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Sep 18, 2014

Bet Shemesh Festival on the chopping block

The Bet Shemesh Festival, which has been running annually on Sukkot for 15 years, has become a landmark event in Bet Shemesh. People travel from all over the country to enjoy the variety of musicians, along with the festival associated with it.

Unfortunately, the Bet Shemesh Festival is no more. Mayor Moshe Abutbol has said that the city does not have the money to fund it this year, and therefore it will not happen.

On the one hand, if the city really does not have money, and we all know there is a deficit in the Bet Shemesh coffers and the city financial situation is not great, to put it mildly, it is a good thing to start cutting out the extras. In tough times we have to trim down.

On the other hand, is the city trimming down anywhere else? How much money did Eyal Golan cost the city recently - that was close to 200,000nis. What about all the free or highly subsidized events in the summer, and the upcoming sukkos, vacations, for the Haredi community - is the city canceling those events for lack of funds?

Canceling the Bet Shemesh Festival is more than just trimming down. It is short-sightedness (unless it is "mechuvan" to get that specific result). The Festival brings money into the city, as people buy goods from local merchants, and it puts Bet Shemesh on the map and in the public eye for good reasons rather than bad reasons.

MK Rabbi Dov Lipman has sent an open letter to the mayor, Moshe Abutbol. Lipman writes:
ראש העיר אבוטבול היקר,
 
 ב-15 השנים האחרונות, כל תושבי בית שמש מכל הרקעים נהנו מהפסטיבל בחול המועד סוכות.
כל עם ישראל היה מצטרף יחד כדי לשיר ולרקוד - משמעות ארבעת המינים המסמל את האחדות בעם.
אירוע זה גם הביא אנשים מחוץ לבית שמש שהגיעו וראו את הצד היפה של העיר שלנו.
אני הייתי המום ועצוב לשמוע שביטלת את האירוע, והשנה לא יתקיים פסטיבל סוכות.
האחריות להחלטה זו היא שלך - כראש עיר וכמחזיק תיק  מורשת ישראל .
אני לא רק מגנה את ההחלטה שלך, אבל קורא לך לשנות אותה. בית שמש זקוקה לאחדות ואירוע זה מבטא את האחדות .איך אתה יכול לטעון שאתה  מספק את צרכי כל האזרחים מצד אחד, ומצד שני אתה מבטל מסורת שנתית זו שכל כך הרבה תושבים בעיר מצפים לה.
אנא החזר את הפסטיבל. אפילו אם בשלב מאוחר זה אתה יכול רק לארגן אירוע בקנה מידה קטן יותר, אנא עשה זאת. אם זה לא יכול להיות מסודר לסוכות לארגן אחד לחנוכה ולאחר מכן נמשיך את המסורת בסוכות שנה הבאה.
העובדה שלא ענית למכתב שלי בנושא זה אינה מבשרת טובות. דע לך שאני מדבר בשם אלפי תושבים בעיר. 
כמו תמיד אני הייתי שמח להיפגש איתך בכדי לדון כיצד אנו יכולים לעבוד יחד למען בית שמשותושביה.
 
 
שנה טובה,
 
ח"כ הרב דב ליפמן


translation:
Dear Mayor Abutbol, 
For the past 15 years, Bet Shemesh residents from all backgrounds have enjoyed the Bet Shemesh Festival on chol hamoed.
All types of Jews would join together to sing and dance - a living example of the unity symbolized by the lulav and etrog. This event also brought people from outside Bet Shemesh to come and see the beautiful side of our city. I was shocked and saddened to hear that you have cancelled the event and there will be no festival this year.
The responsiblity for this decision lies with you - as mayor and as holder of the moreshet yisrael portfolio.
I not only condemn your decision but call on you to change this decision. Bet Shemesh needs unity and this event expresses that unity. How can you claim to be providing all citizens with their needs while cancelling this annual tradition which so many in the city look forward to and enjoy?
Please reinstate the festival. If at this late stage you can only arrange a scaled back event then please do so. If it cannot be arranged for sukkot then arrange one for chanukah. And then continue the sukkot tradition next year.
The fact you have not replied to my letter about this issue does not bode well for this happening but I know I speak for thousands of residents in making this demand.
As always I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how we can work together for the sake of bet shemesh and its citizens.
Wishing you a shana tova and with the hope that you will reinstate the festival,
MK Rabbi Dov Lipman

Obviously many people are upset and disappointed. People are truing to call in to the Iryah to complain and get the message out.

The mayor might talk a good game, but he really does seem to be doing whatever he can to make some sectors of Bet Shemesh feel unwanted and unwelcome.

It is a shame because all these incidents and events will end up being used in the campaign to split the city.



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Blueprints and Computer Animation of the Sanhedrin Chamber of Hewn Stone (video)

further to the crowdfunding campaign to finance the building of the Third Beit Hamikdash, the Temple Institute has now also released the plans for the chamber for the Sanhedrin.. pretty cool...

The Temple Institute presents for the first time, complete and highly detailed blueprints of the Sanhedrin Assembly Hall, the Chamber of Hewn Stone, part of the Holy Temple complex itself. These plans, drawn up by a top Israeli architectural firm hired by the Temple Institute, incorporate modern technological innovation while remaining true to the specific requirements of the Sanhedrin. These plans represent the first stage in the drawing up of comprehensive architectural plans for the entire Holy Temple complex.This video is based on these plans.




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Mother of Murdered Israeli Teen: A Rosh Hashanah Message (video)






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Welcome to the Shabbat Project 2014 (video)








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Gideon Saar is resigning from politics (video)

last night's shocker announcement..

the rumors swirl - scandal brewing? personal reasons? positioning for a better future return? fighting with Bibi? who knows... Saar will be missed. He was a politician that was well liked..






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Kamti Beashmoret (video)






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Sep 17, 2014

Safot disappoints me

The latest complaints by the administration of the Safot vTarbuyot school disappoint me. They are nitpicking and cannot seem to move on.

The courts ruled that the mayor had the right to move the Mishkenot Daas school into the empty part of the building (with conditions and qualifications), but Safot can't seem to come to terms with that.

The latest complaint was that the City removed the dividing wall that was outside in the courtyard, but the inside wall had not been removed.

The City responded that they had already discussed it and coordinated with the school administration a time to remove the inside wall.

The City then removed the inside wall.

Then Safot complained that the Mishkenot school put an ad hoc divider up, using tables and chairs.

Personally,. I dont see what the big deal is. Why can't, or why shouldn't there be a [temporary] divider between the schools. Do the kids have to mingle? Do kids from other schools mingle with kids from other schools during school hours? It might not be a bad thing, but is it really such a big deal or is it really so important to insist on leaving it open? It makes more sense to me to close it off, but even if it must be open, why fight about such a minor detail?

Considering how much we have all heard of the Safot school, their education towards excellence, their gifted program, their high level, I am surprised they are so busy acting like little children (little children in a normal school, I might add, rather than children in a gifted school)






dangerous? perhaps. this is something that easily could have been worked out without going to the press or to issuing complaints and threats.

It is time to grow up.


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Netanyahu praises Feiglin, for the first time (video)

I don't know if there is any significance to it, but it is definitely strange...




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Zak Ebrahim: I am the son of a terrorist. Here's how I chose peace (video)

If you’re raised on dogma and hate, can you choose a different path? Zak Ebrahim was just seven years old when his father helped plan the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. His story is shocking, powerful, and ultimately, inspiring. 






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Is the UN Fair to Israel? (video)








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Rush Hashanah Traffic - JETS Creative Wing (video)

cute way to give over the message





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Pischi LI - Simcha Leiner (video)






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Sep 16, 2014

should semicha be counted as equivalent to a degree?

Should rabbinical ordination, semicha, be considered equivalent to a bachelors degree?

Perhaps, or at least partially towards a degree, in my opinion. It could definitely replace many of the more liberal arts courses that help populate the requirements of a degree. My yeshiva studies and semicha were used to give me a percentage of my required credits towards my degree. I still had to take all the required courses for my specific field of study, but the semicha took care of many of the other required credits that were general studies, liberal arts courses, that weren't necessarily necessary for any given degree but were required nonetheless.

What semicha should be acceptable towards a degree? any private semicha or only one that is publicly recognized, or perhaps with proof of study and curriculum? I can say that the Rabbanut semicha should be recognized as such, as well as other recognized rabbinic groups or rabbinic study programs, but many others where somebody just gets a document from a private rav with no documented study - how can that be verified to qualify for a degree or towards a degree? Maybe somebody just wrote up a nice certificate, or the holder bought one?

Regardless, right now in Israel semicha is not equivalent to a degree. And the courts have just upheld that.

Kooker reports that people cannot apply for jobs that require a degree using the semicha as that degree, nor will salary scale take semicha into account as a degree.

Two rabbis had submitted a bid in a tender published by the Ministry of Education for supervisors. Being disqualified from the tender, they petitioned the court saying that such a requirement is discriminatory against the Haredi community and not recognizing semicha as a degree is demeaning  and damaging to the freedom of employment and equality of the Haredi community.

The Ministry of Education's response is that to be accommodating to the Haredi community, they already lowered the normal requirements from a second degree and only required a first degree. Semicha for the rabbinate does not train the applicant in in writing ability nor in expressing criticism, while the requirement of the degree is to expose the candidate to a variety of approaches and opinions, while encouraging original and critical thought.

The judge accepted the Ministry's opinion and said requiring a first degree is reasonable, and this complaint does not justify the courts involvement.

So, Semicha in Israel is still not good enough to be counted as a degree, but I think th system should start considering it as fulfilling some of the requirements towards a degree. This also might encourage more people from the Haredi community to seek out higher education. The idea of it won't be so daunting, as part of it will already be covered, as well as positively making people approach it as it would be good to get a degree and the controversial topics (any required liberal arts topics) are already taken care of.

 




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Human Chain to split Bet Shemesh

The human chain.

In some form of protest, people get together and line up side by side, holding hands, spreading out over a very large area (depending on how many people participate).

I have participated in one human chain. Prior to the Disengagement, when the Jewish communities of Gush Katif were slated to be removed from Gaza. I stood in the area of Shaar HaGuy and linked together with 200,000 or so other protesters forming a chain from Gush Katif until the Kotel.

Wikipedia tells me that the human chain is used to express political solidarity. Among the notable protests using human chains are included Hands Across America in 1986, protest against violence in East Timor, the Disengagement in Israel, Stop Russia, and a whole bunch of others..

Bet Shemesh is joining the list of protests to use a human chain as its form of expression.

Today, at 6pm, protesters are meeting at "Watermelon Square", otherwise known as, in the original Hebrew, Kikar HaAvatichim, to form a human chain. They will be expressing the demand to split the city of Bet Shemesh into two separate cities.

I don't know historically how successful such human chain protests have been. I know the one we did during the period before the Disengagement did not really do much. I do wonder how many people will show up this evening to form a chain to split Bet Shemesh, though I will not be there.


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Book Review: Shemita, by Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.

Book Review: Shemita by Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon


With about two weeks until the start of the shemita year 5775, I must say that if you are going to buy just one book that will help you understand all the issues and tell you what to do, Shemita by Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon, published by Maggid Koren, should be that one book.

Shemita was published in both Hebrew and English. The  English translation is very true to the original Hebrew, though the books are not exactly the same. One glaring difference is that the discussions regarding the delineation of the borders of Eretz Yisrael and how they affect shemita issues, is largely left out of the English edition - at least, it is not dealt with in as much depth as it is in the Hebrew.Besides for that, the English edition is some 540 pages of goodness.

The book Shemita is more than just a book that tells you what to do. Shemita is a comprehensive guide both telling you what to do, and giving you all the background.

Most books on shemita, at least of the ones I have read, either are very thorough in telling you what to do, or are very thorough in giving you the belief system and hashkafa behind the issues of keeping shemita. As well, all books, including this book, have a clear line of psak, and perhaps and agenda, of what the author wants the reader to do during the shemita year.

The difference between that and this book is that if you do not like his psak and how he guides you to act on any given issue, you can still benefit tremendously from the book. In Shemita Rabbi Rimon details all the major issues, and there are some serious and difficult issues, and he explains them comprehensively. Shemita goes through all the opinions on any given topic, explains the opinions, details the sources for all the opinions, describes different psak by different poskim and he gives you his own psak. But even if you don't like his psak, this is perhaps the most comprehensive book reviewing all the major opinions and explaining them.

Some of the topics dealt with in Shemita:  Pruzbol, hetter mechira, kitchen maintenance,buying fruits, buying vegetables, otzar beis din, produce of non-Jews, flowers, gardening, trees, shemita money, hothouses, institutions, Jewish produce, and much more.

This book came recommended to me, and I was very happy I got it, having bought the Hebrew edition and then having received the English edition for review. Shemita is more than just a guide, it gives you all the background in a very clear. You will be immensely smarter after reading Shemita.

And I would be remiss if I left out a mention of the amazing pictures and charts used to help make the issues clearer. They add to the book, and to the readers understanding of what is being discussed, immensely.

As I said above, if you are only going to buy one book on shemita, Shemita should be that one.



buy Shemita on Maggid Koren





NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.


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Interesting Psak: Dieting on the Holiday

Walla brings us the latest interesting psak...

People often joke about Shabbos and holidays saying that on these days "calories don't count", meaning one can eat without concern of gaining weight or health ramifications...

Turns out, a rabbi has now announced this as  official psak..

Rav Efraim Zalminovitch, rav of Mazkeret Batya, said that all jews should spoil themselves and eat good food on the coming holidays. Rav Zalminovitch said that God promised to cover the bill. As well, dieting, not under doctors orders, is not recommended to be done during holidays or on Shabbos. It is a mitzva to spoil ourselves and enjoy the holiday, as that will effect a satisfaction and calmness that will lead to spiritual upliftment.

Rav Zalminovitch added that he believes God will cover all the expenses of the holidays, as an additional budget separate from the annual budget allocated from heaven on Rosh Hashana.

Rav Zalminovitch added further that people should not allow the difficult economic situation and high cost of living to ruin the holidays and Shabbos. Dieting is for weekdays, not for holidays and Shabbos.

What can I say? I hope he is right.




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