Thursday, April 25, 2013

Iyar Top Ten

The Our Shiputzim Editorial Board proudly presents:

The Top 10 Reasons That Iyar Rates As One of the Twelve Best Months to Be Living in Israel

10) The entire country is decorated in blue and white.

9) The IDF – which, as I’ve noted before, does its very best to ensure that religious soldiers’ needs are met – automatically grants shaving exemptions for the duration of Sefirah to any soldier who so requests.

8) The shaving exemption even applies to IDF soldiers appearing on national television during the Yom HaZikaron ceremony at the Kotel.

7) In any given year, at least one of your kids is chosen to play an active role in a Yom HaZikaron/Yom HaAtzma’ut ceremony – whether in gan, school, your community, or even the army.

6) Three years after I first shared my in-laws’ incredible pictures of the Kotel in the summer of 1967, that post continues to be extremely popular - especially in the weeks leading up to Yom Yerushalayim.

5) That satisfying feeling of accomplishment you get after successfully completing yet-another Iyar Challenge (i.e. supplying each of your kids with enough white shirts to make it through the first week of Iyar).

4) The amazing seasonal music. (See, for example, Udi Davidi’s beautiful Hitna'ari (including a translation).)

3) Four words: Yom HaAtzma’ut in Israel. There’s nothing like it!

2) The way the Pesach/Yom HaShoah/Yom HaZikaron/Yom HaAtzma’ut/Yom Yerushalayim/Shavuot continuum serves as a poignant reminder that the future of the Jewish People is here in Israel, where we’re B”H privileged to have front row seats on Jewish history.

1) The newly-minted four-day Lag BaOmer weekend…

Open-mouthed smile

!שבת שלום ול”ג-ל”ד שמח

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hinei Rakevet…

In between partying at last night’s wonderful Yom HaAtzma’ut celebration, watching the Chidon HaTanach earlier today, and then enjoying a delicious BBQ (i.e. a mangal, for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you), the Shiputzim family managed to find time to revisit Israel's version of the bridge to nowhere.

As you may recall, the bridge was built for the high-speed train which will eventually run from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim.

Since those pictures were taken, considerable progress has been made, and in honor of Yom HaAtzma’ut, Israel Railways offered free bus tours of the bridge and the tunnels behind it.

In addition, they had set up a festive fairground of sorts – complete with various attractions for the entire family.

As always, click on the pictures for a better view:

There were entertainers and patriotically-shaped balloons:


Other attractions included model trains, a picnic area, blue and white Lego, a movie, and inflatable rides for the kids:


Rounded concrete slabs which are used to line the tunnels and are installed robotically:


The erstwhile bridge-to-nowhere:


One of the tunnels:


The bridge leading into the tunnels:


Looking down at families on a Yom HaAtzma’ut hike in the valley below the bridge:


And finally, a video from inside the tunnel, which was bedecked with flashing lights in honor of Yom HaAtzma’ut. As you can hear, the bus driver played loud music, and if you watch carefully, you can catch a brief glimpse of the tour guide:

מועדים לשמחה

!לאלתר לגאולה שלמה

Happy Yom HaAtzma’ut to all!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Yom HaZikaron 5773

As we remember each of Israel’s 23,085 fallen soldiers, here is the Kel Malei prayer for Yom HaZikaron followed by an English translation*:

אֵ-ל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים שׁוֹכֵן בַּמְּרוֹמִים, הַמְצֵא מְנוּחָה נְכוֹנָה עַל כַּנְפֵי הַשְּׁכִינָה בַּמַּעֲלוֹת קְדוֹשִׁים, טְהוֹרִים וְגִבּוֹרִים, כְּזֹהַר הָרָקִיעַ מַזְהִירִים, לְנִשְׁמוֹת הַקְּדוֹשִׁים שֶׁנִּלְחֲמוּ בְּכָל מַעַרְכוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל, בַּמַּחְתֶּרֶת וּבִצְבָא הַהֲגָנָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל וְשֶׁנָּפְלוּ בְּמִלְחַמְתָּם וּמָסְרוּ נַפְשָׁם עַל קְדֻשַּׁת הַשֵּׁם, הָעָם וְהָאָרֶץ, בַּעֲבוּר שֶׁאָנוּ מִתְפַּלְּלִים לְעִלּוּי נִשְׁמוֹתֵיהֶם. לָכֵן בַּעַל הָרַחֲמִים יַסְתִּירֵם בְּסֵתֶר כְּנָפָיו לְעוֹלָמִים וְיִצְרֹר בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים אֶת נִשְׁמוֹתֵיהֶם, ה' הוּא נַחֲלָתָם, בְּגַן עֵדֶן מְנוּחָתָם, וְיָנוּחוּ בְּשָׁלוֹם עַל מִשְׁכְּבוֹתָם וְתַעֲמֹד לְכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל זְכוּתָם וְיַעַמְדוּ לְגוֹרָלָם לְקֵץ הַיָּמִין, וְנֹאמַר אָמֵן.

“O God, full of mercy, Who dwells in the Heavens, deliver proper rest on the wings of the Divine Presence, in the ascents of the holy, the pure, and the courageous, who shine like the radiance of the firmament, to the holy souls who fought in all of Israel’s battles, in the Underground and in the Israel Defense Forces, and who fell in their wars and gave their lives to sanctify Hashem’s Name, the nation, and the Land, because we pray for their souls’ ascent.

“Therefore, may the Master of Mercy shelter them in the shelter of His wings for eternity, and may He bind their souls in the bonds of life. Hashem is their heritage; their rest is in the Garden of Eden. And may they rest in peace on their resting places, and may their merit stand for all of Israel, and may they stand for their fate at the end of days. And we shall say: Amen.”

.יהי זכרם ברוך


*The above translation is courtesy of the official Our Shiputzim Hebrew-English translator. For more information, please contact me at OurShiputzim at gmail dot com, and I’ll gladly forward all serious inquiries to her.

Only in Israel: Restaurant edition

Last week, YZG and I found ourselves driving  to Tel Aviv.

After parking our car, we started walking toward our destination when we were stopped by the guard at the entrance to the parking lot.

He seemed to sense that we are from out of town (where town=Tel Aviv, not New York… :-)).

Was it the fact that we missed our exit driving into the city that gave us away?

Or was he simply being prophetic and accurately predicting that later that evening, we would – as we ALWAYS do at the end of every. single. visit to Tel Aviv - have trouble finding our way back onto the highway?

I don’t know.

But I do know that the friendly guard was clearly trying to be helpful when he asked us where we were going.

We told him that we were going to a certain restaurant, and the Russian-accented, bareheaded guard immediately replied, “Is that kosher?

We thanked him for his concern and assured him that we had checked it out in advance and that the restaurant was indeed kosher l’mehadrin.

!מי כעמך ישראל
“Who is like Your nation Israel…”
(Divrei HaYamim I 17:21)

And on a related note, Latma has a new song for Yom HaAtzma’ut 5773:

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Yom HaShoah 5773

As Yom HaShoah 5773 begins, I think about my beloved maternal grandparents z”l, who were both Holocaust survivors.

My Bobi a”h - whose yahrzeit we will commemorate next week IY”H – was one of the strongest people I knew and loved Israel and her family.

My Zaidy a”h - a gifted talmid of Rav Elchanan Wasserman Hy”d in the Ohel Torah Yeshiva in Baranovitch and then Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l in the Kletzk Yeshiva – wrote an incredible letter to our family just before he died.

SurvivorsZaidy z”l (standing, in the hat) - who earned an engineering degree from the University of Moscow during the war – teaches other survivors in the DP camp in Frankfurt in 1946.

I know that both Bobi and Zaidy a”h would be so proud that their eldest great-grandson yblt”a is now an IDF soldier.

May their memories be blessed, and may they continue to be melitzei yosher for all of us.

In this moving video, Rav Yisrael Meir Lau - Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and former Chief Rabbi of Israel – meets a fellow survivor from Buchenwald.

אֵל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים שׁוֹכֵן בַּמְרוֹמִים, הַמְצֵא מְנוּחָה נְכוֹנָה תַחַת כַּנְפֵי הַשְּׁכִינָה, בְּמַעֲלוֹת קְדוֹשִׁים וּטְהוֹרִים כְּזֹהַר הָרָקִיעַ מְאִירִים וּמַזְהִירִים, לְנִשְׁמוֹת אַחֵינוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הַקְּדוֹשִׁים וְהַטְּהוֹרִים שֶׁנָּפְלוּ בִּידֵי הָרוֹצְחִים וְנִשְׁפַּךְ דָּמָם, בְּאַווּשְׁוִיץ, מַיְידַנֶק, טְרֶבְּלִינְקָה, וּבִשְׁאָר מַחֲנוֹת הַשְּׁמָד בְּאֵירוֹפָּה. שֶׁנֶּהֶרְגוּ וְנִשְׂרְפוּ וְנִשְׁחֲטוּ וְנִקְבְּרוּ חַיִּים, בְּכֹל מִיתוֹת מְשֻׁנּוֹת וְאַכְזָרִיוֹת, עַל קְדֻשַּׁת הַשֵּׁם… בְּגַן עֵדֶן תְּהֵא מְנוּחָתָם.
לָכֵן בַּעַל הָרַחֲמִים, יַסְתִּירֵם בְּסֵתֶר כְּנָפָיו לְעוֹלָמִים וְיִצְרֹר בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים אֶת נִשְׁמָתָם.
ה' הוּא נַחֲלָתָם וְיָנוּחוּ בְשָׁלוֹם עַל מִשְׁכָּבָם, וְנֹאמַר אָמֵן.

(From the special Kel Malei prayer recited on Yom HaShoah)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Assorted blogbits

Once again, in lieu of an actual post, here are various and sundry items of interest or note:

1) David M. Weinberg - a real life friend of the Shiputzim family - writes eloquently about reclaiming the world of Torah. (See also my related post from three years ago about religious-Zionist Torani communities.)

2) A guest post over at A Mother in Israel’s blog documents the separate and unequal situation at the Kotel.

3) HaRav Aharon Lichtenstein shlit”a - Rosh Yeshivat Har Etzion and one of the leading Torah giants of our generation - discusses drafting yeshiva students.

4) And finally, the following moving video provides a fascinating glimpse at the birth of the IAF:

!שבת שלום ומבורך