Monday, March 31, 2014

Decision Time

David is facing a decision - and it is one with which I cannot help him. He has to decide between two programs and three destinations. He went for Shabbat, convinced he would choose the other option. Had a nice time with his friends and the program coordinators and is reconsidering.

One option would give him the possibility to be a paramedic...something he wants. But the army has decided that the investment in training is major and so wants to extend the amount of time paramedics must serve well beyond a year over what it is now. Currently 4 years (a year more than most others serve); to 5 years...

Five years for a boy who is only 18 is huge...he isn't sure.

It's a hard choice...boys his age in America are choosing what college they want to attend, where they'll go for the summer, if they'll buy a car. In Israel, they are choosing paths that will change their lives, shape them into the person they will be.

It isn't easy to watch him make this decision - anxious to offer advice, unsure what to say.

He's studying for tests, going to school, working a few hours here and there, taking driving lessons...and making a huge decision.

It isn't easy.

When Hypocrisy Chokes You

Or maybe, after a while, it just gets to the point where you smile and say, "yeah, they did it again..."

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Fine, Sorry

Many, many years ago, my oldest daughter did something that the rest of us considered wrong. She was asked to apologize and she did. Her exact words were "Fine, sorry."

Though she remembers her apology as sincere, I guess the rest of us didn't see it that way and forever onwards, the term, "fine, sorry" has been bantered around our house with the implication that the deliverer was not sincere and was only going through the motions because it was required.

An apology isn't really an apology when it is delivered more to silence the critic than admit any wrong doing. And yes, the value of an apology has a direct connection to the sincerely with which it is delivered. There has to be an awareness of what was wrong in the first place and the intention to do one's best to avoid the same action in the future. To truly elevate the apology to the level worthy of forgiveness, it is also best to do as much as possible to mitigate the damage caused.

As I read a recent apology made over a trip that a portion of Harvard's Jewish students made to the grave of Yasir Arafat in Ramallah, I could hear the, "fine, sorry" tone shouting through each word. The apology is too little, too late, too insincere and suggests no attempt will be made to undo the damage and the hurt caused by this insensitive and ill-advised (read here incredibly stupid) trip.

What bothers me about the apology was the need to attack first and only then say, "yeah, oops, it was a bad idea." But even in that oops, there is criticism. How dare we accuse them of not supporting Israel? Why do you people think they were honoring Arafat?

Wait...they went to Arafat's grave! They felt it important enough to smile and pose so they could show everyone when they got back.

Hello??? Come on, I want to shout at them. You know, if you visit the grave of someone who murdered hundreds of Israelis, we have a right to wonder.
What the Harvard students (and the head of the charity who sponsored the trip) fail to understand is to many of us here in Israel, right and left, blogger and baker alike, the visit shows the growing chasm between Israeli Jews and American Jews. More, it shows the depth of ignorance that even supposedly intelligent people can display when they fail to put in the effort to learn before inserting their proverbial feet into their mouths.

Why did they think it appropriate to pay homage to Yasir Arafat? That is the question they should be asking rather than attacking us and saying the visit wasn't what it clearly was. How can you deny that visiting a grave is indeed giving honor to the deceased? Why else do you go to a grave, if not for that reason?

To adequately counter what was done - heads should, figuratively speaking, roll. What idiot thought that visiting Arafat's grave would help give these students a deeper understanding of the conflict in the Middle East?

There are few things over which Israel as a nation is almost completely united. With the exception of Shulamit Aloni and those who adhere to her misguided and delusional politics, Israelis for the most part remember Arafat for the killer and terrorist he was. The list of attacks he planned and implemented defines who he was and what he did.

And worse, perhaps, than the visit, was the reaction immediately following it. The knee-jerk reaction was to blame Israelis - and Israeli bloggers for misinterpreting the visit. Pardon us here in Israel, but how did going there help these students understand anything beyond what a good search on Google wouldn't give them.

Here, allow me to assist you.

Yasir Arafat was born in 1929 in Cairo - that's right. He wasn't born in Israel (or Palestine as it was called them). Did anyone tell this group that? Yup, the chief terrorist of the Palestinian people...wasn't even born here.

In 1964, three years BEFORE the so-called "occupation," he founded an organization called the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), whose professed goal was to liberate Palestine from the occupiers. I'd like to remind these Harvard students that there was no occupation in 1964, or 1965, or 1966, Not even for the first half of 1967 (at least).

After that date, according to quite a large number of Israelis (like me) and experts on international law those, there was no occupation following the 1967 war because what was won was historically ours in the first place and more, was the direct result of a war they initiated. So, they lost - we didn't occupy...they chose war - again and again and again! So, if the occupation, according to Arafat began in 1967 and that's all the Palestinians want today, why was the organization started in 1964? I never do get an answer to that question...

The fact is, Arafat wanted everything that lies in between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River and to make this crystal clear to these Harvard students, that includes Tel Aviv, Haifa, all of Jerusalem and everything else you saw beyond your visit to Ramallah.

Then...and now, this remains the goal of the Palestinians. Then and now. And that position - from the river to the sea - is what that visit to Arafat's grave was about. You gave the concept of wiping Israel off the face of the map credibility by visiting one of the chief architects of that plan.

Arafat was not a general of an army who fought against an invading army, but a miserable, slimy terrorist who attacked the weakest among us.  Again and again. Oh, he was happy to kill a soldier, but soldiers were armed and ready and so Arafat, sniveling coward that he was, so much preferred our "softer" targets - babies, teenagers, elderly, pregnant women - no one was exempt. This is what you honored.

I could write of Maalot - when Arafat's terrorists murdered 21 children; of Munich when Arafat's missionaries of death murdered 11 athletes. I could write of the massacre of 21 Israelis on a coastal highway; of Leon Klinghoffer, the crippled American Jew murdered on the Achille Lauro. I could write for hours and still not fully explain the evil of that decrepit man. The planner, the murderer, the terrorist - all this was buried in that grave where these students went.

What those students and the picture of them smiling and posing by his grave did reminds me of an incident that happened about 10 years ago in Poland. I had gone with my older daughter to Poland and a contingency of high school girls from around Israel. As I stood near the gates of Auschwitz waiting for our group to assemble and begin seeing the concentration camp where millions perished, I watched as some South Korean tourists approached some of our Israeli girls - the ones holding Israeli flags. Wouldn't it be cool to get a picture with those pretty girls and the Israeli flag, the Koreans must have thought and so they asked the girls to pose for pictures.

The girls stood there smiling as two Koren men stood near them and a third took their picture before switching places so that the photographer could have his picture taken too.

Standing on the side with my daughter watching this, I knew it was wrong and I could imagine those men going back to Korea and showing off pictures of their tour and the beautiful, smiling Israeli girls. I didn't want to embarrass the Koreans, so I quietly said to the girls in Hebrew. "Did you forget where you are? You are in Auschwitz. This isn't the place to pose for pictures. Do you want them to have pictures of smiling Israelis here in Auschwitz?"

The girls looked around them and realized how inappropriate it was, Auschwitz is a place of death not smiles; Arafat's grave is the place of a killer not a place for Jewish students to pose.

If that group of Harvard Jewish students had asked me, I would have said something similar to them. Look where you are, or where they are taking you. How can you be there? Do you want this picture posted on Facebook? Apparently, their education was so lacking...they did.

To be clear - it is their right to go to Ramallah. But if they do, they have to accept it is our right to be disgusted by them - and their homage. So long as they (and their parents and those who thought up this ill-advised trip) live in the United States, they have no right to expect anything but our utter disdain for what they did in going to Ramallah.

And if they are sorry...if...I suggest more than a half apology. I suggest they visit the graves of the people Arafat murdered.

Go to David Hatuel, whose pregnant wife and four daughters were shot at point-blank range and explain to him about your curiosity to learn the other side. Apologize to him.

Go to Limor Har-Melekh, whose husband Shalom was murdered before her eyes. She was pregnant when she too was moderately wounded in the attack. You can explain how you didn't mean to honor Arafat when you meet their daughter, who thankfully survived the operation to remove her from her mother's womb, even as they removed the bullets that were fired into her mother's body.

Go to Arno Herenstein, who was seriously wounded and his wife Yafit was murdered, when Arafat's terrorists entered their home and attacked the unarmed couple. Apologize to him because he and other victims like him forever live with what Arafat and his murderers did.

There comes a moment in each person's life when you have to grow up and take responsibility. No one forced those young people to go to Arafat's grave. Each and everyone of them walked onto that bus and into that building. Each one chose to stand beside that grave and have his or her picture taken. When I was 16, I went on a tour and didn't feel comfortable with where the group was going and so I took a break and stayed behind. Don't tell me that every one of those students couldn't have done the same.

What I heard in the apology that was issued was our families infamous "fine, sorry" apology. Israel stands ready to see whether this was a sincere apology or not.

And a final note to Barry Shrage, president of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, whose organization sponsored the Harvard College Israel visit. Israel's bloggers were right in expressing the outrage of our country. You attempted to discredit us by warn against "the dangers of bloggers and others who use the power and reach of the internet to distort meaning."

It is the job of journalists and bloggers to make others aware. There was no distortion in the reporting of this event. Your charity sponsored a trip to a killer's grave. Rather than attack the messenger, I suggest you ensure that Harvard's Jewish students never again make the mistake of paying homage to a killer of our people, at least not while they are traveling on your ticket.
Your "fine, sorry" apology not only encourages them to do so again in the future, it gives us every right to question your commitment to Israel. Personally, I hope your organization will take the time to write a note of apology to all those hurt by the actions of this group.

These families have suffered enough - they didn't deserve what your charity did to them.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Spoiled Generation

Aliza is going on a trip with her school. One of the many reasons I love Israel is this annual overnight event. Each year, Israeli schools take their teenagers on overnight trips, out into the fields and nature. They hike, they climb, they explore to the far corners of our land. 

It is a love instilled from the time they are young and remains with them all their lives. The girls in her class have been told they should bring tents. They’ll pitch their own tents; make their own food. My daughter was half amused and half horrified at the opportunity (and 100% anxious to get there!).

“Girls don’t build tents,” says my daughter. “We’re a spoiled generation.”
My first thought was “where did I go wrong?” When have I ever said to my daughters that they can’t do anything, everything? I’ve taken her camping – but yeah, maybe it was my older son who built the tent. We’ve cooked food out in the fields and slept under the stars.

I wish I could have recorded the conversation. I remember some of her philosophizing as she talked about prepared foods she wants to take along. At one point, with her phone in her hand, she said, “We don’t play outside; we don’t actually TALK to people. We’re a spoiled generation. Hello? Whatsapp!”
More than actually being spoiled, though, is I think the desire to be. She wants to be like every child her age, all over the world. And yet, deep down, she knows that there is a part of her that never will be.

Twice her oldest brother has left home to go to war (once, after 8 days, he thankfully returned and the would-have-been war remained only an “operation” and the other time he was gone for weeks).

When she was 3 years old, she had to put on a gas mask and then have it with her for days (…or was it weeks?). She refused when we tried to put it on her the first time.

When she was 7, her world shifted as her older sister got married and her oldest brother left for the army. For weeks at a time, she didn’t see him or talk to him but would greet him at the door with a shout as she threw herself into his arms for the much anticipated hug.

When she was 8, she heard us talking about a soldier who had been  shot and in a voice filled with anxiety asked us if it was Elie. No, we assured her – not Elie. Elie is in the north; this was in the south, we went on to explain. Desperate to get through to her, to calm her, we gave her silly, meaningless details that helped bring back her sense of security for a time.

When she was 9, a false alarm (meant for Beersheva but accidentally sounded in the Jerusalem/Beit Shemesh areas), sent her and her class running for the bomb shelters. She was in third grade and got separated from her class (A Child’s Alarm). That traumatized her for weeks as she kept expecting more alarms because, “I wasn’t ready for the alarm.”  

She asked where we would go if there was an attack and I explained that we have two areas of the house that are protected – the bomb shelter, which is quite small; and another area.

“So Abba [her father] and Davidi and Shmulik [two of her brothers] should go down there and you and me and Elie should go to the bomb shelter because it’s up here.” Elie was in the army and hadn’t been home in more than a month, but she still planned for his safety.

When she was 10, she had a class in school on basic medical care and the rudiments of first aid at a fourth grade level. She had a test explained to me what she was learning.

“ABC” she said.

“What’s that for?” I asked.

“Air waves, Breathing, and Circulation”

“They teach you that in English?” I asked her.

“No, but they tell us ABC because it isn’t the same in Hebrew.” Okay. It was cute and I went along with it as she spoke and then my mind stopped and I heard not the cute tone of her voice, that I love listening to, but the words. I asked her to explain it again and then asked if this was the teacher’s explanation or hers. This is what my child told me when she was 10 years old.
“The teacher. He’s really funny. He told us ‘If a doctor says a patient doesn’t have a pulse, but he does, what does that mean?’ ”

She giggled and then answered, “it means it’s a bad doctor.”

And then she went on to explain this ABC thing as: “It’s like a missile hitting a building.”

See, you have a building, she explains. If the missile hits the top of the building, the people can live, but if it hits the bottom, they won’t. So, if the person isn’t getting air, for example, they will die – check the airways first. If the airways are clear, but the person isn’t breathing, you do one thing….I don’t remember now. My brain stopped after the explanation of the building and the missile.

It’s actually a good description – the concept of prioritizing…but the image remains and the wonder. I can’t see any teacher in another country using the same example…and yet it worked. It didn’t distress the children. They live with the reality all the time. They understand what happens when a missile hits and the physics of where it hits a building.

That, I guess, is Israel’s child and listening to my child give that explanation was enough to make me regret, just a bit, the abnormality of it all. I am thrilled beyond all words that we live in Israel, that our lives and futures are in this beautiful land but I regret…just a bit…that a child could be taught…and can understand based on the imagery of a missile hitting a building.

When she was 11, the Fogel family was massacred in Itamar. Their bodies and the two boys who survived the attack were discovered by 12-year-old Tamar Fogel. Somehow, my youngest daughter internalized the trauma and for months she was afraid of the dark, afraid to sleep in a room with a window opened, afraid to sleep if the door to her room wasn’t locked. It took months to slowly undo the trauma, to have her return to the point that she would be willing to be in the house alone or in her room with the window (on the third floor of the house) open to the breeze.

When she was 13, just a year ago she was outside with her friends when she heard a siren indicating an incoming missile. A few other times during that operation, she knew the uncertainty and fear.

She is Israel’s child.
Somehow, the fact that she can live with all these traumas and worries and yet focus on the silliness of building a tent and suggest that she is “spoiled” balances out. She isn’t spoiled. In a year, she’ll choose whether to follow the tradition set by her sister and brothers and volunteer for the ambulance squad. In a few years after that, she will give two years of her life to serve the country in some way.

She will, God willing, marry and raise her children here. She is a lot of things and will be in her life. Perhaps she is a bit spoiled by materialism. On the other hand, I think she is well grounded by all the other things that influence the woman slowly developing deep inside the girl she is today.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Haman and the IDF

So...we have this tradition - each Purim - at night and in the morning, we read the story of what was done, or almost done to us in Shushan...a city in Persia, which is today Iran.

We remember because we more than most people understand that to forget what was done, is to invite it to happen again. It's a true story - with a king, an evil man named Haman, and the hero and heroine - Mordechai and Esther.

It could have easily ended in tragedy - with the annihilation of a whole community - or more. Instead, evil was destroyed; goodness triumphed. Haman was hanged from the very tree from which he would have hanged Mordechai and the Jews went on, in light and in joy.

Each time the name Haman is read from the megillah, we make noise to drown out his name. Stamp your feet, shake a grogger (noise maker), blow a horn, boo out loud. Whatever it's all meant to send a message to our enemies.

It can get quite noisy and it is something the children love. Apparently, so did the IDF in this wonderful clip. You'll hear someone reading the megillah in the special, beautiful sing-song tune we use. And then you'll hear him say "Haman."

Here's a great way the army got the soldiers to practice...and in it's way, it is the ultimate response to Haman - a Jewish army promising to forever erase his name.

John Kerry's Past, Current, and Future Failures

A few weeks ago, I wrote an open letter to John Kerry. I called it, Great Men Have Tried. And though I had no doubt my letter would fall on Kerry's deaf ears, it served a purpose. First, it was read by a huge number of people. I went to a wedding and had three people come and tell me that their relatives in the States had sent it to them in Israel. People have stopped me on the street to tell me that they liked it; I've heard from people around the globe - Jew and Christian thanking me or praising the article.

Forgive me for being honest here, but I have almost always written for myself first, to quench a need, to release thoughts and words that haunt me. I am honored and humbled that others agree; that others give me the greatest of compliments in saying that I have expressed their thoughts. But first and foremost, I have a need to release thoughts that would choke me otherwise. And so I write...and then I post...and then, if I am lucky, I get people to read it and agree.

Today it is the same. I heard something that angered me and so here I am again. I was against Obama for President because I knew...yes, I knew he would be bad for Israel and the US. As I have chosen to live my life far from US borders, I don't really have the right to claim the knowledge necessary to prove that early feeling regarding his actions in the US. I hear of massive quantities of bullets being purchased by the Department of Defense; of massive manpower cuts in US armed forces. I hear of a health plan that will cripple and hurt many and an economy stagnating under the weight of an ever-increasing national debt.

I hear of cities dying and homes being sold, if anyone will buy it, for a song; of families that owe mortgages larger than the value of the property. I hear of the disintegration of the values of family in America; where in the black community a majority of children are being born into single-parent homes. I hear that the streets that were not safe for a woman walking alone when I went to school in Manhattan, are becoming unsafe again. I hear of the breakdown of law and order and of mass killings. Saddened for this reality, I can only say that this is, in part, what I thought would happen. This is all about Obama and America and as much as it pains me, it is not for me to comment. It is not my home losing value, not my life at risk because of his healthcare system.


But when it comes to Israel, I would ask to be granted the right to be the one who can speak. Just as I cannot speak of what is good for America; American Jews and others have no right to speak about what is good for Israel. It is not your sons on our borders; not your children running from incoming missiles. You do not have to worry about how US pressure and interference will embolden our enemies or trigger more rocket storms like we had last week.

I knew Obama would be bad for Israel and he has been. I knew John Kerry would be bad...and I was right there as well. And so what brings me to this today...on a day where Jerusalem's streets are filled with clowns and kings and I even saw Snow White this morning?

Despite the magic of the day, John Kerry's latest comment infuriate me. He says he doesn't understand why our Prime Minister insists on the Arabs recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. And yet, just nine days before, the hypocrite Secretary of State said that any agreement would have to guarantee Israel's identity as the...well, he said "a" Jewish homeland.

So Kerry, do you have an evil twin? Are you going senile? Or do you have a master plan that would deny who we are, what we are, and all that we have strived to be?

No, telling the Arabs that accepting Israel in their presence here in the Middle East means, by definition, that there will be a Jewish state here is not a mistake.

It is, however, something that they cannot and will not accept.

The reality is that Abbas is stringing Kerry along - his goal is to get the maximum number of killers and terrorists released from Israeli jails. He has conceded nothing, given nothing, agreed to nothing. We, on the other hand, have released the killers of hundreds of Israelis. We have hurt and angered families already devastated by the loss of loved ones.

What Kerry said on March 4 was true - any peace agreement must, by definition, explicitly identify Israel as the Jewish homeland that it is. What made him change his mind just nine days later?

Whatever it was, I wish somehow, some way we could let him know that alienating himself in Israel will not gain him much in the Arab world. All his flip flop does, each and every time, is make him that much less relevant to the discussion.

John Kerry - Israel is the Jewish homeland. It is the only Jewish land in this world and it will be the Jewish homeland long after you have disintegrated into dust. Nothing you say will change that and your attempt to deny it is lunacy.

Until the Arabs accept three simple facts, there will be no peace:

1. Israel is the land of the Jewish people - by right, by might, by God. By history, by reality, by justice.

2. We are not fooled by English words of moderation - not from Abbas, not from Hamas, not from Hizbollah and Nasrallah, and not from John Kerry or Barack Obama.

3. The same force (and some would say Force) that helped create... recreate... the State of Israel after 2,000 years in exile is still in play today. Israel is forever a creation that defies all conventional thinking. We should not have defeated five Arab nations in 1948, and yet we did. We should not have been able to bring the Arabs to a standstill in 1967, and yet we did. Over 15,000 missiles and rockets and mortars fired at us from Gaza should have hit more, killed more...and yet they didn't. By right, by might, by God, by history and reality and justice - Israel is not going anywhere.

As for John I wrote last month, greater men have tried but at least they were honest enough to admit from the outset that forcing Israel to the peace table just means we sit there alone.

We're tired of waiting at the table - so how about this time, you force the Arabs to the table with a reasonable plan and then give us a call and we'll be right along. To help you, don't forget to get the signs printed correctly. I don't know what theirs will say - ours should say:

"Israel, eternal homeland of the Jewish people."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Kings and Superheroes

Today in Israel, kings and queens, princes and superheroes walked the streets of our country. Everywhere, there were brides. It was a day where young boys dressed as soldiers, and soldiers dressed as young boys. It was a day of fun in a land that is often too serious.

Somewhere out there, it is likely that there is a Boeing 777 that has been hijacked for the purposes of using it as a major weapon. It isn't beyond reality to think that Israel is a prime target. If you think things through, you'll likely come to the conclusion that without refueling, that jet probably can't reach the US, but it can reach Israel and large sections of Europe.

We have enemies to the north, who have just authorized its citizens to feel free to attack Israel. We have enemies to the south that fired about 100 rockets at us this past week. We have an unstable land to the north-east and too often violence spills over our border; and we have an unstable border to our south-west where Gaza terrorists use the Sinai to attack and fire rockets.

I don't think anyone can blame us for taking a day to be silly. Amira dressed as a princess in pink; her husband was amazingly clad as the court jester. Their son was a lion who roared and had the cutest nose and whiskers. Elie and Lauren and their baby combined to be dressed as an x-ray - they wore black and the baby wore a skeleton stretchie/onesie.

Twice, we listened to the reading of the Purim story - it is an incredible story of triumph with all the perfect plots and undercurrents.

A stupid king, vain and filled with only his own interests. An evil right-hand man, conceded and power hungry. Haman decides to hate the Jews and abuses the power and influence he has with the king to get the monarch to issue an edict declaring a national day of murder.

The plot is uncovered - the king has unknowingly married a Jew and so when she begs her husband to save her people, he agrees. A second edict is issued rescinding the first edict and the evil Haman is hanged by the decree of the king.

And the amazing part is that this isn't a story but truth. How do we know...there are many ways, but perhaps the simplest is one I've written about before. When it was discovered that there were Jews in Ethiopian, most likely descendents of the tribe of Dan, Israelis began the process of bringing them home to Israel. At one point, the rabbis of Israel sat with the religious leaders of the Ethiopian community to compare religious observance.

Holidays that were detailed in the Torah - Passover, Rosh Hashanah, etc. can be found in both communities - but there were differences. For one thing, the rabbis were astounded to hear that on the holiday of Purim, the Ethiopian Jews fasted and mourned.

Why? They asked the Ethiopian Jews...because, it was explained, on that day, the Jews of Persia were murdered by the king.

No, explained the rabbis - they were saved by Esther, the heroine of the Purim megillah. You didn't get the second edict, explained Israel's rabbis. The Jews were saved!

Today in the streets of Israel, I saw many Ethiopian Jews - they were dressed in costume, filled the synagogues, and celebrated with us.

So our week began with one of the happiest of holidays - my Facebook page was filled with friends in costume, and throughout the land, people exchanged gift baskets of food and drink.

Yes, there's a plane out there and rockets galore...but in every generation, there is a Haman waiting to destroy us. The names change - Amalek, Haman, Hitler, Ahmadinejad, Nasrallah - it doesn't really matter because our land is filled with kings and superheroes, princes and queens and court jesters and lions.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Quiet, Stormy Friday Mornings

It's quiet - so quiet here. My husband is preparing to take our Honda for a test so that we can trade it in for the new Mitsubishi that I test drove yesterday and loved. Amira is with her husband making their own Shabbat preparations - they'll join us for lunch tomorrow if it isn't too stormy or cold to walk down. Elie is with his wife. He says he will come over soon and help me cook.

Shmulik should be getting ready for his computer network management course in Jerusalem; his wife hope resting after a long week of studies. Davidi is volunteering on this stormy morning at the ambulance squad here and Aliza is still in bed asleep.

I have the challah almost finished - a lot more to cook. It was to be a dairy Shabbat - quiches, soup, salmon, and ice cream for dessert. We do it very rarely, but I was in a mood...until the dairy over shorted out last night in the rain when I went to cook the pizza.

When we moved to the house here, we were happy to see that our oven would fit right into the open space left from the previous owners. Unfortunately, though the outside measurements match, the way my ovens were made means they won't fit in. So, we told the movers to put it outside the kitchen on the balcony nearby while they unloaded the rest of the stuff.

We bought an amazing new oven to fit the space - and I love it but I was able to plug my old oven in on the balcony giving me even more cooking room and in the summer - it's great because it doesn't heat up the house. We put a board over it to protect it from the rain. Only in really bad storms does it leak and make it unusable.

At some point, hopefully in the near future, we'll build on the remaining wall and make a whole dairy kitchen including oven. For now, dairy foods are baked outside...except when it rains.

So, with the clouds hovering for the next round, we're going to have our usual meat meal. It's so quiet, so stormy. I'm nervous about Shabbat...I should close my phone and yet the Color Red application that alerts me to each incoming missile feels like an obligation.

No attempt has been made to fire missiles at Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. They could try, but no one is anticipating that. Currently, they are concentrating on the missiles they can fire quickly and then crawl back into hiding. They are hitting as far as Ashkelon and Ashdod - many, many miles away.

The phone alert is my way of reminding myself (and others around me) that we are one country. If they are to be scared when they hear it, if they are anticipating the boom of when it hits, why shouldn't I?

No, I can't do anything about it and so yes, I recognize that in the course of things, it really is a meaningless gesture...and yet, I can't bring myself to deactivate it.

For now, I'll do what Jewish women have done for generations - I'll make Shabbat because the one true great certainty is that Shabbat will come. Peace as we define it between countries probably won't - but peace in the home, peace in the neighborhood and peace in our own country is worth all we can do to achieve...and it often starts each week with Shabbat.

Shabbat shalom - Sabbath peace blessings to all of us and most especially to those in Israel's south - the residents who will likely spend Shabbat in or near bomb shelters, and the brave soldiers who protect them (and us) from the skies, from the shores and from the land.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

And again, moments ago

More incoming missiles sent against several areas. My phone continues to call out - Color Red; Color Red.

Here, I sit, rolling out pizza dough - listening to the rain and Davidi talk to his father. There, they run for their lives; sit in bomb shelters trying to entertain their children and listen for explosions.

No, this will not last forever. We will not accept it. Our tanks are on the border; our artillery units standing by. Our planes are taking to the air - but unlike Gaza, we are not firing indiscriminately at civilian targets. We have hit 29 military targets - rocket launchers, training grounds.

They accuse us of breaking the ceasefire - what ceasefire? In what world is firing dozens of rockets at cities considered reasonable. This time, at least, the world seems to be getting it. Germany, the United States, even the UN General Secretary has condemned Gaza rocket fire.

That leaves only the idiots in the EU who are still condemning Israel for building a few apartments inside our existing cities...while ignoring Syrian human rights violations, Turkish human rights violations - and the rocket fire hitting Israel today and yesterday.

It is raining now - blessings from the Heavens pouring down on Israel...but the missiles from Gaza are also raining down on us. Repeated miracles as each one, one by one, falls in open fields.

May God watch over our people this night and every night.

19:49 - Color Red Attack

Sitting at the dining room table contemplating rolling out the dough I made for pizza. I'll take some to Amira; already gave some to Elie and Lauren and I have for Shmulik as well. Aliza is at her school for a Purim party; Davidi is upstairs.

My phone, once again calls out - "Color Red. Color Red. Color Red. Color Red."

I sit here while in the south they are literally running for their lives. It's over 15 seconds. The rocket would have landed by now. In a minute or two, my phone will beep to tell me where it hit.

It is surreal; it is sick. It is life here - a life that Gaza would take from us if they could.

It is the month of Adar, just before the holiday of Purim. Purim is a holiday filled with fun- we dress in costumes and listen to the amazing story of an evil man who wanted to destroy us. Of everyday heroes - Esther and Mordechai who saved our people.

Haman was hanged...

Another missile attack now. "Color Red. Color Red. Color Red. Color Red."

No, they will not take our holiday, our joy.

And another...another incoming missile...

Meanwhile, the Palestinians are blaming Israel for attacking Gaza (ignoring the fact that they attacked us)...and this just in: Palestinian rocket misfired hit a Palestinian house east of Jabaliya, northern Gaza strip, wounded 5. They'll probably blame us for that too.

Perspectives on the Rain and the Missiles

Today and yesterday in Israel were days of heavy rain - something we desperately need here. This winter has been cold but badly lacking in rain - except for a massive storm that hit at the beginning of the winter, bringing a meter of snow to Jerusalem. It was a great start to the winter, but it didn't result in a great winter.

Until this week - for the last two days, it has poured and poured - and with each bit of lightning and thunder, we smile and say thank You, God. It's cold. It's miserable. Thank You, God.

Yesterday and today, our neighbors have rained down missiles on our cities. With the grace and protection of God, there has been damage, but no one has been hurt. Our children went to school today but stayed close to bomb shelters. A few hours ago, as I was test driving a new car - yes, the Honda is being retired and we're getting a new car (I drive tens of thousands of miles a year and the Honda has served us well), my phone started calling out, "Color Red. Color Red. Color Red. Color Red."

Color Red rocket siren sounds in Ashdod and Ashkelon

The man from Mitsubishi looked confused as to where the sound was coming from. I explained about the app on the phone and said, "Why should we go about our lives when they are running to shelter? If they have to hear it, so should be." He asked where he could get the app for this phone.

Barrage of rockets fired toward Ashkelon and Ashdod; Iron Dome apparently intercepts rockets
(10:43 , 03.13.14)

I came home exhausted and decided to rest for a bit. My shoulder is doing so much better - but now I have tennis elbow. I'm a walking advertisement for getting older. I didn't have tennis elbow when I played on the tennis team in Junior High can I have it now?

Color Red rocket siren sounds in Rehovot and Yavne
(10:45 , 03.13.14)

So as I closed my eyes...I heard it again, "Color Red. Color Red. Color Red. Color Red." On and on - someone is firing missiles at my country. A million people are judging lives by the perspective of seconds - they cannot be more than 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds from a bomb shelter.

Two rockets explode in open area between Ashkelon and Ashdod
(10:50 , 03.13.14)

A friend writes that she is worried about her job - she works in a day care center in a town very close to Gaza - how can she move a dozen babies to a bomb shelter in 15 seconds. It is impossible.

Gaza rocket falls in open area in Ashkelon region
(17:34 , 03.13.14)

The day is ending here in Israel, much as it began. Rockets continue from Gaza. The air force is fighting back, hitting dozens of targets.

I'll close with what I wrote yesterday on Facebook. It seems to be all I can say. Twice my son has been called to Gaza to fight against the rockets. They never learn, do they?

And so, if you hear that Israel is bombing the hell out of Gaza tonight and they complain they cannot sleep - know that they started it this day and each day. You cannot fire 90 rockets at one million innocent civilians and expect a country to ignore it.

We will not - and so no, tonight Gaza will not sleep. Our children are in bomb shelters...and where are Gaza's children? Well, here is a hint...Gaza's leaders are hiding in bomb shelters, their children left vulnerable. Tonight - that is their problem, not ours.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How to Start a War

In the last few hours, Gaza has, by its own admission, fired 90 rockets at our cities. Our Iron Dome is in action and has shot down a number of them; and still many have fallen in our cities.

Twice Elie has been called to Gaza - once in a full war that kept him from home for weeks; once for 8 days that kept him from his new wife. Now he is a father but still, if he was called, he would go.

You cannot fire 90 rockets at a country and not expect it to respond.

I don't know if this will lead to a war - everything inside of me says can it? How can they be so stupid...again...

A friend has a young son - I remember him as a boy...he's in the army now, in tanks and on the Gaza border. She's frightened; I know she is. I try to offer her comfort and more, I try to tell her not to listen to others who might tell her that her fear is a sign that she lacks faith.

It isn't; she doesn't.

It's impossible to be a mother and not be so scared for your child - it is impossible at this time, to listen to the sound or rockets hitting your land and not feel such anger.

Stop it, Gaza! Just stop. But they won't, of course. Already they are complaining that we are responding, that our jets are in the air. Where else should they be, but defending our land.

And they are saying that the rockets are inaccurate, that they never hit anything. Such a funny thing, such an absurdity - they seem to think it is their inalienable right to fire at us and since they basically miss most of the time, we are expected not to respond.

Just once can someone please tell them that this is how you start a war - by firing at the civilians in another country.

Yes, I know - never mind - they know this already and still they will fire, won't they?

Tonight, a million Israelis are in bomb shelters while in Gaza, Hamas leaders have taken to their bunkers. Yes, that's what they call them, bunkers, to avoid showing that they are cowards who leave their wives and children out in the open while they hid.

If you hear that Israel is bombing Gaza - and you will likely hear it soon...remember - ninety rockets...ninety missiles - ninety acts of war...

David and Poland

Sometimes a topic becomes so big, I find it hard to write about it. That's how it has been with David and Poland. He came back - safe and wiser. It was a hard trip, a good one.

I have started to look at the pictures he took - hundreds of them. To hear some of the stories, not enough. He called me the night before he was supposed to leave to tell me that there had been a problem with the plane and he didn't know when they'd get home.

The stupidest form of panic set in...of course, my mind knew that this was a modern day occurrence. He wasn't STUCK in Poland...but my heart skipped several beats. I wanted him home...

He called back shortly later to say that they had emptied another plane to send the boys home on time. In the general mix up of emptying passengers and luggage, a chunk of the boys (and David's Rabbi/teacher) ended up in Israel a few hours later with no luggage. Davidi was lucky, as his luggage arrived safe and sound.

He has no keepsakes from Poland - he bought nothing there. It is not a place to shop, at least while spending most days seeing death, even decades and decades later.

The pictures he took remind me of the ones I took; the experiences so similar. There were a few places where people called out to them in anger and hatred but not many. They traveled under very tight security - the bus was checked each time by Israeli security guards; they were not allowed to enter hotels before they too were checked.

I looked at his pictures - one brought me to tears and Davidi told me it did the same. There is a horrible place - Maidanek; and a horrible site within - the Mountain of Ashes. When I was there, someone had left an Israeli flag nearby. Davidi too saw that someone had left something and he zoomed in and took a picture. Someone had painted the words "Proud to be a Jew"

It rests on a mountain of ashes...ashes of the remains of thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of Jews covered, most likely, by the sand and dirt accumulated over decades while the ashes were left on display. I remember my reaction when I saw the ashes - I was almost physically sick and I was outraged. We don't display the remains of our dead - that is not our way. We bury them in respect, in mourning. There in Maidanek, we remain prisoners. We cannot free our ashes; we can only come to see them and walk away forever angry and sad. This is not our way.

Beyond that picture, are others that touch my heart. He took a picture of the prayer for a safe trip. He took pictures of cars and of the sun setting, of buildings tall and small.

He took pictures of the Israeli flags they brought with them and sometimes he took pictures of the words they spoke in a place. Here's the one from Maidanek.

A rough translation:

Here in Maidanek, in this place, opposite the terrible site of the Mountain of Ashes, we came to show you a bag, one bag full of dirt from the land of Israel….

We want, here, to declare in front of you, to take a deep breath and tell

you…we are the children of this soil before you, soil of the land of Israel.

And we want you to know that even though you remain here, still, we continue.

We have taken it upon ourselves, with the help of God, to give all we can to the State of Israel, to connect to our faith…and be agents of good deeds, to live our lives as Jews in the land of Israel. We have taken it upon ourselves, each and every one of us in his own way, to continue to do what you wanted to do but weren't able.

We are here and we are alive. And we will return, with God's help, to continue to live in the land of Israel.

I want to write so much more but it's hard to look at the pictures, to think of Davidi there. It's been a crazy few weeks - we've happily joined several close friends at the wedding of their children, held our national conference, watched as Davidi went to Poland and much going on...

As always, more soon.

Copyright Statement

Everything on this site is protected and copyrighted according to Israeli and international laws. Violators WILL be prosecuted.

For permission to use pictures or text from this site, please write to: