My tours

“I recommend seeing the entire country”

Its small, but deeper and broader than any other.

Every corner is a blessing and a miracle.

Modern miracles and ancient roots intertwine in the world’s most dynamic land.

Do you want to experience the Bible and prophesy coming alive all around you?

Do you want to connect to your spiritual roots?

There is so much to do and see and every person, group and situation is different and so are my tours customized for the occasion.

Contact me and I will be pleased to talk about your trip and goals.

You may visit the Ministry of Tourism Website to browse for ideas.

https://www.gov.il/en/Departments/ministry_of_tourism

O’ Temple Mount

I know that most  of our readers have heard much about the dismal situation on our holiest site – the Temple Mount but today when I was there it really came home.
I went  to the mikva and wore non leather shoes as halacha prescribes. Then there were the humiliating preparations. I was told by our guide that since we are a Jewish group, we will be closely scrutinized by the Israeli police at the entrance. Any sign of Jewish identity would be reason to detain us yell at us, demand our ID and ban us from entering. And so, no kipa,no tzitit and certainly no dangerous contraband as a siddur or Tihilim. A magan david  design on ones  hat is also forbidden.

We were  the only Jews waitng on  the line. I saw a  non Jewish person have his Bible confiscated. Nothing but Muslim religious articles allowed on the site of the Holy Temple.
It seems that there is one particular loud, bossy and rude police office who runs the place and sets the ugly tone. He does his job just as his bosses like. He  ordered  a map of the Bet  Hamikdash confiscated and began yelling threatening us ..claiming that we were planning to make trouble. Our guide just lowered his head  and absorbed the abuse as the other  Gentile tourist looked on at the spectacle of Jews beng humiliated by Jewish police  at our holiest site.
. I could not help but think how far we have come from the moment of grace God gave us in 1967 when Am Yisroel were thrilled  as “The Temple Mount is in our hands!!”

Not long  ago, a religious Jew who made the mistake of not disguising himself as a Gentile, had his bottle of water confiscated because the police claimed… he  might make  a bracha on the Mount…

Well, we were finally on the Mount  and were the only  Jews there. The area is huge  – seventeen foot ball fields!.
There  were a number of tourist groups and lots of Muslims. Some of them were having classes , some were strolling. Others were playing soccer. They were all at home. The Muslim authorities (Waqf) eyed us suspiciously. They  knew when they smelled Jew. They were on their walky talkies and signaled to each other all over the mount. Were  we going to move our lips in prayer, bow in the direction of the holy  of Holies or do some other Jewish thing.?.
We continued our walk around the perimeter of the Mount – in the areas that halacha allows one to tread witnessing the places where our people have come up to for many centuries when Am Yisroel were indeed home  and acted like it.
There was panic  for  a brief moment in our group when I took off my hat to wipe my brow – and ..my kipppa was visible! Imagine. In the very heart of Yerushalayim.
What  have we done to ourselves?!

In the year 2000 , Prime minister  Ehud Barak agreed to  the Waqf’s  request to make an emergency exit for  the Al Aksa mosque. They brought up bull dozers, mack trucks and guted  the belly of the southern part of the mountain. That was some emergency exit. When the dust settled a few years later they had built under ground, the  largest mosque in Israel. Done.
The had extracted tons of dirt and rock, destroying precious  remains of the Temple and  then threw the whole lot in a garbage dump.Those remains are now being sifted to salvage what can  be saved from the destruction.

During the brutal  and unsurpevised  earth moving, the very walls of the mount began to buckle. This is when the Isaeli authorities woke up and insisted that  the ancient southern support wall be attened to and strengthened. The Waqf insisted that no impure Infidel will touch any thing on their holy site,  and so a Jordanian team is doing the job, in a rather unasthetic manner I might add.

What can I say? Rabbi Akiva and his fellow rabbis saw the Mount and Temple in its ruins with foxes running about He laughed. His colleagues asked, “what are you laughing at”. He answered ,” Just as the prophet said there will be a destruction, he also said there will be  a rebuilding and redemption.”

I saw the foxes today. I would have liked to  laugh but it wasn’t  the Romans who were responsible for the desecration  and destruction. It was our own. We gave the keys back to our enemies  and tormentors  only moments after he greatest miracle since the Exodus.
Yes, we are in the midst of the time of redemption.
Yes, we have indeed come a long way.
Yes, the prophets have foreseen it all.

Rabbi Akiva you have comforted me.

Herodion – The mountain built around a tomb

Herodion – The mountain built around a tomb

After a thirty five year(!) search Professor Ehud Netzer felt he was able to announce to the world that he finally found what he was looking for – the Royal tomb of King Herod the Great ( or Harasha – the evil one, 73 BCE – 4 CE).
He spent the last thirty years unearthing the areas at the base of the partially man made volcano like mountain just between Jerusalem and Bethlehem skirting the Judean Desert.

He unearthed magnificent swimming pools , bath houses palaces parade grounds – but no tomb.
It was not on top of the fortress palace . That area was extensively excavated and though it did indeed reveal very impressive remains – no tomb. So, it was not on the top and it was not on the bottom. But Josephus Flavius, the prominent historian of Herod, clearly states that he was buried in Herodion . He just did not bother to say where.
In steps Prof. Netzer. Where else is there left to look? He did not suspect that Josephus was having a laugh with archaeologists of the future so he did not give up on Herodion in desperation he began to poke at the most unlikely spots – the hidden sides of the mountain. BINGO!.

The only similar monumental marble casks set in an ornate mausoleum belonged to Queen Helena( from what is south Russia today) who converted to Judaism in the time of the Maccabees and moved to Jerusalem where she is buried. Her ornate royal tomb was discovered about a century ago in Jerusalem.

The similarity helped convince him that he had indeed finally found Herod’s tomb. Beside the main reddish marble tomb he found two smaller white marble sarcophagi which probably belongs to family members. Near by, an entire mini Roman theater was also unearthed with a raised private viewing porch decorated in multi colored frescoes of the finest art. And all this cut into the side of the mountain!

Apparently at one point Herod gave the order to cover up all the magnificent designs with dirt to recreate the perfect volcano form. Did we mention that he was mad?

Herod ion is similar to another even more famous structure designed by Herod , Masada along the Dead Sea. Both were built on isolated flat mountains and converted into very powerful fortresses and at the same time opulent palaces. Both symbolized Herod’s reputation as the greatest builder of the ancient world. The Talmud says , “If you have not seen the Temple that Herod built you have not seen the most beautiful structure in the world.”

Both wonders were eventually used by Jewish rebels against Rome, in the Great Rebellion which ended with the destruction of the Second Temple and sixty years later by the followers of Bar Cochba and Rabbi Akive . The synagogues and ritual baths built by the temporary but desperate and determined Jewish occupants attest to the very different agendas of Herod and of these practicing Jews.

Unlike Masada , on Herodion there was no dramatic last stand – just careful preparations for one. When visiting Herodion one can see and feel the stage being set for the battle which apparantly never did take place In the nineteen sixties professor Yigal Yadin discovered in the caves of the Judean desert, letters sent to the Jewish fighters on Herod ion by their commander, Simon Bar Cochran. The letter instructed that the fighters to be supplied with lulavs and etros for the Sukkot holiday. Now thats a Jewish army! Imagine standing in the synagogue where these men prayed!

Amongst the very impressive phenomenon on Herodion is the vast water system Herod carved into the belly of the mountain. He built an aqueduct to bring water to the desert fortress form ten miles away!.

Herod was indeed the greatest of builders and knew how to live a life of luxury and to be buried in an unmatched way – but he had a difficult personality.. In fact the Roman Emperor said it was safer to be his pig than his friend. Indeed he did kill many of his children, his brother ,close friends and drove one of his wives to suicide. But he id not neglct to build great edifices named in honor of some of his victims..

He was not accepted by the rabbis as an authentic Jew because his father Antipater the Edomite converted under the duress of the Maccabbean king Yochanan Hurceanus
To make a very long story of intrigue and violence short, his father and he managed to have Rome appoint them as rulers of Judea

The Talmud tels us that when he became king he was very unhappy with the peculiar Jewish laws that did not recognize kings as gods and that a Jewish king had limited powers granted in the Torah etc..

He summoned the rabbis to him to be sure that indeed they were teaching the people that he . did not have absolute power. When this was confirmed, he ordered all the rabbis killed. He decided to leave one alive, Rabba Bar Buta, and had him blinded

The Talmud tells us that he later approached the blind rabbi and tried to learn of plans to topple the king. At first he did not reveal who he was but when the rabbi convinced him that he was not a potential rebel leader and simply accepted the fate as it is, Herod revealed himself and begged the rabbi to tell him how he might repent for being so rash.
The blind rabbi told him, “You have put out the lights of the world by murdering the rabbis. Try toin some way rekindle the lights by tending to the Temple.”
Herod then decided to embark upon the greatest construction of the ancient world The Western Wall is a tiny bit of only the outer support walls of that wonder.

Lest you think that Herod was a changed man, listen to what he planned for the day he would die. Herod was on his death bed in his winter palace in Jericho, deteriorating from a social disease . He knew that he was hated for the tyrant he was and so his last order on earth was ; “Gather all the rabbis to the room next to me. Announce, that the moment I die so do the rabbis. Thus, the day I die will not be a happy one. I n fact all will pray for my health” This last order was not executed but such was the man.to the very end

Herod was a very evil king but the greatest of builders . Herodion will no doubt be one of the top tourist destinations in the coming years. A new road has just opened from Jerusalem cutting down travel to less than twenty five minutes. With the completed excavations of the tomb and theater areas along with the the base of the mountain with its swimming pools, palaces and largest bath house yet found in the country. it will be a must see. Add to that, the dramatic spirit of the Jewish rebels that hovers in every part of the mountain and Herodion is where you will be on your next visit. Oh ,and did I mention the view from the top?

My videos

I love Israel! I have so much to say even after over 20 years of guiding tours I never get tired of it nor do the sites become unexciting. Even for me there is always something new to discover.

https://youtu.be/zNVh_9l83Qohttps://youtu.be/-LKcJ0unG-s

My articles

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maya shonet

Manya Shochat – Jewish Wonder Woman

Manya Vilboshvitz Shochat (1879 – 1960) was more than a product of her times, she helped create them. Born in ...
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Acco then and now

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Gamla Israel

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Acco then and now

Always  seeking to increase our knowledge of Israel’s  tourist  sites we tour guides  take   refresher tours form time to time.
Recently I joined a group of my colleagues on an in depth tour of the famous ancient port city of Acco on Israel’s northern coast. Acco is a gem of history, archaeology and folk lore From the  ancient Egyptians, to the Maccabees. Maimonides,Richard Lion Heart, Napoleon , the the Jewish underground  fighters break out from the  British “Bastille” and the victorious Israeli army of 1967; Acco has seen them all and its winding old street and alleys and picturesque  fishing port seem eager to tell their story.
Before I go any further, let  me highly recommend a visit to the former Turkish/British prison – fortress where the Jewish underground fighters of the Irgun  and the Lechi were imprisoned and  nine of them hanged by the British occupation museum now offers a state of the art series of presentations that ,using the back drop of the actual prison locations offer a wonderful  dramatic, reenactment  and explanation of the events and the “zeit geist
A hand full of determined young men  and women defeated the British empire and won their people’s independence  for the first time in two  thousand years. Not a bad  story Line. If  you  are a movie goer you may remember how in “Cast a giant shadow”,Paul Newman ran along the roofs as he blew a hole in the prison walls

But our story does not begi with  Hollywood. Archaeology has uncovered remains  from the times or Alexander the great as he  used Acco  port to dislodge the Persians, Yonatan the Maccabee  was murdered by his supposed Greek  hosts  and buried near the  “Land gate “ of Acco. Roman remains from the time when the Legions entered the land through Acco on their way to suppressing the great Jewish revolt and eventually destroying the Temple in Jerusalem

The most extensive unearthing are by far  those of the Crusader kingdom
When the horde of French and Italians  suddenly appeared on the horizon it was too late for the Muslim defenders to put up a good enough fight. Acco was stormed by the knights of the Crusades in 1096 when Muslims and Jews fought and  fell before the   sword liberating the holy Land for Christendom. In 1099 Jerusalem was sacked.
When Saladin finally defeated the Crusades , Richard the Lion Heart was able to hang on to the  port city of Acco for another fifty years until the  last Crusader set sail for  home.
It is  this Crusader city that has  been and is still being excavated in a truly impressive  way. As later Mamluk and Ottoman residents built upon the Crusader ruins, the latter were allowed to sleep in the dust of time undisturbed until  very recently
Hall after hall, secret escape tunnels Knights grand dining rooms -all as they looked when the swords and shields were gashing and  pounding

With Saladin s ultimate victory over the western invaders, some  famous Jewish luminaries came form the corners of the diaspora to make Acco their home. In fact Rabbi Yechial of Paris and a few hundred of the great “ba’ale tosafot” set  up a yeshiva in Acco. Eventually the great Ramban – Nachmanadies became the head of the Torah school there
Maimonides entered into te land of Israel through Acco port and the spot where he  set foot is named after him
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov actually found himself in Acco at not quite the best time. He  had visited the Holy land and Jerusalem and was ready to depart form Acco when Napoleon just began his famous siege of the city. He  escaped on a Muslim was ship and was given a gun to help in the battle against the French. Not what he had planned.
When Napoleon made his bid for Mid East conquest he  tried to sway the Turkish governors key Jewish adviser to  join him. He issued the French”Balfour declaration” in which he acknowledged the Jewish longing for their land and he agreed it was just to restore it t them after their long suffering and longing to come home. Napoleon promised to make it happen if  he  won. Chaim Farchi, the Pasha’s (Al Jazir -” the Butcher”) adviser would not betray his master. Napoleon lost the battle and Chaim Farchi was eventually executed by the Pasha’s heir. So much for loyalty. What if Napoleon Had indeed won..?… ..
The  Ramchal and the Ohr Hachaim, two  famous Jewish scholars made Acco their  home in the eighteenth century. The synagogue  named after the Ramchal is  a lone Jewish out post in the other wise  Arab Old city

In 1936 when the Arabs launched one of their rounds of pogroms as the British looked on, Acco’s jews fled , not to return until 1948 when it was liberated by the Israeli army. Many Arabs fled the fighting and Jews forced to flee their homes in Arab lands moved in. There were some  wise Arabs did not flee the fighting  and became Israeli citizens, the only Arabs in the Mid East enjoying who  democracy and civil liberties.
In  the last  years the Arab population has been expanding to former Jewish neighborhoods and there have been some Arab riots and intimidation as a group of young Jews moved in around the Hesder Yeshiva in an attempt to stem the tide of Jewish flight form the city  that is  a treasure of Jewish history and martyrdom
On our tour, our Acco city employee told  us that the  forty artistic  signs  placed above Jewish land marks in the old city were torn all  down by the “Muslim Movement of  the Galilee”  They were replaced with verses of the Koran and  are undisturbed
. The latest battle for  the city is being fought in the real estate offices. I had .occasion to look at  a number of buildings in the “changing” , former solid Jewish areas.  They fled Arabs in the old country and are doing the same in the “new country” It was  an eerie site to see many apartments with the mezuzas torn off the door posts and pictures of Mecca in its place. This is the latest battle for Acco. No storming of the walls or cannon fire. It is in the real estate offices where the silent  victory or defeat is determined.  I was told by agents  that  Jews sell to any one in his desire to flee the “changing neighborhood

Just this week I heard on the radio the pathetic plea of a young Jewish other living in a “mixed” neighborhood in Acco.
Each time her children enter the play ground to play, Arab children  with threatening dogs appear
demanding the courts for themselves.  The Jewish attempts to share the space is met with increasing
The elderly are not spared either,
In the threats(sounds  familiar?) .
. ”

Manya Shochat – Jewish Wonder Woman

maya shonet

Manya Vilboshvitz Shochat (1879 – 1960) was more than a product of her times, she helped create them.

Born in Losusna, a small village in rural Belarus, Manya was immediately subject to sharply different influences.maya shonet
Her grand parents lived the “good life” as totally assimilated, self indulging Jews who lived the “Russian dream”, her grandfather a major supplier for the Czar’s army. Manya recalls detesting their flaunted riches and their airs. Indeed her father rebelled against his parents by refusing to attend the fine Russian “Gymnasium”. He threatened suicide if he was not allowed to study with Rav Nachum, a pious Torah scholar in the shtetel near his parents’ sprawling estate.
He was a stern parent but Manya recalls how he would stay up all night with her when she was ill. He instilled Manya and some of her other twelve siblings with a love for the Jewish People and the Land of Israel. He was also, oddly perhaps, a Monarchist and had a portrait of Czar Nicholas on his wall. Not a common site in Orthodox Jewish homes but her father valued order and respect. She remembers her father hiding a gypsy, accused of being a horse thief. At his instruction, Manya brought food to him as he hid in their barn. When she asked her father why they were helping a criminal, he said, “I know him since we were boys. We can not be certain what is right and what is wrong. Only God can.” Her love for people and the desire to help came from this man of contradiction but principal.
Manya’s mother was a “modern” woman who did not share her husband’s warm spot for Judaism and tried to steer her children towards a respectable place amongst the Russian elite.

Her father, Wolf owned lands which were farmed by the local peasants. Manya befriended them and tried her best to be “one of the gang”, often bringing them goodies from her comfortable home. One particular young man, Pieter was her “best buddy” in the group – or so she thought.
Once as she approached the workers’ cabins, she over heard her “friend” boast to his buddies that he is using his friendship with Manya the Zhid, to eventually” burn down her father’s house and take all his lands, just as was being done to Jews- Zhids like him in other parts of Russia….”
Manya’s heart skipped a beat. She ran home, locked the door to her room and swallowed a bottle of pills. She did not want to live in a world of senseless hatred. She asked God why Jews are hated – rich or poor… She was saved from this suicide attempt only to try again by jumping into the near by icy river. Again she was fated to

Suicide was not to be a stranger to her family.
Her families were indeed doers – often to the extreme. As father rebelled against his own wealthy and assimilated father.. Some of her siblings became capitalist industrialists, some Communist revolutionaries; one brother became a “Tolstoyist” and lived with the peasants.
One brother, Yitzhok, was the only Jew in an agriculture college. When the professor opined that the “Zhids” are sucking the blood out of the Ukraine, Yitzchok slapped him. This did not advance his grades.. He joined the BILU pioneer movement and went to Eretz Yisroel.
He however, returned to Russia to do his military service. He wanted to prove that Jews are not shirkers. When he discovered that his lover betrayed him, he ended his own life.
One brother moved to the USA and died childless. Two brothers made Akiah and became Zionist pioneers. Their letters home enchanted Manya.

During the great famine of 1898, Manya volunteered with the starving and disease ridden Tarter population living on agricultural collectives. She was always ready to help – everyone, any where.

Manya chose to leave the comfort of the country manor and the disappointment of her “friend” Pieter to work as a factory laborer. She disguised her self as a boy and found employment in her brother’s factory in Grodno. It was there, in the big city where she came into contact with the proletariat and their wretched working conditions at the beginning of the industrial age in Russia. She shared her food and tiny room with the less fortunate and tutored the uneducated.

She became a leader in the Socialist Jewish Bund but later felt it was not militant or clearly focused enough one hand, and not traditionally Jewish or Zionist either.
Manya organized the workers in a strike against the management (her brother) for better conditions and for an end to the fourteen hour work day.
She became a leader in the Worker’s movement, a rather dangerous activity in the Russia of the Czars. She indeed landed in a tiny, dirty jail, which she shared with rats which she recalls she treated like friendly house cats. Jail could not break her.

She did not cooperate with her interrogators and was not fazed by the threat of Siberian exile. However, when she was told that she had to choose between turning in three fellow revolutionaries of having forty workers sent to Siberia.. she contemplated suicide.
The Minister of Interior, Zubatov was impressed with this young woman and tried to convince her to abandon revolutionary politics in favor of a state acknowledged labor movement. Manya, First very suspicious, would not cooperate. However she relented when Zubatov convinced her that he too does not like the way things were going and said that change can come gradually if labor and politics were not mixed. He believed that the leaders of the Communist movement, if they came to power, would oppress the workers even more than the Czar.
Manya had an ideological love / hate with him.
Suspecting him of treachery, she invited him to a private meeting. Manya pointed a gun at him and he told her, “If I have lost your trust, I do not want to live”. She pulled the trigger but the gun jammed.

Eventually the openly anti Semitic Von Phleve, was appointed minister of the interior and Zobotov was sent to Siberia. Now the gloves came off and government sponsored pogroms were instigated allowing the masses to “let off some steam” on the traditional target.
The 1903 Kishinev pogrom sponsored by the “Black Hundreds” was the ultimate expression of the slogan,” strike the Jews and save Russia”
Before Zobotov’s exile, he suggested that Manya see Von Phleve in Saint Petersberg, as the worker’s representative. She was seen through twelve guarded halls before she was ushered into the Minister’s lavish chambers. Manya addressed the questions of worker’s conditions, hours etc.. When she raised the Jewish issue Von Phleve exploded!
How could you, a Jewess come before me with demands!? Manya knew there was no chance for dialogue or justice with this man. She picked up a heavy object and prepared to throw it at him. A guard’s quick grip saved her from a fateful act.
The 1903 Kishinev pogroms convinced Manya that her priority in Russia was to defend her fellow Jews and not lead a social revolution.

Manya joined a group of Jewish conspirators planning to assassinate the anti Semitic Minister. She left for France on a mission to raise funds for the plan which included tunneling under his mansion and blowing it up. While away her comrades were betrayed by a government provocateur, caught and executed. Manya’s brothers felt they must get their determined little sister away from Russia and Europe. They made up the excuse that her brother Gedalya, a pioneer in Palestine, was ill and needed Manya’s help.

On June 2,1904, Manya made her first trip to Eretz Yisroel – a trip that would change her life.
Manya remembers that the moment she stepped foot on to the soil of Eretz Yisroel, she regretted every day of her life that she had not spent in the home land. Her efforts to change Russia and save its masses and Jews were now behind her. She had very her own land to bring back to life
.
Meanwhile her brother Biyomin died in the USA and left an inheritance. Manya and her two pioneer brothers used the money for a six week survey of the Land. It took them to the Golan Heights and beyond, to the Haran plateau where some of the lands had been purchased for Jewish settlement.
Manya was amazed by the emptiness of the vast area and how time had seemed to stand still, just waiting for her children to return to a place kept alive in the hearts of a people who never forgot.

Unbeknown to her, Manya was part of the “Second Aliyah”(1905- 1920) wave to Eretz Yisrol in the Zionist narrative. (The actual first wave o “Olim” to Eretz Yisroel was a century earlier when the Bal Shem Tov and the Violna Goan sen their students to Eretz Yisroel. Some of them founded the first agricultural settlements and owns as well as new neighborhoods in Yerusalayim)
Her Aliyah was comprised of young single people like herself, mostly from Russia, Socialist, rebellious and scornful of tradition. These young people were desperate to work the land and create a new society based on self reliance and mutual aid. They believed in Jewish labor and Jewish defence. These were concepts foreign to the “First Aliyah”(1889 – 1905) settlers who came as families and settled lands largely bought by Baron Edmond Rothchild of Paris.
He sent his representatives to aid and over see the farmers on the lands that he purchased. Relations between the Baron’s representatives were often strained as they lorded themselves over the struggling and beholden pioneers and their families. The French advisors and over seers introduced secular education and a life style foreign to the observant farmers from Eastern Europe.
The young Olim of the second Aliyah were at times on the brink of starvation. They sought work on the Jewish farms for food and board. They slept in the orchards and ate oranges and pita bread.

In the Baron’s settlements, the Jewish farmers hired cheap Arab labor and Bedouin or Circassian guards to protect their property. Often it was a thinly veiled protection racket which the young new comers unmasked and challenged. When Manya approached them with the idea of Jewish self defense and hired labor they thought it so absurd that she was suspected of being a spy for the Baron’s clerks. Some even thought she may have really been a man disguised…

Frustrated, in 1905 Manya decided to travel to Europe to see the Baron and other Jewish/Zionist leaders.
Max Nordau, Herzl’s associate, told her to seek the aid of a psychiatrist.
She had an audience with Baron Rothschild who did agree to set aside land for the young pioneers but with no additional support. Manya was delighted. It wasn’t much later that the first collective farm was established in 1909.
While in France, Manya was contacted by some of her old comrades.
There were big troubles in Russia. Pogroms against the Jews were increasing and her friends decided to arm the Jews and defend themselves. Hey need arms and money. Could Manya help? While her mission was about Jews in Eretz Yisroel, she could not ignore the pleas of her suffering people in Russia.
Manya returned to Baron Rothschild with a new and different request. The Baron
insisted that he could not be mixed up in a possible French – Russian diplomatic confrontation. Manya would not take no for an answer. She returned to make another plea. Rothschild agreed on the condition that it remained a sealed secret. He then gave 50,000 Francs which went to buy the arms to be smuggled into Russia.
Eight crates of “holy books” crossed four borders to a pre arranged address in Odessa. When Manya arrived she was met by a man who Manya immediately understood was a police agent. She coolly ended the short meeting with a well placed bullet. The agent’s remains were shipped in the crate labeled “holy books” to a non existent destination.

In 1907 Manya traveled to the USA in search of support, both for Jewish self defense in Russia and in Eretz |Yisroel and for Jewish collective settlement there.
Some of the leaders she met such as Judah Magnes, Henrietta Szold were not as enthusiastic.
While in the US, Manya lived on a commune in upstate NY,in an attempt to learn from a living social- economic experiment. She reached out to the Jewish masses in an attempt to spread her fired spirit.
She returned to her newly adopted land with an even greater determination.
Along with Yitzchak Shochat and other like minded pioneers, she founded “Bar Giora”, named after one of the Jewish leaders in the revolt against Rome before the destruction of the Second Temple. It was the first official (yet underground, since the ruling Turks strictly ruled out the option Jews being armed) Jewish self defense group for centuries.
Manya was befriended by many who would later comprise the first leaders of the newly born Jewish state, such as Yitzchak (and Yanai) Ben Zvi who was the second president of Israel. Ben Zvi gave her an even deeper deeper appreciation of Jewish history and destiny in its Land. At one point Manya suggested robbing the churches in Jerusalem of their gold to support the activities of the armed Jewish group.
On Pesach 1909,”Bar Giora” became the”Hashomer” group. It widened its ranks and its slogan,” In blood Judea fell, in blood she shall rise” was translated into bold and unexpected raids on Arab marauders and raiders of Jewish farms and transportation. Now Jewish farmer began to hire them as workers /guards and their presence won the desired effect. They learned the Bedouin ways and dressed like them as they challenged them on their own turf.

With the out break of the First World War, Turkey outlawed Zionist activity, forbade speaking or teaching Hebrew and confiscated all weapons. Hasomer went into hiding.
Manya was imprisoned when she was betrayed by a Jew who feared Turkish reprisals. When she honestly and matter of factly told the Turkish governor, Baladin of her hopes for a Jewish country, he exploded ; “what, a state within a state”!? When he threatened her with her fists. Manya picked up a dagger and threw it at his feet calling him a hateful person and a coward.
The Shochats (Yitschak had married Manya) were expelled from Eretz Yisroel and returned after the war in 1919 to a new reality. Great Britain was the new over lord of Eretz Yisroel. Hashomer was to become the larger Hagana and then Irgun spinned off from that. Manya no longer kept the position of founder and trail blazer. Times were changing and there were many new players. There seemed to be fewer places for a knaive idealist.
Her marriage was not a happy one and so dedicated herself wholly to her public activities. In 1930 she founded the “League for Jewish Arab Friendship” – another unfulfilled love.
The couple had two children, Gadi and Alona.
Gadi took his own life in 1967.
When Ben Gurion praised her mother, Alona replied bitterly,”I was an orphan with parents. They were always busy with every important cause except us.”
Alona married the famous Israeli singer, Arik Einstein and their two daughters became observant Jews and married the sons of the famous bohemian actor – singer (turned famous Rabbi) Uri Zohar.
Manya died in 1962 and Alona in 2005.

Manya may not have won the award for mom of the year but she was certainly one of the mid wives of a nation.

Shochat – Jewish Wonder Woman

Manya Vilboshvitz Shochat (1879 – 1960) was more than a product of her times, she helped create them.

Born in Losusna, a small village in rural Belarus, Manya was immediately subject to sharply different influences.
Her grand parents lived the “good life” as totally assimilated, self indulging Jews who lived the “Russian dream”, her grandfather a major supplier for the Czar’s army. Manya recalls detesting their flaunted riches and their airs. Indeed her father rebelled against his parents by refusing to attend the fine Russian “Gymnasium”. He threatened suicide if he was not allowed to study with Rav Nachum, a pious Torah scholar in the shtetel near his parents’ sprawling estate.
He was a stern parent but Manya recalls how he would stay up all night with her when she was ill. He instilled Manya and some of her other twelve siblings with a love for the Jewish People and the Land of Israel. He was also, oddly perhaps, a Monarchist and had a portrait of Czar Nicholas on his wall. Not a common site in Orthodox Jewish homes but her father valued order and respect. She remembers her father hiding a gypsy, accused of being a horse thief. At his instruction, Manya brought food to him as he hid in their barn. When she asked her father why they were helping a criminal, he said, “I know him since we were boys. We can not be certain what is right and what is wrong. Only God can.” Her love for people and the desire to help came from this man of contradiction but principal.
Manya’s mother was a “modern” woman who did not share her husband’s warm spot for Judaism and tried to steer her children towards a respectable place amongst the Russian elite.

Her father, Wolf owned lands which were farmed by the local peasants. Manya befriended them and tried her best to be “one of the gang”, often bringing them goodies from her comfortable home. One particular young man, Pieter was her “best buddy” in the group – or so she thought.
Once as she approached the workers’ cabins, she over heard her “friend” boast to his buddies that he is using his friendship with Manya the Zhid, to eventually” burn down her father’s house and take all his lands, just as was being done to Jews- Zhids like him in other parts of Russia….”
Manya’s heart skipped a beat. She ran home, locked the door to her room and swallowed a bottle of pills. She did not want to live in a world of senseless hatred. She asked God why Jews are hated – rich or poor… She was saved from this suicide attempt only to try again by jumping into the near by icy river. Again she was fated to

Suicide was not to be a stranger to her family.
Her families were indeed doers – often to the extreme. As father rebelled against his own wealthy and assimilated father.. Some of her siblings became capitalist industrialists, some Communist revolutionaries; one brother became a “Tolstoyist” and lived with the peasants.
One brother, Yitzhok, was the only Jew in an agriculture college. When the professor opined that the “Zhids” are sucking the blood out of the Ukraine, Yitzchok slapped him. This did not advance his grades.. He joined the BILU pioneer movement and went to Eretz Yisroel.
He however, returned to Russia to do his military service. He wanted to prove that Jews are not shirkers. When he discovered that his lover betrayed him, he ended his own life.
One brother moved to the USA and died childless. Two brothers made Akiah and became Zionist pioneers. Their letters home enchanted Manya.

During the great famine of 1898, Manya volunteered with the starving and disease ridden Tarter population living on agricultural collectives. She was always ready to help – everyone, any where.

Manya chose to leave the comfort of the country manor and the disappointment of her “friend” Pieter to work as a factory laborer. She disguised her self as a boy and found employment in her brother’s factory in Grodno. It was there, in the big city where she came into contact with the proletariat and their wretched working conditions at the beginning of the industrial age in Russia. She shared her food and tiny room with the less fortunate and tutored the uneducated.

She became a leader in the Socialist Jewish Bund but later felt it was not militant or clearly focused enough one hand, and not traditionally Jewish or Zionist either.
Manya organized the workers in a strike against the management (her brother) for better conditions and for an end to the fourteen hour work day.
She became a leader in the Worker’s movement, a rather dangerous activity in the Russia of the Czars. She indeed landed in a tiny, dirty jail, which she shared with rats which she recalls she treated like friendly house cats. Jail could not break her.

She did not cooperate with her interrogators and was not fazed by the threat of Siberian exile. However, when she was told that she had to choose between turning in three fellow revolutionaries of having forty workers sent to Siberia.. she contemplated suicide.
The Minister of Interior, Zubatov was impressed with this young woman and tried to convince her to abandon revolutionary politics in favor of a state acknowledged labor movement. Manya, First very suspicious, would not cooperate. However she relented when Zubatov convinced her that he too does not like the way things were going and said that change can come gradually if labor and politics were not mixed. He believed that the leaders of the Communist movement, if they came to power, would oppress the workers even more than the Czar.
Manya had an ideological love / hate with him.
Suspecting him of treachery, she invited him to a private meeting. Manya pointed a gun at him and he told her, “If I have lost your trust, I do not want to live”. She pulled the trigger but the gun jammed.

Eventually the openly anti Semitic Von Phleve, was appointed minister of the interior and Zobotov was sent to Siberia. Now the gloves came off and government sponsored pogroms were instigated allowing the masses to “let off some steam” on the traditional target.
The 1903 Kishinev pogrom sponsored by the “Black Hundreds” was the ultimate expression of the slogan,” strike the Jews and save Russia”
Before Zobotov’s exile, he suggested that Manya see Von Phleve in Saint Petersberg, as the worker’s representative. She was seen through twelve guarded halls before she was ushered into the Minister’s lavish chambers. Manya addressed the questions of worker’s conditions, hours etc.. When she raised the Jewish issue Von Phleve exploded!
How could you, a Jewess come before me with demands!? Manya knew there was no chance for dialogue or justice with this man. She picked up a heavy object and prepared to throw it at him. A guard’s quick grip saved her from a fateful act.
The 1903 Kishinev pogroms convinced Manya that her priority in Russia was to defend her fellow Jews and not lead a social revolution.

Manya joined a group of Jewish conspirators planning to assassinate the anti Semitic Minister. She left for France on a mission to raise funds for the plan which included tunneling under his mansion and blowing it up. While away her comrades were betrayed by a government provocateur, caught and executed. Manya’s brothers felt they must get their determined little sister away from Russia and Europe. They made up the excuse that her brother Gedalya, a pioneer in Palestine, was ill and needed Manya’s help.

On June 2, 1904, Manya made her first trip to Eretz Yisroel – a trip that would change her life.
Manya remembers that the moment she stepped foot on to the soil of Eretz Yisroel, she regretted every day of her life that she had not spent in the home land. Her efforts to change Russia and save its masses and Jews were now behind her. She had very her own land to bring back to life
.
Meanwhile her brother Biyomin died in the USA and left an inheritance. Manya and her two pioneer brothers used the money for a six week survey of the Land. It took them to the Golan Heights and beyond, to the Haran plateau where some of the lands had been purchased for Jewish settlement.
Manya was amazed by the emptiness of the vast area and how time had seemed to stand still, just waiting for her children to return to a place kept alive in the hearts of a people who never forgot.

Unbeknown to her, Manya was part of the “Second Aliyah”(1905- 1920) wave to Eretz Yisrol in the Zionist narrative. (The actual first wave o “Olim” to Eretz Yisroel was a century earlier when the Bal Shem Tov and the Violna Goan sen their students to Eretz Yisroel. Some of them founded the first agricultural settlements and owns as well as new neighborhoods in Yerusalayim)
Her Aliyah was comprised of young single people like herself, mostly from Russia, Socialist, rebellious and scornful of tradition. These young people were desperate to work the land and create a new society based on self reliance and mutual aid. They believed in Jewish labor and Jewish defence. These were concepts foreign to the “First Aliyah”(1889 – 1905) settlers who came as families and settled lands largely bought by Baron Edmond Rothchild of Paris.
He sent his representatives to aid and over see the farmers on the lands that he purchased. Relations between the Baron’s representatives were often strained as they lorded themselves over the struggling and beholden pioneers and their families. The French advisors and over seers introduced secular education and a life style foreign to the observant farmers from Eastern Europe.
The young Olim of the second Aliyah were at times on the brink of starvation. They sought work on the Jewish farms for food and board. They slept in the orchards and ate oranges and pita bread.

In the Baron’s settlements, the Jewish farmers hired cheap Arab labor and Bedouin or Circassian guards to protect their property. Often it was a thinly veiled protection racket which the young new comers unmasked and challenged. When Manya approached them with the idea of Jewish self defense and hired labor they thought it so absurd that she was suspected of being a spy for the Baron’s clerks. Some even thought she may have really been a man disguised…

Frustrated, in 1905 Manya decided to travel to Europe to see the Baron and other Jewish/Zionist leaders.
Max Nordau, Herzl’s associate, told her to seek the aid of a psychiatrist.
She had an audience with Baron Rothschild who did agree to set aside land for the young pioneers but with no additional support. Manya was delighted. It wasn’t much later that the first collective farm was established in 1909.
While in France, Manya was contacted by some of her old comrades.
There were big troubles in Russia. Pogroms against the Jews were increasing and her friends decided to arm the Jews and defend themselves. Hey need arms and money. Could Manya help? While her mission was about Jews in Eretz Yisroel, she could not ignore the pleas of her suffering people in Russia.
Manya returned to Baron Rothschild with a new and different request. The Baron
insisted that he could not be mixed up in a possible French – Russian diplomatic confrontation. Manya would not take no for an answer. She returned to make another plea. Rothschild agreed on the condition that it remained a sealed secret. He then gave 50,000 Francs which went to buy the arms to be smuggled into Russia.
Eight crates of “holy books” crossed four borders to a pre arranged address in Odessa. When Manya arrived she was met by a man who Manya immediately understood was a police agent. She coolly ended the short meeting with a well placed bullet. The agent’s remains were shipped in the crate labeled “holy books” to a non existent destination.

In 1907 Manya traveled to the USA in search of support, both for Jewish self defense in Russia and in Eretz |Yisroel and for Jewish collective settlement there.
Some of the leaders she met such as Judah Magnes, Henrietta Szold were not as enthusiastic.
While in the US, Manya lived on a commune in upstate NY,in an attempt to learn from a living social- economic experiment. She reached out to the Jewish masses in an attempt to spread her fired spirit.
She returned to her newly adopted land with an even greater determination.
Along with Yisroel Shochat and other like minded pioneers, she founded “Bar Giora”, named after one of the Jewish leaders in the revolt against Rome before the destruction of the Second Temple. It was the first official (yet underground, since the ruling Turks strictly ruled out the option Jews being armed) Jewish self defense group for centuries.
Manya was befriended by many who would later comprise the first leaders of the newly born Jewish state, such as Yitzchak (and Yanai) Ben Zvi who was the second president of Israel. Ben Zvi gave her an even deeper deeper appreciation of Jewish history and destiny in its Land. At one point Manya suggested robbing the churches in Jerusalem of their gold to support the activities of the armed Jewish group.
On Pesach 1909,”Bar Giora” became the”Hashomer” group. It widened its ranks and its slogan,” In blood Judea fell, in blood she shall rise” was translated into bold and unexpected raids on Arab marauders and raiders of Jewish farms and transportation. Now Jewish farmer began to hire them as workers /guards and their presence won the desired effect. They learned the Bedouin ways and dressed like them as they challenged them on their own turf.

With the out break of the First World War, Turkey outlawed Zionist activity, forbade speaking or teaching Hebrew and confiscated all weapons. Hasomer went into hiding.
Manya was imprisoned when she was betrayed by a Jew who feared Turkish reprisals. When she honestly and matter of factly told the Turkish governor, Baladin of her hopes for a Jewish country, he exploded; “what, a state within a state”!? and threatened her with her fists. Manya picked up a dagger and threw it at his feet calling him a hateful person and a coward.
The Shochats (Yisroel had married Manya) were expelled from Eretz Yisroel and returned after the war in 1919 to a new reality. Great Britain was the new over lord of Eretz Yisroel. Hashomer was to become the larger Hagana and then Irgun spinned off from that. Manya no longer kept the position of founder and trail blazer. Times were changing and there were many new players. There seemed to be fewer places for a knaive idealist.
Her marriage was not a happy one and so dedicated herself wholly to her public activities. In 1930 she founded the “League for Jewish Arab Friendship” – another unfulfilled love.
Manya and Yitzchak had two children, Gadi and Alona. Gady took his own life in 1967 and Alona died in 2005
When Ben Gurion complimented Alona on her heroic mother, she responded,” I was an orphan with parents. They were always busy with great causes but not with us.
Alona married the famous Israeli singer icon (who passed away this year) Arik Einstein and had two daughters. They both became religious and married the sons of Rabbi Uri Zohar. Uri Zohar was a friend of Einstein’s when they were a famous entertainment duo.
Perhaps Alona was right about her mother. Manya was not a typical Jewish mother, she was one of the mid wives of a Nation.

Jewish lives matter

Detained minor: “A policeman punched me.” Sunday, September 11, 2016, 19:47 Honenu filed a urgent complaint with the Police Investigation Unit on behalf of a detained minor who complained that a policeman punched him at the police station after another policeman threatened him. The sixteen-year old youth was detained for interrogation on the morning of Sunday, September 11 after he ascended the Temple Mount. The policemen claimed that as the minor was leaving he walked backwards and bowed slightly towards the site of the Holy of Holies. According to the complaint filed by Honenu ( the angelic organisation that offers free legal aid to Jewish soldiers and civilians facing the heavily  biased security/legal establishment)  Attorney Menasheh Yado, when the minor arrived at the Department of Holy Sites Police Station escorted by two policemen, one of them impatiently hurried him to sit on a bench and ordered him to, “Sit, sit, before I break your bones!” and the other policeman punched him in the stomach. Then the minor was interrogated and released with an order distancing him from the Old City of Jerusalem for 15 days. Another minor detained the same morning after prostrating himself at the exit from the Temple Mount was released and summoned to a deliberation on the police demand to order him distanced from the area. In the complaint Honenu Attorney Menasheh Yado filed with the Police Investigation Unit, he wrote, “This is an incident of police brutality on a handcuffed minor who did not use any violence, neither at the police station, nor in general. I sincerely hope that your investigation and objective work will lead to a reduction in complaints about police brutality at the Department of Holy Sites Police Station.” Yado also mentioned that this was not an isolated incident of misconduct by Merchav David (Old City) District policemen in their treatment of Jews on the Temple Mount. When I read this report, it did not shock me as it should.  I am getting used to it. That angered me even more. This is one of the(far too many) articles I try not to have fall into the hands of my non Jewish readers. I am so ashamed! When  I was  a teen in Brooklyn, NY, I did not fear the cops. We were  so proud when we discovered the rare Jewish policeman. It was a foretaste of what a Jewish country would look  like I thought. I remember jumping  a turnstile in the subway. The cop caught me and I remember well, feeling a  mixture of embarrassment and slight fear. Imagine If he  would detain me for moving my lips in prayer..? Never  happen  – in America; but in the heart of Jerusalem! – by Jewish cops (well, many most are Arab in the old city  – yet  another scandal). Which is worse;a Jewish cop beating a Jewish teen for moving his lips in prayer, or an Arab cop doing the same? Not a dilemma that I faced in Brooklyn.  This hurts. Who the hell is giving these orders? Israeli cops have their hands full with real policing and security issues, Intimidating ,arresting and beating  young idealistic Jews for expressing the same fundamental right of any Muslim or Christian in any part of our Jewish country is an on going Jewish  horror. Why am I so flabbergasted? Have I not witnessed the brutality of Gush Katif and Amona and dozens of smaller  super ugly episodes? I have seen the bald headed, arrogant police commanders who exactly what their  political bosses want of them. In the gross language that their  underlings understand well, they  unleash the dregs (the commanders know who exactly to call upon for the dirty work) upon the finest souls that we have. I know this sounds harsh but I guess if my son were punched in the stomach and threatened with broken bones because he moved his lips in prayer, I would be even harsher. Besides, I am encouraged by my mentor of blessed memory, to tell it like it is. Hiding the truth solves nothing. Still, I hope that my non Jewish friends do not read this.
          

Dirty shoes

As I stood for the two minute Holocaust memorial siren, my mind flooded with heavy thoughts. As the siren winded down. I slowly lifted myself out of my pain as I reminded myself where I am and that I have thank God, children and grandchildren in our Jewish country.

They say life is a roller coaster. For most nations it is maybe the junior coaster at “Bob’s kiddy park” . For us it always the “Cyclone” in Coney Island.
And the thing is. the ride never ends…You would think that there might be other  waiting their turn, but no, we get to keep riding over  and over again.

This time of year in Israel is indeed a time of compressed emotional storm. Holocaust memorial day:out of the ashes of the worst event in human history. Memorial day:remembering the fallen of the first Jewish national  army in two thousand years. Finally. Independence day; pinching ourselves to make sure that we are truly living this miracle of  a place.

Such mixed feelings. Such a mixed brew.
Tragically, it was on Holocaust memorial eve when, once again, an Arab used his car to run down two Jews in Jerusalem; two special young people who were planning to raise a beautiful Jewish family in Israel.
Much has been said about the very sweet young man, Shalom Sherki, may his blood be avenged, but then again we have heard far too many words of praise for far too many murdered Jews in our Jewish land. His friend, who he saved with is body, is fighting for her life just now.

Recently one sees increasing numbers of concrete barriers at bus and train stops in Jerusalem as Arabs have discovered a new weapon with which to kill Jews.
 Similarly, the extensive building of bomb shelters for those living near Gaza and the building of the “security fence” along Israel’s “border” with the Palestinian Authority are supposed to protect us.

Woe unto us. Who ever dreamed of the Jewish people hiding behind concrete in our renewed beloved land? Is this the best we can do?
Must we look on in fear of every Arab car or tractor? Am I missing something?
The very sad part is that this relatively new phenomenon is being accepted much like the earlier form of attempted murder, massive stone throwing. It is treated like bad weather or bad luck. It happens and certainly will happen again.
Shimon Peres used to call it “the price of peace”. It wasn’t always this way.

We stand for moments of silence, with thoughts of “never again” or, “may their blood be avenged.” Who will save the blood yet to be spilled?
Who  will be  brave enough to say, enough. Is not our right to life not dearer than any other “right”..

These thoughts filled my mind as I sat on the bus today.
Along side the seats that face each other is a sign forbidding the resting of ones feet on the opposite seat. ( I often wonder what goes through the mind of a person who actually does put  his dirty shoes on the opposite upholstery, but I often get a shrug at best when I ask.)

Today I saw a young man, rubbing his shoes into the opposite seat.
As I often do, being a concerned citizen, I nodded to him, hinting that he should find a more appropriate place for his shoes.
He chose  to make a disparaging, taunting gesture. At this point  the fellow travelers were aware of the exchange. Probably  because he was an Arab, the  folks did not want  to “get involved” and dug their noses deeper into their phones or changed their seat.

There is  a fear. A fear  that did not exist  years ago. I remember.

The Arab scoffed,” is this your bus”?
 “It is my country and I care”, is what I thought, but I knew that if I made an issue I would anger lots of Jews on the bus who just wanted to get home. I feared they would yell at me and thus cause a real desecration of God’s name and national shame.
So, I relented, and the Arab put his dirty shoes on the seat..  and deep into our national  face, just  twenty four hours after another Arab ran down our  holy Shalom Sherky..

We hide behind barriers and look away…

It wasn’t always this way. And so, at this time of year I pray that we will tear down the walls and raise up our heads to the One who finally brought us home and stand tall for the many Shaloms, who deserve better.



Always go with a winner

  pollock toursTonight the  normally quiet Galilee village of Abu Sinen is trying to keep the lid on a vicious town brawl that has led  to dozens of serious injuries

Abu Sinen is a “mixed village”. Originally Druze, the majority are Muslims today.

The Druze are  a minority  sect found  in parts of the Mid East with  communities in Lebanon, Syria ,Jordan and Israel.
 The Druze  are an  ethnic and linguistic Arab  group  but cling to their own  secretive religion as their founder, Al  Daruzi, broke  away  from Islam in the Middle Ages.
The Muslim world has never forgiven the Druze  for this act of apostasy and treason and so the Druze  have carefully  kept  the details of their  religious  dogma a secret to the hostile out side world. They have also historically chosen the protective mountainous areas for their homes thus keeping the Muslim majority safely at arms length.

In 1948, as the beleaguered Jewish population of Israel fought off the combined Arab forces, the Druze at first chose to “go with the obvious winner”, the Muslims. However, after being bloodied in a key battle for the Galilee, the Druze reconsidered and withdrew  from the war remaining  neutral.

After Israel’s victory, the Druze leaders requested to make a pact with the new Jewish state and offered their sons to serve in the IDF which they do with distinction until today.

They are  often found in the Para military units responsible with  security vis a vis the Arab populations since they are familiar with the language and culture.
Often when an Arab riot got out of hand and IDF troops were not effective, the very sight of a Druze manned jeep was enough to disperse the threatening crowd. They understood each other.

The violence in Abu Sinan is actually a very helpful window into what is happening in Israel these days.

We have been witness to a surge in Arab attacks on Jews in all parts of the country. Tractors, cars, knives, gasoline bombs. what ever is   handy, maims and kills is a weapon in the service of their rage.

Why are they outraged? Take your pick. The latest  and well tried issue is the Temple  Mount which Israel  has abdicated  to the Muslim “sensitivity/rage  long  ago. Jews are not allowed to pray there( and are treated like criminal suspects by Israeli  police in the service of the Muslim Wakf ) if they dare to  enter during the three hours allotted daily.
 But this too, the Arabs have decided enrages them.
As an expression of this sensitivity, Arabs have murdered and maimed a number of Jews at train and bus stops this past two weeks.
In solidarity, Israeli Arabs have also launched violent demonstrations and joined the rage, attacking Jews, pulling them out of cars and torching them. They fly the flags of “Palestine” , Hamas  and ISIS.

Israel’s response?  Prime Minister Netanyahu keeps reassuring the world that  the “status quo” on the mount will be  maintained.
 He was summoned to Amman to make this assurance before John Kerry and to King Abdulah of Jordan who has a say about what goes on in the heart of Jerusalem. (Weren’t they the one who lost the iSix Day War??)

The other response is the placing of huge concrete blocks at the train stations to make it harder for cars to plow into the crowds.(..brought to you by the ones who introduced the security fences, tunnels, cameras etc…).  
And so we can expect even greater restrictions on Jewish visitors to the Mount.
Bottom line; Israel lost this round too. The result of the latest Jewish blood letting is that Jews are more restricted, humiliated and the Arabs empowered and ensured that their rage will continue to be appeased and feared.

Back to Abu Sinan. This  is another result or  rather a barometer of the general Muslim – Jewish conflict. This is the first time  that  the Muslims  are bold enough to  openly attack the armed, hated, envied, apostate Druze,
If the Jewish state, ally of the Druze, can not/will not  protect their own, that is  is one thing . When the Druze see that they are fair game to an old rival, they will have to consider joining the winners once again. This time it is not the Jews.

Happy Birthday little miracle!

Shalom Pollack

Shalom PollackHappy Birthday little miracle!

It is Independence Day; our sixty ninth. Not bad for a tiny country smaller than Lake Michigan under threat of annihilation every day of each those years.

The stats are nothing short of miraculous.

Israel boasts the best milk cows in the world; same for wheat production per acre dates per tree. And the unbelievable list goes on This tiny desert land and its people break the mold. It is an anti history phenomenon.

I met a group of Vietnamese at the Kotel last month. This was the first group I have ever seen in Israel from that country.

I mentioned that to one of them. He said,” No we are no tourists. We are a group of selected farmers here to learn about farming from Israel.”

They are a country of one hundred million, farmers for millennia with the best soil in the world and they come to learn farming from a handful of Jewish desert farmers who just returned to the soil very recently…

Shall we talk high tech? No need. We all know that Israel is a high tech super power.

Medicine? water technology..?optics, software, nana space technology, miniature satellite innovation?

Israel’s emergency aid teams are always first on the scene to help when natural disasters strike.

The world is witness that indeed a hand full of Jews fulfills the Biblical statement that the Jews will indeed be a blessing for the world.

So why does Iran want to destroy us. Our Arab neighbors? Why the hate from Europe? Why does the family of nations at the UN have it in for us?  Why? Why?

This too has been prophesied, just as the ingathering of the exiles has been prophesied.

It is all unfolding very quickly and it is exciting.

I just finished guiding a group of six Chinese young professionals. They were a high tech. bunch and very curious about the tiny country they chose to visit.

Some takeaways:

They said that the Chinese and the Jews are the smartest people on earth.

They feel that Israel and China has much in common; strong family ties, very long traditions and history, not understood by the world, surrounded and threatened by enemies.

I thought the last one was cute.

They do not care much for Arabs or Muslims. They see them as backwards and crude. (Don’t blame me!)

I do not see Sharia law being discussed in China for some time or them being woken by Mosque loudspeakers (as I  am) in the near future.

They understand that their country is not a democracy but “only a strong leadership can keep China united and prevent civil war. Interesting.

They do not know much about Tiananmen Square other than that “outsider instigators” were trying to weaken China through the students.

I did not even mention Tibet.

They are very proud of their country’s accomplishments and accept the price paid in the lack of western style freedoms.

Mao is a national hero who saved and united China. The Cultural Revolution was a mistake in which Mao was misguided by advisors.

Sixty million dead was not a good thing but nothing is perfect.

These are the thoughts of my young Chinese professionals.

They reminded me of a story I heard a few years ago.

An Israeli general was invited for an official visit to China. He commented to his Chinese counterpart that he is jealous of china. Why?, asked his host.

Because as huge as your country is, you would fight forever and not relinquish even one grain, right? Of Course answered the Chinese general.

Well, my tiny country is trying its best to give away huge parts of it…

This made me ask myself,” are the Jews and Chinese really the two smartest people in the world..?”

Somebody is looking after us out there; sometimes despite us.

The first sixty nine years are always the most challenging.

It only gets better.

Happy birthday to you; you little miracle!.