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Bitter Sweet
April 22, 2014


Pesach, Passover, is a special holiday. The redemption of our people, Am Yisrael, some 3,500 years ago. It serves as the foundation for our future, that is, the issues, such as being enslaved in Egypt, and the liberation from that bondage.

 

It has happened time and time again. Twice we suffered the destruction of our spiritual center, Jerusalem, were exiled from our land. And we returned. Jews lived quite comfortably in Spain for hundreds of years, only to be cruelly exiled, following a brutal inquisition. Ditto France, England and other countries. Ditto plus some, Germany of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

 

Oppression and then triumph over seemingly insurmountable odds.

 

So too, Hebron, something of a microcosm of Israel, the state of Israel and the history of Israel.

 

Moments ago, prior to beginning this article, French and Spanish journalists questioned me about our return to Beit HaShalom. Speaking about our presence in Hebron, they said, 'but this is 'palestinian' land.'

 

I stared at them, sort of smiling, not saying anything.

 

Then the statement was repeated, as a question.

 

"Look, where we are standing, this was bought by Jews in Hebron in 1807. The area behind us was lived on, as a Jewish neighborhood, from the middle of the 1500s by Jews who'd been exiled from Spain in 1492. And Jews lived here for hundreds of years before that. So is it 'palestinian property?' I think not, I think it is Jewish property."

 

'But the 'palestinians' and international NGOs claim that the building, Beit HaShalom was stolen - the papers were forged...?'

 

"Right, except that two Israeli courts, including the Supreme Court, ruled that the building was legally purchased. If they had ruled against us, you would say they were correct. Now that they've ruled for us, you say they're wrong?!"

 

So it goes, on and on.

 

Pesach in Hebron is always special. Thousands, no, tens of thousands, flock to the city, visiting Ma'arat HaMachpela, the tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, and other fascinating sites in the city.
Sweet. The story of redemption.

 

But it wasn't entirely sweet.

 

About an hour before the Seder, the beginning of the holiday, one of my sons called me, asking very abruptly, 'what's happening at Tarqumia?'

 

Tarqumia is a known checkpoint, about 10 kilometers west of Hebron.

 

'Don't know, why?'

 

'Check it - there was a terror attack. Someone was killed' Others injured.'

 

Bitter. Very Bitter.

 

I didn't know until the next day who had been killed. I found out, almost a week later that some of my friends from Hebron were at that very site, where the shooting occurred, literally minutes after the attack.

 

Such events are never pleasant. But on the eve of a holiday, the celebration of redemption, knowing that a few families were having a very very difficult time rejoicing, knowing that more children were added to the list of orphans, it's not a happy way to start a festival.

 

A big dark cloud covered the light of the sun.

 

We knew that the attack would influence peoples' decision to visit Hebron in the coming days. Understandably. Yet, some 25,000 people were able to overcome, letting their feet do the talking, saying, as Jews have exclaimed for thousands of years, nothing can stand in our way. This is our home, this is our land, this is our city. Here we are, to prove it.

 

It is quite well known that during the Passover Seder we eat Matza, a symbol of our liberation from Egypt. Perhaps it is less known, or perhaps, less understood, that we also eat bitter herbs, in remembrance of the harsh conditions we had to live under in Egypt. Not only do we eat them, but we also say a blessing over them.

 

It should be easily comprehended why we bless the consumption of Matza. But bitter herbs?

 

Except that the bitterness was part of the redemption. Only after experiencing the bitterness of slavery in Egypt could we appreciate the sweetness of liberation.

 

Additionally, the 'bitter herbs' of days gone by were also a preparation, for the acrimony we would continue to experience, throughout the ages. We thank G-d, that He has given us the inner strength, an almost unimaginable faith, allowing us to overcome, to overcome, to overcome.

 

Hadas Mizrachi, now the widow, formerly the wife of Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrachi, a short time after the murder:

 

"I'll be strong for the children, because that's what Baruch would have wanted. We should also be thankful for the miracle that my children and I survived. We will stay strong and God willing, my children will grow and succeed, and that will be my victory against the terrorists," said the mother, whose condition is defined as moderate. "I have two bullet wounds and a fractured rib." [http://bit.ly/1f125Gx]

 

During the Seder, we eat the Matza and the Bitter Herbs separately, and then put them together, sort of a sandwich.

 

Oppression and redemption, Bitter and sweet. Tears of festivity, tears of mourning. Baruch Shehechianu, Blessing the good - Baruch Dayan HaEmet, Blessing the bad. Matzah and Bitter Herbs.

 

Such was our Passover this year, in Hebron.

Back home to Beit HaShalom
April 13, 2014

On March 19, 2007, two weeks before Passover, Hebron residents moved into Beit HaShalom in Hebron, a building purchased by Morris Abraham and his family.

On Deceber 3, 2008, almost 22 months later, Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the families in the building to be expelled.

Today, April 13, 2014, following numerous court cases and appeals, culminating with a Supreme Court decision affirming a lower court ruling that the building had been legally purchased, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon authorized renewed Jewish presence at the site.

On the eve of Passover in 1968, Jewish families moved back to Hebron, spending the week-long holiday at the Park Hotel in the city.

Presently, on the eve of Passover, 2014, Jews have again come back home. Beit HaShalom is no longer empty. Jewish families have come back home.

V'Shavu Banim l'gvulam - And the sons have returned to their borders.


Photos: http://on.fb.me/1hLtW82

http://bit.ly/1emSutj - Video (Hebrew)

http://bit.ly/1n4m6OT - Short video with David Wilder

 




Seder
April 13, 2014

Tomorrow night we will mark a holiday Jews have been celebrating for some 3,500 years. That is, the miraculous exodus from Egypt, that is, the birth of the Jewish people, as a nation. I guess that means we've been around for a long time.

On the eve of Pesach - that is, Passover, we conduct a Seder, which literally means 'order.' During this festive rite we retell the story of our beginnings, from the days of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, the trials and tribulations of Jacob, and descent to Egypt. From there we repeat the sufferings of the ancient Israelites at the hands of the slave masters, the torturous Egyptians, and finally, the miraculous end, including the 'ten plagues' brought on the Egyptians, culminating with the death of all the first-born males, excepting only first-born Jews. And then, the sudden, massive, glorious, exodus from that cursed land.

The festivities include the actual recitation of the events, as well as drinking four cups of wine, eating Matzah, the unleavened bread, and also 'bitter herbs.' Each element of the 'seder' ceremony is marked and the details are scrupulously followed by Jews around the world, year after year.

The intricacies of the holiday, and the above-described ceremony have been written about in great length. Thousands of books have been authored, each touching upon a different aspect, or approaching an idea from a 'different angle.'

I would like, for a moment, to add my own small contribution. Not that what I write hasn't been written before; I'm sure it has been, multiple times. But of course, I have my own 'take on things.'

It's fairly clear why the Exodus story is told again and again, year after year. This event is the very foundation of Jewish faith. The Ten Commandments, as given to us by G-d at Sinai, do not speak of the G-d who created heavens and earth. Rather, they begin with the G-d who took the Jews out of Egypt. Many reasons are given for this, but one of them is very simply because, who was around to witness the creation of heaven and earth? On the other hand, millions witnessed the miracles and exodus from Egypt.

That has been passed down from father to son, mother to daughter, grandparents to grandchildren, Rabbis to students, from then on, generation upon generation. We read of the events in the Torah, and keep them alive, in our minds, in our hearts and in all facets of our lives. The best way to ensure that such a majestic, and central occasion will not ever be forgotten is if it is repeated. Just as people rarely forget the date of their birthday, so too, a people does not fail to remember its origins. And just as important, we mustn't fail to give thanks to He who gave us our life.

There is no better way to express gratitude than to repeat the event, again and again, giving credit where credit is due.

Another question asked concerns the evening ritual - the 'seder.' Why is there such a strict 'seder,' that is 'order' to everything that's done. Why can't the story be told, with each person or family expressing it as they like?

The answer to this question too, is simple.

A student once brought a beautiful painting to his art teacher. In reply to the teacher's complements, the student claimed, "I didn't really paint this. My paint spilled on the paper, and this was the result." The teacher, of course, refused to accept this explanation, saying, "such a work of art cannot be the result of 'chance' spilt paint."

Such is the world in which we live. Our lives, our private lives, or our national existence, cannot be 'paint spilt on a piece of paper.' Just as the artist must plan each stroke of the brush, each shade of color, so too, our being is a work of art. A work of Divine art. As the expression says, 'there is a method to the madness.'

Our birth, with the exodus from Egypt, thousands of years ago, was methodical, beginning hundreds of years before. There was a guiding hand, every step of the way, sometimes visible, other times seemingly invisible. But each and every step was planned out, just as the artist charts his masterpiece, line by line. 

This is a Divine 'seder,' a Divine order. This is why, on the eve of our national birth, when we literally relive that era, as we repeat the words of our Sages, that we must feel as if we were today actually liberated from Egypt, the 'order' is so central. All that happened was carefully thought out, planned and executed. And this is how we experience again the event, just as it was then.

Approaching these sacred days of Passover, my mood is, perhaps, overly reflective. Looking back at our birth as a nation, I also reflect upon my own personal narrative.

Presently I am marking several special life events. Exactly twenty years ago I began working with the Hebron Jewish community. In a few months it will be exactly forty years since I first came to Israel. And last week I celebrated my sixtieth birthday. Twenty, forty, sixty. And of course, I cannot leave out a number in the middle, that being the thirty-fifth anniversary of my marriage to my wonderful wife Ora.

Looking back to where I started, it really doesn't seem possible. From New Jersey to Hebron might be the kind of material science fiction is made of.  That is, until we reach Pesach - Passover, when we see that my story is nothing more than the story of the Jewish people, throughout history. After all, were did Abraham start?

My story is that of thousands, and hundreds of thousands, and millions of Jews, who have made their way back home. We each have our own individual exodus stories, our liberation from Galut - the Diaspora, and our return home.  Each story contains miracles, and perhaps, even plagues. But there is always a guiding hand, and in the end, (which is actually the beginning) we make it back home.

This is what will be roaming my thoughts tomorrow night, sitting with my family - with my children and grandchildren, reflecting on my own wondrous story, while reciting the age-old words of our freedom from bondage in Egypt, of our birth as a people, an eternal people, Am Yisrael.

Happy Passover - Chag Sameach, from Hebron.
 


Purim in Hebron
March 16, 2014

 

 
 

 


 

 

Purim in Hebron
by David Wilder

“I yearned and longed for the city of the Forefathers, I will come thru her gates with song and gratitude, Her elders and privileged, her blessed young and busy achievers”

“To Life to life, called out the townspeople, who greeted the guests. The beadle  led them to the synagogue of the Chief Rabbi, assigned rooms, distributed food and also packages for Purim. The next morning they spread out through the city, drank with the residents, received ‘presents to the poor’ and as the sun turned towards the west, headed back in the direction of Jerusalem, to continue the holiday with their families.


Such was Purim in Hebron, as described in Sefer Hebron (page 371).


And today?


It is customary that on Rosh Hodesh Adar, the first day of the new month of Adar, two weeks prior to the great day, schoolchildren of almost all ages begin dressing up. Little girls with crowns and makeup, and boys looking like clowns.

 


Such fun continues, as large signs on sheets announcing the impending coronation of the Rav Purim  (Purim Rabbi) adorn homes and street corners.  That exciting event usually takes place the Saturday night before Purim, in an extravagant ceremony, sometimes with the chosen person brought before the crowds in an ambulance, police car or on a donkey. Or whatever the amazing, imaginative children can think of.


When Purim evening finally arrives, multitudes fill Ma’arat HaMachpela, some in Shabbat clothing, and others costumed. Serious men wearing orange hair, others masked, with children running between the adults with cap guns and magic wands.


Megilat Esther is joyously read, with the evil Haman being noisily deleted at every mention of his name.


The next morning some arise early to fulfill the days’ first mitzvah, again hearing the Megillah, and then preparing to bring food parcels to some, and money to the poor, to others.


At about eleven o’clock, with tangible electricity in the air, all gather at the top of the hill, at the entrance to the Admot Yishai-Tel Rumeida neighborhood. Children receive helium balloons, waiting for the annual Purim parade, the ‘Adeloyada’ to begin. A large, open wagon, pulled by a tractor invariably driven by Yisrael Zeev, starts to move. Above are huge clown dolls and loudspeakers, playing festive Purim music for the masses who have come to celebrateTraveling down the hill, on to Beit Hadassah and then the Avraham neighborhood, sometimes stopping for a few minutes of dancing and singing. Many dance with soldiers, and children hand out Purim parcels to the men and women in uniform.  Finally, after about two hours, reaching Ma’arat HaMachpela. There, those still sober, and even those not so much, participate in an outdoors Mincha afternoon prayer service, before heading home for the festive Purim feast.  Singing and dancing continue in the neighborhoods thru nightfall.


However, that is not the end of Purim in Hebron. The first question most people ask about Purim in Hebron is the date. Do we celebrate Purim as most others, on the first day, or as in Jerusalem, on the second day. According to ancient tradition, Hebron is considered to be a ‘city of doubt’ as to whether it was a walled city during the days of Joshua, and therefore, Purim is celebrated twice, and the Megillah is read four times. The first day, with a blessing and the second day, without.


Actually, at present there is no doubt that Hebron was a walled city during the days of Joshua, but other factors remain which create a doubt as to the day when the holiday should be held. So, two days it is.


The major difference between the first and second day is that on the second day, rather than have another Purim parade, the children conduct  a ‘Shuk Purim,’ that is an outdoor ‘Purim fair.’  The older children prepare numerous games for the younger children, who can win prizes during outdoor events, when they, for example, throw wet sponges at volunteers’ faces, or try to shave balloons covered with shaving cream, without bursting the balloon.


This festival is topped off with a huge raffle for toys and games, donated to the community by friends around the world.


And then home for the another holiday meal, with as much wine as can be imbibed, for the second day in a row.

Of course, following two days of food, wine and merriment, a third day is necessary to sleep off the holy hangover.


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This article does not necessarily represent the views of the Jewish Community of Hebron

Purim of Beit HaShalom
March 14, 2014

If searching for one word in the Scroll of Esther which embodies the entire story, it might very well be ‘v’naafochhu’, which means, according to Google, ‘to the contrary,’ or perhaps, ‘it all reversed.’ Turned upside down. ‘An unexpected ending.’

During the days of Haman and Achashverosh, towards the end of the first exile, following the destruction of the First Temple and the exile to Babylon, many Jews forgot what it was to be Jews. Assimilation was rampant. But for the enemies of the Jews, that wasn’t enough. They had to be eradicated. Physically removed from the face of the earth. Deleted.

There was no State of Israel, No IDF. No Shabak or Mossad. When the decision was made, (a predecessor of the 1942 Wansee Conference), who was there to turn to?

Two people, and two people alone held the keys to reversing the almost inevitable. Mordechai and Esther. It took much courage. They might not have cared about their own fate, but they knew that continued existence of their people rested in their hands.

But it took more than courage. It took faith. The most amazing, overwhelming faith a person can have. The State, the IDF, the Shabak, the Mossad, and anyone or anything else that could have saved them was all wrapped up in the Divine, in G-d. They knew and understood that only He, could save the Jews from that planned holocaust.

The story is well known. No need here to repeat it here.

But, their faith implanted within the Jewish people, for ages to come, a comprehension, an essence of, look to the Heavens. There is the answer to your woes.

Of course, our faith started with Abraham. It can be witnessed with Moses. But their predicament was very different from those before, because during their days, G-d was seemingly hidden, had seemingly disappeared. It’s very very hard to plea to a Diety which seemingly has abandoned you, perhaps punishment for your collective sins. But Mordechai and Esther knew that G-d would never abandon His people. Some might, due to lack of faith, be blind to His existence. But they were not blind; they knew, felt and saw the truth, and acted accordingly. And the Jews were saved.

Over the years I wrote many articles about Beit HaShalom:

March 26, 2007: Last week Hebron's Jewish community received a green light from its attorneys…The deal was completed to their satisfaction. We could move in…The community purchased a 4,000 sq. meter structure, overlooking the road between Hebron and Kiryat Arba.

January 29, 2008: Two soldiers are stationed outside Beit HaShalom for security purposes…the soldiers are ‘cold’ and requested/demanded that people in the building supply them with an electric line for a heater to keep them warm…Defense Minister Ehud Barak had just refused Hebron’s request to allow humanitarian renovations in the building, including instillation of simple windows, electric current, and sealing of the building’s roof to prevent water leakage. The letter received from the Defense ministry stated clearly: If you’re cold, go live somewhere else…

February 28, 2008: "You can install aluminum window frames WITHOUT glass windows."…They finally agreed to installation of windows… You didn't get a permit to install anything made of plastic – only aluminum frames and glass windows, no shades!"

October 30, 2008: Yesterday the Supreme Court discussed Beit HaShalom in Hebron. The discussion focused on the question of purchase and possession. The judges stressed throughout the discussion that even if the building was legally purchased, it is still possible to issue an expulsion order because the building was still in the possession of the Arab seller, Rajbi.

November 28, 2008: Last week the Supreme Court announced its decision. They gave the people living there 72 hours to leave of their own accord…or else..

December 12, 2008: It is unthinkable and intolerable that Israel's top leadership should change the rules in the middle of the game, expecting the other side to play by the old ones, while they play by the new. Peace may breed peace but by the same token, extremism breeds extremism…The true threat to our country is the warping of the fundamental institutions whose presence is supposed to protect the people rather than terrorize them. The decisions made concerning Beit Hashalom were not based upon justice, rather upon pure judicial terror.

October 11, 2012: The new year is starting off on the right …A few weeks ago, an Israeli court ruled that Beit HaShalom, the huge 4,000 square meter building between Hebron and Kiryat Arba, was legally purchased by the Jewish community of Hebron and must be returned to us, the rightful owners of the building.

March 11, 2014: Beit HaShalom - Victory at last WE WON WE WON WE WON I COULD KEEP WRITING THESE WORKS A MILLION TIMES AND IT STILL WOULDN'T BE ENOUGH…This afternoon the Israeli Supreme Court rejected Arab appeals concerning Beit HaShalom in Hebron, thereby paving the way for our return to the building.

The spirit of Mordechai and Esther continues, thousands of years later. The immense faith of the Abraham family, purchasing Beit HaShalom; the families, with small children and newborn babies who lived in puddles of water, with rain, sleet and snow soaking their freezing rooms, but refusing to leave, under any circumstances; people who supported them, assisting in all ways possible, and so many others, have enabled us, thank G-d, to witness the Purim of Beit HaShalom.

If this is not 'v'naafochu' I don't know what is. Happy Purim from Hebron.

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This article does not necessarily represent the views of the Jewish Community of Hebron


Authentic Zionism – alive and kicking, in Israel, in Hebron
March 09, 2014

It happened again.  Every once in a while I meet up with it, and this week, again.

Many years ago I wrote an article about a young soldier serving in Hebron. I think it was during the ‘Oslo War’ – aka the 2nd Intifada. Arabs were shooting at us day and night. And this guy, just out of high school wasn’t even an Israeli yet. And to top it off, his next stop, in uniform, was Lebanon.

Ari Abramowitz successfully finished his army service, graduated from university in the US, and came back to Israel to continue serving Israel in various important positions, including, after founding ‘thelandofisrael.com,’ hosting a fabulously popular international TV show with Jeremy Gimpel, about life in Israel. Today he continues his efforts on behalf of the Jewish people with  Keren HaYesod.

Well,  I may have met another Ari. Only this fella’s name is, well, let’s call him Pinny.  I met him, where else, on Facebook.  I don’t remember exactly how, but I saw something about a soldier in Hebron from New Jersey. Well, that’s where I grew up.  So I sent him a message, we ‘chatted’ and I invited him for Shabbat. He was able to free himself  and came over. For me it was an uplifting experience.

Here again, a man not yet twenty. Finishes high school, from a not particularly religious family, but leaning in the direction of observant Judaism. Leaves the US to Israel ‘for a year’ to study in Yeshiva. After a year in an ‘American yeshiva’, he notifies his parents that he wants to stay another year before ‘returning home’ to ‘start university.’

But this next year is spent, not in an all English-speaking yeshiva, rather in an Israeli, high level Torah Academy, located in the Southern Hebron Hills. Why? Well, Pinny is already seriously considering Aliyah, becoming a full-fledged Israeli citizen. Therefore he chooses to attend a yeshiva where they speak Hebrew. His own Hebrew isn’t very good, but that’s the point. To learn. To get prepared for the rest of his life.

Now, that’s not easy. I know. I did the same thing. It can be very frustrating. The classes are difficult to understand, especially trying to comprehend pages of the Talmud, many of which are in Aramaic.  But, when you are really determined, and you have a real, idealistically-motivated goal, anything is possible.

This particular yeshiva is one of the “Hesder” variety, that is, the students, after a year and a half of Torah study, begin active military service for about a year and a half.  Pinny calls home again to tell his folks that now he’s going into the army.

Pinny makes his way to the army draft base and tells them, “I’m here, I want to go into the army.”

Many Israelis, (and I’m not talking about the so-called ‘Haredi religious population), try to avoid the IDF, finding excuses here and there why they cannot serve.  And here pops in an ‘American’ who, they quickly determine, doesn’t even know enough Hebrew to start the elementary Ulpan, Hebrew language instruction program for ‘new immigrants’.  But he stands his ground – ‘I want to be drafted.’

So, in he goes. I would compare it to throwing a three year old into the pool and saying ‘swim!’

When the group of young combat trainees begins target shooting practice, the commander screams out ‘Aish.’ Meaning ‘shoot.’ Pinny doesn’t shoot, because he’s not familiar with the word. The commander comes over, looks at Pinny, repeating, ‘Aish’ When Pinny just looks at him, the commander calmly utters, ‘Fire’. “ In English.

‘Fire?  Oh, ‘Aish’ is  fire my gun.’ Finally – boom boom boom.

I’ve heard of commanders who have almost literally tortured such ‘new immigrants.’ But Pinny fell into good hands. His commanding officers and other members of his battalion were patient and considerate, realizing the precious treasure they had in their company. After all, not every day do such ‘Americans’ volunteer to be drafted and participate in serving the state of Israel.

Pinny completed his basic training and moved out, with the rest of his crew, to Hebron. Here he is fulfilling most of his service, before heading back to the Yeshiva for another year of Torah study.

After dinner, I invited Pinny back for lunch the next day. He was due to begin ‘guard duty’ for a few hours, and then have a nine hour break until the next round of duty. However, that wouldn’t have allowed him to dine with us, as his guard duty would have begun just as we were beginning to eat. So rather than take a nine-hour break, he began guarding only six hours later, (which meant he had less time to sleep), but allowing him to finish and come over to us, just in time for the meal. Why? ‘Because it makes it a better Shabbat for me.’

Of course, not too long after he left us, he had to start again.

It’s not easy to be a soldier in Hebron. There is a degree of tension, with ‘security alerts’ a constant. The orders they receive aren’t always easy to implement. And sometimes the opposite: not being able to do what you think you should do. There can be frequent confrontations. But here’s a young man from New Jersey, on the brink of the beginning of his adult life, putting his life on the line for the Jewish people, for the state of Israel.

It never ceases to amaze me. And to instill me with hope and optimism.  I firmly believe that within the coming decades many more Americans and Europeans will be coming to Israel. Some of them, if not most, probably because they will realize that the US and Europe aren’t the havens they thought they were. But there will be others, like Pinny, who come to Israel, not because the US is bad for the Jews, but because Israel is good for the Jews, because this is our home, this is where we should be, this is where we belong.

I’m not a prophet or a soothsayer, but if asked to make a prediction, I can easily foresee a brilliant future for Pinny. Because a person with such dedication, to his people, to his country, to his religion, will undoubtedly continue on a path of success. I look forward to Pinny’s  continued achievements, on behalf of his family, his people, his state. And thank him for making my day yesterday. There’s very little that makes me happier than witnessing the Pinnys of the Jewish people, in Israel.

This is authentic Zionism – alive and kicking, in Israel, in Hebron.

 

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This article does not necessarily represent the views of the Hebron Jewish Community



 


An open letter to Isi Leibler
January 23, 2014

An open letter to Isi Leibler

Wow. You called me an extremist. While at the same time you compare Jews to Cossaks and KKK. To the best of my recollection both of those groups indiscriminately killed. I don't know of too many Jews who have done so. Certainly not those who you are attacking.

I have also decried so-called 'price-tag attacks.' There is no justification to burn down a Mosque or paint graffiti on Moslem holy places. But Cossacks. Do you remember what Cossacks did in Kishinev? And you dare to compare?

It must be noted that there is proof of Arabs destroying their own property and writing such phrases as Price –Tag (in Hebrew) on their own land.

But let's leave that for a moment.

You attacked my article about Ariel Sharon. So, first of all, I do not retract one work that I wrote. Perhaps I have one regret, that being that my words were not harsher.

You are upset that I called Sharon a monster.

So, if you will, Mr. Leibler, please take a few moments to read the following, written in Hebrew, by Rabbi Yigal Kirshenzaft. Perhaps you remember the name. He was a Chabad Rabbi in Gush Katif. He was shot and nearly killed. His recovery was miraculous.

So please read his words, written not too long ago: http://www.col.org.il/show_news.rtx?fromAdmin=yes&artID=80482

The Sharon Sclerosis: The Weekly Diary from Nitzan
by Rabbi Yigal Kirshenzaft

Suddenly, and without prior notice, Miriam burst into tears uncontrollably . It happened at noon today at the spices store. Well, this is not really a store , there are no shops at Nitzan . This container was placed "illegally '' and became a store for selling peanuts .

"For every resident there will be a solution," said Israeli residents in television commercials , the twisted brainchild of the '' ranch '' . Until now, no established commercial center as had been promised for Nitzan : not one shop , one factory or one job . Do not think that the government is lazy. Threatening letters , demolition orders, threats, police are sent regularly to the hundreds of displaced in delicate flimsy mobile structures. Once upon a time they would come and repair the problems. "Do not ask what we are going thru"  said Miriam to my wife, when she met her at the 'store' and was  with tears : "My husband suffers from extreme diabetes since the expulsion. They chopped off one leg and we are fighting to save the other. We went to a private doctor which costs 3600 Nis per visit, to save his leg. We were there many times, but now we ran out of money and nobody helps us . The doctor told my husband that everything is caused 'from the head' , from the depression . What is there to do ? "

Yud Shvat . A historic date of Chabad history . For the past ten years, Chabad House of Gush Katif organizes the meeting for Yud Shvat with a memorial service held by the Ohayon family. The father Rabbi Avraham came from Yeruham to Neve Dekalim many years ago . He was privileged, R. Abraham , that his children and grandchildren lived around - because five of his children made their homes also in Gush Katif. On this date, 10 years ago, he heard Sharon 's announcement about the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif. He collapsed and his heart stopped. Z"L (may his memory be blessed) . More precisely : HY"D. (May G-d Avenge his blood).

So many good people, our friends died from sorrow and heartbreak . This week we buried another member of Nitzan . Yisrael, z"l . Came from France and settled in Neve Dekelim with his large family . Since immigrating to Israel he would not leave. Heroes and generals  seemed to him to be angels . The greater the appreciation, the greater the fall. Israel built a '' permanent '' home in Nitzan but did not recovered from the expulsion. Z"L  HY"D.

According to the Ministry of Health, serious injury and deaths among expelled are twice the national average. Maybe this is what they meant, the  heads of state, saying that the problems of the deportees are resolved . Deceased, they meant.

After the expulsion, they threw us in to the hotel for two weeks. We were there for seven months. We were promised up to two years in a mobile home (hell in the summer.) Today hundreds of families are tormented, still living in dilapidated, flammable  buildings that the law prohibits human beings to live in.

Successors  of the ''ranch forum'' devised an ingenious invention: move the mobile communities to the ''permanent communities'' . But they still have not found anyone who will violate the law and approve the integrity of these'residential structures.'

Another invention are the sewer pipes . In light of the '' peace '' that came after expulsion , Nitzan residents also suffer from rockets launched from Gush Katif . Since all of our refugee camp , which is called a Nitzan , is made of plaster and cardboard, large  concrete sewer pipes were placed outside, where all the residents run to hide in during an alarm .

This week I met Avi, my best friend . His wife led him to the medical  clinic in Nitzan . A large clinic , given the many needs here, it has doubled in size. Avi barely recognized me. Suffering from a terminal illness , barely even remembers his name.

I went to visit Reuben. His  house is in the middle of construction , but he has no money to finish the job . The contractor fled in the middle of the work, as happened to many of his friends .

Now he is not working. His wife came down with the '' disease ''. "I have nothing to eat on Shabbat," he said. "I never request help, but I have no choice . Trips for therapies , drugs. In Gush Katif I was a king," he whined . " I helped everyone, but today I'm finished ." I left him an envelope with lots of cash. So he could buy food for Shabbat and for gas for traveling to treatments .

Chabad trys to help as much as possible , but the needs here are so great. We endeavor to fulfill the mission that the Rebbe gave ​​us : to rejoice and delight .

Even welfare department has difficulty helping all that need,  and sends the needy to charitable organizations.

 

This is everyday life at Nitzan . Chava came home today from hospitalization with bad diabetes. " I know that it is from nerves and anger ," she said . But what can I do ?" Her husband abandoned her , her son went to Germany and doesn't  want to hear about the state that betrayed him .

This week , finally, the new school opened in Nitzan - after ten years when students have not had a normal, regular place to study. They went from a hotel room, to leaky classrooms , to a community center. They are still wallowing in the mud to get there,  but thank G-d at least have a structure .

This week , unusually , there were smiling faces in the streets Nitzan . It was during Sharon 's funeral . At Synagogue it was declared : "Today we will not say supplication during prayers " !

 The sad reality was caused by somebody.  His name is Ariel Sharon . Right, everything that happens is determined in the heavens, but people are led in the direction they deserve to go in. It is difficult to understand how a general and military hero deteriorates so greatly; How a Jewish leader , head of state, abandoning the lives of hundreds of thousands of its citizens to save himself from prison , to absolve himself of the punishment his friend received . He was convicted and is in prison for giving him a bribe .

How evil must you be to abuse and destroy the great life of thousands of Jews and expel them , to uproot 49 dead righteous from their graves , destroying synagogues , Talmud Torah and facilities – evil acts no worse than what was done to us by those who hate us ? ? ?

This crime is very painful and unforgivable. The depth of the withdrawal should be the scope of the investigation .

One request to you Arik: Now you are in the world the truth.

 Please reveal yourself to he who has replaced you as leader  and update him on the mistakes you made, that he should not, G-d  forbid, repeat the terrible crime of uprooting Jews from their land . Make sure from above, that the fruits of his work will not be like yours.

 It should be that these are the last pains of messiah and we will soon be really true and complete redeemed and God also will return to his Bayit – Beit HaMikdash.

 

So now I ask you, Mr. Leibler, is he a monster? Or not? Perhaps it's me, the 'settler.' Or Rabbi Kirshenzaft, the 'Messianic Chabad fanatic?' Or all those who lived in, and were expelled from Gush Katif, because, how dare they…..

how dare they what, Mr. Leibler?

Mr. Leibler, I do not view myself as an extremist. Rather as an idealist. I don't only write my ideals, I live them. But also express them to others. I do not force anyone to think as I do, but freedom to think, to express, to believe, is a tenet of our lives as a free people.

I tend to see extremists as Hizbullah, Hamas, Fatach, Al-Qaeda, the Syrians, Iranians, and yes, also, people like Sharon, who, as an elected leader, rather than  implement the ideas for which he was elected, believed in by those who voted for him, he betrayed that trust and forceed destructive policies upon his people. For his own personal reasons. For his own personal gain.

If this is not a monster, I don't know what is.

But, should it be decided that I really am an extremist, I will wear such a crown with joy and delight, proud that I may express what I believe, and what I know to be, without any doubt, truth.

I prefer this title to that of, what is called in Hebrew, a 'yafe nefesh' – translated as 'bleeding heart,' trying to find favor amongst others via condemnation, while turning a blind eye towards victims, denying truth.

I can only suggest that you look yourself in the mirror and decide for yourself, who you are, and what you are. Then, if you are truthful with yourself, maybe you'll apologize for labeling Jewish youth Cossacks.


Seventeen years after
January 20, 2014

This article is dedicated to the memories of: Rabbi Shlomo Ra’anan, Danny Vargas, Rina Didovsky, Eliyahu ben Ami, Shalhevet Pas, Rabbi Eli and Dina Horowitz, Gadi and Dina Levy, Rabbi Shlomo Shapira,  Col. Dror Weinberg , Lt. Dan Cohen, Sgt. Igor Drobitsky,Cpl. David Marcus, Ch.-Supt. Samih Sweidan, Sgt. Tomer Nov,  Sgt. Gad Rahamim, St.-Sgt. Netanel Machluf, St.-Sgt. Yeshayahu Davidov, Yitzhak Buanish,  Alexander Zwitman, Alexander Dohan, Avichai Levi, Aviad Mantzur, Yitzhak and Tali Ames, Kochava Even Chaim, and Avishai Shindler, Asher and Yonatan Palmer, Gal Kobi, HaShem Yikom Damam (and my apologies to anyone unintentionally forgotten)

All killed in and around Hebron following signing and implementation of the Hebron Accords


I started today by taking a good look at the date. Sure enough, January 20.  Seventeen years.

The number 17 in Hebrew  numerology  equals the sum of Tov – meaning good.

Good is always relative.

Seventeen years ago today, on January 20, 1997, the ‘Hebron Accords,’ signed a short time earlier, were implemented. Hebron was divided, leaving 97% of the city inaccessible to Jews. Over 80% of the city was abandoned to Arafat, granting him and his terrorist regime full security control over most of the city.

I remember the day very well. I had an appointment in Jerusalem. Dr. Moshe Gottlieb z”l hy”d was an expert orthopedist. A few months earlier, during a demonstration here in Hebron, a policeman literally picked me up like a rag doll and tossed me to the side. A month later my back went out.  That morning I went into Jerusalem for another treatment. Dr. Gottlieb had hands of gold and his magic touch was very effective. 

Five years later, Dr. Gottlieb was on a bus which exploded in Gilo, killing  him and 18 others. He was on his way to give free treatment to autistic children in Jerusalem.

When I arrived back in Hebron, the city was reminiscent of a three-ring circus. But not a happy one, at least not for us. Our Arab neighbors were celebrating. The IDF had withdrawn from most of the city. The picture of the Col Gadi Shamni, then military commander of Judea, leaving the Hebron military headquarters, remains embedded in my memory. It was reminiscent of surrender. In reality, that’s what it was.

Arafat’s Hebron commander, a well-known terrorist named Jibril Rajoub, as he occupied those headquarters, declared that ‘they had cast off an enormous weight, yet there still remained a yoke around their  necks, which too would be shortly removed.’

For the record, it must be stated that, in essence, when Arafat signed the accords, he acknowledged the legitimacy of the Hebron Jewish community. But as we know, so much for signatures.

It wasn’t as if we were blind to the results of this catastrophic agreement. We warned of the consequences, and we weren’t wrong. Following outbreak of the “Olso war,” aka ‘the 2nd intifada, Hebron commander Noam Tibon was quoted as saying, in March 2001, “the Hebron Accords are a ‘crappy’ agreement.” He was, of course, reprimanded by his boss, the current chief of staff of the IDF, Benny Ganz.  But of course he was right. His description was an understatement. We were shot at for almost two and a half years from hills surrounding us, abandoned to Arafat.

And let’s not forget the terrorists who planned their murderous attacks in Hebron, and then perpetrated them throughout Israel. For example: The Jihad Soccer Club [http://www.newsweek.com/jihad-soccer-club-139565]

 

Where does that leave us today? How can we learn from the past? Or, perhaps better asked, have we learned from the past?

The answer is a resounding no.

Yesterday I heard that former Likud minister Dan Meridor said that should the present ‘peace talks’ fail, Israel must decide on borders and again, unilaterally ‘withdraw,’ or in other words, retreat, abandon, etc.

Well, I guess Meridor’s been hibernating since the abandonment of Gush Katif and missed the news of 13,000 rockets falling on Israel, ever since, including the five that were shot down over Ashkelon a few nights ago by the ‘Iron Dome’ anti-missile system.

But what about the others, who haven’t been in a ‘deep-sleep?’ Like Netanyahu, for example.

Last night I attended an ‘emergency meeting’ called by members of the “Jewish Home” party, in Ofra, in the Benjamin district, just outside of Jerusalem. The meeting was called as a result of continuing negotiations to again divide our land. These talks are quite secretive; rumors abound, but no one really knows exactly what’s being said behind closed doors. But the rumors are enough for concern. Grave concern.

I’d estimate that about 250 people attended, including leaders and members of numerous right-wing organizations. Also MKs, Rabbis and one deputy minister, Tzipi Hotovely, of the Likud and others.

Anyone attending was allowed to speak. All speakers were requested to talk about ‘what we should do’ and to keep it brief.   Many ideas were suggested; not too many of them were new. Some were implemented in the past, others not.

But it’s all been heard before. The last time, nine years ago, in attempts to prevent the expulsion from Gush Katif, and before that, prior to the division of Hebron, and back in 1993, trying to prevent Oslo. And of course, let’s not forget the granddaddy of them all, the expulsion from Yamit in 1982, transfer and abandonment of the Sinai to Egypt.

1982 to 2014. Thirty two years. And we’re still playing the same games, watching as our land is chopped up into pieces, discarded, while we, the people of Israel, are fed to hungry wolves.

That’s what last night reminded me of. Not a bad dream. Rather a horrid sense of déjà vu. Been there, saw it, done it. The same threats, the same voices, the same suggestions, the  same acts and deeds. And the same results.

Doesn’t leave you feeling really good.

So, what’s next? Good question. In truth, I have no idea. Anything can happen. I know that here in Hebron and around Hebron, violence is escalating on an almost daily basis. Last night three Molotov cocktails were thrown at Beit Shneerson, right next to Beit Hadassah.  Ditto last Friday, at Beit Kastel. Ditto a few days earlier at Beit Romano. Massive rock attacks, as we’ve witnessed before, on the road between Hebron and Jerusalem. Not too long ago, Israel soldiers literally stood and watched as Arabs pelted Israeli cars with huge stones. The reason for their inaction: they claimed that shooting ‘live bullets’ at stone-throwers is forbidden, and they didn’t have ‘rubber bullets.’ The result: watching from the side as Arabs attempt to kill Jews.

This is about as absurd as it gets.

Well almost.

That fact that Israeli leaders are still seriously discussing further dissection of Eretz Yisrael is no less absurd.

This is what’s going thru my head today. Seventeen years after.

 


Rediscovering our past
January 10, 2014

Back in the 1960s an archeologist from the United States, Prof. Philip Hammond, from the Princeton Theological Seminary, excavated in Hebron, in the area call Tel Rumeida, during the summer months of 1964, 1965, and 1966. He discovered many interesting artifacts on the south eastern side of the Tel, including the remains of walls so large and so old, that he called them “Cycloptic walls.” Hammond’s findings were later documented by Prof. Jeffrey Chadwick of the Brigham Young University in his doctoral thesis. (See: Discovering Hebron, Jeffrey R. Chadwick, BAR 31:05, Sep/Oct 2005). Later excavations were continued by Dr. Avi Ofer, between the years 1984-1986. He discovered what was called one of the most important archeological finds, a tablet with writing on it, from the era preceding Abraham, probably a list of animals, perhaps utilized for sacrifice. In 1998, archologist Yuval Peleg literally fell into an underground room, near the present entrance into the neighborhood, where he discovered dozens of artifacts, including jars, jewelry, and other artifacts from the late Bronze era, that is, post-Patriarchs and Matriarchs. However, perhaps the most astounding discoveries were those of Emmanuel Eisenberg, leading excavations for the Israeli Antiquities Department, in 1999. Amongs his finds were a 4,500 year old wall, that belonging to the early bronze era, which on a Biblical timeline is the time of Noah, and stairs, also over 4,000 years old, leading from the valley below into the ancient city of Hebron. Eisenberg can also chalk up another amazing discovery: that of a home, 2,700 years old, from the time of King Hezekiah. In the vicinity of this home, also found were five seals, call ‘the King seals,’ bearing the impression of a bird, or a beetle, with the word ‘lemelech’ meaning ‘belonging to the King, written above the impression, and the word ‘Hebron’ in ancient Hebron, below it. These seals were embedded on the bottom of handles on clay jars containing food, to be distributed to soldiers in the then Judean army, who were fighting a war against Sancheriv, who also invaded Hebron and burned it to the ground. Stone pillars discovered at the site are stained with patches of black, which Eisenberg determined were from the remains of the fire which burned down Hebron. The 1999 excavations revealed artifacts from 4,500 years ago, to about 1,500 years ago. One of the time periods unaccounted for is that of 3,000 years ago, when David began his reign as King of Judea in Hebron, where he ruled for 7 and a half years, before ascending to Jerusalem, establishing it as the eternal capital of the Jewish people. The present understanding, was was explained to us by Eisenberg, is that most probably David founded the first City of David on the highest point of Tel Hebron, an area yet to be examined. Until now. Until Sunday of this week. A few days ago Hebron joyfully greeted back Emmanuel Eisenberg, representing the Israeli Antiquities Agency, and Dr. David ben Shlomo from the Ariel University, who are jointly heading up renewed digging on Tel Hebron. The areas presently being excavated are labeled ‘plots 52 and 53,’ on the center-south-west section of Tel Hebron. The area is between 5 to 6 Dunam, that being some 1.5 acres or 6,000 sq. meters. The time needed to complete the excavation is dependent on the findings at the site, but it is possible that they could be completed by the end of this calendar year. These renewed excavations are tremendously exciting. The thought of uncovering the original city of David, or even his palace, is mind-boggling. Why so? Hebron is the roots of Judaism, it is the roots of all of monotheism and I also call it the very beginnings of humanity. That being the beginning of the end of human sacrifice, with the belief of one G-d, a Deity rejecting killing of men, women and children as a means of worship. With Abraham, mankind starts to leave the barbarity of such acts and begins praying to one G-d. This is Abraham’s legacy. We repeat the words ‘David Melech Yisrael, Chai v’Kayam - David, King of Israel, is alive and exists. Daily we pray for the renewal of the kingdom of David, the roots of which are in Hebron. The significance of this is, not such much what was in the past, but who we are today, and where we are going in the future. I tell many of my guests in Hebron, I am not so amazed at the presence of Abraham, 3,700 years ago, but rather that we still live at the very site where we originated. How many peoples in world can say that, today, in 2014, they still live where they began, in our case, almost 4,000 years ago? We are part of a chain, beginning with Abraham, continuing through David, and leading, over the centuries, to the present, a chain which will stretch thru eternity. In order to know who we are, what we are, and where we have the potential to reach, we must know where we are coming from. If you don’t know your past, you have no idea which direction to go in, you get lost, not knowing where you are going. Renewed revelation of Hebron’s past will be as an arrow, pointing us in the right direction, as we continue to march thru the pages of history, an eternal people in an eternal land.

The impurity of Kerry
January 06, 2014

 

Ariel Sharon is dying. It’s not considered nice to say bad things about dead people, especially immediately after their passing. So I’m writing this while he’s still alive. Barely.

When I heard the news I wasn’t sure if I wanted to laugh or cry. Laugh, that finally, he’s leaving us. Or cry, because his ‘this world’ suffering  is coming to an end.

That’s how much I like Ariel Sharon.  He had many positions, and many titles. I will remember him as a monster.

When elected to the office of Prime Minister in March, 2001, the 2nd Intifada, or what we call the Olso  War, was well underway. Terror attacks, shootings, and the like had begun. In Hebron, Arab terrorists had taken positions on the hills surrounding the Jewish neighborhoods and were shooting at us like ducks in a pond. Great for target practice, but not when the targets are men, women and children, in their homes, cars, or just plain walking down the street.

Sharon could have stopped it. He didn’t. It continued for almost a year and a half, here in Hebron. Only after the Passover Massacre in Netanya  and the killing of five year old  Danielle Shefi at Adura, just outside of Hebron, did he finally put an end to the nightmare. He was Prime Minister when most of the over 1,500 people murdered during that war. He could have stopped it. He didn’t.

But that was just the beginning.

The expulsion from Gush Katif and the Northern Shomron, abandoning the southern tip of Israel to Hamas, brought over 13,000 rockets into Israel, into Ashkelon, Ashdod and Tel Aviv. To this very day.

Actually, it began with Menachem Began. He set the precedent, with Ariel Sharon as his right-hand man, implementing the expulsions from Sinai. There Sharon learned that it is possible to forcibly remove Jews from their homes, destroy Jewish communities and abandon land to our enemy.

It is written about Omri, an evil king: “Why did Omri, Ahab's father, receive the kingdom? For adding one city to Israel (Sanhedrin 102:B). ‘Go and learn the strength of the Mitzvah of building a settlement in Eretz Israel, until even though it is said about him, "and Omri did evil in the sight of the L-rd and more that all of those before him" – despite this he was awarded the kingdom because, in the future, he was to build one city in Israel’ (Maharsha).

An evil man was granted the kingdom in order to allow him to add a city to Israel, to buy land and make it a part of the state. What then is the punishment of people who remove cities from Israel, abandoning the land, expelling the people, endangering the population?

What happened to them, what was their fate: Begin, the hero of Jewish underground, the leader who destroyed the Iraqi nuclear threat, secluded himself for years following his resignation as Prime Minister, unseen until his dying day. Rabin was assassinated. Olmert, one of the primary initiators of the Gush Katif catastrophe, has undergone numerous trials on charges of corruption, facing disgrace. Katzav, who as President refused to oppose the Gush Katif expulsion, imprisoned following conviction for rape, from the president’s mansion to a jail cell. Ariel Sharon, suffering the worst kind of hell, neither here nor there, not dead, not alive, for the past eight years.  Some 8,600 people were expelled from the Gush, a year for every thousand people. And one can only image what he will face when trying to enter the pearly gates of heaven.

It is written that there is a ‘place’ somewhere between this world and the next, called in Hebrew “Kaf HaKelah.” This is a kind of nether land – not here, not there.  It is written that here, such souls who have so sinned in this world, float around, not being in this world, or the next, a kind of horrible limbo. Usually, for such deserving souls, this aspect of punishment happens following a person’s death. In Sharon’s case, it began here in this world.

There is a story, told now for years, about how a famous Rabbi cursed Ariel Sharon, saying he should receive a blow on his head. People approached the Rabbi and expressed their opposition to this curse. So, the Rabbi then blessed Sharon, saying, ‘he should live a long life.’

It seems that both the ‘curse’ and the ‘blessing’ were achieved.

So what should this come to teach, what is the lesson for the future? This is what I ask the present Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, as he seems to be negotiating away our land, Eretz Yisrael. Be it Hebron or Shilo, Gitit in the Jordan Valley, or the Arab villages of the ‘Mishulash, on the eastern Sharon plain, bordering Samaria. This is all our land. It is clear that, at present, there are at least two parallel sets of discussions going on; those led by Justice Minister Tzippy Livni and those being led by Netanyahu himself, seemingly with Abbas, aka Abu Mazen. The US is pushing, but Israel doesn’t necessarily have to budge. That’s up to us; it is up to our Prime Minister, Foreign Minister (who today came out publicly in favor of an agreement), and the Defense Minister. And the others.

What will be in store for them, what will be their fate, should they choose to walk in the footsteps of Ariel Sharon?

It is difficult to fathom their blindness, how and why they reach such depths of absurdity – to even speak of such concessions, of such abandonment, of such expulsions, again.

One thing is very clear: the United States, and in this case, the Secretary of State John Kerry, is pushing very hard, harder than any of his predecessors in recent history. We can only imagine the types of pressure he is applying on Netanyahu.

However, it should be known, the word ‘Kerry’ in Hebrew has a distinct meaning: impurity.  It is a term utilized to express a tainted uncleanness, almost a defilement, of body and soul. This term quite accurately describes the American SoS. Sometimes, such scum can be contagious. It seems that, in this case, it is starting to rub off on others.

I can only say: Bibi beware. Don’t fall into the potholes left to you by Sharon. And to the others, who can join him, or leave him, can support him or bring him down, your fate is too hanging in the balance. Purify yourselves from the contamination of Kerry. Before Sharon’s miserable fate will almost look good to you.




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