Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Jewish Olive Tree Uprooters?

Token-settler Chanoch Daum has an interesting article about his settler-brother who lives in my neck of the woods...the settlement of Yitzhar.

See, Daum (self-admittedly) lives in a "lightweight settlement" in Gush Etzion...and (self-admittedly) misrepresents the Yitzhar settlers as well. (Perhaps he misrepresents them by the very title of his article, that he attempts to find the good qualities of the Jewish Olive Tree Uprooters?")

This must be like the Yiddish aphorism; "May your enemy get a hernia by dancing on your grave" No Jewish compliment can be unblemished without some sort of backhand backstab?

At least he writes honestly:
It is not difficult to speak ill of the Yitzhar people. It is home for settlers who believe that the Yesha Council is a leftist organization, going through a troubling post-Zionist process.

They do not pray for the State of Israel, they do not really believe the Arabs have a right to exist in their vicinity, they consider homosexuality a mental disease, and are very strict about modesty edicts, which can easily be viewed as outright chauvinism. Even I have a hard time with them. Oh, yes. Disputing brothers will forever carry emotional burdens.
He does have some heart warming things to say...
Yes, I know, it is hard to separate the two. It is hard to separate the warmth and love I found in the Yitzhar synagogue from the way the very same people treat the IDF soldiers who guard their settlement. It is hard to separate the authentic joy of those worshipers from the most troubling fact that the settlement where my nephews live has no fence around it because it does not match the settlers' ideology.

It is not hard to see only the weaknesses of the Yitzhar dwellers. It is very easy to speak ill of them and fan the flames of the already prevailing public hatred toward them. Even if they are wrong, even if they think differently, there is a lot of beauty and kindness to be found in their midst. I believe it is important to remember that. It is important for me to remember that.
But why does he have to talk about uprooting Olive trees?
I donÂ’t know why it is so important for me to convince you that the Yitzhar residents have lots of fine qualities. It must have something to do with the fact that I too forgot that over the past six years. I have grown used to thinking of them as olive-tree uprooters, and forgot their finest quality - the one that every Israeli should study thoroughly and deeply.
Is that really the firstthingg that comes to mind when thinking of Yitzhar residents? And why the generalization? It's not like every Yitzharian does that for fun (if any do at all).

In my particular yishuv, the grey-shirted Yasam police have been wandering around lately, just itching for anyone to dare to look at the local Arabs picking their olives at the edge (and in) our yishuv. We, the settlers are their target, despite the fact that there were 2 serious IDF warnings of planned terrorist infiltrations over the past 2 weeks. We don't bother the Arabs or their trees -- but someone is trying to send us a message by sending the Yasam policemen to our neighborhood.

And they are far from Israel's finest.

Perhaps if Daum would stop reusing the sterotype that "Settlers are Olive Tree Uprooters", things would be better for everyone -- even if he has some nice things to say along the way?

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Monday, October 30, 2006

Central Committee Musings - The Carnival's in Town

Last night, the Labor Party Central Committee met to decide if Labor should stay in Olmert's government despite the arrival of Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party. Listening to the speeches on my way home from work, it brought back flashbacks from so many Likud Central Committee meetings I've attended.

Usually, Labor is pareve, dull, and lacking any excitement...a group of sullen party hacks who ran the country till 1977, and think they still have a real agenda. Contrasting that is (was) the Likud party -- vibrancy, excitement, table-throwing, screaming, microphone grabbing, electrical system tampering -- all the mayhem, color and smell of the Shuk in Machane Yehuda. Likudnim come from all segments of the Israeli society (good and bad), and more than once I heard that the Likud resembles Bnei Yisrael when they left Egypt and traveled the desert. Jews, yes. Some with a slave mentality, some with a galut mentality, some are princes and nobles, some are fighters, some rich, some poor -- but even with their whole mix and mess, they were still taken out of Egypt by G-d (and destined for greatness).**

Last night's Labor convention finally had some pizzaz, and for the first time,. I empathized with Labor MK Ofir Pines (for pronunciation aficionados, it's pronounced pee-niss). MK Pines may be my political antithesis and political adversary, but when he got up to speak last night, I felt for him.

He lambasted the Labor party hacks for wanting to stay in the government at the expense of their ideology, and I was reminded of the inverted situation a few years ago, when I was present at Likud Central Committee conventions, and we ostracized the Likud party hacks for supporting the Disengagement.

MK Pines lamented:
"I am product of the Labor Party, of the Labor Movement. This is my home since I joined the party when I was part of the Labor Youth, but this house is being buried before my eyes because of unreliability, because of deals, because of zigzags, because of lack of leadership."
He energetically denounced the party for having sold out its ideology for "staying in power" and that the Labor electorate would punish them.

Jameel's Flashback: Arik Sharon, Omri Sharon, Ehud Olmert, Limor Livnat, Tzachi HaNegbi, and other Likud party MKs sitting at the dais, smugly smiling at their bought off Likud Central Committee members who blindly chanted, "Arik, Melech Yisrael, Chai, Chai viKayam", and the rest of us blowing whistles and waving signs that the Likud party membership voted AGAINST the disengagement...and they were being ignored and stabbed in the back by the party hacks and leaders (in Israeli politics you can be a hack AND a leader).

Last night, the hacks were Fuad Ben-Elizer, Buzi Herzog, Yulia Tamir and Amir Peretz, whose mindless supporters sold out on ideology, despite the impassioned plea by MK Pines. He spoke very well (even if I disagree with 95% of everything he said), and I feel bad for him, as he watches his party get swallowed up by corrupt fat cats and small-minded politicians.

I may not like MK Pines, but he's a political adversary I would like to challenge and debate. Better him, than Jabba the Hutt-type Labor hacks like Fuad Ben Eliezer, Beiga Shochat and Amir Peretz. (I know Beiga Shochat's no longer a Labor MK, but he fits the image of Jabba the Hutt sooooo nicely)

A word of advice though to MK Pines; don't make the mistake of leaving Labor. Staying with the large parties is the only way to really influence anything. It's painful, but it's your only hope for the long run.

**And to those who question why I had anything to do with the Likud party, the current Israeli governmental system is led by the leader of the largest party. To lead the country or to have the most political clout, the most logical place to be is the largest party closest to your own ideology. Small parties may give you the feeling that you're a political big-shot, but how much protectiza and real life political power does a local Bnei Akiva chapter have anyway? None.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Rain Game

I was in the UK last week as couldn't believe the uproar going on over the environment. Apparently, the lack of water in the London area of England is so bad, that Environment Minister Lord Rooker even proposed that London's population be relocated to Northern England! The environmental issues were the talk of the town.

I was rather surprised by the following:

1. Water in the UK isn't metered, but you pay a flat annual fee. I found that rather odd for a country that pretends they need to watch water consumption.

2. During Israel's winter, everyone is happy when it's raining -- a "good" day means it's raining. An excellent day is when the Kinneret fills up some more. In England...a rainy day is considered "bad"...and everyone thinks the environment is "the government's problem." Take my advice -- start metering your water, and be happy when it rains. Don't say, "The weather's awful" -- but be appreciative when the rain is filling up your reservoirs.

Watching the Kinneret's level rise every day is one of our national pastimes, and we hope and pray with "Mashiv HaRuach UMorid HaGeshem" (prayer for rain) that it will get filled to the brim this and every year.

We also watch the YNET flash animation that shows us the Kinneret's status every day...(if the flash animation doesn't work below, just click on the link)




Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Proteczia. Israel’s Vitamin P.

How does a Russian word like proteczia wind up one as of the most coveted words of modern spoken Hebrew? I guess it came along with the rest of the ills that accompanied Marxist Communism’s aliya to Israel, when Israel’s elite came almost exclusively from the Kibbutzim, and the socialist labor union, “The Histradrut” which ruled Israel with an iron fist.

Proteczia, for the unenlightened (or unfortunate, if they don’t have any), means “protection.” Protection from the “system” that allows you to bypass bureaucracy, rules, regulations, salary levels, prison, and can even open doors of opportunity – financial, military, government, commercial and institutional.

Some examples?

Your child has a cold and you need a certain (over the counter, though in extreme cases, proteczia can get you everything) medication for them. You call up the Kupat Cholim (HMO) and they are closed. You call up your neighbor (a nurse at the Kupat Cholim) and they have the key to the Kupa…and as a favor to you, they go to the Kupa with you and get the medication. If you weren’t friendly with this nurse or anyone within the local Kupa…meaning, you had no proteczia, you would probably have to go the pharmacy (shlep to the pharmacy) and pay more for it (provided you are lucky enough that the pharmacy to be open).

You’ve been job hunting in Israel for 6 months, and can’t find the job you want. You mention this to your friend in shul who says, “I hope you aren’t just sending your resume to different companies…if you really want an interview in the first place, you need to know someone on the inside. Give me your resume…” You send him your resume, and he talks to his friend in his company who is looking for someone that more or less matches your description. You get called for an interview…

There are 2 main parameters that determine the effectiveness and quality of your proteczia: how friendly are you with the person you are “cashing in the proteczia with”, and “how high up in the proteczia food chain” your friend is. Taking the above example: If your friend is a high-level manager, then the potential for you getting the job is higher, as well as having more potential to get a position you want. If the friend is a very good friend, then the likelihood of this scenario working out, improves.

A good example of this might be, how does a bimbo waitress become a Member of Knesset, or how does Bibi Netanyau’s secretary get to be a Member of Knesset and eventually, a Deputy Minister in the Israeli government? Friends in the right places…make all the difference. Or in one word, proteczia.

Yet…what does the poor oleh in Israel do? Alas, they make aliya, and their entire bank of connections, friends, and “proteczia” is left behind.

The Muqata Aliya Think-Tank has come up with a good solution for this (and if I had enough proteczia, perhaps I could get it implemented).

When olim from Western countries move to Israel, they are granted all sorts of tax-break benefits – reduced taxes on cars, furniture, appliances and the like. This totally annoys your average Israeli: “I live here my whole life, fight in the army, pay crazy taxes, have to deal with Jameel as a neighbor, and who gets a tax break? Those stupid, RICH olim? Why do they deserve ANYTHING – they should be penalized for moving here!” What the Israeli doesn’t realize is that the oleh IS being penalized for moving here – in that they lack the proteczia that the Israeli has. The Israeli has lots of proteczia, from his friends in the army, his friends from school, his chamula, (extended family)…and everyone helps everyone out. The oleh comes here with nothing.

My solution is as follows: Instead of the oleh getting the tax-breaks on different items, they should get a coupon book of “proteczia”. The idea is very simple:

You’ve been in Israel for close to 9 months, and you get a call from your bank. Apparently, they think you bounced a check. You know there’s a mistake since there’s money in your account… Without any proteczia, you would enter the bank, and wait on line…for a while. When you find someone to talk to, they send you to a different line…and you wait there as well. About the time you get to the correct teller, he/she goes on a break. You waste your whole morning, and the issue may or may not get resolved to your satisfaction over the course of the day, tomorrow, the following week, etc.

That’s old school.

With Jameel’s patent pending “Oleh Proteczia Plan (OPP)”, you rip out a coupon from your Ministry of Absorption –issued OPP booklet and enter the bank. You bypass the lines and walk directly to the bank manager’s office. He gives you a scowl (while not giving you the time of day) and you say, “Hey, Itzik! How’s it going? He gives you a puzzled look and says, “What are you doing in my office?” And you just smile and present your OPP coupon that says, “For Use in the Bank – the Bank Manager and your brother were in the same army unit together.” He takes one look and returns the smile, gives you a bearhug, and says, “Oh, how are you? Can I offer you something to drink? Please take a seat…what can I help you with?” Three minutes later you walk out of the bank, with your problem solved.

These coupons work for a whole myriad of situations;

Banks, Hospitals, Schools, Municipal offices, Car registration, Police, Mas Hachnasa & Bituach Leumi (IRS and social security) Ministry of Interior, Airlines, the IDF…even corporations!

Each oleh should receive a coupon book with enough coupons in it to last roughly 10 years. By then, you should have built up enough proteczia for yourself so that you won’t need any more coupons.

In the meantime, remember the old Israeli adage; If you have enough connections with people, you don’t need proteczia.

What’s your best proteczia story?



Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Israeli Trivial Pursuit Question #23


Who could forget playing Trivial Pursuit in the 1980's on Friday nights or Shabbat afternoon? I loved the science questions and hated the sports ones. (AirTime & Ezzie probably loved the sports questions).

Here's today's question for Israeli Trivial Pursuit:

Which of the following subjects does NOT include joint Arab and Israeli Settler Cooperation?

1. Protesting the Gay Parade to be held in Israel
2. Protesting the Security Fence
3. Fighting the war on car accidents
4. Joint Sewage lines
Answer will be in a follow-up posting...
Suggestions for new questions welcomed by email...valuable prizes for correct answers and good questions...? (that's a question, not a statement :)

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Monday, October 23, 2006

Jewish Practical Innovation Starts HERE.

Jewish practical innovation (as opposed to theoretical) is inherently connected to Israel. Like it or not, the resurgence and application of Jewish Nationalism, through Shivat Tziyon, has propelled Judaism forward in a quantum leap like never before in our past 2000 years. The challenge of a Jewish State in a modern technological era is welcomed with open arms by many -- and instead of adopting old-world mindsets that "it's better not to put yourself into a halachic quandary posed by modernization", we rise to the occasion, and embrace it, lichatchila.

Israel has revitalized Hebrew, Lashon HaKodesh (The Holy Language) -- and modernized the language to the point of every day usage, adapted to a modern era.

Tanach is undergoing a revolution and is taught in yeshiva high schools. The "Bible Championship," Chidon HaTanach is a wonderful experience for religious (and non observant) teenagers to reconnect to Tanach. Who would have dreamed a hundred years ago of Orthodox teenagers learning Tanach -- it would have been Gemara only...in Yiddish.

Reading this post on "A Simple Jew's" blog really bothered me:

"Reading an recent editorial entitled "For a kinder, gentler Judaism " made me think about a sensitive halachic issue at the shul where I daven. In her editorial, Linda Maurice wrote, "My 100-year-old observant grandmother did not go to shul on the first day of Rosh Hashanah this year. She did go on the second day. The reason for her absence the first day was not due to illness, but because her Orthodox rabbi did not want her to attend if she had to arrive in a wheelchair."

Linda Maurice's grandmother instantly made me think of "Shalom", a middle-aged paraplegic man who davens at my shul. Each Shabbos, Shalom's non-Jewish nurse drives him to shul and he makes his way inside with the help of his electric wheelchair.

I realize that this immediately raises many halachic problems since it involves violation of Shabbos prohibitions, and that Orthodox rabbis would counsel him to refrain from doing this. I also realize that Hilchos Shabbos will never be revised to make an exception for cases such as Shalom."

Here in Israel, we already have techno-halachik solutions for wheelchairs and the disabled. The Tzomet Institue has developed thousands of devices and solutions to complex halachik issues in the Modern Era. From pens that write on shabbat for medical and security forces to electric wheelchairs based on grama (indirect control), Tzomet meets the challenge of finding innovative solutions which "meet the letter of the law and the Spirit of the Torah."

A partial list of Tzomet innovations includes:
JoeSettler and I discussed why their motto includes "spirit of the Torah" and not "spirit of the law," and I pointed out that "spirit of the Torah" is a euphemism for a Judaism in a modern society. In a real-life modern society, such as Israel today, there need to be real solutions for issues involving security, emergency medical, police, fire departments and public safety (gas, water, electric, sewage and others). One could stick their heads in the ground and say, "Israel is a secular state, and therefore, it's not my problem", or one could say (G-d forbid), as I have heard from others, "It's so much simpler to live outside of Israel without all the complexities of Shmita, Truma, Maaser..."

While there will definitely be those who point to innovation in chutz la'aretz, we need to differentiate between innovation that results in restrictions (i.e., leafy vegetables are prohibited) versus solutions, such as the Gush Katif bug-free vegetables.
Obviously there are chidushei Torah and philosophical advancement made outside Israel today, but the pure-application of solutions are almost all being done in Israel.
Many people say, "Why bother with baking matzot on erev pesach, after "zman biur", when there are all sorts of possible issurim involved? Why even bother with the issue of going to Har HaBayit, (The Temple Mount), since there's the punishment of Karet for doing it wrong. Yes, the punishment is very severe, but does that mean we shouldn't try to find the correct, acceptable halachik perscription?
Tekhelet for tzitziyot, "Cool Jew Blue" has been revitalized...from Israel.

The challenge of Israel today is to find acceptable halachik (or technological) solutions for living in the complex reality of a modern-day Jewish state.

No one said living in Israel is easy (otherwise, I wouldn't be writing about a challenge). Yes, living outside of Israel has it's challenges as well - like affording yeshiva tuition, yet I would prefer Israel's challenges any day, which are on behalf of all of the Jewish people.

You can watch from the sidelines outside of Israel, but if you want to be part of the vibrancy of emerging solutions and innovation, this is without a doubt, the place for Jews to be.


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Best Possible Use of Counterfeit Money

YNETnews found this fascinating report from Scotland:

Scotland on Sunday reported that a new book revealed that more than £ 130 million (USD 164 million) worth of British banknotes forged by the Nazis was used by the Jewish underground to help establish Israel.

According to the report, the book said wads of notes, which the Germans had forged by concentration camp inmates, ended up being used after the Second World War to pay for the transport of Jews to then British-occupied Palestine, and to buy weapons for the emerging Israeli armed forces.

I don't know if when the money was used, it was known to be counterfeit -- but for the Jews escaping Germany, Jewish refugees wanting to rebuild their shattered lives after the Holocaust, and Jews wanting to purchasing weapons for the fledgling State of Israel on the brink of war with all the surrounding Arab armies, I don't think I would have done anything differently.


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Raanana Ramblings**...(and Kefar Sava as well)

The Mrs. and I had lots to do this past Friday. Car muffler needed to be replaced, remaining school books to buy, bar-mitzva gifts, fun food at Meatland (TM)...and we happened to stop off at Oren Books in Raanana.

I'd never heard of this bookstore before and they sell primarily English-only paperbacks. I knew this was the store for me, when I saw the following important notice tacked to one of the shelves:


I asked the person behind the counter if he was "Oren" and he laughed, saying he was only the manager. "Oren" he said, is the maiden name of the wife of one of the owners. I told him he should wear a t-shirt saying "I'm not Oren".

Sadly though, the bookstore is slated to be closed in the coming months. If you happen to be in Raanana (behind Meatland) and want to get some good paperbacks, I recommend warmly, "Oren Books."

Our other noteworthy stop was in Kefar Sava at the Judaica Supply and book store, "Yefet". We picked up a copy of "A Tzaddik in our Time" (about R' Aryeh Levin) as a Bar Mitzva present. When checking out, the elderly store owner mentioned to us that as a youngster, he used to go with R' Aryeh Levin to the British jails to deliver food to the Jewish prisoners of Etzel and Lechi underground movements. Great book...or read about him on-line here.


How cool is that? You can't go ten feet in this country without coming face to face with history from the past, or history in the making.

* Sadly, the website for Oren Books has already expired so I can't even offer you the link.

** Raanana Ramblings is also a slice of life blog -- thoughts from a busy Mom in Ra'anana, Israel


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

The Girl with the Apple

I got this by email this morning from a friend. Great Story...wanted to share it.

The Girl with the Apple

by Herman Rosenblat, Miami Beach, Florida

August 1942. Piotrkow, Poland. The sky was gloomy that morning as we waited anxiously. All the men, women and children of Piotrkow's Jewish ghetto had been herded into a square. Word had gotten around that we were being moved. My father had only recently died from typhus, which had run rampant through the crowded ghetto. My greatest fear was that our family would be separated.

"Whatever you do," Isidore, my eldest brother, whispered to me, "don't tell them your age. Say you're sixteen". I was tall for a boy of 11, so I could pull it off. That way I might be deemed valuable as a worker. An SS man approached me, boots clicking against the cobblestones. He looked me up and down, then asked my age.
"Sixteen," I said. He directed me to the left, where my three brothers and other healthy young men already stood. My mother was motioned to the right with the other women, children, sick and elderly people. I whispered to Isidore, "Why?" He didn't answer.
I ran to Mama's side and said I wanted to stay with her.
"No," she said sternly.
"Get away. Don't be a nuisance. Go with your brothers."
She had never spoken so harshly before. But I understood:
She was protecting me. She loved me so much that, just this once, she pretended not to. It was the last I ever saw of her.

My brothers and I were transported in a cattle car to Germany.
We arrived at the Buchenwald concentration camp one night weeks later and were led into a crowded barrack. The next day, we were issued uniforms and identification numbers. "Don't call me Herman anymore." I said to my brothers. "Call me 94983."
I was put to work in the camp's crematorium, loading the dead into a hand-cranked elevator. I, too, felt dead.

Hardened, I had become a number. Soon, my brothers and I were sent to Schlieben, one of Buchenwald's sub-camps near Berlin.

One morning I thought I heard my mother's voice. Son, she said softly but clearly, I am sending you an angel. Then I woke up: Just a dream-a beautiful dream. But in this place there could be no angels. There was only work. And hunger. And fear.

A couple of days later, I was walking around the camp, behind the barracks, near the barbed-wire fence where the guards could not easily see. I was alone. On the other side of the fence, I spotted someone, a young girl with light, almost luminous curls. She was half-hidden behind a birch tree. I glanced around to make sure no one saw me. I called to her softly in German. "Do you have something eat?" She didn't understand. I inched closer to the fence and repeated question in Polish. She stepped forward. I was thin and gaunt, with rags wrapped around my feet, but the girl looked unafraid. In her eyes, I saw life. She pulled an apple from her woolen jacket and threw it over the fence. I grabbed the fruit and, as I started to run away, I heard her say faintly, "I'll see you tomorrow."

I returned to the same spot by the fence at the same time every day.
She was always there with something for me to eat, a hunk of bread or, better yet, an apple. We didn't dare speak or linger.

To be caught would mean death for us both. I didn't know anything about her, just a kind farm girl, except that she understood Polish.

What was her name? Why was she risking her life for me?

Hope was in such short supply, and this girl on the other side of the fence gave me some, as nourishing in its way as the bread and apples.

Nearly seven months later, my brothers and I were crammed into a coal car and shipped to Theresienstadt camp in Czechoslovakia.

"Don't return," I told the girl that day. "We're leaving." I turned toward the barracks and didn't look back, didn't even say good-bye to the girl whose name I'd never learned, the girl with the apples.

We were in Theresienstadt for three months. The war was winding down and Allied forces were closing in, yet my fate seemed sealed.

On May 10, 1945, I was scheduled to die in the gas chamber at 10:00 A.M. In the quiet of dawn, I tried to prepare myself. So many times death seemed ready to claim me, but somehow I'd survived.

Now, it was over. I thought of my parents. At least, I thought we would be reunited.

At 8 A. M. there was a commotion. I heard shouts, and saw people running every which way through camp. I caught up with my brothers. Russian troops had liberated the camp! The gates swung open. Everyone was running, so I did too. Amazingly, all of my brothers had survived; I'm not sure how. But I knew that the girl with the apples had been the key to my survival. In a place where evil seemed triumphant, one person's goodness had saved my life, had given me hope in a place where there was none. My mother had promised to send me an angel, and the angel had come.

Eventually I made my way to England where I was sponsored by a Jewish charity, put up in a hotel with other boys who had survived the Holocaust and trained in electronics. Then I came to America, where my brother Sam had already moved. I served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, and returned to New York City after two years. By August 1957 I'd opened my own electronics repair shop. I was starting to settle in.

One day, my friend Sid, whom I knew from England, called me.
"I've got a date. She's got a Polish friend. Let's double date."

A blind date? Nah, that wasn't for me. But Sid kept pestering me, and a few days later we headed up to the Bronx to pick up his date and her friend Roma. I had to admit, for a blind date this wasn't so bad. Roma was a nurse at a Bronx hospital. She was kind and smart. Beautiful, too, with swirling brown curls and green, almond-shaped eyes that sparkled with life.

The four of us drove out to Coney Island. Roma was easy to talk to, easy to be with. Turned out she was wary of blind dates too! We were both just doing our friends a favor. We took a stroll on the boardwalk, enjoying the salty Atlantic breeze, and then had dinner by the shore. I couldn't remember having a better time.

We piled back into Sid's car, Roma and I sharing the backseat. As European Jews who had survived the war, we were aware that much had been left unsaid between us. She broached the subject, "Where were you," she asked softly, "during the war?"
"The camps," I said, the terrible memories still vivid, the irreparable loss. I had tried to forget. But you can never forget. She nodded. "My family was hiding on a farm in Germany, not far from Berlin," she told me. "My father knew a priest, and he got us Aryan papers." I imagined how she must have suffered too, fear, a constant companion. And yet here we were, both survivors, in a new world. "There was a camp next to the farm."

Roma continued. "I saw a boy there and I would throw him apples every day."

What an amazing coincidence that she had helped some other boy. "What did he look like?" I asked. "He was tall. Skinny. Hungry. I must have seen him every day for six months." My heart was racing. I couldn't believe it, this couldn't be.
"Did he tell you one day not to come back because he was leaving Schlieben?" Roma looked at me in amazement.

"Yes, that was I! " I was ready to burst with joy and awe, flooded with emotions. I couldn't believe -My angel. "I'm not letting you go." I said to Roma. And in the back of the car on that blind date, I proposed to her. I didn't want to wait.

"You're crazy!" she said. But she invited me to meet her parents for Shabbat dinner the following week. There was so much I looked forward to learning about Roma, but the most important things I always knew: her steadfastness, her goodness. For many months, in the worst of circumstances, she had come to the fence and given me hope. Now that I'd found her again, I could never let her go.

That day, she said yes. And I kept my word." After nearly 50 years of marriage, two children and three grandchildren I have never let her go.

This story was published in the August 2006 issue of Guideposts. There was more to this story, including pictures.

A chance blind date led Holocaust survivor Herman Rosenblat back to Roma, the girl who helped him survive a Nazi concentration camp. Eleven years old when the Nazis captured him, Herman never got to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah, the joyous event in which Jewish boys mark their passage into manhood. But in February this year, 63 years late, Herman finally did, with his wife, Roma, friends and family by his side. They ate cookies; danced the hora (a traditional Jewish circle dance) and hoisted Herman aloft in a chair.

Herman is now retired from his job as an electronics repairman, and he and Roma live in Miami Beach. He plans to write a book. "If a human being lives four hundred years, he'll never go through what I went through in seventy." Herman says.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Palestinian TV Denies Jewish Connection to Temple Mount

Not that this should surprise anyone, but realistically, I don't see any chance of peace with the Palestinians when they talk like this -- settlements and land aren't the crux of the issue: the Temple Mount is. The question is, will an Israeli government decide to capitulate on Jerusalem after they have left Gaza, and then (G-d forbid) abandon Judea and Samaria as well?

Jews have no historical connection to the Western Wall, which is actually the "Al-Buraq Wall," is part of the Al Aqsa Mosque and served as a tying post for Muhammad's horse, according to messages broadcast this month on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' state-run television.

"The issue of the Al-Buraq Wall (the Western Wall) is one of the wonders which we don't know why it happened in this order (of historical events). Who would have believed, back then, when Islam began in the time of the prophet, who would have believed that the Israelis would arrive 1,400 years later, conquer Jerusalem and would make this wall into their special place of worship, where they worship and pray? It's incredible!" said Dr. Hassan Khader, founder of the popular Al Quds Encyclopedia, in an interview on PA television. (YNETnews)
Then again, we can't really blame them. When Shimon Peres repeats over and over again that there's nothing to learn from history, why shouldn't we expect the Palestinians to continue ignoring facts? Then again, I guess the reason Shimon is considering running for President of Israel is that he takes his own advice and refuses to learn from history. The man is a perpetual loser and will lose the race for presidency as well...



Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mars and Venus -- Islam's perspective



Well, that was...enlightening? I feel bad for that guy's wife. I wonder if she has a blog, something like the Renegade Imamitzen?


hat-tip: anonym00kie

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

MK Oron Responds to Muqata Readers...

OK, my posting from yesterday has been verified by MK Chaim Oron (Meretz) himself.

I'd like to thank those of you who wrote to MK Oron (or called, even if his staff laughed you -- aren't Meretz staffers nice?), and to those of you who linked to this story. (here, here, and here)

One of our esteemed Muqata readers actually received a reply from MK Oron... At first, I was impressed, but have now learned that it's a form letter, since more than one Muqata reader has received the same one.

Translation is as follows:

Shalom,

I welcome your letter to me.

Due to the many instances in which different religious groups in Israel try to cause minors to be "chozer biteshuva" [return to religion], either through activities, or the distribution of materials that contain threats within schools, I have proposed to outlaw all direct or indirect activities from organizations like those, that try to cause minors to return to religion.

My proposal applies to attempts to convince minors, who normally have less developed faith and opinions than those of an adult -- and attempts to convince them to change from a secular person to a religious person; a transformation that should only occur based on self-reflection and without any pressure or external enticements.

I understand that you disagree with my viewpoint, and therefore, "[every] person in his own faith shall live"

Sincerely,

Chaim (Jomas) Oron

Here's the original email text:

שלום רב,

קיבלתי בתודה את פנייתך.

נוכח התרבותם של מקרים בהם גופים דתיים שונים בישראל המשדלים קטינים לחזור בתשובה, בין היתר באמצעות פעילות והפצת חומר הכולל איומים בבתי ספר, הצעתי לאסור פעולות ישירות או עקיפות של מי שפועל מטעם גופים כאלה במטרה לשדל קטינים לחזור בתשובה. הצעתי מתייחסת לשידול קטין, שבדרך כלל דעותיו ואמונותיו פחות מגובשות משל אדם בוגר, לשנות את אמונתו ולהפוך מאדם חילוני לדתי, דבר שמן הראוי שישקול בינו לבין עצמו ללא כל לחץ או פיתויים חיצוניים.

אני מבין שאתה לא מסכים עם דעתי זו ולכן איש איש באמונתו יחיה.

בברכה,
חיים (ג'ומס) אורון


There you have it. In his own words. I wonder if MK Oron would feel the same way about Israeli Moslem institutions that attempt to make secular Israeli Arabs, more religious...

Nyah.
PS; TAFKAPP -- This is great investigative Muqata reporting, not some wannabe news publication like HaAretz...

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

A Shomron Outing to Sebastia


For those of you who follow this blog on a semi-regular basis, you know that one of my favorite types of postings, are those about trips of mine around Israel.

One place I haven't been to in a long time, is "Sebastia" (the Roman name for the Shomron). It used to be a much more popular location for family trips and hikes -- there's an old Turkish train station, Roman columns, ruins of a Roman amphitheatre (extra credit for those who can name the locations of ALL the Roman Amphitheatres in Israel).





(Palestinian Grafiti on ancient stone columns; thanks guys!)



In fact, the entire modern day settlement movement -- of building Jewish communities in the Shomron was actualized in Sebastia at a mass rally which led to the building of Elon Moreh (the first settlement in the Shomron).

Unfortunately, since the Disengagement from Gaza and the Northern Shomron, Israelis are not allowed to visit Sebastia without special IDF permission and escort (it used to be that you could drive there since its minutes away from Shavei Shomron, a nice-sized community). Double-unfortunately, I was unable to go on this particular tiyul this past chol hamoed due to Tesseract-type reasons, but a good friend of mine, BoneCrusher, went there instead and took lots of pictures and blogged about it.

He gets his blog-name from a guest appearance in my post about "What's in a Jewish Handshake", and he accompanied me on our wonderful night-time excursion to Kever Yehoshua.

His blogging style is very different than mine, but the information and pictures make it more than worthwhile to receive an official Muqata hat-tip.

See it all here:…The Trip to Sebastia.

Jameel.

PS: Just noticed he added other interesting posts. Worth checking out as well!

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Meretz MK Targets "Out-reach" (Judasim)

The winter session of the Knesset is now in session. MK Chaim Oron (Meretz) ascended the podium of Israel's parliament and proposed a new law:

Any person who attempts to influence a minor, to become more religiously observant of Judaism,(להחזיר בתשובה) will be subject to arrest and imprisonment for 6 months.

It's laughable to even note that his law obviously has no mention of someone who influences a minor to be less observant.

You just have to wonder where such self-hatred comes from...and worse, that he publicly attempts to foster more hate and divisiveness.

We just had a terrible war here this past summer -- and the country rallied together for it's survival. (News Source in Hebrew)

Outraged? Give MK Chaim Oron a piece of your mind.

HomePage: MK Chaim Oron
Telephone: 02-6408348
Telephone 2: 02-6408344
Fax: 02-6408904
Email: horon@knesset.gov.il


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Monday, October 16, 2006

Amazing "Save of the Day" on Simchat Torah


One of the common oddities of the levity of Simchat Torah, is that when it's time for Hagba, (Über-diqduq-geek pedantics like Steg, Lipman, and Mar Gavriel would probably insist on writing it Hagba'ha) -- instead of the usual Torah "lift and display", it's done backwards so that the words are facing away from the person doing Hagba.

In the shul I davened at as a kid, a group of guys would hold up numbered cards after each Hagba on Simchat Torah, giving their personal Olympic-style rating for the Hagba -- based on finesse, style, poise, and grace. An example would be something like:

5.8, 5.5, 5.2, 5.8, 5.7 and 3.4 (coming from the Russian judge, obviously).

However, this past Simchat Torah's minyan was different. I guess the guy doing Hagba had one drink too many during kiddush, and when he started his reverse Hagba, crossing his hands, and doing the "lift and display" -- something went horribly awry.

In slow motion, the shul watched as the left hand side of the Torah started to unroll, more and more, making this one of the widest hagba'ot every witnessed. The Torah scroll now started to sink and fall towards the floor.

Frozen in shock, the scene unfolded as no one in the shul could move; everyone was watching in horror, realizing that they may have to skip their lunch on Simchat Torah, and 30 more as well, as there is a month-long mandated fast for a "fallen Torah."

Two people reacted -- one of the largest people in shul moved faster than a speeding bullet. Coming out of left-field, this very large person scrambled with the gait of a gazelle, the grace of a figure skater, and the brute force of a Dallas Quarterback -- as he hurtled over the heads of people toward the bimah.

With only milliseconds to spare, this holy man, crashed through throngs of people at the bimah and grabbed the top handle of the Torah -- sheer milimeters before it hit the ground.

The slow-motion crescendos of "Noooooooooooooooooooo!!!" (say that slowly in your mind to get the full effect) that was the background to the seemingly slow-motion charge of the person running to catch the falling Torah, quickly switched back to real-time (Tivo users can use the "catch up to live" metaphor) -- and the shul erupted into a roaring cheer, congratulating "the man" who had saved the day!

Regular Hagba being done, no special Simchat Torah theatrics here

Yet one other person reacted even faster than the "man" who saved the day -- an even larger individual who ran like the devil out the door of the shul. Jumping Jack Flash -- this guy was out in a split second -- so that he wouldn't be present at the "falling of a Sefer Torah"... and therefore, wouldn't have to fast.

I kid you not -- this story took place in our shul, and 3 different individuals insisted that I blog it for posterity.

And to "the man" -- the community is in your debt (I think we should get this hat for him as a token of our appreciation)


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Post Sukkot Ramblings and Pictures.

With Sukkot receding into the past, today's rain washed away the summertime feeling from last week. Too cold for sandals today...I even needed a sweatshirt.

Walking around Jerusalem before sukkot, I thought I saw an amazing, huge poster for a sukka. I stopped to take a picture and realized it wasn't a poster, but printed onto the sukka's fabric -- an image of the Beit HaMikdash. Very Cool.



But sukkot's done with for this year, and the only remaining post I have about sukkot will be posted tomorrow, "The Great Save of Simchat Torah".

Today's rain though reminded me about some of the great aspects of yishuv life in Israel (though not limited exclusively to yishuvim) is that kids can walk to gan by themselves. Actually, the rain reminded me of this picture, and the picture reminded me of the yishuv lifestyle...


And when our makolet gets a pretzel delivery, this is what the pretzel delivery truck looks like! (I can't imagine seeing a truck like like this anywhere else on the planet...unless it was plastered with Chabad signs.)


Last but not least, was Tel-Aviv visted by a UFO last week during Chol HaMoed? Why aliens would choose Tel-Aviv of all places is beyond me....the Knesset seems like a much more logical locations for Aliens.

(YNetnews picture courtesy of Meir Ram)

YNet reports:

"So have aliens from outer space arrived in Tel Aviv? Experts are very skeptical. Chairman of the Israeli Astronomical Association and the director of the observatory in Givataim Yigal Pat-El said he was convinced it was an aircraft.

"If they saw it at five o'clock in the afternoon it is very likely that it was an aircraft mitting white smoke, in the picture it even looks like it has two engines, and you can see that it is flying towards the horizon and not downwards," said Pat-El. "

Doesn't really look like an aircraft to me...but then again...I'm not an "expert" like Dr. Yigal Pat-El.

If you asked me, it looks more like Luke Skywalker doing a nose-dive.


Oh, and before I finish this posting, check out this "You know you're in Israel when you see this" email I received today.

THE ANNUAL DANCING CAMEL TROGATHON - WIN A FREE KEG PARTY!

You and your etrog have had some good times together. But after a week of Sukkot, it's time for your Etrog to move on. You could just toss it in the garbage or stick it with peppercorns but is that really the way to treat your favorite citron?

How about sending it off in style! Let your Etrog be a part of history.

Immortalize it in the Dancing Camel's 5767 'Trog Wit Beer. Once a year, we collect the best Etrogim from throughout the land and after a rigorous testing process (we smell them), we select the ones that are 'Trog Wit material. What better way to show that your Etrog ain't just another lemon?

Here's what you do:
After Sukkot, bring your boxed Etrog (Etrogim with out a box will not be
accepted) to one of our designated drop-off points. You must write your name, address, cell number and email address on the box.

Here's what we do:
We enter your name in our list of 'Trogers. On the very same day that your Etrog gets pitched into history, we will draw one name for every 100 Etrogim received. If your name comes up, we will deliver A COMPLETE KEG PARTY FOR YOU AND 75 OF YOUR CLOSEST FRIENDS RIGHT TO YOUR DOOR. We supply the beer.
We supply the chiller. We supply the dispensing equipment. We supply the setup. Hey - we'll even supply the friends if you want. Delivered right to your home/office/farm/tent - whatever you like. YOU MUST BE 18 YEARS OR OLDER, YOU MUST LIVE IN ISRAEL AND YOU MUST HAVE A SOURCE OF ELECTRICITY.
That's it - we do the rest.

Where to bring your Etrog:
In Jerusalem: Sugar Hill - Rechov Helene Hamalka In Tel Aviv: The Dancing Camel Brewing Co. - Rechov Hataasiya 12 (off
Hamasger)
In Modiin: Rechov Binyamin 72 in Buchman

REMEMBER - AN ETROG IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE.

David Cohen, President
The Dancing Camel Brewing Co., Ltd.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel (Israel) 052-456-4603
Tel (U.S.) 1-646-485-3586

OK...that was...different?

Lots of good stuff coming at you this week. Stay Tuned!


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Hey, I still have Muqata Access

Being that the Muqata is pro-aliyah, and being that for some reason he hasn't removed my publishing privileges, and being that I won't miss a chance to give a shout out to the Detroit Tigers, here goes.

Tonight I was able to watch the game even though it took place in Detroit on Shmini Atzeres, as most of my old Detroit community was getting ready for a second day of Yom Tov.

Back in August 2000, I was working in an ad agency, being swamped with Christmas season work. It didn't take long for me to change my feelings toward Christmas from "Oh, what pretty blinking lights" to if I see another word about Christmas I think I'm going to scream.

I suffered through three years in a row where Christmas began in August and ran through the second week of January, and decided that if I was going to be overexposed to holidays, it was going to be my holidays.

So we talked about Aliyah. It took some time, but eventually Veev decided she too was ready to make the move.

We planned it for a year.

Found a community. Filled out paperwork. Said a lot of prayers.

And then we moved.

This week we had a most incredible Succot, where we were surrounded by the holiday the entire week. Even before the holiday started, you couldn't run away from the holiday if you tried.

Etrogim for sale at work. Right across the way from a Succah stand. Then there were the Succah stands at every mall and shopping area. And decoration kiosks that sprang up everywhere.

We went to a national park to hike, and found a succah in the parking lot.

There was a succah at work, and at the restaurants we went to over the course of the week. And work had shorter days during the Chol HaMoed schedule.

And of course, one day instead of two.

Which brought us to tonight. Tonight I watched the Tigers beat the A's and earn their first trip to the World Series since I was 11. 22 years in a row of watching baseball, and finally, they earn a trip to the world series in the middle of a two day yom tov. But not for me. Because I got sick of Christmas back in 2000. And it led me to move here.

Too bad I have to go to work tomorrow (sunday) morning.


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Friday, October 13, 2006

Weird Minhagim.



Aravot on top of the Aron Kodesh? Simply strange.

Shabbat Shalom and a Chag Sameach!

--Jameel


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Shake that Lulav, Baby. (I love Israel during sukkot)



Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

10/11 in NYC today

9:35 PM Israel Time; All indications continue to point to this incident as an accident, but terror has not been ruled out.

9:32 PM, Israel time. NORAD launching fighter aircraft to provide air patrol coverage around several US cities as a precautionary measure.


Terror related? 10.11 plane/helicopter hits residential building on 72cnd street/York Ave.

Im sitting in my chair in my living room, as a I get an SMS message of a plane hitting a building in NY.

TV is on, watching on 5 channels at the same time. A 50 story condominium residential tower. 52 E 7scnd st.

Fire and emergency vehicles racing to scene...

Recollections going through my head. Im going to post this and keep watching.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sukkot: Life on the Edge

Sorry I've been a bit out of it the past few days; been slightly busy "out of place, out of mind".

And while some say that life at the Muqata is "living life on the edge" -- I think this Sukka in Kiryat Ata (Hafia area) is a much clearer example.





hat-tip: Net-net.

I hope to be back in the groove by after sukkot...till then, posting will be lighter than usual.

Moadim LiSimcha,

Jameel.



Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Short Story for Chol HaMoed.

Elster asked me a while ago to write a short story for his Story Teller's blog (which had lots of great stories on it, FYI) but the war this summer put a damper on things. I had some free time this past Thursday night/Friday morning, and hammered out a story for him. I hope you enjoy it...
Eliyahu's Secret

There wasn't a single kid in Jerusaelm's Mea-Shearim neighborhood who didn't know the legend.

It was a rite of passage.

At the age of 9 or 10, you found out. Late at night, in the darkness of your room, your older brother or sister used their most adult, most serious-sounding voice possible, to pass on the story of the underground secret…that lay deep beneath the Jerusalem shtetl of Mea Shearim.

Mea-Shearim's location wasn't a coincidence -- the students of the Vilna Gaon who founded the neighborhood in 1897 understood the significance of where they were building. They too knew the story which reverberated throughout the walls of the old city of Jerusalem. Even though the legend was almost common knowledge among the tightly-knit Jewish community -- it was kept to themselves and they never discussed with outsiders. Even the old-time Christians and Arabs living in the old city, who thought they knew what their Jewish neighbors discussed deep in the dark of night...had no clue.

Want to read more? It's all here at Elster's StoryTellers Blog.

Moadim LiSimcha!

--Jameel.


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Thursday, October 05, 2006

UK: Muslim policeman allowed to refuse to gaurd Israeli Consulate

A Muslim police officer has been allowed to refuse to guard the Israeli embassy in London.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said Sir Ian had ordered a rethink of the service's policy to consider special dispensations on moral grounds.

Samizdata says:

A 'rethink'? When ordered to carry out his job and protect a location within the United Kingdom from unlawful attack, PC Alexander Omar Basha took the view that it would be immoral to protect that place (in other words, he refused to enforce British law regarding possible acts of violence because of who the potential target was). The only 'rethink' needed is why was he not fired on the spot? I wonder... has a Jewish policeman in the UK attached to the Diplomatic Protection Group ever refused to guard the embassy of a Muslim country in Britain? (hat-tip; RF)

Well...we had an Israeli Druze Border Policeman, Madhat Yousef guarding Kever Yosef in Shechem --where he was attacked by Arabs. The IDF decided to let the Palestinian Authority "restore order" so he could be evacuated...yet the PA being the PA...didn't really get it's act together, and Madhat Yousef bled to death.

I wonder in retrospect, if would he rather have been a policeman in the UK?


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Blogworthy!

Check out this excellent blog posting at Hayom, where Shtender meets some Hizbolla operatives. It reads almost like something I would post...down to the perfect picture montage.

While standing around checking out the area, we saw a vintage SUV-type truck drive up on the Lebanese side near the fence. Two goons got out and started walking towards us...

Check it all out here: Hayom.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Service with a smile? I'd be happy with service!

It's not all bad. In fact, Israel has made tremendous strides in customer service over the past 20 years. From a country of monopolies, (Israeli money used to even be referred to as monopoly money), customer service used to be, well, non-existent.

To order a phone line 20 years ago, you used to have to wait...and wait...and it could take up to 7 years to get a phone line (and that was with proteczia).

Go to the bank, and the teller would take a "felafel break" -- in your face while everyone waited on line, as he chomped away on a techina drooling felafel.

Rich enough to afford a car? No such thing as sticker price + options. You could choose from two models; manual transmission or the deluxe exclusive model with automatic headlight wipers (and vehicle color was pot luck).

That was then.

Today, with the onset of a previously unheard of word, "competition" -- customer service has improved. Of course, the monopolies that still remain still lag far behind. Israel's Electric Company is an example; they charge outrageous prices to be hooked up to the electrical grid, have zero accountability when there are power outtages from too much consumption, and the best part is the workers for the Electric Company are the highest paid in the public sector! As a special perk, IEC employees are entitled to...FREE ELECTRICITY! Makes sense, right? So what do enterprising IEC employees do? They hook up all their neighbors as well, to their OWN (free) electrical grid connection...and charge their neighbors (off the books).

Cool, eh?

But that's not what bugs me today. When my son's mobile phone was cracked beyond acceptable usage a few weeks ago, I went to our cellphone provider, "Orange" and asked how much it would cost for a repair. The first service rep quoted me 40 NIS for a repair, but their second rep quoted me 80 NIS. When I asked about the discrepancy, she asked me to wait a minute, she checked with the first rep and came back with the following answer: "The first rep made a mistake, and she should have quoted you 80 NIS. However, since she already quoted you 40 NIS, that's how much we'll charge you."

I. Was. Impressed.

We've come a long way...till I got smacked in the face last week...by Newpan.

EL-AL and Newpan have an special "Fly and Buy" deal, where you can purchase items on the plane, and they get sent directly to your house; no shlepping involved. I could go on and on how much ELAL has improved over the past few years, and I try to fly with them at every opportunity -- but that's another posting. Besides, my gripe isn't with ELAL -- it's with NEWPAN. On the brochure on the plane, they clearly write:

"At Newpan, we are a quality company...(blah blah blah)

Your order will arrive directly to your home! If the item you have ordered is out of stock, Newpan promises to provide an item of higher quality or value."

How could I go wrong? As a surprise gift for my wife, I ordered a 19" flat LCD screen. Expecting it to be delivered any day, I didn't tell her about it -- so it could be a surprise. The surprise came last week when Newpan called me and said, "The item you ordered is out of stock...we can supply a slightly different monitor instead." My caveatemptorometer started buzzing and I asked for the new model number. I looked up the model number, and mercy be! It was a 17 inch monitor instead of the 19 inch one I ordered! The service rep on the phone didn't seem perturbed...she said I could have the 17 inch model for the EXACT SAME PRICE as the 19 inch one!

WoooHooo - this must have been my lucky day!

Not.

I took out the brochure I saved from my flight...and quoted their "promise"...and asked if they had a 20 inch model. The customer rep smiled into the phone and said, "Sure, we have 20 inch models in stock...but they will cost you more."

This person really didn't get it.

"But what about your promise?"

She said, "This is your choice; you can wait till we get the 19 inch model back in stock in a few weeks, you can get the 17 inch model for the same cost as the 19 inch model, or we can cancel your order" (she said, brightly)

I told her she should speak to her manager about the expression, "customer service", and get back to me with a better solution. A solution that would make me happy. She didn't understand; "What's the big deal if it comes a few weeks later?"

I said, "It's supposed to be a surprise for Rosh HaShana...not for Asarah B'Tevet"

She said, "But we haven't charged your credit card yet!"

I said, "HELLO? Don't you know what a customer is? From my perspective, the second I paid on the plane, I ordered it! Don't you care about your own promises?"

She said she spoke to her manager and there was nothing else she could do; no better model, no discount, no reduction of shipping charges...nothing.

Since I wanted that particular model, not the smaller one, and had no time to deal with the idiots there...I'm waiting for the model to get back in stock.

They called me today to say it will arrive next week on a day I won't be home, so I had to coordinate with my wife that it's coming (ruining the surprise), its 3 weeks late, and their promise is totally worthless.

Newpan will NOT be receiving the Muqata seal of approval for customer service...and they have yet to experience that wrath of the Muqata.

heh heh...we'll see what happens...we'll see.

They haven't heard the last from me...

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Going Once...Going Twice...Kibuddim SOLD on ebay

(Click for full listing of kibuddim on ebay)

If your shul isn't digital these days, it's just totally 18th century. Then again, many shteebles ARE 18th century!

Forget all the tasteless, ostentatious annoying scenes of bidding for kibuddim in shuls for Simchat Torah -- just take care of all of it via ebay and paypal. And if you aren't happy with the quality of your kibud, you can always make a claim against paypal for your money back.

I wonder...if you buy an etrog with a credit card, using the buyer guarantee protection plan -- and the pitom breaks off during sukkot...can you get a refund?

Sukkot Neurosis are starting again...ack!
(hat-tip: Chewbacca)


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Another Reminder Why We Need Gush Katif Lettuce



Yet another reason to buy Bug-Free and Frog-Free Lettuce.


Anyone know if this particular brand comes from France?



Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Monday, October 02, 2006

A Good Year to Us All!

So what would Yom Kippur be without me thinking about my blog (at least for a minute or two) at some point during this holy and solemn day?

My son asked me during a break in the Torah Reading, if someone had a Bar Mitzva on Yom Kippur, and they read the portion on Yom Kippur, then what, if anything, would people throw at the Bar Mitzva boy?

The answers we came up with were:

1. Rocks. It's a very annoying and offensive custom on Yom Kippur for people to throw rocks at vehicles on Yom Kippur; specifically AMBULANCES! And these aren't fanatical Orthodox throwing rocks -- rather its usually secular misfit kids. (On Yom Kippur, TODAY, 4 MDA ambulances were damaged by rock throwing...)

2. Non-kosher candy (since you can't eat it anyway)

3. Etrogim. (We decided we were a week early with this one)

4. Shofarot. (Not enough in shul though)

5. Kalei Tzom (Easy-Fast pills). We decided this would be the most popular.

So...while the USA Muqata readers are still fasting today (we've been eating here for a few hours already this evening), here's what you must be thinking now:






Gmar Tov - A good year to us all.



Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

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