Thursday, April 24, 2014

A beautiful spring day along Six Mile Creek, Ithaca

Today was a beautiful, although a bit chilly spring day in Ithaca. The flowers are finally starting to bloom, after our long cold winter. I took a walk along Six Mile Creek, watched the ducks and the water, and took some photos.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Echoes from a lost world

Lost letters from Gideon Levy's grandfather in Prague to his father in Lebanon, on his way to Palestine in 1939. (Levy is a reporter/columnist for Haaretz). His grandfather and grandmother were transported to Terezin on July 9, 1942. His grandfather, Dr. Hugo Loewy, died in Terezin on August 27, 1942, and his grandmother was sent to Treblinka and murdered there on October 22, 1942.

Hugo Loewy’s 1930 Czechoslovak passport. 'I, as you know, am a pessimist, and accordingly I will only believe it when the certificates are in my hand.'
I always find it poignant to read letters from the Holocaust era that have been lost for many decades and finally found, to reveal a world that is so presently alive and vivid in the letters. Letters that speak in the present and the future, which show the hopes of the letter writer. Unfortunately, we know the end of the story that the writer does not yet know.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An attempt to sacrifice a goat on the Temple Mount

There was violence again today on the Temple Mount today - clashes between Israeli police and young Palestinians (Police storm Temple Mount to disperse Palestinian riot). Surprisingly, once the "clashes subsided, the police allowed a number of groups of Jews onto the Temple Mount; hundreds of visitors were turned away." In the past clashes between the police and Palestinians on the Mount have led to its closure at least for that day, if not for several days thereafter.

A goat on the Temple Mount?

According to this Haaretz article, tensions have increased in the last several months, usually instigated by Jews "attempting to access the area in order to pray or demonstrate a Jewish presence." In fact, on Monday, the eve of Passover, "a group of right-wing Jews was detained while trying to bring a goat up to the Temple Mount. A few days earlier, a goat was sacrificed in the city's Kiryat Moshe neighborhood." As Haaretz reports, "Pesach is traditionally the most important holiday for the Temple renewal movements, and bringing a sacrifice to the Temple Mount on Passover has been one of their main aims, along the way to realizing their goal of renewing Jewish worship on the Temple Mount."

Two photos of the goat being brought into the city.

Photo from WND.
Photo by the Temple Movement, published by Arutz Sheva.

Video of the attempt to bring the goat up to the Temple Mount.

A change to the status quo?

Apparently, there are changes afoot on the Temple Mount - the Haaretz article says:
The Jerusalem police said in a statement that despite the violence, efforts are under way to develop the Temple Mount for visitors, and a few hundred people did visit the mount. "We could have closed it down ahead of time, but we did everything we could to allow visitors to enter,” a Jerusalem police official said.
I wonder what that means. "Develop the Temple Mount for visitors." Which visitors do they have in mind? Tourists? Tourists can already visit the Mount in the early mornings and afternoons. I've gone up with tour groups myself. Are they trying to "regularize" Jewish visits for prayer? The usual police objection to doing so is that it would cause clashes with Muslims. Has there been some kind of decision to change that calculus?

More on the goat

According to the Times of Israel, "Five Jewish Israelis were arrested Monday after allegedly attempting to sacrifice a goat at the Temple Mount in honor of the Passover holiday. The suspects were brought in to a nearby police station for further questioning. The goat was transferred to representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Ynet reported."
In the Bible, a special ritual sacrifice is commanded on the Passover holiday and the custom was practiced by Jews during the First and Second Temple periods when their central shrine stood on the same site that today houses the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock. However, most rabbinic authorities hold that the practice is forbidden nowadays.
In a Forward blog, Nathan Jeffay reports on the plans for the goat sacrifice in Kiryat Moshe -
In a few hours, in a yeshiva in the neighborhood of Kiryat Moshe, a religious non-profit will give a demonstration of the original Paschal service. Their slaughterer will kill a lamb as a choir sings of praise, and as a state veterinary inspector looks on. He will then sprinkle the blood as-per Biblical instruction. The lamb will be roasted and, as-per the Biblical procedure, everyone in attendance — men and women — will get a portion. The diners will include rabbis from a broad ideological spectrum within Orthodoxy. 
“Passover is not about matzo ball soup; it’s about the Passover offering,” Chaim Richman, International Director of the Temple Institute which is running the event, commented to Forward Thinking. 
Referring to the reams of rabbinic texts written on the Paschal sacrifice he said that is important, educationally, to give a more vivid insight in to what it looked like. “The logistics is a Jewish art discussed and clarified throughout the generations,” he said. 
He said that the slaughter is poignant, as lambs were considered sacred in the ancient world when the sacrifice was instituted. The ceremony is “literally to slaughter all of the idolatry in the entire world and stand up for what we believe in, namely one God,” said Richman.
The ceremony was presented as a demonstration of how the sacrifice would be offered, if it were currently permitted. They actually slaughtered the goat, but the rest of the ceremony was "as if." See the video below, which shows much of the ceremony.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ben Hecht - "Ballad of the Doomed Jews of Europe"

On September 14, 1943, the "Committee for a Jewish Army of Stateless and Palestinian Jews" published an advertisement on page 12 of the New York Times calling for Palestine to be opened to Jewish immigration, in order to save the remaining four million Jews of Europe. In case people have forgotten why the Zionist movement wanted to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, one of the principal reasons was to save Jews from their persecutors - first in Russia, under the Tsars, and then in Germany and occupied Europe, after 1933.