Friday, July 24, 2009

Dead Sea - one of the world's great wonders?

I think so...hopefully you do to. If so, consider voting for it...before it completely dries up.

Let's make this happen and ensure the Dead Sea is in the final Seven Dead Sea a finalist in wonders contest.

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- The Dead Sea is one of 28 finalists in an international competition to name the seven natural wonders of the world.

The announcement was made Tuesday by the New 7 Wonders of Nature Foundation, which is organizing the competition. The Dead Sea will compete with other natural wonders such as the Amazon River, the Galapagos Islands, the Grand Canyon and the Maldives.

Competition organizers expect more than a billion people to participate in the online">voting, which will continue into 2011, when the finalists will be announced.

Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov announced that over the next two years, the Tourism Ministry will lead a campaign for the Dead Sea in the contest via its 14 representative offices around the world, its Web sites in 11 languages and focused marketing activities. In the framework of the campaign, the ministry will emphasize the unique attributes of the Dead Sea and promote tourism to the area.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Battle of Lamentations

Every society needs those who see what is wrong and fight to make them right. No society is perfect, no country without flaws. But when a community rises to fight tyranny and injustice, the difference between being effective and being street hoodlums rests in the cause that stirs them.

How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces. (Eicha/Lamentations)

I drove through my beautiful city of Jerusalem this early morning on my way to work. No, it isn’t really my city, but I love it so much that sometimes the “my” just slips in. The Bar Ilan intersection looks like a war zone. No, I’ve never been to war, so perhaps it is an unfair description. Perhaps it is enough, despite my initial impression, to say that what I saw today is far from the way it appears on normal mornings.

Jerusalem remembereth in the days of her affliction and of her anguish all her treasures that she had from the days of old. (Eicha/Lamentations)

Today, signs of numerous fires are seen on the road and on the sides; garbage is strewn all around; traffic lights are smashed, some dangling from the light sockets. The red light cover is gone and so a white bulb shows the cars when to stop at one intersection; the traffic light at the junction of Golda Meir and Bar Ilan does not work at all; cars enter haphazardly, driving into and around the garbage.

Jerusalem hath grievously sinned, therefore she is become as one unclean; all that honored her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness; she herself also sigheth, and turneth backward. Her filthiness was in her skirts, she was not mindful of her end; therefore is she come down wonderfully, she hath no comforter. (Eicha/Lamentations)

In a few days, we will sit and mourn for the destruction of our Holy Temple over 2,000 years ago. We will sit on the floors in the synagogues and reach Lamentations (Eicha). These are the words we read – of a time when we abandoned God’s teachings and, in effect, God showed us what it would be like if He ever abandoned us.

'For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water; They sit upon the ground, and keep silence, the elders of the daughter of Zion; they have cast up dust upon their heads, they have girded themselves with sackcloth. (Eicha/Lamentations)

Most of those who caused this damage have never been to war either; unlike my sons, they won’t defend this land, won’t serve in our army against those who would destroy us.

They do not “recognize” the State, but for the medical services they use, the city buses that transport them to and from their destinations. They pay whatever taxes they must, avoiding many that can be manipulated. The city takes their garbage away, provides lights in the streets they walk at night and the country pays towards their children’s education.

These people who are my people will not lift their hands against our enemies, preferring to find legal loopholes that suggest their prayers are more righteous than those of my sons, that their opening a Gemara or Mishna is of more value than my sons doing the same.

All this, I struggle with as an Orthodox Jew, as a mother who has sent a son to war and stands about to have another join the army. I love them no less than these other mothers and yet I watch as they stop their lives, pick up guns and stand on our borders and I fight within myself to understand why they find it acceptable that my son should serve while their sons do not.

But, last week, almost without warning, this community was stirred to battle, rallied to rise up and fight. They took to the streets of Jerusalem and desecrated them. In their visible black coats and hats they rioted and threw stones and those who are not religious stared in wonder. This was the lesson my religious brethren gave to my secular brothers; this was the war they brought to our streets.

Their battlefield was the city of Jerusalem, their weapons fire, shouting, rocks and masses of garbage strewn on the holy city streets when they returned to their homes. Their targets seem to have been the traffic lights, the garbage cans, the fences that separated traffic, the police, a welfare office, and even sanitation workers who come to make their neighborhoods cleaner.

And their cause? Oh, that righteous of all causes that sent them to the streets? That is what amazes me, surprises me, stuns me. They battle not for an abused child, but for his mother, the woman suspected of starving him until he weighed only 7 kg. at the age of three years. They fight to save a woman, at the expense of the defenseless child because they hate all things related to the State in which they live.

Even the jackals draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones; the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness. The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst; the young children ask bread, and none breaketh it unto them. The hands of women full of compassion have sodden their own children; they were their food in the destruction of the daughter of my people. (Eicha/Lamentations)

The State of Israel is charged with protecting all its citizens, on the borders, and in the streets. It is responsible for the children, most of all, because they are the innocent. Where was the community that now is so up-in-arms over the arrest of this woman? Where were they when this child was denied the basic requirements needed to thrive?

The anger of the LORD hath divided them; He will no more regard them; they respected not the persons of the priests, they were not gracious unto the elders. (Eicha/Lamentations)

Where were the rabbis and organizations who energized a community to take to the streets? And beyond the tragedy of this family, what lasting image will people take with them of a community stirred to defend a sick mother whose child will live today not because of the community but because the State stepped in to save this Haredi child’s life? Our police, our security forces, our doctors.

This woman took her child to the hospital seeking help. The child received medical care and will live. He will live not because Haredi protesters took to the streets and attacked traffic lights; he will live because doctors in all modern countries know the signs of child abuse and are charged to do more than treat the symptoms. All to often, the system doesn’t work correctly and fails the child. This time, whatever happened before the mother brought this child for medical help, at least the child was saved in time.

But the Haredi community picked the wrong fight this time and the shame of that decision, these actions, will live on long after that child is discharged to relatives who should have known better, should have done something.

Our pursuers were swifter than the eagles of the heaven; they chased us upon the mountains, they lay in wait for us in the wilderness. Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz: the cup shall pass over unto thee also; thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked. The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion, He will no more carry thee away into captivity. (Eicha/Lamentations)
In the two thousand years since we lost our Holy Temple, the sin of sinat hinam, hatred between brothers would yet still destroy us as it brought battles to the streets of our holy city this past week.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What's the Most Popular Car in Israel?

Good question - drive around and you'll notice many Subarus, Mazdas, and Toyotas. Here's the official tally or who is buying what...Mazda 3s are all over the place, but it's nice to see that the Toyota Prius Hybrid also is selling very well.

The best sellers of the first half of 2009:

Super-mini and small class

Mazda 2 – 2.809
Hyundai Accent – 2.046
Chevrolet Aveo – 1.540
Hyundai Getz – 1.299
Daihatsu Sirion – 1.284

Middle class

Mazda 3 – 7.083
Toyota Corolla – 5.537
Ford Focus – 3.436
Hyundai i30 – 3.087
Nissan Tiida – 2.716

Luxurious class

Mazda 6 – 1.559
Ford Mondeo – 913
Toyota Avensis – 7.083
Toyota Prius – 7.083
Chevrolet Malibu – 7.083

Source link:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Well, gee...that's not nice...

You know you are a happy and stable person when you can read someone else's insult and find it amusing. You know that what they say is far from the truth when your first instinct is to laugh, rather than be hurt. Last month, an Egyptian Islamic scholar (and I use that word quite loosely), announced that all pigs today are in fact descendants of Jews that Allah, in his apparent infinite wisdom, decided to turn into pigs. Got that? No? Well, don't feel bad, neither do I. Thanks to Itamar Marcus, Barbara Cook and the Palestinian Media Watch organization for bringing this to our attention - I can only hope that in some sick way, they too find this amusing. As for the Egyptian scholar, I suggest he consider going back to back to first grade and starting ALL over again, he clearly missed learning anything worth passing on to others.

May 13, 2009 Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin

All pigs must die because they descend from Jews: According to Egyptian Islamic scholar

by Itamar Marcus & Barbara Crook

All pigs alive today are descendants of the Jews who were turned into pigs by Allah, according to a senior Egyptian religious leader. Since all pigs are descendants of Jews, it is obligatory to kill all pigs, says Sheikh Ahmed Ali Othman.

Presumably if pigs were merely animals, they would not face destruction. It is their Jewish ancestry that condemns them to death.

The Jordanian newspaper Al-Hakika al-Dawliya adds that this is not the only opinion. It cites Sheikh Ali Abu Al-Hassan, head of the Fatwa Committee at Al-Azhar [Sunni Islamic university], who believes that all the Jews who were turned into pigs by Allah died out without reproducing, and therefore there is no relationship between today's pigs and Jews.

The following is the transcript from Al-Moheet Arab News Network:
"CAIRO -- Sheikh Ahmed Ali Othman, supervisor of the Da'awa [Islamic Indoctrination] of the Egyptian Waqf [Islamic Holy places], has issued a Religious Ruling (Fatwa) that pigs in our time have their origins in Jews who angered Allah, such that He turned them into monkeys, pigs, and Satan-worshippers, and it is obligatory to kill and slaughter them [the pigs].

Othman based his ruling on the respected Quranic verse, 'Say [to the People of the Book - Jews and Christians], Come and I shall make known to you who receives the worst retribution of all from Allah: those whom Allah has cursed and upon whom He has poured His wrath, whom He has made into monkeys and pigs, and who have served abominations. Their place is worst of all, and their deviation is the greatest of all...' (Quran, sura 5, verse 60)

Sheikh Othman noted that this verse concerning the nation of the prophet Moses descended [from Allah to the Quran], and the books of commentary confirm this. There are two opinions among the Ulama [Islamic scholars] in this regard: The first is that the Jews, whom Allah transformed and turned into pigs, remained in that state until they died, without producing descendants. The other opinion is that the Jews who turned into pigs multiplied and produced descendants, and their line continues to this day. Sheikh Othman also cited Hadiths (traditions attributed to Muhammad) as support...

The Jordanian newspaper Al-Hakika al-Dawliya quoted Othman: "I personally tend towards the view that the pigs that exist now have their origins with the Jews, and therefore their consumption is forbidden in the words of Allah: 'A carcass, and blood, and the flesh of a pig are forbidden to you....' Moreover, our master Jesus, peace be unto him - one of the tasks that he will fulfill when he descends to earth is the killing of the pigs, and this is proof that their source is Jewish.

Sheikh Othman said that whoever eats pig, it's as if he ate meat of an impure person, and stressed that this Religious Ruling is backed by the Islamic Sages of Al Azhar, but they are afraid to say this publically... so the Sages won't be accused of Anti-Semitism.

Sheikh Ali Abu Al-Hassan, head of the Fatwa Committee at Al-Azhar [Sunni Islamic university], said that the first view is accurate, because when Allah punishes a group of people he punishes only them. When Allah grew angry with the nation of Moses, He turned them into pigs and monkeys as an extraordinary punishment... but they died out without leaving descendants."

[Al-Moheet Arab News Network, May 10, 2009]
[Al-Hakika al-Dawliya, May 9, 2009]