Wednesday, January 28, 2015

May Their Memories be Blessed

Today, Hezbollah was given an opportunity...and they took it.

On the Lebanese border, two Israeli vehicles - though soldiers were inside, the vehicles themselves were not market as army vehicles - not in color, not the license plates, and not the models used. They were not armored personnel carriers, not tanks, not jeeps...just large pickup trucks - Isuzu Dmax...

Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles at the non-bullet proof vehicles with predictable results. Two soldiers were killed; seven others lightly to moderately wounded.

CNN will tell you of a battle on the Golan Heights (someone really has to get these people a map - Har Dov isn't in the Golan). And if you waste your time clicking on their link, you come to a page that describes the "battle" but only gets around to mentioning the anti-tank missile that violated international law in the second paragraph.

BBC, as expected, was no better, "Two Israeli soldiers and a Spanish UN peacekeeper are killed as Hezbollah militants trade fire with Israeli forces along the Lebanese border."

Trade fire? It was a missile, you idiots.

Three people died today as a result of this Hezbollah action - they include two young Israeli soldiers - aged 25 and 20, one a Captain, one a Staff Sergeant. Two loved sons of Israel.

Dor Nini is from Moshav Shtulim, near Ashdod. He fought in the summer's war in Gaza and was a member of the Givati Brigade's Tzabar battalion.

Yochai Kalangel, 25, grew up in the Gush Etzion town of Elazar and moved to the nearby community of Har Gilo when he married his wife Tali. He leaves behind of a one-year-old girl. He received the president's award for excellence on Independence Day last year and was a company commander in the Tzabar Battalion.

May their memories be blessed.


BBC Honors the Memory of the Holocaust....

Not....

Should the world stop remembering the Holocaust? It sounds unbelievable, but the BBC is suggesting just that.

The BBC One show "The Big Question" asked, "Is the time coming to lay the Holocaust to rest?"

70 years after Auschwitz, hate is rising again in Europe.

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

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...


Solution for France....

Wait, I shouldn't suggest this - the French might actually agree to it....


Chief Rabbi of Israel Speaks of France's Dead

He has called upon the community of France to bury the dead of Friday's terror attack in Paris in Israel because they died "al Kiddush Hashem" - which roughly translates, for the holiness of God or the sanctification of His Name...or, to put it in the simplest of terms - they died simply because they were Jews.

They have the classification of "harugay malchut" - the idea is that their status is free from sin, where they stand, no one else can stand. They are with those murdered through the centuries - in the Holocaust, the pogroms, and so many other times and places.

Bring them home...and come with them. Bury them here, and then come here to live.

Come here - from France, from Australia, from Germany and Hungary. Come from the Ukraine, Miami, Detroit and Chicago. Come because there is only one place where we can stand, only one place where we can breathe.

Come because there is no other place you can be home, no other place you can be what you are.

A few years ago, I learned something that I had never known - it was a startling fact, made more shocking because of the first thought that came to my mind.

When the Jews were taken out of Egypt - when they followed Moses (Moshe Rabenu, our teacher), I thought they call left, all came home. Four out of five, stayed behind in Egypt...and there they died.

Only 20% left, only 20% were given the honor of coming home...that's the thing I learned. And the first thought that I had was that we are approaching that point now - 20% will come home; 80% will disappear, be erased from the history of the Jewish people...we will go on into the future, so many will be left behind.

Most of the family I have left in the United States has intermarried...gone from our people or fast leaving. They won't come home, they won't leave.

I feel this movement today, stronger than ever before. I think...I hope...I want to believe...that the Jews of France will bring their precious dead to be buried in Israel, and they will come with them, after them. Come home...please...and please bury Yoav Hattab and the others here - they knew...they knew.

Update: Early this evening, it was announced by the families that they would indeed bury the four victims in Israel.

Get the Hell Out of France

We went into Shabbat praying for the hostages and their families in Paris. We knew very few of the details - two killed, though this was denied by the French. At least 6 held hostage.

My youngest is about to turn 15, she has several friends whose parents came from France. The cousin of one was in the store just minutes before the attack; another wasn't able to find a cousin and was afraid she might be inside. This is how we began the Sabbath. "They won't leave," my youngest said to me in sadness. "They won't leave."


As soon as the Sabbath ended, I heard the devastating news that four innocent Jews had been killed and another 15 had been rescued in the hostage situation. Among the dead, was the son of the chief Rabbi of Tunis. They were part of a killing spree that cost France a total of 17 lives during the past week. At least five of those were Jews; the policeman gunned down in cold blood was a Muslim.

I am filled with pain and anger. Some for the Jews themselves. I do not believe in blaming the victim. That is something almost instinctive when you have low opinions of the killers, you naturally think that perhaps there is something the victim could have done - it's wrong.

And yet...I want to shout at the Jewish community in France. Enough already. Get the hell out of France now. I don't care how hard it is - the reality of what France is becoming is harder.

I don't care what it costs - would you place your money above the lives of your children? You have just paid the highest price. God Almighty, what more do you need?

Pack your stinking bags, please please please. The pain tears at our hearts - that is what it is to be a Jew. To feel, to the core of your being, the agony of a Jew, no matter where. All Shabbat, we held you in our prayers, in our hearts, desperate to hear of a miracle; deeply saddened that two had been murdered; terrified that even as we were praying more would have died.

There are a thousand reasons why moving to Israel is hard - the economy, leaving behind roots that have grown over centuries, the comfort of speaking the language of your birth, even if it isn't really the language of your fathers. Grandparents, elderly parents, relatives that can't come now and may never leave. Jobs, homes, stores...a thousand reasons to stay and but one major one to leave - the time has come.

The clouds of death were gathering over Europe in 1939, but it was easy to deny them...almost impossible to convince the heart of what the brain was fearing. The clouds will pass, don't they always? The ashes, the gas, the marches, the ghettos, those days are gone...

But they aren't - they will never be gone and you are truly a fool if you think otherwise. In the dawn today that follows the nightmare of last week, which follows many other nightmares - the beating of a rabbi, the murder of a father and children, endless other attacks...the time has come.

Wherever you are in France, go home, pack your suitcases, call a real estate agent and get on the next plane. Every El All plane should be full.

And I'll add something that my older daughter just said to me - it was something that I knew it in my heart, but she said it beautifully...
When it is your home and someone attacks you, you stay - you even feel like you need to stay even more. But when it isn't, you feel like you need to leave - you feel like you need to leave even more than regularly. Yes, people are killed in Israel, but even, despite that, we feel like staying, we need to stay because Israel is ours. The lesson for the Jews of France is that where you are, is not home. 
The proof, among all others, is that so many are leaving. When this happens, you think about leaving yourself but wonder if the time has come. If you can't listen to me (and my brilliant daughter), listen to Yoav Hattab, one of the murdered Jews from France...he was in Israel just last week and wore the Israeli flag throughout his visit. He told others, "only in Israel is it possible to walk around freely with the star of David - in France I would never be able to do this."

The time has come - the clouds ARE gathering. Please, Jews of France, get out of France now. Come before the storm, come before more die. Come before we have to send in troops and planes to get you out...come - to the land of sunshine, to the land of warmth, to a place where all Jews are home. Come to a land of life and love and yes, to a land that is safe for Jews.

Let the deaths of these four be the last; let their deaths be a lesson. In their names, choose life. In honor of their memory, get on the plane.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Rereading Me...The Jewish Way

More than seven years of writing this blog and well over 2,000 posts, leaves me with having written a lot of things I don't remember. I love to write - it is part of my soul, as necessary to my life as breathing. Not everyone understands that, not even my family.

I also love looking at the statistics on this blog. Sure, the number are fun...wow, so many people read this - how is that possible? but more than the numbers, I love seeing what they are reading. Usually it's a post I made today, yesterday, perhaps last week. Sometimes, it's a post I made years ago and I often go back and read it. Often, I'll remember it. Sometimes, I won't.

I saw this one - someone or more than someone, accessed a blog post from November, 2012 called The Jewish Way...I didn't have a clue what it was about, and so I read it...and liked it.

Two years and two months later, I'd like to share it again. It isn't exactly about now...thankfully, no one is dropping rockets on us and we aren't dropping leaflets on them. Elie isn't preparing to be mobilized; Lauren getting ready to send him off. It's relatively quiet in the south, even by my definition of quiet and the greatest news story today is the storm that hit. But there is a message deep within this post that resonates today because more than two years and one war later, we still cling to the Jewish way... and on this Friday, as I did on that one - I'll wish you a Shabbat shalom.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Jewish Way

What a funny title - the Jewish way...I had something I wanted to say, started thinking about the title, and that came out.

The Jewish way...

What I meant to say, was that today is Friday and the Jewish way is that no matter what else is happening, Friday means the Sabbath is coming. Our beloved Shabbat. Tonight, in my home, the radio will be off; computers put away so that a beautiful white table cloth alone will cover the dining room table. Candles will burn gently in the window; the house filled with the scent of all the dishes I'll be cooking in the next few hours.

No matter what is happening, Shabbat will come to all of Israel - everywhere, even in the south where people are all but living in shelters, they'll be lighting those same candles. They may not go to the synagogue for fear of being in the open during an attack; they may not take a leisurely stroll through their neighborhood, speaking to neighbors and friends, but it will still be Shabbat. That is the Jewish way - a reminder that all is controlled from Above.

But...

There is another Jewish way happening now in the south that cannot be ignored - or rather, it is being ignored and should not be. The Israeli army is many things - so many adjectives - but it is, above all else, a Jewish army; it follows the Jewish way.

And so yesterday, again, we dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets - in Arabic, explaining and warning the citizens of Gaza. We have no choice; your leadership, the one you elected to power, has left us no choice. We cannot live this way; we will not allow our children to grow up this way. And so, once again, as we did four years ago, it is time to enter Gaza and clean out the weapons that threaten our children.

We will do it the Jewish way - others would simply bomb Gaza to smithereens and worry about world opinion later. No, we are not bombing Gaza indiscriminately, if we were, they wouldn't so easily be able to claim numbers. Already the fraud on their side has begun. Pictures from Syria claimed to be from Gaza (I posted one two days ago and there are others). A man claiming to be wounded, rises and walks off stage when the cameras seem to go quit.

In Jenin, they claimed hundreds were wounded, even thousands - one report said 5,000. It was a massacre beyond all proportions. Except, it wasn't of course - it was 53 dead - 42 of whom were gunmen/terrorists (at least). No massacre, All lies. That is Gaza - all lies. The Gaza way.

We put our children in bomb shelters, our women, our innocent - and we tell them to stay there, we beg them. That is the Jewish way.

We use precise technology to the best of our ability and so we take out a car - when it is separated from others and at an intersection to minimize damage and casualties - and we kill an arch terrorist, mastermind of violence and rocket attacks on our people...that is the Jewish way. And the Gaza way - they claim casualties without telling you how many were standing there firing a rocket at Israel at the moment our missile came raining down on them - only on them. Three dead, says Gaza. Three martyrs of Islam. But they are, according to the Jewish way, three dead men who chose to fight and kills us and we killed them.

I also wanted to write that despite being glued to the computer for the last two days, I have to cook, I have to clean. I have to shower and dress nicely. I have to set the table (actually, I'm cheating - Aliza does that!) and tonight I have to...no, I want to sit next to my husband. Amira and Haim and the baby are coming for dinner. Shabbat is a gift that God gave to the Jewish people. Tonight, we will honor that gift and beg Him to watch over the people of the south and our precious sons as they enter Gaza in the coming hours, days, and perhaps weeks.

While in Gaza, they will do their best to follow the Jewish way - unlike the Arabs, they will not intentionally aim at civilians; they will not target the innocent. They will cancel an operation if civilians come within range and again act to protect terrorists. But, we will not save their mosques, homes, schools and even hospitals if we know they are hiding weapons there.

Four years ago, I wrote a simple fact - if you put weapons in schools, homes, mosques and hospitals - the deaths of innocents are yours, not ours. A mosque is a house of God; if you put weapons and explosives in it - God leaves. You may call it a house of Allah, that is your choice. I don't know this Allah of yours; I know only God. If God and Allah are the same, Allah will leave the mosque when you desecrate it with weapons. And then, that structure, which once might have been holy, is holy no more. It is an arsenal - a legitimate target for a nation at war.

This is a war, Gaza - a war you started by firing out our homes, that do not contain weapons, at our synagogues, in which we only pray. You fired at our schools, and yes, our hospitals. And so, the Jewish way - after 2,000 years, is that we will fight back. We will fight - even on Shabbat. Especially, on Shabbat.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

US Warns it's Citizens to Travel Israel Packing...

No, not packing guns - packing shovels...

The State Department has issued a hilarious warning. What makes it so funny is that it was issued after 2 centimeters fell on the southern areas of Israel's highest mountain - Mt Hermon. They want Americans in Israel to pack a "shovel, and emergency food supplies in the event you are stranded," and "consider deferring any non-essential travel."

Apparently, the Americans in the Embassy in Tel Aviv (yes, despite pre-election promises from every US president in the last few decades, including Obama, the US still maintains their embassy in Tel Aviv and only has a consulate in Jerusalem), realized how asinine the State Department's warning was and decided, to their credit, to have fun with it.

Here's a picture of the Ambassador and staff on a sunny beach in Tel Aviv with all the gear recommended...except the shovels...

Thanks to Ambassador Dan Shapiro for once again making us smile and showing that he "gets" Israel. Oh, the temperature where they are standing...in the high 60s Fahrenheit (maybe even low 70s).


Bring on the Snow!

The very first time I experience snow in Israel, I was visiting my sister during my college winter break. I was on a bus in Jerusalem when someone called out, "Snow!"

I looked and looked and for the life of me, I couldn't see a thing. The passengers became animated; people began pointing and calling out, yelling in excitement and I saw that it was, indeed, snowing...a total of about five flakes of snow! Coming from a place where it snowed enough each year for you to wish desperately for spring, I was amazed at how excited the people were.

On the other hand, the bus driver looked as if he was sweating as he called out "Quiet! Quiet! Can't you see it's snowing!" I never did understand why we had to be quiet but there was, in seconds complete silence so that our driver could navigate the bus in safety concentrating on the monumental task he believed he had ahead of him. Not a single flake actually stuck to the ground more than a second or two before melting, but to him, that snow appeared to be his greatest nightmare..

My first snow "storm" after we made aliyah consisted of a two hour event. Snow fell, a light dusting on our front lawn. My children were bundled up in their sweaters and coats - two socks on each hand because they had no gloves. While I stayed inside with my newborn baby, my older children, their father and aunt, went outside to play.

They built a snow dwarf (all of about 10 inches high ... I still thought in inches back in those days), had a 10 minute snowball fight and then came in for hot chocolate just as the snow stopped and the sun came out. Half an hour later, warmed on the inside and out and ready for round two, the snow was gone.

A few years ago, I drove back to Maale Adumim through a snow covered Jerusalem, grateful that the road had been plowed and was merely wet. I pulled to the side of the road carefully a few minutes after I noticed two plastic shopping bags on the floor of my car. I got out of the car, filled the bags and then continued home.

At the entrance to our beautiful city in the desert, I pulled to the side and handed the guard a snowball. There was, of course, no snow in Maale Adumim and he smiled when he took it and then asked me for another. I quickly made him a second snowball and he said, "thank you."

He walked to the guardhouse and as he got close, he called out, "Yossi....Yossi," I drove away smiling as the soldier threw a snowball at an unsuspecting Yossi.

For several years, the city of Maale Adumim trucked in snow from the Golan and filled a parking lot with it. Children from all over the city came and played with it...and then, being a city in the desert, the snow turned to slush and melted away. But for those few hours, all the wonder of the world was in the eyes of our children.

Last year, the unexpected happened - the storm of a century dropped a meter of snow on Jerusalem and for a city that sees only one or two real snowfalls a year, and often not even that, the city was crippled. For all the criticism, they handled it brilliantly, bringing in armored personnel vehicles to ferry food, water and medical care where it was needed. People shared, helped neighbors, brought food to the elderly. Yes, there were lessons to be learned, and the city did learn many of them. But as I heard sneering complaints from people who told of their native country or city would have handled it better, I became increasingly proud of Jerusalem.

A few short weeks later, Atlanta, Georgia was hit with a mere two inches of snow and came to a complete halt. Students were stuck in schools overnight and the city was in a panic. Suddenly, how Jerusalem handled a meter of snow didn't seem nearly so ridiculous.

We are now expecting another storm and the city is mobilizing and responding and I'm willing to bet there will be those who complain the city is over-reacting. Sometimes you can't win.

But as I found humor when the bus driver was so nervous more than 30 years ago, I find humor now in the fact that the police have already announced that as soon as the snow storm starts, they are going to shut down the two main roadways into/out of Jerusalem. That leaves the road to Gush Etzion, which will likely get even more snow than Jerusalem, the road towards northern Jerusalem, and our road to Maale Adumim as the main, last remaining thoroughfares. Since we travel through Jerusalem to get to Tel Aviv, we'll be largely cut off from the rest of Israel, just as Jerusalem will be.

We got a note from my daughter's school, already closing the dorms for the overnight students and dismissing the older classes. My son in yeshiva is plotting when he can come home because he has already signed up to volunteer for Magen David Adom on the worst day of the storm and wants to make sure he can get home. He doesn't mind getting stuck in Jerusalem but is afraid he might get stuck on the other side, near the center of Israel, where all he'll see is rain, rain, rain.

Last year, he went in with the ambulance and spent hours in the city until they finally came back here, the ambulance no longer able to handle the hills inside the city. I panicked because his phone went to voice mail and last I heard he was planning on trying to get in to Jerusalem to help. The head of the volunteer program had mercy on me and called around until he found my son at Shaarei Tzedek Hospital, after helping to bring in someone who needed medical care. My son was instructed to charge his phone battery and call his mother!

There is so much going on in the world - serious stuff, sad stuff. Challenges, accidents, tragedy, trials, elections, corruption, parties falling apart and wannabee politicians switching parties...it's nice to focus on something as mundane as a storm coming in.

So if you ask me what Israel is thinking about now - it isn't the elections, it isn't the Hague. It isn't the supposed sex scandal with Prince Andrew or Alan Dershowitz. It isn't Obama or Kerry or Clinton or Palin or whatever and whoever.

For the most part, the talk on the street is about when the winds will start, when the rain to come, how far above sea level each city is and at what height the snow will fall. My city is at the lower edge...600 feet above sea level. Jerusalem is closer to the top and is forecasted to get "a lot". I don't know what "a lot" is...but we'll see.

In some places, it will turn to freezing rain and then snow; others will only experience strong wind and rain. What we all know is that it is winter in Israel, a time when tourism is relatively low and it feels like the country is ours alone.

For all that Israel is truly a modern country with access to the latest and greatest technologies, there is something so wonderful about the wonder with which we face each snow storm - so unexpected, so new.

I know that Israelis are somewhat jaded by life, sometimes pessimistic about a future that will likely never include peace, global acceptance, real security and more...and given all that, there is something infinitely wonderful about losing ourselves in the wonder of the whiteness, the purity of snow.

Despite all the inconvenience it will bring and hoping it won't bring injury or suffering, I personally hope we get hit with another meter of snow!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Election will bring War, Poverty, Pestilence…

Two years ago, on the day after elections in Israel brought Benjamin Netanyahu's government with a coalition of Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett to the Knesset, I wrote the following. I could easily have written it today, and could probably easily write it on March 18, 2015 - the day after the upcoming elections.

Sadly, I predicted new elections and here we are, less than 2 years later...right there. No real surprise, I predicted another war, and we had one this past summer. Perhaps most important, I said that the media had played Israel, predicting a right-wing landslide...and they are doing it again now. It's a sham to scare the left into voting and the right into complacency. As for the rest, I guess at very least, we can all look forward to another national holiday and a day off work.

Election will bring War, Poverty, Pestilence…from January, 2013

Now that the title got your attention, let me tell you that the Middle East of this morning is fundamentally the same as it was yesterday. We have not had a major upheaval. I’m not in mourning – in fact, quite the opposite. I celebrate the democracy we are. The people have spoken. No, not exactly as I had hoped but that is for another time. If you are right-wing and you went on a tiyul yesterday instead of voting – you (and I) will live with that decision. In truth, I don’t believe we will live with it long because I believe the election results have put Bibi in a difficult position. With each partner he takes into his government, he will face a contradiction with another.

Bibi, who likes to make broad, large governments (because it gives him more power to maneuver), finds himself this morning in the narrowest of coalitions. His basic format is likely to be to form a coalition with Yesh Atid and Bayit HaYehudi. That makes 61 – you can’t get more narrow than that. From there, he’s stuck.

Bring in the Haredi parties who can usually be bought for a few promises and cash on the table, and he’ll annoy Yesh Atid, which lives to point out how Haredim get everything for free and offer nothing (conveniently sidestepping, of course, organizations like ZAKA, Ezer Mizion, Yad Sarah, etc.). They won’t sit with Yair Lapid as he demands their sons serve; and Lapid won’t accept a Bibi promise of more exemptions.

Bring in Labor, Bibi will annoy Bayit HaYehudi and have to make promises about settlements that will shake his coalition. One side won’t accept renewed building; the other is likely to protest a continued freeze.

If I were to predict a future, it would likely include new elections – but then again, that’s not much of a prediction. We have elections relatively often in Israel and to be honest, we all love a day off that isn’t Shabbat or a holiday, so no one is going to complain.

I think the chances of peace are more remote than ever with this government because it is a stalemate government – given enough power to rule, not enough to change realities. And just as the chances for peace are remote, the flip side is there too. The likelihood of another war is that much stronger.

And before you accuse me of being a warmonger, I’ll tell you that for the last two rounds, it has been my older son on the front lines, my middle son in the wings and with the next war, and at 17, it could be my younger son coming up fast in the ranks as well.

And finally, this morning after the elections, I’ll tell you that I think Israel was played by the media, and we were played well. For weeks, the media predicted a landslide right-wing victory. In making this claim, they spurred the left to the polls and lead the right-wing into complacency.

Did the election results accurately portray the Israel that woke up this morning? To some degree yes, and to some degree no. Certainly had the media been more accurate, more right-wing voters would have come out and perhaps others might have changed their vote.

But whatever the results, I am left with the clear feeling that the more things change in Israel, the more they remain the same. Yesh Atid will step up and I would venture to guess that the world of real politics will be an experience for Yair Lapid.

I can predict that building won’t start anytime soon on E1 – Bibi promised in the past before previous elections and reneged; he will again. He’ll make motions to draft more Haredim – but in truth, those motions are already in place and they can’t be done more quickly from a logistics standpoint. The army just can’t absorb so many, so fast and other institutions also need time – so that too was mostly politics.

Lower housing costs and food prices…

More jobs…

Peace…

These issues are what they have always been – political promises lost in the day-to-day running of the government. Did Israel wake up to a new reality? A huge change in all we have known?

No, we woke up to the sun shining with partially cloudy skies; we woke up to the Kinneret rising, traffic on the streets, and fresh bread in the stores.

We got our children off to school today, as we did two days ago and as we will tomorrow. There was an average amount of traffic on the way in, a number of accidents here and there. We stopped at the bank, walked the dog, waited for the children to cross the street.

In short, above all the politics and the politicians, is the reality and the promise of today. It is something that the Obamas of the world can’t understand. We are Israelis – above all, beyond all.

If there is a change in the political make up in Knesset, it is nothing to how we live our lives. The democracy of Israel enables us to change our leaders without changing the most important realities of our lives.

Yesterday, we celebrated our democracy – today, we come back to reality. Our sons still sit on our borders, fly our skies, patrol our waters. We are still surrounded by enemies that still want to destroy us. We are still isolated from much of the world, that too often still despises and hates us – not for what we do or who we elect, but for an ancient promise that we will cling to forever.

Bottom line – Bibi is going to have a hard day today; Yair probably has a hangover from celebrating last night, Naftali is happy to have launched his political career, Shelley’s a bit shocked, Tzipi is in her perpetual state of nasty, Shaul has his finger’s crossed and he’s praying to God like he never has before.

And the rest of us – we are living our dream in the land of our fathers. It doesn’t, really, get any better than that.

War, poverty, pestilence and new elections will come or not and as a nation, we’ll deal, as we always do. And we’ll smile because we went hiking yesterday or had a barbecue, or our traditional election meal with friends. The homemade garlic bread was a success, the meat sauce delicious.

And today, we’re back at our desks and smiling because this is our lives.



The Moon Above Us

I left before dawn today to get to a client on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. How beautiful does that sound? As I left Maale Adumim, I saw the moon, nearly full, hovering over Jerusalem. What a picture, I thought to myself. Too dangerous to stop on a highway and take it...but it was magnificent.

I topped the hills of Jerusalem and began the descent towards the coast. The moon was there just above the hills and as I went lower, it somehow balanced out for the moon setting to the west as well.

How beautiful, I thought to myself, knowing it was a picture that would remain only in my head and never be captured. It slipped away, as the moon tends to do, as the sun rose behind me, filling the land with light and my soul with peace.

No, there really will not be peace with the enemies of Israel; it was almost predestined, perhaps. But on mornings like this, with a slight chill in the air, it almost doesn't matter.

It was a perfect morning after a lovely evening. I went shopping with Aliza for a wedding dress for an almost-family wedding. I think we both fell in love with the first dress she tried on...it fit her perfectly and reminded me that weeks away from 15, she simply isn't a little girl anymore. The dress is elegant and fits her so beautifully, a hint of the lovely woman she is becoming and yet modest enough to meet my need for denial.

We added a coat - actually agreed, and that too fit her very nicely and for a change, I may not have to fight her to wear it. We went shopping for some skirts for her - not a good area on which we agree. I am forcing too much on her, pushing her towards rebellion because her friends dress differently and she yearns. "I need to make my own mistakes," she tells me and the parent in my cries because she's right.

I can tell her about mistakes I've made, but they aren't her mistakes and she wants the freedom to decide. We went to one store; she was completely against even looking. At a quick glance, she rejected it all. I pushed and finally gave up and we began to walk to the train - and then she saw what she wanted, which was completely in line with what I wanted, just a different style, "see, I know what I want," she said.

I told her she was right, that I loved her, that I was wrong. She took it with love and bought six skirts and a sweater. She came home happy - which for a teenager is a success beyond measure.

We had a serious conversation on the way home about her friends. She is sensitive to the needs of others and yet feels there too she is worrying about others at her own expense. She is trying to find a balance, stopping before their problems become hers while still helping them at the same time. It is a battle she will fight all her life, but that is too much for an almost-15 year old to absorb and so I quoted Hillel to her, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, when?"

There are no perfect children, no perfect days, no perfect sunrises, and no perfect moons...and yet, sometimes we get a glimpse of almost. It was an almost perfect evening. It was an almost perfect morning. The office is filling with people; the sun is shining in my country, the moon long gone.

May this day be a blessing for all who live it; may it see quiet and peace in our land and may the night come gently.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Brunch Bagel's Burned Bagels and Customer Service

Ever feel like a nice bagel and a salad for lunch...this is one of my favorites...nice fresh salad...perfect bagel. Onion, please...

I often go to Holy Bagel or Sam's Bagels, this time, sadly, we ordered from Brunch Bagel in the Geula neighborhood of Jerusalem. Aliza LOVES bagels; Davidi LOVES bagels. They are fast, easy, tasty, and burned...wait, what?

We ordered two salads and fifteen bagels. We were told we'd have to pay for the cab to deliver them - about 20/25 NIS. We ordered 9 onion 6 plain.

We got - 4 plain, 2 poppy, 3 mixed, and a bunch of onions. Not exactly what we ordered but not the end of the world. We didn't get the exact sauces we wanted, really, not a big deal. The taxi was 34 NIS, but never mind, not the end of the world too.

BUT...

TEN of the 15 bagels were BURNED and HARD AS ROCKS and...no tax invoice. No "wow, how did that happen" from the worker. Not, "I'm so sorry, we'll send more bagels now." At best, we were offered the opportunity to leave our offices and go there to exchange bagels. There was a reason why we ordered them delivered and paid for a cab. We are very busy with projects, the conference, end of year and start of new year accounting. No, we are NOT going to lose over an hour going to their place to fix their mistakes!

So, I found their page on Facebook and wrote the problem. I hoped they'd call. Instead, they deleted my post.  I put up a second one... they deleted that too.

After my second post (see to the right) the manager called. 

He's been having some problems with the workers; he fired the last manager and at my best guess, is in for more changes yet.

They are sending fresh bagels and apologize. Not just that - the manager delivered them himself. We handed him one of the burned bagels and he was honestly disgusted. The ones he brought us were warm and soft, and straight out of the oven!

You can't ask for more and with many companies, you could expect a lot less and so I thank Brunch Bagel and tell you I will return as a customer.

People complain very quickly about bad customer service in Israel. We shouldn't have gotten burned bagels and we shouldn't have had to deal with the first person we spoke to on the phone.

On the other hand, ultimately, we are all human and we all make mistakes and the best we can do is fix them, learn from them, and hope it doesn't happen again.

I thought of deleting this post, but instead I'll post it because people long remember the bad experiences...but how often do they remember the good?

I encourage you to visit Brunch Bagel in Geula (call them to order 02 500 4001 - you can ask for Yehuda, the manager) and when you do...thank them for caring enough to fix their mistakes.

It's more than a lot of companies and people do.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Stop Apologizing

It's a simple message..one that Israeli politicians have to accept. Look how week Tzipi Livni appears; what a sense of doom and failure Herzog offers.

And look at Naftali Bennett....

I have to say that I still don't know who I will vote for...I still have time to decide. I know it won't be Livni/Herzog; I know it will not be Lapid. Each time I hear him speak, I think to myself, it could be Bennett. Stop apologizing...yes...indeed.

Friday, January 2, 2015

But don't you miss America?

One of the things I love doing is showing Israel to visitors. It isn't just about missing work or stealing a day but about seeing, through their eyes, the wonder that I still see here, even after more than two decades.

I'm used to questions like - aren't you afraid? Do you think there will ever be peace? Don't you think, if you gave them , that it would be better for Israel and them? And my favorite, but do you really think this is the best place to raise your children?

I've been asked these questions before, have answers for each.

Aren't you afraid? No, really no. Not for a minute do I fear the present or the future. Sure, I was a basket case, terrified to the core, when Elie was in first Cast Lead and then Operation Pillar of Defense. Sometimes, I'm nervous about going on the train or driving a particular road - this past month, as we drove down to Eilat, I was worried that there would be a rocket attack. But there are worries and concerns, and then there is fear. I have the world's greatest imagination when it comes to thinking of all the bad things that can happen. I am a firm believer that if I think of something bad, God won't let it happen because He's not going to have me go around and say, "I knew it!" So, He'll think of something else and my job is to try the impossible, to out-think God. The tsunami, a meter of snow in Jerusalem, 9/11 - I never thought of those...but mundane things like car accidents, rocket attacks, throwing rocks at the train, kids forgetting to bring sweaters and freezing to death in July - I've got those covered. I lived in America for the first 30 plus years of my life and I was often afraid - afraid of the night, of being attacked as a woman. I was afraid someone would take my children...terrified silly of anyone who looked at them too long. A man once saw Amira bundled in my arms and asked me if I wanted to sell her and I almost panicked. I grabbed her more tightly to me, said no, and rushed away. He must have thought I was insane. Those same words have been said to me half a dozen times, at least, in Israel and each time I smiled and said, "sure, how much?" When I left America, I left behind the fear of the night. I can walk here safely at 2:00 in the morning; I can go shopping or begin my day at 4:00 in the morning in complete darkness and have no fear. No, I am not afraid to live in this amazing country, to travel its roads, speak to total strangers on the street.

Do you think there will ever be peace? No. I'm almost tempted to just leave that one word as the answer to that question and move to the next. I want peace, I dream of peace, I yearn for peace more than you can imagine. I said I wasn't afraid - but I am afraid of when David goes into the army, when Elie and Shmulik next do reserve duty. We are engaged in a battle of cultures, even of religion. Islam may be called (or call itself) the religion of peace but in reality, it is a religion that does not allow compromise, negotiation. To them, that is equivalent to weakness, to surrender. They will not compromise; they will not say, okay, you take this and we'll take that. What they will say is, okay, we'll take this now. We'll give you a hudna (a temporary peace ceasefire) and take what you are willing to give...and then, they'll return and want more. They were offered 97% of what they are supposedly asking for...and they turned it down. They turned down way more in 1947. They do not want peace and while you can buy all sorts of things in this world, the one thing you can't buy is true peace (well, you can't buy true love either). So, no, I don't believe there will ever be peace. At best, convinced we are too strong to be challenged, there will be quiet - as we have with Egypt and Jordan, to some extent with Lebanon and Syria as well. I hope for true quiet with the Palestinians. Realistically, I can't imagine getting anything above that level.

Don't you think, if you gave them , that it would be better for Israel and them? Been there, done that. Didn't work then, won't work now. We agreed to them having half the land in 1947; they attacked us with five armies. We agreed to return much of the Sinai we captured in 1956...that just got us to 1967 when we had to capture it again. We gave them Gaza in 2005, that just got us several more wars. Yes, the "peace" with Egypt has held after we gave them back the Sinai for the second time, but it is a fragile peace which the Egyptians keep debating and at some point, will likely break. We gave the Jordanians some pieces of land in the peace agreement we signed with them, but like Egypt, it is a cold peace held more out of strength than truth. As for the Palestinians, they have shown what they will do with any land given to them - they'll set up rocket launchers and fire thousands of rockets at us; they'll dig tunnels through which they can smuggle arms and/or attack us. No, really. The only peace agreement that will ever stand a chance of surviving is one based on an exchange of peace for peace. Land for peace doesn't work.

Do you really think this is the best place to raise your children? That's the easiest question to answer. This is the best place to raise my children; this is the only place to raise my children. My children, the five I have birthed, the three that have married and become mine, the two that I have adopted (and their two sisters which I kind of adopted too) are all proud, strong Jews who love this land. They speak the language of their forefathers; walk proud and tall and strong. They know nothing of cowering before those who hate us; they know nothing of a culture that encourages them to hide who and what they are. They are irrevocably and entirely Israeli and Jewish - and it is very doubtful they could be this way if they did not live here. They value what is meant to be valued in life and walk in a land that is theirs - by right, by might, by history, by divine promise.

And so we come to the question I was recently asked, the one that surprised me. Don't you miss America? Like some of the questions above, there is a simple answer and a more complex one. The simplest answer is no. I could leave it at that. But I'll say something else. The United States saved the lives of my grandparents - like so much of their family, they probably would have died in Europe if they and their parents didn't have the foresight to leave Europe. The United States gave them, gave me, a love of democracy and freedom. What it didn't give my extended family is what I have given my children by bringing them here. America is the great melting pot...but in melting, there is a loss. Perhaps for some, the loss is outweighed by the gain. Jews came to America with a history thousands of years old. America in its greatness, made it very easy, too easy. for hundreds of thousands of Jews to walk away from that richness. That loss is more tragic than I can explain and so no, I don't miss America because living there could have cost me the souls of my children, their future.

I never walked on American soil and said - this is mine in the same way I say it here. When I practiced my religion, it was on the sidelines, time stolen from school or work that had to be excused or made up. Here, every holiday is a national one; every Shabbat, the Sabbath for all. While the army in the United States did holy work, defending America's interests abroad, it was on distant shores and for causes that were honorable but had little impact.

If Vietnam fell (as it did) or not, my life in America was not going to change. If the Iraqis were saved from Saddam Hussein or not, life for Americans was not going to be different. By contrast, each and every war we fight here is a direct defense of our homes. Rockets were fired at my home while Elie was on the border defending Israel. His friends and fellow soldiers knew that the rockets that flew over their heads were aimed at cities where they live, places they have been.

I don't miss living in America because in a very real sense, I always felt that I was a stranger living there as a gift, a visitor who needed sanctuary. Only, since 1948, long after my grandparents had moved to America, I didn't need that sanctuary anymore and so I came home.

Home to Israel, where I raise my Israeli children to help others, welcome strangers into our home, and as a nation, offer assistance to others. The concept is called "pay forward.' What was done for the Jews who needed a place to which they could flee Europe's growing anti-semitism, is now paid back, by paying forward this gift to others. Now only have we opened our doors to hundreds of thousands of Jews who fled Europe, Arab countries, Ethiopia and Russia, and now France, the UK and other places, we opened our doors to refugees from Vietnam and Sudan and more. We fly across the world to help others after the tsunami, earthquakes and more.

I came home to Israel...so that this would always be the home of my children.


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