Tag Archives: Jerusalem

Chag Sameach – Happy Holidays!

6 May

Last week, we wrote about Holocaust Remembrance day in Israel. No-one in Israel is untouched by the holocaust, but different people “commemorate” the day in various ways. For example, not everyone stands during the siren that sounds off throughout Israel. In fact, many of those who do not stand are among those whose families suffered the most in the Holocaust. The same is true of today’s celebrations, of Yom Hazikaron (“Memorial day” for fallen soldiers) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli “Independence day”). There are varying degrees of celebration of these days. One person might add Hallel to his prayers, while another may go out to the park and make a BBQ. Yet a third will find it meaningful to read off a list of fallen comrades and light candles for them. What is clear though, is that we Jews need a safe place to live on this planet. Our attachment to Israel goes back centuries and millennia, but the absolute necessity of having a place to be safe in this cruel world goes back only a few decades. No matter how we celebrate, we all need to be glad that we have our own nation and a powerful military to defend us. Together with our fulfillment of Torah and mitzvoth, that’s about the best we can hope for until meshiach arrives!

            It’s Israeli Independence Day today, but if you’re feeling studious, go to http://www.jerusalemconnection.org/weekly and have a look at the weekly Torah portion from the eyes of a sixteenth century sage and master of the entire Torah. And if that little taste of mind-blowing spirituality fails to whet your appetite, go to www.jewishspiritualbooks.com and check out the array of spiritual books on Jewish meditation and prayer that are available to you. Finally, if you just want to tune into the events and celebrations that are happening here in Jerusalem, go to www.chabadjerusalem.org something for everyone! Chag sameach!

Standing for Holocaust Day in Israel

29 Apr

It’s Holocaust remembrance week. I got involved in a discussion about whether or not to stand during the siren that goes off in Israel. The siren commemorates the six million who died, and also asserts our dedication to never again allow such a thing to happen. Some people stand during the sixty-second siren, and others (who are Jewish) do not. So, those who do not stand must be “insensitive, out of touch, and ignorant,” right? At least that was what one side of the discussion claimed. Wait, not so quickly…it turns out that many who do not stand are from families who lost the most in the Holocaust – Chasidic families from Poland, Hungary and east Europe. They do not stand because a sixty-second reminder of the Holocaust simply does not do justice to the suffering that they underwent in the holocaust. Their everyday existence in the holy Land is testimonial to their survival, and the scars of the Holocaust are with them every minute, every hour and every day. They feel that standing still for sixty seconds once a year diminishes, rather than enhances, the memory of the six million. Of course, many will disagree with them…but this is another way in which we need to overcome the gulf, and bridge the gap between secular and religious, between Sfardi and Ashkenzai, and between right and left in Israel. Always be ready to see the issue from another perspective, to see through another person’s eyes…and be ready to do what our parsha (Emor) says, which is to speak good about another Jew and another human being, because that’s what we deserve…

                For a bit more on the parsha, visit our site at http://www.jerusalemconnection.org/weekly If you’re interested in some Jewish meditation or prayer, check out www.jewishspiritualbooks.com, and if you just want to know what’s going on around J-town, go to www.chabadjerusalem.org Have a great week!

The Right “Gong”

18 Feb

Recently, we tried out a new gimmick in the old city.  The Hurva square downstairs is full of tourists, students and soldiers.  The level of noise is cacophonic, and it can be difficult to hear the person speaking next to you.  We needed a novel way of attracting attention to our tefilin stand.  We decided to try a Chinese gong.  We imported a gong from China, and it has begun to serve its purpose.  Until now, it was necessary to approach people individually to ask if they wished to don tefilin.  Now, the gong does the job.  Within a couple hours, several people hearing the gong approached to put on tefilin, including two who had never put on tefilin in their entire lives.  Speaking philosophically, a gong is not a mere piece of metal with which to make noise.  In Yiddish, “gong” means “a way of going,” a “path,” if you will.  So, when you hear the clang of the gong, the purpose is not only to put on tefilin.  It is also to usher you onto the right spiritual path.  Other than tefillin, that includes mitzvoth such as Shabbat, mentioned in our weekly Torah portion (Vayakhel).  You can cover all of that by going to our website at http://www.jerusalemconnection.org/weekly    If you are more philosophical and you like Jewish meditation and prayers, have a look at www.jewishspiritualbooks.com, and if you just want to know what’s going on in Jerusalem, check out www.chabadjerusalem.org   Have a great week!

Chanukah (and BD) is here!

2 Dec

We have been blessed with a week of balmy pleasant weather here in Jerusalem to accompany the light-filled festival of Chanukah.  It happens that my birthday also falls during Chanukah (second day), so I took the opportunity to make some Chanukah resolutions.  Here is one of them.  I consulted with a friend, because we are all blind-sided by our individual biases and none of us are objective about ourselves.  My friend said, “Be happy with what you have.  You should learn to be happy with the blessings that HaShem has sent your way.”  Wow, I thought, what a beautiful thought.  Because He has certainly sent a lot of blessings our way.  Here’s perhaps the one at the top of the list: being surrounded by good friends and positive energy in the holy city of Jerusalem.  In fact, that is such a major blessing that I’d like to share it, and here is how:  for a taste of Jerusalem, go to www.chabadjerusalem.org where you can find the latest in all kinds of events and history, as well as personalities and words of Torah.  If you’d like to delve deeper into the weekly Torah portion, try www.jerusalemconnection.org/weekly where we posted some deep words of Torah from the Megaleh Amukot (a 17th century Jewish sage).  And finally, if you want to really sit down and immerse yourself in Jewish meditation and prayer, go to www.jewishspiritualbooks.com, where you will find detailed instructions and descriptions how to proceed on the path of Jewish spiritual actualization!

Chanukah is Approaching!

26 Nov

It’s a rare occurrence. The Jewish festival of lights, Chanuka, meets with a pleasant secular American celebration called Thanksgiving this weekend.  It’s an occasion for hoda’ah (“giving thanks and conceding God’s greatness”) as well as for hodu (“turkey”).  That’s what we can look forward to this weekend.  But, that does not even come close to capturing the light and holiness that exudes from Jerusalem as we approach Chanuka.  All is light, even the stones are light.  The air is holy, and the people are all sharing in the rarefied air.  Any unpleasant news, about “agreements” or otherwise, just does not affect this atmosphere.  The city levitates over such worldly matters, somehow avoiding them completely.  The Jerusalem atmosphere enables us to dive into some deep words on the Torah portion, found at http://www.jerusalemconnection.org/weekly   For something a bit lighter, if you would like to know what’s happening with Chabad in Jerusalem, go to our site, http://www.chabadjerusalem.org   And if all that is not enough for you, and you seek to further your spiritual growth with some good books, go to http://www.jewishspiritualbooks.com  Something for everyone…