Sunday, January 30, 2005

Almost all Jews from Afghanistan and Iraq have made Aliyah!

1948 Jewish population: Approximately 150,000
Today: Approximately 11

1978: Jewish population: Approximately 40,000
Today: 1

United States of America
1998 Jewish population: Approximately 5,800,000
Soon: ?

1998 Jewish Population: Approximately 4,847,000
Soon: Everybody, including you!

Yes, yes, it's already been all over the blogsphere.

There were two Jews left in Afghanistan and shul politics - but of course - came between them. One has just died.

But no one seems to have mentioned this angle. What it means is that the ingathering of the exiles is complete from Afghanistan. (This last Jew's wife and family are already living in Israel and they want him Home!) Two years ago there were reports that there were just 11 Jews left in Iraq - also known as Bavel, which 1500 years ago looked like 13th Avenue and Avenue J in terms of the sheer number of Jews living there! The clock has been ticking for some time already. How much longer will there still be more Jews in the Diaspora than in our homeland? Not very much longer I dare say...

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Suha Arafat Featured in REAL Nigerian Scam

I kid you not! This is a real live Nigerian Scam! You might recall a parity joke version of these scams that I posted back in November. Well here's the real thing. Wow! These Nigerians are really something!

From-Suha Arafat

Dear Sir/madam,

This mail may not be surprising to you if you have
been following current events in the international
media with reference to the Middle East and Palestine
in particular.

I am Mrs.Suha Daoud Arafat, the wife of YASSER ARAFAT,
the Palestinian leader who died recently in Paris.
Since his death and even prior to the announcement, I
have been thrown into a state of antagonism,
confusion, humiliation, frustration and hopelessness
by the present leadership of the Palestinian
Liberation Organization and the new Prime Minister. I
have even been subjected to physical and psychological
torture. As a widow that is so traumatized, I have
lost confidence with everybody in the country at the

You must have heard over the media reports and the
Internet on the discovery of some fund in my husband's
secret bank account and companies and the allegations
of some huge sums of money deposited by my husband in
my name of which I have refused to disclose or give up
to the corrupt Palestine Government. In fact the total
sum allegedly discovered by the Government so far is
in the tune of about $300 million. And they are not
relenting on their effort to make me poor for life. As
you know, the Muslim community has no regards for
women, hence my desire for a foreign assistance.

I have deposited the sum of $18.5million dollars with
a presidential finance house abroad whose name is
withheld for now until we open communication. I shall
be grateful if you could receive this fund into your
bank account for safe keeping and any Investment
opportunity. This arrangement will be known to you and
my personal Assistant because if i get an
attorney,there is every possibility that the
informations might be exposed and with an unknown
person in the society who is well furnished and
educated,this transaction will be 100% successful if
you follow our guidelines i assure you of that fact
because with his assistance,noone will have an idea of
what i am doing provided you keep this business
strictly to yourself. He might be dealing with you
directly for security reasons as the case may be.

In view of the above, if you are willing to assist for
our mutual benefits, we will have to negotiate on your
Percentage share of the $20,000,000 that will be kept
in your position for a while and invested in your name
for my trust pending when my Daughter, Zahwa, will
come of age and take full responsibility of her Family

Please note that this is a golden opportunity that
comes once in life time and more so, if you are
honest, I am going to entrust more funds in your care
as this is one of the legacy we keep for our children.

In case you don't accept please do not let me out to
the security and international media as I am giving
you this information in total trust and confidence I
will greatly appreciate if you accept my proposal in
good faith.
My personal web:

Yours sincerely,

Mrs Suha Arafat

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Update: Livnat: Brouhaha over YU degrees will be resolved

Yes, I know this is old news already but I've been busy this week and wanted to get this up.

From Ha'aretz:

Livnat: Brouhaha over YU degrees will be resolved
By Daphna Berman

The conflict between the Ministry of Education and Yeshiva University will be resolved "to the satisfaction of all concerned," Minister of Education Limor Livnat promised in a letter sent yesterday to Richard Joel, president of Yeshiva University.

Livnat's statement came in the wake of heightened tensions between the two bodies, after a Ha'aretz report on Friday revealed that, as a result of the ministry's policy, North American immigrants who have studied in institutions like Yeshiva University cannot get their degrees recognized in Israel. The report touched something of a raw nerve in the American Jewish community, with widespread outrage that an Israeli ministry had disregarded an institution long considered a bedrock of the community's Orthodox establishment.

"I am certain that the recommendations [of the government commission] will adequately address the issues affecting degrees obtained at overseas universities, including Yeshiva University, and will resolve existing problems to the satisfaction of all concerned," Livnat wrote in the letter. "Please be assured of our esteem for the academic standards of Yeshiva University, and for the high level of excellence it requires of its students."

Livnat received an honorary degree from Yeshiva University in 2002, after delivering the keynote address at its graduation ceremony at New York's Madison Square Garden.

For now, however, the ministry's policy means that an immigrant with an undergraduate degree from Yeshiva University and a subsequent masters from Columbia, for example, is viewed as holding only a high school diploma, since once the undergraduate degree is deemed invalid, any subsequent postgraduate degrees are not accepted either. For these immigrants who work in the public sector, this continues to mean a reduced income

Monday, January 24, 2005

Aliyah Quote #13: Dwell Sin-Free

Anyone who lives in Eretz Yisrael dwells without sin... (Kesuvos 111a)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Why do people still PAY for online dating when you can get it for FREE?

So I started this blog as a spinoff of the Kumah blog. And that has its advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side I can now blog about any topic - even if it isn't related to Kumah. And even if it only relates directly to me. I don't have to worry about cluttering up the Kumah blog moaning about how long some Aliyah forms are and how lazy I am to fill them out! On the downside I've probably been neglecting the Kumah blog and except for some cool pictures I took at the Winter 2004 Nefesh B'Nefesh flight I haven't really had any solid posts there in a while.

Well this blog is not the only thing to blame that on actually. The truth is I've also been busy with Project SingOlim. (By the way, I can't believe there are still people out there PAYING for Jewish dating sites when you have some awesome sites around like So here's the truth behind how Kumah found Frumsky and gave birth to SingOlim - though perhaps I should avoid metaphors this snowy Saturday night - err Sunday morning.

Well actually I was out hunting for volunteers and I remembered a roommate and college buddy of mine actually was on the volunteer staff at Frumster. So I dropped him an e-mail and asked him if Kumah and Frumsky can maybe hang out some time. I also requested a photo. Now this part of the story I'll leave blank on the advice of my lawyers. Needless to say Kumah still needed volunteers and as the only FREE volunteer run website still out there was the obvious choice. To boot, (is that the right expression I'm looking for?) it has a nice clean layout, a good sense of humor, and is clearly growing faster and faster.

So I contacted them. At the same time my co-worker tells me his friend is involved with another website called . So I say "wow, another awesome website! Thanks for the tip but I'm more interested in Frumsky. But I guess if Frumsky falls though I can always turn to" HA! Long story, short - it's the same people behind both! Coolness, Parker! Okay - so maybe it doesn't sound so funny after all but trust me I was cracking up when I found that out. Yes, yes, it's one of those "you had to be there" moments.

Anyway fast forward a few months and Project SingOlim is really starting to take off. So if you are interested in Aliyah check it out. And if you are single and aren't interested in Aliyah you should be - but in the meantime check out And if you are married or just aren't interested in dating - but think online networking is cool, you are very wise and should check out! Oh, and I promise no one paid me to post this! In fact I'm scratching my head figuring out how this ended up sounding like an infomercial - I blame the snow and late night TV! But if you are interested in paying me to post your product line contact my business manager and pinchas at kumah dot org. ;-)

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Israel won't recognize U.S. yeshiva students' degrees

Wow. Kill two birds, Aliyah and Students coming after high school, with one stone-head.

Is it just me or does the Israeli Government seems to do everything in it's power to PREVENT Aliyah from North America? The only politically correct word I can come up with for this new stroke of genius from the Ministry of Education is disturbing.

See for yourself:

Israel won't recognize U.S. yeshiva students' degrees
By Daphna Berman, Haaretz Correspondent

The Ministry of Education is refusing to recognize undergraduate diplomas issued by U.S. universities that accept a year of yeshiva study in Israel as degree credits. As a result, many North American immigrants who have studied in institutions such as Yeshiva University cannot get their degrees recognized here.

This is true even for people who have master's degrees from another university, since once the undergraduate degree is deemed invalid, any subsequent postgraduate degrees are not accepted either. For those working in the public sector, this means reduced income, because pay scales shift significantly depending on a person's academic standing.

An angry Richard Joel, the president of Yeshiva University, told Haaretz that he would be taking up the issue with the Israeli authorities.

"Never, ever has an accrediting body or a graduate school ever had the slightest question about the stature of a Yeshiva University degree," he said. "Harvard University gladly accepts our undergraduates to their law schools and medical schools. The notion that the Ministry of Education questions the integrity of Yeshiva University degrees boggles the mind."

Aliya officials fear the restriction could harm immigration from North America, which reached a 20-year high in 2004. The Ministry of Education confirms its policy and does not give any indication it will change in the near future.

Adina Sacknovitz, a North American immigrant with a bachelor's degree from Yeshiva University and a master's degree in psychology from Columbia University, is viewed by the ministry as holding only a high school diploma, and is paid accordingly.

As a school psychologist in Jerusalem, she said, the state uses her expertise but won't pay her for it. Her Columbia degree has been recognized by the Ministry of Health, but not by the Ministry of Education - which in effect allows her to practice as a psychologist, but not get paid like one. "It's very frustrating because it's as if I have no degrees," the recent immigrant complained.

For the immigrant community, this newest barrier could prove to affect hundreds, if not thousands, of new arrivals. The certification of doctoral degrees from abroad has been frozen by the Education Ministry over the past two years because fraudulent degrees have trickled their way into the Israeli educational system, and some immigrant officials report a similar freezing of master's degrees as well.

But immigrant officials say that the restrictions have reached a new low recently, with a reluctance to recognize valid bachelor's degrees. Those in the immigrant community are left trying to combat a new, infuriating restriction that seems, to them at least, to have appeared without notice.

"This is a completely new problem and if they [the Ministry of Education] sent a warning, I never got it," said Daniella Slasky, director of employment for Nefesh B'Nefesh, who has handled a handful of complaints on the issue in recent weeks.

According to Slasky, many universities, with the exception of those in the Ivy League, accept credits from post-high school yeshiva studies in Israel, leaving immigrants who studied in recognized and accredited universities in the U.K. and the U.S. with a diploma that the ministry refuses to recognize. For YU alumni, some 80 percent of whom studied in Israeli post-high school yeshivas, the restriction could present a serious barrier to immigration.

Slasky could not provide exact figures as to the number of recent immigrants likely to be affected by this ban, but with religious aliya on the rise, the number, she predicted, was "high."

In his year and a half since immigrating to Israel, David Debow, also a graduate of Yeshiva University, has not managed to get his YU degree certified. Debow, who now teaches at a junior high school in Beit Shemesh and is an ordained rabbi, has a master's degree in education from a state university in Ohio. But as in Sacknovitz's case, both degrees have been rendered useless.

"It makes me feel like an immigrant in the negative sense [of the word] - like I have been demoted and asked to start back at square one, not as a function of my ability to contribute to this new society but in deference to some unspoken social pecking order," he said this week. "In fairness, I do recognize the problem that the Ministry of Education is grappling with. There are many fraudulent degrees out there that cheapen the value of our hard earned degrees. Supervision is necessary. But there must be a more efficient and equitable way."

"If a Yeshiva University degree is good enough for Harvard, Yale and Columbia," he added, "it should be good enough for the Ministry of Education."

Education Ministry spokesman Shauli Pe'er said in response: "The recognition of degrees by the Ministry of Education is for salary purposes only and does not impact on any other professional or academic evaluation. Since the ministry's evaluation is used for salary purposes, it is subject to rules set by the Civil Service Commission and the Finance Ministry. Based on these rules, credits from a non-academic institution, such as a yeshiva, cannot be recognized. Based on the same set of rules, a person cannot have a recognized master's degree without holding a recognized bachelor's degree."

But Nefesh B'Nefesh's Slasky refused to accept this explanation. "These olim are not being paid or recognized the way they should be," she argued. "It's discriminatory against immigrants with degrees from abroad who are being paid on such a low salary scale. Will they recognize [newly appointed Bank of Israel governor] Stanley Fischer's degree?"

UPDATE: Am Echad also posted this and Failed Messiah has information on where to send your complaints!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Flash: No Spring 2005 NBN Flight

Just got the bad news - via e-mail. (Bolding mine):

Dear Applicant,

Due to insufficient interest in a Spring NBN Aliyah flight, there will be no group or charter flight this Spring. The next charter NBN Aliyah flight will be this Summer. However, we will still be providing assistance to those applicants that are accepted, and that choose to make Aliyah in the springtime. You will be receiving notification regarding the status of your NBN application by February 1st.

If you have applied for financial assistance and you are accepted, you must make aliyah between March 1 and May 28, 2005, in order to receive the grant.

If you have applied for services only, then you may make aliyah whenever you like.

All applicants will need to make their own flight arrangements to Israel through their Shaliach. Please make sure to complete your aliyah tik and to obtain your aliyah visa from the Consulate. Upon arrival in Israel, NBN Olim may contact our office for help with Misrad Hapnim (the Ministry of the Interior) with respect to your Teudat Zehut (Israeli ID card). We cannot provide the same level of expedited processing that we would on a charter flight, but will be assisting you however possible. While we understand that some of you have already made arrangements and need to make Aliyah this Spring, for those that are more flexible, we strongly suggest waiting for a Summer Aliyah flight, as you will then benefit from the full range of NBN Aliyah Services.

Should you have any questions at this time or once you receive your letter of notification, please feel free to contact us at 1-866-4ALIYAH. Thank you.

Kind regards,

Nefesh B'Nefesh

Oh, what to do now? What to do now?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

“Before you make Aliyah you better clean-up your room!”

Mothers – always putting things in the right perspective.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Aliyah Quote #12: Olam Haba Guaranteed!

R. Yirmiyah Bar Aba says: "And spirit to those that walk in it" - anyone that walks four Amos in Eretz Yisrael is guaranteed a share in the world to come. (Kesuvos 111a)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Flashback: A-7 Sanhedrin Video Clip

By popular demand here's that IsraelnationalTV clip that aired in October. While it's no longer available on the news site it is still online. But you got to copy-and-paste this address into the address bar:

Friday, January 14, 2005

Sanhedrin Roundup

So last week several more articles have come out about the Sanhedrin. The curious question, of course, is how both the world and Israeli media have been largely ignoring it since October when it was re-established. And certainly when one considers all the ramification involved there is a very good explanation why the media and/or the State chooses to keep this thing silent.

Previously – in October, only two articles appeared. One on (Arutz-7) and one in Maariv. And the Maariv article made it sound like most religious rabbis are against its formation. There was also a news story on IsraelNationalTV (and though I didn’t hear it IsraelNationalRadio also had an interview with a key player.) In January published another story about it – this one went into greater depth, had photos, and and included this sentence: The Sanhedrin was reestablished through the ordination of one rabbi agreed upon by many prominent rabbis in Israel and approved as “fitting to serve” by former Chief Sefardi Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef and leading Ashkenazi Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv. Seeming to debunk Maariv’s claims that Rav Elyashiv was against it.

This week however represented a major development. It was no surprise that published another detailed story, an opinion and a divar Torah on the subject. But for the first time so did the Jerusalem Post, albeit indirectly. While the JPost seemed to take a similar approach as Maariv – portraying the group as merely a few “extremist nutcases” – the fact that they even mentioned it is significant. Even more significant was that Haaretz – the “Israeli New York Times” - published a Jonathan Spyer opinion article – which whether they intended it or not explained precisely why they are being mum on the Sanhedrin. The opinion piece in also spelled out the “mainstream” media’s fears.

One thing is certain. Israel is at a crossroad. And whether we like it or not, and whether or not we are paying attention, the developments in Israel over the next few months, will set a new course for the Jewish people. We should pray that we are headed in the right direction and have faith that Hashem will not lead us astray. In the meantime we’ll be watching.

Here are this week’s pieces:

From Arutz-7:
Sanhedrin Rabbis Discuss Sublime, Procedural Issues
Friday, January 14, 2005 / 4 Shevat 5765

The 71 rabbis seeking to fulfill the Biblical commandment of renewing the Sanhedrin continue to meet regularly, solidifying their organizational structure and establishing an agenda of topics.

Their most recent meeting was this week, in which they discussed technical and procedural issues, topics for their agenda, and the Halakhic [Jewish legal] and other ramifications of renewing the Passover sacrifice.

The rabbis held a festive ceremony this past October 13th, the 28th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, inaugurating the Sanhedrin as Judaism's supreme legal body. They stress that by doing so, they are merely fulfilling a Biblical mitzvah (obligation). “It is a special mitzvah , based on our presence in Israel, to establish a Sanhedrin,” Rabbi Meir HaLevi, one of the 71 members of the new Sanhedrin, has explained. “The Rambam [12th-century Torah scholar Maimonides] describes the process exactly in the Mishnah Torah [his seminal work codifying Jewish Law]. When he wrote it, there was no Sanhedrin, and he therefore outlines the steps necessary to establish one."

A religious-legal assembly of 71 Sages that convened in the Holy Temple and for several centuries after its destruction, the Sanhedrin was the highest Jewish judicial tribunal in the Land of Israel. Organizers of the current edition stress that they are still in a transitional phase, and that though today's members are all Torah scholars and experts in many secular and scientific fields, every one of them has agreed to step aside the moment a more deserving candidate should step forward.

Meeting in Jerusalem’s Old City, the Sanhedrin consists of representatives of all stripes of religious Jewish society. Hareidi-religious, Hassidic, national-religious, Ashkenazi, Sephardic, modern Orthodox and university professors sit side by side in a semi-circle, seeking to re-establish Jewish legal tradition after 2,000 years of exile.

"We can make a real difference," said one member, Rabbi Chaim Richman of Jerusalem. "Many cardinal issues are on the public agenda, and our body – which is totally based on Torah, even down to its rules and regulations – is naturally geared to deal with them. Issues such as agunot (estranged women whose husbands refuse to give them a divorce), abortions, traffic safety, economic issues, education, and so much more."

"Not only are we commanded to establish the Sanhedrin," Rabbi Richman told Arutz-7's Yosef Meiri, "but this seems to be the perfect time to do so - a time of Divine will. On the one hand, there is a spiritual void in the 'establishment,' and on the other hand, there is a real thirst among the public for spirituality and guidance."

The Sanhedrin's takanon, document of regulations, is still undergoing final adjustments prior to its official adoption. A permanent Nassi, President, and Av Beit HaDin, literally, Court Father, still must be elected. The continuing role of the Vaad HaMechonen , the founding committee that has led the Sanhedrin thus far, also needs to be determined. But the Sanhedrin is carefully moving ahead, strictly adhering to the guidelines set out by Maimonides, who classified the obligation to reestablish the Sanhedrin as one that is incumbent upon every generation.

“The Sanhedrin is past its greatest initial hurdles,” a spokesman told IsraelNN's Ezra HaLevi, “namely, the return of genuine semikha [authentic rabbinical ordination] to Israel, and the historic meeting in Tiberias in Tishrei, at which 71 rabbis actually convened and officially reinstated the Sanhedrin. We believe these achievements are irreversible.”

Contrary to the expected criticism, Sanhedrin organizers insist that the reinstatement ceremony was neither just a show nor a one-time phenomenon, but is rather Halakhically-sound and a true beginning.

The rabbis were asked to prepare topics they thought the Sanhedrin should deal with, and a fascinating array of topics was produced. In addition to those mentioned above by Rabbi Richman, the list included such issues as:
* uniform kashrut certification
* the precise length of the biblical cubit (with ramifications on many issues, including the location of the altar on the Temple Mount)
* unemployment
* assisting Anousim from Spain and Portugal and others whose ancestors were forced to convert
* lost Jewish tribes from other parts of the world
* unifying Sephardic and Ashkenazi practices on issues such as prayer liturgy, kitniyot (legumes) on Passover, and glass utensils
* the Sanhedrin's decision-making procedures
* foreign workers
* unifying the religious parties
* restoring the Davidic monarchy
* an ethical code for Israel's army (as opposed to the present one, which is based largely on secular sources)
* the establishment of regional "small Sanhedrins"
* the long-missing "t'chelet" blue color
* sending delegations around the country to hear people's concerns,
and much more.

Though a lecture on renewing the Paschal offering was delivered at the last meeting, not all of the 71 are yet convinced that the time is ripe for it. Various opinions were put forth, including by those opposed to the renewal of the Passover offering until the exact location of the Temple altar is determined through prophecy.

"The real achievement of the meeting was that rabbis from such diverse backgrounds could sit together to discuss such an issue," said Rabbi Michael S. Bar-Ron, an associate of the Sanhedrin from Beit Shemesh. " It demonstrated that the Sanhedrin is alive, and has begun the long road towards its chief goal of restoring the crown of Torah to its former glory."

As expected, the issue of the disengagement came up, but the acting Nassi refused to allow the discussion until at least one rabbi supporting the plan could be found to present a sincere argument supporting it. No one could be found, and the topic was dropped.

"The Sanhedrin aims to inspire the Jewish people," Rabbi Richman said, "not coerce them. Via 'ways of pleasantness,' we will achieve a renewal of unified Jewish observance and practice."

From The Jerusalem Post:
Hear ye, hear ye: Sanhedrin seeks David's scion as king
By Yaakov Katz, THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 12, 2005

Will Jews begin proclaiming "Long live the king" in the near future?

According to a group of 71 Jewish scholars who met this week in the Old City of Jerusalem in the form of a modern-day Sanhedrin – a duplicate of the religious tribunal which convened during the time of the Second Temple – a coronation day is growing closer.

As one member of the group put it, "We would have liked it to happen yesterday. But we are willing to wait until tomorrow."

There hasn't been a genuine Sanhedrin in Israel for nearly 1,600 years; the last one to be proclaimed was in France, by Napoleon, for political gain. Shortly after the establishment of the State of Israel, religious affairs minister Judah Leib Maimon raised the notion of reinstituting the ancient body, to no avail.

The group composed largely of Kahane sympathizers that gave itself the name Sanhedrin in October, however, met Sunday to discuss the creation of a Jewish monarchy in the State of Israel.

For the past several years a group called the Monarchists has conducted extensive research into the lineage of several families in an effort to discover who has the closest bloodline to the biblical King David – a requirement for any future Jewish king.

Rabbi Yosef Dayan from Psagot, known for his recent threats to place a death curse on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, is said to be a leading candidate to become the "king of Israel."

"Dayan has the best lineage to King David," several members of the Sanhedrin told The Jerusalem Post. They say he has two documented ancient sources which draw a direct line between him and the males in his family to King David some 3,000 years ago.

"Many people can show they are descendants of King David, but they cannot show that the line is only male," one Sanhedrin member explained. "That makes Dayan the leading candidate to become king."

The Monarchists have consulted with non-Jewish experts on lineage. They concurred that, without a doubt, Dayan is a direct descendent of the House of David.

The only question now is how to establish the Jewish monarchy in spite of the presiding democratic government.

"There are two possibilities," Dayan explained. "The first is that the nation or a majority from within will want the monarchy and will uproot the presiding democratic government."

The second, more realistic option, he said, is "the one cited by Maimonides – and that is that no one will know how it will be until it happens."

Some of the other ideas discussed at the Sanhedrin meeting included the construction of an altar on the Temple Mount to be used for the Passover Offering during the upcoming holiday.

One of the ideas, members said, is to climb the Mount and build the altar within minutes and sacrifice the lamb before security forces can stop them. Another, said leading Sanhedrin member Baruch Ben-Yosef, is to pray for a tsunami-like disaster on the Mount.

"In one second, God wiped out 150,000 people," he said. "Who knows? Maybe he'll help us if we show him we are ready."

Participants also discussed Ben-Yosef's idea of reinstating the Sanhedrin's authority to announce Rosh Hodesh, the beginning of the new lunar month.
"It is very important to reinstate the Sanhedrin's authority to announce the month, because it will force people to understand that God gave us the power to control the calendar and our own destiny," Ben-Yosef said.

A Dvar Torah from Arutz-7:

The First Mitzvah
by Moshe Lerman
January 10, 2005

According to our sages, the first mitzvah given to the People of Israel is found in parashat Bo: "This month shall be for you the beginning of the months, it shall be for you the first of the months of the year." (Shemot 12:2)

As Rashi explains at this verse, it alludes to two aspects of the Jewish calendar: The appearance of the new moon is the start of a new month, and Nissan - the month of Pesach - is the first month of the year. It is the task of the Sanhedrin to announce the start of every new month and to announce the start of a new year.

After the Jewish population of the Land of Israel had dwindled, the Sanhedrin stopped functioning, about 1,650 years ago. Since that time, we have a fixed calendar based on a cyclic pattern of 19 years, in which years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17 and 19 are leap years that have thirteen lunar months instead of twelve.

The average Jewish holiday is now a little more than a week later than it was 1,650 years ago, due to a very small inaccuracy of the fixed calendar. For example, before last century, Pesach was solely in March or April. However, in recent decennia it has happened that the seventh day of Pesach was on May 1. And three centuries from now, the first three days of May will at times be Pesach.

It is possible to undo the historical shift of our holidays by changing the formula for the leap years. A simple calculation based on the precise cycle times of the Moon around the Earth and the Earth around the Sun shows that if years 1, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15 and 17 would be leap years, the average Jewish holiday would be very close to what it was 1,650 years ago. The years 6 and 17 are leap years in both the old and the new pattern and would therefore be the natural times to switch over.

It is tempting to say that a renewed performance of the first mitzvah given to the nation could be the first task of our new Sanhedrin. However, the Sanhedrin cannot use its power in this way without first founding itself. Indeed, such seems to be the hidden meaning of the prophetic words of Rabbi Yitzchak, cited by Rashi in his first comment to the Torah:

"Rabbi Yitzchak said: 'The Torah could have started with "This month shall be for you," because it was the first mitzvah Israel was commanded. What is the reason that it began with Bereshit? Because "He declared the power of His deeds to His people, to give them an inheritance of nations (Psalm 111)." Thus, if the nations of the world will say: "You are bandits, because you conquered the lands of the seven nations," then Israel will say to them: "The whole Earth belongs to the Holy One, Blessed is He. He created the Land and He gave it to who was proper in his eyes. It was His wish to give it to them, and it was His wish to take it from them and to give it to us."'"

In my humble opinion, the proper foundation of the Sanhedrin presents itself in reality. The world, including the Israeli government, is saying we are bandits. It is incumbent upon the People of Israel to give them the correct answer. Here, I suggest, is the first mitzvah for the new Sanhedrin. It must announce Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel.

A Dr. Spyer Haaretz Opinion Piece:
Last update - 09:23 07/01/2005
A disengagement of disenchantment
By Jonathan Spyer

The political direction of which Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan forms a part is the most significant development in Israeli policymaking since 1967. It is an attempt to finally free the Israeli political discussion from the squabble between rival utopias that has dominated it since the 1970s.

The first of these promised utopias, that of the left, has already largely vanished from the public discourse - a victim of the cataclysmic failure of the Oslo process of the 1990s. This project posited a historic compromise between Israel and Palestinian nationalism, based on the ascendancy of shared, rational economic interests. As it turned out, the shared interests were perceived by only one of the sides. The collapse of Oslo cast the proponents of the possibility of rapprochement between Zionist Israel and the leadership of Palestinian nationalism as currently constituted into political irrelevance.

The result of the eclipse of the left is that the drama of the clash of ideas in Israel is currently taking place in the center-rightward side of the arena. The battle is being fought between a disenchanted, realist outlook, as represented by Ariel Sharon and his allies, and the redemptive ambitions of the religious nationalist camp. The flagship of the latter has for a generation been the settlement enterprise in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Nevertheless, it should be understood that the clash between Sharon and the Yesha Council [representing settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza] is not ultimately an argument over demarcation and real estate. Rather, it is about fundamentally differing conceptions of democracy, of Jewish statehood, and ultimately of the very dynamics governing international affairs.

For right-of-center Israelis, the right to construct Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is axiomatic. And in a society increasingly demobilized, fragmented and self-critical, the apparent willingness of the settlers to cleave to old, treasured values and pay the price for them awakened the admiration of circles far beyond the religious nationalist public from which their leadership has been drawn.

Nevertheless, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the agenda of the most militant elements of the Yesha leadership, and their political allies in, for example, the Jewish leadership group of Moshe Feiglin, are far from the concerns, ambitions and desires of the greater part of the Israeli Jewish public. They are also far from anything resembling classical Zionism. Feiglin, the controller of around 130 votes in the Likud Party Central Committee, and one of the architects of the prime minister's defeat in the Likud referendum in April 2004, openly advocates disobedience by Israel Defense Forces soldiers to thwart disengagement. "No one can overcome God's will to keep us in Gaza," he tells his followers. He also favors stripping Arab Israelis of their citizenship, ending military service for women and establishing a Sanhedrin on the Temple Mount. Such views, exotic and bizarre to the Israeli mainstream, are representative of the wilder streams now preparing civil disobedience. The clash between Feiglin and his allies and the prime minister and his camp is thus about more than disengagement from Gaza and part of northern Samaria. With increasingly unveiled calls to sedition being heard, it is shaping up to be about the right of elected government to govern, and a clash between the advocates of Jewish nationalism as we have known it and the partisans of something else entirely.

As for the "road map" guiding the advocates of disengagement, its key elements are the following items:

l Firstly, a rejection of arguments positing the im minent emergence of "democratic" leaderships in various parts of the Middle East and among the Palestinians, and the consequent emergence of a consensual "peace between democracies." Abu Mazen's latest statements in support of the so-called "right of return" and his rejection of firm action against Palestinian terror groups indicate that for the foreseeable future, Israel is likely to remain a Jewish democracy surrounded by neighbors seeking its demise. Palestinian nationalism has not yet crossed the Rubicon of historical rapprochement with Israel. It is showing no signs of being about to do so.

l Secondly, the awareness that something must be done. Demographic realities make the status quo untenable. A Jewish state presiding over an Arab majority will be an arrangement with a brief future ahead of it.

l Thirdly, the awareness that the bringing into being of a Palestinian state with provisional borders, created as part of a process of cooperation between Israel and its most important ally, the United States, represents the best possible outcome in the current reality. Irreconcilable issues will remain unreconciled. But a political arrangement including (limited) Palestinian sovereignty will have been established.

l Fourthly, Israel's security in the dysfunctional region in which it is situated will continue to derive, in this arrangement, from the strength of its armed forces and their technological edge.

Disengagement is the first step along this road. The plan is the product of disenchantment, and hence has none of the heady thrills of utopia about it. In the weeks to come, its opponents, most significant among them advocates of theocracy of various stripes, will be mobilizing to make its implementation impossible. The future direction - internal and external - of the State of Israel will to no small extent be dependent on the outcome of this contest.

Dr. Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, Inter-Disciplinary Center, Herzliya.

And finally the Arutz-7 Moshe Yisraeli Opinion piece:

The Jewish Republic of Judea & Samaria
by Moshe Yisraeli
December 27, 2004

In view of the recent developments in the Sharon government, I am musing about whether anyone has considered the creation of a second Jewish state, in Judea and Samaria with eastern Jerusalem as its capital. It does not sound practical at the moment, but we can certainly do a better job than the Palestinians ever will.

There is already a Judea, Samaria and Gaza Council and there is the newly created Sanhedrin. Professor Eidelberg and Moshe Feiglin have both drafted good Torah-based constitutional constructs that would be fine starting points. For security, we would need to hire some of the finest mercenaries. Good mercenaries are more efficient than regular armies, and we would need less of them, especially if they are well-equipped commando units.

The beauty of such a state is that it will not be violating any UN resolutions or the British Mandate. It would not be a part of the State of Israel and thus not an occupying force.

As for the Arabs, they may have Ramallah and any other Arab-dominated city as a neighborhood or an Arabistan enclave within the new Jewish state. They may also keep their current communities in Gaza, which would become the definitive Islamic Palestinian Republic.

The world community would no doubt cry foul. But it is already crying foul, so there will be no love lost. We would certainly not be the beneficiaries of any aid from anyone in the world except some staunch fundamentalist Christian entities and Jews who are willing to put their money where their mouth is. As a landlocked state, we would be dependent on Israel. I'm not sure this would be the best arrangement, but at least we would both be Hebrew-speaking states.

In Judea and Samaria, Jews are outnumbered 250,000 to 1,500,000 Arabs; how can a venture of this kind be possible without a massacre?

Jewish wars have always been won at incredible odds. It is almost as if the Jewish neshama needs such odds in order to perform royally. In any event, Jews are more organized and more purposeful than their Arab counterparts. Some of the current IDF soldiers can be recruited into the army of the new Jewish state. A sharp force whose hands are not tied can fight much better than the currently constrained IDF, which is still fighting a conventional war against guerillas.

The end of the cold war has spawned a plethora of mercenary firms eager to help, for a price. A timely and coordinated withdrawal of the IDF from Judea and Samaria would not create a sudden vacuum for Arabs to massacre Jews, because there would be recruited IDF forces and mercenaries ready to take their place. This would be a force fighting by completely different rules.

A declaration of independence by Jews in Judea and Samaria would create saliency on the ground with Arabs. The issue would be what brand of hegemony will be sovereign over Judea and Samaria. It will have to be either a renegade group of Jews living in Judea and Samaria, or a militant group of Arabs living in enclaves of Judea and Samaria. The Arabs would have to fight the Jews of Judea and Samaria in order to win their state. They would not need to fight Israel anymore, thus taking pressure off Israel and allowing undeterred development. One would think Israel might welcome such a scenario and even facilitate the surreptitious funding of such an enterprise.

The Palestinian infrastructure, electricity and water are still dependent on Israel. The state of Israel is currently providing and paying for these services. The declaration of independence puts the new republic in control or gives it access to these vital assets, allowing it to do untold harm to the Palestinian community should the Arabs have any hostile ideas. Their supply of arms and explosives will be greatly curtailed by the new mercenary commando unit patrols. Their food supplies could be greatly curtailed, too.

Arab states may launch an attack again, but if they have any pride at all, they would find it absurd to mobilize the Arab nation of 300 million against a 250,000-person rag-tag bunch of Jews. The United Nations and other international organizations will most likely try to assist the Arabs. Depending on how invasive their assistance would be, this could develop into a situation of the world against the Jewish Republic of Judea and Samaria. However, the most likely scenario would be the world community putting pressure on Israel to curtail the new republic - something that would probably drag on long enough for the new republic to take root (as long as Ariel Sharon is not in office).

With the establishment of the new Jewish republic, Arabs in Judea and Samaria may opt to sell their properties and be transferred to Arab states, taking their rightful place within the Arab nation. Those who remain will be subject to Jewish hegemony as non-voting residents (a status of ger).

Of course, we would need lots and lots of money. Who would fund such an enterprise? How much would it cost? If we can find a reliable source of cash for the formative years of this Jewish state, is this a viable alternative? What would be our economic base?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Aliyah Quote #11: "Eretz Yisrael has lost a great man."

Reish Lakish eulogized a Chacham that taught Mishnah - "Eretz Yisrael has lost a great man." Rav Nachman refused to eulogize a man that taught Mishnah, Medrash and Tosefta - "He is empty." See the difference between the mighty ones of Eretz Yisrael [Reish Lakish] and the Chasidim of Bavel [Rav Nachman]! (Megilah 28b)

Friday, January 07, 2005

I was approved!

So that's what Ronnie from the Jewish Agency must've been calling about. Today I got a package in the mail will all my approval papers! Sweet!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Anybody Home?

So I got a message that someone from the Jewish Agency called me. So I've been "wardialing" them for the last two days to return the call. Does anyone ever answer the phone over there?

They take all these surveys on how they can improve service. Well here's some advice. For starters, answer the phone!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

AP: Anti-Semitism Rising, State Dept. Says

From the AP:

...In Europe, where millions of Jews died in the Holocaust, anti-Semitic acts have increased both in frequency and severity since 2000, the report said.

The sense of safety and security of Jewish communities has been disrupted, the report said.

Contributing to the trend, the report said, is a rising Muslim population with "long-standing antipathy toward both Israel and Jews..."

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Aliyah Quote #10: Fulfill the Many Mitzvos

Why did Moshe want to enter Eretz Yisrael - to eat the fruit, or to be satiated from its bounty!? Rather, to fulfill the many Mitzvos which only apply in Eretz Yisrael! (Sotah 14a)