Archive for the ‘life in israel’ Category

The week in review

February 20, 2018

Hanoch Ne’eman Jerusalem 5 Adar 5778

Iran in Syria

On Shabbos Parshas Mishpatim the Iranian forces in Syria sent a military drone into Israel, which Israel shot down. Israel then bombed many sites in Syria, both Syrian and Iranian.

The week before, on Feb. 7th, US troops engaged Assad-side Syrians near Oil Fields in the Deir el Zour region, and reportedly some Russian nationals on the job there helping Syria were killed too. I don’t know if that is related to Israel hitting the Iranians hard this week, but it is an interesting coincidence.

You know the Russians have just about taken over Syria, since they moved in to help Assad stay in power. Syria was always a Russian client state, but now it is “not just a client, but also the President”, to paraphrase an old commercial.

According to A. Pe’er in Hamodia, Israel struck many sites, including ones 185 miles into Syria. Israel destroyed (we hope) Surface to Air missile sites, and attacked Iranian planes on one side of a runway while sparing Russian planes on the other.

An Israeli F-16 was damaged and crashed in Israel. It was damaged by an anti-aircraft missile. The two pilots got out. Thankfully to Hashem, it came down in Israel and not Syria, and the crashed plane landed in a field.

The Migrant Question

Another big issue this week was the plan of the Israeli Government to extradite many of the illegal migrants. As is known, many thousands of illegal migrants live in Israel. Most come from countries in North Africa such as Eritrea and Sudan. Many of them crossed into Israel before Israel built a bigger fence along the Egyptian border. There are over 37,000 of them here now.

The Government announced it would be helping the migrants to leave to a safe, unnamed third country. It would give them a plane ticket and some money, like $3500. Those who don’t take the deal can be deported.

At the heart of the issue, from both a legal and moral perspective, is the question whether the illegals are refugees or just migrants. The difference, legally, is that a refugee is someone fleeing persecution, and refugee law allows them to seek asylum. While there is Civil War in Sudan and Eritrea, Israel does not think the migrants are here because they are persecuted, rather because it is simply much better and stable here in Israel. In any case, Israel is not trying to send them back, but go to a third country.

Immigration usually helps an economy in the long term. I am in general in favor of immigration. Of course Israel wants to have a Jewish majority, so it can’t open the floodgates. And Israel has, like every country, the right to control illegal immigration.

Rabbi Shlomo Dov Rosen of Yakar in Jerusalem articulated the problem with the current plan: since it is secret, we don’t know if it is safe for them where they are going. They should not, he says, be deported unless we know it is safe. The problem is the third country likely does not want to admit the deal publicly. So we are left in the position of trusting our government. Trust is a beautiful thing, as one of my professors said, but don’t trust anyone. I especially feel that way as our Interior Minister, who is handling this, is Aryeh Deri.



New Gemach

November 29, 2017

12 Kislev 5778 Jerusalem Chanoch Ne’eman

Tired of getting your good suit all wet and smelly at the draft protest?

Come to Yanky’s New Protest Suit Gemach!!!

That’s right, now you can pick up a already smelly-like-fertilizer suit, having been sprayed with skunk spray by the Israeli Police in previous demonstrations, and return it after your release!  No more embarrassing shidduch dates or Shabbos meals with your smelly suit!

Open evenings from 8-10 pm. Special discounts for Sephardim too.


September 24, 2017

Motz. Shabbat, 4th of Tishrei, 5778 Yerushalayim, Hanoch Ne’eman

Back in Israel. Arrived on Monday. Spent time during flight thinking how could make airline cabin more comfortable and utilizing overhead space for place to lie down.

Glad, very happy, to see the Israelis again, my dear fellow Jews first of all. But the city itself is depressing me, it looks disorderly and dirty, as usual. (That is not a criticism of Israel, just of the way we are keeping it!) Feel need to move, at least apartments. Need fresh air and quiet.

Prayed two mornings of Rosh Hashana at Kotel. Nice to be in open air, with stereo symphonic shofar blowing, and the price is right. I have been away for over six months and have not had time to pay any shul dues yet. Didn’t even have any Israeli checks with me.



De French are coming

February 2, 2017

6 Shevat, 5777 Jerusalem, Hanoch Ne’eman

Went to the new super, Osher Ad, yesterday, to buy some cookies and other items. Everyone meets at Osher Ad; Jews, Arabs, soldiers, civilians. It’s peace in the Middle East! And good cheap cookies.

At the checkout, and older French gentleman was my cashier. Facing him in the check out opposite was a French religious woman with a head covering. They spoke French with each other and Hebrew with a French accent to the customers. Yes the French are arriving, and they are even in the supers as cashiers! Ingathering of Exiles in real time! And you are there!


It’s no secret

January 10, 2017

12 Tevet 5777 Hanoch Ne’eman, Jerusalem

On Sunday of this week, which was the fast day of the Tenth of Tevet, some of my fellow Israelis were killed up the road. I heard tons of sirens going by, but it wasn’t till my roommate told me later in the afternoon that I knew what happened. An Arab drove his truck into a group of soldiers at the Tayelet.

The dignitaries showed up to survey the scene; the Police Chief, the PM and DM. Later the PM said: we are taking actions, we’ll defeat this, we’re taking action, including some things I can’t say what they are.

Gimme a break. Thanks for your public palliatives. Now, as always after things like this, we see more police cruising around for a while. It doesn’t help anything. As far as the things which “we can’t say what they are now”, I have about as much faith in them as in garlic toothpaste. Perhaps the mossad is going to sneak someone into Mahmoud Abbas’s bedroom and tickle his feet with a feather while he is sleeping? Is that your covert action? It has nothing to do with Mahmoud Abbas. That illusion is part of the problem. The truth is that there is no need for covert action. In fact, what is really needed is overt action. But that is what we fail to do.

When I ride my bicycle through the neighborhood where the terrorist came from, which is also close to the Tayelet, Arab teenagers tell me to get out, and Arab youngsters throw rocks at me. The Police have to be working to change that reality. With a real presence. With sting operations. All legal, responsible, non-covert things.



Maj. Hagai Ben Ari

January 8, 2017

10 Tevet, 5777 Hanoch Ne’eman, Yerushalayim

Last week a dear Israeli named Hagai Ben Ari passed away. He had been a commander of a Paratrooper Brigade during the war in Gaza two and half years ago. He was wounded in the head by a sniper, and was in a coma until last week.

He came from a wonderful religious moshav on the Golan Heights called Nov. He was a husband and father to three children. He was in his young thirties.

What hurts me most about tragedies like this is the feeling that they never should have happened. The anger about surrendering Gaza to terrorists. The anger about how troops were sent in to ground combat, instead of using our air force to its capacity, or more capacity.

I care about innocent Gazans too, but they are the responsibility of the Gazan government, Hamas, to protect by not starting wars with us. My brothers like Hagai Ben Ari, of blessed memory, are more important to me than Gazans.


Whither El Al?

November 24, 2016

24 Heshvan, 5777 Hanoch Ne’eman, Jerusalem, Israel

When one flies El Al, as I often do, you hear their slogan “El Al: It’s not just an airline, it’s Israel”. 

Well, I think that is recently been shown to be somewhat true, in the negative sense that the airline’s management is showing the stupid attitudes which afflict a lot of the Israeli corporate world.

I am worried about the airline. They have nice staff for the flights, but something is sorely amiss in the boardroom. I have loyally flown them for the past 20 years, but my most recent flight, which I just booked, was on another airline. The current management is incompetent and foolish. They are doing everything to squeeze more money out of customers, and are unable to keep their pilots happy enough to show up for all their flights.

When I went to check on tickets for my upcoming trip, the website said that they “sincerely apologize from the bottom of our hearts” for recent flight disruptions. Well, I am sorry to say that I don’t believe the bottom of their hearts are a very deep place, and any Airline CEO who says, as the current one has, that they will fight the pilots “to the bitter end”, besides being a fool, is unfortunately going to likely achieve that; the end of his airline in its current configuration. He is going to run a good airline into the ground, excuse the expression.

Moreover, one of the pilots’ main complaints is fully justified. El Al has been severely overbooking flights, and then bumping people to other airlines. When I fly El Al, it is because I want to fly EL AL. I am paying more for the things EL AL has and others do not. Serially over-booking to insure full flights is a deception to customers. When I flew in for my Uncle’s funeral at the end of the summer, the flight was so overbooked that they did not even assign me a seat when I bought it or checked in. In the end, there were passengers sitting in the flight attendants’ seats, and the flight attendants were standing up. I was there.

What a contrast to a well run airline like Southwest, which I fly between states when I am visiting America.

Let us pray the owners of El Al wake up and smell the galley coffee before it is too late. Amen.


How to return to Israel

September 29, 2016

27 Elul 5776 Hanoch Ne’eman Jerusalem

This post is about the best way to arrive  in Israel. If you want to ask the more philosophic question of how one engenders the dorothy-like sentiment of “there is no place like home“, I defer you to other places.

But what is the best way to arrive in Israel? As I live in Jerusalem, I usually head from baggage claim to those beloved schlemiels waiting for you with a Nesher sherut van by the curb outside. That is usually a low point in my trip. After some twenty hours of travel, the last thing I feel like is piling into a taxi van for ninety minutes more of squashed travel. This week, when I returned from Phoenix via LA, I did what I have often thought of doing, but did not; I went to Tel Aviv first. It was a good decision and I think I am going to do this always from now on.

First of all, you don’t have to get in a van, rather you can buy a train ticket for 13.50 and get on the train which pulls up in the station right below the airport exit. There is room for your suitcase and you can sit like a human being as the train makes the 15 minute trip to Tel Aviv. Got off at the Center Station and took #5 bus to dizengoff street. Got out and walked towards sea. Came to Hayarkon street near the Carlton and walked through the nice park there. Arrived at lookout over ocean, beautiful and refreshing ocean breeze. Walked down to marina and checked out boats and sailboat rental. Some young kids were having lessons in cute small sailboats with a teacher in an inflatable motorboat. Was thinking of buying something to eat but was tired so went back to Dizengoff, took 5 back to Arlosoroff and took 480 to Jerusalem. What a mechaya; I recommend to all travellers arriving in Israel to first go to Tel Aviv, have something (kosher) to eat there, a glass of wine perhaps, and then go on to your destination. Going straight to Jerusalem is like reciting shacharis and skipping pesukei d’zimra. You know what I mean? You need to warm up.


Tribute to Barry Chamish

September 28, 2016

originally appeared in In Jerusalem – Sept 23, 2016

link to pdf file:      barry


Jerusalem Ocean

August 22, 2016

18 of Av, 5776 Hanoch Ne’eman, Israel

Of course there is no ocean in Jerusalem. Even if one ascends Mt. Scopus, you see only the Salt Sea, to the east, but not the Mediterranean.

But I felt the Ocean when I prepared for Shabbat on yom shishi. I am vegetarian. The only allowance to omnivorousness I make is making fish for shabbat, mostly for the sake of my guests.

I buy, for example, some fillet of sole, frozen in the bag, at the super. Yom shishi I put it into a plastic tub with water to defrost. When I open it, my kitchen smells like fish. The nose knows; I sense the ocean. It takes me to City Island in the Bronx, Long Island Sound, the Atlantic, Block Island, the Jersey Shore, Barnegat Bay, South Street Seaport, the Fulton Fish Market, the Port in Tel Aviv, and Eilat.

How potent the associations aroused by smell! One bag of fish and I am on the beach, right here in Baka.