Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Shabbat Candle Ladies

Liat, a young Israeli, rushes to catch her bus on this early Friday afternoon. "Shabbat Shalom!" an older lady greets her along with the warmest smile you have ever seen and hands her something small.

The Shabbat table is beautifully set with a handsome tablecloth, dishes, silverware, tall glasses, wine, flowers, challah - covered, and Shabbat candles. There is nothing unusual about that. What is unusual is that this table resides not in an apartment in Meah Sharim but in the middle of the sidewalk directly opposite Jerusalem's Central Bus Station.

Liat does not remember the last time she lit candles on Friday afternoon just before sunset to welcome in the Shabbat, but today she thinks she just might as she examines the two Shabbat "tea-light" candles that were handed to her. Liat smiles back at the older lady "Shabbat Shalom!" she answers.

If you ever happen to find yourself in the vicinity of the Jerusalem Bus Station on Friday afternoon - as so many of us do, be sure to sure to wish a "Shabbat Shalom" to those two or three women standing by that famous awkwardly placed Shabbat Table handing out Shabbat Candles. They are the "Shabbat Candle Ladies" and just watching them for a few minutes makes one so proud to be part of this wonderful land of ours.

A pair of chayalot (female soldiers) curiously approach. "Shabbat Shalom!" "Shabbat Shalom!" they cheerfully respond examining the candles they were handed. One chayalet pauses. "Oh, and Chodesh Tov too!" she remarks, offering the traditional "new month greeting" which this particular Friday just so happens to be as well.

Now a middle aged women passes by. At first she is hesitant but then accepts the small plastic package not altering her brisk stride. She too stops and then returns back to the Shabbat Candle Lady, beaming. She thanks her and the two have a brief minute long discussion. A minute, of course, is an eternity in Jerusalem on a Friday right outside the Central Bus Station.

Now comes a teen boy walking just ahead of his parents. The boy refuses the gift and rushes by - his father calls ahead to him and tell him to wait. The father nods and accepts the candles and continues walking as he shows them to his wife. She says something to him. He returns back to the Shabbat Candle Lady. "Can I have another one?"

They are the Shabbat Candle Ladies.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Maccabi Tel Aviv Keeps Shabbat

But what if it goes into overtime?

Arutz-7 reports:

Maccabi Tel Aviv Keeps Shabbat
00:39 Apr 27, '06 / 29 Nisan 5766

( In order to prevent mass Sabbath violation on the part of fans of Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel's representative in the European Basketball League's Final Four, the team's coach Pini Gershon asked that the league allow an early game start on Friday. The Euroleague directors acceded to the request and Maccabi's first game, against Tau Vittoria, is planned to end before the start of Shabbat in Israel this Friday.

The game was originally meant to get underway a mere seven minutes before the start of the Sabbath here in Israel this Friday; however, the game will now begin much earlier. Coach Gershon's request was made solely for the sake of fans watching the game in Israel, as the entire game was to conclude before the start of Shabbat in Prague.

The Maccabi players left for Prague Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sir, What is the Purpose of Your Trip?

Security Guy At JFK: Sir, I have to ask you a few questions.

Me: Okay.

Security: Sir, what is the purpose of your trip?

Me: I'm going Home!

Security: Oh. [Smile.]


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Three Views of Birchat Kohanim At the Kotel Live!

The feeds below come from - so please visit that site, register, and give a donation to keep these wonderful cameras rolling!

The Kotel Plaza

The Prayer Plaza

Wilson's Arch

(Note: As Birchat Kohanim approaches it seems the "Wilson's Arch" feed has been switched to the "The Kotel Plaza" view. It may or may not be switched back later.)

If you missed it... below are snapshots of what it looked like live.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Pesach in Bnei-Brak

Google Video Below:

Monday, April 10, 2006

Globes: Secular Jews a Minority in Israel

From Globes:
Secular Jews a minority in Israel
Central Bureau of Statistics: 11% of the Jewish population defined itself as very religious, 42% as religious.
Zeev Klein 10 Apr 06 13:36

8% of Jews in Israel define themselves as haredi (ultra-orthodox), 9% as religious, and 39% as traditional in a Central Bureau of Statistics 2002-2004 social survey, published yesterday.

The Central Bureau of Statistics says religious and observant Jews comprise the majority of Israel’s Jewish population, with secular Jews comprising a minority of 44%. 1.5% of secular Jews say they are atheists.

The survey also found that the proportions of the Jewish population that defines itself as either secular or haredi increased in 2002-04, indicating religious polarization.

58% of haredi men said their primary activity was study at yeshiva (houses of Jewish learning), compared with 9% of all Jewish men. 11% of the Jewish population defined itself as very religious, 42% as religious, 21% as not very religious, and 18% as not religious at all.

Among Israeli Arab women, the degree of religious observance is in inverse proportion to participation in the labor force: 5% of religiously observant Arab women work, compared with 36% of non-religious Arab women.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

You’re not really home!

So last time I came to New York, (for my sister’s wedding) my little sister Faygie made this sign for me and my sister Leah:

And then she heard an earful for me. So this time I came to New York (on business and staying for Pesach) Faygie made this sign for us:


My niece Batya made this beautiful sign (despite the fact that she’s only half a year old!)

Anyway as you've noticed I haven’t posted much last week – or rather I haven’t posted at all last week. I’ve been very busy at work. This is good news of course. But anyway now I’m going to try to keep posting some more so stay tuned.