Thursday, July 31, 2008

Why Should We Bother?

Each day presents us with opportunities to touch a persons life. It can be as simple as smiling at someone who be suffering from depression or smiling at a homeless. It can be more complex by engaging in a conversation with a homeless person and finding out why he is living on the streets. Or it can simply choosing to find ways to bring peace to your home and community. One way to bring peace is to listen, really listen to family, friends, co=workers, and at times, the strangers we encounter.

A Simple Jew in his post, Why Are They There? is a reflection on these thoughts. He writes:

How often do we stop, look around us, and consider that every single person we see is there because Hashem wants these people to be in our lives? There may be times when we may not care to deal with some of them, yet how can we be so dismissive of them? If there was absolutely no reason for us to come into contact with them during the course of our day, why are they there to begin with?

So there are these people we encounter everyday. Why are they there? Should we even bother with them?

Miriam at Shearim points out in her post, Revenge As A State of Emergency shows why we should bother with those who may be problematic. She writes of her leaving the haredi life. She choose to announce her decision by wearing pants and it set her apart from the community. Her reflections:

On the bus I felt great. I looked at all the Haredim sitting there and was so glad not to be one of them anymore. A feeling of total freedom arouse.
In the Jewish Quarter in the Old City I met a young haredi woman I know. She looked at my me and her following reaction was one of the most surprising in my entire life. She only asked one question:
"Who hurt you ?"
And it was this question letting me almost burst out and faint. However, I pulled myself together and stumbled something I cannot even remember today.
But, who did hurt me ?

Who hurt you?: An awesome response. No judgement, just a person trying to reach out and find out what has caused someone so much pain to renounce a way of life. This is why we should bother. It helps alleviate a person's pain.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Child Abuse: Acceptable in Texas

Imagine: You're 17 years old and for two you are held against your will. People hold you to the ground and beat you. The Texas Supreme Court ruled that this was acceptable. They make the argument that since this abuse was part of an exorcism, there is nothing to be done. Nothing to see here, just move along.

The judges overturned a lower court's decision awarding her damages and ruled that because Mrs Schubert Pearson's claims of injury amounted to a religious dispute over church doctrine it would be "unconstitutional" for the court to get involved.

Religious freedom campaigners say the case strikes at the heart of the US Constitution's First Amendment, which prohibits government interference in the free exercise of religion, and were the US Supreme Court to rule in Mrs Schubert Pearson's favour, it would signal "the end of church independence and religious freedom" in America

Suppose some adherents of Moloch are still around. Should child sacrifice no longer be a crime because it is part of a religious ritual? Will "honor killings" become allowable? Will female genital mutilation now be acceptable? What about those parents who are so twisted inside because of their religion that they beat their kids on a daily basis to put the "fear of G-d" in them? Shall we return to the days of stoning the adulterers? Or, I know, I know, let's go back to the to those glorious days when it was perfectly acceptable to torture and kill those of other faiths because their beliefs were not yours.

Much like trying to advocate for prayer in schools, religious groups are ignoring what is likely to happen in the end. Religious freedom should not trump the basic human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The freedom of religion does not mean and should not mean that activity which would be criminal in areas outside of religious practices are acceptable. The only difference between this young woman's harrowing ordeal and those who have been kidnapped by psychopaths is the religious aspect.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hype and More Hype

We all love to make fun of our local weatherman's forecasts. I've been known to emphatically state that our local meteorologist states, the exact opposite will happen. The Weather Nerd brings up some interesting points in A Rant on Hype.

Living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast involves a certain amount of gambling, not just at the casinos. Every hurricane season, we are faced with life and death choices when hurricanes threaten. Do we stay or do we go? Is this hurricane going to be like Hurricane Georges in 1998? With winds just over 100 mph, it wasn't the most fearsome, yet it took 602 lives, mainly in the Dominican Republic. It was a rain producer. In just 6-8 hours, it produced 3 feet of rain along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and caused extensive flooding along rivers. It had stalled.

Or will it be like Hurricane Elena in 1985? Hurricane Elena was a Category 3 storm. It produced widespread wind-damage. I remember this hurricane vividly. My ex and I were supposed to have been married the weekend it hit. It tore the roof off our dining room.

Or will it be like Hurricane Camille in 1969? Hurricane Camille has a nickname, the tornicane. With her 200 mph winds, she was like a tornado spread over 40 miles and her storm surge was one of the highest recorded at that time. It was only 24 feet.

I say only 24 feet because the storm surge produced by Hurricane Katrina surpassed it. NOAA states Katrina's storm surge along the Mississippi Gulf Coast was 28 feet with the caveat that the it is probably higher. It seems the instruments used by them to measure the storm surge was destroyed by the storm surge. We on the Mississippi Coast know it was much higher. The storm surge in Biloxi's Back Bay was 24 feet and that is over 30 miles from where Katrina made landfall in Mississippi. Mobile had a storm surge of 10 feet.

The thing is, we on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and in other areas which are prone to hurricanes, never know what we are going to get. We become armchair forecasters and listen to the forecasts, look at the satellite images, and know all too will the difference between a Category 1 and Category 5 storm.

In his rant, he makes the following comment:

Wrongfully debunking “hype” that was actually fully warranted is incredibly damaging because it degrades the credibility of hurricane forecasters in the eyes of the public, for no good reason, and encourages things like this: “Nearly one-fourth of people in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina would refuse to evacuate for a storm if told to, a survey released Wednesday by Harvard University found.” If you ask those people, when a storm is bearing down, why they refuse to evacuate, I guarantee you that one commonly cited reason would be that forecasters overhype storms, and it probably won’t be that bad. This is a meme that has real consequences. Deadly consequences.

One of the bad things about polls is that one needs to know which areas were polled. Hurricane Katrina raked Florida before entering the Gulf of Mexico and setting her eyes on New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Believe me, we along the Mississippi Gulf Coast know that all the so-called hype about Hurricane Katrina was not hype. We saw the satellite images of the beastly Category 5 storm and preparations to evacuate. So did the people in New Orleans and its surrounding areas. Also, many people may have said they wouldn't evacuate remembering how difficult it was to get into the area after Hurricane Katrina.

The death toll would have been much higher than the 1,600 in Louisiana and the 238 in Mississippi if the "hype" had not been heeded. Every time a hurricane or tropical storm threatens, the danger is assessed. Every year people may say they will not evacuate, but they do. The interstates and the highways bear testament to that.

When I lived in the New Orleans area, every year there would be someone from Grand Isle saying they would not evacuate for the next threatening tropical storm or hurricane. And every time a tropical storm or hurricane was bearing down on Grand Isle, those people would evacuate.

After Hurricane Katrina, I wrote that I would not evacuate for the next hurricane. I say that every time and even said it for Hurricane Katrina. I didn't evacuate for Hurricane Georges or for Hurricane Elena but I did evacuate for Hurricane Katrina. I left for sister's home, which is a brick home and 25 miles inland. Mine is a wood frame house and with winds expected to be in the Category 4 or 5 range, I felt it would be prudent to be in a brick home. I also wanted to be with my family.

People do take seriously the threat of hurricanes and tropical storms. There are always a handful of people who refuse to evacuate under any circumstance. You'll usually see them featured on the evening news. And people will shake their heads and gain the impression the majority of people in the area have the same mind-set.

You'll ignore the evacuees who have been sitting in traffic backed up for ten or more miles and the image will remain of that person saying, "I'm not leaving".

Like with any news story, it is always the negatives which gain the most prominence.

I do know this, Hurricane Katrina scarred the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Our eyes were glued to the NHC before Hurricane Katrina. Now, they are riveted on the forecasts from NHC. Even the threat of a tropical depression is greeted with great trepidation. We are scared of any threat and will remain so for a very, very long time. There are a lot of new people who have moved to the area. They did not experience Hurricane Katrina but they see the aftermath. And they listen to us when tell them how to prepare and that preparations should start long before June 1, the start of the hurricane season. Some may not listen. Some who survived Hurricane Katrina may even say to themselves, "It can't be as bad as Hurricane Katrina" and will stay. This is the mind-set that must be addressed for many said before Hurricane Katrina hit, "It can't be as bad as Hurricane Camille". The NHC forecasters do a very good job and getting out the information on the potential areas threatened by hurricanes and tropical storms. These storms are so unpredictable.

Missed a Lot

Missed a lot of good reading yesterday: Haveil Havalim-Through the Eyes of Frume Sarah.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Shabbat Shalom!

Shiru Lamelech
(And now the children will sing the King...)

Ve'ata banim shiru shiru
(And now the children sing, sing...)

Ve'ata banim shiru La'Melech
(And now the children will sing the King...)

Ve'ata banim shiru shiru shiru La'Melech
(And now the children will sing, sing To HaShem, The King)

Betiferet mefoar
(with magnificent glory)

Ve'ashrei avadav oy avadav
(And blissful are those servants of him, who praise him aloud)

Hamashmi'im bekol shivcha
(Anyone who proclaims with Voice, a voice of praise)

Ve'ata banim shiru shiru shiru La'Melech
(And now the children will sing, sing To HaShem, The King)

Shiru shiru La'Melech
(Sing, sing to the King...)

View Points


Why the Ark Couldn't Be Built Today

And why people in Mississippi are still in FEMA trailers almost three years after Hurricane Katrina:

In the year 2008 the Lord came unto Noah, who was now living in the United States, and said: "Once again, the earth has become wicked and overpopulated, and I see the end of all flesh before me.

"Build another ark and save two of every living thing, along with a few good humans." He gave Noah blue- prints for the ark, saying, "You have six months before I will start the unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights."

Six months later the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping but no sign of an ark. "Noah," he roared, "I am about to start the rain. Where's the ark?"

"Forgive me, Lord," Noah said, "but things have changed.

"I needed a building permit and I've been arguing with the inspector about the need for a sprinkler system. And my neighbors claim that I have violated the neighborhood zoning code by building the ark in my yard and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go before the Development Appeal Board for a decision. This took four weeks.

"Then the Department of Transportation demanded a bond be posted for future costs of moving power lines and other overhead obstructions to clear a path for the ark's move to the sea. I told them the sea was coming to us, but they just laughed.

"Getting good wood was another problem. There's a ban on cutting local trees to save the spotted owl. I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to save the spotted owls, but they would not hear of it.

"When I started gathering the animals, an animal-rights group sued me. They claimed I was confining wild animals against their will. They argued that it was cruel to put so many animals in a confined space.

"Then the EPA ruled that I could not build the ark until they conducted an environmental impact study on your proposed flood.

"I am still trying to resolve a complaint with the EEOC on how many minorities I'm required to hire for my building crew.

"The Department of Immigration and Naturalization is checking the green-card status on the people who want to work on the ark. The trade unions say I can't use my sons to work on the ark and insist that I hire only union workers with ark-building experience.

"To make matters worse, the IRS seized all of my assets, claiming that I am trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species. So, Lord, it would take me 10 years to build the ark."

Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow stretched across the sky.

Noah looked up in wonder. "You mean you're not going to destroy the world?"

"No," the Lord replied, "the government beat me to it."


Thursday, July 24, 2008


I avoided having to pay $4.00/gallon for gas and the way prices are tumbling, it looks like I won't have to in the near future.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Going Forward

I discussed some of the problems I was having with Rabbi Myrna Matza. It did a world of good. It has led to me being asked by our congregations ritual committee to the contact for the National Jewish Outreach Program. I'm excited for numerous reasons. The first thing we're going to do is Shabbat Across America which will be on March 20, 2009. I've shared a few ideas on leading up to it but some will have to wait until our new shul is built.

And that brings me to some very good news. After the first plans were drawn up and bids came in more than double than what was expected, the building committee came up with different plans. We have new plans. We have a contractor. And it will have almost as much room as the first plans. And it is will within our budget!

Construction is expected to start in September of this year, one month after the 3 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The contractor estimates it will take anywhere from 6 to 9 months to build, so it is possible that we can be in our new shul in time for Passover next year.

Since I live about a five minute walk from the new shul, I'll post pictures of the construction. For now, this one will have to do:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Hurricane Dolly is not a threat to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I still have a bad case of nerves. Flashbacks baby. My thoughts are with those along the Texas and Mexican coast. From the latest at the NHC, it looks as though Dolly will only be a Category 1 storm.

Star Wars: In Under 2 Minutes

This video had me giggling this morning. Enjoy!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Almost Live

Took a break from the intertubes yesterday. I didn't even check out NHC or Weather Underground though there are now two tropical storms!

So I missed posting Esser Agaroth and the great job he did hostingHaveil Havalim-174 yesterday.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Shabbat Shalom! Sh'ma

Going Out of Mitzrayim

When I wrote my post Chazek, Chazek, Reb Nati had not written his third post, Hard Questions, Simple Answers, Part 3. In it, he writes:

Despair is a level that is hard to repair. As long as we do not despair, it is easier to fix the problem. 'Where there is hope the is away, out! That's why Rebbe Nachman tells us there is no such thing as despair in the world at all! "AIN SHUM YeUSH B'OLAM KLAL! At this time it is very important to try and wake up as many people to the idea of geulah as possible. This in turn will cause an awakening. Then we have to instruct them on how to return to Hashem, it is not enough to just tell them, they have to be led!

He is very correct in saying where there is hope, there is a way out. As Soccer Dad pointed out in comments at my post, Reb Nati's second post , Hard questions, simple Answers, Part 2, depression could be another way of saying despair.

In his third post, Reb Nati points out that people have to be led. Which ways can this be easily accomplished? One of the greatest strengths we Jews have is community or emunah. Comforting the mourner, Shabbat tish, visiting the sick, and many others are examples of this. It is this sense of community which I think will led others to greater observance. You have to be part of a community, giving and receiving, in order to lift despair. When of the things I admire most about Chasiddim is the great joy most seem to have.

In or very small congregation, the greatest joy I have is during those times at Kabbalat Shabbat when voices are joined together and a spontaneity ensues and great joy comes forth. The darkness and despair of Mitzrayim has left. Though it is a small congregation, the sense of community is great. We are a family and as such, squabbles may ensue, still the voices are joined together.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tents of Kedar

Psalms Chapter 120

A Song of Ascents.

In my distress I called unto the LORD, and He answered me.

O LORD, deliver my soul from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.

What shall be given unto thee, and what shall be done more unto thee, thou deceitful tongue?

Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of broom.

Woe is me, that I sojourn with Meshech, that I dwell beside the tents of Kedar!

My soul hath full long had her dwelling with him that hateth peace.

I am all peace; but when I speak, they are for war.

PS:Soccer Dad had mentioned this psalm in a comment at Gail's post A Psalm of Aseph

UN "Peacekeepers"

UN "Peacekeepers" in Lebanon salute a truck with a photo of Imad Mughniyeh, mastermind of the Marine barracks bombing that killed hundreds of US citizens. The coffins contain some of the worst terrorists that killed Israeli citizens. One of them being Dalal Mughrabi, another child murderer:

On the morning of March 11, 1978, Dalal Mughrabi and her Palestinian Fedayeen unit of eleven members (including one other woman) landed by Zodiac boats on a beach near Ma’agan Michael north of Tel Aviv, having departed from Lebanon. They killed Gail Ruban (some sources spell Rubin [2]), an American photographer who was taking nature photographs nearby, and then hijacked a bus full of Egged bus drivers and their families on a day outing, on the Coastal Highway.

While driving, Mughrabi and her unit opened fire at the vehicles in the vicinity. An Israeli army unit, headed by Ehud Barak (who, in the 1990s, became Chief of the General Staff and later Israeli Prime Minister) pursued the bus until it was finally stopped near Herzliya. A long shooting battle between the Palestinians and the soldiers ensued. The Palestinians started shooting the passengers that attempted to escape. Eventually, the Fatah members blew up the bus which became a large deathtrap of fire. The attack left thirty five civilians, thirteen of them children, and six Palestinian guerillas killed (38 by some sources) and seventy-one civilians wounded.

Remember this image the next time you hear UN and "peacekeeping". The UN "soldiers" are honoring those committed to carrying out murders of Israelis, including Israel's children.

H/t: Little Green Footballs

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Just to Remind You

Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

Lovers of Peace

Deep down, I knew Sergeant-Major Ehud Goldwasser and Staff-Sergeant Eldad Regev were dead. Part of me hopes their deaths were swift for the enemies of Israel do not hold to the Geneva Conventions when Israelis are taken prisoner. News reports indicate that the Red Cross played a part in the transfer of Regev's and Goldwasser's coffins. Where was the Red Cross when there was some small hope that these two were alive? And where are they for Gilad Shalit who is presumably still alive and in the hands of the "peace loving" and "gentle" Hamas?

Goldwasser and Regev were returned today. They arrived in coffins. They were kidnapped and taken as prisoners by Hezb'allah, The Army of god. Israel was universally condemned and many idiots held up signs proclaiming "We Are All Hezbollah Now". The Lebanese were held as innocent victims. Once again, a society should be judged on whom it deems a hero. The Lebanese hold Samir Kintar as a hero.

If you portray the killing of civilians as heroic, then we will surpass you in heroism. Don't cry to the world about your precious civilians and then prepare a national celebration to honor a monster who deliberately destroyed a family, and whose final act before being captured was to gleefully crush the skull of a small child against a rock.

If our soldiers won't enjoy the protections of the Geneva Conventions… neither will yours. A dead prisoner will be worth a dead prisoner in any exchange. If we run out of dead prisoners to trade, we will make more. As you've ably demonstrated today, live prisoners can be unapologetically turned into dead ones quite easily.

If this is the only way we can force our enemies to keep our POWs alive and to feel some accountability for their welfare… then so be it. Otherwise our long-neglected death penalty will be dusted of and employed without hesitation or sentimentality. And since those who attack us refuse to wear uniforms or insignia, Henceforth they will not be entitled to the niceties of a trial or POW status. Those we capture in the field will be summarily executed.

David, who wrote the above is very angry and I don't blame him. He is angry at the Israeli government. He is angry at all those who support and hold up as heroes those who murder who destroy families. Below is a picture of the Haran family Kuntar destroyed:

Not only is Kuntar hailed as a hero by the Lebanese, the Palestinian Authority views him as well. It shouldn't be surprising. Suicide bombers, those cowards who blow up buses, discos, and pizza parlors are held in high esteem and children are actively encouraged to grow up to be suicide bombers. Israellycool posted the following at his site:

Palestinian Authority media, controlled by “moderate” PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, has hailed the release of Samir Kuntar, saying the man who crushed the skull of four-year-old Einat Haran in 1979 “epitomizes the ideal Palestinian prisoner.”

Could it be the "ideal Palestinian prisoner" is one who sees nothing wrong with crushing the skull of a 4 year old?

The families of Goldwasser and Regev were hoping against hope their loved ones would return alive.

Cries of horror sounded at the Regev and Goldwasser homes Wednesday, as family members witnessed the TV broadcast of the prisoner exchange, in which the coffins of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were shown being turned over to the Red Cross.


Eldad Regev’s aunt, Hanna, collapsed upon seeing the images of her nephew’s coffin and was attended to by Magen David Adom paramedics, which were standing by.

Murderers of children are held up as "ideal prisoners" and "heroes". And yet it is the Israelis who face not only enemies at its borders but also condemnation from church groups, academics, and the UN. Church groups such as PC(USA) and Methodists are still debating to divest from Israel based on "moral" grounds. Academics in Britain still hold yearly debates on boycotting Israel. The UN Human Rights Commission(the very name is an oxymoron)condemns Israel on an almost daily basis while ignoring Zimbabwe and the human rights abuses occurring in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other places around the world.

Who are the lovers of peace? Is it those who idolize murderers such as Kuntar? Or is it a beleaguered country which provides medical care, food, water, and electricity to those who have sworn not to stop murdering until "Palestine is free from the river to sea"?


From Soccer Dad:

Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, whom Israel has agreed to free as part of a possible prisoner swap deal with Hizbullah, has vowed to continue engaging in terror after his release.

He has a round-up of others blogging about this travesty.

Jack has And Murderers Are Set Free

Elder of Ziyon has All of Lebanon Celebrates Multiple Murderer

Gateway Pundit has Hezbollah Pigs Exchange 2 Dead Soldiers

Uodate 2: Snoopy at Simply JewsEhud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev-RIP

There are a lot of things that could be said against and about the travesty of the current government, about the way the negotiations with Hezbollah were carried out, about the dirty politics and dirty politicians. One thing, however, should not be forgotten - it is not about politics, not about national pride and even not about the grieving families. It is about the soldiers.

As for Samir Kuntar, who will become a most celebrated hero in Lebanon after crushing a Jewish baby’s skull against a rock: even in the pain we all feel because of the necessity to release him, there is a silver lining. Look at the people who celebrate release of one of the most inhuman murderers and learn. Look at the sweets being handed around to the crowds in Gaza, at Lebanese president and prime minister receiving the monster, at Shiites and others lining the roads on the way to the vermin’s family house, at Palestinian president Abu Mazen congratulating the “hero’s” family. Look, learn and remember.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chazek, Chazek!

When I first read the words below, I experienced some anger:

My friends, the basic rule is to be firm and strong. Use all your strength to remain persistent. Pay no attention at all to discouraging thoughts. Take it one day at a time, and just make it through _this_ day. You can make through one day, right? I mean, there is food today and maybe enough money for today, you can have peace in your house for a day or handle that difficult job just for a day.

If you were to see the impact of the small effort you make here in this world, the light years in distance of that impact in the worlds above, it would make you very happy. And perhaps, by thinking about this, you can be happy. You should make a great effort to always be happy, because depression does tremendous damage. It is a very grave sin to be depressed. Depression comes from the other side and Hashem hates it. IT IS A SIGN OF TOTAL DISBELIEF IN HASHEM!

Reb Nati's words about depression are the ones I was angry at. For years, I've suffered from clinical depression and had to take medication. It got me through the day to day things but I didn't like taking the medicine. There were two things that kept me from taking my life during those long and dark years: My son would be an orphan and HaShem gave me this precious life!

Those two things kept me alive. Remarkably, since I began listening to my neshama and understanding the path HaShem wants me to follow, I haven't had to use any medication in over 2 1/2 years. The depression seems to have lifted. I disagree with Reb Nati that depression is a sign of total disbelief in HaShem. Through those darkest days when the thoughts running through my head were ones of how to most efficiently end my life, HaShem guided me to His many wonders. My son's face, hugs, a stranger's smile, the ocean, a bird flying through the air: All told me life was worth living and so He gave me chazek.

Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Reb Nati is very correct in one thing, by striving to be happy, the brain's balance can be restored. It is the simple things which bring joy. It is a continuing wonder at HaShem's creation which lifted and sheltered me. Depression can make one feel a sense of isolation which seems impenetrable. It is a vast, grey wall and it can be broken down with each face of a loved one, each shared joke, each hug, and each new sight of wonder. It can be broken down by listening, really listening to what HaShem is telling you.

Maybe for some depression is a sign of disbelief in HaShem. For me, it was a sign I was approaching Him in the wrong way.

Monday, July 14, 2008

For the Children

While the news media seems to delight in showing children holding pictures of the vicious murderer Samir Kuntar, the news media does not publish the pictures of the two children Kuntar murdered. One was murdered by slamming her head against a rock. This sort of barbarity is worshipped by supporters of terrorists. Recently, people were horrified in this country by a "man" who beat a two year old to death.

You see no one holding pictures, much less children, of this "man" and calling him a "hero". So why are there so many pictures of children holding pictures of the "hero" Kuntar? It is suggested that the actions of Palestinian terrorists and other Islamic terrorists cannot be judged by the standards we supposedly hold so dear in Western societies. Why not? Whether the terrorist murders by smashing planes into buildings full of civilians, slamming a little girl against a rock, tearing apart two Israeli polcie officers, or bulldozing people in buses or cars: These are all acts of barbarity and should not be encouraged. Yet many try to excuse these horrific acts of murder by saying it is a response to the actions of Western governments like the United States and Israel.

Acts of barbarity have become a seemingly acceptable form of political protest. They are not political protests nor should they be accepted as a proper response to anything. They are barbaric acts of murder.

A family was destroyed by Samir Kuntar. His 'heroic" deed was smashing the head of a little Israeli girl against rocks. If this had happened in this country, England, or most countries, there would be gasps and outcries of horror. But it was only a little Israeli girl who in the last moments of her life, saw her father shot before her eyes. Her little sister died in her mother's arms. She died because her face was pressed against her mother's bosom in an effort to keep her cries from drawing the attention of those in Kuntar's company whose only goal was to murder as many Israelis as possible.

Below are pictures of Elnat and Yael Haran, two little girls who were murdered by the "hero" Kuntar:

Much effort is made to try to "humanize" and justify murderers and terrorists like Kuntar. What of the humanity of their victims?

H/t: The Only Pictures of Children We Should Be Seeing

Friday, July 11, 2008

Shabbat Shalom! Tzur Yisrael

Leaning Toward Orthodoxy

Hirhurim Musings has a very interesting series on Why People Become Orthodox. He asked several Conservative and Reform rabbis to give their their opinion. Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove explains it thus:

Why do the finest products of the Conservative Movement trend towards Modern Orthodoxy?

In a word: Community.

As Conservative Jews, our deserved pride in Schechter Schools, Ramah Camps and USY programs should not blind us from recognizing our inability to translate those energetic experiences into urban and suburban Jewish life and learning. It is not at all surprising that observant Jews seeking a Shabbat community opt out of their denominational label when it comes to establishing their own homes. As is the right of any consumer, they are simply choosing to express their observance in a context more suitable to their tastes, and are taking their business elsewhere.

His views reflect a lack of spirituality. By suggesting the desire to live a life of mitzvot is akin to buying to a television set makes it seem like it is a business transaction which anyone has the choice of leaving. To me, living the mitzvot is not a choice. It is increasingly becoming a part of my being. You can leave behind a television set but you cannot leave behind who you are. I'm still learning and am still trying to incorporate what I learn. But it is bothersome at times to be part of a Conservative community which thinks it strange that one keeps Shabbat, kashrut, and other mitzvot.

I've been contemplating leaving my hometown in order to join a community in which those who are observant do not stick out like a sore thumb. But I love this small community to which I belong. Do I continue to suggest ideas like Shabbat Tish in which we have community Shabbat meals and learn zemirot and hope for more response? During Torah study, do I continue to relate my experiences with the beauty of observing Shabbat and kashrut?

Basically, it comes down to this: Do I stay or do I go? And if I do decide to go, where? I've been looking at New Orleans, Houston, Mobile, and Atlanta.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sums It Up

Seen at IMAO

Got Nothing for You

Got nothing for you, I had nothing before
Don't even have anything for myself anymore
Sky full of fire, pain pourin' down
Nothing you can sell me, I'll see you around

All my powers of expression and thoughts so sublime
Could never do you justice in reason or rhyme
Only one thing I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long

Much like the state tree of Mississippi, the magnolia, things are slow going. There are pockets of poverty in Mississippi which run deep and there hasn't a sense of caring about it. You get the feeling that like in many areas of the country, that rank poverty should be hidden and don't even think about building affordable housing close to our neighborhoods. I'm sad to say my city of Gulfport seems to have taken that stance. Time after time, developers who wish to build rentals and housing developments and earmark a portion for those whose incomes are below $50,000 a year are struck down. It is NIMBY in all its glory. Can't have the working poor close to our gated communities!!!

Before Hurricane Katrina, there used to be options for the working poor. There were rentals people could find for around $400 a month, which is still steep on a limited budget. Now, they are lucky if they find something for $800 a month. There seems to be a trend, not just in Mississippi but across the country, to hide those working poor far from the gaze of those in the middle and high income brackets. Businesses want the cheap labor those working poor provide but G-d forbid they live close by!!

While most cities along the Gulf Coast, such as D'Iberville and Biloxi, are working to ensure affordable housing, Gulfport sticks out like a sore thumb. The New York Times highlights some of the problems:

Some members of Congress are rightly agitated about Mississippi’s shameful attempt to hijack Hurricane Katrina aid — which should have been spent on affordable housing for the poor — for a $600 million expansion of the Port at Gulfport. The Port expansion short changes the neediest Mississippians and has nothing to do with storm damage. It’s actually a pet development project, conceived well before the storm, that should have been paid for through bonds and other means.

Twelve members of the House have fired off a blistering letter (pdf) urging the House Appropriations committee to block the Gulfport project. Among other things, the letter says:

“. . . .the State has made decisions in designing its housing programs that leave renters and low-income families out in the cold.’’

The letter notes that the state has only devoted 55 percent of its emergency federal funding to direct housing recovery programs. The state has also received waivers that allowed it to bypass low and moderate income people on some projects.

The letter portrays Mississippi’s post-hurricane recovery plan as a blatant attempt to short change the low-income families who were supposed to be a main focus of the aid effort. “The State explicitly excluded wind damage from its homeowner assistance program, effectively closing the door for much needed recovery funds on hundreds of thousands of low income households. Fourth, the state has focused almost exclusively on owner-occupied housing, only dedicating 33 percent of funds to rental housing programs.’’

If the Port of Gulfport does go ahead with its plans and jobs are created, where are the workers to live? Housing is an issue that won't go away. As more and more of the FEMA trailer parks are emptied, more homeless are appearing. I see the increase in numbers as I go along the Coast taking photos. And least you think they aren't working: Think again. Many have bikes they use to travel from their jobs to their camp sites. Some are drug and alcohol addicted but the majority have jobs.

The words affordable housing scare many. There is the fear of lowered property values and a raise in crime. I live in a working class neighborhood. I was fortunate to buy my home before prices rose out of reach. In the 11 years I've lived here, there has only been one incident of someone being robbed. It is a quiet neighborhood and we take pride in our small, modest homes. My neighbors, barring 1 or 2 exceptions over the years, tend to be caring and willing to help each other. This came out in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This affordable housing neighborhood watched out for one another and helped one another. Even before Hurricane Katrina, we did the same. We just pulled together more closely in the aftermath.

Perhaps if phrases like low-income housing were changed to working class, there would be less fear and housing could be built with less uproar. Many of the working class include casino workers, teachers, policemen, firemen and others not usually associated with the catch-phrase low-income. The Mississippi Gulf Coast needs more affordable housing and I don't mean those homes that start at $130,000 or rentals which start at $800/month. Many of those who are still homeless had lived in homes which were passed down generation to generation. They are shrimpers, mechanics, store owners, and many others. Though wages went up for many after Hurricane Katrina because of labor shortages, housing prices went up even more. Our leadership needs to address just more than creating jobs or creating an artificial landscape of developments which do not address the overwhelming needs of affordable homes for the working class.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Resigned rather than lower flag for Jesse Helms:

"Regardless of any executive proclamation, I do not want the flags at the North Carolina Standards Laboratory flown at half staff to honor Jesse Helms any time this week," Eason wrote just after midnight, according to e-mail messages released in response to a public records request.

He told his staff that he did not think it was appropriate to honor Helms because of his "doctrine of negativity, hate, and prejudice" and his opposition to civil rights bills and the federal Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Eason said in an interview Tuesday that he did not typically lower the flag himself, but that, as head of the lab, he supervised the technician who did. He also trained new employees on proper flag etiquette, including a one-person folding technique he learned in Boy Scouts.

I applaud his stand.

Na Nach

An Unknown Enters the Fray

Finally, a candidate we can get behind!.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sharing Joy

Where's Matt? A lovable goofball goes around the world dancing a goofy jig and sharing joy. The New York Times compares Matt harding to US Foreign Policy:

It could be a little commercial for one-world feel-goodism. It could be an allegory of American foreign policy: a bumptious foreigner turning up all over the world and answering just to his own inner music. Or it could be about nothing at all — just a guy dancing.

I think the appeal these videos have is that Matt might be dancing to his own inner music but it is an inner music will all can relate too.


Kol Isha

Kol isha, the voice of a woman seems to frighten some. I cannot help but wonder how Miriam, the sister of Moses, would be treated today. Would she be forced to sit in the back of the bus as women are forced to do on some of the buses in Israel? Would she be beaten like some women have been for refusing to do so? Would she have been allowed to sing her song as she did after the crossing at the Sea of Reeds? The past parsha, Hukkat speaks of Israel being without water.

The Israelites arrived in a body at the wilderness of Zin on the first new moon, and the people stayed at Kadesh. Miriam died there and was buried there.

The community was without water, and they joined against Moses and Aaron.

From studying and learning, the order of verses is very important. Though still in the desert, the Israelites seemed to have had water until Miriam died. Water is so necessary for life. We need the water that quenches thirst and the waters of Hashamayim. Which water did the Israelites no longer have access to after Miriam's death?

The parsha states further that HaShem told Moses to speak to the rock in order to bring forth water. Moses, in his anger, struck the rock instead. By doing so, he would not enter the Promised Land. After 40 long years, he finally grew so angry at the murmurings of the Israelites, he didn't follow what HaShem had told him today. Perhaps the kol isha of Miriam is the one he heard all those other times when he asked HaShem to withhold His wrath.

The kol isha of Miriam is not the only one in our Torah. There are the women's voices of Sarah, Rebbecca, Leah, Rachel, Ruth, Deborah, and Hannah. Just as with Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, and Moses, each woman's voice has something to teach us. Hannah's prayers caught the eyes of the priests at the Temple. Her sincerity and spontaneity are to be an example to us. Her kol isha was heard!

A beautiful tradition is held at the beginning of Shabbat. This is sung in honor of women:

A Woman of Valor, who can find? She is more precious than corals.
Her husband places his trust in her and profits only thereby.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
She seeks out wool and flax and cheerfully does the work of her hands.

She is like the trading ships, bringing food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night to provide food for her household, and a fair share for her staff.
She considers a field and purchases it, and plants a vineyard with the fruit of her labors.
She invests herself with strength and makes her arms powerful.

She senses that her trade is profitable; her light does not go out at night.
She stretches out her hands to the distaff and her palms hold the spindle.
She opens her hands to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She has no fear of the snow for her household, for all her household is dressed in fine clothing.

She makes her own bedspreads; her clothing is of fine linen and luxurious cloth.
Her husband is known at the gates, where he sits with the elders of the land.
She makes and sells linens; she supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is robed in strength and dignity, and she smiles at the future.

She opens her mouth with wisdom and a lesson of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks after the conduct of her household and never tastes the bread of laziness.
Her children rise up and make her happy; her husband praises her:
"Many women have excelled, but you excell them all!"

Grace is elusive and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears God -- she shall be praised.
Give her credit for the fruit of her labors, and let her achievements praise her at the gates.

She opens her mouth with wisdom and a lesson of kindness is on her tongue. How can this be reconciled with basically telling a woman to sit in the back of the bus and keep her mouth shut?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Goodbye Noah

Back in March, I wrote The Story of Noah. He died yesterday. He was a good person. It will seem very strange not to see his old blue pickup on the roads of D'iberville.

Free At Last!

Ahmed Batebi is the Iranian student who gained international fame for his appearance on the cover of The Economist magazine holding up a bloodied shirt claiming to belong to a fellow student beaten by the Basij paramilitaries. The photo, which has been called "an icon for Iran's student reform movement," was taken during the Iranian Student Protests in July 1999 in Tehran. Human Rights activist Shirin Ebadi, reports that the shirt belonged to Ezzat Ebrahim-Nejad, a student who was shot and killed reportedly by a plainclothes police or vigilante.

Wouldn't it be great if all those ignorant tools who have Che Guevera's picture on t-shirts picked a true hero for freedom and one who protested against tyranny?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Spoiled Brats!

The show is called Bridezellas. A better name would be out of control spoiled brats. During the commercials, it is stated the average wedding now costs $28,000.00!! It seems that what a wedding is supposed to be about is lost. It is not just about the bride. It is about a couple making a commitment to one another. It shouldn't be some warped Snow White or Cinderella fantasy.

It's Old But So New!

Daled Amos is hosting Haveil Havalim 172: The Old Fogey Edition.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Shabbat Shalom!

An American Story

My family's story is typical of many. On my Mom's side of the family, our roots can traced to the shores of England. On this side of the family, there are ancestors who fought in most of the wars the United States engaged in. There are those with my family name who fought in the Revolutionary War but I haven't yet been able to connect without doubt they are part of my family tree.

These ancestors fought in the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Battle of Little Bighorn, and World War II. They were hard-working and had land in Virginia and the one who fought in the War of 1812 was given more land. He lost an arm. Two lost their lives in the Civil War: one from disease and the other from wounds suffered. They fought on the southern side of the conflict but their descendants went on to defend the United States in future wars. My Mom's uncle lost an arm in World War II.

My father's side were one of the millions who believed in the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

My grandfather was ten when his Dad grew tired of the endless pogroms in the Pale of the Settlement. These roots can be traced to the early 1700's in Tulchin. My grandfather lied about his age in order to join the fledgling US Air Corps in 1916. He grew disenchanted when his duties consisted of sewing the canvas that the wings were made of. His father had a grocery store in Chicago. My grandfather built up a construction company. He married my grandmother. She served as a secretary to Adlai Stevens father. My grandfather and his brothers and sisters all worked hard in this country and quickly established means of living in this land of opportunity.

My family's story is just one of millions. It is these stories which shed light on what makes the United States unique. It is the freedoms which we defend so fiercely that make us unique. We have no established religion such as the Church of England. We have the right to mock, belittle, and criticize our government leaders without fear of prosecution. We hold peaceful transfers of power in elections that are representative of the people. We have the right to bear arms and to defend ourselves. We even have the built in right of dissolving our Constitution and forming a new form of government. We are not prefect but the world has yet to see a more prefect form of government. We must guard our cherished rights and allow those who disagree with the direction our country is taking to be able to voice their opinion. We must not limit our right to freedom of speech in a misguided effort not to offend. We have been given the freedom "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".

There are some injustices currently that need to be addressed. In a misguided effort to stop the flow of drugs, police were given unreasonable means of seizure. Without a trial, a person can now have his money, his home, his car, and other property seized under the suspicion of drug possession and trafficking.

In a misguided effort to protect our children, people are now being prosecuted for unknowingly downloading child pornography. Others are the victims of gross injustice because of the no-knock ruling. Now, we have reports of computers and other electronic devices being seized by TSA.

The men who read aloud the Declaration of Independence 232 years ago did not fear the repercussions of their audacity. We should not let fear today erode our freedoms.

Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

US Archives

President Coolidge-1926

President Lincoln-1858

Thursday, July 3, 2008


There is a difference between the thief that steals out of hungry and one that steals to make a profit. There is a difference between the burglar who breaks into a empty home seeking shelter from the elements and one that breaks in to steal for profit. There is a difference between one who kills another in self-defense and one who murders.

In times of war, there is a difference between one who targets civilians and murders them and the soldier who inadvertently kills civilians.

There is a difference in a society that raises its children to become "martyrs" and to murder as many civilians as it can and to the society that builds walls in order to protect its citizens from those "martyrs".

It is a moral difference. The actions seem to be the same: property is stolen, a house is broken into, and a person is dead. Each day, each of us is confronted with moral choices. Some are not earth-shattering such as deciding whether or not to give up one's sit on the bus for someone who is disabled, pregnant, or elderly.

Some are earth-shattering. In the US, there are many Protestant groups debating the moral decision to divest from Israel. Their motives seem well-intentioned for they tend to believe Palestinians are suffering and that Israel is to blame. They do so while ignoring the collective punishment wrought against the Israelis by those Palestinian terrorists who bombard Israeli towns such as Sderot and Ashkelon. They argue Israel is collectively punishing Palestinians with check-points, the security wall, and border closings while ignoring the tons of food and medicines allowed into Gaza and that the passiveness of the check-points and the security wall has dramatically cut down on the number of Palestinian "martyrs" who are successful in their acts of evil.

While these debates rage, also ignored is the moral response of Israel to the Palestinians. Israeli doctors, on a day basis, provide life-saving treatments to Palestinians. Even though Sderot can face up to dozens of Qassams fired on a daily basis, Israel makes the moral decision to keep electricity flowing to Gaza. Some of those debating even buy into the idea that Israel is committing "genocide" against the Palestinians while ignoring the continued growth of Palestinian numbers.

By these debates, the Protestant churches are actually increasing the violence. It encourages those who seek to murder Israelis to continue to do so. These debates do not even begin to address the corruption in the Palestinian Authority. Nor do these debates spot-light the Palestinian society which sees that the greatest aspiration a Palestinian child can have is to become a Shahid, a suicide bomber. I ask this question: Are these churches really concerned about Palestinians?

To me, it would seem not. These debates on divestment from Israel ignore a great many facts and do not address the issues. Their focus seems to be collectively punishing Israel and encourages more violence. These debates give credence to the idea of a Palestinian Shahid. These debates, instead of encouraging the building up of a Palestinian society, tend to keep the focus on violence.

4th of July Prelude


A Mother's Thoughts

A mother walks out of the house with her baby girl. She carefully places her in the child safety seat and puts a toy and a pacifier next to her. She keeps an eye on her throughout the trip.

The mother turns on the radio, or perhaps she plays a CD with children’s songs. Perhaps she sings to her child, or just talks to her, or whispers her baby’s name.

There is so much joy in this small scene. So much innocence. A simple, daily routine of a mother and daughter. How many times have all of us done this simple act - walking out of the house with our baby?

After the murderer hit her car with the front-end loader, he then reversed. The mother's last thoughts were still for her child:

Seconds before being crushed to death by a bulldozer, 33-year-old Batsheva Onterman succeeded in unbuckling her 5-month-old baby from the car-seat and passing her out through the window to safety.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Since the security wall has been very effective in stopping the number of suicide bombers, Palestinian terrorists still look for ways to murder innocent civilian Israeli citizens. Some use automatic weapons to murder high school students as was seen a couple of months ago. Today, one used what is described as a bulldozer but it is a front-end loader. The Palestinian drove down Jaffe Street in Jerusalem and used the blades on the front-end loader to cut through cars, vans, and to knock down a public bus. So far, three are reported killed and 40-50 wounded. The Palestinian was shot after he was confronted on the front-end loader and instead of stopping, he accelerated.

This toddler is one of the people he was trying to murder:

Solomonia reports:

Among his innocent victims is an infant, who was injured in the attack and taken to hospital. Eyewitnesses told police that the murdered mother saved her baby, by throwing the child out the car window, just before the bulldozer crushed her to death.

Solomonia has more photos of this latest, heinous terrorist attack.

Jameel at theMuqata gives a first hand account of the aftermath of this latest, murderous, terrorist attack. He works with Magen David Adom.

Our Magen David Adom beepers went off simultaneously, announcing "ARAN, ARAN, ARAN" -- mass casulty attack in Jerusalem, near Yaffo street and Sarei Yisrael street. Flying low, we honked our way through traffic (most cars even go out of the way for us) as the Hatzala radio mentioned 2, maybe 3 different attack locations (many cars had been smashed, each with victims in it), plus buses...

I parked illegally on the sidewalk near the Israel Broadcasting Agency in Romema, putting my MDA sign on my car's dashboard, threw on my emergency vest, grabbed my gear and ran.

I waved to the security guard of the IBA, so he knew the car was "friendly" and he wouldn't try to tow it...ticket it...or have it blown up by police sappers.

Running down the street, towards the sires, the fire trucks, and the crowd, we passed smashed cars. Curious onlookers ran towards the scene, some were quietly on the sides of the street, others running away in panic -- and police and medical teams converged on Yaffo street.

Ducking under the crime scene tape, we ran towards the ambulances, and started helping treat the wounded and load them onto ambulances.

One woman cried and moaned, as we placed her into an ambulance, as someone (no idea if it was a relative, friend, or just someone helping out) held the injured woman's crying toddler. The ambulance sped off, and we looked for more people to help.

There is no justification for terror attacks. The terrorists target civilians. They want to murder as many people as they can and when their evil plots succeed, families must pick up the pieces after losing loved ones or help loved ones live through months/years of medical treatment. This evil cannot ever be justified.

Israellycool is updating in his usual, superb manner.

Lawhawk has a good round-up and notes the usual media distortions on this latest terror attack.

You can tell a lot about a person and in some cases, a population, by who is held up as heros. The Palestinian Authority wanted to "honor" a female suicide bomber with its highest award. I'm sure this latest Palestinian terrorist will soon have his picture enlarged and venerated as are the suicide bombers' photos. This evil person will be "honored" by his society and his people.

And the Israelis will bury their dead and treat their wounded. The off-duty soldier, Moshe Klessner, 18, who stopped the terrorist from bulldozing more lives is the hero.

Why Did the Heron Cross the Road?

Why did the yellow-crowned night heron cross the road?

To catch a fiddler crab!

I was busy taking pictures of birds and this fiddler crab nipped at my toes!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

An Old Approach

Almost daily, we hear reports of the growing numbers of people who are not just overweight but obese. It is a growing problem! Not just here in the States but in Britain as well. There are many diet fads. There are also numerous shows on channels such as Discovery. There is one show I think has the best approach: You Are What You Eat. Each show features one person who wants to lose weight and become healthier. A table is spread out showing and the person is shown just what he is eating and drinking. Many are dumbfounded that they could stuff themselves with so much food.

After that shock, blood tastes are done. The person is also subjected to having their poo analyzed and Gillian McKeith gives the viewing audience a very graphic description of its texture and stench.

Next, McKeith designs a diet around the specific needs of the person. There was one man featured whose alcoholic intake was the culprit of his obesity. It isn't so much the diet which is instrumental in helping the person lose weight. The diets McKeith designs are very high in vegetables and some of the key ones are green leafy vegetables.

The diet helps and the exercise plan also helps. The key concept of this show is that the person who is seeking to lose weight has to prepare their own food. From the gross looking smoothies made of spinach to the appetizing all vegetable stews: each person has to cut, dice, chop, and then cook their meals. No prepared food is allowed.

At the end of 8 weeks, you can see a marked change in the person's appearance. Some is partly the make-up but you can see the health and vibrancy underlying the make-up. The show just features the first 8 weeks. The diets and exercising continue.

It is fascinating to watch each persons growing intimacy with the foods they are eating. From the preparation, the colors and smells enhance their anticipation of what they are about to eat. The aromas from cooking whet the appetite as well. Then they taste the different textures of the food they have just prepared. They grow to love food in a much better and healthier way.

By having to prepare their own food, instant gratification is delayed. Instead of being gulped, it is savored.

I think the key to the success of any diet is gaining a greater appreciation of food. Everyday, there are numerous advertisements for tv dinners which are supposed to help the dieter. You stick it in the microwave and viola, instant gratification! While the meals are healthier it doesn't change a person's outlook about food. It is still instant gratification.

Shows like You Are What You Eat and Discovery's National Health Challenge do more. They are an old approach to eating. And a much better one.