Report cards for extraordinary students

במקום גניזה Instead of Gniza

(English after Hebrew)

 אינני שומר מצוות

אך יש במצוות הגניזה

משהו נוגע ללב, מרגש

ביחוד לחובבי ספרים, כמוני


מול התחנה המרכזית החדשה


היה מבנה נטוש, מאוד נטוש היה המבנה

היו מגיעים אליו כלמיני

 בעבר היה המקום

בית מדרש

אולי בגלל זה היו מוטלים בו

אלפי ספרי קודש

על הרצפה, משכב לחסרי בית

יורם אמיר, ידידי הצלם, הכיר לי את המקום

הייתי בא, תולש ספרי קהלת מן התנ”כים

ומבצע בהם מעשים אמנותיים

במקום גניזה




I’m not

an observant Jew

but the Gniza mitzvah

in which we are commanded

to bury holy text

when we’re done using it

is very exciting to me


in an abandoned building

in front of the central bus station

in West Jerusalem

thousands of books

Bibles, Talmud, Mishna

laid on the floor

as beds to homeless people

The building used to be

a Beit-Midrash once

My friend Yoram showed it to me

and I would come

 tear the book of Ecclesiastes

out of old Bible books

and make all sorts of art with them

instead of Gniza

Ecclesiastes text glued on an 18th century Jewish Musar (morals) book Mesilat Yesharim (path of the righteous) by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lutzato –

1Meaningless! Meaningless!
    says the Teacher.
2 Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.
3 What do people gain from all their labors
    at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.

Diet God

A friend from out of town came to visit our synagogue and said she wish there was a synagogue that is God-free. I told her that our synagogue is sort of God light, or diet God, but it was still too much God for her diet.

  I don’t know whether God exists or not, but I honestly don’t understand why human beings spend so much time thinking and arguing about that. I mean we’re going to find out when we die anyway so why bother about it now? ‘What is God’ is a more of an interesting question to me than whether it exists or not, since it has so many different answers than just yes or no.

  I do believe that acts of loving kindness count more than type of faith though.

  What I love about our synagogue, BHA, is that there are about as many different views of Judaism and of God as the number of members, if not more (two Jews, three opinions, so it says).

The De-hollizing project

   One of the most reasonable ways to end the Israeli Palestine conflict is to declare the Holy Land as not holy, as just a regular place. It may sound unreasonable, but I think that for most of the Jewish people this had already happened. Many if not most Jews don’t see the “holy places” as holy in the traditional sense of the word. Many poets and writers had already said that there’s a lot of sacredness in the casual and regular events and places, in everything, so this idea is not even be a big change of mindset for most people. If religions would start to consider the whole wide world as holy, including all of its residents and natural treasures, I think it’ll be great for everyone. Maybe then humanity would be able to use the incredible power of organized religion for good causes. 

   Today, February 25th, is the 20th anniversary of the cave of Patriarchs massacre in which an American born Jewish doctor killed 29 Palestinians while they were praying where Abraham, Jacob and Isaac are supposedly buried. The city of Hebron knew an even more terrible massacre in 1929, in which 67 Jews lost their lives and the rest escaped from the city. Many of the holy places in Israel-Palestine had some bloodshed in them. What we now recognize as the wailing wall plaza in Jerusalem used to be a the 800 years old Mughrabi Arab neighborhood that was demolished a few days after the 1967 war, in order to flatten the area for Jews to pray and gather there. Such actions, I believe, take away whatever holiness was in a place. 

    I don’t have a specific way to make such idea (I call it de-hollizing but maybe there’s a better name for it) a reality, if such idea is even a good idea. Adam of Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center had already showed a lot of excitement for managing a holy site in case the Jewish world would decide to de-hollinize Jerusalem and transfer its holy spirit to the beautiful retreat center in Connecticut (he was actually freaked out by the idea, I understand him). I imagine that a petition of many Rabbis declaring that they see holiness in every place and in each creature on earth and not only in few places or some graves might have a huge impact, but I’m neither a Rabbi nor an organizer. “De-hollinaizing”, like disarming, like dislike something that does very little to benefit a more peaceful future.

Demolition work of the Moroccan quarter

 in order to create the wailing wall plaza,1967

  Rabban Yokhanan Ben Zakai, which we named our son Zakai after, is famously recognized for transferring Judaism into an era of prayer and study from an era of sacrifying animals in the sake of worshiping God. His teaching during the distraction of the second temple that loving-kindness equal to sacrificing animals in its importance is one of my favorite quotes from the Jewish literature. Just saying. 

Anyway, regardless of all that, this is the peace pole project, in which tens of thousands of poles were placed in more than 180 countries around the world with the sentence “may peace prevail earth” ישרה שלום עלי אדמות written on them in many different languages. I love this inspiring project.