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Ask the Rabbi
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:
Nissan 26, 5768, 5/1/2008
Oxymoron of Sorts
It may just be my mind's connecting Hebrew to English and all the connotations they bring to mind, but I find a peculiar irony, contradiction, even absurdity in the Hebrew phrase לחגוג "lachgog et Yom HaShoah," "to celebrate Holocaust Memorial Day."
It's not a חג holiday. It's a sad, reflective memorial day.
Yes, today the official Israeli media concentrates on remembering, educating Israelis of all ages about what the Nazis did to the Jews 65-70 years ago.
Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, they don't connect any of today's events to give the public a warning of today's dangers.
I Didn't Always Know About The Holocaust
Unlike many of my friends, I wasn't raised aware that there had been a Holocaust, that six million innocent Jews had been murdered by the Nazis etc.
When we were talking in the Teachers Room today, one of the teachers was very shocked. She was also surprised that I didn't go to Jewish schools as a kid.
I grew up in Bell Park Gardens, a lovely then brand new neighborhood in Bayside, NYC. It was a Veterans Authority development, like many built after WWII. None of the parents I knew had foreign accents. Like mine, they were all raised in the USA, and our fathers had all fought in WWII. We were almost all Jewish, probably over 90% of BPG, at that time, the 1950's early 1960's. I can't tell you what happened there afterwards.
I first heard about the Nazis and Holocaust when the Diary of Anne Frank was published, and then more details of what happened in Nazi Germany were publicized when Eichmann was captured.
This story from a Simple Jew may help.
Nissan 24, 5768, 4/29/2008
It was at Shiloh where Chana prayed for a son who would work for G-d and transform the troubled, tribal nation into a united kingdom. Her son, Shmuel (Samuel) anointed the first two Jewish Kings, Saul and David. We, too, pray for a leader, who like Shmuel will act only for the good of the Jewish People.
G-d willing, we will meet on the first day of Rosh Chodesh Iyyar, Monday, May 5, at 9:45am at the Gallery Cafe` and then we'll walk around the Tel until we stop for our prayers, said privately.
The Tel is open to tourists and "pilgrims" any time except Shabbat and Jewish Holidays. It is also possible to arrange for groups and family events. For more information call 02-994-4019.
Nissan 22, 5768, 4/27/2008
"1 or 2" refers to the Seder
"7 or 8" refers to the days of the Passover Holiday.
Jews who live out of Israel and are out of Israel at the time of the holiday are required to celebrate two s'darim (the plural of seder) and a total of eight days for the Passover Holiday.
Those of us who live in Israel and are present in Israel for Passover only have to celebrate one seder and seven days of Passover.
All variations are complicated, because different rabbis give different instructions. Beca
The "classic" psak is that if you're temporarily, and that doesn't mean some Israeli temporarily in Brooklyn for 15 years, in Israel or Chul, round-trip ticket, you keep what you would keep at home.
We know of people who when working abroad used to park their cars far from home and dressing in special "yom tov sheini b'galut" clothes to make them blend into the non-Jewish surroundings and take special family trips on "second day yomtov." Others conducted themselves, as if they permanently lived abroad, including second day yomtov. When we were on shlichut in London, the Israelis got together for a special minyan for Simchat Torah according to when it was in Israel.
In Israel, some tourists follow the psak that once you're here, you're forbidden to plan on leaving, even if you have a ticket for just after the Holiday, so they keep one seder and seven days of Pesach. Others keep the Holiday, as if they were home. We once left a guest to babysit while she was doing the second seder for herself. We went to the movies. Other chutz l'Aretz Jews in Israel for the Holiday will just refrain from what's forbidden and not do the positive commandments. They may, also, ride in a car if another is driving, opening the doors, paying for the bus. There's no "marat eyin," giving the wrong impression when it's all permitted to local Jews. Many of us have had to keep the house Kosher for Passover an extra day for foreign guests.
The difference in Holiday length sometimes causes a lack of unity, because we (Israeli and chutz l'Aretz Jews) end up reading different Torah Portions when Jews abroad fall behind, if there is an extra day of Holiday on Shabbat. Then sometimes Bar Mitzvah boys come to Israel and discover they've prepared the wrong week's reading.
It's easy to write that the solution is that everyone make aliyah to Eretz Yisrael, but we know if won't happen. Even the Biblical Jewish heroes, Mordechai and Ester of Purim fame, didn't live in here in Israel. But that doesn't mean that everyone shouldn't try.
Happy Sfira counting. Tonight is Ha-yom sh'mona yamim, shehaym shavu-a e-chad v'yom e-chad la-omer.
Nissan 18, 5768, 4/23/2008
Is Tel Aviv good enough to be counted as doing the mitzvah?
Are you doing the mitzvah of yishuv haAretz if you can see a view like this?
Honestly, do you have to be on a historic street in Jerusalem?
Does an modern shopping center mean you're not a pioneer?
Must you shop on an old "main street?"
If you don't have a view like this, does it count as aliyah?
IMHO, I'm nobody's rabbi, of course, but as small as our HolyLand is, there's plenty of variety for all. Pick your spot, and live here in good health!
Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!
Nissan 16, 5768, 4/21/2008
Yes, we were in Jerusalem for the "weekend," Shabbat and first day Passover, including the seder. Since our married daughter was going to her mother-in-law's, two children couldn't come home from the states, and our son couldn't come to us, I decided that we'd go to him. Of course I wasn't quite sure how all of those concerned would react, but I must have marketed it well, and they all agreed.
So, off to Jerusalem we went. It wasn't quite that simple. I had to change the kitchen to Passover-mode early, in order to cook and freeze the food.
Of course, I couldn't have photographed the Jerusalem we saw on Shabbat and HolyDay, so you'll have to just imagine how it was from these pre-HolyDay shots.
Business was booming Friday, when I arrived early enough to help my son finish the cooking. You'd think it wasn't the 21st Century, when most people drive their cars to megamarkets. Since there was still almost a full day left when chametz was permitted to be eaten, you could still buy freshly baked cakes, cookies, bourekas and even challot for Shabbat. Neighboring stores and stalls sold Kosher for Passover baked goods of the strictest standards. There were long lines at the wine stores and at the felafel kiosks, too. And of course, people were still buying fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. There was lots to cook.
It was one of my most relaxed Fridays, considering that I had done most of the cooking at home, and as a guest, I wasn't responsible for the cleaning. My most important job was to make the kneidelach, but not in the soup, since we couldn't have them before Passover. And I also had to turn the frozen chicken soup stock into a delicious, rich vegetable soup, tasty enough to be eaten sans kneidelach, matza balls on Friday night.
Soon enough, it was time to light Shabbat candles.
We had to decide in which synagogue to doven, pray. At home, in Shiloh, we go to the local shul, which is conveniently located in our "backyard." Not only does Nachlaot have a great variety of shuls, but Rechavia is only a few minutes' walk away.
It seemed like a good idea to go to the Rav Shlomo Carlebach shul leil Shabbat. Everyone talks about its special atmosphere. The Kol Rena shul is in a very large miklat, shelter. The front end is for the men, behind them the women, and behind the women is a large place for kids to play--and play they did. They were noisy, and the congregants didn't care much. There were also a couple running back and forth in the connecting corridor. Yes, the singing is beautiful, and if you like "drums," you could hear that, too, as some congregants need to bang out their prayers. Due to a Shabbat Bar Mitzvah, they announced that there would be a kiddush Shabbat morning after Shacharit, with "final chametz" for all and then, after eating and bensching, (saying the prayer after bread,) they would all finish the morning prayers. It sounded like a nice way for a community to have that "last chametz meal."
That evening, after eating a kitniyot-rich meal at my son's, my husband and I walked around the area to scout out when the various synagogues would be starting the next morning's prayers, since we had to finish early enough to get back to our son's for cream cheese and lox in a pitta. In the end, we chose the venerable Yeshurun Synagogue,which was once the most prestigious one in Jerusalem. The building of Jerusalem's "Great Synagogue" less than a minute's walk away emptied Yeshurun of congregants. It's not as empty, decrepit and pathetic-looking as the one in Tel Aviv, where we heard Chazanut, just over a year ago. The Yeshurun Synagogue is beautiful and kept in good repair. There is a resident Chazan, one of the best, but most of the seats are empty, even on a holiday like Passover. I think my husband agrees that it's the nicest place to pray in. And even though there is a Chazan, the prayers didn't take long. But I must admit, that I prefer the way the Hallel Prayer is said in our humble neighborhood shul. There's a magic when all the voices fill the small space, beseeching G-d together.
Have a wonderful Passover!
Chag Kasher V'Sameach