Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ending and Beginning Again...or...Their Aim Was True

On June 30th, Israel learned the news it had been dreading. For 18 days we were consumed...please God, bring them home...at least two...at least one. Please God, don't let us lose all three. We can't bear to see the families suffer more; those precious mothers and fathers who continue to offer us hope and courage and faith; who demand that we hold on and be optimistic.

And then, on that day, word began to leak out...it's bad. Very bad...as bad and as horrible as it gets. The next day, there were the funerals...and shortly after that...the war began.

We are waiting now - waiting to see what happens on Rosh Hashana. The boys' deaths helped uncover a plan to launch a massive attack on Rosh Hashana - hundreds likely would have died, been injured...we can only imagine the damage that could have taken place as Jews gathered in synagogues across the country.

Instead, the tunnels have been destroyed - it not all, than most. Hundreds of Hamas operatives (terrorists and killers) are dead and we enter this new year with hope and faith. And as we do, the news comes that our soldiers have tracked down the killers of the three boys. Justice has been done.

There will still be a trial but the trial is taking place at this moment in the Courts of Heaven.

On June 30th, in anger and anguish, I wrote of the deepest of pain:
I thought of so many messages as I drove back from Nof Ayalon tonight. 

The first was to the killers - congratulations, I wanted to tell them. You successfully murdered three children. What brave men you are, what heroes you are. Your mothers are proud of you...and perhaps for that I pity you most. With mothers like that, no wonder you grew into the twisted animals you are. 

They think you are heroes; they think you are brave. It doesn't really take much bravery to murder three children, but never mind...you'll have to be very brave now because the most successful and brave men, the real heroes in this world, our sons, will be hunting you now.
You won't last long. It may take a week, a few weeks, it might even take months. You'll live these last days, weeks, or months hiding like the sniveling cowards you are. 

There will be true justice. Perhaps it will take 18 days before you are caught, one day for each of the days you made these families and these nations suffer. But whether man's justice takes days or weeks or months or years, God's justice is eternal. When you meet God; then you will understand. Then and only then, will you pay the price for what you have done. Gilad, Naftali and Eyal are with God now, in a better place, loved and cherished...your future, God knows.

I hope, I pray, I beg our soldiers to kill you in the firefight that will come.

And so the next message is to Israel's soldiers. Please, please find a way. I don't care what the world says now - let them die. We have no death penalty in Israel; the only one we have ever put to death in 66 years is Adolf Eichmann for crimes against the Jewish people.

So please, find a way, this time, let them die. Don't bring them to "justice", to Israel's courts. They'll be convicted and sentenced to life in prison - where their wives will come visit and they'll breed more children in hate. They'll study in prison and get a university degree and they'll watch the World Cup. And then some stupid Israeli leader will release them for another kidnapped victim...or worse, the bodies of the kidnapped victims. 

In those seconds when the battle rages, may your aim be true. The world will condemn us no matter what we do - better they condemn us for the deaths of these murderers, than they condemn us for throwing them in jail and then when the murderers declare a hunger strike, demand that we release them. In those seconds, when you have them in range, end it. For Naftali. For Eyal. For Gilad. For their mothers. For Israel. End it.
And this is what they did - with the help of the terrorists themselves who opened fire when they were surrounded; who gave our soldiers no choice which was, ultimately, the best choice of all. Their aim was true. They ended it. For Naftali. For Eyal. For Gilad. For their mothers. For all of Israel.
And the final message is to the Israeli government. We are watching you. We need to believe in you now. You know the anger and the pain of Jewish blood being taken this way. Act now. Do something - stop this from happening again.
This remains my final message, my final challenge. There is no more we can do for the three boys, other than to hold on to the love and the unity that in their deaths was born. But in their memory, our government can pledge that no one will ever thing Jewish blood is cheap again. We promised we would hunt them down...and we did. For this ending, there is a new beginning - a new year.

May the memory of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali always be blessed; may their families know no more sorrow, and more, may they know our gratitude. In their grace, with their faith, they led us through what was, without question, the worst moments of their lives. May they go from strength to strength with our love.

The Roller Coaster Falls

Cruising along today, busy and happy...and now I just felt my stomach fall. It's probably nothing...or it could be everything. It depends on the whim of an evil dictator in Syria; it depends on the madness of mad men. So close to the holidays, I think, who needs this. Why now?

This morning, a Syrian jet crossed into Israeli territory on its way to bomb Syrian rebels...Israel's early warning system was alerted and the jet was shot down by a Patriot missile. You have seconds to decide the potential threat coming at you - this morning, Israel's fighters or computers or something decided the threat was real and had to be challenged. It was...

Now what?

It could be nothing - they're involved in a war in Syria. Maybe they won't notice? That was a joke.

But maybe they'll decide war with Israel over one jet that flew over our territory is not advisable. Or, they could decide what a perfect opportunity to try to divert the world's attention.

I don't know - all I know is that I was cruising along on the roller coaster heading happily to holidays and family time and cooking and friends...and then suddenly there was nothing below the rudders and the roller coaster began to descend.

Counting your Blessings - Day 18

No time to write today - busy at work with a client...

Oh wait - there it is - today's blessing. Work.

It is a blessing to have the means to purchase what your family needs; to have a purpose and to accomplish something. Family is everything; work is just an added bonus.

As a technical writer, I am especially blessed because almost on a daily basis, I get to see and learn and help spread the news of some amazing innovations that regularly come out of Israel. Medical devices that save lives...or at least make them easier to live. Fun things that enrich and entertain. Complicated technical things that make everything more efficient, more effective.

Even when it is boring - it isn't because we get to sit with wonderful engineers and developers - some here in Israel, others in far off lands. I came in to work early this morning, feeling the pressure to finish my work and get home early so I can begin cooking for the holidays. Others came in and I heard the sound of typing or conversations in the distance.

And then I sneezed. "Good morning, Paula!" someone called out.

I laughed. "How did you know it was me?"

And so began a short conversation with one of the women in the QA department (Quality Assurance). I love working here - they are hammering away and three separate cranes are all in movement outside my window.

So today's blessing on this very busy day...is work.

May the coming year bless you with all the work you need...and leave you time to cherish all that your work enables you to buy.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Counting your Blessings - Day 17

God gives us one day each year to mark our progress. Michali just celebrated her first birthday - it's amazing what she's accomplished - she's learned to smile, to roll over, to sit, to crawl, to walk, even to begin to talk. She actually even has begun to learn sign language. That's all in one  year.

For the rest of us, the change from year to year is so much less pronounced. Our hair grows a bit grayer, our eyesight gets a bit worse...no wait, that's too far down the road...so let's back up...

Last night, Amira's husband Haim scheduled a surprise birthday party for her - he bought the most amazing cake. His brother and sisters came to decorate the apartment with balloons and we got there early enough that Aliza could help too. Amira walked in after a successful shopping spree with her mother-in-law and was very happy and surprised.

So, today's blessing is the concept of a birthday, of celebrating the moment you came to this world, bringing joy to everyone else...and so, in the years that follow, all those who feel that love, look for ways to return the appreciation and love right back. It is a uniquely human thing - remembering the day, even the hour and the moment we are born. We spend our lives measuring the years...all starting from that day.

Beyond the balloons and the cake - is the laughter, the song, and the love that go along with it. For many years, we had two birthdays in September - Amira and Lazer - last year, Michal joined us in September as well - a triple-blessed month.

We celebrate at least the Hebrew birthdays and sometimes the English - this year, we seem to be celebrating both - in a few days, we'll celebrate Amira's Hebrew birthday, and then Michal's - and the cycle of birthdays will begin again.

Because it only comes once a year, the concept of a birthday celebration is one blessing we sometimes overlook and that's a shame. Birth is an incredible experience for the parents...even if it is the child that forever celebrates the day.

I often teased my kids that they should be wishing me a happy birthday since it was on this day that I gave birth - some years, I even got them to do it!

If you have a birthday - stop and think of what the year has given you - what blessings you have received, what miracles you have witnessed. My birthday doesn't come for another few months but already I know that this past year will be a year I am unlikely to forget - just over a year ago, I had my operation - months of physical therapy have returned me to almost the same mobility I had before I fell. This year, I was in a terrible car accident - the car was totaled, and I walked away with such gratitude.

This year, I was granted a beautiful granddaughter - and a chance to watch my grandson grow out of his baby years and into this amazingly bright little boy. Oh, it hasn't been all good  - war on the national front and war on the personal front have left their mark and a deep sadness inside that I fight all the time but I'm grateful for the concept of a marker each year.

A birthday ago...where were you? Where are you now? Where are you going? Without a birthday, how would you remember the milestones that come with age?

I met my future husband at 17; our first date was on my 18th birthday. We married when I was 22...and on it goes - a lifetime measured each year by the simplest of days - the first we each spend on this earth.

Happy birthday little Michali; happy birthday my beautiful Amira.

And thank you God - for birthdays...today's blessing.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Counting Your Blessings - Day 16

Sunday morning is reality time in Israel - it's back to work, back to school. It's the farthest morning from Saturday, the longest stretch before the next Sabbath comes. It's a lot to survive till the next island of peace.

But Sunday brings the added blessing, the promise of a week in which to accomplish so much. What you didn't finish last week, you'll try to do this week. Maybe this will be the week...if it wasn't last week.

Sunday in Israel is a promise that time continues, even if your heart aches. Right now my heart is aching a lot. But it's sunny and bright in Israel; I have a lot to do this week - and Wednesday night begins the holiday of Rosh Hashana - the beginning of a new year.

So today is doubly special - a new week in which a new year begins. This past Shabbat was the last one for the Jewish year. 5774 is about to end...so Shabbat was about endings - but Sunday is about beginning...so today's blessing is just that - thank you, God for Sundays.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Count Your Blessing - Day 15

Shabbat is a blessing in and of itself - brought each week as a measure of sanity and peace. I could easily pick Shabbat as the same blessing each week, but within that one blessing are so many others.

One of them is the blessing of food. All the rest of the week, we eat and run, run and eat. Shabbat is the one time we make a point of not eating and running. Meals are long and begin and end with blessings. We start with Kiddush, the blessing over the wine (in our case, grape juice because we are so not drinkers).

Each week, I bake challah - beautifully shaped and so delicious. It's sweet, and soft and we heat it up so it is warm too. My husband loves soup - and so that too is part of our weekly meal - many weeks we have fish; this week we had mushroom blintzes with mushroom sauce first.

It doesn't really matter what the food is - it is a blessing nonetheless. So today's blessing is as simple as that. Food.

Yes, food offers the nutrition that we need to survive - but it is so much more. It touches so many of our senses - smell and sight - even touch. It brings pleasure to your heart when you eat a full meal but more when you see your family eat and enjoy the food you have prepared.

Elie "fights" over the end of the potato casserole (kugel) that I make each week. If anyone gets to it before him, "Who ate my piece?"

Last week, Lazer got there first - no problem, Elie turned the Pyrex dish around and carved out the other corner end of it. Davidi loves wings - no matter how many I make, he always wants more. Little Michali loves the squash in the soup...and the turkey.

Aliza was at her school for this Shabbat. She came home to tell me the food was TERRIBLE...and then had a bowl of soup that I'd left warm for her. Food is not the answer to all things; can't achieve world peace and all that but sometimes, it's a simple and easy way to sit down and enjoy time with your family.

So yes, blessings for the nutrition, but also for the simply pleasures of smell and taste...and time.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Truth About Gaza Casualties

Count Your Blessings - Day 14

Today's blessing is my granddaughter - whose first birthday is today.

She is sweet and adorable. She's cuddly and cute. She has started to walk and even say a few words - Mama, Abba, and Bamba - the Israeli peanut butter treat on which most Israeli children are raised.

Beyond the simple marvel of a child, and a granddaughter at that, is the miracle of turning a young man into a father. I watch Elie cuddle her, feed her, comfort her, change her. There is nothing he hesitates to do - he is protective, gentle - in short, Elie with another whole side to him.

He is teaching her to say thank you by handing her food and then telling her "thank you."

One of the most amazing blessings in life is the gift of a child. From the minute they are born, they hold in their hearts the ability to create you anew, as Michali has recreated Elie and as I'm sure my children recreated me; and they have the power to destroy you a billion times over.

They destroy you the first time they tell you they hate you; they destroy you just a little the first time they manage something completely on their own and you know they don't really need you quite so much. They destroy a little piece of you when they become taller and stronger and when they begin to think it is their job to take care of you; and they destroy you a lot when they are angry at you.

Grandchildren recreate you as grandparents, let you marvel at how they have recreated your children. It's only a bit over 3 years since I became a grandparent - first to Amira's son and now to Elie's daughter. Too soon to know if a grandchild can destroy you too. So far, it's been easy.

Each time you see them, the world becomes brighter with the simple movement of their arms spreading out to reach for you. Happy birthday, Michali - we love you SO much!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

In the Merit of Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal

There are no words I can add to this video...except maybe one...Amen

Count Your Blessings - Day 13

Yesterday, I took the bus to work. That freed me to look around, rather than at the road. I got on the bus later than most, was fortunate to get a seat so I can't complain that the seat I got was facing the rear of the bus. I was especially blessed because just sitting there as we drove out of Maale Adumim, circled the access ramp to the main highway, and then climbed up to and in to Jerusalem, I identified, I felt - three separate blessings. So here they are:

Maale Adumim - the city is so beautiful and I love it very much. It sits there perched high on the mountains to the east of Jerusalem and it is a wonderful place to live. I was struck again by its beauty as I watched it grow smaller in the distance. To live in a place you love, is truly a blessing and so I am blessed many times over. I love the house we bought several years ago; I love the neighborhood in which I live. I love the city I came to live in a bit less than 15 years ago, and I love beyond words the country in which I live.

As far as places go, you can't get much more blessed than that.

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