Magen David Sephardic Congregation-Beit Eliahu is a modern Orthodox Synagogue located in Rockville, Maryland. The Synagogue is located in a beautiful residential area, close to NIH, the Jewish Community Center, 5 Jewish Day Schools, a community mikveh, and the cultural and business district of Washington DC.
The membership of Magen David spans many generations. The congregation, which was founded in 1966, has a long history of proud service to the Washington Metropolitan area, and the Sephardic community.
For more information on membership, please contact the office.
Magen David Sephardic Congregation-Beit Eliahu is very fortunate to have the services of Rabbi Joshua Maroof as their Rabbi.
The Synagogue is a warm and inviting family, with many opportunities for involvement. It is a place where children and adults are able to come together to explore and grow in their commitment to Judaism. The Sephardic Institution serves as the focal point for the broader Sephardic community, and as the focal point in the lives of members.
The Jewish religion is both spiritual and worldly. That is one of its definining characteristics as well as its strengths. There is a tendency among many Christians to believe in a delayed gratification where God will reward the righteous after they have died, and that they cannot expect anything but pain and suffering in this life. Judaism is different: God shows his pleasure or displeasure in this life – it is not about reward in the next life. It is about following the laws of Yahweh and benefitting from a righteous life here and now. Of course, as Job discovered it is not always clear what God’s intentions are regarding us. We cannot question he who is infinitely wise.
This wordliness of the Judaic faith has no doubt contributed to the material wealth of many jewish people. There is nothing wrong with making money to look after your family and to give your kids a good education and a head start in life.
Young Israelis today have a tough time. They have to learn bravery and have to experience the danger and uncertainty of combat. The compulsory time in the Israeli army is not some exercise to build muscles as it is in many European countries. Rather it is an ongoing struggle to protect the homeland.
When young Israelis finish their time in the army many are apt to leave the country and go traveling. That is fine. It is good to see the world while you are young. Many end up in South East Asia and in Thailand in particular. One popular event is the full moon beach party in Koh Phangan. it is an event that attracts thousands of party goers, and may Israelis.
Despite the obvious pagan connotations in celebrating the moon changes, what is more important is that young Israelis refrain from taking drugs and otherwise letting themselves down at the party. It is OK to have a good time – not to abuse the hospitality of a host country. Also if the full moon falls on the Sabbath then it is wrong to dance all night and break the laws of Moses.
Australian schools are run on a strictly secular level, so the question of religion is never touched on. However a visting academic and theologian – Dr Peter Vardy – suggested that this approach might not be the best. He was speaking at an ethics conference hosted by St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls to some of the Year11 pupils.
Dr Vardy was quoted as saying -
“I would like to see mandatory the teaching of ethics and philosophy and my ideal would be to extend that to look at religious issues, but not in order to indoctrinate,” he said.
Although understanding of the viewpoint that religion shoudl be kept away from schools, he did suggest that children were actually missing out on their education. The fact is that without including some study of religion it was difficult for children to address fundamental issues about life, existence and reallity.
In the UK religion is mandatory for students up to 16 years old, the study was supposedly one of the most advanced in the world. It is said that even atheists could get an A grade if there arguments are well structured. However this opinion obviously sounds a little suspicious coming from a theologian paying lip service to atheism in order to encourage a secular education system to adopt religious studies.
Personally I believe the Australian education sector have got it right and it is best to keep what is ultimately a divisive force in a multi religion society away from children at school. Children can access all sorts of opinion and view points online through the internet. You can see some the debates about religion in Australia by watching their online TV channels. ABC is one of my favourites and you can access this by using an Australian proxy server like this. This effectively modifies your IP address so you can bypass the country restrictions on the media websites like ABC.
What is it about the particular diet that you have just placed yourself on to try and lose some of that excess weight that you have probably needed to shed for some time now that is going to make it a success for you? It really boils down to individual tastes, needs and likes/dislikes. So what is it in the diet that you have chosen that makes it the right one for you?
Knowing the answer to that question is pretty important if you are to succeed with your chosen diet plan. Some people prefer to go with diet food delivery plans that are convenient and easy to work with, while others prefer more control over what they eat and prefer to do it all by themselves. There area myriad of choices in between those two ends of the spectrum, so it really does come down to what you like and what you need.
The food itself is of great importance regardless of how convenient it is or is not, because if you don’t like what you’re eating, what do you suppose the chances are of you continuing the diet to its successful completion? Pretty low, I would imagine.
Criteria for Dieting Success
On the other hand, there are some simple criteria that will dictate the overall success rate of any particular program. If:
You really enjoy the food you’re eating
It is varied enough to remain interesting
You don’t feel that you need something more after each meal
It is simple to follow
…then you have a great diet that you are in all likelihood going to stay on and lose weight very successfully. There are some other questions you could ask of any potential program before you get started on it, such as:
Is the program one of those that makes great claims that you will lose weight fast? Or, does it claim to work best when taken at a slow and measured pace?
What to Watch For
Fast diets are all well and good and can actually produce some stunning short term results. But the rule of thumb is that the faster you lose the weight, it often means the faster you will put it back when you stop dieting.
Such programs that offer really fast rates of weight reduction should be scrutinized closely before considering them as potential solutions. Claims may be over inflated or simply untrue.
It pays to know and understand what your diet is all about before you decide that it’s right for you and you can learn more about that here: healthydietchoice.com. That way you will at least be giving yourself the chance of succeeding where ignorance of the workings of a diet can be a recipe for disaster!
If you’ve used the internet in the last few months, you’ve surely heard about the dance craze that’s sweeping across the web. It’s called the Harlem shake and originally it started out as a bit of fun, but now it’s changing into something a little more serious. The videos are quite straight forward, there’s a scene somewhere with one person dancing to the Harlem shake with every else ignoring them, then everyone joins in.
As you can see just a bit of fun, but now that is changing and the video craze is being used as a form of protest primarily against political and religious powers. Again the protests started in Tunisia, mainly against the religious conservative like the Salafi’s who are keen to take power in Tunisia. The videos are becoming popular with the young people who are largely secular and know that this sort of expression will deemed immoral and offensive by religious groups like the Salafi’s.
The videos have been set in High Schools, Public Squares and recently outside the Ministry of Education, who had ordered an investigation to a previous protest video. The young people see this as new found freedom of expression and to signal a bit no vote to religious extremism.
The videos are becoming more and more confrontational in Tunisa with people dresssing up as bearded Salafi’s and Emirs in apparent mockery of these sects. Religious conservatives have even been reported to have attacked people setting up these videos and attempting to prevent them being filmed.
For many young people it is another step to their freedom and self expression. Unfortunately for many it also seems that extremism is pushing young people away from religion altogether and towards a completely secular society. The internet is playing a big part with the power of social media, mobile phones in everyone’s pockets and the ability to bypass conservative filters and restrictions. Many of the Tunisian students surf the internet and share these videos via a network of servers across Europe – many use a German proxy server as there are strong laws of anonymity there.
For anyone with an interest in religion and religious history then a new holiday has just been announced that may be of interest. Swan Hellenic have put together a cruise which focuses on the Holy Land and sites which are central to todays major religions.
The cruise itself starts with the Pyramids and the Coptic monastries, these are of course in Egypt. After this the next stop is to Israel to see the holy cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem, the schedule will coincide with Easter. There will be tours to enable the visitors to visit the wailing wall, the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This church marks the site where Jesus was supposed to be crucified.
There are lots of other ports of call, including the Aegean island of Patmos. It is here St John was supposed to have written the Book of Revelation and the Acropolis in Athens. During the cruise there will be a distinguished member of the clergy who will conduct services on Good Friday and the Easter Sunday following.
The cruise is obviously not cheap but seems worthwhile at about £2600. It departs from Aqaba in Jordan then calling in Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Patmos and Piraeus in Greece. The cost does include flights (from the UK) and also all transfers and the excursions. There are other options obviously for those who wish to spend more with some other cabins and suites available. There are also some other guest speakers all with particular areas of expertise, there was no full list available yet though.
Every year Gallup releases a comprehensive survey on American life which includes a section on religion. For many years these figures didn’t flutuate much, perhaps only in relation to population changes more than anything. However since the 1970s there was first registered a section of the American people who when asked about their religion answered either -’no religion’ or simply said ’don’t know’. The famous pollster dubbed these people – the nones – those people who have no religion at all. The number however has been growing and the trend is the biggest riser in all the religions or ’non religions’.
In 2012 the number hit a new high with 17.8 % in the ’none’ group a rise of nearly 3% from 2008. Of course the majority of Americans just over 50% classified themselves as Protestant in these religious surveys. Religion still plays a huge part in the lives of most Americans but there seems to be definite trend forming.
The suggestions by many seem to be that it is a generational change. The later generations of Americans are much less likely to be religious than their parents. The growth in the religiously unaffiliated is rising every year – in fact it is estimated that almost 14% of the population have no real religion which is a huge number for the US. The trend is likely to continue as a large proportion of that number are the younger generations.
Some people have suggested other reasons which might be contributing to this trend away from organised religions. Communication and discussion in the media and online have enabled people to learn and challenge the beliefs of their parents and elders. If you have access to the internet and perhaps a suitable program to give you a fake ip address, you can access content from all across the world. This generation have much more of a chance to make up their own minds about religion without relying on information passed down.
The world could certainly use a liberal dose of faith if it is to endure through troubled times of racial and religious distrust and unease. But faith in what, exactly? Many would naturally say that we should have faith in The Almighty, but to the many different religions around the world, the Supreme Being goes by different names and is revered in different ways. So how are we to have faith?
The philosophical will doubtless trump that idea by telling us that we should have faith in ourselves, because that’s where the seat of all intelligent life is held. Yet even that is not enough when we are contemplating such a vast concept as “faith” and all it entails.
There is a lot of common sense truth in making sure that the well being of the individual is put above all else. That’s because if people are not taking care of themselves, how can they possibly take care of their faith in life and all it has to offer? That means maintaining a good standard of health and a healthy outlook on life.
Being happy is probably one of the most important aspects of life. It’s probably the one positive emotion that can be fully experienced without any need for wealth, possessions, position, fame or accolades as long as the person has their health.
This concept could be followed by the idea that a healthy, happy person ought to be able to feel a greater sense of personal faith in their ability to enjoy their life no matter what it throws at them. This is very different from someone suffering ill health and great pain because of it.
When ill health and pain dominate a person’s existence, it can pull them down, strip them of the many joys that might be had and spiral them into a depression that can be dark, moody and grim. In this state, it can be difficult to have faith in much of anything good or wholesome. Yet some manage to smile despite it all.
A smile can change the whole outlook of a person, no matter how briefly it may occur. There may be times when a smile has to be forced and the mood has to be artificially lifted so that the natural state of things can kick in and allow the genuine emotion to appear through the cracks.
A healthy faith can lift a person out of despair into exhilaration and as the emotion lifts, the physical body responds in kind. It may not be the same for everyone, but that should not stop anyone trying. Giving health a shot and aiming high can bring amazing rewards, as you can find out when you visit http://shotforhealth.com where this and many similar topics are discussed and investigated in some depth
The results of the latest UK census have just been released and they make pretty interesting reading. The most dramatic change is the drop in the Christian population in England and Wales which has fallen by four million. However it is still by far the biggest religion in the UK with 33.2 million people describing themselves as Christian in the census. The second largest religion was Islan with a figure representing just under 5% of the population quite a dramatic rise of nearly 3% from the previous census.
Other major shifts include the number of people describing themselves as ’having no religion’ – the number has risen from 15% to 25%, one in four of the population believe in no religion at all. Presumably many of these have switched allegiance from the Jedi faith who lost the vast majority of their 390,000 followers from 2001!
The findings will come as a blow to the Christian church with the previous Archbishop of Canterbury insisting that the number of church goers was rising every year. The humanists of course have a different view and insist that the christian figure is still exagerrated as a large proportion of people ticking the Christian box – simply do it out of habit and never go to church.
If the figures are to be believed then the trend for the UK is to a non religious society although Christianity still has a powerful presence in this country. The figures will have also been affected by the shift in patterns of immigration – for example the Polish population in the UK has risen ten fold, many of whom are practicing Catholics.
There is lots of information regarding the figure released by the Office for National Statistics. If you want some analysis check out the BBC website where there are some interesting reports and pieces on the figures. The BBC Iplayer programmes are only available if you’re based in the United Kingdom but you can access them elsewhere by using proxies. This site - http://www.proxyusa.com/bbciplayerabroad2012 demonstrates how to use a Proxy/VPN service in order to connect remotely from any country abroad.
Tourism currently makes up 5% of the world’s GDP. This percentage was slightly higher before the big crash of 2008, but it is still represents a significant amount of money. Tourism generates vast sums of money for the host countries as well as airplane companies, travel agents, insurance companies and so on. It is interesting to note that tourism allows people of different faiths to interact.
This happens in two ways. Firstly there are tourists of different faiths that meet while on holiday. For many, the first time they will encounter a Jewish Israeli is when they travel to countries like Thailand, Laos, Argentina and India. For people of other faiths and also for Jewish people living in different countries, it is a great opportunity to try and underatand a group of people who see themslves as fighting for their lives, but that are often vilified in the international media.
The other way that people of different faiths met is when immigrants come to a host country to take advantage of the economic prosperity created by tourism. For example, in Koh Samui the mostly Buddhist local population have a chance to meet Hindus and Muslims from India and Nepal who have come to set up business on the island. This must be interesting for Thai Buddhists because many Thai words are derived from the Indian sanskrit and many Buddhist concepts come from older Hindu ideas.
Moreover, the Muslims from India and elsewhere in Asia have a chance to go to Hua Thanon near Laem Set and speak with the Muslim community that emigrated from the southern Thai Province of Pattani.
It seems unlikely that many of these inter-faiths meetings would happen without the economic might of tourism.
Although the vast majority of Thailand is Theravada Buddhist, it is a country that is mostly tolerant of other religions. 94.6% of the Thai population are Buddhist. 4.6% are Muslim. There are small communities of Sikh and Hindus in some of the cities. The large Chinese ethnic population, although also Buddhist, have introduced ancestor worship to Thailand. Moreover, within Thai culture it seems likely that rituals concerning spirit houses and ghosts probably pre-date the introduction of Buddhism.
It is interesting to note that there has been a Jewish community in Thailand since the Seventeenth Century. The original Jewish commnity in Thailand were from Baghdad. Now the 1,000 or so jews in Thailand are from Russia and Persia. The Russians fleeing the intolerance of Stalin; and the Persians fleeing persecution in Iran in the 1970s and 1980s.
Khao Lak on the Andaman coast is notable for its sizeable communities of Moken or Sea Gypsies. These nomadic people have partly settled in Khao Lak and islands just off the coast. There is one community in the Surin Islands. The Moken has an animist religion, but Thai educators in the Moken villages have been accused of introducing Buddhist statues into the communities to try and convert the Moken.
The religious mix of Khao Lak does not stop there. In the south of Phang-Nga there is Koh Panyi, or the floating island. It is an island composed of bungalows on stilts. the inhabitants also lead isolated lives like the Moken and are Muslim.
On the island of Koh Kho Khao a number of important relics have been unearthed at Thung Tuk. These include a Ganesh statue that attests to the importance of Hinduism in the histroy of the region. Nearby at Taku Pa there is a stone next to a Vishnu statue with Indian Tamil writing.
In some respects Khao Lak and Phang-Nga is a microcosm of the religious diversity present once you scratch under the surface of Thai culture.
Where does the idea that cleanliness is next to Godliness come from? If you look back through literature, you’ll see many instances where the ’bad guys’ are labelled as being dirty or filthy in their appearance. As far back as ancient Greece, a persons lack of cleanliness was used to mark the out as inhumane or alien. I believe a lot of this prejudice came directly from the authors who saw themselves as the polar opposite of these unspeakable creatures.
Over time it became an easy way to distinguish between the haves and the have nots. Those who held all the power and wealth enjoyed nothing more than to pour scorn on the peasants whose only way to survive involved getting dirty in order to scratch out a living. Throughout hundreds of years, cleanliness has become a marker of worth and has ascribed social status on those with power – and the church has always been populated by the world’s most powerful.
As archaic as all this may sound, it continues to spill over into modern day life and we still all suffer from subliminal messages the cleanliness is good. It’s might be why we buy so much soap and deodorant, and it’s undoubtedly why you’re searching for the best electric shaver you can find. It might seem difficult to believe, but one reason we all like to groom ourselves the best we can is because it is ingrained in our psyche to do so.
Voting is a privilege. So with the electoral campaigns in full swing you need to ensure that every vote that is cast on the ballot counts. To express support and preference over one option to the other – this is the ultimate exercise of the right to freedom of choice. To protect voters rights, voting is done with the utmost privacy – referred to as a “secret ballot” – to ensure certain anonymity so that the voter will be at ease with expressing his or her political opinion.
In many countries people do not have the right to vote. All Americans of faith should thus treasure this right and exercise it at every opportunig. As a voter, here are some of the things that you should do:
Research The Candidates
Gather sufficient political information that is credible and objective so that you’ll be able to make an informed vote. A basic understanding of the candidates’ electoral platforms and philosophy will be of great help.
Register To Vote
Information on voting precincts and voter information is now made available online. So before you go to the precinct polls, make sure that your name is listed on the electoral roles so that on voting day you do not run into any paperwork issues.
Know Where and How To Vote
It’s always important to know where you’re going to on the big day. Always bring a valid ID with photo in case the voting officials wish to see it.
The most important thing is that you go to the voting precinct ready to vote and do your civic duty. Follow your heart and do not let others influence your voting decisions.
Thailand is a country that is 95% Theravada Buddhist. Buddhism became the official state religion of Thailand in the Thirteenth Century AD with the establishment of the Thai Kingdom of Sukhothai. One of the most common sites in Thailand is to see Buddhidt monks in orange robes walking around. In the morning it is possible to see the monks go from shop to shop with a bowl collecting food contributions. It is still the tradition for every young male to spend at least a week (it used to be months) living as a monk so as to accrue good karma for his parents. On the surface, Thailand appears to be a very Buddhist country.
However, the Buddhist beliefs of Thailand are very much mixed up with Chinese religious and folk ideas. 15% of the Thai population claim mixed Thai and Chinese ancestry. The prevalence of spirit houses to appease and worship the dead are an example of the Chinese influence on Thai religious belief. Throughout Thailand it is possible to find Chinese temples. There are notable Chinese temples in Nathon in Koh Samui and on the neighboring island of Koh Phangan on the road between Thongsala and Chaloklum. Since these temples also celebrate the Buddha there seems little contradiction in attending both traditional Thai wats with sharply slanting roofs and Chinese temples decorated with colorful dragon motifs.
On the same island of Koh Phangan there is a small community of muslims centered around the popular holiday area of Ban Tai. Some still wear white caps to denote their religion, most don’t. It seems unlikely that many of the Thai people in these isolated muslim communities speak Arabic or worship in Arabic.
The situation is different in the southern most states of Thailand – Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani. Here there is a large Malay community who want to separate from Thailand and align themselves with muslim Malaysia over the border. There is an on-going insurgency with an escalating death toll. Neither the hardline approach of the ousted Thaksin government or the conciliatory approach of the Democrat lead Abhisit Vejjajiva government has managed to bring peace to the region.
Religious differences are of pressing concern in the south of Thailand. For the tourist to the south of Thailand it may seem like a peaceful and idyllic area, but at the same time religious strife has caused division and loss of life.