Friday, September 18, 2020

Government Rules for Praying in Israel on Rosh Hashanah and Happy Rosh Hashanah as US Jews and Worldwide Jews prepare for pandemic-era High Holiday season of rupture and resilience and Positivity and the Holy Temple: The Truth about Temple Offerings, Part 2 and Canaanite Fortress from Judges’ Era Uncovered in Excavations near Kiryat Gat and The Portion of Ki Teitzei-Money Isn't Everything and The Lockdown Has Gone From A Mistake To A Crime By Dennis Prager

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Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement. Now also a Blogger on the Times of Israel. Look for my column

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Happy Rosh Hashanah--may it bring blessings and good cheer, and on Monday-Tzom Gedeliah-if you are over 60 don't fast and eat and drink to maintain your health

Rosh Hashanah prayers during lockdown: A guide for perplexed Israelis

Up to 20 can pray in outdoor quorums • Cantors, others assigned to blow shofar granted exemptions to apply for travel permits.BY HANAN GREENWOOD AND YORI YALON
An Israeli police officer outside of a synagogue in Jerusalem as the government imposes coronavirus restrictions, April 5, 2020. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
An Israeli police officer outside of a synagogue in Jerusalem as the government imposes coronavirus restrictions, April 5, 2020. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

(September 16, 2020 / Israel Hayom) Synagogues across Israel were busy on Wednesday making preparations for Rosh Hashanah prayer services under the shadow of coronavirus and public-health restrictions.

The Health Ministry has issued clarifications for its regulations on holiday prayer, with an emphasis on the need to pray out of doors wherever possible.

According to the Health Ministry, outdoor prayer minyans [quorums of 10] may be held in groups of up to 20 participants, with 2 meters (6 feet) between each participant. Each "capsule" area must be marked by rope or tape, and an empty chair is to be placed between participants who do not live in the same household.

The Health Ministry has asked the public to adhere to the same prayer groups and not move from one group to another.

As far as indoor prayers are concerned, the Health Ministry has instructed that prayer groups be separated by impermeable barriers or plastic sheeting and that there must be a 2-meter (6-foot) distance between sections.

Each synagogue is to put up a sign at the entrance denoting the building's maximum occupancy and the name of the person in charge of enforcing coronavirus regulations. Worshippers who do not live in the same household must be separated by two empty chairs when praying indoors.

Cantors and others assigned to blow the shofar have been granted a special exemption from the upcoming lockdown and can apply for travel permits, given the importance of song and the shofar in High Holiday rituals, as well as the fact that there is a shortage of people who can fulfill these roles.

Preparations are also ongoing to accommodate outdoor prayers for large numbers of people.

Chief Rabbi David Lau, along with religious-Zionist rabbis, are urging Israelis to participate in an initiative from the Benoam rabbinical group designed to allow everyone in Israel to hear the shofar simultaneously: 11 a.m. on Sunday morning, the second day of Rosh Hashanah.

The Lockdown Has Gone From A Mistake To A Crime

By Dennis Prager

Four months ago, I wrote a column titled "The Worldwide Lockdown May Be the Greatest Mistake in History." I explained that "'mistake' and 'evil' are not synonyms." I wrote, "The lockdown is a mistake; the Holocaust, slavery, communism, fascism, etc., were evils. Massive mistakes are made by arrogant fools; massive evils are committed by evil people."

Regarding the economic catastrophe in America and around the world – especially among the world's poor who are dependent upon America and other first-world countries for their income through exports and tourism – I wrote, "It is panic and hysteria, not the coronavirus, that created this catastrophe."

Unfortunately, I was right.

The world should have followed Sweden's example. That country never locked down and has even kept children under 16 in school the entire time. As Reuters reported on July 15, the number of Swedish children between 1 and 19 years of age who have died of Covid-19 is zero. And the percentage of children who contracted the illness was the exact same in Sweden as it was in Finland, which locked down its schools.

As regards to teachers, Sweden's Public Health Agency reported that "a comparison of the incidence of Covid-19 in different professions suggested no increased risk for teachers." Nevertheless, with few exceptions, teachers in Los Angeles and elsewhere refuse to enter a classroom that has students in it. Their disdain for their profession has been superseded only by that of the Los Angeles teachers union, which announced that teachers will not resume teaching until the police are defunded.

People who defend lockdowns and closing schools point out that Sweden has the eighth-highest death rate per million in the Western world. But, needless to say, this has no bearing at all on the issue of whether Sweden was right to keep schools open or whether our country was wrong to close them, let alone keep them closed now.

The overwhelming majority of deaths from Covid-19 in Sweden were among people over 70 years of age, and most of those were people over 80 and with compromised immune systems.

Reuters reported that three separate studies, including one by UNICEF, "showed that Swedish children fared better than children in other countries during the pandemic, both in terms of education and mental health."

For more than a month, Sweden has had almost no deaths from Covid-19 while the entire society remains open and almost no one wears masks. (In Holland, too, almost no one wears masks.) For all intents and purposes, the virus is over in Sweden.

I live in California, a state governed by that most dangerous of leaders: a fool with unlimited power. Despite the fact that California ranks 28th among the 50 states in deaths per million, Gov. Gavin Newsom has destroyed and continues to destroy tens of thousands of small businesses and untold numbers of livelihoods. His continuing to forbid – a half-year after the onset of the pandemic – indoor dining in restaurants is leading to a projected permanent closure of approximately one in every three restaurants in the state.

The same catastrophic destruction will likely affect retail businesses and services such as hair and nail salons. But all this human tragedy – not to mention increased depression and suicides among the young and increased abuse of children and partners – means nothing to Newsom, to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, or to the Los Angeles Times, whose editors and columnists continue to advocate for the lockdown while they receive their salaries.

Why can people eat with no mask in an airplane – inches, not six feet, from strangers – but cannot eat in a California restaurant, which is so much bigger than the inside of an airplane, while sitting six feet from others? Because Newsom ordered it, the Los Angeles Times supports it and, like sheep, Californians have accepted it.

According to the California Association of Museums, "Museums are losing over $22 million a day due to the statewide quarantine. As of August 1, 2020, California museums have lost more than $2.9 billion in revenue. Museums have a $6.55 billion financial impact on California's economy, support 80,722 jobs, and generated $492 million in tax revenues for the State of California in 2017 and over $1 billion in federal taxes."

And the American Alliance of Museums issued results from a survey on July 22, 2020, that warned one out of every three museums may shutter forever as funding sources and financial reserves run dry.

On Aug. 3, The Wall Street Journal wrote that in March there was "broad public support for the prudent goals of preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed and buying scientists time to develop therapies." But the left – the media and Democratic governors and mayors – immediately moved the goal posts to "bending the curve" and "saving one life," enabling them to get away with destroying lives and livelihoods.

I conclude with the words of a Swedish medical doctor, Sebastian Rushworth:

"Covid is over in Sweden. People have gone back to their normal lives and barely anyone is getting infected any more. I am willing to bet that the countries that have shut down completely will see rates spike when they open up. If that is the case, then there won't have been any point in shutting down in the first place….

"Shutting down completely in order to decrease the total number of deaths only makes sense if you are willing to stay shut down until a vaccine is available. That could take years. No country is willing to wait that long."

The lockdown is a crime. But even more upsetting is that it is supported by so many Americans. This country is unrecognizable to those of us who lived through the 1968-1970 pandemic, which killed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 100,000 Americans – the 2020 equivalent of 170,000 Americans. Nothing shut down. Not one mask was worn.

The Three Musketeers at the Kotel


The Portion of Ki Teitzei

Money Isn't Everything

As the Children of Israel prepare to enter the Promised Land, Moses teaches the people a long list of commandments covering almost every facet of life.

Commerce and business in the soon-to-be-established Jewish commonwealth need to develop according to certain guidelines. Loans are both given and taken as part of normal business practices.

Moses informs the people that charging interest on these loans given to non-Jews is legitimate because this is the way that business is done.

However, when it comes to one's brother, one's fellow Jew, here the Torah instructs us to loan without charging interest.

The successful existence of the people of Israel in its land successful is based on mutual help, especially when it comes to money where the fear is that everything is based only on profit and loss.

And so we find in our portion the following verses: "You shall not lend to your brother with interest- interest of money, interest of food…interest of anything that is loaned with interest. To a stranger you may lend with interest but to your brother you may not lend with interest". (Deuteronomy 23;20-21)

The letter lamed in the word "lanochri" (to a stranger) is written in the reverse from the way it is usually written. This is meant to teach us that if your brother is in need he is to be helped first before "the stranger" even though the help that you are providing is without interest. (Remazei Rabbenu Yoel)

In certain Sifrei Torah where this tradition was not known or accepted scribes "corrected" the letter "lamed" and turned it into a regular "lamed".

Positivity and the Holy Temple: The Truth about Temple Offerings, Part 2

Will offerings be made in the future Holy Temple? The answer to the question, which many people ask is: Yes! Yes! and Yes! The Torah that Israel received at Sinai is eternal. The 613 commandments contained in Torah (of which over 200 pertain to the Holy Temple), are applicable forever. The bringing of offerings to the place of the altar on the Temple Mount was never abandoned by Israel, and throughout the 2000 years of exile many attempts were led by Israel's top rabbinical scholars to reinstate the obligatory offerings.

Rabbi Abba also shares his thoughts on the Israel-United Arab Emirates agreement from the perspective of Jewish rights on the Temple Mount.


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US Jews prepare for pandemic-era High Holiday season of rupture and resilience

Many congregations opt for virtual services, while some Orthodox ones will have short in-person prayers, but COVID-19 is testing commitment across the religious spectrum

By Shira Hanau and PHILISSA CRAMER

JTA — For many Jews, a high point of services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is the Unetaneh Tokef prayer, which wonders who will live and who will die in the year ahead.

This year, that question will take on added resonance, as the High Holidays fall six months into a global pandemic that has reshaped lives, battered institutions, and killed hundreds of thousands of people, including many in Jewish communities.

At the same time, the prayer will be experienced in dramatically new ways: on the same computer that usually is home to work or school for most American Jews, and in solo or socially distanced prayer services for Orthodox Jews who do not use technology on holidays.

"How do you do Rosh Hashanah on your own?" said Rabbi Vanessa Ochs, a professor of Jewish studies at the University of Virginia. "Our community hasn't invented that yet."

When Passover arrived weeks into the pandemic, there was little time to rethink age-old communal traditions for a moment that required isolation. Five months later, congregations have a great deal of experience — albeit unplanned and unwanted — creating meaningful Jewish experiences that are safe amid a global crisis, and they are applying the lessons they've learned to the most-attended services of the year.

There will be no packed sanctuaries. Some synagogues that are convening in person — almost all Orthodox — are taking dramatic steps to keep congregants safe, including limiting attendance and shortening services to allow for multiple shifts.

The long sermons that are often a centerpiece of the holidays are being truncated — to safeguard against distraction for Jews watching from home and to limit virus exposure for those inside synagogues.

With singing considered among the most dangerous activities possible, choirs will not convene, nor will congregants' voices rise together in song. Instead, in many non-Orthodox synagogues, cantors and others are taping services in advance outdoors or recording themselves individually, then mixing their voices to produce videos to air during their streaming services. In many cases, Orthodox synagogues are separating their service leaders from congregants, sometimes with Plexiglas sheaths, and discouraging congregants from singing.

"There are people who are singing through masks, through Plexiglas, through masks plus face shields plus Plexiglas," said Joanna Dulkin, a cantor at Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Minnetonka, Minnesota, which is holding services online. "We did make the decision that we would rather not feel like we are leading services through a war zone."

But Dulkin, who is the vice president of the Conservative movement's Cantors Assembly, said that even though her congregation has come up with creative ways to deliver an elevated musical experience during the High Holidays, she also feels a sense of loss.

"I'll miss the sound of everyone singing together because it feeds me as well," she said.

The shofar will be heard in new ways. Rather than crowding their congregants into the sanctuary to hear the shofar blast, rabbis in many communities are fine-tuning schedules for shofar-blowing in local neighborhoods and public spaces. Many plan to apply a face mask on the open end of the ram's horn in accordance with expert advice about how to protect against spreading the virus.

"I've been practicing and trying it," said Rabbi Jason Weiner, a chaplain at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles who was among the first to share publicly that he planned to mask his shofar, which he plans to blow multiple times throughout the hospital rather than in the single large service he typically holds for doctors, patients, and their families. "It's hard to hear a difference."

Rabbi Jason Weiner announced in July that he planned to put a mask on his shofar during the High Holiday season, a choice that many others are now making to ensure that they do not spread the coronavirus when blowing the ram's horn. (Courtesy of Weiner/ via JTA)

The sounds of children will be absent, too. With child care settings carrying special risks, family services are not taking place in most synagogues that are open. Some are holding regular services in shifts so parents can take turns staying home with their children.

Some synagogues are trying to help families navigate the holidays at home, including by putting together boxes of supplies to be used instead of or in addition to family services at home.

"What we've learned over these months is that to create an online program is not just to take an in-person program and just to put it online, it's a new field of engagement," said Rabba Rachel Kohl Finegold of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal, who is planning to send an apple cake mix to families in a container that can then serve as a "gratitude jar" all year. "You need something tangible."

Some see all the changes as yet another way that the pandemic is depriving Jews and others of important traditional experiences, much the way that Passover this year lacked family Seders that typically characterize the holiday.

"This is services, but this is not shul," said Maharat Ruth Balinsky Friedman of Ohev Sholom, an Orthodox synagogue in Washington, DC, using the Yiddish word for synagogue. "Shul means everyone is together in the space, davening together, and this is not that."

Simmering below the surface in the planning of many synagogues are deep fears that the pandemic's extension through the High Holiday season may harm Jewish institutions for the long haul. Though many have been seeing increased attendance at virtual services, without the annual cash infusion that ticket sales for in-person High Holiday services bring, and with community members under financial pressure and potentially less able to pay dues, congregations across the denominational spectrum aren't sure how they'll make ends meet this year.

"They're expecting that their revenue will be down, in some ways, for the next year," said Amy Asin, the Union for Reform Judaism's vice president for strengthening congregations.

But the need to make adjustments has also spurred innovations that many rabbis say are needed.

"Catastrophe is absolutely the mother of creativity in Jewish life," said Rabbi Adam Zagoria-Moffet, a Phoenix native who has led a London-area synagogue for three years. His synagogue, like all but a handful in England, is not streaming services, but he does plan to offer congregants one live experience on Rosh Hashanah: a shofar blast from the top of the 11th-century St. Albans Cathedral in their city.

And some see the pandemic, and the Zoom High Holidays, accelerating trends that already were present in Jewish life for years.

"I think it's important for us to realize that what's happening because of the pandemic is an extension of what was happening over the last couple of decades," said Rick Recht, a popular song leader, and performer in the Reform and Conservative movements.

Recht is working with two other song leaders to provide a package of customizable video services for kids and families that synagogues can pay to provide to congregants. It's an arrangement that even some participating synagogues recognize could create a dangerous precedent — having congregants come to expect high-quality productions over homegrown services.

For his part, Recht said he believes the two styles can coexist in thriving Jewish communities.

"I feel that we're heading toward a new paradigm of a hybrid, virtual and physical," he said.

Whatever long-term changes this unprecedented High Holiday season may portend, and however, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are being experienced this year, the spiritual core of the holiday season is sure to endure, as it has for centuries already.

"Unetaneh Tokef is in," said Rabbi Binyamin Blau of Cleveland's Orthodox Green Road Synagogue, referring to the prayer that asks who will live and who will die, which specifically mentions the specter of plague. "We're not cutting that out."

Ben Harris and Ben Sales contributed to reporting.

Canaanite Fortress from Judges' Era Uncovered in Excavations near Kiryat Gat

By David Israel - 3 Elul 5780 – August 23, 20200

Photo Credit: Dafna Gazit Studio, Israel Antiquities Authority

Young volunteers unearthing the fortress' floor.

A Canaanite fortress from the middle of the 12th century BCE (the days of the biblical judges), was unearthed in an excavation of the Israel Antiquities Authority and volunteer youths near Kibbutz Galon outside Kiryat Gat,some 50 miles south of Tel Aviv.

The Canaanite fortress against the background of the Judaean plain. / Emil Elgam, Israel Antiquities Authority

The size of the fortress is 60 × 60 ft. and it includes towers at the four corners. A huge threshold was preserved at the entrance to the structure, hewn from a single stone weighing about 3 tons.

Inside the citadel was a courtyard paved with stone slabs which had pillars in the center. Rooms were arranged on either side of the courtyard. Hundreds of pottery vessels, some of them intact, including special vessels such as a bowl and a cup, which were probably used for worship, and a large number of bowls, were exposed in the fort's rooms. Some of the bowls were made in a style that imitated Egyptian bowls.

Canaanite bowls carved in Egyptian style. / Dafna Gazit Studio, Israel Antiquities Authority

The remains of the citadel were uncovered with the help of students from the Eretz Israel Dept. at the multidisciplinary school in Beer Sheva, students from the Nachshon pre-military preparatory school, and many volunteers. This is part of the Antiquities Authority's policy to bring the general public, in particular the younger generation, closer to the archeology of their homeland.

Young volunteers unearthing the fortress' floor. / Dafna Gazit Studio, Israel Antiquities Authority

According to archaeologists Saar Ganor and Itamar Weisbain of the IAA, "the fortress we discovered provides a glimpse into the geopolitical reality described in the Book of Judges, in which the Canaanites, the Israelites and the Philistines struggle against one another. During this time, the land of Canaan was ruled by the Egyptians, and its inhabitants were their subjects. But then, during the 12th century BCE, two new major players appeared in the region: the Israelites and the Philistines, thus began a series of bloody territorial struggles."

Young volunteers unearthing the fortress' treasures. / Dafna Gazit Studio, Israel Antiquities Authority

"The Israelites settled in unfortified communities on the central mountain ridge, while the Philistines gained great power in the southern coastal plain where they established large cities in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron and Gat," the two researchers continued. "In an attempt to occupy more territory, the Philistines confronted the Egyptians and the Canaanites on the border, which presumably stretched between the Philistine kingdom of Gat and the Canaanite kingdom of Lachish in Nahal Guvrin."

Young volunteers unearthing the fortress' floor. / Dafna Gazit Studio, Israel Antiquities Authority

Ganor Weisbein added that "the stories of the judges in the Bible clearly illustrate the complex geopolitical reality and the struggle for territorial control, during the realignment of the political forces in the Land of Israel. The layout of the citadel is known from other sites which were excavated in the country, and identified as Egyptian 'governor's houses.' The fortress was built in a strategic location, from which it was possible to view the main road that passed along Nahal Guvrin – a road that connected the coastal plain to the Judaean plain."

Young volunteers unearthing the fortress' floor.Young volunteers unearthing the fortress' floor. / Dafna Gazit Studio, Israel Antiquities Authority

Talila Lifshitz, Director of the Community and Forest Department in the Southern Region of the Jewish National Fund said: "Gal-on Fortress provides a fascinating glimpse into the story of a relatively unknown period in the country's history, and is a tourist and experiential attraction for visitors. The fortress is located in the Guvrin Forest and was prepared for access to the general public together with the southern district of ​​the Jewish National Fund. A parking lot and explanatory signs have been set up there to enhance the archeological experience in nature and in the forests."

Happy Rosh Hashanah Saturday and Sunday to all my friends

See you on Monday Bli Neder which is Tzom Gedaliah

Don't fast if you are over 60--protect your health

We need Moshiach now!

Love Yehuda Lave

Yehuda Lave, Spirtiual Advisor and Counselor

Jerusalem, Jerusalem

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