Tag Archives: Ma’alot

The Marvelous Cohen Family

Occasionally you find people that are more wonderful than you originally knew them to be.  The Cohen family are such people.

Boaz and Yehudit Cohen, long-time fixtures of Ma’alot, have done something above and beyond expectation, they have sponsored two festive events in honor of our recent wave of olim.

Food, Music and Fun!

Moshe and Shem Tov provide festive music with Boaz standing in the back

The Sukkot party was sponsored by Boaz and Yehudit Cohen and hosted by Avi Cohen and his family, more lovers of olim and was great fun!  There was great food, lively music,  friends and D’vrei Torah – what more could you ask for?

More recently, the Cohens sponsored a Tu B’Shavat Party at the Grass Civic Center.

Tu B' Shavat Party

Sim Zacks heads to the front to delivery a D'vrei Torah

Happy People on a Happy Day

Happy People on a Happy Day!

Once again, there was the food of the day – dried and fresh fruits in honor of Tu B’Shevat,  music, more friends,  and of course, D’vrei Torah given by long time oleh Sim Zacks.

Thank you Baoz and Yehudit Cohen for your heartfelt love of olim.  It is people like you who make the world a better place.


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Learning Torah or Loading a Merkava

When the Jews of old were persecuted and the dominate military force of the day was trying to extinguish the light of Torah, we fought back – with Torah learning and tools of war.  We learned this tactic from Yaakov Avinu who, when preparing to meet his brother Esav developed a three-pronged approach – prayer, gifts and war.   Bar Kochba and the Maccabees also used these techniques (sans the gifts) and today in modern Israel – we still continue in our father’s footsteps.

Yeshivat Ma'alot Yaakov

Yeshivat Ma'alot Yaakov - There is no Torah like the Torah of Eretz Yisrael.

Yeshivat Ma’alot Yaakov is a one of the many hesder yeshivot in Israel that offers young men the opportunity to learn Torah and serve in the IDF, protecting our people.   The program is genius and the results are phenomenal.

After graduating high school the boys learn Torah for 1.5 years, and then serve in the IDF for 1.5 years, followed by two more years of learning to complete the program.

The military options offered to the boys are limited to a few, like tanks, artillery, foot soldiery and para-trooping.  The boys are usually kept together in their new military units since there already exists a sense of camaraderie and cohesiveness.


Hesder yeshiva student during training


Meeting Time



The fire for learning is not extinguished in their new roles.  Some have pocket-sized seferim and seize time to learn in situations like while standing in line to eat or waiting in their tank.  Many soldiers can be found using their breaks to either learn by themselves or with a chavruta.   Additionally, the shiurim at Yeshivat Ma’alot Yaakov are recorded and uploaded onto the Yeshiva’s website for listening/learning when time permits.


Yeshivat Ma'alot Yaakov on Purim

At the end of the five year program the young men are polished.  They have developed themselves spiritually, emotionally and physically and are ready to build beautiful families to follow in our fathers’ footsteps.

To learn more about Yeshivat Ma’alot Yaakov go to their website > http://www.yesmalot.co.il/about/


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Lag B’Omer – 5770

Last year I was at Khal Chassidim in North Miami Beach, where the Riminover Rebbie orchestrated the Lag B’Omer “bonfire” experience in the parking lot.   The “bonfire” consisted of a metal vessel filled with flaming cotton balls soaked in olive oil.  We sang Bar Yochai and threw candles into the fire from behind the police enforced barricade.    Everything was safe and … filtered… muted… kinda “Super 8 – black and white” like.

This year in Ma’alot in the northern end of the Holy Land, the Lag B’Omer festivities started days before, and it’s almost a completely different experience, it was … “Technicolor” or “Kodachrome” like.

Ma'alot Bonfire

Two Fires are Better Than One

About 4 days before the holiday we recieved an email from my son’s 2nd grade teacher warning us of the dangers of collecting wood.  Dangers being – snakes, spiders and the like.

On Friday morning all of the children brought wood to school for their bonfire in the playground.  Some brought little pallets, some brought little boards, others brought chucks of wood or bags of pine cones.  The children also brought foil-wrapped potatoes, to be eaten with the complimentary pita and hummus.

Madurah Ma'alot

Another Bonfire

After Shabbat – on Lag B’Omer night, tons of kids converged on the hill at the end of our block.  A steady stream of cars unloaded planks of wood, pallets and cardboard, BBQ’s, food and drinks for the long night ahead.   The children were electrified shlepping wood here and pallets there.   They were busy like ants.   There were no parents or teachers to supervise – the high school kids and slightly older handled everything, and everybody, beautifully. The little children did a great job of following directions.

The police and fire trucks came around periodically ensuring that all fires were safe and that everybody was okay.

Big Bonfire

This fire was about 15' tall when I arrived

By the end of the night, well around 3:00 in the morning, there were about 18 fires on the hill.   Kids were chatting, playing guitar and singing.  Their intention was to stay all night long, but… around 3:30 am a storm rolled in and put out the fires.

As I live in Israel and feel the experiences of the holidays, whether they are from the Torah (Shabbat, Pesach, etc.), or  a minhag (Lag B’Omer), or from the government (Yom HaAtzmut), the feeling is more intense, more real, bigger than life – like “IMAX Dolby with Surround Sound”.

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Beit Ba’ad Alzitun – Peki’in

Not more than 10 minutes from our door is Beit Ba’ad Alzitun in the ancient city of Peki’in.  This beit ba’ad is more than just a place to take your olives – it has character.

The social center. Drink some coffee, have a cigarette and relax.

First of all – it’s a social hall, where the owner and friends can be found chatting while enjoying Turkish coffee and maybe a hookah or cigarettes.  The men are most friendly and want very badly for you to join them in their party – even if you do not understand a word they are saying.    Hospitality is extremely important to the Arabs in our area.

Giving the full explaination to a class of 4

Second – it’s a center of education.  By the looks of it, the demonstration table, samples and surrounding benches are used on a regular basis to educate people on olives and making olive oil.  By the way he described the process and in the manner in which he spoke you would have thought he was speaking to a huge crowd instead of four people.

Olives and Oil for Sale. (Notice how cloudy the oil is!)

Third – it’s a store, selling olives, olive oil and olive oil soap.  Products cost a little more and the tithes need to be taken, but the flavor is excellent.

Extracting Machines

These machines separate the oil from the water.

Fourth – it’s a place to get your olives pressed.   If you bring your olives to the beit ba’ad, they charge you 10% of the yield to do the processing.   For another 10% of the harvest they will send workers to harvest your olives.

Harvesting Olives

Harvesting olives by whacking the tree with sticks.

Fifth – it’s a fun place to go to!

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