A Message About Israel
Today's Israel Magazine
publicize some of what our movement does in Israel and to show many of the
wonderful aspects of life in Israel, the kinds of stories that mainstream media
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Instead of focusing on the politics and conflicts, Today’s Israel Magazine represents
the other side – it shows the world that despite all else that goes on, the Israeli
mentality of "enjoying life to its fullest" prevails in every which way you can imagine.
Experience the music, arts, food, health, and the Israeli communities. Explore the
Sabra (Israeli) within.
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A NOTE FROM JERUSALEM
trees of the field human? The Bible
(Deut. 20.19) asks this question with
the question about whether trees are like humans can also be asked on
On a national level, the question of identifying with trees is also relevant. Many
countries have trees as the symbol of their country, like the maple tree for Canada
or the cedar for Lebanon. We Jews might even say that the Torah is our tree of life,
based on Proverbs 3:18, as we sing when we return the Torah Scroll to the Ark.
Before the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the Chinese asked each country to
send a tree and flower to represent them at an exhibit. Israel did not yet have a
national flower or tree, so the Nature and Parks Authority of Israel asked the public
to vote and decide which tree and which flower would represent Israel. <>
How do you choose the tree that would represent Israel? What kind of nation are we? What kind of nation do we want to be? What does the tree say about our character?
Here are some of the kinds of trees that got to the final round of the competition:
ALON – Oak:
rootedness. The Alon grows in the Galilee and in the mountains
SH’KEDIYA – Almond :
renewal. The leaves of the Sh’kediya fall in the autumn, but it is
SHITA – Acacia :
toughness and persistence. The Shita grows in the Negev where ot
ZAIT – Olive :
peace, as with the olive leaf that the dove brought back to Noah. The
TAMAR – Date :
ecology, since unlike other trees, every part of the Tamar is used,
I encourage you to discuss this question at home during the coming weeks as we
look forward to spring here in New England.
October 15, 2009
Matthew Wagner, THE JERUSALEM POST
Due to pending legal issues, Kiryat Bialik's only state-salaried rabbi, appointed
by the Chief Rabbinate, temporarily suspended himself recently while he launched
his legal defense (see http://www.theawarenesscenter.org/Krispin_Mahluf.html). In his absence, Rabbi Maurricio Balter has become the town's unofficial chief rabbi. On Yom Kippur, around 600 people attended the Kol Nidre prayer at his synagogue, and even more came for the concluding Ne'ila prayer.
He regularly teaches Judaism to kids at 10 different schools in the Kiryat Bealik area. Balter is also a deeply committed Zionist. He travels periodically to South America to encourage Jews to make aliya. Over the past 12 years, since he immigrated to Israel from Uruguay, Balter has personally overseen the arrival of
over 500 families from South America, a quarter of whom have settled in Kiryat
Bialik. Balter trains boys and girls for bar and bat mitzva, answers halachic
questions, gives classes in both Hebrew and Spanish, gives sermons in his synagogue, comforts the sick and euogizes the deceased. In fact, Balter does everything that a rabbi employed be the state does, and more.
Unlike rabbis representing the chief rabbinate, who receive their salaries from
the state, Balter is supported by his community and by donors abroad. His
community reularly provides about 25 poor families with food. There is a storage
room full of clothes for the needy. And there is even a special project that provides
85 IDF soldiers from the area with equipment not provided by the military.
However, unlike rabbis from the Chief Rabbinate, who are all Orthodox, Balter belongs to the Conservative (Masorti) Movement. He is one of a handful of Reform
and Conservative rabbis who are building communities and providing an
alternative to the Orthodox monopoly ofer religious services. Without a
functioning chief rabbi and boasting a prodominantly secular population, Kiryat
Bialik has become a testing ground for the success of non-Orthodox Judaism in a country the officially recognizes and funds only Ortholoxy and its representatives.
Balter's tremondous success in Kiryat Bialik raises questions about the
justification of such an Orthodox monopoly. Why should a rabbi like Balter be provented from receiving state funds just because he belongs to a non-Orthodox stream? Religious Affairs Minister Ya'acov Margi, a member of the Sephardi haredi Shas party, rejects the possibility that a Conservative rabbi, no matter how poplar,
will receive state support.
Stand Together with Conservative Judaism in Israel!
You may remember that I was
honored to represent our movement at the
The 36th World Zionist
Congress is now scheduled to take place in the spring
I know that at this time of
year, in the weeks in advance of Rosh Hashanah, we
Currently, there are 9,500
households, out of more than 200,000 Conservative
Please join or renew on-line at www.mercazusa.org.
This summer as part of the
Tisha B’Av liturgy, we prayed for the comfort of Zion
A Salute To Israel
Written by Gershon LevineAfter seeing the powerful film “Waltz with Bashir”, which focused on
Israeli army veterans dealing with their experiences during Operation Peace for
the Galilee (the official name for Israel’s war in Lebanon), I had a strong
reaction about my own time in the Israel Defense Force. I served as an
infantryman from 1982-1987 in compulsory service and later as a reserve
soldier during the time period spoken about in the film and beyond. We trained
for this war running through mock villages and up and down hills along goat trails,
the exact terrain we would find in Lebanon. Unfortunately, I developed bad
ankles, which sidelined me from going into Lebanon with my comrades. I feel
guilty about this – why was I lucky enough to be kept out of harm’s way, while they
bled and died on the battlefield?
1998, the Rhode Island Jewish community celebrated Israel’s
name - ts short for little Aryeh, little lion. Areleh wasn't little and he certainly
wasn't what you'd expect from a lion. In fact he reminded me of some big
goofy bear character from a Warner Brothers Cartoon.He was tall, gangly -
his socks were always falling down into his combat boots and he always
smiled a twisted smile.
Oh, and his
hair would never stay combed, stood straight up. He always had a
As luck would
have it, in June 1982, one week before Operation Peace for
I found out
that my unit cut through Southern Lebanon and made it to
Areleh fell victim to an RPG blast. The big goofy guy whose socks wouldn’t stay
up, the one person who could run farther, shoot straighter, carry more weight and instinctively knew what to do, was silenced. That twisted smile would never again grace his face.
The nurses would always make sure his unruly hair stayed combed. I supposed
it would have been better if he would have been killed outright, instead of
wasting away the best years of his life in a coma. When I finally lost touch with Areleh, two years later, machines were still keeping his body alive.
I wonder if he passed away peacefully----
I hope he woke up. 1993 would have been a good year for him to
May God Who grants Peace in the Heavens,
Grant Peace to us all,
To all Israel
And let us say Amen.”
- Gershon Levine