The Jewish Earth Day

Tu B’ShevatMonday, February 9th, is Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish new year of the trees.  The name of this holiday is actually its date: “Tu” is a pronunciation of the Hebrew letters for the number 15, and it falls in the Hebrew month of Shevat.In ancient times, Jewish farmers relied on Tu B’Shevat to determine when they were permitted, under Jewish law, to receive the fruits of their harvests.  The Torah states, “When you enter the land [of Israel] and plant any tree for food, you shall regard its fruit as forbidden.  Three years it shall be forbidden for you, not to be eaten.” (Leviticus 19:23).  The law required that the fruit of the fourth year be offered in gratitude to the priests of the Temple.  The fruit of the fifth year, and all years following, was finally for the farmer.  This law raised the need to mark the “birthday” of…

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Where have all the young men gone?

       The stereotypical portrait of a seder table with the man of the house leading the service may look out of place to the next generation of liberal Jews.         This is because outside the Orthodox world, men are becoming less and less engaged in every aspect of Jewish life, from the home to the synagogue to communal organizations. Numerous studies show that fewer boys than girls go to non-Orthodox youth groups, religious schools or summer camps, fewer go into the rabbinate and cantorate, and fewer serve on synagogue or federation committees.  This comes as women and girls in the liberal movements are benefiting from a host of programs and initiatives aimed at increasing their Jewish involvement, from gender-neutral prayer books to the popular Jewish identity-building program for teenage girls, “Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing.”  Some are calling it the feminization of liberal Judaism – but few say so out loud. “It’s not politically…

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An Israeli Soldier’s Tale

An Israeli friend's son of Ed Berns, Co-Chair of TBS Israel Affairs Committee, was involved in the fighting in Gaza. He had been interviewed by Arutz Sheva (Channel 7 - Israel National News) to recount his experiences.His words are a concise summary of the circumstances experienced by the IDF while in Gaza that stand in stark counterpoint to the news as we most often hear it through the filter of the major media. It is a sobering description of what Hamas really is and how it treats its people. You can listen by clicking on www.israelnationalnews.com or read the highlights below:Aryeh, a former hesder yeshiva student and a soldier in reserves who spent a week fighting terrorists deep inside northern Gaza, spoke with IsraelNationalRadio’s Yishai and Malkah Fleisher about his personal experiences during the war.I’ve been in Gaza for a week; medics and others in my unit went in a…

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What Obama Can Learn From Moses

                                                                    There is much recognized symbolism in the coinciding timeframe of President-elect Barack Obama's swearing-in and Martin Luther King Day. Eighty years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born in the segregated south, our country is one step closer to his dream with the inauguration of our first African-American President. Less discussed, but arguably as poignant, is that the week of inauguration corresponds with the famed speech of another great leader, one that has inspired President-elect Obama, Dr. King, and billions of people around the world for millennia.  That speech is Moses' farewell sermon to the Jewish people. In three discourses, Moses reviews the forty years that the Israelites spent wandering in the desert, and outlines the code of law that they are to abide by as they go forth into the Promised Land. It could be argued that no other speech has had a bigger impact on…

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Clashing Civilizations

In Gaza, they don’t vote for Hamas because they want access to university education.By Mark SteynSo how was your holiday season? Over in Gaza, whether or not they’re putting the Christ back in Christmas, they’re certainly putting the crucifixion back in Easter. According to the London-based Arabic newspaper al Hayat, on December 23rd Hamas legislators voted to introduce Sharia — Islamic law — to the Palestinian Territories, including crucifixion. So next time you’re visiting what my childhood books still quaintly called “the Holy Land,” the re-enactments might be especially lifelike. The following day, Christmas Eve, Samuel Huntington died at his home at Martha’s Vineyard. A decade and a half ago, in his most famous book The Clash Of Civilizations, Professor Huntington argued that western elites’ view of man as homo economicus was reductive and misleading — that cultural identity is a more profound behavioral indicator than lazy assumptions about the…

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The Voice of the IDF

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit is the Israel Defense Forces’ professional body responsible for media and public relations in Israel and around the world. This is a new site that helps to bring Israel's message to the world. The IDF is using this site to post official announcements and photographs and generally to make information easily accessible to those who are interested. For IDF footage and video clips click on IDF on YouTube. The official IDF website in English is at IDF.

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