Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bringing Israelis To Yesha to See With Their Own Eyes

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I was giving tours over Pesach in Shiloh, just north of Bet El, and saw busloads of Israelis being exposed to the Jewish towns of Judea and Samaria via an organization called Mishkefet, which means binoculars.

A Guide for Mishkefet

This is an organization that began operations about a year ago, and appears to be doing great work. So I decided to share it with you.

Somebody had a vision that said, no amount of explanations and Israel advocacy can be as compelling as seeing the disputed Judea and Samaria heartland of Israel with one’s own eyes. So they founded a group to bring tens of thousands of Israelis to see the Jewish towns and gorgeous landscapes of Judea and Samaria (AKA the West Bank). I think one of the people behind it is the brother of Finance Minister Silvan Shalom. I asked them what its about and their answer is in my own amateur video below:

Now if you know some Hebrew or just want to get more of a feel for what Mishkefet is doing, here is the video that they produced – in Hebrew – about themselves with some beautiful footage:

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

How to Handle an Outrageous Letter from the IRS - Hilarious

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My father is an accomplished tax attorney and takes care of income tax for my brother Robert and myself. The letter below represents what is, in my opinion, one of his most creative and hilarious responses to the IRS in the wake of an outrageous case of mistaken identity (or just plain absurdity) in a letter sent to my brother. No further commentary is necessary.

Enjoy the holiday laugh. Happy Passover and please sign up for the Bet El Rocks newsletter in the right column-----> for some insights and reports from Israel, sprinkled with Jewish Spirituality.

April, 2012
To: Internal Revenue Service
Attn: Ms. L
RE: Robert J. Gordon
Taxpayer Identification Number: XXXXXXXXX

Dear Ms. L:

My son, Robert J. Gordon, lives at XXXXXXXX  Memphis, Tennessee, being the address to which you sent two Certified letters seeking the collection of  $57,000.00 on taxes owed on Form T30 and an additional $1958.33 for taxes owed on Form 11C.

For your ease of reference, I am enclosing a copy of each of the letters you sent which were dated March 28, 2012.

My son, who has developed a career as an author, playwright, director and film critic , has no connection with any gambling enterprise anywhere, and particularly in Nashville at the address indicated in the material you sent.

You may learn more about my son, if you wish to, by simply Googlinq his name on your computer and you will see his accomplishments, including a Grammy Award a year ago, as well as his authorship of a number of books, articles, etc..

My son has no idea of the activities in the sporting world such as football and other exhibitions described in the charges contained in the proceedings which you forwarded to him.

It is unfortunate that your office did not bother to look further into the matter before sending this letter which caused a great shock to my son, his wife and their children.

In fact, I do not know if you have funds available, but it would be very kind if you were to replace the trousers that he wore on the day he received and opened your communications. The trousers were a light, beige color, tailor-made from fine linen, and absolutely ruined by the consequences of the shock you imposed upon him.

For your information, the trousers were purchased at James Davis Clothing Store on Poplar Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee, in February, 2012, for a price of $125.00.

I will let you be the judge of what additional sums you feel you should pay for the shock and the impact on relatively sensitive feelings of a writer, director and editor.

At any rate, l will be most appreciative if you will forward to my son or to me on his behalf, a letter acknowledging your mistake along with a check for such amount as you feel is reasonable for the injury you have caused.

I am sure you will agree with me that the mistake should never have happened and would not have happened if anybody had simply performed the most basic investigation by calling my son's home or Googling him on the internet.

You were very gracious to allow Mr. Robert J. Gordon until April 30, 2012, to respond to your letter dated March 28, 2012.

In the same sense of fairness, I will appreciate your seeing to it that I hear from you or my son hears from you no later than one month from the date of this letter.

I am taking the liberty of sending a copy of this letter to my Representative in Congress because I feel a great many of my taxpayer dollars were squandered as a result of this mistake.

Thank you for your early attention.

Yours very truly,

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bet El Rocks Newsletter Sign Up

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Seder Night Story

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Some of the best stories in the Jewish World are the stories told by and about Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach of blessed memory. Here is one from the highly recommended “The Carlebach Haggadah” [page 88].

Motzi Matzah

My father was appointed to the Rabbinate of Berlin a little before Purim, at the end of the First World War. A few days after Purim, he received a letter from a soldier serving at the front. “Most of the soldiers sent to the front never returned. The letter said, “My name is Moishele Cohen. I’m the only matzah baker in my whole home town. If I don’t come home immediately, there won’t be any matzos in my town for Pesach, so please go to General So-and-so and beg him to give me some leave so I can come home and bake matzah.”

Matzah baking in Bet El

You only had to show this letter to anyone, and if he had a brain in his head, he’d tell you not to waste your time. To try and get leave for this soldier was a big joke. It was the desperate end of the war. Every day thousands of soldiers were dying, and there was nothing to eat in Berlin; and you think the General Staff had nothing on their minds besides matzos? My father, yes, he was an important Rabbi with a big shul, but to come to the General in the middle of a war and tell him we need matzos! For us it’s life-and-death, but what would it be to him? Crazy.

By my father had a pure soul. He said, “I didn’t ask for this letter, the letter came to me. I must go.”

Dearest friends, in my life, I never saw my father without a sefer in his hands. This time too, he took with him a few sefarim, because who knew how much time he’d have to wait to speak to the General? When he got there, he saw hundreds of people waiting. The General had several officers who did nothing but take down names and give out numbers – my father understood that it would be days until he got to speak to the general. What did he do? He gave in his name and continued learning.

A few minutes later an officer came over to my father and said, “Rabbi, the General asks you to come to him immediately. He must see you.”

He walked in to the General’s office, and the General took my father’s hand and kissed it. Unbelievable! What is going on? He asked, “Aren’t you the son of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, the Rabbi of Lubeck?” My father said, “Yes, I’m his youngest son.” He said to my father, “Whatever you want will be done.” My father said right away, “I need to bring a solider from the French front back to his home town.” He said, “Just give me his ID number.” And right away, he dispatched an order to the staff in France to send Moishele Cohen home.

My father asked the General, “How do you know my father?”- But if I want you to understand how that happened, I have to take a minute and tell you another story first.

In the early nineteen hundreds, thousands and thousands of Jewish youths from Germany left for America. To our sorrow, their parents lost all connection with them. This left thousands of parents without any help or support when they grew old. There were old people simply dying in their houses without anyone even realizing. My grandfather, the Rabbi of Lubeck, thought, “I must build an old age home for these people.” He decided he would look for new contributors, people that never gave to holy causes like this before. He heard that the banker of the German Kaiser was a Jew. Why was he a Jew? Simply because the Kaiser never asked him to convert – all the Kaiser worried about was that he should take care of the money. But if the Kaiser asked him to convert, he would; that’s what they told my grandfather about him. This man had certainly never associated himself with anything Jewish. But what do we know about a Jewish soul, the depths of the Jewish soul?

My grandfather went to Baron von Bleichroeder’s palace, and they brought him to his office. All of a sudden the Baron stood up when he saw my grandfather. He went over to him, kissed his hand, and started crying. He said, “Rabbi, you must know that G-d sent you to me. I’m seventy years old. Today is my birthday, and last night I cried the whole night. I thought, ‘I’m Jewish, but I’ve never spoken to my brethren. I never spoke to someone who could purify my soul.’ Today you came to me.”

They became close friends. Anything that my grandfather asked of him, the Baron did immediately. He built a huge building for an old age home. It was the first old age home in Germany, and probably the first in the whole of Europe. (To our great sorrow, the building was totally destroyed, because the Nazis, yimach shmam, made it into their headquarters.) After five years during which my grandfather spoke with the Baron almost every day, he got a call from the Baron’s son, who said, “Holy Rabbi, you were my father’s best friend. My father wasn’t a simple man. This morning I entered his office and saw a letter on his desk. This is what was written: ‘If G-d forbid, I don’t get up tomorrow morning, I want only Rabbi Carlebach to eulogize me. If he cannot, I don’t want any eulogy.’ I ran into my father’s bedroom, but he was already in Heaven.”

My grandfather said a hesped, a eulogy for the Baron, and understandably, the Kaiser of Germany with all his family came to the funeral. The brother of the Czar of Russia came too, and the kings of England, Denmark, Sweden, Norway – all the European leaders.

Now I can return to the original story with the General. When my father asked him how he knew the Rabbi of Lubeck, he answered, “I was fortunate enough to be there when Rabbi Carlebach eulogized Baron von Bleichroeder. Let me tell you, generals don’t cry and they don’t laugh. My heart is dead, and my soul died before I as born, because you can’t be a general and remain a person. I don’t believe in anything. If you came and told me that half the world just died, I wouldn’t blink an eye. But one time in my life, I cried like a baby for a quarter of an hour. Once in my life, I believed in people, in a living G-d. Once in my life, I prayed that G-d would forgive my sins. That was when your father spoke.”

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Official Population Count for Judea & Samaria - Whammo!

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The European Union, the US State Department, the Former Soviet Union, and the United Nations are up in arms over the document below. As the world tirelessly endeavors to divide up the Jewish Homeland and give pieces away to an Arab entity, the Jews of Yesha (Judea and Samaria AKA the West Bank) are accomplishing a quiet demographic revolution, thereby ensuring that these places remain Jewish forever.  

When I ask people on the street how many Jews live in Yesha, they give answers that were correct ten or even tens of years ago.

The document below hits them like a sledgehammer – WHAMMO!
This Baruch's Breeze reader couldn't take it: "How did the Jews of Yesha multiply so quickly?"

The census of Jews in Yesha below delivers a cogent message that a population explosion has taken place which has changed the map. In the minds of many, the numbers below render the whole world agenda of creating an Arab state in Yesha totally unrealistic. Each month that goes by is another nail in the coffin of Arab statehood on this disputed Jewish soil.

The numbers which appear below are not readily accessible to the general public. They come directly from the population registry of the Ministry of the Interior and are obtained and formulated by the office of Knesset Member Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz.

The report will bring nachas to some and congestion to others. But the bottom line is that with Arab demographics going down and ours going up - "Time is on our side."

No rush. No worries. Time is on our side

Jewish Population Stats for Judea and Samaria
as of December 31, 2011
Population Registry of the Interior Ministry

Judea and Samaria Jewish Population: 342, 414
as of Dec. 31, 2011
[Not including some 300,000 Jews in eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem]

On Dec. 31, 2000, there were 190,206 Jews in Yesha
On Dec. 31, 2010, there were 327,712 Jews in Yesha

The Jewish population increased in this region during 2011 by 4.3%.

Below are the stats for each town in Judea and Samaria.
Northern Samaria
Chinanit 985
Chermesh 230
Mevo Dotan 360
Rechan 196
Shaked 677
Total 2,448

Ariel-Elkana Bloc (Trans Samaria H’way)
Revava 1,496 t
Oranit 7,119
Alfei Menashe 7,875
Elkana 3,693
Ariel  18,561
Barkan 1,570
Elei Zahav 1,029
Etz Efraim 852
Peduel 1,373
Kiryat Netafim 678
Shaarei Tikva 4,840
Total 49,086

Maaleh Adumim Bloc
Maaleh Adumim 38361
Kfar Adumim 3269
Mitzpeh Yericho 1927
Keidar 1082
Total 44,639

Eastern Etziyon
Maaleh Amos 416
Nokdim 1,231
Tekoa 2,372
Metzad-Asfar 430
Total 4,449

Itamar 980
Elon Moreh 1,565
Bracha 1,749
Yitzhar 1,137
Migdalim 146
Shavei Shomron 818
Avnei Hefetz 1,597
Yakir 1,582
Kfar Tapuach 1,135
Maaleh Shomron 825
Nofim 493
Salit 556
Immanuel 3,478
Einav 709
Tzofim 1,373
Kedummim 3,996
Karnei Shomron 7,131
Total 29,270

Beitar Illit
Beitar Illit 41,986
Total 41,986

Kiryat Sefer Bloc
Hashmoniam 3,020
Kiryat Sefer (Modiin Illit) 53,649
Matitiyahu 474
Total 57,143

Jordan Valley Region
Avnet  79
Almog 201
Argeman 167
Bet HaArava 117
Bekaot 205
Gittit 324
Galgal 162
Vered Yericho 244
Hemdat 155
Hamra 155
Yetav 269
Yafit 176
Mehola 464
Mechora 153
Maaleh Efraim 1,602
Mitzpeh Shalem 200
Mesua 190
Maskiot  73
Niran  70
Naama 136
Netiv HaGedud 190
Fetzael 270
Kalia 346
Roi 158
Rotem  86
Shadmot Mehola 573
Tomer 306
Total 7,071

Gush Etziyon
Elon Shevut 3,463
Elazar 2,132
Efrata 9,105
Bat Ayin 1,151
Har Gilo 669
Kfar Etziyon 603
Migdal Oz 423
Neve Daniel 2,212
Rosh Tzurim 800
Total 20,558

Hevron Hill
Adura 283
Eshkolot 649
Hevron 606
Haggai 565
Tene 712
Carmel 461
Maon 467
Metzudat Yehuda 440
Negohot 253
Susia 934
Otniel 733
Pnei Hever 376
Kiryat Arba 7,128
Shima 379
Telem 249
Carmei Tzur 837
Total 15,072

Binyamin Region
Bet El 5,961
Bet Aryeh 4,198
Bet Horon 1,180
Geva (Adam) 4,403
Givon Hahadasha 1,312
Givat Zeev 13,553
Dolev 1,371
Har Adar 3,873
Halamish 1,198
Talmon 3,253
Kochav HaShahar 1,937
Kochav Yaakov 6,791
Kfar HaOranim 2,336
Mevo Horon 1,795
Maaleh Levona 605
Maaleh Michmash 1,451
Nachliel 504
Nili 940
Naaleh 1,009
Ofrah 3,156
Ateret 514
Almon (Anatot) 1,118
Psagot 1,829
Rimonim 620
Shiloh 2,659
Eli 3,126
Total 70,692

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