Monthly Archives: November 2014

Massacre in Jerusalem Synagogue

Shalom Y’All:

It is with a heavy heart that I again have to report on the senseless killing of Jews. The car assaults at Jerusalem’s light rail stations were bad enough. But killing worshippers in the middle of prayer and in such a depraved manner was appalling! Attacking praying people with meat cleavers in a synagogue- how low can you go!

Predictably, Abbas publicly condemned the act while people in Gaza rejoiced. Men handed out sweets and those receiving them praised the dead murderers. has a short video showing the festive mood in Gaza following the synagogue slayings.

The media coverage of this event varied, with some providing good coverage, while others like CNN first reporting that the carnage took place in a mosque and displaying a headline that reported four Israelis and two Palestinians killed. They later apologized for the headline.

Interestingly, few media outlets reported that the Israeli policeman who was killed trying to help the worshippers was, in fact, a Druze Arab. Apparently, reporting that some Arabs are actually loyal to Israel, and serve in the armed forces and police force is not consistent with their view of Israel.

These Arab assassins were not from Gaza or the West Bank, but from eastern Jerusalem, a part of Jerusalem captured by Jordan in 1967 and annexed to Israel. While the people who live there are permanent residents, not Israeli citizens, they get all the rights of Israeli citizens, except the right to vote in National elections.  They can vote in municipal elections and can apply for Israeli citizenship, which most refuse to do since they don’t want to recognize Israel’s sovereignty.  They don’t have Israeli passports, but Jordanian ones which enable them to visit Arab countries.

There is no separation between East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem. People from one side are free to go to the other. But while many East Jerusalem Arabs shop in West Jerusalem, most Israelis limit their visits to East Jerusalem to the Western Wall, Jewish quarter and City of David.

While there is a large and ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, located in East Jerusalem, Arabs regularly harass Jews coming to pay respects to the holy men and loved ones buried there. The Arabs also desecrate the graves and have even stabbed visitors to the site.

While most of the residents of East Jerusalem are Arabs, a few Jews have started to move into a part of East Jerusalem called the Silwan. Formerly a thriving Yemenite village, it was destroyed during the Arab riots in the 1920s and 30s.

Netanyahu has ordered the demolition of the murderers’ houses, but this tactic, while strongly disliked by the Arab residents of East Jerusalem, does not seem to deter those intent on harming Jews. Perhaps, the Israel government should forbid amy future Arab housing at that location and declare it government land.

Since Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, and if it intends to truly unite both East and West Jerusalem and make it one city, it should start treating it as part of the country and encourage Jewish residence there. Of course, the world and the Arabs will scream.

Arabs living in East Jerusalem should be encouraged to apply for Israeli citizenship and those who do not wish to do so, should be encouraged to move to the West Bank, Gaza or other Arab country. It’s time for Israel to assert its authority over East Jerusalem and dispel all Palestinian hopes that East Jerusalem will be the capital of their state.

Categories: Israel, Middle East | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Chanukah Questions and Answers

Shalom Y’All:

Chanukah is just six weeks away. It begins on December 16, 2014. My next few blogs will be about Hanukkah.

I think its easier to understand information when it’s presented in short chunks, so I will use the question and answer format for this blog entry.

Q: Why do we celebrate Hanukkah?

A: In the second century BCE a small band of Jews, known as the Maccabees, defeated the Greek army that controlled Israel. The Jews rebelled when the Greeks tried to force them to forego their religion and adopt Hellenism.

The second miracle that happened on Chanukah was that, when the Maccabees liberated the Temple, they only found enough pure oil to light the Menorah for one day. As the Menorah was lit daily, this was a problem. However, the small amount of oil they found burned for eight days and nights, enough time for a new supply of pure oil to be produced.

Q: What is the meaning of the word Chanukah?

Chanukah means dedication. When the Maccabees liberated the Temple, they rededicated it and the altar within it to the service of the Almighty. It had been defiled by the Greeks for pagan worship.

The word Chanukah in Hebrew can also be spilt into: Chanu- meaning they rested, and Kah-here. The numerical value of the Hebrew letters spelling Chanukah is 25. On the 25th day of Kislev, the Hebrew date of Chanukah, the Maccabees rested from fighting and rededicated the Temple.

Q: What does Maccabee mean?

A: It may come from the Hebrew word for hammer or hitting, or it may be an acrostic for the Hebrew words-Mi Kamocha Ba-Elim Hashem- Who Is Like You Among the Mighty, G-d.

Q: Which is correct English spelling- Hanukkah or Chanukah?

In Hebrew, Chanukah is pronounced with a type of guttural ch sound which English does not have. H is the closest English language sound to it. So both are correct.

Q: How do we celebrate Chanukah?

A: Each of the eight nights of Hanukkah we light the menorah, adding an additional candle or light each night. The menorah can be lit using either candles, or oil and wicks.

Q: Are any special foods eaten on Hanukkah?

A: It is customary to eat foods fried in oil, such as latkes and donuts.

Q: Why do we play Dreidel on Hanukkah?

A: When the Greeks ruled over Israel, they disallowed the study of the Torah,  a crime punishable by death. Jewish kids were taught Torah in caves to avoid being seen. When a Greek patrol was spotted near the cave, the children would begin playing with their tops or dreidels. Playing dreidel reminds us of their bravery.

The four Hebrew letters on the dreidel stand for “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham,” A Great Miracle Happened There- meaning Israel. In Israel, kids use a dreidel with the Hebrew letter Pey, substituting for the Shin, making the phrase, “Nes Gadol Hayah Poh,” A Great Miracle Happened Here.”

Q: What does Dreidel mean?

A: Dreidel comes from the yiddish word drei, or spin.

Q: Why do we give gifts to the children on Chanukah?

A: Originally, children received Chanukah gelt (money).

One explanation for this custom is that Chanukah gelt was distributed to avoid embarrassment to the poor by enabling them to buy oil or candles for the Menorah.

Another explanation is that Hanukkah sounds like the Hebrew word for education, hinnukh. In late medieval Europe, families gave their children money to give to their Jewish teacher on Hanukkah as a show of their appreciation. In time, the custom also included giving coins to kids to encourage their Jewish studies. Today, Chanukah gelt is sold as chocolate candies in the shape of coins.

Yet another reason is to commemorate the coins minted by the Maccabees after their victory.

Giving gifts is an adaption of the Christian custom of gift giving during this season.

Categories: Chanukah, Hanukkah, Jewish Holidays | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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