Friday, December 30, 2005

Kiddush Hashem, Eilat Style

In order to celebrate the Jewish victory over Hellenization, my inlaws took us to Eilat. We stayed in the Club hotel, a very nice resort hotel right near the beach. The hotel theme is boats. The hotel, if looked at from a distance is in the shape of the boat, There is a huge boat in the lobby, the walls all look like the inside of a boat (ok, hard to describe, but it's all very boaty) Even the elevator has a wall that looks like fish moving, and makes a "ping" noise every few seconds as you go up, which for some reason gives a submarine feeling. So we looked at our schedule from the hotel, and they said candlelighting is at 6. So at 6 we brought the menorah down to the lobby to light. The hotel had a huge display set up of a big sufganiya, with an enormous menorah next to it, and a bunch of tables for people to put their own menorah down. We all lit seperately, then the hotel guy lit, and then they started playing Chanuka music. They had all kinds of costumes of different animals, and a man riding a horse (not real horse), and they all danced with al lthe kids, and then they gave out free sufganiyot. The lobby was crowded with people, and on all the levels there were people looking down to watch what was going on. While it wasnt quite the same as the yeshiva after-candle scene I have been accostumed to, I found it to be quite a high level of pirsumei nissa.
Mi K'Amcha Yisrael

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Understanding Shammaiian Logic

There's a disagreement between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel about lighting the Menora. Shammai says to start with 8 candles and work down to one, and Hillel says to start with one and go up to 8. There's a lot of explanation about the reasoning behind each view, but as I lit that first candle, in accordance with Bet Hillel, I finally truly understood what Bet Shammai was talking about.
For two months, since Sukkot, we havent had a holiday. We've been focusing everything on Chanuka. All the month of Cheshvan, nothing. Kislev, nothing, til the 25th. Now Chanuka begins. So I took it my Menorah, set it up by the window, took out the candles, and.....put one in? What a letdown! As I lit that first candle, I thought, how wimpy. this whole big 8 branched Menorah, and all it gets is one candle. Til you get to that th candle, you're already sick of sufganiyot and latkes, dreidel is already lost, and you dont have any money left to gamble with. That first day should start with a big bang of 8 candles!! Thats what Shammai was talking about.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Why Don't They Realize!

To all you people praying that it should rain in the Holy Land, thank you. I am wet and cold and in a crappy mood. I'll start praying for your taxes to go up, and then we'll see who's smiling.

As I was walking outside today, it really hit me. The stupidity of the umbrella. Umbrellas are useful in only two ways. To shield from the sun, or to protect from a warm windless rain. Today was neither. It was frigid, very windy, and very rainy. Most people were walking by quickly, a hat on their head, and their hands in their pockets. But not the umbrellers. Holding their hand up high, which half the time was ungloved, fighting against the wind, walking slower then everyone else while trying to keep the umbrella from stopping a rain that is coming from all directions, they were the most uncomfortable people outside. I must have walked past 6 or 7 that had been thrown away after they turned inside out. One girl was holding one nxt to me at the light, and POOF, it blew inside out. As she kept trying to turn it back, she got just as wet as I did, and then she tried to hold it upside down. How foolish. If you're going to walk ouside when its raining, you're going to get wet. Put on a long coat, a hat, put your hands in your pockets, and walk quick. The umbrella will not help, only hurt.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Why I Dont Care To Vote II

(for part 1 scroll down to previous post)
My other issue with Israeli representation is the flipside of the same problem. Since we dont vote for specific people, they feel no need to represent us. People will vote for Netanyahu or they wont, but if he wins, Limor Livnat will continue with her changing of the school system whether the people want it or not. She doesnt have to answer to us. None of these supposed representatives answer to us. And what do they stand for? How many knesset members are pro choice? How many want to increase minimum wage? How do they think the best way to lower crime and rehabilitate criminals? Do they think about lowering crime? Tax reform? If I'm deciding who to vote for in America, I can go to any one of many websites and see where they stand on all issues, and then make an educated decision. Here, I only know what they said about one or two issues, and as we have seen, that has no bearing on what they're going to do.
As a religious, immigrant, student, recently married, man from Jerusalem, who represents me? And even if someone does represent me, does it matter? I can't vote for them anyway, only for their party. And their party is comprised of other people who disagree with them on those issues. So why should I vote?

Why I Dont Care To Vote

During the last election in America, I was in Israel, and being as I'm from Michigan, which is strongly democrat, and absentee ballots are only counted when its close to a tie, and also due to laziness, I didnt vote. So this coming up election could be my first time voting. Except there's no party I support.
The way the system is set up, you're only allowed one vote, and that vote isn't for a person, but for a party. Then the party that can make a coalition of 61 seats (out of 120) is the leading party, and their party leader is Prime Minister.
There are only three serious contendors for the throne-Sharon, Peretz, and Netanyahu.
Sharon's platform is "territorial concessions to maintain a Jewish majority". This is done by following the road map. I don't think he has anything else to his platform.
Peretz's platform is a strong welfare state, eradicating poverty. In order to accomplish these goals, we need to make a lasting peace with Palestinians. While I havent seen any specific terms of his, he is presumable willing to trade more than Sharon is.
Netanyahu's platform is taking power away from the unions, through free market capitalism. He is against giving away any lands without a popular vote to support it.
In a normal (American) system, if you agreed with one of these platforms, you would vote for that candidate. But here, by voting for that candidate, you're voting for the whole party. The more votes they get, the more seats they get. So a vote for Sharon is also a vote for Olmert, Peres, Reichman (co-founder of Shinui), and many others who all came from different parties and all have completely opposite views, and all are united for one reason only-they believe Sharon is going to win and they want good jobs. A vote for Netanyahu is also a vote Yisroel Katz, called the second most corrupt cabinet minister, and possibly for Feiglin, a man whose views Netanyahu is so against he is doing everything possible to block him from running.
Voting for a smaller party is a big risk. Each party has two goals. To stick with their ideology, and to be part of the majority coalition. Rarely can they do both. And there's the same problem, that even if you agree with the ideology of a party, you dont necessarily agree with the people that are representing it.
Gotta go eat, more on this later

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Nothing Like Some Good Complaining

I went to class today. That in itself bothers me, being as its Sunday, and even though I always went to class on Sunday, at least it was acknowledged that it was Sunday and we were having class anyway. Anwyays, class starts at 8:15, and Sunday morning traffic is the worst of the week, so it takes almost an hour and a half to get to school instead of the usual fifty minutes. Anyways, I go to my first class, the teacher runs more then 20 minutes overtime, and then I have an hour break til 12. I kill the hour, go to my class, and the teacher shows up and announces her throat hurts so class is canceled. How irritating! Theres a system set up that if class is canceled they send you a text message, but she didnt officially cancel it until everyone already came. And its really hard to tremp home at 12 on a Sunday, noone's going to Jerusalem then. S I had to wait over an hour for a ride.
A big pet peeve of mine is the traffic lights near my house on the way to the bus station. There are three directions for cars, east, west, and turning south. Each one has their own light for pedestrians. It used to be that they all changed colors at the same time and you had enough time from either side to make it across. Then they started doing construction, probably for the subway theyre building here, and they messed up all the lights. So now, one light changes, 10 seconds later the next one, 5 seconds later the third one, and about 5 seconds after the third one turns green, the first one goes red. So it is impossible to actually make it all the way across in one shot if you're walking north towards the bus station, unless you jay walk, which isnt always possible because its a main street. Also, traffic cops hide in trees on the other side waiting for people to jay walk so they can give them tickets. I'm hoping that this city has so many cops and so little crime and thats why all the cops have nothing else to do then hide behind building and trees waiting to ambush those evil criminals that arent waiting for the light to change.

Monday, December 12, 2005

My beef against Mofaz

As much as I hate politics, the latest develpment has really caught my attention. Shaul Mofaz has switched over to Kadima in exchange for a promise to continue on as Defense Minister if Sharon wins again. Being as half of this countries politicaians have switched to Kadima in the past few weeks, this didnt come as too much of a shock, except for all the garbage I've been reading that Mofaz said about Kadima, his new party. Here's some excerpts:
Arutz7: DM Mofaz Says Kadima Following Path of Oslo
Israel Hasbara Committee: "...and I am opposed to Oslo. I believe it caused great damage to Israel,” he (Mofaz) said.
"I think he [Sharon] made a big mistake when he left Likud,” Mofaz said.
Jerusalem Post:
Mofaz accuses Sharon of working against him
Mofaz called on Likud members to stay in Likud and resist offers to join Sharon’s Kadima party which he labeled a “virtual party that exists only in polls.”
Mofaz Points Out Sharon’s Contradictory Actions and Words
There are more, but they're all along the same lines. Mofaz disagrees with the policies of Kadima, with the people running Kadima, feels Sharon contradicts himself, and accused Sharon of purposely trying to hurt his image. And now he's joined his party. Apperently, ideals are important to Mofaz, but not as important as his job. Obviously, all members of Kadima switched over from other parties, but none were as outspokenly against it like Mofaz. And none of them were running as head of a different party, til they realized they werent going to be voted in, and then quickly switched. Regardless of what I think of Sharon, his decision made sense. He was leading a party that was split in half and destroying itself. His policies were not in line with the party he was running. So he created a party according to his policies. He invited Mofaz, who turned him down, criticized Sharon, and even put his name on the ticket as a contendor for the Likud. How could a man in one minute believe he has what it takes to be in charge of a party, and the next minute defect to a different party? How can you trust a man like that?
Then again, theres barely anyone you can trust in the Knesset, so whats the difference now?

Monday, December 05, 2005

It's not even close to election time

I bought the paper (Maariv) this Shabbat and sat down to read it but all it had was stuff about the election. The one in 3 months! Isn't anything else happening here? There was actually one other intersting article about a lawyer who wants to be a judge. Apperently she wrote an erotic novel about 9 years ago, has made many public comments about how her book relates to her life, and now she wants to be a judge for family law. Oh, and shes also divorced twice. The paper had many different views, pro and con, whether she should be a judge. Personally, if I was in her courtroom, I dont think I would feel that this person represents the law, or that I should have any respect for her. I would probably just be wondering how closely the book represents her real life.
Anyway, I got the paper on Sunday, and again, just election with a little ticker. 114 days til election. Is that all they're going to wirte about? So far, at least around here, I've only seen two election campaign posters in the street. One is "Only Silvan can", who's running to take over Likud, and the other is on busses, מי לה' אלי, to vote for Shas. (Michelle had a great point on that one!)
I'm already fed up with this election, and its not for another 4 months!

UPDATE: I saw a few more slogans today for Likud elections. "Moshe Feiglin-for Head of Likud"
and "Yisroel Katz, against Sharon and the Left". The Likud elections are coming up, so at least they have a reason to be advertising so early.