Israellycool » Judaism http://www.israellycool.com Down Under Punditry in the Middle East Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:41:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 World’s Worst Bar Mitzvah Video Invitation http://www.israellycool.com/2015/03/05/worlds-worst-bar-mitzvah-video-invitation/ http://www.israellycool.com/2015/03/05/worlds-worst-bar-mitzvah-video-invitation/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 19:35:30 +0000 http://www.israellycool.com/?p=74454 The JC ask if this is the best, or worst, Bar Mitzvah video invitation ever.

Um, worst. And it’s not even close.

Warning: The level of cringenworthiness escalates from 2:47. You’ve been warned!

Update: Almost a man vs half a man

barmizvah boykid from two and a half men

]]>
http://www.israellycool.com/2015/03/05/worlds-worst-bar-mitzvah-video-invitation/feed/ 7
The Islam and Judaism Expert http://www.israellycool.com/2015/02/20/the-islam-and-judaism-expert/ http://www.israellycool.com/2015/02/20/the-islam-and-judaism-expert/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 09:23:53 +0000 http://www.israellycool.com/?p=73903 Anti-Israel blogger Richard Silverstein really does serve up some soft balls.

Regarding his knowledge of Islam, Silverstein wrote the following in his recent piece:

http://www.richardsilverstein.com/2015/02/18/french-media-documents-israeli-reporters-fraudulent-paris-walk-on-muslim-wild-side/

In fact, the hijab is legally prohibited in France. A French reader who walks in Paris daily says the last time she saw anyone wearing a hijab was months ago.

Yeah, about that

Even Silverstein’s devoted commenters point this out to him.

silverstein blog comment 2

silverstein blog comment 1

But it’s hardly surprising that Silverstein’s knowledge of Islam would be found to be lacking, given his level of knowledge on “Israel & Judaism.”

Yes, I know it’s too easy. But it’s also too much fun to discredit such a pathological hater of Israel.

]]>
http://www.israellycool.com/2015/02/20/the-islam-and-judaism-expert/feed/ 14
Michael Douglas, The Genesis Of A Prize http://www.israellycool.com/2015/01/15/michael-douglas-the-genesis-of-a-prize/ http://www.israellycool.com/2015/01/15/michael-douglas-the-genesis-of-a-prize/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 18:44:36 +0000 http://www.israellycool.com/?p=72232 Mazal tov to Michael Douglas for being awarded the $1 million Genesis Prize award for his efforts to promote Jewish culture.

Michael-DouglasActor Michael Douglas has been awarded the $1 million Genesis Prize award, popularly dubbed the “Jewish Nobel Prize,” for his efforts to promote Jewish culture.

The Genesis Prize Foundation said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will present the award at a ceremony in Jerusalem this summer to the “actor, producer and peace activist.”

The prize was inaugurated last year in a partnership between the Israeli prime minister’s office, the Genesis Philanthropy Group and the chairman’s office of the Jewish Agency, a nonprofit group with close ties to the Israeli government.

It is awarded to an individual with a commitment to Jewish values, the Jewish community and the state of Israel.

Genesis chairman Stan Polovets said in a statement issued Wednesday that Douglas was being honored “both for his professional achievements and for his passion for his Jewish heritage and the Jewish state.”

Douglas’ father, actor Kirk Douglas, is Jewish, and Michael Douglas has embraced his Jewish ancestry and supports Jewish causes. He traveled to Israel last year with his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, to celebrate the bar mitzvah of their son Dylan. The foundation praised the family’s “inclusive approach for Jews of diverse backgrounds.”

When hearing about Douglas being awarded this, my basic, instinctive reaction was “What has he done for the Jewish people?” And I’m still not entirely sure.

Travelling to Israel? If we all received $1 million for that, we’d be able to afford to live here. Almost.

Embracing his Jewish ancestry? It might lead to dancing.

I’m guessing it has something to do with his support of Jewish causes, and I suspect he has given away more than $1 million to them.

That means he probably had a leg up on other contenders. Which might make this award a rather cunning one.

]]>
http://www.israellycool.com/2015/01/15/michael-douglas-the-genesis-of-a-prize/feed/ 4
Cameron And Benji’s Big Fat Jewish Wedding http://www.israellycool.com/2015/01/07/cameron-and-benjis-big-fat-jewish-wedding/ http://www.israellycool.com/2015/01/07/cameron-and-benjis-big-fat-jewish-wedding/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 07:19:04 +0000 http://www.israellycool.com/?p=71803 On Monday, actress Cameron Diaz married rocker Benji Madden.

In a Jewish ceremony, despite there being no evidence either of them are of the faith.

cameron-diaz-benji-maddenBenji’s bride! As previously reported, Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden made things official on Monday, Jan. 5, tying the knot at the Annie star’s Beverly Hills pad.

Prior to the ceremony, the couple got ready in separate rooms — with Diaz, 42, and her bridesmaids Nicole Richie (her new sister-in-law!), Drew Barrymore, her older sister Chimene Cain, and Diaz’s assistant Jesse Lutz getting their makeup done by Lona Vigi. Madden, 35, and his groomsmen Josh and Joel Madden changed into their black tuxes. Madden gave his bride a special note that she received just before the vows.

The event, which was planned by Yifat Oren and Stefanie Cove, featured a Jewish ceremony on a stage set up inside of Diaz’s home. The bridesmaids wore black dresses and carried white bouquets, entering the room to a Ryan Adams song. See photos of Diaz’s gorgeous engagement ring.

Benji’s nephew Sparrow Madden, the 5-year-old son of Nicole Richie and Joel Madden, was the couple’s ring bearer. Diaz entered to “Stardust” by Nat King Cole. She wore a gown with a low-cut back and lots of sparkle.

An officiant presided over the service, reading the seven blessings for the couple. When the time came for the pair to exchange rings, Benji accidentally dropped his, and the 100 guests laughed along with the bridal party. To seal the deal — as is custom in a Jewish ceremony — Madden stepped on and broke a glass as the crowd shouted, “Mazel Tov!”

“It was a beautiful, heartfelt ceremony,” a source told Us Weekly.

After the vows, Madden requested personal time with Diaz, during which they entered a private room for about 30 minutes, asking not to be disturbed — a Jewish wedding ritual known as Yichud.

I should add that Yichud is typically only performed in Orthodox Jewish ceremonies. So at least from that point of view, the ceremony was hardcore…Jewish.

But this is mind-boggling, since there is absolutely no evidence that either Diaz or Madden are Jewish. Which begs the obvious question.

The Jewish Journal speculates:

One possible clue to a solution could lie in Madden’s middle name, which, according to his Wikipedia page, is Levi. Perhaps there is some kind of conversion or interest that the tabloids have missed there.

The other possible phenomenon at work is the Jewish wedding’s transformation into a chic cultural statement.

For the first time in the history of America, Jewishness — and not just the bagels-and-lox part — is aspirational. There’s a Seder in the White House, and rabbis gave the invocation at the conventions of both major political parties … Ralph Lauren built an empire giving us all WASP anxiety; now the WASPs want to be Jews.

The truth behind the Diaz-Madden wedding may turn out to be more straightforward, but having a Jewish wedding — even if the couple isn’t Jewish — might just be the next trend in Hollywood.

Oy vey.

]]>
http://www.israellycool.com/2015/01/07/cameron-and-benjis-big-fat-jewish-wedding/feed/ 8
Photo of the Day: Sigd Selfie http://www.israellycool.com/2014/11/21/photo-of-the-day-sigd-selfie/ http://www.israellycool.com/2014/11/21/photo-of-the-day-sigd-selfie/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 22:09:11 +0000 http://www.israellycool.com/?p=70066 For centuries in Ethiopia, 50 days after Yom Kippur, Kessim, spiritual leaders would go to a high mountain top to pray and yearn to return to Jerusalem.

Today, thousands and thousands of Ethiopians celebrated Sigd on the Haas Promenade, Armon Hanativ in Jerusalem, Israel.

image Amharic writing

Under  the welcome banner with Amharic greeting, sat Kessim and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin with one of the best views of The Old City behind them.

image Old City Jerusalem selfie

Could anyone a few years ago imagine, taking a selfie with the Old City?

Today there were thousands, this is just one for photo of the day.

]]>
http://www.israellycool.com/2014/11/21/photo-of-the-day-sigd-selfie/feed/ 2
Reader Post: Halloween + Shabbat = Fun For Someone http://www.israellycool.com/2014/10/31/reader-post-halloween-shabbat-fun-for-someone/ http://www.israellycool.com/2014/10/31/reader-post-halloween-shabbat-fun-for-someone/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 06:23:36 +0000 http://www.israellycool.com/?p=69006 Picture credit: Jewbellish.com

Picture credit: Jewbellish.com

This year, Halloween comes on a Friday. Shabbat starts on Friday evening. This is an overlap that is sure to irk some, amuse others, and cause confusion in some parts of the world. In areas where there are few or no Jews, hey, it’s no problem. In areas where everyone is an observant Jews (such as Mea Shearim), it’s also no problem. In places where there are no Jews AND no one celebrating Halloween (i.e., Afghanistan) there is no certainly no problem. But everywhere else, where there is an overlap of Jews observing the holy Sabbath (or at least trying to observe it) and a lot of other people who want access to free candy and snacks, opportunities for dressing absurdly and perpetrating mischief of varying levels, well, there is bound to be some trouble.

I live in Brooklyn, New York and I know there will be neighborhoods such as Marine Park and Williamsburg and Mill Basin, where there will be clumps of kids and teens stumbling around, clad in costumes and clutching bags of swag (in this case, chocolates, licorice and chips). Also in the area, and perhaps side-by-side, will be nattily dressed youngsters (mostly male) and adults (also mostly male) doing their best to avoid or seem to be above this petty begging for nosh coupled with outrageous clothing.

There will be trick-or-treaters who ignore the Orthodox (and secretly thank them for not competing for the best candies) and others who will laugh at them for not getting in on the trail of sweets. There will be trick-or-treaters who pity the pious Jewish kids and adults for not indulging in the great American pursuit of scoring and eating massive quantities of junk food. And there might be hell’s night participants who pelt the Orthodox Jews with eggs and shaving cream and the less desirable candy (such as peppermint sucking candies).

There will be observant Jews who turn up their noses at any and every foolish costumed child and adult, as well as at the caloric, salt laden snacks that probably aren’t kosher, even if they are. There will be observant Jews who secretly pine for the chazerei and the funny clothes and the garish house decorations, because they are reminiscent of Purim, or because…they sure do look like fun. There will be some Observants Jews who fear this holiday and especially this night, because it may result in vandalism, bruising and exposure to goyishe culture of the most frightening kind. And there will be a few rebellious observant Jews who slip out after kiddush, to walk the streets and score a few choice treats to eat.

Is there any spiritual link we can find that binds together Halloween and Shabbat, or are they just two polar opposites? Is there any common ground between a silly, over-commercialized (more or less) secular holiday that celebrates snack food, showing off your ridiculous clothes and fake spiderwebs in the front yard, and honors ghoulish themes and monster motifs– and a Torah-true celebration of the day of rest, mandated by mitzvot and tradition, and rich with prayer, singing and hearty food?

Will October 31, 2014 be a day of oil and water mixed together, or will it be a bizarre mixture of competing cultures? And perhaps most difficult but intriguing, can you engage in Halloween AND Shabbat? Social historians and journalists, get ready to document this rare day. And good luck.

]]>
http://www.israellycool.com/2014/10/31/reader-post-halloween-shabbat-fun-for-someone/feed/ 6
Yehuda Glick: The Man Who Would Not Submit http://www.israellycool.com/2014/10/30/yehuda-glick-the-man-who-would-not-submit/ http://www.israellycool.com/2014/10/30/yehuda-glick-the-man-who-would-not-submit/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:36:13 +0000 http://www.israellycool.com/?p=68979 Yehuda Glick, who lies on a hospital bed in critical condition, in mortal danger after being shot in the chest and stomach 3 times, point blank, has been labeled an “agitator” by the New York Times in its coverage of the incident.

ag·i·ta·tor noun \ˈa-jə-ˌtā-tər\

: a person who tries to get people angry or upset so that they will support an effort to change a government, company, etc.

: a device for stirring or shaking something in a machine (such as a washing machine)

Why is he an “agitator” according to Isabel Kershner and Rick Gladstone? Because he “has pushed for more Jewish access and rights” to the Temple Mount, the holiest site of the Jewish people. This was the spot where Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice and it’s the place where the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, prayed on behalf of the nation of Israel on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, each year. Jewish liturgy is well-saturated with references to the Mount.

But Kershner and Gladstone in their opening statement editorialize and damn Glick as someone whose only motive is to upset people, in this case, Arabs, rather than offering their readers the truth, which probably would not be as interesting. The truth is that Yehuda Glick has worked hard to raise awareness of the denial of religious freedom to Jews in Israel: the denial of Jewish access to the Temple Mount, the holiest Jewish site, and the denial of the right to Jewish prayer in this spot on the rare occasion that Jews are permitted to ascend to the mount.

The New York Times writers refer to the Temple Mount as a “hotly contested” religious site, which is a half-truth. The Mount itself has no religious significance for Muslims. The only reason the site is now holy to Muslims is that they built a mosque there, in a place they know is holy to the Jews.

Islam, you see, means “submission.”  The main focus of all Muslims is to cause the other nations and religions to submit to Allah: to their god alone. For them, building a mosque on top of the Jews’ holiest site makes a statement that Islam is superior to Judaism and that the Jews must submit to Allah, to Muslims, to make way for the Muslim Caliphate, the Umma.

Having built a mosque there, the Muslims say that the site is now holy to Islam, to Allah. By the same token, they attempted to build a mosque at Ground Zero so as to dedicate the spot to Allah.

For the same reason, Bob Bergdahl claimed the White House as sacred territory for Islam.

Having conquered the Western Wall and the site of the Temple Mount at the time of the Six-Day War, in a defensive war, Moshe Dayan turned around and gave the site BACK to the Muslim Authority, the Wakf, saying, “We don’t need a Vatican.”

In my opinion, this is the greatest sin of our generation. This is the Jews’ holiest site. By no means should Islam, which postdates Judaism, reign supreme over a Jewish holy site.

The Muslims do not allow the Jews to pray on the Mount. They pay people to throw things (stones, shoes, firecrackers) and yell at Jews who attempt to ascend to the Mount.

During the years 1948-1967, Jews could not even pray at the retaining wall of the Temple, the Western Wall, because Jordan had attacked Israel along with 6 other armies and stolen the Jews’ rightful property. And after 1967, and until NOW, Jews are severely restricted from visiting the site and when they are allowed up on the Mount, they cannot even give the appearance of praying, by moving their lips, or they are arrested by the Israeli police.

The Muslims reign supreme over the Jews’ holiest site. Moshe Dayan made this happen and now this is our reality.

Yehuda Glick, on the other hand, is asking only for freedom of religion to be applied to the locus of the Temple Mount, which is situated within the ONLY democracy in the Middle East, in the Jewish State, where one would think a Jew could visit his holy site and pray!

But no. That’s not the way it is. The Muslims want supremacy and Kershner and Gladstone want to give it to them. The two writers tie the shooting of Glick to an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council requested by “Palestinian” and Jordanian diplomats, to address the “religious strife and growing anger over Israeli housing expansions in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians regard as the capital of a future state.”

So let’s take that sentence apart, shall we?

“Religious strife” refers to the fact that Muslims want to reign supreme over a Jewish holy site and the Jews will not submit to the Umma. Yehuda Glick is trying to raise awareness of this issue: that Jews are not allowed to pray on the Temple Mount and most of the time, are not allowed access to this holy site. This causes “growing anger” for the Muslims who think the Jews have a chutzpa not to submit to Allah and Islam, which after all, means, yeah: SUBMISSION.

By the same token, Jews building homes in East Jerusalem, referred to here as “Israeli housing expansions” is seen as a refusal to submit to Islam, to Allah, which “the Palestinians regard as the capital of a future state.” This means the Muslims want Jerusalem to be part of their Caliphate. They want to claim this territory for Islam, for the Umma.

Did you know: the word “Jerusalem” does not once appear in the Koran?

It would be the ultimate triumph to declare the Jews’ holiest city as the capital of the Muslim Umma, the caliphate.

Israel, which regards all of Jerusalem as its capital, has faced intense criticism over the housing expansions, including from its most important ally, the United States, which has described theses housing projects as illegitimate obstructions to an any hope for a peaceful solution to the longstanding Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

No. Israel does not “regard” Jerusalem as its capital. Jerusalem IS Israel’s capital.

This is a fact.

The United States and other countries don’t recognize this as a fact because it makes the Muslims very, very angry. It makes the Muslims angry because they want to reign supreme over the Jews. The Muslims are loud and violent. Their brethren have power, oil, wealth, and weapons.

And the Jews are not beloved by the world.

Nevertheless, whether or not you like the Jews, building homes poses no obstruction to peace and this is a nonsensical idea. Should anyone disagree with me, they have only to look at what happened with the Disengagement in which 8,500 Jews were expelled from their homes by Israel, who then destroyed their homes, and gave the territory over to Arab control. Homes were not an obstacle to Disengagement.

settlement freeze

Homes are not an obstacle to peace.

It’s a dumb, dumb, dumb diddlyum idea. They can shout it from the White House. They can shout it from Parliament. They can trumpet it in the UN and splash it across the front pages of news sites and still:

Building homes does not and will not obstruct peace.

Period.

It sure sounds good, though. You have to admit that, otherwise, people would not be still be positing this ridiculous idea so many years later, ad infinitum.

It makes no sense.

Okay, so moving right along, in answer to those who say that Jews should not be walking on the Temple Mount anyway, because of its special holiness or because no one knows for sure where the Holy of Holies is, a place where only a High Priest may stand, I say this:

I personally would not ascend to the Temple Mount. That doesn’t mean, however, that a Jew who wants to ascend to the Temple Mount and pray there, should not be able to do so.

It’s an issue not of agitation but of religious freedom. Jews have a right to ascend to their holiest site. They have a right to pray there. And tough tootsies if the Muslims don’t like it, you know? Tough tootsies if it insults them: how dare anyone not be Muslim?

This is not the way of a democracy and like it or not (and sometimes I don’t!), Israel IS A DEMOCRACY.

But Kershner and Gladstone rewrite the facts. They write:

“Mr. Glick, widely viewed as a provocative figure who has exacerbated tensions between Muslims and Jews .  .  . ”

“Provocative” for working for religious freedom in the democratic State of Israel? “Exacerbating tensions” because he dares to say that Allah will not reign supreme over the Jews? Provoking Muslims and making them angry because Jews dare to refuse Mohammed as their prophet?

The really funny thing about the assertion that Glick is an agitator is that he has actively worked for religious tolerance and not just for Jewish rights. He not only does not incite, he strives for peace and harmony between Muslims and Jews. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

Yehuda Glick made a gunman angry because he tried to tell the Jews that they need to fight for their religious freedoms in the city that is holy to Jews and not to Muslims. He made a gunman angry because he tried to tell the Jews that appeasement only emboldens the enemy, the Arabs who want to drive the Jews out of their holy places so they might take possession of them themselves. He made a man angry because he dared to say out loud and proud that he would not give the Arabs everything they want just because they want it so bad they will shoot someone who stands between them and the prize, the jewel in the crown of the Jewish people, the Temple Mount, which stands in the city mentioned HUNDREDS of time in the Torah, and not once in the Koran.

Jerusalem.

Please pray for Yehuda Yehoshua Ben Ita Bryna. יהודה יהושוע בן איטה בריינה

]]>
http://www.israellycool.com/2014/10/30/yehuda-glick-the-man-who-would-not-submit/feed/ 21
Christian Bales On Intelligence http://www.israellycool.com/2014/10/26/christian-bales-on-intelligence/ http://www.israellycool.com/2014/10/26/christian-bales-on-intelligence/#comments Sun, 26 Oct 2014 15:12:30 +0000 http://www.israellycool.com/?p=68818 So here’s the deal. In the Superheroes realm, Wonder Woman and Superman are good people, the Hulk an appeaser of evil, and Hercules somewhat conflicted.

As for Batman, he’s a mixture of woefully naive, and hellishly jerk-ish.

Actor Christian Bale, who plays Moses in the upcoming movie ”Exodus: Gods and Kings,” doesn’t appear  to be a fan of the biblical figure he’s portraying.

“I think the man was likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life,” Bale said regarding Moses to international reporters last month in Los Angeles.

I’m guessing Bale hasn’t done a lot of reading outside of scripts.

Insulting perhaps the greatest Jew who ever lived will certainly not hurt his career, and there will be no consequences. But imagine for a second he had made that statement about the prophet of another, certain religion. From Batman to Fatwa.

Not that we should take seriously his opinion on someone else’s mental stability (language warning)

]]>
http://www.israellycool.com/2014/10/26/christian-bales-on-intelligence/feed/ 5
Rain In Israel Proves Jews And Judaism Are Indigenous http://www.israellycool.com/2014/10/19/rain-in-israel-proves-jews-and-judaism-are-indigenous/ http://www.israellycool.com/2014/10/19/rain-in-israel-proves-jews-and-judaism-are-indigenous/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 10:05:11 +0000 http://www.israellycool.com/?p=68553 Do you think that headline is a bit of a stretch? I don’t. I had no idea about this phenomenon before I came to live in Israel but, having just concluded my fifth Sukkoth here in Israel, I’ve made a personal observation about the weather and the climate here in the Holy Land.

For outsiders the defining feature of Sukkoth is that Jews build a Sukkah: temporary, flimsy structures built on any available surface near their homes and then they eat all meals in them for 7 days. Christians call these “tabernacles” and Sukkoth is the Feast of the Tabernacles. In fact, if one follows Facebook pages where moderately observant Jews look for trips to make with their family, a constant theme is people asking if there is a Sukkah to eat in at their destination. Most coffee shops and restaurants (that are vaguely Kosher) and nearly all the parks and tourist attractions build these to accommodate visitors that want to eat all their meals in one.

Sukkah and flag Tel Aviv - Photo: Brian of London

Sukkah and flag Tel Aviv – Photo: Brian of London

For the first time in my life, this year, I built a Sukkah with my kids. In days gone by I would have made it from 2×4’s and some bed sheets but these days you swing by the Home Centre (like Home Depot but four times the price) and pick up a kit. I bought a 2m x 2m kit (6’ 6” for those of you still living in imperial lands). Of course they’d run out of the appropriate 2m long bamboo poles for the roof so I took 3m ones. Which don’t fit in a standard apartment elevator. So I had to walk up to the 7th floor with those.

But all of this is a personal preamble, why does rain prove Judaism’s connection to the Land of Israel? Ryan Bellerose, our resident Native American, non-Jewish expert on Indigenous peoples has explained how you work out who is indigenous to a piece of land. Two of the criteria he speaks of are:

  • Culture in general, or in specific manifestations (such as religion, living under a tribal system, membership of an indigenous community, dress, means of livelihood, lifestyle, etc.)
  • Religion that places importance on spiritual ties to the ancestral lands

All Jewish festivals are timed with reference to the moon in Israel. There is a further, very important, timing shift involving a “leap month” that keeps Jewish festivals locked to an annual cycle. This is what makes Jewish holidays stay fixed in their time of the year while the strictly lunar calendar that marks out Islamic festivals is not synchronised to the year: their holidays like Ramadan can be found moving all around the Gregorian calendar from year to year.

Jewish festivals therefore move back and forth with reference to the Gregorian calendar, but they are synchronised with the seasons. I’ll go further: they are synchronised to an astonishing degree with the seasons in one part of the world: Israel and only Israel.

Sukkoth (as it is written in Leviticus) occurs “when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep a feast to the lord seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath.”

During these past millennia when large populations of Jews lived in exile all over the world, they observed all the festivals with reference to the moon in Israel. Those Jews who remained continuously in Israel made these important astronomical observations and sent word out around the world (yes, we did not all leave and have almost always been a majority in Jerusalem and elsewhere).

To this day Jewish communities around the world still observe two day holidays while Jews in Israel observe a single day. This stems from communication delays when trying to determine the precise day on which the observable moon in Israel marks a festival. I’m not sure why, in the days of modern communication and astonishing accuracy of predicting astronomical events, this still occurs. However it is rather handy having two nights, think about two Christmas days, one for each set of in-laws, to solve familial arguments.

The upshot of this is that Jews in South Africa or Australia are observing Sukkoth at completely the “wrong” time of the year for their location. They’re at the beginning of summer, not the end of the harvest. But they are marking an event thousands of miles away in the ancestral home of Judaism.

Growing up in London, my family didn’t really observe Sukkoth. But as it usually falls toward the end of September and into October (as this year) it had usually turned cold and rainy there long before. Not conducive to eating all one’s meals al-fresco.

Anyone who knows Israel knows from around the middle of April (Pessach or Passover) Israel starts to get hot and keeps getting hotter. There is almost never any significant rain during the summer. As we arrive at the series of holidays that begins with Rosh Hashona (the Jewish New Year) and takes us through Yom Kippur and to Sukkoth, the weather starts to turn. The mornings feel fresher and cooler and clouds appear again in the skies.

This change in the weather happens far more reliably linked to the Jewish holidays here than the arbitrary Gregorian Calendar.

And then a funny thing happens when Succoth arrives and observant Jews start trying to sit outside for every meal: it rains! We’ve had four or more months of almost absolutely 100% reliably no-rain weather and the minute we try to sit outside (because lets face it we spend most of the summer indoors with the air-conditioning on) the weather breaks and it rains.

This year was a classic. In the week before Sukkoth there were a couple of dispersed showers but nothing much. More of a warm up than the real gig. As I stood on my balcony building my new Sukkah with my brother in law the clouds darkened and, right on schedule the heavens opened with a thunder and lighting show and a (somewhat brief) torrential downpour on my balcony in Tel Aviv. I even had to hold an umbrella over my BBQ at one point.

Panorama of rain falling during Sukkoth

Panorama of rain falling during Sukkoth

And this made me remember that each of the five years I’ve been here, I’ve been invited to sit in a Sukkah and that was the moment when it rained.

This is a PhD project that needs to be done: track the correlation between first significant rain of the (Jewish) new year in Israel versus the Sukkoth festival. In my limited experience there is a clear correlation but if someone has done the academic work I’d love to see it.

Think of what such a strong correlation would show:

  • A system of marking the calendar that is ancient and was first calculated reliably around 2000 years ago is tied to the weather in Israel;
  • The weather in Israel is reliably predictable with a model that hasn’t changed in thousands of years;
  • This calendar is disproportionately significant for the Land of Israel.

My personal feeling is that the moon and sun are most definitely a massive influence on the climate and weather: our Gregorian calendar is almost completely detached from these two phenomenon and that makes the Gregorian calendar a lousy one against which to measure the seasons in any given year. Why on earth should rainfall in a given Gregorian month match up from year to year?

Modern astronomy (following Galileo Galilei) now knows about the sun’s roughly 11 year cycle: when Jews started to periodically add months to the lunar year to keep things aligned, they fell in with this cycle thousands of years before anyone could have observed it.

The influence of the oceans on the weather is huge and the moon is obviously a huge influence on the oceans. We just have to watch the tides to know that.

Putting this all together, Judaism came up with something astonishing regarding the weather in Israel. Man made climate change hasn’t managed to derail these ancient, pre-computer models!

If you want to acknowledge a religious higher power, you’ll say the Jewish calendar was given to us by God. If you don’t want to believe you’ll just have to see it as yet another amazingly freaky connection between Judaism and the Land of Israel.

Either way, Judaism was written in Israel and Israel is written into Judaism.

Sunset through the rain Sukkoth - Photo: Brian of London

Sunset through the rain Sukkoth – Photo: Brian of London

A couple of extra bits of explanation here and Sukkot is how Dave spells it so I’m adding that at the end to make sure the search engines find it:

Here is an explanation of Sukkoth:

Sukkot is one of the three “pilgrimage” holidays mentioned in the Bible. Together with Pesach and Shavuot, these were the three times of the year that people came to Jerusalem to celebrate. Here are some excerpts from the 23rd chapter of the Book of Leviticus:

“The fifteenth of this seventh month shall be the feast of booths for seven days to the Lord…
…Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month,  when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep a feast to the lord seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of the tree hadar, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick leaved trees, and willows of the brook…
…You shall dwell in booths seven days…that your generations may know that I made the children of Yisra’el to dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt…”

We see that the Torah gives two reasons for the celebration, one agricultural and the other national. Both are ways of celebrating the service of the Lord at the change of seasons, from the summer to the winter.

From Ha’aretz, a long explanation of the history of the Jewish Calendar.

]]>
http://www.israellycool.com/2014/10/19/rain-in-israel-proves-jews-and-judaism-are-indigenous/feed/ 16
“Thursday? That’s Simchat Torah!” http://www.israellycool.com/2014/10/15/thursday-thats-simchat-torah/ http://www.israellycool.com/2014/10/15/thursday-thats-simchat-torah/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 14:42:22 +0000 http://www.israellycool.com/?p=68452 This blog will be on hiatus for the Jewish festival of Simchat Torah, which begins in Israel in a few minutes and lasts until tomorrow evening Israel time.

If it sounds familiar to you, you may just have heard it mentioned in one of the best comedy movies of all time (see 38.25 in the below video)

See you on the flip side.

]]>
http://www.israellycool.com/2014/10/15/thursday-thats-simchat-torah/feed/ 0