Friday, January 30, 2015

Israel's Chief Rabbi: "The work of Jewish educators is more important than the work of the Rabbinate"

Chief Rabbi David Lau with Mayor Avi Roeh
Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Neria, in the settlement of Neria, is one of 15 YBA schools in ‘Yesha’ – Yehuda and Shomron; Israel’s historic heartland – and has been Training Israel’s Future™ since its founding in 2004. The school, serving 280 girls in grades 7-12, meets the need for high-quality Jewish education for girls living in the settlements of the Benjamin region.

Last week, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi David Lau, visited the school accompanied by the mayor of the Benjamin Regional Council, Avi Roeh. In his comments to the students the Chief Rabbi compared Jewish education to an arrow: “You have to aim an arrow carefully before releasing it if you want to hit the bull’s eye,” he said. “So it is with Jewish education early in life; a student has to be given the tools needed to succeed in life after graduation. In many ways, the work of the Jewish teacher is more important than the work of the Rabbinate. The teacher teaches Derech Eretz (the way of the world) and how to learn, which form the basis for continuing a life of Torah study and observance of mitzvot.”

“It is important to remain connected to the Jewish values you are learning here,” Mayor Roeh commented the school’s students, “so that you will go on bring together the Land, the Nation and the Torah of Israel.”

UBA Neria is named after Rabbi Moshe Zvi Neria z”l, the founder of the first Bnei Akiva yeshiva high school in 1940, YBA Kfar Haroeh, and spiritual father of the “kipa sruga” revolution in Israel society. 2015 marks 75 years since the modest beginnings of the YBA educational network, which led to today’s generation of YBA-trained leaders. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Meet CATCH THE JEW author, Tuvia Tenenbom

I'm reading this book now and it is really funny. Tenenbom skewers everyone in the MIddle East, but is especially critical of the PA officials he interviews (as pathological liars), and the extreme Left Israelis who support the PA (as naive hypocrites). I recommend the book; and if you are in NYC on February 23, you may want to meet the author himself at this AFYBA event.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

'Body and Soul' screening in Teaneck and New Brunswick, NJ


You are invited to join AFYBA and ZOA 
for a special screening of 

Body and Soul; The State of the Jewish Nation 

a film by Gloria Z. Greenfield

Tuesday, Feb. 24, 7:45 PM 
at the Teaneck Cinemas
503 Cedar Lane, Teaneck, NJ 

and

Thursday, Feb. 26, 8:00 PM 
at Cong. B'nai Tikvah
New Brunswick, NJ 

Please join us for this important movie that traces the evolution of the relationship between the Jewish People and their homeland over 3,000 years.




Sunday, January 25, 2015

Experiential learning vs classroom learning

Expulsion from Gush Katif, August 2005
Israeli tenth graders were only six years old in 2005, when Israel dismantled the Gush Katif block of settlements in the southern Gaza Strip. They never stepped foot in the Gush Katif region, and few have any recollection at all of the traumatic events surrounding that historic evacuation.

Last week, over 2,700 tenth grade students set out on the fourth annual YBA “Masa Kisufim” (Trek of Yearning) march, to learn about the rise and fall of Jewish settlement in that unique region on the Egyptian border, where greenhouse-based agriculture flourished and prospered for over 35 years. The students toured greenhouses similar to those that were left behind in the Gaza Strip, and heard personal stories from former Gush Katif residents about their lives there and the traumatic expulsion from their homes.

Masa Kisufim March, January 2015
The annual Masa Kisufim march joined two other well-established all-night hikes in YBA’s tradition: to the Galilee village of Beria during the eighth grade to learn about the early years of Zionist settlement in Eretz Yisrael; and to Kibbutz Kfar Etzion during the ninth grade, to learn about Israel’s War of Independence.

Rabbi Beni Nachtailer, Director General of the YBA Educational Network, explained that "the Idea is to teach our students about the history of settlement in Gush Katif in an experiential way - through an all-night hike in the western Negev, near to where those settlements were located. Knowledge gained through experiential learning is hard-wired in our memories, much more than through classroom learning.”


The YBA network regards experiential education activities to be just as valuable as formal classroom education in Training Israel’s Future.™

Friday, January 23, 2015

YBA Givat Shmuel wins prize and praise

We are excited to announce that our YBA yeshiva in Givat Shmuel (near Bar Ilan University) was recently awarded the Ministry of Education’s Citation for Excellence for 2014-15.

From left: YBA Givat Shmuel Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shraga Freuchter,
 Givat Shmuel Mayor Yossi Brodney and Deputy Minister Avi Wortzman
“We are very lucky to have such a fine school as YBA Givat Shmuel in our city,” said Givat Shmuel’s mayor, Yossi Brodney, at a ceremony in city hall recognizing the school. 

Mayor Brodney also had words of praise for the school’s Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shraga Freuchter. “Rabbi Freuchter is one of a kind,” he said, “he instills in his students the values of Zionism and Humanism, love of the Land and love of all Mankind. He simply does incredible work that brings the city much honor and pride.”

YBA Givat Shmuel was originally established in 1976 as a three-year junior high school meant to be a feeder school for students to YBA residential yeshiva high schools around the country. It eventually transitioned into a full six-year junior and senior yeshiva high school in its own right. 

Approximately 100 of the school’s 600 students reside in the dormitory, while the others are bussed daily to and from the yeshiva from cities in the Greater Tel Aviv region. The Yeshiva is renowned for its warm, supportive atmosphere, and the school's scholastic achievements are among the highest in the country.

YBA Givat Shmuel
Beit Midrash Building
Deputy Minister of Education, MK Avi Wortzman credited Rabbi Freuchter for the school’s award: “You are one of the most outstanding educators in Israel; a model to be emulated. You have built an exemplary institution; a trailblazing yeshiva. You and your superb faculty believe in your students, and that is what leads them to grow, flourish and succeed. YBA Givat Shmuel is a leader in volunteerism, ethical values, Torah scholarship, good citizenship, and of course, also high matriculation scores.”


We are grateful to the Ministry of Education and the mayor of Givat Shmuel for expressing what we know to be true: our YBA schools are Training Israel’s Future.™

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

YBA Rosh Yeshiva: “Political tolerance is a fundamental Jewish value.”


Israel is going to the polls on March 17th to elect its representatives to the country’s 20th Knesset. As part of the YBA network’s efforts in Training Israel’s Future™, we encourage our schools to host debates that are purposefully inclusive of multiple political perspectives.

For example, as part of their preparation for the matriculation exams in Civics, the 12th grade classes at YBA Lapid Torat Nachum and its sister school in Modiin, Ulpanat Orot Modiin, hosted a political debate last week on the subject of “Individual Rights vs Societal Rights.”

Panelists MK Elazar Stern and MK Rabbi Eli Dahan
(both graduates of YBA Netiv Meir) 
To make sure all sides of the political spectrum, from Right to Left, would be represented, the students invited Members of Knesset from 4 different political parties to present their views: MK Rabbi Eli Dahan (Bayit Yehudi), MK Moshe Gafni (Torah Judaism), MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua), and MK Dr. Laura Warton (Meretz). The head of ‘Peace Now’ in Israel, Yariv Oppenheimer, was also invited, and the panel was moderated by the students themselves.

The students were also motivated by the desire to increase the public dialogue between differing political camps in the city, so they made the debate a city-wide event by inviting their 12th grade cohorts from the two secular high schools in Modiin.

“The purpose of education is to open one’s mind, not to close it,” commented the school’s Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shmuel Rosenbloom, “We believe that character development includes getting to know and dialogue with other types of citizens who don’t share your outlook or opinions. Political and civil tolerance is a fundamental Jewish value.”

YBA Lapid Torat Nachum Rosh Yeshiva,
Rabbi Shmuel Rosenbloom, introducing the panel members
Approximately one hundred YBA alumni have filled Knesset seats since the founding of the State.  Sixteen YBA graduates were elected to the 19th Knesset in the last national elections held two years ago. It is quite possible that this record number will be surpassed when the vote-counting for the 20th Knesset is completed on March 18.




Friday, January 16, 2015

40% intermarriage rate in France means that 10% of French Olim need conversion services

The growing number of anti-Semitic terror attacks in France has inspired thousands of French Jews to pack up and "make Aliyah." Israel welcomed 7,000 French Olim in 2014 and the country is expecting 10,000 to 15,000 more in 2015.

However, the massive wave of Aliyah from France raises once again the conversion dilemma to the forefront of public discourse in Israel.

According to Prof. Sergio DePergola, an expert in Jewish demography worldwide, the intermarriage rate among French Jews has been around 40% for the past 20-30 years. As a result, The Jewish Agency reports, about 10% of new immigrants from France in 2014 were not Jews according to Jewish law (Halacha).

Rabbi Haim Drukman receiving Israel Prize
from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Rabbi Haim Drukman, the chairman of YBA in Israel and Rosh Yeshiva of YBA Or Etzion, recognized long ago the need to create a user-friendly conversion program for such new immigrants. Back in the early 1990s Rabbi Drukman took the lead and founded the "Ami" (My People) conversion program at his yeshiva  in order to welcome thousands of new immigrants from the former Soviet Union who wished to "join the fold" in a fully Halachic conversion.

Over the years Rabbi Drukman has signed the conversion papers of over 50,000 new immigrants. He was awarded the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement in 2012, which included recognition for his service to Israel as the head of the national conversion authority for the Prime Minister's office.

YBA Or Etzion's Ami conversion program has already sponsored conversion classes for French olim for the past three years, and is in position to take the lead once again for the national effort on behalf of this new wave of Aliyah from France. Just another way that YBA is Training Israel's Future!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Silicon Wadi trainees take off at YBA Beit Shmuel, Hadera


In their book, Start-Up Nation, Saul Singer and Ron Senor credited the Israeli Army, above all other factors, in creating the High Tech Start-Up boom that earned Israel the nickname ‘Silicon Wadi’ (Valley). Israel’s security needs have spawned a large cadre of creative young hi-tech engineers that have collectively raised Israel to a world power to be reckoned with.

But where do those young, flexible problem-solvers come from? Well, for the past four years, from YBA Beit Shmuel in Hadera, among other places. Four years ago, the school redefined itself as a Science and Technology high school, giving boys the option to take AP courses and earn Certified Technician degrees along with their high school matriculation certificates at graduation. This opens the door for them to do their IDF service in the technical fields, where they earn valuable experience leading to a career in Hi-Tech. This is just another example of how YBA schools are Training Israel’s Future. TM

IEC Orot Rabin Power Station, Hadera
(Israel National News)
During the last week in December, the future Hi-Tech engineers of YBA Beit Shmuel were hosted by the Israel Electric Company ‘Orot Rabin’ Power Station in Hadera to learn first-hand how the company is switching over from coal and oil to natural gas to fuel its electricity production. The students were treated to a tour of the station guided by two IEC engineers, Michael Rabinowitz, who immigrated to Israel from the FSU, and Yitzchak Ben-Baruch, an Israel-born son of Ethiopian immigrants.

“During the course of the tour we told the students about the hardships we had to go through on our way to becoming engineers,” said Rabinowitz. “The students could relate to our personal stories. I hope we helped motivate them to continue studying hard to make the most of themselves.”

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

'Settlers' Make Up 16% of New IDF Officers

Their proportion among new company and battalion commanders is 4 times their part in the general population.

By Gil Ronen, Jerusalem Post: January 30, 2014

Efrat soldiers graduate officers' course
IDF Spokesperson's Unit
Residents of Judea and Samaria make up more than 16 percent of the new officers fresh out of the latest courses for company and battalion commanders, according to the IDF's Bamahane magazine.
This proportion is four times the part that the “settlers” make up in the general population.

"Residents of Judea and Samaria understand the complexity of the situation we live in, and the fact that we are still in a form of war,” one of the recent graduates – a resident of Samaria – told the magazine. "When rocks are thrown just two minutes away from your home, and soldiers are standing guard throughout our community, we have no option but to give of ourselves and contribute to security,” he added.

Many of the Jews of Judea and Samaria are religious – so a high proportion of “settlers” also means a high proportion of kippah-wearers.

An article published recently by Amir Oren, military analyst for ultra-leftist Haaretz, complained about the high number of religious people in the security forces, causing a public outcry. "The situation is worst in the Shin Bet,” he wrote, “which has turned into the Kippah Wearers' Service in recent years. The people holding three of the four most senior positions come from a religious background and project support for a world view that opposes a diplomatic solution that involves ceding settlements.”

Minister Uri Orbach of the religious-Zionist Jewish Home [and graduate of YBA Nachal Yizchak, Nechalim] told Galei Yisrael Radio in response that the Haaretz article “reeks of religio-phobia.”


"I used to get mad at that kind of stuff,” he said, “but now I mostly snort in deprecation when I see veteran journalists at the end of their road still trying to wage the battle of 20 or 30 years ago, and prevent talented religious people from reaching key positions and junctions where decisions are made.”

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

President Rivlin: “Israel is ready for a religious IDF Chief of Staff”

For the past 40 years, thousands of graduates of the YBA Educational Network enrolled in one of the many five-year Hesder yeshiva programs that combine Torah study with active duty in various IDF combat units, rather than going directly into the army after high school. 

However, in recent years, a third option has been growing in popularity among our graduates – Pre-IDF Mechina (Preparatory) programs. These 12 or 18-month programs prepare students mentally, physically and spiritually for the rigors of “meaningful and substantial” service in the IDF – code words for elite fighting units and combat officer training.


The result of this trend has been enormous – about 50% of combat officers in the IDF today wear the Bnei Akiva signature ‘kipa sruga’ (knitted kipa). Each year, the three Mechina Programs in the YBA network (Kiryat Malachi, Or Me’Ofir and Machon Yedidya) are actively Training Israel's Future TM by producing over 225 highly motivated IDF recruits.

President of Israel, Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin
During Chanukah, President Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin visited Mechinat Bnei David, the first Mechina program of its kind, located in the Shomron town of Eli, and had this to say about the disproportionately large number of religious officers in the IDF:

Students, let me tell you and repeat it again: you can become platoon commanders, company commanders, battalion commanders, generals and even the Chief of Staff or Israel’s Prime Minister.
In fact, I'm sure that in the not too distant future, a religious Chief of Staff will be appointed. But he won’t be appointed because he is religious, rather because he is the most competent; the most outstanding; the most driven to contribute; the best soldier in the IDF.

As a society, we are ready for a religious Chief of Staff, just as we should be ready for a Druze Chief of Staff. The outgoing Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, put it well when he said, ‘When I appoint officers, I don’t check what they are wearing under their helmet.’

Moreover, I want to tell you that Israel must never check what is under the helmet of its best soldiers; whether or not they have an accent; or what color their skin is.

If some of us fear that Israeli society is not ready for this, I would argue the opposite. In fact, I would demand the opposite! As long as we focus only on the litmus test of competence for the position, we will be able to find and appoint those who are the most talented, the most value-driven and the most motivated by a sense of mission. Thus will our society be enhanced.

This isnt a matter of waiting until the time is right. On the contrary, we must promote nondiscrimination, not just in the security sector, but in all public, economic and social sectors. We must promote individuals completely on the basis of objective criteria, and to act blindly towards extraneous considerations. Only in this way, through the actual practice of nondiscrimination, will Israeli society mature to adulthood.

We cannot demand the blood and sacrifice of different sectors, without allowing them access to leadership positions; to help navigate the ship of State. Every tank crew member must know that one day he will also be able to command.  Every female pilot needs to know that one day she may become the squadron commander. Every outstanding Arab doctor at Hadassah Hospital needs to know that he can one day be appointed to head his department. And every religious government trainee must know that one day he can rise to become the CEO of his ministry.”

Monday, January 5, 2015

The New Israeli Army, by Aron White

Religious Zionist IDF soldiers
In a book released last year, Amos Harel, the army commentator for Haaretz and the author of a number of books on the Israeli military, describes how the Israeli army is changing.  One of the main changes that Harel documents is the army’s increased religiosity, both in terms of its soldiers and its leadership. This drastic change impacts three major issues in Israeli society – the place of the national religious community in Israeli politics, the Haredi draft and the relationship between religious and secular.
The religious shift of the army
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of religious soldiers in the army, particularly in combat units and leadership positions.1 In the infantry division in the year 1990, 2.5% of commanders were graduates of religious high schools. By 2000, this figure had jumped to 15%. By 2007, the number had reached 31.4%. Within the infantry division, the Golani and Givati brigades have even higher percentages that are religious. In 2010, two thirds of the commanders in Givati were religious. The Brigadier General of the entire Givati brigade, Ofer Vinter, is himself also religious. One piece of anecdotal evidence: The author of the study quoted in Harel’s book served in the Shaldag unit in the mid 80s, when the unit had two religious soldiers, both of whom “removed their Kippa” by the time they left the army. When he returned to the unit 18 years later, 40% of the junior commanders and 30% of the senior commanders were religious. A friend of mine in Golani said that if someone were to never have seen Israel, and were to walk into his army base, he would believe that at least half the country is observant. The army is now full of religious soldiers and commanders.
This change can be explained by looking at the internal organisation of the National Religious (Dati Le’umi) community. The National Religious community places a strong emphasis on the land of Israel and the Jewish people, and thus army service is a highly esteemed value. This value was converted into its current position in the army due to a watershed development in 1988. Until 25 years ago, there were two paths National Religious teenagers would take in army service. Yeshivot Hesder (such as Kerem B’Yavneh and Yeshivat Har Etzion) provide a program whereby students would learn Torah for 3 and a half years, and serve in the army for a year and a half. Yeshivot Gevohot (such as Merkaz Harav) provide a framework where one could learn for 5 or more years before serving in the army, often for half a year or so. Students in the Hesder or Yeshiva Gavoha programs usually served in religious-only units, and most importantly, usually serve less than a full three years. In 1988, a new framework, that of the Mechinot, was established. The Mechinot provide a year of religious study for students, who then go on to serve full three years in the army, usually in the same units as everyone else. This framework has significant societal implications – these soldiers from religious communities, educated in an environment that puts great emphasis on army service, now serve for three years, and thus are able to take more senior positions in the army than previously possible. Additionally, these soldiers, who have spent a year preparing emotionally, spiritually and physically for the army are far more prepared and motivated than their peers who are arriving straight from high school – 80% of Mechina students go to combat units, almost double the national average. With the large number of highly motivated religious soldiers serving for three years, the change in leadership of the Israeli army was almost inevitable.
The place of the National Religious in Israeli Politics
The first implication of this shift is the way the National Religious community is perceived in Israeli society. It is common to characterise the pre-State years of Israel and its first three decades as the era of the secular, Kibbutz, socialist vision of Israel. In the early years of the State, continuing through the 80s and 90s, there was a tendency to say that secular socialists built the country. This was the state built by the “Tel Aviv” consensus, while Sephardim and religious minorities had not “earned their stripes” and were residents of a home built by someone else. The Israeli identity was formed by the Ashkenazi secular consensus, and other groups were peripheral to this group.
This culture has gradually broken down in a number of ways. First, of course, was the shock of the 1977 election victory of the right wing traditionalist Menachem Begin. Parts of “Tel Aviv” became embarrassed by the country and institutions they had once been proud of building, as peace with the Palestinians continued to remain elusive. And minorities–Sephardi, religious, and then Russian–began to demand their place in the development of the State.
The National Religious are now a major, if not the primary, demographic force in the Israeli army. 36% of soldiers from Gush Dan serve in combat units as opposed to the 62% of soldiers from Yehuda and Shomron, and 54% from Jerusalem (both National Religious strongholds). Efrat is the city in Israel with the highest percentage of its soldiers in leadership positions – fully 22% of its soldiers achieve Ketzuna (middle level leadership). This has created a growing sense that the National Religious also built this country, and thus a growing confidence in the political sphere. Israel will be a state that was built by Tel Aviv, but is currently being developed by Gush Etzion as well. This development has significant implications for Israeli identity and politics.
The Haredi Draft
The religious nature of the army also affects the Haredi draft. It has become orthodoxy in the Haredi community that the army is a great threat to the religiosity of soldiers, and many outside the Haredi camp begrudgingly agreed that the army was inhospitable to a religious person. Indeed, much of what the Haredim say about the army and the statistics quoted were quite accurate – but for the 80s and 90s.
The recent major shift renders untrue the view of the army as an anti-religious hotbed. The legendary encounter between the Yeshiva student and the anti-religious commander is quickly disappearing. As mentioned above, in some brigades two-thirds of the commanders are religious. (This is combined naturally with the existence of many religious-only units, but that has existed for decades.)
Beyond the issue of the commander, the growth of religious personnel also gives the army bases a more religious feel.2 During the operation in Gaza in 2009, the army newspaper BaMachane reported that soldiers from the Givati unit in the army queued up to receive a personal blessing from the unit’s rabbi, who was holding a Sefer Torah, before entering combat. The central defence building in Tel Aviv, and the General’s headquarters have a sign at the entrance explaining how to avoid activating the electronic sensor that will open the door on Shabbat. On the training base for the Nachal, outside the bathroom, the wall which once contained a list of the types of weapons held by the Syrian army has been replaced by an “Asher Yatzar” card. At an army conference a few years ago, a senior commander caused surprise by talking about the soldiers who are fighting “to protect the holy land of Gaza.” When the largely secular crowd responded angrily to this overt show of religiosity, he was supported by another senior commander. Both commanders in question are themselves not religious.
There are unquestionably issues that still arise, halachic dilemmas that crop up. Certain units may still have individual commanders who are not sensitive to the needs of the religious. But the idea that the army, as a general rule, is anti-religious is simply no longer true. The Haredi discourse must change to match this new situation, and we do not need to accept the claims (which were a little ridiculous to begin with) that service in the army threatens the perpetuation of Orthodox Judaism. As always, there are tracks in the army where one can serve entirely with religious soldiers. The recent development is that the commanders of those units are predominantly not only sensitive to the needs of the religious, but religious themselves. The army has become, and is continually becoming more, conducive to service for the Haredi community. The Haredi community will find it more difficult to excuse itself from service based on last generation’s reasons.
The relationship between religious and secular
The tide has now turned and whereas previously the religious were worried about the army being too secular, the secular are now worried about the army being too religious. There have been instances were army events are perceived as being too religious. This summer, many were surprised when the brigadier general of Givati rallied his troops with the cry of “Shema Yisrael.” In his writing for Haaretz over the years, Harel documented how the Army Rabbinate, under Chief Rabbi Rontzki, was very active in trying to bring secular soldiers closer to religion.3 The important issue of how religious soldiers relate to their non religious comrades, and increasingly, juniors, requires clarification.
But there is one concern that looms larger than these more localized issues. There has always been a fear in the army of religious soldiers because religion provides them with another source of authority– to whom would they listen in a clash between their religion and an army command? The major flash point for this was the removal of settlements in Gaza in 2005. Would rabbis tell their students to refuse orders to remove residents from Gaza? Would they listen? In 2005 there was a huge discussion about this, but in the end, there were relatively few refusals to serve, mainly at junior levels of the army. Many soldiers also came to individual agreements with their commanders, thus averting head-on clashes.
But the fear has not gone away, and the implication of this issue for the two-state solution could be far greater. In the event of a two-state solution, would the religious soldiers take part in a mass removal of settlements in the West Bank – removing hundreds of thousands of people from land, such as Shechem, Kever Rachel, Chevron and Shilo, that is so central to religious people, ? Is it even possible that the army could one day have so many religious soldiers and commanders that the viability of any such operation depends on the participation of the religious soldiers? If it were known that all the religious soldiers and commanders will not participate in such an operation, could the army reach a certain point when a two state solution could actually not viably be pulled off? This situation seems very unlikely – there were numerous Rabbis who called on their students not to refuse orders in 2005, and if there was a threat to the political viability of the country, many more would likely make similar calls. However, the balance between listening to religious teachers and army hierarchy is a crucial tension that must be worked out within the National Religious community.
With its new found hegemony in the army, the National Religious community has many complex issues to discuss. Its relation to the secular majority, both in day-to-day routine as well as in larger political decisions, must be re-analysed and discussed.
Conclusion
The Israeli army is different than it once was ,and the religious are now a significant feature of its makeup. Managed properly, this situation can allow for a more even spread of political power, a window to finally solve the issue of the Haredi draft, and a chance to create a less suspicious relationship between the religious and secular. There is a lot to discuss.



  1. All statistics, unless otherwise mentioned, come from Harel’s book. 
  2. These anecdotes are from Harel’s book.