HaMizrachi | Yom HaAtzmaut 5782

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‫ַה ִּמ ְז ָר ִחי‬

UK EDITION VOL 5 • NO 1 YOM HA’ATZMAUT 5782

Est.

1902

120 YEARS OF RELIGIOUS ZIONISM

NOW IN OUR 5TH YEAR!

WITH GRATEFUL THANKS TO THE FOUNDING SPONSORS OF HAMIZRACHI THE LAMM FAMILY OF MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

THE YOUTH ALIYAH PHENOMENON IDF service SHERUT LEUMI COLLEGE DATING AND MORE...

Dedicated to the members of Israel’s Defense Forces. May Hashem bless them and protect them all.


INSIDE Est.

1902

120 YEARS OF RELIGIOUS ZIONISM

www.mizrachi.org www.mizrachi.tv office@mizrachi.org +972 (0)2 620 9000 PRESIDENT

Mr. Kurt Rothschild CO-PRESIDENT

Rabbi Yechiel Wasserman CHAIRMAN

A BULLET FACTORY IN THE CATSKILLS: Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm zt”l Reflects on the War of Independence

Mr. Harvey Blitz CEO & EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN

PAGES 30–32

Rabbi Doron Perez DEPUTY CEO

Rabbi Danny Mirvis E D U C AT I O N A L D I R E C TO R S

Rabbi Reuven Taragin Rabbanit Shani Taragin

World Mizrachi is the global Religious Zionist movement, spreading Torat Eretz Yisrael across the world and strengthening the bond between the State of Israel and Jewish communities around the world. Based in Jerusalem and with branches across the globe, Mizrachi – an acronym for merkaz ruchani (spiritual center) – was founded in 1902 by Rabbi Yitzchak Yaakov Reines, and is led today by Rabbi Doron Perez. Mizrachi’s role was then and remains with vigor today, to be a proactive partner and to take personal responsibility in contributing to the collective destiny of Klal Yisrael through a commitment to Torah, the Land of Israel and the People of Israel.

“Not So Crazy Anymore”

Normalizing IDF Service for Religious Anglos PAGES 16–17

Searching for a Soulmate:

www.mizrachi.org.uk uk@mizrachi.org 020 8004 1948

Helping Religious Zionist Anglos Find One Another

PRESIDENT

PAGES 18–19

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis CHAIR OF TRUSTEES

Steven Blumgart CHIEF EXECUTIVE

Rabbi Andrew Shaw BOARD

Michelle Bauernfreund Matti Fruhman Andrew Harris Grant Kurland Sean Melnick David Morris

JEWS with VIEWS PAGES 24–25

R EG U L A R S 4 Rabbi Doron Perez 6 Rabbi Andrew Shaw 23 Rabbanit Shani Taragin

26 Rabbi Reuven Taragin 27 Rabbi Hershel Schachter 35 Sivan Rahav-Meir

EDITOR

43 Food from Israel 45 Crossword 46 Hallel and Shammai

Rabbi Elie Mischel editor@mizrachi.org | A S S O C I A T E E D I T O R Rabbi Aron White Leah Rubin | P R O O F R E A D E R Daniel Cohen

C R E AT I V E D I R E C TO R PUBLISHED BY WORLD MIZRACHI IN JERUSALEM

To dedicate an issue of HaMizrachi in memory of a loved one or in celebration of a simcha, please email uk@mizrachi.org

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HaMizrachi is available to read online at mizrachi.org/hamizrachi

HaMizrachi seeks to spread Torat Eretz Yisrael throughout the world. HaMizrachi also contains articles, opinion pieces and advertisements that represent the diversity of views and interests in our communities. These do not necessarily reflect any official position of Mizrachi or its branches. If you don't want to keep HaMizrachi, you can double-wrap it before disposal, or place it directly into genizah (sheimos).


FROM THE

“W

e defy anyone who goes about with his eyes open to deny that there is, as never before, an attitude on the part of young folk which is best described as grossly thoughtless, rude, and utterly selfish.” (Hull Daily Mail, 1925) Since time immemorial, adults have looked down their noses at the “younger generation,” so clearly inferior to their own. We, of course, are no exception, wringing our hands in frustration as we point out the pervasive problems with “Millennials” and “Gen Z.” Hypersensitive, anxious and unable to cope with the stresses of life, our children are keeping the psychologists busier than ever. I remember remarking to my wife that when we were kids, summer camps employed one “camp mom” to make sure homesick campers had at least two shoulders to cry on. Now, however, summer camps employ an army of camp moms, psychologists and social workers, and believe me – as the husband of a camp mom – they work hard. Jewish tradition would seem to confirm this attitude towards the young. “Rabbi Zeira said: If the earlier [scholars] were sons of angels, we are sons of men; and if the earlier [scholars] were sons of men, we are like donkeys, and not [even] like the donkeys of Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa and Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair, but like other donkeys” (Shabbat 112b). In this passage and many others, the Rabbis refer to what is often called ‫יְ ִר ַידת ַהדּ וֹ רוֹ ת‬, the “decline of the generations.” The theory is that successive generations move further and further away from the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, progressively weakening each new

Editor

generation’s connection to Torah and relationship with Hashem.

Speaking at a seminary in Jerusalem last month, I explained to the seventy earnest young women copiously taking notes that, according to this logic, they are the worst Jews the world has ever seen – at least until they find their bashert and, G-d willing, raise a generation even worse than they are! Depressing indeed (at least I got some laughs). But as he so often does, Rav Kook turns the simple understanding of this notion on its head. In his remarkable essay, HaDor, “The Generation”, Rav Kook explains that the “decline of the generations” refers only to individuals, to the great leaders and scholars of the Jewish people. With each passing generation, our Torah leadership declines, just as “the face of Moshe was like the sun, while the face of Yehoshua was like the moon” (Bava Batra 75a). Our personal experience bears out the point; with no disrespect to our current leadership, we no longer possess thinkers like the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Rav Soloveitchik, leaders of the last generation. But though our leadership continues to decline, ‫ה ְ ּכ ָלל הוֹ ֵל ְך ו ִּמ ְת ַע ֶ ּלה‬,ַ the broader nation of Israel is growing ever greater, building upon the accomplishments of earlier generations. In other words, the young people of today are not the worst generation our people have ever seen; they are the greatest! Rav Kook would often say that our ‫בנִ ים ו ָ ּ​ּבנוֹ ת‬, ּ ָ our sons and daughters, are ‫הבּ וֹ נִ ים וְ ַהבּ וֹ נוֹ ת‬,ַ the builders of the Land of Israel. Over and over again, he would speak of the younger generation’s thirst for greatness and idealism, a greatness their parents too often failed to appreciate. As Rabbi Aaron RakeffetRothkoff once said, “Israel is a country that was built by children who didn’t listen to their parents!”

Smile if you like, but my conversations with hundreds of young people who have chosen to make Aliyah have convinced me that Rav Kook is right. Though the young men and women of our community have not been drafted to storm the beaches of Normandy like the “Greatest Generation,” many have, in unprecedented numbers, volunteered to take up arms and protect our people by serving in the IDF and to strengthen Israel society through Sherut Leumi. With unbelievable courage, they are making a go of living in Israel, thousands of miles away from their families and friends, determined to play their part in the glorious story of Medinat Yisrael. In celebration of the miracle of modern Israel, we dedicate this Yom HaAtzmaut edition of HaMizrachi to the brave young people who are doing so much to build our land and our nation. May they go from strength to strength!

Elie Mischel Rabbi Elie Mischel Editor

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Rabbi Doron Perez

I Owe My Life to the Zionist Movement: German Youth Sport and a Mother’s Cunning and Courage

H

‌ow many grandparents leave all their children and grandchildren behind to make Aliyah?

I will never forget the time when, as an eight-year-old boy in Johannesburg, my maternal grandfather gathered our family together and told us that, as a Zionist leader and the head of Maccabi South Africa, he believed it was his responsibility to move to Israel. And so, in their late 50s, Louis and Minnie Gecelter moved to a tiny, one-and-ahalf-bedroom apartment in Tel Aviv. As Zionist as they were, it was unusual for grandparents to leave all their children and grandchildren behind; normally it is parents who follow their children on Aliyah. Acknowledging this, he emphasized that he had always been driven first and foremost by principles, and that it was his lifelong dream to participate in building the Jewish state. He hoped and prayed that we would all follow suit. Incredibly, within twelve years of their Aliyah, all of their children and grandchildren had joined them in Israel.

Sport saving lives As a young boy in Kovno, Lithuania, my grandfather’s love of Israel was already palpable. A talented sportsman, his membership in Maccabi Lithuania provided him an opportunity to combine his love for Israel, the Jewish people, and sport. In 1937, at the age of 16, he had an encounter with German Jewish youth at a Maccabi youth summer sports festival in the Baltic Sea region that would alter his life forever. The young German Jews told him about Nazi Germany’s antisemitic laws and

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the degradation they were forced to endure as the Nazis consolidated their power throughout the 1930s. Deeply impacted by what he heard, my grandfather felt that his astute mother needed to hear firsthand what the young German Jews had to say. The challenge was that his mother was hundreds of kilometers away, running a kiosk along Lithuania’s Nemanus River, where steamboats traveling from the Baltic Sea to Kovno would stop for supplies. Young Louis, however, was undaunted; he went to the docks, met with one of the captains and asked for a personal favor – to deliver a note to Mrs. Sonia Gecelter, the lady who ran the kiosk in Kovno. Receiving the note, my great-grandmother got on the next steam boat and came to the Maccabi games to meet these German Jewish teenagers. She sat with them for hours and heard for herself what they were enduring in Nazi Germany. After the Maccabi games were over, she gathered the family together and said in Yiddish “mir muzen pakn, di kinder zugen dem ames,” “we must pack up, the children speak the truth.” They left Lithuania in December 1937 with the intention of going to Palestine,

The Gecelter family traveling via Nazi-occupied territory from Lithuania to South Africa

but were barred from entry due to the infamous White Paper restrictions of the British Mandate. Fortunately, they managed to gain entry to South Africa, and were thus spared from the horrors of the Holocaust. Incredibly, my grandfather’s encounter with these young German Jews at a Maccabi sports festival saved his life, and my entire family is alive today because of it. If not for his wisdom and proactive nature and my great-grandmother’s great courage and willingness to leave Lithuania for an uncertain future, my family’s future would have been very different.

A leader and lover of Israel In 1942, Louis married Minnie Shrog and built a family alongside tens of thousands of other Lithuanian Jews in South Africa, a community that grew to 120,000 at its zenith in the 1960s. Louis was known fondly as “Mr. Maccabi” because of his lifelong dedication to Israel and sport, which he believed played a critical role in strengthening Jewish identity and pride. In 1957, when Jews were not allowed to join many sports clubs in South Africa, he built Johannesburg’s first Jewish country club with a large array of sports facilities. Everyone in Jewish South Africa knew the Jewish Guild Country Club and some of my fondest childhood memories are of spending Sundays in the swimming pool, on the tennis courts, and on the soccer field. My grandfather led the South African delegation at many Maccabi games and attended three Olympic Games as part of the South African Olympic Committee. He referred to the Olympic Games he attended as the three Ms – Mexico in 1968, Munich in 1972, and


and I will walk with you in a way that is komemiyut” (Vayikra 26:13). Rashi explains that this unusual word, which appears only once in the whole Torah, means ‫בקוֹ ָמה זְ קו ָּפה‬, ּ ְ “an upright posture,” while Targum Onkelus translates it as ‫ל ֵחרו ָּתא‬,ְ “with a sense of freedom.” Louis' Maccabi Lithuanian membership, 1937

Montreal in 1976 – and was present at the Olympic village in Munich at the time of the terrible murder of eleven Israeli athletes. After making Aliyah, he worked at the Maccabi Village in Ramat Gan, eventually receiving the highest award of the Maccabi World Union, known as “Yakir Maccabi Olami.” He and my grandmother lived happily in Israel for another 38 years and after an incredible 75 years of marriage, they passed away within a year of each other at the age of 97. Pop Louis and Granny Min, as we would fondly call them, were shining examples of values-based leaders. They were loyal to each other, served the community, and embodied a deep love for the Jewish people, the State of Israel and mankind.

Komemiyut My grandfather understood that Jewish pride, confidence, and a sense of personal dignity are of enormous spiritual value. In fact, the Torah considers self-confidence and dignity to be the ultimate blessing! The greatest of all the blessings promised to the Jewish people at the beginning of Parashat Bechukotai is ‫וָ ֶא ְׁש ֹּבר‬ ‫מֹטֹת ֻע ְ ּל ֶכם וָ אוֹ ֵל ְך ֶא ְת ֶכם קוֹ ְמ ִמ ּיוּת‬, “And I will break the yoke of your burden

One of the great tragedies of generations of exile, unrelenting hatred and antisemitism is the psychological effect it has had on many Jews who have internalized the insults of enemies; told by so many for so long that they are hated, they have come to believe that they are hateful (Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Future Tense, p. 106–108). The mind-boggling phenomenon of Jewish antisemitism by some of Europe’s assimilated Jewish elite led German Jewish philosopher Theodor Lessing to write his classic 1930 book, Der Judische Selbsthass, On Jewish Self-Hatred, in which he tried to explain this destructive phenomenon of Jewish intellectuals who regarded Judaism as the source of evil in the world and turned against their own. Today, many such Jews continue to be at the forefront of the movement denying our people’s legitimate right to an independent Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael. And so one of the greatest blessings of redemption is to be redeemed from this form of servitude – to no longer be curled up and bent over but to stand tall and upright! Redemption means that our people exchange a sense of subservience and insignificance for one of worthiness and dignity. Redemption must come with a strong belief in our legitimate right to freedom and independence, no more or less than anyone else.

This is komemiyut: standing tall and erect, though never arrogant; living with dignity and self-assurance, but never self-righteousness. It is this that we pray for every time we recite birkat hamazon: ‫ֽנ ּו‬ ‫ָה ַר ֲח ָמן הוּא יִ ׁ ְשבּ וֹ ר ֻע ֵ ּל‬ ‫ֽנ ּו‬ ‫ֽנ ּו קוֹ ְמ ִמ ּיוּת ְל ַא ְר ֵצ‬ ‫יכ‬ ֵ ‫ֽנ ּו וְ הוּא יוֹ ִל‬ ‫אר‬ ֵ ‫מ ַעל ַצ ָּו‬,ֵ “May the Merciful One break the shackles of our burden from off our necks and lead us upright to our Land.” Ben-Gurion always referred to the War of Independence as ‫ִמ ְל ֶח ֶמת ַה ּקוֹ ְמ ִמ ּיוּת‬ – the War of Komemiyut. Unlike the more common name, ‫( ַע ְצ ָמאוּת‬independence), the word komemiyut is of biblical origin and most powerfully captures the meaning of the unfolding of the redemption and the blessing of an independent Jewish state. Rabbi Berel Wein once told me that, as a student of history, he found it very difficult to imagine how the Jewish spirit could have been resurrected after the devastation of the Holocaust, if not for the miraculous establishment of the State of Israel so soon afterwards. Our people’s crushed spirit was revitalized, our hopelessness became hopefulness, and our devastation was transformed to a destiny of dignity. How blessed we are to live in such a time! ,ּ‫ּארנו‬ ֵ ‫ָה ַר ֲח ָמן הוּא יִ ְׁשבּ וֹ ר ֻע ֵ ּלנ ּו ֵמ ַעל ַצ ָּו‬ ‫יכנ ּו קוֹ ְמ ִמיוּת ְל ַא ְר ֵצנ ּו‬ ֵ ‫ְוהוּא יוֹ ִל‬

Rabbi Doron Perez is the Executive Chairman of World Mizrachi.

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The Third Month of Redemption

Rabbi Andrew Shaw

F

or much of the Orthodox world, Iyar is a quiet month with no real days of note save Lag BaOmer on the 18th. However, for the Religious Zionist community, Iyar contains two joyous days on the 5th and 28th, Yom HaAtzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim, when we recite Hallel and give praise and thanks to Hashem. The Gemara in Megillah (6b–7a) asks: during a leap year, when we have two months of Adar, when should Purim be celebrated? Rav Eliezer argues that Purim should be celebrated during the first Adar while Rav Shimon ben Gamiliel argues that Purim should be observed in the second Adar. The Gemara concludes that the law follows Rav Shimon ben Gamliel, for as Rav Tavi explains, we are somech geulah l’geulah; we juxtapose the celebration of one redemption, (Purim) to the celebration of another redemption (Pesach). With the events of the last 74 years, I think we can conclude that we now have three successive months of redemption, for following the redemptions of Adar and Nissan, we now celebrate the modern days of redemption of the month of Iyar. In his Kol ha-Tor, Rav Hillel of Shklov, a disciple of the Vilna Gaon’s who moved to Jerusalem in 1809, writes: When we established our residence in the holy city of Jerusalem in 1812, enlightenment came to us one day in the same year that the cornerstone was laid for Beit Midrash Eliyahu, named after our rabbi, the Vilna Gaon. For at that moment

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the first aperture opened in the iron partition, allowing access to the merit of our ancestors’ covenant which had been blocked since the destruction of the Temple. That day was the 20th of the Omer, which as mystics know, is the day of Foundation in Glory. (Chapter 5, pg. 114) How incredible are these words of Rav Hillel! Over 150 years later, the 20th day of the Omer would become Yom Ha’atzmaut. The Vilna Gaon and his disciples understood the miraculous way that Hashem works in history. We, however, have witnessed those miracles with our own eyes with the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 and the establishment of Yom Ha’atzmaut as a Chag by the Chief Rabbinate. The three weeks between the 17th Tammuz and the 9th Av are the lowest point of the Jewish year, when we mourn the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash and the beginning of our long exile. But these are not the only “three weeks” of the Jewish year. From the 5th Iyar to the 28th Iyar, we celebrate the end of the physical exile and the beginning of our spiritual redemption – reishit tzmichat geulateinu! For Mizrachi, the month of Iyar is a time of celebration - a time to recognize that we are living in wondrous times. We will be performing our memorable Dreams of a Nation show on Yom Ha’atzmaut in Hendon United. We will also be joining Bnei Akiva for Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations at Kinloss as well as joining together with Likud Herut UK and the Bushey community for a Yom Yerushalayim celebration.

Most importantly, we will be linking these miraculous days with a remarkable weekend of Torah learning, when we will be bringing thirty two top educators from Israel for the Weekend of Inspiration, which this year is also Shabbat UK. We will celebrate Five days of Torat Yisrael, which will be held in five cities and over sixty separate communities across the country and will culminate in the Day of Inspiration in both London and Manchester on Sunday 19th May – right in the heart of the three weeks of redemption. In this magazine you will find a programme guide of the five-day celebration. Please read the full line up of speakers and titles and join us for the various Thursday night launches as well as booking in for the full day on Sunday. We urge the community to engage with this wonderful celebration of Torah from Israel which we believe adds the crown of Torah to this month of redemption. After two years when we were unable to hold the Weekend of Inspiration, it will be so wonderful to come back together across the country to learn Torah together in this wonderful miraculous month of Iyar. Chag Atzmaut Sameach! Rabbi Andrew Shaw

Rabbi Andrew Shaw is the Chief Executive of Mizrachi UK.



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12-15 MAY 2022

CULMINATING WITH THE ANNUAL MIZRACHI UK, KINLOSS AND STENECOURT CULMINATING WITH THE ANNUAL DAY OF INSPIRATION MIZRACHI, KINLOSS AND STENECOURT


NITSANA DARSHAN-LEITNER NEW WEST END SYNAGOGUE, CENTRAL SYNAGOGUE HILLEL FULD BUSHEY UNITED SYNAGOGUE SIVAN RAHAV MEIR FINCHLEY UNITED SYNAGOGUE, HIGHGATE SYNAGOGUE, HAMPSTEAD GARDEN SUBURB SYNAGOGUE RAV HERSHEL SCHACHTER MAGEN AVOT, NER YISRAEL, TORAS CHAIM SYNAGOGUE, BEIS HAMEDRASH NISHMAS YISROEL, BEIS GAVRIEL, NER YISRAEL RABBANIT SHANI TARAGIN KEHILLAT ALEI TZION, MAGEN AVOT, NER YISRAEL, HENDON UNITED SYNAGOGUE, BNEI AKIVA RAV REUVEN TARAGIN NER YISRAEL, HENDON UNITED SYNAGOGUE, BEIS GAVRIEL RAV SHLOMO BRODY GOLDERS GREEN UNITED SYANGOGUE, SHOMREI HADATH RAV DOV BER COHEN RADLETT UNITED SYNAGOGUE RABBANIT PESHA FISCHER BARNET UNITED SYNAGOGUE RABBANIT RACHELLE FRAENKEL COCKFOSTERS & N SOUTHGATE SYNAGOGUE, WOODSIDE PARK UNITED SYNAGOGUE, BARNET UNITED SYNAGOGUE DR TOVA GANZEL SHOMREI HADATH, HAMPSTEAD SYNAGOGUE, GOLDERS GREEN UNITED SYNAGOGUE STEVE GAR WHITEFIELD HEBREW RAV JEREMY GIMPEL CONGREGATION, STENECOURT SHUL BOREHAMWOOD AND ELSTREE UNITED SYNAGOGUE, OHR YISRAEL BOREHAMOOD UNITED SYNAGOGUE, OHR TEHILA GIMPEL YISRAEL RAV SHALOM HAMMER STANMORE AND CANONS PARK UNITED SYNAGOGUE RABBANIT KAREN HOCHHAUSER CHEADLE YESHURUN RAV JESSE HORN PINNER UNITED SYNAGOGUE RAV SHLOMO KIMCHE BIRMINGHAM CENTRAL SYNAGOGUE RAV MENACHEM LEIBTAG EDGWARE UNITED SYNAGOGUE, EDGWARE YESHURUN RAV DR BENJY LEVY ST. JOHNS WOOD SYNAGOGUE RAV ANTHONY MANNING NORTH MANCHESTER RAV YEDIDYA MEIR FINCHLEY UNITED SYNAGOGUE, HIGHGATE SYNAGOGUE, HAMPSTEAD GARDEN SUBURB SYNAGOGUE RAV DAVID MILSTON HENDON UNITED SYNAGOGUE, NER YISRAEL, MAGEN AVOT RAV DANNY MIRVIS FINCHLEY UNITED SYNAGOGUE RAV DORON PEREZ THE VILLAGE SHUL, SOUTH HAMPSTEAD SYNAGOGUE RAV ELIYAHU SILVERMAN EDGWARE ADATH YISROEL, EDGWARE YESHURUN, AHAVAT YISRAEL, EDGWARE UNITED SYNAGOGUE RAV JOHNNY SOLOMON BETH HAMEDRASH HAGADOL, ETZ CHAIM, UNITED HEBREW CONGREGATION RAV AVIAD TABORY HALE SHULE RAV MOSHE TARAGIN EDGWARE UNITED SYNAGOGUE, EDGWARE YESHURUN, EDGWARE ADATH YISROEL RAV GIDEON WEITZMAN NORTH MANCHESTER RABBANIT RIVKA WEITZMAN NORTH MANCHESTER RAV ARI ZIVOTOFSKY CHIGWELL & HAINAULT SYNAGOGUE


THURSDAY 12 MAY EVENING LAUNCH EVENTS FRIDAY 13 MAY YOM IYUN ACROSS JEWISH SCHOOLS SHABBAT 13/14 MAY 32 SPEAKERS ACROSS 64 COMMUNITIES SUNDAY 15 MAY DAY OF INSPIRATION IN LONDON AND MANCHESTER MONDAY 16 MAY RABBINICAL CONFERENCE BOOK FOR THE SUNDAY AT

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THE YOUTH ALIYAH PHENOMENON

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ְ ‫בזְקֵנֵינו ּ נֵלֵך‬ ִ ּ ‫בנְעָרֵינו ּ ו‬ ִּ

With our young and our old we will go! What was a brave and unusual decision only 20 years ago has become a legitimate phenomenon. Each year, hundreds of young religious students from English-speaking countries are choosing to stay in Israel after their “gap year” at yeshivot and midrashot in the Holy Land – and many more are joining them after finishing their university studies in the Diaspora. For a community as small as our own, these numbers represent a paradigm shift that will reverberate for years to come, impacting Anglo communities both in Israel and the Diaspora. What is driving this trend? If most Anglo olim are idealistic, young olim are emphatically so. The young people featured in this edition are passionately committed to giving back to Am Yisrael, and feel there is no better way to actualize their beliefs than the all-in commitment of Aliyah. But if they are driven by idealism, it is the extraordinary growth of support services and career opportunities that is enabling more young people than ever before to translate their idealism into reality. College programs in English, with free or drastically reduced tuition for young olim, are an increasingly attractive alternative to overpriced universities in the Diaspora. Programs like Here Next Year, Ori and Lev LaChayal ensure that lone soldiers and bnot sherut are not nearly as alone as they once were. The explosive growth of Israel’s high-tech sector means that many of the best paying jobs in Israel no longer require mother-tongue Hebrew – and that native English is a distinct advantage. And perhaps most importantly, the increasing momentum of youth Aliyah means that young olim can tap into an ever-growing support network of friends to help them through the inevitable challenges that await. The extraordinary increase in Anglo youth Aliyah is a recent phenomenon, but it is one foreseen at the very beginning of our history. Rabbi Yitzchak Nissenbaum hy”d, editor of the HaMizrachi newspaper in Warsaw until his death at the hands of the Nazis in 1943, understood that the young generation would lead us back to the Land of Israel. When Pharaoh asks, “who are they that will go with you to the desert?”, Moshe defiantly responds: “We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters!” Rabbi Nissenbaum elaborates: “No, Pharaoh; our children will come with us. Among our people, it is the young who lead the way! They will be our first redeemers; they will not be cowed, like their elders, before the taskmasters of Egypt! Our youth, who are free of spirit, will be the first to cry out ‘this is my G-d, and I will glorify Him; my father’s G-d, and I will exalt Him!’” (Yahadut U’Leumiyut, 121). May the courage and idealism of our youth inspire us to follow in their footsteps!

| 13


The Growth of Youth Aliyah:

Risi Finkel

Beyond the Numbers

I

n 2009, I spent the year studying in Midreshet Harova. I wanted to build a life in Israel, and with six other young women from my seminary all making Aliyah and enrolling in Bar-Ilan University together, I knew that there was no time like the present. Back then, this was a pretty unusual thing to do; my parents were surprised and not too pleased with the idea. But when I told them about the radical difference in tuition between American and Israeli universities, I was able to make the sale. Even without formally making Aliyah and receiving the free university tuition benefit, the financial savings were enormous. Over the years, the number of gap year students choosing to stay in Israel and young Americans coming to Israel after finishing their degree has been rising considerably. At work, we discussed this phenomenon at length, hypothesizing reasons for its occurrence. Many students are graduating from college in America in tremendous debt, it can be hard to find good work after university, and we all have friends who feel trapped in toxic jobs because they are afraid to lose their healthcare. Perhaps “youth Aliyah” is on the rise because of the affordability of university, the semisocialized healthcare and the wealth of career opportunities that exist in the Startup Nation. Not to mention the sal klitah absorption money the Israeli government gives to new olim, as well as other economic benefits within the first few years of immigration.

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I asked Shira Roth, a lone bat sherut from Cleveland, Ohio, if tuition, healthcare, and job opportunities were factors in her decision to make Aliyah. Her answer surprised me. “I grew up in a really Zionist community, went to a Zionist school and Zionist camp, and and living in Israel was always a priority to me. I went to Camp Stone, and each year there were more people who made Aliyah after camp. I grew up seeing young people make the move, my own brother did it on his own, and I knew it was something I wanted to do too. I made Aliyah during my gap year in Nishmat and began Sherut Leumi at Nefesh B’Nefesh the following September. I never even thought much about the university tuition benefit, though I’m not complaining!”

Over the years, many supportive organizations have developed to assist young olim that didn’t exist when I was a bachelors student in Bar-Ilan University, including the Mizrachi OU-JLIC on Campus initiative. Rabbi Tzvi and Tali Wohlgelernter serve as the Mizrachi OU-JLIC directors in Givat Shmuel. Tali shares that, like Shira Roth, most of their community


members made Aliyah for idealistic reasons. “Most of our community members and students have already made Aliyah, which I was not expecting to be the case when I started,” shared Tali. “The majority of our community members are post-army and post-Sherut Leumi. Now that there are communities where young olim feel at home, they can more comfortably make Aliyah, knowing that there is a support system in place. They are not alone; they are part of a growing community, helping to build something from the ground up. They have support, but there is also space for leadership within the community, which is attractive to these idealistic young adults.” Kyra Ashkenazy made the move after completing her degree at Stern College for Women. “I always knew that I wanted to live in Israel, but making the move alone was scary to me,” shared Ashkenazy. “When I was at Stern College, I met with Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliyah advisors to hear about my options and saw more and more graduating seniors making plans to move to Israel. I applied to masters programs in the United States but I knew that I wanted to continue my second-degree schooling in the place where I planned to build my home, my community and my future. With the social support network in place and the promise of free tuition, what was once a daunting idea became a no-brainer and I made Aliyah after finishing my bachelors degree.” Ashkenazy has since completed her masters in Nonprofit Management and Leadership at Hebrew University and is currently studying in a fully-subsidized ulpan program. She hopes to pursue a job in the non-profit and public health fields in the coming months. Ariana Sonsino from San Antonio, Texas, shared that she made Aliyah because of her desire for a different culture. “I would say that one of the reasons I made Aliyah was to break free from the system in America in which young people feel pressured to be on a linear path of going from high school straight to college and immediately entering the workforce. In Israel, that isn’t the case. Here I have the freedom to choose my next step in life every step of the way, with no external pressures. Additionally, I found the job search in Israel to be much more promising, at least as a recent college grad. While in America, most employers are looking for applicants with at least 3–5 years of experience, which most college graduates do not have. In Israel, companies, especially startups, are in need of native English-speaking employees, so professional opportunities are abundant.” Ariana received her bachelors from the University of Austin and her masters from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. When I began my undergraduate degree in 2010, 969 young adults aged 18–25 made Aliyah from North America. The numbers climbed steadily until 2016, when 1,164 young adults made Aliyah. The numbers evened out for a while, had an understandable slight decline due to Covid, but are back on the rise again. With growing Anglo communities, tuition incentives, and a wealth of job prospects, Israel is an increasingly attractive option for young professionals beginning their adult lives.

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“Not So Crazy Anymore” How Lev LaChayal Normalized IDF Service for Religious Anglos Founded in 2014, Yeshivat Lev HaTorah’s Lev LaChayal program provides a supportive yeshivah environment for Anglo students who serve in the IDF as lone soldiers. Yedidyah Rosenwasser spoke with Noam White, co-founder of Lev LaChayal, to learn more. Tell us about your experience in the IDF, and how it impacts your work with Lev LaChayal. My experience in the army was very different from that of most guys in Hesder or Machal. I drafted into an elite special forces unit, known in Hebrew as “Gadsar Givati,” and served for three full years. I’ll never forget something that happened while I was trying out for my unit. One morning, as I was about to daven shacharit, my mefaked (commander) told me that I would only get ten minutes to pray before continuing the tryout. According to army law, during training one must be provided with at least forty-five minutes to daven. After explaining this to the mefaked, he compromised and gave me fifteen minutes “but not a minute more, or your tryout is over and you’re going back to base!”

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Knowing my rights, I took the full forty-five minutes necessary to properly daven. Two and a half years later, when I was training newly-drafted soldiers, I happened to cross paths with my old mefaked. I re-introduced myself to him and asked if he remembered me. He responded, “Of course I remember you”, and went on to repeat this exact story. I asked him why he remembered me so well, and he said, “I, myself, am religious. When I was evaluating who was fit to join the unit, I wanted to make sure that those who were religious were truly committed to Judaism. If the religious soldiers conceded and accepted the fifteen minutes I offered them to daven, I would deduct points from their overall score. You are one of the few people who passed.”

special treatment. Over time, this can have a damaging effect on the religious soldiers. At the beginning of my service, about half of the soldiers in my unit were religious, but by the end of our service, many of them were less observant.

In the army, many people do not value your religious rights or resent you for requiring

Why was Lev LaChayal started, and what makes the program unique?

These challenges are even greater for lone soldiers who have to navigate bureaucracy, living arrangements, and finances all by themselves. In fact, loneliness is the greatest challenge religious lone soldiers face; without a religious social environment, it is difficult to remain committed to an observant lifestyle. This is why we created Lev LaChayal – to make sure that religious lone soldiers never have to be alone and get the support they need.


While serving in the IDF, Lev LaChayal was the program I wished I had. I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. I often spoke with my roommate, Yehuda Yager, about how much a lone soldier support system would have helped us while we were in the IDF. The day I was released from the army, I returned to Yeshivat Lev HaTorah and discussed the idea with Rabbi Binyamin Kwalwasser (now executive director of Lev LaChayal), who loved the idea. Together with Rabbi Dudi Winkler (now director of Lev LaChayal), we opened Lev LaChayal the following year. The first few years were small, with 5 to 7 lone soldiers each year, but the program has since exploded in popularity. We are now supporting over fifty students currently in the IDF. How does the program help students acquire the necessary skills and spiritual fortitude to prepare them for their army service? In order to draft into the IDF, you need to be able to speak Hebrew at a certain level, and if you don’t meet that standard you have to join Michve Alon, a co-ed IDF training base for olim – a very challenging environment for religious students. Lev LaChayal, in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense and the Association of Hesder Yeshivot, offers a Hebrew language course that is an ideal alternative to Michve Alon. IDF service is very stressful, and so we provide our students with direct access to a psychologist and offer weekly classes preparing students for the psychological challenges of serving in the army. We also provide physical training twice a week – not to get the students into shape, but to teach them how to push themselves mentally. I personally run this program, and I believe these skills not only help them in the army, but also translate into many other areas of life – like being able to push themselves in their learning in the beit midrash. Most importantly, we help our students strengthen their spiritual foundation. We learn about the spiritual ideal of serving in the army as well as the halachic issues that they will grapple with in active service. We help our students understand that serving in the IDF is about selftranscendence, about sacrificing our own concerns for something greater than ourselves.

How has the landscape for religious lone soldiers changed since your IDF service twelve years ago? During a break in the middle of my IDF service, I went back to New York and visited my old high school. One of my teachers said, “It’s funny, everyone in your grade went in one direction, and you went in another,” which sums up what drafting into the army as a lone soldier was like at the time. People would often ask me, “When are you going to start your life (i.e., when are you going to start college)?” or “When are you going to get a job?” In recent years, something has changed; there has been a paradigm shift. I don't know if it’s because of programs like Lev LaChayal and Yeshivat Hakotel or the improving Israeli economy, but somehow, for Anglo students, fulfilling the dream of serving in the IDF has become normal. I’m not so crazy anymore! More and more young Diaspora Jews want to serve on behalf of our people and country. At Lev LaChayal, we’re here to help our students fulfill their dreams – and begin rich, meaningful lives here in Eretz Yisrael. n

Yedidyah Rosenwasser, from Chicago, Illinois, served in the IDF through the Yeshivat Hakotel hesder program, and is now learning in yeshivah in shana daled. He also works as an intern for HaMizrachi magazine.

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Searching for a Soulmate: Helping Religious Zionist Anglos Find One Another By Rivka Lambert Adler

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itting in a hospital waiting room waiting for her husband’s cancer-staging surgery, Tzippi (Schechet) Sha-ked made a decision that would ultimately impact thousands of people.

“I felt that I needed to pray, yes, but also to do something far more significant and far-reaching. I had to beseech the heavens and get our Maker’s attention. I prayed, pleaded and pledged, ‘I will help those feeling the same darkness I’m feeling this very moment. I will be there for singles, day and night. I will storm the heavens on their behalf.’ From his hospital bed, I created Points of Contact (POC). I didn’t have even one single at that moment. Ten minutes later I had three, an hour later, six. By the time David landed in the recovery room, I had 15 singles.” Today, Points of Contact is a closed Facebook group of more than 600 volunteer matchmakers (called Point People) working primarily on behalf of marriage-minded religious Anglo-Israelis. There are approximately 1,200 English-speaking singles in POC’s private database, and there have been close to 90 marriages of couples who met through POC. One of the matches was Sha-ked’s own daughter, Tehila, who married Noah Michael, son of Deborah Michael, one of the site’s Point People. Noah Michael reflected on his good fortune: “My initial reaction was one of both excitement and hesitation. I was 20 years old at the time and wasn’t sure I was ready to date. However, after hearing my wife’s description, I had a really good feeling about it and went for it. With our third anniversary around the corner, I’m happy I did… I have many friends who have struggled for years to find a match. Groups like POC certainly help speed up the process, and people shouldn’t be embarrassed to join them.” Shoshana Scharf is one of the more active volunteer matchmakers on POC. “I try constantly to find my singles their bashert (soulmate). I try to match according to similarities, interests and differences. It’s important to listen to the singles’ [opinion about] what is important. I

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Bati and Bezalel Koplon, a Points of Contact couple. (PHOTO: YEHUDA CARDOSO)

always ask what they don’t want in a partner. It gives me a [better sense] of what they want and what they need.” Scharf and her husband have been making matches for decades, but she has a particular fondness for the POC way of bringing people together. “We interact with our singles, guiding, listening, working together with truly special shadchanim whose only purpose is to work together to encourage, offer suggestions, and in the end, make matches.” As Scharf explains, there are safeguards in place to protect the singles. One of the fundamental rules is that each single is represented by a Point Person. Before a match is suggested to a single, both Point People have to agree that it’s a reasonable match. She emphasized that “no single or anyone from the outside can enter our database. Our site is totally closed and used only by our matchmakers.” Sarah Glaser, another active Point Person currently representing 25 singles, emphasized that the reach of POC far exceeds that of any matchmaker working alone. “We have matchmakers from all over Israel and the States, so it gives the single so many options that they would not have known if they didn’t use our platform. What if your


husband is waiting for you in Haifa, but you had no idea, and didn’t have the resources to find him? That’s why we are here to help.” Board member Esther Hoffman elaborated on what makes POC exceptional. “A lot goes on every day on POC Facebook. Point People post singles and other Point People respond with suggestions. You can potentially have several hundred Point People looking at a particular post, racking their brains to come up with a really good idea. Our goal is to make sure that the Point People who represent them have talked over the idea and have agreed to share information before either of the prospective partners is approached. “I know what being an older single is like. I started dating at age 18 and got married at 28, so I dated quite a bit. I’ll never forget the frustration of feeling out of place, the embarrassment and loneliness, and the uncertainty about what the future has in store for me. I’ve also had the privilege of making several matches for others. Seeing the fruits of your labor as you watch the two people you put together build a home is so satisfying and rewarding.” Hoffman wants people to know that “POC is looking for committed individuals to join our network. Becoming a dedicated Point Person is not just about advocating for their brother-in-law’s sister or friend’s son but also ‘adopting’ singles who don’t have POC representation. That means really getting to know the single and checking out references.” Board member Mordy Derovan is one of the group’s very few singles. “In a world where we find ourselves increasingly dependent on our phones and the internet, POC provides singles with a personal connection on their journey to finding their soulmates. As is now fairly common, especially during the coronavirus era, singles use a multitude of dating apps and services like Saw You At Sinai to connect with potential matches. POC gives singles a personal touch to matchmaking and reminds them that there are other people who can look out for their best

Aviva Lloyd and Michael Avramenko, a Points of Contact couple. (PHOTO: SHAHAR ZISO)

interests, too. Being single can be lonely. We help singles maneuver through this exhausting period.” Sha-ked shared that POC has “Point People in virtually every community, city, university and yishuv [settlement] where Anglos reside within Israel. We address the issue of singles feeling jaded by knowing everyone in their respective communities. We post singles from within our respective communities or individuals we know well from Israel and abroad. We grow via word of mouth. My motto is that anyone with a passion and a sensitivity toward singles can join in on this effort.” The only exception is professional matchmakers, who are not allowed to join POC. “I view the angst of singles searching for their bashert and our attempts to address this as one of the most important and vital jobs we can perform. It is no less a job of nationbuilding than promoting Aliyah [immigration to Israel]. My husband always teases that POC is the silver lining to his cancer diagnosis. Baruch Hashem, he is doing well and POC is thriving,” Sha-ked concluded.  Originally published by the Jerusalem Post; modified and

reprinted with permission. To get in touch with the POC team, please message pointsofcontacthelp@gmail.com.

Benji and Becca Nachshen, a Points of Contact couple.

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Roi Abecassis

Flying the Flag: Training the Newest Shlichim of Medinat Yisrael

Ariel Chesner

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very year, over 600 Religious Zionist Israelis leave their homes, jobs and daily routines to serve as shlichim to Jewish communities around the world. We ourselves have been privileged to be shlichim as well. Shlichut is an empowering and unique experience, a role that transforms the shaliach’s identity from a private individual to a klali Jew – a person who lives and breathes for the broader community. As a shaliach, your interests and needs broaden beyond the personal and individual to include those of the community and the nation; your mission is now to serve Am Yisrael. One of the most inspiring shlichim in Jewish history was the prophet Yishayahu. The prophet describes a conversation of the ‫פ ַמ ְליָ ה ׁ ֶשל ַמ ְע ָלה‬,ָ ּ a conversation between G-d and the angels – but Yishayahu joins, uninvited: “I heard the voice of the L-rd, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who shall go for us?’” Hearing this, Yishayahu doesn't remain a bystander, but cries out: “Here I am! Send me!” (Yishayahu 6:8–9) I will fly the flag! The Torah is not merely a historical book, but rather an educational one. The word “Torah” originates from the word “‫ – ”הוֹ ָר ָאה‬teaching. Yishayahu’s reaction is not recorded to tell us what happened then, in his time, but to teach us how we should act today, in our time. Like Yishayahu, every one of us must ask ourselves: what can I do for our people? What are my unique

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A life of shlichut is not “extra” or “optional,” but rather foundational to Jewish life. talents? What will be my shlichut for Am Yisrael? Rav Soloveitchik explains that a life of shlichut is not “extra” or “optional,” but rather foundational to Jewish life. And it is the times in which we live that guide the nature of our shlichut: “The fact that someone lives in a certain time, in a special period and in a definite place, and was not born in another period and in other circumstances, we can understand only if we accept the very idea of​​ man’s shlichut. Providence knows where and how the individual with both his weaknesses and his strengths can fulfill his shlichut; under what circumstances and conditions and in what society will it be in the power of man to fulfill his shlichut.” (Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Yemei Zikaron). Currently, the Religious Zionist paradigm sends shlichim from Eretz Yisrael to the Diaspora. But is this paradigm correct? Should the opportunity to live an enriching and fulfilling life of shlichut on behalf of Am Yisrael be limited only to those who possess a teudat zehut (Israeli identity card)?

We believe that no matter where you live in the world, whether in Israel or in the Diaspora, that we are all on shlichut – and that the purpose of our shlichut has never been clearer. We are living in times that our grandparents could only dream of, when our people are once again sovereign in our land and when the long awaited kibbutz galuyot, the ingathering of the exiles, is happening before our very eyes! That extraordinary events are taking place is indisputable; the only question is: will we watch these events from the stands or will we play an active role on the field? For those who love Am Yisrael, there is only one answer. Wherever we find ourselves, we must fly the flag of Medinat Yisrael! Wherever we are, whatever activity we are engaged in – each of us is needed to fly the flag. The “what” is clear; the only question is “how.” And so World Mizrachi and the Center for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora of the World Zionist Organization have developed “Flying the Flag,” a program intended to develop a new generation of shlichim from the Diaspora. “Flying the Flag” offers gap year students who are studying at yeshivot and seminaries in Israel the opportunity to participate in programs that directly address their future role as shlichim in the Diaspora. Students participate in shabbatonim or tiyulim that culminate in an uplifting and motivating tisch led by Rabbi Benji Levy. The tisch challenges the students to consider their own roles


in advancing the cause of the people and State of Israel. After meaningful discussion and reflection, we ask the students to commit to serving Am Yisrael in the years ahead – wherever in the world they may go. The early feedback on “Flying the Flag” has been very positive. Noam Fendelman, a student currently studying at Yeshivat Torat Shraga, draws a direct line between his yeshivah studies and reaching out to unaffiliated Jews in America. “I want to bring back my experiences, my knowledge and my learning from this year in yeshivah and share it with others so that they will also love Judaism and want to seek it out.”

To date, more than 1,000 students and staff have registered for the program, and we are certain it will continue to grow. As we celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut, let us all stand proud as Jews, and do our part to fly the flag of Medinat Yisrael!

Roi Abecassis is the Head of the Center for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora at the World Zionist Organization. Before assuming his current position, Roi served as the Mazkal (Secretary General) of World Bnei Akiva. Roi lives with his wife Yael and their five children in Modi’in.

For more information about “Flying the Flag”, please contact Ariel Chesner at ariel@mizrachi.org n

Ariel Chesner is the Director of the Center for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora at the World Zionist Organization. He previously served as the Director of the Resource Development department at World Bnei Akiva. Ariel lives with his wife Ephrat and their 5 children in a small yishuv in southern Israel.

Rutti Hall, a student at Midreshet Emunah v'Omanut, explains that her time in Israel has strengthened her desire to be an activist within the Jewish community. “I want to be an active member of the community, to share a taste of the incredible people and communities that are thriving in Eretz Yisrael.” Together with the Religious Zionists of America, we are developing many shlichut opportunities, both on campus and within the Jewish community, so our young people will have many opportunities to make a meaningful contribution to Am Yisrael as they enter the next stage of life. The shlichut can vary, but it must always bear a connection to the State of Israel.

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“ShehecheyanYU”: Yeshiva University’s Torat Tziyon Program

Bikkurim and Ma’aser, Torah, Madda and Eretz Yisrael (PHOTO: HOWIE MISCHEL)

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n Seder night, we told the story of our transition from slavery to freedom – but made no mention of Hashem bringing us to the “Promised Land.” Though the mikra bikkurim, beginning with arami oved avi, is used as a frame for retelling the story of the Exodus, the haggadah conspicuously omits the last two verses: “And He has brought us to this place and has given us this Land, a Land flowing with milk and honey. Wherefore I now bring the first fruits of the soil which You, Hashem have given me.” Though our historicalreligious journey begins on Pesach, our national destiny is only realized on Shavuot, when we celebrate the final fulfillment of the brit bein ha-betarim promised to Avraham Avinu. The “bikkurim declaration” recited in totality on Shavuot is an expression of our gratitude for Eretz Yisrael. Moshe Rabbeinu concludes his mitzvah speech in Sefer Devarim with the mitzvot of mikra bikkurim and vidui ma’aser, for they both include a declaration in which we thank Hashem for giving us the Land. Mikra bikkurim focuses on the nationalhistoric identity we acquire in the Land of Israel, while vidui ma’aser proclaims our commitment to observe the mitzvot of the Land, underscoring our religious identity. These are the primary themes of Moshe’s speech to Am Yisrael: reinforcing our national and religious identities as fulfillments of the brit bein ha-betarim and brit milah. All too often, we prioritize one aspect over the other – at times neglecting our religious responsibilities in favor of national fervor and culture, or forgetting about national identity and responsibility as we immerse ourselves in halachic detail. Moshe’s speech reminds us that our covenantal commitment to Hashem is manifest through both the Torah and the Land, ideally expressed through living a life of mitzvah observance in Eretz Yisrael.

Yeshiva University, founded to integrate Torah and academic scholarship, is currently creating new opportunities to integrate our religious and national identities by building a comprehensive religious college environment at their campus in Yerushalayim. Through its S. Daniel Abraham partnership with yeshivot and midrashot in Israel, Yeshiva University has long encouraged students to study Torah in Israel. While growing as Jews, strengthening their Torah learning skills and connecting to national-religious values, students earn up to a full year of college credit toward their undergraduate degree at Yeshiva University. Many of these students wish to continue learning in Israel while pursuing their academic degrees. Led by its President, Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, YU is answering this need by launching its new Torat Tziyon program in Israel for this upcoming Fall semester. Torat Tziyon will allow students to connect with educational, communal and entrepreneurial thought leaders in Israel’s booming economic and cultural landscape, while delving into the rich heritage of the country. The program follows YU’s characteristic daily schedule of combined Torah studies and academic classes. Students will continue their religious studies in the mornings and evenings while attending live academic classes and online masters’ degrees taught by renowned professors and teachers on the YU-Gruss campus. The men will learn in the Gruss Beit Midrash under the guidance of YU rebbeim while the women will study in the newly remodeled beit midrash of Ulpanat Chorev in Bayit Vegan, directed by Rabbanit Shani Taragin. Guided by YU academic deans Dr. Noam Wasserman, Dr. Karen Bacon, Professor Shoshana Schechter, Rabbis Menachem Penner and Yosef Kalinsky, students will have

Rabbanit Stephanie Shani Taragin Strauss

the support they need to advance both religiously and academically. YU is also working closely with Nefesh B’Nefesh to prepare students for Aliyah by providing internship and networking opportunities. The uniqueness of Torat Tziyon will be most apparent in its atmosphere and programming. Rabbi Josh and Rabbanit Margot Botwinick, who currently serve as the Mizrachi OU-JLIC campus couple at Reichman University (formerly IDC Herzliya), will be coordinating student life activities including Shabbatonim, tiyulim, chessed opportunities, weekly shiurim, and monthly alumni events open to the entire Anglo-speaking community in Israel. Both YU graduates, Margot and Josh are known for their dynamic shiurim and events, and are excited to help build the future of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. May Torat Tziyon be a fulfillment of the synthesis of Moshe Rabbeinu – of Torah u’Madda, the national and the religious – here in the land of milk and honey, the land of our Jewish destiny!

Rabbanit Shani Taragin is Educational Director of Mizrachi and the Director of the Mizrachi-TVA Lapidot Educators’ Program. Mrs. Stephanie Strauss is the Executive Director of Yeshiva University in Israel and Coordinator of the Torat Tziyon program. For more information, contact Mrs. Stephanie Strauss at sstraus1@yu.edu

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JEWS with VIEWS We asked five accomplished Jews from around the world: What was your experience like when you made Aliyah in your twenties?

Rabbi David

Rabbanit Sarah

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Katz

everal years before making Aliyah I visited Israel in an effort to keep my Aliyah passion alive. I visited Yad Vashem, stepped out of the then-new Childrens’ Memorial quite moved, and looked across the hill at a new neighborhood being built. At that moment I closed my eyes, as if dreaming, and promised myself, “One day soon I will be living here in Israel and I will live in that very neighborhood!” As always, life moved forward and I forgot about that moment. Fast forward a few years, and my wife and I made Aliyah right after our wedding (with Sheva Berachot on the plane as I promised my bride!), and we moved into our first apartment in the Har Nof neighborhood of Yerushalayim. After unpacking (our lift only came a month later; we slept on borrowed Jewish Agency mattresses. Unpacking was easy!) I opened the mirpeset (balcony) door to get some fresh Jerusalem sunset air. I looked out at the hill across from me and I saw… the Childrens’ Memorial of Yad Vashem! My Aliyah was long before Nefesh B’Nefesh existed, but yes, I was, and still am, living the dream!

Rabbi David Katz made Aliyah from Teaneck, New Jersey, and is the Dean of Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim (MMY).

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Cooper

came to Israel to learn for the year when I was 17 and decided to stay. At first, I took it year by year. Yet the decisions I made paved the road for me to live here. I did Sherut Leumi, and then social work – not because I was particularly interested in the field, but because I knew it would help me understand Israeli society and help me hone my Hebrew skills. Little by little, I became attached to life in Israel and felt deeply at home. When the day came for me to get my teudat zehut (Israeli citizenship identity card), I woke up at 6am and stood in line outside of the Ministry of the Interior. When my number was finally called, my heart started beating faster. My lifelong dream was about to come true! The woman behind the counter stamped my papers and called out loudly “next!” I looked at her in complete shock and said: “That’s it? Where are the people dancing and singing? Are you not even going to give me a flag? Do you have any idea what I am giving up to come and live here?” To this day, when my children turn 16 and are eligible to receive their first teudat zehut, I insist on coming with them – and I do my best to totally embarrass them. I dance and clap as they have their picture taken and hand them an Israeli flag, so that they realize how fortunate they are to grow up in our people’s homeland, in a country we call our own.

Rabbanit Sarah Cooper is originally from New Jersey and is the principal of the Orot Etzion Girls elementary school in Efrat.


Rabbi Jon

Channah

Rabbi Yonaton

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I

Singer can’t help but feel a little dishonest in writing this piece. I made Aliyah from Toronto in August 2010, six days before my 20th birthday; by the time I was “in my twenties” I was of course a grizzled veteran Israeli! It was an immense zechut that my first home as an Israeli was Yeshivat Har Etzion. Beyond being an incredible institution for Torah learning, “Gush” gave me a framework where I could learn Hebrew, prepare for the army, and later serve alongside my new Israeli friends through the Hesder program. Although it definitely was not unheard of then, going through Hesder as a lone soldier was not nearly as common as it has become today. I had to figure out ways to manage Israeli society on my own. One way was to refuse to let Israelis practice their English on me. I would claim that I simply didn’t understand what they were saying unless they would switch back to their mother tongue. “Mah? Lo hevanti,” I would insist in my heavilyaccented Hebrew to an undoubtedly convinced native. Ultimately though, despite ups and downs, there has never been any doubt that moving to Israel was the right decision. “After all,” as I was quick to tell anyone who dared wonder why I would pick up and leave the comfort of life in Canada, “isn’t 2,000 years long enough to wait?”

Rabbi Jon Singer is the Rosh Beit Midrash and Educational Director for Mechinat Ruach Hanegev, a gap-year program located in the Negev that strives to cultivate a new generation of strong and inspired Religious Zionists.

Speigelman Behar hirty years ago, on July 14, 1991, my husband Ushi and I, along with our two small children, boarded an El Al plane to make Aliyah. We had not been to Israel since our shana ba’aretz (gap year) and we arrived without having done a pilot trip and without jobs (we planned our move during the Gulf War). But having grown up in Bnei Akiva and Camp Moshava, we never questioned our decision; we had faith and a fire burning inside us that kept telling us to seize the moment and go. We moved to Ra’anana, where I found work as a “Morah Olah” in an elementary school. We finished our paperwork, got our drivers’ licenses (but had no car), I became pregnant with twins, we didn’t understand what the bank meant when they told us about “overdraft” (though now we certainly do!) and that winter was the worst and coldest Ra’anana had seen in over 25 years. But we were home. We welcomed each holiday with a “Chag Sameach,” bought many white shirts (the dress code here is different!) and we began searching for a home and community to raise our family and where we could be impactful. 30 years later, we have 6 amazing children, live in Chashmona’im and on every Shabbat and chag our house is filled with the noise and bustle of our children and grandchildren. As we watch our children raise their own families and build wonderful lives and reflect on our Aliyah journey, we know our dreams have come true.

Channah Spiegelman has been the Rosh Moshava at Camp Moshava I.O. for over 15 years.

came to Israel when I was 24 years old, though I knew I would make Aliyah from the time I was 13. I grew up in the Betar Movement and was indoctrinated early on to love the land and people of Israel, hearing stories about the sacrifices of Jabotinsky, Trumpeldor, and the other Betar heroes, who were not religious Jews. Yet they put their lives on the line, drained swamps under the threat of malaria and stood up to the threat of the Arabs. It made a powerful impact on me. I came to Israel shortly after the 1982 Lebanon War. Some of the rabbis from Merkaz HaRav organized a hitnadvut (volunteer) program in which they brought over a thousand young students from abroad to volunteer because all of the soldiers were in Lebanon and there was a manpower shortage. The fruit was rotting on the trees, and they needed people to help pick them. Ultimately, I ended up at Yeshivat Machon Meir for a while, and also helped start El-David, a new yishuv near Tekoa named in memory of Eli Pressman, who was killed in Lebanon, and David Rosenfeld, manager of the tourist site at Herodium who was murdered by his Arab employees [Ed. Note: Today the yishuv is called Nokdim]. They needed people to camp out there in sleeping bags! When I came here in my twenties the country was empty; I remember driving from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and it was barren most of the way! Now, it’s all towns and cities – an absolute miracle!

Rabbi Yonaton Behar is originally from Queens, NY, and lives in Har Bracha, where he translates many of the writings of Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Eliezer Melamed.

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Making Aliyah – Alone and Together

Rabbi Reuven Taragin

(PHOTO: DOV KRAM)

The centrality of Aliyah

L

iving in Eretz Yisrael is a central component of Judaism. People often focus on whether it has the formal status of a mitzvah. But even if it does not (as is Rambam’s view), it is not because it lacks significance, but because living in Eretz Yisrael is fundamental and assumed. Rav Soloveitchik explains that living in Israel is not formally a mitzvah because it is a prerequisite to so many other mitzvot. Presenting it as a mere single mitzvah would have minimized its significance.

Scan here to join Rabbi Taragin’s daily Divrei Torah WhatsApp group

A member of the Mizrachi Speakers Bureau mizrachi.org/ speakers

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The centrality of Aliyah is evident in that it was the first command that Hashem gave the first Jew (Bereishit 12:1). And when Ya’akov and family were forced to leave the land, the Jewish people’s return became the ultimate goal of Yetziat Mitzrayim (Shemot 6:8). The Torah assumes that Jews live in Eretz Yisrael and considers exile to be the worst of all punishments (Vayikra 26:33, Devarim 28:64). Conversely, our return to the land is a sign of Hashem’s reconciliation with our people (Devarim 30:3–5). The prophets foretold the eventual ingathering of the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael, our yearning to return to Eretz Yisrael appears prominently in our tefillot, and the Rishonim saw the return as a sign of redemption (for example, Emunot V’deiot 8:1, Yeshu’ot Malko Yoreh Dei’ah 66). For this reason, the Rabbis considered living in Eretz Yisrael as equal in significance to the fulfillment of all the other mitzvot (Sifri Re’eh 28, Eikev 7). Only by living in Israel is our relationship with Hashem and our fulfillment of the mitzvot complete (Ketubot 110b); only then are we truly considered a national entity (Horiyot

3a). Living in Israel atones for our sins (Sifri Ha’azinu 28) and guarantees us a place in olam haba (Ketubot 110b). The Rabbis even permitted violating certain Shabbat prohibitions to purchase land in Israel (Gittin 8b) and granted the right to force a spouse to move there (Menachot 44a), highlighting the overriding importance of living in Israel.

Returning, one by one

ultimately, fulfilled the dreams of his father. This is even more true for our generation. Ever since we were exiled, our people have yearned to return to Eretz Yisrael. And so when individuals move to Israel ‘on their own’, they are actually realizing the dreams of their forebears, making Aliyah on behalf of the Jewish people’s past and future.

How should we return to the Land? When my wife and I made Aliyah and Should the entire nation return en faced the difficulty of moving away masse, or should each person return from our families, we told ourselves individually? Yeshayahu depicts we were making Aliyah so that our Hashem bringing each Jew back children would not need to separate “echad echad” – individually, one-byfrom their parents. At some point, each one (27:12). Based upon this verse, Rashi describes Hashem figuratively family requires a pioneer to make ‘holding the hand’ of each individual Aliyah so that the rest of the family returnee, guiding them back to Israel will later follow and join the Jewish (Devarim 30:3). Every Jew has his own future in Eretz Yisrael. In the years since Rabbi Menachem Moshe my parents Rabbi Aliyah, story and must return at his Charlie we made i Eliown pace and two Rabb Rabbi Doron tag er berg Wein Hararysiblings have joined Leib in hisPere ownz way. Mansour us here, Baruch In the late 19th and 20th centuries we Hashem. The individual who initially saw the beginning of the fulfillment comes alone often facilitates the Aliyah of the prophecies of ingathering. Most of the rest of the family. came as individuals without the rest of their family, just as Avraham, the first Whether we come as families or as Jew, made Aliyah – not only without individuals representing our families, his parents and broader family, but one by one, echad echad, we play a role purposely separating from them. “Lech in returning the Jewish people to the lecha” – Hashem commanded Avraham place that was the destination of the to go to Israel as part of a process of first Jew at the dawn of Jewish history. finding himself and developing a Living here, we continue that story. personal relationship with Hashem by leaving his past behind. This does not mean that we, as Jews, are meant to separate ourselves from our past. In fact, even Avraham was not meant to fully separate from his past. Just before Hashem commands Avraham to leave, we read that Avraham’s father, Terach, intended to move to Eretz Yisrael; Avraham,

Rabbi Reuven Taragin is Educational Director of Mizrachi and Dean of the Yeshivat Hakotel Overseas Program.


One on One with Rabbi Hershel Schachter

Rabbi Hershel Schachter is a world renowned posek, Rosh Yeshiva and Rosh Kollel at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University. Last month, Avi Borgen asked Rabbi Schachter to reflect on his connection to Eretz Yisrael and the State of Israel.

Y

ou have a very deep and emotional connection with Eretz Yisrael. How did you create that connection while living in the Diaspora?

Over the years, we spent many summers in Eretz Yisrael. When I joined NCSY Kollel for a few summers, I saw how the boys just fell in love with the Land. 35 years ago, I spent three summers in the Nir Yeshiva, a hesder yeshivah in Kiryat Arba. At that time, everything was peaceful; we would go to Chevron, the Me’arat Hamachpela, and there was no trouble at all. It was only a few years after the Six Day War, and the Arabs were still too frightened to cause any trouble. My children would travel freely on their own on buses up and down the country, from north to south. These summers were transformative for my family. Today, my three older daughters all live in Eretz Yisrael. Is there a place in Israel that you connect with in particular? I love the whole country, and especially Chevron. There is a fellow there, Rabbi Yitzchak Rodrig, who runs a machon for rabbanim called the Chevron Rabbinical Research Institute. He has an office building with offices for rabbanim, and each rabbi has his own office with his own Shas, Rambam and Rishonim, and he encourages the rabbanim to sit there and write sefarim. Whenever he bumps into me he says he wants me to come to Chevron, to live there permanently! I feel very connected there, and with many other places.

(PHOTO: YESHIVA UNIVERSITY)

Last month I gave a shiur in Rav Druckman’s yeshivah, and when they introduced me they said: “The last time he spoke here was 31 years ago; we hope we won’t have to wait so long for the next time!” I gave shiurim in Sderot, in Merkaz HaRav, in Mitzpe Yericho. I feel connected to these places; I have grandchildren living there. How has the State of Israel impacted the Modern Orthodox community in America? I remember a Shemitta year, 14 years ago, when I was in Israel with NCSY Kollel. A group of Young Israel rabbis had plans to visit farmers who had decided, for the first time, not to rely on the heter mechirah and I joined them for the trip. We visited three different farmers, and then went to Moshav Komemiyut. Many years ago, the rabbi of Komemiyut was Rabbi Binyamin Mendelson, who worked with the Chazon Ish to convince farmers not to rely on the heter mechirah. His son is now the rabbi of the moshav, and he spoke with us. When he realized that I was from Yeshiva University, he said he was recently in Washington Heights and drove through the campus, where he saw boys with their tzitzit out, looking like bnei Torah! He had been in Yeshiva University many years ago, and the boys then were not as serious as they are now. He asked me: “To what do you attribute the change?” I knew it would rub him the wrong way, so I said “Tziyonut, Zionism!” Surprised, he asked me what I meant. I explained that the boys’ parents are strong Zionists and

they feel they have to send the children to Eretz Yisrael for a year or two or three to learn Torah before college, and this is how they become bnei Torah! He had never heard of this system where our young people go to yeshivot in Israel; he thought that our young people were going to Israel to study in colleges like Hebrew University. In Yiddish, he said “What do you mean? They go to university and become bnei Torah?” I said: “Not university! They go to Kerem B’Yavneh, to Sha’alvim, to Yeshivat Hakotel – to many different yeshivot!” He had never heard about any of this! The common practice of sending young people to learn in yeshivah in Israel was instituted by Rabbi David Eliach, who recently passed away. He and some friends and colleagues were the ones who engineered this change, and that is what made a major change in the American community. It’s a huge s’char (reward)! Modern Orthodoxy used to be much further from Torah learning and mitzvah observance. But now the young people come back from yeshivah in Israel, and they have a powerful influence on their families and the entire community. We have to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut! The establishment of the State of Israel was like a new Matan Torah for American Jewry! Israel has had a tremendous impact on the community. n

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“The Three Mothers” Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi At last year’s official ceremony at the Kotel marking the beginning of Yom HaZikaron, the Ramatkal (Chief of �taff) of the IDF, Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi, delivered a short speech entitled “The Three Mothers.” Widely celebrated throughout Israel, we are honored to share an abridged English translation of his powerful speech.

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he journey home of the Jewish people to its land, from all corners of the world, is an unprecedented event in world history. We must remind ourselves that it is a miracle, even though we now take Israel’s existence for granted. But the story of our people and our land is also a story of individuals, young and old, fathers and mothers, and it is about three mothers that I wish to speak today. The first is Rachel Imeinu, who did not have the chance to live in this land. She arrived at the land, but died shortly afterwards without meriting to live in it. When her children were exiled generations later, and they passed by her grave, ‫יה‬ ָ ֶ‫קוֹ ל ְ ּב ָר ָמה נִ ְׁש ָמע נְ ִהי ְ ּב ִכי ַת ְמרו ִּרים ָר ֵחל ְמ ַב ָ ּכה ַעל ָ ּבנ‬, “A voice was heard in Ramah, a bitter and mournful cry, Rachel, crying for her children” (Yirmiyahu 31:14). Her cry was heard, and the Navi tells of the promise, ‫מנְ ִעי קוֹ ֵל ְך ִמ ֶ ּב ִכי וְ ֵעינַ יִ ְך ִמ ִ ּד ְמ ָעה… וְ ָׁשב ּו ָבנִ ים ִלגְ בו ָּלם‬,ִ “Stop your voice from crying, and your eyes from tears… for your sons will return to their land” (Yirmiyahu 31:15– 16). Rachel may not have lived in the land, but G-d promised that her children would one day return. Our people lived the majority of its history outside of our Land, where we were powerless and persecuted. Zionism fundamentally changed this situation; with incredible determination and despite enormous challenges, waves of Jews began to return to Israel, forming

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Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi delivering his speech, "The Three Mothers."

a new society and the State of Israel. We are the banim sheshavu ligvulam, the sons of Rachel who have returned to their land. We have returned, to remain here forever. But the journey home has come with an unbearable price, which brings us to the second mother.

a trainer for tank officers. Dedi followed his brother to serve in the tanks, and became Effi’s student in a tank officer course that was never completed. The Yom Kippur War interrupted that course and both brothers were sent to the Sinai Desert.

Nechama left her home in Ukraine, and together with her husband Yosef who had fled from Nazi Austria, made Aliyah to Eretz Yisrael. They changed their family name to Yisraeli, and set up their home in Kibbutz Dovrat, a home filled with Zionism and Jewish values. She had five children, two of them sons – Effi and Dedi, the closest of brothers. Effi became an officer in the IDF, and then

On the second day of the war, Dedi’s tank was hit by a missile. Despite the fact he had been severely burned all over his body, Dedi returned to the tank to rescue another crew member, and only then was taken to the hospital. His brother Effi remained in the battlefield, and despite the fact that his tank had been hit, he joined another tank and continued fighting. On the 12th day of


the war, when the IDF was fighting on the West Bank of the Suez Canal, Effi was struck again and killed. Yosef and Nechama Yisraeli received the dreaded knock on the door – the knock that too many Israeli families have experienced – and were told the news of Effi’s death. Dedi was still in the hospital, and despite his serious burns, his situation began to improve. He was alone in his room, shielded from the news of Effi’s death. Dedi was so weak he could barely speak, but after a few days, when his father Yosef entered the room, he said, “Abba, I managed to write a letter to Effi.” Yosef, who had only recently become a bereaved father, was silent for a moment, and then he said to Dedi, “There is no-one to send the letter to. Effi is no longer.” Dedi began processing the news, and the pain gradually began to sap all his strength. He sunk into sadness, stopped fighting for his life, and slowly faded away until he too died.

I would not dare to say to Nechama ‫מנְ ִעי קוֹ ֵל ְך ִמ ֶ ּב ִכי וְ ֵעינַ יִ ְך ִמ ִ ּד ְמ ָעה‬,ִ “stop your voice from crying, and your eyes from tears.” But I will rely on the words of the Prophet when I say ‫יֵ ׁש ָש ָׂכר ִל ְפ ֻע ָ ּל ֵת ְך‬, “there is reward for your actions.” There is a reward, and it is the third mother who benefits from that reward. I don’t know her name, but this third mother represents countless mothers who fill this land. These mothers have built families, and they and their children have built Medinat Yisrael. They are religious and secular mothers, from cities and villages, who have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and who are able to live securely in their land because of the sacrifices of the first two mothers.

On behalf of the IDF, I salute all of the bereaved families, all of the mothers and fathers, the widows, siblings and orphans as one. You all deserve to be honored with deep gratitude. I salute, embrace and support you with all my heart. You are all an example of strength and resolve and serve as an ongoing testament to the power of our nation when we work together for that which matters most. And this is the strength of Nechama, who said, only days after losing both her sons: “If there are no values to dedicate life to, life itself has no value.” May the memory of our fallen boys and girls be a blessing for all of Am Yisrael.  Search for “Yom Hazikaron 5781: The Three

Mothers” on Mizrachi’s YouTube channel for the full video with English subtitles.

Two mothers, Rachel and Nechama, cried over the fate of their children. One of the mothers, Rachel, was unable to live in the land, but is told her sons will return to live in it. The other mother, Nechama, lived in the land, but for that right paid the unbearable price of her two sons.

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A BULLET FACTORY IN THE CATSKILLS:

Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm zt”l Reflects on the War of Independence A leading light of American Orthodoxy, Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, zt”l was one of the great leaders and thinkers of our time. Elected president of Yeshiva University in 1976, he brought the institution to new heights. As a pulpit rabbi at the Jewish Center in Manhattan, Rabbi Lamm was famous for his powerful sermons, still studied by rabbinical students to this day. A scholar of Jewish philosophy and law, he authored over 15 books on Judaism’s relationship to science, law, technology and philosophy. In 2008, Eric Halivni (Weisberg), founder and Executive Director of Toldot Yisrael, interviewed Rabbi Lamm about his experiences during Israel’s War of Independence and his lifelong relationship with the Land of Israel. The following is an abridged transcript of their conversation, edited for clarity. Tell us a little bit about your family, and your connection to Israel as a child. I was born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Today it’s a very strictly Chassidic community, but then it was a Modern Orthodox community without much extremism, and generally a good neighborhood to grow up in, if you couldn’t afford to go to a better place. I went to school at a yeshivah, Mesivta Torah Voda’ath, which today is regarded as a right-wing yeshivah, but in those days we didn’t have right or left; it was one of the only ones. It was a happier time. As a student in yeshivah, of course I had a relationship with Eretz Yisrael. I remember I was probably in the fifth or sixth grade and they showed us a movie. In the movie you find Yossele Rosenblatt, the famous chazzan, singing a moving song about Jerusalem while standing in a rowboat on the Kinneret. I was completely taken by it. It was the first exposure I had to modern Israel, and it was overwhelming. I remember it to this day, and that’s quite a long time ago. But it was something that attracted me. Those were my first feelings for modern Israel. In my younger years I was a member of Pirchei Agudath Israel, the children’s Agudath Israel, but I also went to HaShomer HaDati, which was a Religious Zionist youth organization that later became absorbed into HaPoel HaMizrachi. In yeshivah, some of the groups were more Zionist, some less, but everyone was attached to Medinat Yisrael. I was here in Yeshiva University as a college student from 1945 through 1949, at the time of the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. We were very concerned because we knew the Haganah was vastly outnumbered, and we felt we had to do something. I went with many of my classmates at Yeshiva to a place in the West Village where they were sending blankets to Israel, and in between every blanket there was a rifle to be smuggled in. The kids were very empowered and excited to do it.

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(PHOTO: YESHIVA UNIVERSITY)

Meanwhile, I thought – just packing things, anyone can do that. Maybe I could do something special. I was a chemistry major; I did four years of chemistry in Yeshiva and one year of post-graduate work at Brooklyn Polytech. I thought that maybe science students could do something more to help. So I got hold of a few of my friends; my chavruta Shmuel Sprecher who got his Ph.D in chemistry from Columbia and went on to become the Rector in Bar-Ilan, William Frank, who became a brilliant physicist and mathematician, and Matty (Matthew) Katz, of blessed memory, my roommate, who was very good in technology, and I gave them my idea. I picked up the phone and I called up the Jewish Agency and they connected me to a man called Professor Pekeris. [Ed. Note: Chaim Leib Pekeris became a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science and created the Weizmann Automatic Computer, WEIZAC, the first computer in Israel.] I told him what I had in mind, but as I’m speaking, he stops me. He says, “Shut up and come over here immediately!” I’m not accustomed to that kind of talk and I was taken aback, but I just did that. I shut up and I went down to see him. When we


reverse. All the stuff about fertilizer went into the drawers, and the materials we were working on came out. I was appointed to be in charge of burning the garbage. I was a young man with a bit of an ego and so I thought to myself, “this is why I studied chemistry for four years, to burn the garbage?” I reluctantly threw the garbage outside and threw a match into the garbage bag. The engineers start to scream, “run, run!” So I ran. A few moments later the garbage blew up; it was all combustible materials that we were using to develop the bullets! I barely saved my life because I listened to them and ran.

(PHOTO: YESHIVA UNIVERSITY)

met, he apologized. He said: “The reason I was so abrupt is because our wires are tapped, and what we’re doing is none of the FBI’s business.” I began to understand the nature of the project.

Everyone in Yeshiva was involved in some way with the war effort. It was a great opportunity to express our ahavat Yisrael (love of Israel) and Zionism in a very practical way. Again, no hora. No, heveinu shalom aleichem, rather real serious stuff. Did we succeed? I think we did in the end. We got the formula and the Israelis were able to manufacture the bullets, which is something which made us very happy and pleased.

Well, Katz and Frank were assigned to do some work at a storefront in the West Village, and Sprecher and I were sent up to East Fishkill, New York, a small town in the Catskills, but not in the Jewish part of the Catskills, to a home owned by a Zionist sympathizer. I walk into this place and I see a little man lying on his back underneath a frame of a bed and he’s painting. He said, “Hello, zis is okay, no?” I said, “No, it’s not okay.” He was very upset, though I was just being funny. Turns out that this man was Professor Ernst David Bergmann, who would later become the head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission. What struck me immediately was that my Zionism was a Hava Nagila, singing and dancing Zionism – which is important, but not very serious. But here I found people who never talked about Zionism or patriotism; they just did very good work. Israel had some guns, and they had the Davidka. But they needed to manufacture bullets. They didn’t have enough natural resources then, so our mission was to develop a bullet that could be produced from the material available to the Jews in Israel. Each of us had our jobs, and we did them well. One day there was an alarm and we all scrambled – we had to quickly put away all of our papers and chemicals and take out some books and papers relating to fertilizer. It turns out the FBI was coming and our cover story was that we were doing research on fertilizers. They came and left and, of course, they winked. They knew what it was all about, and we knew what it was all about. As soon as they left, everything went in

(PHOTO: YESHIVA UNIVERSITY)

How long were you there for? Several weeks. In order to do it, we had to prevail upon the dean of the college to let us go and not take finals, but to still give us a passing grade for our courses. I was worried because the dean, Dr. Moses Isaacs, was an Agudah-nik (a member of Agudath Israel). But when we told him the story he gave us permission to go. Surprisingly, he was the first Republican I ever met; I couldn’t imagine how a Jew could be anything but a Democrat! Do you remember where you were on November 29th, 1947, for the UN vote? I was sitting in my grandparents’ home, in front of a big radio; in those days, before transistors, a radio was a piece of

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rabbis here. Go to Israel. Become a Torah scholar on your own, but go to Israel.” My mother said, “No, don’t. Stay here.” They couldn’t help me, because they were one against one.

(PHOTO: YESHIVA UNIVERSITY)

furniture. We sat there listening to the UN General Assembly vote. When Guatemala voted in favor, we knew we were going to win. It was a very exciting time. Looking back now, 60 years later, do you have any regrets? Regrets? No, nothing at all. I regard it as one of the highlights of my life. I met people whom I really respected and realized that everything else was secondary to the important work that was being done. I’m grateful for it. It taught me that sometimes you have to do things quietly, even if it’s against the law, because there is a higher law we have to obey. And it worked out, thank G-d.

So I went to a man who then was my rebbe, Dr. Samuel Belkin, the President of Yeshiva; years later I would become his successor. I told him, “Rebbe, I want you to tell me what to do. But don’t give me any reasons, because if you give me reasons, I’ll find other reasons to go against it. Just tell me what shall I do!” He said, “stay here,” so I stayed in New York for most of my career. Many years later, I was asked to take over the presidency of Bar-Ilan and we considered it very seriously. In fact, my wife and I were already looking for a house in one of the towns next to Bar-Ilan. But as luck would have it, we couldn’t get along on certain details and it didn’t work out. But I was almost there. We were never politically involved in this kind of Zionism or that kind of Zionism; the politics didn’t matter to us much. We just loved Israel – we were tzionim! My family has followed this path. Though my children don’t live there, I have grandchildren who do [Ed. note: Two of Rabbi Lamm’s granddaughters, Peninah and Bracha, founded Here Next Year, an organization dedicated to helping young religious Jews make Aliyah]. I am blessed to have a family that feels very strongly about Eretz Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael. n

I always dreamt of Aliyah. When I graduated from college, I was offered a four-year scholarship to Hadassah medical school, but I wasn’t interested in medicine. In those days, I was interested in something that challenges the brain, and that was research; for me, medicine was more or less my menu for dinner. And of course I was mistaken, because it later turned out that medicine was very much on the front line of scientific research. Anyway, I didn’t want to become a doctor, so I turned down the offer. But then they offered me a scholarship to study for a Ph.D in chemistry at Hebrew University. And now I was faced with a dilemma. Half of me yearned to learn and teach Talmud, but the other half of my life was oriented towards Israel. I didn’t know what to do; I remember writing out the reasons for going to Israel and for staying in America on a pad, side by side. It came out even! I decided to ask my parents. My father said, “Go to Israel. We have enough

(PHOTO: YESHIVA UNIVERSITY)

Toldot Yisrael is a Jerusalem-based nonprofit dedicated to recording and sharing the firsthand testimonies of the men and women who helped found the State of Israel. 1,300 video interviews (more than 4,000 hours of footage) have been conducted to date and are housed in The National Library of Israel, the official library of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. The interviews and several acclaimed film series are shown in schools across the Diaspora, sent by Israel’s Ministry of Education to every history teacher in Israel, and can be viewed at www.youtube.com/toldotyisrael. More information about Toldot Yisrael is available at www.toldotyisrael.org.

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Our Aliyah Push, Pull and Jump

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have always been a Zionistic family. We have talked about Aliyah at every major turning point in our lives and we consciously decided to stay in the States, but now we’re making Aliyah. I think that our Aliyah journey seen through halachic lenses represents millennia of Jews’ yearning and struggling with Aliyah. When we first got married, Malki and I discussed moving to Israel. I was studying for semichah at Yeshiva University and Malki was in the middle of a joint degree program between Stern and FIT. We decided at that time that we would stay in the States so that Malki could finish her college degree. This decision perhaps mirrored the Gemara in Avodah Zarah (13a) which allows a kohen to leave Eretz Yisrael to study Torah. The Gemara explains that ‫אין ִמן ַהכּ ֹל זוֹ ֶכה ָא ָדם ִל ְלמוֹ ד‬,ֵ not everyone can learn everywhere or from anyone, and it is permissible to leave Eretz Yisrael for a better learning environment. At our first inflection point, we decided that we would stay in Manhattan to finish school. When we both finished schooling, me with semichah and a Masters in Education, and Malki with degrees in Studio Art and Millinery, we were ready for our next step as a family. There were two ideas which were motivating us at the time; we wanted to be giving members of society and we thought that living out of town would provide an environment for raising our children more in line with our goals. We pushed off Aliyah at that stage because I felt that I could contribute more as a rabbi in America than I could contribute anywhere in Israeli society. Again for halachic and historically illustrative purposes, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Da’at 5:57) uses this reasoning to justify all forms of shlichut leaving Israel to strengthen

Torah life in chutz la’aretz. At our second inflection point, we decided to move to Memphis as shlichim. After 8 years in Memphis, we were again looking to move our family. In Memphis we found the out of town environment and attitude we were looking for. We loved our time there, but we underestimated how far we would feel from our family. Tashbetz (3:288) allows leaving Eretz Yisrael to fulfill kibud av v’em, and at inflection point number three we pushed off Aliyah to live closer to family.

We are dropping everything, a little too much like Avraham Avinu and Sara Imeinu, without an exact sense of where we’re going, but like they did, we’re heading home.

uncertainty about providing for ourselves in Israel. I tell myself that Tosafot (Ketubot 110b) argues that the danger involved in making Aliyah and living in Israel exempts us from the mitzvah. While we are not as nervous about the journey that Tosafot would have been, we are quite nervous about bringing our kids half-way around the world with the difficulties of learning a language and finding their place in new schools and foreign social structures.

Looking back, we had three moments in our life when we talked seriously about making Aliyah. Each time we decided, using the same rationales that many Jews have historically used, not to return to Israel. Which brings us to the present. We see our children growing and we realize that if we don’t go now our window of bringing all of our kids with us could close. Our delays, each one of them justified, could cost us the dream altogether. And so we are dropping everything, a little too much like Avraham Avinu and Sara Imeinu, without an exact sense of where we’re going, but like they did, we’re heading home.

Halachah aside, what has been most remarkable to me in the past few weeks since we told our community that we’re making Aliyah has been the number of people that have told us that they are jealous of us, that they don’t have the courage we have, that they wish they were coming too. I guess there always will be acceptable reasons not to return, but the Jewish soul feels a pull to Israel, we can subconsciously hear Hashem knocking at the door. There have historically always been Jews who jumped across the sea of uncertainty and halachic leniency because they knew that the destiny of the Jewish people is in the Land of Israel. For us, it’s our fourth chance to be a part of it and we’re jumping in.

We still have some planning days in which I say to myself that Rambam (Melachim 5:9) allows one to leave Israel to earn a living. We have steady income in New York and total

Rabbi Aaron Feigenbaum is the Rabbi of the Irving Place Minyan in Woodmere NY and the Rav Bet Sefer at HAFTR in Lawrence, NY. He, his wife Malki and their six children, will be making Aliyah in August 2022.

Rabbi Aaron Feigenbaum


Remembering the Donny Morris z”l

Rabbi Yechiel Morris

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have a favorite picture of my nephew, Donny Morris z”l, though it is not the famous picture that many have seen. The more wellknown picture is of him hovering above the dancing masses in Meron. It depicts his sweet, shining and angelic countenance, and has captured the attention of thousands. That picture reflects the elevated and sanctified level of deveikut with Hashem that Donny achieved in his remarkable life. I certainly cherish that picture, but the one that I love the most was captured a year earlier. It was taken in front of Metlife stadium in Rutherford, New Jersey. In the picture, Donny is standing in between my brother, Aryeh, and my nephew, Akiva. All three are wearing winter knitted sports hats. Aryeh and Akiva’s hats have the New York Mets emblem on them, while Donny’s hat has the MTA Lions emblem, his high school alma mater, embroidered on it. With broad smiles, the picture was taken moments before they entered the stadium. But they were not there to cheer on the New York Giants or Jets; they were there, together with over 90,000 Jews, to attend the 13th Siyum HaShas. The reason why I love that picture is because it explains the exalted picture from Meron. Since Donny’s tragic passing last year on Lag BaOmer, family, teachers, and friends have recalled Donny’s love of Torah learning, his acts of kindness, his affinity toward the Land and State of Israel and his all around kind and pleasant nature. What is remarkable is that all of these descriptions are absolutely accurate and true. But what is also true is that Donny wasn’t born that way. Each one of those qualities were imparted and modeled for him, most directly by his loving parents, Aryeh and Mirlana, but also by a larger caring support system. His grandparents, Rabbi Joel and Malka Morris and Rabbi Ira and Fagie Kronenberg, helped raise and

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inspire Donny. Loving members of his extended family, along with a wonderful community, with rabbis, rebbeim, teachers, family friends and a large network of personal friends and peers, all reinforced and modeled the values that Donny would ultimately internalize and embrace. They all passionately and thoughtfully passed along a mesorah of Yiddishkeit to Donny. To his eternal credit, Donny learned from all of them and then made those teachings his inner essence. When speaking to students and children about Donny, I always remind them that my holy and exalted nephew was a regular kid, just like them. He too loved sports, played video games, got into an occasional fight with his siblings, and had qualities that would sometimes frustrate his parents and teachers. But at the very same time, he strived to better himself and grow in his avodat Hashem. He took davening seriously, he diligently worked to strengthen his Torah learning and comprehension, and he made a concerted effort to be kind and caring. Yes, he loved sports – but he also loved Torah. He certainly concentrated when playing video games, but also

davened with intense kavanah. He may have worn a sports hat to the Siyum HaShas but he also dressed like a mensch in the beit midrash and at shul. To me, the picture of Donny in front of Metlife stadium is a lesson to all of us. It depicts a normal child. But even more so, it depicts someone we can all strive to become. Like Donny, we can all learn from, and then emulate, our parents, grandparents, rabbis and teachers. We can be normal, but also achieve greatness. We can root for the Giants, but also work to become giants in Torah and yirat shamayim. We can tap into the inspiration of daf yomi inside a stadium in Rutherford, New Jersey and then utilize that moment to soar and grow in Torah in Eretz Yisrael. That is Donny’s legacy. That is Donny’s crowning achievement. And that is Donny’s eternal message to us. Rabbi Yechiel Morris is the Rabbi of Young Israel of Southfield in Southfield, Michigan.


Meron Tragedy “Let us Join Together for Happy Times”

Sivan Rahav-Meir

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i Sivan, my name is Yakir. I run a photography business together with my partner Meor. After the Meron tragedy, we felt that we had to do something. And so we went, in our jeans and t-shirts, to visit the Engelard family, a Chassidic family that lost two sons in the tragedy, their 14-year-old son Moshe, and their 9-year-old son Yehoshua. We met the father, Rabbi Yitzchak, who was very moved that we came, and said that we had given him strength. When we left, he said that “Am Yisrael should not get together only in times of tragedy, but also for s’machot (happy occasions).” These beautiful words stayed with me. This week, months after that visit, I received a surprising message. The Engelard family, b’sha’ah tovah, had a baby boy. Rabbi Yitzchak contacted me and invited me to come and to be with them for happy occasions too, to join them for the brit of their son, who brought new life and comfort to the family. The last time we met, they were sitting on mourners’ chairs. This time we met and hugged, we danced and sang together. And may his name be called among Israel: Yosef Naftali. As we left I said to Rabbi Yitzchak that now it is my turn to invite him to s’machot, and he agreed. I am attaching a picture taken at the brit, as well as the invitation to the brit, which for me was not only a brit milah, but also a reminder of the brit, the covenant, between us.” Sivan Rahav-Meir is a media personality and lecturer. She lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Yedidya, and their five children, and serves as World Mizrachi’s Scholar-in-Residence. She is a primetime anchor on Channel 2 News, has a column in Israel’s largest newspaper, Yediot Acharonot, and has a weekly radio show on Galei Tzahal (Army Radio).

My dear Yakir and Meor, Seven months ago we met under very difficult and painful circumstances. I was moved then by the beauty of Am Yisrael, and I realized then that no power in the world can separate brothers. Precisely then, amidst the pain and darkness, the special connection between us was revealed, when you transcended yourselves, put aside all of your other considerations and made the effort to come and comfort us and to join in our sorrow, all because of your sense of responsibility and love of Israel. We promised at that moment to continue this mutual love also, and especially, in times of joy. Thank G-d, I am happy to tell you that we had a baby boy, and I am honored to invite you to the brit. Yitzchak Engelard

A member of the Mizrachi Speakers Bureau mizrachi.org/ speakers

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Rabbi Elli Fischer

Peninei Halachah: A Religious Zionist Code of Jewish Law? Rav Melamed’s English translator reflects on his achievements and the recent controversies surrounding Peninei Halacha.

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ver the past two decades or so, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, the rav and rosh yeshivah of Har Bracha on Mount Gerizim, has authored nineteen volumes (and counting) of Peninei Halachah, a practical guide to the halachot of contemporary Jewish life. They are written in clear language and with theoretical and ideological introductions, into which the halachic details are then assimilated. These qualities, among others, have endeared Peninei Halachah to a broad spectrum of the traditional and Religious Zionist community in Israel. The volumes have been spotted on the bookshelves of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Isaac Herzog, as well as in schools and shuls, seminaries and yeshivot. They are the standard textbook for the study of halachah in Religious Zionist high schools, and there is even a popular series of Peninei Halachah for children, complete with illustrations. To date, about a million individual volumes of Peninei Halachah have been sold – in addition to its availability as an app, on the website of Yeshivat Har Bracha, and on Sefaria. In addition to Hebrew, volumes are available in English, Spanish, French, and Russian.

A member of the Mizrachi Speakers Bureau mizrachi.org/ speakers

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There are also plenty of signs that Peninei Halachah is not just a reference, textbook, or shelf-ornament, but a phenomenon that has become part of the religious routine of thousands. Countless groups study Peninei Halachah via social media, especially WhatsApp. Many synagogues and yeshivot have the custom to study a single halachah after Shacharit each morning; more and more, the text of choice is Peninei Halachah. [Ed. Note: a passage from Peninei Halacha is studied every day after Mincha at the World Mizrachi headquarters.] There is even

a new series called Shoneh Halachot which facilitates the daily study of one paragraph from Peninei Halachah. Three volumes have appeared thus far. None of this means that Peninei Halachah is immune to criticism. On the contrary, there has recently been some harsh criticism – sometimes bordering on personal attacks – against Rav Melamed and his books, and specifically from within the Religious Zionist community. Some of this criticism is specific to Rav Melamed, but some parallels the opposition faced by some of our most prominent and accepted halachic codes, including Rambam’s Mishneh Torah and Rav Yosef Karo’s Shulchan Aruch. Let us contrast halachic codes with another major type of halachic writing: responsa, or she’elot u’teshuvot. These are a different genre whose writing can reflect different ways of approaching halachah. The codifier begins with a bird’s eye view of the halachic corpus and proceeds to organize the material in accordance with a broad, fixed structure – like the six orders of the Mishnah, the fourteen books

of Mishneh Torah, or the four major sections of Arba’ah Turim, which is adopted by Shulchan Aruch as well – and from there to individual topics and subtopics, before finally arriving at the level of the legal detail. The advantage of a code is clear: it strives for internal consistency and comprehensiveness, and its organizational structure makes it easy for users to find what they are looking for. In fact, it is precisely this feature that has historically engendered opposition; codes make halachah so accessible that lay users – the codes’ primary audience – are empowered to rely on their own studies. This was a significant element of the opposition to Shulchan Aruch, and its echoes reverberate even today, especially when areas of halachah that were typically addressed on a case-by-case basis become the subject of a new code. The writer of a responsum, in contrast to the codifier, begins with a specific person asking a specific question under specific circumstances. The questioner is almost never a layperson,


Rabbi Eliezer Melamed (PHOTO: YESHIVAT HAR BRACHA)

but rather a fellow rabbi consulting with a greater expert. Responsa contain argumentation and rhetoric; their goal is not to state the law as much as it is to persuade readers. They marshal the facts and sources that pertain to the case and offer an answer that might have been very different if just one variable is tweaked. Codes, in contrast, aim to guide the behavior of all users, regardless of circumstances. Responsa are finely tailored; codes are ‘one-size-fits-all.’ It is therefore easy to understand why codes, in general, meet with resistance, especially on the part of elite scholars. Much of the criticism of Peninei Halachah follows the pattern of opposition to halachic codes more generally. The codification of sensitive, case-by-case realms of halachah is a recurring theme in the criticism of Peninei Halachah, as is the claim that its rulings are too sweeping and preclude individuation. Beyond these, there are distinctive features of Peninei Halachah that both contribute to its popularity and fuel opposition to it. As mentioned, Rav Melamed embeds his halachic material within an ideological framework. Although every ruling is based on halachic precedent, there is no doubt that his ideology frames and shapes the halachic content. For this reason, people – Chareidim, for instance – who do not espouse the same ideological

The advantage of a code is clear: it strives for internal consistency and comprehensiveness, and its organizational structure makes it easy for users to find what they are looking for. commitments, have not received Peninei Halachah with the same enthusiasm as those in the Religious Zionist community. More recently, when Rav Melamed articulated certain ideological positions – specifically, concerning how to relate to nonOrthodox movements and what Israel’s conversion policy ought to be – that are more strongly associated with the center-left of the Israeli political map, some on the hard right of the Religious Zionist spectrum have expressed opposition to the entire Peninei Halachah project. One writer went as far as to call Rav Melamed a liberal “Trojan horse” in Israel’s nationalist camp. It is criticisms like this that seem to cross the line from collegial disagreement to ad hominem attacks. It seems, however, that this sort of criticism has arrived too late. Peninei Halachah has already been accepted as the de facto halachic code for a significant community of practicing Jews, and there are, at present, no

near competitors. It is also true, of course, that codification, by its very nature, cuts off and narrows halachic possibilities – a process that inevitably generates deserved criticism. However, history has shown us that the most successful criticisms of halachic codes are not the ones that discouraged their use, but the ones that comment on the text itself. This is the path of Ra’avad, Rema, Shach, Taz, and Mishnah Berurah. Perhaps opponents of Peninei Halachah would be better served by publishing editions with marginal notes and objections, in accordance with ancient Jewish tradition.

Rabbi Elli Fischer is an independent writer, translator, and rabbi. Previously, he was the JLIC rabbi and campus educator at the University of Maryland. He holds BA and MS degrees from Yeshiva University, rabbinical ordination from Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, and is working toward a doctorate in Jewish History at Tel Aviv University. He is editor of Rabbi Eliezer Melamed’s Peninei Halachah series in English and cofounder of HaMapah, a project that applies quantitative analysis to rabbinic literature. He is a founding editor of The Lehrhaus, a web magazine of contemporary Jewish thought, and his writing has appeared in numerous Jewish publications.

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Hippocratic Israel Magnifies Kevod Shamayim in a Hypocritical World

David M. Weinberg

T

‌he UN and global “human rights” NGOs continue to slander Israel with ugly charges of “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid,” and sundry fictitious atrocities against the Palestinians. Meanwhile, in the real world, this is what is happening: Israeli doctors continue to treat thousands of Arabs in Israeli hospitals and conduct worldclass humanitarian medical work around the world. It is a sign of the hostile times that Israel gets little international credit for its manifold humanitarian medical activities, in Israel or abroad. Israeli hospitals regularly take in patients from countries across the Middle East, including Arab countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel, and from the Palestinian-controlled areas. For example, no less than one-quarter of the patients in the Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital at the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer are Palestinian kids from Gaza with cancer or congenital heart ailments.

A member of the Mizrachi Speakers Bureau mizrachi.org/ speakers

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Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem plays a similar role for Palestinians from Judea and Samaria. Save a Child’s Heart at the Sylvan Adams Children’s Hospital at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon also treats many Palestinian patients, as well as children with heart defects from across the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe.

The altruism of the Israeli medical system is even more remarkable because treating Israeli and Palestinians sideby-side is a tense and delicate balancing act about which many Israelis have misgivings. Palestinians receive treatment in Israel even though the Palestinian Authority takes only very partial, occasional financial responsibility for them and the patients themselves can’t afford to pay. The Peres Center for Peace and the hospitals themselves often end up covering or absorbing the costs. Palestinian leaders and their family members, including Hamas chieftains, get the best medical care in Israel even though they constantly issue bloodcurdling libels about Israeli “apartheid,” while plotting Israel’s demise. For example, in 2020 the doctors at Hadassah did everything possible to save the life of Palestinian official Saeb Erekat, even though he was the master planner of the Palestinian Authority’s campaign to isolate and boycott Israel. (Yes, I too wonder whether this was right and necessary.) The altruism of the Israeli medical system is even more remarkable because treating Israeli and Palestinians side-by-side is a tense and delicate

balancing act about which many Israelis have misgivings. “Let the Palestinians go for treatment to their Arab brethren in Egypt or Jordan,” they say. But of course, the Palestinians cannot do so – because the Egyptians and Jordanians don’t regularly let Palestinians in, and the treatment in Arab countries is inferior to Israeli medical care. In any case, Israeli hospitals bravely and honorably persist in their opendoor approach to humanitarian treatment. Of course, you wouldn’t know about this from international media, NGOs, or UN reports. Israeli medical humanitarianism extends much further afield too. Israeli doctors are very active and experienced in delivering medical assistance beyond Israel’s boundaries. Remember the outstanding IDF medical mission in Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake in that country? For years after that, Israel orthopedic rehabilitation physicians and physiotherapists ran a full-scale “Haitian-Israeli Rehabilitation Center” at the University Hospital in Port-au-Prince. Such Israeli humanitarian missions abound. Since it opened in mid-March, more than 2,500 refugees have been treated in a rapidly established Israeli field hospital on the Ukrainian-Polish border. In addition, Israeli burns experts were the first to arrive in Romania to treat babies in critical condition after a horrible fire in a Bucharest hospital; the first to arrive in the


Congo after a massive fuel tanker explosion; among the first to send aid to Japan and to Kashmir after a series of earthquakes; the first to send (over 150 tons of) aid to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines after a series of tsunamis; and much more. In fact, Israeli doctors have provided international relief and medical training in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Georgia, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Mauritania, Mongolia, Myanmar, Peru, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Uzbekistan and, of course, Ukraine – to name just a few countries. Breakthrough Israeli technologies also play a humanitarian role. Sheba/Safra Children’s Hospital now offers remote home-monitoring of pediatric cardiac patients in medically underserved communities such as Gaza, Iraq, Kurdistan, and Cyprus. An Israeli company called Illumigyn has distributed 20,000 gynescope units across Africa – a firstof-its-kind fully remote gynecological imaging platform – to improve early diagnosis and detection rates of cervical cancer. Israel has actively assisted many countries in confronting the continuing COVID crisis, from Argentina and Uruguay, to Eswatini (Swaziland) and India. An Israeli NGO sent 3,800 oxygen concentrators to rural clinics, hospitals and health centers in India overwhelmed by Corona. The Israeli government flew tons of oxygen generators, respirators, and medications to India, too. Dozens of countries have sent senior health officials to study Israel’s proficient handling of the Coronavirus crisis.

to being a force for progress and brotherhood in the world is built on this moral foundation.

Israel’s medical humanitarian activities stem from an abiding concern for healing and compassion that is ingrained in Jewish tradition

But again, you wouldn’t know any of this from international media or UN reports. Antisemitism, double standards, distortive “woke” ideology, cancel culture, crass politics, and more, get in the way.

Instead, PA spokesmen spread the canard that Israeli troops at checkpoints purposefully infected Palestinians with Corona and that Israelis spit deathly Corona droplets on Palestinian car door handles and windshields, recalling the classic antisemitic trope about Jews poisoning the wells in Europe. Nevertheless, Israel has tried to help the PA. And on the sly, the PA has allowed its doctors to receive training at Israeli hospitals about best practices for treating Corona patients.

Hippocratic Israel gets no credit. The hypocritical world knows only how to criticize and demonize Israel. What a shame. But at least Jews should know and appreciate Israel’s humanity. On Yom HaAtzmaut, let us appreciate the kevod shamayim and kiddush Hashem (the glorification of G-d’s name in the world) that has been wrought by the State of Israel.

Israel’s medical humanitarian activities stem from an abiding concern for healing and compassion that is ingrained in Jewish tradition. As the Rabbis taught (Yevamot 79a): Am Yisrael is marked by three qualities. They are merciful, altruistic, and humble – hopelessly so, I would add. The State of Israel’s commitment

David M. Weinberg was a public affairs and development executive at the Sheba Medical Center and Hadassah Medical Center. He is a senior fellow at The Kohelet Forum and Habithonistim: Israel’s Defense and Security Forum. His op-ed articles appear weekly in The Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom, and are archived at davidmweinberg.com

And yes, during the first months of the pandemic Israel did everything in its power and its purse to assist the Palestinian Authority in fighting coronavirus too. But in mid-2020 the PA announced a boycott of all assistance from or through Israel, for any budgetary, humanitarian, or other need. It even rejected receipt of two planes-full of Coronavirus aid from the UAE because the planes delivering the cargo landed at Ben-Gurion Airport.

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Celebrate Israel's Food & Wine: 9 - 11 May

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Shavuot: Neve Ilan & Inbal Luxury Hotel, Jerusalem: 3 - 5 June

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WORLD MIZRACHI PROUDLY PRESENTS A NEW VIDEO FOR YOM HA'ATZMAUT

Thursday, May 13th, 1948.

• TEN EDITIONS A YEAR • 40,000 COPIES EACH EDITION • DISTRIBUTED ACROSS THE ENGLISH SPEAKING WORLD Advertise with HaMizrachi! Reach the global religious Zionist through HaMizrachi magazine. Distribution of over 40,000 magazines across Israel, USA, Australia, Canada, the UK, and South Africa. Options are available to advertise in each country at a separate rate.

A day which would alter the course of Jewish destiny. During those turbulent times, as the leader of the Zionist movement, David Ben-Gurion had to grapple with several critical dilemmas. Should an independent Jewish state be declared at this challenging time in Jewish history or should they accept the American proposition of a three-month ceasefire? Would such a declaration immediately plunge the nascent state into a fatal war? Could the small army of so many Holocaust survivors triumph against the might of the Arab world? Learn about how Ben-Gurion, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Maimon, the leader of Mizrachi, and others had the courage to declare the State of Israel. “Declaring a State: The Quorum That Changed Jewish History” will be available to watch on World Mizrachi’s YouTube channel, Facebook page and MizrachiTV, from Sunday, May 1.

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Reserve your page today! Email production@mizrachi.org for more details

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Two Feet In: A Conversion Story

Rabbi Joshua Weisberg

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n a famous Talmudic story, a gentile asks a Jewish sage to convert him as he learns the entire Torah while “standing on one foot.” I always assumed this meant the convert wanted to study with his other foot suspended mid-air, too impatient or shallow to open a book or join a yeshivah. But what if that isn’t what he meant? What if a convert wants to learn Torah with the other foot not suspended, but still grounded in the world from which he came? Not because he is impatient nor ambivalent, but because he is honest about where he stands? That question is on my mind, 35,000 feet above the ground, on an El Al flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv, after a week filming my mother for a documentary I am making about the lives of converts and their families. It is a personal question. In the late sixties, my father, an atheist American Jew, took a gap year to study literature in the West German city of Tubingen. There, he met my mother, a 20-year-old German Catholic. “Before I met your father,” my mom told me, “the only Jewish man I had ever spoken to was Jesus.” She laughed. “I suppose your father was the second Jewish man I loved.” “Do you know what you’re getting into?” my concerned grandfather asked my mother before she boarded the plane. “Don’t get me wrong. We like Mark and have nothing against his being Jewish. It’s just that you are a German. And I wonder if you understand what that means to American Jews.” “In retrospect,” my mom told me, “Opi was right. I had no idea what I was getting into. Life as a German in America was much more complicated than I imagined possible. But if it was a mistake, it was the best mistake I ever made.”

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A decade later, my mom convinced my dad that they should raise their three children as Jews. “Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked, largely indifferent to organized religion. “Children deserve a culture, an identity,” she responded. “I would be adrift without my religious upbringing. I want my children to have access to religious literature, music and the memories of faith.”

“Your Judaism is my gift to you,” she told me when I graduated high school and was boarding a flight to volunteer on a kibbutz in Israel. “What you do with it is your decision.” I once asked my mother why she didn’t raise us Christian. “I was disillusioned with the Church,” she said. But why didn’t she convert to Judaism herself? “I didn’t believe in G-d, and I respected Judaism too much to lie.” She remained faithful to who she was, unintimidated by the paradoxes. An expat German raising Jewish children.

After college, I returned to Israel, this time to study Torah more seriously. I began to be more interested in faith and wanted to learn Talmud. I told my Israeli rabbi after I arrived that I wasn’t halachically Jewish, and he suggested I convert, but I didn’t want to. “I grew up Jewish and my Torah learning is a search for depth within myself,” I said. “I don’t mind being complicated; I’m not looking for a new identity.” “Judaism recognizes only matrilineal descent,” he insisted. “If you just want to learn Torah you can go to university or become a Reform rabbi. But if you want to continue studying in yeshivah you will have to be fully Jewish, with both feet in.” I was too much in love with Torah learning to walk away and I agreed to convert. When I emerged from the mikveh and the judge wished me a mazal tov, he added, “you are now born again!” I wanted to deck him. “Born again?” I muttered. “I am doing this to become who I already am.”

“Your Judaism is my gift to you,” she told me when I graduated high school and was boarding a flight to volunteer on a kibbutz in Israel. “What you do with it is your decision.” I fell in love with Israel that year. At first it was the depth of national and historical identity that hit me. Then I went looking for the tradition, and joined a small yeshivah hoping to remedy my ignorance. I didn’t mention that my mother was not Jewish – I didn’t want any trouble.

Rabbi Joshua Weisberg teaches Talmud, is a professional chef, a documentary filmmaker and a tour guide. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife Chana Jenny and their eight children.


F O O D F RO M I S R A E L

Homemade Hummus with Lamb and Walnuts Rabbi Joshua Weisberg Hummus is the quintessential Yom HaAtzmaut food, so much so that the day’s news broadcast opens with a boast of how many kilograms were sold in anticipation of the traditional Independence Day “mangal” barbecue. Most Israelis have strong opinions about what and who makes the best hummus. Here is my contribution to the debate – a hummus with a rich flavor, served with a flavorful sweet lamb and nut sauce.

Homemade Hummus with Lamb and Walnuts Ingredients for Hummus 2 cups dry chickpeas

Place the chickpeas, ½ cup of the broth, the carrot, onion and the garlic cloves in a food processor. Add the ¼ cup of raw tahini, ¼ cup olive oil, and ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice. Puree until creamy smooth. Add salt and pepper according to taste. Ingredients for Lamb and Walnut Sauce

1 tablespoon baking soda

A half pound of ground lamb (or ground beef)

1 carrot, 1 onion, 6 whole cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons of olive oil

¼ cup raw tahini

1 onion, diced

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 cloves of crushed fresh garlic

¼ cup olive oil Salt and pepper according to taste Instructions for Hummus In a large bowl, cover the chickpeas with at least 2 inches of water, add the baking soda, cover, and let soak overnight. The chickpeas will more than double in size. Move the chickpeas to a medium size saucepan. Cover them with water, add a carrot, an onion and the 6 cloves of garlic and simmer until the chickpeas are very soft.

3 tablespoons silan date honey 10 chopped walnuts (optional) Salt and pepper according to taste Instructions for Lamb and Walnut Sauce Saute the onions and the garlic until translucent. Add the walnuts and sauté for an additional two minutes. Add the ground meat and sauté until the meat is no longer red. Add the silan, salt and pepper and stir for another minute.

Learn more about Rabbi Joshua’s home hospitality and tour guiding at www.chefrabbijosh.com.

Serving Instructions Place a cup of the hummus (preferably warm or hot) on a large plate with a rim. With a large serving spoon, flatten the middle of the hummus so that it is indented. Fill the indented space with the meat (preferably hot). Drizzle olive oil over the meat and garnish with fresh chopped parsley and a sprinkle of paprika. Tip for making a creamier hummus: when you blend the ingredients, add three ice cubes and blend them in.

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Rabbi Shmuel Slotki

Religious Zionism in Shul? (PHOTO: HOWIE MISCHEL)

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‌hat does it mean to be a Religious Zionist shul? What actually expresses or demonstrates the Zionist nature of a community? Is it the type of kippah the men wear or the women’s preferred style of hair covering? These are merely externalities; there must be something deeper and more fundamental that expresses the identity of a Religous Zionist community. At the core a shul’s Religious Zionist identity are the tefillot, the prayers, that they recite together. Tefillot recited every week, such as the prayer for the State of Israel and the IDF, and tefillot said on special occasions, such as a celebratory Hallel on Yom HaAtzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim, reflect a synagogue community’s deeply held beliefs. This year, the World Organization of Orthodox Synagogues and Communities is proud to present a new Sefer HaGabba’im, a guide for gabba’im, which will help Religious Zionist shuls strengthen their connection to Eretz Yisrael even further. Alongside the regular blessings for personal and family events, this unique book includes blessings that stress the connection of the community to the State of Israel and the IDF. The ancient custom of adding blessings and mi sheberachs to our standard prayers reflects the shul’s role as not merely a place for individuals to pray but as the focal point of the community. The shul is where we express, communally, our support and sorrow during difficult times such as bereavement, and our joy and celebration at joyous events such as births, bnei mitzvah celebrations and weddings. When we share our important personal life events together with the community in shul,

44 |

‫גיוס לצבא‬

‫ברכה לעולים לאﬧץ‬

ׁ ֹ ֹ ֹ ‫ִמי ֶש ֵ ּב ַר ְך ֲאבו ֵתינ ּו ַא ְב ָר ָהם יִ צְ ָחק וְ יַ ֲעקב וְ ִא ּמו ֵתינ ּו‬ ֹ ׁ ׂ ‫ ה ּוא יְ ָב ֵר ְך יִ ְשמר וְ יָ גֵ ן ַעל‬,‫ָש ָרה ִר ְב ָקה ָר ֵחל וְ ֵל ָאה‬ ׁ ‫ָּכל ַה ִּמ ְת ַ ּג ְ ּי ִסים ְ ּביָ ִמים ֵא ּל ּו ְל ֵשר ּות ִ ּבצְ ָבא ַה ֲהגָ נָ ה‬ ׁ ׁ ֹ ֹ ֹ ׂ ‫ ּכוחות ַה ִ ּב ָּטחון וְ ַה ּ ֵשר ּות‬,‫ ַה ּ ֵשר ּות ַה ְ ּל ֻא ִּמי‬,‫ְליִ ְש ָר ֵאל‬ ׂ ֹ ׁ ‫ שו ֵמר יִ ְש ָר ֵאל‬.)‫ ְ ּבנֵ י ַה ְ ּק ִה ָ ּלה‬/ ‫ָה ֶאזְ ָר ִחי ּו ָב ֶהם (פלוני בן פלוני‬ ֹ ּ ּ ּ ּ ‫יהם ַה ִמ ְתנַ ְד ִבים‬ ֶ ‫יהם וְ ַעל ָכל ַח ְב ֵר‬ ֶ ‫יִ פְ רס ְכנָ פָ יו ֲע ֵל‬ ׁ ‫ילם ִמ ָּכל צָ ָרה וְ צ ּו ָקה ִמ ָּכל ּ ֶפגַ ע‬ ֵ ‫ יִ ְש ְמ ֵרם וְ יַ ִ ּצ‬.‫ָ ּב ָעם‬ ׁ ׂ ‫ יַ גְ ִ ּביר‬.‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫וְ ַת ָ ּק ָלה וְ יִ ְש ַלח ְ ּב ָרכָ ה ְ ּבכָ ל ַמ ֲע ֵשה יְ ֵד‬ ֹ ֹ .‫יח ַ ּד ְר ָּכם‬ ַ ‫ א ֶמץ ּוגְ ב ּו ָרה וְ יַ צְ ִל‬,‫ילם ְ ּבעז ּו ְתב ּונָ ה‬ ָ ‫ה' ֵח‬ ׁ ׂ ֹ ‫יִ זְ ּכ ּו ְלרו ֵמם ֶק ֶרן יִ ְש ָר ֵאל ּו ְל ַהכְ ִרית ָה ֶר ַשע ִמן‬ ׁ ֹ ׁ ֹ ּ ּ ּ ּ ּ ּ ּ ּ ‫יתם ַכ ָכתוב‬ ָ ‫ יָ שובו ִב ְב ִריאות ו ְב ָשלום ְל ֵב‬.‫ָהעו ָלם‬ ׁ ׁ ׁ ֹ ׁ ‫ יְ יָ יִ ְש ָמר‬.‫"יְ יָ יִ ְש ָמ ְר ָך ִמ ָּכל ָרע יִ ְשמר ֶאת נַ פְ ֶש ָך‬ ֹ ֹ ֹ ָ ָ :‫אמר ָא ֵמן‬ ַ ‫ וְ נ‬,"‫אתך ּובו ֶאך ֵמ ַע ּ ָתה וְ ַעד עו ָלם‬ ְ ֵ‫צ‬

ׁ ֹ ֹ ‫ ה ּוא‬,‫ִמי ֶש ֵ ּב ַר ְך ֲאבו ֵתינ ּו ַא ְב ָר ָהם יִ צְ ָחק וְ יַ ֲעקב‬ ׁ ׁ ֹ ‫ ֶש ָ ּזכ ּו ַל ֲעלות ְל ֶא ֶרץ‬,)‫יְ ָב ֵר ְך ֶאת ִמ ְש ּ ַפ ַחת (פלונית‬ ׁ ׁ ׂ ׂ ‫יחת‬ ַ ‫אשית צְ ִמ‬ ִ ‫ ֵר‬,‫יִ ְש ָר ֵאל ּו ְל ִה ְתיַ ּ ֵשב ִ ּב ְמ ִדינַ ת יִ ְש ָר ֵאל‬ ׁ ׁ ֹׁ ‫יח ְ ּז ֵקם וְ יִ ְש ַלח‬ ַ ִ‫ ַה ָ ּקדוש ָ ּבר ּו ְך ה ּוא יִ ְש ְמ ֵרם ו‬.‫ְ ּג ֻא ָ ּל ֵתנ ּו‬ ׁ ׂ ‫ וְ יִ זְ ּכ ּו ְליִ ּש ּוב‬,‫יהם‬ ֶ ‫ְ ּב ָרכָ ה וְ ַהצְ ָל ָחה ְ ּבכָ ל ַמ ֲע ֵשה יְ ֵד‬ ׁ ׁ ֹ ‫ וְ יִ ְת ַק ֵ ּים ָ ּב ֶהם ִמ ְק ָרא ֶש ָּכת ּוב " ּופְ ד ּויֵ י יְ יָ יְ ֻשב ּון‬,‫טוב‬ ׁ ֹ ֹׂ ׂ ֹ ׂ ֹ ‫אשם ָששון‬ ָ ‫ּו ָבא ּו צִ ּיון ְ ּב ִר ָ ּנה וְ ִש ְמ ַחת עו ָלם ַעל ר‬ ֹ ׂ ׂ ‫ ִלגְ ֻא ָ ּלה‬,)‫ יא‬,‫וְ ִש ְמ ָחה יַ ּ ִשיג ּו וְ נָ ס ּו יָ גון וַ ֲאנָ ָחה" (ישעיהו נא‬ ׁ ֹ :‫אמר ָא ֵמן‬ ַ ‫ וְ נ‬,‫ְש ֵל ָמה‬ ...‫ּובאּו ָהא ְֹב ִדים ְּב ֶא ֶרץ ַאּׁשּור‬ ָ :‫שיר‬ ...‫זּורינּו‬ ֵ ‫וְ ָק ֵרב ְּפ‬

...‫ ֲאנַ ְחנּו ַמ ֲא ִמינִ ים ְּבנֵ י ַמ ֲא ִמינִ ים‬:‫שיר‬

39

50

Special blessing for individuals about to join the Israel Defense Forces.

Blessing for a family that has made Aliyah to Israel.

we emphasize that no individual is an island; what is significant for me is important to the community as well.

model who will hopefully inspire its young people to volunteer for the IDF! Along these lines, we have also added a special blessing for those who have completed their army service to express our thanks that they have completed their service in good health.

The Sefer HaGabba’im includes a blessing for a family that has made Aliyah to Israel. We are living during a special time in Jewish history, at the beginning of our redemption, and we must recognize, as a community, those who are making the incredible step of moving to Israel. A shul can be on the other side of the world, but when this blessing is recited on the Shabbat before the family makes Aliyah, the community demonstrates that it values Aliyah, recognizes its awesome significance, and aspires to join this family on Aliyah in the future. We also added a special blessing for individuals about to join the Israel Defense Forces. It is critically important that the community recognize and celebrate someone who has made the decision to defend Am Yisrael through the tremendous mitzvah of serving in the IDF. By making this blessing in shul, the community is celebrating a role

These are a few examples of the many blessings in the new Sefer HaGabba’im, which we hope will strengthen Religious Zionist shuls both in Israel and the Diaspora.

Rabbi Shmuel Slotki is the Director of the World Organization of Orthodox Synagogues and Communities.


YomHa A ’ tzmaut BY YONI GLATT

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Hallel’s Top Yom HaAtzmaut Challenges: @ Read an English book with an Israeli accent. BONUS CHALLENGE: translate as much of the book as you can into Hebrew! @ Draw a map of Israel with sidewalk chalk. Instead of traditional hopscotch numbers, label the regions of Israel: Galil, Golan Heights, Jezreel Valley, Shomron (Samaria), Yehuda (Judea), Afula, Coastal Plain, Arava, and the Negev Desert. Hopscotch your way across Israel! @ Go on a photo hunt! Photograph 74 different blue and/or white objects. @ Look up which Israeli Air Force planes and helicopters will be participating in the annual “Fly Over” in Israel. Design paper airplanes/helicopters to match, then launch your own “Fly Over” at a local playground. @ Play freeze dance to Israeli folk songs.

46 |


Shammai’s Top Yom HaAtzmaut Challenges: @ Bake a birthday cake for the State of Israel’s 74th birthday. @ Make your own Madlibs/Funny Fill-In by leaving key words out ּ ‫)”אֶרֶץ יִשְ ׂרָא ֵל ׁשֶלי ּ ִ יָפָה וְגַם‬. of a song about Israel (for example, “‫פוֹרַח ַת‬ Challenge a family member to complete your Madlibs and then sing the silly version together. @ Enjoy some homemade shoko b’sakit (chocolate milk in a bag). Fill a resealable bag with chocolate milk. Snip off a corner of the bag and enjoy a refreshing treat. @ Build the number 74 out of 74 of something (I like to use my Legos). @ BONUS CHALLENGE: how long into the day can you keep your shirt white?

| 47


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