Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Why am I Awake?

It's after 1:00 a.m. and I'm still awake!

Davidi is out with his friends. He's home for the week, enjoying the freedom of sleeping when he wants, eating what he wants. He can dress however he wants. For the most part, he is locking his gun in his room, dismantled, and disarmed. It's a freedom I think he is enjoying, a separation that will end too soon.

Aliza is upstairs in bed. Tomorrow, she starts 11th grade. I can't imagine how that happened. How is is possible my youngest child is coming so close to finishing high school. She's all packed. Tomorrow, I'll drive her there.

I'm enjoying every minute of this time with them, missing them already. I'm at such a strange time in my life. For the last 30 years, I have been mother as much as wife. Five years ago, another definition slipped in...grandmother.

Today, Elie came upstairs with his almost-three year old daughter. She decided she wanted pizza and so she and I mixed the dough. I added sauce and cheese and there it was.

A few days ago, she came home from being away for two months with her parents in the States. The change in this little girl is astounding. In just two months, her vocabulary became so extensive (not to mention her New York accent).

For a reason that I can't remember, she said, "Oh My God." And we were all enthralled. David took out his camera and videotaped it. Aliza melts whenever she is near her niece (or her nephews for that matter).

It is a strange (and wonderful) thing to be a grandmother but the definitions in our lives create such challenges. I am a daughter. I am a wife. I am a mother and now a grandmother. Adapting to each role isn't always easy.

As Aliza quickly approaches her 17th birthday, I'm learning I have to let her fly. I don't remember being so possessive with Amira, my oldest. Then, I worried less with three boys but somehow with this youngest one, it seems so much harder.

We figured out that Aliza will be in her last year of school...when her oldest nephew enters first grade. I can't think of that yet - for now, I'll focus on this school year, on a summer that is slowly slipping away.

Or better, maybe I'll focus on going to sleep. Tomorrow will come, no matter what I do and so yes, sleep and rest. One day at a time.

Monday, August 29, 2016

An Apology Deserved

There is a concept that is "holy" to those of us who grew up in the west hold dear. It is, in many ways, the foundations of the difference between "us" and "them. It would be great to believe that there is no "us" and "them" but we all know there is - so let's stop playing that game.

There will be an us and a them until one of two things happen - either they overtake us and overpower the values we have; or we convince them that life is better than death, light is better than darkness, peace is better than war, love is better than hate. It really really really is that simple. Until one side is victorious in convincing the other that their way is correct, there will always be an "us" and a "them." Perhaps from the time of Cain and Abel; perhaps from the time the ancient Egyptians enslaved the ancient Hebrew. Certainly from the time the Romans believed they had the right to overpower and exile, there has been an "us" and a "them."

I don't believe I will ever think that murdering innocents is correct; that firing on a city is justified. I will never accept that the only way to live is to force others to think my way - and I will never find justification in the use of a suicide bomb, opening fire in a restaurant, entering a home and stabbing a child to death.

Perhaps, they will never accept that these things are abhorrent, wrong, unacceptable for any and all reasons. One of the fundamentals of Judaism is the concept that my life has the greatest value...as does yours. If you threaten me, try to take my life, I am completely justified in taking yours first, or killing you to save myself.

What I cannot do, is kill another to save myself. That is not allowed in Judaism. If murdering innocents is the only way to get what I want, what I need, even to save my life, I am not allowed. There, that is it. That is the difference. That is the basis upon which we have built our world.

An extension of that, in a way, is the belief we have in ourselves and in each other, that we will all choose life, that we are all innocent until proven guilty.

A few months ago, a soldier named Elor Azarya shot a terrorist. According to a distorted video, part of the story came out. It would seem, from the misguided and morally bankrupt video of a B'tselem activist, that the soldier shot an innocent man - we know that to be false. The man on the ground had just stabbed a soldier - innocent, he was not.

It would seem that the man on the ground was not armed. This too, the soldier could not have known at the moment the terrorist was shot. So says, finally, senior military experts. What they are now admitting is what I noticed from the start.

The commanders did not secure the area - their mistake. The commanders did not neutralize and check the terrorist - their mistake.

Into their errors, entered a young soldier. What that soldier thought and did cannot be judged lightly by others - certainly not by those who were not there, those who rely on a manipulated video that tells only part of the story. It is wrong for those people to judge, especially wrong for them to slander the soldier, to say that he should "rot in jail" or that he is a "murderer."

Within days of the incident, an Israeli military judge put aside any claims that this was murder. They thought, at best, it could be termed manslaughter.

Today in Israel, the trial continues - and commanding officers who were there are coming forward to verify that there was justification, that there were concerns.

Two things have to happen now.

First, media outlets such as Haaretz and the Times of Israel, and specifically, journalists such as Gideon Levy and Sarah Tuttle Singer have to apologize to the soldier. Their words were a declaration that the soldier was guilty until proven innocent - and that is outrageous. And now, not only outrageous, but wrong.

Second, the Israeli government has to free the military to do what it has been trained to do - to fight the enemy and while doing so, monitor itself to be the moral compass of our nation. There is no military in the world that is more moral than the Israeli army. We do all that we can to eliminate injury to civilians but we are fighting an enemy that thrives on terror and pain - even that of its own people.

If they place their missiles inside their cities, that does not lessen our moral obligation to protect our cities. We have no choice but to fire into that building, that city. What of the concept presented above, that I have no right to save my life by taking the life of an innocent person?

There is no contradiction. If we warn the civilian population in Gaza that we are about to bomb a target or an area and they choose to surround it and protect it with their lives and the lives of their children (which happened several times during various conflicts/operations/wars), they are no longer innocent bystanders. With their bodies and their lives, if they choose to protect terrorists, they forfeit the right to be called innocent.

Elor's commanding officers are appearing in court to say that they too had concerns, given the way the terrorist was dressed, that he could be hiding explosives, that he could post a threat. That fear, and the terrorist movement triggered Elor to shoot. If he was wrong than what we have is the wrongful death of a combatant in a war situation - a war triggered by the very man who was killed. That Arab chose to stab a soldier in Hebron. Had he not attacked the soldiers, he would not have been lying there; he would not have been shot. Elor did not open fire in cold blood to kill an innocent man; he opened fire on a confirmed terrorist who could have been armed with an explosive and was moving in an area where other soldiers and medics were around.

If he was wrong in shooting - blame the commanding officers who did not secure the site; blame the commanding officers who did not protect the perimeter. This is Israel, where the commanding officers step for forward and lead the way. I personally know of an incident in which a commanding officer took responsibility for neutralizing a terrorist who died of gunshot wounds fired from no less than three different directions and more than a dozen angles. One officer stepped forward and said that he killed the terrorist. Elor's commanding officers must do the same.

On March 27, 2016, I posted an article to the Times of Israel condemning an unnamed journalist/blogger for  rushing to condemn an Israeli soldier before any facts were in. Four days later, the Times of Israel proved the post. Their claim that they are the "marketplace of ideas" was a lie. I was accused of "threatening" and "endangering" the life of the woman who had called for our soldier to "rot in jail." No threat was made; I didn't endanger anyone. All I did was share what she said (and show how it went against democracy, against decency, against Israel).

Today and in the months since her cruel words were published (and yes, another of my posts from the Times of Israel was rejected because I had "published" it on a closed group on Facebook, so I can use the term "publish" when speaking of a Facebook post), she has continued with the rhetoric against this soldier, never once accepting that she lacks the knowledge or the right to determine the outcome of a trial without making a travesty of justice.

The Greatest Threat to Israel Today remains those who want us to surrender, to weaken ourselves, to hold ourselves to a standard above all others, even if it means paying the price for that standard with our blood and the blood of our children.

An apology is deserved. That it will never be delivered (at least not in a sincere and honest fashion) is the greatest of insults - not to Elor Azarya, but to the very foundations of the country we have built here.

Each day, more and more, I believe that Elor will walk away from this horrible time in his life, stronger for having had the courage to deal with the pressure placed upon his young shoulders. The only open question is whether Israel will walk away nearly as strong.




Sunday, August 28, 2016

What a Vacation Should Be

A vacation can be a group thing - sometimes a family thing, sometimes a romantic couple thing, sometimes an individual thing. Sometimes it's meant to help you find something you've lost or are missing - time with your spouse, moments with your children, who you really are deep inside the person you show the world. It helps sometimes to stop your normal routine and simply contemplate. Or not. That's the beauty of a vacation. It can be what you make it.

Sometimes, it's about seeing exciting places, new and different from what you see every day. It always amazes me when I go away that this exciting thing I'm experiencing for the first time - is someone else's every day reality. And the reverse. I meet people all the time, so enthralled with being in the holy city of Jerusalem and while I still and hopefully always will be enthralled myself, without question I take it for granted to a certain extent.

Not its beauty, never its beauty or the kindness of the people. Never the holiness, nor the fact that it is mine and an integral part of my life, but the fact that I believe it will be there tomorrow...and next week, and next month and next year. At some point, I won't be, but Jerusalem is eternal as no other city on earth can be.

I've gone to Jerusalem on vacation but somehow it's harder to relax because it is so connected to my daily life and so vacation is something more distant, less familiar.

Some people dream of a vacation in Jerusalem, others in the Judean Desert near my home, the Dead Sea just 20 minutes away. For me, different might mean traveling a few hours away. Often the north - the Golan, near the Sea of Galilee, or the coast. Sometimes Eilat with its coral reef, beautiful sea and vacation atmosphere.

And once in a while, Safed - Tsfat. It is a holy place, a mystical place, friendly people. People walk through the streets and bless you; sell you pizza and bless your child (or grandchild).

They stop you in the street as if you are a long lost friend, and you answer, because, of course, you are.

Sometimes, a vacation is just about resting, relaxing, reading, writing, walking, swimming. Not being a tourist exactly but having fun. For someone who is connected to the computer, it's such an amazing experience to unplug yourself from it. I do that regularly each week for 25 hours over the Jewish Sabbath, but to to it for a few days is just heaven.

So, we went north, my oldest child and my youngest. My son-in-law, two grandsons, my husband and my sister-in-law, who is visiting. We went to Tsfat (Safed) and did...nothing. Really, nothing. We rented a house. Someone's home that became our vacation getaway. Each morning we had breakfast; at some point, we went into the small pool. At our most energetic, we walked within the old city of Safed, ancient alleyways and beautiful synagogues and wonderful,

It was a lovely time - with my husband, my older daughter and her family, my younger daughter and sister-in-law. What was missing was on my mind - my three sons. One was still in the States visiting his dear and wonderful in-laws; one is..well, it's complicated; and one lost the chance to be with us when the army switched his break time. It was so hard not having him there after switching the dates specifically so that he would be with us.

Many times in the days before the vacation, I kept thinking it would work out and something would change. It didn't. During the week, I kept expecting him to call to say he was on a bus and coming to join us. He didn't.

So it was a vacation in which I focused on who was there, rather than who wasn't. It was a time to hug grandchildren. Aliza learned to swim after years of wading in pools and avoiding the deep end. It was the perfect pool for that - just deep enough to swim, with the ability to quickly put feet down if needed.

When we arrived, the family told us about a little surprise awaiting us below the house. The city of Safed was nearly destroyed by one massive earthquake on January 1, 1837 and then, after being rebuilt, was damaged once again on November 7th, 1927. Amazingly enough, under the house where we stayed, were another two floors of old housing.

We didn't tour extensively; we didn't see many things. We didn't go kayaking, as we have in past years. But we ate, we slept, we swam, we relaxed.

Sometimes, you can't ask for more.



Monday, August 15, 2016

Sometimes it really is that simple...


Some Advice for Donald Trump

Disclaimer: No, I'm not a political analyst; not an expert on any specific political system, government, world. I've never won a presidential election but if it helps, I can honestly say I've never lost one. What I am is a complex mixture of worlds and places and beliefs and these views are mine alone, my advice for Donald Trump on how to win the election...with no guarantees but plenty of hope.

An Open Letter to Donald Trump

Dear Donald,

I'm watching what is happening and I'm cringing. I am constantly correcting people - that isn't what he meant...no, that's not exactly what he said. What he means is...what he hopes is...despite what he said...

So, my first piece of advice is to shut up. I know I could be more diplomatic about how to phrase that but diplomacy right now doesn't seem to be a strong point of yours and you seem to take pride in that, so I'm going to give it to you straight. You can probably win the election if you just shut up.

Hillary is a walking disaster; probably the worst candidate since Jimmy Carter and she might even be worse because she's a lot smarter than he ever was. She will mess this up, but only if you let her and if you manage not to mess yourself up more.

So far, you aren't managing to do that. In some corner of my brain, I respect the fact that you think you can win by being honest and telling Americans what you think. You can't. They aren't used to that kind of honesty from a candidate. If you offer the logical opinion that it is insane to open America's borders without a system in place to protect Americans from the potential infiltration of thousands of terrorists, you are coming off as anti-Muslim.

Why? Good question and more than I can explain now but basically, Americans view politicians as used cars salesmen. Whatever you say is a fraction of the truth and so they've learned to filter a candidates words as either greater or lesser than the truth. Whatever direction will make you look worse - that's how they'll take your message and put it into that filter. If you say you don't plan to raise taxes, that means you'll raise them some. If you say you want to curb something, they'll take that to mean you plan to cut it entirely.

The reality is, all nations need to protect their citizens and today's greatest threat does indeed come from extremism. And yes, the most extreme nations in the world today are by an large Muslim nations - Iran, Libya, Syria, to name three. But Iran and Libya and Syria aren't just across the ocean to most Americans, they are on a different planet.

Americans are worried more about their economy, their health care and day to day issues. If you're going to talk - talk about what Obama has done to the military; speak about the proliferation of mass shootings - primarily in places where strict gun laws are already on the books. Gun control won't stop a terrorist - it never has; it never will. You want them to focus on who the terrorist is? Good luck with that. They've had 8 years of denial to damage their ability. It's a workplace accident; a man screaming "Allahu Akbar" as he guns people down somehow might not be a terrorist attack. Give that fight up, Donald, and move on. If you're elected, you can begin to correct that by immediately recognizing truth and maybe Americans will catch up to you, but not now.

Reality check, Donald. Half the people you need to vote for you are women. You haven't shown a lot of respect for women as equals in your life and the fact is, other than your daughter, your record with women sucks. So stop trying to defend it. Shut up. Hillary's got Bill on her side and most women find him and their relationship repulsive. So let your daughter speak on that issue or give up.

You want to make America great but you know what, Americans are asking me what you mean by that. I think they've forgotten or maybe they think America still is great. From my experience, most Americans have little understanding of the world outside its borders and despite eight miserable years of Obama, have yet to realize that much of the world thinks America's day has come and gone and this election is just proving them right. Shut up and maybe find a different slogan. After Americans swallowed "Yes we can" - they're tired of meaningless words.

Learn. Speak to foreign leaders and ask them to tell you what they think. But listen. Learn to listen. Show pictures of you in the newspapers being advised by military leaders; congressmen and women. Set up meetings; let them talk and you listen. In every picture they take, show yourself LISTENING, absorbing, interested. Not talking. Not telling everyone you know better.

Understand the differences between the 50 states. What is important to people living in Alabama? Missouri? Idaho? Oregon? Meet with people and sit and listen. Ask their advice and talk about them, if you are going to speak at all let it be to show that you've learned how much you need to learn. Time is short.

If you stop talking and start listening, you have a chance. Fact is, you've surrounded yourself with good people - show them off. You ran that TV show for years. Important rule in being interviewed is not to bad-mouth others. Stop talking about Clinton. Let her shoot herself in the foot. Now's the time to become Presidential...or lose. Show dignity because somehow Clinton is outclassing you in that area.

That's what's missing in this election - neither you nor Hillary strike us, the common people, as caring about us. You need us to vote for you but you've forgotten that we have brains, feelings, needs.

America needs you, Donald. Not because of who you are but because of who she is...at least, that is the general conception of most people who are currently thinking about voting for you.

If you want to win this election, you need to convince more Americans to be pro-Trump rather than just anti-Clinton. To do that, you need to do two things - listen to the people, Donald. Travel all around America and listen and secondly, shut up.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Hypocrisy of Israel

As a technical writer, I can tell you that the hardest part of documenting a product is when it is a moving target, when the parameters keep changing. As a parent, I can tell you that if your rules keep changing, you'll never really be able to get your children to listen to you. As a voter, I can tell you that the more a politician changes his/her position, the less likely it is that I will vote for him or her.

As an Israeli, I condemn any attempt to deny the followers of a religion access and the right to practice their religion on their holy sites. We as a nation would never enter the Bahai Temple in Haifa and remove all the Bahais. We have never attempted to close the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to Christians (and our police regularly enter only to stop Christian sects from killing each other (as told to me on three separate occasions by Israeli police).

We have only closed off the Temple Mount to Muslims after incidents of violence and even then, for very limited times and usually only restricting access to young males and not the entire Muslim population wishing to visit.

But when it comes to the Jews, our government rarely hesitates to block our access, restrict our rights, humiliate and insult Jewish visitors. And worse, the rules are arbitrarily enforced and constantly changing at the whim of the Jewish police and Arab WAQF who watches and waits to pounce because there is little more that can drive them to violence than the site of a Jewish man or woman whispering a prayer. Even moving one's lips is enough to get you thrown off the Temple Mount...if you are a Jew.

When you expect rules to be followed, but keep changing them, the less respect you deserve, the less likely it is that anyone will uphold them.

The Jewish people have been fighting for centuries, for millennia, to be free - free to live in our land, free to worship our God, free to raise our children and practice our religion. And we have been successful throughout the world. The Soviet Union has collapsed and the Jews can now freely come here and, for the most part, practice Judaism if they choose to be there. Such it is in most of Europe, North, Central, and South America.

Really, it is only in Arab countries, Muslim lands, where Jews are restricted. For the most part, they have left; only small pockets of Jews remain. Syria has no Jews; Afghanistan might have one Jew left. Egypt has less than 40 and Yemen less than 20. There are reportedly around 35 in Bahrain and less than 10 in Iraq.

Only in Arab countries...and Israel, are Jews restricted from where they can travel, where they can pray. And not just pray. In Israel, for Jews wanting to visit the single most holy place in all of the world, the list of what we are not to do is both arbitrary and growing.

Can you imagine a sign such as this one placed at the entrance to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv forbidding entrance to non-Jews?

And the list of things we cannot do...here it is...at least as of an hour or so ago...

You aren't allowed to pray, if you are a Jew, on the Temple Mount.

You aren't allowed to move your lips in silent prayer, if you are a Jew on the holiest site known to our religion

You aren't allowed to whisper, lest you actually be saying a prayer, if you are a Jew.

You aren't allowed to bless your people, your family, your children, if you are a Jew, unless you are a bereaved father who manages to "sneak" the prayer into a speech given during guided tour of the Temple Mount after your child has been brutally murdered, stabbed to death in her bed.



As of this past week, you aren't allowed to cry, even if you are overwhelmed with the holiness of the place and the amazing opportunity to enter this holy place.

And as of today, you apparently aren't even allowed to mourn up on the Temple Mount. You aren't allowed to rip your clothing up there, if you are a Jew, because the guards who honor Muslim sensitivities above all others are Jewish and they know that a Jew in mourning rips their clothes as a sign of their grief.

That's right. Can you imagine? A Jew is not allowed to whisper, cry, rip his shirt in grief. If he does, an Arab will come over and tell a Jewish policeman...look at him, look what he is doing. Get him out of here...and the policeman will.

This is what we have come to? This is the freedom we have in our land? That even our tears are considered enough of an insult to demand our being denied access to OUR Temple Mount?

video
(Video from 0404 News agency)

Jews Sing...and Mourn...and Pray

Sometimes, even if you don't understand the words, you can understand the emotions.

This video is from the Kotel, singing on Tisha B'Av. The next is from 11 years ago, as Israel stood on the edge of a unilateral destruction of the communities in Gush Katif and Northern Shomron. We knew, even then, it was such a bad idea...even the media, left and pro-expulsion, even they realized the depths of the faith it took for us to survive that horrible time.

First - at the Kotel - a united people begging God for the ultimate redemption, the coming of the Messiah and a true end to our wandering.



And young women praying in N'vei Dekalim days before the destruction. I have watched this so many times and I have not yet once succeeded in not crying with them, for them, for all of us.


Tisha B'Av...sometimes a video is the best way to explain


Number One Video from the Olympics?

Saw this on Facebook. Probably not the #1, but I think it should be...

video

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Israel Defeats Islam

No, really, we did!
Islam El Shehaby, Egypt's Judo entry, was easily and quickly defeated on Friday by Israel's Or Sasson and then, following the great tradition of the Lebanese and the Saudis, Islam then proceeded to show the world that hypocrisy is the great winner of the 2016 Olympics in Rio and that the glory of the Olympic spirit has never been more easily vanquished.
The world wondered if Islam would take part in the competition this past Friday, or if he would join the Lebanese and the Saudis in showing that they held the games in contempt. The Lebanese started the insults even before the Olympics had even begun, by blocking the Israeli team from boarding the bus to the opening ceremonies. The Israelis were asked to divide themselves up to fit on other buses and correctly refused. The Olympic team organizers scrambled and got them another bus but failed to punish the Lebanese team, setting the stage for all that has happened since.
Then the Saudi judo player refused to play in Israeli. And again, the Olympic committee failed to do more than pay lip service to the insult. Incorrectly, they treated the Saudi and Lebanese actions as insults to Israel when, in fact, what they were doing is mocking the entire games and all they stand for. And so it continued.
On Friday, the Egyptian agreed to fight, was quickly defeated, and then delivered what was to be his insult - a refusal to shake the hand of the Israeli. What happens next was wonderful. No, as yet no response from the Olympic committee, but the crowd responded by booing Islam off the mats.
The Israeli team has consistently shown respect in the face of abuse; decency despite attempts to shame them. Many nations will go home with medals; some will go home in disgrace. Few nations will have faced what the Israeli team is facing daily. 
Apparently Islam, the competitor, is know for his virulent anti-Israel feelings. It is both ironic and amusing that in the end, the disgrace is his, while the Israeli walks away not only with the medal but with the respect of so many.
Kol Hakavod to you, Or Sasson - we are so proud of you here in Israel. Beyond the medal you bring home to us, is the pride we feel. It takes a special kind of strength to defeat Islam. And you did it easily simply by putting out your hand, offering respect and accepting that his refusal says volumes about him.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Best Meme Ever...Really...Seriously...Totally...

What is a meme?

Glad you asked. Here's what it is...


And here's the best one yet!!!!

Flags of Lebanon (for their whining and blocking Israeli athletes from getting on the bus), Syria (for refusing to compete with Israelis), Saudi Arabia (for refusing to compete with Israelis), and the "Palestinian" flag (for lying about not having Olympic-sized pools to practice in).



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Lingering Destruction of Gush Katif

Eleven years...how could it be eleven years since that fateful, horrible summer when Israel acted unilaterally, stupidly, naively believing that if we made a grand gesture, peace would follow. No, to be honest, I really don't buy the "naive" part. No one believed, even then, that peace would follow. As to why, knowing what would happen, did we do it? I can't answer that.

With my husband and two friends, we ventured into the Jewish communities of Gaza in the wake of the forced expulsions. Our goal, our hope was probably naive. We thought that maybe we could save a synagogue, something precious from Gush Katif that would comfort the families, comfort us.

We went community by community. Our emotions were all over the place. Anger was there, pain, tears. We pushed on from community to community. My friend, Devra, wrote it down, place by place. I took pictures. Her words are here. Devra wrote about the stones I took from the synagogues. Here, Rachel Saperstein wrote about Paula's Stones.

Of all the songs that I remember from that time, there was one that I knew, even then, was our unavoidable future if we evacuated, destroyed, erased those amazing communities. We did...and the song has come true. We live the nightmare this song so correctly predicted.

Why Am I Blessed to Live in Israel?

I could tell you...and I probably have thousands of times in this blog so this time, let me SHOW you...

Watch and share! Watch and enjoy...

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

August 9, 2001 - A Day Israel Will Never Forget

I've written this before and I will again now...August 9 is a particularly painful day in Israel, even if it is on the secular calendar and not the Hebrew date.

Most terror attacks that result in death, especially those that end in numerous deaths, break our hearts. Sometimes, beyond our heats, they even break our spirits. Some reach deep into our souls so deeply that we aren't sure we'll ever climb back up again and live.

I can't explain the difference between attacks but there are those that live on inside of us forever. I'd like to say that all of them do but after decades of attacks, names and places and numbers, they start to blur. It's hard to remember exactly how many died in that horrible attack in Netanya, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem...there were so many.

Afula, Beersheva, Haifa...a restaurant, a  mall, yet another bus exploding. Were there three bombers or two? There was the bride, Nava Applebaum, murdered the night before her wedding along with her father, David Applebaum, a gifted and much loved emergency and trauma doctor who helped reshape the face of Israel's emergency medical services.

There was Koby Mandell and his friend, Yosef Ishran, who were brutally murdered. The Fogels, The Henkins. Shalhevet Pass, a 10 month old baby shot in the head by a sniper. So many names, so many places.

On August 9, 2001, a terrorist blew himself up in the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem. I pass this store on my way into the office here in Jerusalem. I ate there, I shop there. It's now a bakery and as best I can tell, there's no Sbarro chain in Israel. The name is forever linked with that beautiful, sunny day when families were out enjoying the summer vacation and met death.

Long after they were buried, to this day, the families struggle to come to terms...and what a silly phrase that is. Come to terms? How do you come to terms with the death of a child? Of a barbaric act that the world tries to bury?

One of the Sbarro terrorists died in the attack and one was captured later. She was the mastermind. She was the evil that helped the murderer slip into Jerusalem. She was the prostitute that sold herself to her cause, acting like the adorable girlfriend of a man with a guitar. Only the guitar case was filled with explosives; the woman filled with hatred.

She was released, this creature of darkness and hate and later proudly allowed herself to be interviewed. She describes her role in the murders. And then she is asked how many children died in that attack...how many were brutally murdered in cold blood.

She doesn't know. Three, she thinks. There is a pause and then she is told that 8 children died in that attack...eight. And she smiles.

August 9, 2001. Please remember:
- Giora Balash, 60, of Brazil
- Zvika Golombek, 26, of Carmiel
- Shoshana Yehudit Greenbaum, 31, of the U.S.
- Tehila Maoz, 18, of Jerusalem
- Frieda Mendelsohn, 62, of Jerusalem
- Michal Raziel, 16, of Jerusalem
- Malka Roth, 15, of Jerusalem
- Mordechai Schijveschuurder, 43, of Neria
- Tzira Schijveschuurder, 41, of Neria
- Ra'aya Schijveschuurder, 14, of Neria
- Avraham Yitzhak Schijveschuurder, 4, of Neria
- Hemda Schijveschuurder, 2, of Neria
- Lily Shimashvili, 33, of Jerusalem
- Tamara Shimashvili, 8, of Jerusalem
- Yocheved Shoshan, 10, of Jerusalem

May God avenge their blood and may Ahlam Tamimi's life be forever cursed. May the tears shed for her victims drown her in sorrows; may the agonies the families still endure be remembered well in the heavens on her Atonement day. There is nothing on earth that we can do to render justice for her crime but the True Judge awaits her. It is His plan that she lives, His divine justice that awaits her. She escaped an Israeli jail; but she will never escape God's.





The Colors of Israel



I went to a meeting last night and two people were arguing. One was pushing the concept that there are many who see things in shades of black and white only. And I found myself agreeing with him. And then, someone else said our job was to "introduce shades of gray" and I found myself agreeing with him too.

This morning, I took my youngest child to the Recruitment Office to deal with her "Tsav Rishon" - her first call up (and probably her only one). If there are labels to be attached to us, we are "Dati Leumi" - or "national religious." On the religious spectrum, we're pretty far to the right. Enough so, that sometimes people incorrectly think we are Haredi (we aren't). On the political/national level, we are pretty far to the right. Enough so, that sometimes people incorrectly thing we are extremists (we aren't).

My oldest child served Israel in the form of "Sherut Leumi" - a national service established as an alternative to the army, primarily, but not exclusively for religious women. Three of my sons have served or are serving in combat units. And finally, we arrive at my youngest. She got her Tsav Rishon, which told her to arrive at the Recruitment Office at 11:00 a.m. this morning.
She went to tell them that she would serve the country, as her sister did, within the Sherut Leumi program, and she will. As I dropped her off and made my way to work, I started thinking about the meeting last night and notice the colors around me. My world is not black and white. 

My world is golden - the golden stones of Jerusalem that change shades as the sun passes over head and finally sets in the sea to the west. In the morning, they are golden and later shades of red appear. Jerusalem of gold. Gold...


And my world is all the shades of yellow and orange that appear in the sunset. I can watch the sun set over Israel's seas and never tire of the beauty, the promise that tomorrow the sun will rise again.

I don't know why the sunrise and the sunset in Israel seems so spectacular but there are days when dozens post them to Facebook from all over the country, each seems to be even more beautiful than the one before.

Yellow...Orange...Red...


 And in a land with two deserts, we are a land filled with green. Everywhere you go, there is green.

And sometimes, if you look carefully, even in the desert, you'll find patches of green, oases, springs and rivers and waterfalls...

In a few weeks, we'll go kayaking on this river and maybe visit the northern seas.

A few weeks ago, I went near the Dead Sea and into Ein Gedi where a series of waterfalls, help a small patch of the desert turn into a path of greenery.

Green...in so many shades...

So much beauty - vineyards with ripening grapes, huge orchards of date trees growing in the desert where nothing should be growing at all.

Fertile areas adjacent to desert mountains. My land is one filled with colors.

 And blue...my world is filled with blue. From the skies that seem to be an impossible shade of blue to the deepest of blues and greens combined in the waters...

...of the Mediterranean to the west

...the Dead Sea to my east

...the Sea of Galilee to the north

...and the Red Sea to the south

We are surrounded by shades and shades of blues.

Sometimes the waters of Israel are gentle and modest, like the waters of the Jordan River and the peaceful Sea of Galilee...and then, the winds pick up and suddenly the power of the waves shocks you as it rolls towards the shores.

And the depths and shades in places like Rosh Hanikra will take your breath away.

So many colors in one small land; so many shades not just of color, but of truth, of right, of might, of history.

It is here that the land continually reminds us of the past. You cannot travel far without being faced with it. Every day I come into Jerusalem, I pass walls that were built over a thousand years ago, and two thousand.

I pass places that carry names found in the Bible. Har Moriah, where Abraham brought Isaac to be sacrificed and left with a lesson that transcends time. God is a God of mercy and compassion. He wants us to love our children, not sacrifice them.




The land tells us the history. It shows us whose land this is every time archaeologists dig. King Solomon who built the Holy Temple.

His father, King David, who gave us so much, did so much, taught us lessons that we as a people sing out each day, each week, each month.
 The colors of Israel are endless, as are the possibilities.

This land is so tiny and yet big enough for all to live here in peace.

But it will only happen when the world...and our enemies...see more than black and white, when the red of our blood is not something they seek.



Until then, perhaps he is right, that man who said the world sees black and white. 


And perhaps he is right, that man that said we have to work to introduce the shades of gray into the debate.


Maybe then, once the world sees black and white and gray, maybe then it will be prepared to see even the oranges, the yellows, the blues and the greens and the purples of this amazing land, this amazing life, this amazing world that God has created for us.


The gold...

The yellow...

The orange...

The red...

The green...

The blue...

The purple...

Israel - a land of many colors.




Monday, August 8, 2016

Separating the Sportsmen from the Children

The Olympics are, for much of the world, an exciting opportunity to watch what can arguably be called the largest, most diverse and clearly most global competition that takes place just once every four years. For Israelis, the Olympics comes each time with tremendous emotional baggage. I was 12 years old when the Israelis went to Munich. I remember clearly being told that there had been a terror attack and Israelis were being held hostage.

From that moment, the sun stopped shining, the world stopped turning. My complete focus was on Munich...and then, the Olympic committee ordered the games to continue and I was torn between anger deeper than any I had ever felt and utter shock. How...how could they play games while men's lives were in danger? My 12-year-old mind looked to the adults, begged them to explain how it was possible that the games would continue. Nothing had meaning; the essence of the Olympics - the values, all gone. The Olympics were supposed to be about bringing mankind closer together to share a commonality that crosses borders but once again, Israel was made to stand alone.

It was our team, our world, our Jews isolated, held hostage, and ultimately murdered and mutilated. Even that fact was kept from us for over 20 years. Mutilated. That's what the Palestinian terrorists under the guidance of Mahmoud Abbas did. But we didn't know that then. We held on to the desperate hope that somehow this would turn around.

And then word that the Germans had mounted a rescue...some rescue...I would learn later. Three of the hijackers survived and all of the hostages were murdered? You call that a rescue? The Olympics were never the same for me. I barely can watch them. For all of these forty plus years, even a moment of silence was denied to these men who had come ready to join what was supposed to be the ultimate symbol of hope and peace. Each time the games were held, we held our breaths. Just let them come home safely. That's really all we want each time. A medal is nice, but please God, just let them be safe.

This year, I was happy to see that the Olympic committee had finally agreed to recognize the murdered Israelis and the opening ceremony was set to be a great event. Only the Lebanese children didn't want to play nicely. They refused to allow the Israeli team to board the bus.

I'm proud of the Israeli team for refusing the Olympic committee's attempt to divide the group and spread them among the other buses, and I'm baffled at what idiot thought to put the Lebanese and Israeli teams together in the first place. And when the Lebanese blocked the doors of the bus, why didn't the Olympic committee members order them to get off the bus, load the Israelis on, and hand the Lebanese a map to the Stadium and tell them they should hurry or they would miss the ceremony.

Then, right after the Lebanese children escaped without being disciplines, a Saudi child refused to enter a judo competition because he was set to compete against an Israeli man. And again, the Olympic committee didn't turn around and tell the Saudis to pack their bags and leave. The Olympics is not meant for spoiled brats. But no, nothing. Silence - as sickening and wrong as the silence that descended back in 1972 when people asked how the games could possibly go on. And now, a Syrian child has refused to enter the competition because he might have to shake the hand of the Israeli boxer. And again, why is the Syrian team told to make their way back to the airport and fly back to their peaceful home where more than 400,000 Syrians have been killed while much of the world does little to really stop the violence.

Once again, the Olympic committee chooses the path of silence and shame, as they did in 1972, as they did for 40 years, and now as they watch in silence as three Arab countries attempt to humiliate Israel. And the irony is that the only ones who should feel humiliated are the so-called athletes of these countries.

Since it is clear that these actions were part of the will of their teams, I am baffled as to why the Olympic committee is not automatically disqualifying these teams entirely from the competition.

The Olympic committee will have to explain why they allow politics to take front stage at the Olympics?

On the bright side, with each refusal, Israelis are becoming less angry and more amused. Ultimately, as I watched Israeli's champion, Sagi Muki compete in the semi-finals, I saw a man, a sportsman and more, I saw grace, maturity, and respect as he entered the competition, and lost.

The Olympics really isn't about winning or losing. It isn't really about the medals. It is about coming together, putting aside the politics of nations and sharing what should be the love of competition, the fun of the sport. It is about the dignity of trying your hardest and showing that there is no shame in not winning because merely to get to the point of competing shows you are a champion.

Shame on the Lebanese, Saudi, and Syrian children who will, perhaps, one day grow up and hopefully recognize how utterly childish they were, there in front of all the world to see. Congratulations to the Israeli team for acting with dignity and self-respect, for making us all proud.

It really isn't about how many medals you win or you don't win; it's how you enter the competition and how you leave it. Sagi, we are all proud of you...you are a champion simply for how you behaved and we in Israel salute you!



Separating the Sportsmen from the Children

The Olympics are, for much of the world, an exciting opportunity to watch what can arguably be called the largest, most diverse and clearly most global competition that takes place just once every four years. For Israelis, the Olympics comes each time with tremendous emotional baggage. I was 12 years old when the Israelis went to Munich. I remember clearly being told that there had been a terror attack and Israelis were being held hostage.

From that moment, the sun stopped shining, the world stopped turning. My complete focus was on Munich...and then, the Olympic committee ordered the games to continue and I was torn between anger deeper than any I had ever felt and utter shock. How...how could they play games while men's lives were in danger? My 12-year-old mind looked to the adults, begged them to explain how it was possible that the games would continue. Nothing had meaning; the essence of the Olympics - the values, all gone. The Olympics were supposed to be about bringing mankind closer together to share a commonality that crosses borders but once again, Israel was made to stand alone.

It was our team, our world, our Jews isolated, held hostage, and ultimately murdered and mutilated. Even that fact was kept from us for over 20 years. Mutilated. That's what the Palestinian terrorists under the guidance of Mahmoud Abbas did. But we didn't know that then. We held on to the desperate hope that somehow this would turn around.

And then word that the Germans had mounted a rescue...some rescue...I would learn later. Three of the hijackers survived and all of the hostages were murdered? You call that a rescue? The Olympics were never the same for me. I barely can watch them. For all of these forty plus years, even a moment of silence was denied to these men who had come ready to join what was supposed to be the ultimate symbol of hope and peace. Each time the games were held, we held our breaths. Just let them come home safely. That's really all we want each time. A medal is nice, but please God, just let them be safe.

This year, I was happy to see that the Olympic committee had finally agreed to recognize the murdered Israelis and the opening ceremony was set to be a great event. Only the Lebanese children didn't want to play nicely. They refused to allow the Israeli team to board the bus.

I'm proud of the Israeli team for refusing the Olympic committee's attempt to divide the group and spread them among the other buses, and I'm baffled at what idiot thought to put the Lebanese and Israeli teams together in the first place. And when the Lebanese blocked the doors of the bus, why didn't the Olympic committee members order them to get off the bus, load the Israelis on, and hand the Lebanese a map to the Stadium and tell them they should hurry or they would miss the ceremony.

Then, right after the Lebanese children escaped without being disciplines, a Saudi child refused to enter a judo competition because he was set to compete against an Israeli man. And again, the Olympic committee didn't turn around and tell the Saudis to pack their bags and leave. The Olympics is not meant for spoiled brats. But no, nothing. Silence - as sickening and wrong as the silence that descended back in 1972 when people asked how the games could possibly go on. And now, a Syrian child has refused to enter the competition because he might have to shake the hand of the Israeli boxer. And again, why is the Syrian team told to make their way back to the airport and fly back to their peaceful home where more than 400,000 Syrians have been killed while much of the world does little to really stop the violence.

Once again, the Olympic committee chooses the path of silence and shame, as they did in 1972, as they did for 40 years, and now as they watch in silence as three Arab countries attempt to humiliate Israel. And the irony is that the only ones who should feel humiliated are the so-called athletes of these countries.

Since it is clear that these actions were part of the will of their teams, I am baffled as to why the Olympic committee is not automatically disqualifying these teams entirely from the competition.

The Olympic committee will have to explain why they allow politics to take front stage at the Olympics?

On the bright side, with each refusal, Israelis are becoming less angry and more amused. Ultimately, as I watched Israeli's champion, Sagi Muki compete in the semi-finals, I saw a man, a sportsman and more, I saw grace, maturity, and respect as he entered the competition, and lost.

The Olympics really isn't about winning or losing. It isn't really about the medals. It is about coming together, putting aside the politics of nations and sharing what should be the love of competition, the fun of the sport. It is about the dignity of trying your hardest and showing that there is no shame in not winning because merely to get to the point of competing shows you are a champion.

Shame on the Lebanese, Saudi, and Syrian children who will, perhaps, one day grow up and hopefully recognize how utterly childish they were, there in front of all the world to see. Congratulations to the Israeli team for acting with dignity and self-respect, for making us all proud.

It really isn't about how many medals you win or you don't win; it's how you enter the competition and how you leave it. Sagi, we are all proud of you...you are a champion simply for how you behaved and we in Israel salute you!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Then and Now...

Facebook has this memories thing. I have a love/hate relationship with it. Sometimes, they share the stupidest things; sometimes the funniest. Sometimes, it brings up a picture I'd forgotten that I had, like this one.

Then, he was 14 years old. A little bit chubby; a lot sweet. He had these amazing blue eyes. His room was forever messy. He wasn't the most confident of my sons; always seemed to be looking for his place. He was "one of the kids," as my older children referred to the younger ones. Six years younger than the next oldest, he was constantly looking for a way to catch up. He loved sweet things, chocolate, cake, noodles, whatever. He's sometimes eat broccoli, but mostly if no one was watching. Salad...no way. He was strong and just getting taller than me. He was...sweet. He was mine. My first-born Israeli child. My fourth child, my Davidi.

Now he's 20 years old. Thinner...sometimes I think too thin, but he doesn't agree. He's still sweet, but subtle about it. He has these amazing blue eyes. His room is forever messy. He isn't the most confident of my sons, but he holds his own and has found his place in the family, in his unit, in my heart. He isn't one of the kids anymore; he can spend hours speaking to his brothers in the language of the army. Six years younger but growing up and grown up too fast. He loves sweet things, chocolate, cake, noodles but he also loves meat. He'll eat broccoli without hesitation, most often without a fork, taken directly from the pot. Salad, not so much. He's strong and towers over me. He is sweet...and strong. He's mine. My first-born Israeli child. My fourth child. My David.


My David.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Does this guy listen to himself?

Several months ago, I posted an article to the Times of Israel - one of several that they rejected. That article was rejected because I called John Earnest an idiot. Considering the language that the Times of Israel allows on its site, I can only laugh that they find the word "idiot" offensive. That article (John Earnest Just Wants Us All to Get Along) discussed Earnest, yet again, stating that the US condemned violence on both sides and urged restraint.

Here's the latest - John Earnest dancing around trying to explain the US paying $400 million dollars to the Iranians. Idiot? Decide for yourself:

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Chasing After the Israeli Army

...is probably the most pointless activity possible.

And I got caught in it this time...David was on a schedule. Sixteen days in the army, five days at home. It's a great schedule because unlike the days where he arrives at home on Friday and leaves early Sunday morning, this Wednesday to Monday deal gives him two full days to live, to have fun.

He had it...all of one time.

When he told us what his schedule would be, we noticed that we had scheduled our "in our dreams once-a-year" vacation for the following week. We started to call around to see if we could change our vacation to match the days Davidi would be out of the army...and we succeeded. We were so excited to be able to plan...yes, there is the problem. Never plan with the army!

So, we planned. He'll come out on Wednesday, we'll try to pick him up and save him the long trip north. On Thursday, maybe we'll go hiking, maybe kayaking...Friday, we'll go to the Sea of Galilee, which is not too far away from where we'll be staying. Shabbat we'll all be together and then Sunday, whatever we didn't do Thursday, we would do then.

Monday, I would take him to where he could catch a train or a bus...and continue for a few more days on vacation without him. It was all set, all planned, all hoped for. I would make corned beef, something David loves. I would make other things as well. All planned, except you should never plan when you have a son or daughter in the army.

A few minutes ago, David told me that it looked like they were going back to the 11-3 schedule. Eleven days in the army, arrive home on Friday and back in on Sundays.

It's not an unusual occurrence. I have heard of many times in which parents have traveled all the way to Israel for an army ceremony, only to find out the date was changed or the army decided to have it closed, and for the soldiers only.

And each time a parent has come to me, I have explained that the army does what is best for the army, not the individual soldier. While they have an interest in making the soldier happy, it is not their main reason for existing and so we have to accept. We have to live today for today and worry about tomorrow when it comes.

I'm struggling with that concept now...I was so hoping we'd have this family vacation together...now I"m working to accept yet another change in plans and saying to myself what I have said to others. It is the army and they will do what they have to, shuffle our sons and daughters around to meet their needs. Take it one day at a time.

A bit sadder today than most days...working to let go of the image of having David with us...

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

I am Still Disgusted

I posted this article almost exactly a year ago...I find just 12 months later that I am still disgusted by pretty much everything I wrote about and so share this here again.

I Am Disgusted

I am disgusted that any Jew, especially one who claims to be religious, especially one who claims to be “ultra” religious, can stab innocent people not in defense, which may be allowed according to our laws, but simply because those people choose to live their lives according to rules that he does not believe in.

I am disgusted that no matter how much this horrible, disgusting, hate-filled, ignorant crime is condemned by all spectrums of Israeli society — including members of this man’s “tribe” — it isn’t good enough and so innocents from that community are being hounded and hunted and hated, even though they too are innocent and simply trying to live their lives according to the rules they believe in.

I am disgusted that a baby was burned to death in an arson attack. No baby, Arab, Christian or Jew should be the victim of violence and as a mother of five and a grandmother of three, I agonize with that baby’s family, with his mother, his grandmother.

I am disgusted with media and journalists and people who have rushed, before the police know the facts, to condemn not just the act, but a specific group of people for the crime of arson and murder. What do you gain by accusing, perhaps falsely? Do you win some great award by identifying, without evidence (or with two Hebrew words written on a wall as your only evidence when there are hundreds of thousands of Arabs who can write in Hebrew)?

I am disgusted at the violent stoning attacks — hundreds of them (60 last week alone, with 22 people injured), that have taken place in the last few days, weeks and months. People have been hurt; damage caused. Mostly, though, there have been miracles — as with the endless missiles that missed. God watches over His people and so, in some twisted logic that I cannot understand, if the missile misses, it’s okay; it isn’t like it was aimed at 300,000 civilians. It hit an empty field…move on to the next news item (if it is even reported).

Stoning a car? Okay, so the window was broken and the passengers terrified, but they’re fine. No blood. Move on. So long as the suspects are Arabs (and in this case we know because many have been caught and arrested), there is silence from those who only want to focus on beating their own breasts in shame, castigating their own people for intolerance.

Buses are being attacked — broken windows, a few cuts…move on. Until, God forbid, a driver loses control and crashes…move on.

I am disgusted at how often the Jerusalem light rail, a train I take almost daily, is attacked — almost always at the Shuafat (Arab) station. Most often, the incidents are not even reported; few statistics are gathered by the media. Move on. The windows crack, but they anticipated the violence so no one has been hurt…well, except when they threw tear gas on the train I was in (and still the media didn’t report it). I went to the City Pass office to confirm that they knew about it. They did…and still it was not reported. Move on.

Gunfire hits a family car on the same road where Malachi Rosenfeld was murdered a short time ago. But this time, miraculously, the shots missed. Move on. No pity, no story. No condemnations.

I am disgusted by those who burn this land, yet claim to love it and even own it. Hundreds of dunams, perhaps even thousands and more, have been destroyed by so many cases of arson this summer. So long as the suspects are Arabs, these fires are not condemned.

I am disgusted that I do not see condemnation of the Arabs again trying to burn down the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus. Is this not an attack on all Jews? Yes, Joseph died thousands of years ago, is he no longer ours?

I am disgusted that our disgust can never be bi-directional. I am so deeply saddened that the ghetto mentality thrives, even here in Israel. Don’t make waves; don’t make noise. Ignore the violence; expect it. Don’t, whatever you do, don’t hit back — they’ll only come and hit us all worse. Be quiet.

We didn’t see; we didn’t hear; we don’t know…just please, leave us alone. We’re sorry…we don’t even know if we did it, but if it will curtail the violence brewing on the other side, we’re so sorry.

We came to Israel, returned to Israel, so that we could walk with our heads standing tall; that we could bow to no one; that we could be a people like all others.

We have failed miserably because we brought with us the ghetto Jew who always looks over his shoulder to what others are saying and thinking.

They say we murdered that child — quickly apologize, be horrified, be sorry.

We are horrified. No child should die in violence. We are sorry. No child should die in violence. But why, good God, why are we apologizing before we even know who did it? Because some media outlet decided that was the case?

Because the world decided that if a Jew dies it was probably because an Arab killed him and if an Arab dies it was probably because a Jew killed him? Is that the logic that rules our lives?

Act by act, we must react, but only, only when we have the facts.

We know that Yishai Schlissel easily outwitted the Israeli police and in an act of hatred and violence, stabbed six innocent people, so I am also disgusted at the Israeli police, who should have, and worse, did know better.

Beyond the disgust, remains deep inside of me the fundamental belief that Anne Frank was right, at least about the Jewish people. She said she believed that people were, at their heart, good. I do believe that — of all people, but most especially about my own. Not because we are better, but simply because I know “us” better than I know any other.

We are a caring nation, a loving one. For every incident of violence such as Schlissel’s atrocity, the burning of the Church in the north (one I have taken Christian guests to many times), the death of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, etc, there are at least a thousand acts of kindness done here and abroad by our people.

Can you erase the honor of our society when hundreds fly to Haiti because one stupid man acted in hate? Does the inhumane, barbaric murder of an Arab child lessen the amazing work we did in Nepal, Kenya, Indonesia and elsewhere?

There are thousands of ultra-Orthodox people working in organizations like Ezer Mizion, ZAKA, and Yad Sarah — organizations they created and share with the entire Israeli people. Do their acts of kindness on a daily basis suddenly lose meaning?

Why are we suddenly only defined by acts that represent less than 1% of our population? That are celebrated by less than 1%? It is so wrong to allow others to forget the essence of Israel — the kindness to the families of the three boys last summer, the prayers of a nation as our soldiers again went to war. All the times we have gathered in unity to welcome our oppressed — from Yemen, Soviet Union, Ethiopia, and beyond.

If you believe that what happened in one small Arab village called Duma represents Israel in any way, you truly do not know this people, this land. I am disgusted that in grabbing the ears of the media to bemoan an imperfect society, you slander a nation and people who have done so much, for so many, for so long.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What does it feel like to know that your blog has been seen ONE MILLION TIMES?

Well, I can't tell you yet...


but it's getting awfully close...

So what I think it means is that what I am writing here is resonating with others, and for that I am grateful.

It means that people are reading and coming back to read and sharing with others because ultimately, they care about my family, my children, my country. And that pleases me greatly.

It means that in my words, people learn about what is happening here and it means that others who are sharing in the same experiences have a trail set before them and this helps them...and me, as I too continue to blaze into the life of a soldier's mother.


Mostly, it means that for the last eight or nine years, I have been sharing the lives of my family, mainly my children with so many others and I am grateful that, for the most part, my children haven't disowned me.

I wish I could tell you that it gets easier and easier as you gain more experience with having a child in the army but the truth is, it doesn't really get easier.


But perhaps what does help is knowing that I'm not really alone on the journey. I began this with no idea that anyone else would be reading. I needed to write and so for me, starting the blog was like going into a quiet room and starting to speak. 

And then suddenly, I turned around and there were people in the room with me, and then more and then more. The room has changed a bit over the years, and the stream of people coming in and going out has increased.

For those of you just starting out on this journey, I wish you peace and safety. For those who have experienced this journey in the past, wait for me, I long to be where you are now, with this whole experience safely behind me.

And for the rest of you who have never known the life of a soldier's family, I welcome you to continue with me. I wish I could tell you that somewhere along the way, together we'll reach peace and a time when other mothers won't have to do what I am doing now, what my son is doing, and so many other sons.

Sadly, I don't believe that and I won't give false hopes.

One million times people have come into my blog to see how my sons were doing, see what is happening in my life. I thank you and ask you to pray for all our sons and daughters here in Israel and in all the armies of the world. May they fight on the side of right and justice and light against the forces of evil and darkness and hate.

One million times....wow.




A Conversation that Ended in Tears

Good tears...sort of.

Yesterday, I wrote, "I hate the army." I qualified right away "not really" but I was upset. There was nothing reasonable that we could have done differently that would have resulted in David being on time. David told me not to call his commanding officers. The question now will be how upset he will be with me. But I did it.

I called his Platoon Commander. I really did. He was busy last night and said he couldn't talk...he told me to call him this morning. And I did. I was afraid he'd be impatient - he was anything but. I was concerned he would tell me that David could handle this on his own - he sort of did.

I told him that David doesn't know that I was calling...and he still doesn't. I'm tempted to write to him to tell him "don't kill me" but I won't...yet.

I told him everything that my heart wanted to say. He's a good soldier, I said, "I don't know if you know him."

"Of course, I know him and he is a good soldier."

I told him we left on time yesterday, even early. I told him that Davidi sent his commander an SMS almost an hour before he was scheduled to be there to tell him that we'd hit a traffic jam. I told him and I told him.

At one point, the Platoon Commander (Mem-Pay) said David is a big boy and can speak for himself. But he won't, I answered. He'll take the punishment, but he shouldn't. It isn't just. This is the first time he was late in eight months, I answered. And yes, he's a big boy. More, he's a man, I told him. That's what you did, you took my boy and you made a man. I won't say thank you for that. He laughed and said, "it had to happen,"

And I felt better, relieved. I was talking to someone's boy who had become a man the same way my boy did. "Yes, I know, but I don't have to say thank you."

I told him that I really don't call my sons' commanding officers. I'm not that kind of mother. But don't ruin the soldier you have created. Don't take his motivation away.

I told him how David considers the army his family, his brothers. I told him about the air conditioning going off on Shabbat and the Russian and the Druze turning it on for the others. Don't punish him for something that wasn't his fault.

And then he said, "we'll look into it." Progress.

"There were a lot of soldiers who were late yesterday," he said.

And I answered - maybe it was all for the same reason. And if that's true, there really was nothing they could have done. "We'll look into it and we'll be fair."

I hung up and wanted to cry...did a little. Good tears. My son is part of a just army. I don't know what they will decide to do. I hope they will reverse the punishment but I'll accept whatever they give. I don't know how other armies work. I only know how mine does.

And this one listened to a mother's voice. I heard him laugh and I heard him ask without words for my trust and I gave it. He could have brushed me off, certainly he could have cut me off. He didn't.

"We love our soldiers," he told me at one point and I answered that I know they do and therefore I'm calling for "justice." And to take a full day from a soldier for being late for 20 minutes...when that 20 minutes was completely not his fault...isn't fair.

He told me they would be fair. That's all I can ask but in many ways, that is everything.

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