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Blog Midrash

j je jew jewi jewis jewish and proud (sometimes)

I don’t know why I think this video is pure genius.

On a different note, I feel a nice amount of Jewish guilt for ignoring blogmidrash for so long. I have been working hard at my new site,


Who do you think of when refugees connected to the Middle Eastern “conflict” are mentioned? The approximately 800,000 Jewish ones from North Africa and the Middle East, of course. Right?

Well, no. The story of the Jews in Arab countries whose lives became increasingly unliveable starting around the founding of the state of Israel in 1948 is little known. So many of them had to flee for their lives. Many were held prisoners, terrible pogroms were acted out against them, until they almost totally cleared out of what became hostile territories for the Jews. Many of whom had lived in those areas for hundreds, maybe thousands of years.

You can read this article by the JTA in order to learn more about the organizations who have taken it upon themselves to document these refugees’ stories.

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So what do you do with 10 year olds when they say things that are not true when they do not understand the gravity of there words?

I live in a small sleepy suburb just West of Boston, MA. It is a bedroom community where the executive elite of Boston reside. It is a wealthy town. It is quiet. It is not usually in the public eye.

Wednesday morning Sudbury caught the attention of most of America. Why would anyone care about this town? Well, 1 street over from my house a man was arrested on account of trying to be a terrorist. I say trying because he attempted to join 3 terrorist organizations that would not let him in. And in a country where a weapon is as easy to buy as alcohol he was not able to buy his semiautomatic rifles he wanted for attacking the local mall.

So … good the Fed caught the man.

Well of course as parents we have been wondering what would come back home from school after such excitement.

We have some neighbors who have moved here from Iran. Lovely people. She is doing research on autistic children and he resigned from his high level job to come support her in the US. They have 2 children and one is in class with my son. So on the way home from school, as the kids rode the bus, another boy (happens to belong to our synagogue) decided to tell those around him that this Iranian boy’s father is a terrorist. We are not sure the boy heard on the bus, however, when they got off at the bus stop a couple of girls decided to inform him that this boy was saying this on the bus. Of course he got quite upset.

In the end my wife called the mother (she did not know anything about it even 2 hours later – he did not tell her) and the principal.

So my thing is this, the boy who is spreading these rumors is Jewish. My kids are Jewish. They are all under 10. How do you teach children about Lashon Hara? My favorite tale is the one of the child who is telling stories is asked to take a pillow of feathers and to run as fast as he can without dropping a feather. The moral of the story is that your words are like the feathers, once they are out of the bag and carried by the wind they are impossible to gather and put back in. It is a good tale but does it work?

What lessons have you encountered on such “soft” topics?


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There is a very cute website which publishes amazing stories that happen in Israel. It’s called, “Only in Israel” and that is a perfect name because people love to say that. When you tell a crazy story because of how unbelievably kind someone was or, sometimes, not so great, often someone will say, “Only in Israel.”

Of course this is often subjective because as you get to know other worlds you find out that things which you thought were Israeli, weren’t necessarily.

But, sometimes it really does seem like an amazing story. This is one of them. This family’s street block was not going to have electricity the day of their daughter’s wedding. It’s deeply touching to see what the electric company did in order to help them. If you’re anything like me, get ready to shed a few tears.

Bride Versus Power

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I admit I was teary-eyed from watching this video. There are two things that are touching about it. First, what a feeling to actually have someone acting outwardly and proactively supportive of Israel. And, I feel so proud to be part of this country, the country that, according to Col. Richard Kemp, made more effort in the Operation Cast Iron in Gaza to protect the civilians of the other side than any other army ever has.

I hope you’ll watch this and pass it on so that maybe it could make a difference. Just in the last few hours it’s gotten thousands of views. Not too shabby.

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Or is Srugim living my life?

Srugim is a TV show about the life I have just re-entered; the single’s life in Katamon, Jerusalem. I’ve watched TV shows about New Yorkers, LAers, even Canadians but I’ve never seen a show that is so connected to me personally. From what I know of Israeli TV (I barely watched any even during my first 16 years living here), this show is a breath of fresh air. In most Israel TV, the stories surround Tel Aviv and a pretty specific culture and community in that city. Srugim, being based in Jerusalem and around the religious community, is pretty much clean and the dialogue, from the admittedly little I’ve seen on youtube, is sweet, funny and touching. I will hopefully soon be making a point of watching the whole first season.

Here is a scene where two women are discussing their faith in God. It’s a good conversation, in my opinion.

Srugim has become very popular, not only amongst religious people. It won many awards for its first season. (Click on this wikipedia link for information about that.) It’s amazing and exciting returning to Israel to this new reality of a religious TV show finding its place on regular TV. They are currently filming the second season which I know because one scene was filmed at the cafe next to my house and another scene had my now-famous sister-in-law play in a lead role… You will see her as an, well, an extra this season! (But such an important extra!)

Of course whenever anyone tries to depict the Orthodox community, there are hesitated reactions because there is fear of negative PR. But this show is written and directed by men with kippas and women in shirts. Actually, the woman in the skirt, one of the co-producers, Chava Divon, her adorable little son was in kindergarden with my adorable little sister a few years ago, so I even know who she is. And though, like any show, it’s not 100% accurate – we don’t have such witty dialogue on such a regular basis, for example – it’s really just a fine little window into that world.

As for those of us in that world, it puts a whole new twist on TV watching, having a show that is so close to home. I like.

As for my Srugim life, two nights ago I went to my third group Katamon meal. It would be much simpler if I just called it a singles’ meal but I hate admitting that that is what unites all of us at these Shabbat meals. I lie to myself saying that theoretically there could be married couples at the table it’s just that for natural reasons, they end up hanging out in different social circles. Which makes those meals not singles’ meals but meals with singles.

Whatever! Whatever way you look at it, last night I went to my third singles meal since my return to Israel exactly a month ago. Eleven singles around a Shabbat table eating food prepared by a few of us including challah by yours truly, fyi. Again, just like at the other two meals I’ve been to so far, I had a wonderful time – I met some amazing new people which, as some of you know, makes me very happy – but I’m so freakin’ scared! I know you can never know when you’ll meet the right person. Who knows, maybe I already have. But I’m so scared this is going to be my life for a much longer time than I would prefer.

But, my bro gave me great advice which, if I could implement it, I do believe would serve me well. He said, it’s so hard to find the right person that meanwhile you may as well throw all caution to the wind. (Wine prior to my arrival at this past meal helped me implement those tactics. It was like my training wheels!)

Granted, I wouldn’t go that far, to throw all caution to the wind. I will make an effort, as much as I can, but there is truth in what my brother says. Meanwhile, having a good time is key! As long as, at the same time, you don’t lose sight of what you really want. Sometimes it’s just really hard to have a good time.

As for Srugim, will it be like comics and so many TV shows where the people never actually move on to new states in their lives? Now that would be depressing!

And to finish, here is a very cute scene that is 100% accurate with reality (um, yeah right) about a girl who doesn’t want to buy a new bed, even though she desperately needs one, because you only buy a new bed when you get married. Good to know.

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(The facts in this post are taken from the Arutz 7 article which you can access here.)

You’ve gotta admit it blows your mind, at least a little, this story.

This poor man lost his wife and three of his seven kids when one of our crazy local terrorists came into their house in the Shomron yishuv (settlement) of Itamar and killed them. (Um, just btw, how in the world can a religion think that’s a good thing?)

The people killed in his family that day:

Rachel, his wife, 40

Neriah, 15

Tzvikah, 12

Avishai, 5

How heartbreaking. Since this horrid incident in June 2002, Boaz Shabo remarried. His new wife, Hila, and her five children moved in with Boaz and his two unmarried children.

Reminds me of the amazing movie, Yours Mine and Ours (the original, of course).

Anyway, on the second day of Sukkot (so, around a week ago), Hila gave birth to triplets! Two girls and a boy.

We can’t know what a person deserves in this world so I hesitate to say that Boaz deserves this blessing, but it just seems so fitting after he lost three sons that he should have triplets. He said, “Though it’s impossible to forget those who were killed, this is a very joyous occasion for all of us.”

Read the full article on the Arutz 7 website, including the story how, in 2004, he went to visit a man who lost his whole family – his pregnant wife and four children – in a terrorist attack.

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