Saying Goodbye to Your Old G-d, Sometimes, Being Close Means Feeling Far

Bahar – Bechukotai

Saying Goodbye to Your Old G-d

Sometimes, Being Close Means Feeling Far

by: Rabbi YY Jacobson

Dedicated by David and Eda Schottenstein in the loving memory of a young soul Alta Shula Swerdlov daughter of Rabbi Yossi and Hindel Swerdlov and in the merit of Yetta Alta Shula, “Aliya,” Schottenstein

Copyright 2007 Bill Frymire

The Endless Quest

A story:

It was Simchat Torah, and the disciples of Rabbi Mendel of Horodok, many of whom had journeyed for weeks to spend the joyous festival with their Rebbe, were awaiting his entrance to the synagogue for the recital of the Atah Hor’eisa verses and the hakafot procession. Yet the Rebbe did not appear. Hours passed, and still Rabbi Mendel was secluded in his room.

Finally, they approached Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, who had studied with Rabbi Mendel in Mezeritch under the tutelage of the Great Maggid.(1) Perhaps Rabbi Schneur Zalman, who was revered and loved by Rabbi Mendel, would attempt what no other chassid would dare: enter the Rebbe’s room and ask him to join his anxiously awaiting followers.

When Rabbi Schneur Zalman entered Rabbi Mendel’s study, he found the chassidic master deeply engrossed in his thoughts. “The chassidim await you,” said Rabbi Schneur Zalman. “Why don’t you join them for the hakafot?”

“There are a hundred meanings to the verse Atah Hor’eisa,” cried Rabbi Mendel, “And I do not yet fully understand them all. I cannot possibly come out to recite the verse without a proper comprehension of its significance!”

“Rebbe!” said Rabbi Schneur Zalman. “When you will reach a full comprehension of the hundred meanings of Atah Hor’eisa, you will discover another hundred meanings you have yet to comprehend…”

“You are right,” said Rabbi Mendel, rising from his seat. “Come, let us go to hakafot.”

Throwing Out the Old?

An interesting verse in this week’s second portion, Bechokosei, reads (2), “You will eat the very old [grain] and you will remove the old to make way for the new.”

A homiletic interpretation of the verse understands “the very old” to symbolize G-d, who has “been around” since time immemorial and who represents eternity. One ought to eat and satiate one’s hunger with “the very old” G-d (3).
Yet there comes a time in our life when we need to “remove the old to make way for the new.” We should never get stuck in our own definitions of G-d. We must be ready to abandon our old perception of G-d for the sake of a more real and mature relationship with ultimate reality.

Spiritual Frustration

A little while ago, a man approached me one morning in the synagogue and expressed his anguish over the fact that he does not experience G-d anymore in his life.
“When I originally became a baal-teshuvah (returnee to Jewish observance) many years ago,” he said, “I felt an intimate relationship with G-d. I sensed His truth and His depth.
“Today,” the man continued, “I am still a practicing Jew. I put on teffilin each morning, I pray three times a day, I keep the Sabbath and I don’t eat shrimp. But G-d is absent from my life.
“How do I become a baal-teshuvah again?” the Jew wondered.
As I looked up at his face, I noticed a tear in his eye. I thought that he may be far better off than many people born and raised as observant Jews who have never shed a tear over G-d’s absence from their lives. Many of us are even unaware of the fact that there exists a possibility to enjoy a genuine personal relationship with Hashem.
I attempted to identify with this Jew’s struggle, sharing my feelings on the matter. As we concluded our conversation, I noticed on the table a 200-year-old Chassidic work titled “Noam Elimelech.” I opened the book, authored by the 18th century Chassidic sage Rabbi Elimelech of Liszhensk (4), and randomly arrived at the Torah portion of this week, Bechukosai.
In his commentary to the first verse of the portion, the Chassidic master discusses an apparent lack of grammatical accuracy in the blessings that we recite daily. “Blessed are You, Lord our G-d,” we say, “Who has sanctified us with His commandments.”
Why do we begin the blessing by addressing G-d in second person, “Blessed are You,” and then conclude it by addressing Him in third person, “Who has sanctified us with His commandments.”?

The Paradox

In the beginning of one’s spiritual journey, writes the saintly author, when first discovering G-d in one’s life, Hashem seems very near. At that special moment of rediscovery, you feel that you “have G-d,” that you grasp His depth, His truth, His grace. You and G-d are like pals. You cry to Him, you laugh with Him, you are vulnerable in His midst. Like one who is reunited with a best friend not seen in many years, you declare: “G-d! You’re awesome.”
But as you continue to climb the ladder of spiritual sensitivity, you come to discover how remote G-d really is from you. You come to learn how inaccessible and elusive He is, how unfathomable and indescribable the Divine reality is.
Yet, paradoxically, it is precisely when the feeling of “I have G-d” withers away and is replaced by the sense of a void that you are actually closest to Him (5). When you mature in your spiritual life you begin to sense something of His infinity, and who among us could ever feel that he has a grasp over infinity?

Far But Near

It is this state of mind that the Prophet Isaiah is addressing when he says (6), “Peace, peace to him who is far and near, and I will heal him.” How can one be both “far and near” simultaneously?
The Chassidic master Rabbi Elimelech answers that Isaiah is referring to the Jew who feels that he is far, but in truth he is near. The very fact the he senses his remoteness is indicative of his closeness. If he truly were to be distant, he would actually feel close!
Therefore, when the first Jew Abraham is taking his son Isaac to the Akeida (the binding of Isaac) atop the sacred Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem, the Torah tells us (6) that “On the third day, Abraham looked up and saw the place from afar. Abraham said to his attendants, ‘You stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go yonder, we will prostrate ourselves and then return to you.'”
Why did Abraham take his attendants along if he was to leave them behind anyway?
Because it was only Abraham who “looked up and saw the place from afar.” Only Abraham realized how remote he still was from the Divine mountain. His attendants, on the other hand, actually thought that the place was near. At that moment, Abraham became aware of the vast sea separating his spiritual state from theirs; he knew that they were not ready yet to accompany him on his journey toward G-d.
For thus is the paradox of one’s spiritual process. The closer you become, the further you must become. It is to this Jew, harboring deep frustration, that G-d sent forth His promise: “I will heal he who is far and near.”

1) Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Horodok (also called Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk) and Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi were both disciples of the Great Maggid, Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch, the second leader of the Chassidic movement. Following the Maggid’s passing in 1772, Rabbi Schneur Zalman regarded Rabbi Mendel as his master and mentor. In 1777, Rabbi Mendel led a group of more than 300 chassidim to settle in the Holy Land. Rabbi Schneur Zalman was originally part of the group, but Rabbi Mendel convinced him to remain behind and assume the leadership of the chassidic community in White Russia and Lithuania. This story and footnotes I copied from: 2) Leviticus 26:10. 3) See Bas Ayin on Bechukosei (by Chassidic master Rabbi Avraham Dov of Avrutch. Rabbi Avraham passed away in 1841 in Sefad.) 4) Passed away in 1787. Rabbi Elimelech was a disciple of the Maggid of Mezrich and was considered to be one of the greatest tzaddikim of his generation. 5) This point is also quoted in the name of the Baal Shem Tov (Kesser Shem Tov section 39.) Cf. Tanya section 3 chapter ? 6) Isaiah 57:19. 7) Genesis 22:4-5.

Growing Up Jewish, Female, Responsible: Rethinking the Bat Mitzvah Party


Chabad Lubavitch World HQ / News

Growing Up Jewish, Female, Responsible: Rethinking the Bat Mitzvah Party

Growing Up Jewish, Female, Responsible: Rethinking the Bat Mitzvah Party

by Chaviva Galatz – Washington D.C.

May 14, 2012

For most Jewish tween girls, the concept of the bat mitzvah has come to mean one thing: a lavish party with multiple outfit changes, Oscars-style celebrity goodie bags and a hip rocker singing new hits.

But Beth Heifetz, a Washington D.C. mother of two and a partner at Jones Day law firm, wanted more than schwag and partying for her daughter, Julia.

“I wanted my daughter to have an opportunity to think about what it means to be abat mitzvah and what it means to be a young Jewish woman today,” said Heifetz.

Although Julia had been involved in Jewish life through their Conservative shul and at her Conservative camp, Heifetz was concerned that “the important role of Jewish women both historically and today can be overlooked.”

So four years ago, when she was approaching bat mitzvah, Beth took to the internet searching for resources to share with Julia. Thankfully, she said, she stumbled across Bat Mitzvah Clubs International. She contacted the local Chabad and representative Nechama Shemtov and Heifetz worked to put together a group of girls, find leaders, and launch a chapter of the Bat Mitzvah Club.

Now 16, the experience continues in Julia’s life, shaping her identity and sense of self as a Jewish woman. After her bat mitzvah, Julia wanted to continue the Jewish experience and with Shemtov’s help, they established a local chapter of Friendship Circle. For the past four years, Julia and a friend have spent time every week during the school year with a boy who has special needs.

“It has been a remarkable growth experience for her on many levels, including responsibility, planning, time management, the importance of giving to others, and the wonderful feeling that comes with doing the right thing,” Heifetz said.

Julia is one of thousands of girls who’ve approached Jewish womanhood with the help of Bat Mitzvah Clubs International, a program designed for 11-13 year-old girls wanting to explore their identity, particularly as a bat mitzvah.

Created 20 years ago by Esti Frimerman, a Brooklyn mother of a large family and a Hebrew school teacher, the program, said Frimerman, aims to reach Jewish girls in their formative years with a powerful message.

“My objective is to help these girls realize that they have a soul, that there is another dimension to their essential being that is far more interesting than what they think they are, and other than what they see in the mirror.”

In fact, according to a 2001 Jewish Adolescent Study by the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, in which nearly 1,300 b’nei mitzvah from Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and independent congregations were surveyed in Eastern Massachusetts, three-quarters of the respondents cared seriously about a search for meaning in life, but only 40 percent sought to find that meaning through their Jewisness.

Involved in Jewish education for more than 25 years teaching 11-year-old religious school girls, Frimerman took a concept from Chabad Chasidic doctrine about a G-dly soul that becomes complete at the age of bar-bat mitzvah, and created a program at the flagship Chabad girls school, Beth Rivkah, in Brooklyn. She developed a curriculum on teachings about the integration of the spiritual and the physical, with a focus on Jewish feminine identity. Soon after, in 1993, she got a request from Tzivos Hashem International to rethink the program for non-religious, public school girls, and Bat Mitzvah Clubs International was born.

“I felt like I could really relate to girls that age,” said Frimerman. A mother of five daughters, she knows “that turf very well,” and enjoys the challenge of reaching that demographic with eye-opening, enduring ideas.

Stephanie Blitshtein, who went through Bat Mitzvah Club in Plano, Texas, in 2007, said that the experience of being part of the program changed her.

“BMC impacted me Jewishly by teaching me what it meant to become bat mitzvah and the responsibilities that came along with that,” she said. The program, she said, also gave her Jewish knowledge in terms of practical mitzvot.

After becoming a bat mitzvah, Blitshtein ramped up her observance and her involvement in the Jewish community.

“I became really involved at Chabad of Plano by becoming a counselor for the summer and winter camp, running children’s programs for holidays and on Shabbat, being a teacher’s assistant at Hebrew school,” she said. “Now I go to shul a lot more often, light Shabbat candles every week, have stricter eating habits, observe holidays and some Shabbats, and know a lot more about Judiasm.”

Chabad representative Rochel Lowenthal, who runs a club in Denmark, said that the most powerful part of being a leader is being able to “touch the girls at this sensitive time of their lives and show them that bat mitzvah is not only about a party, but that bat mitzvah, and everything Jewish, has tremendous depth and can totally impact their lives.”

Prompted by a desire to learn more about Judaism, Helena Rosenstrauch now 20 and preparing for her senior year at the University of Buffalo, joined the Albany, NY, Bat Mitzvah Club in 2002. The opportunity allowed her connect to other Jewish girls “even if they were of a different background.”

“It had a great impact on me by further teaching Jewish traditions and encouraging me to be proud of being a Jewish girl,” she said. “Jewish values continue to guide my life, and I know that they always will thanks to my upbringing and the Bat Mitzvah Club.”

Rosenstrauch said her participation in the club brought her closer to her mother and her grandmother, and she now is as involved as ever in her campus Chabad and Hillel.

For Racheli Metal, a Chabad representative in Las Vegas,leading the Bat Mitzvah Club is “sowing seeds that might really lie dormant for many years.” The girls that come to her Bat Mitzvah Club, she observed, do so for the social benefits, as well as for a deeper awakening for something true and meaningful to hold onto in their budding world of fashion, peer-pressure and “bat mitzva parties.”

“I hope and pray that one day, before these girls get married, they might give pause, and think of a lesson on Family Purity and their first ‘mikvah experience’ or perhaps reflect on the importance of marrying a Jewish guy, and continuing an important chain of tradition.”

One year, Metal arranged a mock wedding and invited the girls’ mothers as guests in an effort to strengthen the mother-daughter bond.

“Many were dabbing their eyes as they held the poles of the chuppah (wedding canopy) and we sang the tune of Eishet Chayil as we walked the ‘bride’ around the ‘groom,’” she said.

In Munich, Germany, Chanie Diskin  saw the power of the program after teaching fifth, sixth, and seventh graders in the public school system and hearing how they celebrated their bat mitzvah.

“I knew that I needed to become proactive,” she said. “I needed to impart meaning into their otherwise meaningless disco party celebrations.”

So Diskin brought the club to Germany, where she expanded it for teenagers because so many girls wanted to continue learning.

“As a result, many girls have opted for a religious ceremony in the Orthodox tradition either on Friday evening with a candle-lighting ceremony or a havdalah ceremony,” she said.

Today, there are nearly 300 active clubs around the world. Currently, Frimerman is working on translating the curriculums into five languages: Portuguese, Spanish, German, French, and Russian. She also is working on two new projects: one will allow girls to address everyday problems in their lives and the other will help them understand and get along with their parents better.

At an age when children tend to become rebellious, the BMC is especially relevant. “Parents and children have more problems getting along than ever before,” says Frimerman, who works creatively, ever mindful of how the program can work to close the growing gap between mothers and daughters, and contribute to a more wholesome family dynamic.

Bat Mitzvah Clubs International also is partnering with to create a dynamic virtual experience for club leaders, parents, and bat mitzvah girls. Frimerman hopes that the website will provide an interactive space where the girls can ask questions about religion, spirituality, school, parents, and more. Likewise, the program has been so successful at engaging young Jewish girls that many clubs around the world, like the one in Denmark, have extended the learning experience creating “teen clubs” for 13 through 16-year-old girls.

“Today’s girls,” said Frimerman, “are exposed to an incredible amount of meaningless, even negative stimuli, and the messages targeting them encourage consumerism, materialism and and less than ideal role models,” all of whichhave a corrosive effect on them.

Presented with a meaningful alternative to popular culture, “the girls really gravitate towards it. You can see their hunger for a substantive experience that nurtures them psychologically, intellectually and spiritually in a positive, affirmative way.”

Arutz Sheva Daily Israel Report || Friday, May. 18 ’12, Iyar 26, 5772

Arutz Sheva Daily Israel Report


Delivered Daily via Email, Sunday thru Friday Subscribe to this Daily Israel Report: 

Friday, May. 18 ’12, Iyar 26, 5772











by Gabe Kahn




Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday said he is skeptical that Iran will agree to halt its nuclear program.


“I see no evidence whatsoever that Iran is ready to end its nuclear program,” he said just days ahead of a crucial round of nuclear talks with Tehran.


The P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – are set for a May 23 meeting with Iran in Baghdad.


Speaking in Prague, Netanyahu called it “the paramount issue of our time.”


Netanyahu did not present any ultimatums, but Israeli officials have said time is running out to avoid military action.


This marks the third time in recent months Netanyahu has said he does not believe Western sanctions will prove effective in halting Iran’s nuclear program.


His government maintains a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran would threaten the Jewish state’s survival.


Israel is not alone in believing Tehran is pursuing nuclear research with military applications – or considering a military strike in Iran’s nuclear sites.


US ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro this week indicated Iran now had a very short “window” in which to agree to a diplomatic solution.


“It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure than the use of military force,” Shapiro said during a speech in Tel Aviv.


“But that doesn’t mean that option is not fully available – not just available, but it’s ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it’s ready.”


While US officials have made tangential references to a “military options” vis-a-vis Iran, none have done so in such forthright terms to date.


International Atomic Energy Agency officials are pressing Iran to address concerns spelled out in an extensive IAEA report released in November 2011.


The report alleges that at least until 2003, and probably since then, Tehran has engaged in nuclear activities of a decidedly military nature.


They also want access to the Parchin military base near Tehran where the IAEA report – which cited foreign intelligence, its own sources, and Iranian information – said Iran had conducted high-explosives tests in a specially designed chamber.


Two previous trips to Tehran in January and February by the IAEA resulted in Iran denying inspectors access to suspected nuclear sites.


Iran, as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is obligated to allow the UN watchdog access to its site for inspections to ensure it is complying with the treaty.


IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said recently that access to Parchin was a “priority” and that “activities” spotted by satellite there “makes us believe that going there sooner is better than later.”


In March, Amano also charged Iran with a systemic attempt to cover up nuclear activity of a military nature saying, “Iran is not telling us everything.”


Western nations have accused Iran of removing evidence from Parchin and other sites – and Tehran’s Gulf Arab rivals have also charged Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.





Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat told Arutz Sheva on Thursday that he sees cranes in Jerusalem as a sign of success – and sovreignty.


 “We are on a path of success,” Barkat said. “We see it in several respects, including growth and development. This skyline is full of cranes. “Anyone who comes and sees this, sees that something good is happening in the city – Jerusalm is succeeding.”


“Sovereignty cannot stay on paper,” he declares, “Anyone who thinks that if you just declare sovereignty you have resolved the problem is wrong.”


“There is a direct relationship between development in the urban neighborhoods and sovereignty,” he said. “You must enforce zoning and construction laws, collects taxes, improve schools, talk with the people and solve problems – that is sovereignty.”


Barkat told Arutz Sheva that illegal construction could only be tackled if Israel took responsibility for Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods.


“You have to understand where illegal construction comes from,” Barkat said. “We have Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, which, unfortunately, are badly neglected. As mayor, visiting these areas, I was forced to ask why this is?”


“We have two bad alternatives: one, we can act like an ostrich; the other, to accept a huge disparity between the quality of life in these neighborhoods, and other neighborhoods, which should not be.


“I choose a third option,” Barkat said. “I chose to take responsibility and extend my office’s sovereignty to these neighborhoods, to improve the quality of life in them, and increase investment there.”


The move to improve the quality of life in eastern Jerusalem is not without political implications.


“It’s not a controversial idea, but right-wingers are more supportive of this process than the left, because they understand that investments in East Jerusalem are a means of applying Israel’s sovereignty,” Barkat said.


“The left thinks differently about the city’s theme of unity,” he went on. “They do not realize that ideology and practice must go hand in hand. There is no chance that Jerusalem will succeed if she is divided again.”


“So we have to insist on the unity of the city. For the right, improving the quality of life in eastern Jerusalem jives with both practice and ideology. For the left, it jives with practice, but ideologically it is problematic. I’m not sure they want it.”


Interestingly, Barkat some of his strongest supporters are Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem.


“They have lot of respect,” Barkat said. “They know I care about them and know their quality of life will rise. This is important to all of us. Additionally, they are increasingly satisfied with the city and recognize my office’s sovereignty in Jerusalem.”


“This leads to a situation where they themselves would prefer to keep Jerusalem united because they see the results of our efforts and they understand progress.


“Its not Zionism, but in practice, they know it is important to continue to live under Israeli sovereignty,” Barkat explained.


However, the primary impediment to Barkat’s goals for Jerusalem is not the political left, or Arabs in the city, but Israel’s own security establishment.


“Unfortunately, whoever gave a ‘waiver’ for permits in eastern Jerusalem- and his reasoning was probably due to security considerations – did not take into account how dividing Jerusalem with a fence would affect Israel sovereignty,” Birkat said.


“I have not ignored the issue,” he said. “I have raised it again and again at the political level, but the tools available to the Jerusalem Municipality to alter security policy is limited.


“This difficulty is very real. I keep telling the government we must be allowed to exercise sovereignty in neighborhoods beyond the security wall. But, this problem persists.”



3. MORE THAN 60,000 CALL FOR POLLARD’S FREEDOM by Maayana Miskin


More than 60,000 people have signed a letter calling on President Shimon Peres to do whatever he can to free Jonathan Pollard. The campaign for Pollard”s freedom has taken on new energy as the date on which Peres will be given the Medal of Freedom approaches.


Members of Knesset, Canadian rabbis and Gilad Shalit are among those who have called on Peres to turn down the prestigious prize if Pollard is not released.


On Thursday, Israel Prize winner, Rabbi Chaim Druckman joined the call. In a speech given at the Rabbis” Conference in Jerusalem, Rabbi Druckman appealed to his colleagues, “Please, do what you can so that Jonathan will leave jail alive.”


Activists say the campaign is just getting started. Over the next few days, volunteers will take to the streets to distribute pamphlets explaining Pollard”s plight and calling to sign the letter.


“As we get more signatures, we know that we are reaching wider circles, circles of people who may not have been sufficiently aware of the matter, who now understand that this isn”t just a matter of justice but of life and death,” campaign director Effie Yahav said.


Pollard, who is serving a life sentence for giving classified information to Israel, has become seriously ill and was recently hospitalized. He has since been released, but his condition remains poor.





Those living in Ramat Migron have resident status in the area, and are not obligated by IDF orders declaring the area a closed military zone, a Jerusalem judge has ruled. The ruling follows a similar ruling regarding a man from the Mitzpe Avichai outpost.


The court order came after a young man was arrested on Wednesday night for entering Ramat Migron after it had been declared a closed military zone. The teen was represented by the Honenu legal rights group.


Attorney Yitzchak Bam spoke to Arutz Sheva following the verdict. Bam, who also represented Aryeh Davis in the precedent-setting Mitzpe Avichai case, explained that the recent verdicts are the first in which judges have recognized that Jews can also be permanent residents in Judea and Samaria.


Previously, IDF orders declaring a closed military zone – a measure often used in an attempt to prevent riots – would normally include an exception for PA residents of the area in order to avoid infringing on their freedom of movement. However, there was no exception made for Jewish residents of Homesh, Ramat Migron, or other communities considered illegal outposts by the IDF.


Bam said that in addition to violating his client”s rights as a Ramat Migron resident, police had violated his rights as a minor. As a 15-year-old, the client should have had his parents or another adult present while he was questioned. However, Bam accused, police questioned the young man alone.





Ten months ago, Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzeira was stabbed to death during one of the many personal meetings he held with people seeking his aid. This week, work was completed on a synagogue that will be called Ohel Elazar in his memory.


The synagogue in Yokneam was built over a long period, with funding provided in part by the Housing Ministry. It will serve hundreds of residents of the Givat Hacalaniyot neighborhood.


Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzeira”s son Rabbi Pinchas Abuchatzeira was present as the synagogue was officially inaugurated, as were relatives Rabbi David Abuchatzeira and the Baba Baruch.


Rabbi David Abuchatzeira thanked Housing Minister Ariel Atias for his involvement in the project. “During these difficult times, when building a synagogue is not easy financially, we have Rabbi Ariel Atias, sent by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef,” he said.


Atias spoke as well, “The Housing Ministry, as the ministry responsible for building cities in Israel, builds synagogues and mikvas, daycare centers and community centers for residents” well-being,” he said.


“Over the past few years the ministry has built around a thousand new apartments in Yokneam,” he continued. “I am glad I had the merit to inaugurate a synagogue…. We will continue, as Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has instructed, to develop institutions of Torah in neighborhoods the Housing Ministry builds.”


More than 1,300 new apartments are to be put on the market in Yokneam in the near future, he added.





Kadima, the largest faction in the present Knesset, would crash from 28 seats to just 3 if elections were held today, according to a new poll conducted by the Panels Institute for the Knesset Channel.


The party was expected to lose much of its power in the next elections but the extremely unfavorable poll appears to be a direct result of the deal that party leader Shaul Mofaz recently made with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in which Kadima entered the coalition.


Polls held shortly after that deal showed Mofaz losing popularity.


Many of the seats lost by Kadima would go to the newly formed Yesh Atid party headed by journalist Yair Lapid. The poll gives Lapid 17 MKs.


Likud is at 30 Knesset seats, more or less as it has been in other recent polls. Labor reaches 20 seats and becomes the second-largest party.


Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beytenu receives 12 seats, Shas – which currently has 11 – gets only 6, United Torah Judaism stays with the current 5, the National Union climbs to 9 and the Jewish Home receives 3.


Meretz doubles its power to receive 6 seats.


The projection gives the so-called right-religious bloc 62 seats and makes a Likud-coalition with more Lapid likely.




by Gabe Kahn


European Union Committee for Foreign Affairs chairman Dr. Fiorello Provera said this week that the EU was obligated to intervene on behalf of Muhammad Abu Shahala.


Abu Shahala was sentenced to death by a Palestinian Authority court for selling the Beit HaMachpela (House of the Patriarchs) to Jewish families in Hevron.


“Abu Shahala’s conviction has no justification, and therefore the European Union will intervene to save his life,” Provera wrote in response to a plea by Hevron’s Jewish community asking the EU intervene on Abu Shahala’s behalf. “It is inconceivable that a man who sells his house will be convicted of a crime and sentenced to death.”


“The PA is the foremost beneficiary of a European assistance, so we must intervene interest and demand the PA immediately cancel Abu Shahala’s death sentence. And, to remove the death penalty for the sale of property and land [to Jews].”


Provera indicated media reports in Israel had prompted EU Foreign Affairs chief Catherine Ashton to intervene on Abu Shahala’s behalf – adding that European Union policy opposed the death penalty in all cases.


Provera concluded, “I call on the PA to immediately block the implementation of death sentence on Abu Shahala, as required by the UN General Assembly.”


Abu was arrested four months ago and questioned about selling Beit Machpela to local Jews. Initially, he was released, but was rearrested 66 days later, reportedly tortured into confessing, and placed in solitary confinement.


The execution order against Abu Shahala still requires the signature of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Meanwhile, Abu Shahala, who suffers from heart disease and has had four catheterizations, is said to be in deteriorating health.


Jewish leaders David Wilder and Noam Arnon in Hevron have petitioned UN chief Ban Ki-moon, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton; European Council president Herman Van Rompuy; and the director general of the International Red Cross, Yves Daccord, among others, to intervene on Abu Shahala’s behalf.


“It is appalling to think that property sales should be defined as a “capital crime” punishable by death,” they wrote to the leaders. “The very fact that such a “law” exists within the framework of the PA legal system points to a barbaric and perverse type of justice, reminiscent of practices implemented during the dark ages.”


“What would be the reaction to a law in the United States, England, France, or Switzerland, forbidding property sales to Jews? Less than one hundred years ago, such acts were legislated and practiced, in the infamous “Nuremberg laws….”





On Israel’s Independence Day, 45 years ago, in 1967, the annual festivities were taking place at the Merkaz HaRav Kook flagship religious Zionist yeshiva in Jerusalem, when the venerable Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook zts”l, rose to speak and broke into an anguished cry –


“Where is our Hevron? Where is our Jericho? Where is our Shechem? Where is every bit of Eretz Yisrael? How is it that we accept that the verse that says ‘and they divided my land’ has come to pass?”


He told the awestruck students “I could not be truly happy [seeing the lack of these holy sites in the partition borders] on the first Independence Day [in 1948]”.


The next day, Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran.


The students had reason to recall his words with awe, when three weeks later, his prayers were answered and Jerusalem, Hevron, Shechem and Jericho returned to Jewish hands.


In continuation of this love for Jerusalem and every inch of the Holy Land, approximately a thousand religious Zionist rabbis, including old and young rabbis, community leaders, educators and rabbis in uniform, met on Thursday at the Ramada Renaissance Hotel in Jerusalem for a first of its kind Jerusalem Day conference.


Speakers included chief rabbis of cities and heads of yeshivas and Torah institutes, such as Rav Sheer Yashuv Cohen of Haifa,   Rav Yaakov Ariel of Ramat Gan, Rav Nachum Rabinowitz of Maaleh Adumim, Rav Zalman Baruch Melamed of Beit El, Rav Chaim Drukman of Ohr Etzion representing hesder yeshivas, Rav Yaakov Shapiro of Merkaz Harav, Rav Shmuel Eliyahu of Tsfat, Rav Yisrael Rosen of the Tsomet Halakhic Institute. Rabbi Aharon LIchtenstein of Har Etzion spoke by video.


The rabbinical conference, which was held in honor of Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Reunification) Day, reunited 45 years ago in the Six Day War, dealt with the unity of Jerusalem and with unity in general.

Opinion: There’s a lesson here for student strikers

By Lisa B. Moore    May 18, 2012 7:27 AM

Lisa B. Moore is a professional actor

Photograph by: Lisa B. Moore , .

MONTREAL – Hey, student protesters: listen up!

In 1997, after six years of post-secondary education, I found myself saddled with $22,000 in student-loan debt. I was frustrated and overwhelmed with the system, and saw no way out. So what did I do?

I did not resort to public mischief to gain attention for my cause. I did make an appointment to see my federal MP, Lucienne Robillard, who happened to be a prominent cabinet minister in then-prime minister Jean Chrétien’s government. I brought all my financial documents with me and made my case: as a young person struggling to support myself, I could not reasonably shoulder this enormous fiscal burden. The result? In 1998, the federal budget introduced a new tax credit for interest paid on student loans.

I made my point quietly, and effectively it would seem, in order to benefit others and myself. I did not behave like a childish coward and recklessly endanger the lives of innocent civilians to get what I wanted through violent protests on the streets of the city where I live.

On May 10, co-ordinated smoke-bomb attacks shut down the entire métro system. Montreal’s downtown core came to a complete stop. Tens of thousands of innocent people were put in harm’s way.

Here was your carpe diem moment, a chance to step up and show Montrealers what you were made of, a chance to denounce in the strongest possible terms any such acts of terrorism (yes, I and the thousands of other law-abiding citizens on their way to work that morning are going to call it that, not to mention the judge).

So what did you do? You sent your head of the CLASSE (Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante), Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, to call a news conference. “People should stop turning to the student movement for comment every time there is an act of disruption in the city of Montreal,” he said. “If there is an investigation required, that is for the police to do, not us. And we do not feel it is necessary to take a stand on absolutely every action taken in Montreal.”

Why is it not necessary, Mr. Nadeau-Dubois? After months of daily upheaval by the student movement – “What’s with all the helicopters?” “Oh, must be the students, again.” – it’s natural enough for us to shine the culpability glare on you. And because the recent record of violent disruption unfortunately has given you a taint that is hard to remove, answers are demanded by all. Call it the noblesse oblige of the havoc-making class.

If you want to sit at the leadership table, with the rest of the grown-ups, then you should have immediately distanced yourself from the violence and the Force étudiante critique (the group that has been said to have some connection to the métro attacks). May I remind you that you are the ones hosting this street party, not us, and it’s up to you to kick out the gatecrashers. Stop hiding behind the police in this regard.

At that same press conference, you announced that you have chosen to reject the government’s latest offer of annual hikes of $254 to tuition over a seven-year period, and improved bursaries and loans. But where is the negotiation in your rejection?

From the beginning, you have insisted that the tuition increases are unmanageable, despite the fact that those fees have not increased in four decades and you pay the lowest tuition of all Canadian provinces. Students in the rest of the country have somehow made do. It’s hard to buy that a tuition hike is insupportable, and opinion polls suggest that you have failed to make a convincing case of this to the rest of us.

The taxpayers do not support your argument. I contend that most Quebec taxpayers want their monies put to more urgent use like improved health care.

I would argue that less action and more words are required to help you negotiate, not instigate, the change you desire. I suggest you very carefully rethink your next moves and how best to exercise your “voice.” Remember, you will inherit this once-great-now-crumbling province of ours, including all its budgetary checks and balances.

Readers who agree with me should get in touch with their MNA and tell them they back the proposed law to end the student strike. The time to push back is upon us. Assez c’est assez!

Lisa B. Moore is a professional actress and power mom. She lives in Montreal with her husband and two young children.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Read more: