Thursday, April 19, 2007

Zionist High School Flashbacks

The big arguments going around today have to do with this story from the JPost:

Seven pupils at a Beit Ya'akov school in Netanya were punished after they stood up for the siren that sounded Monday in honor of Holocaust Memorial Day (Monday), Yediot Aharonot reported.

According to the report, the school principal removed the girls from their classroom and forced them to stand up for the rest of the day and read psalms.

In haredi circles, using sirens and "moments of silence" to mark memorial holidays is considered a gentile custom and is discouraged.

Haredi rabbis often encourage their followers to recite psalms or other prayers silently during the siren.

As I read this I had a flashback to 10th grade:

I was in a Yeshiva High School, I didn't know it was Yom Haatzmaut, and in all honestly I didnt really care. My friend who lived in the area came to my dorm room the day before (which I didn't even know was Yom Hazikaron) with an Israeli flag and a banner from Coke that said something about saluting Israel.
When I left my room Yom HaAtzmaut morning I hung the banner on my door and the flag in my room. I came back to the dorm after Shachrit and the banner was on the floor. I hung it back up and again, after breakfast, it was on the floor. I hung it up a third time and when I came back to the room during a break I saw the Mashgiach carrying it away.
"Rebbi, thats mine", I told him
"Twice I threw it on the floor and you didnt understand so now I'm taking it away", he answered.
"You threw it on the floor", I asked him, "I thought it was one of the guys who didn't understand the importance of Israel to the Jewish People. I didn't think a Rabbi would throw something so important on the floor."
"Not only am I taking the banner, but your flag is on the floor where it belongs."
I immediately went and started calling everyone I know telling them about this horrible thing that happened. If I would have known a reporter I would have tried to get the story in the news. The headlines would have read "Charaidi Rabbi Tramples Israeli Flag", or some other such title. The reality was that
a. I only did it to irritate them. If I would have cared I would have requested permission to hang something up.
b. This one Rabbi was an extremist and in no way showed the character of the school. The school was a yeshiva with strong secular education, AP courses and all, and while they werent Zionist they certainly werent anti.
c. If I would have talked to a reporter I would have exaggarated (such as, "the principal made me stand up all day")
d. although I didn't get a punishment, I deserved one, not for hanging up the flag, but for speaking very disrespectfully, and if I would have gotten a punishment I would have told everyone the punishment was for the flag.

Only in Israel...

I was in an Israeli elemetary school the other day and I saw this sign on the wall. If they had signs like this in Palestinian schools then we would be able to solve our problems much quicker and easier.

"Two nations dividing the same land, and it will be best that they knew to live together."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Jewish Santa Claus?

Every year at the seder we pour an extra cup of wine, called the "cup for Eliyahu". and as the story goes, Eliyahu comes around to everyone's seder and drinks from the cup. I would say that the majority of kids at a seder are told some sort of fable about Eliyahu coming around to them. Being the kind of person who is against all things not explained (unless clearly written in the Torah, or has a known connection to sinai, [i.e. how to wear Tefillin]) I never really liked the story that Eliyahu goes to every house; it's a logistical nightmare! Here is my explanation. Every argument in the gemara that no answer is found, they use the word "taiku". In modern hebrew that means a tie, and I dont know if it has a meaning in Aramaic, but we always learned it as an acronym that meant "Eliyahu will come and answer all our questions". And that is why we have the "cup of Eliyahu". We dont know if we're supposed to drink four cups or five cups, and we have no way of knowing; it's a taiku. So we fill up the fifth cup as a symbolic way of saying that if the Moshiach comes tonight, with Eliyahu at his side, and tells us we need to drink five cups, we have it ready.

And may he come soon and tell us that yes, we DO need to drink five cups!

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