Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Say it in Yiddish in the Knesset (Arutz 7)


For the first time since its founding, the Knesset is officially marking Yiddish Language and Culture Day on Tuesday. A Yiddish-Hebrew Knesset lexicon was released for the occasion.

The date for the parliamentary nod to Yiddish, a language once spoken by more than 12 million Jews, was selected to mark 150 years since the birth of the Yiddish author Shalom Aleichem. This past week was also the 20th anniversary of the founding of Yiddishshpiel, Tel Aviv's all-Yiddish theater.

The day's events include a joint meeting of the Knesset's Absorption, Immigration and Diaspora Committee and the Education and Culture Committee to discuss Yiddish culture. The Knesset is also holding a special session to discuss the place of Yiddish in modern Israeli society. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Deputy Minister of Pensioners Affairs Leah Ness are delivering the main speeches of the session.

Ahead of the unique Knesset session, a lexicon of the Yiddish translations of several key phrases often used by Israeli parliamentarians was distributed to all Knesset members. A few key phrases from the lexicon that veteran MKs may find useful include:

Ich hob eich nisht geshtert, toshter nisht mir!\איך האב אייך ניט געשטערט, טאשטער מיך ניט - "I didn't interrupt you, don't interrupt me!"

Ich ruf eich tzum seder dus ershte mol...\איך רוך אייך צום סדר דאס ערשטע מאל. - "I am calling you to order for the first time...."

Ordners, derveitert im fun zal!\ארדנערס, דערווייטערט אים פון זאל - "Ushers, remove him from the hall!"

Vehr siz far, zol veilen 'far'. Vehr siz keigen, zol veilen 'keigen'.\ווער ס'איז פאר, זאל וויילן "פאר". ווער ס'איז קעגן זאל וויילן קעגן - "Whoever is in favor, vote 'in favor'. Whoever is opposed, vote 'opposed'."

In the Knesset auditorium, members of the Yiddishshpiel theater troupe are performing songs and selected scenes from the Yiddish theater and from Jewish tradition. Throughout the day, the Knesset halls will host an exhibition from the Shalom Aleichem House, which is dedicated to preserving the author's legacy.

More than 450 people were invited to take part in the Knesset festivities and events.

Mameloshen\מאמע-לשון

Behind the cultural initiative stands Knesset Member Lia Shemtov (Israel Beiteinu), chairperson of the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee, who grew up speaking Yiddish in her family home in the Ukraine.

"This language represents for me the language, culture and history of the Jews of Europe," Shemtov said. "Yiddish is a rich, pungent, humorous, sweet and indulgent language. ...Yiddish, for me, is mein mameloshen, mein tateloshen, mein bubbeloshen und mein zeydeloshen ('my mother tongue, my father tongue, my grandmother tongue and my grandfather tongue')."

The two parties with the most Yiddish speakers, Shemtov said, are Yisrael Beiteinu and the Ashkenazi hareidi-religious United Torah Judaism party. Three Yisrael Beiteinu MKs - Shemtov, Avigdor Lieberman and David Rotem - speak Yiddish, as do all five MKs from UTJ. Other MKs who list Yiddish as an additional language on their official Knesset webpages are Avishai Braverman (Labor), Shai Hermesh (Kadima) and Yaakov "Ketzaleh\קעצעלע" Katz (National Union).

(Yiddish script by av a.)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Logic and nonsense


As we come closer to the Feast of Shavuot (05/28) , the Jewish communities get into more intense and pregnant "scanning" of the TaNaCH\תנ"ך and the reading of the Psalms/Tehillim-תהלים. Some people would read the whole of the Scripture during Shavuot. It is a real mitzvah. It is at the core of the Jewish tradition to "ruminate" (Psalm 1:1) the Torah during the speical night anniversary that memorizes how the Most High gave His Utterance to the World. Interestingly, the Written Law is comparable to a huge but restricted "corpus" of "bones" revived by vowels, different possibilities of vowel systems to give specific and various sounds and thus meanings to the written consonants. This is a first sea or ocean of understanding. Then, the Oral Law has been used throughout the ages - maybe more since the strengthening of the Christian creed - in order to provide numerous of explanations based on the fact that the Talmud is also a closed revelation and still open to new additional writings.

A Jew does read the TaNaCh, but the different "aliyot\עליות proposed each Shabbat aims at revealing an immense scope of realm that cannot be seized by any human reflection or brains. This also gives sense to the "Kahal or Klal Israel", let's say the "One Jerusalem" as described in a previous note. Christendom is trying to getting to the same but is submitted to splits that can hardly be repaired. The Jews read the reading portions or the TaNaKH in order to focus on four levels of interpretation from basis to high that only can open to more and more scanning of Divine actions and Presence. This aspect is very present in the chassidic tradition. The Besht (R. Israel Ben Israel), the foudner of the movement, was a simple man for whom each letter opened to new worlds and being attached to other letters always bring forth new insights in the meanings of the text. This is a very simple an basic teaching method; it is more: it induces a specific relationship to God Himself and His Presence.

This is why the Tehillim\ספר תהלים or Psalms are a constant open prayer book that enlarges our path on the route to God. It is true in Hebrew. In any other language, even if the "letter-scanning system" cannot be translated, it is curiously spiritually transmitted and conveyed by the translation. The chassidic way suggests to "clutch" to the Divine Presence by the "devekut\דבקות ". This "clutch" leads to something different from the Christian "communion". While Christian faith allows through the Eucharist to "become That we receive" (i.e. being divined in a monotheitstic point of view that complies with the fact that God created us in His Image and Likeness), the "devekut" allows to confirm and seal the fact that being a sign of the Divine Presence in the world, the Jews may not feel left to themselves or alone and God does approve their strife to comply with the realm of the Mitzvot.

This is why the Feast of Shavuot\שבועות give a final and thus renewed from the very beginning touch of the creation of the world. The event shows as a terrible apostasy by the Hebrews gathered in the desert. Dancing around a golden calf under the conduct of the great priest and his staff constitutes an act of apostasy even before Moses could have given anything to the people rescued from slavery. They will die for their sin, but the point is that God does not cancel His Word. The specificity of Judaism is to be sealed by each living letter of "salvation". This is a mark of devekut and a sort of "incarnation" that cannot pass. On the other hand, it should be carefully studied in order to avoid any confusion between true Jewish Mitzvot-rooted lifestyle and social protective definition of the community of Israel. They may not correspond.

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The Christian denominations - in particular the ancient local Churches - will gather, for the Feast of the Ascension (Jesus ascended to heaven and blessed his disciples), at a round mosque located at the top of the Mount of Olives. Eastern Orthodox, Armenians, Syrian-Orthodox, Coptic faithful and the clergy of Oriental Churches will also somehow be joined with the Roman Catholic of different rites for this special day. The Jewish tradition is on a permanent move to some perilous human or physical survival that obliges us to face climbing challenges. The better part of it are certainly the "shirey hama'alot\שירי המעלות = the psalms of ascents (Tehillim 120-134)”. They are not called "ascent" in Hebrew, but "ma'alot\מעלות - degrees, ascents" - a plural form. And they look like degrees, temperatures, levels to attain. They corresponded to the steps that were in front of the Temple (Yoma 23a) and these psalms are said on Shabbat (mainly at Vespers in the Byzantine Christian Orthodox traditions, in various ways in the West). “The rise of the righteous is a rise without decline (BeMidbar Rabba 15). “Ma’alei shmisha\מעלי שמישא” (Aramaic in Daniel 6:15) means “sunset” which corresponds to the “coming in and entering of the sun, or for a husband the visiting of his wife (Targum Yerush. 2 on Ex. 21:10). In opposition to “neilahנעילה – closing, ending” (end of Yom Kippur), the Aramaic word does not presuppose and end, but a rising development that would seemingly go forth without ending.

As often in the Jewish tradition, paradoxical elements are connected etymologically or make sense because of their multi-faceted connotations. Thus, “he made improper use (ma’al) of sacred properties” (Meilah 14b). The word is linked to “ma’il\מעיל”(coat, cover, covering from above) and means “to defraud”, in particular in sacred matters or marriage. It firstly seems evident to go up, climb, ascend. “Aliyah-עליה” covers a wide range of realities in the Jewish and monotheistic realm. From birthing to immigrating to Eretz Israel, go up – make an aliyah to read at the bema-בימה/lectern in the middle of the synagogue. On the other hand, Modern Hebrew has “yordim\יורדים – those who descend = leave the country”. The word sounds negative and judgmental. “Yeridah\ירידה – descent” matches with the spiritual downfall that leads some people to specific mental or faith tests, temptations or questioning.

The ancient Greek, Indo-European, Germanic, Slavic and Sanskrit mythologies are profoundly interwoven in a pattern that also shows the linguistic and cultural connections. It is rather strange that the collection of the German “fairy tales” by the Brothers Grimm, the scientific comparative surveys carried by Georges Dumezil about Indo-European rites and divinities (as also his studies about the Caucasian and Georgian backgrounds) were made only recently, as Martin Buber, by some insightful intuition collected the Chassidic tales. The patterns are similar in the Jewish and the Gentile civilizations. Well, say that everywhere 1 + 1 = 2, more or less. Yiddishkayt and Talmud would explore other footsteps: say that 1 + 1= 3 or 4, though, okay, we agree about 2. Or that writing from left to right is abnormal, on the verge of a mental borderline irrationality, but still, why not? And who can or cannot write that way?

Judaism has often been fractured and it is such a challenge to mending the bones and giving the opportunity for the marrow to circulate and be active. A Jew is a male or female, baby, teen, young adult or grownup whose ocean of traditional backgrounds and futurist envisioning bounce to flourish in numerous ways. Before getting to his own view, any Jew is supposed to inquire into all the sayings of the Oral and Written Laws and the sheilot (questions) – teshuvot (responses) all throughout history, in all time and place. Wow! Today, just click and you get all that stuff with a good series of CDs and DVDs (Bar Ilan University made a mammoth and pilot work in that field). Still, there is a know-how. It may take decades for a Jew to understand that, in his brains from right to left primarily. It is a sort of spiritual non-substantial Presence of the Torah. It may cost a lot to leave this orientation to adopt a foreign style. Many Jews are fascinated by alien identities and would put on whatever clothing to escape who they are. On the other hand, some would feel the broken down or fractured, split elements with intensive lifetime pain. But how to make the difference when things would seemingly be equal? Ahavah-אהבה/love but mainly “kibbud-כיבוד/respect” that failed to exist among R. Akiva’s students. Oh, we have tons of students here, in different parts of the world. Learning for competition does not make sense; Jews can quarrel at length and even pronounce “cherem\חרם – exclusion from the community”, this remains healthy as long as it does not harm our pretence to be one whole community. Some two years there were still, in Kabul, two Jews. They could not stand each other and prayed alone in there own synagogue. Logic or irrationality? On the other hand, it seems that the Israeli society is never dramatically interrogated about its future. Other Jews would always secure themselves elsewhere in the world, in fear of real mass destruction. Israeli citizens may spend some years or more abroad; basically the society will endure. We were born here. Nothing may affect us. It is indeed difficult explaining such a cool stand to foreigners… and the press. But, as decades pass, the number of Jewish citizens born in the country increases, augmented by those who came back three centuries ago. The prodigious transfer of people, mixing into a new Israeli soil that corresponds to the Father’s choice, allow much more stability and reason than many Jews would firstly apprehend from abroad.

Is it wit or folly that, the fall of the communist regime in the former Soviet Union corresponded to a full and open renewal of the Eastern Orthodox Churches (as in all communist states, with various other Churches and denominations). And, at the same time, a lot of Jews first thought to get baptized – then they discovered, out of a sudden, that as Jews they could make their aliyah to Israel. The same appears with some Christian movement based in North America. How things combine in order to avoid mind-splitting, cultural estrangement and full disparity in the civilization of Jewishness? Or is it a sort of financial + spiritual opportunism when money, cash or power would avoid participating in the immense travail of grafting back to the homeland? “Ayyekkah\איכא-ה – what – where are you?” called God out to the man at the breezy time as He was moving around in the cool (Bereishit 3:9). The word should be translated as “How! How can it be explained?” It sounds like a bunch of interrogations, astonishments, fears, lamentations. All the tribulations and turbulences that the Jewish faced brought them back to this divine question and statement. How? How can you explain such things? Was the nachash (snake) wise or shrewd, prophetic or seductively betraying God’s projects? The “nachash nechoshet\נחש נחושת – copper serpent” made by Moses in the desert cured anyone who had been bitten by a snake (Numbers 21:9).

Semitic brains function by paradoxes, constant questioning. The coherence of events or situations that would be foolish, mad or rational are not important for the Jewish tradition. This is precisely what R. Yeshayahu Leibowicz described as the tragedy of Modern Judaism: the loss of the daily acceptance or study of the Mitzvot. It was his German cultural response to a defect that is much sensitive at the present. The Rebbe Menachem Mendel deployed the Lubavich Chassidic movement by referring to the basic prayer: “(Lord) You give the grace of knowledge (da’at\דעת) to human being, You teach discernment (binah) to the weak human, and give us wisdom (chochmah\חכמה), discernment (binah\בינה) and knowledge (da’at\דעת-דת)”.

This embodies the capacity to “distinguish, make distinction, appraise”. There still can be a lot of confusion in our appraisals, but God allows the humans getting discernment, i.e. to make a distinction “beyn leveyn\ביו לבין – between and between”. The root is “bun – pierce” = to piercing what is not clear to get to what is real, substantial”. Targum Job32:8 has more: reflection induces teaching, thus wisdom and “yevaynun dina\יבינו דינא = to exercise a correct and full explanation of the Law”. This is at the very core of the Jewish soul and Christian faith. “Nithbonan\נתבונן” underscores that understanding obliges reflecting upon things and persons carefully (Bava Kamma 27b). Paul of Tarsus wrote: “That, rooted and grounded in love (= God, God’s Attributes), may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones (inhabitants of Jerusalem) what is the breadth and length and height and depth.” (Ephesians 3:8). Indeed, “Understanding – binah\בינה” leads to comprehensiveness. The root is also linked to “build”, i.e. make a project nice, beautiful, meaningful.

Emmanuel Levinas was a Russian Lithuanian born Jewish and French philosopher who would, quite often, speak Yiddish and Russian, which was not evident for his French students. His “Nine Talmudic Teachings” are published in Hebrew. In the after-war desert of true Judaism in Western Europe, in particular in France, his reflection was essential to confronting sense and nonsense. It would thus be difficult to compare his open-minded lectures to Israeli thinkers. As already mentioned in another context, he was very surprised (which would have not astonished any simple Yiddishland rabbi) that the first morning prayer is God’s blessing / “Who gave to the sechvi\שחבי (rooster) to distinguish between night and day”. How come that that animal is God’s alarm to wake up?!! At times it does not crow in time or too often and repeatedly. E. Levinas was a great philosopher, but to trust God’s time via a cock or a rooster seemed irrational or absurd to him, not evident. Maybe animals are more on alert than humans? “Watch, you don’t know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight or at cockcrow...” (Mark 13:35). Jesus thus said to Peter-Kaipha: “This very night before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” (Matthew 26:34). “Peter began to curse… and immediately a cock crowed.” (Matthew 26:74). “Sechvi\שחבי” also means “conscience” in Hebrew. It is less humiliating than a cock in the prayers translations. Ayyekkah איכה … How to explain? I often come back to this statement made by the philosopher. Intriguingly, for years we had "parallel" groups of studies in the same area of Paris, some 15 minutes way. People even used to go from one to the other group.

He had been very surprised when I told him incidentally that the cock and the first blessing in the Jewish siddur or prayerbook could succeed or miss a mission to get people awake or aware of simple day time and also the time of redemption. Still it is a extraordinary example that neither Jews nor Christians can be fully conscious of their call without logic surpassing nonsense. There are times when nonsense seems to prevail for a while.

Forty-two years ago, Israel reached, for the first time as a free state, the Holy of Holies, the Temple Mount. It was a moment of stupor, incredulity… These 40 years are today like the time spent in the wilderness during the exodus for a tiny state that merges all the spaces of the world with our so specific Israeli time. And who would really understand the degrees, steps or levels of blessings, sufferings, God’s Providence and injustice? Faith implies to confide in time-building.

av aleksandr [Winogradsky Frenkel]

May 24/11, 2009 - 1 deSivan 5769 - א' דסיון תשס"ט - מ"ה לעומר
The Name of the Lord

The day before D. Day +42


It was yesterday, i.e. on Thursday, May 20th/7, 2009 = 26 Iyyar 5769. The weather was quite nice and hot in Jerusalem. No sharav or hamsin, this desert wind that clutches to the throat or breathing. There are some tourists in the Old City and many male and female Israeli soldiers come by "battalions" to visit the Old City or have some "celebration" at the Western Wall. Lots of youths also arrive with huge Israeli flags and some specific flags reminding the "shichrurשחרור = liberation, release, acquittal" of Jerusalem 42 years ago. Most of them are joyously singing, waving the flags enthusiastically. Everything focuses on this Jerusalem Day, as if nothing else could exist, no other question, problem, concern. In two days we shall have the Iyyar 28th day that marks the point when 42 years ago, the Israeli troops entered the Old City of Jerusalem and "overshadowed" the mother city of Judaism.

In many blogs, articles and lectures, I already said how important this day has been essential in my life. In 1967, I was a young Jewish getting adult. All my backgrounds and personal Jewish spiritual intense life of prayer and service was centered on the fact that as a "Churban" survivor (Shoah, but I prefer the word "churban which tracks back to the destruction of the Temples), Israel - whatever status or international recognition - is and would always remain my homeland and country. I could live in any country, our family could be Soviet citizens sheltered in France and Europe, this was just a sort of irrelevant situation that had to be accepted or overcome. Throughout the ages, the Jews could serve and make their lives among and along the various nations of the world. They still knew by spiritual instinct and faith that their true home is and will always remain Eretz Israel.

I never envisioned this as a nationalistic issue that would cause some fight for the soil of Israel. In particular, there was the spiritual motto definitely described in the Talmud that Eretz Israel was given as a sort of permanent "lease" to the Jews, but it is not a "possession". The matter is absolutely not clear at the moment. But this is due to historic development and the movement of populations of different cultures that gather in the country and create a new structure and identity called to be "Israelity".

The partition decided ny the UN in 1947 had in view to allow the creating of a Jewish homland and another country for the Arabs. I never thought in such terms. Judaism is universal and cannot restrict itself to what it reflects about its own being. This is very dangerous and it recurrently imperils the Jewish identity, not only right now in the Middle-East. The Jews should never be left to themselves or "alone", but they still have to face an exceptional and rare situation of isolation and solitude. I always thought that Israel should exist, not only in order to provide a shelter for some Jews who have been and are persecuted in different States and among certain nations who practice specific religions. Judaism has always been rejected and denied. It is not a Christian or post-Christian story. It is a very ancient tendency that show up by the time of some Jewish holidays like Hanukkah: the real desire of the ancient Greeks to destroy the Jewish lifestyle as being uniquely connected with God.

But I would never accept to rebuke or reject anybody from the land and soil of Israel. It did happen quite often in the course of history: Jews and other nations removed each other and pushed some nations out. Eretz Canaan and Israel is a place of transit, transition, passing and crossing roads and "persistency" does not mean a lot in such a region of the world, submitted to a wide rifting away from the mainland and recurring earthquake. On the other hand, MEMORY is the "sacrament" of getting a permanent and eternal presence of our being and developing in this country and area.

Jerusalem is special, indeed. Jews cannot say al through the ages "next year in Jerusalem" and not believe "with full faith and confidence - " that God will someday, somehow make it possible. Just as the Yemenite Jews could not imagine that the flying carpets would bring them back to the land of the ancestors, just some two hours of flight away from their place of dispersion, we cannot anticipate what may happen in our generation, in the upcoming generations that would either develop or stop, bless or curse such incredible revolving process of planaterian history. I this sense, I do believe that God does not play with our destinies, nor either with the destinies of any peoples. Jews are not better than the Arabs, the Muslims, the Christians. They are. This existence constitutes a questioning that cannot be resolved with exactitude. Jews cannot know why and where to their extravagant history is called to give sense to other nations and peoples and to the people of Israel in many aspects.

In June 1967, I felt something was turning to another direction and that Judaism and Israel, being Jews and/or Israelis will confront the human community because the whole thing was "too much" and landed at the top of the Temple Mount. Today, we can think of the Machpelah cave of the ancestors, the Tomb of Rachel, Hebron... The cave was ceded at a high price and Abraham was indeed conscient that he was a foreigner and still welcome to bury his wife. We often forget this aspect in the present: our call is to believe with full confidence in the world-to-come and redemption of every soul. Otherwise, Jewish destiny would not make sense.

I am the only member of my two-sided paternal and maternal families to see Jerusalem, just see the town of Jerusalem. Moreover, I am the first and the only one to see One Jerusalem, a Jerusalem that I can drive through in a car, bus, soon in a tramway or a train, on foot or by bike. 2000 years have passed. Other families came back earlier. We have families that have been living in Jerusalem in the past three centuries. Even more.

In my case, the thing is terribly simple and banal. It is so common, so personal and still anonymous. 400 people killed, murdered on my mother and father sides and no survivor. This year, my parents would be 108-109 years old! I cannot understand, explain, give any reason why I could come back here, in this generation, a total survivor of the pogroms, civil wars, Nazi time, Churban-Shoah\חורבן-שואה and a mother who in 1949 could give me birth when she was half lame, partly deaf and 48 years old!

This is why I am often stunned, totally overwhelmed and surprised to be alive; indeed this is real and there are some reasons. I should have died 12-13 years ago of an unexpected health accident. The Most High allowed me to reach this year my 60th anniversary that roughly corresponds to this period of Israel Independence and Jerusalem Day, one year after the Independence. It is also so special that I could stay here for years against all previsions: I married my wife and had asked her hand on the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) almost 30 years ago and she had accepted in Jerusalem. We have spent some time here and came often back to Israel. I could have come to Israel as a babe, as a teen, as a young adult. I would never have thought that I would be here, sent by the Patriarch of Constantinople, in order to try to develop, if any, an embryo of an Israeli Christian Orthodox community network. Over the past twelve years, I have steadfastly and without any sort of nationalism celebrated the Services in Hebrew, in some Yiddish, Ukrainian and other tongues, trying to substantiate that our survival leads to pardon and unity.

People may smile at times when I start praying in Ukrainian. My father accounted me in details the backgrounds of the Nikolaiev/Mykolaiv region of our family as well as my local nannies. When I arrive in Nikolaiev/Mykolaiv in 1993, I spent a whole night to look at the immense Bug river from a high building room. It was so weird that I could come back, that all the tongues and cultures had been transmitted to me and that I felt there are home as I feel at home in Jerusalem. This was a moment of truth, when surviving reach a deadline that pushes anew and again ahead into the future. There was no reason why I should arrive in Israel to be a Christian, a deacon and then a priest. There was on specific reason to marry a non-Jewish Flemish and Perigourdine woman from France, a Christian born of Christians who desired to spend a year in the Holy Land in order to read the Bible. I asked her hand in order to "embody" a special goal: "of the two (Israel and the Gentiles he (Jesus Christ) made One body" (Ephesians 2,14-16). This simple goal was readily a challenge. We faced and have to face multi-faceted challenges that include the way we can accept with faith what is proposed on our road.

Each year, on Jerusalem Day, I pray for Unity. As time passes, years go, it maybe possible to determine some patterns for unity. Twelve years ago, in Jerusalem, the Churches could really have at least some looking forward toward some prolegomenon of possible unity". Not so much, not too much, but still, we had some sort of brotherly connection. Of course, today, there is a "club": the heads of the Churches meet on a regular basis. It had been launched before I arrived, and except in cases of specific clashes, the meetings always took place according to the agenda.

But Yom Yerushalayim can hardly be a "Christian-shared" day. Some personalities would join and come. Not too much. The "One Jerusalem" is a sharp Zionist group, headed by Nathan Sharansky. Their point of view is interesting and should be taken into account. But over the years, the Yom Yerushalayim was usually a festive day for the Jews and the Israelis. Progressively, much arrogance showed, slowly from the part of "hard" religious or "pro-zionist or pro-Jewish Jerusalem" groups of all sorts. There are definitely no specific or pre-determined groups. Things are much more flexible or undefined. Nonetheless, some groups can be very pushy, aggressive, try to clash or provoke the Arabs at Jaffa Gate. It does not really work for different reasons.

The Jaffa Gate Old City square and entrance to the holy sites is special. Everybody is a bit "blasé". "Stop your game or play, stop showing off". The Arabs can be very Palestine, very Hamas, very everything, they are very connected with the Jews and the Israeli system. It does not mean they are a part of it. A lot of Arabs have their ID cards, get their ID card, it est they are or become Israeli citizens and do not show that too much to either side. This is the non-credible part of the Pope's journey to the Holy Land, because relationships and partisanships are often fake or playing a show.

In the past decade, a lot of Jews and a lot of pious Jewish groups settled inside the Christian quarter. The streets of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and down to Khanqa, Christian Quarter Rd are heavily penetrated by Jewish settlers; silence is the rule. It is not possible anymore to just look at small groups of "haredim" and say that they "only pass along". Then, the Old City, in this part of the quarter, is intermingled with all kinds of true-false-half-false, pre-supposed thes and those that are swimming in different waters without really trying to settle down. Indeed, streets can be empty, without any soul showing at certain hours of the day. There are new "Greek patriarchate" shops (a bookstore just opened), but life is difficult for many of the inhabitants.

It is also evident that Christians can be now mocked inside the Old City. This could hardly be the case before. The clergy shows less and less, or at specific hours. It would not be the case before and not so long ago. Local "cassocks" disappear, some "Roman collars" do show, but it is rare. There is even a new tendency: specific Russian clergymen would never show in cassocks and only put them on in church and on special occasions. This is brand new and concerns peculiar groups of pilgrims/tourists.

Yom Yerushalayim questions the Israeli society and the Christian world in the same way as the State recognition. Nobody could ever think that the Jews would one day rule or be responsible for the development of the whole City. It is very difficult in such a context to truly expect some sense of righteousness and conscience. It only starts. The process is too recent. Forty-two years are nothing. Thirty years ago, I worked here with rabbis who had anticipated the move toward the Temple and the possibility to rebuild it or to consider that the Temple will be "kayam = extant". This canot be reduced to some evangelical comments. It requires a profound understanding of how Judaism contemplates times and delays and the possibility to perform the sacrifices and where. This is a very strange matter because we are often too "virtual". On June 28, 1967, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel confirmed that it was too early and not possible to perform the ritual Paschal (Pessah) sacrifices. In the present, the books of prayers for "Temple Services" flourish and are published in Hebrew. Still they are "awkward" and only suggest some praying structures. Living Judaism perfectly knows how to face the reality of the Sacrifices and would reconnect immediately with this reality. This point is not ignored by most if not all of the Christian and other denominations.

We are is a period of uncertain spiritual confusion for Judaism. Christian Churches are definitely not prepare to any revival of the Jewish Services, though they are constantly studied by all Jewish religious groups. When Moshe Dayan returned the Temple Mount to the Muslims, he argued that the Jews could not serve there because we do not know the exact place of the "Devir\דביר = Holy of Holies". There is more: the Jewish community has not undergone the full purification of the "Parah adumah\פרה אדומה = red heifer" cleansing.

This causes a strange reciprocal ignorance of the traditions. The Christians are at pains with updating and would supersede, as often, the real understanding of the Jewish traditions. The Jews have often very fundamental, basic knowledge of the living traditions that are wide, like oceans of comprehensiveness of Divine Providence and Will.

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It was 3:30 pm. I was about to cross Ben Yehudah' street and was looking at the people on the square, just in front of a clocks and watches shop. A group of youths - something like 17-20 - looked at me and laughed. They started mocking while the passers-by ere swiftly stopping to listen and continue their way. "He, Jesus! , yeah, you Jesus, tell us, what! you don't speak??!!!" Heh, Jesus, you should speak, you should always answer to Jews, right? OK...". did not say a word and continued to look around and also at them in between. Three Yeshivah student were siting in the middle of the road (there are coffee-shop tables); they were smiling, chucking with some gladness and continued to talk... in English.

My group of youths apparently spoke Hebrew, but in fact, there was some French. There attitude was typically new wave newcomer from France, with a taste of "tourist". Interestingly they can be very anti-Christian. One of them was filming the event" with his mobile phone while the first guy tried to take my Greek Orthodox soft hat (skufia). He took it and threw it away and said: "Take it, goy!", in English. I took my hat and put it on my head. The other continued to laugh, the female shop-keepers looked without saying a word. They awkwardly did not know what to say.

The more aggressive guy said to me: "So what, you goy?" There I just quietly answered: "atah chahcam o mah - you are wise (ly behaving) or what?" The one who was filming the scenery came to me took seized my hat and tore it brusquely from my head as I tried to stop him. Curiously, the people stopped and ried. But the guys quietly packed up and said to each otehr they intended to meet at their place. The three Yeshivah students did not ask anything. People went away. The shop-keepers said it was unbelievable (good gracious!). I had tried to take a picture with my small pocket camera that is always ready: there are so many fascinating scenes in an Israeli street.... God enough. It did not work. The women asked if I was okay. I said yes and then told them: "You know they are certainly not Israelis". They looked at me, not really surprised. I said, they are certainly French. Indeed there were a lot of French Jewish youths in the center of the city at that time and they said some words. They are often pushy, arrogant and do not know how to behave in general in Israeli society. Well, the women told me: "May the Living God forgive them and please forgive them too"... That's so cute! It is cute because if something similar would have happened to some Israeli in a non-Jewish country, this would immediately be considered as a anti-Semitic aggression...

I told them that these guys could hardly be Israelis. Israelis can be arrogant toward the Christians, spit at us all the time, mock at different times of the year (this is a subject for some university dissertation, by the way!). Girls can be odiously girlish. But there is also a general great sense of respect of some "habeas corpus". Or total ignorance. The Israeli would not even look at a Christian and of course not at a "cassock". The "cassock-bearer" simply does not exist.

On the other hand, an Israeli - both a Jew an an Arab - would never TOUCH a member of the Christian clergy. The Yeshivah students who attacked an Armenian bishop and removed his cross and medallion were American, not educated in Israel. In Israel, children, youths, boys and girls, pupils can be harsh, they would never touch. They agreed and a friend of mine later said it was very right.

I walked down the street, went to buy some stamps, maybe because the shop-keepers are good friends, of German origin and real Israeli pioneers. I then remembered that on a Hanukkah evening some years ago (I usually attend the candle lightning at Kikar Zion), a young man had suddenly screamed at me and asked me to leave because I was "a goy". He was rude, very but would not touch me. He was furious that I stayed there, but he would not touch. It is something significant. The funny thing is that on that Sunday evening a Catholic priest of mine - very "Hebrew en vogue-like" - passed just as the boy was shouting. He came to me and greeted me in Hebrew. The other one though we were right out of the green cheeses. He stared at the Catholic priest who was in civil clothes and would not show he is a priest. So he asked him: "Do you know that one (me)? and where from?" My friend choked and said "He (me) likes the Jews" and said to me: "See you next time".... Eh!!! Why not??? and ran away...

On the way home to the Old City, I laughed. Something like Francisco of Assisi when he was stolen by the thieves. Frankly, we live in a society based on confusion. Jewish youths behaves as pagans and in full ignorance of the Mitzvot and it does not come to their minds that they do anything wrong. The shop-keepers were so Christian-likely inspired about the spirit of forgiveness! There was no police in sight, but it would be useless. I could have argued that I wanted to make a deposition because I consider that a "chevra tziburit, chokit, chavretit, demokratit\חברה ציבורית, חוקית, חברתית, דמוקרטית - a civil legal, socializing and democratic soiety like the Israeli one can positively accept my testimony. It would not be useful; the best way is to create and develop the adequate training system... No time, maybe no real desire to correct so numerous and diversified problems.

I felt something else. Nobody would help. This is something that is very important in the realm of faith. If we cannot recognize each other for who we are as human beings and cannot pay the respect every human being deserves (Avot 11), we should not speak of how good we should be to each other. The Mitzvot, in that sense, are far beyond any understanding of the true nature of humankind and human nature. And thus, the true way of faith is to open the path to understanding of any behavior. It may lead us some day to One Jerusalem, from beneath to above and vice versa for the best of life.

May 22/9, 2009 - 28 deIyyar 5769 - כ"ח דאייר תשס"ט

av aleksandr [Winogradsky Frenkel]


The concerned hat...