Sunday, October 30, 2005

A New (Different?) Song

After many jokes and a few feeble attempts, Mendy and I took the plunge. We decided we're going to Shira Chadasha. Not to be confused with Shir Chadash, a shul on Emek Refaim that davens Carlebach and is overflowing with women, Shira Chadasha is a shul on Emek Refaim that davens Carlebach and is overflowing with women. With one little catch. Shira Chadasha is an Orthodox shul that has women leading the service and reading from the Torah. The davening is cut into different parts, some of which are obligatory and some of which are not. The obligatory parts the men said and the rest was read by women. The Torah reading is also divided, the beginning is read by men, and the rest by a women. The haftora is also read by a women. At night, kabbalat Shabbat is lead bya women, and then Maariv by a man.
We wanted to go Friday night, but neither of us knew where it was. So Friday night we went to Shir Chadash, and someone told us where Shira Chadasha was. So bright and early Shabbat morning we went on our adventure. When we arrived, I was firstly surprised by the normalcy of the place. Everyone was wearing a plain tallit with a normal kippa, there was a lot of old and young people, very typical. The mechitza was very high, about seven feet tall, and went from front to back, with more room on the womens side then men. The bima was evenly placed on both sides of the mechitza, as was the aron hakodesh. on top of the bima was also a mechitza. Davening was normal til laining. Then a girl opened the aron, and another girl started singing "Shema Yisrael.." I'll admit it, I had to bite my lip to hold back from laughing. Then they took the Torah through the womens side, then passes it to a guy and it went through the mens side, and got to the bima. The male gabbai called up a man, then another, then another. then all of a sudden, "Taamod, Rivka bat Shmuel V'Leah"*. They also switched baal koreh, and a woman got up to read. I never thought of the reading as being a song until then. Then they called up a chattan, and after him they called up the kalla. I think I would have felt very uncomfortable if I would have gotten an aliyah with Shany, but whatever. The mishabaraichs were all "misheberach at haavot v'et ha'imahot". The only liturgy that was changed is one part that says "Them, their wives and children", which was changed to "them and them and their families". A girl read the haftorah, then a guy did hagba, and then a guy davened mussaf. After davening a girl made kiddush, and everyone went out to eat. The main image that is staying in my head is a lady's hand, with purple nail polish, resting on the Torah. That aside, and listening to a girl singing haftora aside, it was a very typical davening. I dont think I would go there again, but mainly because it takes too long.
*name has been changed

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Simchat Torah this year we were invited to stay at friends of ours in a different part of Jerusalem (Ramat Eshkol). We went to do hakafot at Ohr Samayach since we both know people there. But after like an hour or so it got boring, so we decided to go shul hopping. We went thru a few random shuls nearby, but nothing too exciting. We walked into Geulah, checked out the Mir Yeshiva (not very exciting, it was only Israels there since it was the first night of Chag-only night of Chag). Then we went into the shul of the Slonim Chassidim. I didnt want to go since I wasnt dressed the part, and wasnt in the mood for all the dirty looks and quick Yiddish talk as I walked by. But we went anyway, and I was pleasantly surprised. Slonim Chassidim are very nice people. There most have been over 5,000 guys dancing. I cant find the words to describe it. The Bet Knesset was enormous, and they had what at first looked like hundreds of little circles of people dancing. When we joined in, we realized it was all one big chain of people, but instead of going in a circle they went in and out and around so every inch of ground was covered. It took around 25 minutes to get back to where we started. The whole time they sang ne tune, no words, just a repetitive tune with like seven notes. Over and over and over again. We left after one circle and went home to eat. In the morning we hopped around a bit more and ended up there again. This time we bumped into a Rabbi my friend knows. He said they had finished the Hakufes at night around midnight (we were there at like 8) and they usually finish in the day at around 4PM. In order that everyone can get an aliyah tothe Torah there, during dancing they have a Torah open downstairs and everyone stands in line and gets called up one by one. It was the most organized aliyah factory ever! While we were waiting, the Rabbi brought us cups of cold chocolate milk. Turns out, they take a regular sink with six or seven spouts used for washing, and hook it up to a giant vat of chocolate milk!! Then we danced there for a bit (another tune, not as good as the night one) and went shul hopping some more. But nothing matched up to the warmth, and spirit of Slonim.

Weird Phone Call of the Day

I called one a patient today, her son answered the phone, "City Morgue, you stab 'em, we slab 'em." Although I hear on a daily basis some of the most retarded things, this still floored me.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Tonight was the Bet Shemesh concert, where all English speaking people in this country, the majority of whom are in Shana Aleph yeshiva, come for a huge outdoor concert with the top of Jewish music. Soul Farm, Moshav Band, Blue Fringe, Shlomo Katz, Chaim Dovid, Aron Razel, more people I dont know. As I was sitting there with Shany being annoyed at the drunken yeshiva guys I had a flashabck to Bet Shemesh concert 3 years ago....
ShemeshFest was on the same day as the Camp Simcha Sukkot get together. So while we are all hanging out at the reunion, I find out if anyone plans on going to Bet Shemesh so we can share a ride. One guy and one girl also want to go. Flashback to two days earlier when I first met this girl. My friend and her friend are talking so we introduce and begin to shmooze. Somehow Camp Simcha comes up, we both worked there, she gets very excited and I tell her I'm dating someone. She is wearing a Roots hat and I make fun of her for being Canadian. From then on her name was Roots. I dont remember what her real name is....Back to the reunion, we find a cab and start going. The girl starts talking and talking and cab driver says he'll lower the price if we can shut her up. We ask him how annoying she is, from on to ten. He sas ten. She hears him say ten in Hebrew and starts asking if the price is only ten shekels. We get to the festival and split up.
I find Sendy and we are jumping up and down going crazy when Chaim Dovid does Yamamai. there is dust everywhere, and I cant breath. So we go to the top to find something to drink. But theyre all sold out. So we go to different people standing around trying to get some water til someone gives us half a bottle. It saved my life. While we are standing up there, I see the girl again. She tells me that I missed out, she had been the night before with a bunch of bored girls and they had a lot of alcohol. I remind her that I'm dating and don't care about the girls, but the alcohol wouldve been cool. She says she'll bring me one of the bottles to the next concert at the Great Synagogue. Next day I'm at the great Synagogue with Sendy and we find out there is no concert there. But at least we know we're getting something to drink so we dont care. Then Roots calls and says she forgot to bring the bottle. I tell her thats not nice, so she tells me not to worry. A half hour later, we've made it to town, and she shows up with a new bottle of Absolut. She said she bought it at the Sheraton. I ask her if she realizes I'm dating someone, and she says yes, she doesnt care, it only cost her shekalim, theyre not wortht that much anyway. I thank her and she goes away. Then Sendy and I drink the bottle down (him more then me) and I dont remember the rest of the night.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Lulav and Etrog

I went out Friday to go etrog shopping. I started by the shuk, where they have a tent set up with a lulav and etrog shuk. The majority of etrogim are sold pre-boxed, with a Rabbi's seal, and you cant see it til after you buy it. After years of watching my Dad pick up each Etrog and check it, while Mrs. Gold pointed out it's qualities, I'm unable to buy one sight-unseen. The ones that are open have already been checked by thousands of people and deemed not good for them. After over an hour of searching, nothing caught my eye, so I went up to Geulah. Geulah is etrog central. there's an enormous area with tables and tables of etrogim, lulavim, hadassim. The best ones are classified A,A. Then theres A, and then just mehadrin, then mehudar, then just kosher. As i recall, the Torah says the etrog has to be mehudar. From that somehow a lulav now has to be A,A for it to be good. Being as its only real quality is that the "spine" has to be attached at the top, and it has to be a certain length, I dont know how it could be cut into so many categories of beauty, but it is. Sellers are also all along the street, each with his table, squawking his wares. "Lulav Lulav Lulav, only A,A here!!" "Etrogim, we only sell the best!!" "Hadassim, you dont have to look anywhere else!!" The best thing they had was etrogim pre-boxed with a seal from a Rabbi that theyre mehadrin, but they were in clear plastic boxes, so you can actually see what you're buying. Also, they dont get ruined by everyone picking them up and checking them. Chazzon Ish style etrogim were boxed like this. Still nothing caught my eye, so I kept walking. Then I saw a big sign, "Etrog Zacks". I knew I was going to find what I wanted there. I walk in, and he has a few boxes. All of them are green, so I start to leave. One second, he tells me, I have another box in the back. He brings it out, and I start to get excited. With yiddish flying around my head, I go thru the box, checking each one. Now, to be honest, I'm never really sure what I'm looking for. As long as it doesnt have big marks on the top third its kosher, and the more bumpy it is the better. But being as people were taking out magnifying glasses to check them, maybe I'm missing something. But I found one I liked, so I ask him how much they cost. "Each one is different", he tells me. So I give him the one I like, and he starts analyzing it under a light with a magnifying glass. (think diamond shopping). He mumble a bit, tells me its beautiful, mehadrin, etc, etc. and quotes me a price. What is the price based on? I have no idea. Do they start at a high number and go down with each scratch, or start at a low price, and go up with each bump? Or do they just try to assume how much you're willing to pay and charge 20 shek more? Bottom line, I now have a lulav, etrog, and hadassim, and I'm just waiting for the holiday to start. Chag Samayach to all!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Is the truth really out there?

Same story, different papers

According to Arutz7:
Kol Yisrael reports that a Jerusalem court has awarded compensation of more than NIS 90,000 to Noam Federman of Hebron for being wrongfully placed under house arrest for two years. At the time, he was charged with being involved in a Jewish underground organization in Bat Ayin. Although the charges against him were found to be baseless and were later dropped, Federman was under house arrest for two years. Today’s ruling found him innocent, and awarded him compensation for the time he spent needlessly under house arrest.

According to Haaretz:
Justice Moshe Drori of Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday morning ordered the state to pay extreme-rightwing activist Noam Federman $100,000 compensation for false arrest for alleged terrorist activity in recent years. Federman, a resident of a Hebron-area settlement, was held in administrative detention for around eight months, and underwent many months of house arrest.

The beauty is, they could be saying the same thing. More than NIS 90,000 could be $100,000. And many months of house arrest could be 24 months. Yet, shockingly, Arutz7 stresses the amount of time under house arrest, and Haaretz tries to minimize it, and Arutz7 shows a small amount of compensation while Haaretz shows a large one. Does anyone believe anything they read anymore?