Sukkot 5779 – Chag Same’ach!

חג סוכות שמח Happy Sukkot!

The festival of Sukkot, the most joyous festival in the Jewish calendar, begins tonight, lasting for 7 days (8 outside of Israel), running straight into the Simchat Torah festival on the 8th day (9th day outside Israel).

Sukkot is the last of the Shalosh R’galim (three pilgrimage festivals). Like Passover and Shavu’ot, Sukkot has a dual significance: historical and agricultural. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters. Agriculturally, Sukkot is a harvest festival and is sometimes referred to as Chag Ha-Asif Chag Ha-Asif (in Hebrew), the Festival of Ingathering.

Inside our Sukkah

Our own Sukkah in the very unglamorous setting of our car park

On this festival Jewish households build a sukkah (pl. sukkot), a booth-like structure, where all meals are eaten, and people (usually the menfolk but not solely) even sleep there. The flimsy roof consists of leaves or branches, widely enough spaced so that one can see the stars at night, but close enough to provide shade during the day. It is considered “hidur mitzvah” – glorifying the mitzvah – if the sukkah is beautifully decorated, so of course this provides much entertainment, not to mention arts-and-crafts time, for the children to beautify their sukkah.

The sukkah is a commemoration of the flimsy huts that the Children of Israel dwelt in during their 40 years of wandering in the desert, with only the ענן הכבוד, the Cloud of Glory, to protect them by day and the עמוד האש, the Pillar of Fire, by night.

By leaving our safe and warm (or cool) houses just when autumn and the rainy season starts and going to live in a fragile hut for a whole week, it is also meant to remind us how fragile is our existence on this earth, and it is only by the grace and protection of G-d that we survive.

Arba Minim – the Four Species

On Sukkot we also bundle together the Arba Minim – “The Four Species” consisting of a Lulav (branch of palm), branches of Hadass (myrtle), Aravot (weeping willow) and an Etrog (a citron, related to the citrus family) and during Shacharit (morning prayers) wave them together in all 6 directions to show G-d’s presence everywhere. Between Yom Kippur and Sukkot the streets of Israel are packed with markets and stalls selling the Arba Minim and sukka decorations. Many people take extra care when buying their lulav and etrog, examining them minutely as if they were buying a precious diamond.

Sukkot market in Israel

The weekdays of Sukkot, as on Pesach, are called Chol Hamo’ed (lit. the weekdays of the festival) which are a semi-holiday in Israel. Schools are closed, and many places of work are either closed or work half day, giving families the chance to go on trips, hiking or visiting. On the intermediate Shabbat (Shabbat chol hamo’ed) of Sukkot, Megillat Kohelet (the book of Ecclesiastes) is read in shul. We will have the pleasure of hearing our son reading the megillah in his shul this year, as in previous years.

Israel 21C has some beautiful photos of Sukkot in Israel. Here are just a couple, go to the link and look at the rest:

A sukkah on the roof of a home in Jerusalem’s Yemin Moshe neighborhood. Photo by Yehoshua Halevi

Sukkot fill the balconies of a building in Jerusalem’s Mea She’arim neighborhood. The balconies are staggered so each sukkah’s roof is properly exposed to the sky. Photo by Yehoshua Halevi

As mentioned above, the main concept of Sukkot is emunah – faith – in G-d that he protects us at all times. Here is Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in another of his inspiring videos, this one with a cute personal touch:

And here are a couple of funnies to make you laugh before the chag:

And in case you’re having trouble (like Rabbi Sacks) in constructing your Sukkah – do not put your faith in hardware stores!

Just kidding 🙂 At least in Israel all the major hardware stores (and the small ones too) are packed with everything you need to build your sukkah, including actual sukkot.

May this Sukkot be a festival of pure joy, and may we merit to celebrate it in the rebuilt Temple speedily in our days.

I wish all those celebrating a chag Sukkot same’ach!

!חג סוכות שמח

Posted in Israel news, Judaism, Slice of Israeli life | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Some schadenfreude to start the week

It’s always nice to start the week with good news, so you might like this schadenfreude post. Ever since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, he and his diplomatic team (UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and National Security Advisor John Bolton) have had Israel’s back like no other president before him. He doesn’t only support Israel with words, but with dramatic action too, like moving the Embassy to Jerusalem. In the last couple of weeks Trump announced the closing of the PLO embassy in Washington because of the Palestinians’ refusal to enter into peace talks with Israel, and also as a reprisal for their taking their case to the ICC:

The Trump administration announced Monday that it’s closing the Palestinians’ diplomatic mission in Washington over what U.S. officials say is the leadership’s refusal to participate in the peace process with Israel.

The PLO mission in Washington

The Palestine Liberation Organization has refused to “to take steps to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” National Security Adviser John Bolton said in a speech Monday in Washington that also took sharp aim at the International Criminal Court.

Bolton spent the bulk of his speech, however, criticizing the International Criminal Court, which he said is too harsh on Israel. Bolton warned the ICC, which the U.S. hasn’t joined, that it could face penalties if it “comes after us, Israel or other U.S. allies.”

Palestinian leaders have urged the ICC to consider action against Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. Bolton cited the Palestinian request to the court as one of the reasons the administration is shutting the diplomatic mission to the U.S.

Along with the closure of the PLO mission, Trump revoked the visas of the Palestinian envoy and his family.

And this week, following the murder of Ari Fuld Hy’d, and the Palestinians’ outrageous pledge to pay the family of the terrorist, the White House sent a warning shot to the Palestinian Authority over their “pay for slay” policy:

The Trump administration is warning the Palestinian Authority that severe US aid cuts to Ramallah may be in the offing unless it ends its compensation program for the families of murderers and terrorists convicted by Israel.

Responding to reports that the family of the killer of Ari Fuld, an American citizen, would receive official compensation for the terrorist act, a White House official noted that recent congressional legislation compels the administration to “restrict the use of Economic Support Funds that directly benefit the Palestinian Authority” unless the State Department “certifies that the PA has taken steps to end the practice of providing payments to individuals, and families of individuals, who committed acts of terrorism.”

Ari Fuld Hy’d (l), murdered by Palestinian terrorist Khalil Jabbarin (r) who will now receive a monthly stipend from the PA in reward

“As we’ve seen from today’s announcement by the Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Commission with respect to the terrorist who killed Ari Fuld, the practice continues,” said Edgar Vasquez, a White House spokesman. “This is unconscionable and must stop if there is to be any hope for peace.”

Vasquez said the administration “strongly supports” the bill signed into law in March of this year, called the Taylor Force Act, named after the US Army veteran and Vanderbilt graduate student killed in a terrorist attack in Jaffa in 2016. The law would halt funding the PA– except for three exceptions– unless the State Department reports an end to the payment scheme.

“The United States condemns the Palestinian Authority’s payments to terrorists and their families,” Vasquez stated. “We strongly oppose any program that incentivizes acts of violence and terrorism. We continue to demand that the Palestinian Authority stop payments related to perpetrators of political violence.”

“The Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Commission has confirmed that the family of the terrorist who murdered Ari Fuld is ‘eligible to receive a monthly salary’ as compensation for his incarceration,” Friedman wrote of the practice, which he also characterized as “unconscionable.”

Two days earlier, US Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt tweeted a link to a Jerusalem Post story reporting that the family of Khalil Yusef Ali Jabarin, the terrorist who murdered the 45-year-old Fuld on Sunday, would receive a NIS 1,400 monthly stipend for the next three years from the Palestinian Authority.

Greenblatt termed this “outrageous.”

It is indeed outrageous. Moreover it is probably one of the prime motivations for Palestinian teenagers to set out to murder innocent Israelis instead of going out clubbing or attending classes like any other normal teenager.

The indoctrination of Palestinian youth is a war crime and human rights violation of the highest order, and until the world holds Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies to account and forces them to change their educational system there will never be peace between Israel and the Palestinians, no matter how much land Israel gives up or how many concessions we do.

The Americans under Donald Trump have taken these vital first steps, for which I for one thank them from the bottom of my heart. If only the Europeans and their do-gooder NGOs (doing good for everyone except Israelis and Jews) would follow suit rather than stepping in to make up for the missing funds. If they don’t stop the pay-for-slay will simply continue.

However it’s not all bad news from Europe: PayPal has shut down a German NGO with links to terrorists:

The US online payment service PayPal has closed the account of the Germany-based NGO International Alliance – an organization that sympathizes with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist organization and supports boycotting Israel.



The Jerusalem Post
launched an investigation in early September into the funding stream of International Alliance (Internationalistisches Bündnis). The PayPal payment service for International Alliance had been available for several weeks in September. On Thursday, International Alliance’s PayPal account stated: “This recipient is currently unable to receive money.”

The Post reported on September 1 that German bank Sparkasse Witten shut down the NGO’s account.

While many German banks have terminated accounts with organizations that boycott Israel or support Palestinian terror entities such as Hamas and the PFLP, PayPal’s closure of International Alliance is believed to be the first shut down of an online payment service account in the federal republic for a group involved in BDS and with links to supporters of the PFLP.

While many German banks have terminated accounts with organizations that boycott Israel or support Palestinian terror entities such as Hamas and the PFLP, PayPal’s closure of International Alliance is believed to be the first shut down of an online payment service account in the federal republic for a group involved in BDS and with links to supporters of the PFLP.

As a result of the Post’s exposé articles since 2016, Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, DAB Bank in Munich, and Postbank have terminated accounts for German NGOs and groups that wage economic warfare against the Jewish state and are linked with sympathizers of the PFLP and Hamas.

Kol hakavod to the Jerusalem Post on its exposes of these vicious groups and for getting their bank accounts shut down.

I think we are now seeing baby steps towards recognition of the vicious nature of Palestinian rejectionism, their incitement to violence and murder through their educational system, and their economic warfare on Israel.  Let’s hope this trend continues and grows.

Posted in Boycotts and BDS, Incitement, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Good News Friday

Despite it all, the terrorism and hatred and simmering violence that we have seen in the last weeks, we are now approaching Sukkot, the happiest of our festivals. But first we have Shabbat in between, so I bring you this week’s Good News Friday installment.

I will start first with some astonishing speeches by Arab human rights activists. These activists are extremely brave, as they talk about and work for human rights for everyone, not just for Palestinians. And they call out the Palestinian leadership for their human rights abuses of their own people rather than blaming Israel for their miserbale plight.

Watch the amazing Mudar Zahran as he addresses the European Parliament earlier this month:

 

And here is the equally courageous and outspoken Bassam Eid at the same meeting:

Similarly,here is Mark Halawa, an UNRWA-registered Palestinian refugee, calling out they myth of Palestinian refugees for what it is – a myth:

On the same subject, here is American pro-Israel activist Dumisani Washington talking about the myth of Palestinian refugees:

 

These courageous speakers give us hope that if the myths can be successfully debunked there is hope for peace in the future.

Since we’re on the subject of strengthening Israel, we can all find enormous inspiration from the fantastic family of Ari Fuld Hy’d who was murdered last week. See how they marked the end of the shiva:

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Here are Ari’s brother Hillel’s words:

This morning, the extended family met at Ari’s grave to talk, pray, remember.

After that, we thought, “So what would Ari do now?”

The answer was pretty clear. He would have gone back to the very location where the murder took place, and he would have made his presence felt there. He would have proven to the world that we are still here and we are not going anywhere ever.

And so we did.

With the wall, the glass that was shattered from his fall, and the whole scene.

After that, we all agreed that Ari would not have hesitated and would have suggested, no, demanded, that we go eat.

And so, the entire Fuld and Loecher families hit up Greg Cafe in the Gush, a few meters away from where my brother became a national hero.

He left us with legacy that can be summed up in three simple words “We. Choose. Life!”

The Fuld family’s strength in their hour of sorrow is inspirational, an example to us all. May Hashem grant them the strength to continue thus with their lives and to carry on with Ari’s legacy.

Israel’s defence and security is provided by the IDF. This week I am proud to say my nephew Chanan was sworn in together with his comrades as a full IDF soldier, in a very moving ceremony in Latrun. Watch the soldiers as they swear to protect the country, and the military Rabbi blesses the soldiers with the Birkat Cohanim (the Priestly Blessing):

 

This is such an Only in Israel moment, when the religious and the military meet, and even the non-religious soldiers are happy to be blessed and the religious soldiers are happy to celebrate their new task.

May Hashem watch over all the soldiers, keep them safe and bring them home safely.

And now, one final video before Shabbat. We all know that on Yom Kippur the country comes to a standstill, but we’ve never actually seen it in action (or rather, non-action), since the streets are empty.

But here we have drone footage of the streets of Tel Aviv, normally a vital, bustling 21st Century city full of vibes and excitement, in its eerie, serene silence on Yom Kippur, and it is a wonder to behold:

 

With all these inspirational thoughts, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom, a Shabbat of peace and safety.

Posted in Israel news, Judaism, Lawfare and Delegitimization, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Israel-Russia ties shaken after Russian plane downed by Syria

Yes, I know the headline does not make any logical sense. If a Russian plane was downed by Syria, why on earth should Israel get the blame?

Let’s back up a bit and look at the chronology. Israel has had more or less carte blanche to carry out airstrikes in Syria at Iranian targets as long as Russia, which is de facto in control of the airspace, was kept informed. This informal agreement was the result of some very adept tightrope-walking by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his frequent visits and consultations with Moscow.

As the Syrian civil war is starting to wind down, rebel forces are starting to crumble and Iran is pushing its way into the region with ever more aggression and audacity. Israel has made it very clear that it will not tolerate any Iranian presence in the area and has been carrying out numerous airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria to enforce its red lines.

Just before Yom Kippur, IAF planes carried out a major strike against an arms warehouse in Latakia, leaving it in ruins. However the Syrians, shooting their anti-aircraft fire wildly, accidentally shot down a Russian plane flying in the area:

A munitions warehouse in a Syrian military facility appears to have been completely obliterated in an Israeli airstrike in the Syrian port city of Latakia late on Monday, satellite images released Wednesday show.

A before and after photo of an ammunition warehouse which was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on a Syrian base in Latakia, September 18, 2018 (ImageSat International (ISI/Ynet)

A Russian military reconnaissance plane was shot down by Syria during the Israeli strike, killing all 15 crew members.

On Wednesday Syria released video footage from the site of the attack, reiterating its claim that Israel targeted an aluminium factory, not a weapons warehouse in Monday’s strike, according to the Ynet news site. The veracity of the footage could not be independently verified.

On Monday, Syria accidentally shot down the Russian reconnaissance plane when its air defenses swung into action against the Israeli strike on Latakia. The Russian defense ministry initially blamed Israel, saying the IAF jets used the Russian plane as cover.

The Russians seemed to change their minds several times over whether to blame Israel or not:

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin later told reporters that the downing of the plane by Syrian air defenses was a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the rising tensions between the two countries in the wake of Monday’s airstrike.

In the call, the Israeli leader “noted the importance of the continued security coordination between Israel and Syria that has managed to prevent many casualties on both sides in the last three years,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said.

The Kremlin said that Putin emphasized that the Israeli attack violated Syria’s sovereignty and also breached the Russian-Israeli agreements on avoiding clashes in Syria. The Russian leader urged Netanyahu “not to allow such situations in the future.”

Israel said its jets had attacked a Syrian military facility that manufactured “accurate and lethal weapons,” which were “about to be transferred, on behalf of Iran, to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Netanyahu told Putin that Israel was “determined” to prevent Iranian military entrenchment in Syria, and the attempts by Iran, which calls for the destruction of Israel, to transfer to Hezbollah lethal weaponry to be used against Israel.

Netanyahu also reiterated that Israel would completely share all the information it had on the circumstances of the raid and suggested sending Israel’s air force chief to Moscow to “deliver all the needed information.”

Unusually for the Israeli defence establishment, the IDF admitted carrying out the strike and expressed sorrow for the victims while not actually taking responsibility:

The Israeli military on Tuesday acknowledged conducting an airstrike against a Syrian weapons facility the night before and “expressed sorrow” for the deaths of 15 Russian soldiers, whose plane was shot down during the attack by Syrian air defenses.

The highly irregular move came as Moscow fumed over the incident and threatened unspecified “measures,” saying it held Israel wholly responsible.

In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces denied all responsibility for the downing of the Russian spy plane, saying that Syria, Iran and Hezbollah were the ones at fault.

“Israel expresses sorrow for the death of the aircrew members of the Russian plane that was downed tonight due to Syrian anti-aircraft fire,” the IDF said, and noted that the Russian plane that was hit “was not within the area of the operation.”

I think that was the right thing to do – to express sorrow but deny responsibility. All too often the IDF has taken responsibility for incidents which later turn out not to have been their fault at all. But by then the story is out and no one listens to corrections. This way is preferable by far.

The reason for the Russian anger is as follows:

The Israeli and Russian militaries maintain what they call a “deconfliction mechanism,” which is meant to coordinate their activities in Syria in order to avoid incidents like this one. Until Monday night, these efforts had largely succeeded in preventing direct or indirect clashes since Russia became more deeply involved in the Syrian civil war three years ago.

The Israeli military said it had coordinated with Russia ahead of the attack, though it did not address Moscow’s specific claims about the amount of time between the notification and the airstrike itself.

In order to calm the Russians’ anger Israel dispatched a delegation to the Kremlin led by the head of the Air Force Amikam Norkin:

An Israeli military delegation held a number of high-level meetings with Russian officials in Moscow on Thursday in an effort to defuse tensions over the downing of a Russian plane off the coast of Syria during an Israeli airstrike earlier in the week.

Israeli Air Force chief Amikam Norkin, center-right, meets with Russian officials in Moscow on September 20, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli officials, led by air force chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, showed their Russian counterparts the Israel Defense Forces’ initial investigation of the incident, which the army said showed Syria, not Israel, to be responsible for the downing of the Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft and its 15 crew members.

In addition, the Israeli delegation shared intelligence regarding Iranian efforts to establish a permanent military presence in Syria and to transfer advanced weaponry to terrorist groups in the region, the army said.

“The meetings were held in a good spirit. There was professional, open, and transparent dialogue on various issues, and an emphasis was put on the importance of the two nations’ interests and the continuation of the deconfliction mechanism,” the IDF said, referring to a hotline between the two countries.

Norkin’s delegation was expected to remain in Moscow, continuing to meet with Russian officials, until Friday morning.

A Kremlin spokesman denied an Israeli report that Russian President Vladimir Putin had sought a meeting with Norkin during his visit, according to state media, and made plain that Putin and Norkin would not meet.

There is some interesting analysis by veteran military correspondent Oded Granot at Israel Hayom speculating on what transpired in the hours between Israel being blamed for the Russian plane’s downing and then being exonerated by Vladimir Putin himself:

What transpired in those critical hours between the Russian Defense Ministry’s statements and Putin’s press conference that caused the shift in tone? We can list four possible catalysts:

First, the swift and detailed explanation provided by Israel satisfied the Russians. In short, the Russian plane was nowhere in the vicinity when the weapons facility in Latakia was attacked, and Israeli jets had already returned to Israeli airspace when Syrian anti-aircraft batteries excessively and indiscriminately opened fire. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer to dispatch the air force chief to Moscow also helped ease tensions.

Second, the main purpose of the Russian Defense Ministry’s sharp criticism of Israel was to divert attention from the fact that the Syrian anti-aircraft operators, who were trained by the Russians, utterly failed to properly identify the Russian reconnaissance plane.

Third, despite the embarrassing incident, Israel and Russia still have a shared interest in removing the Iranians from Syria – which is also why Russia has tolerated over 200 Israeli attacks on Syrian soil the past two years.

Fourth, it stands to reason that the Russians will learn through their own investigation that their sophisticated detection and warning system in Syria failed to alert their plane in due time.

Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, appeared to sense a weakening in the relations between Israel and Russian and bragged that they have precision rockets to attack Israel:

Lebanon’s Hezbollah group has obtained precision rockets despite hundreds of Israeli strikes in recent years aimed at cutting off the supply route through Syria, the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah declared Thursday.

“No matter what you do to cut the route,” Nasrallah said, addressing Israel in a televised speech, “the matter is over and the resistance possesses precision and nonprecision rockets and weapons capabilities.”

In response Netanyahu threatened a crushing response against Hezbollah :

“I heard the boastful words that came from Hezbollah,” said Netanyahu during a Bible study session at the Prime Minister’s Residence. “This is coming from the same man who, after 2006, said that if he knew what the Israeli response would have been to the kidnapping of three of our soldiers, he would have thought twice whether to do it.”

The Israeli leader was referring to the events that led to the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah.

“So today I recommend he think not twice, but twenty times. Because if he confronts us, he will receive a crushing blow he can’t even imagine,” added Netanyahu.

Nevertheless Israel is taking no chances and has stepped up its defence of its nuclear facilities.

None of this news is great, volatility in the region is always extremely dangerous, and Israel is tiptoeing between avoiding conflict with Russia on the one hand and looking after its own security on the other.  I hope our political and military leaders keep a cool head as they make these fateful decisions.

Posted in Defence and Military, Iran, Mideast news | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Yom Kippur 5779 – Gmar Hatima Tova!

Gmar Hatima Tova – may we be inscribed in the Book of Life

Yesterday’s dreadful news about the murder of Ari Fuld has knocked us sideways and breathless. But we cannot stop the clock nor turn it back, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is upon us once again. It begins in a few hours time here in Israel, when we will be entering a 25-hour fast with day-long prayer services, composed of beautiful, spiritual and emotional prayers and songs, being held in shuls and community centers throughout the Jewish world. It is a day when we must ask forgiveness from our fellow man if we have wronged them, forgive those who have wronged us if they ask to be forgiven, and pray that Hashem will seal us in the Book of Life.

In Israel, traffic comes to a complete halt throughout the country, even in the most secular towns, and a serene and holy calmness pervades throughout the land. Even the international airport and public transport close down for the day, starting from a few hours before the fast until an hour or so after the fast ends.

You can read more about Yom Kippur at Aish.com who have a great Yom Kippur info-graphic.

With great timing for Yom Kippur, Lenny Ben-David of the Israel Daily Picture website published a couple of very old pictures of the prayers at the Kotel on Yom Kippur c. 1905.

Lenny wondered why none of the men seem to be wearing their tallit (prayer shawl) as is customary on Yom Kippur. Another tweeter responded:

No kind of furniture was allowed, not even folding chairs for elderly women. This rule continued to be enforced by the British Mandatory police.

Isn’t it horrifying that the anti-Jewish practices followed by the Ottomans, enforced by the British, are still in place today on the Temple Mount? This time they are followed by the Muslim Waqf and enforced by no other than the Israeli Police.

We certainly have a lot to atone for in that we have not managed to get rid of these bigoted anti-Jewish laws in over 100 years when we ostensibly have sovereignty over the Temple Mount.

I’d like to bring you something more uplifting to soothe our spirit as we move into this most solemn of days. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks brings us ten ideas to help us focus our prayers:

As we approach #YomKippur, the holy of holies of Jewish time, here are ten ideas which might help you focus your prayers and ensure you have a meaningful and life-changing experience.

1. Life is short. However much life expectancy has risen, we will not, in one lifetime, be able to achieve everything we might wish to achieve. This life is all we have. How shall we use it well?

2. Life itself, every breath we take, is the gift of God. Life is not something we may take for granted. If we do, we will fail to celebrate it. Yes, we believe in life after death, but it is in life before death that we truly find human greatness.

3. We are free. Judaism is the religion of the free human being freely responding to the God of freedom. We are not in the grip of sin. The very fact that we can do teshuva, that we can act differently tomorrow than we did yesterday, tells us we are free.

4. Life is meaningful. We are not mere accidents of matter, generated by a universe that came into being for no reason and will one day, for no reason, cease to be. We are here because a loving God brought the universe, and life, and us, into existence.

5. Life is not easy. Judaism does not see the world through rose-tinted lenses. The world we live in is not the world as it ought to be. That is why, despite every temptation, Judaism has never been able to say the messianic age has come, even though we await it daily.

6. Life may be hard, but it can still be sweet. Jews have never needed wealth to be rich, or power to be strong. To be a Jew is to live for the simple things: love, family, community. Life is sweet when touched by the Divine.

7. Our life is the single greatest work of art we will ever make. On the Yamim Noraim we step back from our life like an artist stepping back from his canvas, seeing what needs changing for the painting to be complete.

8. We are what we are because of those who came before us. We are each a letter in God’s book of life. We do not start with nothing. We have inherited wealth, not material but spiritual. We are heirs to our ancestors’ greatness.

9. We are heirs to another kind of greatness: Torah and the Jewish way of life. Judaism asks great things of us and by doing so makes us great. We walk as tall as the ideals for which we live, and though we may fall short time and again, the Yamim Noraim allow us to begin anew.

10. The sound of heartfelt prayer, together with the piercing sound of the shofar, tell us that that is all life is – a mere breath – yet breath is nothing less than the spirit of God within us. We are dust of the earth but within us is the breath of God.

In the spirit of the day, I would like to ask forgiveness from anyone whom I might have offended or hurt.

To those who are fasting I wish an easy and meaningful fast.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish my family, friends and readers Gmar Hatima Tova – May we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.

גמר חתימה טובה

Posted in Israel news, Judaism | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Pro-Israel activist and hero Ari Fuld Hy’d murdered by Palestinian terrorist

Ari Fuld Hy’d, murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Gush Etzion

The most dreadful news reached us earlier today when we learned that Ari Fuld, the gregarious, prolific and always energetic blogger and pro-Israel advocate Ari Fuld was murdered by a low-down terrorist at Gush Etzion junction today.

Although I never had the privilege of meeting Ari, I followed him closely on social media and hoped to meet up with him one day and maybe join in one of his famous tours fo the Shomron. Sadly this will now never come to pass.

The media, mainstream and social, are full of eulogies and reports abotu Ari’s life. For the sake of brevity and clarity I will post just a couple here.

The Times of Israel: Ari Fuld mourned as a larger than life hero, champion for Israel:

Ari Fuld, the American Israeli man who was stabbed to death in a terror attack on Sunday, was mourned in an outpouring of social media tributes throughout the day, with friends and ideological opponents alike eulogizing the Israel advocate and former karate instructor as an unflinching champion of the Jewish state and fearless fighter to the end.

Fuld, a 45-year-old American-Israeli father of four from the Efrat settlement, was stabbed in the back by a Palestinian terrorist shortly before noon on Sunday outside a shopping mall at the nearby Gush Etzion Junction. Despite his wounds, Fuld pursued and shot his attacker before collapsing to the ground.

Fuld worked at Standing Together, a non-governmental organization that provides support to Israeli soldiers. He also described himself on his website as an “advocate for Israel, [who] speaks to communities throughout the globe.”

Fuld was well known for his social media posts defending Israel and its military. He was scheduled to leave in the coming weeks on a speaking tour in the United States. In addition, he reportedly was about to launch a new Israel advocacy website in English.

Former IDF spokesman Peter Lerner called Fuld a “true patriot, friend and Israel advocate.”

Fuld’s killing pierced the community of pro-Israel advocates and other online activists, who recalled him as dogged in his support for the Jewish state.

Journalist and political consultant Annika H Rothstein described Fuld as “a lion, soldier of Israel and a man who was always the first to support his fellow Jews around the world, be it practically or spiritually.”

Laura Ben-David wrote that she “disagreed often and publicly” with Fuld. But, she added, “I know it was only his incredibly deep caring for Israel and the Jewish people that made him so determined.”

Activist Shoshanna Keats-Jaskoll said she was “utterly devastated” by the news.

“I argued with Ari, but, I also laughed with him,” she wrote on Facebook. “I shared his passion for Israel, for helping agunot [women who are denied a religious divorce by their husbands], and for family. We had numerous chats on these topics and while he could be tough online, he was a real mensch one on one.”

Noor Dahri, a Muslim counter-terrorism activist, also expressed shock at the news.

“Oh my Allah, I can’t believe the news, my Facebook friend, whom I chatted last month Ari Fuld, an Israeli hero, is no more with us,” he wrote.

Fuld was also a prominent member of the National Union party, and served on its Central Committee. National Union is part of the Jewish Home faction in the Knesset. Ari’s brother Eitan is the spokesman for Jewish Home MK Betzalel Smotrich.

Watch this shocking (and slightly graphic) video to see Ari Fuld Hy’d stagger, then regain his balance after being shot, and then aim and shoot the terrorist. What a hero! And what a shame his aim was off and the terrorist is still alive:

Israeli-Australian blogger Israellycool was a close friend of Ari Fuld and his brother Hillel, and he has written a very moving post:

It is with a heavy heart that I post this: my good friend Ari Fuld was today murdered by a palestinian terrorist.

He was stabbed by the terrorist, yet managed to chase and shoot him, before collapsing to the ground.

Typical Ari, a true hero of the Jewish people. Not coincidentally, his name Ari means “Lion.”

Ari and I connected through our shared love of Israel and our fellow Jews. He was a passionate advocate who loved debating those who seek to undermine us, and would always be beholden to the truth – political correctness be darned! And while my approach is slightly different (I prefer to be a bit gentler with my messaging), I always respected Ari and his devotion to the facts.

What gets swallowed up in all the news reports is the altruism, idealism and patriotism of Ari Fuld. Israellycool writes:

Until recently, Ari was a director of Standing Together, a non-profit catering to the different needs of soldiers, sending drinks, food, clothes, undergarments, and more to our soldiers in the field. When that ended, he started this Cool-a-Chayal campaign.

Ari was very excited about his plans to take his advocacy to the next level – which he shared with me – and expressed his desire to collaborate with me more in future. He would always offer to take me out for a beer – whenever I felt like it – knowing the difficult times I have been going through with my wife’s illness.

Unfortunately, I will never get to have that beer with Ari Fuld, the lion and hero.

Aussie Dave then added a video by Avi Abelow, another advocate for Israel and Ari Fuld’s partner in his Facebook page. Watch this wrenching video below (and get out your tissues):

 

Not only the blogging community is mourning Ari Fuld Hy’d. The Prime Minister and US Ambassador have also expressed their sorrow and shock at his murder:

Prime Minister Netanyahu lauded Fuld, a pro-Israel activist and member of the Efrat rapid response team, calling him an “advocate for Israel”.

“In the name of every citizen of Israel, I send my condolences to the family of Ari Fuld, who was murdered today in a terrorist attack in Gush Etzion,” Netanyahu wrote in a Facebook post Sunday.

“With his last strength, Ari fought heroically against the terrorist and prevented a greater tragedy. Ari was a wonderful father to four children. He was an advocate for Israel who fought to spread the truth about Israel. May his memory be a blessing.”

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman issued a condemnation of the attack Sunday, and called Fuld an “American patriot”.

“America grieves as one of its citizens was brutally murdered by a Palestinian terrorist,” Friedman tweeted Sunday.

“Ari Fuld was a passionate defender of Israel & an American patriot. He represented the best of both countries & will be deeply missed. May his family be comforted & his memory be blessed.”

Fuld will be laid to rest Sunday night at 11:30 p.m. in the Kfar Etzion cemetery. He is survived by his wife, Miriam, and their four children.

Ryan Bellerose, the wonderfully outspoken Canadian Metis advocate for Israel, posted a notice for a Go Fund Me fundraiser for Ari Fuld’s family (his widow and four children). Please consider giving some of your Yom Kippur charity to this very important fundraiser.

May the heroic memory of Ari Fuld Hy’d be for a blessing. May Hashem avenge his death. May his family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and may they know no more sorrow.

This Yom Kippur there will be another melitz yosher (pleader in our defence) in Heaven, but we would so much have preferred to keep Ari Fuld down here with us for longer.

ברוך דיין אמת. יהי זכרו ברוך.

Posted in Defence and Military, Incitement, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments