Sunday, September 27, 2009

Yom Kippur - what to think about this year?

Ask anyone around the world that knows anything about Judaism, what the holiest day of the year for Jew is and you will almost always get the correct answer Yom Kippur, and in Israel we will really experience it.

In Britain and I presume much of the western world things slow down on Christmas Day, with virtually all shops shut and people spend time with their families. However, in Israel things go even further on Yom Kippur, not only does all public transport shutdown (as it does every Shabbat) but Ben Gurion International Airport also shuts down, and it is illegal to drive. While even more shocking today in the western world, the television companies stop broadcasting for a whole day.

This year it seemed to become fashionable for prominent people around the world to call for people to try and understand what it is like for Muslims during Ramadan. So I urge my non-Jewish readers and also Jewish readers, about the biggest issue that will affect not only the Jewish people but the whole world in the coming year. On Yom Kippur, the Jewish people pray not only for a healthy and successful year for themselves, but for all the Jewish people , and the entire world.

As Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu said this week at the UN, now is the time to think about the biggest issue facing the world. Are we going to confront Iran, whose leader not only denies the Holocaust, but is now developing nuclear weapons, which under the current leadeship would use it to attack Israel and other countries. Together with Mr Netenyahu I thank Britain and the other countries that walked out of the UN General Assembly this week when the Iranian leader began his anti-semitic speach. However, I urge all right minded individuals on Yom Kippur to consider the threat that Iran now poses to the world, and over the next year to show your support for confronting this threat.

Friday, September 18, 2009

6 months and the start of a New Year

I would like to wish a Shana Tova to all my readers and hope the new year is sweet and successful.

As we approach Rosh Hashana and another new year, now is a good time to look back on the 6 months since aliyah. It is hard to believe that yesterday it was 6 months since Sonia and I landed in Israel to begin a new stage in our life. These six months have not always been easy, and starting a new life in any country including Israel can be challenging but to anyone who is contemplating aliyah (or even not yet considering it) I would recommend it.

In order to absorb ourselves into Israeli life here in Modiin we have there have been a number of challenges but like the vast majority of olim we have overcome them.

We are starting to get a little better at speaking in Hebrew. I can now understand what most people ask me and get by in Hebrew. However, there is always more that can be done and so this week we began a new term of ulpan in Modiin, and it is nice to be in a class of brand-new olim and see their early excitement of life in Israel. It also helps to remind me why we came to Israel when life begins to become routine.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I am also now working at the Jerusalem Post and am pleased to be working with nice people in a job which is helping to grow Israel's economy and spread Israel's message through the Jerusalem Post newspaper. After two months working in Israel, it also makes me feel that I have settled here and am able to learn from veteran olim and sabras about what life is like here in Israel. While the money is a lot less than I was earning in England, it is enough to ensure we are able to lead a nice life.

I have also been reading Daniel Gordis' latest book and in his words, the reason the Jewish People need Israel and should live in Israel is because, it allows the Jewish people to determine its own lives and laws and to lead freely and unthreatened, something which until 61 years ago was not possible for 2000 years. I am therefore be pleased to be entering my first full year in Israel and to be part of Israel's and the Jewish People's future. Life will not always be easy and we will face challenges both on an indiviual and national level, but we will overcome these and be able to have a successful future.

Happy new year