Entries for April 2012

Independence Days: 1840 and 2012

Independence Days: 1840 and 2012

The Jerusalem (N.Y.) Gazette

July 4, 1840

Strike Up the Band! Our glorious nation is 64 years young today!  It’s a day to celebrate and to reflect in amazement and gratitude on the miraculous feat wrought by God through our brave predecessors!  With  unmeasured sacrifice and valor, the Greatest Generation rose up against tyranny, defeated the mightiest army on earth, and established a new republic conceived in liberty. 

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Aliyah Diary

Aliyah Diary

For nearly 2,000 years, including at each Passover Seder, our people prayed: “Next year in Jerusalem!”   Of course, we didn’t mean, “May we be able to vacation there next year!”   We meant, “May our people’s ancient homeland be restored to us, and may we once again live and thrive there as we can nowhere else.”  Yesterday, the 2nd of Iyar 5,772, corresponding to April 24, 2012, I fulfilled this dream of redemption on behalf of my ancestors, my current family, and, G-d willing, future generations of my family, by “returning” to Jerusalem.  Not as a tourist but as a full citizen of Israel.   (I also retained my American citizenship, another precious legacy from my more recent ancestors that I will pass on to future generations).  This “Aliyah diary” is intended to record and share some of my thoughts and experiences of “coming home” to Jerusalem.   I hope that others will be inspired to claim their birthright and/or support the miraculous rebirth of the Jewish state. 

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Apr 24
Posted in: Israel

Shemini: Imagining No Religion

Shemini: Imagining No Religion

I know a man who professes to be both passionately Jewish and anti-religion.  He recently commented on a social media site that “the world would be a much better place without religion.”  He is certainly not the only one to think so; many people are hostile to religion for a variety of reasons (for example, it’s fantasy, it’s contrived, it’s hypocritical, etc.).  Many more are simply indifferent to religion.  Nor is these a new ideas.  In his Age of Reason, the influential American revolutionary figure and political philosopher Thomas Paine wrote:  

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Apr 19

A Passover Pilgrimage of the Mind

A Passover Pilgrimage of the Mind

The drive from Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv up into Jerusalem takes only about 35 minutes in non-rush hour traffic.  After initially crossing the coastal plain, one begins the steady climb of about 2,500 feet into the Judean Hills.  I always watch across the highway for a glimpse of the slowly-disintegrating personnel carriers left rusting as memorials to the soldiers and civilians who died there during the 1948 War of Independence.  Then, I scan the hills for the first glimpse of the “Chords Bridge” tower that now marks the principal entry into the Holy City.  All the while, as my vehicle (usually a van-taxi) downshifts up the mountain, I marvel at the thought of my ancestors leaving their homes and making this laborious and dusty ascent by foot or donkey three times each year.  The book of Deuteronomy

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Why is Passover so popular?

Why is Passover so popular?

During Passover, the normal sequential Torah reading cycle pauses to revisit passages in Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy that address Pesach observance.  Even in America, where, to a great extent, most Jews limit their ritual observance and are comfortable living in the nominally Christian (or secular) culture, Pesach observance – one or two Seders, eating of matzoh, and chametz avoidance for most or all of an entire week – is generally or closely followed.  Why do Jews who otherwise minimize Jewish rituals cling to those of Passover?  Here are ten possibilities:

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He who guards his mouth preserves his life
Proverbs 13:3