Sunday, November 30, 2008

Timeline of horror

AP has the following account of events at the Chabad House in Mumbai last week:


They were 10 gunmen, well-trained and armed with assault rifles and grenades, officials say. They had scouted their targets ahead of time. The knew the hallways and the basements. They even carried bags of almonds for energy. Police say they were Muslim extremists from Pakistan, and may be tied to India's long-running insurgency in the disputed, largely Muslim, Himalayan region of Kashmir.

They landed in an inflatable rubber boat not long after nightfall on a Mumbai beach, a semi-isolated stretch of sand and stone where fisherman bring in their boats during the daytime. From there, it was less than a 15-minutes walk to their major targets. The group fanned out across the city, hitting 10 spots in two hours. They chose some of the best-known landmarks, many popular with foreigners and the city's elite. Many of the attacks ended in minutes. But at two luxury hotels and a Jewish center they dug in, fending off hundreds of commandos for days.


About 9:30 p.m.

Nariman House , Mumbai headquarters of the ultra-Orthodox Chabad Lubavitch movement.

A gunshot startles the family of Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and others inside the recently renovated five-story Jewish center on a bumpy, unpaved back road off a main street in Mumbai's trendy Colaba neighborhood. The pale yellow building, with its synagogue, kosher dining room and friendly rabbi, was a magnet for Israeli backpackers looking for a place to celebrate holidays while on vacation and an important religious center for Mumbai's small Jewish community.

Someone must be lighting firecrackers, thought Sandra Samuel, a maid at the center.

Then a gunman came up the stairs.

She and another employee duck into a room and hid in terror as explosions and gunshots rattle the building through the night.

"They destroyed everything, the lift, the dining room, everything," she says later.

At about the same time


Thursday mornin, 10:45 a.m.

Nariman House

The Jewish center is silent, except for the wailing of a child.

Samuel, the maid, cracks open the door of her hiding place and sees a deserted staircase. She runs up one flight and finds the rabbi's 2-year-old son Moshe crying beside his parents and two Israeli guests who lay still on the floor. His pants are drenched with blood. She grabs the boy, bolts down the stairs and out of the building.


The soldiers who fought the gunman say they were tough, bitter opponents.

"It's obvious they were trained somewhere ... Not everyone can handle the AK series of weapons or throw grenades like that," an unidentified member of India's Marine Commando unit, his face wrapped in a black mask, tells reporters after his units stormed the hotels. The attackers were "very determined and remorseless."


Frida, About 7 a.m.

Nariman House

Black-clad commandos fan out on the rooftops of the evacuated buildings surrounding the Jewish center and begin laying down covering fire.

A helicopter drops toward the roof. One after another, masked commandos slither down a rope. The helicopter returns with more commandos, then a third time with equipment.

Slowly, the assault team descends an outside staircase and begins clearing the building.

A small explosion erupts from the house. A few seconds later, two gunshots, a pause, then two more. For hours, a similar pattern is repeated. Holes are blasted in the building as hundreds of gawkers cheer from nearby streets.


5:39 p.m.

Nariman House

Indian commandos launch a rocket at one of the Jewish center's upper floors, shaking the neighborhood and blowing out windows in neighboring buildings.


6:15 p.m.

Nariman House

A small group of commandos appear in the street, raising their rifles in triumph. The crowd breaks through police barriers and floods the streets in celebration.

Inside the building, nine people lay dead, including the rabbi and his wife. According to Israeli media reports, some are wrapped in prayer shawls [MS - According to reports, when after his wife was murdered in front of him, Rabbi Holtzberg did one final act of chessed to his wife and covered her body with a Talit>.

This is news?

I just noticed this news story on AP.

I guess that this highlights the gulf between a traditional Jewish viewpoint of the world and non-Jewish values.

In the Torah observant community, a couple who refrain from kissing (or touching) before marriage is hardly front page news material.

Chicago couple wait for first kiss at the altar

Sat Nov 29, 5:04 pm ET
CHICAGO – Won't kiss on the first date? How about waiting until marriage?

Chicagoans Melody LaLuz and Claudaniel Fabien shared their first kiss Saturday at the altar. The two teach abstinence at the city's public schools and practiced what they preached to their teenage students.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the couple had never kissed and that they had never been alone together in a house.

A friend of LaLuz says wedding guests cheered and stomped during the two-minute smooch between the 28-year-old bride and the 30-year-old groom.

LaLuz and Fabien say they have no worries about how they will spend their honeymoon in the Bahamas.


Information from: Chicago Tribune,

source: AP

לקדש את שמו ברבים

Like many others, last night after Shabbat I anxiously turned on the radio dreading the possibility of bad news from the stand-off in India, and sure enough our worst fears were confirmed as we found out that the Jews in the Mumbai Chabad House returned their souls to their Maker in a tragic sanctification of G-d's name.

The tragedy was even more real for me after I spoke to a neighbour who often travels to India on business and has often stayed at the Beit Chabad and knew the Holtzbergs personally. He had a business partner who was in India last week, but Baruch Hashem was not hurt, even though he was in a hotel near the site of one of the attacks. He came home safely before Shabbat.

We should remember each of the victims in the attacks in Mumbai including:
  • Rabbi Gabi Holtzberg and his wife Rivka who dedicated their entire lives to spreading G-d's Holy word.
  • Bentzion Chroman who died while learning Gemara in the Library of the Chabad House, the Zaka volunteers found Messechat Brachot open and covered with blood in front of his lifeless body.
  • Rabbi Leibish Teitelbaum, son of the Volover Rebbe from Boro Park, who was in India as a Mashgiach Kashrut for airline meals
  • Yocheved Orpaz and the other visitors who were in the Chabad House at the time of the attack
Of course we should also remember Gabi and Rivka's son, Moshe who celebrated his second birthday on Shabbat in the arms of his grandparents who flew to India from Israel. This child who is now an orphan and who will always celebrate his birthday together with the Yhartzeit of both his parents. Like his namesake, this Moshe was saved from almost certain death in the arms of a non-Jewish woman, Sandra Samuel the baby's metapelet who heroically carried little Moshe to safety as she fled the building.

May Their Souls Be Bound in the Bonds of Eternal Life

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Stop and Say Tehillim

A special request to please stop what ever you are doing and say a Perek Tehillim for the following hostages or individuals whose exact stiuation is unknown in the Beit Chabad in Mumbai India.

Gavriel Noach ben Freida Bluma
Rivka bas Yehudis
Moshe Tzvi Ben Rivkah
and anyone affected by the tragedy.

תהילים פרק כ

א לַמְנַצֵּחַ, מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד.
ב יַעַנְךָ יְהוָה, בְּיוֹם צָרָה; יְשַׂגֶּבְךָ, שֵׁם אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב.
ג יִשְׁלַח-עֶזְרְךָ מִקֹּדֶשׁ; וּמִצִּיּוֹן, יִסְעָדֶךָּ.
ד יִזְכֹּר כָּל-מִנְחֹתֶךָ; וְעוֹלָתְךָ יְדַשְּׁנֶה סֶלָה.
ה יִתֶּן-לְךָ כִלְבָבֶךָ; וְכָל-עֲצָתְךָ יְמַלֵּא.
ו נְרַנְּנָה, בִּישׁוּעָתֶךָ-- וּבְשֵׁם-אֱלֹהֵינוּ נִדְגֹּל; יְמַלֵּא יְהוָה, כָּל-מִשְׁאֲלוֹתֶיךָ.
ז עַתָּה יָדַעְתִּי-- כִּי הוֹשִׁיעַ יְהוָה, יַעֲנֵהוּ, מִשְּׁמֵי עֲנֵהוּ, מִשְּׁמֵי קָדְשׁוֹ-- בִּגְבֻרוֹת, יֵשַׁע יְמִינוֹ.
ח אֵלֶּה בָרֶכֶב, וְאֵלֶּה בַסּוּסִים; וַאֲנַחְנוּ, בְּשֵׁם-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ נַזְכִּיר.
ט הֵמָּה, כָּרְעוּ וְנָפָלוּ; וַאֲנַחְנוּ קַּמְנוּ, וַנִּתְעוֹדָד.
י יְהוָה הוֹשִׁיעָה: הַמֶּלֶךְ, יַעֲנֵנוּ בְיוֹם-קָרְאֵנוּ

May Hashem speedily bring them to safety.

Updates on the situation available at

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Secret to a long life...


The Jerusalem Post just had an article that showed research linking regular attendance at religious services with a longer life expectancy.

Some 92,395 post-menstrual women - Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews and women of other faiths - ages 50 to 70 were recruited on a voluntary basis from all over the US.


Those attending religious services at least once per week showed a 20% mortality risk reduction mark compared with those not attending services at all.

These findings corroborate prior studies that have shown up to a 25% reduction in such risk.

Full article here.

As if to prove the point, here is a video of the Great Great Grandson of Rav Elyashiv (that's his Grandson's grandson) .
Rav Eliashiv is 98 years old (Bli Ayin Hara) and still very much "with it".

I don't imagine that he was one of the people interviewed in the survey above, however I'm prepared to bet that he attends religious services at least once a week :)

Hat tip: Life in Israel

Monday, November 24, 2008

Shuls in Buchman

Well, it looks like they have FINALLY started construction on the first shuls in Buchman, so I thought now would be a good time to take a look at the status of the congregations in Buchman.

First a quick tally - there are currently ZERO dedicated shul buildings in Buchman, you can count them on the thumbs of no hands. Given that there is a large religious community here (probably 40-60%, higher in Buchman Darom) the fact that no shuls have been built in the past 4 years since people moved into the neighborhood is inexcusable (I hope that mayor elect Chaim Bibis is reading this).

The closest thing that we have to a shul building is the Yeshiva High School, which has three Batei Midrash, all of which have neighborhood minyanim on Shabbat. There are also minyanim that meet in Ganim, private houses or literally on the street.

Following are some of the congregations currently trying to get permanent buildings built:

Lev Achim
This minyan currently davens in the large Beit Midrash in the Yeshiva, and has minyanim on Shabbat and during the week (they get over 200 people on a regular Shabbat). After several years of applications, they were finally given permission to build on the lot on the corner of Yehuda and Yissachar. They had an official ground breaking ceremony a few weeks ago, and when I drove past the other day I saw that they have cleared the land so construction can begin.
They were originally supposed to be in their building by last Pessach - I don't think that they made it, maybe by Rosh Hashana?
(Photo is of Rabbi Lay speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony)

Klal Yisrael South (AKA Klal Yisrael Permanent)
Only Jews could create a minyan called "Klal Yisrael" and then before they even get their building split into 2 - however this was a necessary to accommodate the growing religious population in Buchman Darom.
Klal Yisrael South currently davens in people's home - every Shabbat they cram 100+ people into someone's living rooms (and houses aren't that big here).
For the Chagim they errected a large tent.
During the week they have Ma'ariv in the park at the end of Shlomtzion Hamalka.
They haven't yet started their building, but I believe that they have land on Rivka Eimainu - IY"H next year there will be Ganim in the area so that they will have a temporary solution.

Klal Yisrael Merkaz (AKA Klal Yisrael Mishav)
This minyan was also rotating between houses on Shabbatot, although for the past few weeks they have settled in a temporary location - the covered parking lot behind Ester Hamalka 40. Be interesting to see what that parking area is like if we have a wet Shabbat.
During the week they have Ma'ariv in the parking lot of the Mishav project.
This is one of three shuls that are supposed to be building on the lot on the corner of Ester Hamalka and Efrayim. They are supposed to start construction this month - we'll see how it goes.
There original target date was to have the building finished by last Rosh Hashana, I don't think that they made it - let's hope for next Rosh Hashana.

This minyan currently davens in the ganim at the end of Benyamin. It is an interesting minyan - both Ashkenaz and Sfaradi; they alternate each Tfilla, for example ShacharitNussach Sfard, Mussaf Eidot Hamizrach.
They are also building at the plot on the corner of Ester Hamalka and Efrayim, they were supposed to be the first shul built there, they cleared the land several months ago, but so far no construction has started.

Shivtei Yisrael
This minyan used to daven in Gan Tavor on Binyamin but for the Chagim they moved into a Beit Midrash downstairs in the Yeshiva, where they still daven on Shabbatot.
They have raised money to build on an empty plot behind Gan Tavor, but (surprise!) there is a neighbor that objects to the building which has held up the process (not sure how long but at least 6 months, and still not resolved).
I spoke to one of the Gabai'im who told me that he spoke to the neighbor leading the charge against the shul, but was unable to reach a compromise because the person was unable to articulate a reason that he objected to the shul - I guess that a good reason would make it to easy to negate.

Adir B'marom
They currently meet in a Gan on the corner of Shimon and Dan. Like all the other minyanim, the gan is too small for their current needs. They are trying to get permission to build a shul on top of the ganim, but (surprise again), neighbors are objecting.
Not sure where they stand in terms of their battle, but from what I gather they have a while to go....

Buchman Ashkenat (AKA "BKA" or "The American Minyan")
This is the only "Nussach Ashkenaz" minyan in the city, also one of the few minyanim to have its own Rabbi (Harav Sobol).
They have plans to build quite a large building on the corner of Ester Hamalka and Efrayim, the third and biggest shul on that plot, and construction started this week.
From what I understand, the construction process will take years.

Moreshet Sfard
This minyan currently meets in Ester Hamallka 21. The house is rented out to the minyan and they have minyaim there on both Shabbatot on Weekdays - last week they added a Mincha/Maariv minyan to their weekday schedule.
Although they have plans to build from what I understand they are still at the beginning of the approval process.

So there you have it - eight minyaim without proper facilities trying to build buildings, but each one with long delays.

IY"H our eldest will be celebrating his Bar Mitzva in just over a year, I really hope that by then there is at least one shul somewhere in the neighbourhood.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Weekday Minyanim in Modi'in

Note that this list was last updated December 2018
As a "Community Service" announcement, below is a list of some of the weekday minyanim in Modi'in.
This list is incomplete, but to the best of my knowledge the rimes listed below are still accurate. If anyone has any corrections or additions, please leave a comment or send me an email.

There is a list of Minyanim in Nof Ayalon here.

The "Modi'in Dati" site also has a list of Minyim here,

Mincha Gedola Options (Summer)
1:15 pm - Beit Knesset Moria (27 Esther HaMalka Street) (MAP)
1:15 pm - Hesder Yeshiva, Emek Beit Shaan
1:15 pm - Garin Torani - Beit Knesset Zachor L'Avraham ("Pizza Shul") (MAP)
1:15 pm - BEIT KNESSET KIPIDAN SFARDI (MAP) (Starts with Korbanot, Ashrei is at about 1:20 or 1:25)
1:45 pm - SuperTov, Shivtei Yisrael street
3:30 pm -  Kaiser Center (top floor)
5:25 pm - Ayelet Hashacha (In Kaiser, Opposite the Swimming pool - Mincha at same time in Summer and Winter) (MAP)

Mincha Gedola Options (Winter)

1:00 pm - Beit Knesset Moria (27 Esther HaMalka Street) (MAP)
12:25 pm - Reut (MAP) -
12:40 pm - BEIT KNESSET KIPIDAN (Ashkenaz, downstairs)(MAP)
1:15 pm - BEIT KNESSET KIPIDAN SFARDI (MAP) (Starts with Korbanot, Ashrei is at about 1:20 or 1:25)
1:00 pm -  Kollel Orot Yitzchak,  Beit Knesset Zachor L'Avraham ("Pizza Shul") (MAP)

Giva C / Malibo

("The Bunker" Corner of Nachal Tzin and Nachal Faran)

Shacharit: 6:00, (Mon, Th: 5:50), 6:30, 7:20,  (Fridays: 8:00)
Mincha: 1:30 (Fridays and Erev Chag only)
Ma'ariv: 7:30 (Winter), 9:30 (Summer)

(The "Sfardi Bunker", adjacent to Merkaz Modi'in)

Shacharit: 6:00, (Mon, Th: 5:55)
Mincha: Bzman

(Nachal Faran)
Shacharit: 5:55, (Mon, Th: 5:45), 6:40, 7:45 (In Yeshiva Migdal Torah Downstairs)
Mincha; B'zman
Ma'ariv: B'zman, 9:45 (Yeshiva downstairs), 10:30 pm

("Pizza Shul", Corner of Nahal Zohar and Nahar HaYarden)
Shacharit: 6:00, 6:25, 6:45 (Mon, Th: 5:50, 6:25 6;30), 7:30, 8:15
Mincha:  13:15 (Winter), 16:10 (Summer) (not always available, depending on on the kollel schedule), 10 minutes after candlelighting
Ma'ariv: about 25 minutes after Shki'a, 9:00 pm

(Above the Ganim on Nachal Tzin 42)

Shacharit: 6:15 (Fri 6:45)
Mincha: 7:00 (Summer only)
Ma'ariv: 8:30

TITURA (Malibo) (MAP)
Shacharit: 7:00 am
Ma'ariv: 9:00 pm

Shacharit: 6:00, (Mon, Th: 5:50), 8:30
Mincha: 1:20 (with Sfardim upstairs), before Shkia (also upstairs)
Ma'ariv: After Mincha (With Sfardim upstairs), 8:30 pm

Menorat Avner (ULPANA (MAP)
Shacharit: 6:25 (Su-Th), 7:00 (Frday)
Ma'ariv: 8:15

Buchman (Moriah / Shvatim)

SHIVTEI YISRAEL  (Corner of Binyamin and Dan)
Shacharit: 6:15, 8:10
Ma'ariv: 8:30 pm

ADIR BAMAROM  (Corner of Shimon and Dan (MAP)
Shacharit: 6:15 (Sun - Thurs), 8:10 (Sun - Fri)
Mincha: 10 minutes after candlelighting (summer only)
Ma'ariv: 9:00 pm

LEV ACHIM (Corner of Yisachar and Yehuda) (MAP)
Shacharit: 5:45, 6:20

ACHDUT (27 Esther HaMalka Street) (MAP)
Shacharit: Sun, Tue, Wed: 6:00, 8:15
Mon, Th: 5:55, 8:15
Fri: 6:15; 8:15

Kol Yehuda (Yael Gibora, Next to the Mikva)
Shacharit: Sun - Thurs: 6:30,
Fri: 7:00
Ma'ariv: 8:00 pm

MORIAH (27 Esther HaMalka Street) (MAP)
Shacharit: Mon - Thu: 6:20, 7:30
Fri: 7:00, 7:40
Mincha: 1:00 pm, 10 minutes after candle-lighting
: Aprox 35 minutes after Mincha, 9:30 pm

KSYM (AKA "BKA" or "Ashkenaz") (27 Esther HaMalka Street) (MAP)
Shacharit: 6:30, 7:00 8:15, (during school vacation there is also at 9:00 )
Mincha: About 15 min before Shkia
: aprox 18 minutes after Shkia,  9:00 pm

Shacharit: 6:30 (Sun-Thurs; Rosh Chodesh: 6:20), 8:15
Ma'ariv: 8:15 pm

Kaiser / Shimshoni

(6 Shesh Meshzar Street - entrance from Emek Zvulin 7, opposite the pool)
Nushach: Ashkenaz
Shacharit: 7:45
Mincha: 5:45 pm
Ma'ariv: 9:45

(11 Tkhelet Street  - entrance from Emek Zvulin 7, opposite the pool)
Nusach: Eidot Hamizrach
Shacharit: 6:15 (Mon, Thurs 6:00)
Mincha: B'Zman
Ma'ariv: B'Zman

(12 B'dolach St, Corner of Avnie Hachoshen and B'dolach Street in Kaiser)
Shacharit: 05:55 (Mon, Thurs 05:50), 06:30, 08:15 (Friday 7:00, 8:15)
Mincha: Korbanot about 15 minutes before candle-lighting
Ma'ariv: 1 Hour after Mincha, 9:00 pm

Corner of Inbar and B'dolach

Corner of Inbar and B'dolach
Nusach: Eidot Hamizrach
Shacharit: 06:10 (Mon, Thurs 06:00), Friday 6:45
Ma'ariv: 8:30 pm

28 David Elazar
Shacharit: 06:00 (Mon, Thurs 05:50, Friday 06:30)
Ma'ariv: 21:00

18 Emez Zvulun, opposite Keiser Center
Nusach: Sfard
Shacharit: 6:00 (earlier on days with Kriyat Hatorah)
Ma'ariv: 7:45 pm

Maccabim / Reut

Achva V'reut (in REUT)
(10 Haoranim Street, Reut - MAP)
Shacharit: Sun-Th: 5:30, 6:15; Fri: 6:30, 7:00
Mincha: 12:20 (Winter only), candle-lighting
Ma'ariv: Hour after Mincha, 8:30

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Was the Shoah (and WWII) Gog and Magog

One of the learning cycles that I'm working on (and desperately behind in) is the OU's Nach Yomi project.

We recently covered Sefer Yoel. Chapter 3 of that book describes the horrible events of Gog Umagog (AKA Armageddon).

I make no claims to be able to understand the hidden meanings of this Chapter (or any other part of Tanach), however I found the following description very chilling:

יואל פרק ג
ג וְנָתַתִּי, מוֹפְתִים, בַּשָּׁמַיִם, וּבָאָרֶץ: דָּם וָאֵשׁ, וְתִימְרוֹת עָשָׁן. ד הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ יֵהָפֵךְ לְחֹשֶׁךְ, וְהַיָּרֵחַ לְדָם--לִפְנֵי, בּוֹא יוֹם ה', הַגָּדוֹל, וְהַנּוֹרָא

Joel Chapter 3
And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 4 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come.
That expression "וְתִימְרוֹת עָשָׁן" ("Pillars of smoke") which is familiar to us from the Haggada may possibly be more accurately translated as "Palm Trees of Smoke" (this was according to Rav Dr. Gidon Rothstein).

Does the image of a palm-shaped cloud followed by darkness and the "terrible day of Hashem" bring up any chilling imagery from the final days of the Second World War?

Half way there....

For my readers keeping up with Daf Yomi - Mazal Tov.
Sunday this week we learnt Kiddushin 39 which is exactly half way through the 12th Daf Yomi cycle.

Only 1352 days until the end of the cycle.....

Now if only I could catch up and finish my review of Gittin.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Where to put your Chanukia...

A friend of mine from shul has designed a very clever solution to the problem of how to put your Chanukia in the window without rearranging all your furniture.

It's a simple shelf that clips onto a standard (Israeli) window ledge. It is sturdy, but doesn't require any screws or fasteners, and after Chanukah you can remove it and it doesn't leave any marks.

Best of all, he practically gives them away (25 shekel for the basic size which is big enough for a single chunkiah).

For further information, check out the following web page I threw together for him:

He's also looking for agents in other parts of the country, so if you would be interested in making a few shekels between now and Chanuka, feel free to call him directly, or if you prefer you can contact me (or leave a comment), and I'll put you in touch.

חנוכה שמח

Friday, November 14, 2008

Midat Sdom

This week's Parsh (Vayera) includes the story of Avraham's attempt to save the people of Sdom.

Our sources bring down many explanations / examples of what was wrong with society in Sdom. One example is how they lived "Lfnei Mishuras Hadin", for example if someone was building and had a supply of bricks, each person that passed would steel one brick. Each stolen brick was worth less than a Pruta, so no individual would by liable for the theft, so the victim would be left with no bricks and no way to recover his loss.

(couldn't find a source for this - if someome has it, please leave a note)

Anyway - as if to prove that this is possible in the Real World, Yahoo News has a story about an unused Russian Orthodox Church that was dismantled and sold brick by brick, each brick was soled for about 1 ruble (about 4 cents).

How do you say Midot Sdom in Russian?
Russian Orthodox church stolen — brick by brick

Thu Nov 13, 8:31 pm ET

MOSCOW – Wanted: One missing Russian church. Last seen in July. Reward for its return. Orthodox officials in a central Russian region say an abandoned church building that was to be put back into use has been stolen by local villagers.

Orthodox priest Vitaly of the Ivanovo-Voskresenskaya diocese said officials last saw the two-story Church of Resurrection intact in late July. Sometime in early October, however, people from the nearby village of Komarovo, northeast of Moscow, dismantled the building, he said.

Villagers apparently sold it to a local businessman, one ruble (about 4 cents) per brick, Vitaly said. Orthodox priests use only one name.

"Of course, this is blasphemy," he told The Associated Press. "These people have to realize they committed a grave sin."

Vitaly said police were investigating the theft.

The 200-year-old building, which no longer had its icons and other religious valuables, was a school for disabled children during the Soviet era before it was closed down in 1998 and turned over to the church.

Vitaly said the diocese was thinking of reopening it for services.

The Orthodox church has experienced a major resurgence in Russia and has restored or built thousands of churches.

In poorer, rural regions, vandals or petty thieves regularly steal gilded icons or donations from churches and sell them for alcohol or drugs.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


For people interested why we chose the name Amichai, or more about the name, here is some background information to the name from HaRav Moshe Amiel (posted on
השם "עמי-חי" כולל שני ביטויים משלימים: עמי - חי ,והוא מבטא מהות לאומית ביחס לעם ישראל.

מהות זו מודגשת באמור בספר הושע פרק ב’ כך: "וְהָיָה מִסְפַּר בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כְּחוֹל הַיָּם אֲשֶׁר לֹא יִמַּד וְלֹא יִסָּפֵר וְהָיָה בִּמְקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יֵאָמֵר לָהֶם לֹא עַמִּי אַתֶּם יֵאָמֵר לָהֶם בְּנֵי אֵל חָי", כאשר הביטוי הנלווה "חי" מתייחס לה’ - שהוא מקור החיים. ביטוי זה משפיע באורו על הביטוי "עמי", המקבל מתוך כך את ערכו הגדול בתור "עמי-חי".

הביטוי "חי" כאן מובן במשמעות של קשר, קרבה, חיבור, ומתוך כך חיים, חיבה, ומעלה חשובה.

במובן האישי, יש בשם הזה השלכה רחבה על הפרט להיות קשר ומחובר עם הכלל. הביטוי הלאומי כאן הוא בעל תכונה הזוכה להדגשה, המשפיעה על תכונות הפרט במובנים הנ"ל של התקשרות, חברתיות, חביבות וחיים פעילים, וההשפעה ניכרת גם ביחס של הפרט בעל השם לעניינים רחבים בחברה הקרובה ובעם.

ויקרא שמו בישראל

The Brit was this morning

Our son's name is עמיחי יוסף

Yosef was my grandafter (Apa, my father's father) who survived the war in Budapest and brought his family to New Zealand to start again.
Apa died when I was 7 and I have only snapshot memories of him, but since my trip to Budapest last year, I've found Apa to be a more real presence in my life and I'm very glad to be able to honour and remember him through our son Amichai.

Video of the Brit on my Brother's blog (Thanks David).

(PS - Thanks for sending the photos Miriam)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's a boy!

With thanks and sincere gratitude to Hashem, I'm happy to announce that Debbie gave birth to a healthy baby boy yesterday, אור לו' חשון November 3 at 6:10 pm in Hadassah Ein Karem hospital.

The baby weighed in at a healthy 3.85 kilo.

אי"ה there will be a Shalom Zachor this Shabbat in our home (entrance from 2 Ester Hamalka).

Brit Details

אי"ה the Brit will be on Tuesday, י"ג חשון (Tue, 11 November) in Beit Knesset HaSfaradi in Chasmonaim.
Shacharit at 7:45 (brit will be about 8:30)

The Beit Knesset is next to the Traffic Circle as you enter Chashmonaim.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Is Effi Eitam Reading my blog?


A matter of hours after posting how happy I was the Benny begin is talking about rejoining the Likud, and listing Effi Eitam as part of my dream team, Effi announced that he is considering rejoining the Likud.

In the past I have always voted Mafdal (although often had to hold my nose while doing so), now that the Mafdal looks like it's official disbanding, Likud have a real chance of winning my vote.

Natan Sharansky, if you're reading this - now is the time to pick up the phone for a chat with Bibi.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Debbie is due to give birth any day, which is why I haven't been blogging lately as much as I used to.

Trying to give the kids as much time and attention as I can so they don't feel that they've been neglected in the excitement before (and after) the arrival of Number Five.

Tuesday אי"ה Debbie's mother is arriving which will be a big help, however before then Debbie has a doctor's appointment tomorrow, and it is quite possible that they will decide that the baby is too big and she should head straight for the hospital.

I don't know if I believe in Segulot or not, but normally Peticha is a segula for an easy delivery - well.... on Shabbat i went to the early minyan (not very early, 7:00), and there was a problem with the lock on the Aaron Kodesh - the Gabai'im couldn't get the Aaron open at all and ended up davening Mussaf Before Kriya and then borrowing a Sefer from the Sfardim next door.

If Peticha is a segula for an easy delivery, I hate to think what it means if you can't get the Aaron Kodesh open at all.....

Stay tuned

At Last - Good news for politics in Israel

Today the local Israeli news is finally offering some good news, one of the very few honest politicians in this country is returning to politics and is is set to rejoin the Likud.

In recent years Israelis have had a very poor choice as the leaders of all the major parties have been particularly corrupt or unsavoury individuals.

I have always thought that the Israeli political system (maybe any political system) was designed for the worst type of individuals to rise to the top, and idealist honest individuals get pushed out.

The best examples of honest, ideological politicians in recent years were Natan Sharansky (one of my childhood heroes) and Benny Begin (who is very much like his father, also one of my childhood heroes), both of whom were unable to survive in the Israeli political system.

If the reports are true and Benny is really coming back to the Knesset, with a realistic place on the Likud list, that may well influence my vote (until now I have never voted Likud).
If they manage to bring Natan Sharansky back on board, they may have secured this vote.

My dream Government: Benny as Prime Minister, Natan Sharansky as Foreign Minister, Biby as Finance, and Effi Eitam Minister of Defence - hey, a guy can dream can't he?