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Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR
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Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR
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Israel Beat Jewish Music Podcast
David Wilder was born in New Jersey in the USA in 1954, and graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a BA in History and teacher certification in 1976. He spent 1974-75 in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University and returned to Israel upon graduation.
For over eighteen years David Wilder has worked with the Jewish Community of Hebron. He is the English spokesman for the community, granting newspaper, television and radio interviews internationally. He initiated the Hebron internet project, including email lists of over 15,000 subscribers who receive regular news and commentaries from Hebron in English and Hebrew. David is responsible and continues to update the Hebron web sites, portraying various facets of Hebron, utilizing text, audio, video and pictures. He conducts tours of Hebron's Jewish Community and occasionally travels abroad, speaking at Hebron functions.
David Wilder is married to Ora, a 'Sabra,' for 35 years. They lived in Kiryat Arba for 17 years and have resided at Beit Hadassah in Hebron for the past 15 years. They have seven children and many grandchildren.
Links to sites David recommends:
(others to be added)
Last week one of my daughters moved from the southern Hebron Hills community Eshtamoa to Shilo in Binyamin.
Shilo is one of those places I’ve read about in the Bible, and a place passed by when traveling to communities in the northern Shomron.
I have friends who live there, but haven’t ever really spent time at this ancient, holy place. (Next week, over Succot, we will, with G-d’s help).
Presently Shilo is broken into two areas: the modern community and the ancient site.
Modern Shilo was founded in 1978. Actually, I seem to recall being present at the ceremony, for the laying of the cornerstone at the new community, an event attended by Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook zt”l and other important rabbis and leaders. Today almost four hundred families live here, 40 kilometers (40 minutes) north of Jerusalem. It is quite an impressive community, with a view second to none.
Ancient Shilo was Israel’s first capital. Following the exodus from Egypt, the ancient Israelites brought here the ‘Mishkan,’ the ‘tabernacle’ – a sanctuary built by Moses in the desert, and later brought into Israel by Joshua. It remained in Shilo for 369 years, until being destroyed by the ancient Philistines, shortly prior to the crowning of Saul as King of Israel.
One of the most famous Biblical stories occurring at the Tabernacle in Shilo was the “Hannah’s prayer.” Having no children of her own, Hannah cried out to the L-rd at this holy place. Eli the High Priest, seeing her whispering, and thinking Hannah to be inebriated, reprimanded her. When Hannah replied, with tears and a broken heart, her desire for a child, and her willingness to dedicate that child to G-d, Eli promised her a son within the year. That child, of course, is Shmuel, Samuel, the prophet who led the Israelites and anointed both Saul and David.
Yesterday, together with friends from our Hebron office, we visited ancient Shilo. We are in the process of planning a major upgrade of the Hebron Heritage museum in Beit Hadassah. One of the facets of the renovated museum will be a video/sound and light show, telling the story of Hebron and all its magnificent history to the multitudes who visit this holy city.
The Ancient Shilo organization has recently concluded production of a new presentation about Shilo and the Tabernacle. We were invited to a sneak-preview, allowing us to learn from their experience.
A tower, housing the auditorium, is surrounded by archeological sites and excavations. At the entrance to the tower is a Mikvah, a pool for ritual purification, probably dating to the 2nd Temple era.
But the most amazing view is that of the site of the Tabernacle itself. Presently, archeologists believe they have discovered the actual place where this sanctuary rested for almost four centuries. We were told that fossilized burnt raisins, discovered at the site, have been dated to the exact time when the Tabernacle was burnt down and destroyed just over 3,000 years ago.
Seeing this wondrous site and realizing its illustrious history and significance to the history of the Jewish people in Israel, is literally breathtaking.
But the best was yet to come. Sitting in the small auditorium, overlooking the Tabernacle through glass windows, the presentation began. In just over 13 minutes, we witnessed a living, breathing experience of our heritage. Watching this amazing production, I felt like I was there, living my way through hundreds of years of history. And I wasn’t the only one who shed a tear as Hannah pleaded with G-d for a child.
The Tel Shiloh – Ancient Shilo organization has actually renewed, at this site, Hannah’s prayer. Not too long ago 4,000 women participated in a special program at this site, called “Hannah’s Prayer.”
After seeing the production, I can only hope that the program we put together here in Hebron, is as powerful, real and effective as this one. And of course, I highly recommend visiting this special, unique site and program.
At this time of the year, approaching Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, it is customary to write about and speak about ‘Tshuva,’ that is, repentance. There are numerous types of repentance. Each and every individual should, and must, make an accounting of his or hers deed and actions over the past year, searching out what has to be patched up and fixed over the coming year.
But it’s not enough to practice personal atonement. We must also, as a people, as a nation, put ourselves back together.
Actually the word ‘tshuva’ is rooted in the word, ‘shuv,’ which means ‘return.’ We have to return to ourselves. Any deviation from our real selves is a problem, needing to be resolved. I personally believe that the first step of tshuva, return, is coming home, coming back to Israel, where Jews belong.
But being ‘here’ is not only Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beer Sheva. Being ‘here’ is Jerusalem, Hebron, Shilo, and Beit El. Being ‘here’ means understanding that this is our home, the home of Joshua, Eli, Shmuel, and David. These are our roots, these are our past, these are our present, these are our future. If you cut off the roots of a tree, what happens to the tree?
This must be our national accounting. Our tshuva is to stop speaking about Eretz Yisrael as ‘palestine,’ and rather, to recognize all of our land as an integral, essential, official, part of the State of Israel. Rather than negotiate away and abandon our birthright, we must renew, revitalize, and relive our gift, for our land, Eretz Yisrael, truly is a Divine gift.
Anyone walking the hallowed ground of the ancient Tabernacle in Shilo can surely sense such sacredness.
Happy New Year, an easy fast, and Gmar Hatima tova.
An open letter to the Norwegian Foreign Minister: Mr. Espen Barth Eide
You surprised me yesterday evening. I really didn't expect to see you here. Especially following a two hour tour the previous day with your Tiph staff. Following a successful and interesting tour, at Tel Hebron, at the Hebron museum, at the ancient synagogue, and even a visit in my home, I would have, perhaps expected that they would have been polite enough to have informed me of your upcoming visit. Yet they didn’t.
But, then again, nothing can surprise me in Hebron. And actually, if Tiph had any manners, they would not be here in the first place. After all, when a guest knows he's unwanted, the polite reaction is to leave. Tiph knows that it is an 'unwanted guest.' So they have been for almost two decades. The time really has come that they leave Hebron.
When we met out on the street, we really didn't have much time to speak. I believe it would have been beneficial for you to meet with me and other leaders of the Hebron Jewish community. This would have presented you with an opportunity to hear our view, perhaps unknown to you, directly from us, without any intermediaries. You could have presented a differing opinion, we could have discussed the current situation and also options for the future.
It is my understanding that you, together with many other European leaders, are involved in the negotiations between Israel and our Arab neighbors. You have been pressuring Israel to resume talks with the Arabs for years. In other words, you understand that a necessary prerequisite to any kind of peace is communication, direct communications between the various and opposing parties involved.
We too are a party to this dispute. Therefore, theoretically, you should not only be willing, but also desire, to speak too with us. Rather than ignore us, relating to us as if we don’t exist, transparencies.
But, on the other hand, perhaps it was better that we not converse with you. After all, you really aren’t an objective player in the middle-east conflict. You and your Norwegian friends have much blood on your hands. Directly, or indirectly, you are responsible for the terrorist murders of over 1,500 Jews, killed in the past twenty years.
Because, Mr. Foreign Minister, your country has the dubious honor of being part of one of the greatest curses in the history of existence, perhaps second only to that of the snake in the Garden of Eden.
That curse, is, of course, Oslo. That name, that expression, will be remembered in annals of world history, for eternity, as one of the largest catastrophes of all time.
Yet you continue, as does a snake, seeking you’re your next, unsuspecting victim. Except that in this case, the victim of 2013 is the identical victim of 1993.
Oslo put the security of the lives of Israelis in the hands of our enemy. Oslo led to massive terror, to the Hebron Accords, dividing the first Jewish city in Israel, abandoning most of the city to Arafat, while also abandoning the security of its Jewish residents. Oslo led to the 2nd Intifada, the Oslo War, when tens of thousands were injured and over a thousand killed. Communities throughout Israel were shot at from Arab-populated cities. Gilo in Jerusalem was attacked from Beit Jala and Bethlehem. Hebron’s Jewish population was transformed into ducks in a pond, targets of Arab snipers from the hills surrounding us, hills abandoned to Arafat and PA terrorists in 1997. People were shot at in their apartments, in cars, walking on the street. Ten month old Shalhevet Pass was murdered by a sniper. The Levy couple was blown up by a suicide bomber. Rabbi Shlomo Ra’anan was stabbed to death in his bedroom. Rabbi Eli Horowitz and his wife Dina were shot to death in their Kiryat Arba home. And the list goes on and on and on.
These lives, and those of thousands of others, their blood, is on your hands. The name of your capital city will be stained with the blood of these victims until the end of time.
But that is not enough. Arriving in Israel, speaking about the release of terrorist murderers, you were quoted as saying, “That wasn’t an especially big sacrifice, but it was a first sign.”
Mr. Eide, seventy years ago Jews sacrificed between six to seven million Jews, while the world sat on the sidelines, watching, yet doing nothing. Over 23,000 soldiers and security forces have been sacrificed since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Over two thousand people have been ‘sacrifices of piece,’ since commencement of Oslo.
Releasing murderers of our people, that is a ‘small sacrifice’ so that they may return to kill more Jews?
Mr. Foreign Minister, Israel is very interested in peace, but not in piece, one piece taken from us, then another, then another. Only a couple of weeks ago, the Voice of Palestine radio broadcast, “"Greetings to all our listeners and happy holiday to you, our people in occupied Palestine [i.e. Israel], 1948 Palestine, the 1948 territories [i.e. Israel, created in 1948]... Greetings to our people in Acre, Nazareth, Tiberias, Haifa and Jaffa [all Israeli cities - ed.]... May your Palestinian identity be rooted in your hearts and minds. Allah willing, one day Palestine will be Palestine again!"
Arab children, taught in palestinian summer camps, are recorded speaking about returning to Jaffa, Haifa, and Beersheva, Acre and other Israeli cities.
Your ambassador to Israel was quoted as saying, “"We Norwegians consider the occupation to be the cause of the terror against Israel."
Of course, the Arab definition of occupation includes Tel Aviv and Haifa. And let’s not forget, their terror began many years prior to 1967. Some 1,000 Jews were murdered by Arab terrorists between 1948 to 1967, sacrifices for our existence as a people in our land.
I suggest that you worry about your own people. Your problems are just beginning:
“…Oslo will eventually become Oslostan. It’s not going to happen straightaway, but it that’s the way its going. More and more Muslims arrive here from abroad, and many Norwegians convert. Personally I know of five converts. Here it’s all about Islam; Islam is strong, so why fight it?”
It should also be noted that the justice system fails native Norwegians by giving out lenient punishment and failing to invest resources against the epidemic of Muslim men raping Norwegian women. .
You wrote in the Jerusalem Post, in May, 2011, “Norway’s response to the terrorist attacks in Oslo and on Utoeya is more openness, democracy and tolerance.”
Let’s see just where your tolerance leads, and how long it lasts. Your country loses $713,000 on every Muslim immigrant arriving in Norway.
Espen Barth Eide: we will not allow you to again take part in the continued attempts by our Arab neighbors to take our land from us – all of our land, including Jerusalem, Hebron, Tel Aviv or anywhere else. This is our home, this is our land. We will not leave. We demand that you mind your own business, take your impolite, unwanted, Tiph ‘observers’ back with you to your cursed Oslo, and leave Israel alone. For their goal is to destroy the State of Israel. Is this your goal too?
Go worry about your own and leave us alone.
Actually, it’s been quite some time since I’ve been detained by the police.
One of my favorite visitors to Hebron is Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis. I’ve known her for just about as long as I’ve been working here, close to 20 years. A frequent visitor to Ma’arat HaMachpela, she brings diverse groups of people, always interested in what’s going on. Her groups are also invariably spiritual. The Rebbetzin and her groups invest much time worshiping at Machpela.
Late this morning a small group, led by Rebbetzin Jungreis, left Jerusalem, stopping first at Rachel’s tomb and then continuing to Ma’arat HaMachpela in Hebron. We began with brief explanations outside the building. One significant point always made is the fact that for 700 years Jews and Christians were forbidden from entering this holy site. Only since our return in 1967 do we again have the right, and privilege to pray inside the huge, 2000 year old monument above the caves of Machpela.
When I’m asked why Jews live in Hebron, one of the answers deals specifically with this issue. Our neighbors make it quite clear that should they ever control this holy site, it will again be off-limits to anyone not of the Islamic faith.
Having related this information to the Jungreis group, we then proceeded to ascend the many stairs leading to the second floor of the building. We entered the first, outer room, and I continued, leading the way, into the original structure. However, to my surprise, a border policeman stood in the doorway and told me: Entrance Forbidden. You have to wait.
For what? The Muezzin, the Arab Moslem who operates the loud speakers which blast out their prayers, five times a day, was being escorted to the room from which the audio is operated. Until he was safely tucked away in that room, we couldn’t go in.
What, I asked, are be back in 1929? Because of an Arab, we can’t go inside?
We have to wait? Where is our honor - the honor of Am Yisrael, the honor of Abraham? Let him wait for me. I have to wait for him?!?
The border policeman refused to relent and put his arms up, blocking my way. That notwithstanding, I did my best to get around, or under his outstretched arms. This, of course, brought other security forces running, police and border police officers. I was accused of ‘pushing’ the border policeman and ‘disturbing the peace.’
I finally convinced them to allow my group inside – their time was limited. But I was detained. An officer demanded that I ‘promise not to do it again.’ I refused. How can I describe to my group, that for 700 years, we had no access to this site, and now, in 2013, explain to them that we must wait for an Arab to walk the halls of this holy place before we can go in? It makes no sense.
A policeman who I’m usually friendly with, started reading me the riot act, how I was totally off-center, and now, was being, not arrested, but detained, but if I didn’t follow orders and walk quietly, like a good boy, to the police station, for interrogation, I would be arrested and it would be much much worse.
Seeing that some of the police were upset with the entire incident, and trying to find a way to ‘climb down from the tree,’ I offered partial repentance: ‘Ok, I shouldn’t have started with the border policeman at the entrance. He’s just following orders. This issue should be taken up with higher-ranking officers.’ But this wasn’t enough for the officer in charge. So I abandoned my group, and was marched to the nearby police station.
The border policeman who had been ‘attacked’ followed us down the stairs. He was visibly upset. Being religious and also realizing that I really hadn’t done anything wrong, he looked rather disgusted with the entire episode. But, he had been told by his superiors to relate his side of the story to the police, allowing them to then ‘deal with me’ – the bad guy.
I sat there for a while, sent out a whatsapp to my colleagues, informing them of my incarceration, and made a few phone calls to choice friends who could help alleviate the situation. About a half hour later I was
I could leave.
Thankfully my group hadn’t left yet. I had a chance to see them off. But I felt bad that I hadn’t been able to guide them at this so very special a site. Some of them didn’t realize what had transpired, and when I told them I’d been detained by the police, they couldn’t believe it. Well, some of them. Others, understanding a bit about what happens here, weren’t so surprised.
On the one hand I find it difficult to comprehend how we act so contemptibly towards ourselves. Where is our self pride? On the other hand, this is what happens on Temple Mount in Jerusalem, daily.
This is disgrace redux. A self-disdain, a conscious or unconscious unawareness of our most basic
Henry Kissinger: ‘Israel needs defensible borders and he adds that Israel must not be pressured to withdraw to the 1967 lines’ – South Vietnam had international guarantees from twenty countries. Yet when North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam, no country took Kissinger's telephone calls. His implication was clear: do not rely on guarantees and risk withdrawing to the 1967 lines.
Shimon Peres told Ma'ariv in June 1976: "One must ensure that Israel will not only have length but width. We must not be tempted by all kinds of advisers and journalists to return to a country whose waist is 14 kilometers wide."
The late Mordechai Gur, as Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, told Newsweek in May 1978 that as a military man he had no doubt that to defend Israel it was necessary to remain in the high ground of the mountains of Judea and Samaria – from Hebron to Nablus. He also explained that Israel needed to remain in the Jordan Valley.
And the late Moshe Dayan, Israel's former Chief of Staff, Minister of Defense, and Minister of Foreign Affairs: "Whatever settlement is reached with the Palestinians and the Jordanians, the key positions that guarantee Israel's defense must be left to the free and exclusive use of the Israel Defense Forces. Those positions are the Jordan Valley and the mountain spine."
And finally, the words of the late Yitzhak Rabin: "We will not return to the lines of June 4, 1967 – the security border for defending the State of Israel will be in the Jordan Valley, in the widest sense of that concept." In 1980 he determined: "Our evacuation of the West Bank would create the greatest threat we can possibly face."
In conclusion, we still have a lot of work to do, but, it is not going to happen:
a) the Israeli public is beginning to wake up. According to a poll published today in Ma’ariv/NRG.co.il: "53% of Israelis are not willing to give up land in Judea and Samaria, even in exchange for Palestinians giving up the right of return and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. 57% believe that Oslo hurt Israel."
b) the numbers don’t add up. According to Dr. Guy Bechor, head of the Middle East Division at the Lauder School of Government, there are presently some million four hundred thousand Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. In the same area, today reside about 700,000 Jews; that is, 385,000 in Judea and Samaria and about 300,000 in Jerusalem. “In other words, the number of Jews is already equal to half the Palestinian population in the "territories." This figure is amazing, since during the second intifada Jews in Judea and Samaria numbered only 190,000. In a decade they have doubled their numbers.”
(These numbers do not take into account my expectation that in the next few decades, the Israeli population is going to double, as a result of mass aliyah (immigration) from the west. Many of the next 6 million Jews moving to Israel will undoubtedly live in Judea and Samaria, where there is still much open land waiting to be developed.)
c) And finally, a two-state solution, as being suggested at present, is ultimately a contradiction in terms. A so-called ‘palestinian state,’ alongside Israel, will continue our defense predicaments and generate new issues. It will create a lethal threat to the continued existence of the Jewish state and there is no reason for us to allow this to happen. It’s a no-brainer.
For more information: http://tinyurl.com/BreakingTheLies-David-Wilder
The first time was many years ago. I had just concluded explanations about Yeshivat Knesset Yisrael” which arrived in Hebron from Slobodka, in Lithuania in 1924. The Hebron Heritage Museum at Beit Hadassah features an exhibit about this illustrious Torah-learning academy, nicknamed the ‘Hebron Yeshiva,’ which includes a ‘class picture’ from 1928.
As I finished my brief account, an older man approached me, put his finger on a picture of one of the yeshiva students and asked me, ‘do you see him? That’s me.’
That was Rabbi Dov Cohen, a phenomenal Torah genius, who, following my tour, came back to Hebron and gave us his tour.
I always thought that this was a ‘once in a lifetime event,’ having someone point themselves out in a photo taken so many decades ago, here in Hebron.
But it happened again.
On Friday afternoon the Farbstein family came into Hebron for Shabbat. Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Farbstein, today dean of the ‘Hebron yeshiva,’ now located in Jerusalem, arrived with his wife and many grandchildren. And his mother, Rabbanit Chana Farbstein.
Chana Farbstein was born in 1923. Her father was Rabbi Yechezkel Sarna, a Torah giant. Her grandfather was the legendary Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein, dean of the yeshiva, located then located in Slobodka, which, a year or so later, moved to Hebron. Chana lived in Hebron until the 1929 riots, in an apartment next to Eliezer Dan Slonim and his family.
Friday afternoon, before Shabbat, the Farbsteins took a short tour of Hebron, which began in the museum. When we approached the Hebron Yeshiva exhibit, she moved, as hypnotized, to one of the photos on the bottom row, stared at it, and then pointed to a small girl in the right corner, saying, ‘that’s me.’ To her right, a young woman had her hand on little Chana’s shoulder. ‘That’s my mother.’
A ‘once in a lifetime event.’ And it happened to me for a second time.
Chana later told us that she must have been about four years old at the time the photo was taken.
Even though she was barely five and a half at the time of the riots, she remembered them quite clearly: “I remember a big truck going through the streets. They were throwing rocks at our house and calling out my father’s name ‘Chezkel.’ They were looking for him. It was our good luck, he was in Jerusalem.”
“Do you remember what was told to you, what was going on?”
“No one had to explain. We knew exactly what was happening.”
She said that on Saturday afternoon, her family was removed from Hebron and taken to the ‘Strauss Building’ in Jerusalem, across the street from ‘Bikor Cholim hospital. Asked when she ‘left’ the city,’ she replied: “We didn’t leave. The British came, on Shabbat, and took us to Jerusalem.”
Later she also spoke about remembering the pain of having to pray at the 7th step at Ma’arat HaMachpela, not being allowed to enter the structure. “We would stand there for a few minutes, and then leave.”
Were relations with Arabs always poor? “No, when we went shopping in the market an Arab with a large round basket would go with us. We would put the produce we wanted into the basket, he would carry it and later bring it to our home.”
Chana Farbstein is a phenomenal woman. She also stood with us on Friday afternoon, at the cemetery in Hebron, where 59 of the 67 massacre victims are buried. Her son, Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Farbstein, recited two Psalms at the site, his voice breaking, sensing the atrocities and pain of the events occurring 84 years ago.
The next morning, Mrs. Farbstein walked from Beit Hadassah to Ma’arat HaMachpela for morning prayers, and later in the afternoon, to the Avraham Avinu neighborhood to attend a special class presented by her daughter-in-law, Dr. Esther Farbstein, an expert on Holocaust studies, author of the book, “Hidden in Thunder.”
After Shabbat, as I arrived to interview her, I found her sweeping the floor.
Her son, Rabbi Farbstein, told me that that last winter she had been very ill, and there was grave concern that she might not recover. But recover she did, and despite only meeting her for the first time, her inner strength and iron will were quite obvious.
The Hebron yeshiva lost 24 students during the massacre. The Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein moved the Torah academy to Jerusalem, but never really recovered from the horrors of that awful day, dying five years later. But the family tradition of Torah greatness continues, as was apparent during the Rabbi’s Torah class Saturday afternoon. Asked why the yeshiva hadn’t returned to Hebron following the 1967 Six day war, Rabbi Farbstein related that his grandfather, Rabbi Yechezkel Sarna, met with then Prime Minister Levy Eshkol to discuss this matter. ‘Eshkol,’ he said, ‘basically scared my grandfather, saying that he shouldn’t take such responsibility on himself. ‘
“However, every year, on Tisha B’Av, after reciting Lamentations, my grandfather would get on a bus and come to Hebron, to visit at Ma’arat HaMachpela.”
My encounter with the Farbsteins, and especially with Rabbanit Chana, left me full of wonder and amazement. As we left them Saturday night, I told her, ‘here in Hebron we are blessed with ‘zechut avot,’ with the birthright of our ancestors, beginning with Abraham, thru to King David, and continuing on to such heroes as your father and grandfather. We are links in a chain, trying to follow in their footsteps, to continue where they left off. “
This is our inheritance, our legacy, an eternal bequest, from time immemorial.