Osher Ad in Bet Shemesh – The New Haredi Battlefront

Posters have been slapped up all over town with a rabbinic ruling, signed by five haredi rabbis, forbidding their communities from shopping at the new Osher Ad supermarket. ¬†A little background is in order… ¬†This new supermarket, Osher Ad, opened three weeks ago to much fanfare in Bet Shemesh. ¬†There is a price and turf war raging throughout Israel with supermarket chains gobbling up real estate and new mall space to place their stores in strategic locations. ¬†Osher Ad is one of the newer discount chains that has had great success in Ashdod and recently in Maaleh Adumim. ¬†They are expanding greatly with their aggressive discount pricing in each new location. ¬†The established chains, most notably ShuferSal, has lowered their prices in Bet Shemesh to match and compete with Osher Ad’s rollout. ¬†This price war has even made it to the Knesset and trade ministry as the regulator is checking to ensure that there are no monopolistic practices here. ¬†Smaller chains, are having a hard time matching these deep discount prices. ¬†Likewise, larger discount chains, such as Rami Levy, who is planning to open stores in Bet Shemesh this year, are crying foul. ¬† One thing for sure is that the consumer is benefiting greatly during this price war.

Back to the haredim… ¬†The event that weighed heavily on this rabbinic ruling.

Three weeks ago, when the Osher Ad store was opened (in the Migdal Hamayim neighborhood, a mixed neighborhood mostly inhabited by Russians and Sephardim, a sign was placed at the entrance requesting all women to dress modestly (as is common practiced in the haredi sections of Bet Shemesh).  When non-religious neighbors said that the sign offended them, it was removed.  Enter the haredi rabbis and their boycott edict.  (Note: Osher Ad is owned by two Gur Hasidim, ultra orthodox hasidim,  The rabbis signing this edict represent the Lithuanian ultra-orthodox camp).

Haredi boycott of Bet Shemesh Supermarket

Fred Flintstone was Jewish

I grew up watching the Flintstones reruns.  It put a twinkle in my eye when I recently read that Alan Reed, the voice of Fred Flinstone, was a Jew.

Fred FlintstoneReed, born in 1907 as Edward Bergman, grew up in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan in New York City.¬† He learned quickly how to mimic any of the neighboring nationalities.¬† He even landed his first job in show business cast as a typical Italian wise guy.¬†¬† According to an article in Tablet Magazine, Alan pulled much of his Flintstone voice from the mannerisms of his Galitzianer grandfather, and the quarrels he would have with this Litvak father (mixed marriages didn’t go well in those days…).

There was something ephemeral about Fred Flintsone’s voice.¬† It had pathos and empathy but joyful, loyal, and with authority when needed.¬†¬† It’s no wonder the Flintstone’s where the first animated series prime-time television success.¬† With great story-telling, interspersed with spice from current events (Cary Granite…), there was always something to see.¬† It was good family fun, without curses, inuendo, or failed parent-child relationships.

Alan Reed had the perfect voice for his character. The deep baritone was reassuring and comforting, allowing the story to develop naturally. 
You can buy the complete seasons of the Flintstones on DVD.

Flying to Israel with Continental vs. US Airways

Since 1994 I’ve traveled over 100 transatlantic flights, mostly between the USA and Israel. ¬†I am sharing my experiences here about different airlines that travel to and from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.

In this article we’ll focus on Continental Airlines who is merging with United Airlines in 2011, with it’s hub in Newark, New Jersey, and US Airways, which flies out of its Philadelphia hub.¬† Both airlines are competent and match evenly on features.¬† Each offers daily flights and adds flights during busy seasons.

Coach Travel Flying Comparison Chart

Continental / United US Airways
Aircraft Boeing 777 Airbus A330-300
Hub in USA Newark Philadelphia
Coach Seat Configuration 3 – 3 – 3 2 – 4 – 2
Kosher food rating B

Dinner, mid flight sandwich, and light breakfast served


Dinner and light breakfast served

Coach Seat Features head rests, electric plug for every two seats Leather, arm rests lift up, USB power connector at every seat
Entertainment Personal Touch screen, hundreds of movies (over 200), dozens of TV shows, music, and games. Personal touch screen, dozens of movies, tv shows, games (not free), music on demand
Bathrooms / Lavatories 6 in coach 4 in coach, no standing area to wait in line, very cramped
Galley drinks, snacks, after meal service drinks after meal service, snacks in galley.
Hub Airport Newark is a big airport, security lines are long, shopping is decent Philadelphia is a medium size airport, security lines are shorter, no body scan machine yet as of Jan 2011.
Cabin Crew Plentiful, pleasant, and efficient, Hebrew speaker always on staff. Nice crew
Advantages Bigger plane, more room to stretch in the cabin on a long flight. Great entertainment system. Good connections with Continental / United to anywhere in USA from Newark. 2 seats on window vs 3 on Continental, Philly is an easier airport to navigate. Great for avoiding New York.
Disadvantages Newark Airport. 3 seats on window. Tougher to get in and out. Seat pitch is less than on 747. make sure to bring a neck pillow. Smaller plane, cabin crew takes seats near lavatories, absolutely no room to stretch. You are stuck in your seat the entire flight.
Frequent Flyer One Pass Star Alliance. Easy to book award travel online. Many seats are blocked out, though. Continental has a local office in Tel Aviv. Offers 25,000 miles if you sign up and take their credit card. Award travel easy to book online generally with similar miles needed as continental (25,000 for domestic round trip).
Price Tends to be as pricey as El Al Usually less expensive than Continental
Overall Score B+ B

Please share with us your experiences.

The Price for Jews in Israel for Peace with Arabs

Peace Discussions Encourage Palestinian Arab Terrorism

The Western world is fixated on solving the Mideast Peace problem.¬† The “Mideast ” that the world is solely concerned about is the Palestinians and that tiny country called Israel standing in their way for their very own sovereign nation.¬†¬† As the narative explains, all other problems,¬† would go away if these stubborn Jews would just let it.¬† (Or in the eyes of the American senior press corespondent, if those Jews would just go back to Poland).

The pressure on Israel’s leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to deal land and additional consolations has reached the pinnacle.¬† When the bar is raised, politicians make foolish decisions, usually for short term gains, or to make their own personal mark in history.¬† Here’s a small but very real example of just how dangerous this pressure can manifest itself into our lives.

Sukkot is the Jewish holiday of Tabernacles. In ancient Israel, on Sukkot, Jews brought sacrifices to the Temple in honor of the 70 nations of the world.  The priests would pray for the well-being of our neighbors and that G_d should protect them and shine His light onto all the nations.

In modern Israel, Sukkot also means vacation from school, and a great opportunity for families to go hiking, to visit relatives, and to go to Jerusalem to see our national history and to remember the days of ancient glory.

Mount of Olives – So close, yet so far

For a neighbor of mine, Sukkot this year was almost a period of mourning for his family, and his being around to tell me his eyewitness account of the following events is only by grace of the Almighty.  Mount of Olives cemetery just outside the Old City walls of Jerusalem.  While Mount of Olives is a famous and ancient cemetery where many sages and holy Jews have been buried for many centuries, it is also about 1KM (half mile) on the other side of some Arab buildings in Silwan (City of David Рprobably where King David would stand and look out to his kingdom).  In modern times, great rabbis and fallen soldiers are buried on Mount of Olives.

Yehuda drove on erev Sukkot with his wife and two nephews to a funeral there.¬† Not that this should matter in the least, Yehuda is not a “Settler”, nor was he traveling to any “provocative” areas.¬† Jerusalem’s Dung Gate,¬† next to the Western Wall, is clearly within plain view from the parking area of the Mount of Olives.

After the ceremony, they returned to their car to drive back home to Bet Shemesh.  They reached the first junction along with other cars driving back.  Suddenly, a mob of knife and club-wielding Arabs jumped out and engulfed them.  Cars were smashed to bits.  Frantically, people called from inside their cars to the Police to extricate them from this ensuing tragedy.  Minutes passed, no Police, no border control.  The Arab mob gained in strength and numbers, buoyed by the lack of Israeli force.

Yehuda’s wife was targeted by one of the angry Arab terrorists.¬† Yehuda quickly swung into action – although he is not a Settler and does not have a gun – he attempted to shield his wife.¬† The terrorists shifted their focus on him and stabbed him four times, including twice in his head, broke his arm, and left him battered and bruised all over his body.

45 Minutes passed, no police, no border patrol.  The police who are standing at Dung Gate could have walked uphill to the terrorist attack in 10 minutes.

Yehuda is now bleeding from his head and his chest.  He is battered, but there is noone there to help.  With his remaining ounces of strength, he drove to the nearest hospital, where he was treated and listed in serious condition (??? ?????? ?? ???).

When the police came to the hospital to investigate he asked why there was no response from their emergency calls.¬† The police told him that they were instructed from “above” not to go to this junction.¬† Clearly, political decisions stood in the way of the police coming to protect its citizens.

The East Jerusalem junction where the terrorist attack took place is not under Palestinian control.¬†¬† Although at some point is may be given to the new Palestinian State, it is currently solely Israel’s responsibility to protect and ensure that rule of law is enforced there.

Someone in the police, or perhaps even the government, made a decision that the cost of a few Jewish lives was well worth the potential of public outcry of Israeli police going to a contested area to remove its citizens from imminent danger or even death.  Worse is knowing that the Palestinian terrorist leaders knew this and calculated the outcome, and orchestrated the entire event, knowing exactly how it would play out.  They also knew how far they could go Рwound, mame, perhaps kill a few, then run back to your homes Рso as not to get negative feedback from the world press.

Yehuda tells me that he identified the young terrorist who stabbed him, and with his description, the police were subsequently able to apprehend him.¬† However, 7 days later, the magistrate let this 17 year old killer wannabe free since the courts can’t try minors.

I have no words to properly wrap up this account of what happened and all the injustices that Jews suffer in Israel.  Maybe someone reading this can make better sense of it all.

Israel Car License Plate Lost or Stolen? Here’s what you do…

In Israel, your car’s license plate number stays with your car from it’s birth until the junk yard. When you sell or trade in a car in Israel, the license plate stays with car and is transfered to the new owner.

Last week we noticed our front license plate was missing on our car. It looks like it fell off, but then again, it was bolted on. We weren’t sure if it had been stolen or simply fell off on a bumpy ride. Since this is a very rare occurrence, I thought I’d share with you what steps you need to take to get it replaced.

Here’s what you do:
1. File a police report – without a police report, you won’t be able to get a replacement plate. In Bet Shemesh, the police station is on route 38, just next to the Nacham industrial area. You can just walk in to the station (remember to bring your teudat zehut and driver’s license, or won’t be permitted into the station). A police officer will take your information and file a “lost property” report. Remember to take your copy as you will need that later.
FYI – the police officer was very friendly and efficient. That whole process took less than 5 minutes. She told me that kids are known to ‘take’ license plates for their collections. The police sometimes stumble upon a cache of plates. She also said that there aren’t known cases of ‘cousins’ stealing plates for devious reasons, or theifs thinking they can circumvent Kvish 6.
2. Don’t go to the misrad harishui – Although their website tells you to come to the misrad harishui in your area, they don’t actually handle new plate requests. They will send you to the musach murshe (designated car mechanic garage). Instead call the Misrad Harashui in your area and ask them where is the musach that makes replacement plates. Here’s the website for the Transportation Ministry, which has all the appropriate numbers (in Hebrew) http://www.mot.gov.il/wps/portal/Default.jsp

In Bet Shemesh, the musach murshe is just next to the test center in the northern industrial zone (about 200 meters from the new Paz gas station).
3. Go to your Musach Murshe – The musach will take your police report (they need it in order to process your request), and 60 NIS for each new plate needed. They have a machine that punches out your new plate in minutes, which they also paint the numbers, and wait about 10 minutes for it to dry. The best part is that they bring out a new plate holder and bolt it on to your car for you! The whole process was very efficient and pleasant (under the circumstances) and took about 15 minutes.

That’s it…

BTW – you will need to speak some Hebrew to get your point across, so here’s a quick lexicon of phrases to know for this effort:
A license plate in Hebrew is a luchit – ?????
Front ??????
Back ??????
I want to report a lost license plate ??? ???? ????? ?? ????? ????? ?????? ?? ???? ???

Burning Down The House – Lag Ba’omer

Lag Baomer “Camp Fire” Stories:
Story #1:
It was 1995, and it was our first Lag in Israel as Olim. The kids down the block had a massive fire going, built from construction wood. The flames were at least two stories high, and they were about 10 meters from our apartment – at most! Being a newbie, I called the fire department. The conversation was almost laughable, if it wasn’t so sad. The gist of their reasoning for not coming out to check the fire was that I was an Oleh and I didn’t know how “things were done here”.

Story #2:
It was 1997, we were driving back from my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah, which was held in a Kibbutz up north. Motzash”k was Lag Baomer, just like this year. We drove back from the north down the coastal highway (Highway 6 “Kvish Shesh” wasn’t invented yet).
Continue reading “Burning Down The House – Lag Ba’omer”

Top Ten Reasons Why Ramat Bet Shemesh Aleph Is A Great Place to Live

1. People are friendly – Our neighbors are the best. People say Hi on the street. Most people know each other by face, if not by name.
2. Relaxed “Chill” Neighborhood – It’s generally very quiet here. Except for weekdays when kids are picked up and dropped off from school, the streets are mostly empty from cars.
3. Great bus service – For those who don’t have cars, it’s extremely easy to get anywhere. Buses to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Inner-city, are constantly running.
4. Enough Shopping, but not too much – We have several makolot (small grocery stores) in walking distance, and shopping centers within a few minutes drive. The haredi shopping center near by offers some really great prices and shopping bargains.
5. Minyanim everywhere – You’re never worried about making your next minyan. We have many shuls (Batei Knesset) for all religious types and customs. People often run into a shul closest to them for mincha, and are treated respectfully by the members.
Continue reading “Top Ten Reasons Why Ramat Bet Shemesh Aleph Is A Great Place to Live”

Bringing an iPad to Israel? Don’t bother… Apr 25 Update!

Thinking of having an iPad shipped to Israel? Asking your parents to shlep one back on their next trip?
Think twice…

Israel has officially declared Apple’s iPad unwanted for now. Israel Customs has begun confiscating iPads from travellers and incoming mail shipments. Even (and especially) if you go to the red line to declare your new Apple toy, it will still be confiscated.
Israel’s government communications office hasn’t given any specific reasons other than that the USA model includes WiFi support that is not allowed in Israel.

Update: Israel iPad Ban Lifted April 25
Israel lifted the ban on importing iPads. Apparently, Israel’s Communications Ministry was contacted by Apple’s technology labs to verify that wi-fi technologies present in the device will not affect military or other Israeli concerns.

Bet Shemesh Train Minyan to Tel Aviv

Orthodox Jews will do just about anything to pray on time and with a quorum of at least ten other Jews (minyan).

The now ‘famous’ train minyan runs weekday mornings from Bet Shemesh to Tel Aviv. They even have their own Torah and Ark (Aron Kodesh). How many of the faces do you recognize? Great photos.

The purpose of this minyan is to enable Ramat Bet Shemesh and Bet Shemesh residents who work in Tel Aviv to have Shacharit with a minyan and get to work on time in Tel Aviv. The train ride is about 45 minutes, so they have to get started immediately on days that the Torah is read!

Judge Goldstone Gets Smacked at UN Council

An Israeli doctor from Ashkelon confronts Judge Goldstone at a UN Council meeting with riveting testimony on how his report completely ignored the Israeli casualties and Arab terror that led up to the Gaza Incursion.

Goldstone’s one-sided anti-semitic report dedicates two pages out of a 500 HUNDRED page report to deal with the 8 year barrage of rocket attacks on Israeli towns by Gazan missiles.

Hopefully, with more testimonies like from this courageous woman will help bring out Dr. Goldstone for what he is, a traitor to the Jewish people, and a colossal anti-semite from the likes of the authors of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Children Are Crossing the Street & the Buses Keep Flying By

Near Misses & Tragedies

I’ve been noticing many near misses with young children, unattended or under-attended, who cross the street without having enough time to make


it to the other side.  Many children also cross the street diagonally, which adds to the danger, since they are in the street longer.

Tonight, I saw two mothers pushing their strollers with small children by their side.¬† Two of the younger children in the group ran ahead and one of them was actually in the dark street, at an intersection, with cars flying by.¬† The mother didn’t even shout out – since she didn’t notice.¬†¬† I yelled for the child to go back on the sidewalk (from a distance of 100 meters away).¬† The mother was still oblivious, engrossed in conversation with her friend.

The other night, I saw a child, possibly 10 yrs old, playing ‘chicken’ with a bus.¬† He crossed the street slowly, and saw the bus was coming.¬† Instead of hurrying up to the other side, he slowly walked to require the bus to either slow down or swerve.¬† I know the kid was doing this on purpose, since I saw the smirk on his face as he crossed.¬† The bus drivers, for their part, are always in a rush to make their schedules.¬† Yes, they should be more careful.¬† But we cannot rely on them.¬† We must train our children to be defensive.

We also cannot rely on miracles.¬† Yes, Hashem (G-d) watches over us, even the foolish amongst us, but we cannot rely on His mercies to extricate our children from these constant dangers!¬† I don’t have to list here the statistics of children (and adult) pedestrians who have been killed in Israel in the past decade for us to know that this is a real issue.

Advice For Every Family
1. Review with your children the safety rules for¬† crossing the road.¬† Look both ways, look again, cross only at a crosswalk, cross with adults, etc…

2. Experts recommend for children 8 years old and younger to be crossed only by an adult.

3. Never, ever, cross diagonally.

4. If you see a bus or car coming, do not assume they will stop for you.  If you are already in the crosswalk and a bus is coming, run or walk very quickly to the other side of the street.

5. Tell your kids you love them and want them to come home safely.¬† Explain to them they’ve been given a big responsibility and should always be very careful.

Let’s hope for a safe future for us all.