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Sunday, October 19, 2014

National Parks: Castel Edition

Warning: The following post may exceed the recommended daily allowance for other people’s vacation pictures and videos. Proceed at your own risk.

And so, the succah is put away; the younger kids have gone back to school; and we’ve reached that elusive time of year known here in Israel as אחרי החגים (literally, “after the holidays”).

B”H we had a wonderful Succot. We spent time with family and friends and enjoyed various activities and outings – including, as promised, a repeat visit to the Circus Festival and, of course, the requisite trip to one of our beautiful country’s many national parks.

This time our destination was the Castel (aka Har Ma’oz (“Stronghold Mountain”) for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you).

Originally a Roman-era fortress known as Castellum, it was subsequently renovated by the Byzantines, who called it Castellum Belvoir and appreciated its proximity to similar fortresses in the area (such as Ein Chemed and others).

Soaring above and dominating Route 1 (the main highway leading up to Yerushalayim), the Castel was the site of a key battle during the War of Independence. Many brave men and women gave their lives during the heavy fighting.

At one point, the situation became so desperate that the Palmach company commander and his deputy famously ordered the privates to retreat – shielded by their commanders, who remained behind and continued fighting.

When the war finally ended, the newly-formed IDF dug a number of bunkers and communication trenches around the Castel, which overlooked what was then the Jordanian border.

And now, without further ado, the threatened promised pictures: (As always, please feel free to click on the pictures for a much better view.)

First, the traditional view of the price list… to show how much money we WOULD have saved, if we hadn’t allowed our National Parks membership to lapse:

IMG_5410

Looking up at the fortress:

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Inside one of the tunnels:

IMG_5475

The view from the top:

IMG_5483IMG_5484IMG_5485

And finally, a video showing a walk through one of the communication trenches:

חורף טוב, בריא וגשום!

Have a wonderful, healthy, and rainy winter!

________

P.S. The latest HH blog carnival is available here. Special thanks to Batya for including my Reasons 3721 and 3722 for making aliyah.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The circus is coming

Moadim l’simchah!

If you’re looking for a fun chol hamoed activity, you might want to consider going to the annual Circus Festival in Modiin.

I mean, not only is there free admission to many (but not all) of the performances, but since we enjoyed the festival last year and are thinking about going back again this year, there’s a very good chance that you may get to see the Shiputzim family – live and in person. (If you do, please be sure to come over and say hello!)

All of which is a fancy way of saying that instead of apologizing for not getting around to posting the following pictures from Succot 5774, I’m going to pretend that I deliberately CHOSE to wait an entire year to share them with you.

You, in turn, are welcome to pretend that you believe me…

Smile

As always, please feel free to click on the pictures for a much better view.

IMG_2953A circus performer walks on the tightrope…

IMG_2957…And also rides his bike

IMG_2963Just hangin’ around

IMG_2979Three performers dangle high above the crowds.

IMG_2981The audience

See here for details about this year’s festival.

!מועדים לשמחה

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Reasons #3721 and #3722 for making aliyah

Warning: The following post may exceed the recommended daily allowance for overt “I-made-aliyah-and-therefore-I’m-so-great” smugness. Proceed at your own risk.

In a hopeless attempt at making it up to you for the long weeks months years that I’ve been shamelessly neglecting this blog, I present not one but TWO (count ‘em! two!) reasons for making aliyah.

The first is fairly prosaic; the second approaches the sublime.

1) Reason #3721 for making aliyah

9:26 PM – Israel time – Motzai Yom Kippur 5775.

At that exact moment, our dear friends and family back in the States were nearing the end of the Yom Kippur Musaf service with visions of, well, just about anything edible, really, dancing in their heads, as Hamlet-like, they were mentally running through their options. (“To go home or NOT to go home during the break – THAT is the question…”)

Meanwhile, half a world away, here in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog), we had not only returned from shul after Maariv, made havdalah, enjoyed a delicious break-fast meal (potato soup and lasagna, thank you for asking), and put up our beautiful succah by that time, but we had even managed to post photographic evidence of said completed succah on the extended Shiputzim family’s WhatsApp group – thereby confirming our victory in the highly-competitive “Who Can Get Their Succah Up First” competition.

2) Reason #3722 for making aliyah

One word: Shmitah.

B”H, this is the third shmitah year since we made aliyah, which means that once again, we have the truly incredible privilege of partaking of peyrot shviit (shmitah produce).

For example, last night’s supper included this:

IMG_5349A package of otzar beit din lettuce from Otzar HaAretz

20141006_141516A close-up of the Otzar HaAretz label

IMG_5361Our custom-decorated shmitah receptacle

“וְהָיְתָה שַׁבַּת הָאָרֶץ לָכֶם לְאָכְלָה לְךָ וּלְעַבְדְּךָ וְלַאֲמָתֶךָ וְלִשְׂכִירְךָ וּלְתוֹשָׁבְךָ הַגָּרִים עִמָּךְ. וְלִבְהֶמְתְּךָ וְלַחַיָּה אֲשֶׁר בְּאַרְצֶךָ תִּהְיֶה כָל תְּבוּאָתָהּ לֶאֱכֹל.”

“And the Shabbat of the land shall be yours to eat, for you and for your servant and for your maidservant, and for your hired worker and for your resident who live with you. And for your animal and for the beast that is in your land: all its produce shall be to eat.”
(Vayikra 25:6-7)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Euphonic Friday: Erev Yom Kippur 5775 Edition

Yitzchak Meir’s incredibly beautiful rendition of R’ Shlomo Carlebach’s “HaNeshamah Lach” (from the Slichot prayer):

[Full disclosure (i.e. gilu’i na’ot for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you) - Last year, on Rosh Hashanah 5774, we had the privilege of davening in the shul where Yitzchak Meir was the ba’al tefilah.]

!גמר חתימה טובה

May we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a wonderful, sweet, happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful new year!

Monday, September 29, 2014

For the sake of Tzion

A short while ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the United Nation’s General Assembly and concluded his excellent speech with a pasuk from Sefer Yeshaya:

“לְמַעַן צִיּוֹן לֹא אֶחֱשֶׁה וּלְמַעַן יְרוּשָׁלִַם לֹא אֶשְׁקוֹט עַד יֵצֵא כַנֹּגַהּ צִדְקָהּ וִישׁוּעָתָהּ כְּלַפִּיד יִבְעָר.”

“For the sake of Tzion, I will not be silent, and for the sake of Yerushalayim I will not be still; until her righteousness emanates like brilliance, and her salvation blazes like a torch.”
(Yeshaya 62:1)

For those of you who missed it, here’s Part I of the speech:

Part II:

Part III:

May 5775 be a year of besurot tovot, yeshu’ot v’nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation) for Am Yisrael.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rosh Hashanah 5775

I realize that posting has been fairly sparse in recent weeks.

But I’m sure you’ll forgive me when you consider all the, ahem, important and meaningful things we’ve been doing here in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog).

For instance, this past Shabbat, we were extremely busy coming up with a list of acronyms for תשע”ה – 5775 – the upcoming new year:

.תהא שנת עליה הביתה
May this be a year of aliyah to our homeland.

.תחל שמיטה על הארץ
Let shmitah begin in the Land of Israel.

.תהא שנת ערבות הדדית
May this be a year of mutual responsibility.

.תשכון שכינתך על המקדש
May Your Divine Presence dwell in the Mikdash.

.תהא שנת עידן המשיח
May this year mark the onset of the Messianic Era.

.תשים שלום על הבריות
Bestow peace upon mankind.

.תביא ששון על הארץ
Bring joy to the land.

.תהא שנת עבודת ה
May this be a year of serving Hashem.

.תבוא שלום עוד השנה
May peace arrive this very year.

.תהא שנת עליית הרגל
May this be a year of going up to Yerushalayim on the festivals.

.תהא שנת עירך הבנויה
May this be the year of Your rebuilt city.

Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment section.

Yitzchak Meir and Udi Davidi sing “Ochila LaKel.” (Full disclosure: Last year, on Rosh Hashanah 5774, we had the privilege of davening in the shul where Yitzchak Meir was the ba’al tefilah.)

לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו לאלתר לחיים טובים ולשלום!

May you and your families have a wonderful, happy, healthy, prosperous, and sweet new year!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Euphonic Friday: Coming Home Edition

Rather than commenting on the current ceasefire and its political, military, social, historical, or other ramifications, I instead refer you to my Ceasefire Pie post (which referred to the ceasefire at the end of Amud Anan).

Meanwhile, as I wrote in my most recent counteracting the meraglim post, now is the time for all of our dear brothers and sisters in the Diaspora to join us here in Israel and thus help us hasten the Geulah (the Redemption).

And on a related note, the Maccabeats released a new song this week:

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Birkat HaGomel at the Kotel

After spending over a month in heavy combat down South and before heading home for a well-deserved break, the IDF’s 51st Golani infantry battalion (which includes many hesder yeshiva students/soldiers and officers) went straight to the Kotel to recite the Birkat HaGomel thanksgiving blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹקינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם הַגּוֹמֵל לְחַיָּבִים טוֹבוֹת שֶׁגְּמָלַנִי כָּל טוֹב.

Blessed are You, Hashem our God, King of the Universe, Who bestows kindness upon the unworthy, for He has bestowed every goodness upon me.

אָמֵן. מִי שֶׁגְּמַלְּךָ‏ כָּל טוֹב הוּא יִגְמָלְךָ כָּל טוֹב סֶּלָה.

Amen. May He who has bestowed every goodness upon you continue to bestow every goodness upon you forever.