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Leon's No News Bulletin 70 Secular Judaism

Shalom everyone,

To the glee of the media the snow last week kept the citizens of Israel glued to their TV's when they should have had better things to do than to watch the contortions of opposition party politicians figuring out ways of how to get rid of Olmert and get their own, conceited selves elected to power.

The Winograd report on the 2nd Lebanese war didn't criticize Olmert. This was a great disappointment for all those people who think they can do a better job of running the country than any prime minister and for the media who would have continued to keep us glued to our TV's to listen to comments and counter comments of future "leaders" of Israel.

A pleasant odorful Cuban smoke wafting from a San Cristobal, my faithful computer, now running quietly thanks to my friend, Donald, the computer genius and Beethoven's Eroica symphony, I was well prepared for the snow. Even my slight irritation at having my Massada tour postponed was placated.

The next day, however, I was very happy to be tramping through the melting snow on a walking tour of the Old City. The snow on the Dome of Rock and the snow covered Old City was so beautiful it even compensated for the places like the Herodian Quarter and the Yohanan ben Zakkai Synagogues that were closed because the people with the keys were snow bound somewhere in the suburbs of Jerusalem either because the snow ploughs hadn't yet cleared the snow or because they just wanted to stay glued to their TV's.

My telephone alarm advised me about a lecture about Jewish Secularism., which I still regret not attending, being convinced by Ettie that it would be cancelled because of the snow,

According to Prof. Amos Funkenstein* one can be secular and an orthodox Jew at one and the same time. He maintains that this isn't paradoxical, as many people think; one can be Jewish in the fullest sense of the word without being observant of all the "mitzvoth".

The idea, held by many Jews, religious and secular, that someone with different or no religious beliefs, can't be a member of the Jewish Nation, originates in the writings* of a sect who called themselves "the Yahad" or the "children of light". They considered only members of their group to be the vanguard of a new, glorious, godly regime that was soon to rule over the People of Israel. Jews outside their group were called the "children of darkness" and were members of the evil regime which was soon to pass away.

The Torah begins with God's creation of the world instead of a law to the Jews because the world comes first not the Jewish People, no matter how important they are to God Jews are not permitted to look down their noses at non observant Jew or non Jews.

After the snow on Wednesday, Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day; the sun shining, a few clouds in the sky. It was a great day to take Tamar to the beach in Tel Aviv. She likes scooping up handfuls of sand and running close to the water's edge, when the ripples of water come close to her she throws the sand in the water and runs away with a big scream and laughter. Afterwards we sat by a table at one of the many sidewalk restaurants they have along the beachfront and basked in the warm sun while sipping drinks and munching some fish hamburgers and steak. The big treat was ice-cream at Iceberg, a great ice cream shop in Ben Yehudah Str. I had strawberries in whipped cream with chocolate, Tamar had chocolate, Ettie had butter scotch and Emanuel had a banana frap.

It's been a while since I've toured outside Jerusalem so on Sunday, I was quite happy to be fetching a tourist from Masuot Itzhak, a Moshav, near Ashkelon. I took him , his son and granddaughter to Massada and the Dead Sea.

This involved a journey from the extreme West of Israel, at Ashkelon on the Mediteranean to the extreme East at Massada on the Dead Sea and it took us a little over an hour.

It's a fascinating journey because one traverses a cross section of Israel's geographic areas the sea coast, the Shefela (lowlands), the Negeve Desert, the Judean Desert, the Dead Sea area and one can even see the mountains of Moab in Jordan on the eastern side of the Dead Sea.

This route was famous in biblical times because it formed the southern boundary of Judah. South of this line is considered desert, north of it is the settled land. The ruins of the ancient Canaanite city of Arad which protected the entrance into the Promised Land from intrusions of desert nomads and ruins of three Roman fortresses can still be clearly seen from the main road.

The road to Hebron, the heart of Canaan in biblical times, branches off to the Left, near Arad. This is even the same route taken by the 12 spies sent by Moses from the desert to spy out the Promised Land.

Wishing you a great no news day

Yours truly.


* Amos Funkenstein The Emancipation of Man from the slavery which he brought on himself in The Culture of Secular Judaism 2006/87

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