Friday, July 30, 2004


I'm persona non grata on Roni Yeshurun's Tzfat website because I tell the truth about Tzfat, but Arabs from the Emirates are welcome to stay in his guesthouse.  Go to the site that zev recommends. Notice that Roni Yeshurun hasn't a clue as to why anyone might be appalled and considers the site "free advertising".  
Guess he likes rich Arabs, security compromise and all, better than poor Jews. 
The idea that Arabs from the Emirates would come to Tzfat is beyond preposterous, but the fact that he welcomes their custom, in a city that fought tooth and nail and almost fell into Arab hands, is appalling.  Anything for a buck.
Yes, there are Jews who sold their Souls for the price of a night's stay in a guesthouse or a cocktail in a nightclub in Tzfat - lots of them, and they'd like to bring back the "heyday" in Tzfat when serious money was made on chilul HaShem.

Yes, there are Jews in Tzfat who would compromise Tzfat's present security and desecrate the memory of those who fell in battle here to liberate the town from Arab hands just to make a buck. 
The most galling part of it is if you will check out the ads for the Klezmer festival they use the religious atmosphere and history of Tzfat as a hook.  
Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan,
Reporting it like it is live from Tzfat


You can catch the blank spaces on:
Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Proud Resident of Tzfat

Thursday, July 29, 2004



I don't know how long this will continue to be posted where it was put on:

you will find a number of critical essays and satires that Doreen wrote about Tzfat in Hebrew. Search דורין דותן where it says שם יוצר.Those who want proofs of Doreen's contentions regarding Tzfat have to do no more than read the local papers.It is not for naught that journalists were interested in doing a national expose on this town, davka.
Make it a special point to speak to Yoram Omer, the Editor in Chief of HaZ'man.  The powers that be in town tried to close down his paper because he dared to tell the truth in exposes.
Plonit: Do consult with your dictionary before posting. Among the other, less serious but nonetheless embarrassing errors in your post, is your use of the words "dialect" and "expository", both of which are wholly non sequitur in their respective contexts. The terms you are clumsily grappling for are diatribe and inflammatory. Peoples' ability to discern meanings in words speaks volumes about their ability to discern moral distinctions. The two cognitive abilities derive from the same provenance.
Simply put: What the powerful in Tzfat are doing to the residents of the town is wrong, not Doreen's letting it be publically known. The people suffering the most are those who are the least able to defend themselves or reach the outside world with their plight. One of the most spiritually/morally excrutiatingly painful phenomena in this town is the fact that the religious who live here and those who identify with the town have their moral priorities bass ackwards.Another is the fact that the efforts of the best-intentioned are  thwarted by intimidation and economic sanction.Still another is the fact that the town is not poor incidentally, but rather as the result of heartlessness and foolishness on the part of those who are in control and spinelessness on the part of the residents who are afraid to go to bat for others - a basic Jewish injuction.
Almonit, this town will break your heart. No matter what you have been through before, this town will break your heart, because this is supposed to be a center of Torah. What "spirituality" do you imagine there is in a town in which widows and orphans who live in the slums and and have had their water and electricity turned off for lack of payment in winter because the National Insurance payment was cut for single parents by 1/3, are the *despised* objects of derision and butt of cruel jokes in the Old City where people live in the lap of luxury and imagine themselves to be "spiritual", "beautiful" people, somehow superior to the people in "those neighborhoods" and hate someone like Doreen Dotan who lives in the slums with those who have been systematically *povertized* by the rich and powerful in Tzfat and who tells the nitty gritty truth about this town?

Sunday, July 25, 2004

It Didn't Take Long To Find Another Reason

If you can read Hebrew get a hold of the 23/7/04 edition of חשיפה לצפון and read the article entitled  תנו לאנשים טובים  באמצע הדרך  להמשיך לצעוד.
The address of the paper is:
מערכת: ת"ד 1413
Their e-mail address is:
The article relates the story of Dina Shamir a woman who had the temerity to be lovely, elegant, educated, energetic, caring, successful in her own career and succeed at helping others, as well as organizing wholesome activities for the youth of Tzfat.  How dare she??? The youth of Tzfat should be sitting in bus stops smoking whatever for lack of anything else to do! Everyone knows this hard and fast rule and kowtows to it.
Has she no loyalty to the powers that be in Tzfat??? She should know better! She was born and raised here into a family with long roots in the town. Sedition! She'll be run out of town on a pole and rightfully so!
Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Well, Let's Start At The End

I received the following message from the webmaster of yesterday. 

 You are permanently banned from taking part in the forum. THIS IS FINAL AND IRREVERSIBLE.
Roni (Roni Yeshurun, Owner of
He "moderated" some of my posts on the thread entitled "Safed Municipality TV Expose", which was started by another contributor.  Here are the posts he didn't think it judicious that the public know about.
There is a long an unhappy history to this closure and as time goes on I will try to make the public understand why.  In the meantime, please feel free to peruse the content of the forum on the site.
If anyone wants the content of my other posts on other threads that he moderated, just ask.
I got suckered into coming to live in Tzfat.  I don't want it to happen to anyone else.

In order to understand the background, please see the thread entitled: "Safed Municipality TV Expose":
Here are the offending posts that the KGB of Tzfat (the webmaster, not the owner, is from and in Russia) moderated.
The owners of are going to learn that there are two things one doesn't do: spit into the wind and try to silence a writer. 
Avinoam11:10 19 Jul 2004
So Doreen, what you are pointing out are the dangers of stereotyping people, right? You feel that the stereotype of residents of disadvantagedneighborhoods is that they are lazy, stupid, incompetent,untrustworthy, etc., which, by your examples, is shown to be totallyfalse.In the same way, your stereotyping of residents of the OldCity/Artist Quarter is that they are greedy, unreliable, rich,unfeeling, and...that they stereotype people like you! Guess what Doreen! I live in the Old City, and I can point to countless examples of people on both sides of the coin who don't fit anyone's stereotype. I know of pony-tailed young men who are much more honest and trustworthy than their comrades in black coats and hats, and I knowof residents of our area who are petty and mean, yet I know of others, the majority, who are hard-working and honest.I happen to know most of the guys who sell trinkets in the Old City,and believe me, they work hard and sit outside in all hours, and inall weather, to sell enough to make a small living. None of them aregetting rich from their little shops -- most barely scrap by. (And NONE of them are open on Shabbat). Stereotyping is always a dangerous thing to do, and usually turns outto be a mistake, often besmirching the names and reputations of thosewhom someone decided to "type-cast".
Leah, in a town like Tsfat, the input and activism of each and every person can make a difference. Come and be a part of our community. Iget the impression that you are not one to sit in your apartmentcomplaining -- you'll be out there, helpig to get things done! And,having worked on a few projects for the betterment of Tsfat and itsresidents, I can promise CAN make a difference for the betterment of the city and its residents!
Doreen Dotan 11:43 19 Jul 2004
Um, Avino'am, what have *you* done to either ameliorate the lives ofthe people in the neighborhoods in the South of Tzfat or to let it beknown that there are some out-of-sight people here?All of those various types you list share one common denominator:they all do nothing to help the poor in this town or even decry theway those who don't make much money are described. Therefore, they do belong to a set that can be described (Did you learn Boolean Algebra?). To state the objective fact that they remain silent in the face of the plight of the poor in this city is not to stereotype them globally, but rather to state an empirical fact about one aspect oftheir behavior that they all share. The fact that some of them may also belong to the set of people who are themselves poor does notobviate their guilt for doing nothing to help the poor. Haven't you studied even the rudiments of logic?
Have you ever taken a personal risk to stand up for the injustices done to the people in the poor neighborhoods or to defend theirreputation against the journalists who love to take pot shots at them? You know that in the "heyday" of Tzfat fortunes were made on Shabbatot and Chagim. You know that there are many who want that back again. The reason why people are making a meager living in Tzfat now isbecause HaShem cursed this city because of the abuse of Torah thatwent on here.
I at least tried to make things better. I got nothing but grief forhaving tried.If you haven't put your butt on the line, then STFU.
This lady Leah (a person weighing coming to Tzfat not knowing what awaits her) sounds like a nice person who thinks that as a result of an expose things are bettered in Israel. She doesn't yet know thatthe exposes in the media are Israel's modern version of the arena, it goes on every day, everyone goes "Oh me. Oh my.", then flips to thesports section or a Tapuzina (artificial fruit drink sold in Israel) commercial. It is cruel of you to lure people to Tzfat with pipe dreams. That is what was done to me. Damn it!!!


Israel: I think most Tzfatim would agree with every word that Avinoam wrote. You tell him in your characteristically insulting manner that his arguments are illogical, yet yours are are a collection of bitter and contradictory statements.

Doreen: You, Israel, are in a state of advanced alpha decay. You are emitting vituperative particles at a prodigious rate. You're not very original, however. Can't you come up with a new insult. "Bitter" is worn out. I am not easily dismissed with epithets such as "bitter" or spurious accusations such as "contradictory". According to the laws of which school of logic have I contradicted myself, sir? Proofs please.
Israel: After 4 centuries of abject poverty and misery for the Jews of Tzfat who survived on charity, the first 3 decades after the establishment of the State saw a tremendous economic revival. It became a thriving little town with a booming tourist trade. Hotels, night-clubs, theaters, concerts and a world-renowned Artists' Colony made this the favorite destination for Israelis and many foreign tourists.
Doreen: This is not Las Vegas and Tzfat did not pretend to offer the attractions of Vegas. The bait used to attract tourists here was the "mystic" flavor of Tzfat. Torah was used to attract people to night clubs. Do you have any idea of the extent of the spiritual/moral havoc wreaked by so doing? There is a pall over this city - a curse. Even a secular journalist had to ask publicly in one of his articles if Tzfat has been cursed. The answer, to my dismay, is "Yes!".
Israel: Even the tiny Orthodox community profited from the prosperity and they certainly didn't voice any objections to commercial establishments being open on Shabbat since none of them were in the Jewish Quarter (this is a fact -- I was here and you weren't).Doreen: I have spoken about the fact that Tzfat has been the center of the pseudo-Kabbalistic trade for 500 years. The Ar"I baffled his students with BS and Cha'im (he claimed to fly through the air with the greatest of ease) Vital lived and taught here. The greatest admixture of truth and lies since the New Testament, to wit: the "Shulchan Arukh" was redacted right here. On the street where you live perhaps? Bad energy.

Israel: When the artists started growing older and Israelis started taking holidays abroad, the tourist trade started dwindling and Haredim started moving in and the tourists came even less. Since the 80's Carmiel and Rosh Pinna and even Hatzor have really taken off while Tzfat has regressed economically, the only growth industry being new Yeshivot and housing for young Haredi couples.
Doreen: I'm glad you mention those other towns. Add Katzrin to the list of lovely places to live. It would be a big mitzvah for religious immigrants to bolster the small religious communities in those settlement.
Israel: You, Doreen, obviously approve of this trend. So how can you possibly complain that highly respected mathematical linguists and poets and numismatic experts are not embraced by the municipality and instantly employed in their fields. How do you expect a little provincial outpost like Tzfat, where half its citizens are exempt from local taxes to provide these obviously talented people with a fitting job? Can you think of a single town of 27,000 inhabitants in the U.S. whose municipality would see it as their responsibility to find appropriate employment for all the thinkers and intellectuals in the community, particularly when most of them would rather study Torah than work ?
Doreen: Is it a sine qua non, then, that one has to be average and wholly undistinguished in character or in aptitude in order to be able to tolerate living in Tzfat? Jews have always supported prodigies of Torah. That support was extended to the highly gifted in other areas. Do you think that it is preferable that today the economy of Tzfat is structured so that the working class keeps about 7 families living in the lap of luxury and the third generation of Amidar (government housing, low-rent, low respect) kids are languishing in my building and others like it? People who get support to learn Torah are ensuring Israel's future. People who convolute the economy for their own interests are parasites. Buzzzz. Swat.

If you are not of the opinion that Talmud Torah is the greatest Human achievement and that all and any resources should be made available to those who sacrifice their entire lives for that endeavor, then I am not in the wrong town, sir. You are in the wrong religion. You sound a whole lot more Wicca-dik than Jewish, actually :0).
Israel: If you can, perhaps Tzfat is really not the place for you.
Doreen: Wrong. Tzfat is not the place for *you*. It is people like you who are contaminating the rarified spiritual nature of Tzfat. Tzfat is a special place, it was probably an Ir Miklat in ancient times, and reacts by becoming violently ill to folks like you. You, and those like you, are responsible for the present state of affairs in Tzfat, not the religious who are trying desperately to go G-d's Will, even as the Rabbinical establishment leads them astray with the superstitious nonsense that was homegrown here in Tzfat 500 years ago.
 Israel: Thankfully, most Tzfatim have a more positive outlook and they really love their town. I know a lot of haves who give as much as they can, and I know a lot of have-nots who are not in the least bitter because it was their choice to live here and to lead a life of Torah and studies. And there are also a lot of secular people here who also love their town because it is pluralistic and not polarized and despite its problems, it is still one of the most beautiful places in Israel.
Doreen: Wrong again (you're on a roll). Most people in Tzfat eat s--t and grin. Hey, I'm not the only one who says so. Don't you read the local papers? There is an inordinately high percentage of masochists in Tzfat. I'm not one of them, so you think I'm "bitter". I'm not bitter. You've eaten so much s--t it tastes like honey to you. Have you every read what the Ramba"m says about the spiritually sick calling the sweet bitter and the bitter sweet? Your taste buds have been distorted. Someone caring enough to tell the truth about this town is sweet, not bitter, fool.
Israel: And there are also a lot of secular people here who also love their town because it is pluralistic and not polarized and despite its problems, it is still one of the most beautiful places in Israel. Doreen: Yeah, right. I especially like the ground-in grunge on Yerushalayim Street. It's fun on the cheap in the winter rains for those of us who can't afford ice-skating. Ah, there's nothing like the aroma of garbage on a fine summer's morn'. And the squishshshsh of the "landmines" the horses and cows leave on the sidewalks. Wiggle your toes boys and girls. This may be the closest you'll ever come to going to sleep-away camp. I suppose that if one is among the approximately 30% of Tzfat residents that are on toke most of the time things do look a whole lot prettier.You know, it was a gift from G-d that I wound up in Ofer. I could be living in the Old City and making the same compromises with my conscience that you are, living in denial.
נפלאות דרכי ה.

Then I wrote:

A Sad Example of My Points:

When I first moved to Tzfat a singularly intelligent and kind young woman, originally from England, lived here. As the story progresses many of you will know to whom I am referring and will know the story I tell is true to the last detail.

Our heroine was a self-taught computer whiz kid at a time when the internet was not commonplace in Tzfat. Being the kind, concerned and gentle person that she is, she sought every means to help others with the benefit of her knowledge. During wartime she used the net to help people whwere in dangerous areas find homes to stay in until the danger passed. She also helped those who needed psycho-social services to find the help they needed via the net.

She came up with a marvelous idea. Her idea was to create a guild of people who would create cottage industries using the net at home. She advertised get-togethers and brought her friends and associates, computer savvy young people all, to come to Tzfat and explain that in the age of the internet the fact that we are far from the center of the country is of no matter at all. Using the computer at home we could reach out and find clients and customers for our various talents, skills and businesses. Forming a guild we could protect one another's interests and aid one another's businesses referring people one to another. People came to her meetings from various walks of life: guesthouse owners from Tzfat and Amirim, my husband Dani'el and I were there as were people who worked in a number of fields. The young, talented, enterprising woman explained that the cost of the start-up businesses would be minimal - the price of a computer and the internet. She would use the benefit of the respect she had in her field and her connections to get the project off the ground.

She went to the Municipality with a very definite plan of how to launch the project. She told them that she had met with people who were very enthused about the idea. She told them that it would cost them next to zilch to help. She told them that she wasn't asking for favors, that she would bear the weight of the project herself. All she wanted was for them to fund a Tzfat web site that would advertise the businesses as they began, and hopefully, became established and flourished. Those were the days of the pillars of Tzfat society Moshe Henia (Former Mayor.  After passing the bar examination the something like 15 criminal files that were opened on him when he was Mayor were closed.) and Me'ir Amar (Remember him? The, greatfully ex- city Manager, the bongo impresario who used to subject foreign delegations to his "concerts" and was summarily dismissed by then Mayor Oded HaMeiri who said, rightfully, that he hadn't so much as hammered a nail since getting his job.). All of her plans fell on deaf ears because the people running Tzfat realized her plans were beyond their ken and couldn't figure out how to get control of it. Yet another brilliant, talented and kind-hearted person in Tzfat was ignored and made to feel worthless.

The upshot of the story is that, being single and unencumbered, she left Tzfat and is now working freelance for computer companies who consider it a privilege to fly her all over the world, at their expense, as a consultant.

If any of you imagine that the people sitting in the municipality have Tzfat's interests at heart, think again. If you think that life is fit for human habitation in a town wherein the municipality actively torpedoes initiative you are living in La La Land.

Enough said on my part. I promised myself I wouldn't waste my energies on Tzfat so long as the townspeople will not help themselves. I have bigger and better investments for my talents and energies.

You lost her talent. You've lost mine too - and the procession out of here of the best and the brightest continues.


If you think I'm exaggerating, or that my opinion is not that of many who live in Tzfat and you can read Hebrew, see the web site of one of our local papers and read about Tzfat for yourself.  See:


Some of my writings in Hebrew that inspired the ire of many can be found on:   Search  דורין דותן on that site.

Some folks get real touchy when you tell them the truth. Ever noticed that?

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel