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      by Tamar Yonah
      A biting & sometimes humorous analysis of current events, Israeli politics & the Jewish World.
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      Tamar Yonah is one of Israel's most popular English-speaking radio show hosts. She made Aliyah from Southern California and after serving in the Israeli army began a prolific career in radio, including production, news and program development. She was the original creator and producer of 'The Aliyah Show' and still works whenever she can in that field. Tamar is a political activist, wife and mother residing in Judea and Samaria and currently hosts the top-rated shows of The Weekend Edition & The Tamar Yonah Show. Her award winning blog covers current events, religion, politics and anything else that's on her mind.

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      Elul 13, 5767, 8/27/2007

      Why Isn't G-d Cool?

      by Tamar Yonah

      Why Isn't G-d Cool?  Why is G-d considered a Square? I mean, what could be cooler than G-d?  He's the ultimate artist, the ultimate scientist, the ultimate everything. Just look at a mountain, a molecule, a flower, a galaxy. What could be cooler than the physics, the system, the energy and vibes that this universe runs on?  The smartest men in the world couldn't come up with such a  perfect creation.

      And yet, I'm sitting here reading an article in the news paper about the newest hip thing our youth are swarming to, -a new grass-roots open air bar and dance 'club' for Tel Aviv's youth. It's Friday night in Tel Aviv. The soldiers are home for Shabbat, and they want to 'party'. 
      This outside nightclub is free.  No one cards you, and drinks don't cost an arm and a leg.  The people at this outdoor impromptu nightclub are friendly, not snooty like at the expensive night clubs in Tel Aviv. This is becoming the new haven for our youth who want to find a new oasis for 'fun'.

      Clubbing and trance dancing. Does it get us anywhere we really want to go?

      My question is, if people are looking to 'get away' from the daily grind of work and life's challenges, and meet friendly people where they can find stimulation, why is it in a night club/dancing/drinking atmosphere?  Because even in these places, you are judged on how you look, and what clothes you wear.  Are you sexy and will you give out, or are you a dork?  People at nigth clubs see only the facade. It isn't the real thing.  So why do our youth put energies towards things that are fake and won't last?

      When I first came to Israel in the late 70's, it was a lot more wholesome.  If people wanted to dance and drink, they usually had to go to the big hotels to do that.  And hotels were expensive, -too expensive for the average Israeli.  Mostly you'd find tourists in the hotel's bars and discos.  In those days, if you were an Israeli, you went to an outdoor cafe for ice cream together, and if you wanted to dance, you went Israeli folk dancing.  Why is it different today? What happened to our youth? To our culture?


      Israeli Folk Dancing - once a past time to express patriotic pride and fun.

      I was raised that on Friday nights, it was family night.  We all gathered around the table and had our Shabbat meal. Sometimes, when we were older, we'd have big 'Shabbatonim', -where you joined your youth group and  celebrated Shabbat together.  People sat at long tables and sang songs, had a great meal, and then had a great Dvar Torah, a lesson from the Bible.  People were judged on who they were as a person, because we shared the same values... belief in G-d.  If you gave a good Dvar Torah, you were respected even more. People were valued for their personalities, their talents, their kindness, and midot (character traits). 

      I used to live on Kibbutz for a time.  One of the things that I remember was attending a wedding there.  The groom was a burn victim.  His face was terribly scarred and I hate to say it, but he looked like a monster.  I remember thinking as I watched him standing under the Chuppah with his bride, how did he get a girl to marry him?  I'm from Southern California, and growing up, it was very materialistic.  Everything there was how you looked, what clothes you wore, what label you had on, what kind of car you drove, even your home address. I couldn't imagine this kibbutznik being able to find a girl from California to marry him, with his face scarred so grotesquely. On Kibbutz, people work together, eat together, and socialize together in the evenings, so people can get to know the REAL you, and accept you for who you are.

         

      Believing in something higher than oursleves - ushering in the Shabbat. 

      I don't think that night clubs are the place to be appreciated for the 'real you'. Even though the free outdoor night club is more relaxed, it's still a meat market. It doesn't fill the emptiness that people are feeling... If someone is looking for friendship, companionship, and an escape from the 9-5 work jungle, the emptiness will just return as soon as the sun comes up in the morning, and the beer wears off.  So then why is spending your Friday nights together at a table in wholesome,  friendly, worthwhile pursuits not the 'IN' thing to do today?
      Why isn't G-d cool? Why is G-d considered a square?  Why does society, any society, Jewish or not, run to something that is false, which values the 'facade', and doesn't fill the hole we try to stuff with beer, music and make up?

      Gathering together at a Shabbat table.

      Seems to me, that we need to redirect our society to more truth, and less falsity and let downs.  People who have had a real Shabbat experience, with good food, good people, songs, dancing and intellectual stimulating conversations at the Shabbat table want more and more of it. The 'feel' of Shabbos is exhilerating!  

      So many people who are secular, who have tasted what a real Shabbat is like, have become religious.  They have felt the wonderful, joyous atmosphere of this day of rest, of rising above the material, and feeding the spiritual side of our souls. They feel the peace of Shabbat, they feel G-d and His love for us, in giving us the Sabbath day to disconnect from the rat race and phoney masks of life. People can feel valued for who they are, engage in real dialogue, and know that when they meet that 'someone special', that that person won't throw in the towel and look for comfort elsewhere when life gets a little rocky.  They will know that that someone will be committed and stick to their morals see the situation through, until the good times come again.  - Because they believe that Torah is G-d given, that it's a gift to mankind, and that though we won't be fulfilling our animal desires whenever we want to, we know that holding to the Laws of the Torah will ultimately be the best thing for us, as well as for society at large.  Keeping the Torah and embracing the values it gives us offers so much to make our lives happier and more content.  It has a lot more to offer than beer and trance dancing.

      G-d, the 'Ultimate Artist' and His cool creations

      Yes, Hollywood offers the glitz, but it isn't the bread and butter of life.  Hollywood may LOOK cool, but G-d really IS cool, and the world that He created really isn't square.  It's a scientific wonder, a mathematical miracle, an artist's masterpiece, a gourmet' chef's banquet.  It's time we focused on these intellectual and fascinating gifts.  Want trance?  Mediate on the wonders of G-d. Share your feelings with another who can appreciate you for YOU.      Invite someone to your Shabbos table. Sing, dance and discuss creation and the Torah. Laugh and enjoy the wholesome atmosphere. It's about time we told the world how cool G-d is, and that He is anything but 'square'.



      Elul 9, 5767, 8/23/2007

      Square Watermelons and Other Cool Things

      by Tamar Yonah

      Thanks to my listeners from all over the world who send me interesting emails.  These are just fun cool things I thought I would post, just in case someone missed some of these news pieces.

      1) Square Watermelons

      A round watermelon can take up a lot of room in a refrigerater and the usually round fruit often sits awkwardly on refrigerator shelves. 
      Smart Japanese Farmers have forced their watermelons to grow into a square shape by inserting the melons into square, tempered glass cases while the fruit is still growing on the vine.

      2) Salt Water Fuel - Simply amazing!

      This could put the Arabs out of business.

      Plus, a possible cure for cancer? Click the PLAY button on the video below.

      3)  Bishop Urges Christians to Call G-d 'Allah'

      "Catholic churches in the Netherlands should use the name Allah for God to ease tensions between Muslims and Christians, says a Dutch bishop.

      Tiny Muskens, the bishop of Breda, told the Dutch TV program "Network" Monday night he believes God doesn't mind what he is called, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported.

      Catholic churches in the Netherlands should use the name Allah for God to ease tensions between Muslims and Christians, says a Dutch bishop.

      Tiny Muskens, (photo above and to the left) the bishop of Breda, told the Dutch TV program "Network" Monday night he believes God doesn't mind what he is called, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported." Click HERE for article from World Net Daily.

      So, does it matter what we call G-d?  When you pray, do you pray to 'baal', 'moloch', 'buddha', 'jesus-yeshua', 'allah moon god' -- or do you pray to the ONE, the Master of the Universe, the G-d of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov?  Maybe it doesn't matter to this Catholic Bishop, but it should. I think a good re-reading of the first two, of the Ten Commandments is in order for anyone who prays to ANY other entity.  Do you remember what the first two commandments are?  Test yourself.  If you don't know them, you might want to review the most basic of laws.

       

      4)  An ONLY IN ISRAEL Story

      Someone from Neve Daniel sent the following delightful story, that happened in their own community on Shabbat.
      I love these kind of stories...
      Rabbi Hershorn came out of his house on Shabbat morning and saw a taxi parked outside his neighbours house (the Adler's). That's a little
      unusual since Adler doesn't drive a taxi and cars don't come into Neve Daniel on Shabbat. So when he saw Adler, Adler told him the story of where the taxi came from.

      Here's what happened:
      Share your own ONLY IN ISRAEL stories with me. The best story wins a prize!

      Friday afternoon, Adler flew back to Israel from abroad. The plane was a little delayed, but he had just about enough time to get from Lod Airport back to Neve Daniel. He jumped in the first cab and flew off. On the way, the cabbie turned round to him and said, "It's getting late! I'm a Sabbath-observing Jew. With all best intentions, it doesn't look like I'm going to be able to take you as far as Gush Etzion and then make it back to my house before Shabbat sets in. Tell you what: I'll drive past my house in Bet Shemesh, jump out, and give you the keys. You drive the cab to Neve Daniel and I'll pick it upafter Shabbat."

      So that's what he did! Only in Israel...
       
      Hear the RADIO INTERVIEW I did with Mr. Adler.  Click HERE or copy and paste this link into a browser window:  mms://msmedia.a7.org/arutz7/shows//English-show/highlights/Taxi.mp3
       
      ***********************************************************************
      Share your own ONLY IN ISRAEL stories with me.  The best two stories I choose wins a prize!  Leave your brief story in the POST COMMENT section right below.


      Elul 7, 5767, 8/21/2007

      When I'm Drowning

      by Tamar Yonah

      Gasping for air, and trying to swim above the waves to shore.  But the shore is a hundred miles away, and I don't possibly have the strength to swim that far.  Deeper and deeper I sink.  But then,,,

      Sometimes life seems to be TOO BIG.  It is also gets fouled up because other people live in my world, and I can't control them.  In fact, it seems that they control me, or at least, they easily could, ... if I let them.

      I am a simple person, a simple Jew.  I live in a regular house, and have a regular day like any one else on this planet.  I get up, daven (pray) go to work, come home, eat, do some housework and cooking (ok, not enough of it) and go back to the computer to work.  I like to joke that I am intravenously hooked up to my pc.  But if you asked my kids where 'eema' (mother) spends most of her time, their answer will unanimously be, "in front of the computer".  Thank G-d my kids are older and I can do what I do today.  I was always a 'stay at home mom' before.

      Pulling back a bit out of this inner circle, we have the wider 'doings of the world' going on.  Our prime minister is currently negotiating Jerusalem away, while other Knesset members are working on bringing in NATO and other foreign troops and observers to Israel.  My colleagues are being hassled by the police for their right wing activities and their love of the Land of Israel.  President Bush, with Condi Rice want us to make a terror state here, near my home, inside tiny Israel.  In order to do that, they want to kick me and my husband and children out of our house. They want to destroy my community and many more like it. 

      One can go crazy and pull their hair out of their head if they carried this burden on their shoulders.  And sometimes, one can feel that they are drowning.  Whenever I get that gasp-y feeling, I remind myself that G-d is in control of the world.  A good generic prayer for people to say when they find themselves drowning is the Serenity Prayer.



      Can I control what the 'biggie politicians' in power are doing?  No.
      Have we not made the biggest demonstrations in the history of Israel?  Yes. Consistently at that?  Yes.
      Did it help stop the expulsion from Gush Katif?  No.
      Will it stop Olmert and Peres from their 'peace plans'? No.

      So what can I do about it?
      The only thing I can, and do, do, is remember the serenity prayer and then go on with my day.  I continue to daven (pray), do mitzvoth, contribute to the population and dwell in YESHA, work, shop for food, send my kids to school, speak out against the evil in the world, and try to tell others to look under the surface in order not to act like 'sheeple' (sheep to the slaughter).  There are too many of us who have become 'sheeple'.  We don't think anymore, we just absorb whatever TV or our particular culture spews at us.  It's easier not to think.  We don't like the idea that we are being screwed by those with power?  Then just label it 'conspiracy theory', and then you don't have to think about it.  baaaahhhh  baaaahhhh goes the lamb.

      What's hard is listening to conspiracy theories, and then checking them out, no matter how uncomfortable, and THEN coming to a conclusion.  Some will turn out as a definite possibility, and some will remain just plain 'for the paranoid'.

      Why do I do it?  Why do I give time to whistle blowers and people who claim they have information and the 'dirt' of what is happening in the world? 

      My father was a holocaust survivor.  He remembers when he was a boy growing up in Poland and they heard about Hitler coming in to take over.  His father thought about leaving Europe and going to the Land of Israel where they had purchased property. He would give up his textile factory in Lodz, and flee to Israel with his family.  His neighbors told him, "What?  You are a 40 year old man.  You are going to leave and give up your whole livelihood here in Poland?  You worked so hard for all you have! The war will last 6 months, and then the Allied forces will come in and liberate Poland. You'll see."  they told him.   ...And so my grandfather stayed.  He ignored 'conspiracy theories' about a Jewish genocide, as did the rest of European Jewry.  Reports filtering out of gas chambers, ovens for burning bodies, and that work camps weren't really work camps, but were 'death camps' weren't believed.  I mean, who ever heard of such a thing?  The Germans were a CULTURED people, the most cultured in all of Europe.  They would never, no-- they COULD never do such a  a thing.  ...And look what happened.

      My grandfather was ultimately beaten to death by Nazi soldiers.  They took him in and tortured him, punching one of his lungs out. The Nazis were told by an informant that my grandfather had expensive materials that had come in on a shipment before Poland was occupied. The shipment contained materials worth tens of thousands of dollars. After finding the materials, they interrogated and beat him once again, demanding more.  He died from the beatings.  Before he died, he looked at his family, my grandmother, and his two sons: my father and his older brother.  He said to them, "I'm sorry. I'll never see you grow up.  I'm so sorry we didn't leave when we had the chance".  He died soon after.

      And so I listen.  A lot of conspiracy theories are hard to accept, because I am a rational person, I come from an academic family filled with scientists.  And also, I  don't WANT to believe much of the evil that exists in the world. It's too depressing.  But, I am open to listening and want to be informed of what some people think.  Then, I check the data for myself .  After checking out the subject, looking at both sides of the story, (fair and balanced) I come to an educated conclusion.  Some conspiracy claims I can accept as a very good possibility to be true. Others, after checking up on it, I will reject.  However, I usually try to bring different speakers to the show to present to you, the listeners, and then open the phones for you to agree, disagree, comment, etc.  Then you can make up YOUR own minds.  I won't tow the line of ignoring information just because the mainstream news companies would rather show you the latest antics of Paris Hilton.  I don't need ratings.  I do need to serve HaShem.

      I got a phone call from my neighbor.  He was freaking out, asking what we were going to do, and do I think we will be thrown out of our homes by Bush, Olmert and Peres.  I told him that our leaders are trying to work towards that reality, however, the best thing for him to do is to say the Serenity Prayer. What one has the power to do, we do.  What one doesn't have power over, we should recognize that, and then do the things we CAN do.  Daven (pray), prepare for the future as best we can, do good deeds, and cry out to Hashem.  I am not going to leave my home because Bush, Olmert or Peres are 'stronger' than I am.  I work for G-d, not the Government. 

      So when i feel like I am drowning, I grab the life preserver - Torah, its teachings, and my service for HaShem.  In the meantime I am here, I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, living and bringing up my family here in Israel, building YESHA, and serving G-d as best I can.  What more is there?



      Av 29, 5767, 8/13/2007

      "I Was Just Following Orders"

      by Tamar Yonah

      It sends a chill up my spine, those words: "I was just following orders".  It's time we citizens expose those who squirm out of being 'a creation of G-d who was given a brain and a free will' to identify evil and not participate in immoral acts.

      While the video below may bring up negative feelings towards our security forces, it is important to remember that there are many WITH a brain who use it to THINK and actually refuse orders if the orders are immoral or illegal.  These soldiers often 'look the other way' as they did for the marchers wanting to go to Homesh this last weekend.

      (above photo) Remember, we are all brothers.  Kfar Maimon minyan (2005)

      Hear an interview I did on Sunday, with a 17 year old girl who said that the soldiers who were sent to patrol and block the route to Homesh, a destroyed community in the Shomron, were actually helping those trying to reach Homesh.  The soldiers even distributed food to the people.  Some soldiers even sat and sang Shabbat songs with them.  Don't forget that our army is full of good boys too. Most soldiers are still Zionists, love the Land of Israel, and would give their lives to protect it if a war was launcehd agaisnt us.  And many DO die for us.

      I gave rides to 2 soldiers this week who were hitchhiking.  One a male, one a female.  I started talking to them, and told them, "I don't know your name or who you are, so you can feel free to tell me...  Would you follow orders to throw out Jews from their homes like they did in Gush Katif, Amona, Hebron, etc...?"   Both soldiers answered that they would refuse orders.  The female soldier said she had a sister who lived in YESHA, so she wouldn't do it.  The other soldier said that he would not do it, that he was relgious and thought it was horrible for the army to even ask the soldiers to do this dirty work.

      The minority of soldiers who do dastardly deeds (and have to be trained for it by the way) with the claim that they were 'under orders' - should be exposed, and they should be afraid to use any sort of illegal violence or sexual toned aggressiveness on protestors.

      With that said, check out this video:

      The faces and names of Israeli police and military who expel Jews.


      Misdar Zihui-Hebron, expulsion from Shalhevet Neighborhood - מסדר זיהוי, גירוש משכ' שלהבת בחברון
      Kudos to the Israeli who went out of his/her way to video this.

       



      Av 28, 5767, 8/12/2007

      Should Politicians Wear Uniforms?

      by Tamar Yonah

      There is something to say for wearing uniforms.  Though I am an individualist ( I love Ayn Rand's books), uniforms  have their place.  I remember when I was a soldier in the Israeli Army many years ago. I was proud to wear that uniform.  I knew I was protecting the Jewish People in our own homeland, and I was proud to serve.  I know that's old fashioned thinking, but back in the old days, we still had the values of honor, idealism, and service to others.

      Tamar, marching in parade in Jerusalem 1980
      Tamar Yonah

      Enough of memory lane.


      As stated, the army has a uniform, this in order to absorb and melt people into one disciplined, fighting unit.
      I could write more, speaking about uniforms of the police, sports teams, etc.  But this is not going to be a full length article, rather a simple blog entry of something that I have been playing around with in my mind.
      78% of the Israeli public is dissatisfied with Israel's political leadership.


      A survey taken this year, says that 78% of the Israeli public is dissatisfied with Israel's political leadership
      That's more than three-quarters of the population.

      I'd like to see a vast improvement in the way our elected officials serve their terms in office.

      I think that our politicians in the Knesset should wear uniforms.  They are doing a dismal job. And perhaps uniforms will remind them that they are working in a job that SHOULD not involve egos, personal ambitions, and the like.

      All uniforms should have a label on the front upper part of their shirt pocket.  This label should have their name on it, their postion, and under their name it should have written on it, 'PUBLIC SERVANT'.  I think that our politicians should have this constant reminder of who they are supposed to be serving in their job.  If they have really big egos, and are narcissists , they will look at themselves every time they pass a mirror.  Seeing that label staring back at them may jolt them out of their personal ambitions.  I doubt it, but hey, you gotta try.



      Even further, how about we have their uniforms be unique, for the unique public they serve, which is the Jewish people.  This is still considered a Jewish State, and our national anthem contains the lyrics 'eretz yehudi' ( a Jewish land), therefore, I think they should look like Jews.  In order not to take any sides or make statements of a specific sect of Judaism, I suggest that they wear a manner of dress that depicts us Israelis before the Exile when there were no sects of Judaism, - (No Ashkenazi or Sepharadi Jews, No Haredi, Lubavitch, Breslov, etc...- not that there is anything wrong with any of these different expressions and backgrounds of Judaism.  They all have tremendous merits!)
      Therefore, I think that these uniforms should be of the time before the Exile, and that would mean 'biblical dress' uniforms.  Long robes and biblical headdress.  This would be beneficial as when they would hold meetings with representatives of the international community, they would feel different, and therefore, would know they could never assimilate and be like everyone else.  The world's representatives would also see a pride in our own leaders, a firm identity, and they too would perhaps lose hope in trying to erase our Judaism from us, and make us conform to world modes and fads.   Perhaps our politicians should also have at any meetings they hold, a sefer Torah (Torah Scroll).  That way, any question as to what Israel should and should not do, would be quickly looked up in the Torah, and this is our REAL constitution, so the final word would be there.  

      Do I really think that this uniform idea will take off?  Of course not!  But it's worth a tongue in cheek promotion to you, the public.  Our politicians SHOULD BE SERVING us.  We pay their salaries, perks, and retirement.  The LEAST they can do is serve the public while they are in office and receiving their pay checks.