A Financial Guide to Aliyah and Life in Israel

by Globes Israel Correspondent A Financial Guide to Aliyah

Taxation, banking, insurance, pensions and so on are not the most romantic aspects of aliyah. There will be those who blithely ignore such matters, carried away by idealistic motivation. Others might find the prospect of dealing with a financial system both technically and culturally unfamiliar so daunting and difficult as to be a large stumbling block on the way to making a new life in Israel. Baruch Labinsky’s concise handbook is to be recommended for all English-speaking olim, wherever they may be on the scale between these two extremes, as well as for veterans seeking to get a better handle on their finances. It is very persuasive on the need to set financial goals, to plan, and to understand the options available, while at the same time it demystifies Israeli institutions and explains Israeli attitudes, to calm the financially anxious.

To judge from his bio, the author is well qualified by both education and experience to help olim find their financial feet. The book is accessible and down-to-earth without over-simplifying. It tells new arrivals what they really need to know about Continue reading A Financial Guide to Aliyah and Life in Israel

Family Redeemed: A Review

by Israel Drazinfamilyredeemed

This is one of about a half dozen volumes published after Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik death (1903-1993) based on writings he never published. This one, the first of the posthumous volumes, contains six essays that focus on family relationships. It is the second of his posthumous book that I read – see my review of The Emergence of Ethical Man, which is the most recently published volume. In both, contrary to the current thinking of many religious Jews, the rabbi frequently uses biblical sources that show that Judaism expects its adherents to live a full, enjoyable, and natural life. These ideas, although opposed by many in Judaism’s right wing, are not contrary to the halakhah. However, as we will see, his views about women, based on halakhah, do not reflect this open spirit.

In his essay “Adam and Eve,” he states that “man is part of nature” and must act according to its laws. “Indeed, the naturalistic formula of man – the conception of the human being as a part of nature – was a truism among Hazal (the ancient sages).” Both humans and animals “belong to nature; both sprang forth from the soil.” The difference is that humans are created in “the image of God.” This is “not a gratuitous grant…but rather a challenge.” Man “is encouraged (to use his distinctiveness) to build, to plant, to beautify his life, to enjoy his life as much as he can (within reason).” His earthly role is to create “change, improvement and progress.”

Man, Rabbi Soloveitchik writes, needs a wife. He describes a woman as Continue reading Family Redeemed: A Review”

Rereading Israel: The Spirit of the Matter

by Bonna Devora Haberman

Rereading Israel: The Spirit of the Matter refreshes current conversations about Israel, while setting aside vitriolic debates and worn postures. This book opens Jewish sources to interpret Israel in critical, innovative, and inspiring ways. Rereading Israel presents an opportunity to engage ethically, intellectually, and emotionally — challenging us to apply our finest resources to grapple honestly and creatively with land and people, history, text, and spirit. Especially when Israel is embattled, this book peels open fruitful and compelling perspectives.

Zion Cycle

Sigmund Freud persuaded modern culture about the deep unconscious layers of the human mind. Through analysis of unconscious experience, people can achieve greater self-understanding and capability to choose our life paths willfully. The psychoanalytic tradition encourages people to probe their early family histories and relationships, and to interpret effects on their lives. Interactions with parents and siblings form the dynamic and backdrop of personal biography. Understanding early experiences, patterns, unresolved connections, dreams and desires frees people to live more intentionally.

Similarly to the way each individual belongs to his or her personal family context, every person also belongs to a cultural context, to a people or peoples. Just as primary family relationships are significant even at unconscious levels, so also are the ties of peoplehood and culture. Theodore Herzl, parent of modern Zionism, lived and studied in Vienna from 1878, at the same time that Freud was Continue reading Rereading Israel: The Spirit of the Matter

From ‘Is’ to ‘Ought’: An Open Letter to Peter Beinart

by Bonna Devora Haberman

Thank you for contributing passionately to the conversation about Zionism. The significance of Israel to American Jewry is indisputable. As different communities of the Jewish People evolve, many of us still feel that our fate is vitally linked. Understanding our mutual relationship better and sharing our challenges with caring and commitment is a welcome proposition. As we engage, let us be conscious that our terms, analysis, and prescriptions are not theoretical, but about people. While our lives are intertwined, our families, communities, and nations are very far from one another; our risks and responsibilities are quite different. I offer some observations that arise from the intersection of your ideas with the daily experience of this conflict in which my life is immersed — body, mind, and soul.

Like you, I am concerned about children. I parent a medical intern, past and present elite commandos, an officer-engineer in Israeli Intelligence, and a border police commander. Serving two to six of their prime years in the IDF, they are often called upon to negotiate among competing core human values in real time. Our kids strive to uphold the full dignity of every person — with feminist and ecological conscience — even as they put their lives on the line. I do not propose to speak for Palestinian parents and children – their own voices must be heard. In many hours I spend with Palestinian high school students, young people, and women, I find readiness to change our painful pattern. I recently attended a women’s Muslim Friday prayer service, and later that evening led a hundred Jewish and Muslim women dancing and singing together the traditional prayers welcoming the Jewish Shabbat. Surrounded by oppression and conflict, our hearts and muscles sore from enmity, we struggle with the heavy burden of protecting and saving life while we stride toward peace and joy.

Neither the end of the occupation, nor Palestinian statehood will erase the challenges of Zionism in this region, though we fervently hope that they will ease. Nor will the end of the occupation and Palestinian statehood ease American offensives and vigilance against inimical forces in the Middle East until the Arab world attains a more open, accountable civil society and government; full and equal citizenship and progressive education for women and men; respect for diversity; commitment to non-violence; peaceful development; and responsible participation in global affairs.

A couple of years ago, I left the academy to put my effort to Israeli society. Together with a Palestinian partner, I co-direct an activist community theater project, YTheater. We create provocative performances and workshops in Arabic and Hebrew that enable Continue reading “From ‘Is’ to ‘Ought’: An Open Letter to Peter Beinart”

Prayer for the Jewish Soldier

For the Love of Israel and the Jewish Peopleby Nathan Lopes Cardozo

 

Lord of the Universe:

We, the soldiers of the people of Israel

Come to You in humility

And pray for your help.

 

Once more we are asked to defend our

People and

The Holy Land against our enemies.

 

We ask You to have mercy on us and

Help us watch over our people

With clean hands

And with a heart filled with mercy.

 

Let our people have the strength to

Stay in good spirits

And live in unity and

Walk in Your ways,

The ways of justice and truth.

 

Let us not make mistakes

And hurt those who are not guilty,

Who do not understand

And have no part in this conflict.

 

Please,

Let our bullets not hurt those children of our enemies

Whose parents place them deliberately in dangerous spots,

Fire on us

And then shield themselves

Behind their own offspring against

Our forces so as to fault us when their children

Are wounded or even killed.

 

Remove the evil spirit of these parents

And make them realize the wickedness of their actions.

 

Stop their teachers from manipulating their students

With hate for us in their schoolbooks

On the radio, television and

The Internet.

 

O God,

You know what one of our prime ministers once said:

“We may forgive our enemies one day

For hurting and killing our children

But

We cannot forgive them for having made our children

Into those who needed to kill.”

We beg You, do not let our Jewish souls have to undergo

 

This ordeal that we cannot bear.

We are the children of Avraham, your servant, who

Prayed for the evil people of Sedom in the hope that

They would repent and live decent lives.

 

So, we beg you:

Make our enemies repent.

Make them understand that

We are good people

Who wish to live in peace with

All our neighbors.

 

O Lord,

Remove from their thoughts atrocities such as those

In which they dip their hands

In our blood.

As Jews, we

Cannot fathom

Doing this to even our worst enemies.

 

You commanded us to live in a country that

Is little more

Than a tiny island.

Our population is smaller than that of

Many single cities.

 

You asked us to live there so as to send

Your holy Word to all the corners of the world.

But

We are surrounded by many nations who

Contain more than a hundred million people.

They inhabit one of the largest regions of the world

But deny us the right to live in even the smallest corner of the world.

They do not want to listen

And only wish our death.

 

Give the Arab nations

Leaders

Who pursue justice and who really

Care for their people

And do not wish to bring their own brothers to despair

And unbearable pain

With the intention

Of accusing us

Of grave injustice.

 

Now,

After thousands of years of our dwelling

In this world and after many exiles, tortures, pogroms,

Expulsions and Holocausts

We finally found our way back to our

Small homeland

That You promised to our ancestors.

 

Yet once more our dreams of peace

Have gone up in smoke

While we try, at the risk of our own lives,

To find a way to

Allow our Palestinian neighbors to

Live their own lives.

 

While we were prepared to make sacrifices

For the welfare of these people

As no other people ever did

While we offered them land, peace, finances

And even firearms so as to defend themselves,

We once more pay the price for being a people

Who believe in the honesty of another nation and its leaders

And once more we feel misled.

 

Oh Lord, remove the evil intentions of the

Security Council, which distorts the truth.

Remove the deliberate lies

From the hearts of those who head the

Media.

Why do they want to portray us

As an evil people?

They do so

To deny Your existence and Your moral

Demands.

They hide behind their own wickedness

And cover up their own and their ancestors’

Immoral acts that they committed against us

And our ancestors for thousands

Of years.

 

O God, You know

That

No army in world history has used as much restraint

As ours.

No army is so careful not to hurt or kill

As ours.

But what shall we do when they are not even prepared

To give us the option

To prove this to the world?

 

Please, God,

Bring peace into the hearts and minds

Of our enemies.

Let them be uplifted with a spirit of righteousness.

Stop them from hating us because we are Your people.

Let us sanctify Your name as this is our

Mission and our dream.

Give us the possibility once more to teach

Your ways to the peoples

Of the world

And make them hear and

Understand.

 

We hate war as nobody else does.

We abhor the need to wear weapons.

We cannot stand the sound of our own artillery

And our tanks.

 

We are the people of the Book,

The Book that demands holiness,

Kindness

And integrity.

Our heroes are not the generals or the marshals

But our prophets and our sages,

Righteous people.

So deliver us from this anguish.

Bring peace to the nations.

Let us not be forced to use our strength against them

For they will have no escape.

But

Let the blessing that you gave to Avraham come true –

“Through you all the families of the earth will be blessed” –

For this is our hope.

 

–Chapter 34 from Cardozo’s For the Love of Israel and the Jewish People: Essays and Studies on Israel, Jews and Judaism.