Tuesday, January 27, 2015

This Is Gavriella

This is Gavriella. She was 12 years old when the Nazis invaded her small village and took her to Auschwitz. Her mother begged her to go with her older sisters, understanding that if the child stayed with her, the Nazis would kill her. Gavriella didn't want to leave her side but finally was persuaded. As she walked across to her sisters, a Nazi guard - may his memory forever be cursed, made the child return to her mother's side. She and her mother were gassed to death.

For all her life, my mother-in-law remembered and mourned her young sister's death and that of her mother, father, two brothers, grandparents.. On this International Holocaust Memorial Day, a survey was released stating that over 80% of the Germans want to put the Holocaust "behind them."

The word that comes to mind is not one that I can write here. We will NEVER put this behind us. We will, and do, pass this to our children and they will pass it to their children. What you "forget," you are destined to relive. There will never be another Holocaust - not because you in Europe and Germany deem it so, not because you have learned how wrong it is to hate another...there will never be another Holocaust against the Jewish people because WE will not allow it. You appear to be little different than you were 70 years ago. Oh yes, you'll march in the streets and join hands in sympathy and condemn anti-Semitism, but when they murder and beat Jews in your midst, you do not take action...but we will. .

Our promise to Gavriella who was murdered, and my baby granddaughter who is named Michal Gavriella...

Our promise to Benyamin Elimelech, who was murdered with his wife shortly after their wedding, and to my son who was named after him...

Our promise to Shmuel who fell in the forest and died, too weak and sick to go on, and to my son who was named after him...

Our promise to Chaim Eliezer, who was murdered by the Nazis, and to my beloved husband who was named after him...

My promise to my great grandmother and two great aunts that were murdered in Auschwitz...and to more than six million others...

We will not forget. We will not "put this behind us" and we sure as hell won't let the Germans put it behind them either.

The nation...the people...of Israel live.

May God watch over little Gavriella for all eternity - she will live on, God willing, in the generations and generations to come.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Anti-Semitism in Los Angeles

I want to report an anti-Semitic attack in France Los Angeles.

It happened last week...the police are calling it a hate crime.



Here's what happened, according to someone who spoke to the victims. Where it refers to "I" it is not me, but this person who is working to publicize this event.
Valley Village, California - between Bellaire and Whitsett, and Burbank and Oxnard. The main incident happened in front of one of the victim’s home, but the 2nd and 3rd drive by was down the block.
On Saturday, January 17, 2015, several families with their children and elderly were harassed, threatened and almost run down by anti-semites driving a black SUV with no license plates in Valley Village, California. This incident occurred in broad daylight around 12 noon as Jews were peacefully walking back to their homes from Shabbat morning service.

The LAPD has officially called it a hate crime. The initial response took about 35 minutes, but the police have escalated this to a city-wide elevated status assuring the safety of the Jewish community.

During one of the drive by incidents, the SUV swerved into one Jewish man and hit his arm with the passenger-side mirror. The black SUV returned at least three times and none of the hooligans have been caught. One of the victims said he saw hammers and pipes in the car when it stopped near him.

One young man told me, “they are looking for Jews, driving around the neighborhoods yelling derogatory anti-Jewish remarks.” 
He described both fear and anger as the SUV stopped near him and one of the heavily tanned and tattoo-covered men jumped out and became physically aggressive. “They called us ‘f-ing Jews’ and said they were going to ‘f’ing get us’, and I took them as serious.”
“They said they will be back, and we are scared. I’ve never lived in fear like this inside my own home, but my shotgun is loaded and easily accessible,” said one of the grandparents.
Orthodox rabbis abroad have said that even the most observant Jews should carry mobile phones on the Sabbath.

Another of the grandparents told me, “they may not have set out that day to be anti-Semitic, but when they saw Jews they jumped at the opportunity to harass us.” Los Angeles is home to the 3rd largest worldwide Jewish population behind New York and Israel.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
It seems for the first time rabbis are becoming unified about this subject. “Rabbi, what can I do?” I asked. He replied, “Don’t ignore this. Share it. Ask your friends to share it. Our common enemy has been revealed, and people must decide what side they’re on.
Description of Perpetrators I was told they were Hispanic, not Arab. While there is no indication they were Muslim, it is widely known that Islam spreads most easily throughout the lower-income and minority peer groups. The way these hoodlums verbalized it is unlikely were highly educated. We know for sure they were Anti-Jewish. The scary part is they did not look like the terrorists we see on television – a reminder that Jews face both obvious and hidden enemies.
The writer closed with this comment: "With G-d’s help, we shall make this world a safe place for our families."

And that is where I have a problem. "Make this world a safe place for our families"? I can help...call up Nefesh b'Nefesh today and tell them you want to move to Israel. Call the real estate agent and ask them to come and put your house on the market; depending on what you do for a living, consider retraining now, otherwise, sign up for an ulpan and try to improve your Hebrew.

This summer, after your kids, grandkids, whatever finish school...pack your bags, go to the airport, and get on a plane.

Come to Israel where it is safe - yes, really. Your children will never cower again and if someone tries to run you over - a dozen people in the street will pull out weapons, police and soldiers will be there to stop them. The army will hunt them and stop them.

This is not a criticism of the Los Angeles police - they will do what they can but ours will do more because they won't wait to call it a terror attack; they won't hesitate to call it a hate crime and they won't take 35 minutes to get there.

And as they grow, your children will learn to defend themselves and they will never feel the fear you have now.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sometimes it really is that simple...

It's been a crazy few weeks...I can't even tell you why it has been so insane - just tons of work and pressure and home issues. Last week, my husband came home with flowers for the Sabbath.

He does this often, especially in the winter when flowers last longer. It's a common thing, a tradition really, that a husband buys his wife flowers for the Sabbath to grace their home.

You could say that women buy their husbands flowers (and I have) but there is something very special about these flowers that he brings home. And like the candles that burn beside them Friday night, they are a constant reminder of what we have built and what we continue to build.

They graced our Shabbat table last week, filled the house all week long, and were in full bloom this Shabbat as well.

They are beginning to go...as all flowers do eventually, but we were blessed with their beauty for an amazingly long time.

I found myself taking pictures of them, wanting to hold on to them that much longer.

They're still there next to where I light the candles each week but by the end of this week, they'll surely be gone.

Israel is very much a land of flowers, most especially in the winter months. It's one of our major exports and, one that we enjoy here as well.

All around my city, the desert hills are covered with greenery that will soon dry up and die, only to be renewed again next winter.

For now, Israel is probably at its most beautiful though it is a time when few tourists are here.

Those from the northern hemisphere are deep in their winters, school and work.

Those from the southern hemisphere have returned to their homes after their summer break.

For these short few months before tourists again arrive for the Passover-Easter break, Israel is all ours.

Sometimes, it really is the simple things that bring you joy.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Our Heros and Theirs

At a recent ceremony, 53 soldiers were honored as heroes. I listened to a partial description of the actions that caused them to be recognized as I drove to a customer and thought about our heroes and theirs.

The highest honor was given to an Israeli officer who entered a tunnel armed only with a gun because a soldier had been kidnapped and Lieutenant Eitan Fund believed he had a chance of saving him. What he saw, sadly, was Hamas fighters dragging the dead body of Hadar Goldin back towards the hell that is Gaza. He was not honored for killing, certainly not innocents - he was honored for having the bravery to risk his life and enter the unknown and in so doing, save a family from the psychological torture, the Hamas game they played with Gilad Shalit for five years and the Regev and Goldwasser families for two years.

Herzl Biton, whose brave actions saved lives
Yesterday, there was a terror attack in Tel Aviv - one Arab stabbed 13 people after going into a bus during rush hour. There were 70 people on the bus. The terrorist, a Palestinian from Tulkarem, stabbed and critically injured the bus driver. Even hurt, 62-year-old Herzl Biton sprayed pepper spray at his attacker, and opened the back doors of the bus, allowing dozens to escape. As the terrorist left him to attack others, Biton slammed on the breaks of the bus, unsettling the terrorist for critical seconds that further helping others to escape. Today, Herzl Biton is our hero.

The army honored another soldier who used his body to protect a soldier from a fragmentation grenade and risked his life to help evacuate wounded soldiers.

Another soldier, in the midst of a battle, continued to shoot at the enemy while wounded soldiers around him were being evacuated. When he ran out of ammunition, he grabbed the gun of one of the wounded soldiers and continued to fire while also helping to treat the wounded. And, if that wasn't enough, he himself was wounded during these actions. He too is our hero today.

Another hero today is a young boy - only 13 years old. He was on his way to high school when a terrorist boarded the bus Herzl Biton was driving. After stabbing the driver, the terrorist made his way to the back of the bus, attacking passengers. Young Liel ran to the back of the bus, searching for a way to escape. As the terrorist approached him, Liel threw his backpack at the terrorist to slow him down - he too is a hero in Israel today.

These are the heroes of Israel - men, women, and children - people who reached out in time of crisis to help others. Good people, many of them seemingly in the wrong place at the wrong time and reaching beyond themselves.

And who are the heroes of our enemies? Well, Hamas says their heroes are the ones who attacked the Charlie Hedbo newspaper headquarters in France and butchered 12 people; the man who murdered four innocent men in a kosher supermarket in Paris. Samir Kuntar is their hero...he murdered two Israeli children. The men who kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teens this summer - more heroes.

Who are the heroes of Islam? Yesterday, once again, the Palestinians answered. Hamza Muhammad Hasan Matrouk is their hero, not because he did anything to help another individual, not because lives were saved. He's their hero because he went on a commuter bus in the heart of Tel Aviv during rush hour - to murder people simply because they are Jews, simply because they are Israelis. Because he did it with maximum brutality and minimum mercy.

Heroes...


Why BBC Deserves our Contempt

Read the headlines on BBC: Israel bus attack: Tel Aviv passengers stabbed

The headlines aren't particularly bad...though it would have been more accurate to identify the incident as a terror attack. But that is probably the only part of the article that is reasonable.

Read the first line of the article: "A Palestinian man is shot and injured by security officers after stabbing at least 11 people in an attack on a Tel Aviv bus."

At least some of the other news outlets were able to report the incident more accurately, though many were also unable to properly conclude that someone who goes on a bus and starts stabbing innocent men and women are terrorists. The Guardian thought it important to point out that a Hamas spokesman called the stabbings 'heroic'. Al Jazeera should get an award for the most outlandish claim - that the incident occurred, "according to Israeli police" when a Palestinian "bus passenger"...I listened to the news yesterday - not once did any Israeli police official or newscaster refer to Hamza Muhammad Hasan Matrouk as a passenger. Consistently, he was called what he was - a terrorist, an extremist blinded and guided by Islamic rhetoric.

But let's get back to BBC - "A Palestinian man is shot and injured" - is that really the story? Not what the "man" did but that he was shot and inured? Shouldn't the story be about more than a dozen people who got up yesterday morning to go to work...and ended up being stabbed? Shouldn't the story be about the 13 year old boy who saw things no child should see? What about the 69-year-old woman who is fighting for her life?

What about the brave bus driver who managed, though seriously wounded, to open the rear door of the bus, allowing dozens to escape?

None of that is news, apparently, to the worthless agency that is BBC. Worthless because truth and news could happen in front of their faces and they would seek out their own agenda. It isn't terrorism, it isn't violence, it isn't extremism...it was just a Palestinian man who was shot and injured in Tel Aviv.

The ramifications of such ignorant reporting continue to be seen around the world - most recently in Paris. That is the result of what happens when you refuse to identify extremist attacks as terrorism.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Second Half of My Message

Two days ago, I posted a message to the Jews of France, practically begging them to "get the hell out of France now." Today, I'd like to post the other half of my message.

When I said they should get out of France - one could argue that they could accomplish this task simply by going to England or the United States. Yes, I made it clear that I wanted them to come to Israel, but mainly, I focused on why they should leave. So, part two of my comment relates to why French Jews should make aliyah now?

Today, there was a funeral going on a short distance away from my office. I had hoped to attend but urgent work required me to stay close to my computer and so I watched it live, with tears for their families and for the lives cut short, I watched as we buried four Jews who died in distant lands.

Thousands attended the funerals. The President of Israel and the Prime Minister of Israel were there. After they sang Hatikvah, the national anthem of Israel, they took the bodies from the platform for burial. So many members of our Knesset accompanied them, many family members, and thousands upon thousands of regular Israelis who never met them and yet wanted to show the families our love, our support. This is Israel; this is why you should come.

My children are where they should be. One was in miluim [reserve duty] but returned home to his wife and baby; another is at work at a hi-tech company in Jerusalem, my younger daughter is in school, my youngest son on his way back to yeshiva after joining us to attend a family wedding last night.
I have no fear when they leave our home, when they go shopping. Yes, there are terrorists here in Israel, as there are in Paris and around the world - but for every terrorist, there are soldiers and police, and others all around who are trained to act quickly.

Earlier this week, I took my daughters and daughter-in-law and two grandchildren shopping. Everywhere around us, people naturally spoke Hebrew. I can't tell you how many Israeli flags I passed, flying high and proud - on buildings, on cars, on homes. This is why you should come.

I can't tell you how many people proudly wore Jewish stars, how many men wore kippot and tzitzit - without fear, without hesitation. In every neighborhood where I live, there are parks for the children. The city is in the middle of erecting large tarps on poles to shade the children from the strong Middle Eastern sun while they play. This too is why you should come.

Beyond the beauty of our land, is the beauty of its people. Some say Israelis are pushy, sometimes intrusive - and yet they don't complain when we push ourselves to save others. When we reach across the world...and get there first no less...to build field hospitals and just get down to business and do what has to be done to save lives.

Today at the funeral, the Prime Minister of the Jewish state spoke to the dead and to the living, "This is the strength of an ancient people that has always prevailed and thank God, look around you, here in the mountains of Jerusalem, today we have a state of our own, flourishing and advanced, a state that is a moral lighthouse unto the world – and our president was right to say: Jews have a right to live in many countries and have full security, but I believe that they know in their heart, there is one country which is their historic home, a state which will always accept them with open arms." This is why you should come to Israel.

There are all sorts of things THEY say about Israelis, but the truth comes out in moments like this - moments like this past summer when we were at war. Moments like when our three precious boys were kidnapped and killed and Israel surrounded the families with love and prayer. And moments like today when four bodies of Jews were flown into Israel and given back to the earth in respect, in love, in honor. The families are likely to never forget the sudden and horrible end to their lives - but with that horrible memory, will come a memory of yesterday, when their bodies were flown home to Israel on a plane flown by a Jewish pilot, unloaded and brought to Jerusalem, surrounded by thousands of Jews who wanted, above all, to tell the families that we will take care of them now.

"Yoav, Yohan, Philippe, Francois-Michel, this is not how we wanted to welcome you to Israel. This is not how we wanted you to arrive in the Land of Israel, this is not how we wanted to see you come home, to the State of Israel, and to Jerusalem, its capital. We wanted you alive, we wanted for you, life." This is what the President of Israel said at their funerals and this is what we say to the Jews in France. We want you to come in life, we want you to come home.

Rivlin continued: "Jewish blood is not worthless. Human blood is not worthless. The earth will not cover the blood, nothing will cure the pain. Here, between Jerusalem’s mountains, upon Har HaMenuchot, we lay to rest our brothers who have come from afar, our brothers, sons of France, but also sons of Jerusalem. May they be of blessed memory."

That's why you should come - because Jewish blood in our land is so valuable, we have been known to trade over 1,000 Arabs for one Jew; we have released terrorists and murderers (and no, I don't really agree with this policy) because ultimately the values we have make us choose life.

So, to the Jews of France - why should you get the hell out of France - because Israel is waiting for you. We will help you. We will do all we can so that you can build new homes here, find new jobs. We will welcome you to our homes - as we have for the Jews of Yemen, Russia, Ethiopia, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, and Tunisia and Morocco. What we did for the Jews of Germany and Italy and Greece and Poland after World War II, we are ready to do now...for each Jew that has turned to Israel, for each one that has returned, we have given a home.

It isn't that you won't have to fight here to live - we fight, our sons fight, our daughters fight...but we fight side by side, protecting each other. Yes there is terrorism, but no one fights it harder than we do. Everywhere you walk here, there are others who watch and protect. And you don't have to convince us that there is evil in the world, that terrorism seeks the innocent. We know this and so we are on alert always.

But the front lines are protected so that most of us go about our everyday lives without any hesitation, our kids are free here and grow up proud. They would never think it necessary in this land to hide their kippah, their Jewish star. We teach them to walk proud - proud not only of their history but of their future.

You should come to Israel because there is no place better in the world for a Jewish child to be raised, than in this land, this country. You will not find the language easy - few of us do...oh but your children will be speaking the mother-tongue in a year. Finding a job may be a challenge and you might not be able to be what you are today, may have to change fields, many of us did.

I never heard of my job title before I moved to Israel - but with hard work and a lot of blessings, my husband and I built company where we employ others; we work for hi-tech companies around Israel and help spread Israeli innovations all over the world. We found work - and so can you.

I lived in a nice house in America, in a nice town about an hour away from New York...here, I live 10 minutes from Jerusalem in a bigger house than I had there, drive a newer car and I work hard, my husband works hard...but for all the hard work we have put into building our home, our business, our lives, our children reap our rewards.

Is life hard in Israel? Well, it isn't easy. Some days, the tears fall non-stop...like today. Some days, like when we buried the boys, we thought our hearts would never be fixed. But the next morning, we got up, saw the sun shining and knew that despite it all, we were home.

For all that life can be hard, I have not regretted the decision to move here with three small children for a single moment in 21+ years. I left an elderly grandmother who understood I was fulfilling my dream. We left my husband's parents, taking with us the only grandchildren they had and lost them only a year later. But not for a single moment do I think our decision was wrong for our children...even the two times one of my sons was called to fight in battle, even when one daughter was caught outside during a missile attack.

For all that you worry about what life is like here in Israel, worry more about what life could be like in France. We can argue about jobs and the economy but we can't argue one simple truth. French may be the language of your father and grandfather, but it isn't the language of your forefathers. France may be the country where you were born, but it isn't your motherland.

Paris may be chic, but Jerusalem is beauty.

The one great truth that you know in your hearts, that you feel today on this sad day when we buried Yoav, Yohan, Philippe, and Francois-Michel, is that they are home...now it is your turn. This is our land, our home.

Words of Reuven Rivlin, President of Israel at Funeral

Reuven Rivlin is an amazing speaker...this time, without trying, he outdid even himself...

Part of his comments spoken today at the funeral for the four Jewish victims of the Paris supermarket terror attack last Friday.
Yoav, Yohan, Philippe, Francois-Michel, this is not how we wanted to welcome you to Israel. This is not how we wanted you to arrive in the Land of Israel, this is not how we wanted to see you come home, to the State of Israel, and to Jerusalem, its capital.  We wanted you alive, we wanted for you, life.

Philippe, you wanted to shop for the Sabbath, and what is more Jewish than preparing, shopping on a Friday, for the holy Sabbath day.

'My father is a hero', wept Rafael, your son.  He was murdered, simply because he was a Jew.  What can we say to your dear wife Philippe? What can we say to your three young children, whose cries of ‘Daddy’ will be met with silence?

Francois-Michel, the apartment that you bought here in Israel, was ready for your arrival. You so wanted to make Aliyah to live here with us. But you will never now be able to affix a mezuzah upon the doorpost of your home in Israel.

'What man is there, who has built a new house and has not yet inaugurated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in battle [from the Torah]' but for you, the war came to you, and the murderer’s hand destroyed everything.

Yoav, you were here, just two weeks ago in Jerusalem, for the first time. You stood at the Western Wall, you were photographed wrapped in the Israeli flag. Today, you are here for the second, and the final time. As a Jewish hero, at one with us.

Yohan, you could have got away, escaped, you could have run – but you did not surrender. You fought with the murderer, to save the life a three-year-old boy. You succeeded in that, but paid with your life. Just 20 old, and already a hero.

The murderer made sure to be in a Jewish shop, and only then did he carry out the massacre. This was pure, venomous evil, which stirs the very worst of memories. This is sheer hatred of Jews; abhorrent, dark and premeditated….

While the last weeks and months have proven, that terror does not discriminate between blood, we cannot escape the fact that this terrorism, explicitly targets the Jewish people…..

Regardless of what may be the sick motives of terrorists, it is beholden upon the leaders of Europe to act, and commit to firm measures to return a sense of security and safety to the Jews of Europe….

We cannot allow it to be the case, that in the year 2015, 70 years since the end of the Second World War, Jews are afraid to walk in the streets of Europe with skullcaps and tzitzit.

It cannot be allowed, that we should see in the news, frequent vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, of Jews being beaten, and of synagogues and communities under attack….

At these difficult times, I have learned how much we truly are one people. I understand how important it is that we stay together, close together, regardless of geographical distance. And today too, we are brothers, members of one family, with heads bowed, with tears of sorrow. A bond which cannot be unraveled by time or distance. A bond of spirit and blood….

When a Smile Speaks

Take a look at this picture...really look. There are the "world leaders" or some of them, who attended the mass rally against extremism, against terror, for freedom and to honor the murders of 17 people in France.

Look at the faces of each person. Now, I am a firm believer that politicians are about the best actors in the world. They have trained their bodies, their eyes, their mouths to forever be in the public eye. Yes, there are sometimes genuine thoughts and tears, but often, there is the feeling of the stage.

Sometimes, the lack of the stage speaks volumes about what a person is really thinking.

Look at this picture - how many nations are represented...how many can you identify...Israel...what was Netanyahu thinking...more dead Jews...more anti-Semitism...Merkel...when will this end, this hatred, this horror?

and look who is smiling...



And this just in - turns out..Obama WAS at the rally - here's a picture to prove it....


Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Whys of Hatred...


Who Attended Today's Rally...and Who Did Not...

Who attended today's million man...but really one million this time...rally in Paris today? It was an amazing show of unity - a message to Muslim extremism.

They came from all over the world - really. All over Europe (well, except from Sweden and Finland). They came from Africa. The Jordanian king and queen, Tunisia, Turkey and the Arab Emirates. Presidents, Prime Ministers and Kings...and the Attorney General of the United States...

This is who was there....
  • Albania -- Prime Minister Edi Rama
  • Algeria -- Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra
  • Austria -- Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz
  • Belgium -- Prime Minister Charles Michel
  • Benin -- President Thomas Boni Yayi
  • Britain -- Prime Minister David Cameron
  • Bulgaria -- Prime Minister Boyko Borisov
  • Canada -- Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney
  • Croatia -- Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic
  • Czech -- Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka
  • Denmark -- Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt
  • Gabon -- President Ali Bongo Ondimba
  • Georgia -- Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili
  • Germany -- Chancellor Angela Merkel
  • Greece -- Prime Minister Antonis Samaras
  • Hungary -- Prime Minister Viktor Orban
  • Israel -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
  • Italy -- Prime Minister Matteo Renzi
  • Jordan -- King Abdullah II and Queen Rania
  • Latvia -- Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma
  • Mali -- President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita
  • Niger -- President Mahamadou Issoufou
  • Portugal -- Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho
  • Romania -- President Klaus Iohannis
  • Russia -- Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
  • Spain -- Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy
  • Switzerland -- President Simonetta Sommaruga
  • The Netherlands -- Prime Minister Mark Rutte
  • Tunisia -- Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa
  • Turkey -- Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
  • United Arab Emirates -- Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan
  • Ukraine -- President Petro Poroshenko
  • United States -- Attorney General Eric Holder
  • European Commission -- President Jean-Claude Juncker
  • European Parliament -- President Martin Schulz
  • European Union -- President Donald Tusk
  • NATO -- Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
 President Obama...no show. Secretary of State John Kerry...no show...


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