Aliyah Blog

Moving UP in the World, since 5764/2004

Archive for September, 2005

Drinking Salt

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A few weeks ago, our salt had to be relocated to a tupperware, as the salt container was becoming unusable (though there was still some salt left over). My wife told me: this is salt in the tupperware. Not sugar.

Fast-forward to this morning – my wife had a sore throat and asked me to make her some tea. I made the tea, including what I thought was sugar. After my wife drank a few sips, it became evident that it was not sugar. Doh!

Reminds me of the time when I was making kiddush at college and as I was distributing the wine into a number of cups, I accidentally poured wine into a cup filled with salt (we were short on shakers). The unfortunate victim did not say anything about it until after hamotzi was made and someone asked “has anyone seen the salt”?

Written by Yaakov

September 30th, 2005 at 10:20 am

Posted in Experiences

Welcome to the New Aliyah Blog

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Some new things:

  • A new domain name – Aliyah Blog is now located at Be sure to update your bookmarks
  • The addresses of the RSS feeds are now for new posts and for comments. Be sure to update your links for these as well
  • The layout of the site has been totally be redesigned. Check it out and please let me know what you think (I would like to think that it is an improvement)
  • I have switched blogging engines from b2evolution to WordPress. Although b2evo was nice to start out with, its lack of support and small community cannot even begin to compare to the features offered by WordPress. I plan to play around with the features offered by the WordPress community to help provide an optimal user experience
  • As posted earlier – if you are looking to write about aliyah/Israel/Torah and related topics, we are looking for new contributors. If you are interested, please email me at info — at — aliyahblog — dot — com.

More real content on the way soon…

Written by Yaakov

September 27th, 2005 at 9:56 am

Posted in Announcements

Visualizing the Loss

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Arutz Sheva has provided links to some moving videos of pictures and movies from Gush Katif:

  • Zeh Haya Beiti – This was my house – Pictures set to song (go here for the words). (If you are a man and you hold that kol isha on recordings where you cannot see the woman are forbidden, do not watch). Produced by Shmuel Benamu
  • Expulsion from Nezer Hazani – Video of expulsion set to very moving group singing. Produced by Avi Abelow
  • Video from Israeli Television. All in hebrew, 28 minutes long. Features video fo destruction of homes, interviews with different participants. Starting at 11 minutes into the video, they show the prayers and singing on hundreds of girls in the Beit Knesset of Nevei Dekalim, minutes before its destruction. I started watching this while I was taking a break at work. I cannot continue because I will not be able to watch all of it without crying. Rav Aviner is in the shul – he says the beracha of Dayan Emet and tears keriyah. Very very powerful footage. This is followed by the forced evacuation of the beit knesset (11-18 minutes into the video).

At one point in the video from Israeli television, a reporter asks one of the former residents of a destroyed community: “What was that street called”?

He responded: “Here the streets did not have names. Over there lived the Kobi family. In cities the streets have names of dead people. Here, when there was life, we did not call the steets by names. Now longer”.

Watch and think about it. Maybe it will help you have better kavana in the upcoming weeks. Just don’t claim ignorance of what happened.

There are alot of things wrong about Israel. They forcibly removed thousands of residents (many of whom remain homeless) from thriving communities for political reasons, in order to give land to our emenies for nothing. But living in the US, it is hard to feel a day to day connection to the Jewish people. I can feel it for five minutes when watching these videos, but then the video ends, and we go back to our day to day lives and think about the real problems that we have, like how are we going to survive without pareve Duncan Hines brownies. I don’t know about you, but that is not the way that we are suppossed to be living our lives. Time to walk the walk (since I have been talking the talk for a while). (96 DAYS TO GO!!!!!!!)

What is your excuse?

(I didn’t plan for this to be such a long post. It just kind of happened. Sorry for the rambling).

Written by Yaakov

September 22nd, 2005 at 1:10 pm

Posted in Experiences,Israel

Gush Katif Brutality

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Received from my sister in Israel (she was in the US over the Summer):

Well, Since I have come back to Israel I have been completely overwhelmed by the situation here. The news in America presented the disengagement in a somewhat positive way- of one can say that- in that the picture I understood of the disnegagement was of soldiers crying and hugging the people of Gush Katif. I was horrified that it happened, but happy that there was no bloodshed and that it was so “humanely done” with relative good will on both sides (to the soldiers- not the government).

However, after talking to various frineds who had been there I began to understand quite a different story. Most soldiers were not sympathetic in the slightest. They had been trained by the government how to turn a deaf ear to the cries of the people. They were literally trained how to “look through” people as they were talking to them. One word which I have continuously heard to describe them was”robots”. No feeling whatsoever, simply performing their duties of destroying homes and communities.

I also heard some stories which shocked me to no end. Some soldiers and more often policemen got every excited about their work and went about it quite roughly. My friend saw six soldiers beat up a fifteen year old girl (who was hospitalised for many broken bones but thankfully survived), and the soldiers tear a ten month old baby from it’s mothers arms, breaking the baby’s arm bones. The stories go on and on and just writing them makes me sick.

This is not to say of course that every soldier did such. There were of course soldiers who had a hard time at it or quit. However, the vast majority by far were either “robots” or even cruel. The soldiers biggest threat to someone who didn’t comply was to call over the special police force who had beencreated just for this occasion- a police force given new black uniforms and known for their brutality.

Of course the cruelty did not stop there. The government made no plans to help these people. Many people are jobless, and denied the ability to remain unified as a community after various requests(which every social worker and psychologist explains as the best way to help people deal with being uprooted). Some people preserved their belongings but many people’s belongings were stolen or ruined in the ill protected containers. People have not been given compensation and many refuse to sign because they would only receive money by agreeing to conditions unacceptable to them.

There are no words to describe what went on and what still goes on. The government is corrupt and horrible. We must work hard somehow to change the government and situation here. I think a feeling that persists here is shock and not knowing where to go from here. Still, I am constantly amazed at the endurance and strength of people. We are and must keep moving forward. Hopefully with G-ds help we will be able to understand why this tragedy had to happen and what we must do.

Written by Yaakov

September 21st, 2005 at 2:31 pm

Posted in Israel,Op-Ed

Baruch Dayan Emet

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Simon Wiesenthal passed away last night.

From his biography on the Wiesenthal Center website:

Wiesenthal is often asked to explain his motives for becoming a Nazi hunter. According to Clyde Farnsworth in the New York Times Magazine (February 2, 1964), Wiesenthal once spent the Sabbath at the home of a former Mauthausen inmate, now a well-to-do jewelry manufacturer. After dinner his host said, “Simon, if you had gone back to building houses, you’d be a millionaire. Why didn’t you?” “You’re a religious man,” replied Wiesenthal. “You believe in God and life after death. I also believe. When we come to the other world and meet the millions of Jews who died in the camps and they ask us, ‘What have you done?’, there will be many answers. You will say, ‘I became a jeweler’, Another will say, I have smuggled coffee and American cigarettes’, Another will say, ‘I built houses’, But I will say, ‘I didn’t forget you’.”

Wow. Not so many people can claim to have devoted their lives to strengthening the Jewish People, perorming a Kiddush Hashem by showing the world that we are not push-overs, that we do not forget. Yehei Zichroh Baruch – May his memory be blessed.

Written by Yaakov

September 20th, 2005 at 11:41 am

Posted in News

Sit Tight!!

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I will be posting more soon. Really, I will.

Right now I am working on changing the look and feel of this blog, moving it to a new blogging engine and to a new domain.

Also, I would like to open up the blog to other writers. As tantalyzing as my twice-a-week postings may be, I recognize that it would be much cooler if there was more content, different points of view, etc (note: I will retain my position of blog-dictator).

So if anyone out there would like to become a bloger on aliyah blog, please let me know. I am looking for people who are planning to make aliyah or who have already done so, who would like to share their feelings about aliyah, Israel, Torah and anything else that is even barely relevant. Send email to info — at — ellisweb — dot — net for more information.

Written by Yaakov

September 20th, 2005 at 1:36 am

Posted in Announcements

Bush addresses very important issues at the UN

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In case you can’t make out the small print, it reads: “I think I may need a bathroom break

Photo by Reuters. The caption reads:

U.S. President George W. Bush writes a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Security Council meeting at the 2005 World Summit and 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York September 14, 2005.


Written by Yaakov

September 15th, 2005 at 1:13 am

Posted in Political

Sefardi Bar Mitzvah

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This morning I went to a bar mitzvah.

Some of you might be wondering what I was doing going to a bar mitzvah on a Tuesday morning that is not a Rosh Chodesh (and therefore no Torah reading). I did a double-take myself…until I remembered that the most important part of the bar mitzvah is not getting an aliyah of reading the haftarah (or getting pelted with candy). The most important thing is the gifts when the new man accepts upon himself Ol Malchut Shamayim (the yoke of heaven).

That is what I witnessed this morning. After selichot (the family is Sefardi) and shofar blowing (before Shacharit), the new man publicly donned his tallit for the first time with a blessing, then his tefillin. Different friends and relatives helped him to put on his tefillin. After this he led the prayer service, and then gave a dvar Torah.

Seems a little old-fashioned. But it seemed right.

Written by Yaakov

September 13th, 2005 at 11:35 pm

Posted in Experiences

Still Making Aliyah…

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We have been telling friends and family all along that we are planning on making aliyah at the end of December, 2005. However, as that day is now less than four months away, my wife and I have been saying to ourselves: “Shouldn’t we be doing something right now for planning aliyah?”

So, over the past month we have been involved in:

  • Filling out our Nefesh B’Nefesh application
  • Trying to get a birth certificate and passport for Moshe
  • Making an appointment with the Jewish Agency so that they can certify that I am indeed Jewish (I have a letter from my rabbi to prove it!)
  • Making an appointment to go see the store in the Lower East Side that sells 220 Voltage appliances
  • Had an evaluation done by a shipping company for how much it will cost to get out posessions over to the Holy Land
  • (Gulp! Looks like we are really going to do this!)
  • Telling my employer that I will be leaving the company at the end of the year, and trying to work out some way that I can still work for them from abroad

More details to come as the saga unfolds…

Written by Yaakov

September 8th, 2005 at 9:22 pm

Posted in Experiences


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A member of my high school class is currently in an IDF officer-training course. His unit assisted in the disengagement. Below is an exerpt from an email (edited for spelling) he sent out to members of our class, telling about what he witnessed at Atmona. It is a very moving account, and I believe it captures a side of the story that has not been told enough: that of the soldier who was ordered to do something that a short time ago was unthinkable, and who did what he did out of the belief that it was for the ultimate good. Since I was not there, I do not believe that I have the right to make any judgements.

Monday night we received orders to pack up and move to Gush Katif, the main bloc of Israeli communities in the southern Strip. We arrived at my old stomping grounds as the sun was setting, except this time I was there to forcibly evacuate Israelis, not to protect them. we entered Rafiah Yam at night, the southern westernmost town in Israel. All of its residents had already evacuated, and the army was to use it to house its soldiers. We waited around in the dark for a while, then our Mem-pay (Company Commander) sat us all down and began to speak.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Yaakov

September 6th, 2005 at 12:08 pm

Posted in Israel,Stories