Thursday, February 28, 2008

Behind the Windows

There are times when you (I) think you've seen everything. And then something new pops up and you (I) pinch yourself, trying to discover if it's real or just a dream.
I've been pinching myself a lot lately, and each time I'm shocked to discover that it's not a dream.
Let me preface the forthcoming story with three short introductions.

First, every once in a while I receive letters asking why I post such items. I can only go back to the first article I recall having written, following the murder of Nachum Hoss and Yehuda Partuche just outside Hebron in March, 1995. I remember writing then that it's important that people KNOW – that events shouldn't be the inheritance of the few – that they should be public knowledge, on the table for everyone to see, to judge, and to do something about. I still believe that, even more so today.

Two: Despite what I am going to write, yes, I still believe in the sanctity of the State of Israel, in the Land of Israel. The State is, in my opinion, (and I know there are many who disagree for various reasons), a Divine gift for which we waited for over two thousand years. The State isn't at fault for all the problems we have, rather it's us, the people, who are screwing it up. (In short.)

Three: I'm frequently asked, 'what can we do?' OK – we all know the standard answers: make phone calls, write letters, etc. etc. (Again, in my opinion) there are two major activities people can partake in today to make a difference, and I'm sure this isn't the first time you've ever heard this. First, you can give money, making contributions and donations to whatever interests you (like Hebron). The battles we are facing today are unbelievably expensive ($20,000 a month to heat Beit HaShalom and literally tens and more tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees). Very simply, we cannot afford do it without mucho dollars. And that means people like you, because we don't have a monopoly on money.
However, if people REALLY want to make a difference, they have to come here to Israel – not for vacations, but to comeLIVE here, breath here, work here and 'change the way it is.' And it really can happen – it can be done. I know people don't like Aliyah speeches, but what can you do – sometimes the truth hurts. If you really believe in something, act upon it. Do it.

After you read the next paragraphs you may ask (if you already haven't, at least a million time) why would anyone want to go live there? I relate to that as 'the Spy's question – the same thing asked by 10 of the 12 spies Moses sent to search out the land following the exodus from Egypt. They looked around and asked themselves, 'why would anyone want to live here?' We know what happened to them and the damage they caused us, up through today. We are here in Eretz Yisrael because G-d gave us this land, it is our homeland, He created to Jewish people in order that we should live here and fulfill here His commandments. Need more be said?
OK – that was just an introduction. Now on to the good stuff.
By this time you're probably familiar with the famous, or infamous Beit HaShalom windows. A couple of weeks ago, following a fierce snow storm, Minister Eli Yishai from Shas started banging on the cabinet-room table, demanding to know why Jews in Hebron had to live without windows. Barak finally gave his okay. Then, the fun started.

One of my colleagues here received a call from the local Chief (named Taryk) of the Civil Administration, a branch of the defense ministry. This was a couple of days before another expected snow storm. He informed us that we could install, in Beit HaShalom, 'wooden frames with plastic' to protect its residents from the cold and rain.
"Ha," my friend answered, "you think they're living there without any protection at all. That's what we already have there."
So a couple of hours later Chief called back and said, "you can install aluminum window frames WITHOUT glass windows."
My friend: "Do me a favor. I'm busy. In another day or so it's going to start snowing again. So either issue me the permits I need for windows, or leave me alone."
A few hours later Chief called back and finally agreed to installation of windows – period.
Wow, great – a real victory. The windows were ordered and arrived in record time. The simplest windows in Israel were ordered, in order not to upset Chief or any of his bosses. Installation began. And then the fun started. Again my friend received a call, an hysterical call, from Chief.
"What are you doing there?"

"Installing windows."

"But you are also installing 'trisim' – plastic shades. You didn't get a permit to install anything made of plastic – only aluminum frames and glass windows."

"OK, so we'll change them from plastic to aluminum."

"But then they won't be the simplest windows, which you promised to install."

…. – " Look, the standard for the simplest windows, set by the Ministry of Housing, demands that all windows come with shades. We are only following that."

One of the reasons the Chief and his bosses allowed the windows was a result the community's agreement to post bond, guaranteeing not take advantage ofthe window installation in order to make other earth-shattering changes in the building. A creature named Ronit Levy, a left-wing activist dressed in military garb who works as a prosecutor for the IDF, wrote a letter to the court saying that they should consider demanding payment of our bond guarantee because we had violated the agreement and installed plastic shades.
So, all the shades that had been installed were removed, and today the families live with glass windows in very sunlit rooms.
Behind the scenes, or as we say in Hebron, behind the windows.
(See another two stories, not directly related to Hebron, on my Arutz 7 – Israel National News Blog  -

The Jewish Community of Hebron

P.O.B. 105 Kiryat Arba-Hebron 90100

Tel: 972-9965-333 -

The Hebron Fund -

Tour Hebron: Tel 972-52-431-7055 or

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FYI-Israel, February, 2008, almost Independence Day #60

FYI-Israel, February, 2008, almost Independence Day #60

February 28, 2008

But why stigmatize me for my entire life with a military profile which labels me as a mental case?
This morning I spent about an hour watching a program broadcast a few nights ago on Israel television. (If you speak Hebrew it's worth watching it yourself.)

There were two stories presented:

Israeli kids, actually young men and women, who participated in protests against the expulsion from Gush Katif and other such catastrophes, are not being allowed to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. In many cases they are excused from service because they are issued an IDF profile of 21 – which translated into military jargon, is mental health problems.

One of the women interviewed, named Techelet, was an honors student who decided to serve in the IDF rather than work as a volunteer for a year or two, as most religious girls do. She said, 'if they don't want me, fine, let them tell me so. But why stigmatize me for my entire life with a military profile which labels me as a mental case?'

Her military file states that she lives in a community (Maon, in the southern Hebron hills) which is legal (for the time being), which is full of hate to Arabs and that she wants to join the army to take revenge on them.

(I remember once having heard about similar method, that is, hospitalizing political opponents in psychiatric hospitals. In Soviet Russia.)

The second story dealt with seven girls, all minors, 14 years old, who were arrested for literally having done nothing, booked, strip-searched as (is done to terrorists) with police males present in the room and held for three weeks. Why? Because they refused to identify themselves, saying that they don't recognize the validity of the Israeli court system.

Why? First of all, they stated that they believe in Torah law, not secular law. And as their mothers said during the interview, 'after Gush Katif, everything changed. They (the girls) were totally torn apart. We used to treat soldiers almost as royalty. But after the expulsion my daughter told me that if I give a soldier a ride in the car, she'll get out and walk.'

The girls' parents weren't allowed to see them, talk to them, or make contact in any way. Finally, after over three weeks in a full-scale jail, a judge ordered their release. Fourteen year olds.

(Presently another women, Tzvia from Elon Moreh, no longer a minor, she's 18 years old, has been in jail for three months because she too refuses to accept the legitimacy of the Israeli court system. There was a period of time when she was denied food. Her heinous crimes include 'trespassing' on Jewish land where Arabs were harvesting olives, 'scaring' five Arab men, and 'pushing' them. (This has been defined, in Israeli criminal law, as 'aggravated assault.') The punishment, (before trial) is three months in prison for refusing to recognize the courts and sign legal documents restricting her movement, and forcing her to pay thousands of shekels bail.)

Israel, February, 2008, approaching Independence Day number 60. FYI.

OU, Bnei Brith, & Hadassah endorsing palestinian state?

OU, Bnei Brith, & Hadassah endorsing palestinian state?

February 28, 2008
A short time ago I received the following document. According to my sources, this was initiated by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzippy Livni.

(A little while ago I posted an important blog entry – but that was before I received this.)

Listed below the document are members of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. Take note of words used, such as ' Palestinian intransigence' as opposed to 'terror' or continuing rocket attacks, etc.

(See OU clarification on position and role on JCPA Resolution at end of document)

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs endorsed for the first time a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At its annual plenum Tuesday in Atlanta, the body, an umbrella organization representing 14 national Jewish groups and 125 local Jewish community relations councils, resolved that "the organized American Jewish community should affirm its support for two independent, democratic and economically viable states -- the Jewish state of Israel and a state of Palestine-- living side-by-side in peace and security."

The resolution also included compromise language reflecting American Jewry's "diverse views about current and future policies of the Israeli government towards settlements," and blamed the standstill in the peace process on Palestinian intransigence. It appeared to pass unanimously, though the Orthodox Union, which has been outspoken in objecting to any deal to share or divide Jerusalem, had considered abstaining. According to one of its officers, David Luchins, the O.U. was satisfied with the final text, but still felt it represented an attempt to "micromanage" the peace process.

The resolution came about in response to recent events like the seizure of Gaza, the "reconstitution" of the Palestinian Authority and the latest U.S.-backed peace initiative, said the JCPA's senior associate executive director, Martin Raffel.

(See also: ).

Members of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs

American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Congress
Anti-Defamation League
B’nai B'rith
Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Life
Jewish Labor Committee
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Jewish War Veterans
National Conference on Soviet Jewry
National Council of Jewish Women
National Jewish Coalition for Literacy
ORT America
Union for Reform Judaism
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
United Jewish Communities
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Women's League for Conservative Judaism

February 28, 2008

The Orthodox Union is a member agency of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and participated in its annual conference this week.

As reported in the media, the JCPA debated and adopted a resolution with regard to the Israeli - Palestinian peace process. The media report, however, did not fully and accurately present the Orthodox Union's position and activities with regard to the resolution; we do so here.

The OU delegation engaged in the debate over this resolution by proposing and/or opposing provisions of or amendments to the resolution text. The following were the actions of the OU on this matter:

> The OU attempted to remove the resolution's text which would have, for the first time, put JCPA on record in support of the "two state solution" - but we were defeated by a vote of the delegates to the JCPA.

> The OU succeeded in inserting into the resolution's text the statement that "Israel's repeated offers to establish 'two democratic states living side by side in peace and security' have been met, time after time, by violence, incitement and terror."

> The OU attempted to remove the resolution's text calling for American Jewish support for any negotiations by the Israeli government over the re-division of Jerusalem - but we were defeated by a vote of the delegates to the JCPA.

> The OU succeeded in inserting into the resolution text which calls upon the American Jewish community to support Israel's insistence upon being recognized by the Palestinian Authority as a "Jewish state."

> The OU succeeded in defeating a proposed amendment to the resolution text which would have stated that the American Jewish community views the establishment or expansion of Israeli settlements as an "impediment to peace."

At the conclusion of the debate and amendment process, the OU delegation abstained from the vote on final passage of the resolution and informed the JCPA of our intention to file a formal, written dissent from the portions of the resolution with which the OU disagrees.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It really is time to wake up

Have you ever wondered why, when you have an infection, it hurts. For example, if you have a tooth that's rotted, or you've cut yourself badly, but in a place where you don't necessarily see the wound, what would happen if it didn't cause you pain?

The answer is quite straightforward. The infection spreads, or if you're bleeding, you keep bleeding, and eventually you die. It's as simple as that. In other words, even though we go to great pains to avoid pain, such aches can save our lives.

Israel is hurting, but for some reason we don't feel the pain. Or perhaps we're ignoring it. How long have we been hurting for? I suppose I could go back hundreds and thousands of years. There's original sin, but back then there still weren't Jews. Perhaps though, as far as Jews are concerned, there's a second version of original sin: bowing down to the Golden Calf or the rejection by ten spies of Eretz Yisrael. Today, thousands of years later, we are still suffering from the identical afflictions.

Let's not go back so far. Let's start with the 'first intifada,' in the late 1980s and going into the early 1990s. There were numerous terror attacks which left many too many Jews dead and wounded. But that war is primarily remembered for 'rock-throwing,' which was not considered to be a very serious crime.

Aside from the fact that rocks can, do, and have killed people, the significance of that period was twofold. First, our enemy organized himself to rebel against the state of Israel and its Jewish inhabitants, with the set goal of eventually wiping Israel off the map.

True, rocks doesn’t seem that dangerous, but look at where they’ve led! That can be examined though point number two: That is, they attacked, they declared war, and we, collectively, the state of Israel, the prime minister, the defense minister, the cabinet, the armed forces, ignored them. In their eyes it was not a war, rather it was an 'uprising,' which could be quelled. However I remember quite vividly Defense Minister Moshe Arens, who then had the power and authority to do whatever was necessary, saying that 'it would take time.' Look how much time has passed and where we are today.

The infection had taken hold and was starting to spread. But where was the pain?

Then came Rabin-Peres-Oslo-Hebron-Wye. The disease had made its mark. Rather than fighting the infection with a good strong antibiotic to kill the illness, Israel's so-called leaders decided upon radical surgery: Amputation. Cut off a limb or two to save the rest. But sometimes the disease spreads faster than originally thought and local amputation isn't enough.

Israel kept hurting, the infection kept spreading. The pain continued but we insisted that it really didn't hurt. We offered to amputate more – Camp David II, version Barak, included a lobotomy. To no avail.

Intifada II. Major warfare. Hundreds and thousands of civilians and IDF personnel murdered in cold blood. Yet again our 'leadership' refused to accept the reality of the situation and continued to deny the throbbing of open, festering infections, swiftly spreading through the body of our country, our land, our people. Again they attempted major amputation. Gush Katif and the northern Shomron. Some ten thousand people expelled from their homes and their land, our land, abandoned to the cancer eating away at our souls.

But that too wasn't enough to eradicate the infection, the disease. Despite the tears of so many thousands of people, the pain of expulsion and destruction, the rest of the country was insensitive to their misery.

Where are we today? Rockets, falling by the hundreds and thousands on Sderot, fired from the same land we abandoned, shouldn't surprise anyone. Neither should the total disregard of the Israeli government shock anyone. After all, why shouldn't the terrorists shoot at us? When was the last time Israel reacted to attacks on its people? Mortars fell on Gush Katif for years and years, yet no one saw them, heard them, or felt the trauma and physical injury they caused. Gunfire was directed at Hebron and other communities throughout Judea and Samaria for two years, the source of which, again, was land that Israel GAVE to the enemy. For two years the Israeli government totally overlooked the suffering of its own people. Ditto Kiryat Shmona and other northern cities, who lived with Katusha fire from Southern Lebanon for years, yet had to watch as Israel fled, only to leave them again at the mercy of terrorists who utilized the vacuum to prepare and then shoot hundreds of missiles into Israel.

One more brief current example fresh out of Hebron. The Supreme Court recently ruled that, despite the continued rocket attacks on Israel, we must provide the 'civilian population' in Gaza with 'humanitarian aid.' Yet here in Hebron, twenty families in Beit HaShalom, legally purchased property, were not allowed to install windows or electric lines or tar the roof, despite the freezing winter weather. The windows have arrived but electricity still runs through a generator and apartments are full of puddles from water draining through the roof and walls to the floor.

Where do we stand today? The foreign minister, (an extremely apt title, because she is foreign to everything Israel ever really stood for) declares that we must continue to chop up our country for the sake of peace, even though the other side is incapable of keeping their side of the deal. We have a Prime Minister, (reminiscent of Chamberlain, holding an umbrella over the head of Abu Mazen), who insists that "Jerusalem is not on the table," or will only be discussed 'last.' But his counterpart denies this and proclaims, 'everything is being discussed.' Simultaneously, political parties such as Shas, continue to contradict reality, remaining in a government on the verge of amputation, stage III – this time the head and heart go.

Where are the people? Does anyone remember that only a few weeks ago a member of an official national committee of inquiry admitted that their conclusions were based, not on the virtues of a specific event, in this instance, the behavior of Olmert during the Second Lebanese War, rather on political factors: if he can bring 'peace' that must be a major consideration before any conclusions are reached.

Let's go back to our toothache. Such a small piece of bone, yet it can cause such excruciating pain. Sometimes, as first aid, the doctor or dentist will fill the area with some kind of temporary painkiller, to numb the pain.

It seems that this is what Israel has done to itself. I'm not sure if we have injected ourselves with some kind of Novocain which has totally dulled our senses, or have swallowed a large dose of sleeping medicine. But one way or the other, these 'medications' have seemingly killed all pain, thereby allowing the infection invading our body to run rampant, totally uncontrolled, bring us to an extremely dangerous threshold. Unfortunately there are times when the doctor, referring to a gangrenous limb, says, 'either the limb or the life.'

Many years ago, Rabbi Meir Kahane hy"d suggested transfer of Israel's Arab population from the State. He was called a racist, imprisoned and forbidden from running for Knesset. Another Jew, Rehavam Ze'evi, (Gandhi) hy"d, also suggested 'transfer' as a solution to the Arab-Israel conflict. He too was called a racist. The Arabs took both men seriously. Both were assassinated.

Presently Israelis, including ministers and MKs are offering payoffs to Jews, as incentive to transfer (expel) them from their homes in Judea and Samaria, in the name of peace. They are not called racists. They are called 'lovers of peace.'

The Jews in Judea and Samaria are, at present, the only people keeping Israel alive. They are the only ones who have not succumbed to the Novacaine-Sleeping Pill cocktail ingested by the rest of the country. But it is very difficult for a small number of people (percentage wise) to swim against the current of the rest of the population. We haven't been able to stop or prevent past catastrophes and I'm not sure that we'll be able to this time either. By ourselves. It is time for the rest of the Jewish world, in Israel and around the globe to stop the medicine, to arise, to feel the pain – no not the personal aches of individuals, but the pain of Am Yisrael over the ages, the pain of Eretz Yisrael, who seeing her children come home is now witnessing a process of self-destruction.

I highly suggest, as a way to start coming out of the stupor, that every single person reading this article find or purchase a DVD called 'Farewell Israel,' written and directed by Joel Gilbert. It can be ordered at This is one of the most important, and also one of the scariest documentaries I've ever seen. I cannot recommend it enough. And after viewing it a few times, internalize it and pass it on to a friend. If this, together with present current events in Israel doesn’t stir you, I'm not sure if anything ever will.

It really is time to wake up.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

An Amen Meal

An Amen Meal
February 17, 2008

From "Blessings from Hebron" - David Wilder

A specially baked cake, prepared by Elisheva, with the
word Amen (in Hebrew) written on it.)

As I’m writing this, a very special event is taking place a few meters from where I’m sitting. Usually I sit in our living room, staring at this screen. However, tonight I was banished to my bedroom, while the living room was overrun by several dozen women from Hebron.
A couple of nights ago my wife received a call asking if she could host Sunday night (tonight), a unique meal. It’s called a meal of Amens.
She agreed, and a few hours ago our apartment started filling up with all sorts of interesting and tasty-looking foods; fruits, vegetables, cakes and drink. By 9:15 the living room was full up with more women than there were chairs. One of the women, acting as the moderator, began talking. (I listened from a crack in the door, not too far from them).
She spoke first of two subjects: speech and food. There is always so much to say. The question is whether we use our power of speech to express the positive aspects of our lives, and holiness, or do we desecrate our G-d – given gift of gab. And so too with food. There is such an overwhelming amount of food available, as opposed to thirty or forty years ago. Do we really appreciate what we’ve been given, or do we take it for granted?
One of the ways to sanctify both of these facets of our lives is to bless G-d prior to eating. The brachot – blessings – occur in two parts. A person who wants to partake of his meal, recites a blessing before eating. Whoever hears that blessing answers ‘Amen.’ And it is written, ‘he who answers Amen is greater than he who recites the blessing.’ Why?
The word Amen, in Hebrew, the letters Aleph, Mem, Nun,  are the initials of G-d, the faithful King. They are also the root letters of the word Emunah, which means faith. A person who answers Amen to a blessing is reaffirming his faith, his belief in G-d.
There are five kinds of food to be blessed: Wheat (break or cake), Wine (Grape juice), fruit of the tree, fruit of the earth, and anything else (meat, milk products, other beverages.)
Each type of food represents a different kind of worldy blessing. Wheat represents a blessing for employment; wine, for a mate; fruit of the tree, children; fruit of the earth, health and long life, and the last blessing covers anything and everything – happiness, repentance, etc.
As I’m writing the women are sitting in the other room, listening to various stories of people who recited special blessings and those who recited Amen. When they conclude a particular subject one of the women recites the blessing over a morsel from one of the above categories.  All the other women answer Amen. They then go around the room reciting names of people who are in need of such a blessing, be it for children, health, a spouse, or anything else.
I listened to some of the stories told and would like to repeat one of them.
A religious Jew acted as an escort for a sick person who had to travel to the United States for medical treatment. On a Friday night, following the beginning of the Sabbath, they were told that it was necessary to be x-rayed. Even though it would normally be forbidden on the Shabbat to ride in an elevator, for such medical needs it was permitted. The two men, the ill man and his escort, rode the elevator down 17 flights to the x-ray department where they waited to be called. While speaking to each other in Hebrew, they suddenly heard a weak voice calling to them. A very old woman, also waiting in the room, was speaking to them, in Yiddish.

They began talking and she told them her story. She had been born in Europe, and when World War Two began, her parents asked Gentile neighbors to hide their daughter. She survived the war and later immigrated to the United States, her Judaism long forgotten. And here she was, decades later, speaking Yiddish. She suddenly asked, ‘it’s Friday night, the Sabbath. Can you recite Shabbat Kiddush for me?’
In order to recite the special Sabbath prayer, the escort realized he would have to climb up 17 flights to bring back the wine needed for the blessing. He also realized that he would have to trek far outside to reach the stairs, to get back to his room. But he decided to do so, despite the distance. In very cold weather and the long walk, he climbed the stairs and reached the door to the 17th floor, only to find it locked. He looked towards the heavens and asked the L-rd to help him. Suddenly the door opened. Another person, having lost his way, had opened that door by mistake.
He took the bottle of wine, walked back down the 17 flights, found the woman and recited the Sabbath Kiddush blessing for her. As he finished, she said with all her might, “AMEN.” And then she cried out, ‘it’s been over 50 years since I could say Amen after Kiddush.’ She repeated herself over and over again, until the two men were called in for their x-ray. When they returned, the woman was no longer there. When they asked where she was, they were told that a few minutes earlier she had passed away.
It is written that a person who repeats the word Amen, with all their might, opens the door to the Garden of Eden (Tractate Shabbat, 119B). It seems that this is what she had done, only moments before departing from this world.
A few meters from me the women are still reciting blessings and many Amens, with goal of saying at least 100 Amens, praying for people who are in need of health, happiness, or anything else. This really is a unique meal, a meal of Amens, a meal sanctifying their beings, the food they eat and the essence of their souls.  I can only wish upon all of you that you too should be privileged to participate in such a meal, or, at the very least, like myself, witness it from not too far away. It is quite a purifying experience.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why Hebron: - An Open Answer to Michael

Why Hebron: - An Open Answer to Michael (Question 11)

February 12, 2008

My answer, many times over is, how can you not bring children to Hebron?
In all seriousness, wouldn't it be safer for the settlers to treat Hebron like Shechem? You never had people living in Shechem, endangering their children. There were just students who came in to study there at the holy site. Why endanger Jewish children just to make a political point, when you could work and study in Hevron, and not subject your children to walk the streets where Arab terrorists tread?

Being that this question was seriously asked, I think it deserves a very serious answer. Let's start from the end: not subjecting my children to walking the streets where Arab terrorists tread. OK - not in Hebron, but where? Last week a terrorist exploded in Dimona. Only a miracle and a very quick policeman prevented the second terrorist from exploding too. - Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beer Sheva, Hadera, Afula - where no - where in the State of Israel can a Jew walk 'safely,' without being targeted by terrorists? I am unfamiliar with such a place. Wherever we go, we are in their sights.

So, there are then two possible solutions: not to live in Israel, which I do not view as an option, or to live normally and naturally in our homeland, in our cities, in our homes. Hebron is the first Jewish home, the first Jewish city in Israel. What could be more natural for a Jew than to live in Hebron?!

Now let me return to the second point, about 'making a political point.' I am not, nor or are any of the other Jews living in Hebron, to the best of my knowledge, making a 'political point,' as such. I live in Hebron, following in the footsteps of thousands and tens of thousands of Jews who lived in Hebron throughout the generations. I live in Israel, not for political reasons, rather for religious reasons. A Jew is commanded to live in Eretz Yisrael. This is where G-d wants us to live - He created us, the Jewish people, to live in our land, in Eretz Yisrael. He didn't limit us - live only where there are lots of other Jews. When Abraham wandered the Land he was all by himself. When he bought Ma'arat HaMachpela there weren't too many others like him in the neighborhood. Yet that didn't prevent him from living here, or from purchasing the Caves of Machpela for the Jewish People for eternity. Jews are commanded to live all over Israel, even..... Tel Aviv. But Tel Aviv isn't mentioned in the Bible. Hebron is, numerous times. It is called by our sages, one of the four holy cities in Eretz Yisrael. This has nothing to do with politics - it has to do with Torah.
And almost the last point - comparing Shechem to Hebron - treating Hebron like Shechem.
There was an international agreement about Joseph's Tomb in Shechem. Arafat signed it. The United States guaranteed it. But the above photos show what happened to Joseph's Tomb. BECAUSE Jews DID NOT live there. Had Jews lived in Shechem I have no doubt that just as we have access to Ma'arat HaMachpela, so too would we have access to this holy site.

For 700 hundred years this is the way it was for Jews in Hebron. They could pray at the 7th step, outside Ma'arat HaMachpela, the 2nd holiest site to Jews in all the world. And today?

Hundreds of thousands visit Hebron and Ma'arat HaMachpela annually. Only because there are Jews living in Hebron. The Arabs tell us straight out: Should they ever, G-d forbid, control this site, we will not be able to worship here. So, what do we choose - this photo or one of the above?
And the last point: Children. The question is focussed on children: how can you bring children to Hebron? My answer, many times over is, how can you not bring children to Hebron? You know, there are problems with kids all over the world. But in Hebron, we don't have problems with drugs, prostitution, and other such epidemics. Our children, when they finish their military service, don't travel to India or Thailand searching for their guru, because their guru is in their backyard  - they pray there every day and every week - Avraham, Yitzhak, Ya'akov, Sarah, Rivka, and Leah - at Ma'arat HaMachpela.
We too have problems with youth, who doesn't. But our kids don't live for a 'bigger house' or a 'bigger car.' They live ideals, they grow up on ideals, and they escort these ideals into the future. Our kids continue living in Hebron, or in other communities in Judea and Samaria. Some, the really dedicated ones, make their way to Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv, to bring some of the idealism of Hebron to the Big City, where idealism is usually translated into how many vacations have people taken outside Israel. These kids, the ones from Hebron, from Gush Katif, from Yehuda and Shomron, these kids are the future leadership of the Jewish people in Israel. They live faith, they have nerves of steel, and they won't let the White House, or anyone else bully them into betraying their beliefs. Watch and see. They are our future.
Is is dangerous? Perhaps. More dangerous than elsewhere? I don't know. But I do know that if we don't live our ideals, if we abandon our homeland, our cities, there is no such thing as a vacuum. And those who fill the vacuum we leave have no intentions of stopping in Hebron, or Beit El or Elon Moreh. They too have ideals, which they hope will lead them to Haifa, Tel Aviv and Beer Sheva. If we continue living where we are today, that won't happen.
So, briefly, that's why we live in Hebron, and refuse to treat this holy city as was Shechem. We prefer our presence at Ma'arat HaMachpela to the kinds of pictures of Arabs dancing on the ruins of Kever Yosef. And above and beyond that, we really truely love Hebron. We will never abandon our Saba and Savta, our Grandma and Grandpa, here in Hebron

(See also:

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Full Cycle - A Brit at Tel Hebron

A few years ago I wrote about a special wedding which took place at Ma'arat HaMachpela. At that time Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook's grandson was married at that holy site. Rav Kook, Israel's first Chief Rabbi, was one of the most significant Rabbis and Jewish thinkers in the past few hundred years.
Following the expulsion from, and destruction of Yamit, Rav Kook's grandson, Rabbi Shlomo Ra'anan and his wife Chaya, moved to Hebron, to the Tel Rumeida (Admot Yishai) neighborhood. There they lived in a small caravan home for many years. Rabbi Ra'anan, a quiet and seemingly unimposing man was actually a great Torah scholar, whose modesty and humility characterized his life. Following in the footsteps of his father, Rabbi Shalom-Natan Ra'anan and his grandfather Rabbi Kook, he dedicated his life to Torah-study and dedication to Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel. And, of course, his family.
Nine and a half years ago Rabbi Ra'anan was attacked and brutally murdered by an Arab terrorist who infiltrated into his caravan home at eleven o'clock at night and stabbed him to death. At the Rabbi's funeral the Rishon l'Tzion, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu declared that a Torah study center should be established where the Rabbi was murdered. As a result "Kollel Ohr Shlomo" – the Ohr Shlomo (the Lights of Shlomo) Torah Study Center was established in the very room where the Rabbi was killed. The Ra'anan's daughter Tzippy and her husband, Rabbi Yisrael Shlissel moved to Hebron and Rabbi Shlissel became dean of the new Torah study center.
Until the Shlissel's had a place to live, the Rabbi drove an hour and a half every day from his home to Hebron and back. One morning, on the transJudean highway, a terrorist standing in the middle of the road opened fire on Rabbi Shlissel. The Rabbi literally ducked, and miraculously was not hit. He continued his daily drive until their new home in the Mitzpe Shalhevet neighborhood was ready for them. They moved to Hebron with their many children and became official residents of Hebron.
Almost three years ago, the Shlissels, together with eight other families, were expelled from their Mitzpe Shalhevet homes. The Shlissels moved to a large caravan home in Tel Rumeida, only meters from where Tzippy's father had been murdered only a few years before.
The Ohr Shlomo Torah Study center is a very special place of Torah study. Some fifteen young Torah scholars spend their days preparing to be Rabbis. They are limited to five years of study at the Center, during which time they study for Rabbinic examines allowing them to take positions as official Rabbis. Graduates from the study center today teach in such diverse places such as Netanya, Ofakim, and even Ma'arat HaMachpela in Hebron.
At the helm is Rabbi Yisrael Shlissel, an important Torah scholar in his own right. As was his father-in-law, the Rabbi is very modest. But his knowledge and character have molded the Ohr Shlomo Torah Center into special place of study.
The Torah study is enhanced by the fact that the center is located on Tel Hebron, home of all the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, and also King David, who lived in Hebron for seven and a half years before establishing Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel. Torah study in such an atmosphere is distinctly unique.
The Shlissel's themselves have a large family, with three married children, one of whom was married only a month ago. However, last week they celebrated another special 'simcha' – festive occasion. Tzippy Shlissel gave birth to her eleventh child, a little boy.
Due to the cold, snowy weather, the baby's brit milah, (ritual circumcision), the Shlissel's decided to conduct the event, not at Ma'arat HaMachpela, rather in the Ohr Shlomo study hall. Despite the closed roads, many people arrived and filled the room for the festivity. Among those attending were Rabbis Dov Lior and Eliezer Waldman, both of whom teach at the Torah study center. With Rabbi Waldman holding the baby in his arms, Rabbi Lior recited the special blessings prior to naming the child. At the appropriate time, Rabbi Yisrael Shlissel, the baby's father, leaned over and whispered the new baby's name to Rabbi Lior who immediately repeated it for all to hear: Avraham Yitzhak . Little Avraham Yitzhak was named for his great great grandfather, Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook.
On the wall of the Shlissel's caravan home, not too far from the Ohr Shlomo Torah Study Center, are three pictures. On the left is Tzippy's uncle, Rav Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook. In the middle is Rav Shlomo Ra'anan, Tzippy's murdered father. And on the right is Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook.
These three men represent, perhaps more than any other people, the return to Eretz Yisrael. Rav Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook is arguably the father of modern Jewish religious Zionism. His teachings have led to generations of students and teachers, who continue today to imbue love of Torah, the Jewish people (Am Yisrael) and Eretz Yisrael to the masses. His son, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, led the 'settlement movement,' the return to the heart of Eretz Yisrael, to Judea, Samaria and Gaza following their liberation in the Six Day War in 1967. His students settled Hebron and Kiryat Arba and followed to build the Shomron and Gaza communities. And Rav Kook's grandson, Rabbi Ra'anan represents above all 'mesirut nefesh,' the dedication and determination to Torah and Eretz Yisrael, willing to give literally everything, even his own life, to achieve these lofty goals.
The Shlissel's, Rabbi Yisrael and Tzippy, continue in the footsteps of their illustrious forefathers, beginning with Avraham Avinu and Sarah Emanu in their Tel Hebron home, through Rabbis' Kook and Ra'anan. It seems that now the cycle has been completed: Avraham Yitzhak Shlissel, named for his great great grandfather, Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook, should be blessed to learn and teach Torah in his father's study center in Hebron, and in his great great grandfather's yeshiva, Mercaz HaRav, in Jerusalem, spreading the light that the Kook, Ra'anan and Shlissel families continue to emanate to Am Yisrael, in Israel and around the world.
Mazel Tov.
With blessings from Hebron.



I recall, over twenty years ago, during and after the first Lebanese War, hearing the Chief Rabbi of Hebron-Kiryat Arba, speak about the bloody conflict in the north. He exclaimed, time and time again, ‘who knows if the expulsion in the south didn’t cause the war in the north.’

Most people have forgotten by now, that shortly prior to the beginning of the first Lebanon War, Israel, then led by Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon, destroyed Yamit, Ophira, and all other communities in the Sinai, liberated by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War. All Jewish residents of these communities were brutally expelled from their homes, which were then destroyed by the Israeli government. The Camp David Accords were the predecessor of Oslo, The Hebron Accords, the annihilation of Gush Katif and two northern Shomron communities, and negotiations with our blood-thirsty enemy for the expulsion of multitudes of Jews from Judea, Samaria and extensive areas of Jerusalem, including Temple Mount. Of course, the process doesn’t end here; it only concludes the negotiating process. Following implementation of such an agreement, (G-d Forbid,) the enemy would undoubtedly continue pushing for the completion of the first stage of their goal: the use of war-terror to capture all of Eretz Yisrael, bringing about the final solution: the destruction of a Jewish state in the Middle East.

Why only the ‘first stage of their goal?’ Clearly, the aim of Islam is not only the end of Israel; rather it is the Islamization of the entire western world and culture, including a takeover of Europe and North America. That seeds of that mission have already been planted; England, France and Scandinavia are being overrun by Moslems. According to recent studies, ‘Muhammad’ is expected to be the most popular boy’s name in England in 2008 []. (I highly recommend viewing the DVD documentary “Farewell Israel [], for a fuller comprehension of this fact.)

So too, following the horrible destruction of Gush Katif, Israel found itself embroiled, not in one war, rather in at least four military campaigns. The first, coming directly on the heels of Gush Katif, was again, as twenty five years ago, from the north. Not too long afterwards, from the south. And let’s not forget Iran. That too is war; similar to the others, one-sided. The enemy has proclaimed its goal of exterminating a Jewish presence in Israel. Israel is still twiddling its thumbs.

However there is a big difference between what happened two and a half decades ago and today. Then, the war was on enemy ground. The second Lebanon War, as well as the continuing war from Gaza, is being fought within Eretz Yisrael. The rockets fired by Hizballah, blanketing the north, and the rockets being shot into southern Israeli cities and communities, have moved the war into Israel proper. Not only are soldiers in uniform casualties. Civilians are being targeted, terrorized, wounded and killed.

But in reality, this is nothing new. I mentioned a few sentences ago, that Israel is involved in four military campaigns; the fourth being waged from within Judea and Samaria, a war fought for years, primarily against Israeli civilians, which continues today. Not only Hizballah and Hamas are attacking Israel. Abu-Mazen’s ‘moderate’ Fatah terrorists have not forgotten how to kill and they are doing their best to do just that.

The Winograd Commission report, issued a few days ago, is a drop in the bucket. One of the most headlined conclusions from the report was the failure of the IDF leadership. The head of the pyramid was then Chief of Staff, General Dan Halutz. He was clearly unqualified for the job of ‘RamatKal,’ Chief of Staff. A former Israeli Air Force commander, Halutz may have been an excellent fighter pilot, but knowing how to fly a plane didn’t necessarily qualify him to take charge of all the IDF. Did the Winograd Commission examine HOW Halutz came to be army chief, WHY former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon fired Moshe Ya’alon a year early and brought in Halutz? The answer to that is easy: Ya’alon wasn’t crazy about abandoning Gush Katif. He probably would have done as ordered had he remained in the top job, but he wouldn’t have done so enthusiastically. So, goodbye it was to Ya’alon and welcome it was to Dan Halutz, who promised to do the job with a smile on his face, getting the dirty work done quickly. That Halutz knew how to do; to expel Israelis from their homes, to trounce the Jewish foe, the opponent of peace; that he could accomplish with ease. But to crush an enemy, threatening to destroy the state, killing and kidnapping soldiers, shooting rockets into Israeli cities, that was too difficult a task for the former fighter pilot.

Winograd dealt with the unpreparedness of the army, an issue which didn’t begin during the Halutz tenure, rather years before. What lay behind this lack of readiness?

I recall, years ago, during the Rabin-Peres years, taking my children to Tank Hill, in (the settlement of) Ramat Eshkol in Jerusalem, where one of the bloodiest and most important battles of the Six Day war was fought. We wandered around the memorial, museum and then watched a movie about the miraculous war. When we left I remember commenting to my wife that the movie’s theme seemed to be one of apology for having fought, and having won the war. She agreed with me.

That is the heart of the problem. An army cannot be expected to be victorious if the soldiers and commanders are conditioned into believing that it is wrong to fight for your survival; that the land you are supposed to be defending really doesn’t belong to you; that many of your countrymen are really the enemy and the enemy is really your friend.

How much time and money did the Israeli government spend to brainwash tens and hundreds of thousands of officers and soldiers in preparation for the expulsion from Gush Katif? They psychologically rendered the best of our best brain dead. They destroyed their thought-processes. They turned them into robots with one programmed message: these people, this land, are evil. They are a hindrance to the continued existence of Israel. They must be destroyed for the rest of us to continue to exist.

And in they went – the Israeli storm troopers, uniformed in black, to ‘follow orders,’ to fulfill the mission they’d been programmed to complete. And so they did.

But then, a short time later, when the real enemy attacked, they had no idea what to do. Neither did the ‘leaders’ who had self-hypnotized themselves into believing that the Messiah had arrived; the days of peace were at hand; terror and war had come to an end, the end-of-days had arrived. Peace Now!

Nobody with eyes of truth in their head could be surprised at the results of the Second Lebanese war or the continued paralysis preventing Israel from ending the rocket attacks on Sderot. Our so-called leaders are the very antithesis of leadership. They are terminally ill, sick with a cancer of the soul, which has filtered into their brains and down into their bodies. Surely Olmert must go, but not alone. Many of the others, in Kadima, the Likud and other political parties contracted this ‘I hate Eretz Yisrael-I despise ‘settlers’’ disease, which has eaten away their hearts and souls, leaving them empty shells, who may look just like everybody else, but are, in reality, golems, whose continued participation in Israeli political society is endangering the existence of the State of Israel.

True Jewish leadership can only come from people imbued with faith, true Jewish faith, with roots in Torah, with roots in Eretz Yisrael, with roots in G-d.

These are the authentic results of what should be called the WinogKatif Commission. Let’s hope the Israeli people wake up fast and implement these conclusions ASAP, saving not only themselves, but generations of Jews in Israel for years to come.