Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Yesha Populace - Let the Facts Speak

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Over the years, many entities in Israel have made systematic attempts at delegitimizing the sector of the Israeli public that lives in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha). The media, politicians and various spokesmen have done their best to demonstrate that the Jews of Yesha are outcasts, on the fringe, and all in all, a burden on Israeli society.

Picture courtesy of "politifake"
But recently-released facts suggest otherwise. Compared with other sectors of Israel, the citizens of Yesha are outstanding in their contribution to society and take a disproportionate share of the burden in defending the country.

According to statistics from the IDF, the percentage of enlistment into combat units amidst the incoming soldiers from Yesha is 61%, compared to 36% of new soldiers from Greater Tel Aviv and 44.2% of enlistees from throughout Israel.
Students from the IDF Prep Academy in Bet El

Yesha residents have stepped up to the challenge of educating the next generation: 23.4% of the Yesha workforce are teachers, as compared to the national average of 12.6%. Many of these educators work at institutions outside of Yesha.

Religious teachers at a conference in Bar Ilan University

Absorption of new immigrants into academic institutions is particularly high in Yesha. For example, at the University Center in Ariel (in Samaria), 400 Ethiopian students are studying towards their BA and Masters Degrees, as compared to a total of 25 Ethiopian students at the University of Tel Aviv.

Yesha residents do, however, have a weakness: they are terrible at waste production. The average Israeli in Yesha produces only 1.31. kilograms of trash per day, while Tel Avivians average 2.09 kilograms.
The future Tel Aviv skyline?

Women’s place in Israeli society has conquered the headlines in recent days, and in this regard too, the woman of Yesha have a higher than average employment rate standing at 64.2%.

Like Tennesseans (the Volunteer State), Yesha residents excel at chipping in for the sake of society. Ben Gurion University surveyed the various sectors of the Israeli public for the rate of volunteering for organizations. They found that 51% of Yesha residents volunteer, compared with 40% from Jerusalem and 32% from Tel Aviv.

A final point of interest is that in a survey held one year ago, 95% of Yesha residents said they led “happy” or “very happy” lives.
Happy Smiles in Bet El

While Israel's electronic media (radio and television) continue to do all in their power to demonize the residents of Yesha and paint them as terrorists and spies, it behooves a prudent observer to pay a visit to these blossoming Jewish towns to judge for himself the nature of this segment of Israel's populace, without the agenda-driven verbiage of the radio and TV commentators.

This article is based on an editorial which appeared in the Kislev, 5772 issue of Yesha Shelanu, a publication of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

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Photos: Knesset Speaker Rivlin In Bet El

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In the wake of a court ruling to demolish 5 apartment buildings in Bet El, an unprecedented outpouring of support has emanated from coalition parties, who are committed to finding a solution. Activists say that the ruling won’t lead to actual destruction of the homes because:

1.      The land was purchased from an Arab with a contract over 12 years ago.

2.      The buildings are not located in a remote location but rather within the parameters of the town of Bet El.

3.      They are full-fledged concrete edifices and not makeshift, temporary homes.

On an official State visit to Bet El, Speaker of the Knesset Ruby Rivlin was honored at the Bet El Yeshiva Center to light Hanukkah candles on the last night of Hanukkah.

Below are photos from candle lighting at the yeshiva.

Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin lights candles. Rabbi Zalman Melamed looks on.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Save Yourself from the Singles Swamp

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On a recent trip to Manhattan, I spoke at a synagogue that boasts a majority of singles. One of my talks was on Dating and Marriage, and in the course of the weekend, the subject arose in several private conversations.

Many people feel, and I think that I am becoming one of them, that there is a serious epidemic which has spread amongst single religious guys aged 24 and up. The ailment is known as "fear to commit."

This Jewish single nearly drowned in the swamp
and was resuscitated at last minute by this article

Many girls have dated guys extensively only to have the relationship ended by the guy for what usually seems to be no reason other than he didn't feel they were a match.

In 1983 when I started going out on shidduchim [blind dates pre-arranged by a matchmaker], Rabbi Shlomo Aviner of Bet El published a book called Pirkei Ahava on dating and marriage. In the first few pages, he lays down a principle that changed my attitude towards shidduchim to the point that, coincidentally or not, I married the next girl that I dated. For me it worked. My wife and I have been married for 26 years, and the love and commitment has increased with each passing year (Though, I sometimes wonder if my wife feels the same).

Rabbi Aviner opens his book with a young girl and guy who have met extensively and are grappling with the decision to wed because of the real fear that maybe this isn't "the one." Based on reason alone, there is a green light for marriage because the girl has good character traits, her aspirations in life match his, and they get along fine together.

But the heart refuses to comply because his attraction to her is not steady. Sometimes he feels crazy about her, but most of the time he simply enjoys her company, in the same way that he anticipates he would enjoy the company of many girls. Despite some attraction to her and the joy of each meeting, there is no strong sensation that this is the one. To the contrary, there are many others, and maybe one of them is this guy's beshert [heaven-ordained match].

To Wed or Not to Wed? Credit: Srugim TV Series

Lacking a feeling of certainty, the guy cannot commit. He tells her, "You are a nice girl, and thank you, but we are not a match."

The devastated girl goes to weep on her pillow, and the guy tells the matchmaker, "Next, please."
Rav Aviner explains that a person must approach the shidduch with emunah [faith]! He must have faith that if G-d has made this shidduch materialize, and...
  1. the girl is suitable
  2. the girl has positive traits which are congruent with his aspirations and spiritual level
  3. there is some attraction
then he should believe that this is the girl that G-d has designated for him.

Question: Huh? Does Rav Aviner expect me to automatically say "yes" and walk the plank blindfolded?
Answer: No, rather he is saying not to investigate and probe ad infinitum.
Think about it. The alternative is absurd. The only way to really be certain is to meet every single eligible Jewish girl on the planet before making a decision. Until then, you may be haunted with the doubt that there is another girl who is more suitable.

Question: Still, Rav Aviner sounds a bit trigger happy. Am I supposed to jump into a lifelong marriage relationship with a woman for who there is only "some attraction?"
Answer: Rabbi Aviner elaborates:
"The reason is that the core building of a marriage relationship is done through work [after the wedding]. Therefore, there is no need for a gush of attraction and burning love beforehand. If there is burning love, it may not remain. If there isn't, it can appear through [post-marital] work, because the essence of this world is human endeavor and toil… Therefore, a man need only check [before proposing] that a love relationship can develop, or check that there is no repulsion, and then plough ahead."

It is healthy and natural that there be some attraction to the girl. Therefore, if after meeting several times, there is no anticipation for the next meeting and no attraction, then reason dictates that you should end the shidduch.

But if there is some attraction, don't wait for the burning love of the movies or the special feeling that this is the one. That feeling will come as you build your relationship with your beloved partner.
Let's summarize: Rav Aviner is saying that if your date has good character traits, her family is normal, and your aspirations meet, then you must check that there is no blemish that will hamper a love relationship from developing – that is, no physical or character blemish that will stand in the way. If there is no repulsion, and there is some attraction, keep dating, and then - go for it.

Go for it - Dive in!

Question: Do you love your fiancé?
Answer: I like her. She has a lot of great qualities, and I see nothing that will stand in the way of a true and deep love from developing as we build our marriage together.

Question: In other words, you are going under the chuppah [Jewish marriage canopy] with a girl who you don't love?
Answer: I have faith in Hashem that this girl is meant to be my wife, because I love many things about her, and therefore I love her. I cannot say that I have a burning love for her or state with certainty that this is my heaven-ordained match. But, I have faith in Hashem who brought about this shidduch that if I invest much love, patience, and consideration, then a wonderful, robust love relationship will develop. I have faith that my fiancé is meant for me.

If a guy is seeking a level of love and certainty that by definition can only appear after the wedding, he will spend many years as a frustrated bachelor, and be the cause for rivers of tears from many girls, one of which may have been his beshert.

[See also: Sick and Tired of Dating...]

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Dead End Synagogue

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After a morning swim at the local mikva, I asked a Jew on the street where I could find a 7:30am minyan for prayer services. 

Here's what he said: "7:40 minyan at the Dead End Shul."

I was blown away. That sounded like a place for people like me. But I was puzzled, and my face showed it.

The Yid continued: "Just take 147th street to the dead end. The shul is right there."

Ladies and Gentlemen, click below on the JewTube video for my take on this.


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Friday, October 14, 2011

A Gilad Shalit Thought From Knesset Member Ketzaleh

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I sat with Knesset Member Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz this morning and heard him commenting on the deal to swap some 1,000 convicted terrorists for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Ketzaleh noted that Gilad Shalit's father Noam visited him several times in his capacity as the Head of the National Union Party. Ketzaleh told him that all of his sons are in elite units of the IDF, and that he would without hesitation support 100% the risking of his own sons' lives in an operation to rescue Shalit. He said that there was a pleasant and respectful relationship between him and Noam Shalit, even though Ketzaleh never verbalized his support for freeing convicted terrorists.
Regarding this week's deal, Ketzaleh told the true story of a young, very attractive girl in Israel who had cancer in part of her face. She begged the doctors to conduct the operation in a way that would not leave a large scar diminishing her beauty. Going into the surgery, she again pleaded with the doctors to make sure that the operation won't make her ugly.

When the doctors cut into her face, they left tiny bits of the growth in place in order not to magnify the scar that would remain, as per the request of the patient. The girl died six months after the operation.

One of the surgeons said that they simply could not stand up to her pleadings.

Either way, it appears that the deal is a done deal, and we all now look forward to seeing Gilad Shalit reunited with his family and nation.

Chag Sameach!

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2-Minute Wordless Video That Impacted Me

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No commentary necessary. Here's the video:

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High Holiday Advisory: How Not to Pray Like a Dog

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On Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, we all gather in synagogues, be they Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform, and turn out hearts toward the G-d of Israel to request forgiveness and atonement, life and sustenance.

The Zohar, the foundational work of the Kaballah, says in the 6th Tikun: "Everyone howls in their prayers on Yom Kippur like dogs – ruff ruff! Give us sustenance and forgiveness and atonement and life etc… These people have audacity!"

The Zohar check. Could this be you?
What is the holy Zohar trying to communicate to us? On the one hand, the High Holiday prayer books are filled with supplications for forgiveness and sustenance, yet on the other hand the Zohar is telling us that these very prayers are like the prayer of a dog. Ouch!!!
The famous Jerusalem sage Rabbi Shlomo Fisher delivered a class in the Bet El Yeshiva yesterday in which he explained this passage of the Zohar in a way that has direct ramifications on how we should be praying on the High Holidays.
Rabbi Shlomo Fisher escorted by Bet El students yesterday

When a person is praying for his own longevity, livelihood, and atonement, he is likened to a dog coming before G-d and barking, "Give me, give me." To rectify this, a person must raise his perspective to ask on behalf of all of Israel – himself included. Then his prayers are heard.
But aren't all of the prayers of the High Holidays written in first person plural asking for all of Israel e.g. "Grant us forgiveness, grant us atonement." So, who is the Zohar talking about when it says that people are praying on Yom Kippur like a dog?

Rabbi Fisher explained to the students of the Bet El Yeshiva that it's not enough to pay the lip service of praying on behalf of all of Israel. It's a switch in mindset that starts with raising one's awareness of who the Jewish People are.

The Jewish People are the eternal people. This national trait was best described by Mark Twain in an article in Harpers Magazine in 1899:

"If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk…

"The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished.

"The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal, but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?

Leo Tolstoy said it more succinctly:

 "The Jew is eternal. He is the embodiment of eternity."
It's not about the individual Jew. Rather, the Jewish People as a whole are eternal by virtue of the fact that they were chosen to be G-d's representatives in this world. G-d is invisible, but we can see His reflection in the annals of the Jewish People.

When we pray for the material and spiritual advance of the Jewish People as a whole, we are, so to speak, "having mercy on G-d (Tikun HaShechina)," and concerning ourselves with strengthening G-d's image as perceived through the welfare of His people.  When the Jewish People prosper, it is a sanctification of G-d. When we sag, it is a desecration of G-d's name.
Coming back to the Rosh HaShana prayers, in order to really pray for all of Israel, one must hurt the pain of the Jewish people and rejoice in our nation's advance.  One must be aware of the poor, the orphans, the victims of anti-Israel aggressions, and every individual Jew's struggle to be more spiritual. We must ask forgiveness for all Jews everywhere and pray for life and blessing for the Jewish nation as a whole. When our supplications for ourselves come as an extension of our concern for the Jewish nation as a whole, then our barking is transformed into effective prayer.

One dog could really care less about another, but we as Jews must first and foremost pray for forgiveness, atonement, life and sustenance for those standing around us and in synagogues everywhere.

For example, instead of asking for increased income for yourself so that you make out a future for your children, give tzedaka, and accomplish other worthy endeavors, think about all the other Jews who have similar needs. Turn to G-d with a prayer like this: "Hashem, on behalf of all Jewish parents everywhere, I turn to you to ask you for increased sustenance to enable us all to raise our families in comfort, to provide a good Jewish and secular education for our children, to provide for our wives and make them the happiest wives in the world, to assist relatives and others in need. Please also strengthen the ecomony of the State of Israel, so that it will prosper in the world. Hashem, all Jews everywhere need livelihood and income, so please pour out an abundance of blessing to us all, and include me, your servant, amongst them with this specific need...."
As we approach the High Holiday prayers, let's learn from the Zohar to raise our perspective and take responsibility for Jews everywhere. As we come to ask G-d for what we want and need, let's broaden our hearts' desire to feel the needs of all Jews, and beseach G-d in our prayers on behalf of the entirety of our wonderful nation.

So yes, we must submit our case before G-d for our own material and spiritual needs, but only after and as an extension of begging for those of the Jewish People.

Shana tova from Bet El.

[See Rabbi Fisher's commentary on this topic in his book Beit Yishai – Drushim L'moedim, Volume I, Siman 16 (page 116)]

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hebrew 101 - "Sandwich Shop"

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To facilitate the inevitable return of the Jews of the Diaspora to their native land, the Land of Israel, I will occasionally post short lessons covering the essentials of getting around in modern Hebrew.

Let's say you're in Israel in the mood for a sandwich. Where would you go? A sandwich shop, right? Well how do you say "sandwich shop" in modern Hebrew?
Ladies and gentlemen, you heard it first right here. The picture below from the Sirkin Junction in Petach Tikva screams out the answer to our sandwich predicament:
A "Sandvichiada" in Petach Tikva

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Sheikh of Bet El

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Yesterday, after meeting with a prominent Rabbi in Brooklyn on matters of Eretz Yisrael, I entered an adjacent pharmacy. Upon leaving the pharmacy, I sensed that my head was bare. A quick rub of the head confirmed my worst sensation: I was walking around bare-headed.

I always wear a kipah (yarmlukah). I identify with it. Without it, I feel as though I am promenading the streets in my underwear.

Retracing my steps, it quickly became clear that my kipah had disappeared. The prominent Rabbi confirmed to me that I had my kipah on my head when speaking with him. So I spent the next 30 minutes looking all over for my kipah. The results: nada (Russian for "nothing ").

I asked 5 people on the street where I can buy a baseball cap or any hat. They all answered, "Nada" or "no, aqui."

What's a Jew to do?
The only immediate solution that I had was to take my tshirt and wrap it around my head like a Shiekh, the Sheikh of Bet El.
The Shiekh of Bet El (Rolls Royce on right, just outside the photo)
Though it looked a bit funny, I remembered that the Mishna Berura commentary says in the first clause of the Code of Jewish Law that even if people laugh at you when you perform the commandments, just keep moving forward, ignore their barbs, and trust in Hashem. And so it was.

My next stop was the nearby offices of prominent Israel activist, philanthropist, and real estate tycoon Rubin Margules. As I parked outside his office, I saw his partner and son-in-law Eli Verschleiser and greeted him. He looked a bit startled at how some Sheikh knew his name, at which point I identified myself, trying to figure out how to explain this one.

Eli welcomed the Sheikh of Bet El into his office, and introduced me to the office staff who all hoped that I might be in pass-out-gold-watch-gift mode. 
Feeling my discomfort in my out-of-season Purim costume, Eli conducted an office-wide search for a suede kipah that he knew was on premises, and sent me on my way, now looking like an American Modern Orthodox businessman.
A Typical Modern Orthodox New York Jew
Eli directed me to a Judaica store where I purchased a big knit yarmulke (not exactly what I am used to wearing, but the closest they had).

Packing the oversized yarn knit kipah, the salesman asked, "Oh, so you're headed to Uman [the site of the tomb of Rebbe Nachman from Breslov] for Rosh HaShana?"
"Not exactly," I answered, "but I am entangled in a tiny identity crisis and this kipah is the answer." I smiled and left the the Sheikh of Bet El behind in Brooklyn along with his modern orthodox counterpart, now heading for Manhattan as the new Rebbe Baruch of Breslov.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Israeli Social Justice Rallies

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What's it all about? What suddenly happened in Israel that sparked thousands to come out and demonstrate in the streets against the economic situation?
I'll let Chaim the Barber from the development town of Bet Shemesh tell you his take.  I happened to be in Bet Shemesh on Friday, and downloaded bushels of hair at the local barber – a barber shop that I've never been to. Chaim the Barber is a Sephardic Jew, representative of the simple working class Israeli.
Chaim the Bet Shemesh Barber/Political Commentator
I asked Chaim what he makes of these demonstrations. Here's what he said:
"It's a known thing that it is the extremist left that started these demonstrations. They have some guy from America who is paying for all the food and tents. Did you see the pictures? All the tents are the same, because they are mostly being provided.
"They started these demonstrations because they hate Bibi [Netanyahu, the current Prime Minister who has widespread support of the Sephardic working class] and seek to bring him down. Since the security situation under Bibi is relatively quiet, they looked for other problems to focus on to bring down Bibi.
"I can't understand the left, how they go with the Arabs on some key votes and decisions. If and when the Arabs come to kill Jews, they won't ask what party the Jew voted for? They won't say, 'Oh you voted for the Labor party, so we will leave you alone.' No, the Arabs will massacre every Israeli they can. So why doesn't the left stand up for Israeli interests, against the Arabs?
I asked Chaim if he thinks the outcries over the financial situation are justified.
"Yes, the demonstrations are justified. It's simple.  A few years ago, I would go to the supermarket and buy a basket of groceries for 300 NIS. Today, that same basket costs 500 NIS. So, people work, make money and barely get by. How can anyone save up money for anything outside of the regular monthly expenses? People used to be able to save a bit, but now you work and you spend and you finish the month back at zero.
"Prices are high, and the feeling is that it is not justified. Thank G-d the economy is strong and people have work, but prices here are so much higher than elsewhere, that you can't channel your money towards other desired goals. The prices have to come down. Something has to change. The people demonstrating are right. We pay something like 100% tax on cars. Why? And we pay heavy taxes on gas. Why?
"So while their initial motive was to bring down the government, I don't think we need a new government. I think we need to send a message to this government that we are not satisfied with the way things are. They must find solutions to bring down housing prices – both rental and purchase. And they must find ways to make the basic staples cheaper. As long as the organizers of these demonstrations will not speak their political opinions, then we can join them.
So there you have it. A real working class Israeli from a development town telling you what the demonstrations for social justice in Israel are all about.

As a new fundraising campaign for the Bet El Yeshiva Center, I am, by popular demand, selling my hair from the above haircut for $36 per strand. Contact me for more details.

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Arabs Perpetrate Hate Crime Against Gordon

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It is my custom to go the Kotel some Saturday nights to recite tehillim (Psalms) and attend a Torah lecture.

Like always, I took a shortcut this past Saturday night to the Kotel via Jehosephat Valley (Wadi E-Joze), an Arab-populated Jerusalem neighborhood. Minutes beforehand, at the entrance to Jerusalem from Bet El, I picked up two "yeshivish" yeshiva students hitchhiking their way to the Old City.

Boom! It sounded like an explosion...

In the Arab neighborhood, a road construction project sent me on a detour via side streets. Driving down a particularly narrow road, an Arab car came in the opposite direction bringing us both to a halt as there was no room for passage. I pulled over as far right as possible up against parked cars and signaled him to go up on the sidewalk. Speaking with our hands through the windshields, we communicated our respective requests: "Go up on the sidewalk," I requested. "No, you back up," he responded - until Arab cars started piling up behind me.
I was stuck in a traffic bind in an Arab neighborhood at 11:15 at night.
Boom! It sounded like an explosion, but glancing back I saw that it was just the loud shattering sound of the back windshield, which sent shards of holy Bet El car glass into the stylish hairdo of the yeshiva student in the back seat.
Shards of glass on back seat of car
Having spent most of my life in Bet El which is surrounded by our Jew-hating cousins, I have gained extensive experience over the years at getting hit by rocks. The main thing is to stay cool and start functioning on multiple levels simultaneously.
  1. I made a quick decision not to pursue the perpetrator of the hate crime, as the circumstances of being stuck in a traffic jam on a narrow Arab street late at night advised me to stay in the car and await further developments.
  2. I dialed the police and began reporting.
  3. I looked at the two hitchhikers who besides going into shock didn't seem to be suffering from any wounds.
  4. I monitored the events on all sides of the car.
  5. I locked the car doors.
That last move was just in time, because moments later several Arabs approached and tried to open my car doors while screaming like Indians dancing around a white man about to be burned at the stake. As the flames of Jew hatred were being fanned, I realized that the two yeshiva students and myself were the intended halal meat for the BBQ.
When the rock hit the back windshield, my instincts reacted by inching forward to try and get the guy in front of me moving. I apparently tapped his bumper, and now this academic-looking Arab driver was at my right window asking me why I hit him.
My report to the police continued all this time and over the speaker of my car telephone, the dispatcher said, "Wait, I don't understand. Start from the beginning. From where did you start driving tonight?"
At that very moment, the yeshiva dude in the back seat came back to his senses and asked me in these words, "What happened?"
I was now engaged in three conversations: the police, the student, and the Arab driver, while other Arabs were banging on my windows (the side windows are protected hard plastic) and trying to open the doors.
I began to tell the police officer my life's story - that I had departed Bet El this evening and was heading for the Kotel. Occasionally, I inserted my concern that my life was in danger. I leaned back to the student and said, "You were here. We were hit by a rock. You're not injured are you? It's gonna be OK." While the idiot police dispatcher was asking questions in between my narrative, I utilized the moment to tell the Arab driver that I was sorry for hitting him, but that a rock was thrown at my car and had startled me. I relayed to him that I am currently interested in proceeding forward and asked if he would be so kind as to back up.
"Yes, officer, I don't know the name of the street that I am on, but I have described to you my precise turns from the main Jehosephat Valley Road. Did you follow?" He responded, "Yes, I think so." Blessed art Thou who gives the rooster intelligence, I thought to myself.
Just when the BBQ coals were simmering and the Arabs were yelping and banging, the Arab academic driver and his secular lady friend backed out to the intersection opening the way for yours truly, the halal meat, to exit the scene.
I was out of danger, and so told the police officer, who advised that I go to a police station the next day to register a complaint.
My feelings: On the one hand, I felt outrage, disgust, and national disgrace that Arabs can nearly lynch a Jew in our ancient capital Jerusalem. It's simply degrading. If there were more people in my car, and we weren't stuck in a traffic jam, it wouldn't have bothered me if the car occupants got out and taught the Arab perpetrator a lesson in orthopedics and the human skeletal system.
On the other hand, the shattering of my windshield gave me a good feeling. Huh? Yes indeed. Because when Israel prospers and develops, this drives the Arabs to despair and they resort to hate crimes and violence. They despair at the return of the Jewish people to reclaim the ancient Jewish homeland.  
While we are busily engaged in construction, education, farming, and having more babies, their numbers are dwindling. The demographic tailwind has shifted in favor of the Jews. In addition, their corrupt leaders like the late Yasser Arafat, Dahlan, and Abbas have pocketed literally hundreds of millions of dollars of international donor funds that were supposed to improve their lot. They are going nowhere.
For Israelis, Jewish unemployment is down, the hi-tech revolution is raging ahead, the Israeli economy is strong, and the IDF is warning that it will smash the Arabs with greater force if the Arabs perpetrate further aggressions.
In other words, the rock delivered into the back seat of my car is a sign of the times: the Arabs are losing hope, while Israelis are gaining.
So I decided that the next time I see foundations being laid for a new structure, I will toss the hate-crime rock into the cement and symbolically fire back at our enemies with the creative endeavor of building Jewish homes.
Cost of fixed back windshield to Israeli taxpayer: $515

So, yes Ahmed, you won the little confrontation with me on the detour route in Jehosephat Valley. But know that you are losing the war, as no force in the world can stop the Jewish People from returning to the entirety of our forefathers' inheritance.

[Think Jews should respond differently? Leave a comment...]

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Gordons Go Green

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This week, history was made in Bet El when the Baruch Gordon household delivered a powerful boost towards Israel's Energy Independence. You see, every time I flip on a light or turn on a household appliance, I am handing money on a silver platter right into the coffers of Egypt, Columbia, Russia, South Africa and other nations from whom Israel buys coal and natural gas to create electricity.

That's about to change.

My wife and I signed a contract with the Solar Sphere company to "decorate" our rooftop with solar energy panels which will create green, clean energy and thus diminish our country's energy dependence.  We will soon be producing enough electricity to supply our own house and sell leftovers back to the Israel Electric Company.

Baruch (on left) signing with Yonatan from Solar Spheres

A small group of people from Bet El initiated this endeavor. The group did extensive research and price comparisons over the last few months, and finally pinpointed the company with the best deal. Out of over 1200 families in Bet El, yours truly - the Gordons - were amongst the first ten to sign in.

Video of signing...

It's a win-win deal. The State of Israel wins because it makes the Jewish State less dependent on foreign entities for its energy needs.  The environment wins because Israel becomes cleaner and greener. And the homeowner wins because he makes extra income – no strings attached.

Here's how it works. We will take out what's called a "green loan" from the bank to pay for the purchase of the solar electricity system. From day one, we begin producing electricity and getting income from the electric company. For the first ten years, the income will pay off the loan. Then for another ten years, we just rake in the cash payments from the electric company – a payment equivalent to renting a small apartment.
Usually Zionism involves some sort of sacrifice, but here it actually pays!

Are the solar panels ugly? No way! Not only are they not ugly, but they are in fact beautiful, hi-tech, modern, upbeat, green and cool. They are as beautiful as the Israeli flag.

Note these two conditions: 1) Your slanted rooftop must face south; flat rooftops also work. 2) It must be a private residence. Israeli law prohibits placing solar panels atop apartment buildings.

Right now, only one half of one percent of Israel's energy is produced by clean, green sources (solar panels, wind turbines, etc.). The State of Israel has obligated itself in a pact with the European Union to move 20% of its energy production to green sources  by 2020. So this is the trend of the future.

Now catch this. Having its own energy sources is such a strategic decision for the Jewish State that it is currently subsidizing home owners to encourage them to Go Green with solar panels. The facts: It only costs 40 agurot (0.4 shekels) to produce one KW of electricity from coal. Anyone who signs in the next few months, will be guaranteed 1.67 NIS for each KW of electricity that his solar panels produce over the next 20 years.

In other words, the Israeli government is ready to pay you 4 times what it costs to create electricity from coal, in order to get you to go green. That's the price that I latched into by signing now. This price is locked in place for the next few months, but after that, the subsidy will decrease. So now is the time to Go Green.  Don't wait. The more you wait, the less you make and the longer it will take to pay back that green loan.

Yonatan is the rep from Solar Spheres who worked with me. He and his Israel-based company are doing revolutionary and holy work. When I told him that English-speakers from western countries would likely go for this quicker than Israelis, he got excited and committed to giving a 1,000 shekel discount to anyone who expresses interest through Arutz Sheva.

So, if you are interested, send me an email and I will connect you with Yonatan and the solar panel company that gives the best deal in the country.

Remember. The subsidy is going down. If you hesitate, you will get a lower rate.

Zionist home owners! Act now and together, we will strengthen Israel's Energy independence.

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