Sep 29, 2016

book review: Rendezvous with God

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.

Book Review: Rendezvous with God, by Rabbi Nathan Lauffer
 

Rendezvous with God, by Rabbi Nathan Lauffer is a book that sets out to "reveal" the meaning of the Jewish holidays and their rituals. The premise this book works on is that the holidays are markers during the year that retell the story of the Jewish people, in a way similar to the stories of a family. The stories of a nation retell its narrative and contain its raison d'etre. He compares the Jewish holidays, in this sense, to the American holidays of Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Veteran's Day, and others.

In Rendezvous with God, Rabbi Lauffer explores the holidays of Pesach, the Omer, Shvuos, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkos with Shimini Atzeres and Simchas Torah, Shabbos and Rabbinic and Modern Holidays (i.e. Yom Haatzmaut, Yom Hazikaron, etc).

The holidays actually tell a story, the story of what happened [mostly] during the honeymoon year after leaving Egypt, and run from one to the next in order, with the Jews first leaving Egypt, Pesach, and then Shvuos to the revelation at Sinai, Sukkos as they traveled through the desert in huts, etc...

I skipped around a bit to get a feel for the book and his premise, but I really wanted to start with the upcoming holidays of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkos, which I have been reading fully. I am very impressed with his thought process. Rabbi Lauffer asks a series of questions that all touch on the basis of the holiday as is commonly understood and then goes on to offer his explanation of the holiday, in a way that all the questions are answered. The questions are not just answered, but the entire picture is understood and you wonder why you did not realize or think of that before.

I was truly impressed with Rabbi Lauffer's explanations. In retrospect they seemed so obvious, but I had never before seen the holidays looked at and approached in this manner.

If you want to think about the holidays and consider a new way of looking at and understanding them, and thereby also get a full picture of how the holidays are not just rituals to commemorate specific experiences but a thread woven through the fabric of our nation and in essence our history, Rendezvous With God is a book you should pick up.


You can buy Rendezvous with God on Maggid Publications

You can buy Rendezvous with God on Amazon.com

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.


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Picture of the Day


caption contest
I'm stuck! get me out of here!
stop moving the rocks while my head is in here!


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Intel displays technologies as part of strategy shift (video)







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Mensch on the Bench is the mascot of the Israeli team in WBC (video)

Cody Decker introduces the mascot...




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this year do kapparos with money (video)

cute





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Taste of America" matzah ball contest (video)

pretty funny



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Rav Yosef Chaim Hecht: Lishpoch Libi Kamayim (video)







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Sep 28, 2016

Picture of the Day



That is Amare Stoudamire. Stoudamire showed up to a game wearing tzitzis. He cracks me up.


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Quote of the Day

Being that our community baruch hashem has become a large community and continues to grow, and among them are some who go out to work and go to support themselves, there are others who undermine them and say "these are the new haredim". These are not new haredim. These are the haredim that were with the Chasam Sofer. These are the Haredim that adminstered the communities alongside the rabbonim, that supported Torah, that supported the outlook of Torah. I, too, am a working Haredi....

  -- MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ)



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ISRAEL’S CHILDREN ARE PAWNS IN DIRTY POLITICS

A Guest Post by Dr. Harold Goldmeier

ISRAEL’S CHILDREN ARE PAWNS IN DIRTY POLITICS

Dr. Harold Goldmeier
September 27, 2016

Education Minister Naftali Bennett and President Reuven Rivlin this week greeted 30 education ministers invited to Jerusalem for the OECD Global Education Industry Summit. In a hauteur manner posing a big smile for the cameras, Bennett proclaimed, “We can transform the world….In this room we have the world’s real security council: the education security council.” Laughter, applause, and a lot of backslapping ensued.

What a sham.
·         Israel does not have adequate numbers of full time teachers in schools
·         They are highly committed (80 percent return year after year) but not paid a livable wage
·         It is reported more than a quarter of teachers are part-timers and temps
·         Many teachers are inured to terrible pay and resigned to holding second and third positions to make ends meet
·         Female teachers earn ten percent less than males in the system
·         Funding cuts (and the government’s refusal to place Arab teachers in Jewish schools crying for staff) for Arab schools are deeper and more widespread leaving a pool of 11,000 unemployed Arab teachers in northern Israel
·         Teachers earn an unlivable wage on average of nis6,800 to 10,438 per month; haredi teachers earn half that amount.

Almost ten years ago, an OECD report found Israel’s teachers among the lowest paid in the world. Not much has changed. An OECD report, Education at a Glance 2016, confirms Israel spends significantly less on education, less per student, and less across all education levels in comparison to the average spending among OECD countries. Here’s how the premium site financial Globes, that reports on the economic health of Israel, presented other findings on September 22, 2016:
·         Israeli teachers worst paid in OECD
·         Israeli elementary school teachers earn less than all others
·         Israel ranks at the bottom of teacher pay scales with one report putting Israeli teacher salaries below Turkey, Chile and Mexico
·         Other nations spend more than $9,000 on salaries per pupil per year, while Israel spends $1,912 per pupil per year.

A strong viable teacher corps is essential to national economic growth, productivity and national security. Israel’s vaunted hi-tech sector boasts salaries topping nis24,000 per month, because techies are essential to exports and national security. Teachers are not considered on par.

But the hi-tech sector is shrinking and dire. It suffers from a shortage of computer engineers and scientists. Israel’s competitive edge is in a state of erosion. University professors in science, engineering, technology, and math report they cannot fill enough slots with qualified students coming up through the education system.

Minister Bennett recognizes the problem. In a recent announcement, improving science, math, and English studies are among his top four targets for curriculum attention. Nevertheless, in November 2015 the Knesset passed a budget allocating an additional NIS6.7 billion to the Education Ministry, but by August 2016 the two years budget passed for 2017-2018 allocates far less in both years and little for bettering teacher salaries. By 2017 thousands of teachers are anticipating being fired, perhaps as many as 7,000. They are already looking for jobs outside teaching.
If only education had an advocate like MK Litzman is for healthcare: Litzman, according to an August 16, 2016 Jerusalem Post article by Judy Siegel-Itkovich, promises ‘war’ to expand health basket.

I know another young man who left teaching (three jobs) in Israel, out of frustration and unable to support his family on the pay. Another, an English teacher blogs how welcoming the staff and children in two schools were to her (both part-time employment). “I felt like a rock star.” However, “month after month there was no sign of pay—instead, the schools and the Ministry of Education threw more and more random paperwork at me while I patronizingly told to be patient…. I have only experienced a similar level of chaos in third world countries limping along on non-existent economies.”


Bennett and Rivlin ginned up the Israel hasbara of doing good deeds, being a lighthouse in a sea of Middle East turbulence, about new and innovative teaching curricula and methods, safe learning environments, and skills training.  But they keep forgetting how little the teachers are paid who are doing all the heavy lifting, while the politicians are gamming and posturing before foreign dignitaries and cameras. It’s time for political blather and prattle to end and appreciate the Shel Silverstein sigh for Israel’s teachers: “Talked my head off. Worked my tail off. Cried my eyes out. Walked my feet off. Sang my heart out. So you see, there’s really not much left of me.”


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Why Israeli settlements don’t feel like a conflict zone | Settlements (parts 1 and 2) (video)


wow. the settlers are somewhat human?






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Let's stop the overdoses in our community (video)







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R' Mordechay Gottlieb "Zochreinu (video)







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Sep 27, 2016

kosher food in the United Nations?

After Danny Danon got the United Nations last year to recognize Yom Kippur as an official UN holiday, Danon is working to make the UN more Jew, or Israel, friendly.

Danon has sent a letter to Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, saying that despite the numerous Jews working in various capacities in the United Nations and Jewish diplomats from various nations, there is no kosher food to be found in the United Nations cafeteria. All citizens of the world should feel desired in the UN.

In addition, Danon also requested that the UN give approval to more than just the one kosher caterer it approves of for catering kosher events within the UN complex. Because there is only 1 approved caterer, costs of catering kosher events cost the Israeli delegation 40% more than other [non-kosher] caterers in the complex. More approved caterers will mean cheaper prices.
source: Ladaat

Good for Danon. I have no idea how many people go through the UN that would benefit from this, but if he is helping any Jew keep kosher while at work there, that is a good thing.

Who knows? soon the UN might actually be a Jew-friendly organization!





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Yom Hadin for Egged driver

A short while ago an Egged bus driver was caught on camera berating a Haredi soldier who was a passenger on the bus. The driver was rude and was cursing the passenger. This soldier serves in the media department under the Galei Tzahal broadcasting station, and was carrying a permit to wear civilian clothes rather than an army uniform, and still travel via public transportation with the benefits of a soldier rather than as a civilian.

The driver though tthe soldier, who appeared as a civilian, had not paid and called him out for it. The soldier showed him his permit to wear civilian clothes and still ride for free. The driver began cursing him, while the soldier pulled out a camera and recorded him.

After the report was initially publicized, Egged said they would investigate and the driver would undergo a disciplinary process.

Today Egged announced that the driver has been fired.
source: Haredim10

Nowadays, with everyone carrying cameras and video cameras and recorders in their pockets, people would be wise to, at least in public, act more like decent human beings and remember that they could be recorded without even knowing it. this guy in particular seems to have been such an idiot that he even knew he was being recorded but acted as he did.

It is also a stark reminder, right before our judgement day, that there is always Someone recording us and ready to play back our deeds, probably at the worst possible time and when we would like it the least...





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Picture of the Day



Naftali Bennet, Minister of Ecuation, brought education ministers from the OECD to see Yeshivat Chevron in Jerusalem. Bennet explained to them what they were seeing, what yeshiva is all about, and said that it isn't matriculation exams or core curriculum, as important as they are, but the torah learning that makes us unique as a nation.



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