Author Archives: biecmitch

Are you “Chai” on Israel?

Ever get a card on a simcha (a happy occasion like Bar/Bat Mitzvah or wedding) with a check in it for say, 144$ (a multiple of 18)? Or ever plant a tree with JNF for 18$? As Passover is right around the corner, did you know 18 minutes is the maximum time matzah is to be cooked until it becomes unkosher? Without too much detail, once the dough hits 18 minutes, it begins to rise. 18 is also the date in the Hebrew month of Iyar when Lag B’omer occurs. We get this number 18 from the numerical value of the Hebrew word for life, “חי” or “Chai.”  The ח or “chet” is the 8th letter in the Hebrew alphabet and is worth 8 and the “י” or “yud” is the 10th letter and is worth 10, hence the connection between Judaism, life and the number 18.
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Lost in time…

Gilad Shalit has been a prisoner in the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip for the past 1713 days and counting; today is his 242nd Shabbat away from home. 1713 days away from friends, family and home without any contact from anyone besides his captors. For 1713 days the Red Cross has not been allowed to visit him, and his exact location is unknown. His only crime is that of being an Israeli defending his country and his people.

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Moving to Israel vs. Making Aliyah

Ever since I came back from Israel as a Birthright participant two years ago I began asking myself, could I live in Israel? After diving deeper into Israeli culture and history, Zionism, and getting involved in the Jewish community, the question of whether or not I could live in Israel became so much more; it became a final destination, “sof haderech”. I’m not going to go over logistics and the ins and outs of making Aliyah, but rather explain to you the importance of having a “plan” in doing so, and the difference between moving to Israel versus making Aliyah.

For me, the past few years have been about getting back to Israel at any cost, at any moment, or for any reason… but the question is, why?  Is it just for pleasure or leisure? Obviously, Israel is a great place to have fun and trips there often result in life-changing experiences, but it never dawned on me that I could have “Israel changing experiences.”

One of the readings that I came across through my research and interest in making Aliyah was that of “how can I make a difference in Israel.” After taking part of Hagshama’s Young Zionist Leadership conference last weekend in Miami, I was blessed to hear North American Shaliach of Aliyah, Barry Spielman talk about making a plan of action for when one does make Aliyah. He asked the question, “what are you going to do when you make Aliyah?” I responded with, “Well I’m going to live here and study this.” He answered by asking something along the lines of, “ok…and how are you going to contribute?”

WOAH, wait a second, LIGHT BULB!

I finally got it. If you’re thinking about making Aliyah, tell yourself, I’m going to make Aliyah.  I’m not just going to move to Israel, I’m going to do something to better Israel for Israelis, for my children and for the Jewish people.

One of the great things about making Aliyah is that there are so many possibilities of ways to contribute to bettering Israel. You can choose from helping to populate the Negev, volunteering in a number of different communities, serving in the IDF or lending your expertise to help with Israel’s water issues. If you have a plan, life in Israel will be rewarding and action-filled…you will be living and not simply existing. If you are planning on making Aliyah, I challenge you to find your niche and start your personal and national growth.

“Aliyah is a call to the individual to arise, to assume a dramatic role in history, to participate in nation building.” ~McGill’s own Rabbi David Hartman.

Inspired? Interested in Aliyah? Want to talk about how you can make a difference once you are Home? Drop me a line anytime!

Televisia Israeli

Among the many things I love about Israel, one of them is Israeli TV. What is so special and different about TV in Israel? One of the things that makes Israeli TV so special is that it is so familiar; the places, the slang, the Jews, and of course the Israelisms. For instance, in a couple of my favorite shows, Asfur and Haborer the 2 main characters’ army records become integral to the show’s plot as we get to know them and their stories better. In another very popular and, as of November, Emmy award winning sitcom, Ramzor, one of the characters is involved in a scandal in a Kosher grocery store when he comes to the cash with a dairy sample and a meat sample in his mouth and hands.  As a result, he gets chased out by a group of not so happy Haredim or Ultra-Orthodox Jews.  To me, that’s pretty hilarious, Jewish, and very Israeli. Asfur takes place in Jerusalem, where we are offered a nice taste of Jerusalem slang and are constantly reminded of how important Beitar Yerushalayim is for soccer supporters from the holy capital. Israeli TV has perfectly infused its vast and imposing culture into creative works for homes, internet streaming and flat screens.

Israeli TV has also done something incredible with shows that I could never bring myself to watch on my basic Videotron setup. Kochav Nolad is the amazing Israeli version of American Idol, whose main host is Israeli comedian, Tsvika Hadar and whose judges feature top names in the music industry. Their flare and humor topples that of the judging panel of their American counterpart. Kochav Nolad has also taken its camera crew to different corners in the world in search of Israeli talent; in season 6 they went in search of Israelis in India, season 7 in America and in the latest season, season 8, to Sao Paulo to find backpacking Israelis with loads of talent, and there’s always an Israeli backpacking somewhere. Other notable reality shows that have been recreated with major success in Israel are Survivor or Hisardut, The Biggest Loser or Laredet Bagadol and of course Big Brother.

As a final note about the creativity of these shows, Ramzor won an Emmy last week for “Best Comedy series of 2010” and its idea was bought by Fox for an American adaptation that will begin February 9th, 2011. Another show that was adapted by American TV is BeTipul which is known as the popular HBO series In Treatment.

Check out Ramzor’s Emmy victory here

Here’s the show with english subtitles…

Obviously there are many, many more incredible Israeli Shows, but I’ll let you discover those on your own. Let me know if you’re interested in watching some amazing TV and I’ll set you up! 

Mitch

Hanukah Heroes

Hanukah is a time for heroes to shine and do great things through the motivation given to us by the Maccabees. Whichever narrative of the Hanukah story you follow, the Maccabees, rebels with a cause from Modiin, saved Judaism from assimilation by means of courage, thinking outside the box, and keeping it real to and for our People.  Inspired by Hanukah’s Heroes, I am excited to talk about the heroes that might not be seen as typical warriors…but do they ever have hearts of warriors!

My first hero is actually a team of young professionals, a team I’m pleased to work with everyday – Team BIEC. From bringing Jews together, educating, and helping others in need, Team BIEC holds it down for our city, people, Israel and the world.

Team BIEC’s Hanukah initiative, “Eight Crazy Nights,” is an 8 day/night program that offers a little something for everyone throughout the duration of Hanukah. These nights are definitely going to bring people together and create new relationships, but the best part about the week is that the cover charge for all events is a donation of new/gently used toys or canned food. On top of those donations, our office’s door will be open, as it always is, for you to contribute to the Eight Crazy Nights toy and canned food drive. When the week is over, toys will be shared with children at the Montreal Children’s Hospital and the food will be given to MADA for them to distribute it to those in need this holiday season. A few other things going on during Eight Crazy Nightsinclude sufganiyot baking, a Hanukah party, volunteering at MADA, Sunday football with dreidle decorating and candle making and, of course, watching the Adam Sandler Hanukah favourite, “Eight Crazy Nights”.

The kick off is tonight at our Iron Chef Latke extreme latke cook off! If you want to take part in any of these amazing events or want more information, you can reach us at (514)-345-6449.

As our Maccabee heroes did a few thousand years ago so can you! Do something great this Hanukah and give someone a miracle!

If you’re interested in my other Hanukah Heroes check out my personal blog throughout the week, www.isramitch.wordpress.com.

Happy Hanukah, חנוכה שמח,

Mitch

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