Posts tagged " Jerusalem "

Summer in The City

July 16th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 14 comments

It was on a clear but cold winter afternoon that I landed at JFK Airport on my first visit to the United States.  After clearing customs and immigration and being granted a three week tourist visa, I climbed into a taxi on my way to my Manhattan hotel.  Half an hour later, as the sun was starting to set, the cab swept around a curve in the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and for the first time in my life my eyes fell upon a sight of which I have never tired.  The towering skyscrapers of lower Manhattan silhouetted against the still blue sky took my breath away.  I found myself silently mouthing these words, “How great are your works, Oh Lord!” (Psalms 92:5) as tears started up in my eyes.  It was then, only a couple of hours after first setting foot upon the continent of North America while driving up the East River towards the Brooklyn Bridge that I resolved to stay.  And, though no longer on a tourist visa, I’m still here.

Why did this sight move me so deeply?  Because the Grand Canyon, Mount Rainier, and the giant redwood trees overlooking San Francisco Bay might all have conceivably come into being as the result of a lengthy process of random, unaided materialistic evolution.  Primeval winds and wild rivers might have shaped canyons and mountains while undisturbed saplings grew and grew.  But a colossal hub of millions of human beings all cooperating to build and maintain Manhattan with its buildings and bridges, its streets and subways and its unimaginably vast system of human enterprise could only have been built by creatures touched by the finger of God.  I was immeasurably moved realizing that I was gazing upon the proof of God’s goodness. 


If It’s Tuesday, I’ll Be In Texas

June 5th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 17 comments

What is interesting about these cities:  Naples, Oslo, Paris, Quebec City, Rome, Stockholm, and Tokyo?  No, it’s not the alphabetic sequence; that’s just me messing with you.  Here’s a clue:  Jerusalem is probably the only city that doesn’t fit that pattern.  What other great city older than two hundred years is not built on either a river or the coast?

That so many cities were built on water is no surprise.  To this day, the majority of the world’s goods and commodities still travel by ship.  Cities grow and thrive where trade occurs, and rivers and oceans have always been the arteries of trade.  The mystery is how Jerusalem grew and thrived.  It was never on a trading route like other inland cities such as those on the old Silk Road.  Because of its elevation, trading caravans would have taken flatter routes to the Mediterranean.  Thus it never had the large markets or “shuks” of cities like Baghdad and Beirut.

Yet, after more than two thousand years, Jerusalem’s vitality and endurance continue undiminished.  On May 28, 1948, the Jordanian army expelled every Jew from Jerusalem’s original old city and destroyed their homes.  In order to ensure that Jews would never return to Jerusalem, the Jordanians destroyed every synagogue and violated the cemetery by building their army latrines over the ancient grave stones.  On June 7th, 1967,  the Jews recaptured Jerusalem.


June 4th, 2017 Posted by AAJC Happenings No Comment yet

Once Again

January 9th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

Chana Beri lost her son Meir during the Yom Kippur war.

She lost her grandson Moshe during the Lebanon War.

Now, she lost her great-grandson Erez Orbach in a terror attack in Jerusalem.

May his memory, and that of his fellow murdered soldiers, be for a blessing and may we merit to live in peace. Amen.

The Fabric of Friendship

November 3rd, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 8 comments

Had you been in Jerusalem last week, you might have seen me sprinting down the street in pursuit of a total stranger. Or, you might have caught me approaching a young Israeli couple at a restaurant and asking them if they had ever spent any time in China. What was going on?

It all started when my husband and I split up for the day. I went to the city of Efrat to spend time with an aunt and uncle and one of my cousins. My husband went to Tel Aviv to meet some Chinese Christian friends with whom we are collaborating on a publishing venture and who were visiting Israel. While I love seeing my family, I was sorry to miss out on what promised to be a fascinating and memorable meeting.


Private Property vs. Community Health

September 6th, 2016 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

In some cities, like Vancouver, British Columbia and Jerusalem, Israel, we have noticed that a significant percentage of apartments and condos in many buildings are vacant most of the year. In the former example, they tend to be owned by Chinese investors as an ’emergency refuge.’ In the latter case, they tend to be owned by Americans and Europeans who occupy them for holidays and vacations. In both cities, entire neighborhoods (more…)

Why do only men go up to Jerusalem?

July 28th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet


Why would only men go up to Jerusalem? – Nancy B.


Dear Nancy,
You are referring to the obligation of Jewish men to go up to Jerusalem on the three major holidays; Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. (Exodus 23:17, Deut. 16:16) As you can see from the opening of the book of Samuel, women often accompanied the men. Ideally, families went up to Jerusalem together,  but you are correct that women were not obligated to do so.

What an overreaction!

June 22nd, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

“What an overreaction!” This exclamation came from a man who consulted me about some business problems. He was alluding to a former customer of his who angrily left him for a competitor and also bad-mouthed him to others. “We were late on a delivery and off he went on a rant,” he continued. “What an overreaction!”

My gentle questioning revealed that my client had not personally called the aggrieved customer to apologize nor had he offered any kind of compensation. But what was far more interesting was that I discovered that this occurrence was not the first time my client had delivered appalling service to this customer. It was not even the second time. It was the third. (more…)

Eat, Pray, Eat, Love, Eat

October 19th, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings No Comment yet

That may not be the most original title, but it pretty much sums up my recent trip to Jerusalem. Arriving just a few days before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, meant starting off with an intense prayer experience. Yom Kippur is an annual occurrence, and unfortunately, it is often wrongly perceived by many Jews and presented in many synagogues as an ordeal – 25 hours to endure, spending most of those hours in synagogue as prayers drone on, with no food or drink for either sustenance or distraction. That is a perversion of the holyday, keeping the externals while missing the soul.  In Jerusalem, at our children’s synagogue, the day was meaningful and exhilarating. Rather than feeling drained as nighttime ended the observances, the atmosphere around us was uplifting and invigorating. It was precisely what a day which allows us to start our relationship with God anew, clear of the past year’s sins, should be.

Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, followed with its own special prayers and activities. This is a holyday ideally meant to be observed in Israel, especially in Jerusalem, and each day was precious. The entire country was bathed in a festive mood and as we reconnected with long-time friends and family whom we rarely get to see, the week of celebration unfolded joyously. We had the privilege of joining my aunt and uncle for his eightieth birthday celebration, re-connecting with cousins and meeting their children and grandchildren. An added bonus during our visit was the opportunity to attend thought-provoking and inspiring. shiurim – Torah classes.

As for love, it permeated the entire trip. For starters, I was sharing stimulating days and evenings with my husband, surrounded by family and friends. Even more, there was the opportunity to step into our daughter and son-in-law’s lives, seeing how their relationship has grown. The piece-de-resistance, of course, was the arrival of their first child, our new grandson. I had reluctantly missed the early days of our most recent two granddaughters’ lives. Waiting for their appearances I helped with older children, allowing my daughters to head into labor rested. But the babies each delayed coming until I was no longer able to stay. My help was appreciated, but I was absent for the miracle of birth and those first irreplaceable days.

This time I shared in a long, arduous labor, marveling how my daughter stayed focused and calm throughout and at my son-in-law’s unwavering support. I heard the first breaths of a new life and participated over the next ten days as mother, father and son eased into being a family. I was re-introduced to the feel, smell and blessing of newborn being. I had the added gift of watching my own child emerge as a loving, competent and entranced mother.

Throughout it all, as the title suggests, food was an overwhelming presence. We enjoyed numerous top-rate meals in private homes. But, in addition to that, there were dozens of kosher cafes and restaurants within walking distance of us. So many, that despite prodigious effort, we were not able to try them all. Since we do not live in an area which provides much opportunity for kosher eating out, dining in Jerusalem was an incredibly fun activity. It wove its way around each of the other more important happenings, accompanying us back to the States in the form of an extra pound or two as a physical reminder of a trip which overflowed with spiritual and emotional bounty. 



City of Peace?

August 24th, 2010 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

As a youngster who loved
woodwork, I remember once announcing to my mother that I was about to build her
a spice rack.  After a few hours of sawing and gluing, I realized it
looked more like a doll house so I asked mom if she’d mind having a doll house instead. 
It later became clear to me that it was actually a bird feeder.  Happily
it turned out that mother really did need a bird feeder.

Each decision I made
about where to cut my planks modified the eventual outcome of my project. Each
hasty cut modified it further.

Real life resembles my
childhood woodworking efforts.  We start off with vague hopes and plans
but real life intrudes.We fall in love, we marry, we have children and become
involved in a job. You once wanted to be a single fireman in Fresno? 
Well, you’re now a mechanic in Miami with a wife and five children.  And
the trick is being as happy with your life as mom was with her bird feeder.

We humans can never know
the end outcome. Though we are partners in shaping our futures, we cannot flawlessly
design and execute our life blueprints. We can only try to do right and then
accept the result, living each day happily.  Ancient Jewish wisdom
emphasizes this life tool by showing that just like our lives, even the name of
Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, was not set in stone from Creation but was shaped
by future events and actions.

Jerusalem is mentioned
by name over 600 times throughout the books of the Tanach, (the Hebrew
Scriptures) but not one of those mentions can be found in the Torah, the Five
Books of Moses.

Instead, Jerusalem is
referred to by other names.

And Malki-Zedek king of Shalem, took out bread and wine…
 (Genesis 14:18)

How do we know that
Shalem (Salem), which means both peace and completion refers to the future city
of Jerusalem? Well, King David announced that the Temple would be built there:

And His tabernacle shall be in Shalem

and His dwelling place in Zion…
(Psalms 76:3)

Another name for
Jerusalem is Moriah as we see from these two verses:

And He said, take your son, your only son,

 whom you love,  Isaac, and go to the land of

(Genesis 22:2)


And Solomon began to build the House of God in Jerusalem,
at Mount Moriah where God appeared to David his father…

(II Chronicles 3:1)

The first time that
Jerusalem is ever mentioned by the name with which we are familiar, is in the
book of Joshua:

And it was when Adoni-Zedek, king of Jerusalem,

 heard that Joshua had conquered Ai…

Did you notice that both
rulers of Jerusalem that we have so far encountered have the word zedek,
meaning justice, in their names? Malki-Zedek and Adoni-Zedek.  Another
person identified as a king in Jerusalem also has zedek, in his name.

Zedek-iah was twenty one years old when he began to reign;

 he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem…
 (II Kings 24:18)

Jerusalem, pronounced in
Hebrew as Yerushalayim, implies a place of Divine peace and completion. Peace
and completion are based on a Godly vision of justice. Peace seldom arrives
through cowardice and appeasement. Peace is the result of doing the right thing
and securing a just completion.  Sometimes the only avenue to real peace
leads through the pain of conflict because a peace without justice is no peace.
It is merely a temporary cease-fire.  The name Jerusalem couldn’t be
bestowed on that special place until the Israelites arrived in the land and
under Joshua’s leadership followed God’s commands. 


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