Archive for the 'Local events' Category

Telfed in Ariel



With the growing popularity of Ariel’s Community Aliyah Program word has a way of getting around. True – North American olim and South African olim are not quite the same.  Still – they have a lot more in common than their mother tongue, and for one reason or another the South African community has begun to take an interest in Ariel.

Telfed (The South African Zionist Federation) has been pushing aliyah to the land of Israel for their constituents. Back in July Telfed brought a flight of 100 new olim to Israel. They’re taking a serious interest in stepping up their operation, and as such it was just a matter of time until they made their way to Ariel.

During their visit this past Thursday, mayor Ron nachman showed the group around the city. The guided tour included thorough visits to the up-and-coming Performing Arts Center, the brand new Sports and Recreation Center and the Ariel University Center. As with all of Ariel’s visitors, the delegates were very impressed.

A few months back, after a series of inquiries from potential South African olim about Ariel, I approached the Ministry of Absorption and suggested that they add the South African community as potential benefeciaries of our Community Aliyah Program. The response was that they’d rather leave things status quo… unless the South African community makes an organized request to come to Ariel. Well – Telfed is now in the process of issuing that request – we’ll keep you posted as things move along. 

Oh- by the way- my wife is originally South African. So – when the time comes I think we’re going to have to issue a dictiionary that translates South African terminology to American terminology. Don’t worry- it’s not too bad. Just keep in mind not to hold your breath if a South African says “just now”.


Yom Hazikaron – Most Original Sight

Russian World War Two MedalI saw quite a bit today, on my Yom Hazikaron travels. Today, Israel’s Memorial Day for it’s fallen soldiers and terror vicitms, has been very meaningful for me.

After Shacharit (my morning prayers) at the Netzarim Yeshiva here in Ariel they recited a special “E-l Maleh Rachamim” (prayer in memory of people who passed away) for the martyrs of the Netzarim community, when it was in Gush Katif – including both Netzarim residents and fallen soldiers. My day opened with a genuine sense that every person who fell defending the State of Israel had not only a name and a family but also a purpose.

Later this morning i was in Petach Tikva for some time. On my way back home to Ariel I passed several Yom Hazikaron ceremonies being organized. The siren wailed while I was on the road – each of the cars pulled aside and each of the drivers stood aside in silent memory and honor. It was a powerful and meaningful moment, though not a suprising one. Only upon my return to Ariel did I see something that made me do a double-take.

After I dropped off the soldier that hitched a ride with me (whom I was pretty sure shed a tear while we were listening to the Har Herzl memorial ceremony over the radio) something rather unique caught my eye. On the opposite side of the road was an elderly man, wearing a sport jacket with civilian clothing – decorated with more medals and badges than I’d ever seen at one time before. Had I not been familiar with Ariel’s Russian war veteran’s museum I would have had no clue as to what was going on. It was, however, clear to me that this man was donning the medals that he recieved over many years of service in The Red Army. But in Israel?, on Yom Hazikaron?

It turns out that I missed the main event. There were many Yom Hazikaron ceremonies throughout Ariel, but one of the more original and interesting ones was in Ariel’s primary commercial center. There, the deputy mayor, along with city residents, paid tribute to Israel’s fallen soldiers. Some of the decorated war veterans from World War II were present. They were, and are Jews, who served in the Red Army in the fight against Hitler and the Germans.

It’s still somewhat surprising to me – the Red Army and Israel’s Memorial Day. Intellectually the correlation between the two seems to be a stretch, at best. And yet, for the war veteran’s there was a natural and necessary connection between the two. As though they were basically stating “we fought as Jews the best way a Jew could fight”. Their affinity to the Israeli Defense Forces is something they carry with them with every one of their medals.

I guess what struck me most about the whole thing was the seam between different stages of Jewish history. These men and their families lived and fought through one of the most profound shifts in the history of our People  – from the depths of the exile to the beginning of the Redemption. 

It’s absolutely amazing to me. As Jews, something deep down inside tells us that everything we are-  our personal experiences, our collective history – it all becomes meaningful when we build our lives in Israel. Sometime along the process of experiencing our Aliyah it finally becomes clear: everything we’ve been through is the basis of everything that we will be.  

Tears of Joy

Simchat TorahThe Alon Shvut chapter of Bnei Akiva spent Simchat Torah in Ariel. The highly motivated youth came with the intention of enhancing the spirit of the day with the local community. They split up amongst various congregations in Ariel, they sang and they danced.

I must admit – at first I felt bad for the kids. They were clearly highly motivated, yet thank G-d there wasn’t much room for them to stand, let alone to dance in the synagogue where I daven. The place was packed, and although there’s always room for more people and more good Jewish fun, I was concerned the kids might get the sense that they came out to Ariel for naught.

As the evening proceeded, however, the stamina of the youth proved invaluable. When the adults got tired, the Bnei Akiva kids kept on going.

Indeed, the visiting youth were greatly appreciated. Although my synagogue has been fortunate enough to draw large numbers of energized idealistic families over the last few years, not all of the synagogues have been quite so fortunate. My wife mentioned to a women who davens in a congragation in an older neighborhood of Ariel that tens of Bnei Akiva visiting teens would be making their way over to sing and dance at their shul. The woman looked at my wife and began to cry.    

I myself witnessed some other tears this Simchat Torah. We were dancing outside with the Torahs when someone from our congregation started steering us around the side of the building. We were headed for the Sefardi minyan. Someone in the crowd started singing “Yachad Yachad” – and we went marching in. I got a glimpse of some of the regulars in the Sefardi minyan. I looked at one and I saw tears welling up in his eyes. I looked at another and I saw the same. Next thing I knew the same was happenning to me.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not because Sefardi and Ashkenazi Jews were singing and dancing together that everyone was so touched. That phenomenon is rather passe’ in Ariel – nothing new there. It seems to me the fact that it is passe’, the fact that it’s natural for us that different communities join together – that’s what was so touching on the holiday of Simchat Torah- one People, one Torah – it just felt right.          

Getting Ready for Succot

What didn’t exist in Ariel only a few short years ago exists today. The preparations for Succot are prevalent wherever you turn. 

For some time there have been stands where one can purchase the four species, but now people are taking orders in advance, selling at key locations (shuls, the yeshiva) and sending out emails to expand their market.

Building succot – that’s certainly come a long way. There are a few locations in the city for purchasing succot here in Ariel, including the “Yishag” judaica store. What’s great to watch is the new housing developments in Ariel, dotted with new succot aside many a home. The holiday spirit is infectious.

Beyond the religious overtones of the holiday, the city is preparing for its first annual “Health Festival” to be held on Monday of Chol Hamoed Succot. A new park and a new walking track will be dedicated and there will be activities for adults and children throughout the day.

Alot is happenning now, and even more will be happenning on Succot.

Chag Sameach!


New synagogue has torah introduction ceremony

A new synagogue opened in Ariel today, our fourteenth. It’s called ‘Moriah’ after the nearby street as well as in the spirit of using a name synonomous of Jerusalem, just like our own Ari’el. The rosh yeshiva of the new hesder yeshiva as well as the vice-mayor both showed up for the parade and subsequent seudat mitzva ceremony. It was mentioned though, that this was not the ceremony for opening the synagogue. Renovations have not yet been completed, but since the building is already usable by a minyan, a torah can be brought in and that is the reason to welcome it with a celebration. Next week, the new mikva will be officially opended.

Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan Yaakov Ariel visits

Rav Yaakov ArielAbout a hundred people came to the Eshkol HaPayis auditorium on Tuesday evening to hear about the upcoming Shmita year from Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, the Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan and one of the leading rabbis of the religious Zionist movement. The evening began with a lecture by Rabbi Yoel Friedman from the Ashkelon-based Institute of the Torah and the Land better known by its Hebrew name – ‘Machon HaTorah V’HaAretz’ formely established in the abandonned Gush Katif village of Kfar Darom.