Category Archives: West Bank

The Chutzpah of Shas and Other Observations

Here’s one major reason why I don’t like Israeli coalition politics or why I really don’t like this coalition in particular: The Interior Minister and Chairman of Shas has told the Yesha Council of settlements that it will exploit its influence and resources to continue expanding settlements in the West Bank.

Haaretz has learned that Yishai has instructed officials at the Interior Ministry to come up with ways to help the settlers, by allowing continued construction within the major West Bank settlement blocs where building has stopped as a result of American pressure.”

Now Shas is one of the smaller parties to which Israel had to grant concessions like the Interior Ministry post in order for them to join. Now they are using their position to conduct a chutzpadik policy not to mention the fact that they find it perfectly all right to use my taxpayer money to fund the so-called “natural growth”  of these areas.

The Israeli government’s negative reaction to Obama’s pressure on stopping settlement growth also points to the chutzpah and cluelessness demonstrated by my fellow Israelis. The major complaint that gets me is that they claim they had an agreement with President Bush. And how could Obama not honor these promises? Um, well I hate to break it to you people, but when a new president comes in, he can enact a new policy so old promises really don’t chalk up to anything. Doesn’t everybody know this?


On the Couch with the Flu

Hi everybody,

I had to take a brief sabbatical from blogging for a number of reasons. First, while I haven’t been writing on the blog, I’ve been writing and rewriting my essay for Hebrew U. (I must repeatedly thank my friend Abigail for looking at several rounds.) Man, trying to write about yourself without sounding cliche in 500 words is hard. I had brainstormed dozens and dozens of possible experiences to include in the essay, and I only ended up using a couple. Blogging is much easier because I can write about whatever I want and go off on random tangents. (Of course, who knows if anyone reads my long entries!) Continue reading

Hanukkah oh Hanukkah (or is it Hannukah or Chanukkah…)

I think this is the first year in a while that I feel like I’m really celebrating Hanukkah it all of its joy and weirdness. Perhaps part of that feeling can be attributed to my celebrating it in Israel. On Tuesday night–the first night of Hannukah–on our way to Eric Gurevitz’s birthday party, we lit the candles and then walked to Rosa’s apartment who was hosting the event. On the way we played ‘spot the candles’ and tried to spot each and every window that had a hannukiah or candle. We passed a Yeshiva on the way to Emek Refaim and the dining room, which looked out onto the street, boasted hundreds of candles.

Perhaps you’re wondering why it’s such a big whoopla for people to put candles in windows. It’s not just that it looks pretty, but there’s a concept called ‘publicizing the miracle’ (pirsumei nisa), in lighting the Hanukkah candles. One of the miracles about the story of Hanukkah is that after rededicating the Temple, they found only one flask of oil to relight the Menorah, but the light from this flask of oil lasted eight days. So in current times, Jews are supposed to relive the miracle, as it were, by proudly broadcasting their own lights to the rest of the world. Continue reading

Pardes Student Visits Bethlehem

Partially out of laziness and also because I found her thoughts worth sharing, I’m including a guest entry from Rebecca Krasner, a Pardes student, about visiting Bethlehem with a group called Project Encounter.

Reflections on travels to Bethlehem

Posted by: “Rebecca Krasner”

Sun Oct 28, 2007 10:42 am (PST)

Looking out from my parents beautiful and serene porch in Talpiyot one gets
a great view of parts of Jerusalem. If you look really hard you can even
see the Old City. Looking to your right however one sees a part of the city
that looks desolate, quiet, and abandoned. Cutting through this one empty
patch of land is a grey wall. Some people call this wall a Security Fence,
others a Separation Barrier, and I am sure still others would refer to it as
something akin to The Wall of Oppression. I never really thought about this
wall other than the time my brother pointed it out to me and my parents 2
years ago saying something snide about it and the Israeli government. At
that moment I thought about how sad it was that violence has escalated to
such a degree that such a wall was necessary and was not sure how I felt
about what it meant for those living on the other side. Honestly though I
had probably thought about this wall maybe two or three times since that
moment. When I looked out from my parents porch I mostly ignored the wall
looking to the left-toward the pretty view. After all, there wasn’t much to
look at to the right.

A few weeks ago, however Abe and I decided that it was important for us
both to pay more attention to this wall. We decided to join a group of
American Jews traveling together to the other side of the wall. Continue reading

On the Way to the Wedding

I’m back online and ready to write a few more entries. Many updates to fill you in on. This is my first time commemorating Tisha B’Av (which started tonight) in Jerusalem. Almost everything here is closed tomorrow, and there is no Ulpan. The day takes on an altogether new meaning when you’re in the same city where the two Temples were destroyed (to say the least!). Fewer secular Israelis, on the other hand, commemorate the holiday. Here’s a poll that talks more about that. 

Tomorrow I will be going to Pardes’ day of learning. Topics of lectures include “When G-d is Unjust” “Why Was the Land Destroyed” “Why Learn Job” “Kinot with Explanations” and “Torah Yoga.” I’ll let you know which ones I end up attending. And then I have to study Hebrew like mad, since I was just bumped up to level 3 and have lots more work than before. (More about that soon). Can someone give me an explanation about “smichot” in Hebrew grammar?

Here’s more about our trip to last week’s wedding:

Eric and I made our way to the Binyamina train station on Thursday afternoon where good ol’ Etamar was waiting to pick us up. We first took a cab to the train station at Beit Shemesh, a city outside of Jerusalem. The driver decided to take the quicker ‘back way,’ which entailed our going through a section of the West Bank. It was a brief but memorable excursion. It is a hauntingly beautiful landscape–rolling hills dotted with green bushes and stone walls and barriers and fences.  Continue reading