This time of year in Israel, you can’t really go a week without a holiday. This week we celebrated Yom Yerushalayim – the day that celebrates the unification of Jerusalem after the 1967 war. One year ago on this day I announced to my students and school community that I would be leaving Chicago to pursue my dream of aliyah. This is what I told them:
Yom Yerushalayim 2012/ 5772
Following the 1948 War of Independence, Jerusalem was divided. The Western half of the New City became part of the newly formed state of Israel, while the eastern half, along with the Old City, was annexed by Jordan. During this time period, many ancient synagogues, libraries and centers of religious study in the Old City of Jerusalem were ransacked or were totally and deliberately destroyed. For the next 20 years, Jews were denied access to Old City and no Jews prayed at the Kotel.
In early June, 1967, East Jerusalem was captured by the Israel Defense Forces during the Six Day War. Jews all over the world celebrated the event as the liberation of the city, Jerusalem was once again unified. Today we commemorate this day, dubbed: Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day , to celebrate this momentous victory. Continue reading →
It’s Erev Yom HaAtzma’ut and just a few days ago I had my first meeting with Nefesh b’Nefesh, an agency that works for North American Jews intending on immigrating to Israel. My application is in, and a few more papers are needed, but the decision has been made. I am making Aliyah to the State of Israel.
I have been grappling with this decision for a long time. My family lives very far away, but even farther away from following any sort of path that vaguely resembles my own. My decision feels like signing a contract of fate: to always being distant from them. It doesn’t mean that I will literally be cut off, nor are they disavowing their filial connection or love for me. But I am ensuring that my parents will never have a close relationship with their grandchildren, my brother’s children will never be regular playmates of mine and I may not always be able to afford to come and see them every year. I am hurting us both. I take it all very seriously. Even the concept of this sacrifice has quite frankly been too much for me to bare in the last few months I have been chewing on the decision. In order to become part of my greater Jewish family, I must Continue reading →
This week, in Israel, has been particularly focused on the costs of establishing an idealist state in a previously inhabited plot of land. I’m not trying to dig too deep into the politics of it; rather I’m interested in the idea of the prices we pay to live where we do.
After all Carlos Arredondo, brought back into the public eye by the current tragedies in Boston, has paid high prices. It is not an infrequent thing, the terrible burdens families bear on their backs for their communities, for their countries.
This past Sunday, at my Yeshiva, we had a panel of faculty speaking about their personal Israel narratives. They spoke as individuals and then in a dialogue. In light of today’s theme, I’d like to highlight what Leah Rosenthal said. Continue reading →
New Alumni Blog Post!
Stef Jadd Susnow (Year Program ’06-’07, PEP ’07-’09)
and Matt Susnow (Year Program ’06-’07)
Write about the "Yom Ha..." Season in Israel...
it's a truly special experience being in Israel
for these national holidays.
This week marked the beginning of one of the most poignant times on the Israeli national calender, a period I like to refer to as Yom Ha… season. Within the span of one week three major commemorative holidays occur: Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) and Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day). The emotional roller-coaster that the close proximity of these holidays create was thoughtfully designed when established by the Knesset (Israeli government). By concentrating these national commemorations across eight days, we have no choice but to see how the Holocaust, Israel’s many wars, and Israel’s independence are intrinsically tied.
This week began with Yom HaShoah, whose full name is Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG’vurah, “Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day”. As indicated in the name, this day is not only for commemorating the millions of lives that were lost, the millions that were murdered at the hands of the Nazis, but also for acknowledging and celebrating the heroism and resistance that is so often overlooked when talking about the Shoah (Holocaust). This point was driven home this year at Continue reading →
Occasionally, I witness events that I think are funny, but I am unsure if others will find them humorous, this week witnesses three small incidents that I think most will find humorous. Enjoy:
Early Sunday morning I was standing at the bus stop in Jerusalem, awaiting the arrival of the first of two buses that would take me back to yeshiva. Despite the early hour, the non-bus lanes were already clogged with traffic, and the lines at the red lights grew longer and longer. Suddenly an ambulance required immediate passage through the gridlocked lanes. Some drivers attempted Continue reading →
Eryn London (Summer ’06 & ’07, Community Education ’10, Year ’10-’11, Hourly ’11-’12) made Aliya from New Jersey three years ago. She is currently studying in the Manhiga Hilchatit Program at Midreshet Lindenbaum, which is a 5 year advanced Halacha learning program. Beyond learning she also runs activities at a nursing home, teaches theatre, and directs plays on the side.
The brand-new Divrei Mahamal blog is written by the women that are currently studying in the Manhiga Hilchatit Program. The blog should be updated weekly by one of the women. The d’vrei Torah will be written in English, Hebrew or French.
Why is it important to distinguish between things? Twice in this week’s Parsha, Parshat Shimini, B’nei Yira’el are told להבדיל, to create distinctions.
The first time it is mentioned is after we are told that Nadav and Avihu were killed for bringing a “strange fire” into the Mishkan, and the Torah gives a ruling: Continue reading →
Emly Oren left Israel with her family at the age of four, but in many ways Israel never left her family. At school in Orange County, Emly was the only Israeli student; but her family continued to speak Hebrew at home, and they only watched Israeli television programs. The Orens would travel to Israel every summer to visit all of their relatives, and they would sometimes stop by other locations en route to their main destination.
As a child, Emly drew no distinction between being Jewish and being Israeli. Her traditional, secular family would remain at home together on Friday evenings for Kiddush and Shabbat dinner; and every year they would attend services at Chabad for the High Holy Days, but Emly felt no connection to that environment because it didn’t reflect the rhythm or culture of her family life. When Emly somehow decided to have a bat mitzvah, she chose to hold services at a local public library… and of course, her bat mitzvah party theme was ‘Israel’.
This was a pivotal point in Emly’s childhood, as she soon joined USY, and was exposed to other young Jews for the first time. She came to realize that Continue reading →
IDF Soldiers at the Western Wall (Photo credit: Israel Defense Forces)
With great power comes great responsibility. Now that the Tabernacle has been completed and we have received the instructions on how to make the appropriate offerings, the next piece of the sacrificial puzzle must be put into place. Who will be commanded with the proper administration and sacrifice of the offerings brought to the alter? Aaron and his sons. The priests are given certain rights which are detailed early in the parasha, but are also expected to be responsible for this critical element in the Israelite’s relationship with God. Similarly, army service in the State of Israel is a responsibility that accompanies the privilege and rights of living in the Middle-East’s only democracy. This week I completed my tzav rishon (first order or first command) which is the official beginning of the army’s draft process.
Tzav rishon consists of multiple stations on different floors of the local draft office. An interview to verify personal information, psychological aptitude, and a Hebrew exam, even for native speakers. A complete medical evaluation, including walking through the hall with the sample cup, two 19 year old girls with an extremely tight blood-pressure cuff, and a bunch of waiting. Finally, a test Continue reading →
Damian (PEP '04-'06) is currently teaching elementary school in Even Yehuda, Israel, and taught for four years at Tarbut V’Torah before making Aliyah with his family.
The time I spent with friends and teachers studying the wisdom of our people at Pardes was a magical time in my life. I was a student, learning every day with people who shared my passion for learning. I lived in one of the most special cities in the world, Jerusalem, and was newly married to the love of my life, my wife Tammy.
During this time it was easy to see the hand of Hashem working in my life. I had the time to reflect, and I did not have the distractions that I have in my life today. I got exactly what I needed, which was clear evidence that Hashem was actively and overtly involved in my life and its direction.
Daniel Shibley (Year '11, Fellows '12) blogs honestly
and openly about his thoughts on being drafted into
the Israeli Defense Forces after making Aliyah:
Israel Flag (Photo credit: Felix_V)
Building of the Mishkan takes center stage in the parasha this week. Moshe asks the Israelites to give to the construction project, to sacrifice some of their personal property for a common goal. He does not place specific demands upon the Israelites, instead asking that they give as they are so inclined. Obviously there are both strengths and weaknesses to this fundraising strategy. What would have Moshe have done if there was insufficient materials? Fundraisers the world over no doubt cope with this reality on a daily basis, which is why we often hear speeches in American synagogues on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah asking us to turn down tabs on an index card to indicate the exact amount of our pledge or Israel Bonds purchase. Continue reading →