Tag: Jewish

Jewish ‘Valentine’s Day’ Finds ancient roots in Biblical Shiloh

Photo credit: Miriam Bunimovich/ Tazpit News Agency.

Aryeh Savir By Anav Silverman

Tazpit News Agency

Over 3,000 years ago, an ancient Jewish holiday was celebrated by the maidens of Israel. Dressed in white, the daughters of Israel would dance in the vineyards where men would choose them as their wives on the Fifteenth of Av, known as Tu B’Av. Soon-to-be brides would dance in the community of Shiloh in Samaria, the temporary capital of Israel before the first Temple was built in Jerusalem. The holiday celebrates many happy events that happened during this time in the course of Jewish history, some which were associated with the Temple in Jerusalem. “Tu B’Av , however, has a much deeper significance than just an Israeli Valentine’s Day,” according to Tamar Asraf, the spokeswoman of the Binyamin Council. “In the very beginning, this ancient holiday was more of a local custom than a national one,” Asraf told Tazpit News Agency. “The holiday gained national significance when members of the Benjamin tribe who were forbidden to marry outside the tribe following the Pilegesh B’Givah incident and the Civil War that ensued, were once again allowed to marry into the the nation on the fifteenth of Av during the period of Judges.” “This is a holiday that signifies not only love, but marriage and the continuation of the Jewish home during times of crisis and challenge in the history of our people,” said Asraf. The Mishnah explains that “there were no holidays so joyous for the Jewish People as the Fifteenth of Av and Yom HaKippurim, for on those days, daughters of Jerusalem would go out dressed in borrowed white clothing…so as not to embarrass those who didn’t have.” Tu B’Av was instituted in the Second Temple period to mark the beginning of the grape harvest which ended on Yom Kippur. Following the establishment of the modern state of Israel, Tu B’Av was revived as a national holiday celebrated across the country. In the modern day community of Shiloh, located in the Binyamin region, about 30 minutes north of Jerusalem, Tu B’Av’s historical and traditional elements play a central role in celebrations. For the past four years, the Regional Council and Binyamin Tourism have hosted an annual Tu B’Av “Dancing in the Vineyards Festival” which features Jewish dance and music for women. Live concerts, dance workshops and of course the traditional dancing in the vineyards of Shiloh are some of the main features of the evening set near the remnants of the biblical Shiloh city.

A US Congressman warns the world of a second Holocaust, the slaughter of Jewish people

Congressman Allen West, a Republican from the state of Florida, has warned that the state of Israel could become the site of a second Jewish Holocaust if the United States does not take further actions to protect the Jewish state against Iran. West, who is a veteran of the Iraq War, also warned that the current political turmoil in the Middle East could lead to a number of Arab and or Islamic states engaging Israel in a full blown Middle Eastern war.

Congressman West said that creation of a Hamas led Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders is the most egregious foreign policy decision that’s ever been made and could lead to the beginning of the end for the Jewish state of Israel.

A warning from a United States Congressman that Israel could face the beginning of the end for the Jewish state and a second Holocaust is a page out of Bible prophecy for the last days.

United States Congressman Allen West, from the state of Florida, has issued a warning to the world that Israel could be in danger of a second Holocaust. This warning from West is based on the foreign policy decision of the present United States Administration and what seems to be a lack of support for Israel in its position in the Middle East. Iran has made numerous threats to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Israel retreating to the pre-1967 borders would only enhance the Palestinian terror organization Hamas in their plan to use armed resistance to eliminate a Jewish state from the Middle East.

Does the yarmulke make the man?


If you are looking for a sure sign that the Jewish people are as divided as ever, you need look no further than the top of men’s heads.

Walking down a street in Jerusalem, it is hard not to notice the multiplicity of shapes, colors and sizes of skullcaps, or kippot, that adorn the domes of religious Jewish men.

Popularly known by the Yiddish term “yarmulke,” which is said to be a contraction of “yerei malka,” two Aramaic words that mean “fear of the King,” this article of faith and clothing has rapidly taken on levels of meaning more dizzying than the variety in which it comes.

To the astute observer, a quick glance at the type and location of a person’s yarmulke can provide a wealth of general information about the wearer.

A small, knitted yarmulke perched precariously at the top of the head is usually indicative of a more modern Orthodox Jew, while the large, soup-bowl type is generally preferred by right-wing religious Zionists associated with yeshivas such as Mercaz HaRav.

Black velvet is the choice of many haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews, though where it is placed and whether it has a rim or not can speak volumes about its owner.

Suede is said to be the most neutral, as long as it is black or navy blue. Any other color will immediately stand out, suggesting a more liberal adherence to Jewish law.

And the decision to use clips or pins to hold the yarmulke in place is rife with symbolism, as many in the yeshiva world view it as a sign that a person is more “modern” in their outlook.

Indeed, what ornithology is to birds and cosmology is to the universe, the study of yarmulkes – which I refer to as “yarmuthology” – is to the Jewish world.

A story of identity that keeps on giving for one LA executive

By Anav Silverman
Tazpit News Agency
Photo Credit: Amotz Eyal, Tazpit News Agency

Nine years ago, Traci Szymanski participated in a Birthright Israel (Taglit) trip that would forever change her perspective on the Jewish state. “I grew up always saying I was half and half, or nothing,” she told Tazpit News Agency. “My mom is Jewish and my dad is Catholic, and until I visited Israel with Taglit, I was never exactly certain how to describe my identity.”

Her first trip to Israel on the ten-day Birthright program as a 26-year-old changed all that; sparking an interest and forging a connection with a country that made her feel that she was part of a “greater community.”
“Thanks to that trip, I realized how central Israel is to my sense of identity and it made me reconnect to Judaism.”
So much so that Szymanski, who is an executive in the entertainment industry based out of Lost Angeles, has been working since then to change the way young people perceive Israel. Her work in the entertainment industry in LA has allowed her to promote Israel through pop culture in a variety of projects ranging from indie and documentary films to organizing celebrity trips to the country. Working with the likes of Madonna and Demi Moore, Szymanski realized that drawing celebrities to Israel would help change the mainstream perspective of the country.

Blood libel Palestinian myth


Because land on which most settlements are built is not agriculturally useful, Arabs did not claim ownership until recently. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s assertion that Jews would not be allowed to build on private Palestinian land is a long-standing policy endorsed by Israeli governments and the judicial system.

The question, however, is what constitutes “private Palestinian land” and who decides what is and what is not private Palestinian land? If it is true that Jews are stealing land, this violates Jewish and Israeli laws and values and justifies calls for boycotts, sanctions and even the elimination of the state, since it applies to areas acquired after 1948 as well as in 1967. A devastating moral and legal indictment, it would undermine Israel’s moral foundation, its raison d’etre.

Promoted by Arab propagandists and their supporters, politicians, academics, media and anti-Israel NGOs, this theory has also been adopted by Israelis, including prominent judicial figures who give it legitimacy. A poisoned narrative based on ignorance and/or misunderstanding, it is a lie.

South Sudan is a Jewish cause

by Ben Cohen

The great Jewish historian, Salo W. Baron, famously criticized the “lachrymose” conception of Jewish history, by which he meant the reduction of the Jewish experience to a series of gory persecutions. This view of the Jewish past often colors our sense of the Jewish present, with the result that we see ourselves as having few friends, or even none at all, in a hostile world which resents the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty after centuries when Jews were at the mercy of others.

Thinking this way can be dangerous. I say this not because I make light of the threat posed to Israel by Iran, say, or because I don’t regard anti-Semitism in Europe and in the Islamic world as a major problem. I say this because we shouldn’t allow the fixations of enemies to divert us from the reality that we do have friends—and that we owe these friends our support when they fall upon dark times.

This week, the Islamist regime that has ruled Sudan since coming to power through a military coup in 1989 declared a new war against the neighboring state of South Sudan. The newest member of the United Nations, South Sudan declared its independence in July 2011, following a referendum in which almost 100 per cent of participants opted to separate from the predominantly Arab and Muslim north. For nearly 30 years, Sudan waged a brutal war against the largely Christian, African south, in which around 2 million people lost their lives.

The Commandment of Counting

by Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller

Counting the Omer teaches us mindfulness, and opens our hearts to the power of stories.

The commandment to count the omer is one of the more curious prescriptions of the Torah. We are told to count the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot even though, of course, the number of days never changes. Therefore, it is very much an effort in which the process is in and of itself a value.

The word for “number” in Hebrew is mispar. Its root is closely related to the word for “story” ― sipur. What is the relationship between the two?

A collection of events becomes a story ― as opposed to a random anthology of events ― when there is a beginning in which the characters are introduced, a middle in which conflict takes place, and an end in which there is resolution.

Our lives flow by so quickly that we frequently lose awareness of the awesome power of our own stories. The metamorphosis of today into tomorrow is subtle enough for us to lose consciousness of beginnings and ends.

Shabbat, Blessing the children

Blessing the Children by Mrs. Lori Palatnik

A magic, eternal moment of connection for parents and children.

It is a beautiful custom to bless your children every Friday night; it’s a moment filled with love and meaning, especially when you understand the source behind such a tradition.

The Blessing for Sons

One of the Fathers of the Jewish people was Jacob, who had 12 sons who were to grow to become the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel. The next-to-youngest son was Joseph, who had two sons, Ephraim and Menashe.

Just before Jacob died, he called all his sons for a final blessing. As a special reward to Joseph, who remained righteous throughout his ordeal of exile, he calls forward Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Menashe, and gives them a special blessing, as well as two portions of the Land of Israel:

Every hour another Holocaust survivor dies

This Thursday Israel will mark its annual Holocaust Memorial Day, a solemn remembrance of the 6 million Jews who perished in Nazi-controlled Europe.

Sirens will wail throughout the country and public life will come to a standstill for two minutes in honor of the victims. Israel Radio will talk about the importance of not forgetting the horrible past. But soon enough, it will be very difficult for most not to do so.

There are still 198,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel, but every hour another one of them dies. In 20 years’ time, no eye witness to that horrific chapter in human history will be left.

Today, Holocaust survivors talk to school children, students and soldiers to let them know their story first hand, a powerful means of conveying the message that something like this must never happen again. That is especially true in a time and region where Israel’s enemies don’t take the history of the Second World War seriously and even deny it for political gain.

CTB issues Passover travel advisories

Counter Terrorism Bureau warns Iran, Hezbollah may use coming holiday to mount terror attacks against Israelis traveling abroad
Yoav Zitun

The Counter Terrorism Bureau (CTB) issued Wednesday renewed travel advisories to various destinations worldwide, prompted by the recent terror attacked on Israeli targets in India, Georgia, Thailand and the deadly attack on the Jewish school in Toulouse.

A top CTB source told Ynet that alerts suggesting Iran and Hezbollah will try to target Israelis worldwide have become more frequent. “It’s important to us to make clear that this reflects accurate intelligence leads – this isn’t an attempt to simply cover our basis. Some advisories have been known to foil potential terror attacks,” he said.

CTB experts said that given the failed attempts to seriously harm Israelis in Baku, New Delhi and Bangkok, it was likely that terror groups will now aim for “softer” targets, such as Israeli tourists, or known tourist hubs abroad.

The CTB also issued an imminent-threat advisory pertaining to Sinai and Turkey – which are still in effect.