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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:
Tishrei 4, 5769, 10/3/2008
No, I'm not a member of a Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform, Nouveau, Post or one of those Modern Orthodox shuls which stretch Halacha, Jewish Law, into yoga-like positions.
In our small neighborhood shul, in Ramat Shmuel, Shiloh, neighbors lead the prayers and we all join in. Yes, even the women from our perches in the balcony sing along. Our prayers aren't performances. We all participate; that's why I said that I was in the choir.
Those who lead the prayers aren't supposed to wow us into awed silence. They're supposed to enthuse us into joining.
And that's what happens most of the time. Don't think of it as anarchy. Think of it as a jam session dedicated to G-d. There was nothing boring about it. If I had more space, I probably would have danced a bit. Some people clap and tap, a spiritual percussion. I like to move, since standing and sitting for long aren't comfortable.
My neighbors understand the prayers, and that adds to the spirit of the Holiday. Sometimes that can cause difficulties, as when the man reading the Torah portion about Abraham taking his only son, Issac to be sacrificed was a bereaved father, and it was hard for him to get the words out.
I have no doubt that prayers are supposed to be participatory and not a performance. Baruch Hashem, Thank G-d, it was a good way to start the year.
Gmar Chatimah Tovah May You Be Sealed in the Book of Life
Shabbat Shalom U'Mevorach
Elul 29, 5768, 9/29/2008
From Mutt and Mathilda aka Mottel and Mottek
And all of us in the Eye of the Storm
A Wonderful, Safe, Healthy and Blessed Year
Gmar Chatimah Tovah!
Elul 29, 5768, 9/29/2008
Sometimes I wish I was a comedy writer. Our news would make good stand-up, if only it was just a joke. Who predicted, way back when Olmert was an up and coming politician, that he would end up being to the Left of Abie Nathan and Uri Avneri? I remember telling people that he'd be Prime Minister, but then I thought it would be good for the country. I admit that I hadn't a clue that he'd favor its destruction, by giving our precious Land to the terrorists.
It's now the Eve of Rosh Hashannah, a two day holiday of joy and introspection. The sounds of the shofar are supposed to vibrate in the deepest of our souls and ready us for the New Year.
I'm not going to ask G-d to give me strength, because I truly believe that the strength is in us, and it is up to us to uncover it and utilize it.
Yes, the situation is difficult, but if we work together, we can solve it. Yes we can fix it. And just like our prayers are in the plural, "we," so is the solution to the dangers which face us.
Let us start the new year united to follow G-d, like it was written in last week's Torah Portion:
Elul 26, 5768, 9/26/2008
For the past few years, ever since Barak's reign of terror, the politicians and security forces have forced us to travel to Kever Rachel in bullet-proof vehicles only. That is until a few short weeks ago. Now regular motorized vehicles, not bicycles, are allowed.
Yesterday, my Shiloh friends and I took, what we hope will be our last bullet-proof busride to Kever Rachel. It's not just that we're happy that the place is more accessible, it's also because our bus and lots of other buses was forced to wait, while private cars had easy access.
Our bus wasn't very full, and in the end we found rides in other vehicles, including an empty bus going in to bring out others. But there was a very full bus from the Shomron, which was forced to wait a long time.
When we finally got there we saw a couple of hundred people, mostly students, waiting for their buses to take them out. It wasn't crowded inside, and although the gate was open, it used to be kept locked, the fortress smelled, and it was not pleasant.
They didn't open the back exit, which would have made it easier to breathe. There are restrictions, according to Jewish Law, about praying in a stinking place. I don't know when I'll be back there, but the Women's Private Prayers and Psalms at Tel Shiloh will be before Yom Kippur, Tuesday, October 7, the 8th of Tishrei, at 9:45; meet at the Tabernacle Gallery Cafe. For more information about touring Tel Shiloh, call 02-994-4019.
Shabbat Shalom U'Mevorach
Elul 25, 5768, 9/25/2008
I wonder who writes the politicians' speeches. I'm still trying to find out who wrote Bush's Knesset speech. My guess is that Elie Wiesel was heavily involved.
Now, Peres just said something profound and truthful and so obvious. I've been saying it for a long time.
Now, who in his/her right mind would have expected any other result? I guess the Foreign Ministry's preparation for the new UN Ambassador was rather faulty, too: