Monday, August 24, 2015

Summer's End

The last week of August - everyone is rushing to finalize plans for the start of school, enjoy these last days before "reality" returns. It's going to be a lot of changes in our family...

Aliza is starting a new school where she will sleep most nights in a room with three other girls, in an apartment with 11 other girls. She hasn't shared a room with someone for more than a night here or there since she was about 7 years old.

Davidi is back in yeshiva but there's a huge clock ticking down on us...the army is coming back in November...too soon, too fast.

The others are more settled...married...


For us...empty nest has arrived - at least during the week. It comes at you suddenly, or at least it did for us. A chance to be what we were so long ago, to have time to do things together. A movie, a walk, dinner. We haven't had to worry about babysitters for quite a while but still, this is up a level. We can decide on Monday to go away for a night without major considerations.

Summer is ending and a whole new reality is beginning...we got through the summer without a war...here's hoping we can get into and through next summer without one as well.

There are basic currents that we feel here - usually they are internal. We feel tensions building and worry that a war may be coming; something happens and we watch carefully to see where it will end.

This time, the currents seem to come from abroad and Israel seems remarkably stable. Obama is fighting an all out war to get his Iran deal passed. The more desperate his attempts, the sillier the deal appears.

That the Iranians would be given 24 days' notice appears ridiculous enough; but ridiculous has crossed into absurdity with the news that some of the inspections, at least, would be conducted by the Iranians.

Though the outcome of the deal will definitely effect Israel, it is an outside force rather than an inside one. As much as we can do to persuade the world that the Iranians are playing them, laughing at them and utterly humiliating the west, the west alone will choose its destiny. Israel will do what is has to do to survive, that is the single greatest truth in the Iran deal. If that makes some in the west nervous...good.

A second "current' that is sending ripples through Israel is the growing anti-Semitism worldwide. Especially in Europe, but in other places, including the US, as well. Like the Iran deal, we are outsiders and yet we are not. There are few Jews in France who are not worried, wondering and perhaps even planning. The Jews in the United Kingdom are feeling the worry though have yet to internalize the threat.

If the winds of hatred bring these Jews to Israel, we will offer them a home here. Perhaps as we have done in other places, we will have to physically send in planes to bring them.

It's still August here, still hot. No one is feeling the weather change yet, though we know that is now weeks away instead of months. But each summer melts into autumn, each autumn flows into winter. Wars and tension happen here without warning. We made it through the summer and that is something to celebrate. We'll concentrate on getting back - back to school, back to work and let the world continue for a while on its own.

The Iran deal will bring what it will; the rise in anti-Semitism will take its course. Somehow here in Israel, the path seems steadier than usual, calmer than usual. Ultimately, as Ben Gurion said long ago, to be a realist in Israel, you must believe in miracles and so we believe, we wait, we live.

At summer's end...life is good here in Israel, and for those of us blessed to call  this our home, that really is all that matters.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Oh No! Spy Dolphins, Killer Tuna and Enemy Eels!

Thanks to The Israel Project for this one!

Laughing at Hamas

One of the things I love most about Israel is our ability to laugh at ourselves and others. The absurdity of the situation could choke us. Iran is threatening right and left...they want to annihilate us...and the US government is about to hand them $150 BILLION dollars which they know...yes, they KNOW...will be given over in large numbers to arm Hamas and Hezbollah. The very weapons that could literally be used to attack Israel (and even US interests)...will be paid for by the stupidity of the Obama administration.

Israel spends millions of dollars helping other countries in crisis...and then is accused of all sorts of violations of human rights by countries such as Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia. Laugh...or cry...

We choose to laugh...and I love that about us...so, swimming around Israel today:





And this one... a take off on the Biblical phrase "And the sons [children] will return to their borders [meaning their land], this one says, "And the fish will return to their borders" (hat tip to Benji Lovitt again for this one)



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

When A Dolphin is a...Zionist Spy?

You can't make this stuff up...I mean, you can try, but why bother when Hamas does it for you?

We've heard about the Zionist sharks, wolves, squirrels, ravens...and now we have...dolphins.

It all started with several Israeli news sites covering a report that Hamas has claimed to have captured an Israeli spy...a dolphin equipped with camera and other "espionage equipment".

It's really hot and they are really stupid. Put that together and you have a day of jokes led primarily by the infinitely funny Benji Lovitt (www.benjilovitt.com).
Here's a sampling of how Israelis took the news of the Hamas capture...of a dolphin...
  • Earlier today, Hamas captured an Israeli spy dolphin. After several hours of torture, the Zionist animal had only this to say:"AAAK EEEK SQUEAK!!!!"
  • Hamas was water boarding the dolphin trying to make him confess, until they realized he actually liked it.... 
  • 5:00 PM The Zionist spy dolphin ate a tuna.
  • 5:01 PM The UN condemned it for ethnic fish cleansing.
    • Ephraim Gopin adds: 5:07 Rabbanut declares it will not give kosher certificate to fish deemed kosher in Spain. All fish will have to dunk in mikva in Israel first.
    • Ira Wise adds: 5:08 Spain declares all fish forgiven and welcome to return to Spain. Please!
  • SeaWorld's traveling water show has canceled the Zionist spy dolphin's performance in Spain until it clarifies its position on Palestinian statehood.
  • After the capture of the Zionist spy dolphin, the International Red Cross has pressured the Hamas leadership into allowing the animal a phone call to Dr. Doolittle.
  • Following the breaking news of Hamas's newest hostage, the National Football League is denying reports that a team has changed its name to the Miami Zionist Flipper Spies.
  • Liron Kopinsky:"Israel has entered into negotiations to trade one dolphin for 1,257 Hamas frogmen."
  • Dave Bender: IDF Signal Corps officials, speaking off the record, said the mammal's last radio message before the transmitter went dead was "...and thanks for all the fish," accompanied by two tweeted hashtags: "‪#‎freewilly‬!" and "‪#‎SorryCharlie‬." StarKist could not be reached for comment.
And my small contribution defending the Zionist spying dolphin: I don't think he did it on porpoise!

Why Israel Will Never Be Defeated

There's a reason why Israel will never be defeated. It has nothing to do with Obama, obviously. It has nothing to do with 320 American "rabbis" signing to support the Iran Deal using the blood of our children as the ink for their signature. It has nothing to do with our enemies...isn't that amazing?

It has nothing to do with our technological innovation, our ability to discover or invent amazing things like Waze, the latest cancer treatments, telecommunications wonders, and more. Nor does it have anything to do with our political leaders, current, past or future.

There is, honestly, a simple reason and it has existed as long as there has been a Jew alive.

When our enemies gather on the hills above us, when they wage their battles in the United Nations and world courts, it means nothing because what we have, is this...

video

These are soldiers very close to the Gaza border. There is a sect of Jews, a movement, if you will, called Breslovs. Breslov is a place in the Ukraine where Rebbe Nachman lived. He was the great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, a man credited with founding the Hasidic movement.

The Hasidic movement, in its origin, was so different than it is today - then, it was to focus on the joy of living, of song and dance. In too many ways, the modern Hasidic movement has become more like the people against whom Rebbe Nachman of Breslov rebelled.

And so, around the world, and especially in Israel, there are those who want to get back to the simple joy of celebrating who we are. They'll stop in the middle of the street and start dancing...and amazingly enough, others will run up to join them. This will happen in the snow, at the Kotel, in the rain, on a highway and there, close to the Gaza border.

So long as there are Jews who will dance for the sheer pleasure of thanking God for our very existence, for all the blessings He has given to us, Israel will never be destroyed or defeated.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Twenty-Three Years Ago...Today

Twenty-three years ago today, I flew across the ocean with two little boys,
desperate to reach a husband who I had not seen in almost three months, my young daughter that I had not seen in 6 weeks.

It was a calculated plan to get us all to Israel, meeting my husband's requirement that he have work before we move and my daughter's need to learn at least some Hebrew before she entered third grade.

To this day, I cannot tell you if it was the right plan but it worked. We all got to Israel - that was all I wanted, needed.

I was exhausted when I landed, emotional, drained. The boys had been amazing on the flight. I was the only one making aliyah on my flight but the stewardesses knew and treated me like royalty. They asked often if I was okay, if I needed anything. They watched two sleeping boys when I needed to go to the bathroom even though to their Israeli minds that was a ridiculous thing because who could steal them on a plane soaring through the skies?

I was battered and bruised and all I wanted was home. I wanted to leave fear behind - fear of being assaulted as a woman for a few dollars in my pocket (a story of a young mother in New Jersey weeks before...the thief put the young child out of the van and drove off with the mother, eventually killing her for $1.25 that she had with her). I feared darkness. I feared someone would take my children. I craved light.

I landed and climbed down the staircase, holding my sons firmly while others helped me with bags...and all I saw was Israel...my dream...and the sun and the warmth...I nearly fell to the ground just wanting to touch it and believe finally, finally, finally. But I held the boys, climbed on the bus. A man got up, and another, and I was told to sit down. One son sat next to me, another on my lap and I prayed I wouldn't fall apart.

I got through the paperwork, desperate to collect everything and really get out. They stamped, they filled out papers...I waited, I answered questions and pointed to bags and held hands and pushed a loaded cart until there he was. He brought me flowers and held me so tightly, so strongly, I knew he would never let me go again. I held my daughter and promised I'd never leave her again. My husband picked up his sons and hugged them. Finally together after so many weeks; finally home...

We went to a place I had never seen but recognized it for home within seconds. Settled quickly in a beautiful rented house and made friends. My husband worked; I began to work. My children went to school and made friends and began to fight in Hebrew. We added a son and then a daughter; we bought a house and moved. We sold a house and moved. We rented a house and moved. We bought a house and settled.

We "married off" a daughter and two sons and gained three grandchildren. We built a business, became part of an amazing community. We lost, we gained, we live.

Twenty-three years ago - it's like yesterday except so much richer, so much more. I can dream in Hebrew now, buy and sell anything in an ancient yet modern language.

One son has been to war two times; a second was blessed to have avoided war but not danger during his service. In less than 100 days, my third son...the first born here in this land...will enter the army.

There has never been, not for a single second of a single minute of a single hour of a single day of a single week of a single month of a single year...been a time when I regretted, when I wished I had done anything but board that El Al flight...other than to wish I had done it sooner.

There is no other land that is ours; there is no other place that is home. If you fly home over the summer to visit and vacation, your aliyah might not be successful in the end. If you keep one foot there, wherever there is, and one foot here, that other foot will pull you away.

I came as a refugee seeking a land I could call my own. I watch as others come here from lands where Jews are no longer welcome and worse, I watch while other stay in lands that are fast becoming dangerous.

When I turn into myself, as I will do today, I feel such gratitude to my husband for agreeing to leave his family to make my dream come true. I am grateful to God (and my husband) for the priceless gift of five children who have grown into amazing people in this land. And I thank Israel for welcoming me, for being here.

When I was 16 and came on my first trip, I never wanted to leave. I cried buckets of tears and promised I would be back. When I was 20, I listened to a Jewish Federation leader boast that he had been to Israel 23 times and while others were impressed, I was astounded, "that means you left 22 times...how could you possibly have done that?" I asked without thinking.

When I was 33, I landed in Israel, wife, mother to three small children.

A few years ago, my husband and I spent Shabbat in a hotel in Jerusalem. At one point, I went to the bathroom and found three teenage girls sitting in the hall crying. I was concerned and asked if they needed anything and they explained that they were leaving Israel the next day and didn't want to go.

Paraphrased, this is what I said to them...and to every one who does not live in Israel.

Don't worry. Israel is here. Israel will always be here waiting for you. Whenever you need her, whenever you want, she's here. She is a strong land, a beautiful land and always only a flight away.

I took that flight exactly 23 years ago and my life had been enriched every day since.

May God bless the holy land and people of Israel.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Predictions for the Next War

I read an article on Israel National News today, saying that the IDF is developing laser beams to intercept mortar shells like the kind that killed 4-year-old, Daniel Tragerman and it got me thinking.

At this very moment, Hamas is preparing for the next war against Israel and, in all honesty, Israel is also preparing. How they prepare, though, says a lot about the two entities that have gone to war no less than three times in the last 7 years.

What Hamas is doing, as reported in numerous places and even threatened loudly by their own leaders, is increasing their rocket assets, improving their range, perhaps their payload. Hamas is working to develop the tunnel infrastructure that was largely destroyed during Operation Protective Edge.

In short, Hamas is preparing an offensive war hoping to kill as many Israeli soldiers and civilians as possible. What it is not doing, is spending money repairing the infrastructure in Gaza - that, they leave to the naive Europeans and the idiots of UNRWA.

What they are not doing as well, is building any secure places for the people of Gaza, no bomb shelters, no underground safety areas.

And what is Israel doing? We are developing another advanced technological solution to fill in the gap discovered with the Iron Dome system - those mortars that are meant for close to the border with Gaza, where the warning is only a few seconds. All that aside, the sheer cost of firing Iron Dome is intimidating - it didn't stop Israel from using it, but the debt had to be paid.

So, to summarize...

Hamas is preparing for the next war by sharpening its ability to attack Israel. Israel is preparing for the next war by working to develop yet another system to defend its citizens.

Israel. Hamas. Reality - a reality that will be ignored by many...until the next war when once again, there will be disproportional casualties because our people will run to shelter and above their heads, advanced technological weaponry will work to neutralize Hamas rockets...and their people will have nowhere to run, rockets will again be fired from within their communities, from their mosques and hospitals and UNWRA schools.

Israel. Hamas. Reality.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What Do You Do and Feel at Holy Places?

The first time I ever saw the Western Wall in Jerusalem, I was 16 years old, on a youth trip during the summer months, still mourning the sudden loss of my grandfather. He had promised to take me to Israel for the first time and here I was...in Israel without him.

We approached the Western Wall - it is a quite impressive site. It towers above you, golden, strong, ancient...and amazingly peaceful. As I sat on the side, almost afraid to approach the stones that have stood through the millennia, I started to cry.

I know that the Western Wall is also called the Wailing Wall and almost every time I am there, I find people crying, even sobbing. I can't say why I cried that first time or so many times since.

It is a place that reaches into your soul and pulls out your thoughts, your dreams, your sorrows. It heals, it cleanses, it touches. We celebrated each bar mitzvah there. Four out of times, I was there when I was pregnant; each of my three married children have gone there in the early morning of the day they were married. Shmulik had his first military ceremony there...and they handed him a Bible and a gun...each a part of what he was, what he was being asked to defend.

Not once in all the times that I have gone there, a place that is miraculously so close...I feel the place. It is holy.

What too few people understand, is that the Western Wall is holy because of what it is...it is all we have left. It is the retaining wall of the Temple Mount. There, high above, was where our Holy Temples were built...and destroyed.

Though the Temples aren't there now...the place remains the single holiest place in Judaism. Christianity recognized the Temple Mount as holy, as does Islam. As has happened all over Israel, over our holy places, they built theirs. They did this in Hebron, Nablus, Jerusalem, and countless other places. It is their way of conquering, of declaring their supposed superiority, of erasing the past that cannot be erased.

And how do they treat this place in the world we consider more holy than any other? They store weapons there, throw firebombs, play soccer, and throw garbage.

When people - Christians, Jews, even US Congressmen come up to honor the place, they are surrounded, harassed, screamed at.

When people enter a church or a synagogue, they do so with the understanding that they enter the House of God...only in a mosque do you hear of explosives stored, rocks piled, rockets massed. In a church or synagogue, people tend to watch their language, speak a bit more carefully. Here, at the holiest of places, Muslims riot, throw firebombs at police...one Muslim women even BIT a police officer. Have you ever played soccer in church, thrown garbage around a synagogue?

How you treat a place is clearly how you consider it. By this simple standard, the Moslems do not consider the Temple Mount anything but another potential battleground.

Here's a video showing the mess Muslims have made as a protest on the Temple Mount, throwing garbage, screaming...and more.

video







Tuesday, August 11, 2015

When You Need a New Prayer

Prayers are interesting in a many ways. There are the formal prayers we say - many written hundreds...even thousands...of years ago. I often smile when I hear the Torah read and recognize a phrase that has found its way into our daily prayers.

But prayers have always been fluid. Jews believe that all you need in order to allow you to pray to God is...a brain, a voice, a thought. Many years ago, a Russian Jew wanted to leave the Soviet Union and he knew that if they drafted him into the army, the Soviets would never let him leave. When he was called to join, he told them that he could not. They asked him why. He told them that he was crazy.

They laughed at him and said, how do you know you are crazy?

And he answered that he puts a box on his head and a box on his arm every morning. And then he talks to God.

The Soviets looked at him and laughed and said, "a lot of people talk to God." Remember that Communist Russia was a God-less country so religion was something to laugh off. "Yes," answered the Soviet Jew, "but my God answers me."

They figured he was crazy and let him go...God had answered him.

I often speak to God. Sometimes in the formal prayers but more often in the simple words that come from my heart...and God always answers me...though I'll admit that sometimes, the answer is no. I'm still not rich; I still don't own a vacation home in the north; I've never been to Scotland; and I don't have a full time cook and cleaner. But the other stuff...the important stuff...oh yes, God has blessed me over and over and over and over and over again. My sons went through the army, through war and operations, and came home safe. Two are happily married, one blessed with a beautiful daughter. My oldest daughter married the kindest, sweetest of guys, talented, amazing with kids, calm and patient...and they have two sons...each a blessing beyond words.

My husband and I will soon celebrate our 33nd wedding anniversary and with all the ups and downs and moves and kids and life...there is great love between us - each and all, an answer from God.

So, back to prayers. Prayers that were written hundreds of years ago still have a place in our lives, but sometimes, new prayers are needed...a friend, an amazing rabbi in our community has written one that summarizes much of what we ask God for in these difficult days.

He published it here in English. I should ask him for a Hebrew version as well but for now, if you can, consider printing this. Take it to your synagogue, even your Church, this is indeed, a Prayer for these Troubling Times.

With thanks and blessings to Rav Zev Shandalov. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

YNET Failure of EPIC Proportions

Here's the story, hinted to in the original YNET article and then intentionally blurred with their slant and yet, despite their attempts to camouflage it, even a fool can decipher the truth.

An Israeli couple went for a morning run with their dog. They ran along a dirt  path that they regularly use that runs near a neighboring Arab village, which is frequented by Israelis and considered to be relatively safe, and were attacked and stoned. They were threatened with their lives and managed to extract themselves. They did not enter the village; they run this path regularly. This time, they were attacked; the IDF arrived and helped get them away without injury.

That is actually the beginning and end of the story. Until YNET got their hands on it.

The one true line in what they wrote is that the Palestinians admit to throwing stones at the couple.

According to YNET, some of the approximately 250 Arab residents of At-Tuwani saw two Jews running NEAR their village and got suspicious that they were "extremist Jews."

No word on whether these Jews attempted to do anything; no word on whether they were armed. No word on whether they were carrying anything or did anything. No word on what it was about these Jews that signaled "extremism" other than the fact that they were Jews.

What made them suspicious? That they were running and brought along a dog? The Jewish couple's version of the event (Journalism note here: see, you can use a word like "event" rather than story. "Story" suggests fiction, something not necessarily credible.) is presented by YNET as a "slightly different story" but clearly more credible. "The Palestinians admit to throwing rocks at the couple." Well, YNET, does that not suggest your main information source here are violent people who, according to Israeli law could be arrested and thrown in jail by their own confession?

Why would someone bring a dog on an attempted terror attack - wouldn't the dog bark and give away their position? Why would someone run in the middle of a dirt path, blatantly near an Arab village, outnumbered by over 100 to 1 in the full brightness of morning with terror or violence in mind? What made these people extremists?

Since the Arabs admit to violence - unprovoked, clearly, do they not then lose credibility? The answer, clearly, is not in the eyes of YNET. Because there is one word in this article that says it all.

"Settlers."

Two Jewish "settlers" - not people - not a young couple who enjoy exercising together...two SETTLERS took a run near an Arab village which has been, according to YNET, a place where Jews frequent (that's likely a code name for shopping). And this time, they were stoned.

YNET - you failed, yet again, to rise even to the level of mediocre journalism because you were blinded by your hatred of over 500,000 Jews who live in Judea and Samaria. If you excuse and justify the violence of At-Tuwani against two innocent runners and their dog, you have no right to show horror and outrage when the violence reaches your precious doors in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Haifa and elsewhere.

To the Arabs of At-Tuwani, despite the pathetic quality of YNET's reporting, few in Israel are stupid enough to believe your actions were anything but violence against innocent people. Next time, it is hoped, that someone will catch your actions on film and perhaps then, it will be your villagers arrested for extremism because ultimately, those who stone innocent people out for a run are the ones guilty of terror and extremism, not the joggers.

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