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"It is better to take refuge in Adonai than to trust in human beings; better to take refuge in Adonai than to put one's trust in princes." -Tehilah 118:8-9

Zionism: A Badge of Honor

Olmert Announces Tough Concessions Ahead in Talks with Syria [Israel National News]
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Israelis Wednesday night talks with Syria could mean "concessions which will not be simple." He did not elaborate.

Exclusive: Syrian tourism industry makes plans for Golan
"We understand that there is a [peace] process Israel must pursue and we understand that the prime minister [Ehud Olmert] is preparing to face a police investigation, but we also know that most Israeli Knesset members reject the idea of withdrawing from the Golan and that there is a strong majority in the Knesset that opposes the idea, as does most of the Israeli public.

"Although it is worrisome, we can't imagine the Israeli government would dare to give important Israeli territory to the hands of the Iranians, the Syrians and Hizbullah, and thereby endanger the existence of the Israeli state," Malka said.
Anti-Jewish Attacks in LA, England and NYC [Israel National News]
Violent attacks against Jews in recent weeks have taken place in Los Angeles, England and New York City. In Ireland, a Jewish man had graffiti daubed on his home reading: "Go Home, Jew."
They won't stop attacking us until we stand up for ourselves. Until we denounce, reject, and erradicate the corruption, fear, and self-doubt in our own ranks, we cannot and will not survive against outside attack.

Now is the time for all of Israel to stand up and fight back. This begins by throwing out the 2,000 year old diaspora scapegoat "woe-are-we" mentality. We are not the victims here: We are the victors. And the sooner we accept that, the better.

We are Israel. We. Always. Win.

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posted by Shoshana @ 10:37 PM

Messianic Jewish Impact in Israel

While the American Messianic Jewish community continues to spin on its heels, debating over such poignant issues as the incorporation of Talmud study and requiring gentiles to undergo official conversion ceremonies, the Messianic community in Israel is making some serious in-roads into being recognized as a legitimate, culturally and ethnically Jewish sect. While all of the credit goes to HaShem, the work of Calev Myers of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice deserves a serious round of applause. This guy is basically THE spokesperson for Israeli Messianics. Some clips:

Orthodox youth burn New Testaments [JPost May 20, '08]
Orthodox Jews set fire to hundreds of copies of the New Testament in a religious Israeli town.

Or Yehuda Deputy Mayor Uzi Aharon said missionaries recently entered a neighborhood in the predominantly religious town of 34,000 in central Israel, distributing hundreds of New Testaments and missionary material.


Calev Myers, an attorney who represents Messianic Jews, or Jews who accept Jesus as their savior, demanded in an interview with Army Radio that all those involved be put on trial. He estimated there were 10,000 Messianic Jews, who are also known as Jews for Jesus, in Israel.
Court applies Law of Return to Messianic Jews because of fathers [JPost April 22, '08]
Messianic Jews are entitled to Israeli citizenship according to the Law of Return if their father is Jewish, according to a precedent-setting ruling handed down last week by the High Court of Justice.


These petitioners, represented by attorneys Yehuda Raveh and Calev Myers, argued that they were eligible for new immigrant status and citizenship because they were the offsprings of fathers who were Jewish, not because they themselves were Jewish according to the definition of "Who is a Jew" in the Law of Return.
What is truly amazing is the story surrounding the participation of a Messianic Jewish girl in Israel's annual Bible quiz:

Organizers of Bible Quiz in Israel Get Question of Their Own: 'Who is a Jew?' [Jewish Daily Forward May 6, '08]
The organizers of Israel's annual state-run Bible Quiz are used to asking tough questions. But as this year's contest approached, the tables were turned as they were forced to answer one: Who is a Jew?

The Bible Quiz is a popular highlight of the country's yearly Independence Day celebrations, introduced by the prime minister and broadcast live on national television. Thousands of Israelis tune in to see teenagers battle to determine who knows the most about the Good Book.

Contestants come from Israel and the Diaspora. The only prerequisite for entry is that you have to be Jewish.

There are no records of contestants who had been excluded because their Jewishness was contested at any point in the quiz's 45-year history. In mid-April, however, a furious controversy erupted following the disclosure that Bat-El Levy, one of the four Israeli finalists this year, comes from a West Bank family of so-called messianic Jews who believe in Jesus as the messiah.

Rabbis and anti-missionary activists, already shaken by a recent Supreme Court decision permitting 12 messianics to immigrate under the Law of Return, demanded that the 17-year-old be disqualified. Opponents charged that her participation would help her community advance what critics call creeping legitimacy as a variant of Judaism.


"The reaction to this contestant shines a light on a phobia that exists toward messianic Jews in Israel," said attorney Calev Myers, de facto spokesman for Israel's 100 messianic congregations.


Among the quiz organizers, “nobody was happy” upon learning of the contestant’s faith, said Shlomo Ben-Tzura, who is in charge of Israeli entries.

"We talked with lawyers, but couldn't do anything," he said. "Everybody wanted to say she isn't a Jew, but nobody could do anything." He said that as the daughter of a Jewish woman, she meets the standard criteria to be considered a Jew under Halacha, or traditional rabbinic law. Legally, he added, there was no room to challenge her status, since she is listed as Jewish in her state papers — which do not always follow halachic definitions.


"Messianic Jews are widely despised because they claim to be Jewish while declaring a belief in 'Yeshua,'" explained Dan Cohn Sherbok, a Reform rabbi who is a theology professor at the University of Wales in Britain and has written widely on messianic Judaism. "However, what is accepted as the Jewish community is so diverse and pluralistic, even including groups like humanists who are actually nontheists, that anybody will have a hard time excluding messianics and justifying doing so."
Pushing our legitimate identity as Jews from a legal angle, Myers is bringing the crux of the "Who is a Jew" argument to the forefront of the Israeli legal landscape. By doing so, he is laying the groundwork to secure a future for Messianic Jews to live as Jews in Israel. Baruch HaShem!

The cultural implications of these legal decisions are radical. Not only do they legitimize our Jewish identity in the eyes of our fellow Jews; they establish our inherent Jewishness in the eyes of our gentile counterparts. This will have a massive effect on the way Messianic Judaism is practiced by future generations.

However, by arguing that Messianic Jews are Jewish on the basis of genetics, i.e.; the Messianic Jews with patrilineal Jewish blood are deemed to be ethnic Jews, may be an argument that winds up setting us back in certain ways. As long as Jewishness is viewed as any kind of genetically-bestowed identity (whether it is termed a "race" or an "ethnicity" if it's blood-dependent, you're either born into it or you're not) we run the risk of contradicting Torah principles. Remember: the foreigner was accepted into the tribe as long as they accepted the cultural norms (Torah practice) of the Hebrew people. We cannot ignore the lessons of Ruth and Romans 9-11, among other scriptures, if we are to truly understand who we are as a people.

I would also warn against portraying the Messianic population in Israel as a "persecuted minority." Jews the world-over are a persecuted minority; the major world powers persecute Israel on a daily basis. It is absurd to begin crying foul when your own brother picks on you if you're both under the knife. We'll never establish any kind of true unity if we enter into a race with the Orthodox sect to see who is the most persecuted Jew. That's ridiculous. We should simply state the facts of our case and rest on the truth, because it is the truth--not whining--that will set us free.

Exciting things are happening in the land of Israel. Baruch haShem for the servants of Adonai!

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posted by Shoshana @ 6:58 PM


This week was a momentous one in a number of ways.

We celebrated my Jewish father's birthday. His initials are V.E. because he was born on Victory in Europe day; oddly enough, I was the only one to know what V.E. Day was in my WW2 films class back in college. None of my peers--educated ones at that--knew what V.E. stood for.

Along with about 40 others, I took my turn to speak up and speak out against a proposed zoning ordinance during a public hearing with my city's commissioners. The proposed ordinance would have turned my 326 year old small town into a "smart growth transit village"-- a postmodern term for squishing as many people into as tiny a space as possible, in order to "save the wildlife" (and do G-d knows what else-- as a Jew, I despise ghetto mentality in any form for good reason). Penned by the local bunch of eco-nazis, the ordinance would have plowed over our history, character, and beauty for developers keen on building low income housing, multi-tiered parking garages, and hotels on wetlands. It was a classic case of the few and the powerful looking to make a profit off the weak and the uninformed, and looking to do so in a sneaky matter. When they realized that our small group had caught on and actually read the document, one city planner said, "Uh oh, the rats are out of the bag." (Not kidding.) Needless to say, our grass-roots efforts were nothing short of democracy at work; the public hearing was packed with people I didn't even know, speaking out against the ordinance. Fortunately (and fearfully) the commissioners heard us and responded to the public's outcry, tabling the ordinance for further re-write and review, with citizen input. I'm pretty sure this summer in town will be akin to the summer of Philadelphia, circa 1776. But, Thank G-d free speech still exists in this country, to some extent at least.

Most importantly, this week we celebrated Israel's 60th Birthday. We did so by investigating Olmert's gross corruption, witnessing John McCain (finally) publicly announce that Hamas supports Barack Obama, and watching as the Lebanese PM succumbed to Hizbullah terrorist demands and resigned.

This world is in a weird place. Even in my own small way, in my two minute speech to my commissioners and fellow citizens, I felt as if I were "raging against the dying of the light." We need a perspective change. We need to realize that, as Jews and as believers in Messiah, we are the light, and we aren't dying. Whether it is hearing people applaud when you speak the truth, or watching fireworks over Jerusalem, we need to be aware that we are the winners here-- that being Jewish means we align ourselves with G-d and, in doing so, WE ALWAYS WIN.

We're the winners here. We're the ones doing the right thing. And in that, I rejoice.

Last weekend I happened to pick up a Victorian print I'd had my eye on for a while. It's a close-up of three horses staring at you with the sea in the distance. I don't know why I like it-- I'm generally not into animals or animal prints-- but something about them spoke to me.

After doing a little research, I found out that the print is actually from a famous painting done for Queen Victoria by an artist and horse trainer named J.F. Herring. Ironically, the painting is titled "Pharaoh's Horses"-- hence the oceanic background; these are the horses leading the chariots on the chase after the Hebrews, about to be washed assunder by the waves of the Red Sea. Now, every time I look at them I can see clearly the fear in their eyes: being knowingly led by a cruel master into their demise, and not being able to do anything about it. These were the animals chasing after my ancestors (after me, after all of us really, since we are to feel that we have been personally freed from Egypt) yet the horses are the ones in fear, not us. Because we always win.

Happy Birthday, Israel. We always win!

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posted by Shoshana @ 10:44 AM

Yom HaShoah & Israel Independence: Thoughts

When asked who held the most blame for the Holocaust, Elie Wiesel answered "the American Jews." He's right. Jewish Americans were in places of power and authority within the FDR Administration, and they willingly chose to do nothing despite having full knowledge of what was going on. The Editor-in-Cheif of the NY Times openly made it a point to keep reports about European Jewry in the back pages of the largest newspaper in America--that is, when he chose to cover the story at all. Hollywood Jews did make an effort to draw attention to Hitler's atrocities in Europe in the late 1930s, as well as to help European Jews emigrate to the US, until the US Government sent Joe Kennedy to warn them against their commentary, lest America blame the Jews for being drawn into the war.

Sure, there were average Jewish Americans who did what they could to speak out, to bring family and friends over from Europe, and even to fight. But the Jewish Americans with the greatest power and authority by and large did nothing.

Today, American Jews claim that without Jewish American money, the State of Israel couldn't survive. They're wrong. Don't tell the survivors and descendants of an army that fashioned lipstick cases into bullets that they need greenbacks to function. That's plain bull. I can't help but wonder if the money argument doesn't have a twofold purpose: to ease the guilt of not taking on the burden of responsibility for leaving our European brothers and sisters in the dust, and to justify the lack of willingness to make aliyah. In any case, it's an argument that's got to stop if we are to ever begin healing the rift between American and Israeli Jewry, a great number of whom are of European descent.

Related Links:

NEVER AGAIN: Speech by the IDF Chief of the General Staff for the 'March of the Living' [Israpundit]

Lebanon Palestinians to march on border [JPost]
More than 100,000 Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon are expected to march toward the border with Israel on May 14 in the context of the Palestinian Authority's plan to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Israel, PA officials told The Jerusalem Post Thursday.


The plan calls on the refugees to return to Israel with suitcases and tents so that they can settle down in their former villages. The refuges are requested to carry UN flags upon their return and to be equipped with their UNRWA-issued ID cards.

The plan asks Arab countries hosting the refugees to facilitate their return by opening their borders. The plan specifically refers to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

Palestinian refugees living in the US, EU, Canada and Latin America have been requested to use their foreign passports to fly to Ben- Gurion Airport, while dozens of ships carrying refugees will converge on Israeli ports.
If you get 'Shalom TV' you'll recall that Israel Update covered this story months ago. Whether it will really happen or not, I don't know. Trying to get those forces to unify has failed more than once in the past. But, trust that if it does, it should be one hell of an Israel Independence Day.

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posted by Shoshana @ 11:48 AM