Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Coincidence? I think not!
Believe it or not, every single time I've seen a picture of him making this gesture, it's tugged at a distant memory... but I could never put my finger on it.
Then last night it came to me (sorry about the crude photo skilz):
I am soooo relieved to have finally figured that out!
Morbid Curiosity or Self Preservation?
I'm probably inviting wry comments given the subject of my previous post. But I'm wondering if I'm alone in feeling a bit resentful and cheated when a news article or obituary about someone's untimely death fails to mention a clear cause or any potentially relevant health history?
Obviously, when someone passes away in old age, such details are perhaps rightly left out (unless the deceased's longevity was considered remarkable specifically because of a history of risky behavior (e.g. heavy smoker, long-time drug and/or alcohol abuse, participation in extreme sports or career involving active participation in military conflicts or documentation of same, etc.).
I think it is more than just morbid curiosity that makes me look for causative information in obituaries and news articles. After all, it seems reasonable to look for (and presumably learn from), cautionary tales. Otherwise, we relegate our lives and eventual deaths to passive, 'There, but for the grace of G-d, go I' acceptance and helplessness.
I feel this is especially true when celebrities die prematurely. After all, if they knowingly, or even unwittingly influence countless fans with their risky behavior and unhealthy life choices, shouldn't those same fans be made aware that the risky behavior may have been a contributing factor in their untimely deaths?
To be clear, I'm not suggesting that such information should precede or overshadow a person's accomplishments. But if we are supposed to learn from a noteworthy person's life... shouldn't we also learn something - at least when there is something to be learned - from their death?
Sunday, April 23, 2017
I've written in the past about how to render schmaltz at home and the wonderful things you can do with it (assuming you keep a supply on hand).
During the years when pretty much everything but celery was accused of raising cholesterol and causing strokes and heart attacks, a special level of scorn was reserved for animal fats (of which schmaltz is pretty much the poster child).
However, most peer-reviewed research has forced scientists and nutritionists to back off their blanket condemnation of things like red meat, eggs and classic sources of animal fats. In fact, it turns out that a lot of those over-engineered foods, exotic oils and fat substitutes turned out to be far worse for you than eggs and animal fats (eaten in moderation, of course).
So with that in mind, I wanted to remind folks who are restocking their larder (yes, that word comes from exactly where you think it does), after turning over their kitchens post-Passover, that this is a good time to lay in a supply of one of the tastiest and most versatile cooking fats out there: Schmaltz (or as I like to call it; 'G-d's gift to roasted potatoes').
And best of all, unlike expensive commercial cooking oils, Schmaltz is (or should be) virtually free! You just need to do a little leg work and preparation.
First of all, you will need to cultivate a relationship with your butcher (or the head of the meat department at your local supermarket). Just being a good customer and asking the occasional question or advice should be enough. You don't have to take the guy/girl out for dinner or anything!
Next, once you are known to the meat department, mention that you plan to render some schmaltz at home. If that word draws a blank stare, take a moment to explain that rendered chicken fat is a delicious cooking aid, and that it is prepared using chicken skin; something the butcher likely throws out by the bag-full every day as he or she cleans and trims poultry for customer orders and the refrigerated display case.
This past Friday morning I picked up enough chicken skin from my butcher to fill a small garbage back, and spent much of the day rendering the golden goodness (see the linked article above for instructions). The key is a combination of relatively low heat and patience.
On top of that, I cooked Roast Goose for the family for Friday night dinner, so I was able to collect a nice supply of goose fat from the drippings pan I placed strategically under the goose in the oven.
Here are the resulting containers at the end of the process, (the first picture is while the schmaltz is still a warm, translucent liquid, and second is after it has become an opaque white solid after spending Shabbat in the freezer. The salt shaker is there for context/size.
The chicken schmaltz is in the big container and the goose schmaltz is in the smaller one. This should last for six months or more in the freezer.
Use in a skillet as you would oil (a few frozen curls shaved off are enough to grease the pan and add incredible flavor. If you are making roasted vegetables / potatoes, a little bit goes a long way.
Don't thank me... I'm a giver!
Sunday, January 29, 2017
If You Read Only One Article This Week...
... let it be this one.
In the wake of the US presidential election, one of the key questions repeated on both sides of the political aisle (conservatives out of bewildered delight, and liberals out of abject despair), is how the hell Donald Trump - a man who both sides considered to be a highly improbable candidate, albeit for very different reasons - managed to get elected to the highest office in the land.
To this day, I think almost everyone who has tried to answer that question has gotten it dead wrong... until now.
While knowing the reason(s) behind 'The Donald's' ascent won't provide his fans or foes with much of a foothold (or comfort), this article (IMHO) provides a Rosetta Stone for anyone - regardless of the political language they speak - to understand how we got to where we are today.
I can't think of too many things that will be more important today than finding the time to read this article.
Prepare to have your conventional wisdom challenged.
Hat tip to SWMBO
Sunday, January 01, 2017
Who Better For The Job?
You may not have noticed, but the dignitary selected to push the button to trigger the descent of the glittering Waterford Crystal ball in Times Squares last night was none other than outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
A perfect choice, in my humble opinion.
After all, who has had more experience in dropping the ball?
Hat tip to the Cajun
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Feeling Rather Virtuous
For the first time in a long time (oh, who am I kidding... it never, ever, happened before!), I actually took down and put away our Sukkah within two hours of the holiday ending.
On too many occasions to count, late-winter snow has fallen on our still-fully-assembled 'temporary' dwelling.
And we have conducted more than one Passover Seder with the frame of our Sukkah silently mocking me through the sliding glass doors leading to the back deck.
But the sloth record for our family was firmly established the year I had to stay up past midnight taking down the Sukkah the night before the annual mid-summer BBQ we used to throw for my musician friends. And then it was not so much to avoid the inevitable ridicule of my friends... but rather, simply to make room for them!
So yeah, I'm feeling a little virtuous today. I think when I get home from work, I might take a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood... y'know, just to pass judgement on all the malingerers, slackers and layabouts who haven't taken down their Sukkot yet. ;-)
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
What's Good For the Goose...
Yesterday, the Knesset finally passed a controversial bill into law that will allow Israeli lawmakers to expel a Member of Knesset who supports armed struggle against the State of Israel and/or incites racial hatred. The new law - which many assume is meant to target Joint Arab List MK, Hanin Zoabi - will require at least 90 of the 120 MKs to vote in favor of their colleague's removal.
The law passed by a margin of 62-47, but one has to wonder how such an obvious idea wasn't unanimously embraced and approved!
Not surprisingly, since it was a right wing coalition majority that passed the new law, many left wing MKs are calling it 'anti-democratic', and are bemoaning it as 'the death of Israeli democracy'.
Yet, interesting, the Israeli left had no problem whatsoever passing an amendment to the Israeli election law back in 1988 which had essentially the same intent; albeit to keep someone from entering the Knesset rather than creating a provision for removing them.
That 1988 amendment had the stated goal of barring Rabbi Meir Kahane's far-right Kach party from participating in that year's Knesset elections where polls predicted it would likely increase its Knesset representation from 1 to 3 (or maybe 4) seats.
The 1988 amendment codified into election law that a party could be prevented from participating in Knesset elections for even one of the following:
- Negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people
- Negation of the democratic character of the State
- Incitement to racism
While I don't think anyone would call me a Kahanist, I find it puzzling that none of our lefty lawmakers ever felt the need to invoke the above-mentioned amendment in order to ban Zoabi and her party from elections, since she has repeatedly and unequivocally met all three of these legal conditions.
So, to the Meretz and Zionist Union MKs who are currently bleating about this evil new law I say that, had you pushed for the fair and honest application of the election law amendment your predecessors passed back in the 80's specifically to block a far right party from entering the Knesset, the current right wing coalition government would have had no need to pass a new law to allow for the removal of a far left wing lawmaker who espouses anti-democratic / anti-Israel values.
Sadly, the Israeli far-left subscribes to a chillingly Orwellian worldview of fairness and entitlement where, under the law, some are more equal than others.
In a real democracy, what's good for the goose must be good for the gander.
Monday, July 18, 2016
To Call Something Unnatural Is To (Unwittingly) Acknowledge Nature's Role
Rabbi Yigal Levinstein, head of the the Bnei David religious military academy, recently referred to LGBT individuals as "perverts", and criticized the Israeli military for allowing them to "force their way' into the IDF's ranks". [source]
Really?! There is such a paucity of things to criticize in our fraying society that able-bodied citizens who want to serve in our country's defense forces should be publicly shunned and shamed?
One would at least wish that Rabbi Levinstein's ill-advised comments could be dismissed as a lone, confused voice among otherwise reasonable people.
Sadly, another prominent religious leader, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, the Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan (a wealthy suburb of Tel Aviv), recently declared that gays and lesbians are "disabled people suffering from a real problem that must be solved with psychological and pharmacological treatments."
Rabbi Ariel went on the add that, "pride in one's sexual orientation is unusual and presenting it as "progressive" causes many young persons to choose not to identify as straight. Young boys going through puberty who are looking for their identity—instead of helping them to find their natural and normative identity, they push them to go in the opposite direction and ruin their lives". [source]
Under what rock have these people been living to be able to spout such antiquated and discredited ideas?
I have a news flash for Rabbis Levinstein and Ariel. When I hit puberty, I didn't go looking around for my sexual identity, and there is exactly zero chance that I could have tailored my newfound longings to prevailing trends. It fell on me like a ton of bricks!
That I was hit by the equivalent of heterosexual lightning was, perhaps, fortunate for me, since my urges and actions were naturally channeled into socially acceptable rituals of dances and dating.
But had my hormones come on-line at puberty and powered up a plant tuned to a different frequency, I would have been forced by society to hide in the shadows and watch with envy as my peers openly kissed and groped one-another at proms and in the back-seats of their families' willingly lent cars.
In the not-too-distant past, being anything other than heterosexual was considered a criminal offense in many parts of the modern, western world (and remains a capital offense in much of the less evolved third world). And there was widespread belief not too long ago that such 'deviants' could be hypnotized, counseled, shamed, punished, drugged, shocked or tortured out of their non-traditional 'life-choices'.
The root of the problem, then as now (IMHO), is the completely mistaken idea that one's gender identity and sexual orientation are, in fact, matters of choice.
To those who would say otherwise, I would remind them that you can't call something unnatural (which implies a clear natural order), and in the same breath imply that it is a product of a conscious choice. Nature decides our gender and sexual proclivity. If a religious person has a problem with the cards that nature dealt an individual, I suggest that their beef is with G-d, not with the person who, according to religious doctrine, was created according to G-d's will ("ברוך... שעשני כרצונו").
Just as with natural hair color, a person can use dye to try to conform to current styles, trends and mores. But the dye doesn't actually change the natural color. It simply offers a temporary mask which fades and is inexorably pushed aside by time.
I would respectfully suggest to these (and other) Rabbis who feel inclined to offer commentary and criticism on the sexual activities of others, that there is fertile, un-plowed territory awaiting their much-needed scrutiny: Their efforts can be best employed in weeding out predators and pedophiles from among the ranks, not of the IDF, but of the clergy and educators who are their professional peers and colleagues.
By perpetuating a medieval approach to human sexuality, these religious leaders are stifling enlightened, educated discussion of the most basic of human urges, and are thus both marginalizing it and relegating it to an exiled underworld without rules, communal norms or oversight.
It is within this dark, unmentionable world that far too many religious educators and community leaders are allowed to abuse and prey on the most vulnerable members of the human flocks that are entrusted to their care.
This abuse spans the entire spectrum of human sexuality (it isn't just a gay thing), and will continue only so long as un-enlightened Rabbis (and priests, ministers, imams, etc.), continue to err in their most basic assumptions about what makes us all human.
Personally, I am not offended by images like this:
I see two, responsible adults walking hand-in-hand in the light of day, who have agreed to defend me and my family... even at the cost of their own lives. That they happen to be gay is as relevant to me as their hair color. And if my pre-pubescent son were to see them walking down the street holding hands, it wouldn't make a bit of difference to which ton of hormonal bricks falls on his head in the coming months.
I would suggest to Rabbi's Levinstein and Ariel et al, that their exhortations to exclude LGBT individuals from serving in the IDF is nothing more than a solution in search of a problem. Rather, their time would (IMHO) be better spent worrying about the wolves in sheep's clothing who are lurking among the leaders and educators they call their colleagues.
[Before anyone posts a knee-jerk rant accusing me of insulting the Torah or the Sages of Israel, please don't make me post a list of convicted sexual abusers from among the leaders of our religious community. That would, indeed, be a hillul hashem (a desecration of G-d's name.]
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Sunlight Is The Best Disinfectant
This week the Israeli Knesset passed the NGO Transparency Bill into law, setting off a firestorm of criticism around the world... especially in the US, Europe and, of course, the UN.
This criticism was dutifully reported in the Israel-bashing media with varying degrees of accuracy as to what, exactly the NGO law is.
For those who are unfamiliar with the new Law, here are the main points (Don't thank me... I'm a giver):
- NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) that receive more than 50% of their income from foreign governments must report this fact each year to the NGO Registrar in the Justice Ministry, which will publish a list of said NGOs.
- NGOs that receive more than 50% of their income from foreign governments must note this fact on their websites for the rest of the year.
- NGOs that receive more than 50% of their income from foreign governments must note this fact on any publications related to the NGO’s advocacy that are readily available to the public, as well as in their communications with public servants and elected officials.
- NGOs that receive more than 50% of their income from foreign governments are required to inform the chair of a Knesset committee that they are on the list whenever they appear before said committee
No, nobody has to wear badges (Badges?! We don't need no stinkin' badges!!!), nobody is being silenced, and certainly nobody is being shut down. Everyone simply has to declare (i.e. be transparent) about foreign governmental financing in excess of half their annual budget.
One of the phrases that was nearly universal in both the international and domestic condemnation of the new law was that "it is anti-democratic".
Um... you keep using that word, but I do not think it means what you think it does.
Let's review: A bill was introduced by a member of Israel's democratically elected parliament, and voted on three times after three separate readings (as required) before being passed into law. The law itself asks for nothing more than that information that could potentially indicate the presence of hidden agendas or motives be made available to all active members of the democratic process, from the voting public to the decision makers in government.
How is that anti-democratic?!
Here are some excerpts from yesterday's international hand-wringing sessions, along with some much-needed context from me:
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said he was, "...concerned by Israel’s passage of the so-called ‘NGO Transparency Law,’ which contributes to a climate in which the activities of human rights organizations are increasingly delegitimized.”
No, no delegitimization going on here. Human rights groups (more like Palestinian rights groups, since they make no attempt to advocate for Jewish Israelis whose human rights are violated), can continue doing whatever they have been doing. They simply have to be open and transparent about who thinks their work is important enough to give them more than half of their operating budgets".
The EU's External Action Service said "the reporting requirements seemed aimed at constraining the activities of civil society organisations".
No. Once again nobody is being targeted or constrained. But if an NGO is actually a front for a foreign governmental entity, they are no longer allowed to hide this fact.
The US State Department said that the new law "could have a "chilling effect" on the activities of civil society organizations in Israel".
I find it troubling that foreign countries and media feel free to weigh in on internal Israeli policies, yet would bridle at similar interference in their own domestic affairs. I suspect that this tendency stems from an ongoing international consensus that it's still 1947 and Israel's existence and legitimacy are still up for discussion, and subject to international deliberation.
Sorry to break the news, but we are a sovereign country, with all that implies. Kindly sod off.
I also find it interesting that suddenly everyone is using the same terminology to describe these NGOs; 'civil society organizations'. As if only so-called Human Rights NGOs are invested in promoting civil society. In fact, quite the opposite is true if anyone bothers to track their activities.
The very NGOs that are screaming the loudest against this new law are the ones behind much of the unrest and violence going on in Israel and the West Bank today, not to mention their direct involvement in incitement against Israel, and our demilitarization abroad.
Let's think for a moment which foreign countries would encourage such un-civil behavior? I guess this new law will soon put that question to rest.
What's interesting is that many countries have similar (or more stringent) laws which, just like Israel's, are meant to prevent undue foreign interference. But the community of nations has not seen fit to lose their collective minds about those laws... only about Israel's.
For instance, the US has had a law on the books since 1938 called the 'Foreign Agents Registration Act', requiring that agents representing the interests of foreign powers in a "political or quasi-political capacity" disclose their relationship with the foreign government and information about related activities and finances. The purpose is to facilitate "evaluation by the government and the American people of the statements and activities of such persons." [emphasis mine]
Russia also has a similar law called the 'Foreign Agent Law' that requires non-profit organizations that receive any foreign donations and engage in "political activity" to register and declare themselves as foreign agents.
All laws are meant to promote and/or discourage behavior. In this case the new NGO Transparency Law is meant to discourage foreign governments from meddling in internal Israeli matters... at least without their proxies being forced to make their foreign governmental backers known to those they are trying to influence.
But despite all the wailing, the new law isn't going to shut anyone down or silence any voices in our vibrant democracy. In fact it has a loophole so big you could drive a tank through it: If anyone wants to be exempted from the new law, they need only say 'no thank you' to all those foreign governments who are bank-rolling them, and find some private donors.
If you pay attention, you'll notice that most of the critics of the new law are screaming some variation of the following: "The new law will apply almost solely to Human Rights organizations".
That's not exactly true. What is true is that at the moment it will apply almost solely to left wing Human rights organizations, because they are the only ones that are directly funded by foreign governments. Most right wing (and non-political) NGOs are funded by private individuals and grass roots sources. There is nothing nefarious in that. There are plenty of wealthy left wing donors who these NGOs can approach for funding.
By the way, private donor funding is usually a better indicator of popular support for a position, since they are putting their own money where their mouth is. For governments, even a huge donation (relative to the size of the organization), is just another line item in a bloated budget that nobody is checking very closely.
Complaining about who is most impacted by the new law is a bit like saying that drunk driving laws are inherently unfair because they only target those who drink to excess and get behind the wheel. No government wants drunk drivers on their country's roads... nor do they want foreign powers having undue and/or hidden influence over their internal policies.
You know who hates this new law? Those who have benefited for years from the ability to operate in the shadows.
So now, as a result of this new law, when an NGO tries to directly influence Israeli law and/or policy, those citizens, politicians and decision-makers that the NGOs are trying to influence will have the right to know that it is the Netherlands, UK or Spain backing their play.
And as much as I would like to believe that all modern democracies have nothing but altruistic and unbiased motives for how they project their influence abroad... their voting records against Israel at the UN seem to suggest otherwise.
It isn't always the case, but it stands to reason that if a foreign power wants to assume an active role in another country's internal affairs, the public and decision-makers have a right to know about it. Thus the word 'transparency' in the middle of the new law's name.
Anyone who thinks that forcing an NGO to reveal their source of funding may prejudice their target audience against them, is probably right. As it should be (see the bolded line in the US law above).
Are Sweden's and Israel's interests always perfectly aligned? Of course not! So why should Sweden's funding of an Israeli NGO that tries to take a direct and active role in influencing Israeli policies, be hidden from view and consideration?
The rest of the world seems to think they always know what is best for my country. But they don't have to live with the results of their often-mistaken and misguided ideas. At least now their involvement and influence in Israeli politics will be brought into the light of day for all to see. How can that possibly be a bad thing?
After all, sunlight is still the best disinfectant.
Thursday, June 30, 2016
Word-Cloud of Misery
[A Guest Post by Zahava]
Upon learning that yet another innocent soul was violently and prematurely stolen in what should have been the sanctity of her own home...
Hallel Yaffa Ariel, הי׳ד -- may your memory always be for a blessing and may G-d comfort your family, loved ones, and friends during this tragic and difficult time.
We have never met, but you will forever live in the memory of my mind in a special corner dedicated to remembering the ones you unfairly and brutally joined today...
Including, but not limited to:
Rachel, Neriyah (15), Tzvika (12) and Avishai (5) Sabo of Itamar -- June 2002
Yossi Twyto of Itamar June 2002
Gavriel Hoter of Otniel -- December 2002
Eli and DIna Horowitz of Kiryat Arba -- March 2003
Udi, Ruth, Yoav (11), Elad (4), Hadas (4 months) Fogel of Itamar -- March 2011
Dafna Meir of Otniel -- January 2016
To say nothing of those viciously torn from their lives and loved ones in suicide bombings, shootings, stabbings, ambushes, stonings, rock-throwings, and car-rammings....
We will pause to mourn. To be inconsolable. To grieve. And to rant and rave over the insufferable and intolerable and hateful and fanatical nature of our enemy.
With a bit more heaviness in our step from the weight of an added tragic memory, we will pick up our feet, steel our hearts, and continue our daily living with a touch more vigor, love, and resolution to honor the memories of those who have been ripped from our lives.
The hate, the zealotry -- they are neither contagious nor deterrent.
For the first time in 2 millenium, we are home. And. We. Will. Not. Leave.
Thursday, June 09, 2016
MSNBC Presents 'The Bigger Picture'
Even as their television coverage showed graphic footage of the site of last night's attack on the screen, two of their commentators wanted to make sure the viewers understood the context (read 'justification') for the terror attack:
Note that this was a 'mass shooting' and not a terror attack.
Is there any depravity which these ass-clowns can't explain away?
Caution Above Honesty
Here in Israel, when ideologically motivated individuals kill civilians they are referred to by the international media as 'gunmen', 'militants', attackers'... anything but terrorists. Apparently, the media wants to avoid the appearance of taking sides or rushing to judgement.
And far from generating a media frenzy, coverage of such attacks on Israeli civilians tends to be an arid, reserved academic affair, employing cautious words such as 'alleged', dutifully placed before any description of the perps... and plenty of "scare quotes" * placed around any and all information provided by the Israeli government.
Needless to say, after last night's terror attack in Tel Aviv, The New York times did not disappoint. Their cautious mention of last night's unpleasantness spent only a few hours on the periphery of their home page before being relegated to the 'world' section of their site.
And as previously mentioned, when describing the individuals who shot at diners with assault rifles at point blank range, there was nary a 'terrorist' in sight - only 'gunmen' and 'attackers' - even though the event was clearly described elsewhere in the article as terrorism!
Terrorism without terrorists; That's a pretty neat trick, if you think about it.
I alluded to this in the post I put up this morning, but it has been gnawing away at the back of my mind ever since.
When ideologically motivated individuals kill civilians in New York, London, Paris, Madrid, or pretty much everywhere on earth, they are referred to as terrorists in the frenzy of news coverage that inevitably follows.
Everywhere, that is, except in Israel.
So in keeping with this apparent need for cautious, academic correctness, I will refrain from stating that the entire New York Times editorial staff richly deserves to die in a fire.
Rather, I will suggest that in a perfect world, their aggregate biologic functions would simultaneously cease in conjunction with the rapid oxidation of their surroundings in an exothermic chemical process of combustion.
* Scare quotes are quotation marks placed around a word or phrase when they are not required, thereby eliciting attention or doubts.
I'm Shocked, Shocked...
... to find that gambling terrorism is going on in here Israel!
For those who haven't been following the news, last night two Palestinian terrorists (the New York Times took pains to call them 'gunmen') entered a popular Tel Aviv cafe with assault rifles and killed four Israeli civilians and injured at least three others.
As hard as it may be to believe, the title of this post is a pretty much a direct quote from the U.N. Secretary General!
I am not paraphrasing or putting words in anyone's mouth. Here is the full quote from his spokesperson (lest someone accuse me of taking liberties):
“The Secretary-General reiterates that there is no justification for terrorism nor for the glorification of those who commit such heinous acts. The Secretary-General is shocked that the leaders of Hamas have chosen to welcome this attack and some have chosen to celebrate it. He calls upon the Palestinian leadership to live up to their responsibility to stand firmly against violence and the incitement that fuels it.” [emphasis mine]
Notice that, even though Hamas has publicly stated that the terrorists were operatives in their organization, the UN Secretary General didn't specifically denounce anyone. No, he seemed to be mostly bothered by the unseemly celebration of the attack.
If only UN Secretary-General were half as charming and witty as Claude Reins' portrayal of Captain Renault in the film, Casablanca, one could, perhaps, overlook his turning a blind eye to the Palestinian terror organizations continuing to do what terrorists are wont to do.
But since, Ban Ki-moon is neither charming nor witty (it would be challenging to identify a more wooden or obtuse career diplomat), and we're talking about the senseless slaughter of Israeli civilians and not some cinematic victim-less crime, I think it would be safe to say that we are in no danger of starting any kind of friendship with him... beautiful or otherwise.
Sunday, June 05, 2016
Another Yom Yerushalayim
I'm once again far from Jerusalem today, but I followed the time-honored ritual below, none-the-less: Find a quiet place... turn off the lights... put a box of tissues within easy reach... and press play:
Partial Transcript / translation:
Colonel Motta Gur [on loudspeaker]: All company commanders, we’re sitting right now on the ridge and we’re seeing the Old City. Shortly we’re going to go in to the Old City of Jerusalem, that all generations have dreamed about. We will be the first to enter the Old City. Eitan’s tanks will advance on the left and will enter the Lion’s Gate. The final rendezvous will be on the open square above. [The open square of the Temple Mount.]
[Sound of applause by the soldiers.]
Yossi Ronen: We are now walking on one of the main streets of Jerusalem towards the Old City. The head of the force is about to enter the Old City.
Yossi Ronen: There is still shooting from all directions; we’re advancing towards the entrance of the Old City.
[Sound of gunfire and soldiers’ footsteps.]
[Yelling of commands to soldiers.] [More soldiers’ footsteps.]
The soldiers are keeping a distance of approximately 5 meters between them. It’s still dangerous to walk around here; there is still sniper shooting here and there. [Gunfire.] We’re all told to stop; we’re advancing towards the mountainside; on our left is the Mount of Olives; we’re now in the Old City opposite the Russian church. I’m right now lowering my head; we’re running next to the mountainside. We can see the stone walls. They’re still shooting at us. The Israeli tanks are at the entrance to the Old City, and ahead we go, through the Lion’s Gate. I’m with the first unit to break through into the Old City. There is a Jordanian bus next to me, totally burnt; it is very hot here.
We’re about to enter the Old City itself. We’re standing below the Lion’s Gate, the Gate is about to come crashing down, probably because of the previous shelling. Soldiers are taking cover next to the palm trees; I’m also staying close to one of the trees. We’re getting further and further into the City. [Gunfire.]
Colonel Motta Gur announces on the army wireless: The Temple Mount is in our hands! I repeat, the Temple Mount is in our hands! All forces, stop firing!
This is the David Operations Room. All forces, stop firing! I repeat, all forces, stop firing! Over. Commander eight-nine here, is this Motta (Gur) talking? Over.
[Inaudible response on the army wireless by Motta Gur.]
Uzi Narkiss: Motta, there isn’t anybody like you. You’re next to the Mosque of Omar.
Yossi Ronen: I’m driving fast through the Lion’s Gate all the way inside the Old City.
Command on the army wireless: Search the area, destroy all pockets of resistance but don't touch anything in the houses, especially the holy places.
[Lt.- Col. Uzi Eilam blows the Shofar. Soldiers are singing ‘Jerusalem of Gold’.]
Uzi Narkiss: Tell me, where is the Western Wall? How do we get there?
Yossi Ronen: I’m walking right now down the steps towards the Western Wall. I’m not a religious man, I never have been, but this is the Western Wall and I’m touching the stones of the Western Wall.
Soldiers: [reciting the ‘Shehechianu’ blessing]: Baruch ata Hashem, elokeinu melech haolam, she-hechianu ve-kiemanu ve-hegianu la-zman ha-zeh. [Translation: Blessed art Thou L-rd G-d King of the Universe who has sustained us and kept us and has brought us to this day]
Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Baruch ata Hashem, menachem tsion u-voneh Yerushalayim. [Translation: Blessed are thou, who comforts Zion and builds Jerusalem]
[Soldiers sing ‘Hatikva’ next to the Western Wall.]
Rabbi Goren: We’re now going to recite the prayer for the fallen soldiers of this war against all of the enemies of Israel: [Soldiers weeping] El male rahamim, shohen ba-meromim. Hamtse menuha nahona al kanfei hashina, be-maalot kedoshim, giborim ve-tehorim, kezohar harakiya meirim u-mazhirim. Ve-nishmot halalei tsava hagana le-yisrael, she-naflu be-maaraha zot, neged oievei yisrael, ve-shnaflu al kedushat Hashem ha-am ve-ha’arets, ve-shichrur Beit Hamikdash, Har Habayit, Hakotel ha-ma’aravi veyerushalayim ir ha-elokim. Be-gan eden tehe menuhatam. Lahen ba’al ha-rahamim, yastirem beseter knafav le-olamim. Ve-yitsror be-tsror ha-hayim et nishmatam adoshem hu nahlatam, ve-yanuhu be-shalom al mishkavam [soldiers weeping loud]ve-ya’amdu le-goralam le-kets ha-yamim ve-nomar amen! [Translation: Merciful G-d in heaven, may the heroes and the pure, be under thy Divine wings, among the holy and the pure who shine bright as the sky, and the souls of soldiers of the Israeli army who fell in this war against the enemies of Israel, who fell for their loyalty to G-d and the land of Israel, who fell for the liberation of the Temple, the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and Jerusalem the city of the Lord. May their place of rest be in paradise. Merciful One, O keep their souls forever alive under Thy protective wings. The Lord being their heritage, may they rest in peace, for they shalt rest and stand up for their allotted portion at the end of the days, and let us say, Amen.] [Soldiers are weeping.
Rabbi Goren sounds the shofar. Sound of gunfire in the background.] Rabbi Goren: Le-shana HA-ZOT be-Yerushalayim ha-b’nuya, be-yerushalayim ha-atika! [Translation: This year in a rebuilt Jerusalem! In the Jerusalem of old!]
Friday, May 13, 2016
If this doesn't make your day...
This short (less than 4 minutes) animated film called 'The Present' is more important than whatever you are doing right now. Seriously.
Don't thank me... I'm a giver. ;-)