago, my big kid (henceforth BK) said she and a friend wanted to volunteer at a soup kitchen on Christmas Day. It so happens that I’d been thinking about doing that very thing for a long time, and for the same reason as BK and her friend: It's not our holiday (as in "holy day"), so we should give a few other people who would otherwise be volunteering the chance to attend family celebrations.

And it further so happens that I know the chair of the board of a local soup kitchen (it’s one of the organizations I donate to). She put me in touch with the manager, who said yes, he could use us all (hubby, my younger kid, and a friend of YK, also said they wanted to volunteer).

So on Christmas morning around 8 a.m., cba, Mr. cba, BK, YK, and the two friends arrived at the church hall that houses the soup kitchen.

The hall contained a dozen folding tables, each covered with burgundy tablecloths protected by clear plastic. On the stage was a Christmas tree, beside which were lots of wrapped presents for the children. The manager assigned each volunteer-- there were 40 or 50 of us--to one of the jobs. Some volunteers were rolling silverware in napkins and setting tables, some were warming up the food in the kitchen or cutting up pies, and a few were putting the finishing touches to the hall decorations.

But the cba family & friends group were among the many volunteers who were just sitting around and watching. I was rather regretting the whole idea at that point, thinking it was a Big Waste of Time (I don't deal very well with just sitting around when there's work to be done).

But at 9 a.m. the guests started arriving and everything changed.

Our girls were originally put on "children duty" to make sure the kids went to Santa for their gifts. But mostly that wasn't necessary (the parents took care of that), so they were co-opted to the microphone, where they, and four others, sang carols and other Christmassy songs. We thought that was really amusing--of the eight people in the impromptu Christmas choir, four were Jews!

Mr. cba and I were bussing tables (with two other people), and since people were leaving one at a time (not a whole table at once like at a restaurant) we had to keep our eyes open. And not take away anything away before the guest had finished eating (a very big no-no!). And then wipe down the place Very Fast before the next guest sat themselves down.

And it went from "no plates to take" to "plates here, there, and everywhere" in about five seconds. I'm very glad I’m in good shape (yay, running!) because by the time I'd gotten a half dozen or so large china plates and mugs and assorted silverware into the plastic container it was very heavy, and rather difficult to balance while I was wiping down the table. I was on the go bussing tables until a little after 11 a.m., when serving ended and clean-up began.

During those two hours, we served 340 guests. They had turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and mixed vegetables, followed by pie, and accompanied by juice and/or coffee and/or tea. On average, each guest had two meals (some ate two meals on the spot, but most took the second one away), and they were also given mandarin oranges to go. A few of the guests clearly had cognitive and/or substance abuse problems, and many of them were rather pungent, but most of them were very polite and pleasant and appreciative--and some were very funny!

All in all, I would say it was my Best Christmas Ever, and I hope it truly does become a family tradition.
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Another Jewish City
New Yorkers, I hope you go see this exhibit: Forgotten Jewish Heritage: Uncovering New York's Hidden Jewish Past
For the last three years, Voloj has been using his camera to document New York's Jewish history. Riding around the five boroughs on his bike, Voloj has come across abandoned synagogues, forgotten Jewish cemeteries and apartment buildings with traces of their Jewish past. Now 18 of his black and white photographs are on display at the Edgar M. Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at New York University.

The exhibit, "Forgotten Jewish Heritage: Uncovering New York's Hidden Jewish Past," is not only a re-discovery of nearly forgotten Jewish history, but also examines the way Americans approach their past, said Voloj, who is working on a dissertation about Yiddish literature in the Warsaw ghetto.
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'The silence about Muhammad al-Dura's death shows Israel still does not understand the war of images'
Read Caroline Glick's excellent column, Prime-time blood libels. The previous Israeli ambassador to Greece used to make me cringe anytime I saw him on television, the man should not have been a diplomat. In Greece, where antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiments run high, and where journalists call Greek Jews "murderers" on the morning news show, the Israeli ambassador has an extra-tough job. The consul was either overwhelmed or did not realize how deep Jewhatred runs and I think that's true for Israel, as a country. As much as Israel and Israelis wish to live their lives in peace and quiet like every other nation in the world, the unfortunate reality is that no other nation has to deal with such psychotic hatred from the rest of the world - although America is getting a taste of what Israel has been battling for ages.
Israel's continued silence is a sign that Israeli officialdom has still not understood what the war of images demands of it. The Dura film, like the fictional massacre of Lebanese children at Kafr Kana in Lebanon this summer, shows that victory or defeat in wars is today largely determined on television. To win, Israel must go on the offensive and attack untruthful, distorted images that are used to justify the killing of Israelis and Jews throughout the world.

When Karsenty heard the court's verdict last week, he said, "If this judgment is upheld, Jews should ask themselves questions about their future in France. Justice covers the anti-Semitic lies of a public channel. It's a strong signal, it is very severe."

To this it should be added that if the Israeli government continues to be silent as the good name of the IDF, of Israel and of the Jewish people is dragged through the mud by distorted television images broadcast by foreign news outlets; if the Israeli government does nothing to defend those who are persecuted for fighting against these distortions, then Jews will have to ask themselves some questions about how on earth we are supposed to defend ourselves, let alone win this war against those who seek our destruction.
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Lost tribe of Bnei Menashe coming home
The presumed descendents of the Bnei Menashe, one of the 10 lost biblical tribes mentioned in the Bible, are about to leave India after 2,700 years. They will reside in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Tel Aviv (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A group of 218 people from a mountainous area of north-eastern India are about to be welcomed in Israel. These are the presumed descendents of the Bnei Menashe tribe, one of the 10 lost biblical tribes lost after the exodus from the Promised Land, mentioned in the Bible. The news was confirmed yesterday by Israeli government sources.

Michael Freund, founder of Shavei Israel [an association assisting "lost Jews" to return to Israel], described this as a “turning point”. He said: "This is a major historical event, because these members of a lost tribe of Israel can return home after 27 centuries.”

Members of the tribe have already undergone official conversion in India despite protests – even at diplomatic level – in New Delhi. The rabbis sent to the Indian states of Mizoran and Manipur by Israel's Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Shlomo Amar, followed the conversions of the tribal people and declared them "descendants of the Jewish people".

The tribe has around 7,000 members; 1000 already live in Gaza strip and in settlements in the West Bank. Lawyers who pleaded their cause with the Israeli and Indian governments said the move of the lost Jews “was not a political but a practical decision”. Settlements in those areas, in fact, were the only ones that allocated funds “to help their brothers return to their homeland”.

Mizoram is a predominantly Christian state while most of the population of Manipur is Hindu. At the start of the twentieth century, tribal members converted to Christianity.

“A vast majority of the people do not know Hebrew although many of them are now learning the language. The rites officiated are however like the one practiced in Israel,” said Zaitthangchungi, a local researcher and author of a book ‘Israel Mizo Identity’.
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Merkava To Ride No More
Israel is shutting down the production of Merkava tanks sometime in the next four years. This is sad, and stunningly stupid. Saudi Arabia and Egypt are both liable to be ruled by Islamists who have been brought up on a steady diet of Israel-hatred, and they have been buying scores of American tanks. "Kadima" supposedly means "forward", but every decision they take seems to drag Israel backwards, to a place of more vulnerability, less defensible borders, less regional military supremacy, ad nauseam. I expect their next diabolically brilliant move will be unilateral nuclear disarmament, and disengagement from all of Israel except Tel Aviv. It only makes sense, right?
The IDF has decided that the Merkava tank production line will be shut down within four years. "Globes" reports that the decision to stop production of the tank, one of the most expensive projects in the history of Israel's military industries and the pride of the army, was made shortly before the outbreak of the war in Lebanon. Leaders of the project decided that the benefits do not justify the cost of the product.

During the fighting in Lebanon, the Merkava tanks sustained serious damage from antitank rockets fired by Hizbullah militants. The tank, which has been boasted as having the best protection in the world, and which was designed for classic tank on tank battles, was not impervious to the rockets. 500 rockets were fired at Israeli tanks, 47 Merkava tanks were hit (two more were hit by roadside bombs) and 33 IDF soldiers were killed.

Senior officials both inside and out of the military are critical of the tank's function in the war and of its economic necessity over the years. They question whether Israel should continue to invest in tanks as the central ground forces player. Several defense establishment figures believe that the tank is no longer appropriate for the modern battlefield.

The prestigious project, which began in 1969 as an idea by Major General Israel Tal and has continued ever since, has cost about $7.5 billion dollars according to an IDF assessment while Ministry of Finance officials estimate its cost closer to $10 billion. Thousands of workers across the country are employed in production of the tank and its systems, and are liable to be hurt by the cessation of the project.
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Livny Speaking Truth to Liars
Tzippy Livny calls on the world to act according to its values and stand up to Iran. The world goes back to sleep.
Saying that the "moment of truth" had arrived, Livny continued, "The international community is faced with no greater responsibility than to stand against this dark and growing danger - not for Israel’s sake, but for its own; for the sake of the values it claims to embrace; for the sake of the world we all wish our children to inherit."

"What more needs to happen for the world to take this threat seriously?" she asked. "What more needs to happen to end the hesitation and the excuses? We know the lessons of the past. We know the consequences of appeasement and indifference. There is no place for such leaders in this forum. There is no place for such a regime in the family of nations."
I liked what Bush said and I hope it's a gentle hint:
Asked how the US would react if Iran attacked Israel, Bush said, “You can't just hope for the best. You've got to assume that the leader, when he says that he would like to destroy Israel, means what he says. If you say, 'Well, gosh, maybe he doesn't mean it,' and you turn out to be wrong, you have not done your duty as a world leader."
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A moral right
Dina Gottliebova Babbitt is an 83-year-old artist and Holocaust survivor living in California. During her imprisonment in Auschwitz, she was forced by Josef Mengele to paint watercolors of gypsies as part of his efforts to document the genetic inferiority of the Roma. Her paintings are part of the exhibition in the Auschwitz Museum and Ms Babbit has been unsuccessfully trying to get them back for years: Case involving Auschwitz artifacts highlights ethical dilemma for museums
The museum argues that the artworks’ role as crucial evidence in one of the 20th century’s greatest crime against humanity supersedes her ownership rights and her emotional attachment to the works that saved her and her mother’s life.
The museum has a point and I wish that Ms Babbit would let them keep the paintings. On the other hand, it's her work - made under duress - and she has the right to her paintings and to do with them as she sees fit. What do you think is the right decision?
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A new Torah scroll for Greece
This Sunday, for the first time since World War II, a Torah Scroll will be completed and instated in a synagogue in Greece - thanks to the efforts of a dedicated family and a Toronto woman.
Ms. Miriam Leah Danessis of Toronto, formerly from Greece, has spent over five years working on behalf of the dwindling Jewish community in the Mediterranean country. She began by arranging for the Lubavitch movement to send a "shliach" (emissary) family - Rabbi Mendel and Nechama Hendel - to Athens, and later proceeded to have a Torah scroll written for and delivered to an Athens synagogue.

Marking this landmark occasion of the new Torah scroll, a joyous ceremony will be held this Sunday, at the Synagogue of Chalkida in Athens. The invitation notes that the Torah Scroll is known as the "Love of Israel and Unity of Israel" scroll.
This is a beautiful story, read the rest of it. The Jewish community is so small there aren't always enough people for a minyan.
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New Footage of Ron Arad! Still alive?
One thing's for sure: the heartlessly cruel monsters who run Hezbollah and Iran have no limits. Ron has been missing since 1986, and is presumed dead by most people, although some speculate that he is imprisoned in Iran.
I was at an MDA ALS enrichment class this evening, when I got an SMS update: Ron Arad's appearance in a Lebanese TV promo (full show to be broadcast next week) was verified by the Arad family as real footage of Ron Arad.

A chill went through my body when reading it. I wordlessly gave my cellphone to my friend sitting next to me, he read it, and his mouth dropped open.

After being told by IDF general after general that Ron Arad was dead...this story has totally shocked the country.
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A Jewish City
There are two new books out (not widely published yet) about the history of Salonica’s Jewish community; "The Jewish Community of Salonika: History, Memory, Identity" by Bea Lewkowicz and "Traditions & Customs of the Sephardic Jews of Salonica" by Michael Molho. Molho is also the author of "In Memoriam", the first book written about the Greek Jews killed in the camps; for years it was the only book written about this chapter of the Holocaust. Rabbi Molho was one of Salonica's treasures.
Born in Salonica in 1890, Rabbi Molho was descended from a line of distinguished rabbis and was himself trained at Salonica’s Bet Yosef rabbinical seminary. After the death of his father, Molho was obliged to interrupt his rabbinical career; in the 1920s, he opened what would become one of the most important textile factories in Greece. At the same time, he became secretary general of the main Zionist organization in Greece, edited a popular Ladino daily, and independently began conducting research and producing scholarship on the history of Jewish Salonica. Among his early forays into this topic was his study of the extraordinary Jewish cemetery in Salonica, which once held hundreds of thousands of graves. The library he gathered, looted by the German occupying forces in April 1941, contained more than 500 rare volumes.

Molho himself managed to escape German-occupied Greece for the Italian-occupied eastern coast, his unpublished manuscripts and documentation in tow. There, and in the mountain town of Kieramidi, he waited out the war with the help of the Greek resistance. In late 1945, Molho was installed as chief rabbi of the Jewish community of Salonica. Five years later, he dolefully left his hometown, where the Jewish community was but a shadow of its former self, to assume a rabbinical position in Buenos Aires.

Molho’s dedication to recording the history of Salonican Jewry is astonishing not only because of his prescience and doggedness but also in light of the Sephardic cultural climate of this period. In interwar Eastern Europe, Jewish intellectuals embarked on a concerted effort to study, document and preserve elements of Jewish life, the Yiddish language among them; arguably the greatest achievement of this circle was the creation of the Yiddish Scientific Institute, in Vilna, in 1925. In the Sephardic heartland of Southeastern Europe, no parallel intellectual or academic movement existed. Molho was not without peer: One of the most important historical sources on the history of Salonican Jewry, Joseph Nehama’s magisterial, seven-volume “Histoire des Israélites de Salonique” (World Sephardi Federation, 1959) was also begun in the interwar period. Still, Nehama and Molho labored largely alone, without the support of a formal institution, without formal training, without colleagues or financial assistance, and amid a climate in which the defense of Ladino and other markers of Sephardic difference was subdued if not nonexistent.
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Israel's next leader
It looks like Olmert's popularity has plummeted to its natural level, at last.
5:32 PM Speechless. Channel 10 just announced the results of a poll they conducted: If there would be elections today for Prime Minister, who would you vote for? Check out the following results:

Amir Peretz 1%
Shimon Peres 2.6%
Ehud Olmert 3.4%
Benjamin Netanyahu 46.5%
Avigdor Leiberman 46.5%
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Israeli reservists demanding government resign
Absolutely unacceptable. You do not have soldiers telling the civilian leadership what to do, or making demands. I do not think that Team Olmert did a flawless job, to put it mildly, but this is beyond the pale in any society, for the simple reason that you cannot have civilian leaders worrying about their own ouster at the hands of the troops they are supposed to command.
(IsraelNN.com) A group of reserve soldiers, who were recently discharged and are setting up a forum, have called upon Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni to resign. Tonight the soldiers will be holding a demonstration at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv at 7p.m.
The demonstration is expected to be the first of several, under the banner, “You failed – resign!”

In a petition publicized by the forum, the public is asked to sign the following: “We are very worried about the fate of the country. From all ends of the political spectrum, we are calling upon the government, headed by the prime minister, to take personal responsibility for its failure and resign. We believe that we have the power as individuals rallying together, to declare, ‘Never again!’”
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It is Tisha b'Av and the sirens are wailing
A very moving post from Leah at The Techno-geek Diaries: Under Fire, part 31.
Today is a day of fasting, prayer, and sorrow in the Jewish calendar. Many terrible disasters have befallen us on this day: the destruction of the First Temple and the Babylonian exile; the destruction of the Second Temple; the expulsion from Spain during the Inquisition; Kristalnacht; the list goes on and on. Today the sirens are wailing as, once again, an enemy seeks to destroy us.
Jauhara expressed beautifully what many of us feel about our Israeli brothers and sisters today: I grieve with you, so that I may one day rejoice with you, too.
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An Israeli bus driver
Shimon Biton is truly an extraordinary person:
"I've lived here 40 years," said Biton, 44, head of the residents association at the collective farm in Avivim, on the border with Lebanon, which has become one of the main launching sites for Israeli army attacks into Lebanon. "Hezbollah hasn't pushed me out. They've tried before."

It was Palestinian guerrillas who penetrated the Israeli perimeter from Lebanon early on May 22, 1970, and used a bazooka to ambush a school bus. Biton was 7. He and his father were on the bus, which was taking children to a school in nearby Rehinia. The dead included eight children and four adults. Biton's father was killed, and Biton's injuries kept him in a hospital for six months.

The Avivim bus attack taught Biton and others in the community a lesson that holds to this day:

"That we need to stay here," said Biton. "I learned that this is the state of Israel and you need to stay here at all costs. ... It's something you don't forget."
Shimon Biton became a bus driver on the same route where he was attacked and his father killed. He held that job for 18 years. Survivor of '70 attack won't leave war zone
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Grassroots Support for Israel From Abroad
Messages of solidarity with Israel are coming from delegations visiting the country, as well as from rallies overseas. Even US troops in Iraq have expressed their support.
American soldiers stationed in Iraq have also sent messages of support and encouragement to the IDF via a new web site established to express solidarity with Israel. "Take care of the Hizbullah; we will take care of Iran," wrote one US soldier. Another wrote, "From Iraq, we wish good tidings for you brave IDF soldiers. The American army is 100 percent for Israel."
Send a message of support and solidarity to Israel
(Cognac to annie who could really use it these days.)
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Typical Israeli Inhumanity
A 47-year-old unidentified Lebanese woman was admitted to Ziv Hospital in Safed on Saturday afternoon as she was brought to the Israel-Lebanese border suffering from severe injuries from a high-velocity gunshot wound in the back.

According to her son, who accompanied her to the border and to Ziv, they had been fleeing from the area of conflict. The pair is said to have been brought to an area near the northern border of Israel by a Lebanese physician and rescued under fire by Israel Defense Forces operating in southern Lebanon. The IDF transferred them to an ambulance that rushed to Safed, which itself has been under Hizbullah missile attack since the beginning of the war.

Doctors in the trauma unit administered lifesaving procedures, according to hospital director Dr. Oscar Embon and deputy director Dr. Calin Shapira. She was found to have a large, deep wound across the right side of her back, contusions in the right lung and fractures in several ribs. She was hurried to the surgical theater for treatment of the wound and a closer examination of the injured area.

Shapira said on Saturday night that the woman was in serious condition, attached to a respirator and under anesthesia. It was the first report of Israeli medical facilities treating any of the many Lebanese who have been wounded in the Israeli action in Lebanon.
Those war criminal bastards.
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Deception, straight out
Jews for Jesus has spent $22 million in the last five years trying to convert Jews in every city outside Israel with a Jewish population of 25,000 or more; right now they're in the middle of a $3 million campaign targeting New York. As Jews for Jesus hits New York, Jews for Judaism is out in force.
While Jews for Jesus’ previous efforts in the New York area focused on Manhattan, this year’s program is meant to target all five boroughs, plus Westchester, Bergen, Suffolk and Nassau counties.

Full-time missionaries, all of whom spent two weeks at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago before their arrival, have been instructed to target Israelis, Russian-speaking Jews, intermarried families and the fervently Orthodox.

Instead of sticking to phone-a-thons and brochure distribution, Jews for Jesus volunteers now are manning kiosks at shopping malls, hanging out at Yankee Stadium, hosting film screenings and striking up conversations in Russian, Hebrew and Yiddish. The $3 million effort will continue through July 29.
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The largest Jewish community in the Muslim world
Jews have lived in Iran for over 2,700 years; they’ve survived forced conversions and years of anti-Semitic propaganda and persecution. Before the Iranian revolution, the community was over 100,000 strong, but now it numbers only about 25,000 people and they live there as second-class citizens. Iranian Jews do not have the same rights as Iranian Muslims, they must keep a low profile and distance themselves from Judaism and any support of Israel. Even though there are Jewish day schools, they're forced by law to remain open on the Sabbath, and Hebrew lessons are not permitted outside prayer time. The Jewish schools have Muslim principals, since Jews are not allowed to hold a position superior to that of a Muslim and the prayer books are printed in Farsi instead of Hebrew. So why do they stay? It´s not the best place for Jews, but Iran’s home to a sizeable community
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Rachel's kinderen
When I wonder where God was during the Holocaust I also wonder if he was there, doing his work through people like Andre Van Mierlo and Irena Sandler.
For years, a professor at the University of Amsterdam was haunted by a photograph of a boy dating to the era of the Holocaust. He came across it while researching the fate of the Jewish community of a small Dutch town.

Erik Besseling knew that the child's parents had perished. But the boy with the youthful mop of hair survived, older townspeople told Besseling.

He was given letters the parents had written from a Nazi concentration camp and a tablecloth that once covered the family's table.

"I couldn't stop wondering," said Besseling, 58. "What happens after the story breaks off?"
Find out: Holocaust mystery is solved in Chicago.

Whether Andre Van Mierlo is memorialized or not, he's a righteous person in the eyes of God, I'm sure.
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Dreaded Arab Demographic Momentum Is Stalled
How do you get a Russian woman to bear children and increase the population? Apparently, by relocating her to the Holy Land. Maybe Russia's only way out of demographic oblivion is...Torah?
LOS ANGELES, May 4 (JTA) — “Arab demographic momentum” has become part of the Israeli lexicon.

Under this theory, the Arab sector, with its rapid population growth, will soon overwhelm the Jewish population, as “baby boom” generations of Arabs give birth to an even greater number of children. Arab births will accelerate even if birth rates remain stable or drop slightly because such a large number of women will enter their childbearing years.

But the evidence is now in, and it shows something surprising: Demographic momentum indeed exists — but among Jews, not Arabs.

Jewish births grew rapidly, from 80,000 per year in 1995 to 96,000 in 2000 and to more than 103,000 in 2003. The demographic outlook for Jews has been improving because the Jews’ total fertility rate, or the number of children a woman is likely to bear over her lifetime, has been rising.

In 2005, the Jewish fertility rate reached 2.7, the highest of any advanced industrial nation. While the fervently Orthodox contributed to this rise, secular Israelis and immigrants from the former Soviet Union also experienced increasing fertility.
Must be something in the water.
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