A short vacation in Sweden
You may have wondered why no new posts have been available during the past 10 days. The answer is not so hard. My family and I took a short vacation in Sweden, a place both my wife and I grew up in, but haven’t been to for the past 3 years. Why travel to this country that is among the top anti-Semitic countries in the world? The only answer is our parents. They come and visit us in Israel every few months, but now they really wanted our kids to see their home in Sweden. For sure, to honour your parents is something big and important, but did we really want to expose our children to a Sweden today full of anti-Semitism and a place where you can’t show your Jewishness in public without being scared of what could happen? In the end we decided to take the chance, since it was very important to the parents.
Thank G-d the vacation actually turned out very nice. My parents live 2 minutes from the sea, so for the kids every day was fun. Even though it rained nearly every day, they wanted to play in the sea. The only day we took our children into Gothenburg, the town where I grew up, was when we needed to make new Swedish passports.
Sarah and David at the Sea by my parents home in Sweden
My wife and I spent some more time in Gothenburg to do some errands and I must say that I was scared, even though I walked around with a cap and my tzitzit deep down in my pants. When I grew up, down town Gothenburg was a beautiful place and a place where I wasn’t scared to walk around with a big Star of David or with a colourful kippa on my head. Today I feel much more afraid of walking around there than in any part of Israel, no matter if it is Hevron or what is called East Jerusalem. The Muslim influence is so great and the Jews have to hide their Jewishness to be sure to wake up alive the day after. But for sure by the coast where my parents live, life is nice. No open anti-Semitism and no demonstrations.
Thank G-d for living in Israel. Here we can walk around nearly everywhere as proud Jews. We don’t have to hide who we are. This phenomena is not only in Sweden, but in the whole world. When we moved to Israel we did it because we know that Israel is the only place for Jews to live, but today people are running away to Israel because they have no other choice.
The war against Hamas has inspired a new group of new immigrants
The current war against Hamas and other terror organizations has lightened the Zionist spark in many Jewish young souls around the globe. A lot of young adults have decided to leave behind their lives in the diaspora to come and live in Israel and enlist in the IDF to live for and defend the Jewish nation and the Jewish state from the enemies around us. These young adults have primarily been inspired by the lone soldiers that were sadly murdered by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Nissim Sean Carmeli hy”d and Max Steinberg hy”d. So next week, G-d willing, a special flight named the “Lone Soldiers’ Flight” will arrive in Israel in coordination and as a joint project with Nefesh B’Nefesh, the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption, together with the Friends of the IDF in the US, the Jewish Agency, the Israel Scouts Garin Tzabar and the Jewish National Fund. In all 109 new and highly motivated young adults in the age 18-23 will be on that flight. Most lone soldiers that arrive in Israel prefer to serve in combat units and the biggest demand is for Golani, Paratroopers, and elite units such as Shaldag, Duvdevan, Sayeret Matkal, and Shayetet 13, the elite naval commando unit of the Israeli Navy. Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption are positive that the latest war against Hamas in Gaza will also have a positive impact on Aliyah 2015.
American Lone Soldiers in the IDF
We can here see a big difference between in general American Aliyah and immigration from Europe. The Jews from America mainly make Aliyah because of idealistically reasons to live here in comparison with European Jews, where the main part decide to leave Europe because of the life-threating anti-Semitic situation.
Preparing for Tisha B’Av and a brighter future
In a few short hours we will start the fast of Tisha B’Av. This is the day when the 1st and 2nd Beit HaMikdash (temples) were destroyed and the Jewish people was exiled from the Land of Israel. The day also commemorates other Jewish tragedies which happened on the same day, including the Roman massacre of over 100,000 Jews at Betar in 132 CE. Established by the rabbis of 2nd century Palestine, Tisha B’Av is regarded as the saddest day in the Jewish calendar and a day which is destined for tragedy. The sadness of this day has followed us through all generations and all of us that remember and had visited the Jewish Gaza and the beautiful beaches in Gush Katif can today in great sadness see what has happened to this part of the Land of Israel during the past 9 years in these days, since Ariel Sharon decided to abandon Gaza and give it to the Arabs to build a peaceful state alongside Israel. Currently our own soldiers, the defenders of Israel, are fighting a war against the terror. The Jews in southern Israel have to flee their homes where they have been living in generations (Hamas is forcing them away). But we still have an obligation to look forward and G-d willing the 9th day of Menachem Av, the saddest day of the Jewish calendar will soon become a day of joy.
Destruction of Gush Katif
חורבן גוש קטיף
May the 3rd Beith HaMikdash be rebuilt speedily in our days and bring peace to the whole world. May we, the Jewish Nation, bring the eternal light that will shine up the world and open the eyes of all nations of the world. I wish you all a fulfilling fast and may we all meet again next year in The Land of Israel.
Every sector in Israel participating in the war against terrorism
Israeli soldiers in Gaza
Yesterday during one of my short breaks at work I read the news and one article on Jerusalem Post’s web site really made me smile. The title of the article was ”Hassidim cancel vacation, keep studying due to war”. With a lot of inspiration I read that many of the major hassidic groups in Israel are scheduled not to have the usual summer vacation for students that usually take place between Tisha B’Av and Rosh Chodesh Elul. The reason for this isn’t that it is dangerous to do trips or other outings because of the war against terrorism in Gaza. It is rather because every sector in Israel is participating in the war against terrorism. The Belz Rebbe Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach has said that “yeshiva students should not go on vacations and hikes while the security situation is so severe and soldiers are engaged in war”. One of the leading Rabbis from the Chassidic group Gur stated the following very powerful statement “You can’t say the whole time that those who study Torah provide protection and salvation for the Jewish people and then go on vacation,” he said. “When the country needs to be defended then it is not appropriate for yeshiva students to go on holiday.”
The Belz Rebbe Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach
It is not only the Chassidic groups that include Gur, Belz, Vizhnitz and Sanz Chassidic groups, among others that take on this approach, but also the mainstream chareidi Sephardic leaders have also called for post-Tisha B’av vacation to be cancelled, including the Sephardic Chief Rabbi, or “Rishon LeTzion”, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef. “If the war continues after Tisha B’av – the boys should not leave during this time, we must continue to learn, it’s not right to be out as our boys are on the front,” the Rishon LeTzion stated.
Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef – the Sephardic Chief Rabbi
Also Maran Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky prayed long for the soldiers in Gaza and in the home of Maran Ovadia Yosef Posek HaDor tz”zl discovered in recent days special prayer composed during operation “pillar of cloud” for peace for our soldiers. We can really see that the Charedi sector in Israel is participating in the war against terrorism in a well-respected way. I never doubted that this sector is as important as all other sectors in Israel.
One great Rabbi once told me in an amazing class that every Jew is a part of the Jewish body and without him the Jewish people is not complete. In Israel it is time for the leadership to understand that the Charedi sector is as important as any other sector. Without them we are not a complete nation and their part in fighting for Israel and participating in the war against terrorism might even be as important as the non-religious soldiers fighting at the front. The best solution though would have been if every soldier could be like our Hesder Soldiers that combine an intense Torah study program with army service.
So may we all together pray for the success of our Jewish fighters both in Gaza and in the Beit Midrash.
A trip to Yad Lashiryon – Armored Corps’ Memorial Site
My son David, 4 years old tomorrow, really looks up to the soldiers. He is used to seeing soldiers quite a lot, since we are living in a community settlement in the Judean desert and here we nearly all the time have soldiers guarding the community. Whenever, especially on Shabbat outside our synagogue, he sees the soldiers sitting outside and guarding the place, his eyes grows big. His admiration has even grown bigger since the war against terrorism in Gaza started three weeks ago. Whenever he sees soldiers and especially army tanks on the computer his eyes grow even bigger. So to please my boy (and also his bigger sister) we decided yesterday to take them to Yad Lashiryon – Armored Corps’ Memorial Site, close to Latrun. Yad Lashiryon’s exhibition of tanks and other armored fighting vehicles (AFV) number more than 200, so you can picture the smile on my son David’s face when seeing all the tanks and the smile on his face grew even bigger when he was allowed to climb up on a number of the tanks at Armored Corps’ Memorial Site and also sit behind the wheel in an army Jeep.
Leah with Sarah and David on a tank in Yad Lashiryon Memorial at Latrun
Me Eli with Sarah and David on a tank at Yad Lashiryon Memorial at Latrun
After a few hours at Yad Lashiryon it was time to drive back to Maon in Har Hevron. And after a nice ice-cream and a lot of talking about tanks and soldiers he fell asleep with a big smile on his face while thinking about the tanks and the soldier he hopes to become one day. But more about David’s future army service in another 14 years… In the meantime I wish you all Chodesh Tov (a good month) and may the Israeli army quickly overcome and eradicate Hamas and the malice which they bring with them.
Sarah and David on a tank at Yad Lashiryon Memorial at Latrun
David behind the steering wheel in a Jeep at Yad Lashiryon Memorial at Latrun
Lots of new Aliyah despite current security situation in Israel
Jews from France making Aliyah in big numbers in 2014.
Chartered Aliyah Flight from North America.
Despite rockets and missiles raining over Israel all the time from the terror enclave Gaza, a lot of new immigrants have found their way to Israel and not cancelled their Aliyah plans or pushed them off for some other and safer time. That is good, since in Israel it is very hard to know what will be tomorrow. From North America during the summer nearly 230 new immigrants have arrived in Israel and a lot more are to come. It is so great to make the foundation of the Jewish homeland even stronger all the time. With a solid foundation we will always stand strong. Except Aliyah from North America, a lot of French Jews have also decided to move home to Israel. The major difference I think is that immigration from the US is more out of idealistic reasons and not as much as for now, security reasons, your Jewish life insurance. In France the situation is very different. For many years the French Jews have invested money in buying property in cities such as Ashdod and Ashkelon to have a safe haven to move to when the violence and pogroms in France are around the corner and by showing any trace of Jewishness you are endangering your life. This is the reason why more than 5,000 French Jewish probably will make their future home in Israel during this year only. But we are happy for every Jew, for whatever reason they decided to make Israel their home and to make proper Aliyah. A scary thing though is that 5,000 Jews from France only calculates for 1 % of the Jewish population there. So anyway, I wish mazal tov and good luck to all our brothers and sisters that either already moved to Israel this past summer or will make Israel their permanent home in the months to come.