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Jerusalem Post report: Support for Israel from younger evangelicals dropping

David Ha’ivri, an independent strategist who has worked closely with Christian Zionists for years, said the movement is challenged with being interesting and exciting for the younger generation.“Another factor is that within the movement there are all kinds of evangelicals who are pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian,” he said.He noted that many families struggle to pass on their values to the next generation, using techniques like home schooling. “They bring them to Israel and are connected to remembering the Holocaust and the historical injustice done by Christians to Jews.”Ha’ivri wonders whether the findings of the current survey would have been similar 20 years ago, simply because younger people tend to change as they mature.

http://www.jpost.com/American-Politics/Support-for-Israel-from-younger-evangelicals-dropping-517144%E2%80%AC

The Mountains of Israel – a Taste of Heaven

Authors: Britt Lode and Rabbi Yitschak Naki

The Mountains of Israel – a Taste of Heaven

Price: $ 34.95 + shipping
Format: Hard Cover
ISBN 10: 8299898129
ISBN 13: 9788299898126
Number of Pages: 160
Year Published: 2015

 

Description:
The Mountains of Israel – a Taste of Heaven takes you on a unique and exciting journey through the mountains of Israel. Today these mountains are perhaps better known as the West Bank, and most people would associate them with decades-old conflict – but these mountains also have another story to tell. About 85 percent of the Bible refers to these mountains, or was written from them. In other words, this area is the Bible’s heartland! Complete with stunning photographs, scriptural quotations and short stories containing nuggets of Jewish wisdom, The Mountains of Israel will leave you with a “taste of heaven”!

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Names: The Fight for History by Yonina Pritzker

My Russian History professor in college shared the following joke:
A survey was being conducted, and a man was asked the following questions:
First question: Where were you born?
Answer: St. Petersburg.
Second Question: Where did you go to school?
Answer: Petrograd.
Third Question: Where do you live now?
Answer: Leningrad.
Final Question: Where would you like to live?
Answer: St. Petersburg.
The joke, of course, is that these are all names of the same city at different points in time. Each name reflected the new sensibility, the new reality that was being imposed on the city at various junctures. While physically in the same location, nonetheless, the man does not want to live in Petrograd or Leningrad; he wants to live in the city as it was characterized by the name St. Petersburg.
In 1991(well after my professor told us this joke), the name of the city did, in fact, become St. Petersburg once again. This decision was predicated on lengthy, emotional discussions among the city’s residents who were cognizant of the fact that the name chosen would both highlight certain aspects of the city’s history, and would shape the feeling, focus, and identity of the city going forward.
Language shapes reality. Names and labels have a tremendous influence on outcome.
In school – teachers are instructed to “describe the behavior, not the child.” We learn to separate the student from the unwanted behavior, and take great pains not to negatively label a student, since psychology teaches us that students often live up to -or down to, in this case- the labels we give them.
In linguistics we learn that the existence of open-ended language allowed for human progress because people were able to say things that had never been said before, and in doing so, were then able to move forward toward and create that new reality, solve that new problem, discover a new cure, invent that new technology.
We see the same careful attention to language in the law. When a legal document is drafted, the language is chosen with great specificity, as all the parties know that these words will determine the terms and obligations by which all will need to abide.
In a business setting, companies will offer sensitivity training, teaching workers to give great consideration to what they say and how they say it so as not offend anyone, and so as to ensure that nothing will be misconstrued.
In our social, community interactions, there is a demand for certain terminology that promotes specific values, such as the push to adopt gender-neutral language, for one example.
There has been a recent, national controversy over the name of the football team from Washington D.C., the “Redskins.” People have argued that this name, which has been in use since 1933, should now be changed. Proponents of the change say that this name is offensive and derogatory.
And many a celebrity on their Twitter accounts have had to issue apologies for remarks or labels they used that were in any way construed as being racist.
This joke, then, that my professor shared years ago, is essentially intuitive to us today, given our heightened sensitivity to language. We well recognize that labels and words are essential in shaping our environment. Words matter; they are critical in both dismantling old attitudes and bringing forth new realities.
So why is it that the same people who would demand an accurate legal contract, a gender-neutral news article, a validating, tolerant social vocabulary, and egalitarian workplace terminology, why is it that when it comes to the Land of Israel, there is a complete dismissal, and even suppression, of the accurate language and historical record?
There are terms that are misused on a daily basis regarding the State of Israel, and yet, anyone who tries to raise the issue and restore the accurate history and terminology is immediately painted as extreme, as too sensitive, as a fanatic.
Among the most egregious misuses of language regarding Israel is seen in the attempted renaming of many places in Israel, cities and regions, including the Jewish spiritual heartland of Samaria and Judea.
In the Land of Israel, the regions of Samaria and Judea represent the spiritual center of Jewish history.
This is the area where the Jewish people always lived, where the history of the Jewish nation took place, and where the prophets of Israel delivered their message.

In these regions, we find Hebron which was the first capital of Israel, burial place of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of Israel. Here we also find Bethlehem, the city where the Matriarch Rachel is buried, where Ruth gave birth to the line of the Davidic monarchy. Shechem was the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. It is the city where Joseph is buried. Shiloh, the city of Priests, housed the holy Tabernacle before it was brought to Jerusalem. We read of Joshua in Jericho, Amos in Tekoa, Jeremiah in Anatot, and Jacob in Beit El. These regions of Shomron (Samaria) and Yehuda (Judea) constitute the Jewish spiritual heartland which is steeped in Jewish history dating back to Biblical times.

In a complete affront to Jewish rights and Jewish history, the Arab armies of Egypt, Lebanon, Transjordan (as Jordan was initially called), Syria, and Iraq attacked Israel after Israel declared her independence in 1948. Jordan then occupied Judea and Samaria, expelled all of the Jewish communities of these regions, barred any further Jewish access to these areas and holy sites, and attempted at that time to rename the region the “West Bank.”
This generic, geographic label conveniently obscures all of the Jewish history that took place there: It is much more difficult to try to claim that Judea does not belong to the Jews, than it is to claim that a parcel of land with a vapid, geographic name does not.
The duplicity in this attempt to erase the history of, and Jewish connection to, Judea and Samaria was then extended further by the deceitful claim that Jews are “occupiers” in this land.
“Occupation” refers to the holding and control of an area by a foreign force. Given the fact that the Land of Israel was never the sovereign country of any nation but the Jewish one, Jews cannot be deemed “occupiers” in their own land, a fact affirmed by international law.
The historical and religious rights of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel were affirmed and codified in international law at the San Remo Conference of 1920, a meeting of the Allied Powers of WWI, to decide the future of the former territories of the Ottoman Empire. At this conference, where international agreement was also reached regarding the establishment of other countries in the region, such as Syria, and Iraq, a binding agreement was enacted between these world powers “to reconstitute the ancient Jewish State within its historic borders.”
Recognizing the ancient and continuous historical and spiritual connection between the nation of Israel and the Land of Israel, the San Remo Resolution included the regions of Samaria and Judea as part of the area designated for reestablishing the Jewish National Homeland, along with all the land that is between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, all the land that currently comprises the country of Jordan, as well as, the Golan Heights and Gaza.
This mandate, which was then ratified by a unanimous vote of The League of Nations, affirmed the Jewish right to settle anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, which is where these regions of Samaria and Judea are found. This right is enshrined to this day in international law.

Arab national entities were designated for other areas of the former Ottoman Empire. The San Remo Conference, along with various treaties following World War I, succeeded in establishing independent countries sought by the Arab nationalists; Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan were all established out of what had been provinces of the Ottoman Empire.
Yet, when it came to similarly recognizing the rights of the Jewish nation to the Jewish homeland, there were those who consistently sought to prevent Jewish self-determination and sovereignty in the Jewish ancestral homeland of Israel. This was despite the fact that the world clearly recognized, by international law and treaty, the right of the Jewish nation to reestablish the Jewish National Homeland.
This is the same rejection and subversion of Jewish rights to the Land of Israel that we are seeing today.
The attempts to rewrite – and rename – history and, thereby, deny the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, are reflected, as well, in the fraudulent language regarding the holy city of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem, the city which holds the very soul of the Jewish people, has always been central in Jewish life.
On Passover Jews say L’shana ha’bah b’Yerushalayim, “Next year in Jerusalem.”  On Tisha B’Av each year, Jews sit in mourning and weep lamentations over the destruction of the holy city and Temple.  When building a home, Jews leave an unfinished corner to remember the destruction of Jerusalem, and at every Jewish wedding, the groom breaks the glass, showing that he places Jerusalem above his highest joy.  The ancient sages taught that ten measures of beauty were given to the world; of these, Jerusalem was given nine.
Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for over three thousand years, and
The Temple Mount, the site of Solomon’s Temple remains Judaism’s most sacred site. Unto this day, every Jew turns towards the Temple Mount to pray.
During the nineteen years of Jordan’s illegal occupation of Judea and Samaria, beginning with the 1948 War of Independence, the city of Jerusalem was divided in two for the first time in history. The Jews who had been living as a majority in Jerusalem since the middle of the previous century were expelled by the Jordanians and barred from those areas that were within the walls of the Old City, where the holiest Jewish sites are found.
In 1967, besieged by hostile Arab armies, Israel liberated and recovered the regions of Samaria and Judea and reunited the city of Jerusalem.
Today, however, references are often made to an “East” Jerusalem in an attempt to perpetuate the myth that there are two distinct parts to the city. And the duplicitous corollary, once again, is that Jews are “occupiers” in “East” Jerusalem; this, despite the fact that Judaism’s holiest sites are found in precisely that area.
In the United Kingdom, an agency that monitors the accuracy of advertisements upheld a complaint about an ad for trips to Israel.  The ad displayed the various places that could be seen on a brief visit to Israel. This agency rejected the ad for use within the United Kingdom, saying that it was misleading because it showed a picture of the Western Wall, the Jewish holy site that sits adjacent to the Temple Mount.  According to this agency, it is debatable as to whether the Western Wall, (the Kotel), is in Israel, debatable as to whether the holiest place in the world to Jews, belongs to Israel, as this is part of the area that many regularly try to label as “occupied;” this is the precise area from which many are again trying to ban Jews.
Changing the name of Jerusalem to “East Jerusalem” is a ploy often used by those who want to erase history and wrest the Jewish homeland away from the Jewish people.
It is outrageous to rename the Jewish homeland, obscure its history, and then accuse Jews of being occupiers there. But that is precisely what is happening today. And the international community, whether through lack of information or lack of good will, is allowing, and at times aiding with, this ongoing injustice.
If something so clear, so straightforward, so indisputable as the Jewish connection to Samaria and Judea, if something as unmistakable and irrefutable as the Jewish connection to Jerusalem can be so rewritten, so misrepresented, and Biblical, spiritual, historical, and legal rights so resoundingly dismissed, if those around the world can literally invert history and accuse Jews of being occupiers in the very cradle of Jewish history and civilization, then the level of deceit knows no bounds, and the absolute necessity to stand up and fight against this attempt to subvert the truth and rob Jews of their history, heritage, and homeland has never been more clear.
The ancient Sages who devised the Passover Seder were wise. Citing the Torah, they emphasized “v’higadita l’vincha bayom hahu leimor” “And you shall tell it to your children on that day, saying…” (Exodus 13:8)  The message is clear: we must keep telling and retelling our history, so that the truth is honored and not obliterated.
The fight for language is the fight for history. It is one in the same.

Are Christian Zionists a Threat to Israel?

Doesn’t it sound a little silly, not to mention paranoid, when we kvetch all day about the world being against us, and then when we discover people who actually like us, we work overtime to convince ourselves that they must really be out to get us and are covering it up with a smile?

I am very clear on my stand: I do not, have not and will not work with any group that has a missionary agenda targeting Jews. I will be happy to cooperate with friends of Israel, regardless of their theology, be they Muslim, Christian, Druze, Buddhist or whatever. The fact that there are some Christians who would like to convert Jews does not at all prove that all Christians embrace that agenda. There are about 5000 different schools of thought that all come under the “Christian” banner, and some of those totally appreciate the Jewish people’s unchanged “chosen” status and our Torah mission. There are probably others who believe that Jews must fulfill the rebuilding of the State and Temple to promote their own Messianic visions. That doesn’t worry or even interest me.

Some who claim the position of “anti-missionary activists” are not objective and manipulate information in an attempt to prove that any Christian who smiles at a Jew is doing so in order to convert them. I do not appreciate the harassment and bullying tactics they frequently resort to, but I am not afraid of them, either. I read and consider articles attacking Glenn Beck as a missionary. I’m sorry to say that they commonly show a very shallow understanding of the topic they are writing about. Beck, Waller, Gohmert and even Hagee are not missionaries. If they were, they would be really lousy ones, considering the fact that with all of the effort they have put into helping Israel, they have failed to make any Jewish converts at all.

If you believe sitting at home and reading Tehillim is all a Jew needs to do to deal with international pressures on Israel, then I wish you luck. But, if you think that we should actually try to build alliances with others outside the Jewish people, then I have news for you: people who are not Jewish have their own theological beliefs (that should be obvious – if they are not Jewish, then they are something else). If they appreciate the Jewish people and understand that helping Israel is beneficial to both sides, then there is nothing wrong with interacting with them. Of course, the Halacha and common sense guide us on ways to do so without compromising our Jewish identity and national respect.

With all of that said, and with no intention to insult our friends, we really should not have such an inferiority complex. If our own religion is the real thing, and so naturally superior to theirs, do you really think that some guy is going to say “the J word” and Jews are going to be so impressed by that as to question our own faith? Nu, b’emet. [Common, really.]

On one hand, if you come by a group that is offering a service – like a club with attractive facilities – but they are also offering classes in Christian faith for Jews, it is obviously a front, and they are probably taking advantage of you and trying to attract other Jews to their classes. But on the other hand, if a Christian offers you money to buy needed equipment and help produce books and discs, or for Jewish development of the land of Israel and asks for no involvement in your content whatsoever, only asking that you bless them by continuing your work, then they are helping you spread your message. In the second case, I would not even sweat worrying that they might come back some day and ask for something else – because even if they do, you can say “no” (and there is a good chance that they will not, because they are genuine lovers of Israel with no other agenda). Yes, we should always be careful with whom we do business, but I don’t have to tell you that there are other Jews who can lead you astray into dangerous avenues, as well.

No, not all gestures of friendship by Christians hide an intention to missionize us. I do not accept that as a given. I am not talking about a relationship in which one side is manipulating the other. Neither am I saying that I think I can trick them into helping us without allowing them the prize of converting us. I would not cooperate with Christians who wish to convert us any more than I would cooperate with Muslims who wish to slaughter us. I will gladly work with goyim who appreciate the Jewish people for who we are and wish only for us to become the best Jews we can be.

Believe it or not, there are goyim who believe in the words of the Bible – and they trust that G-d did choose the Jewish people for a special mission – to be a light unto the nations. They actually look to us for direction. But living in fear and exile for hundreds of years has corrupted us. Now that we have returned to our land and the nations are witnessing the fulfillment of prophecies and look to us as teachers, we go running for cover, fearing they mean us harm. We must seize our opportunities as they arise, stand proudly and teach the nations the truth of the Torah. We possess G-d-given greatness and blessing; we need not fear; G-d is on our side.

What does Baal Teshuva mean?

“Baal Teshuva” is a Hebrew expression that refers to an individual who has become enhanced his or her observance of Torah. The literal translation of the term is “the possessor of the answer.” Commonly, this term is used to describe someone who was non-observant and had a life changing transition to an orthodox lifestyle. But it could also be used in reference to someone who made even a minor step to improve their ways. That could be considered ‘making’ Teshuva or ‘Oseh Teshuva’ in Hebrew. This could also be called ‘getting stronger’ – ‘Mitchazek’. A recent Israeli TV drama series, ‘Mikimi’, is based on the true life story of an Israeli TV personality who became observant.

Don’t take your pants off for Israel

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a response to a provocative pro-Israel OpEd that was published on an anti-Zionist website. After consulting with some wise friends, I decided to place my response on hold and not publish it because the response, by its nature, would provide more attention to the piece that it was referring to, when I would rather that it just disappear, less noticed, in the flow of information being posted on the web.

The author of the piece I am referring to is a friend and a colleague, and one whom I would like to think shares common goals and core values. Inevitably, the offensive OpEd piece has rolled down the time-line and I doubt that it is fresh in anyone’s memory. Had I published my comments then, there is a good chance that it would have opened a discussion and raked in more popularity.

So why, you might ask, am I bringing this up now? Subsequently, the author of this piece went on to produce a YouTube spoof of an American popular recording artist. My feelings about the video, like the OpEd before it, were ambivalent. On one hand, I am glad to see Jews making a clear and eloquent argument for Zionism. I also appreciate the perspectives of people who see things from different angles than my own.

But now, as a second YouTube video spoof has been launched, a realization of what is so wrong with these productions is becoming clear to me. Zionism, for me, is about restoring the dignity of the Jewish people. The basis of our rights to freedom, safety and self determination do not come from Thomas Jefferson and the U.S. Constitution, nor do they have any affiliation with some musical striptease artist from MTV.

The Jewish people are a holy nation with a rich and ancient history and culture. The public relations concept that calls for re-branding Israel using cold beer and beautiful girls in bikinis on the beaches of Tel Aviv is self defeating and degrading to our heritage.

We did not gather from four corners of the earth and fight endless wars for the right to be a cheap imitation of America here in the middle of the desert in the Middle East. I do not believe that showing Jewish women’s bare skin is going to convince the nations of the world that we have a right to the land that the IDF captured in 1967. But I do have reason to believe that our expression of our loss of traditional values and our imports of the American culture of permissiveness are a big part of what scares our neighbors and leads them to mistakenly conclude that Zionism is a front for western imperialism.

Please do not make that mistake. The Jewish people have returned to our homeland in order to fulfill an historic calling: to be a light unto the nations – a people with values worth imitating. Our mission is not to be a Hebrew speaking, gun-toting western society with no values. That, we could do in Los Angeles.

So, with great appreciation for your good intentions and creativity, I request that you put your clothes back on and preach a message that we can all take pride in.

Bar or Bat Mitzvah is the time of coming of age

A Bar Mitzvah Message for Judah,

In the Jewish tradition, Bar or Bat Mitzvah is the time of coming of age, when an individual is considered big enough to be responsible for their own actions. Until this age, a child is taught by their parents to abide by the laws of the Torah on the basis of the parent’s obligation to educate their children. From this point on, the individual is accountable for his or her own deeds.

To mark this transition from childhood into the world of adult responsibilities, it is customary for the young man to be called to read from the weekly Torah portion during Shabbat morning prayers. In this week’s Torah reading, we will learn of two righteous gentiles – both of whom were of great assistance to Moses. Their help was instrumental in the path of the future leader of the Jewish people. Bitya, the daughter of Pharaoh, saved Moses’ life by taking him out of the waters of the Nile and raising him as her own. Although growing up in the royal palace, Moses would not forget the suffering of his people. Forced to flee to the desert after taking matters into his own hands, Moses again encounters a stranger named Yitro, who will not only become Moses’ father-in-law, but also a friend of Israel.

Both cases are seen as phenomenal; how much more so during the period of great oppression of the people of Israel by the superpower of the time – Pharaoh of Egypt. Based on a long historical narrative of oppression, the Jewish people have become accustomed to gentiles not liking us, to say the least, and not appreciating our laws and customs. So, understand that for the Jewish reader, these events seem out of the norm and even extraordinary. A “goy” came to the rescue – while Pharaoh had instructed all Egyptians to throw our children in the river, one Egyptian woman reached out and saved a Jewish baby. While Moses was on the run from the authorities for acts of vigilance for the Jews, a gentile priest gave him refuge and married him to his daughter.

When you read this Torah portion, consider the special challenges that each of these Biblical figures went through and how they each made the right decision to fulfill G-d’s will – even in very difficult situations. Choosing to do the right thing is not a given, but rather our ongoing challenge in this world. Your family has made extraordinary choices by deciding to align themselves with the people and G-d of Israel. Like the righteous gentiles we read about in Parashat Shemot, they could have taken the easy path and been just like everyone else. But instead, they choose to dig deeper and work harder for the real thing.

I have great appreciation for your family, their values and their true dedication to Israel. You are gifted to have a solid foundation. Now it is for you to take this foundation to use as a guide to take you through adulthood. I am sure that you will be a fine example for your younger siblings and a source of pride to your parents.

My blessings to you and best wishes of “Mazel Tov!”

David Ha’ivri

On European Council resolution on “Children’s Right to Physical Integrity.”

In October of this year, the European Council passed a resolution entitled “Children’s Right to Physical Integrity.” This effort –  spearheaded by German MP Marlene Rupprecht – is said to protect children from physical violence. In this case, the physical violence the committee is addressing is not war, famine, racism or even sexual abuse. But now, their focus is on acts carried out by the children’s parents, for their own well-being, according to the parents’ understanding.

The listing of “circumcision of young boys” as one the types of violence that concerns the committee has caused major concern in the Jewish world. Rabbis, community activists and even representatives from Israel’s Knesset and government have voiced dismay at the EU resolution. Though led by a German MP, it passed by a very large majority in the council’s vote.

Only a handful of members of the council voted against the resolution – mostly representatives from Muslim countries like Turkey and Azerbaijan. Although circumcision is a very sensitive issue for Jews and almost all Jewish men are circumcised, Jews make up only a very small percentage of all the circumcised men in the world. According to the World Health Organization, about 30% of the men in the world are circumcised. Jewish men make up less than 1% of the total 661 million, while Muslims account for about 70%.

To give you a perspective on the other types of bodily mutilation that Rupprecht’s report is including with circumcision for religious reasons, the list also includes female genital mutilation and early childhood medical interventions in the case of intersex children. The list also addresses the subjection to or coercion of children in the categories of piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery.

Circumcision is a very sensitive issue in the Jewish community – largely because it is an important mitzvah – a commandment of the Torah, which goes all the way back to Abraham, the father of our nation, who circumcised himself and his sons as a sign of his covenant with God. However, there are further implications involved. Banning the practice of circumcision has historically been a tactic employed to oppress Jews throughout the ages. The Greeks, Stalinists and Nazis all took turns passing laws outlawing circumcision. From those dark periods of Jewish history, we are taught the tales of acts of bravery by Jews who risked their well-being and everything else just to carry out the obligations of our faith.

So in this age of liberalism, Jews are shocked to again be confronted with open efforts to ban circumcision in a central democratic body of western civilization. What is behind the efforts of Ms. Rupprecht? Is there an xenophobic agenda hiding behind her words of concern for the welfare of children? Is this a new way for European law makers to say “Jews are not welcome in these parts – change your customs or leave”?

Ultimately, that would be the result of a ban on circumcision for Jewish boys. Alternatives could include underground ceremonies, which would be counter-productive if the original goal was to provide more of a safe atmosphere for the children involved.

Some have suggested that Israeli embassies provide sanctuary for local Jews to have their Brit Milah ceremonies and so to bypass local laws restricting circumcision. But would that set a precedent for other countries to allow their unusual norms into the west? Say, if Saudi Arabia were to copy the concept and provide their embassies as bases for marrying off young girls?

I would be glad to hear back from readers with thoughts on this issue and suggested solutions for this crisis.

Published on Times of Israel, Dec. 15, 2013

Prayer for the gathering of the Jewish people

The Temple Mount Yerushalim Ha'Benuya

The Temple Mount Yerushalim Ha’Benuya

As I was sitting in my Sukka with my family during the Holiday of Sukkot, I considered the words that we read in the special Mosaf prayer for the holiday. “Dear G-d, Because of our sins we were sent into exile from our country and distanced from our land. We are unable to go up, to see and to bow down at your holy temple because of the hand of destruction. We pray to you dear G-d and G-d of our fathers that once again you have compassion for your people and you allow us to return to the holy place and gather our people from the nations of the world, from the corners of the world”. It has been 40 years since the Great miracles of the Six Day War, and the Jewish people continue to recite these words.

But can we ignore the great outcome of those amazing events? Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, as well as Judea and Samaria came back to the hands of the Jewish people. Although we tend to complain and criticize the actions of Moshe Dayan who gave over the keys of the Temple Mount to the Muslim Walf, we should be putting more focus on celebrating the actions of Rabbi Shlomo Goren, who called for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. We should take inspiration from him and other great Jewish leaders and should demand, as well as act on our rights to pray on the Temple Mount. Although our religious freedom remains restricted on the Temple Mount, the site is open to Jewish visitors daily. Who should take advantage of even that small window of opportunity to ascend the holy place. Newcomers and first timers should consult with those experienced visitors in order to make their visit in a halachically acceptable way, especially in regards to immersing in the Mikva, and the areas and paths on the mount that are permitted to walk on. Stay focused on the vision that the Tempe Mount is the center gathering place for the Jewish people and may we once again see the entire nation of Israel gather there on the three holidays, Pesach, Shevout and Sukkot.

Chag Samach.

Appreciation for the supporters of Israel

Yesterday at the central Sukkot event in Har Bracha in Shomron, celebrating the dedication of yet another new neighborhood for the community, I had the pleasure of hearing a speech from a bright young man, a 14 year old American boy who has come to Israel with his family as part of a group of Christians who are dedicated to expressing their support for Israel’s rights in Judea and Samaria.
I must say from my experience traveling around on behalf of Israel, that such straightforward support for Israel is extraordinary. Unfortunately, even most pro-Israel groups are afraid of appearing not politically correct and lack the courage or understanding needed to support Israel’s claim to its own heartland.I would like to thank Josiah Hilton and the HaYovel group for their commitment to the Jewish people and the land of Israel. May HaShem show you the way and give you the platform to teach the nations love for Israel.
Rabbi Eliezer Melamed and David Ha'ivri

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed and David Ha’ivri

Josiah Hilton speaking at Har Bracha

I would like to say “thank you” to Rabbi Melamed and the community of Har Bracha for allowing us to be here on this very special occasion.  

My name is Josiah Hilton, and I’m 14 years old.

I’m here as a part of HaYovel, our group of Christian volunteers that have come from all over the world to volunteer in the vineyards and olive groves of Judea and Samaria.

I first came to Israel with my family when I was 11 years old, during the harvest season of 2010. Even though I was younger, and may not have grasped the entire significance of the volunteer work that we were doing, for me, there was a special connection to be made here. As a Christian, I have heard the stories of the Bible all of my life: about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. When I came here, I realized that this is where the history of the Bible all took place; this is the land of the covenants; this is the heartland of Israel.

Our group of 300 volunteers is here to serve you, the Jewish people and make a statement to the world. We believe that HaShem gave you this land as an everlasting covenant. No matter what international pressure you receive, we will stand with you. We feel that Christians have too long either stood by and been silent, or have helped in the evils that have been done against you. We are here to say “no more!” Today, whatever part we can have to help here in this Land, that is what we want to do!

Thanks to Rabbi Melamed, Gershon Mesika, Nir Lavi, Erez Ben Sa’adon, and many others, we have had the incredible honor to not only witness prophecies that were spoken 2,000 years ago, but to take an active part in their fulfillment! For us, as foreigners, this is truly an amazing privilege and honor. We cannot thank you enough!

Real life in Israel seems to be notifying The Onion

Real life in Israel seems to be notifying The Onion news agency that they are not ridiculous enough to be considered original satire.

See it for yourself in a YouTube video filmed this week in Jerusalem. A Jewish man is stopped by the police for carrying a couple of small branches and a citrus fruit. The police officer promptly confiscates the handful of branches and calls for reinforcements while refusing to explain to the man why or under what law they have been taken.

On this one I’ll leave the commentary to the comment section. You tell me what you make of this event, and if it makes any sense to you? Can you guess where this took place?

Turn on the Lights

There’s no arguing that the Jewish people represent a very small percentage of the total world population, and that the State of Israel is a tiny spot on the map. If you take a standard classroom globe and try to find Israel, it will be a real effort. The country is so small that it can hardly be seen.

With all the talk internationally about the conflict between Israel and the Arab states, you might expect to see some room for comparison, but in fact, the size of the Jewish state is 1/800 the size of the land controlled by the Muslim and Arab states around it.

But turn to any media outlet around the world, and chances are that you will hear them talk about Israel. This has been the case for at least the past 70 years. Why is that? What is so special about the Jews and Israel? What happened about 70 years ago and that landed Israel on center stage for the world – a place it has occupied continually, all that time?

It might be wise for us to try to figure this out, because this could be very significant for people everywhere.

Why do the Arabs dislike the Jews and the State of Israel in particular? Is it really just because Israel is “occupying” Arab land? With the odds stated above, that would be a little hard to accept.

Not only is Israel (including Judea and Samaria – a.k.a. the “West Bank”) a very tiny portion of the Middle East, but also, this tiny strip of land called Israel has found virtually no natural resources in its ground. Israel is struggling to provide water for its inhabitants. The land has no oil or precious stones. Only recently has gas been found far offshore in the Mediterranean Sea  – a project that still calls for much development.

Could it be that that lack of natural resources just magnifies the astonishment of the world and the envy of our Arab neighbors? From even before its establishment, Arab states and terrorist groups have tried tirelessly to bring an end to Israel, physically. The regional rallying cry to “Throw the Jews in to the Sea!” has drifted into hopeless dreamland for the anti-Israel Arabs.

What really ticks off the haters of the Jews is that it seems clearer and clearer that something almost magical sustains the Jews in the most difficult of times and pushes them to success and innovation where others would have given up. They scratch their heads and ask themselves, “Maybe G-d does exist, and He does have a special covenant with the Jews . . .” How else can this thriving survival be explained? They settled a desert and made it blossom; they dried out the swamps and built cities; they turned a start-up country into an international leader in hi-tech and innovation — all of this with the threat of annihilation and need to develop a regional super power defense system”.

It is just incredible. But it is also a simple fact that the world needs to deal with.

Rightfully, they watch with awe and ask, “How could this be?”

But we Jews must also look at this amazing reality and ask ourselves, “Why is this happening? And what does it demand of us as a nation and as individuals? Is there a reason that the G-d of history has put us on center stage? Is there something for which we are to use this platform? Perhaps a message to relay to the world whose eyes are on us from morning to night?”

The answer is “Yes.” G-d did not place the Jewish people in this situation by chance. There is a higher plan. The Creator chose the Jewish people and elevated them from the depths of the exile to the amazing accomplishment of the establishment of the State of Israel against all odds in order to prove to the world that He exists. He glorifies His name though the deeds of His people.

The Jewish people have been placed on the center stage of history at this time in order to carry out the holy task of being a light unto the nations. We need to acknowledge that all of this greatness has come about by way of an agreement put in place many years ago between our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and G-d Himself. This land with all its hardships was given to our people in order to provide a platform for the Jews to declare, “G-d exists and the Torah is true!”

The nations naturally and subconsciously look to Israel and its people for that message and for direction. The mission of the Jewish people is to be leaders for the people of the world and a light unto the nations.
Jews, the time has come – turn the lights on, please.

BDS and Chanukah

Chanukah is one of the favorite festivals of Jewish people around the world. Groups from both ends of the Jewish spectrum – from the most pious to those who are distant from traditional observance – share this celebration. The main ceremony included in this holiday of lights is the lighting of the candles of the Menorah, to remember the great miracle we celebrate. The story goes that the eight days of Chanukah commemorate the miracle of a small amount of oil lasting for eight days instead of just one day.

This miracle, which took place on the liberated Temple Mount in (East) Jerusalem, symbolizes the even greater miracle of the few untrained and under-armed Jewish soldiers of Yehudah Maccabee, who gained amazing victories over a well-trained and equipped Greek army.

Today, BDS is a movement that calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel as a means of punishing Israel for controlling Judea and Samaria (also known as “the West Bank”). Israel has controlled this area for the past 45 years, since the defensive Six Day War in which the tiny Jewish state was forced to defend itself when surrounding Arab nations attacked simultaneously on all fronts, attempting to push the Jews into the sea.

Before this 1967 war, our borders were based on 1949’s cease-fire lines, cooperatively drawn up at Rhodes after Israel’s War of Independence. After the Six Day War, legendary Israeli statesman Abba Eben stated, “We shudder when we think of what would have awaited us in the circumstances of June, 1967, if we had been defeated; with Syrians on the mountains and us in the valley, with the Jordanian army in sight of the sea, with the Egyptians who hold our throat in their hands in Gaza. This is a situation which will never be repeated in history.”

Still, the BDS movement wishes to pressure Israel to relinquish its control over this vital area in order to establish a Palestinian state there.

Among other things the leaders of this movement fail to realize is the fact that the Jewish claim to Judea and Samaria dates much further back than 1967, and that the attachment is not just based on modern practical strategic value.

Chanukah is the Jewish national holiday that celebrates taking our country back from foreign imperialists. In addition to the overwhelming number of Torah events placed in this region, it is interesting to note that all the major battles the Maccabees fought were in locations that were not under Israeli control before the 1967 war. The area that many call “the West Bank” was the exact same area liberated by the historic Hasmonean heroes of the Jewish people back then, so the return of that land to Jewish control forms the basis of the Chanukah festival.

The Jewish rebellion against the Greek imperialists began in Modi’in – now considered a part of the West Bank – and spread throughout this area. Under the leadership of Matityahu the Cohen, who cried out in the city with a loud voice, “Let every one who is zealous for the law and supports the covenant come with me!” The city took on self-rule, and all male children were circumcised in fulfillment of Jewish code, which had been outlawed by the Greeks. Collaborators were punished. Matityahu’s son Yehudah then took the lead in the battles outside of Modi’in. The first and most impressive was the battle of Wadi el-Haramiah in Shomron (just south of my home). The Assyrian force under the command of Greek governor Apollonius was defeated, and the sword of Apollonius was taken by Yehudah the Maccabee, who used it in battle for the rest of his life.

Read the book of Maccabees to learn more about the many victories to the north in Shomron and to the south in Yehuda. The climax of this war was liberation of the Temple Mount, followed by the lighting of the great Menorah at the site of the holy Temple. How symbolic that the emotional historic echo was heard so clearly 1803 years later, at the climax of 1967’s Six Day War when General Moti Gur stood at the same spot and declared, “The Temple Mount is in our hands!”

My advice to the BDS movement is that if they hope to detach the Jewish people from Judea and Samaria, they would be wise to boycott Chanukah.

Published on YourMiddleEast.com

Classic Zionism in Migron

Before we go off looking to face new challenges in high-tech development or perform acts of kindness toward victims of natural disasters around the world, we need to notice that there is a lot of work waiting for us right here.

Our role as Zionists is still not finished: Our rabbis teach us that “The poor of your own city take priority” (Talmud, Baba Metzia.) Classic Zionist challenges still confront us, as they did in the days of the pioneers. The Sarahs, Daliahs and Rinahs have not finished their task of holding on to the Nachal settlements in the Sinai. They and their children are needed to continue settling the Promised Land – all of it.

Yes, the hilltop settlers in Judea and Samaria are the modern successors of the same settlement movement that Yosef Trumpeldor worked for in Tel Chai, Shlomo Ben Yosef in Rosh Pina and Rabbi Shtamper in Petach Tikva. Settlement of Judea and Samaria has led to the renewal of the concepts of working the land, planting vineyards and development of the wine industry in this region during the last two decades.

This is the realization of the words of the prophet Jeremiah, simply put: “You will yet plant vineyards in the Samarian hills.” (Jeremiah 71:4). Rocky hills, which for hundreds and thousands of years had not been cultivated, are again favoring their residents, who are building homes, planting vineyards, and bearing native sons and daughters on them.

Now, a large percentage of the founders of hilltop communities and their residents are the second generation in Judea and Samaria – sons and daughters who were born, raised and educated there. The descriptive phrase “salt of the earth” is well suited to many of the leading forces of the settlement expansion movement today. They are handsome, educated youth, devoted to the Zionist ideal of settling the Land and establishing Israeli society within it, ready to give their time and their strength for the good of the nation.

The spirit of volunteerism for people and country is not finished for them at the end of their military or national service. On the contrary – for them, this is just a starting point for a lifestyle totally dedicated to the People and the Land. The choices they make to live in settlements such as Migron or the Judean and Samarian hills, and to raise families blessed with many children, are purposeful choices intended to contribute to the strength of all of Am Yisrael.

Settlement movement will win

Migron represents a primary motif in the Zionist settlement enterprise. It is one of more than 100 settlements in Judea and Samaria that have still not obtained all the necessary authorizations to be considered bona-fide settlements by the government. In a legal procedure, and with the encouragement of the extreme leftist organization Peace Now, an Arab resident of a nearby village has claimed ownership of some of the lands Migron was built on, even though he has not succeeded in proving that ownership in court.

Even without dealing with the legal weakness of the ownership claim, the State of Israel has the ability to find creative solutions for landowners. During the disengagement in the summer of 2005, for example, many Jewish landowners from Gush Katif and northern Samaria were forced to part with their lands against their will, and according to a government decision, alternatives were found for them.

In many locations around the country, including the Tel Aviv University campus (which sits on the lands belonging to the village of Sheikh Munis,) or in the village of Lifta in Jerusalem, the State has managed to resolve the issue of the rights of the previous owners. In the Negev as well, the State exchanged areas of land belonging to the Bedouins with other lands whenever the need arose. For Migron, too, solutions can be found without sacrificing a whole town – or even one home.

Now, in the pre-election period, it seems like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to grab the rope from both ends. When he chooses to attract Ehud Barak’s vote via a despicable action in Migron, it must come at the cost of the support of the National Camp. Doubtless, there are parties who would be happy to receive the support of the settlement movement and their friends.

However, it’s becoming clear to everyone that in the end, the settlement movement will win out – even if needed by way of an ugly fight that nobody wants.

Land that has been cultivated by the plows of Jewish farmers or had foundations laid on it or homes for Jewish families built on it will stay in Jewish hands. Migron is the symbol of the great settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria – part of an irreversible process. It will stay forever in its place, and in the alternative location proposed for it, with God’s help, another Jewish town will be built.

Published in Ynetnews November 2012

Privileged to Serve the Nation

One of the key issues that almost brought on early elections in Israel is the exemption from the mandatory draft that certain political powers wish to extend to certain communities in the country. Others, who do not fit in these categories, feel an unfair burden and are calling themselves “The Camp of the Exploited.” They feel that they are giving more than their fair share in army service – training, guarding and fighting for the safety of the nation of Israel and protecting its borders.

Naturally, those who serve are actually putting their lives at stake for the well being of all the others. They are demanding – and rightfully so – that all who enjoy the protection of the Israel Defense Force should chip in and do their own parts for the good of all.

As usual, political parties and biased media outlets piggyback on these points to make profit for themselves. Parties representing both sides use this as a key issue to get those concerned to vote for them and newspapers and other media outlets to up their ratings in the popularity contest.

It is common for both sides to focus on yeshiva students who, by Israeli law, are allowed to postpone their draft dates in order to extend their studies. Many believe that when this arrangement was agreed upon, in the early days of the state, there were far fewer yeshiva students, and that the number of exemptions has grown over the years to an unacceptable level. This may very well be true. But the fact that is generally overlooked is that in other, more secular parts of the population, the practice of avoiding the draft through other means of manipulation has also risen greatly since the founding of the state.

While the religious community is shamed for allegedly avoiding the draft by postponing it in order to extend Torah studies, other members of the religious community have a reputation for being highly motivated volunteers for the most elite units, and many go on to become commissioned officers. But, aside from the two major focuses of this discussion (the religious Yeshiva students and the secular community,) there are others who merit notice as well.

Diaspora has a role, too

Non-Jewish Arab citizens of Israel also enlist by law to serve their country. Soldiers from the Druze, Cherkessian and Bedouin communities proudly wear IDF uniforms and bravely fight to protect the people and land of Israel.

But on the other side, many other non-Jewish Israelis are in fact exempt from serving, and thereby from sharing the burden of protecting the home country that affords them so many privileges, a high standard of living and freedoms that they would never dream of anywhere else in the Middle East. They, too, should share the responsibility of protecting this land from Shiite Islamic fundamentalists in Lebanon and Iran, who would treat them (the Sunni Muslims of Israel) no better than they would treat the Jews, if they succeeded in overrunning this country.

The Jews of the Diaspora also have a stake in the homeland of the Jewish people. It is not a responsibility only for Jews who happened to be born in the land. Israel is the homeland and holy land for the entire Jewish people, and the center of our nation. Protecting this land and people is an obligation for every Jew, no matter where he happens to live.

Every year, a handful of young people in the Diaspora follow their inner calling and come to Israel to serve in the Machal volunteer program in the IDF. But in truth, this should be the standard. Every Jew should be called to fulfill his obligation to protect his land and his people, regardless of where in the world he lives.

The people of Israel should look down on those who avoid taking their share of the mutual responsibility. Of course, sanctions should be put into place to punish those who evade the draft, in the common interest of the people. Special subsidies, tuitions and land grants should be made available only to those who participate.

Until G-d brings the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Bible – when a lion and a lamb graze together and we can beat our guns and planes into plowshares – we will need to continue to wear uniforms and fight battles against those who wish us dead. As long as that is the case, every able body (regardless of race, religion or geographical location) in Israel should have to give his share.

Published on Ynetnews September 2012

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