Monthly Archives: March 2015

Post 95: How Do I Know If I’m Gaining Muscle Weight or Fat Weight? from Livestrong: Passover Creamy Caramelized Onion and Babaganoush Tart

Everyone likes to see the scale go down. What happens if the reverse occurs?

How Do I Know If I’m Gaining Muscle Weight or Fat Weight?

Last Updated: Feb 03, 2014 | By Elisha Ryan

How Do I Know If I'm Gaining Muscle Weight or Fat Weight?
A scale can’t differentiate between muscle and fat. Photo Credit Bine Å edivy/iStock/Getty Images

When you weigh yourself, the scale cannot differentiate between muscle, fat, water, bone or internal organs. In fact, a scale doesn’t know if you are human being or a bag of rice. If you have recent weight gain, it’s important to know if it’s muscle or fat. Look for several signs to recognize fat or muscle gain; there are also tests that can be done to give you an accurate measurement.


If you consistently perform resistance exercises and see a small, slow weight gain, chances are you are putting on muscle. Muscle is important because it increases your metabolism, gives your body shape and firmness and keeps you strong. According to ExRx, a pound of muscle can burn up to 50 calories in a day, which is why muscle improves your metabolism and is so important to your health and wellness. If you gain weight but do not exercise regularly, it is most likely an increase in your body fat percentage.


If you have put on a small amount of weight but your clothes are getting looser, this is a tell tale sign that you are gaining muscle. Muscle is dense, firm and takes up less room than fat. On the other hand, fat is voluminous and takes up more space, which results in clothes that are tighter. Also, a rapid or significant weight gain is an indicator of an increase in body fat.

Body Composition Testing

Most gyms offer their members free body composition testing done by a fitness professional. Skin fold measurements are taken on specific areas of your body and are used in a mathematical formula along with your age and gender. If you gain weight that is muscle, your body fat percentage will go down; if your weight gain is fat, your body fat percentage will go up. If possible, have this test done once a month and preferably by the same person for accuracy.

Hydrostatic Weighing

The American Council on Exercise says that hydrostatic weighing is the gold standard for body composition testing and is considered the most accurate way to find out what your body fat percentage is. The lab determines your body fat by seeing how buoyant or heavy you are in water. You’re weighed on dry land first and then submerged in a tank of water. After blowing all the air out of your lungs, hold your breath for one minute while the lab weighs you while you’re submerged.


Passover Creamy Caramelized Onion and Babaganoush Tart


  • Prep Time : 15 min
  • Cook Time : 1 hour, 40 min
  • Chill Time : 20-30 min
  • Ready Time : 2 hour, 15 min



For the Tart

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour or 2 tablespoons potato starch
  • 1 3/4 cups almond flour**
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold margarine or coconut oil
  • 1 egg

For the Filing

  • 2-4 tablespoons. olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup Sabra Babaganoush (one 8 oz. container)
  • 1 teaspoon plus more to taste kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus more to taste freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses* or omit.
  • 1-2 sprigs thyme, leaves removed plus more for garnish1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
    Zest of 1 lemon
    2 eggs plus 1 yolk
    1/4 cup coconut milk or almond milk
    For the Topping (optional)
    1 onion
    1 tablespoon brown sugar
    Cooking SprayDirections
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Process the pine nuts and tapioca flour in a food processor until you have fine flour. Add the almond flour, salt and margarine or coconut oil and pulse to combine. With the motor running add the egg through the shoot and process until a dough starts to form.
    3. Gather the dough with your hands and place it in the center of a lightly greased 9-inch tart pan pressing it out evenly to the edges and up the rim of the tart pan using your fingers and the palm of your hand. Prick the dough all over with the tins of a fork and refrigerate to firm for at least 20 to 30 minutes or place in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking.
    4. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until lightly golden and set.
    5. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack while making the filling. Keep the oven on to bake the filling.
    1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low flame.
    2. Add the onions in to the pan and caramelize them for 35-45 minutes until they become a deep caramel color. Stir every few minutes to ensure they do not burn. (Do not do this over a high flame. It will burn the onions.)
    3. During the last ten minutes of caramelizing add the garlic and allow it to soften and brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the onions from the heat.
    4. Mix together with the Sabra Babganoush, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, pomegranate molasses, olives, thyme, lemon zest, eggs and “milk”.
    5. Pour the onion mixture over the baked tart shell and spread so that the filling is even.
    6. Add the onion topping, if using, in a pretty circle or in your preferred design on the surface of the tart.
    7. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees F or until the filling no longer jiggles.
    8. Cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from the tart shell. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves and salt and pepper, if desired. Serve warm.
    1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
    2. Slice the onion in half but do not slice the ends so that the layers stay together. Then, slice the onion very thinly into semi circles.
    3. Lay the onions on a cookie sheet, spray with cooking spray and then sprinkle with the brown sugar
    4. Bake for 15 minutes or until the onion slices start to brown.
    5. Remove from the oven and allow the onions to cool before topping the tart. Handle with care as they are very delicate.
    *To make your own pomegranate molasses, boil 4 cups pomegranate juice, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 tbsp. lemon juice until the sugar is dissolved. Then, simmer for about an hour or until the mixture is reduced to 1 cup. The remaining molasses can be stored in the fridge for 6 months.
    **If you cannot find Kosher for Passover almond flour, pulse the necessary amount of blanched almonds in a food processor until it becomes a powder/flour.
    Sabra Tart


Post 94: Leading US Rabbi, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, Joins Chorus of Concern Over Obama Administration’s Attacks on Israel :Meuchedet Maslima Alernative Medicine Benefits: Meuchedet Malka Mall 02-568-4000

Leading US Rabbi Joins Chorus of Concern Over Obama Administration’s Attacks on Israel

MARCH 27, 2015 5:20 PM

One of America’s most prominent rabbis, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, has voiced concern over the Obama Administration’s latest assault on Israel, following the reelection of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu last week.

In an email to congregants on Wednesday, Lookstein, the spiritual leader of New York City’s famed Kehilath Jeshurun synagogue and principal of the prestigious Ramaz school, said that while “I try to steer clear of politics in my sermons and in messages to the community. There are times, however, when an exception should be made.”

“One of those times is now,” the rabbi continued, “when reports are coming from the administration in Washington of a need for reassessing the Israel/United States relationship.” Lookstein, who was ranked by Newsweek in 2008 as the most influential Orthodox pulpit rabbi in the United States, followed with a full-throated endorsement of an article by syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, who argues that “there is zero chance” that the right climate for the establishment of a Palestinian state will come “now or even soon.”

Krauthammer concludes, “In the interim, I understand the crushing disappointment of the Obama administration and its media poodles at the spectacular success of the foreign leader they loathe more than any other on the planet. The consequent seething and sputtering are understandable, if unseemly. Blaming Netanyahu for banishing peace, however, is mindless.”

Lookstein said Krauthammer’s article “presents with utmost clarity an assessment of the reassessment. It deserves the attention of all of us.”

The commentary, first published by The Washington Post, follows a week of harsh criticisms, veiled threats and alleged media leaks by Obama Administration officials directed towards Israel and its newly reelected Prime Minister Netanyahu. The attacks were largely focused on comments Netanyahu made while on the campaign trail about the establishment of a Palestinian state, and Israeli Arabs.

The escalation of rhetoric led to pushback from a number of leading Jewish figures as well as pro-Israel activists and congressional leaders, including some that have traditionally been aligned with the administration.

Writing for The Algemeiner on Thursday, Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, who has been critical of Netanyahu in recent weeks, said he is “even more troubled” by the “statements now coming out of the White House calling for a reassessment of policy toward Israel.”

Foxman wrote, “Let me be clear: I wish Mr. Netanyahu would do more to solidify relations with Israel’s ally in America and to stand up to those in Israel who seek to make impossible a Palestinian state. None of this, however, justifies what we are hearing from the Obama Administration. Their reactions raise deeper questions about their intentions and perspectives.”

Earlier in the week, the dovish American Jewish Committee head, David Harris, said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post that “The fact that the outcome of a Democratic election in Israel seems to be of great concern” to the Obama Administration “is cause for deep anxiety and puzzlement.”

“Whatever the failings of the prime minister, the way this is unfolding runs completely contrary to the spirit of US-Israel relations,” Harris said. “The US appears to have a reasoned interest in prolonging the crisis.”

I described in an earlier post Meuchedet’s excellent Occupational Therapy Unit at Givat Shaul. There is an equally extensive Alternative Therapy Unit in Malka Mall, where therapists work more or less in a free lance framework, in an expanded space: Each modality professes many positive effects. Therefore, before one becomes a patient, a meeting is set up with an Alternative Medicine, M.D. and based on this evaluation, a modality is recommended. A description of the offerings follow:


Acupuncture is an ancient medical practice that developed thousands of years ago, which involves gently inserting needles into acupuncture points.

This influences the functioning of organs and bodily systems and the flow of energy. Acupuncture is effective for a variety of medical conditions such as chronic diseases, pain relief, and alleviating symptoms.


Biofeedback is a pleasant treatment method that makes use of electronic equipment in order to learn about and objectively measure changes and processes taking place in the body of the patient. In this way, the patient learns how to develop the ability to monitor and control processes, and improve his/her quality of life. Biofeedback helps deal with a variety of conditions such as pain, difficulty concentrating, bowel control, and teeth grinding.


The Feldenkrais Method is based deepening a person’s self-understanding of his/her body and developing movement capabilities. Feldenkrais helps people with rehabilitation after injuries and surgeries, pain relief improvement of coordination and motion, and more.


A natural healing method that helps the body return to healthy functioning, so that the body can defend itself against diseases and infections. Homeopathy is effective for a variety of conditions, such as: children’s diseases, respiratory diseases, allergies, and behavioral problems.


Through hypnosis, the hypnotist uses various techniques to help the patient achieve a state of relaxation and concentration, and thus bring about changes in behavior. During hypnosis, the person focuses on experiences of him/herself, and enters a different level of consciousness. Hypnosis helps treat chronic pain, diseases that harm the body’s immune system, anxiety and stress, and more.

Medical massage

The goal of medical massage is to return the body to proper functioning, help release contracted muscles, improve range of motion in joints, and improve general feeling

Medical massage is suitable for treating back pain and other kinds of pain originating in the bones, muscles, and joints, reducing mental stress, inflammations, and more.


Naturopathy is a natural, holistic healing philosophy that encourages the patient to heal him/herself through natural healing methods and a healthy lifestyle. Naturopathy helps deal with a range of medical conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, and gastrointestinal problems


A method of diagnosis and treatment using manual therapy, which focuses on the bones and skeletal system, and restoring balance and repairing disorders related to bone and joint positioning. Osteopathy is effective for spinal problems, radiating pain, functional problems of internal organs, and more.


Qigong is a movement discipline originating in China, which is well known for its ability to prolong life expectancy. The series of exercises include proper breathing, movement, and meditation to create balance and strengthen the body’s intrinsic life energy (qi). Qigong helps strengthen the immune system, provide, support and rehabilitation for chronic diseases help with limited motion, and the like.R


Reflexology is an ancient treatment anddiagnosis approach that believes that by massaging and applying pressure to reflex points on the feet, it is possible to open energy blockages and affect the functioning of bodily organs and systems. Reflexology is suitable for dealing with a variety of physiological and mental conditions, such as pain relief, digestive and respiratory problems, and reducing stress.


Shiatsu is a treatment method originating in Japan that uses manual therapy. It is based on the practitioner placing pressure on various areas of the patient’s body. Shiatsu is relaxing, pleasant, and helps with a variety of orthopedic, internal, neurological, digestive and gynecological problems, among others.

The Alexander technique

The Alexander technique teaches patients how to use their bodies more effectively in everyday activities, and to be responsible for improving their quality of life. The technique helps prevent effects related to aging, and helps with the rehabilitation of pain sufferers, people with breathing difficulties, and more.

The Paula technique

The Paula technique was developed in Israel and is based on exercising the ring muscles in order to bring about self-awareness and improve the self-healing abilities that exist inside each person.The Paula technique helps control the sphincter, treat and deal with constipation and menstrual cramps, strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor and stomach, and more

Treatment for bedwetting

Bedwetting is involuntary urination that takes place during sleep, and is very common during childhood. The treatment process includes a diagnosis of the problem and creating a treatment and training plan with the help of a bedwetting alarm, which the patient carries out at home. The plan also addresses emotional factors such as increasing motivation providing positive feedback, bladder training and conditioning therapy

Tui Na

Tui Na is form of manual therapy that is an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine and combines strength and tenderness, fast and slow. Its goal is to spread out the body’s defenses and increase the proper functioning of weak organs. Tui Na therapy has a broad effect on orthopedic and neurological problems, the functioning of internal organs emotional problems, and more.

להיות בריא ולהישאר בריא

To be Healthy and Stay Healthy

Meuchedet Maslima Alernative Medicine Benefits: Meuchedet Malka Mall 02-568-4000

Post 93: Livestrong: Jumping with a weighted rope

Weighted Jump Rope Vs. Speed Rope

Last Updated: Jan 28, 2015 | Livestrong By Jeremy Hoefs

Weighted Jump Rope Vs. Speed Rope
Speed jump ropes are ideal for developing speed, agility and coordination. Photo CreditJupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Image.

Jumping rope is a traditional exercise that provides a total body strength and conditioning workout. With the ability to burn up to 1,000 calories per hour, you can use the jump rope to improve strength, agility, coordination or endurance. A common question about the effectiveness of jumping rope, however, is the selection of the jump rope and choosing between a weighted jump rope or a speed rope.

I have several reasons to jump rope:

I have a history of Thyroidititis going back 30 years. I was given a small incremental dose of synthroid. About 15 years ago a physician looked at my blood tests and suggested that I stop the drug. Articles in the medical literature stated that it could contribute to bone loss.

To evaluate the metabolism of thyroid hormone levels following are relevant:

  • TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone)
  • T3 ( triiodothyronine ) and free T3 (fT3 =)
  • T4 (levothyroxine levothyroxine = = thyroxine ), or free T4 (fT4 =)

Since I have been jumping rope, for about the last 15 years, my hormone levels have been normal and I have lost twenty five lbs, weight that I had gained while on Synthroid. Convenience. I walk around the corner and use the wood platform which is the out-door space of the restaurant called Ha MaAllot in Mirkas Ha’Ir. I have graduated to a weighted rope of 4 lbs.

Other Benefits

A weighted jump rope and speed rope both provide the same basic benefits, which include improved coordination, agility, footwork, quickness and endurance. Using a speed rope, however, focuses on speed and quickness and is better for developing coordination and conditioning by increasing the speed of the rope. Weighted jump ropes, on the other hand, burn a significant amount of calories and can be effective for increasing strength and promoting weight loss.


Beginners should start with a basic lightweight speed rope before progressing to a weighted jump rope, according to Ross Enamait, professional fitness trainer. The durable plastic jump rope allows you to perform basic jump rope exercises and workouts to develop speed, agility and endurance. Also, the speed ropes are better at developing overall fitness and conditioning to complement a wide range of workout and training programs.


A speed rope is ideal for beginners but can be used by elite athletes to develop footwork, coordination and conditioning. For example, boxers use a speed rope during their general strength and conditioning workouts. After learning the basic techniques for using the speed rope, you can progress to advanced exercises such as double unders. Double unders are a jump rope pattern that includes making two revolutions with the rope for every one jump and requires a significant amount of speed, coordination and endurance.


Use a weighted jump rope if your fitness goals revolve around strength or weight loss. The heavy ropes require upper body strength to continue spinning the rope for repeated jumps. You can choose from 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 lb. weights to match your individual fitness and strength levels. Adjust the length of the rope to match your height and use the weighted jump rope to complement your normal strength training workouts.

As expressed earlier, I have a very very under active thyroid and was diagnosed with Hashimoto Syndrome.


Try this vegetable soup for a change of pace. Thickened with pureed carrots and fennel, it is naturally low fat and high fiber. Despite sounding healthy, it tastes great and is a fun treat. Try it for lunch with a half a sandwich or for a first course at a party. The jalapenos on top are optional but make a great contrast to the slightly sweet soup.

Simple soup to keep you trim During Pesacg

Makes 2 bowls or 4 cups of soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes


  • 2 c. vegetable broth, homemade or store-bought

  • 2 cups sliced carrots, about 4

  • 1/4 c. sliced fennel (or celery if you do not have fennel), 1/4 of a bulb

  • 1/4 c. chopped onion, about 1/2 small onion

  • 1/4 tsp. fennel seed

  • 1/4 tsp. whole coriander

  • Dash ground ginger (1/8 tsp. or less)

  • Ground pepper, to taste

  • Salt, to taste

  • 2 tsp. agave nectar (optional) or other sweetener to taste

  • 1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, chopped small


Pour broth into a 4 quart saucepan. Slice vegetables evenly (I use a mini food-processor) and add to broth.

Grind fennel seed and coriander with a mortar and pestle or in an old coffee grinder reserved for spices. You can also crush them with the back of a knife if you are in a pinch.

Add the spices to the broth, bring everything to a boil and boil gently for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.

Pour the contents of the pan into a blender or food processor, cover the lid with a clean, dry kitchen towel (danger – very hot) and blend on high for 30 seconds or until smooth. Return contents to pan. Heat gently and adjust flavorings with freshly ground pepper, salt and agave nectar (or sugar).

Post 92: Return of Tekhelet Dye Revives Lost Mitzvah:

Feeling Blue, in the Biblical Sense: Return of Tekhelet Dye Revives Lost Mitzvah

Baruch Sterman (left) and Joel Guberman, two founders of the Ptil Tekhelet non-profit, at the tekhelet factory in Kfar Adumim, Israel. Credit: Ptil Tekhelet.

One wouldn’t expect to find hundreds of snails in a landlocked town like Kfar Adumim, situated in the desert east of Jerusalem. Yet there they are, albeit mostly reduced to powder, having been shipped in from the Adriatic Sea for a purpose as old as the Torah itself.

Millions of Jews throughout history have recited the line in the daily prayers in which God instructs Moses to tell the Israelites to “place upon the tzitzit of each corner a thread of tekhelet.” Translated as “turquoise wool,” the blue strings of tekhelet (ortecheilis) were to be inserted among the white tzitzit strings to remind the garment’s wearer of two of God’s greatest—and bluest—creations: ocean and sky. Yet many Jews probably have no idea that, thanks to a unique fusion of scientific and religious passion, this commandment is once again available to the masses after a hiatus of nearly 1,400 years.

Techeiles is a quintessential example of science and Torah working hand in hand,” Baruch Sterman, a physicist and author (with his wife Judy) of “The Rarest Blue: The Remarkable Story of an Ancient Color Lost to History and Rediscovered,” tells during a tour of the Kfar Adumim tekhelet factory. “After 25 years of studying it, I’m still learning about both aspects.”

The Talmud defines the tekhelet dye as derived from the “blood” of a rare amphibious snail known as thechilazon. The mitzvah to wear a thread of that dye on one’s tallit is mentioned multiple times in the Torah. But the tekhelet supply ground to a complete halt following the Muslim conquest of the land of Israel in 638 CE, when Jews were cut off from their local source of the chilazon. Though many theories surfaced over the years, even the most educated Jews had no concrete proof of which modern-day creature the Talmud’s chilazon actually was. Due to that mystery, the mitzvah of tekhelet was largely lost, becoming a source of puzzlement for centuries.

Now, thanks in large part to a few enterprising individuals and some enthusiastic rabbis, what appears to be original chilazon has been found—and tekhelet strings are being dyed in a fashion much like the process performed by our ancestors.

More than 20 years ago, a rabbinical student named Eliyahu Tavger was conducting a search for the authentic dying process. In 1988, he succeeded in dyeing wool with the extract of the murex trunculus snail’s gland. At the same time, a young American-born immigrant to Israel named Joel Guberman—looking for some way to honor the memory of his brother, who was killed in a car accident—became fascinated with the ancient mitzvah. He recruited two friends who had scuba-dived in the past, and they met up with Tavger for an undersea hunt for murex specimens at the waterfront near Acre. They found a whopping 293.

Before long, Tavger came up with a formula for releasing the dye into the woolen threads. After that initial dunk, the friends formed Ptil Tekhelet, a non-profit based in the Kfar Adumim tekhelet factory. Two decades later, more than 200,000 Jews from the liberal to the observant wear the blue thread on theirtallit and tzitzit. What began the first year with 300 tekhelet-infused garments is now at a production rate of 150,000 per year, a figure that grows 10–20 percent annually. The customers are primarily from the US and Israel and typically buy the garments at Judaica stores or directly from the Israeli factory.

All thanks to this one little snail.

On a tour of the factory, visitors will meet several of the snails at the aquarium in the facility’s lobby, naturally camouflaged to resemble stones. Visitors dunk their own ball of combed wool into a beaker filled with powdered gland extract and chemicals, to bring out the brilliant blue. Once dyed, the thread’s color never fades.

“If you hold water in your hand or look at the air around you, both look clear,” Guberman tells on the tour. “You have to step back enough to see that the sea and the sky are blue. The techeilis reminds us that we need to take the long view of life to really appreciate it.”

Indeed, according to author and psychiatrist Rabbi Abraham Twerski, “White symbolizes purity and blue, the color of the heavens, represents holiness. The white combined with the blue techeilis conveys the message that a mortal can indeed achieve a state of holiness, and the techeilis string points the direction to a truly spiritual life.”

Rabbi Berel Wein—a Jerusalem-based author, lawyer, historian, and tehkelet fan—adds, “Techeilis has become a living issue. It has left the exclusivity of the study hall and entered into the everyday life of tens of thousands of Jews the world over.”

Baruch Sterman, who was on the 1988 diving mission to find the murex specimens and went on to co-found the Ptil Tekhelet non-profit, says it’s no coincidence that this mitzvah was rediscovered by the Jewish people only after they had regained their homeland in 1948.

“Just like we never stopped believing that we would someday be allowed to return home, we also never gave up on discovering the source of this beautiful mitzvah,” he says.

By Deborah Fineblum Schabb,

Fast Beet Detox Soup

Fast Beet Detox Soup

This energizing yet detoxifying soup is super fast and easy and yet it tastes gourmet! Celery contains a phytonutrient called polyacetylene, which has been shown to provide relief from inflammation-rooted conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.


2 cups             chopped beets

1 cup               chopped apple

2 cups             chopped celery

2 cloves           garlic, chopped

2 cups             chopped carrots

4 cups             vegetable broth OR chicken broth

2 tbsp              grated ginger

1 tbsp              fresh thyme OR 2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp             pink rock OR grey sea salt

1/3 cup            apple cider vinegar

2-3 cups          unsweetened coconut beverage (2% fat)

Optional Ingredient:

2 tbsp             dairy and nut-free pesto


1. Add all ingredients, except coconut beverage, to a large pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes or until everything is very soft.

2. In a blender, process the soup with coconut beverage until smooth. Top with pesto if desired. Makes 8 servings.



Post 91: From Janglo: A Tale to relate at your Passover table: March 30, 1915, When Turks Met Jews on the Battlefield one hundred years ago. and has been added to the recommended links on Michael Ordman’s blogsite

When Jerusalem Met Gallipoli 100 Years Ago; When Turks Met Jews on the Battlefield A Perspective.

Pre World War 1 map of the region


World War I began in Europe in the summer of 1914 with major battles between the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary versus the Triple Alliance of the United Kingdom, France and Russia.

Do you remember that fact from your World History classes?

The Ottoman Empire (Turkey) joined with the Central Powers and attacked the British at the Suez Canal in January 1915.

In an attempt to put pressure on Germany and Turkey, Britain sent warships to the Dardanelle Straits in April 1915, planning to sail up the narrow, 60-mile-long waterway to shell Constantinople and break through to the Black Sea to relieve German pressure on Russia. Many of the ships were sunk or badly damaged up by Turkish shore artillery and naval mines and the rest were forced to retreat.A subsequent amphibious landing of British, French, Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli met with stiff resistance. A long eight month slug-fest ensued with an estimated 250,000 wounded and dead on both sides.

Ottoman soldiers departing Jerusalem through the Old City’s Lions Gate in 1915. Destination: Gallipoli

(Ottoman Empire Archives)

We discovered the picture above in the newly digitized Ottoman Empire Archives with a caption explaining the Turkish troops were heading off to fight on Gallipoli. The photo could explain the next two 1915 photos we found that were missing captions.

Was this picture of soldiers taken at the same time
in front of the Al Aqsa Mosque? The Lion’s Gate is
very close to this location. (Ottoman Empire Archives)
This group of soldiers, also in front of the al-Aqsa
Mosque, is identified as having come from Medina
in the Arabian Peninsula. Was it taken before they
went to Gallipoli? (Ottoman Empire Archives)

The Zion Mule Corps and Gallipoli

InThe Zion Muleteers of Gallipoli, the author Martin Sugarman, wrote, “In March 1915 the Zion Mule Corps became the first regular Jewish fighting force to take active part in a war since the defeat of the Bar Kochba Revolt 2000 years ago. Some of its men later formed the core of what was to become the modern Israeli army.”

The Jewish corps was formed in British-held Egypt and consisted of local Egyptian Jews, Jewish exiles from Turkish-ruled Palestine, and British officers. Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Patterson commanded the unit; officers included Zev Jabotinsky and Yosef Trumpledor who were expelled from Palestine.

A British soldier leading his pack mule with supplies for the front on Gallipoli(Imperial War Museum)


Patterson was knowledgeable about Jewish history and sympathetic to the Zionist cause, and as a young man had read all he could of Jewish military and religious history.
John Henry Patterson

The new Corps, Sugarman related, “was officially designated a Colonial Corps of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force and was to include a maximum of 737 men…. They were allocated 20 horses for officers and NCOs and 750 pack mules.”

The Corps’ mission was to take supplies, such as water and ammunition, to the fighting forces at the Gallipoli front. Often they were under heavy Turkish fire and bombardment.

Sugarman revealed, “Their courage even reached the ears of the Turkish Commander in Palestine, Djemal Pasha, who was indignant that a unit of Palestinian Jews were fighting against the Turks in Gallipoli. To placate the Turkish authorities” Sugarman continued, “the Jewish Community in Palestine proclaimed it wrong to fight for the British, and even organized a protest against them in Jerusalem.”

The Gallipoli War was an utter failure for the British. All British and ANZAC troops were withdrawn in December 1915. The disaster at Gallipoli stained the reputation of the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, who resigned from government.

But the Corps excited the Jewish world, and while the Zion Mule Corps was but a colonial, auxiliary, supposedly non-combat unit, it served as the inspiration and training ground for the Jewish Legion, Haganah, and the Israel Defense Forces.

History of Jews involvement in the Conflict

In December 1914 in Alexandria there were perhaps 11,000 Jewish refugees, three quarters of them Russian-speaking and the remainder mainly Sephardim who had fled Palestine, or who had been expelled by the Turkish authorities. About 1200 , who were being cared for by the Egyptian Jewish community and the British military authorities, were housed in barracks at Gabbari and Mafruza under Mr Hornblower, Inspector of Refugees with the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior. Individual ration cards entitled each to three meals a day and to work inside, but not outside, the camp. Boats brought more refugees every few days from Palestine, most of them aboard an American war ship, the USS Tennessee , on which band music was played to maintain passenger morale. Many of the younger refugees were keen to help liberate Palestine from Turkish rule and so help realize the dream of a Jewish homeland,  and were further encouraged by distressing news reaching Alexandria of Turkish ill treatment of Jews who had remained in Palestine .

On the evening of 3 March 1915 a Jewish committee of eight had met at the apartment of Mordechai Margolin, or Margolis, an oil-company representative, at the Gabbari barracks. The Zionist leaders Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Joseph Trumpeldor, who had met only a few days before, presented a plan for raising a Jewish Legion to Dr Weitz, a physician; Victor Gluskin of the Rishon Le Zion Wine Growers Association; G. Kaplan, an American businessman; Z. D. Levontin of the Anglo-Palestine Bank; and Akiva Ettinger an agronomist . Five voted in favour, two were against and one abstained. On 12 March, about 200 Jews met in a hall, consisting of converted stables, in the Mafruza barracks to discuss the proposal and, after a passionate speech by Jabotinsky, 180 signed a seven-line resolution written in Hebrew on a page torn from an exercise book.

Many on the British side believed it would benefit the war effort to have a Jewish fighting unit, not only because the myth of Jewish financial wealth was deep-rooted in British upper-class circles, still tinged with anti-Semitism, but because of widespread support by Christian Zionists for helping  Jews reclaim their ancient homeland. The committee then took three representatives of the volunteers to Cairo,  to see the War Office Minister responsible, Ronald Graham. He was sympathetic, but told them to approach the British Commander in Egypt, General Maxwell, who met the delegation, led by Jabotinsky, on 15 March. The General said he was unable, under the Army Act, to enlist foreign nationals as fighting troops, but that he could form them into a volunteer transport Mule Corps. They would be fully trained for combat, but he could not promise that they would be sent to Palestine rather than elsewhere on the Turkish front. The Act forbade their numbers exceeding 2 percent of any Army Corps to which they were attached  and he suggested they be called ‘The Assyrian Jewish Refugee Mule Corps’ .

The delegation held an all-night meeting and resolved to reject the proposal, since many were being taught military drill by former Russian Jewish soldiers and felt it demeaning to enter the Allied armies as a ‘donkey battalion’. But Trumpeldor said, ‘we’ve got to smash the Turk. On which front you begin is a question of tactics; any front leads to Zion’ .

With three other members he called a meeting at the same Mafruza barrack room on 19 March and gave a rousing speech to the volunteers who were addressed also by Patterson, Hornblower and Major-General Alexander Godley. Captain Holdich spoke for General Maxwell and a Mr Gordon acted as Hebrew interpreter. They heard how it would be the first time in British history that non-Britons or non-colonials were to be admitted as a unit into the British forces. Patterson explained that the soldier who carries ammunition and supplies to the trenches requires no less courage than the man who fires a rifle and Godley declared that ‘Today the English People have entered into a covenant with the Jewish People’.

On 22 March 1915 Patterson, backed by Godley, was appointed commander of the force he was to recruit, with Captain Trumpeldor as Second-in-Command. They left Cairo for Alexandria, where the Jewish refugees were living, to set up headquarters at 14 Rue Sesostris. With the help of leading members of the Jewish community, especially the Grand Rabbi  Professor Raphael de la Pergola, he swore in the first 500 volunteers at Gabbari, just outside Alexandria, on 31 March. The Grand Rabbi officiated, with many other local dignitaries present, and an emotional telegram of encouragement was read out from Israel Zangwill, the British author and enthusiast for settling the Holy Land, who later described Patterson in the Jewish Chronicle of 28 August 1915 ‘as the soul of chivalry and gentleness’. The rabbi referred movingly to Patterson as a second Moses who would lead the Children of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land and distributed a booklet listing British favours to Jews and bidding them to be good soldiers. It contained rules for behaviour towards officers and apt quotations from the Bible.

The Jewish Chronicle reported that Zangwill’s telegram had referred to this ‘Welcome omen for their happy return to Palestine’, but Zangwill wrote to the editor on 7 May 1915 to say that his ‘telegram had been toned down by the local military censor’. Colonel Patterson had indeed invited the assembled troops to ‘Pray with me that I should not only, as Moses, behold Canaan from afar, but be divinely permitted to lead you into the Promised Land’.

The Russian Consul in Alexandria, Petrov, demanded that the Egyptian and British authorities send the Russian Jews back to Russia to enlist in the Russian army. But the Grand Rabbi used contacts to foil the plot,  with the help of Jabotinsky and Edgar Suares, a local Jewish banker .

The new Corps was officially designated a Colonial Corps of the EEF –Egyptian Expeditionary Force – and was to include a maximum of 737 men, all of whom are named in The British Jewry Book of Honour[xx] .  They were allocated twenty horses for officers and NCOs and 750 pack mules to be purchased in Alexandria. Wooden carriers to fit the pack saddles were made locally, each designed to carry four four-gallon water-cans, also made locally. Five British and eight Jewish officers were appointed, the latter receiving 40 percent less pay than the British, doubtless in line with payment of colonial officers. The Corps consisted of four troops, each  with two officers, a troop including four sections each commanded by a sergeant, each section split into sub-sections under a corporal. Orders were given in English and Hebrew. The Grand Rabbi was nominated Honorary Chaplain.

Patterson’s most famous Jewish officer was Captain Joseph Trumpeldor,  born in Pyatigorsk in  the Caucasus in 1880, who had lost his left arm serving in the Russian army at the siege of Port Arthur in the Russo-Japanese war in 1904. The siege collapsed and he was imprisoned by the Japanese, yet on his release he asked to return to his duties rather than accept the discharge to which he was entitled, and in recognition was commissioned, only the second Jew to become an officer in the history of the Russian army. He received the Gold Cross of the Order of St George for gallantry no fewer than five times from the Czar. This tall, fearless, Socialist who had graduated in Law and Dentistry from St Petersburg University, sacrificed his career in Russia by leaving for Palestine in 1912 to work the soil at Migdal on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and was forced into exile in 1914. Patterson described him as ‘the bravest man I ever knew’.

Numerous testimonies to Trumpelor’s fearlessness are known and he frequently exposed himself to Turkish gunfire – even on horseback –  to encourage his men.  In his own words, Trumpeldor writes “And this is how I was wounded. At 2:15 p.m. the rifle and shell fire grew more intense…suddenly one of our men came riding up crying out that a man was wounded…I rode off to the spot…and when all this was done mounted my horse to ride back…when I felt as if someone had given me a hearty blow on the left shoulder. The stars on my epaulette tinkled and I thought the bullet …had knocked it off. When  I arrived at the camp…they examined my shoulder and found a little hole in my tunic…I took off my tunic and to everyone’s surprise it turned out that the bullet had passed through almost the entire thickness of my shoulder and was sticking out on the other side…the doctor gripped at the end of the bullet with his pincers and pulled….but the bullet did not come out. He cut away a little of the flesh and pulled again….but the bullet would not come out. He cut away some more….but still it would not come out…finally the doctor took a good grip of the bullet  and began to twist as if he were drawing  a cork out of a bottle…then the bullet came out…!!

Many other soldiers were educated or professionally qualified as teachers or lawyers, included Dr Meshulam Levontin, who became the commander of the medical unit.

(Indeed, Major John Ford, formerly of the RAMC,  in an interview given when he was aged 85 in 1984, related how, on an overnight train to Baghdad where he was spending leave during the Second World War, he had been wished good evening in broken English by a man in a shabby raincoat who then took it off to reveal an RAMC Colonel’s uniform. They began to talk about the Great War medal ribbons each was wearing and soon discovered that the Colonel, had been a private in the Zion Mule Corps on the Hymettus (see below)  in 1915 at the same time as Ford. He was now the Middle East British Army Chief Malariologist! Ford was unable to remember his name and enquiries at the RAMC museum have failed to identify who he was).

Patterson set up camp at Wardian, 3 miles outside Alexandria, on 2 April 1915 and wrote, ‘never since the days of Judah Maccabee had such sights and sounds been seen and heard in a military camp – with the drilling of uniformed soldiers in the Hebrew language’ (in fact, Yiddish was also used, as 75 percent of the men were of Russian origin and Yiddish was their common language). Their badge consisted of the Star of David and Patterson noted in an interview with the Jewish Chronicle on 24 March 1916 how ‘sometimes I would meet a General who would be puzzled out of his life by the Magen David but naturally would not care to admit his ignorance. When he found out what it meant, he would say “Oh yes! I know – and very good work your Corps has done too”.’ The Corps also made a blue-and-white Zionist flag to fly alongside the Union Jack. Although it was a mule corps, all were equipped with rifles and bayonets, as they were expected to be a fighting unit as well. Some sources claim the rifles were captured from the Turks at the Suez Canal, but others say they were drawn from the stores of the Egyptian police.

Intense training went on for only three weeks as they were under orders to sail soon for Gallipoli to supply front-line troops with food, water and ammunition. The newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force to Gallipolli, General Sir Ian Hamilton, carried out a spot inspection and was delighted with the workman-like appearance of the Corps after so little training.

At Passover, which began on 30 March 1915, Patterson, known to his men as the ‘Collon-el’, fought unfriendly attitudes in high places to procure his men Kosher food and Matzah for the celebrations in which he participated. At the end of their training the Corps paraded and marched 3 miles to the Great Synagogue in Alexandria where they were blessed by the Grand Rabbi and cheered by the local population. The Corps then sailed on 17 April in two ships, HMT Hymettus (which took the two ‘Palestinian’ troops and the HQ company)  and HMT Anglo-Egyptian (with the two local Alexandrian troops), carrying thirty days of forage for the mules and rations for the men. As they left Alexandia harbour the band of the USS Tennessee played a farewell march. But the men of the Zion Mule Corps on the Hymettus could be heard singing the Hatikvah, the Zionist anthem.

The voyage to Lemnos – springboard for the attack on Gallipoli – was uneventful save for an unsuccessful submarine attack on the French transport ship Manitou, just in front of those of the Mule Corps. The volunteers did learn, however, that the Jewish officers were not permitted to eat in the British officers’ mess, at which Trumpeldor protested strongly to Patterson, but in vain.

They reached Lemnos on 20 April where the Corps astonished English soldiers by chatting freely in Russian with the crew of the Russian cruiser Askold anchored with them in the harbour of Mudros. On 23 April Patterson was informed that the Corps was to be divided into two, the Hymettus group (about 300 men) to accompany the 29th Division as planned, and the remainder, mostly Palestinian volunteers, to be assigned to the Anzac Division. Patterson foresaw that since he was not with the Anzac group, the men – unused to soldiering, with little English and with unfamiliar officers – would become demoralized; and after several weeks at the front they were indeed returned to Egypt. The remaining men, with their equipment and animals, were transferred after the Hymettus had run aground to HMT Dundrennon with the help of Indian and New Zealand troops already aboard, and sailed for Gallipoli at 9am on 25 April 25 1915.

Patterson discovered only in late May what had happened to those detatched to the Australians; the Anzacs had demanded that the Corps hand over their animals, after which they were sent back to Alexandria. Second-Lieutenant Zlotnik, who had been with them, related how the Corps had worked well with the Anzacs for several weeks, but that when a ship arrived with other men and animals who disembarked, the Corps troops were ordered aboard; clearly, someone did not approve of the Zion Mule Corps being at Gallipoli. On arrival at Alexandria, when they were not permitted ashore to visit their families, they mutinied and sixty were arrested and seventy-five demobilized. Despite sustaining ten casualties, the Corps had been discourteously treated by their British officers.


At 11am on 25 April the men of the Zion Mule Corps aboard Dundrennon approached Cape Helles at the extreme southern tip of the Gallipoli peninsula in the slowly clearing mist, hearing clearly the dull roar of the guns of Allied ships and the Turkish shore batteries. They saw the smoke, flames and debris as high explosives smashed into the beaches and cliffs and saw the circling aircraft and prowling submarines. One, S. Nissenbaum, described how ‘the faces of our comrades grew grim and sombre. It is impossible to describe what was felt.’ The landings had just begun and the battle resembled a scene from hell.

Patterson issued an Order of the Day in Hebrew, saying he ‘trusts everyone will do his work with the utmost speed. Then the 29th Division of the British Army will look with admiration on the Jewish Legion which now has the singular honour of going into battle…to fight side by side with British comrades after only one month of training….

The Dundrennon put the Zion Mule Corps ashore on 27 April at V beach, just to the west of Cape Helles, under the deafening roar of artillery, machine guns and rifles. It had been unable to do so earlier owing to the congestion on the beaches and shortage of tugs. It took them three days to unload in the badly organized shuttle of lighters moving to and from the shore, and carrying ammunition boxes was made more difficult by the behaviour of the animals which, terrified by the gunfire, were running and stumbling into craters and over muddy beaches, having to be pursued and calmed before they were fit for service.

By this time the Corps were badly needed to take up supplies to the front-line trenches holding the bridgehead, and once ashore they went straight to work, forming a human chain from ships to shore passing supplies and water onto land, all the while under enemy fire. In the War Office Order of Battle they were defined as a ‘Line of Communication Unit’. Colonel Patterson, with 200 mules, was ordered to W beach first with water and ammunition, while the remainder finished unloading at V beach under heavy fire. From W beach the Corps worked all night and through the next day taking supplies up to the front, now in pouring rain and biting winds which made the rough paths into mud slides. Men and animals walked up and down wadis and hillsides, through thick bush and across rock strewn slopes, often unknowingly passing through the wire and trenches into the no-man’s-land between the Turkish and Allied lines and being shot at by both sides in the darkness, rain and constant shellfire. Yet by the following dawn, when they were stood down exhausted, only a few men and mules were found to have been wounded.

The following night one man went missing in action, his tunic being found the next day on the battlefield, and few days later Farrier Abraham Frank was killed and Mamoun Makaryov seriously wounded. By 9 May, Moscowitz and Meir Peretz had been killed. When Patterson asked his Commanding Officer, General Hunter-Weston, if fifty volunteers from the Corps could join a frontal attack on Achi Baba hill, permission was refused on the grounds that they were too badly needed to keep the trenches supplied.

Colonel Patterson described in the Jewish Chronicle on 10 September 1915 (while recruiting in Alexandria) how ‘These brave lads who had never seen shellfire before most competently unloaded the boats and handled the mules whilst shells were bursting in close proximity to them … nor were they in any way discouraged when they had to plod their way to Seddul Bahr, walking over dead bodies while the bullets flew around them … for two days and two nights we marched … thanks to the ZMC the 29th Division did not meet with a sad fate, for the ZMC were the only Army Service Corps in that part of Gallipolli at that time.’

They made their first camp and mule lines in a gully near the front where, by a stroke of luck, Sergeant Farrier Leib Schoub discovered a well hidden in the corner of a demolished Turkish farm house, solving the problem of water for the mules. While some slept, parties of men and mules took turns bringing up forage, water and ammunition from the beaches to the front throughout the day and following night. The Corps were the only transport available and were constantly at work.

In one strange incident on V beach, a Zion Mule Corps soldier who had been left guarding the baggage was arrested by some French soldiers. Since he could speak only Russian or Hebrew, which must have sounded like Turkish, and was armed with a captured Turkish rifle and bayonet, he was taken for a spy, court martialled and condemned to be shot. It was only when he was about to be executed against the wall of a nearby ruin that a Zion Mule Corps sergeant realized what was happening and, since he could speak French, averted the tragedy.

That night the Corps slept so well that one man awoke next day to find he had been shot through the leg and had not even woken up. On the night of 1 May the British were saved by a Turkish shell which landed near the mules and caused forty of them to gallop off into the darkness. Turkish soldiers had been creeping in three waves for a surprise night attack on them when the terrified mules, dragging their clanking chains and some of them wounded, careered into the Turks who took them for charging British cavalry. By opening fire they gave away their positions and the British, now aware of the danger, repelled the attack. On 5 May, near Krithia, Private M. Groushkousky distinguished himself by exposing himself fearlessly to Turkish fire while preventing a number of mules from stampeding during an attack. He had been shot through both arms, but kept hold of his mules and delivered his ammunition to the trenches. He was decorated in the field with the DCM by General Stopford personally and promoted to Corporal.

In one strange incident at about this time an English soldier, Sergeant James Matin was carried to a field hospital where doctors found his shin bone splintered. By making a graft from the bone of a dead Corps mule his leg was saved.

A few days later the Zion Mule Corps took part in a pitched battle against the Turkish trenches with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, although they were officially forbidden to do so. Reaching their lines with supplies, the Corps saw that the Inniskillings had been so depleted by casualties that they would need help to attack the Turks. Led by Corporal Elie Hildesheim [xxviii] –  later known as Leon Gildesgame, a graduate of the Herziliya Gymnasium – they took part in a charge that routed the Turkish soldiers.

Trumpeldor wrote of the men of the Zion Mule Corps:‘we move in a long line towards the front. Bullets zoom and shells explode … the men are showered with lead fragments … they straighten up … you say more courage? There is courage here indeed!’

On another occasion the men refused to unload sides of bacon on the jetty until the Grand Rabbi granted dispensation. He not only did this, but allowed them to eat it if necessary, whereupon they applied – unsuccessfully on this occasion – for their rejected unkosher rationsA New Zealand officer later wrote how thereafter it always amused the troops to see the Jews of the Zion Mule Corps returning to their cookhouse with little bags of bacon.

Captain Arthur Behrend, a Jewish officer serving with the East Lancashire regiment, wrote in his diary how on 10 May he was sent to enlist the help of the ZMC: ‘I found the Mule Corps in an open meadow. With much saluting I was taken to the C.O., Colonel Patterson … and he handed over a corporal, six men and fourteen mules. “Take great care of my men and dont expose them”, he said as he wished me goodbye. “The mules dont matter so much because they can be replaced more easily.” I returned to our lines followed by the stolid Zionists and the equally stolid mules, and handed all over to our astonished Transport sergeant … half an hour later I strolled across to see how they were getting on and found them all sitting round a big fire with our own transport section, a dixie of tea boiling merrily in the middle. East Lancashire Arabic quickly became the lingua franca because our men had picked up a number of Arabic words in Egypt; equally quickly too the Zionists won respect and affection because despite their over fondness for saluting, they showed a curious disregard for shell fire.’ 

On 11 May the Corps moved to a new bivouac two miles inland which became their base for the next seven months. Here, several were evacuated like hundreds of others with battle fatigue and disease. During intense shelling on 20 May the Turkish guns, now well ranged in after trench war had been established, seriously wounded several more men and killed a dozen horses and mules. Arthur Behrend wrote that on Sunday 23 May, as the padre arrived to take a service in his lines, a Turkish shell landed, dispersing the congregation. The only soldier who did not move was a Zion Mule Corps man grooming his mule; sadly, a second shell killed him as the mule ran off. According to Colonel Patterson’s list of casualties this was probably Private Katznelsohn [1] , whose death in action is given as 30 May, just seven days later [xxxiii] .

Around this time, in fighting near The Nek, reports reached Anzac headquarters that Allied Indian troops had been mistaken for Turks. Since the shout, ‘Don’t shoot – Indian Troops!’, had been used as a ruse by Turks raiding Allied trenches, it was briefly feared that Turkish agents were operating behind Allied lines and shouting to trick allied sentries. This brought the ZMC under such suspicion that steps were arranged to withdraw them. However, it transpired that nervous Australian sentries were to blame and the matter died. 

In June the Corps were again in the front line at Achi Baba, and when they heard the British singing as they returned to the rest areas, Trumpeldor, determined to go one better, ordered his men to sing on the way up to the front.

During the heat of  May, June and July the ZMC doggedly continued its dangerous work in the ever deteriorating situation at Gallipolli. Patterson received dozens of letters from senior officers to whom Zion men were attached in small groups, testifying to the excellent and fearless work of his men, and Corporal Nechemiah Yehuda was often singled out for praise. Their courage even reached the ears of the Turkish Commander in Palestine, Djemal Pasha, who was indignant that a unit of Palestinian Jews were fighting against the Turks in Gallipoli [xxxv] .  To placate the Turkish authorities the Jewish Community in Palestine proclaimed it wrong to fight for the British, and even organized a protest against them in Jerusalem. Yet their loyalty was misplaced, for Turkish treatment of the Jews became increasingly oppressive and their Jewish support soon evaporated.

On 4 and 5 June the ZMC distinguished itself taking up ammunition and evacuating the wounded during the Third Battle of Krithia. Private Ben Wertheimer, who was seriously wounded during this month, was the son of a poor Orthodox Jerusalem family. Physically frail and timid, he had arrived in Alexandria with his elderly father in March 1915, incongruously stooped figures with their black gabardines, beards and side curls, and when he was taken to Trumpeldor’s tent to sign up said he was ‘ready to fight for the Land of Israel in the name of the Lord’. The father and son embraced on parting after which young Ben showed himself ready to make sacrifices, shaving his beard and curls and even eating non-kosher food. The men held a party the night before embarking for Gallipoli, but Wertheimer stood and watched from a distance. When Trumpeldor asked him why, he said he was afraid of not measuring up to expectations under fire; Trumpeldor reassured him all would be well.

During the June battles, when a serious situation developed in an area of the front, two mules with urgent supplies of ammunition and food had to be taken up under intense fire. The men were reluctant to volunteer, but Ben Wertheimer stepped forward and said he would go. British troops, including many Jews, watched silently as the stooped figure of  this courageous and deeply religious young man left the safety of the trenches with his two laden mules under heavy fire from the Turkish guns. He crossed open terrain that was swept by fire, and fell when he was almost at his goal, struck by shrapnel. But he was dragged into a trench, with the mules and the vital supplies, and then evacuated by hospital ship to Egypt. As he was carried away he said to Trumpeldor, ‘Now, sir, I shall never know the meaning of fear’. He later died of his wounds in Alexandria .

Trumpeldor himself was wounded in the shoulder at this time, but refused to be evacuated. This surprised few people, as he was often seen in the midst of shell and rifle fire, quietly writing letters to his friends as the raw material for the history of the Corps [xxxviii] . (He later died fighting Arab raiders at Tel Hai, northern Palestine, in March 1920.)

Private Nissel Rosenberg, who also brought his supply mules through to the front line under intense fire, although many other reinforcing troops were retreating and being killed, was recommended for a DCM for his bravery and promoted to sergeant, but instead received a Mention in Despatches (announced 18 August 1915), as did Lieutenant C.J. Rolo.  Sergeant Mayer Erchkovitz received the DCM as well as being Mentioned in Despatches (7 January 1916).

By the end of July, casualties and illness had brought the Zion Mule Corps to less than half its original strength, although it had to carry out the same volume of work. The intense heat and flies were almost as effective as Turkish shells in producing casualties (by the end of the campaign, over 100 mules had been killed in action), so Patterson  was ordered to Alexandria by Hamilton to recruit two fresh troops.

By now, considerable stir had been created among Jews in many parts of the world by the raising of the Zion Mule Corps and by news of its courage in Gallipoli. But the Jewish Chronicle first mentioned only on 9 April 1915 that a ‘Jewish Volunteer Force was in existence in Alexandria among the Jewish refugees from Palestine’. A feature article about the Corps appeared on 30 April.

Private Aaron Ben Joseph  was born in 1878 in Baku, South Russia, and spoke Persian and Turkish as well as English, serving as a sharpshooter in the Russo-Japanese War before emigrating to Palestine .  He was married and had a carpet business in Jerusalem until his shop was looted by the Turks when war broke out, at which point he fled to Alexandria on an American ship sailing from Jaffa. He never saw his wife again. Here he joined the Zion Mule Corps and writing from Gallipoli described  ‘the masses of killed and wounded, dysentry and malaria, the scant food, mostly biscuits. It is summer time and I am lying there, swollen from hunger and lousy, lying among the dead . The Indian troops came to bury us with their shovels. I am weak and am half buried before I manage to say something in Persian. They take me out and give me milk; take me to a hospital ship and then to Lemnos and Alexandria. I get malaria even till now. At  Alexandria I get discharge papers and come to England on a ship. In 1916, I enlist again in the RAMC and the Labour Corps and go to Belgium and France. I help the Royal Engineers as I am an expert engineer especially in water. I am discharged because of malaria and neurasthenia.’

On 4 June the Jewish Chronicle reported that Lance-Sergeant Harry Schoenthal, a Jewish soldier with the 29th Cycle Company serving in Gallipolli, had explained in a letter to his father in London that ‘there is something still more interesting, because there is a Jewish battalion here with us …they do not come from home. Have not had a chance to get to speak to anyone of them yet …it is splendid to see so many Jews serving here.’

On 18 June a Jewish naval officer, who before the War had been manager of the Oxford and St George Jewish Youth Club in Stepney, described in a letter to his Club Leader, Sir Basil Henriques, [xliii]   how he had heard Yiddish being spoken in the trenches at Gallipolli and on investigation had discovered the Zion Mule Corps. When they refused to believe he was a Jewish British naval officer he showed them his club badge. They were astonished and gave him a captured Turkish bayonet which he claimed as ‘the Club’s property as it was obtained by means of the Club badge’. When he later asked some non-Jewish officers about the ZMC he reported that they said ‘they were most excellent fellows and though they were nearly all merchants and shopkeepers in private life and had no experience of outdoor life, yet they made splendid soldiers and had suffered many losses’.

Yet again on 23 July, a young engineer from Headingley attached to the Royal Naval Division was reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post as having ‘met on landing a party of Russian Jews from Palestine who lent us their mules for transport and carried out some wonderful but unostentatious work for us at the Gaba Tepe landing’.

On 25 July, Colonel Patterson, Trumpeldor, Rollo and Groushkowsky sailed to Egypt to recruit a new company, as Hamilton had asked them to expand the Corps. But on arrival they encountered opposition from men who had been returned to Cairo and particularly from the widows for whom Patterson had been unable to obtain War Office pensions.

It would be pertinent here to describe something of the hostility of those in high places in the  military establishment to the Jewish Mule Corps and War Office documents kept at the Public Records Office give a rather shameful and yet not unexpected  insight into the struggles Col. Patterson had in obtaining equal treatment for his men in the Zion Mule Corps and the racist and stingy attitudes he met at the War Office and Treasury in Whitehall. Much of the debate centered on Patterson’s insistence that the men volunteered on the clear understanding that they would be treated like all other British soldiers, in particular with regard to pensions, and the British Government’s insistence that this was never agreed.

The Roll of Honour reveals the death in action of several Russian Jewish men in the Corps, who had been living in Turkish Palestine in 1914 having fled persecution by the Czar. Writing on Aug 7th 1916 from Portobello barracks in Dublin, home of the 4th battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, Col. Patterson pleads with Treasury official HW Forster “to once more look kindly on the claims of the Fatherless and Widows of the Zion Mule Corps. Leaving right and justice out of the question, surely it would be good policy to grant pensions to the dependents of the few Russians who were killed or died in England’s service in Gallipolli. The Russian (Jews) who we now ask to serve can point the finger at us and say we have already broken faith with their brothers who died for us fighting the Turks”. He continues, “May I earnestly beg of you to raise your voice on behalf of my dead Zionists and get this little but most important  question disposed of favourably”.

Forster’s reply was negative, writing on August 23rd that there is “not sufficient reason to extend the same (ie pension) terms to a Corps which was enlisted under special conditions…..and any such concession is…impossible. General Sir John Maxwell was in the best position to judge its suitability”.

Patterson responded somewhat angrily that “you appear to base all your objections on the fact that Sir John Maxwell recommended so much (ie pay, pension and compensation). May I however point out that the men fought not under General Maxwell but General Hamilton, and he very strongly recommended pensions to be paid the same as for British soldiers. If you have not been shown General Hamilton’s recommendation, I will gladly forward you a copy. General Maxwell knew nothing of the Zion Men’s work in Gallipolli, or he indeed would have made a similar request”.

However, what Col. Patterson probably did not know was that Maxwell was not so kindly disposed, and typically for a man of his class and rank of the time had written to the War Office (13th August 1915 ie a year before) stating that the ZMC was “raised from Russian and Syrian Jew refugees” and that although they “had done and continue to do excellent work on the Gallipolli Peninsula and had incurred many casualties from the enemy and disease” and that “the dependents…..are almost without exception destitute”, he felt able to recommend pensions only for officers and a one off gratuity for other ranks. Indeed a war Office Secretary, B Cubitt, writing to Maxwell on Oct. 12th said, “that to grant  the ZMC pensions that would be granted to enlisted British soldiers and their families would be unduly liberal” as they were “only temporary employees”!! They were of course not too temporary to die for the Allied cause.

The parsimonious, racist and classist attitude of the War Office (not to mention their ignorance, as one memo of 21st Aug 1915 referred to the Zion Mule Corps as an Indian unit!) – in complete contrast to Patterson’s efforts for equal treatment – is shown in further correspondence concerning  2nd Lt. Gorodissky. He had died of acute pancreatitis on Aug. 11th 1915 on board the hospital ship “Dunluce Castle”  off Cape Helles, leaving a mother in Alexandria. He had been promoted in the field from Sgt Major by Patterson on May 6th, but without reference to higher authority and it had not been officially approved, resulting in refusal of a pension to his family. In correspondence continuing till Jan. 10th 1917, Patterson appealed to General Altham (Inspector General of Communications, EEF)  who in a letter to the War Office on Oct 19th 1915 wrote that Gorodissky “had performed the duties of an officer for 4 months and belonged to a well educated middle-class family” and that “the maximum compensation of £75 allowed for an NCO….be increased to £200 in this, a very special case”.

The Treasury finally agreed on £150 – but no pension.

In a further file, correspondence deals with the case of No. 19 Private Polani. On July 16th 1916, Altham – again supporting Patterson – appealed for an increase in Polani’s 50% disabilty gratuity from £18-5s (25p) or one year’s pay at 1s. (5p) per day for “wounds and injuries through war service”, to £50. In a reply on Aug. 23rd, the Treasury agreed to £30!

In a final example, correspondence describes the case of Corporal. Farrier Abram Frank from Jaffa. He had been killed in action at Sidel Cain, Critiya, Gallipolli on June 14th 1915, aged 29 years, leaving a wife, Esther, and four children. She received £38. She could not, however, make a living in Egypt and so was given free passage to join her parents who had emigrated to the USA. Col. Patterson, as well as the USA branch of the Soldiers Civil Re-establishment Section, the Council of Jewish Women and the Committee of Immigrant Aid and Americanization all entered into long correspondence with the War Office in London between July 1922 and April 1923, pleading for a widows pension for her whilst she lived in great poverty in a New York tenement.

Frank had studied and worked at Wagner’s engineering factory in north Jaffa, then one of the largest in the Middle East; and they had sent him to Alexandria in 1913 to supervise a port construction program. Whilst he later served with the British in the ZMC, his older brother Meir had been forcibly conscripted into the Turkish army and served two and half years in Anatolia, though later returning to Israel. Though Frank has no known grave, Trumpeldor described in his diary (page 64) how they gave him a burial “just as though he was in the Land of Israel”.  On May 14th he wrote “ 9.30am – shells exploding everywhere; Corporal Frank is wounded seriously in the stomach……… I do not believe he will live”. At 4pm he adds, “ The four soldiers that carried Frank returned from the casualty station……… he has died. Sgt S.and Menaseh Milisten are in tears……… they were his close friends in Israel”.

Clearly the grave must have been lost for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission have no record of any post-war burial .

Franks’ pension  was refused on the grounds that “the terms of the enlistment of members of the ZMC did not provide for the grant of pensions to the dependents of men dying through military service – only a gratutity”.

So it remained, but Col. Patterson persisted. He told the War Office he would go to the press and House of Commons on the matter. In a compromise, the Government agreed a gratuity payment of three years pay for the dependents of NCO’s killed on active service in the Zion Mule Corps. The surviving members, on returning to Alexandria (quoted in Patterson’s book), had, after all, each been given £1   “as recognition of good service in Gallipolli”.

However, this is to run ahead of events and we should now return to the raising of  the new troop in Alexandria.

On 31 July at a meeting at Wardian, Trumpeldor was accused of achieving little to liberate the Holy Land or to form a real fighting Jewish Legion as he had promised, and of failing to relieve British negativity towards the Corps which they regarded as if it were a Labour Unit. He responded by praising what the Zion Mule Corps had so far achieved and assured them of results if the community stood by him. A meeting in the main Cairo synagogue produced 150 new recruits from the local Egyptian Jewish population, that would be known as the ‘Cairo Troop’ of the ZMC, who had the oath read to them in Hebrew, Arabic and French by the rabbi. They raised their hands and repeated the words after him. Trumpeldor and Patterson were careful to pick reliable men, and the new troops remained separate from the Gallipoli veterans and had their own NCOs. Another 100 mules were also obtained.

It should be pointed out, however,  that not all the ZMC were as well disciplined as others and that relations between officers and men and officers and officers were not always harmonious. There were some shirkers and grumblers and Trumpeldor deplored this – especially among the more Levantine Egyptian Jews. The Russian Jews were far more committed and made better soldiers but with typical over reaction the English Officers frequently enjoyed applying corporal punishment with Patterson’s blessing, sometimes even  bringing in the necessary implements and men from neighbouring British camps. On at least one occasion, 2nd Lt Rollo seized a whip from a man administering a sentence, and accusing him of being lax, completed the flogging himself with great brutality. Trumpeldor could not abide this and openly opposed it but was over-ruled and   forced to watch the procedure – which he described as barabaric and shameful – outwardly calm but inwardly seething. However, some of the poor behaviour was caused by news from Alexandria that many of the mens’ families – who should have been maintained by the Government as agreed – were suffering from lack of food and clothing and were in general need. Patterson sympathised and intended to send Trumpeldor to investigate whilst recruiting more men; but the rank and file made demands and disturbances broke out. Casualties, ill treatment and humiliation by English officers, exhaustion and lack of leave whilst other units were getting leave – led to a hunger strike by the men and on June 15th 1915 they met and 75 of them petitioned Patterson to be sent home. He angrily rejected this and ordered the troops to  assemble the following afternoon. He brought several officers from other units with whips and again ordered 3 of the troublemakers to obey orders. They refused, were tied to posts and flogged, then tied to the wheels of wagons for three hours and then confined on bread and water for three days. Patterson appears to have been left with no option but to punish the offenders. Even Trumpeldor thought it reluctantly advisable, for if the Corps was to become the nucleus of a Jewish Army, there  must be discipline. Afterwards, life returned to normal.

On another occasion  Patterson  “seriously affronted Trumpeldor’s honour and accused him of running unacceptable personal risks and failing thus to supervise his men ,especially the shirkers. Once when he found two misplaced forage sacks, he accused Trumpeldor of idling. When Lt Gorodissky translated this, Trumpeldor lost his temper….and he sent in his resignation….the Colonel angrily replied that Trumpeldor could prepare immediately for the journey to Alexandria and offered Gorodissky the post – which he refused. Trumpeldor went to pack his things… news of his journey spread through the camp…..dozens of men surrounded his tent, crying “Let’s all go! We don’t want to stay here without our Captain!”……after many apologies and much persuasion from the Colonel, Trumpeldor agreed to stay”  (Lipovetsky pages 55-57 and Gilner 61-6). In a letter in Russian to a Mr Kaplan (Tel Chai Archives, Israel) translated by Liz Zendle, Trumpeldor  writes, “Rosenberg has been arrested and given 14 days ‘confined to barracks’ by the Colonel…. this happened when the English captain Srusight (?) wanted to take a number of us and frankly he treated us like pigs (says Rosenberg). But I saw the soldiers bearing everything and carrying out their duties in the proper manner. We were marching by the right and then an English corporal suddenly shouted to me ‘look to your left!’ and kept shouting……at rest time I told the corporal, ‘if you give me a command like that again I’ll smash your head; I am  not a madman that you can have a good laugh at’. For this I was given 14 days CB. The Colonel said I should have really gone to a military court”.

To return to the raising of the Cairo Troop, on the night of Saturday 21 August, according to the Jewish Chronicle, a Torah Scroll was presented to the new recruits in the synagogue at Rue Nabi Daniel that was packed for the occasion. Three troopers rose to accept the Scroll from the Grand Rabbi who said: ‘May this Scroll of the Torah which has guarded us for thousands of years preserve and bring you back home safely. May our common cause triumph  and may it hasten the day of universal peace.’ The troops set sail for Gallipoli on 1 October.

On 20 August 1915 the Jewish Chronicle had reported that Israel Zangwill, who had been in close correspondence with Colonel Patterson, had  introduced an emissary from Egypt to Major-General Sir Alfred Turner at the War Office in London bearing funds to recruit Jews from various countries into the Zion Mule Corps, especially from Italy. But the idea was rejected and the young Jews were taken by the Italian army instead.

On returning to Gallipoli, Patterson found that Second-Lieutenant Alex Gorodissky had died of illness on 11 August ]en route to Alexandria for a well-earned rest and had been buried at sea (see above) .  He had been promoted from the ranks since enlisting on 23 March 1915 and was a grave loss to the Corps . Gorodissky, the only son of a widowed mother, had been a railway engineer and mathematics teacher at the Lycee in Alexandria and had turned down a senior engineering post to serve in Gallipoli. His death greatly affected Patterson and Trumpeldor noted in his diary that the Colonel sat for along while by himself ignoring all around him, greiving for his friend. Corporal Zalman Cogan, writing for the Jewish Chronicle from hospital in England on 11 November 1915, said, ‘he had been an officer and at the same time best friend of all the soldiers. Owing to his knowledge of English he was the intermediary between us and the Colonel … I never heard from him one complaint … an honest and just man …we have lost one of the best men of the Corps …promoted in the field to Lieutenant.’

On 6 August the Jewish Chronicle reported that Sergeant S. I. Luck had written to his father at 164 Commercial Road, Whitechapel, from the 1st Australian Base Hospital in Gallipoli of ‘patients reaching us from the Zion Mule Corps …the censorship officer asked  “why the devil don’t these men use the English language? How can I censor this rubbish?” But he was only telling his dear wife away in Russia that he was sick. “It’s either TB or malaria” he cooly explained …it became rather ludicrous when German is the only language the patient can understand … one spoke Arabic, his bullet was extricated and wrapped neatly in a piece of bandage, he hung it from his wrist. “Would you like to go back and fight those Germans  and Turks?” I asked. “Certainly, as soon as I get well. Have I not got all my friends there?” And the man lived in Turkey and spoke German. The irony of fate. But who knows, perhaps the last two factors were the cause of his enlistment in the first place!’

In early September a lull in shelling suggested the Turks had run out of heavy ammunition and dancing around Zion Mule Corps camp fires became possible, with songs in Hebrew and Russian. These always ended with the British national anthem and the Hatikvah.

By now, since deep communication trenches had been dug, the Corps could ride their mules up to the front, and they were dubbed the ‘Allied Cavalry’ or ‘Ally Sloper’s Cavalry’ .  Patterson related how the men found a slab of marble with a large Star of David carved on it while excavating a dugout in October for the coming winter and immediately erected it as a talisman. It appears that the dugout was never hit the whole time they spent there, even though shells fell all around them. Also in October the first leave home was granted and fifty muleteers sailed for Alexandria.

On 29 November, Patterson fell ill and had to be evacuated to Alexandria and thence to London where he arrived on 26 December 1915, leaving Trumpeldor in command with Lieutenant Gye as his translator. As the men battled with the biting wind and cold of Gallipoli, Trumpeldor himself was wounded in the left shoulder by a rifle bullet on 19 December,  but refused to be evacuated and remained in command. By then the Zion Mule Corps were down to 5 British and 2 Jewish officers and 126 men.

The order for disbandment came on 28 December and at the last parade on 31 December Trumpeldor addressing the men in Hebrew, [xlix] saying: ‘We are leaving tonight; our work is done. We have a right to say; well done … we and the Jewish people need never be ashamed of the Zion Mule Corps!’

In January 1916, before they  left, the Jewish muleteers paid formal tribute to their fourteen dead comrades. Sergeant H. L. Gordon led prayers at the graves, and then, having slashed the throats of those mules that were too ill to evacuate, they departed [l] ??.  One group of Mule Corps men (see Appendix) were torpedoed on their way to England xlx   but although the ship sank, the men survived.

Others arrived  in Alexandria on 10 January 1916. Here they were told they would be leaving for Ireland to help quell the revolt but they refused on the grounds that they had enlisted to fight the Turks and not Irish patriots, and on 26 May1916 were disbanded. Patterson died only in 1947 in La Jolla, California, almost living to see the establishment of the State of Israel.

Over sixty men of the Zion Mule Corps had been wounded and fourteen killed, Private Y. Rotman and Private Bergman being buried at Lancashire Landing Cemetery, Gallipoli,   and privates Bardin, Halimi, Kirshner, Wertheimer and Zaoui – all of whom died of wounds –  in Chatby Jewish Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, Alexandria. The remaining seven have no known graves and although their names so far appear on no memorial, they will be included on the Helles memorial in due course.

General Hamilton wrote to Jabotinsky on 17 November from his home at 1 Hyde Park Gardens to say that ‘The men have done extremely well, working their mules calmly under heavy shell and rifle fire, and thus showing  a more difficult type of bravery than the men who were constantly in the trenches and had the excitement of combat to keep them going’ xlxiii .But he confided less generously in his diary  that ‘the Corps may serve as ground bait to entice the big Jew journalists and bankers to our cause; the former will lend us colour, the latter the coin’. In the light of such frank anti-Semitism in the Army it is unsurprising that the Corps’ promised Kosher food was often deliberately not provided; that Jewish officers were paid 40 percent less than their British counterparts despite the official rates published (see above ) and that they had to eat at separate tables from them as well as being eligible for lower pensions. Neither were they shown military courtesy by junior British officers, despite Trumpeldor’s protests.

The plaudits for their work were, however, unanimous. Sidney Moseley, a War Office representative in Gallipoli complimented the Corps for being ‘an indispensable unit in that campaign’ [xlxv] . Brigadier-General Aspinall-Oglanden wrote that ‘Special recognition is due to the Zion Mule Corps for their untiring energy … bringing up ammunition and water to the forward positions and carrying back the wounded, under very heavy fire [xlxvi]  while a New Zealand officer, Major F. Waite, wrote of ‘the risks run by the ZMC … they carried their lives in their hands … for the enemy had the range to a yard of every landing stage, dump and roadway’ which they used  [xlxvii] . On 15 December Sir John Maxwell wrote to Trumpeldor at his billet, Pension Tewfiq, Rue Moghrabi, Cairo, praising ‘the personal fighting value of yourself and the Jewish volunteers of which … the behaviour of the Zion Mule Corps under fire in the Gallipolli Peninsular gave ample proof.’ [xlxviii].

Clearly it can be seen that Patterson had used his influence to procure the Corps its promised name, badge and flag, fighting army prejudice probably at the expense of his own career. He had made them famous and  even ex-President Teddy Roosevelt had heard of their exploits; he had written to Patterson,  asking if the ZMC had made as good soldiers as those Jews in the US Army Patterson’s popularity is evident from Corporal Cogan’s remark (JC 11 Nov 1915) that ‘His relations with us reminded me more of the care of a father for his children than that of a commander for his subordinates … the organization of the Corps meant a good deal of hard work for him and thanks to him … the Corps was in such excellent condition’.  Patterson’s name is much honoured today in Israel, in street names, military museums, text books and on postage stamps,  among others.

One last word of praise comes from the Revd Dr Ewing, of the Grange United Reform Church in Edinburgh serving as a Chaplain to the EEF, who is reported in the Jewish Chronicle of 28 January 1916 as saying ‘The Zion Mule Corps  has done most excellent transport work since the landing … strange it is when you ask a man where he is from to have him say the Holy City (Jerusalem) … and very earnest these Sons of Jacob are in their endeavours’.

On 3 March1916, as the Jewish Chronicle reported, a memorial to the fallen of the Corps was unveiled at the Chatby Jewish Cemetery, Alexandria,   in the presence of representatives of all the Allied nations and of hundreds of veterans and others. In 1926 the name of the unit was among those inscribed on the inner wall of the British Gallipoli memorial on the lonely headland at Cape Helles, overlooking V beach where they had first come ashore on that fateful April morning in 1915. In Tel Aviv today there is a Rehov Lohamay Gallipoli (‘Gallipoli Fighters Street’). Document PRO WO/329/2346 at the Public Record Office contains the Medal Roll of the ZMC and it shows they were all  awarded the 1915 Star, War Medal and Victory Medal. It also shows that they were distributed via the Grand Rabbi in Alexandria from 1921 onwards but that some were not issued until as late as 1938!

No fewer than 120 of the Zion Mule Corps men re-enlisted and, thanks to the intervention of Patterson and Major Leopold Amery, 60 were placed in the 20th Battalion of the London Regiment as platoon 16 stationed at Hasely Downs near Winchester.   They then became the core of the soon-to-be-formed Jewish Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers (38th-42nd) who were to fight in Palestine as the Jewish Legion or ‘Judeans’.


post 90: Guess who is speaking at J Street by Alan Derschowitz? My chance meeting with Dina.

This Shabat will be our Passover seder. I have left you with the story of Dina, one of the many residents of Jerusalem who rely on the kindness of others for their Shabat meals. Just wanted to balance the first article. I am the author of the second.


avatarAlan Dershowitz

J Street—the lobby group that claims to be “pro-Israel” and “pro-peace”—is anything but “open” to centerist views that are critical of its policies.  It has invited several prominent anti-Israel speakers to address its national conference, including Saeb Erekat, one of Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiators, who has repeatedly accused Israel of war crimes, and committing massacres in the West Bank. It has also invited speakers who are generally pro-Israel but who strongly oppose the current Israeli government. The one group of pro-Israel advocates who never get invited to J Street conferences are those of us who are somewhat critical of J Street, particularly with regard to its policies toward Iran and other issues involving Israel’s security.  I know this because I have repeatedly sought an opportunity to address the J Street conference. I have personally implored Jeremy Ben-Ami, the head of J Street, either to allow me to address the conference, or to sit down with me for a public conversation in front of the group’s members. He has adamantly refused. We have publicly debated and discussed our differences in front of non-J Street audiences, but he has never allowed me to engage him in the marketplace of ideas in front of his own followers.

This is more than ironic. It is hypocritical, especially in light of J Street’s demands that other organizations, such as Hillel and AIPAC, be open to speakers who are critical of Israel. What’s good for Hillel and AIPAC, is apparently not good for J Street—at least by J Street’s own standards.

Why then is J Street so determined to deny its members the opportunity to hear divergent views from center-leftists like me?  Because its leaders are afraid that if I were allowed to address its conference, I would tell its members the truth about J Street—a truth they try hard to conceal, particularly from college students who are lured into the J Street fold on false pretenses. The key to J Street’s success in increasing its membership roles is its ability to speak out of both sides of its mouth.  To those on the hard left, it offers anti-Israel and pro-BDS speakers, support for the mendacious Goldstone Report, and opposition to keeping the military option on the table as a last resort in preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

To the soft left, it focuses on its opposition to Israeli settlements and its support for a two-state solution—positions with which I and many supporters of Israel agree.  But it hides its controversial, hard left positions that endanger Israel’s security—positions with which most supporters of Israel disagree.  It also hides the financial support it has received from anti-Zionists such as George Soros, as well as the anti-Zionist statements made by some of its founders and activists.  Two summers ago I spoke to a mixed group of pro and anti-J Street people in the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center.  When I read from some of J Street’s positions on Israel’s security, some of the J Street supporters were shocked.  They were unaware that J Street has expressed opposition to any use of military force against Iran, even as a last resort in preventing Iran in preventing Iran from developing or even deploying nuclear weapons. This is even weaker than the position of the Obama administration, which has refused to take the military option off the table, if all other options fail to stop Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.

Without distinguishing between an Israeli and an American military attack, J Street mendaciously claims that “top Israeli security experts and former officials warned about the inefficacy and disastrous consequences of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities” and that “many in the American and Israeli intelligence and security establishments believe that a strike on Iran would fail to end Iran’s nuclear program and may even accelerate it….”

While this may be true of a unilateral Israeli strike, it is untrue of an American or joint attack, which many of these experts acknowledge would wreak havoc on the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Many of these same experts have explicitly called for the United States to maintain its military option as a last resort. But J Street, on its website, expressly “oppose[s] legislation authorizing, encouraging or in other ways laying the groundwork for the use of military force against Iran.” Such legislation refers exclusively to an American, not an Israeli, attack. But “laying the groundwork for the use of military force against Iran” by the United States is precisely what is needed to deter Iran from going forward with its nuclear weapons program, regardless of whether or not a deal is struck.  By credibly laying such groundwork, the United States reduces the chances that it will actually need to employ its military option. By undercutting the threat of employing the military option, J Street increases the likelihood that it will have to be used.

J Street, in addition to undercutting mainstream Israeli and American policy toward Iran, has also mischaracterized the views of those it cites in support of its position, including former Mossad chiefs Meir Dagan and Efraim Halevy. It cites these two Israeli security experts as opposing an American strike and an American threat to strike. Both Dagan and Halevy have repeatedly said, however, that the American military option “must always be on the table.” Indeed, the vast majority of Israeli security experts, as well the Israeli public, wants the United States to maintain the military threat against Iran. J Street, which purports to be pro-Israel, wants the United States to eliminate that deterrent military threat.  But many centrist J Street members are not aware of this hard left position, because its leadership will not allow critics of this and other J Street positions to tell its members the truth.

Finally, J Street is now calling for an end to bipartisan political support for the government of Israel, telling Democrats, including the woman at “the forefront” of the Democratic Party, that “everyone is now going to have to pick a side.”

So I call for “open J Street.” Let its members hear all sides of the issues, not only those carefully screened and vetted by its leaders.

My chance meeting with Dina

My chance meeting with Dina on Ovadia Street changed my life. At 2:00 on Friday afternoon,  Shabat is around the corner. I am part of the wave of shoppers and storekeepers abandoning the shuk. In the summer the space is now devoid of people.  I compare it to a balloon with it’s air sucked out.

Of course the shuk doesn’t collapse, only all of it’s gates come down with a rattle.  It’s air and replaced it with argon light. In the hours before Shabat, as they leave the city, the encroaching light trails after the exilled shuks’s shoppers. whose arms are laden with packages. In contrast, those like myself who live in the city center, often begin to meander these same uncluttered streets in no particular hurry. I’m tempted with my free hands to wave to the last of the commuters.


On that particular relaxing Friday my stride was blocked but not by any last minute shoppers. So what was bringing my steps to a halt? I had reached a very slow walker. Why a blockade now? The narrow alley, called a simtah in Hebrew, Ovidia Somach, could accommodate but two walkers, one in each direction and Dina was careful to place her cane across the open side lest anyone consider overtaking her. She waved the cane off the ground cautioning me to stay back and wait for further orders. Each step seemed a struggle for her, like climbing a precipitous hill cautiously without the reward of a downward carefree ride at the end.

I only know Dina in the context of the soup kitchen where I sometimes volunteered and where she dined.

Her white hair and pale face revealed her Ashkinazic origins. In a neighborhood of overwhelmingly close knit Sephardi families, this made Dina stand out. Sefardy women of all ages, 60,70,80 and onward have black hair. Either via Henna or the bottle.


She was out on an aggressive mission with ambitions for me. Maybe she allowed others to pass. I would be aggressively abducted to escort her. Protesting was a useless persuit.

I, thankfully, have never relied on gifts of food  for Shabat or anytime, except after my parent’s passing. During Shivah. The gifts were comforting. They were brought by close friends. Dina had a trail to follow. Or maybe her senses were so attuned that she knew exactly which families to visit, which ones carried many bags and wagons home from the shuk on the day prior that surely they would not miss her portion. which women were her loyal donors.


Clearly, when I saw the plastic containers that she carried I could only reach one conclusion. She was out to visit as many families as she had the strength to muster, to gather food for her Shabat table. It was this end goal that fueled her exertion.


I just happened to be behind her as she approached one of her hosts. I’ll call it Hashgaga Pratis. Not only was I walking behind her, but I was walking slow enough for her to pace herself. I reached her and simultaneously we intersected her first destination. Now that’s timing. Her gait was laborious. She had an agenda for both of us. I was recruited to join her, physically with her cane. Not subjected to a polite request.


As so happen often to me in Israel, situations arise and they get played out. It’s like a free ride. Almost always for the better. The situation of me willingly getting taken in without arguement, brought up memories of my mother ensconcing herself in Manhattan decades ago. She, too was the recipient of an anonymous person’s generosity. Only in mom’s case, she paid for frozen meals that were not free or home-made.


Mother’s meals came off an assembly line. Rather ordinary. She held her breath for the treats that I brought, fresh fruits and vegetables. Mother asked advice. Requested that I get her mail, and bring some special treats , “next time.” Now I was being told over Dina’s shoulder, “come and walk with me.” Hardly a polite request.


I was not sure what she wanted from me. I spoke Hebrew, “It hurts to walk”? To be honest, the sacrifice on my part of escorting her a few steps home would not be a burden. She looked steady enough, only about 5 feet tall with a low center of gravity. She didn’t appear to need help. She didn’t hold out her arm.


I then began to see the broader picture. Very efficient in her motions, she stopped and signaled to the tiny courtyard and I turned into it. She waved her cane upwards. It was now a cattle prod rather than an aid for support. She caught my eye, shook her head and yelled “Sarah”, giving me the impression that she wanted the name repeated. I walked slowly to the courtyard hoping that someone would respond after my first yell.


Dina stood impassioned, eager, at the entrance to the courtyard, leading me to believe that there was a Sarah and she was waiting for Dina. Above. Of-course I was needed up the long flight of stairs. Dina would not be able to manage the stairs.


Around the corner after the set of stairs was visible a compact smiling lady and she promptly waved me on. Short introductions. She had no spare time. She was standing hovering over a kitchen table, in a kitchen intended for cooking, and eating, but was now a porch and sleeping area as well.


With slow deliberate movements, the same way a housewife claims choice produce at her green-grocer, Sarah yielded tenderly 4 homemade burekas covering a diner plate. Hardly enough for a whole shabas. I dutifully brought the plate down to Dina and I was immediately waved back up. This was beginning to feel like a recue operation.


Sarah saw me and shook her head and pursed her lips and dove into several pots drawing up portions of rice and potatoes. She deftly dropped them into into plastic containers. She topped the basics off with a container of Zhoug, no cover. Quite a knack Sarah had.


Back again slowly downstairs. Dina in the same spot that I left her. She checks over the booty and turns 180 degrees and we return to the intersection of Ovidia Somach, her main artery.This time I’m following her lead at a little faster rate. Her apartment off the next tributary.


Admittedly I should not have been surprised to see her kitchen. I could have been entering a shack in the Gaza Strip. The saving grace was a multipurpose courtyard. Albeit one with electricity. A homemaker in the 1940’s probably once quvelled over 1930’s refrigerator and stove-top burner, that appeared before me. Oven’s were very scarce. Similar stove-top burners ones are used for a week during Passover when we want don’t want to clean our ovens. In the corner od Dina’s apartment is a waist high stack of plastic containers, a veritable Tower of Babal.

Obviously, Dina has been doing her usual rounds. She thanked me and relieved me of my load. “You helped me, now you can go”. I was discharged just like that. She walked me out to Ovidia Somach and her face was with me all the way home.

Post 89: Washington Post’s factS about campaign funding against Likud: ASSERSTIONS THAT Israeli Election WAS Subject to Massive and Blatant Subversion: some funny sayings for your seder, goat milk Ice-cream permitted on Passover

Here’s the evidence for Natanyahu’s claim that “Millions” were spent to defeat him. And what’s his evidence for his claim?

The Facts

Netanyahu’s claims of foreign involvement were not new to Israelis. In recent months, his party, Likud, has made repeated accusations that “leftist” NGOs were illegally getting funds from foreign donors in order to influence the election outcome — claims that were repeatedly denied.

Netanyahu campaign officials provided The Fact Checker with a list of organizations that they said were active in the Israeli elections “with the political goal of replacing Netanyahu as prime minister.” In a statement, the campaign said “the costs of their activities far exceed $10 million.”

Notably, the campaign did not claim that any of this funding came from the U.S. government. Netanyahu, in his election-eve statement, carefully spoke of “foreign associations.”

Among the organizations cited by the campaign:

  • “A Million Hands,” an NGO, organized the massive demonstration “Israel Wants Change.” Netanhayu says it was funded by foreign donors, primarily Daniel Lubetzky and S. Daniel Abraham, and “cost hundreds of thousands of shekels, and its promotion cost hundreds of thousands of shekels more,” the campaign said. (A shekel is worth about 25 cents.) The total cost of the activity of “A Million Hands” to replace Netanyahu was $6 million to $7 million, the campaign asserted, though an article it cited did not contain that figure. (Update: Dror Ben-Ami, co-founder of Million Hands, denied the claims by the Netanyahu campaign. He said in a statement that “the campaign’s total budget, including the rally, was several hundred thousand dollars, only part of which was raised in the U.S.” He said that Million Hands was founded by three Israelis, on a volunteer basis and that “much of the funding was raised from the founders’ own pockets, friends and concerned individuals in Israel.” He added that “we approached U.S. funders; they did not seek us out. In particular, Mr. Lubetzky has never contributed to our campaign.” He also said Million Hands is not affiliated with any political party.)
  • V15 (“Victory 15”), which is tied to a U.S. group called OneVoice and included the involvement of a former top Obama campaign aide. “The activity of V15, and especially its activity on election day, was several million dollars, the overwhelming majority of which came from American donors,” the campaign claimed. A spokesman for OneVoice promised a response, but we have not received one–despite repeated requests, even after the publication of this column.
  • “Commanders for the Security of Israel,” a group of former generals, which the campaign said was funded to the tune of “hundreds of thousands of shekels.” That’s maybe $100,000 to $200,000.
  • Ameinu, another group, sponsored a get-out-the-vote campaign in the Arab community. The campaign cited a fundraising documentfrom December that sought $3 million, but Ameinu president Kenneth Bob said it turned out to be “closer to $2 million.” He said the effort was “nonpartisan” and intended to improve Arab participation. Though he acknowledged that Arabs tend to support left-leaning candidates, he noted that a Druze candidate on the Likud list also benefited from the group’s work.
  • Activities of political strategist Eyal Arad, which the campaign said was funded primarily by American donors and cost “several million dollars.” Arad has denied that claim, shooting back back that in 1994 Netanyahu had offered him a job that would have been funded by a “foreign and unnamed businessman.” (Netanyahu’s campaign denied it.)

The campaign added that “there are many other organizations” dedicated to replacing Netanyahu funded by foreign donors, pointing specifically to the New Israel Fund, which aims for a resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and doles out about $25 million a year. But the Israel Fund has vehemently denied any funding, directly or indirectly, to pro-peace organizations active in the campaign.


Watchdog Group Says Professor Gerald M. Steinberg, President of watchdog group NGO Monitor, Israeli Election Subject to Massive and Blatant Subversion

MARCH 20, 2015 3:47 PM


avatarChris Coffey

Professor Gerald M. Steinberg, President of watchdog group NGO Monitor, said today that Israeli democracy suffers from the “severe problem of foreign interference.” Steinberg was responding to a Washington Post article, in which he was quoted, analyzing the role of foreign money in the Israeli election.

“No other democratic country in the world is subject to such massive interference and blatant subversion,” said Steinberg.

“Groups like V-15, OneVoice, Ameinu and the powerful New Israel Fund operate entirely outside Israeli government regulations and campaign financing laws, and this must end — no democracy can allow itself to be manipulated by unaccountable and irresponsible political frameworks.”

Earlier this week, Netanyahu warned that his political opponents in Israel’s general election on Tuesday were benefiting from “tens of millions” in foreign support.

The Washington Post published a story today about the amount of foreign money injected into the elections. While the paper said that there were millions in foreign money spent on the race, there was no evidence of tens of millions having been spent.

Steinberg praised The Washington Post piece for “highlighting the severe problem of foreign interference in and efforts to manipulate Israeli democracy,” but he thought it was too dismissive of European efforts to influence the elections.

“Kessler’s piece gave short shrift to the tens of millions of dollars provided annually by European governments to political groups such as B’tselem, Peace Now, and dozens more,” Steinberg said. “This practice is a form of modern imperialism, with the Europeans using money for NGOs as the main form of influence. All of these forms of interference and manipulation will be examined in detail in the Knesset in coming months.”

פינף קעגן איינס
אַן אָרעמאַן האָט זיך אַמאָל צערעדט פאַר זײַן חבר:
פינף זאַכן האָבּ איך שוין אויף פּסח. “דער פינגערצו די צען מכּות, “די זײַטאויף אָנלענען זיך, דאָס מויל אויף צו עסן, מרור פעלט מיר אויך נישט און כהאָבּ שוין מקיים געווען דעם פסוק פון ולא יראה לך חמץעס זאָל קײַן חמץ בּײַ דיר נישט געזען ווערן. נאָר דער איין מצוה פון שבעת ימים תּאכל מצותזיבּן טאָג זאָלסטו עסן מצה, מיט דעם מוטשע איך זיך נאָך דאָס צוזאַמענשטעלן
finf kegn eyns
an oreman hot zikh amol tseredt far zayn khaver:
finf zakhn hob ikh shoyn af pesakh. “der finger” tsu di tsen ma’kes, “di zayt” af onlenen zikh, dos moyl af tsu esn, moror felt mir oykh nit un khob shoyn meka’yem geven, ‘es zol kayn khomets ba dir nit gezen vern. nor der eyn mitsve fun, “zibn tog zolstu esn ma’tse”, mit dem mutshe ikh zikh nokh dos tsuzamenshtleln.”
Five vs. One
A poor man once disclosed to his friend: I already prepared five things for Pesach. 1)a finger for the ten plagues. (Every time one of the plagues is mentioned, we dip our finger in the wine and spill a drop. This reminds us that our cup of joy is not complete because people had to die for our salvation) 2) a side to lean on. (When the matzah is eaten for the first time, you eat it while leaning to the left) 3) A mouth to eat the food. 4)Marror I have no lack of. (Marror is bitter herbs eaten in keeping with the biblical commandment “with bitter herbs they shall eat it.” (Exodus 12:8) A bitter life is considered eating Marror). 5) I also fulfilled the Mitzva of “and there shall not be seen with thee leavened bread.” Only the one commandment of “thou shallt eat matzah for seven days” I am still struggling to put together…..
חמש נגד אחד
פעם עני אחד סיפר לחברו, חמש דברים יש לי כבר לפסח. האצבע כדי לטבול אותה ביין כשאומרים את המכות. הצד להישען עליו כשאוכלים מצה. הפה לאכול את הסעודות. מרור לא חסר לי. וקיימתי את הפסוק ולא יראה לך חמץ.”רק מצוה אחת של שבעת ימים תאכל מצותאני עדיין מתאבק בו..”.
רנפתלי ראָפּשיצער האָט איין יאָר נאָך דער שבּת הגדול דרשה געזאָגט, ” רבּונו של עולם מיר וועלן בּאַזאָרגן אַ כּשרן פּסח און דו בּאַזאָרג אונדז מיט אַ פריילעכן פּסח.”
R’ Naftali Ropshitser hot eyn yor nokh der shabes hagodel droshe gezogt, “Ribono Shel Olom, mir veln bazorgn a koshern Pesakh un du bazorg undz mit a freylekhn Pesakh.”
in English
Rabbi Naftali Ropshitzer said one year after he finished his Shabbos Hagadol ceremony, “Creator of the Universe, we will supply a kosher Passover and you supply us with a happy Passover.”
in Hebrew
רנפתלי מרופשיץ בדרשה של שבת הגדול ביקש מאלוקים בקשה. ”ריבונו של עולם ,אנחנו נדאג שהבית שלנו יהיה כשר בחג, ואתה תדאג שהבית שלנו יהיה שמח בחג“.

Goat milk ice cream


4 C goat’s milk (aka 1 Quart)

1 C sugar

3/4 tsp vanilla

zest of 1 lemon

pinch of kosher salt

4 egg yolks


Warm milk, sugar, vanilla and salt in sauce pan until sugar dissolves. Beat and temper egg yolks, add to milk. Add lemon zest. Cook for ~2 mins, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and strain. Refrigerate until completely chilled.

Churn and freeze.


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Post 88: A Good find for Afikomen Gifts: Visit the basement of the Bell tower on Rechove King George. Enter from King George and take the escalator to the lower level.; food categories to avoid if you take thyroid hormone (synthroid) or have an under active thyroid

Now that I am in my apartment cleaning for Passover, I can take a break and complete some posts;

I can say  with confidence that past middle age hardly a person is spared from slow metabolism. It happens to women after menopause.

What  didn’t surprise me was the recommendation and caution to limit gluten, fatty, sugary, and processed foods. What surprised me was the limitation of fiber. These all have an influence how your body absorbs synthroid. Older adults should take in take in 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day. Amounts of dietary fiber from whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, and legumes that go above that level affect your digestive system and can interfere with absorption of thyroid hormone replacement drugs.






Sign outside the PaAmon building On Rechove George advertising toys and books ranging from 5-10  SH .


One of the puzzles that I purchased for 10 sh.

I don’t know if the store has a name. The sign says books for adults and children and there were many tables full of small gadgets. I just stumbled upon the store because I was taking the escalator to reach the exit and street behind the PaAmon building to Sefer V’Sefer.

That EXIT is now closed because of the huge book inventory, replacing the bakery that was there years ago.

Since this blog gives tips on a healthy lifestyle, the following informations was helpful to me.

I gave up taking thyroid medication, after I learned that some of the drugs can contribute to bone loss. It is already more than 10 years. I take yearly blood tests, monitoring the T3 and T4. I have adjusted to my slow metabolism with daily rigorous exercise.

The following about 9 foods to avoid if one is taking thyroid medication is news to me.


Cruciferous Vegetables;

People with hypothyroidism may want to limit their intake of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips, and bok choy.

People with hypothyroidism may want to limit their intake of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips, and bok choy.

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage, can interfere with the production of thyroid hormone, particularly people who have an iodine deficiency. Digesting these vegetables can block the thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine, which is essential for normal thyroid function.People with hypothyroidism may want to limit their intake of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips, and bok choy. Cooking the vegetables can reduce the effect that cruciferous vegetables have on the thyroid gland. Limiting your intake to 5 ounces a day appears to have no adverse effect on thyroid function.



People with hypothyroidism should consider minimizing their intake of gluten, a protein found in foods processed from wheat, barley, rye, and other grains, says Ruth Frechman, RDN, a dietitian and nutritionist in the Los Angeles area and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Gluten can irritate the small intestine and may hamper absorption of thyroid hormone replacement medication.

Fatty Foods

Fats have been found to disrupt the body’s ability to absorb thyroid hormone replacement medicines, Dr. Lee says. Fats may also interfere with the thyroid’s ability to produce hormone as well. Some health care professionals recommend that you cut out all fried foods and reduce your intake of fats from sources such as butter, mayonnaise, margarine, and fatty cuts of meat.

Sugary Foods

Hypothyroidism can cause the body’s metabolism to slow down, Frechman says. That means it’s easy to put on pounds if you aren’t careful. “You want to avoid the foods with excess amounts of sugar because it’s a lot of calories with no nutrients,” she says. It’s best to reduce the amount of sugar you eat or try to eliminate it completely from your diet.

Processed Foods

“Processed foods tend to have a lot of sodium, and people with hypothyroidism should avoid sodium,” Frechman says. Having an underactive thyroid increases a person’s risk for high blood pressure, and too much sodium further increases this risk. Read the Nutrition Facts label on the packaging of processed foods to find options lowest in sodium. People with an increased risk for high blood pressure should restrict their sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams a day, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Excess Fiber

Getting enough fiber is good for you, but too much can complicate your hypothyroidism treatment. Guidelines currently recommend that older adults take in 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day. Amounts of dietary fiber from whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, and legumes that go above that level affect your digestive system and can interfere with absorption of thyroid hormone replacement drugs. If you’re on a high-fiber diet, ask your doctor if you need a higher dose of thyroid medication. Your maintenance dose may need to be increased if you aren’t absorbing enough medication.


Caffeine has been found to block absorption of thyroid hormone replacement, Lee says. “People who were taking their thyroid medication with their morning coffee had uncontrollable thyroid levels, and we couldn’t figure it out,” she says. “I now have to be very careful to tell people, ‘Only take your medication with water.'” You should wait at least 30 minutes after taking your medication before having a cup of joe.


Alcohol consumption can wreak havoc on both thyroid hormone levels in the body and the ability of the thyroid to produce hormone. Alcohol appears to have a toxic effect on the thyroid gland and suppresses the ability of the body to use thyroid hormone. Ideally, people with hypothyroidism should cut out alcohol completely or drink in careful moderation.

From Everyday By Dennis Thompson Jr.9 Foods to Avoid With Hypothyroidism

What you eat can affect your thyroid gland as well as your body’s ability to use thyroid hormone. Learn which foods to avoid when managing hypothyroidism. The Mayo Clinic Site also cautions about excessive dietary fiber. They suggest:

Avoid taking your thyroid hormone at the same time as:

  • Walnuts

  • Soybean flour

  • Cottonseed meal

  • Iron supplements or multivitamins containing iron

  • Calcium supplements

  • Antacids that contain aluminum or magnesium

  • Some ulcer medications, such as sucralfate (Carafate)

  • Some cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as those containing cholestyramine (Questran) and colestipol (Colestid)

To avoid potential interactions, eat these foods or use these products several hours before or after you take your thyroid medication.




Post 87: Meet a very talented Jewelry designer and teacher, Yossi Kopievkar with roots in Harbin, China: mind over matter, mandel bread: not really bread just almonds





Meandering Jerusalem’s alleys is a way to become acquainted with talented artisans. Museum visits gave me the impression that Yemenite and North African jewelers, Jews of Muslim countries, were the sole springs of fine Jewish jewelry design. My familiarity with jewelers in the area near the shuk, has been with Jews from Muslim countries. Hence my impression appeared rock solid.

I just happened to find Yossi, whose origins are Russian, when my repair man’s shop was closed and I strolled down the block and saw a crowded shop that turned out to be Yossi’s.

Yossi is the second generation of jewelers in his family. He related to me a small slice of his father David’s story. Yossi’s work table was originally his father’s. So many hands each week work at that table. At Yossie’s studio they forge replacement parts and findings to silver candelabras, such as you see in the photo and silver  and gold jewelry and design and execute new pieces. Yossi brought my silver candelabra, or “lachter” in Yiddish, back to life after it suffered dents from a fall. Now is the time to see Yossie if your dream is to create fine jewelry. He starts his students in silver work and then they graduate to working in gold.


The majority of the lines in Yossi’s shop however are to repair eyeglass frames. After the repair he touches up the metal with his specially developed lacquer rendering the repair “seamless. The shop is on Rechove Yehudis about 30 meters off of Rechove Yaffo.







The shops sign, introduces silversmith teacher, Yossi Kopiefsky.

Yossi’s father David found refuge in Harbin, fleeing Russia in 1919.   “In history more than 20,000 Jews settled in Harbin in order to escape prosecution and prejudice.” This quote, attributed to Henry Kissinger, rests on a perspex plaque in the foyer of the city’s former main synagogue, now housing the permanent Harbin Jewish History and Cultural Exhibition.

“The fact that the Harbin people treated the Jews kindly, as a result of the broad mind of the nation, is a glorious record of world humanitarianism.”

If David Kupievkar arrived wintertime at the sub-provincial city of Harbin, capital of the Heilongjiang Province in Northeast China, temperature would range from 3 to 17 degrees below zero.This city near the Russian border, with today’s population of 9.7 million, is not far from other populated areas. It is  located an hour and a half’s flight away from the lively capital Beijing.

Even in the snow and ice, Harbin seems like a little island of calm in the bloody history of the Jewish nation.

The Harbin Jewish community, which came as part of a large migration of Russians to the region, existed for a total of 65 years. During this period the Jews turned the small fishing village (Harbin is originally a Manchu word meaning “a place for drying fishing nets”) into a large, industrialized, modern city.

Harbin was a political and economic haven for Jews. The first Jews arrived from Russia and Eastern Europe in 1898, with the beginning of the construction of the trans-Siberian railway linking Moscow and Beijing, probably David Kupievkar’s route. They fled the daily pogroms, army service and anti-Semitic incidents and found a political and economic haven in Harbin.

After the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, increasing numbers of Jews migrated to Harbin, David Kupievkar one of them. At its peak the community, which usually numbered 10,000 inhabitants, reached 25,000 people. It experienced its golden age between 1917 and 1930. Olmert’s grandparents lived there and his parents were born there. So were the parents of MK Effie Eitam, the father of poet Daliah Ravikovitch, Israel’s former UN ambassador Yosef Tekoa and many others.

Harbin’s Jews lived under four central political regimes – Tzarist Russia (1898-1917), the Chinese government (1917-1931), the Japanese (1931-1945) and then the Red Army.

The Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 forced many Jews, who suffered under Japanese fascism, to flee the city. Various Zionist movements, such as Betar, flourished in Harbin and many Jews moved to Israel, which David Kupievkar did in 1948 to fight for the Jewish State.

For a while it was a toss-up. In Harbin, many young people were members of the Zionist youth organization Betar.  It was a very interesting and merry place. After the victory in Germany, later in Japan, the prestige of the Soviet Union grew, especially among the Russian-speaking population of China. In 1948, the Soviet Government said all interested Russian-speaking people could depart for the USSR. No doubt many Russians returned,  deciding to go to this remarkable country, which defeated fascism, where all people had equal rights and all people were heroes.

Sometimes a rosy picture and promises of a glorious future can be blinding. Hinting of years to come was the most difficult period for the Jews – at the end of World War II, under the nine-month rule by the Russian government. Zionist activity in the city was stopped, many were exiled to Russian forced labor camps and many Jews left Harbin.

Gradually the Jews of Harbin scattered to Shanghai, Israel and other countries. In 1963 the Jewish institutions in the city were officially closed down. In 1985 the last Jew in Harbin died.

However, the Jewish presence in Harbin left shops; businesses; flour, candle and beverage plants; coal mines; hotels; restaurants; a hospital; schools; youth movements; a soup kitchen; daily newspapers; book publishers; orchestras and a theater.

The old synagogue, built in 1907, has become a family activity center; the Jewish high school has become a Korean girls school.  Recently, the synagogue, built in 1917, became a museum, exhibiting the history of Harbin’s Jewry. A film on the Holocaust, with Chinese subtitles, is screened on a large television screen at the foyer.

The building’s two floors are filled with large black and white pictures documenting Jewish life in the city: the soup kitchen, the Beitar youth movement, the women’s welfare organization, shops and plants, the library, the orchestra, Jewish singers, Jewish athletes, ski and horse races and Cafe Miniature of 1926, which doubled as an art gallery of Russian miniatures.

An entire wall is devoted to photographs of the Olmert family. His parents, Bella and Mordechai, immigrated to Israel in 1930. Mordechai was active in the city’s revisionist movement. He studied in a Chinese high school and spoke Chinese. An adjacent wall displays pictures of Yosef Trumpeldor. After being wounded in the Russia-Japan war in 1905, Trumpeldor was brought to Harbin’s hospital for treatment. From there he was sent to a Japanese prison and after his release, he returned to Harbin to found a farming cooperative.

The Jewish cemetery, with 583 tombstones engraved in Russian and Yiddish, was built in 1903 in the city center and was transferred outside the city in 1958. In 1992, after the establishment of relations between Israel and China, it was renovated.

From Ha’Aretz, Harbin’s Jews: Isle of calm for an embattled nation

Adapted from   | Feb. 9, 2007 Haaretz

Several of David Kupievkar’s students have gone on to teach jewelry making. One such student is Stacy Givon who studied two years traditional technique with David Kopiefker, Yossi’s father 35 years ago. She studied two years traditional techniques. She has earned international recognition and prizes for her designs and craftsmanship. Stacy has developed techniques for unique textured finishes that have become her passion and design trademark. With over 30 years of experience she skillfully handcrafts her jewelry in her studio in Jerusalem and signs each piece.

I am preparing a  subsequent post to contain photos of Yossi’s work.

Mandel bread: This is a great recipe to use up your staples. Can be out of your clean fridge for days.

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3 eggs

1 cup white sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsps orange juice

1 cup chocolate chips



Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet.


Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside. Beat the eggs and sugar or fruit together in a mixing bowl until smooth. Whisk in the vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and orange juice. Stir in the chocolate chips and the flour mixture until no dry lumps remain. Divide the cookie dough into two pieces. Form each piece into a roll about 3 inches wide and 12 inches long. Place the rolls, side by side, onto the prepared cookie sheet.


Bake in the preheated oven until the rolls have started to brown, about 20 minutes. Remove the rolls from the oven onto a rack. Let cool about 10 minutes until cool enough to handle; cut the mandel into 1/2-inch thick slices. Return the cookies to the baking sheet, cut-side down.


Return to the oven and bake until lightly-golden, about 15 minutes more. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

Post 86: Don’t be caught with a diminished Rav Card, You’ll be fined and asked to pay on the spot, Gababanzo salad a quick dish before Pesach Ingredients necessary: 150g bag of crispy lettuce leaves 1 large avocado 1 tsp lemon juice 300g halved cherry tomatoes 5cm piece of cucumber 1 red onion 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil 1/2 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp ground coriander pinch of ground turmeric chickpeas dry or canned 2 tsp lemon juice


Don’t be caught with a diminished Rav Card: You’ll be fined and asked, for your convenience

to pay on the spot.

The fine will be 180 sh. And after February 15th, you can pay the fine by credit card.

Here’s a quick salad to have during a cleaning break

Garbanzo salad

 Ingredients (See nutrition)

150 gr bag of crispy lettuce leaves
1 large avocado
1 tsp lemon juice
300g halved cherry tomatoes
5cm piece of cucumber
1 red onion
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
pinch of ground turmeric
400g can chickpeas
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp mint sauce
150ml plain yoghurt

Mix the lemon juice, spices and oil. Pour over the first five  chopped ingredients. Serve mint with yoghurt on the side.