Thursday, October 31, 2013


Who came up with this concept of physical therapy? Honestly...ouch.

So, my left arm can reach higher...and go closer towards the back of my body. Each meeting is another painful encounter but it moves forward (and back). I seem to be the only person frustrated with the pace of this recovery. The physical therapist says for 8+ weeks, I'm doing very well.

Yesterday, I was frustrated when I went shopping with Amira. I keep putting myself in the same situation - sure, I can handle, no I can't.

In this case, the "it" was pushing a loaded shopping cart through the store, to the checkout counter, repacking and taking the bagged/loaded cart to the car. The store was packed - a common occurrence on Wednesday and Thursday nights in Israel.

An older woman stepped forward and asked for my shopping cart. I told her it would take me a while to unload - she wasn't happy, but figured she didn't have a choice.

It was slow. Amira came up way before I had finished with her own cart. As she did, a man and his daughter came towards us. The older woman was quick to tell him that she had claimed my cart...unless Amira got hers emptied first, in which case, she'd take that one. The man was polite. I'm not sure I would have been. He just smiled.

Then the woman turned to me and asked if the food in my cart was for one family and then said, "now I know where all the food in the country is going."

She was joking but I was too tired to find the humor. I wanted to explain that part of the groceries were for Elie and his wife, who are tired and at home with their baby daughter. I wanted to explain that I haven't gone shopping in  a few weeks and there were some good sales.

I think I mumbled something about how she couldn't know how many children I have or whatever. Amira finished and the woman took the cart and then I started to complain. Amira was wonderful and patient - she always seems to find the good in a situation.

The man with the daughter, still waiting so patiently for my cart (which Amira had commandeered while ordering me, away...) smiled and said, "don't let her bother you." I love that about this country - so many step forward to help, to understand.

I'm doing better than I expected...the only problem is that I'm running out of patience with myself. The good news is that the physical therapist feels I am getting towards the end of that window in which I could re-injure myself.

I'm almost completely off painkillers - can you imagine, I actually took something because I had a headache not because of the pain in my arm!! Yeah, me!

And best of all, I get to hold little Michal. It's still hard and I can't hold her for long if the holding includ
es feeding her or reinserting her pacifier. I can sit for long periods with her in my right arm.

She's tiny. She's beautiful and she's very cute. And my heart still melts every time Elie picks her up and kisses her, calls her all sorts of cute names. He loves to pick her up after she's eaten, look her straight in the eye and say, "time to burp" and then he burps and says, "like that."

One Nation...Under a Hypocrite

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Obama's Cultural Rape

Rape is an ugly word, an even uglier deed. I don't use the word lightly or easily. Rape is a crime of violence, not passion; of destruction. The intent is to take the soul, destroy the body. It is an injustice beyond measure, a violation of humanity. No, I've never been raped but I know women who have been.

When someone uses the word "holocaust" - even without the capital letter, it bothers me because too often it is thrown around easily and rather than elevate the crime, it diminishes, just a bit, the Holocaust. I think rape is the same way - people use the word so freely, it takes away from when a real rape is inflicted on a person.

And yet...and yet, I'm going to use it here because it is the only word I can think of that applies, and the man ultimately responsible for this rape, this cultural rape - is Barack Hussein Obama - and yes, I'm using his middle name because he felt fine using it in Cairo and other places. And perhaps, just a little, that middle name plays a role in what he is about to do.

The full story, credit for it, comes from and goes to Caroline Glick in her article in the Jerusalem Post, "Our World: A miracle and an Outrage." The gist of it is - by some miracle, 2,500 years of heritage, of holy books and more survived the devastation and the almost entire complete exile of the Iraqi Jewish community. Saddam Hussein (yeah, there's that name again), stole over 2,700 Jewish books and writings from the Jewish community. He stored them in some basement to rot and by some miracle, invading US troops found the waterlogged remains.

Amazingly enough, the troops and leaders realized the magnitude of what they had found and the collection was taken to the States, refurbished, renewed, reclaimed at a cost of $3 million dollars. I don't know how, but I'm willing to raise the money to pay the Americans back for this kindness. comes the outrage about which Caroline Glick wrote. The American government proudly put their accomplishment on display. Good for them. The exhibition at the National Archives runs through January - that is the scheduled date of the cultural rape about to take place. On or around that time, Obama and the State Department feel it is their responsibility to return the archive to its rightful owners. And I commend them for this decision as much as I condemn them for being too stupid to know who those rightful owners are. No, Mr. President

I believe that the Israeli Ambassador to the United States should request an immediate meeting with the United States President.I believe our Prime Minister must, in no uncertain terms, make it clear that the owners of the archives are the Iraqi Jews - who live primarily in Israel and that to send the archives, these holy books, "back" to Iraq is tantamount to destroying them. Obama might as well blow them up in Washington for all that sending them back to Baghdad will accomplish.

It is hard to believe that caring human beings would not do all in their power to stop a rape they know is about to take place - well, here's our chance. We know where, we know when - now it is up to each of us to stop it.

Obama - what do you want to stop this travesty? Do you want 3 million dollars? We will raise it. You want a request from the Iraqi Jewish community - I'll see to it. You want the Israeli government to request it - Bibi, please, do this before it is too late.

Just was what was stolen by the Nazis has long been recognized as belonging to the victims of the Holocaust, the archives belong to the Jews from whom Saddam Hussein stole them. They are not, and never were, the legacy of Iraq - rather, they are the legacy of a small community that was all but hounded into exile, only to re-establish themselves in Israel.

The archives should be donated to the community here in Israel, to a museum they established as a true legacy to what was once a thriving Jewish community. These holy books never belonged to the Iraqi government, Saddam Hussein, or the greater Iraqi people. To deny the rightful owners, to turn these books over to the Iraqis is an abomination, a cultural rape of 2,500 years.

Please help - write to Washington and demand that the archive be given to their rightful owners, the Iraqi JEWISH community, largely represented in Israel and no where else.

Please write to your Congress representatives and ask them to add their voices against this injustice.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Abba Loves You

Abba is the Hebrew word for father.

Life is full of snapshots, pictures you carry with you in your brain. I have added so many in the last few years...there is one of Amira at her wedding, radiant and so happy. The minute I saw the picture the photographer took, I thought - this is the kind of picture every woman wants at least once in her life. I have a picture of her sitting at her wedding, looking up to the stage, where her very talented husband was singing a beautiful song to her...and the look in their eyes could feed a mother's heart forever. These images and others would stay with me forever, even if I didn't have the physical pictures to see.

I have a picture of Shmulik in my mind, standing under the chuppah, the wedding canopy, with his beautiful bride. As with Amira's husband, Naama comes from the "other" side of a divide I never really knew about till I came to Israel. There are Jews of European descent - Ashkenazim; there are Jews of "Eastern" descent (mostly Spain, Africa, Arab countries) - Sephardim. In America, we are all Jews - who cares where you came from? So Haim and Naama came from that world, enriching our own with each wedding. With the henna, a Sephardi custom equivalent to the Ashkenazi engagement party, but so much more interesting and fun. I have the pictures of them dressed up in Persian young and beautiful.

I have a picture - really, I wasn't aware of the moment when it was happening because it was so naturally a part of my relationship with Lauren - that it took the photographer to show it to me. Her mother and I are walking her to the chuppah, to Elie. And she has her head towards me, I am leaning over either listening or talking, I don't know. She is holding my hand and her mothers...and we all seem to be smiling. To me, it is a symbol of our relationship and I cherish that picture too.

I have a picture of Yaakov, Elie, Chaim, Shmulik and Davidi all lined up waiting for Lazer to give them a blessing on the Friday night of Davidi's bar mitzvah. I don't have the picture because we don't use cameras on Shabbat, but I will never forget that image - of the five of them in line, according to age - Yaakov the oldest, Davidi the youngest.

And I have a picture of Aliza flying in the air as she jumped from the fifth step up - knowing with the faith only a child can have, that Elie would catch her. I have an image of her sleeping in my arms (or anyone else's for that matter), with one arm reaching upwards and holding my chin. She was a chin-holder...

I have so many pictures of all my children in my mind. I keep them there, take them out once in a while and smile. Last night, I added another.

Elie and Lauren are battling the first few months of a baby's life - no sleep, no time, no room. Lauren is one of the most organized people I know - rivaled only by her mother, I think. They plan and execute the most amazing things - you wouldn't believe the party they just organized for the baby last week.

Michal is 5 weeks old and she is beyond precious. Elie was in school for much of yesterday so Lauren had the baby. He wanted to give her a break in the evening and let her sleep before facing yet another night of broken sleep, so he brought little Michal over here. He was hungry (and so was I), so with his help, I made him those tuna fritters he loves so much. He helped because my arm is getting better, but still not there, so he took over frying and I got to hold the baby and all was right with the world.

The only problem is Michal doesn't seem to want to burp for me - Elie, on the other hand, offers to teach her regularly. So he was burping her, lifting her up and playing with her as he sat on the couch opposite me. His hands are so big compared to this tiny baby. I watched him hold her, smile and talk to her, "Abba loves you," he said as he gave her a kiss and that was it - my heart melted yet again.

Elie is an abba - a is an unbelievable concept. He cradles his little daughter and I have to remember - she really is his. For the man who often lacks patience, he seems to be endlessly enthralled with her. I can't wait for the first time she smiles at him. He has no idea what's yet to come, how much his heart will soar when she gazes into his eyes and he realizes that he and Lauren are her world. All is right, so long as they love her.

Abba loves husband often said that to our children as he rocked them, held them. I don't know what it is about language that brings us to these words. To each other, we will say "I love you" but to a child, almost as if we are reminding them, at such a young age, reminding them...and us...that there is something unique in this relationship, we often said, "Ima loves you" and "Abba loves you." There is something so much more to those words - a promise we make each time we say it, a commitment that will last through eternity, a fact etched in stone. Forever, Michal's abba loves her.

I took some real pictures, which I can't post to the Internet, but even if I hadn't taken them, I'll never lose the image of Elie holding Michal up to his face, staring into her eyes and telling her, "Abba loves you."

Shabbat shalom from the sunny, warm, beautiful land of Israel - a land filled with fathers and mothers who love their children, cherish them above all that we have, all that we are.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Did I really write this?

I've come to a relatively nice, quiet place in my life. It won't last. I know that. I'm in for another three years, but not yet. It's that perfect lull to enjoy and savor...and I am. I really am.

I don't have much to write - and I hesitate so often wondering why anyone would continue to read. I have over 1,700 posts here - years of writing. I have to admit I have my favorite posts...but there are so many, I am constantly reminded how many I don't remember.

I didn't remember this one...and now reading it, I am struck by the irony. It speaks of Egypt and Syria - how the map of the Middle East has changed so much...and not at all.

I wrote it with a question - What is a War? was written on January 21, 2008 - almost five years the years that have passed, Elie always says the same when we speak of this question. He spoke as a soldier; I listened as a mother. He still do I.

What is a War?

This weekend was a funny time for us. Elie was in a very strange and wonderful mood for much of the time. When he would first come home from the army, in the early months of his service, the soldier in him remained with us for much of the time. He was more serious; more responsible; just more mature. Same Elie, just different – calmer at times, more in touch in some ways, older.

More recently, I’ve noticed that within a short time, he often comes back to the Elie that was. He’ll tease and be wild and play, but it still takes time - a few hours at least. First the uniform comes off and the laundry goes in and then, slowly, as the day progresses, he eases up, opens up. He’s less likely to lose his temper or get angry and more likely to reason through or accept frustrations now than before he went into the army, and those traits remain as a reminder that he's still a soldier, still part of this army for most of his days and nights.

He was always one to order his younger siblings around, but now he does it with more determination, but also with more logic than force. Once, when he was home for five days, on the third day, he was arguing with his older sister. They were bickering as they did in the past, before she was married, before he went to the army. But it had taken him days to go back to the pre-army Elie. Most of the time, with only a short weekend visit, there isn't enough time for him to truly uncover this inner self.

To be a soldier means being a person of action. You run, you learn, you think, you train. You are challenged to push the borders of the person you were, until you reach the person you can become. Perhaps part of this is an issue of age. Young men and women, as they enter the army in Israel, are on the edge of their childhood.

They are rushing towards being adults, hurrying towards freedom and independence. But the army is the opposite of independence. Your every move is controlled, especially at first. What you wear; the color of your socks and shoes; whether you wear a hat, and when; when you eat and what you eat; how far you run. It's all determined by someone else.

And yet, in the midst of this, the greatest freedom is found. Elie has learned so much in so short a period of time. He's learned the most, I think, about himself, his capabilities. He has always been told that he is special and smart and quick...and he's proved this to himself and others. He’s learned to control his anger, his frustrations. He’s learned to think his way through. He reasons more with his youngest brother and sister, but is there to demand with a booming voice if they don’t see HIS reason.

He has also learned more about the world around him than he (or I) could have ever imagined. Before going into the army, he could tell you so much about cars and assembling things. He is truly his engineer father's son so much more than his political science mother's son. History never interested him, nor politics, nor the happenings of the world. He only watched the news when there was a terrorist attack and he, like all of Israel, waited for the worst of the information to be told.

This weekend, he slipped back into the pre-army Elie quickly and with ease, but not in anger. He was teasing his brothers and sisters, running through the house. He was louder, wilder. He was mischievous and funny and laughing. He was happy and easy. He walked into the kitchen and started with the brownies, ignoring the real food until after. “I’ll get to it,” he assured me with the smile I can never quite resist and a twinkle in his eyes that is guaranteed to twist even the most hardened mother's heart around his finger.

Shabbat afternoon after others had gone off to rest, we sat for a short while and talked about rockets and weapons and missiles and armored personnel carriers. We talked of guns and bullets and war. Shabbat is a day of peace; a day when we leave the world and pull into ourselves. But Elie was talking and I wanted to listen. I wanted to give him the time to open and share what is in his mind. I don't remember half the details - of how far this can fly, how long, how many. Of weapons and navigation and guns. Of war.

Now, the army teaches him about other nations - how strong they are, their motivations and intentions. Syria and Egypt are his focus; they pose the greatest threat: Syria for its ongoing aggression and support of terrorism and Egypt for its strong army and probable insecurity when President Mubarak dies or leaves office. Lebanon is a puppet of Syria, Elie explained this past Shabbat. Jordan and the possibility of war was mentioned. They have the largest border with us, Elie said, and so they too are a topic for discussion.

What of Iran? I asked, interested to hear his perspective. "It won't be a war," he said.

"Why not?" I asked.

"Because you can't go to war with a country that far away." They might throw missiles at us and we might throw missiles at them - but that's a battle or a mission, explained my son, the artillery soldier, "that's not war."

I don't know what war is. I have lived in a country at war, but the war was in the distance. First two summers ago in the north, and now, every day, in Sderot and its surrounding areas.

Elie explained the difference between a mission or operation versus a war. "A war has specific goals and a set time to accomplish it." Not the last war, I wanted to say, but Elie was ahead of me, "they told us not to mention the last war; that they would talk about it after."

But as I sat there listening to his voice (trying to let him think I was listening to his words), I thought that while I don't know what war is, the possibility that Elie will some day know is more than I can bear.

The political scientist in me knows very well the chances of the Arabs ever accepting a peaceful settlement that includes our continued existence are somewhere between dim and non-existent. That part of me can marvel at my son's capacity to absorb these political facts and apply them to today's realities. But another part of me sat there listening and remembered when he had once explained about chemical warfare. He was 15 years old and America was about to invade Iraq with the very real possibility that Iraq would attempt to send chemical weapons against us in retaliation. Elie explained that if it happens, we have to make sure to throw flour on ourselves, and not water.

Water will just spread the chemicals, he explained, while flour will absorb it. I listened to him then, too, wondering at his maturity even then. But even more, I kept thinking (then and now), these are things I don’t want my son to have to know. I didn’t want him to know about gas masks and chemical weapons when he was 15 years old, but that was what was necessary, if we were to make our homes in this land of our fathers. I don’t want him to know about missiles and rockets and guns, but this is necessary, if he is to live his life here.

I don't know what war is...but I am going to have to accept that my sons will know and I have to trust the army to educate them in the things I don't know, so that they will be strong and brave and defend all that we have built here.

Defeat Anti-Semites Abusing Google

Google is a brilliant, amazing, all-encompassing entity that has built what many would argue is the world's strongest and most popular search engine. It is also incredibly easy to manipulate it.

Google has created complicated algorithms that learn...yes, learn...based on the information it is fed...and we can manipulate it too.

So, please help me.

A friend something to Facebook...I wish I could say I didn't believe it, but I did. I checked it out to confirm it would happen...and it did. As you probably know, when you start to search for something, Google will, as it always does, offer you suggestions.

There's a really good chance in today's world, that if you search for want information on Barack Obama and so as soon as you type Barack...

Google will immediately give you several suggestions, based on what others commonly search for.

And, if you search for "Jews should"... the results are quite depressing.

And so - I'm asking you to take 3 minutes of your life to help Google learn something else...I'll offer three suggestions - two I thought of, one came from a dear friend named Rahel.

Please search for each of these three things...let's take Google from the darkness of hatred to the light of our world. Please go to and search for these phrases - I'm hoping you will also suggest some positive phrases below so assuming others have as well, please also search for whatever comments are below as well.

Let's not surrender to hatred.

Please search for:

  Jews should be respected

  Jews should rule Jerusalem forever

  Jews should be blessed

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tea, Chocolate and Running Around...

At 17, Davidi can't give blood - unless he has a parent's note. I was a mixture of proud and concerned. He was donating blood in Jerusalem; I'm here in Maale Adumim. I expected him to call, but got distracted and a few minutes ago, as I was talking to Shmulik, Davidi walked in.

"Why are you home?" I asked him, "I didn't know you were coming home tonight."

"Bnei Akiva," he answered me - it is the name of the national religious youth group - sort of like the scouts, and Davidi is a counselor. Then he told me he has a hole in his arm. He was smiling.

I asked him how it went - it went fine.

I asked him if he drank..."tea and chocolate." And then, just as he walked out the door to see the work we have been doing in the garden, "and running around."

Running around???

He's 17. He's healthy, thank God. And he donated blood today - that is how we raise our children here, it seems. They donate their time and their efforts and sometimes, they even donate their blood.

He's got a hole in his arm...and a sticker that says, "I also donated blood and I saved a life."

Tea, chocolate....and running around...

Move Over, Susan Boyle...

Israel has a new star...well, maybe two...I love it!!!

Double Standards

If he's not careful, I may become Ari Lesser's greatest fan. I'm not into his kind of music. I'm practically tone deaf. I love songs that tell stories - my favorite singers - people like Harry Chapin, Garth Brooks, and lately Dave Carroll...and now, yeah, Ari Lesser.

Boycott the world...listen up!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Security and the Belt

When the surgeon first explained what he was going to do during my recent operation, my first thought was, "Pins? You're going to put pins in my shoulder? Am I going to set off the metal detectors???"

The thought of having to deal with this just about broke me...and then the doctor smiled and said no, the pins weren't made of metal and would actually, disintegrate in about six months.

I would have to wear an "immobilizer" belt made by an Israeli company named Uriel. I bought the belt and brought it on the day of the operation and woke up wearing it and except for showering, I've been wearing it ever since.

At the beginning, night and day, I had to wear it as you see in the picture. Arm firmly secured to my body - top and bottom. After several weeks, I "graduated" to having to keep the upper arm band in place, but the lower arm can be released.

This morning, for the first time since the operation, my husband dropped me off for a few hours to see what's happening here at the office. I'm not officially back to work yet, but I needed to get out and because he had a meeting in Tel Aviv - he could drive me in and take me home later. I can barely handle car rides; I wasn't up to trying buses and trains.

I work in the center of Jerusalem. It's a beautiful city, made especially more beautiful now that the work on the light rail has finished. The city is full of people - shopping, eating, walking. And the people are as varied as the shops - Israelis, new immigrants, Arabs, tourists...

Within a 10 minute walk from my building in any direction, you can find at least a dozen plaques dedicated to victims of terror attacks. Here in the heart of Jerusalem, Palestinians terrorists have set off dozens of bombs. It is a reality that slips to the back of our minds, but never goes away. Day to day, we function normally, think of other things, regular, ordinary.

As I walked past the sidewalk and open plaza heading into the building, a guard was approaching a microwave oven. Someone had left it on a bench. They are trained to see the un-ordinary and this qualified. They have seconds to figure out what probably happened, what it is, and if it poses a threat. What probably happened is that someone who lives nearby had a microwave. Maybe they took it to be fixed at one of the stores and heard the price and thought - for that I can buy a new one. Who knows?

But you can't trust the guess, you have to check. The guard carefully opened it and looked inside. To call a bomb squad would shut down the center of Jerusalem for an hour or more, disrupt the end of rush hour, halt all train service throughout the city. If he'd seen enough to suspect, he would have called it.

He should have called the bomb squad but he took that chance. He looked at it, around it...and then slowly opened it and looked inside. I kept walking, praying I wouldn't hear (or feel) a boom. I didn't turn around. Perhaps someone came running, "that's mine, that's mine. I'm sorry, I went to get a newspaper." Perhaps it was any number of other things. It wasn't a bomb...that I would have heard. It can slip way back into your head, but it never goes away.

At the door to the building, I put my purse and a bag on the guard's table...but he wasn't looking at them. He was looking at me...and down at the belt.

"What's the belt?" he asked and for the first time it clicked.

No, it isn't filled with explosives and I'm not committing suicide. But you don't joke with security - that's the first rule. They need to know what is happening, to decide quickly if I pose a threat.

I don't fit profile. I'm not a young man and I'm clearly not Palestinian. If he heard my accent, he's hear the English in it. Most people don't come live in Israel to blow something up. Add it all up - the look of me said one thing, the belt hinted at something else.

Add to that, I was dressed "strangely". My shoulder doesn't tolerate cold - I'm wearing a lose fitting black shawl...on a bright, sunny, warm day because otherwise my shoulder can hurt deep inside. A shawl or a large coat can hide so much...and I have a strange belt.

The fact that my arm is braced to my body was hidden by the shawl...all he could see is loose-fitted clothing and a strange looking belt around my torso.

Not enough to confirm - but enough to ask. Enough to stand out. Enough to hesitate. Not enough to raise the alarm. It was all there in his eyes. I don't fit profile...but it's possible...anything is possible and you don't bet with people's lives. "What's the belt?"

"I had shoulder surgery," I explained quickly. "I had a tear in my shoulder and..." In that same instance, I knew what he was thinking, wondering. And as I spoke, desperate to make it clear, I realized I was already wasting my time - my voice is American despite being here 20 years. My Russian/Polish ancestors have given me skin that is shades lighter than my brothers and sisters who moved here from Arab lands and lighter than the skin color of some of my cousins who have sometimes come to blow themselves up. It isn't racism; it is reality. It is profiling but it saves time and lives.

My explanation makes sense because it is truth and it puts back in order the image he sees before him - a belt for medical reasons...yes, that's what it looks like. She was sick...or hurt, and so she wears a shawl for warmth, even on an impossibly warm, sunny, beautiful day, in the center of Jerusalem.

"Refuah shalyma," he answered with a smile. It is a traditional Jewish response to someone who is hurt or sick - you should have a complete recovery.

I thanked him and walked slowly to my office. It bothered me that I had put that question, that hesitation in his mind. Was he facing a suicide bomber that broke profile? I know, I can imagine, the parts of his brain fighting each other - she looks one way, but has the belt...she's wearing a shawl...ah, American accent, Jewish, speaks Hebrew, an threat.

It never occurred to me that the belt would be questioned and in a while, I'll be glad it was. But I'll be happier when I can take it off completely and blend back into the obvious.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fail of the Century Goes to CNN

Last night, in an emotional funeral attended by 800,000 people, Israel parted with Rav Haim Ovadia Yosef. He was 93 years old at the time of his death. I won't write of his accomplishments, of what he had built, who he led, what he did. I won't write of the controversial statements we all know he made; and I won't begin to explain the feelings throughout Israel as so many attended.

Eight hundred thousand people...that is 10% of the entire population of the State of Israel. Without question, it is the largest funeral in Israel's history. It might be the largest gathering of Israelis ever. And, for all that there were so many hundreds of thousands, not a single shot was fired (as compared to Arab funerals of their heroes, terrorists and murderers). One hundred people were injured - almost all the result of either emotion, fainting, the crush of the crowd, or falling from a building/balcony/light post while trying to get a better view.

Eight hundred thousand people...and how did our dear friends of CNN report this incredible evening...look for yourself. I would guess if you looked at the pictures they provide, you could count more than the mere "hundreds" they reference.

Congratulations to CNN for the understatement and failed reporting of the century...

Hundreds of Israelis? Amazing...

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