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Tag: Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur War Documentary

Kick-ass rabbis team up to defend synagogues

GaryHigh Holiday season is always a stressful time for Rabbis, but the word “stressful” usually describes how they feel about their sermons, the High Holiday appeal, the synagogue’s financial situation, the latest pow-wow the Rabbi got into with the president of the board, those sort of things. But this year, a group of Rabbis is taking their stress-coping strategies to a new level and teaching congregants how to beat up terrorists that may otherwise infiltrate a group of Yom Kippur worshippers and harm them.

The group is called the International Security Coalition of Clergy, founded by Rabbi Gary Moscowitz. Yes, he’s a black-belt and a former NYPD officer. In a quote that I happen to really like, he said “Jews are not like Christians. If I turn my cheek, I’m coming around to make a kick.” I second that. Nobody’s messing with me anymore.

What inspired Moscowitz to do this? It was an event last May when police discovered a terrorist organization of American Muslims planning to attack New York City synagogues.

He claims he doesn’t fear Muslims specifically, but extremists in general. “We’re just worried about the safety of the houses of worship that are being threatened with rhetoric on regular basis and extremism,” Moscowitz said.

His course is a 100 hour martial arts course that will hopefully turn Jewish worshippers into lethal weapons that defend their houses of prayer. Or something of the sort. At the beginning, nobody took him seriously, but he was just interviewed on Fox News and there’s even a video on Foxnews.com about him.

The course teaches rabbis and synagogue-goers how to take down a terrorist who succeeds in entering the houses of worship, use tables as means of defense against gunfire, and to pull out a handgun while performing a flip.

“A terrorist could put a yarmulke on, say, ‘Happy holidays,’ and blow the place up,” he warns. That’s why he’s not relying only on the police.

Shana Tova and Gmar Chatima Tova

It’s dimming earlier these days; wind is getting stronger. Yes, it’s autumn again, and the air conditioner is no longer a man’s best friend.

In short, a new year is upon us, and I want to wish you all a Shana Tova (Happy new year) and Gmar Chatima Tova (May you be inscribed in the book of life)!

What have we seen this past year?
  • A raging march of corruption allegations sprouting from within government corridors. Yes, former Minister of Finance stole millions of Shekels from Holocaust survivors. Yes, yet another Prime Minister is knotted up to his head with police investigations. Yes, Minister of Justice (a dear friend of these aforementioned politicians) is crusading in an attempt to crush the legislative authority’s independance.
  • Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, American Mutual – big names that have become empty vessels. The beginning of the end of the Capitalistic age? It’s too soon to tell. However, one thing has become clear, as newsman Yaron London said yesterday: “People start to realize that Economy is not a distinct science; Economy is the very heart of politics.”
  • Three children, in three separate families, were murdered by their parents this past summer in our tiny piece of land. In a country that doesn’t seem to give a damn about its social infrastructure, this — sadly — doesn’t come as a surprise.
  • Shahar Tzuberi made us all proud this September when he won the only Israeli medal at the Beijing Summer Olympics. With his modest look and his unrelenting motivation, he proves yet again that Water Sports are gathering momentum in Israel… Splash!

Gmar Chatima Tova

And what may lay down the road?
  • Tzipi Livni may become Israel’s second female Prime Minister, just in time to (presumably) greet America’s first black president.
  • The tumbling economy is raising Anti-Semitic attitudes in the United States, reminiscent of 1929.
  • Municipal elections in November are raising much public attention, with both Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv displaying an intriguing line of candidates. Will Dov Khenin live up to his hype? Will Arieh Deri somehow storm his way back into the center of the political stage, after spending several years in the confiding comfort of a jail cell? Will the Ussishkin Arena ever get rebuilt?
  • Abu Mazen is ending his four years in office this coming January, opening the door for a Hamas-controlled West Bank.
Bottom Line

We have much to lose and much to gain. Emotions are running high, and I think that’s a good thing — We are finally stepping out of our long-embedded apathy. The world is changing before our eyes, and in this Internet-entwined culture of ours, the man in the street has never been so influential before.

Take care and enjoy this holiday season!

A Late Yom Kippur Reflection – Part Two

Wait! I can’t have surgery here! I’m in a foreign land! I don’t know anybody here! But as the doctors pointed out, I was at no state to fly anywhere. I had to be strong and overcome this whole situation. The only thought I had was: It’s a good thing I bought insurance policy before I left for the trip. I was operated later that day. The date: Yom Kippur.

October 4, 2006
This week, as I was celebrating my one year surgery anniversary, something struck me; not even once, throughout the past year, I did connect between these events to the time they occurred. I was laying in the hospital sick on Yom Kippur, and not even once I did think I was being punished for things I had done. A sign from god? That thought never crossed my mind. I started wondering: Is there something wrong with me? Am I not Jewish enough?

I have to confess. I’m not a big believer. I never fast on Yom Kippur. I don’t believe that fasting will remedy your sins; only your changed actions can do that. But Yom Kippur is also a day of thinking and self examining.

The week I spent at the hospital last year was incredible and unperceivable. During that week, I found long lost family relatives that lived in San José and helped me out so much! I learned to realize what a great friend I had – she didn’t leave my bedside the whole week! I discovered my parents will fly to the end of the world if I need them to! I learned that life is unpredictable! And most of all, I discovered things about myself: I’m independent, I do not panic in stress situations and I’m surrounded by many people who care about me.

And for me, that’s the meaning of Yom Kippur – a quiet day, when you can enjoy some quality time with your family, relax and reflect on the passing year. Hopefully realizing at the end how lucky you are and appreciating more of yourself, your family and friends and your life.

A Late Yom Kippur Reflection – Part One

The following events happened around Yom Kippur a year ago…

October 12, 2005
After a 10 hour bus ride, we (a friend and I) arrived at San José, the capital city of Costa Rica. We had a week before concluding our trip to Central America and we planned it out so we’ll make the most out of it.

First stop – the Jewish Community Center. The center was surrounded by high walls and was guarded by tough security and it was quite a task to get in. What an amazing place! Brand new, with beautiful art work and a giant beit kneset (synagogue). It was great to see how this small community was able to cherish and preserve its Jewish identity.

Since it was getting late, we decided to find a nice hostel and continue our trip the following day. Early next morning, we got on a cranky bus heading to La Fortuna, a small town set on the outskirts of Volcan Arenal. It was a long and bumpy drive, so not surprisingly, I felt bad afterwards. Since I was sure I was just a bit hydrated, I didn’t take the whole matter seriously.

That night, our hostel owner took us to watch Volcan Arenal erupting. And what a view it was! This volcano erupts 24 hours a day! You can actually see the lava burst out of the crater and tumble down the mountain.

When I woke up the next day, I was still feeling bad, really bad. On a short Internet chat with my parents, my dad said sarcastically: “Here’s a present from us for the approaching Yom Kippur – go see a doctor!”

One thing I learned throughout my life is to listen to my parents’ advice. So off I went to see the doctor in the local clinic. The next thing I knew, I was on my way to the hospital in San José. The prognosis: appendicitis.

To be continued…

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