Showing posts from March, 2011

Judaism and Martial Arts: What's the Connection?

I’ve almost begun to dread the question,“So what brought you to Yiddishkeit?” In truth, many things, but in two words; martial arts. The next question is, “Huh?”, which is often accompanied by a puzzled look. So what is the connection? On a superficial level, Judaism and Martial Arts have quite a bit of overlap. Traditional martial artists practice pre-arranged sets of movements, often referred to as taolu in Chinese. The emphasis of these forms is not the external technique, but rather to transcend the technique and train a principle. There is a saying, “Kung Fu is 10% body, and 90% mind,” meaning that the key is not solely in the motions, but in the principles behind the motions. The technique of traditional martial arts is merely a vessel of expression for the intent behind each motion. Similarly, Jews pray three times a day from a siddur (which also happens to mean “arrangement”, or “order”). The purpose of praying isn’t to get caught up in the words, but rather to transcend them,

Alumnus of the Week: Ben Schwed aka BenYomen

Ben Schwed is rocking the world.  First he was a Mayanot student:  awesome enough.  Then he took his rap skills from back in the day and transformed them into Jewish and Chassidic art.  And now he's helping protect the Jewish people in the Israeli Army.  We are proud that Ben is part of our family.   Check out the video below for a taste of his music:   Ben Yomen - A Brand New Day from Magazino on Vimeo .   From Ben's bio: "Ben Schwed was born in Azusa, CA and grew up between The Valley & The Antelope Valley, in California. He was one of the founding members of "Life For The Better", otherwise known as the group that created the hip hop scene in Palmdale/Lancaster.   BenYomen was member of LFTB, Ophotn Records, DVayshun and the Beat Bums crews. BenYomen is the name Ben Schwed chose for himself as it is his Hebrew name and represents his essence as a human being. BenYomen writes and performs his own lyrics and his main musical direction is Hip Hop in Conscio

Bringing Shabbat to a Muslim Village

I grew up with my Jewish mother in the very Jewish suburb of Bondi and only started a relationship with my Indonesian father and siblings about 6 years ago. Although I grew up in a very Jewish area, I had left that path around my teenage years and only returned to my Judaism this year. My father and half siblings are all Muslim. They live in a Muslim country, they go to the mosque, and yet they are very accepting and respectful of their Jewish sister. I had started keeping Shabbos shortly before my departure to Indonesia this year and so I had made sure to learn how to make my own challah and brought some candlesticks. The town where my family lives in Indonesia is 100% Muslim. Throughout the day it is so common to hear the Muslim call to prayer I don’t even notice it anymore. My brother’s mother is French and lives in the ‘Kampung’ (the village). When I asked her if I could make Shabbos in her house, she was very intrigued and offered to help. We went to the local market to buy the in

Share Your Thoughts and Prayers

4 years.  4 years since an attack in Jerusalem. Then bam.  Everything changed. A bomb exploded by the central bus station today.  One person died.  I'm sure you already know. It's easy to feel lost, confused and afraid in such an environment.  Easy, when all of Jerusalem was literally shaken by the blast, to feel as if there is no security, no safety to be found in our true home. That is why it is important for the students, alumni and friends of Mayanot, for those who have been here and experienced its beauty to share their thoughts and prayers for Mayanot, Jerusalem and the Jewish people. Comment on this post to share your thoughts, feelings, and prayers about the recent attack in Jerusalem.

The Never Ending Apartment Search As A Metaphor For Life

I need an apartment. I came home from Israel and have been staying with my folks but this girl is about to turn (cough cough) 30 and needs her space. I love my family and I am so thankful that despite close quarters they were willing to take me in… but I need my space. So I have been on the hunt for an apartment. First I had to get a job. Some level of stability is important, you don’t want to get a lease and then not be able to afford it but also apartment complexes and owners frown on giving apartments to people without income. So I found a job. Once I had a contract signed and was sure it was going to pay me… I started looking for an apartment. I found every resource online (have you met me? I am, as a dear friend puts it, an interwebs ninja) and tracked down every locale. I pinpointed the areas I wanted to live in, the price range I wanted to be in, the amenities that were key: Must have: washer and dryer, parking space, be close-ish to work and friends. Must not: be on the first

A Brand New Day by BenYomen

Song of the Week: The Sun

Watch out Bob Dylan.  Yerachmiel Goldstein is coming. Yerachmiel is a folk singer from New York.  His music evokes the folk music of the 60's but is heavily influenced by his chassidic learning and Jewish studies. This music is powerful, folks.  Press play and enter his world.   [audio:|titles=The Sun by Yerachmiel Goldstein]   The sky is fixed In moonlit eyes Never asking why Nor to know   And the sea tells the sun Who asks the one Where did I come from And go   But who cares! They cried At the limited sky Never asking why Nor to know     Well I’ve done my share To all those who care And I guess There’s not much  more   So shouting I sighed To the men who cried Always saying goodbye To the sun   Well do I go Where the sun begins to snow And the fun begins to go Away     And the thrills I sought Were null and void Being one of the boys And the men   So out on my own Where I've been trampled to the bone That led me

The Funeral

Editor's Note: On Friday, March 11th, 5 people, including three 2 children and one infant, were brutally killed in their homes.  On Sunday, a few students went to their funeral.  This is the story from one student's perspective. I hadn't even heard about the tragedy until 15 minutes before the funeral. Halfway through lunch, blissfully unaware of what had happened, a fellow Yeshiva Bocher approached me and asked if I wanted to go with him to the huge event scheduled to take place on that Sunday, 13th March 2011 (7th Adar 5771). After he had hastily described to me the details of that fateful Erev Shabbat, I agreed without hesitation to accompany him and show my support. Joined by another friend, we took the first bus headed to Givat Shaul and, luckily living only a short distance away, were able to arrive within 20 minutes. Walking down the hill in the direction of the cemetery, we were met with large crowds of people; religious, secular, soldier and civilian alike, alread

Barach Haba

To balance on one foot Or to balance on two Feet like knotted roots Digging into the ground One step forward and then to the right Heel then the toes   Step back from the balls, and pop Here we go Like trees that break up the concrete Of sidewalks     It all comes from the hips Hardwood center And the body is a redwood Don’t move the arms Let them jive with the rest Branches don’t move on their own Hands become heavy Like boulders or chiseled stones Ivy vines up and down the arms Mosses grow wherever exposed Glide through and back Up and never down Water in reverse On slick onyx And smoothed quartz-stone Upstream and not down Around and around Like the trunk of a tree Spiraling up and up and up But somehow always on the bough   Every part of the body has something to say Some heavier, and some lighter Hidden memories, stories from many different tomes Dust covered, and aged Water damaged or burned   If only it were louder (The body has His wisdom And He has His own) It could speak thr