Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Summer Thunder Showers... In Jerusalem!

The unusual rainy spring weather continues... I didn't have an umbrella but I did have my camera!


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Europe Synagogue Set Ablaze

Eventually, Hashem will widen our borders and grant us rest from all our enemies who surround us like bees and sting us mercilessly (may HaShem take vengeance on them on our behalf). When this happends, all of us will join together and become involved in the building effort (with G-d's help). For Nachum's prophecy - The gates of your Land have been opened wide (3:13) - has been fulfilled through us (thank G-d). We will disregard our newfound freedom here in exile and make sure not to use it to remain here as before (G-d forbid). For if we remain here, the nations will oppress us once again, as the prophet says: ...you who rejoice over nothingness, who say "Indeed, with our strength we have taken horns for ourselves." For behold. I will raise up a nation against you, O House of Israel, says the Lord..., and they will oppress you (Amos 6:13-14). Thus, the nations oppressed us only because we rejoiced over our lot here in exile. We felt that we were strong, [as if] we had horns with which to gore eastward, northward, southward, and westward. But HaShem showed us that we rejoiced over nothing and that our greatness here was like a fleeting dream.

Therefore, let us learn from the past and use our newfound freedom to establish great movements to encourage all segments of our nation to ascend to Zion with happy song and eternal joy. Then HaShem will fulfill His promise to us: The Lord will be zealous for His Land and have pity on His people (Yoal 2:18). Amen, so may it be G-d's will.

- Harav Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal,

Arson Suspected in Synagogue Blaze
The Associated Press

GENEVA - Fire heavily damaged a synagogue Thursday, and police said they suspect arson.

The blaze struck on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which celebrates Moses' receiving of the Torah from God.

Police did not give a motive, but there have been incidents of anti-Semitism in Geneva recently, including graffiti scrawled on another Jewish house of worship.

The blaze broke out at 5 a.m. in the Hekhal Haness Synagogue in Geneva's Malagnou neighborhood. About 40 firefighters responded and had the fire under control an hour later, police spokesman Philippe Cosandey said. No one was hurt.

Cosandey said investigators suspect arson because there appeared to be several sources for the flames.

"It's not clear whether the fire originated inside or outside the building," he said.

The main entrance was completely burnt out, with windows blown out and walls blackened by smoke. Police were removing wood and rubble from the entrance. A heavy smell of smoke hung in the air.

Still, a group of worshippers prayed in an inner courtyard to celebrate the holiday. They used the Torah scroll, which apparently survived the fire.

The first-floor library was destroyed, said Jose de Matos who works as a keeper at the synagogue. The main prayer room was not damaged, according to an Associated Press reporter who was given access to the building.

(Photo:AP Photo/Keystone, Martial Trezzini)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pre-Shavuos Photos

Visited the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens today. Here are some photos...


Monday, May 21, 2007

JIBs Results and Full Medal Count

Thanks to everyone that voted for my blog. Point of Pinchas won a Silver and a Bronze. The Silver for the NBN Aliyah flight landing photos and the Bronze for Best Photo Blog. Another post that appeared on this blog (which I also posted on Kumah) - the Shabbat Candle Ladies also won a silver (on Kumah). So thanks! And welcome to all our new readers!

Now a word about a minor controversy the JIBs generated.

Things heated up a bit on a few blogs after Arutz-7 post this article about the JIBs which included voting links for Arutz-7 owned blogs and Aruz-7 employee's and (in my case) contributor's personal blogs. My blog was listed (I did not ask for it to be listed though was glad it was) since I'm often asked to contribute material to Arutz-7. I do not work for Arutz-7 and have never received a dime from them.

Some bloggers felt this was unfair. They felt the people that read Arutz-7 are mostly brain dead (I'm of course reading between the lines) individuals that would spend 25 minutes blindly voting for all the links that were listed there. And by the way - many of the blogs were actually running against each other thus it would be impossible to vote for all of them. Some proclaimed that A-7 "stole" the awards.

Well now that the results are out and all those bloggers could eat their words. I've put together a total JIBs medal count based on the winners list and as you could clearly see Arutz-7 steamrolled nobody. That's not to say there weren't some blogs that did some serious steamrolling but they weren't blogs listed in the Arutz-7 article. The "Arutz-7" blog that did the best was the group Kumah blog – which I write for as well. And if I may toot my own horn it's a darn good blog and deserves even more medals than it won! Even with Kumah's medals the total "Arutz-7 medal count" is only: 3 G, 6 S, 6 B for a total of 27 medal "points." Compare that with 40 G, 36 S, 39 B and 231 medal points handed out. Hardly a steamrolling by anyone's standards...

In terms of total vote count too there was no Arutz-7 steam anywhere... not even steamed carrots... no steamed lasers... and no steamed bones.

I was happy Arutz-7 wrote the article. Let's be honest. The blogs that complained would be happy too if they were listed. In any case it did bring publicity to the blog awards and thus to all the blogs that competed in them. And that's what the awards are meant for. Find me another media outlet that would interview the JIBs staff! It's perfectly reasonable for a paper to tell its readers which of its blogs or it's staff's personal blogs are competing in the awards. So lay off Arutz-7!

Below is the total JIBs medal count. Blogs that Arutz-7 mentioned in the article are denoted with a star. Also note that not all blogs listed in the article won awards.

And a final word. I've hotlinked every blog that won here so if you never seen one of these blogs check them out. I think the JIBs (and everyone complaining) should post a hotlinked list of ALL the blogs that competed - not just those that won. But that's just me...

2007 JIBs Awards Medal Count

Blog NameGoldSilverBronzePoints
Lazer Beams10336
Dry Bones412
The Muqata3410
The Jew and the Carrot26
Fundamentally Freund1116*
Beyond Teshuva115
Emes Ve-Emunah115
Two Heads of Lettuce114
Gluten-Free by the Bay24
Sameach Music Podcast24
Seraphic Secret24
Tamar Yonah24*
In The Land of Milk...124
Bacon Eating Atheist Jew13
Bagel Blogger13
Curious Jew13
Heichal HaNegina13
Israel Beat13*
Judaica FM13*
Sara with NO H13
Yid with Lid13
Daf Notes113
Point of Pinchas113*
What War Zone?113
Guide To The Perplexed12
It's Almost Supernatural12
Vesom Sechel12
Mah Rabu22
A Simple Jew11
Abacaxi Mamao11
Aidel Maidel11
Ask Shifra11
Because I'm in My 20s...11
Eyshet Chayil11*
Life of Rubin11
Orthodox Anarchist11
Rabbi Without A Cause11
Social Worker Frustrated..11
Something...And Half of…11
The Book of Life...11
The Right Word11

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Only In Israel #12: An Israel Kodak Moment: Summer Rain

Where else in the world does one run to get their camera just because it's raining outside? And where else would this be such a topic worthy of blogging about?

Is summer time rain in Israel a bad sign? Is it a good sign since we need it? Is the rain falling because it's the year before Shmeta? Is it a sign that Moshiach is imminent? (My sister reminded me that the gemara says "seasons will cease.") Whatever the answer it poured and hailed hard today... here's a video if you missed it!

muse of Me-ander also wrote about this and posted pictures.


Yom Yerushalayim Videos

Aish HaTorah's Video:

Launch in external player

Priceless footage from the day of the miracle:

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tonight the Kotel is the place to be!!!

This video was taken on Jerusalem Day last year.

Expect more of the same tonight!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Four Time JIBs Finalist! Vote Now!

It's safe to say I'm one of the smallest blogs competing in the JIBs this year and certainly among the smallest to make it all the way to finals. It's been a rush and I've gotten a lot of exposure which is nice because I think this blog has an important message to share. Voting is now open!

1. To vote click on a link below. (Repeat this for all links.)
A new window should open. (Or right click and "open in new window.")

2. Vote!

3. Close the window and right click on the next link...

First up,
Best Picture or Video in a Post
This is for photos I took at a Nefesh B'Nefesh (NBN) flight arrival. It was very emotional!

Best Series
This is for my "Only in Israel" Series. Here I share things that only happen in Israel.

Also, as I do post lots of my photos here...
Best Photo/Graphics Blog

And of course there's...
Best Personal Blog

And if you have a bit more time there are two more from a different blog I work with. I wrote about the Shabbat Candle Ladies of Yershalayim, here and it was also posted on the Kumah blog. Well it's in the finals via Kumah for
Best Jewish Religious Post

And speaking of Kumah I spent many hours designing and coding the new look and it is up for
Best Designed with just five others.

Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bank Fees "On Trial" Today

Remember that bank fee post I wrote about a few months ago. Well...

Ha'aretz reports:

Knesset to present harsh findings on banking fees
09.5.07 | 02:50 By Ram Dagan

The Knesset Economic Affairs Committee will convene this morning to discuss bank fees charged to private customers again. As the meeting opens, the special investigative team established by the committee will present its findingsto the committee and its chairman Moshe Kahlon. The team's work was directed by Prof. Shmuel Hausner, former chief economist at the Israel Securities Authority.

The presentation will include international comparisons to show that in proportion to disposable income in Israel, the bank fees here are among the highest in the world.

This backs data the Bank of Israel presented to the committee about two months ago, as revealed by TheMarker. According to the Bank of Israel study, the average Israeli pays about NIS 430 shekels (78 euros) in annual bank fees, as do people in most developed countries. But this sum is a far more substantial cost in Israel, where earning power is lower than in the countries listed in the Bank of Israel study.

In addition, the banks will also have the opportunity to present their own findings. In past discussions, the banks have been allowed only to respond to the Bank of Israel's study.

The banks will be represented by the managing director of Association of Banks in Israel, Moshe Perl, who will present studies and reports by the association, Israeli banks and other international bodies. The association will continue trying to persuade the committee that there is no reason for legislative intervention on bank fees for private customers. The association is expected to get some surprising support from Hausner, who is not an enthusiastic proponent of government intervention designed to regulate competition.

The three largest banks decided in late 2006 to raise the fees they charge private customers. The decision turned out to be an unfortunate one, generating a wave of sharp public criticism and causing the Bank of Israel to lead legislative measures to enable the supervisor of banks to intervene in the size and type of fees the banks may charge.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Lag B'Omer Photos

Saw lots of fires last night but didn't get around to photographing any. My friend Yechiel did though. (That's one of his photo's above.) He posted a bunch of them on the Kumah website right here. Worth a look!

I must say I did spot kids collecting wood for these fires since Chanukah! And not just religious kids. If you're not living in Israel you are really missing out on what Lag B'Omer all about. (Hint: It's not baseball!)