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      The Eye of the Storm
      by Batya Medad
      A Unique Perspective by Batya Medad of Shiloh
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      Batya Medad made aliya from New York to Israel in 1970 and has been living in Shiloh since 1981. Recently she began organizing women's visits to Tel Shiloh for Psalms and prayers. (For more information, please email her.)  Batya is a newspaper and magazine columnist, a veteran jblogger and recently stopped EFL teaching.  She's also a wife, mother, grandmother, photographer and HolyLand hitchhiker, always seeing things from her own very unique perspective. For more of Batya's writings and photos, check out:

      Shiloh Musings



      Tishrei 19, 5769, 10/18/2008

      Reflecting on Succot, So Far

      I've been on every Od Avihu Chai March, so far.  Generally I'm among the first to be waiting.  And each time I tell myself that I shouldn't leave my house so early.  What?  Am I a "fri'er," a "sucker," or fool?  So this year, I took my time.  I didn't rush.  And when I neighbor stopped me to tell me that she had just discovered my blogs on the internet, of course I spoke to her.  Then my phone rang:

      "Everyone's waiting for you."

      Oops!  Was I really that late?  But it was nice to know that I was expected to be there.

      This time we didn't march to Jerusalem.  The first march to to Jerusalem where Moshe Keinan, Avihu's father set up a succah by the President's Residence.  He and a group of bereaved fathers even had an audience with him. After that we generally marched to the Kotel.  This year's route had more importance.  We walked in the nearby mountains.  It's important to show that we're at home here.

      I've stayed close to home, so far.  I enjoyed the event at Tel Shiloh, but something was missing.  Something very important.  It was too much like a "country fair."  Yes, there were tours and theater and explainations of the history.  But the organizers didn't make an "Ohel Chana," a tent for women to pray.  There should have been a shaded area where copies of "Chana's Prayer" and siddurim (prayer books) and T'hillim (psalms) would be available.

      At least Tel Shiloh isn't just open a couple of days a year.  People can come here to pray whenever they want.  I've been encouraging prayer in Shiloh for almost a year.  Women now arrive from all over the country.  My next gathering will, G-d willing, be Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, Thursday, October 30, 9:45am.  For more information about visiting Tel Shiloh, call the office, 02-994-4019.

      Enjoy what's left of the Holiday.

      Tishrei 16, 5769, 10/15/2008

      Like In Days Of Old

      We walked through the mountains and paths in our Holy Land.  We passed the the sites of ancient battles.

      And then we entered Shiloh.  Jews from all over were also in Shiloh, busy preparing for Tabernacle worship.

      It is good to see Shiloh with many pilgrims.

      Even if they're only having coffee, cake and ice cream.

      Have a wonderful Succot Holiday!

      ps There has been something strange with the blog posting site, so if the post doesn't come out properly, bli eyin haraa, I'll edit it later.

      Tishrei 15, 5769, 10/14/2008

      Sometimes It's Hard To Celebrate The Holidays

      The day before the Eve of Chag Succot, I was notified of two deaths.  One was my uncle, Gershon ben Tzvi Hersh, and my neighbor, Yehudit bat Shmuel.  I first posted this on Shiloh Musings.  Please read this l'ilui nishmatam, so "their souls will be elevated."

      Jewish Mourning

      In general, nothing is more suited to the human psyche than the Jewish Laws of Mourning.
      • The ripping of the mourners' clothing to remind us that what's important is the human being and not the superficial fashion.
      • The seven day mourning period, shiva, interrupted only by Shabbat.
      • Mourners are supposed to stay in the same clothing the entire week, not dealing with their external look.
      • People are supposed to provide the mourners with food and take care of those who come to comfort.
      • The mourner is removed from mundane worries.
      • Until thirty days after the funeral, the mourner doesn't buy new clothes, listen to music, cut his hair and other restrictions.
      • After the death of a parent, some of these restrictions continue for a year.

      Those are the Halachot, Jewish Laws, for most of the time. It's different when the burial is right before a Jewish Holiday. The holiday, unlike Shabbat which provides a break from the mourning, cancels the shiva and shloshim (30 day restrictions.)

      This is the day which Hashem has made;

      we will rejoice and be glad in it

      זה היום עשה ה'; נגילה ונשמחה בו

      Many mourners praise the shiva and shloshim, saying that the Halachot and rituals perfectly suit their emotional state. So how can a mourner be deprived of it?

      According to Jewish Law, just like the mourner must bathe, change clothes and celebrate Shabbat during the shiva, he must "rejoice" in the Jewish Holidays and allow it to cancel shiva and shloshim.

      This takes a very high level of emotional and spiritual "intelligence."

      Tomorrow morning my neighbor Yehudit will be buried, and tomorrow night her husband and children will join the rest of Am Yisrael, the Jewish Nation and celebrate Succot. May these words "elevate her soul," l'illui nishmata.

      Tishrei 10, 5769, 10/9/2008

      The "Morning After"

      We've just finished a very intense 40 day period of introspection, reflection, t'shuva, repentance.  The last ten days of it included a two-day Holiday, with extra-long prayers, and it culminated with a twenty-five hour fast, Sabbath restrictions and even more prayers.  Those prayers even listed a great variety of our possible sins, just in case we had blanked them from our minds.

      Now, what is next?

      Is it back to our everyday business, or will there be some improvement?  Many people start building their succot immediately after Yom Kippur, to make sure that the first thing on their "cleaned slate" will be a mitzvah.

      Gmar Chatima Tova, Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!

      ps Thanks to my neighbor HL for poiniting out typos.

      Tishrei 8, 5769, 10/7/2008

      ReBranding--We're Not Toothpaste!

      The Israeli Foreign Ministry has hired an international pr firm to rebrand Israel. That's a euphemism for changing Israel's image. In principle it's a good idea, but like good intentions, the results may be the road to Hell.
      ...ordinary Americans think of Israel as an unfriendly armed camp

      When I was at the International Jewish Bloggers Conference, not very long ago, we heard Foreign Ministry official explain all about Israel's terrible world image.

      Let's say, "agreed," we need an image change, but it should be done well. Israel isn't just toothpaste or cream rinse. The usual pr and advertising tactics won't make Israel a more popular place. It's not a matter of changing the packaging or color scheme.

      First diagnose the problem. What are the symptoms? In the study described at the conference we discovered that ordinary Americans think of Israel as an unfriendly armed camp. They think we live in fear.

      The cure has to counteract that. Bragging about our technological feats and strutting bikini-clad beauties won't do the trick.

      Research should be done to discover when Israel was most popular. You can save your money. Israel was most popular just after the 1967 Six Days War. The world, Jewish and non-Jews, were in awe of the tiny state, who without a single ally, defeated three enemy armies in six days. Israel was proud and safe. Dangers came with each "peace" treaty.

      I wish I could market myself as a public relations consultant. Think of all the money these pr experts are getting...