Yosef's Diary
July 17, 2015

OK, Friends .. bear with me on this shaggy dog story ... it ends with the Iran deal.

((( Jewish Joke: As a result of global warming, a new flood is being predicted by all the world’s top scientists. They predict that it will be horrendous, wiping out maybe 70% of the world’s population. Not only that, but the Flood could be here in 3 to 4 days time. Oy vay iz meer! (<-- OMG)

Many famous people start to appear on television giving advice. One such program has the Pope, the Dalai Lama and the Chief Rabbi appearing together.
The Pope says, "It’s still not too late to accept Jesus as your Saviour."
The Dalai Lama says something similar, "I appeal to all of humanity to follow Buddhist teachings. If you do, you can find nirvana in the wake of the disaster."

But the Chief Rabbi has a totally different kind of message. He looks straight at the camera and says, "My people, we have just two or three days to learn how to live under water!" )))

A lot of individuals and organizations are calling the Iran deal a disaster. I recommend the Chief Rabbi call for learning how to live with it. 

It's not just J Street who're already there: http://www.irandealfacts.org/. Sprach also Ehud Barak former IDF Officer and former Prime Minister of Israel: http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Ehud-Barak-Israel-can-live-with-a-nuclear-Iran-408985. This list goes on and has impressive adherents. 

We are our own best blessing when we take responsibility for our lives.
Rabbi Jonathan Yosef Magidovitch

Yosef's Diary
June 19, 2015

Dear Michael Balinksy and Colleagues, call to action,

The murders at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC were awful and worse yet they are echoed by an event here in the Galilee that happened at almost the same time. 

Tag Mahir תג מחיר terrorists torched the Loaves and Fishes Church in the Galilee at Capernaum. There were no fatalities. One of the priests is in Ziv hospital for smoke inhalation. Here is the Washington Post article on this: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/arsonists-attack-church-in-israel-jewish-extremists-suspected/2015/06/18/659767fb-4c61-447b-91a4-fb44f4444488_story.html?wprss=rss_middle-east

Photo of attack at the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes


In sharp contrast to what happened at the churches, was a gift given by Christians to Karmiel, Israel.

The day before the church attacks, I was in my hometown of Karmiel offering the dedicatory prayer for the newest ambulance in the Magen David Adom Karmiel EMT service. That ambulance was gifted by Bridges for Peace which is a worldwide organization of Israel loving Christians. Here is an article on that gift: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/29236/israeli-ambulance-embarks-road-trip-across-east-coast-us-headed-israel-inspiration/#dSptar1mE6QH5I47.97

Jonathan Feldstein pictured with Anne Graham Lotz in front of the Bridges for Peace Ambulance. (Photo: Heart to Heart)


What a jarring irony to witness these events just miles apart and hours apart; the miracle of respect, love and cooperation followed by vicious hate crime. 

Please be aware of these events and be active in bringing healing. These organizations Tag Meir and Bridges for Peace can help actualize לממש positive action.

Please support and publicize the work of Tag Meir תג מאיר (Light Tag) who are fighting uphill against the immoral bureaucratic jam that to date has not made even one arrest in the now 43 Tag Mahir (Price Tag) attacks. Here is a link to Tag Meir: http://www.tagmeiren.media-sb.co.il/About-Us.htm. 

And, please support and publicize the work of Bridges for Peace: http://www.bridgesforpeace.com/il/about.

Rabbi Jonathan Magidovitch
Kehillat Ohel Moed, The Congregation in the Cloud: http://www.ohelmoed.com/

Yosef's Diary
March 27, 2014

I noticed that in my March and April .. and other .. monthly messages I do reference Christian people and themes as well as Jewish.  I want to be clear that Kehillat Ohel Moed is Jewish.  As the rabbi, my experience is that Jews and Judaism live in a context with neighbors.  My experience is mostly of those neighbors being Christian.  And, those neighbors, given the rates of interfaith marriage, are often more than neighbors; they are family.  My family, too. 

It matters to me that Jews understand Judaism.  It also matters to me that our understanding is inclusive of our neighbors and of our family.  

I don't have much experience beyond the Jewish and Christian communities.  As that grows I would reference those other communities.  

This is with the intention of giving respect and receiving respect.
All Good Things, 
Jonthan Yosef 

Yosef's Diary
March 1, 2014

Something foul is afoot. It involves the rights of Reform and Conservative Jews to pray in safety and dignity at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. We had been in negotiations with the government of Israel and now it comes out that the government was conducting another, secret negotiation with an ultra-Orthodox organization that will give them control of the site and the Reform and Conservative prayer there; undermining any rights, autonomy and dignity for Reform or Conservative Jews in our prayer at the Wall.  

Please read this letter written by Reform and Conservative Leadership to Israeli Cabinet Secretary Mandelblit with whom we had been negotiating.

Action:  Please express your thoughts and feelings on this to your congregational Rabbis and Presidents.  Please convey this also to your community organizations, in particular Jewish Federation.  

ACTION:  When JUF asks you for money let them hear loud and clear that it comes with strings; that Reform and Conservative Jews, Israeli and around the world, must have full rights and full governmental support exactly as Orthodox Jews already have:  http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/story/new-kotel-setback-letter-secretary-mandelblit

Thank you .. and blessings, 
Jonathan Yosef

Yosef's Diary
December 31, 2013

Oren is correct and living here in Israel as a liberal Jew means either ignoring, at my own spiritual peril, oppression by the Orthodox Politicized Rabbinate or working against that oppression. 

It is after two years here still unbelievable that this is work that needs to be done. I say to myself, "Really?!" And, yes, that is the reality here. 

North American Liberal Jews can help:  please speak up on our behalf. In case you fear speaking against Israel .. supporting liberal Judaism here is not speaking against Israel. It won't be detrimental to the security of Israel. It will strengthen Israel by enhancing ties among Jews in and outside of Israel. 

Thank you.  (click here for Oren's article)
All Good Things
Jonathan Yosef 

Yosef's Diary
November 29, 2013 

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning—
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Wednesday evenings I take an online modern Hebrew ulpan. At the beginning of class we three students pick from a short list of articles to read for the coming week. It's me, a journalist from Jerusalem and an artist from Brazil along with a character filled teacher. I have learned a few things from this class.

(1) some Hebrew
(2) online classes are the future of education at least for adults
(3) I fall in "like" easily which I knew but this confirms it; I really like my classmates and the teacher
(4) that learning Hebrew is like trying to reach a point that keeps moving further away .. like when you were learning to ride a bike and dad kept backing up as you rode toward him. 

And, that's The Great Gatsby quotation above. It's about learning Hebrew and getting in touch with my generations past here in Israel and for both they seem to recede as I approach. But, maybe like bicycle riding, there was a moment when I forgot about what I was doing and then I was riding the bike. Maybe that can happen on this bike ride.

All Good Things
Jonathan Yosef 

August 8, 2013

Women of the Wall (WOW) celebrates in prayer the Jewish New Month. This happens at the Western Wall in Jerusalem which I characterize as The Synagogue of All the Jewish People. WOW have been doing this for 25 years 7:00 a.m. on the first day of the Hebrew Calendar New Month. The rub is that elements of the Orthodox Jewish Community want to prevent or control their form of prayer.

My wife and I joined WOW yesterday. She was nervous about walking into aggression. I was cautious about mixing politics with prayer. 

It was prayerful. 

And, it was political.

And, there were protesters who blew whistles and shouted and used a mic
trying to drown out our prayer .. in a section as far from the Wall as
possible and still be in the Wall Plaza.

We stood with these women praying which was also us asserting womens right to pray.  

We will join WOW again. 

August 4, 2013

Just read a blast from the past, Oral Roberts talking about faith healing.  Brings to me that faith healing is about healing our faith and not about hocus pocus fixing our body. 

Things happen to our body and we all understand where we are headed physically.  Faith is about living the best life possible for us; not being afraid to be who we are able to be.  

Finding our faith is our work but a loved one, friend or a teacher (guide) can help us get and stay on track.


May 25, 2013

I'm sharing this email to my sister with a broader community .. 

When you brought my attention to the "Arrested Development" new season and commentary on it, it brought up some thoughts in me on comparative cultures US and Israel; the self.examined life thing. (Here's a link to the article my sister sent me: http://blogs.forward.com/the-arty-semite/177172/the-talmud-of-arrested-development/ )

In particular, I've been thinking about how a lot of mental health issues that are treated in the US, here in Israel, might sometimes be treated, but seem generally to be understood as normative behavior .. for example OCD, ADD & executive function, anger management issues are widespread both places. Here ADD is widely treated in children but not very successfully and not so much adult treatment. Don't yet have a handle on the prevalence here of diagnosis and treatment of OCD and anger issues.

I believe the cultural pressure here in Israel is enormous to see that it's acceptable 

(1) to be pushy with unsolicited reminders of potential disaster (OCD) 

(2) to jump from "crisis" to "crisis" and "solution" to "solution" (ADD & executive function)

(3) to be aggressive (anger management)

Those "jewishy" American sit.coms are all built on the culture of dealing with these mental health issues. Include Friends, Seinfeld, Larry David Show, Modern Family, Arrested Development, etc. That is to say, that there is awareness in the US about these mental health issues (which become social issues) and the impetus is to laugh them into submission to a more even.keeled social way of being.  

Here, I'm not seeing those behaviors shunned or managed IRL In Real Life social situations, but there are similar sit.coms here dealing with these behaviors. Maybe, then, "even.keeled" is a work in progress in Israeli cultural development. As a dual.culture, dual.citizen, I hope so. 

April 15, 2013

The pressure release valve from our water heater failed.  I now know how to change this. 
Thank you to Andre from the floor below who informed me of the need to change it via a leak into his utility room and to Yaron from the House Committee for teaching me how.

I posted this on Facebook and a minute later Brian from the building next to us commented, "we all need a pressure release valve from time to time." And, Miriam, 
from a few blocks away commented, "I wish I knew you could do it; I just paid someone 200 shekels to do it." 

I may have a new sideline occupation.  And, for sure, it feels nice to have community .. and a water heater that's not leaking water.  

April 5, 2013

Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) is coming up. 

Last year I was on the treadmill in my gym where I normally watch reruns of Oprah or the E Channel. That day it was all biographic of people's memories of the Holocaust and the background music was minor key and strings. I found it hard to watch, which I suppose is the method but I get lost in that and it shuts me down. 

For me for now the fact of my existence and even the existence of my gym in Carmiel Israel is enough.

September 2, 2012

Today Shoshana and I went out to my Mom and Dad's graves which are here in Carmiel.  It is Mom's yahrtseit by the Hebrew calendar.  She passed about three weeks after our family moved to Israel. 

My sister, Claire, reminded me the date and she asked me to put flowers on Mom's grave.  Shoshana asked me if I wanted to do that, "yes," and if I wanted flowers or a flowering plant, "plant," and where did I want to go for it and did I want to go to the cemetery now. 

In this year, I have visited the graves a few times.  I wipe them with a baby wipe.  It's dusty.  And, I arrange some small rocks on top of their monuments.  The graves were and still are the very last, newest row of the cemetery and that area looked very unfinished.  Since the last visit, we got trees and shrubs planted by the graves. It looks really nice now. 

There have been a lot of times this last year when I was having a hard time being in Israel.  It's a big change. There have been a few things that have kept me here.  Top has been that my wife and our sons are doing so well here.  In the list are that my Mom and Dad are buried here. 

It was good visiting Mom and Dad today.  I am grateful to my sister and my wife for getting me on that.  The living in cahoots with the dead moved me today.  That makes me a little crazy.  I hope to learn to live with it. 

July 24, 2012

Middle of last night I heard the distinct Skype call ring. I was a little disoriented and did not get the call in time. At 7:30, when I should have been waking up to get to the gym, it rang again. It was a family member calling from the States. Turns out he was worried about our safety because of talk about the Syrian stockpiles of chemical weapons
My wife did not even know what our loved one was talking about. I read the paper so I did. Not that I recommend reading the paper.  

I said, "Calls like this are inevitable. Here, we don't feel events in Syria as any closer than you feel them from the US." Our relative apologized. I said, "No, no, no. Don't apologize. You love us and we love you."  

I suppose I could focus on Syria today but why would I focus on that possibility more than any of dozens of other things the "could" happen. It's not like I have more momentous things to think about, but I do have other things to think about like my family and my work. The same stuff you all probably think about. 

And, this even keel is not Israeli machismo at all. I am still pretty much culturally American. It is just our day to day reality.  

I had a good workout at the gym. Wanted to share that with you all. 

Yosef Meged

July 11, 2012

Some friends in the US sent a mailing about a conference on protecting the US from radical Islam. I sent them the following and wanted to share it with you as well:

When we moved here to Israel, I gave up all the political activity I was so strong on in the US. Living here is my activity. I may at some point pick that up again, we'll see.

In any event, I have some observations from being here "on the ground." Mostly, it is that there is much more texture here to the situation .. it is not black and white. 

If every Arab wanted to destroy Israel there would be no Israel. Most people Arabs and Jews just want to live their lives. Our town is a mix of Arab and Jewish Israelis. This is not now because of some idealistic project. Ariel Sharon started Carmiel as a Jewish city in a prominently Arab part of the Galilee. Now, fifty years later it has become an attractive place and very much "live and let live." 

There are secular and religious Jews, blacks and whites, Christians who immigrated for religious reasons, Russians, both Jewish and Christians (intermarriage families) who came for a better life and Arabs both Christian and Muslim. In no way did I expect this much of a mix here. And, the city runs well. They pick up the trash and the roadway medians are planted with seasonal flowers. 

It turns out that we rented our home from a Muslim Arab couple who live in the town across the highway from Carmiel. Zeinab and Morsi. We have become friendly and they just invited us to their home for feast one of the first nights of Ramadan. They are heartfelt, thinking people. They were over two nights ago because we just bought a penthouse and we were discussing when we were going to move out and things like dates, did they want to purchase some things we put into the house, etc. All good.  

They asked where we were moving and it is to another neighborhood in Carmiel. They said they were happy we were staying in the area, "good people in town is good for everyone." We told them we felt the same about them. I hope this becomes an enduring friendship.

There are people of both Jewish and Muslim faith who love this sort of thing .. and then there are the splitters, the radicals. They are a curse in the face of blessing. Our goal here is simply to live our life. We did not go out of our way to rent this house because of the owners' religion, it was big enough and in the right place. In other words, nothing political. However, our existence and our living our life as we do, and our friendships do have a voice.  

I share this with gratitude for your efforts against radical Islam .. it is a lie bent on destruction of life. Radical Islam like our own radical hateful Jews (they exist too) wants to polarize and foment hate. Most of us would rather enjoy our kids, make a living and go to the movies. 

If you have questions or comments about this entry, please click on my name below for email.

Yosef Meged
Yosef"s Diary

Kehillat Ohel Moed קהילת אוהל מועד