Why do Jews Vote Leftist?

A few weeks ago I read a blog post (and watched a video) by a guy named Ben Shapiro titled “Why do Jews Vote Leftist?” In this blog post, the author spells out his thesis as to why Jews tend to vote leftist and then tries to systematically quash these reasons. I watched his video and I became angry at what I was hearing. I felt the need to refute some of his statements. While my blog on the Times of Israel may have more visibility, that blog is meant to be about the Conservative Movement, and I do not want to break my own rule, so I am writing here again.

He spends his first few paragraphs tying President Obama to anti-Semites. I am not going to spend time refuting this, because some of it is correct. However, you can look at many different campaigns and administrations and you will find plenty of anti-Semites there as well. So I find these paragraphs inflammatory and of no real use.

His next argument is that most Jews don’t care about Judaism. He brings numerous polls for his proof text. I cannot refute the polls, and I am not going to try. However, I wonder if Mr. Shaprio would be surprised to learn that many of the people who don’t seem to care about Judaism, DO seem to care about being Jewish. Now, I don’t have polls and stats to give other than what I can see around me. I have met Jews who feel very strongly about their Jewish heritage. Here is an example. In a past job, there was a gentleman who was 100% assimilated. He was married to a non-Jewish woman. He ate non-Kosher food. He hardly ever celebrated a Jewish holiday. By all accounts, this person, whom I will call “Joe”, would be a perfect candidate for the vast majority of Jews who do not care about Judaism. However, Joe was more than happy to talk about his Jewish family, his Jewish upbringing, and his fond feelings for his Jewish heritage. A far cry from someone who does not care about Judaism. I have met numerous people like Joe, and I will hazard a guess that many Jews in America feel the same way. I recall once suggesting to someone I met who was just like Joe, that he was not “really” Jewish. His reaction was one of shock and brought him to tears! Polls can tell us a lot, but I think they miss this aspect of “feeling Jewish”.

Mr. Shapiro then begins his real thesis. He posits that “Most Jews aren’t Jewish in any real sense beyond ethnic identification.” That they don’t care about Torah or Mitzvot, and polling Jews is no different than polling Catholics. Since Jews don’t care about Judaism, according to Mr. Shapiro, they don’t care about what the Torah has to say. He then goes on to say the most surprising thing to me. “The Torah is not a left-wing document.” WOW! That is some statement. He continues to say that Jews who vote leftist are betraying “Torah Judaism.” I think the term “Torah Judaism” is a horrible term and perhaps in another post someday I will explain that comment, but I am here to say that voting left does not betray the Torah. In fact, I am here to say that the Torah is, in fact, a leftist document! By FAR!

Mr. Shapiro’s evidence that the Torah is not leftist is that “It opposes abortion and opposes same-sex marriage. It does not believe in a grand welfare system, but in private charity.” First off, the Torah does not oppose abortion. In fact, the Torah never mentions abortion. Most post biblical sources, including the Talmud see a human fetus as a potential life so abortion in general is not permitted, however, in a case where the pregnancy or birth will be dangerous to the mother, abortion is not only permitted, but required! This has also been interpreted to mean even for mental health reasons one abort a fetus! As for Same Sex Marriage, the Torah also has nothing to say. The Mishna, Talmud, Codes, etc. also have nothing to say about same sex marriage. These documents never even consider the possibility of a same sex marriage! So to say that the Torah opposes these concepts is misleading at best, and just plain wrong at worse. To suggest that the Torah does not believe in a grand welfare system, almost suggests a total misunderstanding of what the Torah is teaching! Judaism itself is a “grand welfare system” where we are told that we are to take care of the poor.

So his “proof” holds no water. But is he still correct? Is the Torah a right-wing document, or can it be shown that it is in fact, what Mr. Shapiro calls a “leftist” document? My thesis is that the Torah, is a “leftist” document. While the Torah is filled with ritual Mitzvot, it is also filled with many ethical Mitzvot. We are taught to treat the stranger with respect. We are taught to feed the poor be sure that the orphans are cared for. The Torah is easily a manifesto for social Justice. In fact, at the literal center of the Torah is the verse “Justice, Justice shall you pursue”! Not only that, but Jews are told that we are to be an “Or LaGoyim”, a light unto the nations. Our most important role in the world is to bring justice to the world! If that does not make the Torah “leftist” I don’t know it is.

This is then almost self-explanatory as to why Jews vote liberal. Many Jews are brought up within a culture that not only praises social justice, it is a culture that requires it! Mr. Shapiro’s final statement is “Jews who care about actual Judaism don’t vote leftist. And those who prioritize leftism don’t vote Jewish.” Well, Mr. Shapiro, I care deeply about “actual” Judaism and I am proud Democrat and a proud “leftist”! In November I will be voting for the candidate who will advance the ethics and morals of the Torah, and I can promise that that candidate will not be a Republican.

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Facebook and Global Warming

A few years back I posted in Facebook that I would stop posting about politics on my Facebook page. In that time, I think I may have broken my general rule once or twice, but for the most part I have kept to it. The reason I did this was to avoid the arguing that ultimately leads to name calling, foul language, and even major Lashon HaRa. I want to keep away from that for many reasons, not the least of which is that you are in my friends list for a reason. Either we are good friends, or we have known each other from some part of my past, and want to keep in touch at some level. Everyone I have “friended” or from whom I have accepted their “friending” is someone that I like and respect.

In all of my time on Facebook, I have “unfriended” only one person and it did ultimately come from nasty political postings. That is not why I am on Facebook. I am on Facebook for three major reasons. First, I want a place where I can easily update friends and family on the goings on in my life be they good or bad. Second, I want to be able to hear about what is going on in my friends and families lives. Third, I find Facebook a forum that can stimulate me, move me, and yes, entertainment.

As we move into the Presidential election season, there are more and more posts that I wish I did not have to see, and for the most part, I can just ignore them. I have been seeing a few posts from people that are outside of politics that are really bothering me. These are posts skeptical of global warming. I use the term global warming here rather than the more “au currant” term of Climate Change because most skeptics do not deny that there is climate change, they just seem to insist that we are not to blame. A friend told me recently that throughout the history of the world there have been warming periods and cooling periods and now we are in a warming period and eventually we will be back in a cooling period.

My friend is correct to a point. There have been warming and cooling periods in history. The ice ages were the two coldest periods, while today we are in one of warmest periods. Where my friend is wrong, and was is bothering me, is that global warming skeptics refuse to accept that Homo Sapiens, the dominant species on our planet are contributing to the current warming period and unless we make major changes, we will never make it to the next cooling period. The world will likely make it, but we will not be here to see it!

I don’t often say that people are “wrong”.  I often disagree with people and think that I am right and they are wrong, but I rarely will tell that to a person’s face. This is a case where I want to proclaim to all of my skeptic friends, that they are just plain wrong. Global warming is real and 97% of all scientists who have written about it agree. Heck, all the nations of the world agree! The bottom line is, that if we do not make major changes in the way we are living in this world, our children will inherit a much different place than was bequeathed to us.

If you want the evidence for my two truths in the last paragraph, here they are. On May 15, 2013 a paper was published in Environmental Research Letters, Volume 8, Number 2. In this paper the authors analyzed the evolution of scientific consensus on global warming. From about 12,000 papers they found 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. This paper was not taking a stance on its own, they just showed that out of 12,000 published papers, 97.1% of them agreed that we are causing global warming.

As for all the nations of the world agreeing, you can see that from the Climate Accord that was signed in Paris on December 11. I think that this may be the most important headline in the NY Times since its founding.

So why do I bring all of this up? Most of my Facebook friends will agree with everything I have said. Unfortunately, I know that there are some people in my friends list who just won’t face up to reality. I am tired of seeing posts that deny global warming. I know, I can just ignore them too, but for me denying global warming is 100 x worse than being on the other side from me in a political argument. So I have decided to take a big stance here and say that this will now be my litmus test. I cannot keep a relationship on Facebook with people who cannot believe that we are ruining our world despite the massive amounts of evidence that is put in front of them. If you cannot work to help fix this issue, then you have to be part of the problem.

I end with an apology. I am sorry if I offend anyone with what I have written and what I feel I have to do. However, it is time that we all most start to think about our part in safeguarding our planet and ensuring that our children and our children’s children will have a safe place to live. So I end this year with the promise to try to do more in my life and with the hope that everyone else will try to do their part as well.

Best wishes for a Happy, Healthy, and Safe 2016.

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Israel, days eleven and twelve

Sunday and today were both very busy days. Avi needed another “chill” day so he stayed behind while Marsha, Noam, Shayna and I went first to Beit Guvrin National Park where we were met by someone from Archeological Seminars and we went down into one of their caves and dug. We found many bones and pieces of pottery. Someone in the group even found a metal hook which was a very rare find and went in a special place to go straight to the lead archeologist! After we dug for a while we also went spelunking through a cave and then saw another cave that was totally excavated. All the caves in the area were dug by volunteers and in this one cave they found an entire olive press! Unfortunately, our finds were a bit more mundane, but we still had a great time.

The entrance to our cave

After the dig we had a quick lunch in Beit Shemesh and then on to Latrun to see the Tank museum. Actually we never really went into the museum. Shayna had a blast climbing on the tanks. Noam like seeing the tanks, but did not want to climb.

Shayna on a tank

After Latrun, we went to perhaps the most interesting stop on our trip. In the years just before the war of independence the Haganah secretly built a bullet making factory in Rehovot, just outside of Tel Aviv. It was underground, covered by a laundry and bakery. The Laundry helped block the sound of the machinery and the bakery helped mask any smells. The tour is fun and informative and if you ever go to Israel, you really need to see this place.

The secret entrance under a laundry machine

Then we made a quick stop at the Knesset to see the iconic menorah and take a “family” photo.

Today we all went out and our first stop was Kehillat Moreshet Avraham where we had a Shaharit service at which Noam read from the Torah again. We were a nice little group of people I have not seen in a while and a few people who helped put together our trip.

Noam putting on Tefillin

Noam reading from the Torah

We’re from HAGALIL!

Our next stop was Yad Lekashish were we had a chance to do some shopping at the shop of this wonderful place. Here, retired men and women can come each day and work. They make all kinds of crafts that are then sold in the shop. Noam got a Tallit bag and we got a new Challah cover.

Then we drove to Har Herzl. We parked and then took a short shuttle to Yad Vshem. The children are too young to go into the museum, but we went to the grove for the righteous gentiles and David told Noam and Shayna about these people. Avi stayed in the visitor’s center. We also walked through the children’s memorial. Then we walked the path that connects Vad Vshem to the Military Cemetery at Har Herzl. This is an amazing placement where you go from the lowest point to a place where we honor Jews who fought for the Jewish state. We saw a few special graves. First Hannah Senesh who parachuted into Hungary during WW II to try and rescue Jews. Then we saw the grave of Yoni Netanyahu who led the mission to rescue the hostages at Entebee. Finally we saw the grave of Michael Levin who was a USYer who went on Nativ and then made Aliyah. He died in Lebenon and was buried at Har Herzl. His death brought to the forefront the group of lone soldiers, people from all over the world who come by themselves to fight for the Jewish state. His grave is visited by every USY group in Israel and as you can see has become a sort of shrine.

Michael Levin’s grave

Then we saw Herzl’s grave and those of the Prime Ministers who are buried at Har Herzl. After a quick lunch we also saw the Herzl museum which is a great museum. Rather than just look at artifacts, you get to see a movie throughout the museum about Herzl’s live. Another great find that should not be missed.

Finally we ended the day at the Israel Museum. We saw the model of second Temple Jerusalem, the Shrine of the Book, a very interesting exhibit about the Nano-Tanakh, the world’s smallest Hebrew bible and ended with a walk through the archeology wing of the museum. Avi loved this part and went right for the Roman period pieces. He recalled everything we had seen throughout the trip that had to do with the Roman period and this was definitely a highlight of his day.

Shayna in the Ahavah sculpture

Almost a full family photo!

Finally, we went back to the apartment for dinner and packing for our trip home tomorrow. All total, I think we are happy we brought the kids to Israel. Shayna clearly had a great time and loved every bit of the trip. Noam had his ups and downs, but mostly ups and he too is happy we came. Sometimes it is hard with Avi, but there have been moments where we are certain that he really did get something from this trip. Whenever he would also questions about things having to do with the ancient Israelites or Jews, he would also use “we” to talk about it, not them. To me this is very significant and shows me that Avi knows who he is and that he is part of the Jewish people. Other times, like today in the Israel Museum, he shows us that he heard everything that was said when we visited sites around the country.

We are all happy and excited to be coming home tomorrow but sad at the same time to leave Jerusalem. I hope it won’t take us 15 more years to get back!

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Isarel, days nine and ten

As I said in my last post, Friday was a total “chill day”. We woke up late and Marsha, Shayna, and I walked over to the Hadar Mall to buy food for Shabbat. This is an amazing thing, that in Israel, on Friday morning, many of the malls will have booths set up with vendors selling Shabbat foods. There were so many choices, and we got chicken, yerushalmi kugel, vegetables, etc. We could have gotten Challot, but we decided to go back to Marzipan in the shuk for that.

The food booths at the mall

After getting the food in the refrigerator, the three of us took the bus downtown to do a little shopping. We ordered a necklace with Shayna’s name, got a replacement chain for one of Marsha’s that broke and I got to have my second Shwarma of the trip! We got Noam his own Hebrew siddur and then went to Marzipan to get Challot and Rugelach for Shabbat. Finally we took the bus back to the apartment. We were definitely tired from our shopping!

At five the three of us drove to the Jerusalem First Station. This is the old train station in Jerusalem that was renovated about three years ago. Now there are shops and bars and I understand a very nice nightlife. Every summer at 5:00 pm there is kabbalat Shabbat live at the station. Each week, one of three different groups will perform and sing the Kabbalat Shabbat with instruments and people sing along and dance and have a great time. The idea is to have people from all walks of Jewish life, secular to Orthodox come together and celebrate. It is over at least 45 minutes before Shabbat begins, so people who are shomer Shabbat have time to get home and finish preparing for Shabbat. We had a lot of fun and even Shayna sang along!

Kabbalat Shabbat at the First Station.

Shabbat was wonderful. We went to our friends Marc and Ellie for Shabbat lunch and had a great time. After lunch we had time to rest at the apartment before we went back to shul where Noam read Torah for the first time as a Bar Mitzvah! His Bar Mitzvah in the states is next Shabbat, and the Torah reading for Minha, the afternoon service, is always the same reading as the following Shabbat. So Noam was all prepared and he did an amazing job! The Monday and Thursday readings are also the same as the coming Shabbat, so he will be reading again on Monday morning at the Masorti Synagogue in Talpiot Mizrach, Kehillat Moreshet Avraham.

Tomorrow we are going to an archeological dig and the Ayalon Institute Museum which houses a bullet factory that was built by the Jewish people in years prior to 1948 to make bullets to prepare for the upcoming war.

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Israel, day eight

Today was a looooong day! We did a lot of travelling and spent a lot more time in the car, which of course made everyone cranky by day’s end. We started with another great breakfast at Kibbutz HaGoshrim and then after packing the car we left for Tzfat. The boys were not sure about going to Tzfat, but during David’s talk about Tzfat and about the Ari, Noam and Shayna were definitely listening. Especially the story about the origins of Lekha Dodi. We saw the Ashkenazi Ari Synagogue and went next door to buy some of the famous Tzfat candles. We took a walk through the artist area and picked up another set of Tekheilet. Right after we get home from Israel, Noam and I will need to tie his tzitzit on his tallit and I think Tekheilet purchased in Tzfat is all the more special.

A view of Mount Meron from Tzfat. Until 1967, this was
the highest mountain in Israel. There is still a listening
station at the top.

After lunch in Tzfat (finally, my first Shwarma!) we drove to Haifa. Shayna did a report on Haifa for school a couple of years ago and ever since she has wanted to go there. Marsha and I have actually never seen the Bahai gardens, so we were more than happy to go and see it. We all learned about the Bahai faith and took some photos at the gates of the gardens. After the Bahai, we took a ride on the Carmalit. This is a funicular subway that goes up and down the Carmel in Haifa. It is the second shortest subway system in the world and is more like an elevator at times than a subway. Shayna had a blast riding down and then up. Finally, we went to get some all-important ice cream.

Noam, Marsha, and Me in front of the B’hai gardens.

Finally, we drove back to Jerusalem. Unfortunately, when we hit Tel Aviv we also hit traffic so we did not get back to Jerusalem until about 8. We drove to the city center and walked around the Midrachov and on Jaffa Street for a little while. Did a little shopping and just took in the Jerusalem nightlife.

After a lot of thought, we have decided that tomorrow is going to be a totally “chill day” for the boys. We do not have a guide for tomorrow and the original plans were for us to go to the beach in Tel Aviv, but Avi has no interest in the beach and Noam does not care. So the boys will stay back and Marsha, Shayna, and I will go downtown again to do some shopping. Perhaps we will try the shuk again in the morning when it is less crowded.

I am looking forward to another Shabbat in Jerusalem. This Shabbat will be all the more special because Noam will be reading Torah at Kehillat Yedidya at Minha. The Minha torah reading comes from the next Shabbat’s parsha, which is Noam’s Bar Mitzvah, so he knows it well. We will have a small Seudah Shlisheet after as well.

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Israel, day seven

One thing I was certainly looking forward to was the full Israeli breakfast that you get at the Kibbutz Hotel! The standard Israeli breakfast always includes salads and vegetables, eggs, cereals and drinks, but here they also have other additions such as pancakes and even pizza! Noam tried the pizza but did not like it. Perhaps the first time he met a pizza that he did not like. Avi filled up on pancakes with chocolate sauce. Shayna, of course eats everything! Later in the day, Avi asked if we will get the big breakfast again and he was very happy when I said yes, and sad that we won’t have it again this trip.

After breakfast we went to Tel Dan Nature Reserve. Here we saw one of the tributaries of the Jordan, called the Dan River. It was quite beautiful. We also saw the excavated ruins of the ancient Israelite city of Dan, including one of the two alters built by Jeroboam in the book of Kings.

After Tel Dan, we went ATV riding! This was a definite highlight of the trip and all three kids loved it! Shayna was very apprehensive at first, but she was laughing and having a blast over the bumps in the road. This was a great company, because I got to drive the vehicle (sort of a cross between a jeep and a traditional American ATV). We drove up to the edge of the Golan and looked out over the Hula valley and some of the Syrian bunkers sitting on top of the ridge. I know the kids learned something because when David would ask questions later, they knew the answers. At the end of the trip we stopped at the Banyas River, one of the other tributaries of the Jordan.

Getting ready for our ATV ride. Noam is in the back hiding as usual.

Shayna in the Banyas River

After ATVing, Marsha and I got to make a quick stop at Kibbutz Naot Mordechai. Some of you might recognize the first name in the Kibbutz. This is the Kibbutz where all of the Naot shoes are made. They have an outlet there, and I found very comfy sandals for an amazing bargain.

We then made our way to Katrin were we saw a great multimedia presentation about the Golan Heights and saw an incredible scale model of the entire Golan. It turns out that right around the corner from the movie location was the Golan Heights Winery, and David’s brother-in-law is a production manager there! He gave us a quick tour and then we got to have a nice taste of a few of their wines. I wish we could take home many bottles, but we only purchased two.

After dinner it was back to the hotel to clean off from the day (the ATV rides made us all very dirty).

Tomorrow we will see Tzfat and Haifa and then back to Jerusalem.



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Israel, Day six

Today, we began our trip to the north with a drive west through Tel Aviv and then north. Our first stop was Caesarea, where we saw the Roman ruins and the theater that Herod built. I think Avi really got a lot out of this part of the trip due to his love of things Roman (which in turn comes from his love of the Percy Jackson books). He asked a lot of questions and was really engaged. Avi and I even got to run a race in King Herod’s Hippodrome!

Shayna is ready for a chariot race!

After Caesarea we drove to Akko for lunch and a quick story about the Jewish jail beak at the Akko prison. We eat lunch at this hole in the wall Hummus restaurant. According to David it is known as one of the top three Hummus joints in the country. I must admit the Hummus was quite good and very reasonably priced. We had to wait a while to get in, but it was definitely worth the wait. After Akko we drove to Rosh Hanikra to see the grottos there which were as amazing and I remember. We went into the largest grotto and within moments, the water came in and drenched us all! Luckily you dry off pretty quickly in Israel.

Spices in the Akko Shuk

Marsha and her birthday Baklava in Akko!

After we left Rosh Hanikra we drove to Kiryat Arbah for some dinner in the local mall and then to Kibbutz HaGoshrim for our stay at their hotel. I may have been brief in my blog today, but it was a pretty long day. Tomorrow we will be seeing the Golan and ride ATVs! Here is a few photos of Noam, because there are so few photos of him this trip.

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Israel, days four and five

Sunday, again, had its ups and downs. We had a fill in guide because David had to take a law school exam. Asaf Salomon was our fill in and we really lucked out. He does all of the VIP tours of the western wall. When Pope Francis visited Jerusalem, Asaf was his tour guide. He told me that next week, he is guiding the Rolling Stones! He knows more about Jerusalem and the old city than most people.

He met us at the apartment and we took cabs to the old city. We began with a little intro to the history of Jerusalem and then we started our tour walking on the walls of Jerusalem. It is quite amazing to see the tiny paths that the soldiers walked to guard the city. Thank God we had railings! When we got to the Zion gate we walked over to the Tomb of David site to see the view of the city that was the closest Jews could get to the Kotel until 1967.

As we came into the old city, we had our second encounter with someone we know! We came back through the Zion gate and there with their guide (JJ Jonah, the person who set up our trip!) was Michael Diamond and his family! His twin girls were with Shayna at Ramah this summer and one of them in her bunk. I am sure that the Diamonds and Nava Kogen will not be the only ones we meet up with!

We then went into the Jewish quarter and learned about some of the different sites. Marsha and I had never seen the rebuilt Hurva Synagogue, and we are not sure it is even something that should have been rebuilt. Years ago, you could only see the single arch they had built as a memorial, but now the whole building.

The Hurva Synagogue. The arch you see was the memorial and for years the only part of the building rebuilt.

Next we went to the cardo the main roman street that ran through the old city in the time of the Romans. At this point Avi began to grumble so we quickly bought a gift and then went to lunch.

Our guide Asaf, telling us about the Cardo

As we walked toward the Archeological park in the old city Avi finally had enough. Marsha and Noam went with Asaf in, and I took Avi back to the apartment in a Cab. I was able to run in, leave Avi, get a new battery for my camera and get back in the cab that waited for me. I made it back to the old city within 40 minutes or so and then I caught up with Marsha and the kids. We stayed a little longer in the park and heard a bit about Kings David, Solomon and Herod, and even had a chance meeting with a couple of “pilgrims”.

Shayna as King David

Our pilgrim friends

We saw the Kotel and the western wall tunnels after that. I think the kids really learned something and they definitely enjoyed the kotel tunnel. We left the old city and went to pick up our rental car for the rest of the trip. Here I found that you need your passport and visa to get your car! I had to take a cab back to the apartment, get the passport and visa and cab back. Way too many cabs! In the past, your visa was a stamp in your passport. Now it is a separate piece of paper you have to keep with your passport. I miss the older method!

This morning David was back and we drove to Masada. We left at 8:45 and everyone told us we were nuts for going so late because it would be too hot. Well, they were all wrong. It certainly was hot, but it was not too hot and there was a nice breeze on the top of the mountain. This kids seemed to take an interest in the tour on Masada and even Avi was asking questions.

After Masada we went to Ein Gedi, the famous desert oasis. Avi did not want to take a hike to the spring so he stayed at the main entrance and played video games while the rest of us took a hike to the spring. We even met a family from East Brunswick on the way in. The water was so cool and everyone had a great time in the water.

After Ein Gedi, we went to the Dead Sea for a very quick float. Avi was looking forward to this. His orthodontist is running a contest for the kids to brush their teeth in interesting locations. There are great prizes. Avi decided to brush floating in the dead sea!

Finally our last stop was Genesis Land were we rode camels to meet Avraham and have dinner in his tent. The camel ride was fun (and a bit scary at times) and the dinner was excellent! If you come to Israel, I recommend coming here.

All in all it was a great day and all of the kids had a good time. Tomorrow it is off to the north for two nights. Hopefully the wifi will be good enough for me to post from there.

Avi in the Judean hills

A nice end to a nice day
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Israel, Days two and three

Friday certainly had its ups and downs. We began the day with our tour guide David Landau meeting us at our apartment. We got things together and we cabbed to Ir David, or the City of David. David (our tour guide) really gave us a good introduction to Israel and Jerusalem, using Noam as a map of Israel.

David really knows Israel and his love for the country really shows through. We then went through the Ir David site and learned more of the area and the how the people lived (including an ancient toilet!). The culmination of Ir David is a walk through Hezekiah’s tunnel which brought water to the city during the siege by the Assyrians. However, Avi would have none of that, and then when Noam heard some running water, he also said no. So the three of us walked through a different tunnel that was used to bring water to crops by the Canaanites. It was a bit of a hike for us to get to the meeting point where Marsha, Shayna and David were, and it was hot, so Noam was not a happy camper. Finally we met up and then walked through a newly found tunnel that was a sewage tunnel from the 2nd temple times.

Avi got to help with some demonstrations as well

Another more recent find. This is a 2nd temple staircase that pilgrims would use to enter the city and go straight to the Temple Mount. This is the ancient sewer tunnel

After Ir David, we took cabs to Mahane Yehuda. Mahane Yehuda is the amazing open air market in Jerusalem, also known as the Shuk. You can purchase almost anything in the shuk, from housewares, to groceries to the most amazing fruits and vegetables. It is a great experience, however, on Fridays it is quite packed with people. We started with lunch and everything was fine. Marsha and I found this great fish and chips place and David took the boys in search of pizza. Apparently, the pizza place close and he got them “pizza” on malawah, which is a thick Yemenite bread. They seemed to like it which is great because they tried something new. After that, though things kinda spiraled down. With all the people and the heat, the kids were getting very cranky, so we just got staples for Shabbat and took a bus back to the apartment.

Given that it was late (3:30), I needed to do some quick shopping for Shabbat. I went to the Supersol and picked up a chicken and few other staples (aka ketchup) and went back and we made Shabbat.

This morning Marsha, Shayna, Noam and I went to shul at Yedidyah. After lunch and a short nap, we walked over to our friend Alexis’ house and spent the afternoon visiting with her and her boys. Avi had fun playing ping pong and then boys all played of Catan (thanks Nathan for getting that for them!)

Tomorrow we will be the old city with a fill-in tour guide Rachel. David is in law school and has an exam tomorrow. He will be back with us on Monday and through the rest of the trip.

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Israel, Day 1

As some have already seen from my photo postings, we are in Israel. Things went pretty well on Wednesday. We arrived at the airport about when we planned. Amazingly we made it through check-in and security very fast which gave us a long wait at the gate, but the kids had video games to play and everything went well. We boarded on time and only left 30 minutes late. We arrived only 10 minutes late, but unfortunately, the kids did not sleep so neither did Marsha or I.

Once we got to Israel things went very well. We have used a company called Israel Maven Tours to plan the trip and with that comes VIP service. We had an airport agent meet us at the gate, who drove us to the main part of the airport. So no long walk to get the luggage. He gave our passports to the Passport agent, and we were through in five minutes. Our luggage came up fairly quick and we had a car service waiting for us to take us to Jerusalem. Pretty great! The driver took us to the Tayelet. If you are not familiar the Tayelet is a promenade that gives you remarkable views of Jerusalem.

Overlooking the old city at the Tayelet

After that we went to the apartment and got our things in. A quick trip to the mall a few blocks away for lunch (and a new iPod cable), some grocery shopping, and then back to the apartment for some (well needed) down time. We finished up the day with a trip to the Jerusalem Time Elevator. This is a multi-sensory movie that tells the story of Jerusalem. You sit on platforms that move and make you feel like you are moving with the film. It is fun and the kids learned a little about Jerusalem. Finally we lucked out with dinner. Our plans are to make dinner in the apartment most nights, but we were not ready for that yet. We found this little restaurant call Alma on Yosef Rivlin Street. I think it was a great find. The food was delicious and we all ate very well! Happy Birthday Marsha a little early!

Tomorrow we meet our tour guide and start our tour of Israel. We are certainly looking forward!

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