Tag Archives: Jerusalem

Israel and my Time Travel Experience

Before you deduce that you are reading the rantings of someone delusional or at the very least a little off, I urge you to continue reading. I realize that by telling you that I have always been mildly obsessed with the concept of time travel and that my obsession was recently satisfied unexpectedly does very little to argue in favor of my sanity, but nevertheless on my recent trip to Israel that is exactly what happened. I did indeed experience time travel.

When you are a writer you have a tendency to choose words or phrases carefully. It is no accident that rather than saying “I travelled in time”, I wrote that “I did indeed experience time travel”. Allow me to explain. Prior to this recent trip, I had not been to Israel in 28 years. 37 years ago when I moved from Israel back to the U.S. I finished off a stint in which I had lived for 3 1/2 years out of 5 living in Jerusalem. Naturally in that time I traveled to different parts of the country, establishing my own personal relationship with various places and people. When I arrived at Ben Gurion Airport I tried to recognize the place, but I would be lying if I said that I did. In fact, my passage through immigration and customs was so easy I almost felt as though I was in the wrong country. When my friend Danny, whose wedding 28 years ago was the reason for my last visit, picked me up from the airport to take me to his home in Bet Shemesh, while it had been more years than I like since I had seen him, the difference was hardly enough to be shaken by the change. But on the trip to his home, a trip that included part of the original road to Jerusalem, I started to feel that sensation that I knew I had been here before. When I got to his and his lovely wife Anna’s home, and saw his family over the next few days, a family that I had not seen for well over 10 years and of which sons were of age to have changed significantly since I last saw them, I had my first brush with time travel. The next day when Danny had a party and I saw 10-20 people I had not seen in at least 3 decades, I experienced it again. I looked at their faces, I saw the same people, even felt the same feelings, but they had changed. Some more than others, but all of them, myself of course included, had changed. There was the female friend that had been my daily phone call for an unspecified amount of time when I was 16 and arguably my best friend at that time, and that very memorable female that I “went out with” when I was 15 who were very much the same even decades later. All of these experiences pulled me back to the past, but in that healthy way that only made the present more enjoyable.

When I went to Tel Aviv, and visited the area by the beach with the steep steps looking towards the Sheraton Hotel, I could almost feel the time I was there, I am going to estimate 37-38 years ago, the moment a pregnant woman stumbled, only to be caught by the man standing with her, and the subsequent near cardiac arrest I suffered at seeing what thankfully only almost happened. When I looked at the beach nearby I could only look at it and smile inside and out and remember some moments that could only be described as magical.

When I went to Jerusalem and walked to the address where Richie’s Pizza once was and to the location where I think the American Difference once existed, all the way down to the spot where I loved Cafe Atara’s world famous onion soup on Ben Yehuda Street, I felt all these sensations of travelling in time. When I sat at the base of Ben Yehuda, where it meets Jaffa Street, the spot know as Kikar Tzion, Zion Square, I felt an almost mystical connection to my past, present and future. As I wrote in a previous post, that moment made me feel something I did not remember feeling since at least the last time I was there.

All these brushes with time travel only enhanced what was turning into an incredible trip and one that I not only will remember for quite some time, but one that changed me for the better and very possibly forever. That all being said, it was not till I went to Hashmonaim to visit my friend Yonah and his wife Rhonda that time felt as though it had stood still, jumped forward, and shifted all over the place all at once. To understand this better a little historical context is needed.

Some time in between 1981 and 1984 I met Yonah in Israel. He was in a Yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem, and as I was prone to do, I went there to visit a friend, or friends. Yonah and I did not take long to become friends, and when we both ended up back in the NY area, the friendship continued and grew. To the best of my recollection, Yonah was at Bar Ilan University with the mutual friend that was the bride at the wedding where I met my once future now ex-wife in September of 1989. I was to be married in September of 1990 and prior to my wedding I shared an apartment with Yonah in Kew Gardens, Queens. As is customary at a Jewish wedding following traditional law, 2 witnesses are required. These witnesses need to be Sabbath observant and not related to the bride or groom and should be someone special to the people getting married. My bride made her choice, my choice was simple. My choice was Yonah. Months later, as a married couple, my wife and I would attend the wedding of Yonah and Rhonda.

The months and years later are a little hazy for me, but one Shabbat at the Lloyd’s in Teaneck, New Jersey not only stands out for me, it is in some ways one of the epicenters of my time travelling experience. I tend to think that based on the age of Yonah and Rhonda’s oldest daughter, and the fact that I can not recall my ex wife being there, this likely happened after my marriage ended in 1996, making it approximately 25 years ago, give or take a year or 2. You know you enjoyed a Shabbat at someone’s house when it sticks in your memory for so long. I remember going to synagogue with Yonah, marveling at how I had never met anyone so demanding of perfection from the Torah reader other than my father of blessed memory, and how there was a man praying with us who had lost a daughter in a terrorist attack in Israel. I remember Rhonda being the most natural, genuine and fun hostess you could ever ask for, and I remember their absolutely gorgeous little daughter Aviva. Aviva could not have been older than 3 or 4 at the time. I do not remember if their second daughter Shira had yet been born-sorry Shira. I’ll make it up to you later in this piece-but seeing as she would have been a baby, she may very well have been and I just do not remember. The one memory that is most etched in my brain of that weekend has always been Aviva wearing a hockey jersey that was so much bigger than her it dragged on the floor and covered her feet. I almost remember, but can’t be sure so no need to thank me Aviva, arriving with and giving her that jersey, but that fact is the smallest and least important fact of this story.

My journey in time at Hashmonaim actually began the moment I saw Yonah. One of the most important things I have learned as I have gotten older is that there is a reason people become friends and that regardless of time or circumstances, that which connected you once, be it spoken or unspoken, instantaneously or over a certain period of time, ultimately has a very good chance of connecting you again. That explains why it took under 2 seconds from the time I saw Yonah for me to feel like I was in the presence of a special friend, and that I had just stepped out of a time machine, just to see my friend 25 years later.

When I went into their home I soon realized that Rhonda had clearly not gotten the memo and did not look much different than she had 25 years ago. But her personality and warmth was so much like I remembered it that I still felt as though I had travelled these 25 years forward. It also needs to be said that when it comes to details, moments, even some conversations that took place decades earlier, my memory can be so uncanny that I blow some people’s minds. I guess I am a savant when it comes to that. But the pinnacle of sorts of this time capsule, was in the kitchen of their home. I almost do not remember moving in what I think was close to an hour and a half there. I walked in and met 2, maybe 3 people I had never met before. Their daughter Shira, I’ll remember you for sure this time, their son Rafi, and their daughter Talia. I said earlier that I do not remember moving. While Rhonda stayed as long as she could before she had to get to something previously scheduled, and Shira and Yonah needed to branch off for a bit to attend to work related matters, the other 2 stayed, and as I remember, they moved as little as I did. Talia seemed transfixed in awe over what she was hearing from everyone, and Rafi reminded me even more of why Yonah and I became friends, because I knew in listening to him speak, that had we been contemporaries, I likely would have become friends with him as I did with his father. I even went as far as thinking that had I met him, hearing him speak I would have felt as though he reminded me of Yonah, even if I had not known Yonah was his father. Also, for the record, it is not as though Rafi had nothing else to do less than 1 week from his wedding. And Talia had such a similar face as Rhonda that I would have seen something very familiar in her as well.

But all of this time travel experience coalesced when Aviva, now a wife and mother and living next door showed up to visit and said that she knew by looking at me that there was something familiar in my face that she remembered and I could still see the face of that 3 or 4 year old girl, now as a grown woman. While it seemed as though all of us were talking about absolutely everything that ever happened, Rafi found a video of his parents wedding. It needs to be said that I was already overcome with emotion on numerous occasions before I saw this-I understand if the kids remember me as their Dad’s crybaby friend-this video tipped the scale. I saw a video of me and my ex wishing the newlyweds a Mazal Tov. Even more overcome by the emotion that time travel induces, I will be forever grateful to Shira for compassionately asking if I was OK. In case I didn’t answer you then Shira, the honest answer could have been, I was never better.

None of these memories, flashbacks, or yes, jumps in time were anything other than a positive experience. When I recall a great evening with my step brother of sorts, Gaby, and meeting one cousin I never met and another I had not seen since he was 16 years old, he is now 44, time was jumping happily all over the place, and I was its center of gravity. We are where we are meant to be, and if we do not accept that and embrace that fact, it is not the fault of what happened then, it is the fault of what we did next. This visit to Israel, this travel in time did not bring closure to my past, it brought continuation, in all the right ways. When I got into the car and left Hashmonaim, while I was transported back to the present, I realized more clearly than ever the role my past had in making today as good as it was.

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Reopening society may require us to follow Israel’s example


It’s important that I start this piece by making it very clear that I am an American who loves his country.  The opinion I am about to share should be seen more as a call to arms and encouragement than a criticism or indictment.  Who knows? If properly heeded it might just save some lives.

The other day a friend of mine from my grammar school days in London posted statistics showing how, to date, of all developed countries none had done better in keeping down the Coronavirus death toll than Israel.  The friend I speak of, Alison Fisch-Katz, is a brilliant writer, not swayed by political bias, and honest in her assessments. In her post Alison said the following:

Corona deaths per 100,000 in developed countries from highest: Belgium (7,924 deaths), Spain (25,428 deaths), Italy (29,079 deaths), UK (28,734 deaths), France (25,201 deaths), Holland (5,102 deaths), Sweden (2,321 deaths), US (69,121 deaths – NY 18,000)…. Israel is No. 24 out of 30 on the graph with 230 fatalities out of a population of 9 million (similar populations to New York and Sweden). Israel’s stringent measures have saved thousands of lives.
The economy is now being re-opened with caution. If the curve doesn’t spike, the expectation is that by month’s end we will be allowed to congregate freely with no restrictions. Red lights that will return the country to isolation are: 1. If the rate of infection rises again to 100 cases per day. 2. If rate multiplies by 30 every 10 days. 3. If hard cases rise to 250.

The numbers she presented are quite real. When I read her post, coupled with a previous article I had read in Times of Israel by founding editor and part of that same group of friends,  David Horovitz,  it seemed to consolidate some feelings I had felt for some time.  The ultimate management of the current situation ultimately lies more in the hands of the people than their respective governments.

The Times of Israel article entitled “It’s not over, and uncertainty abounds, but Israel’s COVID-19 stats are stunning”  is striking because in its description of everything Israel has done, from mitigation strategies to the timeline, it doesn’t differ much from actions taken here in America.  The population of Israel is approximately 8.6 million.  The population of New York City is approximately 8.4 million.  While at the time that I write this the death toll in Israel is less than 300, by startling contrast the death toll in New York City is over 18,000. I have maintained from the start that public transportation, particularly the New York City subway system has played a significant role in the spread.  I also have witnessed a New York City mayor performing less than adequately.  Yet as easy and popular as it is to point the finger at our elected leaders and politicians, sometimes accurately, often partisan based, I believe that the greatest responsibility of slowing the spread and minimizing the loss of life lies in the hands of us, the people.

For 3 1/2 years between 1980 and 1985 I lived in Jerusalem, Israel.  When I read Alison’s post I shared a thought with her and followed it with a question. My thought was as follows. During my time in Israel, when riding the bus I was often confronted by rude people who had no qualms in pushing and shoving me or anyone else out of their way.  Israeli’s riding a bus back then were not the most patient or polite of people. In fairness, packed buses have never been known to bring out the best in anyone.  But when I looked at the people pushing me I also realized that more than likely, every single one of them would have given their life to protect mine and would have done so without a moment’s hesitation.  In western culture, today’s definition of civilized is far too often based on packaging and presentation, while lacking in action and sacrifice. Of course the healthcare workers are a huge exception as their actions and sacrifices are unmatched and a blessing to us all.  I continued by telling Alison that it was that mentality of caring for another person’s life as though it was their very own that has always been my fondest memory of Israel. I went on to ask her if I would be correct to think the mentality I remember so well has impacted the slow spread of COVID-19 cases and most importantly the significantly lower death toll in the country?  She answered me as follows.

Unlike other countries that have pursued herd immunization (example, Sweden & UK – at the beginning) followed a policy of survival of the fittest and essentially sacrificed the older generation. Israel, on the other hand, cares about its parents and everyone complied with love.

While Alison’s response might be perceived by some as indictment on these nation’s citizens and their love for their elderly friends and relatives, it actually speaks more to Israel’s inherent value system.  While everyone’s intentions were the same, have as few deaths as possible, why are the results so different? As a nation threatened by neighboring enemies since it declared independence some 72 years ago, the mentality has always been one critical to its survival.  That mentality, a value for human life that takes precedent over everything else and a sense of responsibility for the safety and well-being of others, is a basic instinct of the populous, one that makes up the very core of what has helped the country survive. To put it simply, since Israel is far more used to having the lives of its citizens threatened than other developed countries, the people were more prepared.  While the majority of Israel’s adults either still are in, or have spent time in the military training to defend their country, the majority of adults in New York City have never dealt with that level of collective responsibility.  So although the leadership in Israel needed to initially enforce the policy as other nations and localities did, once the people understood the critical nature of that responsibility, the people, as Alison put it, complied with love.

While that same love exists in the places suffering significantly higher death tolls, we need to consider the possibility that the preparation and sense of responsibility does not exist on an equal level. While our essential workers keep our lives moving and our healthcare professionals give their hearts and souls to saving lives, the rest of us need to step up to the plate and meet our responsibilities.  The current schism developing within American society of staying at home or reopening, one like so many others becoming a political one, does actually have a middle of the road.  Like so many things it’s a simple concept with a more difficult practical implementation.  Reopen while simultaneously going out of your way to keep those at high risk as safe as possible.  The hard part is to make people understand their individual responsibility.  As much as some people prefer to bloviate on social media rather than saying or doing something constructive, government can’t really make this work by itself. The people need to do their part for it to be even partially successful.

In essence this means finding those people who are high risk, the elderly or those with preexisting medical conditions and doing what we can to help them. Run errands that make it possible for them to stay at home.  Call them to see how they’re doing? Show them that they are not alone.  Sometimes all they need is a friend.  Let them know that if they need anything you will take extra time and get it for them. And most importantly,  do everything in your personal power to not put them at risk.  Keep a safe distance and wear a mask whenever you are in their vicinity. By looking after their best interests as though they were your own, which is indeed the reality, we can make a big difference.  Want your life to get back as much as possible to what you remember as being normal?  It comes with a cost, and that cost is caring about someone other than yourself.  It worked in Israel, theoretically there is no reason it can work everywhere else.  Ultimately the cost of not doing it is a far greater one.






You’ll have to forgive me Mr. President. I’m a Jew and I’ve been hurt before


I know as a Jew and a Zionist I am supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy today.  After all the President of the United States did greet the Israeli Prime Minister with great respect and they expressed their long lasting friendship.  To make it even better, President Trump went as far as saying that he would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.  That’s never been said before. Oh wait. It has been said before. By just about everyone else to run or step into the office since at least the mid 90s.  So although I appreciate the nice words, right now they are nothing more than that, and as a Jew I am yet to be convinced.

For example, outgoing President Barack Obama, a disappointment to so much of the Jewish community started off by making the following comments.

“Let me be clear,“Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. … Any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state with secure, recognized, defensible borders.”

“Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.”

Go back to recently defeated candidate Hillary Clinton who wrote the following in a letter, dated July 2, 1999 to Dr. Mandell Ganchrow of the Orthodox Union in New York.

“If I am chosen by New Yorkers to be their senator, or in whatever position I find myself in the years to come, you can be sure that I will be an active, committed advocate for a strong and secure Israel, able to live in peace with its neighbors, with the United States Embassy located in its capital, Jerusalem.”

Her husband, former President Bill Clinton declared in February 1992, at the height of the Democratic primaries, that he supported recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a step that would alter U.S. policy, but never signed the 1995 congressional mandate to move the embassy.

Senator John McCain pledged to move the U.S. embassy in Israel “right away” from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as did Senator Robert Dole and George W. Bush who actually did become president.  Candidate Bush made the pledge to move the embassy on his first day in office. Once in office he said he went from doing it on the first day to saying he would begin the process on his first day.  Instead he signed a waiver every 6 months delaying the same 1995 congressional mandate and in the end never did it.

Enter President Donald J. Trump.  Yes he has said some very nice things. He too promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem.  But now he is looking into it. He promised to rip of the Iran deal on his first day.  We must have missed it. And he publicly stated the following at a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

“I would like you to hold back on settlements for a little bit.”

Donald Trump may end up being the best friend Israel ever had in the Oval Office.  I certainly hope so.  But forgive me if I’m not ready to throw a party yet. I’ve heard this song before.










Stop F*ing with Our Wall


In what is one of the most disturbing developments in quite some time, 6 Arab nations are leading the charge in a proposal to the United Nations declaring the Western Wall part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, subsequently labeling it a Muslim site.  Personally I could care less whether they think it is Muslim or not, what concerns me are the potential dangers this proposal creates, and what angers me is the immense disrespect this shows towards Jews all over the world.

Although it’s been far too many years since my last visit, I am fortunate to have been at the Western Wall, the “Kotel”, more times than I can count.  For these antagonists using the Western Wall as a political weapon, the Wall is nothing more than a place representing Jewish existence, something appalling to them.  For Jews the Kotel is more than just a wall.  It is home.  It’s the only place I’ve ever been where it felt to me as though everyone felt the same intensity and deep meaning.  It’s just a wall to some, but to a Jew who believes in God, it’s a portal to the heavens.

The Kotel can never be taken from the Jewish people, of that we must be certain. My more immediate concern is the violence this political maneuver will incite.  If this causes nearby Palestinians to feel empowered to possess the wall, serious violence will threaten the holiest place in the world for the Jewish people.  But who do they think they are kidding? Violence is their goal.  Incitement their intention. To Israel’s opponents this feels like checkmate.  Well it’s not. It is most certainly check, but for those who play chess, one of the most certain ways to lose is through over confidence.  It is my hope that this wakes up the Jewish people worldwide and that the Israeli government makes very clear that the Western Wall is not open for discussion.  Otherwise we may not be far from checkmate.

With all the land and all the so-called holy places the Muslim people have, for any one of their leaders to suddenly at this time make a move for Israel’s holiest site is not about devotion to God or religious practice. What this is about is blatant disrespect for the Jewish people, and anyone in power who remains quiet, certainly anyone who supports it, is an accomplice to this unconscionable slap in the face to all Jews worldwide, and for anyone to tolerate it would be to open the door to a greater tragedy.

Let it be known, when you F**k with our wall, you F**k with us.






UN calls on the Maccabees to avoid hostilities

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In response to the recent increase of hostilities between King Antiochus’ Seleucids and the Jewish population led by Judah Maccabee, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released the following statement:

“We call on the Jewish population to immediately stop its attacks against the Seleucid government in Jerusalem.  We intend to form a committee to investigate the alleged banning of circumcision imposed by the Seleucids as well as the Maccabean claim of inappropriate actions within the Temple, but maintain in theory that the government is within its rights to impose a ban of this nature in order to protect religious sovereignty.  Despite the claims by Maccabean leadership claiming the installation of idolatrous figures being placed in the Holy Temple, it is the belief of this organization that this is a tremendous opportunity for the coexistence of all religions within Jerusalem’s holiest places.  What will be critical in making this work will be Jewish cooperation and subjugation to King Antiochus and his leadership of Jerusalem and outlying areas.  Any resistance by Judah and his fellow Maccabees will be seen as hostility bordering on criminal activity.  We have already begun the groundwork for further investigations of Judah Maccabee for war crimes that may have already taken place and in anticipation and expectation of further actions.”

U.S. President Barack Obama commented on the increasing tension in the area as well.

“We call on both parties to show restraint”, said President Obama.  “I have spoken directly to Judah Maccabee and I am confident that he is aware of my continuing support and commitment to the safety and well-being of his people.  That being said, I have emphasized in our discussions my belief in a peaceful solution.  King Antiochus has assured me  that his intentions are peaceful and I believe him to be sincere.”

A State Department spokesman denied claims that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is “annoyed” by Judah Maccabees aggressive approach.

Judah Maccabee issued the following statement in response to the comments:

“My number one responsibility is to my people.  We do not answer to the United Nations or to any world leader.  One day we will look back at this moment and realize that we were at a crossroads.  Our choices in leadership will determine whether or not we survive as a people and will celebrate our existence,  or succumb to the pressure and lament our losses. It is my intention to see to it that rather than allowing an enemy to drive us into extinction, we will lead the people to a thriving and secure future. When we regain control of our holiest of sites, the Temple in Jerusalem, we will celebrate as we light the candelabra in continuing dedication to God.  We wish to live in peace, but as long as we have an enemy that wants to see us dead we will defend ourselves by any mean necessary.”

One programming note.  CNN will be continuing its ongoing documentary “Hellenism as opposed to Judaism.  Why it works in Jerusalem.”


Chanukah Sameach!!

Happy Hanukkah!!






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Muslim Stop and Frisk Video:Hoax to “Create Awareness”

hoaxTwo bloggers in New York posted a video  showing a New York City Police Officer stopping and frisking 2 Muslim men in what appears to be a blatant example of racial profiling.  One problem.  It never happened.  (CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO) The 2 men fabricated the whole thing to, as they put it, “create awareness”.   Naturally The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) ran with this and tweeted the video without verification so they too could of course help “create awareness”.  Far too often we see the Muslim community more focused on creating a comfortable environment for everyone, including those who commit acts of violence than on stopping the perpetrators.  This result may not always be the intention, but in attempting to curtail the actions of law enforcement at this point in time, that is exactly what it is doing.

This once again speaks to the major problem existing within elements of the Muslim community.  Within days of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, Ottawa, and New York City, killing a 3 month old baby, a 25-year-old Canadian soldier, and seriously wounding a NY City police officer, these men are focusing on what they call unfair treatment of their fellow Muslims.  Although I personally am very pro-police, live a day without them and then come talk to me, I am also aware they are far from perfect.  I realize that like any other established group there are bad people within their ranks.  However, if these 2 bloggers were really concerned about the common good they would work harder on creating awareness within their own community.  Maybe then they could help create an environment more pleasant for everyone, not only Muslims.

If they want to help their community, they should organize a rally against terrorism.  They should help the police identify radicals and terrorists.  They should speak out against anti-Americanism anti-Semitism.  For them to make their focus today be on how police treat Muslims is not only missing the point, it’s making a negative statement.  It’s a statement that the comfort of their community take precedence over the safety and well-being of the overall community.





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A Shaken World needs to Wake up Fast

ap_canada_shooting_1_kb_141021_4x3_992As someone who has recently experienced his first case of writer’s block in almost 4 months, it would stand to reason that today’s tragic events would have gotten my creative juices flowing. However, maybe it is because a terrorist attack in Jerusalem killing a 3 month old baby and a shooting spree by gunmen in Ottawa is so overwhelming that I found myself unsure where I should even begin.  After all, you start to ask yourself if the people who can make a difference are even listening. Or even worse, they’re listening but don’t care.

We know that Israel and the rest of the Western World wants to stop terrorism.  There is little doubt about that.  But while the world crumbles around it, the United Nations makes settlements in the West Bank its priority.  While bombs explode in Iraq, women get raped and murdered in ISIS controlled territory, babies get run over by terrorists in Israel, and the Canadian parliament gets attacked, people make excuses for all of this bad behavior.  Secretary of State John Kerry implies that Israel’s behavior somehow fuels Islamic extremism and when a woman gets beheaded in Oklahoma by a radicalized Muslim, U.S. government officials prefer to call it workplace violence.

We are either headed towards or already in the midst of a global catastrophe. It all depends on your perspective.  But one things is certain, we are headed in the wrong direction fast.  I hesitated to write something that could be construed as negative and pessimistic, but I believe I would be doing a far bigger injustice if I ignored the reality.  That reality is that the world is in big trouble, and as long as those in power refuse to openly face the facts that Islamic extremism is destroying the planet, it will only get worse.

It’s time the world woke up before it is too late.  Keep in mind that the fact that I am willing to consider the possibility that it might not be too late already is the only optimism I am willing to provide on what has been another very tragic day in a very dangerous world.





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A Day of Sadness

Temple-Destruction (1)The 9th Day of the Jewish month of Av, known in Hebrew as Tisha B’Av, is the day commemorating the destruction of the first and second Temples that once stood in Jerusalem.  It is a day of tragedy and commemorates some of the worst moments in Jewish history.  Simply put, it is the saddest day of the year, and it begins tonight.

On this Tisha B’Av let’s pray that all the tragedy and sadness stops, and that we see a world of peace and kindness.  We have seen so many days of sadness recently but lets stay hopeful for a brighter future. I know it sounds unrealistic at this moment, but if it was easy we wouldn’t need to pray for it.  To all those fasting I wish you an easy fast.


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A Missing Plane and a Frightening Scenario

Swiftair_-_Boeing_737-301(SF)In some ways it feels like we are watching the first 45 minutes of an epic disaster movie.  Of course we all know about the war in Gaza.  Israel, a free and democratic country fighting a government controlled by the terrorist organization Hamas.  That in itself is bad enough.  But my friends, when you look at today’s events, and what tomorrow is on the Muslim calendar, it could get a lot worse.  It is not in my nature to be alarmist or sensationalist, but we also live in a time when all things need to be considered, no matter how frightening they may be.

Earlier today we get word that Ali Hosseini Khamenei, the spiritual leader of Iran made the following comments regarding Israel:  “As said by Imam Khomeini [the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran] Israel must be destroyed…However, until that time with the help of God for this cruel and murderous regime to be destroyed, strong confrontation with steadfast armed resistance is the only solution against this destructive regime.”  He also stated, regarding the United States: “The anti-American and anti-West view in Iran is a logical view based on experience and a righteous calculation.”

His sentiments are not news.  We know he feels this way, as do millions of his followers.  What is different is the timing, and hopefully not, but possibly another difference is the biggest news story of the day.

First the timing.  Tomorrow is “Quds Day”.  Quds, Arabic for Jerusalem, is a day created by Iran since its revolution in 1979, celebrated on the last day of Ramadan, as a day to express solidarity for the Palestinians against the State of Israel.  Comments made by any Muslim leader today are at least partially designed to motivate and instigate the people into not only protesting and demonstrating, but to do so as violently as possible.  There is no question that Khameini is looking to incite as much violence against Jews as possible,  not only in Israel, but throughout the world.

And then there is the biggest news story of today.  A plane taking off from Algeria has gone missing.  Yes, you  read correctly, gone missing.  Algeria, a North African Muslim nation that donated money made in the World Cup to Hamas and a people who make up the majority of France’s Muslim population committing brutal acts of anti-Semitism.  It is from that country that a plane has gone missing on the eve of Quds Day.  It’s an awful day in world history when one must say, let’s hope the plane only crashed.

It is possible that tomorrow comes and goes and is a repeat of many of the days of the past few weeks.  Awful, but not catastrophic.  But the days of underestimating the enemy’s brutality and capabilities are behind us now.  We no longer have that luxury.

From Death to Life

Starting Sunday April 7th through Tuesday April 16th, Holland’s Heroes will post a series of photos and articles related to the Holocaust and the creation of the State of Israel.  There will also be specific stories and pictures directly related to the book “Jew Face: A story of love and heroism in Nazi-occupied Holland”.

Picture on the left: Flag of the State of Israel

Picture on the right: Hall of Remembrance in Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem)