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Switch to Forum Live View The Heart of Jewish Life - Israel
8 months ago  ::  Sep 05, 2013 - 10:59PM #241
Bunsinspace
Posts: 5,900

BS"D


Awesome!!!

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8 months ago  ::  Sep 09, 2013 - 5:46AM #242
NahumS
Posts: 1,638

Sep 5, 2013 -- 10:59PM, Bunsinspace wrote:

BS"D


Awesome!!!


These are the Days of Awe....


גמר חתימה טובה!

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8 months ago  ::  Sep 12, 2013 - 4:41PM #243
NahumS
Posts: 1,638

And just in time for the holidays... a wonderful present from our ancestors. 


Recently, archaeologists discovered a cache of coins and a gold Torah ornament dating from the the 7th century CE at the foot of the Temple Mount. The ornament depicts the menorah, a shofar and a Torah scroll.


www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_emb...


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7 months ago  ::  Sep 30, 2013 - 4:40AM #244
NahumS
Posts: 1,638

I visited the City of David for the first time in several years and had a fascinating experience seeing their recent finds.
The City Of David is located south of Jerusalem's Old City. This is the exact spot that David conquered from the Jebusites and made his capital. This is where Hezekiah dug his underground water channel centuries later. 
The foundations of a monumental structure were found; archeologists identify this as the possible foundations of David's palace!


We also saw a toilet from the First Temple period.


The most special and novel thing that I saw this visit was the northern side of the Siloam Pool where the pilgrims going up to the Temple would immerse themselves. We saw the road leading up to the Temple Mount - the exact route of our ancestors during Sukkot 2000 years ago. 


But the drainage channel underneath this road was even more moving. This is where the fugitives from the Romans hid when the Temple was being destroyed, and were later flushed out and killed. We walked the entire length of this channel for about half an hour underground - and emerged near the southern wall of the Temple Mount. This was a real experience!


It's too bad that I did not visit the Temple Mount then - when I returned two days later, it was closed to Jews because of Muslim rioting....


Here's a clip of the the underground passage: 



 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dl7mqPP9reU


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6 months ago  ::  Nov 11, 2013 - 3:54AM #245
NahumS
Posts: 1,638

There's an Ulpan that meets in the library where I work. An Ulpan is a Hebrew language school, aimed at helping new immigrants (olim) or visitors the necessary tools to speak Hebrew. In a country with such a high percentage of immigrants from many countries, this is a necessity - and the absorption ministry provides this for free (ofr a limited time) and encourages new olim to learn Hebrew as well and as soon as they can.


I never studied in an Ulpan - I went to schools in the States where Hebrew was the language of instruction for Jewish studies and Hebrew speaking summer camp. I had spent a year in an Israeli yeshiva and taught Hebrew in Jewish schools before I made aliyah. So it wasn't crucial for me. Naturally, my Hebrew improved and became richer and more fluent as a result of living here.


I have met many Olim who never really managed to learn Hebrew - and it's a shame. Living in a country and not speaking the language comfortably will make you a permanent outsider. I saw this with my grandparents. They arrived in America as young people but never really learned to speak English. Their world was constricted and awkward, and they depended on their children and grandchildren to negotiate contact with the environment. They read the Yiddish newspaper Forvertz and needed help following the plot of any tv show they watched. Their contact with their neighbors was limited to simple conversation. My Bubbe actually went to night school to learn English, but quit when th eclass learned the word "knife". - "A loshon vus shreibt 'knife' mit a 'K' is nisht kein loshon far mir!" - A language that spells "knife" with a 'K' is no language for me.


I think that Hebrew is essential for making successful Aliyah. It's important for work, for basic communication, for effective parenting (if you can't speak with your kids' teachers, you're not able to be involved in school) and for being a part of israeli society. I'm afraid that some new olim are "ugly Americans" who think that everyone should speak English and understand them. You can manage that way as a tourist - but not if you want to live in a country.


Besides practical matters, Hebew is a key to Jewish culture. To read the Tanakh in the original s a precious gift -and that's only the first stage of Jewish literature. Even if you don't have plans right now to make Aliyah - I'd strongly urge you to learn Hebrew and to become Jewishly literate.


I have a number of friends I've met through lovemocha.com - a language site. One is a translator from Lublin, Poland, a Roman Catholic. He has managed to learn Hebrew on his own and is quite proficient. I also speak quite often with a young man in Lima, Peru who is on his way to conversion to Judaism. We speak only in Hebrew - which he learned on his own. I even met a fellow from Algeria, whose native language is French. He's learned Hebrew (without benefit of Ulpan!) and we sometimes speak Hebrew together. 

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5 months ago  ::  Dec 04, 2013 - 4:22AM #246
NahumS
Posts: 1,638

It's Hannukah here too - and everywhere you look, practically, you can see as decorations, in windows and in doorways. According to the Talmud the proper place to light Hannukah candles is the doorway facing the public thoroughfare. If one lives in an upper story, in the window. And when it is dangerous, candles may be lit inside the house.


This has been the accepted practice for centuries - but in the renewed Jewish state, many people make a point of lighting candles outside, facing the street. it is a return to th eoptimal practive mentined in the Talmud - but also a statement that the public space is Jewish as well.


Here's a video of candles in Jerusalem:www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHqwfd2WEtA


And one of candle lighting in our house.www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrjmdB5ErSc&feat...
A joyous Hannukahand a blessed month! 

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5 months ago  ::  Dec 17, 2013 - 7:30AM #247
NahumS
Posts: 1,638

You may have heard that we are recovering from a huge snowstorm in the Holy Land. Bus service to Jerusalem has just resumed, thousands are still lacking electriity, and Safed (Tsfat) is completely snowbound. 


I heard reports of people taking in strangers for Shabbat - many people were stranded in their cars when the roads became impassable.


But one of the most moving stories I heard of Jerusalem in the snow was sent to me by email by a friend:


Please Pray for Gadi ben Hatun


A remarkbale Jerusalem experience


After being embedded in snow and ice for five days I decided to attempt to emancipate my car from its deep freeze. Of course, this being Israel where such weather is as uncommon as a palm tree in the Antarctic, the only tool I had was the security club for my steering wheel. It didn’t do much good.


Suddenly a little old Sephardi lady comes hurrying from across the street carrying a heavy-duty gardening hoe and a large spackling tool. She was 75 if she was a day. Without a word she starts digging under my tires to break up the ice. Of course I tried to take the hoe from her in order to do the job myself, but she refused adamantly. “If I see someone in trouble it is my pleasure to help”. She was very spry, but no youngster. She told me she has been living on this street for 56 years.


It took a while – the digging wasn’t easy. But eventually my car was sprung from its icy trap.


I thanked her profusely and told her I wish there were some way I could show my gratitude. To which she replied "Heaven takes care for those who do good on earth. But there is something you could do”, she added. “ I have a sick son who needs prayers. Please have him in mind when you pray. His name is Gadi ben Hatun.”


And she gathered her tools and left.


So, please, for those among you who pray – please have Gadi ben Hatun in mind.


This reminds me why I live here in Jerusalem. Not that I need any reminders.


jjg



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3 months ago  ::  Jan 16, 2014 - 10:14AM #248
NahumS
Posts: 1,638

Today is Tu B'Shvat - the 15th of Shvat, the New Year of the Trees. According to the Mishna, this is a cut-off point between the fruit of last year and the fruit of the present Hebrew year, because it is the height of the rainy season.


Actually it's quite sunny and warm, and, had I the day off from work, I would have gone to see the blooming almond trees and wild flowers. After torrential rain and unprecedented snow storms, this past month has been cool and dry - and today was even unseasonably warm.


In the diaspora, Tu B'Shvat was a day of yearning for Eretz Yisrael, and the Shulhan Arukh tells us that the custom is to eat lots of fruit. I enjoyed as pomegranate for desert at lunch today! Many people eat dried fruit - but that is a throwback to when the only fruit from Israel that was available was dried. Toady, fresh fruits are abundant all year round - although some are seasonal - no fresh grapes, peaches, apricots or mangos are in the markets now. 


The mystics of Safed saw Tu B'Shvat as part of the drama of the changing seasons and the cosmic struggle between the outer husk of reality and its inner, spiritual core. They designed a special "seder" complete with drinking white wine and red and eating various fruits.


When we had younger children, we would eat all sorts of fruits, and recite midrashim and verses pertaining to some of them. In our family, it's a special day - our wedding anniversary and close to the birthdays of two of our children. We celebrated one of our daughters Bat Mitzvah on Tu B'Shvat with a holiday theme and had different members ofthe family recite Divrei Torah that centered around the seven fruits of Eretz Yisrael. Together with the kids, we made huge paper trees to decorate the hall where we held the party, and the tables were graced with baskets of fresh fruit.


The early Zionists made Tu B'Shvat a day for planting trees and reforesting the (then) barren country. Even today, youth movements and schools go out to plant saplings in Israel's Keren Kayemet (JNF) forests.


I'm adding a few links to add to your Tu B'Shvat enjoyment.

 http://www.jr.co.il/hotsites/tu-b-shvat.htm


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2 months ago  ::  Mar 02, 2014 - 5:02AM #249
NahumS
Posts: 1,638

Last night I attended a really special program with my wife. The local yeshva high school has a beautiful Aron Kodesh (Torah Ark) designed by an artist in amazing varieties of wood. It was dedicated in memory of a boy who attended the high school and was murdered at age 17 when terrorists burst into the Otniel Yeshiva where he was studying. He had kitchen duty that Friday evening, and the boys working in the kitchen were able to lock the door to the dining room  and thus saved more than a hundred students who were having their Shabbat meal. Six students were killed before they overcame the terrorists.


As his mother said, the important thing about this young man was how he lived, not how he died.  I knew him slightly - we would see  each other on the bus occasionally. His mother said that he was a "living Sefer Torah" - completely immersed in Torah learning, but a talented artist, athlete and singer as well. 


The artist, an immgrant to Israel from France, explained her use of different varieties of wood and the imagery of the Ark. You can see a picture at the link below.  It was fascinating. She also designed the bimah which was dedicated in memory of another boy who died of an illness at age 14. The Beit Midrash is used every school day by the yeshiva and on Shabbat by a congregation of mostly "olim" from the States who put an emphasis on song and joy in their prayers. Many people from our community attended this moving and inspiring event.


Here are some links- one about the artist and her work: 
www.facebook.com/WoodartCathykerner



And about Gabriel Hoter, the young man in whose memory the Ark was dedicated: 
web.macam.ac.il/~elaine/gavri/17years.ht...



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