Kirk Douglas to most of us, Issur was the son of an immigrant Jewish rag-picker and junkman in upstate New York. He died on Wednesday at 103. He Anglicized his name and became one of Hollywood’s top movie stars, then found his way back to Judaism relatively late in life, embracing it with a vengeance after he survived a helicopter crash.
Via The Jerusalem Post
I remember Safed, the historic Upper Galilean town of Jewish mystics, chiefly for its wide stone staircases. We traversed them, my Israeli friend Yan and I, in the gathering twilight of a warmish day in March, 2011 spent driving from one attraction to another. Yan preferred getting it all in; I wished for more time in one place.
And I got that time in Safed. I can still picture the staircases and the people who surrounded us going up and down the steps, until we found what we were looking for, through a darkening alley, a very old Sephardic synagogue whose name I don’t remember. With its baby-blue bima in the center of the room with the canopy effect of the wooden ceiling painted with sky scenes.
Built after the many Jews who came in 1492 when they were expelled from Spain, not before, though some had lived there all along—which is to say despite the Roman expulsion hundreds of years before.
The holy city of Safed, it’s called, the home of the sparks of Kabbalah mysticism. Perched on a mountaintop about three thousand feet above sea level and on its slopes, it is also the highest city in Israel. You could lose yourself in its narrow, one-way cobblestone streets and narrower cobblestone alleys and we almost did several times.
The ancient city lingers in memory almost nine years later and it always will.
“Tu Bishvat could easily have faded away after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, since there was no longer a system of fruit offerings or Temple priests to receive them. However, the kabbalists (mystics) of Tzfat (the city of Safed) in the Land of Israel in the 16th century created a new ritual to celebrate Tu Bishvat called the Feast of Fruits.”
So, technically, the birthday, or new year, which begins in the evening of Sunday, Feb 9, and ends in the nightfall of Monday, Feb 10, is only about fruit trees. But the rabbis have extended it to all trees wherever they may be. Including the big grandfather tree off the porch at the mini-rancho.
From Neely’s Canyon and our clay friends the aging Maccabees, which Mr. Boy dubs “a classic,” a gift from the mother of a girl who broke up with me.
Imagine if your cellphone was at 10 percent and lasted eight days. Now you understand Hanukkah! Which begins Sunday night, the 22nd.
Via Shalom Austin JCC
Hundreds of rabbis, including the chief rabbis of Israel, have signed a letter to President Trump declaring him blessed for recognizing Israeli sovereignty.
“The presidents of the United States have had the merit of standing at Israel’s side, of partnering in the realization of the prophetic vision of the return to Zion and the rebirth of Israel. A rare privilege has now presented itself to you: To be the first American president to blaze the trail for recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and now, over the recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria.”
Trump, they said, will be remembered in Jewish history as a “man who stood on the front-lines, unafraid.”
Via United With Israel
Apples and honey, and all that jazz. Wishing you a sweet, happy and healthy Jewish new year, which begins at sundown.