|2 months ago :: Jun 20, 2014 - 4:23AM #251|
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.
|2 months ago :: Jun 20, 2014 - 1:58PM #252|
Will do. Have been watching the news reports. Prayers at shul and home -
Blessed are You, HaShem, Who blesses the years.
|1 month ago :: Jun 30, 2014 - 5:36AM #253|
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.
|1 month ago :: Jul 02, 2014 - 5:24AM #254|
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
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.
To read the rest:
|1 month ago :: Jul 02, 2014 - 3:22PM #255|
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.”
|3 weeks ago :: Jul 10, 2014 - 3:42PM #256|
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.
|3 weeks ago :: Jul 13, 2014 - 8:06AM #257|
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.
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 :,(
It's heartbreaking..... Hamas keeps these poor people prisoner, even as they try to attack our civilians.
|2 weeks ago :: Jul 22, 2014 - 3:49AM #258|
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.
Now is the time for prayer. In Hebrew we say "Tehilim neged tillim" - Psalms against missiles.
here is a prayer for IDF soldiers. Scroll down and click for English:
|1 week ago :: Jul 24, 2014 - 9:13AM #259|
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.
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?
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
|2 days ago :: Jul 31, 2014 - 8:16AM #260|
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.