Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Imagine Taking the Statue of Liberty Away

Danny Ayalon had produced (authored, narrated, etc.) some amazingly clear videos in the past...this may be his best one ever. Thank you for making it so clear, even a blooming idiot can follow the dots...if they wanted to...but, of course, having voted TWICE to err on the side of denying history, fact, archaeology, logic, and decency, UNESCO voted again today...here is a idiot's guide to why what they did was so wrong.



I'll leave you with one simple truth about Israel - it will never happen...the Temple Mount is Israel's - it was, it is, it always will be. Our Temple Mount.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sukkot and the Times

The holiday of Sukkot is one that is ignored by most non-Observant Jews outside Israel. Here in Israel,both religious and secular Jews make note and honor this important holiday. Outside Israel...not so much.

Growing up, my family didn't built a Sukkah until I became religious and built it on my own, sometimes with the help of family, sometimes not at all. Since I married, we have had one every year, in every place that we have lived  - never so large and beautiful as in the last few years since we moved to our current house.

Sukkot - the Feast of Tabernacles - is a holiday that I love, almost above all others. Missing is the tremendous amount of work related to Passover, the trepidation built into Yom Kippur, the intensity of Shavuot. Sukkot is quite simply fun. That doesn't change the incredible symbolism involved, but it does help build the anticipation.

Sukkot is about many things but perhaps the most important message I take from it is trust. We spend our lives working to build homes for our families and make them secure - financially secure, safe from intruders. The home is our haven from the world., the place we hide out when we need down time; the place we run to when we feel oppressed.

Sukkot is about leaving that home and putting ourselves out there at the mercy of God, of the elements (controlled by God). There is no real security against thieves, the darkness, the cold. Over the last year and a bit, there has been a tremendous shift in the world, including the Jewish world.

Israel has become the greatest of Sukkahs for the Jewish people - it is truly here that we are safe in a way we do not feel anywhere else in the world. From France, to England, to Belgium, to Germany and across the United States, anti-Semitism is on the rise again, if in fact it ever really was less.

The United Nations "Education, Science and Culture" Organization (UNESCO) suggests that the place where the greatest home ever built by the Jewish people, has no real connection to the foundations of our religion.

The world seems crazy - craziest of all perhaps, is the election in the United States with candidates that should shock and embarrass every American. And here in Israel, we are an island of quiet and peace. Yes, really. What you hear may sound like we live in a country plagued by violence and yet that is so far from the truth.

Daily, we walk where we want, do what we want. We don't live in fear of terrorism - the ultimate victory. More often than not, when a terrorist reaches out to kill, he's shot down by a soldier or an armed and trained civilian within seconds, certainly minutes. Our sons and daughters are on alert everywhere and yes, it's a crummy way to live, but it is life and it enables us to trust.

We build our Sukkot, decorate them with lights and posters and shimmering objects. As I do every  year, I will hang four small bags from the ceiling - salt, honey, flour and oil. This I learned from my mother-in-law - the basics of food - trust that God will provide.

These are the essential ingredients to the challah I bake each week, the dough rising on my table right now - the simple things in life.

Tonight, so much of Israel will light candles and then eat (and even sleep) in the Sukkah. In my neighborhood, it is hard to find a house or apartment without one (some even have more than one). In a world that is upside down -  we will trust and leave our homes and put ourselves out there because that is the lesson we have learned.

To have faith that God will protect us - from the rain, from the cold, from the Iranians, even, if need be, from the next president of the United States.

It is an amazing feeling to be able to reach out and show that in the place where much of the world thinks we live in violence, we truly feel safe and filled with the joys of this holiday. In a world gone crazy, Israel is our anchor, God our greatest salvation.
Our Sukkah

May the holiday come in joy and be the truest of celebrations but more, may its message of trust and love be heard around the world. The very walls of our home, of our gates and walls are nothing when the Protector of Israel watches over us.

Some other Sukkot posts I've made:

A Promise and a Reminder

Sukkot, the Basics, and More

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Message from the Jewish People to UNESCO

For days now, I've been seeing wonderful responses to the UNESCO resolution suggesting, claiming, "attesting" to the rights of Muslims to the Temple Mount and condemning Israel for responses - while never mentioning that the responses were to violent attacks; that the suppression of rights are usually against Jews and when aimed at Arabs are ALWAYS a result of violence on their part.

In anger, many of my Facebook friends wrote until at some point, rather quickly actually, the responses turned from anger to humor...

From Justin Amler:

Circus tickets available!
Hi everyone - I have tickets available to the latest show that has made fantasy a reality - Cirque du Soleil: UNESCO
It is a show that defies logic, embraces fantasy and takes you on a journey to a past that never happened, a world which never was, and throws you into the land of make believe - a true theatre of the absurd. Let me know if you want tickets, but there's no hurry, because this show is going to be playing for a long time.
 From Zev Shandalov:

In the Book of Kings I Chapter 24 we read:
"And then, the Prophet Elijah spoke to Mohamed and declared Mohamed's Temple Mount on Mt Moriah the most wondrous of UNESCO world heritage sites."
So, it looks like UNESCO has a basis in a pasuk in Tanach...so sorry for complaining.

Mecca declared ancient Jewish site! UNESCO shocked the world today by saying Mecca is really the burial place of the prophet Micah denying its Moslem roots...Grand Sheikh Ahmad ibn Fashla was quoted as saying: ''oops.''

UNESCO votes on Moslem connection to the Vatican ... declares ''pope shmope...EVERYONE knows the Vatican was Mohamed's summer palace!''

U nited
N ations
E rasing
S hred of any Jewish
C onnection
O bsessively

Liron Kopinsky
The UN just declared my sukkah is a Muslim holy site. What do I do?

Saying Judaism has no historical claim to Jerusalem is like saying Hamas has no historical claim to firing rockets at innocent civilians.
Israel Foreign Ministry
The sun rotates around the world. The world is flat. There was never a Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
To say that Israel has no link to the Temple Mount is like saying that China has no link to the Great Wall or that Egypt has no connection to the Pyramids.....with this absurd decision UNESCO has lost what little legitimacy it still had.

The Village Idiot

The village idiot is a much loved character in the story that is humanity. Much loved...up to a point where the love turns to something more bitter. The village idiot is the one who cannot see that which stands before his very eyes and when shown the object of his denial, the village idiot continues to deny reality.

The village idiot astounds the other villagers by managing to come up with the wrong conclusion...every damn time. Facts mean nothing, proof is wasted. What the villagers quickly learn is that the idiot is what he will always be - blind, stubborn and worthy of nothing more than our pity.

As we walk through our lives, enriched with love of land and country, family and our people, the village idiot remains...well, an idiot.

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization whose slogan is
"Building peace in the minds of men and women." Perhaps as a misguided effort to further that slogan, the 58-member organization passed a draft resolution about some place called Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif. They managed to write an entire five page resolution without once mentioning the irrefutable fact that the mosques to which this resolution refers, sit atop what has been known and called throughout history as The Temple Mount.

Temple Mount, because once (actually twice) a Temple stood there, majestic and beautiful. OUR Temple, was there. For two thousand years, we've turned from all over the world in one direction - OUR TEMPLE MOUNT.

The first emotion many Jews have at this further proof of the blatant anti-Semitism is fury. Yes, we are furious because the earth doesn't lie - dig, and you WILL find the truth. Our history and not theirs; our bones and not theirs. Our earthenware vessels, our history. Ours.

But after a while, the fury turns to two more emotions - that's where most Jews are right now. The first is incredulity. This is what had our Prime Minister delivering a couple of excellent zingers, like:
To say that Israel has no link to the Temple Mount is like saying that China has no link to the Great Wall or that Egypt has no connection to the Pyramids. With this absurd decision UNESCO has lost what little legitimacy it still had.” 
In the place of anger, I believe our best response is to laugh. That's right. Laugh. I would expect nothing more from the UN and UNESCO than to pass a resolution denying something so easily proven as fact. Laugh at them. And while you do, remember.

We are here, in our land. Ancient Egypt is no more, Babylon and Assyria only a distant memory. The Phoenicians, the Romans, the Persians, the Amalekites - long is the list of those we have outlived. Someday, in the not too distant future, many of the names of the nations that voted for this resolution will join that list.

The sun will rise tomorrow morning; the Temple Mount will still be the place where our Holy Temples stood. Tomorrow, next month, next year, next century.

Laugh. The village idiot is called an idiot for a very good reason. UNESCO has merely proven the title to be aptly assigned. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Why I'm Done Pushing for Donald Trump

...or pushing against Hillary Clinton.

No, I haven't changed my mind about which is the less evil candidate; which will do more harm. But I've come to an agreement with myself and this is it.

For many years, I have had the thought that there are three types of people in the world, three groups.

There are those who love you...almost to the point of it not mattering what you do.

There are those who hate you...almost to the point of it not mattering what you do.

And there are those to whom you can speak, challenge, educate, share, discuss...until they choose to be in one of the groups above.

There is nothing gained by speaking to the haters. Speaking to those who love you feels good and is important but speaking to the third group is why I write and share my thoughts.

I think further discussing and wasting time and emotion on this election is not beneficial. I didn't watch the debate. I hope Hillary does end up in jail...maybe to share a cell with Bill for his treatment of women (not words said to a man on a bus 11 years ago).

Vote America...so that you never think the outcome might have been different if you had voted .

Vote for your democracy if not your heart.

Those who support one candidate or the other will not change their minds. The election held today or in a month has been decided already.

I don't plan on spending any more time on this because it feeds the incorrect attitude that somehow the world revolves around the United States. It doesn't.

In the next month, I'll be visiting at least 3 countries and maybe as much as 5. There's a whole world out there beyond your borders and they are watching in shocked disbelief. It's a big world and Americans make a mistake in not recognizing that beyond your borders, important and dangerous things are happening.

Yesterday, two people were murdered in a terror attack in Jerusalem. Two worlds crashed. A husband, three daughters and six grandchildren are struggling today to understand how God took the heart of their family away.

A young widow, married only five months thinks the world has ended. She thinks of the home they'll never build and the children they'll never have.

Trump. Clinton. Whatever.

Good luck, America. You are lucky. Whatever happens in November...you can probably undo in four years...two families in Israel, but really thousands of families here (and there) don't have that option.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Who You Are by the Gun You Carry

This week, a bunch of mothers in Israel breathed a bit easier, slept a bit more deeply. Their sons had come home for the weekend, as mine did. Saturday night, I opened Facebook and saw that a mother had posted of her son's rifle resting where he had put it - on Strawberry Shortcake sheets (probably not his bed, ya think?).

Another mother posted a picture a few minutes later. This one was of two rifles resting on her couch - both her sons were home for the weekend. David was resting on the couch, playing on his phone and I called him over, thinking that both pictures were cute and probably to show him I'm not the only mother celebrating their son being home.

Instead of laughing about the sheets or making a comment about there being two rifles there, he said the names of the units to which he believed the soldiers belonged. To me, rifles are rifles and it's taken me years to tell the difference between them. I know that Elie had an M16; that Davidi has a Tavor. There are long ones and mini ones and I don't remember who had what.

So I posted to the women about how funny it was that my son saw units where we saw the sheets and mentioned the two units Davidi said. The one with the two guns came back and said something about her sons preferring that she not mention what unit they are in.

I smiled and told Davidi what she wrote and he turned around and said, "ok, so that means he's in" and mentioned another name - a sub-unit of the first he'd said before. A few minutes later, in a private message, the mother wrote to me and explained that her son was indeed in that elite sub-unit and I wrote back that David had already said that!

A short time later, the second mother came on and confirmed David's first guess. Three for three and a thought. Two people will look at a picture and focus on different things. Like the other mothers, we focused on the setting behind the rifles our sons brought into our homes. David and I would guess other soldiers, focus on the rifle and what it tells them.

It's a reminder that there is so much more to our sons now that they are soldiers - a whole life and a wealth of knowledge we'll never have. A reminder that they walk where we will never go, do things we'll never do and in many cases will never even know about.

I can't look at the pictures the same way now. I stare at the rifles and want them to go away. They protect my son and enable him to protect others but I long for a time when what will draw their attention will be all that surrounds what they do. The army is indeed all-consuming at times.

The Manipulation of America

Disclaimer: I am not pro-Trump so much as I am anti-Clinton. I think America would have had to work very hard to come up with a candidate selection that is worse than this one.

The election is one month away - it's become vicious. Not the first time. It's filled with lies. Not the first time. It's filled with desperation on both sides. Each is convinced that their candidate is the lesser of two evils. Few actually like the choice facing America.
From distant shores, I watch in sadness. What bothers me most at this point, is two things. The first is that America is being manipulated. The second is that, in part, it is crossing red lines to do this.

The Manipulation

Another Facebook post going around:

Why has nobody consider it very strange that a person would record (apparently without permission) a locker room conversation and then holds on to it for 11 years. That person then waits until 2 months before the elections when it looks like Hillary might lose and decides to release it. I call that very strange. Then people are ready to string him up for something he said 11 years ago.I have since seen the video that the conversation was taken from and it's locker room conversation among men. A lot of big talk - crude yes but most men and some women too have talked that way when they're impressing someone. And it took place 11 years ago. Let's keep this in perspective. We all know Trump has a big mouth and very high opinion of himself.
I agree. Does no one find the timing of this disgusting Trump tape just a bit too convenient? Is what a man said in private to a friend eleven years ago enough to disqualify a man when deleting tens of thousands of emails, cursing an entire people, enabling a sexual predator and cheating billions out of charity is ignored?
Up to now, I sit back in wonder. I can't understand how America got to this point. I can't stand either but believe Trump to be the lesser of two evils in an election that will, almost certainly, focus on that specific point. Who will do less damage until America has another chance to right the wrong they are about to commit?

I sit here mere hours after a terror attack in Jerusalem - at a place I go to nearly every day. I was there an hour and a bit before, taking the train that came under fire (which isn't hard because the whole light rail is only one train line). I have reached the end of my ability to care about this election...except for that red line.

And the Red Lines

The problem with red lines nowadays is most people think it's not so hard to move them. Red lines aren't supposed to be moved. We all have our opinions and that is America. That is democracy. What is not America, is the hate being fanned and this is where the red line comes in. There are some lines that are more red than others and very few that are more red that this next one.

A man posts a picture to Facebook furthering the absurd comparison of Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. It is the gates of Auschwitz, where my great grandmother and two great aunts were murdered. A place that lived in my grandfather's nightmares for all the days of his life. It is the place where he lost the mother he was desperately working to save. It is where my husband lost all his grandparents, before he ever had a chance to know them. Where my mother-in-law was scared, my husband's uncle tattooed.

I wrote to the man...could it be possible that he doesn't understand? We are taught to give the benefit of the doubt. This is extremelly offensive and insensitive, not to mention inaccurate, I wrote to him. "Your attempt to present Trump as a Nazi falls far from the truth and only shows an incredible amount of ignorance about the Holocaust."

His response: "He's more like Mussolini. But I couldn't find a meme for that."

So because he couldn't find a meme likening Trump to Mussolini, he has the right to belittle the Holocaust, to use and abuse the legacy of Auschwitz at a time when the Poles have already turned it into a "museum" and the Catholics believe the memory of over a million Jews murdered and gassed to death is honorably served by building a church there?

"You clearly know little about the Nazi period if that's what you boil it down to - and you didn't use a Nazi uniform, you used concentration camp gates. Yes, Trump was unfaithful - I seem to recall there being many men out there who were unfaithful as well. He had a private conversation that was illegally taped, eleven years ago and which miraculously is being released now - you're being manipulated and you can't even see it." I wrote to him.

I tried arguing against his comments about Trump:
You are also misquoting Trump to serve your purpose. He doesn't propose getting rid of "that group" of people - that would be Hitler - who not only proposed it but did a lot to make that "proposal" happen. Trump said - ONLY - that until you can vet Muslims, you shouldn't let them into the country. What's wrong with that? You ever seen a body blown to pieces? It's not a pretty sight. You ever worry about getting on a bus, sitting in a restaurant, where your children are when a bomb explodes? Trust me - it's not easy and it should be taken seriously. Vet them properly - that's what Israelis do every day of the year. I drove through a check point this morning. The car in front of me was pulled over to the side. His papers will be checked. I drove right through - but then again, how many 55 year old Jewish grandmothers blow up buses? The 20 or 30-something male Muslim is in the range and so he's pulled to the side and delayed for about 3 minutes.
Is his inconvenience in being stopped for 3 minutes justified? Hell yes. If you doubt it, I'll put you in touch with my friend - whose 15 year old daughter was blown apart, murdered by an Arab terrorist who got through because Israel was urged to show restraint and ease the check points.
But getting back to your meme - it is offensive. My great-grandmother was murdered there behind the gates of that place you so callously use. My husband never knew a grandparents love - because all four of his grandparents were murdered there.
His response was, "if it's offensive, I apologize. When Trump apologizes it makes everything okay. So this should too."

I'm sorry, I should write to him, but I won't...I'll put it here because the chance that his mind is open enough to understand that what he did is very small.

If I were to take the time, I would tell him - your political agenda doesn't give you the right to abuse the memory of six million Jews.

Make America Great - perhaps what is really wrong with America is that they've forgotten that being great is actually a good thing. Eight years ago, America rallied behind the asinine slogan of "Yes We Can" - and, oh my God, in eight years, you didn't. He didn't.

He didn't solve the racial divide - he made it worse.

He didn't strengthen America - he brought the military to the gates of collapse.

He didn't bring men and women of honor to lead the nation - he brought the corrupt likes of Clinton and the monoric likes of John Kerry.

He didn't. I don't know if Trump can. I know that Clinton can't. You want to call him a racist? You want to call her some horrible name? Go for it - OMG, you picked the worst candidates in your entire history and now you have to live with it but don't you dare.

But don't you DARE make a mockery of the Holocaust.

Trump will NOT tattoo people; he will not take a mother into a room and tell her she can choose ONE of her three children while the rest will die. He will not build ghettoes and starve people to death. He will not march them across miles of frozen land. He is not a Nazi; he is not Adolf Hitler

You don't like Trump - don't vote for him. He's crass and crude - fine. Don't vote for him.

She's, oh my God, vicious, nasty, horrible - you think she's Obama's second coming - knock yourself out and vote for her.

I give up - maybe the saying that a country deserves the leaders it gets is true. I don't know. I don't care. Red lines crossed. I'm done. See you in four years, America...or maybe 8 if you can't come up with anything better than either of these clowns.

Oh, and the biggest joke of all - the man who posted this image as his ...yeah, people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Shooting Attack in Jerusalem...

Later they may release the video. I'm sure it was caught live. There are cameras there...there where I stood a little two hours ago. I parked the car, as I always do. I checked the time. Five minutes to the next train. Do I walk to the next stop or wait? I forgot my phone in the car...I go back and then rush to the train again. I minute later it comes and I get on...

I took pictures this week of the train in movement. I have to remember to upload the pictures. I get in the office - so much to do. Payroll needs to be done. Two students want to register. I want to buy some pillows to close up the open area on my bed. I need more oil for the Sabbath candles.

I'm on the phone when I see that David called. My world stops when a son in the army calls. I put the person on hold without hesitation and called him back. He's on his way to an appointment - I thought maybe he missed the bus and wanted to take the car.
"Where are you?" he asks.

"I'm in the office. The car is at Ammunition Hill. Do you need to take it?"

There was a brief hesitation. "There was an attack at Ammunition Hill."

My baby was calling to check on me. I don't want him to do that. I don't want them to worry about where I am.

Four people were hurt, including two in critical condition. A woman in her 60s has been taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds.Traffic has once again come to a standstill in all directions towards my home.

Dear God...

When Should A Woman be President of the USA

A friend from my childhood wrote that there is a special place in hell for women who do not vote for a woman to be president of the United States and I responded with this question:
Is there a special place in hell for African Americans who don't support African Americans? Is that what got us Obama? Is there a special place for Jews who don't support the best candidate possible for Israel? Where do you draw the line? At what point do you place America above a specific gender, religion, ethnic group?
Sadly, I don't believe there is any other viable candidate on the table...God knows, I wish there was. No one is going to convince me to vote for Clinton by telling me how bad Trump is - that just means there is nothing good to say about Clinton and the more people who use this tactic, the more convinced I am that Trump will, without question, be the better choice. Clinton is vicious and vile, corrupt and nasty. And Trump is rude to women in a private conversation with a friend 11 years ago...ok.
But long after I answered, the comment bothered me. Is this what it comes down to in America? Black votes for black? Women for woman? Latinos for a Latino? Where does it end? Well, the answer is probably where it started - electing a bad candidate for the wrong reason.

I would love to elect a woman for president. I think she would bring a level of compassion that is as yet very rarely represented in the Oval Office. I think a woman would bring focus to what is truly important in the world - the needs of mothers and women who work and do so much for their families; the needs of children and their rights and the need to protect them above all else; poverty and healthcare above war and staging. 

And when a woman worthy of the office is running, it will be my great honor to vote for her. Hillary Clinton is NOT that woman. She is nasty, crude, corrupt. She enabled her husband's deviant sexual activity by punishing and belittling the women under his command and authority. I'm sorry - it is time, past time, for a woman to be president. Israel brought us Golda Meir; the Germans have Merkel; the British gave us Margaret Thatcher. Like their politics or not, the fact is that they worked for their country and served honorably and with dedication.

Hillary is no Golda, no Margaret, no Angela. She's no angel, she's not much of a mother and she'll never serve America with grace, dignity, or integrity.

If you want a good president, you have to pick good candidates. For now, the world is half crying and half cringing. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton - only you, America, only you could pick candidates that offer the potential to be even worse than Obama. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Boy Came Home

David came home yesterday for what is basically a relatively long vacation. He has to go to an appointment tomorrow and another long day on Monday - both nights sleeping at home and then he's got off for the long holiday of Sukkot - 7 days off!

He came home Friday exhausted and wanted to sleep. He ate and crashed and hours later woke up still irritable and tired. After the Sabbath started, he went to rest more...and then, when he joined us for dinner, the boy came down to the table. The man was there somewhere, but the boy he'd been before the army was there too. He teased his younger sister, played with these magnet things on the table after we'd finished.

He was relaxed and free today and at one point, with his laughing and teasing, I said to him, "Grow up!" and realized that I'm glad there's still that boy inside. He's got decisions to make in life; things he has to do. It's nice when sometimes he reminds me that he's all of 20 years old. Israel has put so much responsibility on him. He takes it seriously. He's a good soldier They tell him what time to be somewhere, and he does everything he can to be on time.

They tell him to dress a certain way, and he does. He is on alert; watchful, aware. But through it all, he's still 20 years old. When we went to sit at the dining room table with our guests for the meal, we added extra chairs. As I went to sit down, Davidi motioned me to stop and then switched - giving me the nicer chair. As we sat down next to each other, we both realized at the same time that the folding chair he took for himself seats him higher than the dining room chair he left for me. He grinned as he looked down at me and I laughed.

He reached over and took a piece of my food, teasing and laughing. He's 20 years old and he's home and I'm loving every minute of it.

The man will get up early tomorrow and get dressed in his uniform, but he'll take the boy with him too but I have a feeling I'll be seeing that boy a lot in the coming two weeks and that makes me so happy.

Good night Davidi, good night David.

Friday, October 7, 2016

On His Way Home

There are few things more precious to a soldier than home. Home is his goal throughout the days he isn't here. It's an anchor; it's rest when he's tired. It's good food instead of the decent and healthy but not special food he gets all the time. It's freedom to do what he wants, when he wants it; to wear what he wants.

Each time he is released from base, home is usually the place he races to - bus to a bus to a bus; sometimes with a train mixed in there.

David is on his way home - or should be. He's been stationed at one of the farthest borders from here (won't help our enemies because we live in the center of Israel and all I've explained is that he's likely very far north or very far south). Either way - it will take him hours and a few buses to get here.

Food is cooking; Normally, I make him brownies and more to take back with him. But he's almost free for several days off and so I don't have to do that this week...

I've written this before, but I'll write it again here. One of our greatest curses in having our enemies close on our borders and often within our borders, is offset a bit by the very simple reality that this provides us with two important blessings:

1. It means our sons and daughters serve close as well. They are home at least once a month, more often twice and sometimes even more. It means we can literally get in the car and drive to the outside of the base where they are stationed.

2. It means they know what they are fighting for; they know they are defending their homes. Not in some esoteric, remote, political way, but real, intense, immediate.

There is no country in the world that wants peace more than Israel because our struggle has been very long and deadly. We are a people who mourn each injury, each death. Traffic accidents are reported in the news; murders get top headlines. Crime is relatively low in Israel and women feel safe walking in the streets at all hours of the day; children play safely in their backyards...and front yards, and in the parks and near the schools.

A perfect society - no, not at all, but a caring one without question. My house is filling with the smells of the Sabbath - a bit different this week because we are going for one of those very rare, all-dairy ones. I have lasagna in the fridge; I'm making broccoli and corn quiches. I have ice cream in the freezer. Lauren made salmon and I'm making breaded fish fillets soon. The challah dough is rising. Shabbat is coming soon and David is on his way home. It doesn't get much better than this moment.

Life isn't perfect - I have a long list of aches and problems in my life but at any moment, I can list more blessings than curses and as I learned from Sherri Mandell in her book, "Blessings of a Broken Heart," which she wrote after her eldest child, Koby, was brutally murdered with his friend Yosef, you need to find the blessings. Look for them, recognize them, accept them, celebrate them.

He's on his way home. I'll get my hug soon. He'll hide in his room for a while, but I can close my phone and relax. I can stop fearing a phone call and not worry if my phone isn't fully charged.

May God grant the soldiers of Israel a good and peaceful Sabbath. This week, at least two rockets slammed into Israel, fired from Gaza at our cities. One had some sort of GPS in it, guiding it to hit inside a city, near a school. And the blessing - no one was hurt; the street will be patched, the buildings fixed. No one was hurt.

The next war is one day closer than it was yesterday but it won't be today; it won't be now. .He's on his way home and that's all that matters for a soldier's mother.

Shabbat shalom. 

Asking Forgiveness ... or Not

There are two concepts that have never worked for me no matter how hard I try to accept them. The first is that suddenly in death, a bad person becomes a saint. That's a bit of an extreme idea, but I've done it intentionally.

Years ago, there was a nasty man that I knew. He belittled others, insulted them, hurt them. He died suddenly and all around me, people started speaking about how good he was...but he wasn't. He wasn't a saint in life and dying didn't change anything. No, it isn't for me to judge - but isn't declaring him a good person judging?

The second concept revolves around Yom Kippur and the days before. We go around asking people to forgive us; we work to clear the slate between us and our friends (and our enemies) in the hope that when our account comes up before God, He will see that we tried to be forgiven and to forgive, and He will afford us the same mercy.

I can think of three people...okay...four...who really hurt me this year. Not one of them has come to apologize for the pain they gave me - each lives in their own world believing that I have wronged them. Not one has the courage to come to me and say, "let's talk; let's work this out."

In one case, I tried, I apologized...and I got nowhere. In three other cases, I didn't try.

I saw this on Facebook and laughed. It's arrogant...it's obnoxious...and you know what...there's an element of truth in it. In one case, I attempted to make an ungrateful person realize how much effort others have made to help. More than a dozen people wrote or called to thank me. I didn't mean to offend, hurt or embarrass this person. I was sincerely hoping that the individual would understand the message behind my words but instead, I was blocked on Facebook...which honestly, is like so childish...

"Think very hard why I did that to you." What a concept. Why...why did I publicly encourage you to show more gratitude? To stop complaining about how unfair the world is and open your eyes to the amazing things that are happening?

In another case, an accusation was made against someone who has not been proven guilty of any crime. The accusation was inappropriate, and the person making the accusation was using their position of "fame" and "power" to abuse someone who is, according to the deepest tenets of our society, innocent until proven guilty.

I did not mean to offend, hurt or embarrass this person. I was sincerely hoping that this person would understand the mssage behind my word but instead, I was blocked on Facebook and the apology that was due to the innocent-until-proven-guilty person was never made. I received dozens of emails thanking me for what I wrote. "Think very hard why I did that to you." What a concept.

Yom Kippur is about seeking out those that we hurt out of pride, out of exhaustion. Wrongs that we did that shouldn't have been done. It's about realizing there was a better way to say something, or better for the thing not to have been said at all.

But the forgiveness thing doesn't apply in every instance. There are times when we have to speak up, when we have to hurt. There are times when the hurt being done to someone else forces you to make a choice. Choose carefully, but if the choice was right, don't apologize.

It is important for us to evaluate how we behaved and to reach out to others. But it's also important to remember - the life that people lived isn't suddenly made irrelevant upon their death. I firmly believe that the likes of Hitler and Eichmann don't deserve anything but our continued disgust and anger. Again, two extremes. Evil in life; evil in death. Obvious to everyone.

So why is it so hard to fathom a case that is a bit less of an extreme? If you were wrong this year and because of how you behaved, someone called you out and embarrassed, offended, or hurt you - instead of expecting them to come to you, consider going to them.

You may find that in recognizing what you did wrong and apologizing, your own acts of decency will open not only the gates of the relationship lost, but the very blessings of the heavens you seek.

It's a concept, isn't it? Evil remains evil; wrong remains wrong. Arrogant remains arrogant, and kindness and repentence often triggers the best in others. Go for it. Time is running out.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

In My Little Country Today...

Thousands of people heard the alarm. It is a voice suddenly announcing "Tzeva Adom, Tzeva Adom, Tzeva Adom" (Color Red, Color Red, Color Red - or Red Alert, Red Alert, Red Alert). The voice is calm but insistent. I've heard it a few times.

In some places, it can be a siren. It wails loud and clear and your heart begins to race and your brain kicks in as soon as recognition is made. Run. Grab your children and run. Get to safety. A safe room and close the door. A staircase away from windows. Against a wall and bend down. Out in the open - lay down and cover your head. Run. You have 60 seconds. You have 30 seconds. You have 20 seconds. Even an Olympic runner wouldn't make it.

Listen for the boom. Wait for it. And when you hear it. You gasp in shock. Which is silly because you were waiting for it, anticipating it, right? And still you gasp in shock. And in the silence, the follows the boom, you think. Where is she? Where is he?

A friend who lives very close to Sderot wrote that she was caught outside during the latest attack. She had no choice but to lie on the ground. She felt it shake when the missile landed - inside a city, close to a school.

Another friend wrote that she could feel her house shake.

In my little country today, we were hit by a missile. The siren sounded; the red alert was announced. Children, panicked and frightened, were hurried into bomb shelters. There is no time to explain, no time to deal with their fears. When Aliza was nine years old, in third grade, in the middle of a war where her oldest brother was fighting, an alarm was sounded. It was 2009 and the Gaza war had yet to hit Jerusalem - that would happen in 2012 and 2014, but in 2009, we still believed we were out of range. And then, the siren sounded.

I was in Jerusalem and I heard it. Somehow I knew it was a mistake but I wateched from the shelter of my office as others stopped, looked up, and then continued on their way. In the schools, it was a different story. They couldn't afford to ignore the siren and so they correctly treated it as an attack and rushed the chidlren to shelter.

There was no time to worry about a third grader, or in this case three third grade girls who were frightened and had been separated from their class. Teachers correctly grabbed them and corraled them with their own classes into bomb shelters. But when the doors closed, they had their hands full with terrified first and second graders and no one had time to deal with three crying third graders.

And so she came home and told me about the alarm. Today, more children were terrified, parents worried. The missile came barreling in - this time, they didn't miss. They hit a city with tens of thousands of people...not far from a school.

Imagine if the same thing happened in our country. Imagine if it was your child's school. Imagine if you were caught in the open with nowhere to go and 20 seconds to react and find a way to save your life.

My little country is angry tonight; angry for the people in the south who are starting this new year as they have started and ended so many others - under the constant threat of an enemy who believes it is holy and right to attack innocent people while much of the world simply ignores this latest crime.

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: info@paulasays.com.