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Switch to Forum Live View The Heart of Jewish Life - Israel
2 months ago  ::  Jun 20, 2014 - 4:23AM #251
Posts: 1,716

Israel is going through a hard time. I'm sure that you've all read about the three teenagers who were kidnapped in Gush Etzion. As usual, there is a very small degree of seperation. I just spoke with the aunt of one of the boys when she stopped by the library to take out some books - she was on her way to the family to give them some more encouragement. Another boy is a study partner (havruta) of a good friend of my son who lives in our neighborhood. So we are all worried, and praying for the boys and for the soldiers who are going house to house. Psalms, prayer rallies, and other expressions of hope and concern go on every day.

One of the most amazing things about this entire episode is the families of the missing boys. They are truly amazing, especially the mothers. They are strong, elegant, restrained and well spoken. One was shown on TV last night, speaking with a group of schoolgirls at the Western Wall, who had arrived there to pray for the missing boys. The boy's mother said to them: We appreciate your prayers so much! I believe that our sons will come home - but whatever happens, I want you to realize how much good your prayers have done.

The whole country is embracing and praying for these families and their sons. It has been suggested that everyone light 3 extra candles this Shabbat as a prayer for their wellbeing and safe return home. 

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2 months ago  ::  Jun 20, 2014 - 1:58PM #252
Posts: 2,649

Will do. Have been watching the news reports. Prayers at shul and home -

Blessed are You, HaShem, Who blesses the years.
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1 month ago  ::  Jun 30, 2014 - 5:36AM #253
Posts: 1,716

Weeks have gone by, and we have no news of the missing teenagers. Last night a rally was held in Tel Aviv to support the families and the soldiers searching for the abducted boys.

And for Muslims in Israel, Ramadan has begun. Unfortunately, the weather has been terribly hot and makes fasting difficult. In Jerusalem, one can see families gathering for Iftar, the post-fast meal. We had a visitor from Turkey, a lovely young lady, who attended Iftar at Al Aqsa (the Temple Mount) and it was a very moving experience for her.

So was visiting our home and attending Friday evening prayers in our synagogue and joining us for Shabbat dinner. She has begun to add expressions such as "be'ezrat haShem" (with G-d's help) and "im yirtzeh HaShem" (G-d willing) to her conversation - as I have begun to say "Inshallah" (G-d willing) and "Mashallah" (something between "baruch HaShem" and "Bli Ayin Hara) when I speak with my Muslim friends. Most of my Muslim friends are online friends, but in this case, virtual has become real. 

The young lady expressed great interest in visiting a synagogue and getting to know Israel and Jewish culture. I'm not so sure where this comes from - perhaps from a young Jewish man with whom she took a course and befriended. She made quite an impression on my family and she and my wife parted with hugs and kisses. 

The whole visit was somewhat strange and very wonderful. Before she visited us at home in our "settlement", we (my wife, one of our sons and I) had dinner with her in the Mamillah Mall in Jerusalem, and a couple of days later, along with a cousin of mine visiting from the States, I showed her some sites in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. The visit to the four Sephardic Synagogues complex fascinated her, especially the synagogue called "Istanbouli" - after her home town. She was very eager to "pray in a synagogue like a Jewish woman" - so we invited her to join us, and my daughter accompanied her to shul and showed her the place in a siddur with English translation. Yesterday she visited Yad VaShem, and texted me that it was both very interesting and very sad...

This whole experience did take us a bit outside our comfort zone - and proved to us how staying inside that zone all the time can impoverish our lives. 

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1 month ago  ::  Jul 02, 2014 - 5:24AM #254
Posts: 1,716

I'm sure that all of you know of the tragedy that has befallen Israel. It was hard to watch the funerals on TV after we identified so much with the families of the murdered boys.

But here is an interesting article written by David Weinberg and appearing in the J. Post:

A believing nation

06/26/2014 21:02

As I walked into work yesterday after a two-week study trip abroad, a colleague of mine grabbed me to talk about the kidnapped boys: Naftali, Eyal and Gil-Ad. She knew that I live in Nof Ayalon, Fraenkel’s home neighborhood. Fraenkel’s parents are my friends.

“The mothers of those three boys are amazing,” she said. “Especially Rachel Fraenkel, who spoke so eloquently and inspiringly at the UN in Geneva this week. It must be easier for them as religious women to handle the situation, since they have faith to rely upon.

Oy, sometimes I wish that I had such faith too. I’m secular.”

I responded to her philosophically. A world without faith is a harsh and cold world; a world without sustainable hope. Religious people indeed believe the ultimate reality at the heart of the universe is not blind to our existence, deaf to our prayers, and indifferent to our fate. Faith in G-d’s providence is a central tenet of the Jewish religion; indeed, of all the world’s major religions.

I don’t know that such faith makes the situation any “easier” for the families of the kidnapped boys, I told her, but it certainly provides a framework within which to channel one’s energies, desires, needs and aspirations.

Believers are not blind, and understand G-d “isn’t our employee” – as Rachel Fraenkel poignantly said this week. But they nevertheless believe that prayer and Torah study, good deeds and initiatives that promote national unity indeed can have a constructive impact in the heavens.

“Yeah, but I don’t pray,” my colleague responded. “Alas, I just don’t have that faith.”

I countered: “I bet you have more faith than you credit yourself for. After all, we are a nation of believers. Just about everybody in this country feels part of a grand meta-historic journey. A journey that is connected to spiritual powers and a moral heritage invested in the Jewish People that has sustained us for thousands of years and returned us to the Land of Israel.”

“Of course, not everybody in the country is ‘religious’ in terms of the traditional practice of Judaism. Far from it. But I’m sure that you feel, like me, that there is some guiding hand behind the modern renaissance of Jewish life and peoplehood.”

To read the rest:

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1 month ago  ::  Jul 02, 2014 - 3:22PM #255
Posts: 1,716

Here is a moving description ofthe funerals....

MODIIN, Israel (JTA) — They were their mothers’ sons. They were all of our sons. They were dear boys. They were martyrs for Israel. They were funny, clever, creative. They are the messengers of the Jewish people in heaven.

The joint funeral Tuesday of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach provided a capstone to a harrowing ordeal that over 18 days united Israelis in hope and prayer. When the teens were found dead Monday night, their bodies lying half exposed in a field near Hebron, the national outpouring became one of grief and despair.

It is simultaneously a national tragedy for Israel and a personal one for the boys’ families. And at the funeral and the memorials preceding it, the national and personal melded together.

The country shared in the families’ tragedy. The families became national heroes.

“We prayed, each of us alone and all of us together, for a miracle,” said Israeli President Shimon Peres in his eulogy. “We prayed that we would see them return in peace to the families, to their homes and to us all. Sadly we were hit by the tragedy of their murder and a deep grief enveloped our people.”

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3 weeks ago  ::  Jul 10, 2014 - 3:42PM #256
Posts: 1,716

I did not write here about the murder of Mohamed Abu Khdeir - not because I did not thnk it worthy of notice, but because I am heartsick about it. There was something redeeming to write about regarding the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli boys - the outpouring of love and concern towards the families, the nobility and faith of those families, the overwhelming sense of unity and solidarity - but here there is very little to say. The only redeeming aspect is the unanimous condemnation of this heinous crime, and the attempt of the Fraenkel family, whose son was murdered, to reach out to the family of this murdered boy.

As my wife said - "Just when you think it can't get worse - it gets worse."

And now war. It is a righteous war, one being waged to end the constant missiles on Sderot and the other towns surrounding Gaza. These missiles have recently reached many other points in Israel. I thought that we were out of range in the Jerusalem area - but just a few hours ago one landed in hiking distance from here. I was at work in the library and had to herd the readers into our shelter when the air-raid began. After a few minutes we heard the missile fall - not terribly dramatic, just a boom in the distance. There were actually a few missiles - some were shot down in the air and two landed on barren land, harming no one.

"Iron Dome" is a real miracle. Hundreds of missiles have been shot - and the only causalty was an old man who tripped on his way to a shelter, and hurt himself badly. When we were fervently praying for the return of the kidnapped boys, not knowing that they were already dead, we were assured that no prayer is ever wasted. Now we see what those prayers accomplished - not what we had hoped - but the rescue of thousands who are in the line of Hamas missiles. Now we have to hope and pray that the miracles continue, and that G-d continues to protect us and save us.

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3 weeks ago  ::  Jul 13, 2014 - 8:06AM #257
Posts: 1,716

I spent Shabbat in Jerusalem with family, and about 6:50 pm, while I was listening to a Torah class in shul, there was an air-raid.
It was a very interesting class, and fortunately the rabbi had already made his main point, so the air-raid did not ruin the class - just shortened it. The subject was revenge, according to Jewish sources. The main approaches can be summarized as the idea that revenge is G-d's alone, and that human revenge is unworthy and wrong, while demanding justice or recompense, or even deterrence is legitimate. The other approach was that revenge is legitimate and worthy, but that it is not for the individual, but for the leaders to carry out in a proper and moral fashion. The common denominator is that vigalante vengeance is wrong and unacceptable. Naturally, this subject has been debated a great deal in Israel today.

The alarm sounded and we filed down to a nearby basement, and were joined by families taking a Shabbat walk, mothers with children from the adjacent park, and others. we heard the boom and waited a few minutes in case fragments were still falling. Most people were quite calm, being obedient rather than overly concerned, but some were quite nervous. A little boy, about 6 yearls old, was chiding himself to his father "I cried for no reason!" But his father explained to him that it's ok to cry when you are scared. Later, after Shabbat, we heard that the missile fell near Hebron. On our way home, a rain of missiles fell on the middle of the country - the announcer read the list of communities under attack and it took several minutes. Our daughter, who was also away form home for Shabbat, visiting her sister in law together with her husband and family, texted us that she left right after the big attak, and got home without incident. traveling with small children is anxiety provoking, but we've lived through worse.

I had a surrealistic experience this morning, hearing from a friend who was also suffering from bombing - in Gaza. I have been in touch with a young Gazan, a peaceful young man who only wants to study and succeed in life. Here is a transcript of our skype conversation:

K: The situation here is horrible :,(

[11:44:12] Nahum : Where are you, K?
[11:44:24] K: I back to my country
[11:44:38] Nahum : do you have a shelter?
[11:45:09] K: Yeah
[11:45:45] Nahum : I hope and pray that you and your family will be ok. Is there anything that I can possibly do for you?
[11:46:31] K: Thank you I appreciate that only we need the peace for Palestinians and Israelis
[11:46:36] Nahum : Is there any way for you to get out of Gaza?
[11:46:37] K: Stop the war!!
[11:46:45] K: No
[11:46:52] Nahum : I wish I could. We were also in a shelter yesterday.
[11:47:04] K: Egypt closed the cross boarder
[11:47:33] K: Tell me how's the situation in your town?
[11:47:38  Nahum :  Can I ask where you are in Gaza? I guess it's not important. Just stay away from anywhere that has anything to do with Hamas!
[11:48:13] K: Thank you we are ok
[11:48:54] K: But only we pray to be in safe
[11:49:21] Nahum : A missile fell near my town on Thursday, but in the desert. It fell near an Arab village too - right in between.
[11:49:41] K: Oh! I see ..
[11:49:52] Nahum : When I pray for us - I will pray for you as well.
[11:50:04] K: Thank you
[11:50:13] K: Be safe and take care
[11:50:24] Nahum : You too, my friend.
[11:50:57] K: Hope we can talking soon and be in a better situation and the war stopped
[13:00:49] Nahum: keep in touch if it's safe for you to talk with me.

It's heartbreaking..... Hamas keeps these poor people prisoner, even as they try to attack our civilians.

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2 weeks ago  ::  Jul 22, 2014 - 3:49AM #258
Posts: 1,716

We see the pictures of the fallen soldiers on TV and the newspaper - and we cry. These boys are our sons...

I have a son and son-in-law in the army, and (as far as I know) they are far from Gaza right now. But we all know boys who are in the midst of the fighting, and we pray ....

Yesterday the funeral of Sgt. Sean Carmeli from the United States was held. He made aliyah without his family, and thre was concern that few people would attend. 20,000 arrived.,7340,L-45479...

Now is the time for prayer. In Hebrew we say "Tehilim neged tillim" - Psalms against missiles.,7340,L-45467...

here is a prayer for IDF soldiers. Scroll down and click for English:

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1 week ago  ::  Jul 24, 2014 - 9:13AM #259
Posts: 1,716

Prayer on Behalf of the Jewish Soldier  

Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Lord of the Universe

We, the people of Israel who are dwelling in the Diaspora

come to you in humility

and pray for Your help


Once more, our soldiers are asked

to defend our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land

against our enemies


We ask You to have pity on them

to help them watch over our people

with clean hands and a merciful heart


Watch over them, so that they will be safe

and not endure any suffering

Give our people the strength

to remain in good spirit

live in unity and walk in Your ways

the ways of justice and truth


Calm our soldiers' wives, children, mothers and fathers

Lift their spirits and give them strength

while their husbands, fathers and sons fight for our people


Prevent them from making mistakes

by hurting or killing their fellow brothers-in-arms

with friendly fire



let their bullets not hurt those children of our enemies

whose "guardians" place them deliberately in danger spots

fire on our soldiers

and then shield themselves

behind their own people

so as to fault our soldiers when their children

get hurt, or even killed


Let our soldiers not accidentally hit schools, hospitals

or convoys which provide food and medicine

as they are men who stand in awe before You

and this would unwittingly cause the violation of Your holy Name


Remove the evil spirit of these "guardians"

make them realize the wickedness of their actions

Stop their teachers from manipulating their students

by spreading hatred against us in their schoolbooks

on the radio, television and internet


Let good people on our planet not be indoctrinated

with evil talk about our army by those who manipulate

the media and are motivated by anti-Semitism

Erase the evil intentions of those members of the

Security Council who distort the truth.


O God

as one of our Prime Ministers, Golda Meir, once expressed

We may one day forgive our enemies for killing our children

but we will never forgive them for forcing our soldiers to kill


We beg You

do not allow our Jewish souls to undergo

this ordeal which we cannot bear

We are the children of Avraham, your servant

who prayed for the evil people of Sedom

in the hope that they would repent

and live decent lives


We therefore entreat You

to make our enemies repent

force them to understand

that our fellow Jews in Israel are good people

who wish to live in peace

with all their neighbors


O Lord, remove atrocities from our enemies' thoughts

such as those in which they dip their hands

in our soldiers' blood

As Jews, we cannot fathom

doing this to even our worst enemies


You commanded us to live in a country

barely larger than a tiny island

our population smaller than that of

many single cities

You asked us to live there so as to send

Your holy word to all corners of the world


But our brothers and sisters in Israel are surrounded

by many nations

comprising more than a hundred million people

who inhabit one of the largest regions of the world

yet deny our fellow Jews the right to live

in even the smallest corner of our planet

and only wish our extinction


Give the Arab nations and the Palestinians

leaders who are men of justice

who truly care for their people

and will not bring their own brothers

to despair and unbearable pain

while accusing our brothers of grave injustice

when they try to help them


Now, after thousands of years dwelling on Earth

after many exiles, pogroms, tortures

expulsions and holocausts

we finally found our way back

to our small homeland

that which You promised to our forefathers


But once more our dreams of peace

have gone up in smoke

as our fellow Jews tried, risking their own lives

to find a way to allow their neighbors

to live their own lives


While they were prepared to make sacrifices

for the well-being of these people

as no other nation ever did

while they offered them land, peace, finances

even firearms with which to defend themselves

we pay the price once more for being a people

who want to trust another nation and its leaders

Once more we have been misled


Why do so many wish to portray us

as an evil people?

Perhaps to deny Your existence

and Your moral demands?

They hide behind their own wickedness

and cover up their and their fathers'

immoral acts which they brought upon us

and our forefathers for thousands of years


O God, You know

that no army in world history

has used so much restraint as the Israeli army

No army is as careful not to hurt or kill as ours

But what can our soldiers do when they are fired upon by

thousands of rockets

and have to defend nearly one million of our brothers and sisters

in the south of our Holy Land

and are denied the possibility

to clearly show this to the world?


Please, God

bring peace into the hearts and minds

of our enemies

Let them be uplifted with a spirit of righteousness

Stop them from hating us for being Your people


Let us sanctify Your name

For this is our mission and dream

Allow us the possibility, once again

to teach Your ways to the nations of the world

and make them hear and understand


We hate war as nobody else does

we abhor the need to carry weapons

and we cannot stand the sound

of our own artillery and tanks


We are the People of the Book

The Book which demands

holiness, kindness and integrity

Our heroes are not the generals or marshals

but rather our prophets and our sages

men of righteousness.


So, deliver our soldiers from this anguish

bring peace to the nations

Let our soldiers not be compelled to use force against them

for our enemies will have no escape

Let the world not forget that our army is fighting not only our fight

but a fight for all of mankind

to undo the evil of terror which has swept Your world


Bring our soldiers home from the battlefields, alive and unharmed

in their own merit and in the merit of their wives, children and

parents, so that they can sanctify Your name


Let the blessing which You gave to Avraham come true

"And through you all the families of the Earth will be blessed"

For this is our hope

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2 days ago  ::  Jul 31, 2014 - 8:16AM #260
Posts: 1,716

It is difficult to describe the great love and sense of gratitude we feel for the soldiers who are risking their lives to protect us. Of course - they are always doing that. But now, in time of war, it is all the more obvious.

People are showering our soldiers with gifts: candy and snacks, catered meals, toiletries, kneepads, etc. One item that was requested by soldiers is tzitit. One assumes that boys who usually wear them  have their own. These are for boys who feel that tzitzit provides them with extra protection, or gives them a sense of being part of a holy mission to protect our families and homes. Civilians have been asked to stay away from the colection points (spots where the soldiers assemble before setting off to Gaza) since they are under missile barrages - one volunteer bringing food was killed. So many were arriving to bring gifts to the soldiers...

Here are a few sites that offer opportunities to make a donation:

I just returned from several days of lectures on Biblical themes, offered every year at the Herzog College in Gush Etzion. We try to go every year; my wife and daughter also attended. Thousands come to enjoy the excellent lectures, and the organization is amazing - everything starts and ends exactly on time, meals are served promptly with a minimum of waiting, and signs point you to your chosen lecture. 
This year there were a few novelties. We all received written directions of what to do in case of an air-raid. Fortunately, none occurred during the daytime there. The first lecture every morning opened with the recitation of two psalms, and a prayer for Israel and the IDF soldiers. 

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