Saturday, 27 February 2016

As a Jew, I define myself in Hebrew only


Again, my ongoing efforts to educate people, mainly our fellow Jews, and insist that Jews and not others define us, has resulted in a barrage of attacks against me and evidently against other Jews who share similar desires and engage in similar efforts. I fear them not.

No, I will not apologize for being an Israeli Jew who wishes to stand up and fight for what I believe is our right. Moreover, it is our duty and obligation towards the millions of our fellow Jews and members of Am Yisrael who died throughout history precisely because they refused to let others define us. Their death was not and should never be in vain.

That is what I also teach my students.

Last week, one of them asked me why I spell the name of our Jewish Homeland as Yisrael and not Israel. I will share with you, dear readers, my lesson for that day.

Israel when written in Hebrew
עיברית (Ivrit) the language of Am Yisrael, the language of our heritage, is spelled as יזרעאל which is how we spell the valley of Jezereel in the Northern part of Eretz Yisrael. That valley is ONLY one part of our Jewish Homeland. Additionally, it also means something totally different than what our forefathers intended for our state. It means in Hebrew, “G-d will sow”. The name Yisrael which is the correct English spelling of our Home has a totally different meaning.

The name “Yisrael, first appears in the Torah, in the Book of Bresheet (AKA Genesis in its Hellenistic translation) Chapter 32 verse 29
לֹא יַעֲקֹב יֵאָמֵר עוֹד שִׁמְךָ כִּי אִם-יִשְׂרָאֵל כִּי-שָׂרִיתָ עִם-אֱ-לֹהִים וְעִם-אֲנָשִׁים וַתּוּכָל "  No longer shall your name be Yaakov, but Yisrael because you fought with G-d and people and you won!.

Yes, that is the meaning of the name of our Jewish Homeland, not any other name given to us by any foreign conqueror, or any foreign language. We have a right to insist on it because a name is one of the most precious possessions a person, a nation, an entity has. No one has a right to violate it. The name Yisrael provides Hope and Continuity to us Jews. We have had to fight, will continue to have to fight but will always prevail. That is the promise that the name Yisrael holds

Hebrew is our language. If anyone wishes to address anything that is ours, be it Yahadoot
יהדות  ( (also known by its Hellenistic/heathen version as Judaism), or any other concept that is part of who we are, I will insist that they address it in my language. You wish me to show you respect? If so, earn it by respecting me!

Oh and before anyone attacks me on that whether it is a senile senior person from down under or a young “ Zionist activist” from the southern part of the US or even someone who has been known to defraud the Australian social service system and now no longer resides there, let me reiterate, yet again, it is MY view!

And you know what the greatest victory is? My students agreed with me! What more could I, a teacher in Eretz Yisrael, ask for than raising a generation of Jews who are proud of their heritage and will not let others define them. I am blessed!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016



This article was written with Roger Froikin.

Let us start by prefacing that this article is our own personal opinion, as blogs generally are. If any of the readers feel that we are expressing their view, then so be it. That, however, is not our intention.
More importantly, this article is NOT an apology. It is merely another endeavor by us to try and explain why so many Jews are skeptical of and are unwelcoming to Christians; especially those who insist that we Jews, should let them into our teachings and that we should be forever grateful for their support of our People and our Jewish state.

Firstly, we believe that we, Jews, are indeed appreciative and grateful to anyone who supports us as we are certain that many non- Jews are, likewise, grateful to the modern day Jewish state of Israel and Am Yisrael for their gifts and contributions.  It is a two way street.
Secondly, we feel that Jews are doing pretty well in letting Christians "into our Jewish teachings," mainly because we have no way of preventing or stopping it. That, however, Is not the issue that we intend to address here. What we wish to request of those that recite and mention our Holy Tanach is that in the process of adopting that which is solely ours they respect us and remember a few important principles.  
At the cost of repeating ourselves, we feel a nagging need to remind Christians and others yet again that the Torah and the whole Tanach were gifts to the Jewish people first and foremost and that as such Jewish interpretations passed down as traditions are primary ones to be appreciated and respected. Yes, we are instructed to share their message, their moral code with the world, which in fact we do and willingly so.
It is not our intention to enter into a theological debate with Christians and others. Such an attempt would be merely another exercise in futility. As far as we are concerned, they can continue to believe whatever they wish and whatever suits their faith.
We will, though, say it and say it unwaveringly, that what others believe about our Jewish writing is irrelevant to us. Christianity needs its Jewish roots to provide it with its moral basis. Judaism, however, does not need Christianity and members of the Jewish faith can and should ignore it ideologically. Christianity has nothing to contribute to Judaism. Unlike the support which is a two way street, ideologically, Christianity cannot add anything to Judaism. It merely dilutes it.
Naturally, Christians have been raised to believe that their creeds are as important to Jews as the Jewish ones are to them. This, unfortunately, leads many of them to the conviction and the practice of trying to explain to us, Jews, what our writings mean to us.

 This is akin to a Chinese man who loves Shakespeare and reads every one of his plays and sonnets in Chinese translation. Seeing them through the lens of Chinese culture and experience, he then tries to dictate to the English that his Chinese interpretation of Shakespeare was the most authentic and accurate --- the English scholars would laugh. By the same token, when a Christian, through the lens of his Christian experience reads the Bible and the Prophets in translation and then tries to tell Jews what it all really means, we should and must ignore it
We will ignore it yet continue to respect those Christians who choose to believe it.  At the same time, we should also continue to reiterate that no interpretation by another people or another faith based on their cultural and historic view can ever be as valid as our own Jewish one.

If our Christian friends wish us to continue to show them mutual respect, they should just leave us alone and let us continue to believe what we have for several millennia. Mutual respect is a key to making this world a better place. And who does not want to make the world a better place? 

“Zionism,” the Hellenistic misapprehension of what Jews believe



This article was written together with Roger Froikin

We are tired of others defining us, Jews. We are dissatisfied with non-Jews trying time and again to tell us what we should believe in or not believe in. Moreover, we are fatigued of others interpreting our essence through their eyes, with modern day spectacles and using terms that are foreign to us, to our culture and to Hebrew, the only language that can and has defined the Jewish belief system.
Yes, I am referring to yet again, to the much discussed, used and abused term “Zionism.”
According to Merriman-Webster, the origin of suffix “ism” as in the term “Zionism” is “Middle English-isme, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, partly from Latin – isma (from Greek) & partly from Latin.” None of these languages are even remotely related to Hebrew, the only language that has and should continue to define anything that is part of the Jewish world.
A Hellenistic and thus a heathen name has, unfortunately, been given to and is used to define a noble Jewish concept. A magnanimous several millennia old Jewish/Hebrew idea that expresses the strong connection that only Jews have had to Eretz Yisrael has been adapted by those who call themselves friends of the Jews, those who support the right of Jews for a Homeland in the Land of their forefathers
Make no mistake, we appreciate that support. We know that many have gone out on a limb to fight for Jewish right to make Herzl’s political movement an ongoing reality. Thank you.
We are not letting, however, Hellenism and foreign cultures define us. We cannot. Moreover, they cannot.
For generations, Jews have taught their children that the difference between Hellenism and Judaism was that the Hellenists, though they contributed to science and culture, were mostly interested in extolling sports and the beauty of the body and physical prowess and a narcissistic view of life while Judaism emphasized the intellectual pursuits, Torah, and community.
The problem is that this definition of Hellenism is not what so frightened or sages.  What they feared most was not that Jewish boys would go out and be sports fans, but that Hellenistic thoughts and definitions would invade and replace Jewish thoughts, conceptions, and definitions of Jewish history and literature and even of the Torah.
Hebrew is a Semitic language and cannot easily be translated into a European language because it constitutes a very different construction.  When one thinks in Hebrew, when one reads Torah in Hebrew, one thinks, subconsciously, in terms of word relationships and metaphorical meanings which add many dimensions to the text, Reading Torah in translation to Indo-European languages, losses all those constructive relationships subtle meanings, a loss of all of its essence.
It is noteworthy to mention that in the 4th century C.E., seventy-two Jewish scholars were coerced by the Greek King of Egypt, Ptolemy II Philadelphus to translate the Torah into Greek. This mistranslation is known as the Septuagint. Until today, we Jews mourn each year this this tragedy.
So, some might say, fine, learn Hebrew and read it in Hebrew.  But there is a problem our Sages recognized.  If we view the world through Hellenistic concepts, we also may misunderstand the meaning originally intended in the Hebrew.  If we learn Hebrew from an Indo-European language with its own history, we can be prone to misconstrue the text and its concepts.
Therefore, as the Sages feared, Hellenism’s invasion of Jewish culture changed our Jewish thinking patterns, changed how we defined even what was ours. 
“Zionism” and what we see is being done to it today is but one example of that.
Furthermore, we see some social media activists coming up with their own definition of the word. Moreover, they call upon others to do “Zionist” as if doing those “things” would define us Jews and what our beliefs stand for.
You know what?
You can call yourselves what you want. We cannot stop you. You are welcome to continue to use the Hellenistic use and interpretation of “Zionism.” Keep it as yours, Latin and Greek are your languages, not ours. The suffix “Ism” is part of your cultural heritage, not ours.
Hebrew is ours and we are proud of it. We are no longer “Zionists” because that twisted term that endeavors to describe what you believe we are is yours, not ours.  From now on, in our lexicon Roger and all Jewish males are a “Tsioni”  ציוני   and all Jewish females, a “Tsionit.”   ציוניתFrom now on, we will call our few millennia longing for Tsion ציון  (which you call “Zion”) “Tsionut,” ציונות.
We, as Jews, have earned it. For over two thousand years of sanguineous history, it is only we who have prayed in Hebrew towards Tsion. It is only we who, during all those years of suffering and pain, pledged in Hebrew “Next year in Jerusalem.” It is only we, Jews, who, while in exile from our Homeland, mourned in Hebrew we remembered Tsion and it is we, Jews, who vowed in Hebrew under the Chuppah, at the height of our joy never to forget Jerusalem.

Yes, we Jews cannot tell the world how to define what are Jewish concepts best expressed in Hebrew. We cannot tell them to stop trying either.  What we can do, however, is have the confidence and the right to define what is ours and in our own terms.   A slave people, a people colonized and persecuted by others for 2000 years might have to allow outsiders define us and impose their ways on us, but no more. That needs to come to an end, and as a free people, we, the Jewish people must reclaim what is ours, our property, our culture, our language, and our own definitions of ourselves, and that is “TSIONUT”