Live, from above the Atlantic Ocean

I thought I’d take advantage of the free wireless internet on El Al and marvel at modern technology.

I’m on my way to Israel with an astonishing group of people… representatives from KESHER, AIPAC, Hillel, the ZOA, CAMERA, Shalom Achshav, Koach, and at least a dozen other Jewish and Zionist organizations. We’re going to be doing physical repair work in northern communities that we’re attacked during this past summer’s war with Lebanon. We’ll also be meeting closely with members of various communities and seeing a side of Israel that I haven’t had a chance to yet. I’m quite excited and anxious.

There are a number of recent encounters that I’ve been meaning to write about – things I’ve found quite intriguing. Perhaps I’ll find time on this flight to write. Either way, here’s a teaser…

  • My discussion with my Irish Catholic uncle about what it means to be loyal to both Canada and Israel at the same time. We talked about aliyah, Jewish sovereignty, social justice, and a host of other issues. My uncle is a fascinating and incredible man. I look forward to writing about this.
  • My ongoing relationship with the Zionist and Jewish professional world in Toronto. It’s an intriguing relationship… one that simultaneously thrills me, frustrates me, encourages me, angers me, and stimulates me. I’m not sure what to make of it. I can’t divorce my personal emotions from my profesional work, but they are often in conflict. More on this to come.

I’ll write more later on… perhaps after I’ve had a nap.
I’m drinking wine, watching The Illusionist, and chatting online. All at 30,000 feet above the Atlantic.


A religio-politico “oops”

If you look at how the Reform movement has changed since its inception, it’s quite clear that we simply got some things wrong, realized that, and changed. In the grand scheme of Jewish history, fifty years of anti-zionism is just a blip on the radar… a religio-politico “oops.” That being said, it’s an important blip, and one we should understand as part of our history.

What do we do with this history?

When is it Shabbat on the internet?

From an article by Daphne Berman

…Though seemingly theoretical, for observant people who run a Web site or an online store, the issue [when is it Shabbat on the internet?] could be potentially problematic since other Jewish people would be using and benefiting from the site during Shabbat.

After considerable research, the rabbis determined that Shabbat exists on the Internet for a particular user only in the place that he or she uses the Internet. Their ruling – which Rabbi Carmel said was like “having to invent the wheel, because there were no available sources” on the subject – meant that a person is allowed to operate an online store on Shabbat if he or she isn’t actively doing something on the site.

The rabbis also recommended that someone in New York, for example, not check an Israeli Web site on Friday afternoon, since it would be Shabbat in the place where the site operates, even if it wasn’t yet Shabbat in New York.

“Almost everything we have an answer for, except spiritual or kabbalistic questions, which we tell people aren’t our specialty,” says Carmel. When someone asked if it was true that there will be fire in hell that will consume sinners, the team of rabbis replied they didn’t know, since no one has reported back to them.

Carmel feels that people in the ultra-Orthodox camp who have shunned the Internet are missing out on a host of religious opportunities.

“There’s lots of garbage out there, but there is also a lot of important information, which people could really use for their benefit,” Carmel says.

“In just two clicks, you can get to sites that we don’t want people to go to, but in just two clicks, you can also get to wonderful places, where you can learn Torah.”

Selections from the Liberal Leadership Convention

Bob Rae quoted Hillel. Check it out…

“There’s more culture in a bowl of yogurt than in the Conservative government.”
~Stephane Dion

“The main issue of the centruy, the one on which all others depend, is the junction between the economy and the environment. In other words, no less then the reconciliation between the people and the planet.”
~Stephane Dion

“We do not in herit the planet from our ancestors, we borrow it from our grandchildren.”
~Aboriginal Proverb, quoted by Stephane Dion

“We talk about equality, but Afghanistan has more women in its parliament than Canada”
~Justin Trudeau

“We are not just a party of power. We are a party of purpose”
~Gerard Kennedy

“The new language of politics is action. What we do, not what we say, is what Canadians will care about.”
~Gerard Kennedy

“I want to talk to you from the heart, without a speech, as the Rabbi said, If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I?”
~Bob Rae

“How do we get people who think differently and act differently to work together?”
~Bob Rae

“First of all, this is about the country, this is about Canada, this is about our love for Canada. The Liberal party has suceeded… because it has been able to find itself in the heartland of Canada, and its values have always tried to reflect the values of Canadians. It’s about the country before its about the party.”
~Bob Rae

“How do we take the vision and turn it into something called politics? If we can’t put it into practice, then we can’t make a difference, and we haven’t really succeeded”
~Bob Rae

“I see a Canada whose vision is of the world… which understands that our foreign policy is as critical as what we do at home; that we can’t break down these barriers. I see a Canada where the resolution of conflict is just as important as what we do at home.”
~Bob Rae

“I see a Canada where every child that goes to school, goes to school hungry for knowledge, and not hungry for food.”
~Bob Rae

“I see a Canada whose focus is on fiscal responsibility. But fiscal responsibility is just the means to do other things.”
~Bob Rae

“Stephen Harper went out for dinner with his cabinet. The waiter asked what he wanted. He said ‘I’ll have the steak.’ The waiter said ‘what about the vegetables?’ Harper said ‘they’ll have the steak, too.'”
~Bob Rae

“If not now, when? We have to be united as we go forward together. Let us remember what we owe to Canadians. We owe them our integrity. I committ that of my time.”
~Bob Rae, quoting R. Hillel