Tal Yifrach Z”L

Yesterday we attended an event organized by the IAUJC, the mother and daughter of fallen soldier Tal Yifrach visited and spoke about his 21 years of life.

Tal

His sister, Noy has put together a remarkable video that gives a glimpse into the life of this wonderful young man, cruelly taken from his family and the Jewish people. A remarkable, courageous, positive and inspiring young man, the type of man we would like our sons to become and our daughters to marry.

Tal Yifrach planned to study mechanical engineering after his military service. He was part of an elite army unit but never swore or used foul language, never said a bad word about anybody. Fundamentally a person of warmth and friendship. In addition to his family he leaves behind a young woman who planned to spend the rest of her life with him. An entire universe of life and love and potential. Tal’s mother talked about the atmosphere within Israel when hostilities broke out, the horrible realization and sadness as Israelis realized they would have to fight another battle for survival. She talked about the feeling of not knowing if one might be brutally murdered standing at a bus stop of waiting for a train and the sickening confrontation of the mega-terror attack Hamas had planned for Israel on Rosh Hashana. She talked about her phone conversation with Netanyahu following the death of her son. She shared with us that she told the Prime Minister her hope that all the courage and bravery shown by her son could be transferred to him as the leader of the country.

There was a lot of emotional intensity in the room with the outpouring of grief and loss. And get this. Not a single word of hatred was uttered. Tal did not fight in the cause of hatred. He fought to defend his country and the Jewish people. Tal and his family want peace, not war. They do not hate, they want to live in peace and to coexist with their Arab neighbors. The intensity of emotional outpouring could have easily been diverted into any one of a number of larger agendas. But it wasn’t. The focus was on one individual and his family.

Afterwards, I was talking to a friend who suggested that we could have attended an equivalent event for a Palestinian family. Certainly families on both sides of the conflict have searing pain. But I wonder if emotions aroused at an equivalent Palestinian event would have been diverted towards an agenda? Would the agenda be one focused on peace and coexistence? There is a distinction between a war one fights to defend one’s country and an unprovoked war of aggression. Clearly we have a lot of education to do within the Jewish community here and strengthen support for Israel.

Please watch and share the video of Tal Yifrach (click on picture below). His loss is unbearable, we must make sure his memory lives on.

young TalThank you to all of those involved in putting this event together and thank you to Tal Yifrach’s family for being willing to share him with us. May we all know better days עם ישראל חי.

 

Food, food and food

Attended a very nice Parent’s shmooze session last Sunday organized by Rabbi Brody. We were challenged to think about our favorite Jewish traditions and for most people, of course there is some type of food involved! There was lots of food for thought in the interesting conversation that followed, although I sometimes wonder if we use food as ritual rather than as one component of ritual. For instance making and eating a challah bread alone is not a Jewish act. It is the baking challah including taking challah and eating the challah as part of making kiddush or hamoetzi that makes the activity Jewish (as oppose to Jewish-style I guess).

Check out the The Kosher Cooking Carnival – a monthly blog carnival about kosher food, kosher cooking, anything to do with kosher food. My original Etrog jam recipe “Etrog Marmalade with Myrtle Leaf Infusion” is included this month. Interestingly, the Etrog marmalade recipe is the most popular post on this site (by far).

Etrog jam jar

Here is another recipe, a rustic homemade pita bread with an international flair. The flour is locally sourced, the pitas were drizzled with Californian olive oil and a sprinkle of Palestinian za’atar.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water
  1. Mix all ingredients well.
  2. Let the dough rise for a minimum of 30 min.
  3. Roll into balls and flatten into round shape (not too thin, not too fat).
  4. Let the dough rest and rise another 20 min.
  5. Heat up a frying pan (no oil!). Place 1 pita at a time into pan. Cover (I used a pan lid) and cook for 2-3 min on each side. When turning for the second side, flatten with a spatula for even cooking. The way the pocket just puffs open is pretty magic.

pita breadUPDATE: Hope to see you at the next parent shmooze. Please mark your calendars for Jan 11th 2015!

 

World Premiere tonight!

THE NIGHT OF FOOLS
DIRECTOR: Rami Kimchi
Cornell Cinema (7:15 PM screening, free)

night of fools

Details from Cornell Cinema:

A docu-drama about a Jewish underground movement in Algeria during WW2 that, with only 400 men, succeeds in taking control of the city of Algiers, in which there are 25,000 French pro-Nazi soldiers. They keep control for one night, handing the city over to the Americans, who land on the city’s shores the next morning.

Rami Kimchi is an Israeli culture critic and filmmaker. His previous films include Galia’s Wedding (1986), Travels with My Brother (1997), Cinema Egypt (2001), and Father Language (2006). His main research interests are Israeli cinema, modern Hebrew literature, Yiddish literature, Palestinian cinema, and Near Eastern cinema. He has published a book, The Israeli Shtetls – Bourekas Films and Yiddish Literature (2012), and articles in Shofar, Reeh, Balshanoot Ivrit, Dapim, Moreshet Israel and Hakivoon Mizrach.

Happy New Year 5775

Because of Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s 2014 war with Hamas, postings have recently shifted to Facebook to enable more interactive dialog. Please PM me if you are interested in joining the conversation.

Meantime, I want to wish everybody שנה טובה ומתוקה. May you be inscribed for a sweet, happy and productive and all round fabulous 5775.

We’re having a Muppet phase in our house right now so I’ll let the softies have the last word for now. (click on photo for link).

muppet Shana Tova

The challenge for Conservative Judaism

Right now there’s a war going on where Israel is defending herself against an awful terror threat from the genocidal theocratic regime in Gaza and from unremitting hostile lawfare on the diplomatic front.

Worldwide, anti-Semitism of all stripes is surging. The demographics of the Conservative US Jewish community challenge its viable future.

And now, at this sensitive moment, Mr Arnold Eisen, the head of Conservative Judaism’s flagship institution JTS, shares his thoughts with the world; an OpEd in a flagship institution of the US media, the WSJ.

His subject?

“Efforts to discourage intermarriage have failed. It’s time to bring more non-Jews into the faith”

converts

What an argument! The bottom line is that Conservative Judaism is, by and large, failing to engage young people and retain their commitment. Why would non-Jews be interested in a Judaism that cannot even retain Jews?

Of course, there is also the elephant in the room. There is a branch of Judaism that doesn’t have a problem with intermarriage. Maybe the Conservative movement could learn a few things from the Orthodox?

I support conversion. The barrier for conversion in Conservative Judaism is already minimal. And yet we have many young Jews married to non-Jewish partners for whom even this minimal level is too much.

I understand the dynamic of liberalism that lead to such modes of thought in the Conservative Jewish community. But the reality is that Conservative Judaism faces more serious problems and deserves leaders with more courageous and creative visions.

If you want the (very) bottom line

For those who need a pop culture explanation.

Click on pictures for links.

Howard Stern explains (succinctly and with profanity). Also points out the existence of anti-Semitic Jews (see next point):

Howard Stern

Are Jews helpful in your anti-Israel rants? A flow chart to help you decide.

use jews

People of the earth!

world

Sing it out:

Himmelman

Joan Rivers, doing what she does best – brutal honesty (although one has to admit that Egyptian TV is undoubtedly more brutal).

Joan Rivers

TV talk show host Bill Maher: “I feel terrible for a Palestinian child who dies, but if it’s your father, your brother, your uncle who’s firing those rockets into Israel, who’s fault is it really? Do you really expect the Israelis not to retaliate?”

Bill Maher

The situation above ground:

Hamas