Monday, September 30, 2013

Thirty Years....Wow

Thirty years ago...wow...


I met him when I was 17 years old...he walked into the room and I remember the very first thing he said to me.


I had heard his name the year before - from my sister, who thought I should meet him...it didn't happen and she flew off to Israel (my dream) to spend her junior year abroad, while I started college.


The minute he said his name, something clicked.

We talked for a long time and within a few months, on my 18th birthday, began dating.
He was so different from anyone else I had ever met. 

There are sides of him in our children - the need to figure things out, the good heart, wanting to help others. 

Thirty years seems like so long when you say the number and it seems like such a short time when you think about how fast the time went.

Shmulik and Naama are at a wedding tonight...a new couple starting out on the journey of a lifetime.


Amira is home with her husband and son;



Elie is home with his wife and their new baby daughter.

Davidi is in school; Aliza upstairs taking a shower.


For the past few months, she has spent hours and hours creating a photo presentation of our lives - it brought us to tears as we sat and watched it.

Look how our babies have grown, look what we have built.


God has blessed us - over and over again - with our children, those born to us and those we have adopted. With three more that have come into our family and now two grandchildren.

I can't think right now beyond this moment.


I started physical therapy on my shoulder today - Lazer has been so helpful and supportive.

He's arranged pillows, helped me reach things, get things, done so much.

Marriage isn't easy - the best things in life aren't.


We don't always get it right but I just have to look at him to know that he's the one for me.

So, congratulations to me and to the wonderful man I married, to our children and our grandchildren. Thirty years...wow.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Shwekey in Hebron...Dedicates song to Gal Koby

I'm not there - I wish I was...but today, there are over 30,000 Jews in our ancient and modern city of Hebron, beside the Cave of the Patriarchs. It is documented in the Bible, perhaps the longest living real estate transaction in history.

Abraham bought the cave as a burial place for his wife; there he was buried. His son Isaac is buried there, as his wife Rebecca. Their son, Yaakov, is buried there...and his wife, Leah. Most years, going to Hebron on the joyous holiday of Sukkot. We have so many holidays that are serious, that brings us to tears...this is one of fun and joy and most Jews just love this holiday.

And each year, tens of thousands of Jews take one of these days and go to Hebron...it is an incredible journey to our forefathers - and they are there waiting for us.

This year, there were tears as Shwekey, a popular and incredibly talented singer came to perform. He dedicated this song, Tateh, Tateh - Father... to Gal Koby, who was murdered in Hebron just two days ago.

Here's the video from Hebron - where Shwekey changed some of the words and it was accompanied by pictures of Gal...below this video - another video with the English translation...



Just part of this amazing song....

This is my home, my request
Where our forefathers rest
For our father, Avraham
Answer us, in the credit or Yitzchak (Isaac) and Yaakov
I beg of You
And in the credit of our mothers
He pours out his soul
To our Father in Heaven,
The anguish of your children knows no end
Reach out to us with Your helping hand
How much more can the people of Israel take
Remember the compassion of our fathers, for our sake

May the memory of Gal Koby be blessed. He was, according to so many, a precious and pure soul. Gal died protecting his people...and the resting place of our forefathers. Today, 30,000 people were there - so many with tears in their eyes...but more, today Avraham and Sarah, Yitzchak and Rivka, Yaakov and Leah and Rachel...all cry for Gal and for our people.

May his blood be avenged and may his killer never have a day of peace for the rest of his miserable life.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Blessings From the Past and To the Future

I went back two years...don't ask me why...and found a post titled The Problem with Taking a Few Days to Think and found the wishes I had posted. I found them interesting, even amusing...so here they are again, with some commentary and updates. Hope you smile...maybe I'll do this again two years from now...we'll see....for now, I wish for you and for me, for your family and mine, for your country and mine, for all of the house of Israel....a good and happy new year.

In the best I wrote...
And looking to the future...I add...
May it be a year of health and prosperity, of happiness and peace.
Amen - it is the most basic of prayers, and the most important.

May it be a year of justice, of security, of truth.
Amen - yes, this too is among the most important.

May our enemies be frustrated and unable to achieve even their most simple plans.
Amen - and haven't they been frustrated in Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran and beyond. Here's hoping it long continues.

May our land be blessed with rain in the coming months and may every child be cherished and safe.
 Amen - oh yes, God, please watch over our land and our children - keep them safe.

May our children not be traumatized, may their nightmares end, their fears diminish. 
Amen - it is the most basic of prayers, and the most important.

May our sons be safe as they make us safe.
Amen
May they be blessed and know that all they do, is so appreciated and returned by our love. 
Amen

May Elie find happiness in the coming year. May Shmulik be blessed in his new marriage.
Amen and more. In the year that followed; Elie married and this week he became a father. Shmulik is so happily married to his beautiful Naama - may they too be blessed with happiness, health, children and always be so wonderful together.
May Davidi grow this year and somehow may peace come so that his army days are safe.
Amen - well, in the last two years, Davidi has grown. He is now taller than Elie and Shmulik. I don't know if he will grow any more and peace does not seem much closer, though his army days draw nearer and nearer...
May my sons know no more war, no more terrorist attacks, no more rockets.
Amen and amen and amen...Please God, no more war, no more attacks. We have lost two beautiful 20 year old boys this week. The world sees them as soldiers, we know them only as our sons.

May Chaim come home - soon! And may Yaakov bring his family home as well.
Oh this is wonderful...wait till I tell you. Chaim came home...and began studying at Bar Ilan University. Yaakov brought his family home this summer and will soon be learning in Haifa. And more, their two sisters came to live in Israel - the oldest just a short distance away from me with her husband and two gorgeous little girls and the youngest to learn and settle here. What blessings we have been given these past two years...

May my daughters - Amira and Aliza, Ariella and Lauren be blessed in the coming year.
Amen - though I'll add here that I probably have to remove Lauren from this list because if I keep calling her my daughter...someone's going to get in trouble now that she's married Elie. As for Ariella, her parents moved to Israel and so I had to un-adopt her - but we still love her and consider her partially ours. Amira has almost finished university; she is a most amazing mother, married to a most amazing man and Aliza, even at the age of 13, defines grace. She is a teenager, but a sweet one and we adore her...even when she complains about her hair!
May the two who have joined our family in marriage know they are in our hearts and may my grandson...just wow...know only love and health and good things.
Amen - may the blessings continue. I have watched my grandson grow...is there any blessing greater than this? He is sweetness and charm and so special. I'm not really allowed to write about him too much but perhaps the "just wow" above still says it all...and now he has a cousin - may my beautiful grandchildren know only love and health and good things...and may I be blessed in two years time, to have to add more names to this.

May it be a year of life for all of the House of Israel and all those who cherish freedom.
Amen

May God bless Israel and those who love her and may we know the glory of our days and of the promises He has made to His people. May God bless the United States of America - and may it continue to light the world.
Amen
And may God grant His eternal justice to the murderers of Asher Palmer and his baby son Yehonatan.
Amen - Asher Palmer and his baby son Yehonatan were murdered by terrorists who threw a huge rock at the car Asher was driving. The rock hit Asher causing the car to go out of control and crash and both he and the baby were killed. His murderers have been brought to justice - but there are others - like the murderer of Gal Koby, who was shot by an Arab sniper yesterday...and others, who still await justice. May God grant His eternal justice to those who have murdered His people.
May this be a cursed year to our enemies and to those not willing to make peace with Israel. May they know the Wrath of the Most Exalted One.
Amen - May God continue to watch over His people and bless us with life.

A Soldier's Daughter

It's a silly title because Elie isn't really a soldier anymore. He is - or will be - when his country needs him and for about a month a year, when the country calls him to train and be prepared.

But mostly, he's a husband, a son, a student, a security guard, a friend, a brother, a grandson, nephew, and cousin. And, a few days ago, he became a father, so I hope, given the name of the blog, he'll forgive me for the silly title...I couldn't resist.

I've been waiting to make this post, trying to decide what and how much. Let's start with the amazing, and the obvious, given the title - Elie and his wife Lauren have a daughter. She is precious and cute and tiny (she was born at the fine weight of 2.8 kilo...it's just she looks so tiny to me). I had a chance to hold her only once - they haven't even come home from the hospital, though I am hoping it will be today.

I can't post pictures - Amira and Haim didn't want pictures of their son on the Internet and with all I hear, I agree. Elie and Lauren feel the same way and I'm proud of their decision. I asked if I could post a picture of the baby's hand...actually, I haven't even seen her hand yet (she was all wrapped up adorably when I got to see and hold her) but that would be the most that I would post. The world can be a terrible place and it is now Elie and Lauren's job to protect their precious child.

When Amira and Haim named their son - they honored both families by taking one name from each side. They honored the Sephardi custom of giving their son the name of one grandfather (still living, B"H) and honored the Ashkenazi custom of giving their son the name of a relative who has passed away - in this case, the baby's grandfather's father.

Months ago, Elie and Lauren asked us for names of relatives. As Amira said recently, there are planners in the world, and scramblers. I'm a scrambler - proudly possessing the ability to shove the broom in the closet and put a smile on my face as the first guest walks through the door. And apparently, Amira has inherited this from me.

Those who plan - as Lauren does (she inherited it from her mother who is, without question, the most organized woman in the world and I'm hoping that with more contact, I'll inherit some of Barbara's amazing abilities because wow, she and Lauren are infinitely organized). They detail, make lists...and generally know what they are doing.

We scramblers...yeah, me...we scramble at the last minute. The wonderful part about being a scrambler is the amazing pressure it puts on you....no wait, that isn't the amazing part...there must be something good about being a scrambler...maybe I'll make that a separate post...

Well, anyway, after the baby was born, we got ourselves together and gave them some names. One of the names has haunted me for 28 years and it was the name they chose to give their daughter.

In 1944, the Germans came to a small town in Hungary and took my mother-in-law's family away...away to Auschwitz and the promise that they would be part of history, part of a great and horrible Holocaust, a final solution to rid the world of the Jewish people.

Among those who were taken, was the youngest sister, Gavriella. While my mother-in-law and her older sister miraculously survived, Gavriella, their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, many cousins, an older brother and his wife, and others...never returned.

When Amira was born, Gavriella's name was the first my mother-in-law mentioned, and then she said we shouldn't use the name. Gavriella died very young and there are those that say you shouldn't name a baby after someone who died young. We honored her request, though I kept thinking that we shouldn't lose Gavriella for the future, that we had to bring her with us.

Others say that while the idea of not naming a child after someone who died young may apply to someone who died of an illness, it does not apply to those who were murdered - b'Kiddush HaShem - in the sanctification of God's name, those who were the innocents, murdered simply for being Jews.

We didn't give Amira the name Gavriella; and by the time Aliza was born...my mother-in-law had passed away and so we gave our baby the name of her grandmother, leaving Gavriella without a namesake, leaving her behind. She has haunted me for so long.

I gave Elie and Lauren several names - a beloved aunt who recently passed away (whose daughter-in-law is expecting and has already promised to give her baby my aunt's name); a few other names we thought of, some we know in English but not in Hebrew. The choice had to be theirs - their baby...but I hoped...

Elie and Lauren gave their daughter two names - one for her grandfather (but I won't post the name here without their permission), and one for Gavriella. The custom to give a child the name of someone who has passed away (or was taken too early) means the name lives on and, to some extent, the person as well. It means pulling that person with us into the next generation, ensuring that they are not forgotten.

The thought that Gavriella's name would disappear in the family has haunted me for a long time and I feel such peace in knowing that her name will now be carried into the future - and more, it will be carried here in Israel, a place she never lived to see.

May God bless Elie and Lauren's daughter - may she grow in love and health in the sunshine of our land. Somewhere in the heavens, Gavriella is smiling down on this little baby and though she was not given the chance to live to adulthood, to grow and have children, this little girl will stand for her. The Nazis are gone, but Gavriella's memory lives on.

A Warm Corner...A Bit of Food...Lots of Love

Israel is an amazing place filled with generous and loving people. Our love has always been extended - to our families and beyond; to our sons and daughters and all our soldiers. This is an amazing effort made by some women in Gush Etzion - they offer honor (and love and comfort) to our soldiers and have turned the tragedy of their loss into an amazing tribute and memorial to their loved ones. I have seen several of these "warm corners." When my sons were in the army, they knew where they were, when they could stop - all soldiers know and are grateful to these wonderful people - here and around the country.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Israeli Special Forces in Nairobi...

There are reports all over the Internet that Israel special forces are involved in the WestGate Mall rescue operation in Nairobi. Part of me wants to bang my head against the wall.


How can it help anyone at this time, while there are still hostages...to tell them about the rescue effort? 

And then there is that devil inside me that couldn't resist. 


I don't know if the Israelis are helping - isn't it wonderful if they are? If the thought that Israel is there frightens the terrorists - good. If it makes them dare, take chances...good.

But what if it makes them more desperate? What if it causes them to fulfill their ultimate martyrdom and aim for those 72 virgins (may they be 72 years old, bald and completely flat-chested)?

If, God forbid this happens - the blame will be on each irresponsible journalist who crossed the line of humanity to catch some stupid scoop.

I know we will find out the truth soon enough. They are there, or they are not. Whatever is happening...it will happen. For now, I fall back on my sense of humor and the hope that the terrorists are so busy trying to avoid capture (may they fail soon) that they are too busy to read CNN and other news channels.

Journalism should be a force to bring truth to the world. Freedom of the press is invaluable, but even so, it should not be allowed to endanger lives. There remain approximately 30 people held hostage in Nairobi - everyone of those lives are even more at risk, thanks to irresponsible journalists. And so my final tweet...



Here's hoping the terrorists listen.

Thanks Due to a First Responder

Last night, I was driving with Elie (as in HE was driving and I was along for the ride). As we were climbing up to Jerusalem, I noticed red lights up ahead - cars were stopping. As it turned out, we were only moments after a bad accident; Elie was the first medic on the scene.

Later we would analyze our thoughts about how the accident happened. What was clear at the time was that the second car had slammed into the first car with enough force as to crush the back of the car into the rear seat - all five of the occupants were injured, as well as some in the second car.

Later, as we discussed it, it seemed likely that the cars were speeding; likely that the first car slammed on his brakes assuming the second car would back off in whatever game they were playing. Obviously, there was a miscalculation on someone's part and the second car slammed into the first, destroying both cars and injuring many of the passengers.

Elie was the first to realize it was a car accident as we approached the red lights and cars began switching lanes to avoid the mess. As others moved to the right to avoid; Elie moved the car far to the left and pulled behind a car, as close as possible to the center divider and went into action.

In seconds, Elie had gotten out of the car, grabbed his emergency vest, and had put a flashing light on the top of his car. The first things I noticed as Elie walked from the car towards the gathering crowd were:

  • At least a dozen, and perhaps as many as 20 men were standing around at least 2 cars.
  • Some of the men were screaming at each other, almost all were clearly upset.
  • A number of men were sitting on the road with their backs against the cement divider; I couldn't tell if there were 3 or 4.
  • As the men were shouting in Arabic, it became clear to me that they were all Arabs. 
Without hesitation, Elie walked into the midst of the Arabs to check on the injured. He was completely surrounded and I was completely terrified. Call it prejudice; call it what you want...a day earlier, the IDF was mobilized in a desperate attempt to locate a missing soldier. He had not returned home and his family was afraid...apparently with due cause.

Tomer Hazan, only 20 years old, was abducted and murdered by an Arab named Nadal Amar. What is particularly upsetting and sadly not surprising, was that Nadal and Tomer worked together at a restaurant and Tomer was not afraid of him. They agreed to share a cab ride home - Amar lived in a village some distance away. The plan was for the two to share a cab to a mutually beneficial point where  from there, Amar would return to his village and Tomer would continue to his parent's house for Shabbat.

Nadal Amar had other ideas. He decided to kidnap Tomer and hold him hostage to demand the release of Amar's brother, a Fatah terrorist. The army tracked Amar to his village, where he admitted that he had murdered Tomer and hidden his body...I guess he never planned to release Tomer, even if Israel had agreed to some trade.

No, I didn't feel calm watching Elie move into that crowd, never mind kneel down on the ground with his back exposed to more than a dozen Arabs. Tomer's murder is yet another reminder that even if you live and work with someone, it is possible that he will feel it proper and acceptable to do you harm...at least according to Amar and too many others who share his philosophy on life...and death.

Obviously, Elie was well aware of what was happening behind his back; he knew that he was surrounded and the Arabs were close on his back. I was already called on the phone with the ambulance services to report the incident; and as Elie had instructed when he left the car, I told them to also send the police; that my son was a medic and he was alone in a crowd of Arabs who were angry and yelling at each other.

Elie quickly checked the men on the ground, then stood and turned to face the men behind him. From the distance, I could see him arguing with the men...he indicated that he wanted them to back up. Clearly, they weren't listening. I was torn because I knew that this was not a case where my getting out of the car would help the situation and Elie would think me insane if I thought I could do anything to help.

Some of the Arabs started screaming at Elie. I saw him put his hand near his gun, but he never drew his weapon. His message was clear. I watched as Elie turned and came back closer to the car, out of the crowd. The majority of the men stayed with the cars and the injured, a few broke into smaller groups. Elie made a phone call as he approached and then stood talking on the phone for a minute. Then he came to talk to me for a second - all the time, we both were keeping our eyes on the Arabs in front of us.

Elie told me that he had told them to back off and when they didn't, he explained that if they didn't back off, he was not going to help. He is a trained medic, but was there completely as a volunteer.

In a minute, I'll tell you what I was feeling; for now, I'll tell you what happened. Despite being repeatedly told that Elie would not take care of the injured until they moved away and gave him some room, the Arabs refused to back off and continued to yell at Elie and at each other.

I heard Elie tell the Arabs that we had called ambulances and police. When I saw the Arabs yelling at Elie, I called the police again. By this time, Elie was standing near the car explaining to me what the situation was. Two men came forward, again asking Elie to please take care of the wounded, and again, Elie told them to move the crowd away and then he would be happy to help.

I believed that there was a clear and very real chance that there could be violence and Elie was alone out there.

At one point, an Arab shouted that Elie only treats Jews. I was so angry at that comment - it was so unfair. Over more than a decade of volunteering, I believe Elie has helped hundreds of people, perhaps more. A fair and proportional amount of  that number were Arabs. I remember Yaakov and Elie telling me stories of their running to various parts of the Old City to help Arabs in need. The accusation that Elie only treats Jews, that the Magen David Adom organization would allow him to operate as a medic if he did such a thing was as unfair as it was inaccurate.

I was terrified that Elie would give in. Another medic stopped and climbed over the divider and began to check the wounded as Elie had. He too was surrounded; Elie went to him and explained that he thought it was not safe and the medic agreed.

The second medic also told the Arabs to back off - and again, they refused. At that point, the medic spent half his time demanding the Arabs move away and half his time working with the injured. Elie helped a bit, but more stood back a bit as a guard. His gun never left its holster, but I believe his stance was clear.

Around this time, after I had called the police again, begging them to hurry up, I heard the sirens...first a police car, a second one. Then Border Guards. They came in, moving their guns in front of them and I felt so much calmer. Order/normality seemed to be restored and Elie and the medic concentrated on the injured.

To be honest, I wasn't impressed with the police - they failed to move the crowd away. It was the Border Guards that moved people away just as the ambulances began to arrive.

Three ambulances arrived. One of the wounded had a head injury another had something weird with his pulse and Elie and the medic were concentrating on these two. Once the ambulances pulled into place and the crowd was out of the way, things moved very fast. The most injured passenger was quickly loaded into a Magen David (Jewish) ambulance and taken to Hadassah Ein Kerem - a hospital that handles more severe traumas. The most lightly injured was loaded into the Red Crescent (Arab) ambulance; the others were taken by additional Israeli ambulances - all went to Israeli hospitals, where they would be treated by Israeli doctors and nurses (some of whom might be Arabs).

Once Elie saw that things were being taken care of and that there were enough people to see to the wounded, he told them he had to go and the police moved his car so we could leave.

I left the scene torn between anger and frustration. I could see the way this could be twisted by some idiot media - Israeli medic refused to treat Arab injured. And I could see the reality - that this so easily could have escalated into violence with my son in the middle.

Elie felt that the Arabs themselves were seconds away from coming to blows when we arrived and that in some way, our arrival turned their attention back to the wounded. I believe, given the way the Arabs were screaming at each other and based on the threatening way they were moving towards each other, that this estimate was correct.

It amazed me how the Arabs continued to scream at each other, trade information about the accident, etc. while the injured lay there on the side of the road. Once the police and border guards were there, the same Arab that had been yelling at Elie, now helped Elie treat the injured.

Now, many hours later, it still amazes me how they refused to back off and how they dared to harass someone who had stopped voluntarily to help them. It will take me a long time to forget the sight of Elie's hand twisted towards his gun as he argued back.

I was sorry we had stopped to help and at some point, I'll be sorry for the feeling that I was sorry. For now, I return to the simplest of concepts. Much of how we behave is a product of our culture and the society in which we are raised.

I cannot imagine being involved in an accident and being part of a scene such as I saw last night. I cannot imagine not backing away if asked by someone who had stopped to help. They were frustrated that the ambulance had not yet arrived - and yet, why was it that I was the one who reported the accident, long moments after it had happened? Why did they scream at Elie?

According to a friend who works with the police - it took less than 10 minutes for the police and ambulance to arrive - it is, without question, a good 5 minute drive from Maale Adumim, longer from inside Jerusalem.

No, the response time was not unreasonable - though it felt like forever as I watched my son enter a crowd of angry men.

No one thanked Elie for what he had done, for stopping to help others. That was wrong and not normal compared to the society I live
in, the culture in which I raise my children.

Our first responders are amazing - I am sure that most often they are thanked for their time, their effort, their caring. Elie wasn't thanked last night and it is to the shame of those men last night, that not one thought it special that a Jew stopped in the middle of the highway, delayed his plans, to stop and help. Shame on them...

Below is an amazing video of a song written and performed by Dave Carroll, about these "everyday heroes". This video is often in my head (and in my DVD player as I drive to clients) and I thought of it as I was writing this.
When people in the world need savin’
The saviors who answer the call
Don’t get paid anymore for danger
Or get to pick the one’s they want
They just go to where the few will go
To maybe lay it all on the line
Just to do their job, do it one more time

Cause they made a promise and here they come
Someone hurtin’ called 9-1-1
And the siren’s saying hope is on the way
There’s a hero racing to help a stranger today




Israeli Jets Scramble...

Early this morning, the air force scrambled their jets - taking to the skies over Tel Aviv after suspicious movement was detected. You'll smile after you read this - and think it was a costly mistake - the "suspicious movement" was caused by a flock of birds. Israel is the center of the world...okay, let me rephrase.

Israel is at the center of the migration path between Africa and Europe. Each Spring, the birds fly north to Europe and early in the Autumn, they fly south to Africa to pass the cold months in a warmer climate.

The path they take is over Israel and so twice a year, we are treated to the glory of watching countless species of birds flying in countless numbers over our skies. The jets returned to base; the sky belonged to the birds this blessed day. I love the fact that the jets were scrambled for this. It is yet another sign that they are forever on alert, forever watching our skies. No threat is too small to be taken seriously.

Fly safe - I offer this blessing to our amazing sons, our pilots and navigators and those on the ground who watch over them, and to the birds - see you again in the Spring.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It Really Is All in the State of Mind

I read this poem when I was a teenager - my mother probably gave it to me...it is something she would do, something she would believe. Pieces of it are always in my mind - most often when I attempt to do the impossible...

It really is, all in the state of mind. I'm backing to setting somewhat impossible goals for myself...too early but that's what I do. We'll see how it works...success does begin with a fellow's mind - truer words were never written. I had this typed - yes, with an old typewriter and it would float around my room (my sons get their messy tendencies from me) and it would come to the surface of stacks of paper at critical times in my life.

The Internet makes life so much easier - it is only a search away. I didn't know who wrote it - now I do - beyond that...remember...you can. No, not a la Obama with his idiotic "Yes, we can." but more from the heart...yes, I can...

The State of Mind...


If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you'd like to win, but think you can't
It's almost a cinch you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you've lost,
For out in the world we find
Success being with a fellow's will;
It's all in the state of mind.

If you think you're outclassed, you are:
You've got to think high to rise.
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can.
      ― Walter D. Wintle

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Where are my blue eyes?

I haven't much introduced Davidi to you, though I know too soon I will have to. I've shown you glimpses of a young man over the years, mostly as the youngest son, mostly as the boy. He's as different from his brothers as each of them is different from each other. He is, at just under 18, very much a work in progress.

At some point, I thought I would write about him - as I first wrote about Elie 6 years ago. I might still write that post, but for now, I'll tell you another facet of the boy because for all the fact that he's the tallest of my sons, there is an equal portion of boy and man in him. He's right there on that edge...and there I think he'll remain for some time.

Elie tumbled into manhood, perching there on the edge for what seemed only a fraction of a second. The army was a deciding factor but Elie was pushing himself towards that edge before either he or I knew what it was. I remember him going in to the army as a boy and returning too quickly in the comfortable boots of the man he was becoming.

Shmulik tumbled before I was ready - into manhood and matrimony and grew into what he is, as he has lived most of his life, unpretentiously and quietly. His wasn't a tumble, but a quiet stroll, so typical of him. He came last week, sorry that he hasn't been able to stop by more often when I've been awake. He made me scrambled eggs for breakfast, cut up some vegetables, and sat on my bed as we ate together.

And Davidi? I don't know yet how or when, but I know he'll take that step. I don't know if it will be a tumble or a glide or, Davidi being different, yet something else. He's still more boy, and I don't mind it nearly as much as the others. Elie is waiting on the other side, forever impatient with the boy. He wants Davidi to take more responsibility, step up to the plate, if you will and he doesn't understand why it doesn't annoy me more when Davidi forgets to take out the garbage or do what he was asked.

Aliza at 13 remains the tormented younger sister, forever wishing I'd given her three more sisters rather than three brothers. She is firmly, comfortably making her own path and happily a teenager. And Davidi? Despite what Elie sees, more and more, Davidi comes close to that edge, steps up. When Lazer was changing the bandages of my poor shoulder, Davidi stood next to me telling me not to look, holding my hand, and handing his father smaller bandages to replaces the massive one Lazer was removing.

He's helped me remove and replace the immobilizer thing I have on my shoulder and tried to balance precariously on that ledge. He doesn't actually even realize there is a ledge; that there is a moment you are a boy and then a moment you are not.

Last night, after overdoing it yet again, I went to bed hoping painkillers and rest would outshine my need to push myself to the edge and beyond. I can hear Amira saying, "and how'd that work for you?" ...but never mind...back to my point.

So, Davidi came into my room with my laptop computer showing an image I have loved for many years, "What happened to my blue eyes?"

He had taken a digital picture of a printed and framed picture in the living room, and set it to be the new background image on my computer.

I laughed. Elie and Davidi were born with the bluest eyes imaginable. In both cases, they have changed, faded a bit to something closer to gray.

This picture was taken when Davidi was a few months old and as soon as it was printed, I thought - wow, look at the eyes on those boys.

My blue-eyed babies, born into a family that by all statistics should have been only brown. There is so much I could write about Davidi - there is a depth to him that few see.

I'm not in a hurry to talk too much about him yet; I'm keeping him to myself a bit longer. Oh, the day will come when Israel will take him; when I'll bring him here so you'll experience again what it is like from a mother's perspective. He'll become that soldier he is destined to be, wear that uniform. But not yet, not now.

For now, I'll enjoy these months when he is still mine; this time when he can hover on the edge but still be the boy. It will come too soon, that I know. It is always too soon.

For now, his biggest issue is balancing school, his desire to volunteer for the ambulance squad, and his commitment to volunteer in a local youth group as a counselor. I wish he'd pay more attention to school; I wish he'd clean his room. He wants to hang out with his friends and is torn because he knows that I need his help now.

I don't wish that he stays on the cliff between manhood and boyhood forever - I understand enough to know it isn't the most comfortable of places to be. There is a struggle, with each side pulling. I know that; I see it even now.

But as he is my third son traveling this road, I know that he'll eventually complete the journey and I accept, as I couldn't with Elie. I'll stop looking for the boy eventually and accept that he'll still show me glimpses long after the boy goes deeper inside the man.

I'll smile when they look at engine's together; when they laugh and wrestle a bit. I'll rejoice in the times when the boy comes out, knowing each time that it could be weeks, even months until I see him again. For now, I don't miss the boy in Davidi because he's there, just under the surface, and sometimes, still in control. I love that boy...those boys.

Long after Elie and Shmulik had stopped coming to me for hugs, Davidi would still come over. Now, I have to go over and kiss Elie or Shmulik...and I still do - I think I always will. I can still call Davidi to me and demand that kiss before he leaves for school and he won't make a face or smirk.

He doesn't know yet that he doesn't have to give it; that a mother can ask, but not expect. So I'll take these hugs and kisses, the comments that a man would probably not ask.

Where are his blue eyes? They are still blue, but they've grown older, seen more. He has helped save lives. All of 17 years old, he knows that in another year and a bit, he'll join his brothers in serving this country. He's strong, he's tall. He's proud and if I think too long about his being a soldier, I'll probably start to cry.

I'll have to call him David, as the others do but for now, I'll hold on to Davidi - the little boy's name and cherish the fact that he made my laptop's background a picture of himself as a baby...blue eyes and all.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Boys and their Engines?

Our first car when we moved to Israel was actually a company car...it's very common here in Israel and when we moved here, we were amazed to learn that part of that first contract my husband signed with the elevator company where he worked for a number of years - included a car and all the gas we could use. Company cars are great - they break...the company fixes them...

Our second car was a brand new Mitsubishi Superlancer - which was stolen two years later and tracked to a nearby Arab village, where apparently the thieves decided it wasn't worth dismantling for parts. It reached 30,000 kilometers, still looked brand new, and never needed any treatment...hey, it was stolen young it its life and the remark that drove me crazy at the time was from our insurance agent, "yup, Mitsubishi - number one in Israel...number one stolen car!" - Now that honor, I've been told, has been given to Hondas and Subarus...yeah, we've got one of each of those...

Our third car was a 1996 Renault Megane - much loved by many, the army bought thousands of them. It served us well - and each of my older three children has loved and driven it at one point or another. We've had several cars since we bought the Megane - and while my husband and I have moved with the times, the Megane was never worth selling - it's a great car with little resale value. At this point, near the end of its life, Elie has rejuvenated it first with a new transmission and now with a new engine. Shmulik bought himself a gorgeous car...a Mitsubishi actually, and so the Megane went to Elie, to love, to drive, and to fix.

Lazer and Elie drove today to get the car back - new engine and all. For reasons that even a mother can't understand (something about spare parts), Elie asked to keep the old engine. He drove the car home...with the old engine in the trunk and then asked Davidi to help him unload it to store it...um...in my backyard.

 The boys...can I call them boys?...went to unload the very heavy engine from the car. They maneuvered it partially out of the trunk and that's when Elie asked Davidi if he wanted to see the new engine. And so, off they went to the front of the car to look.

And there they stood for several minutes talking about the engine. I didn't understand a word they said but Davidi seemed duly impressed.

There's a scene in Fiddler on the Roof, where Tevye wants to see the new sewing machine his son-in-law has just received. While others were looking at the new baby, Tevye insists on seeing the new sewing machine. I had no idea what he was looking at...only that it was some rite of passage or something - the engine passed inspection...

There is something so special about seeing your sons share together, work together...and then, as Elie was leaving he gathered together a bit of noodles I'd made to take home to his wife. He was about to walk out of the house, when he said, "oh, my things" and then explained, as he put them in his pocket..."my wallet, my keys, my gun."

My gun? Oh well...and as he left, he called out, "thanks, David."

Now, all they have to do is figure out how to get the oil from the old engine off their shoes, their pants, the front steps...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11...and the Bikers

I can’t let the day pass without some reminder, some tribute and yet what words have we not said; what videos have we not seen? What tears have we not shed; what songs and tributes have we not shared? Perhaps we have said it all, shared it all, cried rivers of tears only to realize that the image of that second plane will forever be in our minds. It was that instant that separates the moments before, when some people clung to the absurd idea that someone could accidentally have hit the first tower…with the shocking reality that this time disaster was not averted, the terrorists were not caught in time. Whatever innocence there was before fell away, in that split second. I tried looking for a video that I had never seen...something to post. What I saw brought me to tears...again...still. And then I started hearing about the bikers. New tears - this time of gratitude for their finding a new way.

Fighting Terrorism...

We must continue to fight terrorism...with endurance, with determination, with courage.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Living on the edge of war

How many times over the last seven years have I written that my country is on the edge of war? That the clouds are threatening, the winds blowing in days of worry?

Amira asked me if I think it will happen this time. I asked Elie almost the same thing. I thought the gas masks were on the lower shelf of the small coffee table in the living room...but we moved them in December to the bomb shelter...my husband's tool-room...and I had forgotten that. I was helping Elie (not much help, really) look for a tool to fix his car when I saw one of the boxes...only one.

With my one good arm, I began looking for the others. Elie told me to stop - they would find them later in seconds and I was going to hurt myself. Everyone keeps telling me to stop moving...my left hand itches to move up a couple of inches and take over the left side of the keyboard...this one-handed typing is frustrating for someone who types whole pages in less time than it is now takes me to type a small paragraph.

The one gas mask I pulled out was Aliza's. I found such comfort in having hers at hand. My mind reminds me that we need to buy more bottled water...batteries...crackers.

Will it happen - there's this silly part of me that plays a game with God, as if the world cares what I do; if nations plan troop movements based on my purchases, but as silly as I know it is, I become superstitious. If I don't buy, there will be a war...if I buy, Murphy will laugh and maybe we'll sneak through.

I'm a mature, relatively intelligent adult...and with my right hand I have scribbled my shopping list. I will buy the dumb water because then, maybe...this will be one of those times we all held our breaths for nothing.

What right does Assad have to shoot missiles at Israel if Obama strikes his country? Whatever Obama does, it will be so much less than what Assad himself has done to the Syrian people, to the landscape that was once Syria, to historical sites, now gone, and mosques and churches equally decimated. What does any of this have to do with Israel? When Germany invaded Poland, did Poland threaten Portugal? When the US went to war against North Korea, did North Korea threaten Australia - why the heck did Iraq bomb Israel when the US invaded? Why is Syria threatening us now?

If there is one great truth in the Arab world...it is that you do not back down, not in the interests of peace, not in the interests of your people, not even in the best interests of yourself. You must make it appear that others backed down. You don't have to shoot ALL your missiles, but you darn well better shoot some...you actually don't have to even hit your target. You just need to be able to show your enemy running.

And, by contrast, at the first missile fired at us, air raid sirens will wail and people will run because in Israel, unlike in Lebanon, Gaza, and Syria, we put our people in bomb shelters and not our leaders in bunkers.

Two weeks ago, I had this huge mountain in front of me. It was terrifying...and I couldn't imagine anything beyond Monday...the day of my surgery. I couldn't think about weeks with one arm, days and days of painkillers, etc. All there was, was this huge all-consuming mountain in the window that was my future as I went to light the Shabbat candles on the Friday night before the surgery. I realized I couldn't "see" the next Friday night in my mind. I was so close to the mountain, I couldn't see the blue of the sky or the shape or height of it. Its size and the impact it could have on my life blocked everything.

Then, last Friday night, with one arm immobilized and a steady stream of painkillers often taken around the clock, I realized that I had gotten over the mountain, or at least near the top. I've got weeks and months to go, but I can manage it - each hour, each day, week, month, whatever. It's no longer a mountain ahead of me - just life...day in and day out. A bit different than normal, but life.

This Syria thing is a bit like that mountain...unknown, out of "my" control. Israel can not control this situation. We have treated dozens of wounded Syrians; ignored many mortars and gunfire fired into Israel. But the path the Middle East will take in the coming days and weeks will be decided by two men - Obama and Assad, and neither particularly cares about Israel; both care more for themselves, their futures, than they do about their own countries, never mind Israel and the Jews.

In Hebrew, there is the concept of a stubborn child who gets himself up a tree and can't get himself down. In real life, we have two leaders who have drawn red lines...and the lines endanger Israel. They are up there in those trees, but the land so close to the branches where they sit...is Israel.

This is not 1973, in the days before or after the Yom Kippur War. There is no danger of Syria's army overrunning the Golan and threatening Israel's north. In 1973, lulled into the stupid belief that no nation, not even the Arab countries would dare attack on Yom Kippur, we came perilously close to disaster.

We will be on alert this coming Shabbat, this Yom Kippur, and we will live once again, for a few days or weeks, on the edge of war. But there is this sense of strength, of faith. We might be on the edge, but the mountain is not insurmountable - our satellites and air force fly above it, our sons patrol it. God watches from above, always.

I don't know what the winds will bring, but I have such faith in my country's ability to overcome it all  - the ego of Assad, the naivete of Obama, the missiles of Hezbollah. The mountain before my operation was kind of scary because I went in asleep and alone...to this future coming our way, we are united, awake, aware, determined.

We are the land and people of Israel and we have the protection, the love, and the strength of our sons, our leaders, our forefathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob),  and four mothers (Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel) and most of all, the Protector of Israel.

May God bless us and inscribe us in the Book of Life through all the winds, all the battles, all the days to come.

Sunrise....

yeah, waiting for the painkillers to kick in, but what better way than a cup of tea and sunrise over the Judean hills....and those last few minutes of quiet before the day begins...


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Realities I Didn't Grow Up With...

I moved to Israel 20 years ago. The first reality that struck me as being worlds away from any measure of normal was that there was a bomb shelter in the house we bought two years later. The second thing was that in the hospital, as I was being discharged, I was sent to a room where a young soldier congratulated me on the birth of my son...and handed me a gas mask for him.

Perhaps skip a bunch of other realities - like worrying about who got on the bus, where my kids were when something exploded, and intentionally going on a short "vacation" with my husband to spend money in stores up north after the summer's war with
Lebanon decimated their tourist season.

I didn't grow up with the threat of rockets, and yet, 8 months ago, I found myself hurrying into our bomb shelter frantically calculating where each of my children were...and worse, not knowing where my Aliza was, where my son-in-law and grandson were.

And today, as I was talking to someone, Elie was acting as my driver. I went to hear a member of Knesset speak. She showed up 45 minutes late - no one left. She explained that the Cabinet was meeting - it was Obama's fault. Israel is getting ready. If Obama hits Syria, chances are quite high that Syria will strike out at us.

When the meeting ended, Elie came to get me. He joined in the conversation a bit and then, as it often does, his phone beeped and something in the way he moved alerted me as I saw him read a message. My Hebrew is quite good - not great, but not terrible...but it failed me. I couldn't hear past the words Iron Dome and Jerusalem.

New reality...my home is now being protected by Iron Dome...as in the south...as in Tel Aviv...as in the north.

If Assad dares to fire rockets at Jerusalem....we will have to be ready. Iron Dome...another reality.

Monday, September 2, 2013

What Israel Is...And What Israel is Not

Doing this 1-handed, so pls pardon typos.

It's hard to describe a country with thousands of years of history, and people from 100 other countries and cultures and religions. Sometimes, descriptions are done in the positive sense - this IS what Israel is. I've been doing that story here for much of the last six years and probably can't beat the description I posted 4 years ago - What's it actually like in Israel?

A few minutes ago, tired of others telling me what my country is...I thought for the hundredth time...no, that's not true. No, that isn't Israel...and so for what Israel is - please read that other post. Here's what Israel is not...

Israel is not anxiously awaiting a US attack on Syria. There are many shades to this. First, as the people of the Holocaust, we know the danger, the anger, the abhorrent reality of a world doing nothing when people are gassed to death. Ignore this at your own risk - not because of Israel, but because what you allow in Egypt, Syria, Yemen, and other places, will come to your shores. It did in 9/11; it did in Boston, London, Madrid.

Israel is not anxiously awaiting a US attack on Syria. We can and will defend ourselves and Syria is the least of our worries. As I have heard from many, Syria might be allowed one good strike on Israel, but before those first missiles land (and yes, they will likely land and yes, there may well be injuries, even...even God forbid worse), our sons will have taken to the skies and fields in a response so devastating, Syria will take generations to recover. The hell with proportional responses, the road to Damascus will be obliterated.

Israel is not anxiously awaiting a US attack on Syria. We do not trust the competence of Barack Hussein Obama. Heck, he couldn't save four Americans in Benghazi; please spare us any attempts to save Israel.

We are not waiting for France and England and certainly not the United Nations. When Iran needs to be dealt with, we will. When Syria gets too close to OUR red lines, WE will deal with it.

It is not our job to save the Syrians from themselves, though we are regularly treating dozens, even hundreds of injured Syrians at our hospitals, including one that arrived with a grenade in his pocket.

As Jews who remember. We are pained by the sight of Syrian children being murdered, gassed, orphaned. We cannot take action against Syria on their behalf without risking, at least, a regional war. With our luck in dealing with Arab dictators, any Israeli action is likely to trigger the idiots in Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. to issue a "holy" call to all Muslims to save Jerusalem (never mind the fact that the only time Jerusalem was truly free has been under Israeli rule).

And so, as Jews, we call out to the world to remind them of what happens each time the world is silent...to the Nazis, in Darfur, in the Congo, and Somalia...and Syria.

Do not mistake the voices we offer as Jews to be that of our Israeli voice. Israel is not anxiously awaiting a US attack on Syria.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Update on Pelephone....

Well. Tamar canceled the deal...and the SIM card. Congratulations, Pelephone, you left a lone soldier in the field without a telephone. Pelephone - fix this!

Cheating a Lone Soldier? Shame on you!

Lauren's cousin, B. has been paying a lot of money for a less than latest phone so, as many young people do, he was drawn in by a smooth-talking woman at the Pelephone booth at the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem. Her name is Tamar and she's very smart.

 Each time Tamar spoke about the good things, she spoke slowly, and each time she went into the details, she would speak very fast. Tamar heard what B was paying and offered him a deal - 50 NIS MORE per month for the next 18 months and he can get a new phone. In 18 months, the deal gets worse.

Luckily, B called Elie after realizing that it might not be perfect. As they were talking, B.'s phone died. Tamar then convinced B to take the deal, that he could sell his used phone for thousands of shekels, etc. She closed the deal, but told him he could cancel it if he wanted to. B called Elie from someone else's phone.

Elie told him to go back to the booth and cancel the deal. When she heard Elie was behind his cancelling the deal, Tamar agreed to call Elie on her phone and speak to him.

Tamar, who is paid minimum wage plus bonuses for sales and regularly sees soldiers on their way back to base on Sundays, told Elie that if B wanted to cancel the deal, he would have to return the next day, and then tried to convince Elie that B should not cancel it at all. Elie too noticed how she changed the speed of her words over the details.

When Elie questioned the deal, Tamar started getting annoyed. Elie tried for a better deal, saying that if they left the company, B could save money. Tamar first insisted that B could not leave Pelephone...a lie...and then when Elie said that was impossible, she said there was a 600 shekel fine and continued to try to convince Elie, while refusing to answer his questions.

First, to ask a combat soldier to "come back tomorrow" is absurd.

Second, by law you can cancel a signed deal within 3 days.

Her response when he insisted on canceling it today was to say he could do that if he took buses across Jerusalem (a 45 minute ride). Elie told him not to leave until the plan was canceled. Finally, Tamar canceled the "new" plan, leaving the old one that has him paying 160 shekels (and from next month 210 shekels) for what other companies are charging from 60 - 100 per month.

So first, I want to know why Pelephone hires an aggressive saleswoman who doesn't hesitate when lying and cheating people, especially lone soldiers.

And second, I want to know what Pelephone is going to do about this incident and about the unfair plan B has. Pelephone?

Please prove to me that you aren't like Partner/Orange.

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