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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



      Sivan 9, 5768, 6/12/2008

      The Real World

      It was never easy to raise kids. Now it's probably even harder. I'm glad I raised mine here in Israel, first in Jerusalem then Shiloh. Honestly, I can't say they turned out exactly to "plan," but I'm certainly not what my parents planned, either.
      The Jewish kids coming to Israel for their "year before college" weren't raised with a fraction of that freedom. That's why many can't deal with the challenges and sudden independence their year in Israel offers.

      Here in Shiloh my kids enjoyed lots of independence, even from the youngest age. Looking back, it's amazing that we took it for granted that once a child was old enough to go to "gan," nursery school, he/she was expected to walk home all by himself. My youngest is a November baby, so he was less than three and walked a kilometer and a half, a mile, home. There was no traffic, and the kids all walked together in a group. In those days there was a van that took them in the morning, or they never would have made it on time. Of course, the kids who lived closer walked without their parents. The kids ran their own social life. I didn't have to deal with "play dates."

      The Jewish kids coming to Israel for their "year before college" weren't raised with a fraction of that freedom. That's why many can't deal with the challenges and sudden independence their year in Israel offers.

      Emes Ve-Emunah: Facing the Truth of Religious Dropouts

      Most kids have little experience with public transportation and freedom from parental supervision. Even though they've been educated from the age of three or four in Jewish schools, they aren't fluent in Hebrew. Their first taste of freedom came with their car keys. Only with a drivers license, have they traveled alone.

      Yes, many of the kids do fine. They adapt to their new environments and take it all very seriously. But for others being in Israel, away from family, is their chance to do something "new."

      Sivan 8, 5768, 6/11/2008

      United States Supports Corrupt Foreign Leader

      This brings me back to the days of Papa Doc and all sorts of small "pro US" countries in Asia, Africa, South and Central America.  Lots has been written about the tangled web of drug lords and the CIA.
      Sorry Condi, democracy won't overcome terrorism. If you really believed it you wouldn't support your government's invasion of Iraq

      But really.  What great adventure stories will be written about how Bush II helped keep his buddy Olmert in power?  Maybe Tzvi Fishman can write the screenplay, juxtapositioning Talansky's interrogation with the distracting pomp of the Bush visit.

      The United States's Bush II and Condi Rice have a dream, an agenda, and they won't let anything like Olmert's legal problems get in the way.  The pipeline for sending financial data necessary for the case has been slowed down.

      And strangely ironic, while Bush II thinks nothing of sending American soldiers thousands of miles from home to attack an enemy who is no threat to the survival of the United States, Israel is taking the opposite track.  Even though our enemies, who attack our civilian populations without an restrictions, unabashedly proclaim their aim is to destroy us, we Israelis have generals who think that if we just wait patiently enough, the Arabs will stop.  Yes, I'm sure you need a good laugh. 

      This sort of method sometimes works when I'm teaching.  When some of the kids want to pay attention and others are making noise, I speak more softly, so the good kids will tell the bad ones to keep quiet, because they want to hear me.  Sorry, but it doesn't work with terrorists, especially a a nation of terrorists.  They see it as weakness and they just fight harder.  In the classroom it only works if a certain percentage of the students really want to study.  If nobody does, I may as well take out my crocheting.  Actually that may work.  No, I don't stab the students with my crochet hook.  I just tell them that I have better things to do with my energy that yell at them.  They don't want to study, so I'm not going to waste my time doing nothing.

      And: Sorry Condi, democracy won't overcome terrorism.  If you really believed it you wouldn't support your government's invasion of Iraq.  I dare you to take over Gaza!  Try policing it, clean it up!  Why should we have to wipe up your bloody mess?  If you love the pseudostinians so much, move in; be its first Prime Ministress.

      In the meantime, why don't we hear protests from America about its support of Olmert?  Let's squeeze him out.  I'm pushing from my end, and you guys have to push from yours, deal? 

      Sivan 5, 5768, 6/8/2008

      It's Not Just About Converts

      This also appears on Shiloh Musings, where there are comments.  You can comment on both sites.  This post isn't "chareidi bashing."
      According to Jewish Law, we're not supposed to eat insects, but when checking food, we're not supposed to use anything stronger than our simple, everyday if you need them reading glasses. If you use a high-powered microscope, nothing will be clean enough to eat...

      In a few hours we'll be celebrating/observing the Shavuot Holiday. The Story of Ruth, the most important of our many converts, is read on Shavuot. What's the connection? Most people translate "Shavuot" into "weeks," but it's also the Hebrew for "oaths." Ruth is most famous for her oath to commit/connect herself to her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi.

      Ruth Chapter 1 טז וַתֹּאמֶר רוּת אַל-תִּפְגְּעִי-בִי, לְעָזְבֵךְ לָשׁוּב מֵאַחֲרָיִךְ: כִּי אֶל-אֲשֶׁר תֵּלְכִי אֵלֵךְ, וּבַאֲשֶׁר תָּלִינִי אָלִין--עַמֵּךְ עַמִּי, וֵאלֹהַיִךְ אֱלֹהָי. 16 And Ruth said: 'Entreat me not to leave thee, and to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; יז בַּאֲשֶׁר תָּמוּתִי אָמוּת, וְשָׁם אֶקָּבֵר; כֹּה יַעֲשֶׂה יְהוָה לִי, וְכֹה יוֹסִיף--כִּי הַמָּוֶת, יַפְרִיד בֵּינִי וּבֵינֵךְ. 17 where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried; the LORD do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.'
      Even though I was born and raised a Jew, I have always felt connected to that oath and even gave a shiur about it. Judaism isn't a proselytizing religion. Prospective converts are turned back, like Naomi did to Ruth:
      יא וַתֹּאמֶר נָעֳמִי שֹׁבְנָה בְנֹתַי, לָמָּה תֵלַכְנָה עִמִּי: הַעוֹד-לִי בָנִים בְּמֵעַי, וְהָיוּ לָכֶם לַאֲנָשִׁים. 11 And Naomi said: 'Turn back, my daughters; why will ye go with me? have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? יב שֹׁבְנָה בְנֹתַי לֵכְןָ, כִּי זָקַנְתִּי מִהְיוֹת לְאִישׁ: כִּי אָמַרְתִּי, יֶשׁ-לִי תִקְוָה--גַּם הָיִיתִי הַלַּיְלָה לְאִישׁ, וְגַם יָלַדְתִּי בָנִים. 12 Turn back, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say: I have hope, should I even have an husband to-night, and also bear sons; יג הֲלָהֵן תְּשַׂבֵּרְנָה, עַד אֲשֶׁר יִגְדָּלוּ, הֲלָהֵן תֵּעָגֵנָה, לְבִלְתִּי הֱיוֹת לְאִישׁ; אַל בְּנֹתַי, כִּי-מַר-לִי מְאֹד מִכֶּם--כִּי-יָצְאָה בִי, יַד-יְהוָה. 13 would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye shut yourselves off for them and have no husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes, for the hand of the LORD is gone forth against me.' יד וַתִּשֶּׂנָה קוֹלָן, וַתִּבְכֶּינָה עוֹד; וַתִּשַּׁק עָרְפָּה לַחֲמוֹתָהּ, וְרוּת דָּבְקָה בָּהּ. 14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law; but Ruth cleaved unto her. טו וַתֹּאמֶר, הִנֵּה שָׁבָה יְבִמְתֵּךְ, אֶל-עַמָּהּ, וְאֶל-אֱלֹהֶיהָ; שׁוּבִי, אַחֲרֵי יְבִמְתֵּךְ. 15 And she said: 'Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone back unto her people, and unto her god; return thou after thy sister-in-law.'

      But once someone does convert, his/her background isn't supposed to be mentioned. That's one of the anti-Halachik (Jewish Law) "ironies," or inconsistencies, with the blanket/mass cancelling of conversions by a chareidi court. But that's no surprise to me. I find a lot of inconsistencies with Chareidi Judaism. Now, some of you may really blow up when you read this, but please read through to the end. IMHO, it has copied foreign religions in one of its basic premises, that men should learn Torah full time and not work in a full variety of professions.

      I also disagree with its refusal to recognize the validity of the State of Israel and the official Rabbinate. One of the great beauties and uniqueness of Judaism is its integration of the Holy and Profane, Kodesh v'Chol. We don't send our holy people, our learned rabbis to isolated monasteries, nor ban them from the physicality of married life. I have no doubt that the plague that killed 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's students was caused by the idealizing of his marriage, that he lived for years without his wife Rachel.

      Our wars, the fighting soldiers are doing great Mitzvot (Holy Commandments) and should be G-d fearing, Torah-knowledgeable people. Therefore the Chareidi custom of shirking this duty/mitzvah is also against the basic tenant of Judaism.

      The State of Israel has a Rabbinate which has a department which give Kosher Certification to foods. The Chareidim don't recognize it and they have their own kashrut certification. So, I wasn't surprised that they insulted the Official Rabbinate's certification of converts. These poor Jews, yes, Jews, have been caught pressed between a rock and a hard place. Rabbi Sherman's "Beit Din," religious court, is trying to score anti-state points by destroying the lives of countless Jews.

      According to Jewish Law, we're not supposed to eat insects, but when checking food, we're not supposed to use anything stronger than our simple, everyday if you need them reading glasses. If you use a high-powered microscope, nothing will be clean enough to eat, and you'll starve or die of malnutrition.

      Let us all have a Chag Sameach, a Joyful Holiday.

      Sivan 2, 5768, 6/5/2008

      From All Over To Tel Shiloh!

      Yesterday we went to Tel Shiloh. We were women from Rechovot, the Golan, Jerusalem, Eli and
      Chana prayed for a son who would be dedicated to G-d, trained to lead the Jewish People. We, too, pray for a leader.
      Shiloh. We were born in Israel, Europe, North and South America.
      Since it was Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the first day of the Jewish Month, we said the Hallel Prayer together and then each of us prayed privately, overlooking where Biblical Chana poured out her heart to G-d. The Jewish Laws of Prayer are derived from how Chana prayed, moving her lips but silently. Chana prayed for a son who would be dedicated to G-d, trained to lead the Jewish People. We, too, pray for a leader.

      Our country, today, is in need of wisdom, leadership to take us out of our dangerous situation.

      There will be another Women's Rosh Chodesh at Tel Shiloh for Tammuz, in another month. Details to follow.

      You don't have to wait for a special time. Shiloh is open and available for visitors, tourists, pilgrims etc. The Tel is open for visitors, prayers and special events at all times. For more information, call the Tourist Office of Tel Shiloh, 02-994-4019.

      There is now, also, a Coffee Shop--Gallery. Snacks, art work and souvenirs are for sale. Meals for groups can be arranged.

      Iyar 29, 5768, 6/3/2008

      Jerusalem Day

      This year Jerusalem Day feels different, sort of empty. I think making it a holiday was a mistake. It was
      I'm willing to celebrate a SIX DAYS WAR VICTORY DAY, but not Jerusalem Day
      established after the great, miraculous victory of the Six Days War.

      Why a mistake? Because it established a ranking, a division of importance between the Old Walled City of Jerusalem and all of the other Holy Land we liberated as the result of that war, that war which the Arabs planned as a means to destroy us, throw us into the sea. That's a critical, tragic, potentially fatal mistake; and I wrote that in present tense for a reason.

      Today we're suffering for that mistake.

      Only the liberation of the Kotel area is celebrated, not the liberation of Hebron, Shiloh, Bethlehem, the Jordan Valley and Shechem. All the government wanted, at most, was the Kotel and enough of the Old City to give Jews access. That's why they are so confident that there's nothing wrong in offering our enemies our Land. The Zionist establishment never really wanted it. When perfectly healthy quadruplets are born to parents who wanted "just one," do they give the "extra three" to an orphanage?

      I'm willing to celebrate a SIX DAYS WAR VICTORY DAY, but not Jerusalem Day. I'm willing to celebrate our survival.

      An old friend whose son was murdered in a terror attack considers her children and grandchildren, ken yirbu--may there be many more, her revenge. This picture says it:

      thanks to a.b.e
      And this picture shows something special I saw recently in Jerusalem's Bus station, a Holy vending machine selling religious books.