Saturday, December 31, 2016

OMG THIS...Sometimes you need to hear reality

...and this is reality. A few things I would change if I was saying it - like we haven't been dealing with Palestinian terrorism for TWO years - more like more than FIFTY, but never mind. The rest is just wonderful...


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Kerry on Israel

The problem with listening to John Kerry is that within minutes you start to get a headache - and that's the best I can say.

As an Israeli, I was prepared to listen to him lie - and that is what he did.

I was prepared, or I thought I was, to listen to him dismiss my land, my nation, my country. I expected his attempts to explain the latest back-stabbing actions of the Obama administration, I found myself, at first, deeply annoyed by his endless attempts to re-frame the world according to John Kerry. Everything was, for this pompous-ass man, about him (please excuse my language, but this was the best I could force myself to write).

Hundreds of innocents have been murdered by Islamic terrorists and each was readily and easily dismissed; orphans who will forever mourn their parents, brides who never got to walk down the aisle with their fathers - all because men like John Kerry have taken the easy road for generations.

Not one single US president has had the guts to threaten the Arabs with a simple ultimatum. Stop the violence, or we will stop you. Instead, they placate the Arabs and demand more from the Israeli side. We are to understand. Understand what?

Well, explains Kerry - we need to compensate the Arabs who have suffered? WHY have they suffered? Because THEY chose war. THEY rejected the Palestinian state they were offered in 1947. In greed, they lost. Again. And again. And again. In hatred and a quest to remove Jews from their land so that the world could have yet another Muslim country in the world, they attacked us and WE are to compensate them?

No mention of the 800,000 Jews expelled from Arab lands, their possessions stolen from them.

No mention of the compensation due to thousands of terror victims whose lives were irrevocably changed because men like John Kerry were too self-absorbed to realize they were pressuring the side that actually agreed to make peace.

Without doubt, the best example of John Kerry's knowledge of the Israel-Palestinian conflict came towards the end of his self-serving, rambling and disconnected speech. He spoke of significant milestones. The first, explained John Kerry, occurred exactly 120 years ago when the 1st Zionist Congress convened. Kerry said their goal was to create a state in the historic home of the Jewish people, "where ties went back centuries."


The Jewish connection to the land of Israel dates back over 3,000 years. To attempt to rewrite that as mere "centuries" epitomizes the failure of John Kerry and Barack Obama. The reason that John Kerry failed to MAKE peace was because it was never his to make.

Defeated before he even began, he might still have discovered a way to leave a lasting impression. Sadly, his ego got in the way.

Almost three years ago, I wrote this article - Greater Men Have Tried. It is as true today, as it was when it was written. John Kerry failed. There is no peace.

And Israel is not to blame. All these wonderful ideas that he thinks he came up with - Israel has tried. We have offered unilateral moves, we have offered land. We have paid for peace with our lives and with our blood and with our fathers and mothers. We have paid for it with our children.

I have had three sons stand on the borders of Israel, protecting, guarding, risking their lives. In two weeks, Davidi goes back after a wonderful few weeks break. No one has tried harder, fought harder for peace than Israel.

I watched Kerry repeat himself - he needs a new speech writer. I listened to him ramble and lie. Israel has not had a friend in the White House for eight years. Quietly in the last few weeks I have listened to Donald Trump. I long for January 20th and only wonder what more damage John Kerry and Barack Obama will do before they finally leave.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

An Open Letter to Senegal

Years ago, I gave a lecture at the MASHAV (Golda Meir Center) for guests of the Foreign Ministry. As I arrived a bit early for the lecture, I was asked to be the “judge” of the presentations each team delivered. Most of the participants were from Africa and the task they were assigned involved creating a social media campaign to promote the topic. As I listened to a group (I believe one of the men was from Senegal), I realized that the very foundation of their presentation was wrong.
They were trying to raise awareness that domestic violence was wrong. The presenters spoke about how proud they were that African countries, such as Senegal, got around to signing the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, including the rights of women in 2005. They spoke about media campaigns, television shows, etc. What they missed, I explained to them as gently as I could, was that their campaign was all wrong. To a man, I bet if you asked a Senegalese man if domestic violence was wrong, he’d say, “oh, absolutely,” and then, in too many cases, if he went home and found that dinner was cold, he’s smack his wife. That’s not domestic violence, he would say, it was a well-deserved punishment for her crime.

Into this picture of cultural norms, poverty, and tremendous need, Israel stepped in, bringing light, experience, assistance. We didn’t preach to them, we helped, we taught. About 75% of the workforce in Senegal is involved in agriculture (that’s a fancy way of saying they are farmers). So says Wikipedia and many others. Wikipedia continues, “Production is subject to drought and threats of pests such as locusts, birds, fruit flies, and white flies.”
Well, Israel is pretty lucky with most of those things – pests, locusts, fruit flies, etc. but drought, now that’s a serious thing here in Israel and so back in the early 1960s, an Israeli named Simcha Blass, invented this amazing thing called, “drip irrigation.” And a few years back, Israelis flew to Senegal in 2014 to help them implement this and other water-saving technologies.
In fact, Senegal and Israel ties go back much farther. In fact, one year after Senegal declared independence (in September 1960), Israel’s Defense Minister, Shimon Peres, represented Israel at the celebrations. This was after numerous interactions between the countries – all one-sided, of course. Senegal sent military delegations to learn about the Israeli army (the kibbutz movement and ways to combine agricultural development with the armed forces: Israel sent seed cultivation experts  (Middle East Record, published by Tel Aviv University, Volume II, Edited by Yitzchak Oron, Page 341-342).
Israel continued to assist Senegal for about 13 years…until Senegal thanked Israel by breaking diplomatic relations in the wake of the Yom Kippur War defeat. Yes, that was one of the wars in which WE were attacked, defended ourselves, gained the upper hand and handed back a stunning defeat…and so Senegal, of course, had no other option but to break relations to cater to their apparently deeper ties in the Arab world.

And yet, twenty years later (when the Senegalese were probably running out of water) diplomatic relations with Israel began to develop once again. Israel has…um…had…an Ambassador to Senegal and according to Aminata Toure, a former prime minister and an adviser to the current president, relations with Israel would be long-lasting (that was about 8 months ago).
In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Toure said, “We can maintain good relations with Israel and the Arab countries. “We see no contradiction, even if we have our opposition to some issues.”
So, they see no issue in taking our aid and then supporting an anti-Israel resolution, one-sided, unfair, completely out of proportion to what Palestinians are doing and problems around the world. Okey-dokie. Clearly this calls for an Open Letter to Senegal.
Dear Senegal,
Let’s make this short and sweet. Israel has been giving you assistance for the last 55+ years. In light of your recent vote, we are re-evaluating our Friends list and find that we’ve been wasting valuable time, energy, resources, faith and hope on you.
We just want to reassure you and the world that we are not leaving you helpless and abandoned. Your good friends,the Palestinians, have offered aid. Yes, I know, they have never sent economic aid to a foreign country, never sent humanitarian assistance. They have no trained search and rescue forces (but they ARE pretty good at demolition if you need any buildings, schools, homes, etc. blown up).
They have never invented any great medical devices, medicines, procedures and yes, I know, they regularly send their sick patients to Israel (including those of their President, Prime Minister, leaders and more) but the good news is after a visit to one of their doctors in Gaza hospitals, there are rarely any follow up visits needed (or possible).
Agriculture? Well, um…they did have green houses, amazing green houses that produced some of the most desired and delicious bug-free, organic celery, peppers and other produce. Although, to be fair, I think they only had them for about 24 hours before they burned them to the ground, so that might not be much help given that the ones who created the hot houses were the people you just betrayed last week.
Telecommunications and cellular networks and cyber-security? Well, no, sorry, I don’t think they have any of that, but you still have telephone polls, right? And, pigeons, maybe?
Look, I know this might look bad if Israel told you to go to hell, but it’s okay. First, becasuseThe Palestinians have got your back now that you’ve decided to stab Israel in our backs.
Don’t worry…be happy. Oh, and if you need any more help from Israel…yeah…that’s funny.
Um. No.
Shalom, Senegal.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Your Lights and Mine

Your lights are beautiful, a symbol of a prayer for peace on earth and goodwill towards others. They are full of color and life and brighten up the streets of your cities, even on the darkest, coldest of times.

My lights are more modest. Outside of Israel, they are put in the windows of our homes, unless we are afraid to draw too much attention and send a message that a Jew dwells within. In Israel, they fill the windows of apartment buildings, greet us from the rooftops, and twinkle in the early evening at many intersections and gates of our cities.

Your lights come on sometimes as early as the beginning of December (sometimes even earlier) and continue even into January.

My lights last for eight nights. Only eight nights. Always eight nights.

Your lights...where do they come from, how old is the tradition? I have to admit that I didn't know and so I looked and found several articles that say the tradition of Christmas lights date back to the 17th century. At first, they were candles  but by 1900 the introduction of the electric lights became more widespread (interesting side note - in 1908, insurance companies decided not to pay insurance claims for fires that started from candles on a Christmas tree. Source:

My lights...where do they come from, how old is the tradition? Well, I knew most of this, but to be fair and accurate, I looked and found several articles that say the tradition of Chanukah lights date back to the year 136 B.C.E. (over two thousand years ago - source:

My lights come not from peace, but from war. More precisely, a triumphant battle against an enemy that sought our destruction, but more, the annihilation of our faith. They destroyed our Holy Temple, vanquished our land and exiled our people...and we went to war, to battle and in victory, we rededicated ourselves to our God and lit the purest of oil that should have only lasted for one day and yet it burned for eight.

Two thousand years, in our modest way, we celebrate that dedication, that victory.

My lights are no less holy than yours, nor are they any less impressive for their modesty. They are different and most important of all, as your lights are yours, my lights are mine. This year, we will both be celebrating, you according to the solar calendar and me with my lunar one.

Though the lighting of the menorah was born out of war, it burns bright each year as a sign of devotion and commitment.

And here is my request. Put up your tree, plug in your lights. Do it with all the joy and love in your hearts. Celebrate the light and the life - as we do and may your family be blessed.



My lights are mine. There is no tradition of a tree in our religion; no colored lights strung on the branches of the tree we do not have. There is no such thing, nor is there any need, for a "Hannukah bush." The only bush I can think of in Jewish history is the burning bush that was a sign of God's presence and not something we attempt to emulate in our homes.

Please don't put my star, my menorah on your tree. You are not honoring my tradition that way, you are blurring the importance and the modesty of what we are about. Please look at my menorah and smile; recognize my Jewish star for the symbolism that is there and keep is separate from yours.

Way back in high school, the principal of the public school I attended put up a Christmas tree inside the high school building. I don't believe, I didn't believe that he should do that and so I asked him. His response was that it wasn't a Christmas tree, but a "Sharing Tree" on which he planned to put a small menorah.

I told him that my tradition was no less than that of the Christians and if he was to put a menorah on, it should be the same size as the tree - clearly an impossibility. I also told him that as principal, it was his job to educate children. Why didn't he put up a Sharing Chair? A Sharing Refrigerator? Why a tree? The answer, clearly was because it was the Christmas season and the tree was Christmas tree.

As I explained my anger, I flagged down a teacher who was not Jewish and asked him what this thing was. He looked at me like I was crazy and said, "It's a Christmas tree."

Your lights...not mine.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tears for a Loving Dog in a World Gone Mad

The last few days have been very difficult - around the world and within the smaller world of my family and my life. Sometimes, you want to just curl up and cry and that's what I've been doing on and off for the last 48 hours or so.

World-wide, as Christians prepare to celebrate Christmas and a season that is supposed to represent good will towards man, peace on earth, etc., the world sometimes feels like it is falling apart. Twelve people were murdered in Berlin; the Russian ambassador to Turkey was assassinated by an "Allahu-akbar" screaming terrorist. Shots were fired at an Israeli bus, three people were shot in a mosque in Switzerland. In my smaller world. we know that one Israeli was seriously wounded in the Berlin attack and another is missing, the family desperately hoping she is still alive and among the wounded. They know without doubt that she was there - it is her husband who lies in the hospital in critical condition.

In the Ukraine, anti-Semites entered the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslev, a place where tens of thousands of Jews go every year to pay their respects, screamed hateful words and threw a pig's head covered in red paint (presumably to symbolize blood). Such hate, such anger, such violence. Where is the love, the light of the season that so many look for around this time of year?

And on a personal front, in addition to an ailing father (please pray for Moshe ben Malka, may he be granted a speedy recovery and live long and healthy until 120 with my much loved mother, Sara bat Mina Leah, beside him in health), our family pet needed to be put to sleep. I have to admit, in all the years that I've loved writing, my greatest limitation has never been what, it has always been when...I never had enough time to stop and take the words in my brain and place them first on paper, and now on the computer.

For the last day or so, for the first time, I knew it was too much. I couldn't write...and that caused me even more pain. How do I write of my worries for my father and how do I say goodbye to Simba? Do I ignore the world, people starving and dying in Aleppo while once again the world focuses on meaningless gestures like the lights on the Eiffel Tower, hashtags on Twitter? Do I put worry for my father to the side for a few minutes and pay my respects to Simba? How silly would it be to focus on a dog when the world is on fire?

Well, anyone who has loved a dog or a cat or pretty much any pet understands that they are never "just" a dog, a cat, whatever. They become part of our lives. I am having such trouble sitting in my living room where Simba spent most of his time. I keep expecting to turn around and see him there. I move the chair and worry that I woke him up; I go to shut the bathroom light, leaving on the sink area light only to realize his food is gone and the light is no longer needed.

I drive my family crazy with how much I write. How is it possible not to write now? But for the last two days, it hasn't been happening and it isn't time that stops me. Last night, I had to go out to a play with hundreds of Israelis from all over the world to see "Sephardic Gardens." I've had the ticket for weeks, I even helped the city/Ministry of Interior sell dozens of tickets. I had an envelope filled with tickets. I had to go. Literally.

Sephardic Gardens is a wonderful musical featured non-stop in Tel Aviv's HaBima Theater for the last 18 or 19 years...non-stop and the actors put their hearts and souls into the play they offered to a full house here in our new Culture Center in Maale Adumim. And the audience roared with laughter and cheers.

And what is so very typical, the actors improvised, slipping the name of our city, Maale Adumim, into the words of the play. The sub-titles stumbled; the audience broke into cheers. I don't know what was to have been said, but when one character (a young man seeking a blessing and advice) asked a question and was answered by the second character (a learned rabbi), the young man turned and asked the rabbi how he know this and the actor ad-libbed, "because I've been doing this show for 19 years!"

I laughed until I cried. I smiled. I cheered. I clapped and was ready to rise to my feet when the lead character motioned that he wanted the audience to stop clapping at the end and then turned and said that the cast was proud to come, "ESPECIALLY to Maale Adumim!"

And then I came home, parked the car, and remembered. Simba wouldn't be here when I open the door. I sat down and thought it was time to write about Simba, to write a goodbye to our gentle friend.

The world is exploding...what will I write? I thought of the essence of what Simba brought to our family and if beyond my personal pain, I could find a greater message in his life and essentially the short lives that most pets share with their human family.
Simba as a puppy (front) and Sushi already gray

Simba came to us when he was a few months old, when we were still mourning Sheba, our first real pet besides some fish and a bird. We still had Sushi, a delightful and much loved dachshund that was abandoned and left to die.

When we lost Sheba, losing Sushi was on our minds and it seemed that getting Simba would be both our consolation for Sheba and help us into the future. We hoped he would help us keep Sushi with us longer.

I guess it worked because Sushi lived until she was almost 18 years old and on winter days, they often cuddled together.

In a bed that was barely big enough for one large dog, Simba always yielded to this tiny dachshund, keeping her warm and safe and sometimes making us laugh. What we should learn from how Simba treated Sushi is kindness, caring for others even, sometimes, at your own expense.
Fully grown Simba, a more frail Sushi

Sheba taught my children not to be afraid of dogs. From the day Simba came to us, I can tell you that he never knew hunger or abuse. He welcomed people to our homes and entertained our neighborhood with his ability to stand on high walls and watch from above. He learned how to open doors to let himself out and back in, but never how to close them. He seemed to know that it was Friday and that soup was coming to him.

Each day, every day, coming home to Simba meant being welcomed with exuberance and love. I don't remember a time in the last 8 or so years, that Simba didn't show his joy in having us home. At night, I listen for him; coming up the steps I miss his barking. For years as I worked on my dining room table, I could hear him snoring behind me. I keep looking into the corner and am surprised anew that he isn't there.

Simba had a simple life, though not a particularly long one. His days consisted of food, sleep, walks around the neighborhood, and endless attempts to get our attention. If we met his eyes, if we petted him, he made it clear that all he wanted was more.

He never insisted, but if you just put your hand to his head and then stopped, he would gently remind you that he wanted more, more attention, more love and, since you started it, you often felt the need to continue.

Simba simply wanted our love. I look at the pictures and I remember - he always looked at you as if he could see right into you.

Losing a beloved pet is never easy. You are never really ready for the moment when you know the suffering has to end. When we lost Sushi, it wasn't nearly this bad. Not because we didn't love her as much but because hers was a full life - 18 years! And she died in her bed, in her sleep after a long life filled with love. You can't really ask for more.

If Sushi was the old one, Simba was the puppy, the new one. It took me a long time to realize that he had gone gray and when he cried as he got up in the last few days, I realized it was probably arthritis. Puppy no longer. Our time with Simba went so fast.

Sheba and Sushi and Simba taught my children to love unconditionally and without expecting anything more than love in return. They taught them responsibility. I know the time will come when I think of him without crying.

And I know that my children will carry his memory with them forever.

So thank you, Simba. Thank you for reminding us every day that the most wonderful thing of all is simply being a part of a family, of giving love and receiving it.

I know on a scale of a world plagued with terrorism, the death of one dog is meaningless. I know that there are people suffering much greater losses than that of a family pet having to be put to sleep.

For two days, I've felt bad that I'm so sad and then somewhere along the way, I started to think that what makes us human is our ability to love. Only humans love conditionally - you love people who are close to you, people who do good things for you. And that's the difference, given a chance, most dogs will offer love unconditionally. That's what Simba did. That was his greatest strength - more than the walls he could jump and the doors he could was really always about love.

May your memory be blessed.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Eternal Faith and the People of Israel

One of the jobs of a nation's leader is to talk tough and talk loud. He (or she) has to say things that sound stern and important and their words are supposed to make their enemies think twice about engaging in battle while convincing their allies that they've made the right choice in aligning their national interests. The truth is that Benjamin Netanyahu knows how to speak amazingly well. Sometimes, he speaks to his own people; sometimes he speaks to our friends. Sometimes, he speaks to our enemies and sometimes, perhaps at the greatest of times, he speaks not so much to us, but for ALL of us. And not just the Jews who are alive today, not just those who live in Israel.
Like most Israelis, I have a love/hate relationship with him. At times, I hate his politics; often, I love his words. So yesterday, Bibi turned to our enemies in Iran, who have promised that they will do all they can to obliterate our homeland. He spoke in words that they would understand. Simple, clear, direct,  "Don't threaten us, we are not a rabbit. We are a tiger. If you threaten us you endanger yourself."
I would have preferred that he said that we were lions but I'll take the tiger reference. It's a good one for a leader to use. Majestic. Strong. Noble. Okay, I'll take the tiger. 
And two days ago, as I drove home through the wind and rain of the latest storm to hit Israel, I realized something. I live my life with little concern for Iran. No, I am not stupid. No, I do not think the threat from Iran can or should be ignored. I think it is very real and as Elie Wiesel (of blessed memory) once said, "When someone says they want to kill you, believe them." I believe the Iranians want to destroy Israel.
I also believe they'll never be able to do it. Not because they won't try. They might. But they won't succeed. Why do I believe this? There is a concept in my religion "Emunah shlayma." It is translated as "complete faith." It means that you believe something to the level of having no doubt. Zero.
I believe, with complete faith, that Israel is eternal. That Jerusalem is our holy city (no, that doesn't mean it can't be holy to others - that's politics, not belief). I believe that love does conquer all. I really do.
To put this in simpler terms, here's an example. I believe in the sun. There will be sunshine brightening our world. Maybe not today, perhaps even not tomorrow, but the sun is there, just waiting to return and shine over our world. We just have to have the faith to remember that on the darkest, stormiest days and nights of our lives. It doesn't take faith to believe in the sun because we know it is there; we've all seen in.
And yet, the very people who will tell you that there can be no scientific doubt that the sun is there and will be there tomorrow, might well question the future of Israel. Don't. Really. Don't. 
Israel is as eternal as the sun. Really. An integral part of God's creation - the sun, Israel. Wait, maybe those people don't believe in God...that's another whole post that I'll probably never write.
So let me say this, for those of you who DO believe in God, don't worry. Take revenge. Revenge for the slaughter of millions. Revenge for tens of thousands of rockets fired at Israel's cities. Revenge for the unprovoked attacks - the stabbings, the rammings, the explosions, the stoning attacks, and shooting ambush attacks... Take revenge for the blood that has been spilled here in this holy land and in countless cities around the world.
We deserve revenge. And, guess what...we have it.
I think Israel's greatest revenge is that despite all of our history...or perhaps because of it...we have learned that the greatest revenge of all is simply to live as happy as we can, as free as we can. Ultimately, what our enemies will probably never realize is that our greatest gift isn't even the tiger Bibi mentioned, but rather the simple act of waking up this morning and every morning, here in our land.
My revenge today is that each weekday, my grandchildren climb out of their warm beds and their parents, my children, help them dress and go to nursery school. That my middle son is awaiting the birth of his first child; that my youngest son is serving in an army my great grandfather could only dream would exist one day, and that my youngest daughter goes to school each day close to the city of our fathers and yesterday came home to spend the Sabbath here in our home overlooking Jerusalem on one side, the Judean desert on the other.
My revenge yesterday was that I went to visit with my parents, who just celebrated 60 years of marriage. And my revenge is that my kitchen is filled with food, for all the times they tried to starve us; that yes, my husband and sons are armed, for all the generations we were left defenseless.
But my greatest revenge of all is simply the act of living. We, who cherish and celebrate life, we are the tigers and lions and people of Judea. Eternal.

Shabbat shalom.

Sunday, December 11, 2016


Remember that 52 Frames contest I've written about? I still love it but I've missed a few weeks.

Last week, it was minimalism...I posted this for it...not exactly what they meant, I think, but it worked for me...

This week, I pretty much didn't even have time to look to see what the topic was.

Hours before the deadline, I finally got a chance to check - Perspectives...shooting something from a different angle.

Earlier in the week, there was a beautiful half moon and I took a bunch of pictures. I love the zoom on this camera...

But the idea here was to shoot something from a different perspective. You can't really get a different perspective on the moon unless you're in outer space. Otherwise, it's always going to be up.

Nice picture, right?

So forget the moon...and it's cold outside.

And I'm cold...and tired...

I looked at the dog...he gave me this look, no, lady, just no!

I opened the oven and that didn't call to me. I'm not sure why, but I ended up in the fridge.

Well, not me, my camera.

And of all the interesting things, for some reason, the underside of the egg shelf called to me.

No, I don't expect to win any prizes; don't even expect to get in the top 50 or so pictures but mission accomplished. How many people look at the world from the underside of their egg trays?

America is Doomed

I've been trying for weeks to say something, write something, explain something that will calm people down, make them SEE rather than fear. It's pretty much been for nothing.

A woman I have known for almost 30 years has pretty much cut the relationship. She didn't unfriend me, but took the first step in "unfollowing" me. That means, she doesn't want to listen or see what I'm saying which, by my book is basically unfriending.

I let it go for a while thinking time would heal but it just gets worse. She wrote a song with a friend. She's a talented singer and musician and writer so put it together and you get a song.

I made a comment - apparently, I'm not supposed to do that. Apparently, we agreed not to comment on each other's politics and my comment breaks that rule. I also shared her post with another comment on my Facebook timeline. Apparently sharing what others post is wrong.
Years ago, someone got very angry at me for calling them on something they did that was unethical and all I could think of was - if you did it, don't call ME out.

So she wrote a song to rhyme with Rudolf the Red-Nosed reindeer and one line just got to me...

"But now, our country will fall, because Trump will murder us all..."

She said I had no right to share HER song; it was hers. Now, according to the laws of Facebook, I think you are allowed to use that Share button. And that's all I did. I never claimed the song as mine. There is a simply rule on Facebook - don't post what you aren't willing to have shared. Writing that the President of the United States plans to "murder us all" is quite serious. Seriously slander or seriously true in which case all must be done to stop him.
She demanded, nonetheless, that I remove my shared post, and I did. I also removed my comment on her time line. Those are hers. The only words I have taken from her is the sentence above. The following words are mine. I don't expect she'll see it. I don't expect she'll read it. I don't expect things to be put in perspective.
I surrender, America. You're right. America is doomed. Trump is going to murder you all. First he'll kill the gay people. Then he'll kill the straight people then he'll kill the women; then the men.
Then he'll release chemicals into the air to increase global warming. Then he'll start a war with China, name Putin as head of the military....and all this in his first week of office.
Then maybe he'll go play golf and act like Obama...or seduce a woman in the oval office like Clinton...but at least in his case it will probably be his wife and not a vicious, nasty dog like you know who....
Then having killed all the straight people and women, he'll pass anti-abortion regulations just for the hell of it AND make all illegal immigrants who aren't men or women or gay or straight (cause they were killed the first week, remember?) leave the country. 
He's going to change the color of the flag to red and orange and it will clash horribly.
Oh, I'm scared to death. It's the end of days, the end of the world...
And OMG he might force everyone to have guns in their homes and outlaw snowplows.
I've heard about 30 times how I can't know how dangerous Trump is because I don't live in America...
Well. Unlike Clinton supporters I actually listened to both candidates and oh yes, she was a snake. And she is more corrupt. And nastier.
But you know are royally f****** America, you know why?
 Because you lost something precious in this election and it wasn't Trump's fault. It was yours.
You were so busy hating, you forgot to love. You forgot that friendship is eternal while the presidency is four years. 
 You forgot that unity is strength and anger and violence is not your way.
I surrender. Live with your fear, your blind hatred. And live with the shame...if you are smart enough to even see it, when you find that Trump isn't Hitler but your whining comparisons only served to lessen and denigrate the true Hitler and the true Nazis.
I'm done. I tried rational arguments, I tried comfort. Done.
People are dying...being murdered...yes in the streets of Chicago...but that's not on Trump. But they are dying in Istanbul today, and Syria and other places you are too self-absorbed to even care about. 
God gave you a great land. And here's the secret...Trump isn't the one destroying it.
What will destroy America are all those who would only stay if America agrees to go THEIR way, people who only believe in democracy when they win.

I agree - Trump will never succeed in making America great again. You want to know why? Look in the mirror and ask yourselves whether you love America, or you just love yourself?

Because, after weeks of listening, I finally have been convinced. America is doomed.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What do you post when you are happy?

Now there's a question...

They say "in anger, truth will out" - meaning, I guess, that when you are angry, you are less likely to be politically correct and so you just say what you are really thinking.

What happens when you are happy? Do you hold back? Worry you'll jinx it...

I'm happy today. I could list a dozen things that need to be fixed; two dozen pressing things I need to do, three dozen things that could really help me if only they'd come through. But mostly today as I went about my Wednesday and began to think about the weekend and slowing down, mostly today, I'm just happy.

I love the rain, but I love the sun...

I went shopping and had a typical Israel shopping experience. One woman asked me where she could find something and as it happened, I knew and so I told her. Another woman came along and said, "you look like you would know, where can I find cornflour." And so I told her.

A man came along and smiled and said, "do they pay you to tell everyone where things are?"

I laughed and told him I thought it was a sign that I shop there too often.

Another aisle, another conversation. Israelis talk. It really is as simple as that. You stand in line and speak with the person next to you. You walk down the street, or sit on the train and someone is always talking to you. I love that so much about Israel.

A few weeks ago, I walked down the streets in Stuttgart and really, I didn't see anyone speaking to random strangers. By contrast, in India as in Israel, people seemed more open. Maybe it's a country thing, a society, I don't know.

Sometimes even the sky is smiling.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Another: Let me tell you about my country Post

About a month ago, a young driver was killed in a horrific accident in the south of the country. In the midst of all that was happening, police, ambulances, etc. someone picked up a phone and walked off. The driver died. It seems he was driving too fast, as young people sometimes do, and entered an intersection, crashing into another car with such force, the young man was killed in the accident.

The mother of the young man turned to police to ask them about her son's phone, on which she expected to find messages, pictures, all that was left. It seemed, upon investigation, that the phone had been stolen.

This isn't even the first time. It's a simple thing. You pass a scene, you look down and see a phone and think someone is going to step on it. I don't know. Maybe they gave it to the police right away, I don't know. What I do know is that now, as in the past, the police cared enough to do whatever they could to offer the mother some small amount of comfort and so today, they handed the phone to her.

Look at the picture. Look at the mother...and look at the police officer. This isn't that posed picture of people smiling into a camera. This is a mother's endless pain, and a man who sees it.

This is my country - right here. You've got terrorists, arsonists, murderers, traffic accidents, so many things and it all comes down to getting this phone to this mother because...because it will help her hold on, get through the day. See those last pictures of her son.

My country, my Israel.

Story source:

Where My Son Isn't...

The first time I remember "playing" this game of where my son was and was not was in the days and hours before a war.

"Where are you?" I would ask, knowing that the army was going to move Elie's unit any day. The question was which day and to which potential war front they were going to move them. I don't know what I was hoping, but I remember feeling as if someone had punched me in the stomach, removed all the air in the world, when he told me he wasn't "where you left me" or "where you dropped me off last time."

He'd been based in the center of the country and so I often arranged my schedule to visit a client site on Sunday mornings to drop him off on my way, or on Thursdays so I could swing by and pick him up. That was three sons and close to 10 years ago. On that horrible day, Elie told me that he wasn't in the center of the country and I asked, "are you north of where I left you, or south?"

That was a code for are you near Gaza or near Lebanon. I don't know if I was more or less frightened when he answered...south...Gaza. Just a day or two later, war.

Where are sons are is a game we play pretty much all the time. A tank turned over in the north and one soldier was killed, three wounded. The tank is in the north...David was in the north...and so your heart races ahead even though your brain knows he isn't even in the tank division. It doesn't help when the news reports that the tank division was in training with a Givati unit...David's unit. David was close.

An army patrol car is rammed...south of Jerusalem, Davidi isn't there. The world is measured, when y our son is a soldier, by where he is in relation to what happened and though you mourn or worry about everything, the out of control worry spins fastest until you pinpoint those two points on the map that is always in your head. Here is where something happened; there is where he is...breathe.

For these six weeks...five weeks and five days...if all is well, wherever the first pin goes on the map, Davidi won't be there because he has returned for a "break" between years in the army. Six weeks back in his yeshiva. Six weeks on a non-army schedule. Six weeks to have fun, eat, sleep a bit more, be lazy, go out, sleep in his bed at home more.

Six weeks to be the man he has become and put the soldier away for a while. I don't miss the soldier, but I wonder if Davidi does. What goes through his mind? How does it feel to be parted with the rifle that he literally had to sleep with, hold on to, be responsible for?

At nearly 21 years old, I think his thoughts are less complicated than that of a mother who knows that too soon, the uniform will come back, the rifle return. For now, I relish where my son is not. He is not out in the cold and rain of Israel's winter months. He is not in the Golan where Syrian forces have been pushing the borders and firing mortars. He is not at a check point or out on patrol.

Where he is for these brief weeks is where every 20 year old man/boy should be. Thinking a bit about the future, deciding if he'll catch a movie when he comes home this weekend. He'll mess up his room and be lazy about taking out the garbage. And if I'm lucky, as I was last Thursday night, he'll be my mixer of the challah dough and save my arms the exercise.

And if I am to take my own advice, I will try really hard in the next few weeks not to look at the calendar, not to think about how fast five weeks and five days can pass.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Confession Time - I Didn't Vote for Trump

Putting the Trump victory in perspective...I continue to read messages blaming me and others like me for the Trump victory because we dared to argue that Hillary Clinton was not an option.

That isn't to say Donald Trump was the ideal candidate but he was the option that America offered and so he was the choice I promoted. In the end, I think he is going to surprise everyone because he loves his country. He believes it is a land of opportunity; he gets what is so special where the Washington politicians have forgotten. And if, as I have been accused, I am responsible for the election of Donald Trump...I wonder when I should confess that I couldn't even bring myself to vote?

That's right. Guess what...I didn't vote.

Because despite having the legal right, I left America amid the memory of many of my high school friends speaking about how they would sooner leave America than fight for it. It was the post-Vietnam, pre-9/11 America and the youth of my generation just didn't fight. Like the Hollywood celebrities who threatened to abandon America if Donald Trump was elected; my generation was raised to give up, rather than give all.

At least I cared enough about America to be honest, to give the country of my birth my respect and my honesty. I left, which is more than those actors will do and moved to a land where our sons (and daughters) serve with pride. They are raised to know the day will come when they will pick up a rifle and fight. They do not think of leaving if the party for whom they vote is not elected. They simply accept that there will be another election, another chance and for now, we work for the safety of all.

I have had one son go to war two times; I have stayed awake nights knowing my sons are out the cold, in the rain, perhaps in an Arab village searching for a suspect or weapons. I have listened to the sound of explosions coming through the phone line when the oldest son called and felt, really, the vibration of the cannon's roar. I have been to funerals for soldiers who didn't come home and for three teenage boys who were murdered because in the eyes of our enemies, even they were soldiers for Israel.

I have cooked for the Sabbath knowing one son was standing with a gun pointed at violent protesters...and I was desperate enough to believe him when he called me and lied through his teeth telling me he was safe back on base because he didn't want me worrying the entire Sabbath. And I listened and cried when he called to tell me that the 23 soldiers taken to the hospital after an Arab rammed his car into them as they walked in Jerusalem were from his unit.

And often when my sons came home in uniform, I looked at them and realized anew what I thought as I packed to leave America over 20 years ago. I do not believe you should live in a land for which you will not fight; I do not believe you can profess to love a land if you are not willing to defend it against those who seek to destroy it.

And the irony is, I didn't vote because even though I believed that Trump was the only viable choice, the best of what there was, I am shocked at the vehemence, the anger directed at me and at those who voted for him. And then, then I saw this posted to Facebook. Snopes, which has lost a tremendous amount of credibility of late, makes an attempt to prove the numbers wrong but in doing so, actually strengthens the argument by proving only a relatively small discrepancy in the numbers.
There are 3,141 counties in the United States.
  • Trump won 3,084 of them.
  • Clinton won 57. **
** Note: A Snopes article confirms that there are 3,141, but claims that Clinton won 164 counties (still, giving Trump over 2,800 counties more than Clinton so I doubt Clinton can claim much of a victory. She still lost the by-counties tally by a huge amount).
There are 62 counties in New York State.
  • Trump won 46 of them.
  • Clinton won 16.
*** Clinton won the popular vote by approx. 1.5 million votes.
In the 5 counties that encompass NYC, (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Richmond & Queens) Clinton received well over 2 million more votes than Trump. (Clinton only won 4 of these counties; Trump won Richmond). Therefore these 5 counties alone, more than accounted for Clinton winning the popular vote of the entire country.
*** These 5 counties comprise 319 square miles.
The United States is comprised of 3,797,000 square miles.
When you have a country that encompasses almost 4 million square miles of territory, it would be ludicrous to even suggest that the vote of those who inhabit a mere 319 square miles should dictate the outcome of a national election. Large, densely populated Democrat cities (NYC, Chicago, LA, etc) don’t and shouldn’t speak for the rest of the country.
*** I couldn't find any place in Snopes that disputes these statistics.He won in at least 2,800 more counties and in apparently about 3 million more square miles.

Donald Trump won, not because America lost its mind, but because it was in danger of losing its soul and it fought back. I watched unbelievable manipulation by the media the day before the elections and thought to myself...America can't be that stupid. And as I watched the reporters come to grips with clear evidence of a Trump victory, I realized that America was not stupid.That America was great, that it wanted to be great. Again. 

I didn't vote for Donald Trump but that doesn't mean I disagree with the results. Despite the numbers, I think Donald Trump was given a clear mandate and I think it is arrogance and unAmerican to fight the will of the people.

Donald Trump won the election. More, for the first time, he showed the logic of the electoral college. The future of America cannot be decided only in New York and California. That is the clear message. And the other message is clear as well. Four years will pass quickly enough - it always does. If you voted for Hillary Clinton, it is time for you to do what you were horrified to think Donald Trump would not do. Accept the results and stop assuming the worst.

Stop because you are hurting friends simply because they dared to disagree with you. You are hurting yourself by focusing on the anger instead of on the future.

But most of all, you are hurting the United States of America by refusing to accept that others are not stupid because they didn't support your choice; that others are not less American. 

A vote for Trump was not a vote against people of color, against people of any particular sexual orientation. It was a vote against Washington, against politics, against media manipulation. But most of all, and perhaps the hardest thing for some people to accept, a vote for Trump was every bit as much a vote for hope and tomorrow as the vote you cast for Clinton.

I love America enough not to vote because I didn't want to be where I am now - accused of doing anything to destroy or harm America. But I knew, as I watched the first election reports come in and Clinton took an early lead, that I was prepared to continue loving an America under Hillary Clinton. 

I didn't vote, but you did. Now it is time for you to accept...accept, or destroy. Destroy friendships and relationships but worse, destroy the foundations upon which the United States was founded.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Thoughts of An Israeli Arson Victim / Survivor

Facebook is an interesting place to visit. At times, it brings out the worst in us...and at times, it shows the best. I hate the worst.

But I love the best...and here's a piece of it. This was written by Rochelle Cohen, who has lived in the beautiful community of Neve Tzuf (Halamish) for 20 years.

By: Rochelle Cohen, Neve Tzuf (Halamish):

Nobody is going to believe me when I tell them that having to flee with our community in the middle of the night, close the door on our house, convinced I would never see the house again, and leaving behind our firefighting son, and friends, and then returning to what is only a very partial and unlivable house, has been a positive experience, but that is the case. Why? let me share  with you a little.

I am Rochelle Cohen, though those of you who remember me will have known me as Rochelle Goldstein. I made Aliyah from Melbourne 27 years, ago, and while I never lived in Caulfield my parents, John and Judy Goldstein did move to Caulfield and loved being part of the community for about 20 years

My family and I have lived in Neve Tsuf, a medium sized yeshuv [village], for the last 20 years, since the birth of our eldest child, Yael, My husband Doron (Darren originally from Sydney), and I chose to live in a yeshuv as that is where we felt we would be best able to contribute to the ongoing building up of the country. We are a community of over 260 families, of all age groups, which is somewhat unusual and we found very attractive.

The founders of the yeshuv, who were the group hardest hit by the fire are in their 70's and 80's, and of course we have many young couples, many of whom are children and grandchildren of those already living there. Neve Tsuf is a beautiful place, surrounded by one of Israel's few natural forests, on top of a hill that overlooks the coastal plains, and we are about 20 minutes from Modi'in, where my mother and brother's family live.

But I have still not explained in any manner what happened the other night, or how on earth I could claim that it was a positive experience.

So, we ate Shabbat dinner at close friends. The husband of that family happens to be the head of the volunteer fire brigade, and my 18 year old son is a volunteer with them for a number of years, There was much lively discussion about the devastating fires all over the country, clearly arson, the handiwork of Arab terrorists that we deal with on a constant basis.

After dinner we went with our hosts to the Bar Mitzvah Oneg Shabbat [Friday night gathering], at our shul [synagogue] hall, of close mutual friends, which was lovely, and then we walked back to our home with one of the Bar Mitzvah guests, whom we were hosting. It was a really enjoyable evening, as when I came in the door we found all our children from the 20 year old to my youngest of 8 all busy in a very lively card game that may have involved shrieking and screaming, but a great deal of laughing too. Eventually we convinced them that we all needed to go to sleep and bade goodnight to our guest, climbing the stairs and preparing for bed. The girls, Shalhevet (15), Ateret-Adi (12) and little Efrat (8), all came in to say good night, and maybe squeeze in another half hour before they would be forced to go to bed, and then we declared our room off limits and sent them out.

I was just falling asleep when Ateret-Adi came back. "Imma" she said, "there is a lady down stairs who really wants to talk to you". Confused to wandered downstairs and she said to me that there were flames to be seen coming from the bottom of the hill in the forest adjacent to our house.

That was it. I turned and shrieked, "Fire, fire, everyone grab a jumper, shoes, and a coat, and let's go", and that's what we did.

I woke our poor sleeping guest, threw a coat on her, it was freezing that night. We had, at Eitan's insistence, packed a bag of just a few things, clean underwear and Tefillin. etc, that was by the front door, just in case, I handed the kids bags, checked the house. We knew the drill, disconnect the gas, kill the electricity, leave doors unlocked for the firemen, leave windows closed, count the kids, leave no one behind, and go. My firefighter had left so fast I had not even said goodbye, but that was alright, he did what needed to be done. He was a good boy, and donned his firefighting boots, not wearing his favourite new hiking boots, so they would not be ruined.

And out into the night we went. By the time we left the house, maybe two minutes after the initial screeching of FIRE the flames were getting close and huge. The kids were a little ahead of us and asked again which way to go. I said go to the Rimels, where we had eaten the night before, they are in the centre of the yeshuv, it will be safer. We are coming.

And so into the night my children herded each other along, comforting and holding. We began the same walk, but hammering on neighbour's doors as we went. My husband went back twice to our immediate neighbour, in their wooden house, trying to convince them to leave, they thought they still had time. They refused him twice, but must have gotten out because I know they are safe and the only remains of their home today are the front steps.

I caught up with my girls while Doron continued banging on doors. Collecting our friend and her family, where I had sent the children we realised that their well-located house away from the forest was no safe haven as the flames were coming up the street, so our we all went into the night, a seriously religious Yeshuv, all running in pyjamas, but so what. At that point the alarms were sounded, people told to evacuate towards the exit of the yeshuv, in cars, so the cars started moving.

Our cars were not an option as they were in the fire zone. My girls by this time found themselves carrying children and babies, not necessarily sure of whose children and babies they were. And then we piled them in ones and twos into passing cars, seat belts be damned, arranging to meet at the designated spot.

When we met up the order came, via our phones, to move to the next yeshuv, Ateret, about 10 minutes away. There was debate. Those with family not far decided to go there and some found friends of ours said they were going to his parents in Modi'in. Great, I said, here are Shalhevet and Ateret-Adi. Take them to my mother. I told them that while I had never sent them sitting on knees and unseatbelted in cars, I said this is the time when one danger our weighs the other. I kissed them and off into the night went my babies.

I grabbed my (not so) little baby, the 8 year old Efrat, Yael, the 20 year old, who was still carrying someone's baby, and we began looking for another car with space only wanting to go as far as Ateret, how could I go further knowing that Eitan was here, fighting fires? We found parents for the baby, returned her, a car with space and the girls and I hopped in. Doron declaring he could hardly leave with Eitan here.

As we approached Areret we turned back to look at our yeshuv. We live at the highest point of the yeshuv, immediately next to the water tower. And from our vantage point on the road we could clearly see the water tower as it was totally lit up by the flames licking it. At that point I turned to the girls and said you realise the house is gone, that's it and it does not matter. The only thing that matters is that Eitan and all the others come out safely.

And that was the point, I realised that was the only thing that mattered.

The people of Ateret wrote a new definition for hospitality, they were waiting for us, directing us to their homes, where beds were made up, or to the boy's yeshiva, for as the boys were not there for shabbat we had all there rooms. We decided to stay there together in case Eitan came looking for us.

Together sort of. Yael had things to do. She began by looking at me and the clothes I had pulled on. She said Imma, you usually have a pen and paper in the pocket of what you are wearing,I thought she wanted me to remove them, it was still shabbat after all. Give them to me, please, she said, I am going to go room to room and make lists of who is where so we can account for everyone.

And off into the night she went. Finding the lost members of families, making phone calls
to see no one was left behind. Searching with a local nurse for insulin for someone who needed it.

At some point Doron turned up,  and we took to comforting Efrat, friends, the families around. Patrolling the streets that gave us a vantage point of our own yeshuv, still lighting up the sky, and thinking about Eitan.

By morning I realised that Eitan was not coming so I told Efrat that we would move to her very close friend's house. And we did. Knocking gingerly on the door at 7:30 on shabbat morning, I found three other families from Neve Tsuf, camped out, but as soon as the mother of the house heard my voice she came running out of her bedroom saying where were you, we were waiting for you. And that is where we spent the day, Efrat's friend gave her shabbat clothes, in fact many of the second graders were wearing her clothes, and somehow our host family who were no expecting guests this shabbat fed all 26 of us with hugs smiles, and a wonderful lunch.

You may wonder about the Bar Mitzvah [the boy who turned 13] . He was called up in front of 2 yeshuvim [communities], and despite the tension, lack of sleep and disappointment, that poor boy was magnificent and read beautifully. The familes in Ateret arrived at shul with bags of lollies to pelt at him, the Rav presented him with the chumash [Bible/Torah] they give the local boys, and they put on a kiddush [literaly the blessing for the wine said Friday night and during the Sabbath day but also refers to a small party held after the services end] for everyone, before making sure that every last refugee had somewhere to eat and be. We had such a warm wonderful shabbat that if you forgot for a moment why we were there, I might have said it was one of the nicest shabbatot [Sabbaths]in a long time.

And as Shabbat went out Eitan called, and everything was alright. His voice meant that he was alive, he was unharmed everyone was safe. Yes, our house was burnt, not to the ground, we are one of the lucky ones, but the three children's room a charcoal shells. No roof, no anything. Slight black remnants of the beds my kids had been lying in only hours before, that's it.

But I have my husband, my children, my friends and neighbours, and nothing else matters.
The Arabs want to set us on fire, the children in their beds. For them, our houses were a bonus, their objective was to burn the entire community in their beds. They failed and we are stronger. There is fire burning in the hearts of Jews everywhere. From the first hour things started arriving. Clothes, house hold goods, help. People.

We are all on fire and nobody is going to put this fire out. The outpouring of love from everyone is unbelievable. Naturally my mother and brother and sister-in-law have done everything imaginable for us, but so have their friends, and friends of friends, and total strangers, and people I have never heard of. We had to ask to tell people no more, the shul hall is literally overflowing with sheets, towels, clothes, shoes, and more.

But the hall is also full of people, sorting, helping fixing, piling. People everywhere. Somebody arrived with a truck from the northern Galil and asked me who was in charge, I said just ask anybody under 18.

The yeshuv found me a rental, are fixing it up for us, brought in yeshiva boys and ulpana girls to pack up our home to keep what remains safe from further damage, carry out the furniture unharmed, clean the rental, find beds, and fridge and washing machine, etc to put there. We noticed a bus parked in front of our house, and when we walked inside, found a group of men from Baltimore working inside with their Rav.  And they won't let me work, claiming I have all the paper work to go through, they will go the slave work.

I ran round the yeshuv yesterday organising various matters and there were chain gangs everywhere of people. Young boys with ropes around them pulling up half burnt trees in places that tractors can't reach. The kids, by which I saw young ones from 13 or 14, and naturally through to the men in their 20's and 30's, clearing, lifting, cleaning, carrying, You would think that nobody has a job to go to, everyone is wearing a new hat and has a new area of responsibility, and their full time job is to rebuild and help.

The girls, small, adult, and everything in between are fixing, cleaning, packing, feeding, hand holding, did I leave anything out?

They are burning, Burning with the desire to help. Burning with the need to build, rebuild and be built, burning with sympathy and empathy. We are burning.

We know how the fire began. The same Arab who was caught throwing molotov cocktails at cars a few months ago drove around the outside of the yeshuv, forest lined, and lobbed molotov cocktails into the drought dry forest on a night a gale force winds. And once there was a spark the rest spread, as they say, like wild fire. But the government is always slow to declare this an act of terror from a legal perspective, so it is unclear who will be footing the bill for rebuilding and when.

One of my daughter's friends, whose house narrowly escaped being burnt, told her about her fears for her grandfather. Her grandfather, who used to live in the yeshuv, and is buried in the cemetery at the bottom foot of the forested hillside, survived the Nazis. Her fear was that he may have survived the crematoria but would be burnt by the Jew haters after his death.

Avigail Ben Nun, one of the founders of the yeshuv, now in her 80's, and homeless, escaped the Nazis walking from Belgium to Switzerland has declared that we we rebuild it all, bigger, better, more beautiful, and we will.

I still don't know how we will rebuild, but it will be done because the evil people have lit a fire in us that will not be extinguished, and when they thought to ignite and destroy, we will let the fire of unity and love and caring burn on. The personification of ahavat yisrael [love of Israel] and achva [love/unity that everybody that I have encountered since has convinced me that good must come from all of this. And it will, because together we will win.

Those same Arabs who want to push us into the sea, but have not yet worked out how, seem  to think that by setting fire to the country we will run for the sea, and be gone. But they are wrong, we will let the fires burn, our fires, the fires of rebuilding and the fires of caring. I am already planning the party when we make a chanukat bayit [dedication party/ceremony] in our built home, and all the wonderful caring people who have given us the strength to get there are not only invited but expected to turn up.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A People Like No Other

I read this story, posted by a Facebook friend, and asked permission to repost it.

With thanks to Batia Macales...a beautiful, only-in-Israel story...

Only in Israel

“In our area, the fires were just over the hill. They were so close that we could feel the heat, cough from the soot and ash, and hear the sirens... a lot. It was all anyone talked about. Some were packing and all that. Many parents didn’t let the kids out to avoid inhaling whatever chemicals may be in the air. Everyone cursed the Arab-arsonists with all their heart. 

During the height of the action, I went to the local makolet [local mini-market] and stood in with my items. The line, as you can imagine, is long. People are buying cleaners of all sorts because everything is covered in soot. 

“Slicha! Excuse me!” a guy shouts, “But I must go to the front of the line!” 

He is holding a box of toothbrushes and a lot of toothpaste. He said that he only had a half hour off work, and since there was a lot of traffic, we had to let him through quickly.

Geez! A man wants a bunch of tooth brushes to stock up for the next ten years! Urgent, you know? 

Well, one lady told him off, “Look! We are all on edge! Did you inhale Carbon Monoxide or whatever? No? Then stand in line! Here, we have no idea whether we will have a home tonight. Even if we have a house, between the planes and helicopters, and the sirens, and the smoke, who can sleep? And you need toothbrushes?” 

Turning from him, she said to no one in particular, “I guess everyone goes crazy in different ways!”

I must say that the man was big, very big. If he had wanted to, he could have pushed her (and everyone else) out of line. Instead, he blushed and somehow drooped his shoulders. 

He softly replied, “I am taking these to the shelter. There are people who only have their purses and a few diapers. Who remembers a toothbrush when you only have five minutes to evacuate? Food, drink, and clothes, they are getting. But no one thinks about toothbrushes, so I thought I’d take a half hour and get some... to make lives more bearable. You know?”

The line got very quiet and cleared a path for him. As he approached the cashier, the woman who yelled at him came running with all the pacifiers that were on the shelf.

 “Take!” she commanded. “There are babies, maybe not everyone has pacifiers! I’ll pay for them!” 

Immediately, all the customers abandoned the line and began sweeping items off the shelves - Toothpicks! Lighters! Even cloths to clean glasses! They dropped everything in the man’s basket! 

“Do you have room for more in your car?” 

One person asked, as people continued bringing miscellaneous things.
Meanwhile, the man just stood there, smiling like a birthday boy who just got a huge surprise! Now I've got this unbearable burning in my nose... 

And I think to myself, “I was in a war. I know what it’s like. Besides, I'm grown, married and all that.” But I can’t help it. I am just about to cry—my soul was wide open! We are all one. The man tries to pay something but the store owner turns him down. 

“My grandfather was a Rabbi,’ he explains, adding “My Zaide would turn over in his grave if I took your money! Go! Go!” 

I mean, who could imagine. But that’s not the end! In the back of the store stood a "Russian.” He was as non-Jewish as you can get. He was standing with a carton of milk and a bun in his hand. 

With trembling lips and a tear on his cheek, he cried out in a thick accent, “You people!! I want to be like you!! I want be a JEW! Take me please!”

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